A Lesson in the Tree of Life

It may help at this early stage of your training to build a replica of the Tree of Life, taking it step by step, and basing it as far as possible on everyday experiences. The sooner you make yourself familiar with the shape and the technique of drawing it, the better. Alan Richardson’s little book An Introduction to the Mystical Qabalah, can be of great assistance. Now, we are about to embark on a study of occult science, by which we mean: that which is hidden behind the veil of physical existence. So, take a piece of paper and a pencil and draw a circle at the bottom of the paper to represent physical existence – not only of the body, but of the planet, and all that is on it, and beyond it to include the entire universe.

At the top of the paper, draw another circle. This represents the Godhead, the unknown inner source from which all else issues. This is the Essential Self of the human being, the God of our physical existence. We now have two reference points, the physical existence, and the spiritual source. Our task now is to fill in the space between – which in effect is the inner universe known to us through occult tradition and mystical observation.

We start from the bottom circle of physical existence which is the natural focus and conditioning power of the consciousness of man. Obviously, we are more than just a body; we have minds and emotions. The analysing power of the mind and the driving force of the emotions act as complimentary forces within our psyches; so draw circles to represent them, one on each side of the lower circle, but about a third of the way up the page. That on the left represents the mind, the one on the right the emotions. (They also represent a whole complex of other things, but for now we will keep to the basics).

Nowadays, almost everyone is aware that we have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind which also acts as the seat of the instincts and the automatic nervous system. This we represent as another circle situated above the bottom circle but between and slightly lower than those of the mind and the emotions.

There is a third aspect of mind which occultists know as the super- consciousness, This is the place of the conscience, the “religious instinct” and the point of all that is best in us. The circle for this is placed centrally above those of the mind and the emotions – the same distance above them as the circle of the subconscious is below them. We should now have a diagram looking something like this:


We now move into areas where we have no direct experience. The last circle, situated midway between the highest and the lowest circles, is a very important one. It is the balancing point in more ways than one of the glyph we are building. When we have finished our mortal lives, it absorbs the essence of all our experiences before sending out another projection of itself into another physical incarnation. Therefore, this centre of higher consciousness within us – for remember, this glyph symbolises man – builds up in evolutionary time a vast mass of human experience in essence. It is the central focus of the Higher Self as opposed to the Lower Self, symbolised by the four lower circles (and for “lower” do not read “bad”). The Lower Self lasts for a human lifetime, the body dispersing at death, the consciousness rather later, after experiencing the lower Astral Worlds, but the Higher Self lasts for a whole evolution.

We now enter two more circles on our glyph, one on each side, above the central circle. Now we are dealing with abstract principles rather than mentation and emotion. We can see the right hand circle as the constructive metabolic principle behind life, and the left hand circle as the dispersing catabolic principle. They must not be seen as “good” and “evil” but as “positive” and “negative”, “male” and “female” – each complementing the other.

Now we draw a line above these last two circles. This represents a complete change of dimension We are moving into “Eternity”. This line is traditionally known as THE ABYSS, though there is a narrow bridge across it, usually drawn as a dotted circle, and known to all Qabalists as Da’ath, which means knowledge.

We know very little of the state of things across the Abyss, except to surmise that – like that which is below the Abyss – things are based on the Triad. So we place two more circles on each side – a little above the Abyss, but below the topmost circle. This is the THREE IN ONE Godhead; although the allocation of Persons is not the same in this context as it is in the Christian Trinity. But we will not venture too far into speculative theology. It is enough for the moment to look upon the three top circles as being: on the right, the ALL-FATHER; on the left, the ALL-MOTHER, and above and between them, the FOUNT OF CREATION.

For identification purposes, we can now number the circles, starting from the top and moving downwards in a zig-zag fashion, like a lightning flash, like this:


If you have drawn a circle across the line to represent Da’ath, note that it is not numbered.

Each of these circles is known technically as a Sephirah, plural Sephiroth, meaning “Emanation(s)” All have names and titles and a great many symbolic attributes. All are ways that can lead us in and out of the maze of the inner worlds, rather like Ariadne’s thread led Theseus through the Labyrinth of the Minotaur.

The pattern you have just drawn is the basic key concept to each Sephirah based on the psychological make-up of man. But there are also objective as well as subjective, correspondences to the Sephiroth. For instance, we said at the beginning that the tenth Sephirah symbolises not only the physical body of man, but the entire physical universe. The same applies to the higher Sephiroth. There is also an objective lower Astral World corresponding to the personal subconscious which is opened up with such drastic consequences in drug addiction. It is a world of suppressed fantasies and dreams, and comes under the ninth Sephirah.

Now we proceed up the Tree, and there is a higher Astral World that correlates with the seventh and eighth spheres; then worlds of existence on even higher levels, and different types of “pure being” which have been recorded by the mystics of many denominations – all of which correspond with the Sephiroth until the supreme “Union with Godhead” of Sephirah 1 is reached.