Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Yesod, the ninth sephirah of the Tree of Life, has idleness as its Vice, independence as its Virtue, and the Machinery of the Universe as its Vision. An alternative Vision sometimes given is the Vision of the First Matter, but this isn’t as far from the first option as it might seem.
At first blush, idleness looks the same as the inertia that’s the Vice of Malkuth, and superficially, it is. Our early work on the Tree helps us hone our aspirations, so that when we encounter serious ordeals higher up, our psyches are practised and prepared. Sloth is always the occultist’s enemy, especially as we have (generally speaking) no ashrams or monasteries to retire to, where there is a daily routine to keep us focused.
The name Yesod is translated as Foundation, yet it isn’t at the bottom of the Tree: Malkuth is. The genius of Qabalah is often found in its refusal to be ‘logical,’ but instead, truthful. And we are very much creatures of the mind, with its preconscious, subconscious and unconscious levels, and all its contradictory force, tendencies, wariness and anxieties. If we consider all the attributes we pin on the Moon, the planet of Yesod (craziness, silliness, longing, romantic urges, sexuality, changeability, the Mother and all her attendant complexes, the Father with his power to hurt or heal), then it’s not hard to see that Yesod is the sephirah par excellence of the personal mind.
To Yesod, we attribute the alchemical element of Air. After the weightiness of Malkuth and Earth, this comes as a relief, but it also keeps many people suspended in their own thoughts, unable to gain traction, and drifting contentedly (or otherwise) through life indefinitely. Our own selves, after all, are frequently what we love best, and wallowing in life-issues as opposed to knowing and detaching from them is a favourite human occupation.
And for many people, dealing with psychic wounds is, necessarily, a long job.
If we do begin to move on from the fascination with self, and achieve a greater measure of self-acceptance and freedom, then the Virtue, Independence, cuts in. Idleness can then be left behind.
Such self-awareness itself can constitute the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe, since it’s no secret that the human mind determines human experience. For some, grasping clearly that the mind is the author of our lives, not an annoying appendage to life, or an obstacle to living it, is a significant step. To this end, many mystery schools emphasise study of psychological projection, which is a very practical tool for observing our stubborn no-go areas, via our reactions to other people, or groups.
There are other aspects to the Vision, however, and different people will have different experiences with it. For a start, there’s the fact that Yesod is a nexus on the middle pillar of the Tree. Below it is the path of Tav, represented by the Universe card. The alchemical elements, shown in the Tarot image by the four Kerubim in the corners, are experienced in Tav in their astral form, not the more material form they had in Malkuth; but the experience can feel similar. Tav connects Yesod with our everyday, physical nature in Malkuth. The Nephesh, the instinctual or animal soul, is always a major influence on us, and this influence is felt very directly through dreamy, scary Tav, which is the sephirothic ‘highway’ to the light of Yesod.
Leading down into Yesod from Hod is the path of Resh, the Sun, while from Netzach comes the path of Tzaddi, the Emperor. The Sun, especially, refers to the Ruach, the reasoning Self or rational soul; the Emperor, to the Ruach as ruler of the personal self, and of the Nephesh. The first path offers the chance to explore and comprehend selfhood, the second requires us to address its significance and guide the Ruach to take charge of the instincts.
And lastly, the path of Samekh, Art, feeds down into Yesod from Tiphereth, directly above. The alchemical process of Samekh is highly individual, requiring the discovery and balancing of the core parts of our nature, and reconciling them through evolving our spiritual consciousness.
The Neshamah, the supernal soul, is not encountered fully at this level of the Tree, but it’s definitely pulling strings in the background in Samekh. Or, if you want to be precisely technical, the Ruach that is informed and guided by Neshamah in Tiphereth is doing so. Either way, Samekh marks a definite step up in spiritual consciousness and spiritual force, which is why it isn’t tackled until the work of Hod and Netzach is completed.
The aspirant working with Yesod will, in time, come to appreciate all these factors, first as individual forces and finally, as coordinated energies. This coordination will seem like a convention of drunkards at first, but breathing the Air of Yesod in a regular meditative practice helps sober everyone up. The aspirant finally begins to grasp the essence of his own, individual nature, which is what’s meant by the First Matter of the alternative Vision of Yesod, mentioned above.
As noted in the previous post, there might be a specific moment of vision for any given sephirah, but usually, there is a cumulative appreciation or conception that develops over time. Yesod, placed between Malkuth and Tiphereth, is the balance point between the empowered or opened-up Ruach and the Nephesh. Appreciating how the mind works confers independence of being: appreciating how That which lies behind and beyond the personal mind is an even bigger determinant. It’s this unfolding development that confers the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe that each one of us inhabits.
Love is the law, love under will,