The Kabbalah is an ancient religious system of teaching that combines Jewish theology, philosophy, science, magick, and mysticism. The word ‘Kabbalah’ is Hebrew for “that which is received” referring to the knowledge of and inspired by The Divine. The Kabbalah teaches the practical comprehension of the upper worlds and allows the living to apply it to our immediate existence, thus attaining spiritual perfection.
This form of spiritual study allows the practitioner to take control over one’s own life and transcend the limitations of time and space. “That which is received” is meant to unite humankind with The Divine. By logical understanding coupled with spiritual enlightenment, the concept of “to know God is to be God” can be achieved. Followers of the Kabbalah believe that one cannot properly function in this world without the knowledge of the upper world.
The mystical system of the Kabbalah is unique in that it speaks to each person differently. Like an onion, it has many layers. To peel one layer back in understanding is to reveal continuing layers of untouched spiritual concepts. Some students of esoteric thought, take the depth of the Kabbalah to the point that it becomes an obsession. Others cannot get a conceptual foothold on the vast information that continues to reveal itself deeper and deeper, as the practitioner delves into the many layers of the philosophies of the components of God.
Many who study the Kabbalah only see the topical information of the ten spheres. Some Rabbis believe that if the name and meaning of the spheres are the only information the Kabbalah gives you, then that is the only level of understanding the Divine wishes you to have. A true Kabballist will not pass judgment on another individual’s spiritual learning capacity.
Each of the ten spheres represents a specific quality or characteristic of The Divine. Many refer to these ten spheres as the ten faces of God. This is an extension of the Trinity concept, being the three faces of the Divine. Each of these spheres in turn represents characteristics of humankind. If you think logically and arbitrarily about yourself as you move through the spheres, you can apply their meaning to your own being.
We find the ten spheres of the Tree of Life placed on three columns, known to us in Kabballistic terms as the Three Pillars. They are from left to right, the black pillar (female), the gold pillar (both male and female), and the white pillar (male).
At the top of the Tree of Life is the sphere of Kether; this is the Crown of the Tree of Life. It is in this sphere that the limitless, genderless Creator without form dwells, and as a result is very difficult to fathom. The Godname for this sphere is Eheieh. We can apply this to ourselves by asking “how Godlike am I in my behavior? – How close am I to making the perfect example of the all encompassing Creator?” This is a status that as humans, we cannot realistically achieve, but as spiritualists we should know that it is the goal we should strive toward.
The top sphere on the black pillar is Binah; this is the sphere of Understanding. The Godname of this sphere is Elohim. Kabballist believe that this is the Great Mother, positioned on the top of the female pillar, with understanding as its primary function. As spiritualists, we can apply this to ourselves by asking, “How understanding and how nurturing am I? – How can I best reflect the compassionate aspects of the Creator and be a better example with the actions in my life?” The understanding you gain from the Binah sphere is hidden spiritual knowledge that is attainable to all of us. If you let your heart and soul search and find the answers, your mind will quickly follow and you can begin to build a solid foundation towards knowing The Divine.
The next sphere on the white pillar is Chokmah; this is the sphere of Wisdom. Kabballists have acknowledged this sphere, as it bears the name YHWH or Yahweh/Jehovah. Analyzing its position on the male pillar and the concept of wisdom, we realize this is the sphere of the Father, the male principle of The Divine. We can apply the concept of this sphere to ourselves by constantly seeking knowledge to be closer to The Divine. We can also apply this by asking, “how can I best use my wisdom? – How can I best use the wisdom of the understanding I gain from the Binah sphere?” We know that we cannot ever fully understand the Wisdom of the Creator, as long as we are on this earth. This wisdom is intended for us not to strive to be The Divine but instead to be more like The Divine.
At this point, we reach the break in the Tree of Life represented by the “invisible” sphere Da’ath. This is also referred to as Abyss, or the Rainbow Bridge, the point in which we fall from the Divine in the Garden of Eden. This sphere is represented on the Middle Pillar because both Adam and Eve (a male and a female) fell from grace. We can contemplate the Da’ath sphere by asking ourselves “am I in good graces with The Divine and what can I do to correct it? – Do I have adequate knowledge of The Divine? Do I really have knowledge of good and evil?” To get to this place of knowledge, one needs to ask, “How can I best spend time in prayer, meditation and contemplation to make myself more like the Divine?” One cannot adequately represent the Divine without first having peace within their ones own heart. Kabbalahists believe that their peace and path of understand is essential to “knowing the Divine.”
The next seven spheres are all personality-oriented. As the Kabbalah is the Ten Faces of the Divine, these personalities also apply to us in the same way. They are characteristics of The Divine and subsequently, the characteristics of all humankind.
The next sphere on the black pillar is Geburah, this is the sphere dealing with the Strength of Fear and Severity; it bears the Godname Elohim Gibor. This sphere deals with the “righting of wrong” aspects of The Divine: this sphere is not about judgment, punishment, or retribution but about restoring the conditions for cosmic corrections in the most expedient manner necessary. The next sphere on the white pillar is Chesed, the sphere of Mercy and Compassion. The Godname affiliated with this sphere is El, which means “God,” specifically the word “The” in a Deity context. It is also used as a suffix “el,” for example in the word angel meaning, “bright shining one.” This sphere presents God the Father as the provider for all humankind, translated very close to “God the Giver.”
The sphere of Tiphereth falls next on the Tree of Life on the Middle or Gold Pillar, meaning Beauty and Balance. It indicates both male and female characteristics; the Godname for this sphere is Eloah va Da’ath. This name loosely translates as “the God-Goddess of Knowledge.” This sphere symbolizes Jesus, however the genderless position of the Tree of Life depicts the male-female beauty and balance of Christ. The Tiphereth sphere is literally the child of the Binah and the Chokmah spheres. Jesus was the human embodiment of celestial understanding and wisdom; the planetary Sun (Son) association with this sphere also encourages the child principle of the Divine.
The sphere Hod positioned at the bottom of the Black pillar, indicating female aspects, and meaning Glory and Honor. The Godname associated with this sphere is Elohim Sabbaoth, which does not translate well to modern English, but a close attempt would be “the God-Goddesses of everyone.”
The sphere Hod is usually coupled with the sphere Netzach. It is positioned on the White pillar, indicating male aspects, which means Victory and Achievement. The reason for the coupling of these spheres is the Godname for Netzach is YHWH Sabbaoth, which translates as “the God of Hosts.” Together these spheres work as conductors of The Divine’s love and grace to humans, for which all souls.
The sphere of Yesod is positioned on the gold pillar, indicating both male and female characteristics; the meaning of this sphere is The Foundation. The Godname associated with this sphere is Shaddai el Chai, which translates most comprehendible into “the Almighty Living God.” The aspects of this sphere revolve around the spiritual source of our reproductive capabilities; its planetary association is the moon as it correlates to feminine monthly cycles, birth cycles, and the cycles of life. When one begins to path walk the Tree of Life, this sphere represents the foundation that must be laid initially. This sphere is the beginning of accessing the subconscious mind and the intuitive concepts that brings all us of closer to the Divine.
The last sphere is Malkuth. It is very multifaceted and means The Kingdom or God’s presence both these being on Earth. The Godname affiliated with this sphere is Adonai, which means Lord. The presence of God on the Earth is what denotes the affiliation of the Shekinah to this sphere (a feminine form of God dwelling on the Earth). However, Malkuth is on the gold pillar not because the Shekinah is both male and female but because She affects all of humankind, both male and female. This female affiliation of God come to Earth gives this sphere many possible interpretations.
The affiliation of Malkuth being the bride of the Tiphereth (Jesus), for some gives the interpretation as being the Church, the figurative bride of Christ; while others see this female aspect as the companion of the Tiphereth (Jesus) being Mary Magdalene; and for some it gives the mother position on Earth as being the Virgin Mary. Yet, others see this sphere as the celestial mother of the Tiphereth (Jesus), being the Spirit of God in the Old Testament, or the Holy Spirit in the New Testament.
The four elements are also associated with the Malkuth Sphere. Many consider the elements to be a lower form of angels. The elements of earth, air, fire and water are instrumental to the concepts of Wicca and are the building blocks of all creation.
The Tree of Life is mentioned briefly in Genesis 2:9 as the forbidden tree of knowledge, of which Adam and Eve should not eat; however, in the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is profiled to explain the very existence and composition of The Divine. The Tree of Knowledge is also compiled of complex mathematical formulas that are without errors and loopholes. The underlying theme is the concept of each letter of the Hebrew alphabet possessing a definite deeper meaning of life and the mysteries of the universe.
The Tree of Life is comprised of ten spheres known as the sephiroth. There are actually eleven spheres counting the invisible sphere of Da’ath. Twenty-two lines or paths symbolic of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet interconnect the sephiroth. Together the 22 paths and the 10 spheres make up the “32 Paths of Wisdom.”
Due to the complex nature of the Kabbalah, Hebrew males were forbidden to study this mystical work until the age of 40. It is believed that studying the Kabbalah earlier in life would have serious mental repercussions; the vessel, which Kabballist call the human body and receiving mind, is not mentally ready to comprehend the depth of the Tree of Life.