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Kabbalah: a third system of interpreting the SY on the paths?

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.tarot,alt.divination,talk.religion.newage
From:  (Gentle)
Subject: Kabbalah: a third system of interpreting the SY on the paths?
Date: 1 Mar 1996 10:03:37 GMT

In article <4h4udf$>, says...
>[from JSmith 
>Varying Formats of the Tree of Life
>(as requested by Fr. Also)
>Column 2 is the arrangement of Isaac Luria, the Ari;  Column 3 that of 
>Elijah, the Vilan Gaon.


>To better understand this,  bear the following in mind:
>The Ari (Isaac Luria) depicted paths from Tiferet to Chakhmah and 
>Binah which are not in the G/D version;  contrawise,  he did not 
>depict paths from either Netzach or Hod to Malkhut.
>The Gra (Elijah, the Vilna Gaon) used a version of the Tree which has 
>a different spatial arrangement of the Sefirot, not only of the paths.
>                        1
>                3               2
>                     4(Tiferet)
>                6(Gevurah)    5(Chesed)
>                        9
>                8               7
>                        10
>Both follow the attributions of the Sefer Yetzirah tradition:  the 
>three Mothers (Aleph, Mem, Shin) are the horizontals,  the double 
>letters are the verticals,  and the single letters are on the 
>diagonals.  The Sefer Yetzirah specifically places the Mothers in the 
>positions both Ari and Gra give, and by inference,  the doubles.  
>Hence they only disagree with each other over the singles.(The 
>placement derives from configuring the ToL as Adam Kadmon, the 
>Supernal Man.)
>These are the main two configurations of Rabbinic Tradition;  as can 
>be seen, they have different implications from the standard 
>Crowley/Golden Dawn configuration.  For one thing, there is no 
>Correlation of the Atus is based on the standard Golden Dawn/Letter 
>attributions:  the Ari and the Gra were interested only in which 
>Letter went on which path.  Thus, Atu placement is, to put it mildly, 
>highly speculative.  Each path also has a verse of Genesis Chapter I 
>assigned to it.  Information on all this may be found in Kaplan's 
>edition of the Sefer Yetzirah.

This relates to some reasearch I did a couple of years ago, wondering 
what a Tarot deck might look like using the Gra's correspondances for 
the SY, rather than the mangled translation-of-a-translation used by 
the GD.  The results were interresting from a Kabbalistic standpoint, 
but seemed too divorced from the Tarot.  I wound up concluding that 
what is most important about the cards is not their (late) Kabbalistic 
attributions, but their intuitive pictoral meanings.

The statement is made above that the SY specifically places the Mothers 
on the horizontals.  I think this is a projection backwards of later 
associations.  As the article points out, the Tree of Life glyph is a 
projection of the concepts related in the SY onto the figure of Adam 
Kadmon (actually, I think it's an image of Atikh or Zeir, not AK, but 
that's a relatively unimportant detail here).  But the doctrine of the 
Partzufim was first developed (or, to put it in more traditionally 
acceptable terms, revealed) by the Ari.  So I think it safe to say that 
these attributions are NOT made by the SY itself, but developed at a 
fairly late period.

Looking at the TOL in the standard form presented in Lurianic Kabbalah, 
and keeping in mind the relative significance accorded the Mothers, 
Doubles, and Simples in the SY, it occurs to me that there is a third 
ordering system, aside from the top-down sequential system used in the 
GD (where seemingly, each letter is assigned to its path on a 
first-come-first-served basis) or the horizontal-vertical-diagonal 
system R. Kaplan z"l describes so well in his commentary.  I'd like to 
see what others think of this:

The three Mothers are assigned to the three paths within Sekhel, the 
domain of the first 3 Spheroth.  I.e., Mem=water connects Atikh/Kether 
to Abba/Chokhmah, Shin=fire connects Atikh/Kether to Imma/Binah, and 
Aleph=air mediates between Abba and Imma.

The seven Doubles are assigned to the seven paths connecting Sekhel 
with the Middoth.  I.e., three paths lead from Chokhmah to ChG"T, three 
lead from Binah to ChG"T, and one leads from Kether to Tiphereth.

The twelve Simples are assigned to the twelve paths within Zeir.

This system seems have several positive features.  I'll try to mention 
each of them below:

1. The associations for the first letter-group maintain the connection, 
expressed in all the commentaries on SY, between the first three 
Sphiroth and the  Mothers.  The fact of Aleph coming third and below 
Kether, despite being associated with Kether in the commentaries, seems 
problematic at first.  However, if one keeps in mind that Kether 
Tachton (lower Kether) is defined in terms of the relationship between 
Abba and Imma, and that in the Ari's system Kether Tachton is 
identified with Da'ath Elyon (upper Da'ath), this minus becomes a plus.

2. There is an identification of Water=Torah=Chokhmah and an 
identification of Fire=Heaven=OlamHaBa=Binah which is represented by 
the direct association of Mem and Shin with Chokhmah and Binah (but 
which is obscured, to say the least, by the Ari/Gra associations, which 
place Shin above Mem and disjoin Mem and Aleph entirely from Sekhel).

3. Astrology describes the Planets as "ruling" the Signs.  This is 
reflected in the structure of the TOL thus drawn, so that the seven 
planetary paths of BGD KPRT are the sole source of the Shepha coming 
from Sekhel, and form the only connections between the higher worlds of 
Y"H and the lower worlds of V"H.

4. The SY, in 3:2, describes the three Mothers as giving rise to the 
three elements (Interpreted in the Commentaries as refering to the 
first 3 Sphiroth), and these in turn giving rise to Fathers, and the 
Fathers giving rise to the Descendents.  Following the formula "Avoth 
Hem Hem HaMerkavah" ("The Fathers are the Chariot), Lurianic Kabbalah 
identifies the lower Sphiroth with the Avoth-- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 
Moses, etc.  All of this plays out in the system in the following way: 
 The first three paths-- the Mothers-- give rise to the first three 
Sphiroth (here meaning Chokhmah, Binah, and Da'ath Elyon), which in 
turn give rise to the next seven paths.  These seven, in turn, are the 
connection to and manifest as the seven Sphiroth of Zeir and Nukvah.  
These seven are those called by the names of the Avoth and the location 
of the Hekhaloth or Merkavah.  And these Fathers give rise to the 
twelve Simples, associated with the twelve Descendents of Jacob.

5. The various twelves (houses, signs, permutations of YHV"H, sons of 
Jacob, months, etc.) are assigned, according to the commentaries, to 
the Sephirah of Jacob (Tiphereth) and the partzuf of Zeir (the 
Middoth).  This association is captured perfectly by the system 
described here, where the twelve Simples are associated directly with 
the 'six points of Zeir' and Nukva.

6. Returning to point 3. above, the association of the planets directly 
with the Sephiroth of Zeir and Nukva (with 
Saturn=Shabbatai=Shabbat=Malkuth, rather than Binah-- but "Malkuth sits 
on the throne of Binah") adds a second layer of meaning to the idea of 
the Planets ruling the houses, especially when one stops to consider 
that the Sphiroth give rise to the Paths, which are described as the 
relationships between the Sphiroth.

7. This is most interresting to me, since it has the most bearing on 
practical application of all this material.  The seven directions (up, 
down, north, south, east, west, and center) are associated, according 
to some of the commentaries, with the seven lower sephiroth, such that 

N"H=up/down, T"Y=east/west, Ch"G=south/north, and M (Malkuth=Shabbat, 
again) stands as the center (I think R. Kaplan may give a table of this 
somewhere, presumably in chapter 1 or 4).  Paralleling this, the twelve 
spacial diagonals (NNE, NNW, etc.) are associated with the twelve 
Simples.  Now, unique to this system is the association of the twelve 
Simples, not with the twelve diagonals on the TOL, but with the twelve 
diagonals in space.  The applications to ritual space should be 

Well, that's about it.  There may be some other unique features I'm 
missing, and maybe someone can point them out to me.



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