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Sephirotic Trees

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.divination,alt.consciousness.mysticism
From: hara 
Subject: Re: Sephirotic Trees (was kabalae)
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 06:11:07 GMT

50011127 VI! om

shalom alechem, my kin.

>>> 'the sephirotic tree' is meaningless within the widest scope of 
>>> study of mysticism and magic surrounding "kabbalah", this name and 
>>> its variety of forms under this name originating within a community 
>>> of Jewish mystics 

Gnome d Plume:
>> ...the original design and cosmic concept of the Tree of Life seems 
>> to be Assyrian. Prof. Porpola, in his classic article on the Assyrian 
>> Tree of Life in *The Journal of Middle Eastern Studies* 

that would be Professor Simo Parpola, University of Helsinki,
in "The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish 
Monotheism and Greek Philosophy", in The Journal of Near
Eastern Studies, #3, 1993, copyright University of Chicago
(thanks Barry!).

I've got most of it. I'm still piecing through it, though,
and have come to few conclusions based on a cursory skim.
maybe I'll do so during the course of this extensive post.
thanks for mentioning this. I have been meaning to pore over
it more carefully.

>> even goes so far as to establish the pagan pantheon 

you must mean that he associates tree-form diagrams with gods
of the Mesopotamians ("pagan" doesn't mean much to me outside
a Christian church or a Neopagan sabbat ;>). that seems true. 
he's at least presented a valuable thought-experiment as evidence.
I'd recommend anyone interested in the subject obtain a copy.

>> and numerology of the spheres. 

that seems more confusing. in the case of a sephirotic tree,
I'd say he establishes (or confirms) the spheric quality 
added to number within circles on Tree diagrams which may precede
known Jewish sephirotic trees. the reason I make this minor 
correction is that the term 'sefirot', according to Professor 
Parpola, literally *means* 'numbers' or 'countings' (cf. the 
article being discussed, p. 171), and only through *homophony* 
are these sefiroth (later) associated with spheres (Ibid., n47).

sri catyananda :
>That's what i keep tryin' ta tell him! 

you *do*?! :> I remember you being the one to tell me that 'sphere'
isn't a literal translation of the term (and you were right) and
that the Kabbalah originates in Judaism (partly correct, as our
examination of small and popular pieces such as gematria and the
(esp. Lurianic) Tree of Life has indicated). if I've misunderstood
you please offer correction. first let me support myself through 
correct quotation. here's what I said after the above quote 
preparatory to considering practical issues:

>...mystical tree-form diagrams predate Jewish mysticism of this 
>type by centuries, a variety of forms have been used over the 
>millenia, varying *widely* as to both structure and association-
>assignment and even Jewish trees with "sephiroth" have a multitude 
>of varying forms, even concentric at times.

I'm still not sure that "sephirotic trees" originated in Assyria
(or what meaning this claim might have that would be valuable).
Professor Parpola states that "many scholars today prefer the more
neutral term 'sacred tree' when referring to the Mesopotamian Tree"
and that the Tree, in Assyrian imperial art, shared the quality 
with what he is calling 'the Sefirotic Tree' of having a 'dual function':

	Basically, it symbolized the divine world order maintained
	by the Assyrian king, but inversely it could also be
	projected upon the king to portray him as the Perfect Man.

	Ibid., p. 168.

in comparing "the Sefirotic Tree" and "the Assyrian Tree", he doesn't
identify the Assyrian Tree as an example of a sefirotic tree and 
maintains, with Halevi (a good source), that "it can be said that the 
entire doctrinal structure of Kabbalah revolves around this diagram
[of the Sefirotic Tree]", noting that Z. Halevi, in "Kabbalah: 
Tradition of Hidden Knowledge" (London, 1979), p. 50, writes:

	The first step in Kabbalah is to become familiar with the
	Sefirotic Tree. Without this key, little can be comprehended.

and in "The Way of Kabbalah" (Bath, 1991), pp. 88 f. that:

	The Tree of Life is a diagrammatic scheme of the Sefirot
	or Divine Principles that govern Manifest Existence. It contains,
	and this is constantly repeated until learned, the concept of
	Unity and Duality, the idea of creative trinity, the Four Worlds,
	and the unfolding of the octave Lightning Flash between One and
	All, and back again .... In short, it is a key to comprehending
	the laws of the World .... In the Tradition it is called the Key
	of Solomon, and not without reason.

	Ibid., p. 171, n45.

and through the professor's article (note particularly figure 6 "Sefirotic 
and Assyrian Tree variants") he runs them PARALLEL, talking about sephirotic 
trees only in association with Jewish (and of course Christian and other
later) mystics. I keep seeing him differentiating 'Assyrian' and 'Sefirotic'.
so if you keep tryin' ta tell me something, please make it more clear what
it is. :> the original question was about 'the sephirotic tree', which I
gather may be entirely Jewish. have I misunderstood something? if not, where
can did such number-trees originate? Greeks and Pythagoreans? so they gave
Kabbalah gematria *and* number-trees? references?

> Siva, remember that photocopy Barry sent about the Assyrian tree of life
> -- that's the same stuff. 

indeed, though I doubt the Assyrians called the circles/spheres 
"sephiroth" and I wonder whether they identified them with numbers.
Parpola certainly thinks, as of the writing of this article, that
this was the case, given how easy it is for him to 'reconstruct' it.

it seems important to point out here that on page 176, the professor
is actually reverse-engineering an 'Assyrian Sefirotic Tree' by placing
Assyrian gods into it and seeing if it makes sense (in the section
entitled "The Assyrian Tree Diagram", particularly see figure 6, 
p. 179). within this thought-experiment, he omits Malkuth, because 
"it breaks the compositional harmony of the Tree and because the 
[Assyrian] king, though impersonating the Tree, clearly does not 
form part of it in Assyrian art." he notes that:

	The secondary nature of the Sefirah *Malkhut* is also
	indicated by the fact that it is not included among
	the six Sefirot constituting the "Lower Face" ... in
	Kabbalistic tradition, nor in Rav's list of the ten
	creative divine powers....

	Ibid., p. 182, n85.

so even though he has given us a diagram of "The Sefirotic Tree", in
comparison with his own, projected (not discovered), "reconstructed 
Tree", he varies from his proffered Sefirotic Tree somewhat, omitting 
Malkuth, assigning gods to the circles and calculating their mystical 
numbers through gematric mathematics (sourcing W. Rollig's article 
"Gotterzahlen" in the *Realexikon der Assyriologie* as his reference 
for his figure 9; p. 183 of Parpola's article) and assigning the 
numbers in a composite which he does not thereafter explain. I've 
been looking it over pretty carefully. if you have an explanation for
the number assignation and why this makes sense, I'd like to hear it. 
I've heard descriptions of Lurianic structures with numbers 1-10.

roughly, using as a reference what I have come to know as a Lurianic 
naming scheme, omitting the circle and lines to Malkuth in a somewhat
conventional occult Tree of Life diagram, Parpola's thought-experiment 
included the following substitutions: (SEPHIROTH=NAME=NUMBER)

	Kether=Anu=1, Chokmah=Ea=60, Binah=Sin=30, Da'ath=0=Mummu, 
	Chesed=Marduk/Enlil=50, Geburah=Samas=20, Tiphareth=Istar=15, 
	Netzach=Nabu/Ninurta=40, Hod=Adad/Girru/Nusku=10, 

> The metaphor was developed and vastly complexified by Jews, but seems to 
> have originated among Assyrians as a simple tree-with-fruit-spheres design, 
> and may have reached back perhaps even earlier than the Assyrians, to the 
> Sumerians with the harappa tree of Innana, which is known primarily through 
> hymns, not practical diagrams and the species of which is unknown. 

yes, I gather the Assyrians used many different tree-diagrams. it appears that 
*some* of the metaphors were developed prior to Jewish usage of these diagrams, 
some were probably grafted to previous structures and significances from 
non-Jewish sources, such as Greek Hellenism, and some were decidedly originated 
by Jewish mystics like Luria, Abulafia, and others. then others took these ideas
and structures and used them for their own mysticism.

more importantly, however, for the consideration of tree-diagrams and their
origins, is this note by Professor Parpola:

	While the Tree diagram and the elaborate doctrinal system associated 
	with it can thus be considered an Assyrian creation, the general 
	symbolism of the Tree, including its psychological dimension, is much 
	older and may well go back to the third millennium b.c., if not earlier....

	Ibid., p. 190, n106.
we've been gradually piecing out what elements might have been integrated
from outside Judaism (e.g. gematria, the tree-form-diagram) and sometimes 
originating newly within it (possible example here includes the qliphotic 
shell concepts which were picked up from Jews by Christians and Hermetic 
occultists such as Crowley and Kenneth Grant; in usenet (alt.magick, 
alt.magick.tyagi, alt.divination, and occasionally also 
alt.occult.kabbalah.golden-dawn). good sources like Scholem and Halevi, 
upon whom Professor Parpola appears to be relying, have provided sound 
directional advice and unbiased criticism to assist the student.

>> The Greek influence enters in with Pythagoras and his Tetractys.  

yes, I have enjoyed the consideration of how the Pythagorean tetractys
might be used as a cosmodiagram with tarotic and gematric associations
(English language). I created one with a tetraktys with which I am
pleased (the Tetraktys Biodendriticus, which be online sometime soon, 
maybe tonight) as well as what initial contemplation of this figure inspired 
with friends (the Biodendritic Tetrahedron). these are primarily triangular 
cosmograms, into which I plan to project tarot and other divinatory 
structures. they can be found at the Plebean School of the Great QBL:

the first person's work I can remember that included tetraktys material
was John Opsopaus, whose 1996 version of his Pythagorean Tarot was so
exciting to me I had to download the whole site and look it over. it is
presently at:

recently I stumbled across JSGraham's "Numerometria" website and had to
contemplate it deeply before doing my Tetraktys Bionumericus (again this
will be at the Plebean School). you can find Graham's work at:

I enjoyed these pages enough to print them out for further study:

and would bring to the attention of Crowleyites and Thelemites alike
that in the first of these two files, Graham's "Tet-Ra", which he 
describes as "the final form from the ancient Tree of Life of the 
Qabbala" sports lovely unicursal hexagram at its core. ;>

>> If you have your copy of *Secrets of the G.D. Cypher MS.* handy, 

don't think I've got that one. I'll probably pick it up soon.

>> go to the appendix on the Eleven Sphere Tree and look at the neat 
>> geometrically fractilized Tetractys diagram Fred Adams developed.

thanks, I'll have to check that out. I'm a big fan of tetracti and
biodendritic cosmograms.

peace be with you,


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