a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


...Kaballah...Tree of Life...Benben stone mandalas....x-post

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: (mordred)
Subject: Re: ...Kaballah...Tree of Life...Benben stone mandalas....x-post
Date: 6 Feb 1995 13:44:02 -0800

[from alt.magick: (LeGrand Cinq-Mars)]

In article , Colin Low  wrote:
>Peggy Brown ( wrote:
>: X-posted with permission of the author, Zos.
>:    Now the earliest from of the Sefirotic Tree is from the 10th century and
>:  has its foundation in the *Sefer Yezirah* composed between 3-6th centuries
>:  and those roots can be traced to Alexandria and first century Gnostics.
>:  But what about tracking it back to the Assyrian prototype? Was the Tree
>:  transmitted through Babylonian and the Jewish captivity from an even more
>:  ancient tradition in Mesopotamia? And how far back can we go?
. . . .

>Similarly for the sephirothic tree. Jewish mysticism has a history running
>back several hundred years before Christ, and there are several important
>source documents from the period 100CE-1000CE; although these
>documents impart a distinctive flavour to Kabbalah, in a formal sense
>they are not Kabbalistic. The Sepher Yetzirah was subject to many
>commentaries by Kabbalists, but it is not itself a Kabbalistic document;
>it predates Isaac the Blind by ~1000 years.
>Scholem has done a careful analysis of key ideas (and for an oral tradition
>there are a surprising number of manuscripts floating around dating
>right back to the Provencal Kabbalists) and concluded that the origin
>of key Kabbalistic ideas, and the technical use of particular words
>(just as the word "compile" took on a new, very technical meaning in
>the 60's) occured in Provence in the 12th. C in the school of Isaac
>the Blind.
>The earliest (vaguish) descriptions of the ToL with which I am
>personally familiar are in the "Bahir", and there are some significant
>differences compared with descriptions in later documents, like the 13th.
>C "Gates of Light" by Gikatilla, which presents a scheme very 
>similar to the one I was taught.
>I am not convinced by the idea of transmission of the ToL from
>Assyria - I would like to see some evidence for it.

Well, leaving aside for the moment the question of the transmission of the
Tree from Assyria, there are cognate diagrams that predate Isaac the Blind.
Oddly enough, they are Chinese.

Now, 10 is a pretty standard number for a complete set (there is also 12,
of course, or 13, but 10 is also known) -- and once you have the idea
of unities that manifest polarities that return to unities you can get
the notion of alternating 2s and 1s --


          x     x


          x     x 


          x     x

-- and so on, with the number 10 saving one from the dilemma of the
child who is reported to have said "I know how to spell "banana" but
I don't know where to stop!"

Having developed such an array, connecting the dots with various lines
is again no conceptually daunting step -- and if in the course of doing so
one should discover things about what others might think of as combinatorics
or network theory, that too cannot be much of a surprise.

Add to the brew an emanationist metaphysics, and something like the
Tree of Life seems, if not inevitable, at least not so much of a surprise.

Still, and nevertheless, having said all that, the near-approaches to
the Tree of Life that appear in Taoist, Buddhist and (later) Neo-Confucian
texts are rather striking.  Needham has a nice Neo-Confucian version
in vol 2 of _Science and Civilization in China_ (12th century); Alfonso

Verdu, Alfonso, 1925-.
Dialectical aspects in Buddhist thought : studies in Sino-
Japanese Mahayana idealism / Alfonso Verdu.
[Lawrence, Kan.] : Center for East Asian Studies,
University of Kansas, [1974].

       discusses various diagrammatic representations of a 10-stage
path of unfoldment & path of return associated with Hua Yen (Kegon)
Buddhism (+7th to +8th century).

There are, I think, similar diagrams in earlier Taoist texts --
obviously the diagrams and general scheme were useful enough to
be taken over by succeeding schools & movements, much as the Tree of
Life has been.

I mention this as a curiosity, since I have never had the time to explore
it  in detail, or to discuss it with someone well-grounded in the
relevant literatures to see just what sort of transmission the diagrams
can be shown to have had.

LeGrand Cinq-Mars

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races