June 24, 2015 TOLS

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The previous post looked at the paths as Interfaces. But they’re neither compromises nor blendings of the two sephiroth they each connect. Rather, they hint at the deeper significances of all our inner activities. This is a key aspect of the genius embodied in Qabalah, which in its ability to invert our prior conceptions, or to move without warning to a new and broader perspective, so perfectly mimics the contradictions of the human mind.

A word I’ve always liked is enantiodromia. It’s Ancient Greek, and covers the concept of how an over-abundance of any kind of force inevitably produces its opposite. It operates throughout the Tree of Life, as it does in alchemy, Zen, working with the I Ching, and various other spiritual practices.

Thus, if we move from the Earth of Malkuth to the Water of Hod, what links them? The path of Shin, attributed to the card of the Aeon, which represents pure, dramatic spiritual Fire. The impact of the transition from stolid, unmoving Malkuth (which we never actually ‘leave’ of course) to the fluidity of Hod, which contains most of our actual ideas and underlying philosophical assumptions, isn’t a simple step. Its action, occurring in relation to two sephiroth embodying the ‘passive elements,’ is enantiodromic. It rearranges us even more radically than Tav does, bringing us to an inner confrontation. This explains the trump’s old name, The Last Judgement.

The same thing, virtually, occurs on the other side of the Tree, in the interface between Malkuth and fiery Netzach, along the path of Qoph. The card for the path here is the Moon, attributed to the watery constellation Pisces; for the paradoxical impact of Netzach’s sparks on stolid Malkuth is to evoke a dream-like state. Admittedly, Fire in a sephirah this low down on the Tree is limited by its manifesting within the personality structures, rather than essentially outside them, as happens with Geburah or Chokmah. And so the result is this experience, part trance and part adventure, that leads us into terra incognita.

Without trying to ‘explain’ every Tarot trump this way, we can see the same sort of interfacing with the other cards below Tiphereth. From the lunar sphere of Yesod to Hod, which encodes the slippery mysteries of Thoth-Hermes, the path of Resh offers the brightness of the Sun.

An exception might be the path of Tzaddi running from Yesod to Netzach, whereon we find the Emperor. Here, Netzach’s Fire is brought to bear on the Airy mind-stuff of Yesod, resulting in a serious exploration of the force(s) governing the inner self. Yet Yesod is rather contradictory in its elemental character. It’s on the Middle Pillar, and is therefore aligned with the mediating element, Air. That said, the variability of the Moon, and all things lunar, produces a sense of Water-of-Air, just as Tiphereth, another Air sephirah, secondarily embraces Fire via its solar attributions.

The Tower, on the horizontal path of Peh, links Hod and Netzach. On the level of the personality, these two – the powers of intellect and the desire-nature – so often produce impossible dilemmas for us. The Tower is the result, indicating that the way through is to move our perspective up from the personality altogether to a transcendent viewpoint. Or rather, to let a transcendent viewpoint interrupt and shift our conventional perspectives, either suddenly or over a period of months.

Death/Nun and the Devil/Ayin were already referenced in Unknowing, a previous post from a few days ago. In these two cases, the cards are inherently enantiodromic; for once we see past the forbidding aspects of the Devil, it’s found to be the Redeemer, and one face of the HGA. And once we see into our fear of Death, especially as the expiring of our hopes and desires, it’s discovered to be a point of resurrection and spiritual renewal.

Art, linking Yesod to Tiphereth, is one of the more difficult paths of the Tree, since it’s about an impossible perfecting of selfhood. Here, the mind-rooted self-concept of Yesod has to yield to the supra-mental HGA as it manifests in Tiphereth. The whole notion of this boggles and stymies the mind, so that we strive to improve ourselves to the Nth degree. (Samekh/Art constitutes the process of approaching Tiphereth, as Ayin and Nun are the dominant content). It’s only when ‘perfection’ has, so to speak, snuck in through the back-doors of the personal mind, that the alchemical process shown on the card begins to fulfill itself. This is the enantiodromia here, the allowing of the HGA to dominate rather than the conscious aspiration of the magician.

Superficially, the ten sephiroth seem like a ‘skeleton’ of the Divine. Yet they could equally be seen as a conscious or outer form of the psycho-spiritual Self. The connecting paths, especially when viewed through the screens of the various Tarot trumps, come closer to indicating the actual nature of Divinity, which is forever counter-intuitive, energetic (i.e., not stable or static) and pregnant with new changes.

Love is the law, love under will,

Edward Mason

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