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...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 19:07:16 -0800

[from alt.magick: (Peggy Brown)]

X-posted with permission of the author, Zos.


                            TREE OF LIFE

   The question has come up on the similarity of the Benben stone mandala
 i posted on the Gods of 'Iwnw and the Tree of Life. For those who may not
 be familiar with the Tree of Life, it refers primarily to the Qabbala
 (QBL) or Jewish mystical tradition. The similarity between the two
 drawings is really coincidental, though, as a student of the QBL some
 influence no doubt cast's its subtle rays over my imagination. In turn,
 this brings to mind some interesting thoughts about the Tree of Life
 itself, the Egyptian prototypes are obscure, though the faithful reader
 will no doubt recall that i mentioned early on that in the city of 'Iwnw,
 that is:

 "It is also said of On ('Iwnw) that there was an ancient sacred Tree
 in the Great Hall of the temple complex where Thoth and the Goddess
 Sefchet, the Lord and Lady of writing and sacred scrolls, wrote upon the
 leaves of that Tree, "with their own fingers" the names of the rulers to

   Additionally, Horus was said to perch in the top of a sacred tree, the
 Acacia, Raa in the sycamore (also sacred to Hathor), Nut bore Osiris they
 say, under the holy Kesbet Tree (unidentified). The Acacia was venerated
 in 'Iwnw as the Tree of Life and Death (as above) like the holy Ished Tree
 in the Temple of the Benben stone. So there actually was a "Tree of Life"
 at 'Iwnw. There were of course many female tree spirits, often
 manifestations of Nut or Hathor abound, as a source of fruit, shade, rest,
 renewal, and these spirits are usually giving water and welcome to the
 souls of the dead as they arrived in their Ba-form, as birds. Both the
 date tree and the sycamore were called Tress of Life, whoever drank the
 water from the springs at their roots or ate the fruits received new life
 in the Duat. All the sites dedicated to Osiris had sacred tree groves,
 regarded as the resting place of the Ba of Osiris, the sarcophagus was
 made from a tree and the statement is found inscribed, referring to
 resurrection, "the sarcophagus becomes green" symbolizing the resurrection
 of the dead.

   However, if one hoped to find more on the Tree of Life motif, they must
 look to the Sumarian and Assyrian traditions. In particular the Assyrian
 tree of Life motif is quite pervasive and with the rise of Neo-Assyrian
 Empire, the motif, according to Finnish scholar Simo Parpola, became
 pervasive throughout the ancient middle east. There are literally hundreds
 of drawing and archaeological samples available for study and while the
 late Assyrian Tree shows variations, they have a general form: a trunk,
 with a palmette crown, standing on a stone base "surrounded by a network
 of horizontal or intersecting lines, fringes with palmettes, pinecones and

   This sounds rather similar to the Jewish QBL, Tree of life, the
 Sefirot ("numbers"), from Chronicles I:29:11 and Proverbs 3:19, which
 looks like this:

                             /    |     \                
                           /      |       \
                   (Insight-3)    |      (Wisdom-2)      F
           J            |       [DAAT]       |           O
           U            |      (Gnosis)      |           R
           D            |         |          |           G
           G           DIN--------|--------HESED         I
           E      (Judgement-5)   |      (Mercy-4)       V
           M            |   \     |      /   |           E
           E            |     \   |    /     |           N
           N            |      TIFERET       |           E
           T            |    /(Beauty-6)\    |           S
                       HOD /      |        \NEZAH        S
                          \       |        /
                            \     |      /

   These represent the "emanations" of Divinity, divine powers or attributes,
 though which the transcendent nature of the Holy One is transmitted
 downward to the human world, obviously influenced by a variety of Gnostic
 doctrines of emanation. As an image of Macrocosmic creation, or the
 overflowing of the divine energy into the lesser vehicles of the manifest
 creation, it also demonstrates the phases of creation as a three tiered
 process, the higher more sublime and the lower more earthly. This form is
 often imaged as an individual body and assigned various particular
 location in the human frame to represent divine identification with the

   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?

 According to Parpola, we can go all the way back to 2300 BCE! Or roughly
 4,000 years before the formation of the extensive 19th century QBL
 tradition. His evidence is striking. He reconstructs the Tree in purely
 Assyrian terms and it looks like this:

                             /    |     \                
                           /      |       \
                  (Insight-30)    |     (Wisdom-60)      F
           J            |       MUMMU        |           O
           U            |      (Gnosis)      |           R
           D            |         |          |           G
           G         SHAMASH------|--------ENLIL         I
           E      (Judgment-20)   |      (Mercy-50)      V
           M            |   \     |      /   |           E
           E            |     \   |    /     |           N
           N            |       ISHTAR       |           E
           T            |    /(Beauty-15)\   |           S
                      ADAD /      |        \NABU         S
                          \       |        /
                            \     |      /
                               THE KING
                          [see addendum]

   These Mesopotamian divinities are placed according to their traditional
 attributes and the numbers are their traditional numbers assigned by early
 Mesopotamian numerologists. You have to do the math on this one to
 appreciate the beauty of the argument. It's very simple. All the number on
 the left column need be *subtracted* from those on the right, so Adad
 subtracted from Nabu = 30, and in fact, all the subtractions = 30, now add
 up the central column = 30. Four times 30 = 120. Now add up all the
 numbers = 240, 240 + 120 = 360! Aha! So by balancing the pole of Judgment
 (-) against the pole of Forgiveness (+) and summing all the numbers, you
 get the number of days in the Sumerian-Assyerian sacred year, minus the
 festival days of the new year ceremonies (5 days), and you get the number
 of degrees in a circle. 

   What about the En Sof, the transcendent, invisible and vast Mystery--    
 it's Ashshur, or the Winged Disk usually depicted hovering over the Tree of
 Life in the images. Like the winged disk of Horus representing the
 transcendent presence of the divinity. Ashshur = the One, Only, Single.
 The goddess 'Ishtar is of course central here representing love,
 sexuality, beauty, fertility and the manifest powers of creation in the
 more physical world, but as a divine attribute symbolized in the Sefirot
 as the Tiferet, Sublime Beauty.

   So the argument is that this arrangement was actually used by the
 Assyrians and was transmitted to the Jewish sages in captivity in Babylon
 and then transmitted through oral tradition until it was finally inscribed
 as the Serfirotic Tree in the c. 6th century CE. after going through many
 transformations and being strongly impacted by Gnostic traditions of
 Antioch, Alexandria and Rome. Parpola calls it a "mathematical proof" of
 the ancientness of the Tree motif and says: "I feel very confident in
 concluding that the Sefirotic Tree DID have a direct Mesopotamian model
 and that this model was perfected in the Assyrian Empire most probably in
 the early 13th century BCE." He also argues that it is encoded in the
 Enuuma Elish, Tablet I:1-15, which he paraphrases like this:

	When the primordial state of undifferentiated unity
	(Apsu + Mummu + Tiamat + 0) in which nothing existed,
	came to an end, nothingness was replaced by the 
	binary system of oppositions (Lahmu and Lahamu) and 
	the infinite universe (Anshar = Ashshur) with its negative
	counterpart (Kishar). Ashshur emanated Heaven (Anu)
	as his primary manifestation, to mirror his existence in
	the world."

 He also interprets the Epic of Gilgamesh as a parable of the
 transformation of the individual through a spiritual journey of ascent up
 the Tree of Life to wisdom and Gnosis, an interpretation also paralleled
 in the Etana myth of the ascent to heaven on the back of the eagle (like
 the Merkaba mystics). Recommended reading!

	Simo Parpola, "The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of
 Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy." Journal of Near Eastern Studies,
 Vol. 53, #3:161-208.

                                 - Z -
[see addendum]

~Subject: Tree of Life (Addendum)

	There's a slight mistake in that second drawing of the Tree of 
Life as representing the Assyrian version--the sphere of King in terms of 
its number should = O, not 10. The reason being that the king is not a 
divinity and has no celestial number, thus the central column does add up 
to 30, not 40! Just some sloppy copy work on my part. Onward...

                                 - Z -

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