Tree of life

(Redirected from Tree of Life)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a diagrammatic representation of the principles of the kabbalah, an originally Jewish system of mysticism and magic. The kabbalah itself was only an oral tradition until the 13th century when it was published in The Zohar, commonly credited to Rabbi Moses de Leon (although he claims to have merely found the manuscript). Soon after, the Tree as it is now commonly known appeared on the cover of Portae Lucis (Gates of Light), a manuscrpt written by Rabbi Joseph Gikatalia containing a Latin translation of the original hebraic Shaare Orah. This diagram was likely the outcome of both Judaic and Western scholars working in the kabbalistic tradition, and presented the principles of the Zohar, the Talmud, as well as those of the Sefer Yetzirah - the three texts commonly held to represent the core of what became the kabbalah.

The Tree of Life has since come to symbolize, at least to the secular mind, the kabbalah itself, representing a roadmap towards enlightenment and direct experience of the Divine. However, it must be noted that what the kabbalah is to the common western mystic is often somewhat different to how it is apprehended by traditional Jewish kabbalists.

The version of the tree of life presented here is the version used and popularized by the Golden Dawn. It can be traced back to Gikatalia and the Christian renaissance scholar Athanasius Kircher. This is the version used by christian kabbalists and magicians. Among jewish mystics and scholars several other versions of the tree are used. This is no argument against the validity of this tree. Hermetic kabbalah had at least 300 years of development independent of Jewish kabbalah, and is a valid system in itself.


The Sephiroth (spheres), in order of emanation:

  1. Kether (Crown)
  2. Chokmah (Wisdom)
  3. Binah (Intelligence/Understanding/Awareness)
  4. Chesed (Righteousness/Preservation)
  5. Geburah (Valor/Heroism/Fortitude)
  6. Tiphareth (Beauty/Perfection)
  7. Netzach (Eternity/Infinity)
  8. Hod (Greatness/Majesty)
  9. Yesod (Principle/Foundation)
  10. Malkuth (Kingship)

The 11th "hidden" sephira is Daat - a tricky combination of hebrew דע (know) and דת (faithful religion) - דעת - or knowledge.

The 32 paths

  1. Kether
  2. Chokmah
  3. Binah
  4. Chesed
  5. Geburah
  6. Tiphareth
  7. Netzach
  8. Hod
  9. Yesod
  10. Malkuth
  11. Between Kether and Chokmah - Aleph
  12. Between Kether and Binah - Bet
  13. Between Kether and Tiphareth - Gimel
  14. Between Binah and Chokmah - Dalet
  15. Between Chokmah and Tiphareth - Hei
  16. Between Chokmah and Chesed - Vav
  17. Between Binah and Tiphareth - Zayin
  18. Between Binah and Geburah - Het
  19. Between Geburah and Chesed - Tet (Lamed)
  20. Between Chesed and Tiphareth - Yodh
  21. Between Chesed and Netzach - Kaf
  22. Between Geburah and Tiphareth - Lamed (Tet)
  23. Between Geburah and Hod - Mem
  24. Between Tiphareth and Netzach - Nun
  25. Between Tiphareth and Yesod - Samech
  26. Between Tiphareth and Hod - Ayin
  27. Between Hod and Netzach - Pei
  28. Between Netzach and Yesod - Tsadi
  29. Between Netzach and Malkuth - Qoph
  30. Between Hod and Yesod - Resh
  31. Between Hod and Malkuth - Shin
  32. Between Yesod and Malkuth - Tav

The Four Worlds

The four of these worlds thus specify the 4 levels of the Tree, the 4 elements of creation, and the 4-fold name of god, Yod He Vau He. Each sphere manifests in each of the 4 worlds, thus Binah has an Archetypal aspect, a Creative aspect, a Formative one, and an Active one.

The Three-Fold Light of the Soul

The Soul is a veiled light and that light takes three forms within the Self.

  • Neschamah - The higher spirit, macroposopus
  • Ruach - The lesser spirit, soul & mind, microposopus
  • Nephesech - The base of instinct and animal urges

Nephesech is the veil of Ruach, as Ruach is the veil of Neschamah, and Neschamah is the veil of pure light.

In some cases it has been suggested that there are multiple divisions within this tripartite model as well, such as a five-part model.


  • Yechidah - singularity, oneness, union with the macrocosm (Kether)
  • Chaya - living force, quintessential nature (Chokmah)
  • Neshamah - higher self, form of the divine within the mind (Binah)


  • Technical terms for the three parts of the Ruach don't seem to have been written about. However, the discussion of the YHV rotations at the end of chapter one of the Sepher Yetzirah may be equivalent.


  1. Nefesh - animal soul, autonomic functions
  2. Tzelem, Tzulma - astral/ethereal bodies
  3. Guph - physical body

Daath, the Hidden Sphere

Daath, commonly referred to as the Abyss or the Hidden Sphere, resides below the Supernal Triad of Kether, Chokma, and Binah. It marks the passage between the Supernals and the lower Sephiroth of the Tree and, hence, the fall from unity into duality. Ascending the Tree, as in the quest for the Philosopher's Stone, Daath represents the ultimate challenge to the aspirant. Thus it is regarded as the Abyss for it is here that the ego is stripped bare and the self absolutely challenged and shattered. Those seeking power may find themselves trapped here, and for this it is referred to as the False Crown. Those unfit or incapable of bearing the confrontation with the Abyss can be left physically and emotionally injured, terminally or even fatally. Only the pure of heart are allowed to pass through the City of the Pyramids and gain entrance to the Supernals.

See also


  • Crowley, Aleister. Magick: Liber ABA: Book 4. Red Wheel/Weiser; (January 1998)
  • Crowley, Aleister. Book of Thoth. Red Wheel/Weiser; (August 1986)
  • Kaplan, Areyah. Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation. Red Wheel/Weiser; (May 1997)
  • Telushkin, rabbi Joseph. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, New York. 1991
  • Trepp, Leo. A History of the Jewish Experience. Behrman House, New Jersey. 1973


  • [1] introduction to a jewish view of the tree