Or: Let’s not sqabalah about the details.
Why hello there synchronicity, I suppose you want me to write about my attributions for the Tree of Life and why I redesigned parts. I say this because I was away at a convention for the weekend and when discussing tarot and the Tree of Life I ended up explaining to someone that I use a different model of my own creation. Part of it I’ve debated may have to do with blinds, and when catching up on my blogs saw a link to an old post by Ananael Qaa about blinds and a post by Robert (referencing Ananael Qaa in another circumstance) about his model of the Tree and worlds. So since I lacked my Tree to show my friend this weekend I thought I might post about it and then various things have cropped up so I’ll take that as a sign to post about.
This entry will won’t be super-complicated but a basic interest/understanding of the Qabalah, especially with the Golden Dawn model, would definitely make this easier to process.
Now in order to discuss my Tree I should probably mention some other tweaks that relate to it. As a disclaimer I am not now nor have I been a member of the Golden Dawn, I may use a Golden Dawn inspired system of magick, but not the Golden Dawn system. So what I put forth admits the possibility that ideas were changed due to a lack of knowledge achieved in initiation.
I like the notion of the Golden Dawn colour system, I have a highly structured mind that likes systems. Unfortunately you can’t just toss a correspondence system at me because unless there is a logical system underneath it that I can recognize, I can’t make use of the system. “I was asked to memorise what I did not understand; and, my memory being so good, it refused to be insulted in that manner.” So saith Uncle Al. The Golden Dawn Qabalah has a logic underneath it which allows the basic framework to be expanded upon, this I like, but there are a few things I don’t like/understand.
I work with the Queen Colour scale, just to put the following discussion in context. The colour attributions of the Astrological signs make a great deal of sense. Starting with red in Aries you follow the colour wheel hitting the primary, secondary, and tertiary colours in the order of the spectrum, simple, and logical. The colour attributions of the Spheres on the Tree make sense. First triangle is shades, second triangle is primary colours, third triangle is secondary colour, makes sense, the which goes where makes sense too, but more in-depth than I need here. Then you get the planetary colours and…wait…what?
Now I know planetary forces shouldn’t be confused with the forces of the Sephiroth but if they’re associated why should they be different? Why should the colours of the planets and spheres of Sun and Mercury be reversed, or Jupiter and the Moon, and why is Saturn a fake colour? Perhaps there is a reason, perhaps it was overlooked, perhaps it’s a blind, I dislike it, and I find it useless. I know it follows the colour spectrum order when you put the planets in order of apparent motion, but I don’t think that’s enough for me to have it counter the colours of the Sephiroth. Not to de-power the GD colour system, but I view it as process of psychological training, you teach your mind to associate and categorize different forces. What happens when you try to get your brain to process and integrate illogical information? Any sci-fi fan can give you the answer, and while we may not be computers I don’t think it is useful to try to get this to integrate. Let me clearly state this is different than trying to integrate a paradox.
So to me the planets are the same colours as the spheres. The fact they match makes logical sense and when you look at the ruling planets of the astrological signs you get several of the signs to match up where they didn’t before (Mercury is orange and so is Gemini, Sun is yellow and so is Leo) and you get no new times where sign/planet do not match. Saturn is the only exception being black, but there is no black zodiac sign. This is simpler, requires your mind not to memorize a bunch of exceptions, and makes a lot of the associations match up better. If your mind is holding conflicting associations neither will be held to the conviction it could be held without that conflict. This means if your mind is holding conflicting views (especially within the same system) you can’t get the full force of your belief/understanding behind them, and this limits the focus/force you can put into your magick.
That being said moving onto the Tree I gave that disclaimer so people aren’t confused when they look at the colours of the Paths/Letters on the Tree. The layout of the letters on the Tree doesn’t make sense to me. Well it does, I get it, it is alphabetical, which makes sense with a language like English, where the letter C is the letter C is the letter C and there is nothing hidden/extra about it. Hebrew doesn’t work like that. There are three classes of letter: Mothers, Doubles, and Singles, of which there are three, seven, and twelve respectively. Qabalistically these letters are the three elements (no Earth), seven planets, and twelve astrological signs. There are three directions of Paths on the Tree: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal, of which there are three, seven, and twelve respectively.
This is the basis of my version of the Tree. Alphabetically makes little sense, it reveals nothing, seems lazy, and a touch unaware of the letters and their division/meanings. So why not make use of the way the structure of the Hebrew alphabet matches the structure of the Tree? I did, which leads me to this image.
This is one of the revisions I’ve made, and I’ve been working with it for quite a while now and enjoy it, more importantly I find it fruitful. Sometimes I worry it may be too balanced, or out of balance, you’ll notice red colours predominate on one side, and blue on the other.
The three horizontal paths become the three Mother letters, the three elementals, and also serve as the divider between Qabalistic worlds. Granted I’m not a fan of the model that the worlds are divided on the Tree, I much prefer a Jacob’s Ladder model (which I don’t see as much so maybe I’ll write on that at some point), but if I were to divide the Tree with the worlds, then the elemental/mother/horizontal paths lend themselves to it quite well. Atziluth (associated with Fire) is comprised of the upper three Spheres, with the Path of Shin (Fire) as the boundary. Briah (associated with Water) is comprised of the middle three Spheres with the Path of Mem (Water) and Tiphereth as the boundary. Yetzirah (associated with Air) is the bottom three Sphere with the Path of Aleph (Air) and Yesod as the boundary. Lastly Assiah is Malkuth.
For the seven vertical paths there are the seven double letters, the seven planets. In each case the planetary letter rises up from the sphere it is associated with, with the exception of Saturn/Tau which rises out of Malkuth instead of Binah. Two reasons: Binah has no vertical path above it, and Saturn/Tau plays double-duty in many systems also representing Earth, so rising out of Malkuth the Earth-Plane.
The twelve diagonal paths were the hardest to work on, and have been through the most revisions. After trying a lot of planetary and astrological juggling I got a lay out I like. It was a process of elimination. I started off by having the colour-matched sign descend from the Sphere that the planetary path ascended to. So the Path of Mars/Peh rises into Binah, the Path of Aries (the red Martial astrological sign, while Scorpio is blue-green martial) descends on the diagonal from Binah for example. When I couldn’t do that I used to the colour/sphere associations. So Cancer, which is Yellow/Orange is placed on the Path connecting Tiphareth (Yellow) and Hod (Orange), this wasn’t my first choice and seems superficial (and might be) but I find it actually works rather well. The two signs that are half purple rise diagonally from Yesod (purple) toward the side their colour is mixed with. The Path of Ayin/Capricorn is Purple/Blue, so it rises to the right toward the side of Chesed as an example.
This leaves four letters/Paths unassigned. Heh/Taurus, Tet/Leo, Nun/Scorpio, and Tzaddi/Aquarius. These just happen to be the four Fixed signs, and where we get the surrounding image on the World and Wheel of Fortune cards of the Bull, Lion, Eagle, and Human. Appropriately they become the four “framing” diagonal paths. They were the hardest to assign. I originally tried their layout from the zodiac and above tarot cards, but didn’t like it. I decided to have Tet/Leo descend into Binah rather than Tzaddi/Aquarius. No Sphere had a sign they rule descending into them, so I figured Binah should not be the exception. As they are ruled by the Sun and Saturn, and are Yellow and Purple, they are balanced, so they became the top two paths. Heh/Taurus, and Nun/Scorprio descend into Malkuth on the side of their colour predominance.
So that is the Tree of Life model I use, for meditation, magick, and understanding. I find it far easier and effective to work with the standard Golden Dawn model, or any of the other Trees of modern or classic origin with the Paths on a different arrangement. Hopefully I made sense, feel free to ask questions, comment, or throw the standard ceremonial “You changed something!” hissy-fit.