The Kabbalah suggests that life was created in the form of a Lightning Flash, exotically referred to as the Flaming Sword. Every time it expands to the right it forms a new state and then it is constrained and balanced on the left in a dual opposing form. Then the energy returns diagonally to balance on the middle, central spine before repeating the pattern.
The initial pure form of the energy is spirit. The descent of spirit through the phases of balance, force, form and balance again, condensed through the mental (astral) body, followed by the emotional (etheric) body to the physical (earthly) body.
After being repeated three times, the denser form is grounded in the earth. The complete model at this stage looks as follows:
Sephiroth: The circles on the middle column are the Sephiroth. On the traditional form of the Tree of Life there are 10 Sephiroth. If we add a circle at the end of each continuum connecting the dual opposites, then we have the 10 Sephiroth. The Sephiroth relate to the numbers of the decimal system - 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9.
Paths: The lines connecting the circles are the paths. On the traditional form of the Tree of Life there are 22 paths. The paths relate to the 22 letters of the Hebrew language.
If you count the connecting lines between the circles there are 11 lines. 11 paths down (outward) from the source and then 11 paths up (inward) returning to the source gives 22 paths but it is not that simple. The path at the bottom of the Tree connecting from the physical body to earth is a circular path. This means there are 21 paths shown in this model. The 22nd path is symbolic. It is a representation of everything and is called the World.
The Tree of Life is a model that depends upon dual opposites. The principle requires that everything has an opposing aspect. Simply, if there is a front then there must be a back. So if you have a “nothing” then it requires an “everything” Mathematically this is the basis of binary mathematics that is represented by the 0 and the 1. The source which we identified earlier as the “Absolute Limitless Light” is also known as “Nothingness”. This is the alpha and the omega - the beginning and the end - nothing and everything.
Pillars: There are 3 vertical columns that have formed on the model that align with the Pillars on the traditional model of the Tree. The central spine running down the middle is the Pillar of balance and equilibrium. On the right is the Pillar of Force, active energy and expansion. On the left is the Pillar of Form, passive energy and contraction.
Kabbalistic Worlds: There are 4 horizontal dimensions that align with the 4 Kabbalistic worlds of Emanation (spirit), Creation (mental), Formation (emotional) and Manifestation (physical).
What we have in this model, that we have built from basic principles, is a series of sequential paths that we can walk. Depending on where you choose to start - the Spiritual Source or the Physical Earth - the paths connect Sephiroth to Sephiroth in a rational, logical sequence.
Similar to the Chartres Rose Labyrinth, the Tree of Life Spiritual walk may be walked as a meditation.
Whilst you are within the labyrinth then you exist within a sanctuary - a special place separate from the physical world of existence. This sanctuary offers you a space where you can take time out to meditate, to reflect, to pray, to exist in the immediate now - whatever it is you want to do - and then choose to return to the outside world when you are ready.
On the other hand the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk starts at the Source and follows the zigzag paths of the Lightning Flash through 10 Sephiroth until finally grounding in Earth. The walk then returns from the Earth to the Source, following the same zigzag pattern of the Lightning Flash - 11 paths down and 11 paths back up - in sequential order. In the diagram below the 10 Sephiroth are given their Hebrew names and the English translations.
It is important to acknowledge that you cannot get to Binah for instance without first travelling through Kether and Chokmah on the paths of the Fool, the Magician and the High Priestess. Similarly you cannot get to Malkuth without moving through the earlier forms and paths. It is like studying at University and in order to do a particular subject there is a prerequisite. You cannot progress until you have completed the prerequisite subject. There is an organised order.
In comparison consider the arrangement of the paths on the traditional Tree of Life shown below:
The second thing to notice is that the paths are numbered 11 to 32. This is because the 10 Sephiroth are given the numbers 1 to 10.
So, the first path (no 11) goes from Kether to the right to Chokmah. The 2nd path (no 12) also starts from Kether and goes to the left to Binah.
Immediately, the third thing to notice, there is not a sequential order of paths that you can walk. Path 11 does not lead to Path 12, and Path 12 does not lead to Path 13, and so on. Also the paths do not lead you through the Sephiroth in the order of emanation. Path 11 leads you to Chokmah; Path 12 leads you to Binah; and Path 13 leads you to Tiphareth. Path 14 connects between Chokmah and Binah. This is very erratic, disorderly and out of balance.
The third path (no 13) also starts at Kether and descends down to Tiphareth. On this path notice the dotted circle called Daath. Daath is not a Sephiroth and appears in the Abyss (note the dotted horizontal line separating the 3 top Sephiroth from the 7 bottom Sephiroth).
Daath and the Abyss appeared after an event known as “The Fall”. This event is synonymous with the fall of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Daath means “knowledge”. It may be noted that the Traditional Tree image is perhaps the structure of the Tree of Knowledge and not the Tree of Life.
The letters of the Hebrew language and their meanings is shown in the table below:
Sticking with the principles that I have outlined so far and retaining the essential shape of the Lightning Flash, the Tree of Life may be understood in much simpler terms.
The key to the order and meaning of the 22 paths is found in the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot.
The full Tarot deck consists of 78 cards. 22 of these cards are called the Major Arcana. The other 56 cards are called the Minor Arcana. Arcana is a word that means “secrets” or “mysteries”. The table below shows the names and simple meanings of the 22 Major Arcana:
Starting with the 0 of the Fool, this is the soul incarnating into life. The Fool is often referred to as “the traveller on the journey” and this clearly explains why this is so. Also the Fool represents the full potential of life - which very much fits the idea of the 0 and the egg. The Fool incarnates from the Nothingness of the Absolute Limitless Light into Kether - the Crown. Without doubt in any way at all, this is a perfect fit.
The movement of the Fool from the source into the crown takes place in the Kabbalistic World of Atziluth meaning Emanation. Again this is a perfect fit.
Having incarnated into life, waiting for the time of birth in the Crown of Kether, the first development of the newly incarnated soul upon birth is the development of the mind. The path of the Magician travels from Kether the Crown into Chokmah meaning Wisdom. On the Tarot card of the Magician, the figure derives energy from above through his upraised arm pointing to heaven and he deploys that energy towards earth through the downward action of the other arm. On the table in front of the Magician are the symbols of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana - Wands, Swords, Cups and Pentacles. These 4 symbols also represent the 4 human functions of man - Intuition, Thinking, Feeling and Doing. The Magician is learning to master each of these 4 functions.
Once we have attained the wisdom of the mind, the next path of the High Priestess progresses to Binah - known as Understanding. The Magician is active, expanding energy and the High Priestess is passive, forming energy. These two represent the first duality on the continuum of the Kabbalistic world of Beriah meaning Creation.
The outcome of the combining of the energy of the Magician and the High Priestess is the next path of the Empress representing nature and creative expression. The Empress travels from Binah (Understanding) to Tiphareth (Beauty). The outcome of the natural, creative expression of the Empress is beauty.
Think of the Magician and the High Priestess as Mum and Dad and the Empress as the newly born child that starts to naturally express itself. The first few years of the child’s life is about learning to master the mind and the mental processes, reasoning, understanding and communicating.
The next phase of learning for the young child is discipline and structure. How fitting that the next path from Tiphareth (Beauty) to Chesed (Mercy) is the path of the Emperor. The Emperor represents rules, structure and discipline but bear in mind that he is heading towards Mercy and so all that the Emperor seeks to achieve must be done with mercy. It is extremely appropriate that the Empress represents the world of nature and that the Emperor represents the built environment of man.
The Emperor is the first path in the Kabbalistic World of Yetzirah meaning Formation. I refer to this world as the world of the emotions and the emotional processes. The Emperor learns mercy and kindness.
The next path for the development of the young child is the path of the Hierophant. The Hierophant is the name given to a teacher priest in Egypt. So now the young child goes to school and learns about values, standards and principles. The Hierophant travels from Chesed (Mercy) to Geburah meaning Severity. The child learns some rigour in life and must learn to balance the dual opposites of mercy and severity through our relationships.
The next path of development is known as the Lovers and travels from Geburah (Severity) to Yesod meaning Foundation. A very good way to think of the meaning of the Lovers is “that we learn about ourselves through our relationships”. Remember, we are in the world of formation and emotional development, and it is appropriate that we learn to manage the skills of mercy and severity.
Like the Empress who was the culmination of the two dual opposing forces of the world of the mind, the Lovers is the culmination of the dual opposing forces of the world of the emotions. After going to school and learning some discipline, the young child playing in the sandpit of life, engages in relationships with other children and other persons. We have achieved a strong foundation for life.
The next path, from Yesod (Foundation) to Netzach meaning Power and Victory, is the path of the Chariot commonly referred to as Willpower. The clash of wills in the sandpit is an interesting development.
Thankfully the very next path of learning is known as Justice. The young child learns about fair decision making and choices. The path travels from Netzach (Power & victory) to Hod meaning Glory, Splendour and Reverberation. This is the continuum of the dual opposites within the manifest, physical world - the Kabbalistic world of Assiyah meaning Manifestation. This relates to the choices we make in our actions. They can be instinctive and spontaneous and they can be premeditated and considered; planned and unplanned. The developing individual must learn to balance these two forces.
In the sandpit of life where the young soul was learning about relationships, and then willpower, isn’t it timely that the next learning is about fairness and justice.
The path from Hod (Glory & Splendour) to Malkuth meaning Kingdom is the path of the Hermit. This is the completed being, stepping out of the sandpit, stepping out of high school, ready to get a job and embark on the real learning of life. The Hermit is about as far from God and the source of Absolute Limitless Light as he can be. He appears to be isolated and for a light he carries a lantern. This is the living ego and he struggles on his own, trying to make his way the best that he can. Occasionally he gets glimpses of wonder and intuition, enough to make him think that there must be a better way. This is the Kingdom of Man.
Beneath Malkuth I have included a sphere that I have named Earth. This is where the drama of life is played out. Earth is split into 4 quadrants, one for each of the 4 human functions. The path leading down to Earth, below Malkuth, is the path of the Wheel of Fortune or as I call it the Wheel of Life. The Wheel of Life is a circular path that cycles down around Earth and eventually returns to Malkuth.
The imagery on the Wheel of Life card shows a wheel, like a giant set of weighing scales. The Wheel is the half-way point of development and performs a process of review. The 0 commenced the journey as unknown potential, the 10 reviews the development of that potential and identifies what still needs to be worked on in the next half of the journey - the return home.
Stepping off the Wheel of Life and returning to Malkuth, the Hermit has resolved within himself to improve and make the most of life. The first path of the return journey is Strength. The return journey is going to require extreme reserves of quiet, reserved strength. The downward journey built an extremely strong ego and now we are going to need the strength to overcome and manage the demanding ego. As we progress through the return journey we are travelling inward in search of our true self. Our learning and development will see us revisit each of the worlds and places that we visited on the way down but this time we will see them through new eyes. We are on the journey of enlightenment of the self.
Strength travels the path back from Malkuth (Kingdom of the Ego) to Hod (Glory & Splendour). We now understand the lesson of Hod through a non-egoistic mindset. We build the strength to make the decisions and be responsible for our actions.
From Hod (Glory & Splendour) to Netzach (Power & Victory) is the path of the Hanged Man. After learning strength the Hanged Man just hangs there building resilience but at the same time contemplating the choices available to him. The Hanged Man maybe needs to be a little bit more spontaneous and instinctive at times but he is caught in the deliberation of life. Do I stay with the ego or do I go with the conscious self? The choice is huge because once we get down from the tree that we are hanging from there is no turning back.
The next path is Death. As Bob Dylan states in one of his songs “death is not the end” and it is not the end, as this is only the path number 13 in the series. Death is the path from Netzach (Power & Victory) to Yesod (Foundation). The meaning of death is freedom and liberation from physical boundaries. Death is the release of the Hanged Man - release from the clutches of the ego. Death reestablishes your foundation in life with the realisation that it is not based upon the ego but upon the spirit and the conscious self.
We now return from the physical, manifest world of Assiyah to the emotional, formational world of Yetzirah. Travelling from Yesod (Foundation) to Geburah (Severity) the maturing soul learns the lessons of Temperance. The key phrase of temperance is “in all things find the middle path”.
The next challenge is the path of the Devil. Travelling from Geburah (Severity) to Chesed (Mercy), this path is like a watershed separating the bottom half of the tree and the top half of the Tree. I consider the theme of the path of the Devil to be “testing”. Have you truly learned the lessons of Temperance - moderation in all things? Have you really learned the lesson of Death and died to the ego? The path of the Devil will sort this out.
The balancing of Temperance and the Devil - Severity and Mercy - culminates in the path of the Lightning Struck Tower. The influence of the Lightning Struck Tower removes all outmoded, outdated behaviours and emotional attachments. The universe wants you to move on and maybe you hold on or procrastinate, the Lightning Struck Tower ensures that you do move on. Things seem to happen by accident or out of the blue with no warning, but look deeply, the messages and the warnings are there - accept and move on. The ground is being cleared for new building and it is time to shift.
The path of the Lightning Struck Tower travels from Chesed (Mercy) returning to Tiphareth (Beauty). The abomination that has been is ready for a new beautiful being and a new world. Tiphareth is the connection between the Kabbalistic Worlds of Yetzirah (Formation) and Beriah (Creation).
The new path from Tiphareth (Beauty) to Binah (Understanding) is the Star. The Star represents hope and learning of new mental processes - a new way of understanding things. This is the dawning of enlightenment.
From Binah (Understanding) to Chokmah (Wisdom) is the path of the Moon - reflection and introspection - a new understanding has been achieved and now we are making sense of it as we travel towards a new wisdom. We seek deep inside ourselves for the answers and the wisdom. The old ghosts are dispensed with but they must be dealt with first.
The next path from Chokmah (Wisdom) to Kether (the Crown) is the path of the Sun. This is the new born, enlightened soul liberated from the ego and trusting solely in the wisdom of the Source. There is nothing to hide. Just ride the white horse of life and let it take you where it goes. You are not in control.
From Kether (the Crown) to the Source (Absolute Limitless Light) is the path of Judgment. From the 0 of the Fool to the 10 of the review by the Wheel of Life, and now to the 20 of the final review of Judgment. This is the completed cycle and the dis-incarnation of the soul - the return to spirit. Judgment is part of the karmic model and leads into the new life to follow. The next cycle begins from here.
So you might ask, “Where is the 22nd path - the World - the Tarot card numbered XXI or 21?” Well, you are in it. The World card is everything that is. All of the bits and pieces that I have just been through make up the World. At any time that you want to see how the potential of the Fool is progressing then just look at the World. At any instant it is a snapshot of where everything is at. The World is never still, it is always moving in a state of fluid change.
The journey ends in the same Kabbalistic World in which it started - Atziluth - the world of emanation and spirit.
The journey and the pattern of life are explained. The Tree of Life can be understood and it can be walked in a progressive, sequential order.
The creation of the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk has turned a simple cleared area of land into a place that has living presence. It gives the visitor a sense of belonging and in a sense it has become a sanctuary. When you are within that cleared area where the only aspect looking out to the world beyond is a large granite hillside on the northern horizon, you are safe within the 22nd path - the world of the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk.
Similar to walking the Chartres Rose Labyrinth, the walk inward is reasonably easy but to keep the mind in a meditational mode and avoid contemplation of the outside world becomes increasingly difficult as you make the return walk. To contemplate the meaning of each Path and each Sephiroth, to correlate the Pillar and the Kabbalistic World in which they are located and pass between, requires a strong mental focus. The learning to be derived from the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk requires study and persistence. Walk it bit by bit. Take the time to immerse yourself in the intimate world of meaning. This is a break away from the outside world and a chance to reconnect with your true self. Get to know yourself better and understand why you are the way that you are.
Making it personal
What path are you travelling in this life? Everybody living on this planet is travelling upon a particular personal path. Make your journey and your exploration of the Tree of Life Spiritual Walk more focused by figuring your personal relationship.
Numerology calculates your path in life from your date of birth. The way it works is like this: Everything moves to a pattern - the same pattern that we have been working on - the Tree of Life. The fabric of life is fluid like the ocean and everything is connected. When we are born we break into that fabric and we set in motion a configuration of rings and vibrations just as if we were a stone dropped into a pool of water. Our date of birth identified by the day, month and year captures the moment that we came into existence.
There are 18 paths that you can incarnate upon. Nobody incarnates upon the 0, 10, 20 and 21 paths. This leaves the outward paths of 1 to 9 and the inward paths of 11 to 19. All you need is a way to figure your birth date numbers so that you can tell if you are on an outward path or an inward path.
If we use the standard method of traditional Numerology then you will find a path from 1 to 9, 11 or 22 but there isn’t any solution that includes the paths 12 to 19. Also, as there isn’t a path that is numbered 22, it is clear that we need a better way.
The pattern that we are using is based upon cycles of 9. As stated above the outward cycle consists of the path numbers 1 to 9 and the inward cycle consists of the path numbers 11 to 19. In traditional Numerology they have Master Numbers, usually 11 and 22. When using the method of reduction if the birth numbers add to either 11 or 22 then the process stops. Of course if you did this for all double digit numbers then nobody would ever have a single digit path number. To make it simple, there are no Master Numbers. I apologise to all those people who have been relegated to the common ranks of life but sadly that’s the way it is. I’m not saying there are no Master people, only that there are no Master Numbers. Everybody, Masters included, incarnates onto a path on one of the outward or inward cycles.
Using the date of birth 14 March 1956, let’s work through a Numerology calculation to determine the Life Path.
The first thing to do is to add the numbers of the birth date together to give common starting point that I call the Calibration Number. Consider the speedometer of a car. The dial or the number on your dashboard is a calibration of several variables of time, the number of rotations and the size of the wheels etc. This allows us to say that vehicle is travelling at a certain speed and then we can compare the movement of all vehicles.
Add together the numbers of the day, month and year of the date (e.g. 14/03/1956).
The resulting sum (e.g. 1973) is the Calibration Number.
Now we need to determine the number of cycles of 9 within the Calibration Number, so we divide the Calibration Number by 9.
1973/9 = 219 remainder 2
The process of division results in two numbers - the quotient and the remainder. The division of 1973 by 9 gives us a quotient of 219 and a remainder of 2. The quotient tells us that there are 219 cycles of 9 in the Calibration Number 1973. The remainder tells us that we are 2 steps along the next cycle of 9.
As we know a full journey of the Tree of Life consists of an outward cycle of 9 followed by an inward cycle of 9. Anytime that the quotient is an odd number, as it is in this example, then we we know that any remainder is part way along the next inward cycle - in other words it is a number from 11 to 18. So the remainder of 2 in our example means the Life Path number is 12.
If the quotient is an even number then it tells us that we have completed equal numbers of outward and inward cycles and any remainder is part way along the next outward cycle - a number from 1 to 8.
When we have a remainder of 0 then we are on a path of 9 or 19, depending on the polarity of the quotient. An odd quotient means that we are at the end of an outward cycle - which is a 9. An even quotient means that we are at the end of an inward cycle - which is a 19.
Rule 1: Odd quotient & remainder > 0 then Life Path number = remainder + 10.
Rule 2: Even quotient & remainder > 0 then Life Path number = remainder.
Rule 3: Odd quotient & remainder = 0 then Life Path number = 9.
Rule 4: Even quotient & remainder = 0 then Life Path number = 19.
Example 1: date of birth 14 March 1956 (14/03/1956):
Calibration Number = 1973.
Divide the Calibration Number by 9.
1973/9 = 219 remainder 2
According to Rule 1 -quotient 219 is Odd and reminder (2) is greater than 0, then Life Path number is equal to the remainder + 10 (i.e. 2 + 10 = 12).
The Life Path number is 12.
Example 2: date of birth 17 November 1954 (17/11/1954):
Calibration Number = 1982.
1982/9 = 220 remainder 2.
According to Rule 2 - quotient 220 is even and the remainder > 0 then the Life Path number is equal to the remainder which in this instance is 2.
Example 3: date of birth 8 March 1987 (08/03/1987):
Calibration Number = 1989.
1989/9 = 221 remainder 0.
According to Rule 3 - quotient 221 is odd and the remainder = 0, then the Life Path number is 9.
Example 4: date of birth 24 April 1934 (24/04/1934):
Calibration Number = 1962.
1962/9 = 218 remainder 0.
According to Rule 4 - quotient 218 is even and the remainder = 0 then the Life Path number is 19.
Calculate your Life Path number.
On a blank sheet of paper write your birth date (e.g. 14 March 1956).
Write the date in digital format (e.g. dd/mm/yyyy). Always include the leading zeros for single number days and months (e.g. 14/03/1956).
Enter the digits of your birth date into the form of the example sum below and add them together to get the Calibration Number:
The Calibration Number is _________.
Divide the Calibration Number by 9 and identify the quotient and the remainder.
____________/9 = quotient ________ and remainder __________.
Apply Rules 1 to 4 - your Life Path number is __________.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What Tarot card (see chart on Page 9) relates to your Life Path Number?
What are the keywords that describe this Tarot card (see chart on Page 9)?
Find your Path on the Tree of Life diagram on Page 10.
What Sephiroth does your path start at?
What Sephiroth does your path travel to?
What Pillar does your Path start on?
What Pillar does your path travel to?
What Kabbalistic World is your Path within?
What is the meaning of this path for you?