esothemes

Reflections, revelations and proposals esoteric: Themes to elucidate the depths of human potential.

Month: July, 2019

Trees of Eden: A Map of the Fall [Part I]

[Edit: Realized my image didn’t transfer, so had to figure that out. Now this probably makes a bit more sense.]

The following information was a detour from the more concise instructional outline I intended to follow. However, abstract as it may seem it seeks to bridge the implications of the myth of the biblical fall and the trees of eden with the functional mapping given by the ten sephirot belimah. The topic ended more involved than originally anticipated, making this post the first part of a two part intallment. Although the following diverges from the text we are interpreting (The Earliest Recoverable Text of the Sepher Yetsirah), it is still important to fill in certain blanks, even if those blanks aren’t obvious to the causal observer. The topic of the Trees of Paradise has been approached in a previous series of four installments posted here. A comparison would be interesting, especially since this interpretation takes the theory and seeks to establish a context of practice with it.

By emphasizing the power of ten in relation to its numerical neighbors- nine and eleven- the author of our text identifies the reckonings in a specific manner. We surmised that the chosen number of sephirot makes a statement that the power of Shaping (aka Magic) is free of blasphemous or idolatrous qualities. Given the power attributed to numbers, the ten reckonings are more likely to represent divine inspiration than those quantified as nine or eleven. The revelation of ten is a direct and living experience, and is represented by the reality frame (and corresponding occult model) known as the Tree of Life in QBLH.

The Tree of Knowledge (of TVB and RO), on the other hand, is a kindred representation, but one that is incomplete and deleterious in its effects when its fruits are assimilated alone. Without the Tree of Life, the fruits of having intimate knowledge of TVB and RO imprison an individual in a state of being aware of distinctions without the direct gnosis and grace that complete the process of existential autonomy as promised by the serpent of the biblical account. Previously we identified the two trees as one and the same, since the model of QBLH shows the the domain of Knowledge (HDOTh) as being part of the fallen tree. In this installement we examine the myth in terms of two esoteric models: the two dimensional (2D) tree diagrams and the model of the SY with its ten reckonings, which are traditionally taken to describe the same thing. I would say that the situation is not so black and white, because we are dealing with myths and models of reality frames that are magically alive and are not restricted to a three dimensional conceptual reference frame. The premise is simply that the fall as a biblical event, corresponds to the fall in terms of the Tree of Life diagram of QBLH and correspondingly affects the ten sephirot as well in like manner. This correlation is what we examine.

It is noteworthy that the Tree of Knowledge does not exibit some kind of existential toxicity or danger. It isn’t evil or there to cause damage. It serves a purose in the context of human potential. We can consider it, in other words, as part of an alchemical formula of two steps: dissolve and coagula. The second step involves the Tree of Life, which in the mapping of QBLH can be seen as a rectified Tree of Knowledge. In the Hermetic QBLH of the 19th and 20th centuries, the term DOTh was associated with a gateway to the abyss that formed as a result of the biblical fall from grace or “original sin”. Even as the SPIRVTh are can be seen as stages of some form of internalized alchemy, they are also spheres or domains of revelation and empowerment. Suffice it to say that DOTh is “located” between the third and fourth SPIRVTh of the fallen Tree of Life mapping, well known to students of QBLH. The fall causes the tenth SPIRH. It is known as Malkuth and rendered in English as Kingdom, but it also means Royal Power/Authority. According to one view, this SPIRH fell from its fourth position to the tenth. According to another, all the last seven SPIRVTh– representing the seven planets of antiquity- fell down a notch.

I favor the former model. The true bottom SPIRVTh is called Foundation (YSVD), while Malkuth as Power of Authority is coherent with the fourth position, and where it needs to be to function naturally and free of affliction. Below we diagram the evolution of the fall, from the original Tree of Life (far left) to the version considered to be the way the Tree is because of the Fall (far right). The middle figure shows change, from the sphere with number value four, to that with number value (properly forty if we use the numbering of the Hebrew abjad) adjusted to ten when the whole tree accommodates the difference (far right).

The Fall Sequence.png

In the SY the fourth position is identified by the depth (mystery) of RO, which is usually rendered as simply bad or evil. The concept carries much weight, so to avoid philosophical entanglement, let us first look at the letter analysis of the word. The letters Resh.Ayin describe the head (which may be the god-head, one’s own mind, or that of another) of the eye/fountain. Ayin may be a replacement for another letter that conveyed entanglement, something more aligned with the negative interpretation of the word, while RO also means friend and shepherd, someone who watches out for us. Using a similar analysis, TVB describes a weave (pattern of construction or behavior) that supports the house or clan, a state is understandably considered favorable. Contemplating this information gives the third reckoning additional depth and hence empowering potential. When we are open to the revelation of its juxtaposed term (RO), the fourth becomes accessible. According to Hermetic QBLH it is here that the abyss thwarts us.

Eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge (HDOTh) of TVB and RO had unavoidable consequences. If you eat (identify with) the fruit (results) of having experiences that you clearly distinguish into TVB and RO, then you are a discerning entity, and make choices accordingly. Without the impact of the Tree of Life, however, one ends up in a state disconnected from divine essence and the immortality of true Identity. That individual exists in a closed system of cause and effect because they are crippled.

HDOTh is, moreover, not intellectual knowledge. It refers to intimate experience and involvement with the subject, which can be taken to refer to sexuality, but I think the scope of the myth falls flat if it’s just about sex. The fall from grace was the result of choosing to evaluate and act on one’s own experience. And the move to materialize was a natural outcome of stepping from grace and into autonomous evolution. This awakening to their autonomy- albeit not fully- resulted in the humans wanting to cover their nudity. From an esoteric perspective, we can view the animal skins given by YHVH ALHIM as reference to corporeal embodiment, required to experience the reality of the fruits they imbibed. The insecurity the two humans felt was the sense that they should be clothed (corporeal), and was misrepresented as shame and immodesty.

The point of the above was to outline the nature of Original Sin, while our Tree of Life mapping puts it into a different context. There are two important reflections of that context in the altered mapping. 1) The original fourth sephirah is depicted as dropping out of the former domain of the Tree, to become new tenth and final one. 2) A gap formed between the third and fifth sephirot. When the dust settled, the former fifth became the new fourth and so on.

For the context of a list of cultivation practices the alteration would have far reaching consequences. To add insult to injury the original fourth account was that last of the abstract themes before the focus was on the directions in physical space. Without it the internalization process would be incomplete. With that step bumped to the tenth position, the directions in space a approached prematurely, and never really come into their own. Leaving the tenth account below the actual foundation of the Tree creates a distance from the other steps, which along with the sephirah taken from its natural position, isolates the reckoning whose depth or mystery is identified by RO, and keeps the process from being activated as intended.

In that sense the Fall is one of human potential itself, or rather the readiness at which human potential can actualize. To extrapolate how that translates in terms of esoteric cultivation can lead to adaptations in practices among other things to increase the scope of the results. It also places the fourth account in a position of importance in relation to the others. To insure it succeeds, the domain designated as Kingdom needs to be returned to its prior position as Royal Authority- the authority of self. It is by this authority that anything animates or charges, is sanctified and can be sealed. It appears to be the turn-on switch for the systems power, the prior being preparation of what is to contain the fire of the throne. Then the directions of space can be ignited and sealed. The topic is continued and wrapped up in the next installment.

The Significance of the Number Ten, and its Neighbors in the SY

In our analysis we will take the ten sephirot belimah as contemplative exercises, and we will see in the reckonings that they apparently involve sensing vital energy- the life force associated with the breath. Such practices would require some preliminary applications of the concept of mental restraint (or control) over inner-outer dialog and fantasy. To shed light on these preliminary applications, implied from the text, I want to go deeper into the letter-by-letter analysis of the names of the numbers ten, nine and eleven in this post.

The names of the numbers defined them before each was associated with a letter of the abjad. The latter association describes the Maccabean Period numbers, dating from the 2nd cent. BCE. The SY itself, furthermore, does not describe the numbers in terms of their abjad correspondences in the section on the SPIRVTh. Ten is not Yod in the text, but OShR. In the next section, however, the Maccabean numbering is implied. There, the twenty two letter-signs of the abjad (semitic alphabet) are called AVTh-YVTh or signs of Yod– in connection with the number ten whose power makes the activation of the abjad possible. The allusion most likely also refers to the nature of the Ezra (Post-Exilic) script. Therein, twenty-one letter forms are literally constructed from the fundamental Ezra glyph for Yod.

For a language based on pictograms, interpreting words as a synthesis of images is useful, as it complements assigning meaning according to conventional vocabulary. Given that the primary representation of a number is its name, the esoteric reading of the word in mention would hold the very nature of the number itself in that context. Where there is, moreover, a plurality of meanings in a word it is interpreting meaning as a synthesis of glyph images allows for a revealing of common roots to the varying patterns of meaning. If we avoid using Maccabean letter numbering we can still rest assured that, the cardinal name of any number provides all we need regarding that number’s qualitative nature.

In our given analysis, the central number theme is that of OShR (ten). The first letter-sign describes a “vision” or “well-spring”- the glyph of Ayin being that of an eye or top-down view of a fountain. The other two letters (Shin.Resh) denote authority, a person, divinity, or an awareness (head or mindset) that nourishes and sustains. Such a vision/eye or fountain can describe a revelation or some other treasure- material or not. We can render the cumulative meaning as: “eye/fountain of nourishing-penetrating intelligence”, implying revelation. Thus, in the context of occult wisdom, ten can be said to describe an authentic revelation. In our text this would be the product of the Singular Covenant.

That only scratches the surface. The fact that the letter Shin has two pronunciations opens an even more interesting path of interpretation for OShR. The first proncunciation is with the sibilant sh as in shoe. The second is pronounced as an s, as in the word snake. OShR (Ayin, Shin and Resh) takes on the second form and is pronounced OSR, with the Shin being phonetically equivalent to the letter Sammek. As such, Sammek might have been the original glyph of the word before the sounds became assimilated. Regardless of whether this is literal fact or not, the phonetic association alone hints at some link to the properties of the corresponding letter. Thus we can also render the writing- and interpretation- of the word with Sammek instead of Shin, at least for purposes of esoteric interpretation. Perhaps this is similar to the refinement the SY tells us to perform with the letters- to see if they have even more to reveal.

The letter Sammek is usually rendered with a glyph signifying a thorn bush, or a pillar, and among its variants these are the most common interpretations. One view points to the letter as a representation of a date-palm, and the date-palm being the representation of the Tree of Life itself. Thus the word OSR can be analyzed via its glyphs of eye, thorn tree and other, where the latter can be another person, a state of awareness or even divinity. The word OSR would then be- as an equation of letter-glyphs- interpreted as “the eye/vision of the Divine Tree.

To compare with the neighboring numbers let us consider that the text tells us the SPIRVTh are OSR (as pronounced), not ThShO and not AChTh OShRH. In examining the number nine just as we examined the number ten we find that a glyph-by-glyph interpretation of the word ThShO gives us the glyph array: sign, nourishing breasts and eye. Nine is a mark or the authorization/representation of the eye being given its fill. It is the number that reaches for decimal fullness, a number of assessment and regard, but at the same time, it is also a sign and not the fullness itself. Like some sort of preliminary symptom, it gives information on what it represents- like an idea of something- but is not the thing it describes.

The Hebrew word corresponding to the number eleven, on the other hand, is made up of two words: The first word, AChTh, is the feminine form of the number “one”. The second word is the feminine form of the cardinal number name for ten. The word for “one” can, therefore, be analyzed as the kindred sign, making AChTh OSRH– the word for eleven– “the kindred sign of the vision of the divine tree of joy, life, worship or any form of ecstatic expression”. If the number ten, in this context, relates to the divine tree or tree of life, then the number eleven relates to its kindred or sister-signature. To interpret the letter Tau meaning mark or signature as purpose would imply we are speaking of the kindred Tree to that of Life, which is The Tree of Knowledge (of TVB & RO).

To sum up, the letter equation for the name of the number eleven is the twin-purpose of the vision (or fount of abundance) of the Living Tree, something we may identify as the sign of the Tree of Knowledge. The number nine is the mark of the vision’s nourishing and fortifying qualities, something required for understanding the Tree’s archetypal meaning and raison d’etre. The particular quality of nine is that it represents the nourishing and penetrating qualities of vision. This is the mark that represents the visionary process and its sensory apparatus. In terms of this interpretation, proximity to the power of ten apparently activates these visionary qualities and may imply the step before actual contact with the revelation of ten. Eleven is an image of the revelation’s effects. It comes after the fact, and appears to be a dynamic of consequence. More simply, nine represents the subjective apparatus, and eleven is the next step in the experience of revelation, a step that involves being aware of what might distort or compromise the experience.

The point made is that the two numbers flanking ten represent the pitfalls of attempting to relate to a genuine revelation. In the pitfall of nine, one idolizes the products of thought. In the pitfall of eleven, one idolizes that which is already objectified as the form of the revelation itself. The experience of the Tree of Life is a truly divine revelation that is nourishing. It is an experience of participation rather than being preoccupied with semiotics (the mental conception of the experience). Nine and eleven are represent states that do not involve direct intimacy with the experience (a notion expressed in QBLH as DOTh– intimate knowing).

The numbers appear to confirm the commandment against idol worship. This may refer to mental idols (deified concepts) as well as prostrating to false revelations as opposed to opening to the reality of such an experience. Ultimately, the nature of these three numbers is coherent with the terms of an aspirant’s focus throughout the application of the teachings around the SPIRVTh BLIMH. As such, understanding them promotes avoiding any misconceptions regarding the aforementioned Covenant.

In conclusion, for the capable aspirant, the process of divine alignment that is the Covenant is based on terms the SY expresses indirectly, if not literally, in the verses. The apparently simple remark of the reckonings being ten (neither nine nor eleven), is a resource for contemplation and analysis that can provide insight to the attitude best sustained to insure maximum benefit from the cultivation process. It also opens doors for further exploration of the meanings at the heart of the biblical narrative. We shall explore some of these in the next installment before moving on to the material that involves instructions for the system described in The Earliest Recoverable Text.

The Foundation of the Sephirot and The Covenant at their Core

In the last installment we introduced the twelve verses describing the ten sephirot belimah. We briefly outlined the thesis of our context regarding that particular portion of the Earliest Recoverable Text (ERT) of the Sepher Yetsira. We also offered a perspective as to what these ineffable sephirot might be in the context of a manual of esoteric alchemy and the magic of the word.

For the purposes of our analysis, we take the SPIRVTh BLIMH and the AVTh-YVTh as two autonomous esoteric teachings, where the former can still be approached as a prerequisite path for immersion in the latter. Both the ten and the twenty-two path groupings, moreover, constitute advanced practices that are best undertaken after an extended period of dedicated preparation. This appears to be the view of the author(s) of the SY, who liken progress to conflict and struggle in the last chapter of the ERT.

This exposition on the SY as a manual of esoteric cultivation more or less restricts itself to the ten sephirot as constituting a path of internal alchemy and occult empowerment. In this one can be transformed- in the sense of maturation- by its revelation. While application as magical practice is not directly specified, the creative aspirant is free to explore if that the system can be worked for direct results beyond the context of the Hebrew adjad.

The more one practices and gains proficiency, therefore, the more one establishes a hands-on understanding of the system, where cultivation is the first and ubiquitous step. The text is brief, but the path it outlines is anything but easy. Thus, any progress can and should be tested as a way to round out the material, something the SY affirms for working with the letters, but not in this ten step summary. Because this path covers many bases of internal potential, we can creatively extend its wisdom to other modes of esoteric mapping, such as the Tarot, the art of spirit conjuring, land magic and using thej power of the word with other languages and writing systems.

For purposes of clarification we divide our twelve verses into three subsections. The first with two verses introduces the system and its basic structure and origin. We are given a fundamental key here, without which the system falls flat. This is the Covenant. The second subsection- with four verses- describes some preliminary practices, fundamental for the mastery of the reckonings. These are laid out in the six verses of the third subsection.

Our examination of the first two verses of the aforementioned twelve, omits  transliteration to get straight to the point, given the translation itself is fairly straight-forward. The verses are:

I. Ten reckonings of restraining from a count of ten fingers, five opposite five and a sole Covenant in the center comes out of a working with annunciation and [both] tongue and mouth [pronunciation].

II. Ten reckonings of restraining: Ten and not nine; ten and not eleven. The initiate was with wisdom, and learned in knowledge extracted from them and tested by them. And he declared the standing place [teaching] on behalf of his heirs [disciples], and restored Shaping according to its foundation.

The first verse tells us the ten accounts- of cultivation- can be counted on the fingers of each hand. Like the fingers they are paired, with one juxtaposed to the other. This will be explained more thoroughly in subsequent verses. More importantly, this verse introduces us to the principle that balances each pair and forms the common ground of all of them. This is the core of the teachings, a Singular Covenant, viewed figuratively as a mystic alignment at the very center of the system of stages. The working or empowerment of the center is described as accomplished via the power of the word (vocalized, sub-vocal or mental), with emphasis on pronunciation (tongue and mouth).

There is no indication that this is one of the Covenants with Deity mentioned in the Torah. A covenant is an agreement, which in esoteric terms this amounts to an alignment between two parties, one human and one divine. This Covenant is singular because it is distinct, unique and autonomous as well as exclusive to the sephirot system. It is noteworthy that we do not find mention of this Covenant in the verses involving the Hebrew letters. Instead we are given the principle referred as a Central Temple, which serves a different function- specified toward the arrangement of the letter powers themselves. There is only one Covenant, and there is only one Central Temple in this work. The two are independent, but also form a synthesis, just as the thirty two paths themselves form a synthesis in the SY.

Our Singular Covenant– in the context of cultivation- refers to a state of being that constitutes the true prerequisite for the ten teachings to work. The first verse- prior to the twelve of our current discussion- supports the latter assertion. YH in our prior analysis was the one who laid down all thirty two paths, including the ten teachings discussed here. Further support associating the covenant with a state of divine communion or alignment- a state of esoteric illumination- is that it results from working with the power of the word- its power (annunciation) and structure (pronunciation).

In spite of our claims of a straightforward translation the second verse is more ambiguous in terms of how it can be rendered, specifically in the second part. The first part is straightforward in that sense, taken literally as emphasizing the quantity of reckonings being fixed and unalterable. That portion, however, can be examined more deeply as we have done with the number thirty-two. Given the extent of the subject matter, however, we will save that particular analysis for a soon to be published installment dedicated to the three numbers. We will also offer an alternative qualitative analysis for the number ten, which advocates of the Tree of Life model of the SPIRVTh might find interesting.

It makes sense that working with the power of the word, along with basic contemplative practice can result in states of esoteric illumination. These two verses, however, both emphasize the need for preparation. In the first verse the Covenant is introduced, and in the second there is a hint, embedded in the interpretation of the number names, that the teachings are based on a revelation that transcends both the mind and any kind of idolatrous worship.

In the second part of the verse we are introduced to a master who studied these teachings. This is apparently not the founder of the system, but someone who was responsible for its revival. He established the teaching in a way that clarified it so that the wisdom of Creative Shaping- synonymous with magical practice- could once again be built on a proper foundation. That foundation is the Covenant.

The alternative translation of the latter part of the second verse is worth mentioning. It introduces concepts that complement our introductory information of the ten reckonings. Namely the phrase “… he declared the standing place on behalf of his heirs…” can also be rendered “…the standing place of the matter was exalted by his moisture, (wetness or saturation)…” Here we are told that the teachings became exalted because of the master’s a state of awareness- inferred as moisture or saturation. The latter imagery is also used in a verse describing the activation of the letter Aleph, one of the three known as mothers.

The point in presenting this alternative is not to choose between them, but to notice that they actually complement each other and expand the meaning of the text. This may not even be deliberate, but a byproduct of the nature of the written language itself. Whatever the case may be, the master still came to restore the principles of the system to their proper foundation.

The picture we get from this is that the teachings themselves were already known. They must have either become corrupted or lost their edge. To reiterate, it is my view that this proper foundation is a reference to the Covenant. What this covenant is will be somewhat revealed in the next verse which initiates the four that provide us with the foundation to embark on the esoteric adventure that is the accomplishment of the Ten Reckonings of Restraint.

Once the theory is comprehended, the ten basic practices or SPIRVTh can be undertaken in earnest, provided the foundation is respected. This is important to consider because it classifies the work as advanced. To properly undertake it, in other words, one must master advanced states of esoteric practice that already amount to mystic and occult mastery in and of themselves. To make the covenant on an individual basis- as opposed to the context of a human collective- one must be in communion with the other party, attaining it through their own efforts, but quite likely with the requisite grace if the right attitude and heart-set is sustained. Then one can begin to benefit from the fruits of practice.