The Paths of the Qabalah
I must confess, I've been trying to use the book "The Talking Tree"
by William Gray and I admit that I've been having a hard time. Most
Tree of Life glyphs start the eleventh path with the Fool, as it is
with most tarot decks.
Gray begins with the Heirophant. I noticed that Gray has the Tree
laid out in a different fashion than most other glyphs. I've also
been trying to correspond the Hebrew alphabet with his work too, but
he has used the English alphabet, beginning with "B" (Beth), instead
of "A" (Aleph) which has been thoroughly confusing for me and has
hurt my brain. It wasn't until I found another book, "Garden of
Pomegranates" by Israel Regardie that I felt comfortable with trying
to explain it. So I will look to Grays book for his intuitive insight
and explanations, but will rely on Regardies book for the most
sensible path working. I will run through the paths and their
correspondences first and then go back with a bit more depth. As I
have stated before, the Qaballah will have different meanings for
everyone. Once we have studied the system as a whole, then we can
begin to make it our own, or in other words, we study it, master it,
then transcend it's doctrine to make it our own personal system of
In regards to the "Garden of Pomegranates" we begin with the eleventh
path, that being The Fool. It emanates from Kether to Chokmah, Crown
to Wisdom, 1 to 2. The ten Sephrioth, Kether through Malkuth, are
really considered paths 1 through 10, so the actual paths themselves
interconnecting the Sephrioth begin at eleven. The Eleventh path is
the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph "A". It has a
numerical value of 1. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a
corresponding numerical value and they range from one to 400 in
unequivocal increments. Between 1 and 10, the increment increase is
by one, between 10 and 100, the increments are ten, between 100 and
400 each increases by 100. According to Regardie, the method of
Gematria, or implying the sense of numbers represented by letters, is
an art of discovering the secret sense of a word by means of the
numerical equivalents of each letter. Similar to the art of
numerology, a total numerical sum of all letters is calculated in any
given word, and words with identical sums have similar esoteric
meanings. Applying Gematria to words in the scriptures is said to
reveal hidden celestic messages.
The word "Aleph" means "ox" and denotes the generative power of
nature and is called "the Scintillating Intelligence". It's element
is air and when associated with the Fool, implies an airy aimlessness
of existence. It's color is sky blue, gems are topaz and chalcedony,
perfume is galbanum, planet is Jupiter.
Path number twelve is "B" or Beth, is represented by the Magician and
has the numerical value of 2. It joins between Kether and Binah,
Crown to Understanding. It's ruling planet is Mercury, or Quicksilver
or liquid mercury. Per Regardie, this is "The Transparent
Intelligence," and "the alchemical conception of the universal
Mercury, that of a flowing, shifting, and unstable principle, ever
changing". It also affirms the formula "as above, so below" as
commanded by the Magician. Storax, mastic and mace are the perfumes,
the gem is agate, vervain is the associated plant.
Path number 13 is Gimel, "G". It joins Kether to Tipareth, Crown to
Beauty, and has the numerical value of 3. This path is said to "cross
the abyss" as it crosses over Daath. The title of this path is the
Uniting Intelligence" it's Yetziratic attribution is the moon. This
path of Gimel or the Moon links the Supernal Triad with Tipareth.
This is a lunar path with it's color being silver, the moonstone and
pearl are the corresponding gems.
Camphor and aloes are the perfumes although I could think of more
appropriate lunar scents. All the lunar Goddess are attributed to
this path which make it appropriate to be represented by the High
Next is path fourteen and the fourth letter of the alphabet,
Daleth, "D", with a numerical value of 4. It joins Chokmah to Binah,
Wisdom to Understanding, and joins "the father to the mother". The
horizontal paths on the tree that link a male with a female Sephiroth
are refereed to as reciprocal paths and this is the first one. This
is the path of "the Luminous Intelligence", has as it's color green
and appropriately corresponds to the gems of emerald and turquoise.
The scents are myrtle and rose, and has the reference of being
Aphrodite's girdle, The astrological attribute is to Venus, Goddess
of Love and Agriculture, universal love and desire. It is represented
by The Empress.
Path fifteen and fifth letter is Heh, "H", joins Chokmah to
Tiphareth, Wisdom to Beauty and has a numerical value of 5. The
word "Heh" means "window" and has the title of "the Constituting
Intelligence". Its astrological emphasis is that of Aries, the ram,
ruled by Mars and in which the Sun is exalted which make this a
fiery, martial path. This is The Emperor. The scent is that of
geranium, and the gemstone is ruby. The color is red.
Vav, "V" means "a nail", is the sixth letter, the sixteenth path and
has a value of 6. It joins Chokmah to Chessed, Wisdom to Mercy, and
is used as a symbol of the phallus. It is associated with Taurus.
Regardie says " the phallus, in the mysticism of the Qabalah, is a
creative symbol of a creative reality the magical will." Vav is
the "Son" of etragrammaton the savior of the world. This sixth letter
has close connections to that of the sixth Sepirah Tiphareth, that
being of the Redeemer. The associated tarot arcana is the Heirophant
which represents the Pontiff principal and the higher consciousness
in all of us. The scent is storax, the gem is topaz, it's color is
indigo, it's plant is mallow.
The seventh letter is Zayin "Z" and is the seventeenth path. It joins
Binah to Tiphareth, Understanding to Beauty, and has a numerical
value of 7. Zayin means "sword". It's astrological sign is Gemini.
The tarot card is the Lovers. It is called "the Disposing
intelligence" with mauve as it color.
It's gemstones are alexandrite and tourmaline, scents are orchids.
Path eighteen is the eighth letter Cheth "CH", meaning "fence" and
joins Binah to Geburah, Understanding to Severity, and has a value of
8. It is the sign of Cancer and the Egyptian God Khephra. It is
attributed to The Chariot.
Per Regardie "the whole card symbolizes the Great Work, that process
by which man comes to know the unknown Crown, and attains to the
Knowledge and Conversation of his Holy Guardian Angel". It is
called "the House of Influence". The lotus is the flower, the perfume
is onycha, the color is maroon, and amber is the gemstone.
Teth, "T", the ninth letter, nineteenth path with a value of 9. It
joins Chesed to Geburah, Mercy to Severity. The tarot card is
Strength. The astrological sign is Leo and is ruled by cat deities
like Sekhet and Bast. The corresponding animal is the lion, it's
flower the sunflower, its planet the sun, it's gem the chatoyant
beryl, cat's eye, it's perfume olibanum, it's color purple.
The tenth letter is Yod, "Y", is path twenty, has a value of 10 and
joins Chesed to Tiphareth, Mercy to Beauty. This is represented by
the pointed index finger on the hand, another phallus symbol. Modern
day slang gestures incinuate that the middle finger seems more
phallic, but what do we know. Represents the unconscious secret
will, the essence (libido). This is the card of the Hermit. It's sign
is Virgo and implies purity and innocence.
The gem is peridot, the flowers are snowdrops and scent is narcissus.
The corresponding color is grey. In the last essay I began listing
the attributes of each of the 22 paths >connecting and
interconnecting the ten Sephiroth on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. I
realize this is pretty dry, but I am picking the main points of each
path from "A Garden of Pomegranates" by Israel Regardie as an act of
turning over all the pieces before trying to assemble the puzzle. I
will go back over each path in more detail later on. It is said that
it is best to memorize the positioning of these trump tarot cards on
the Tree of Life because it will be much easier to work with and
understand the complex relationships between the paths if we memorize
their positioning. The plants, scents, animal attributes are
considered the mundane aspects of each path, but never the less, will
aid in their interpretations.
The eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet is "K", Caph and is the 21
path, linking Chesed to Netzach, Mercy to Victory. It has a numerical
value of 20. Caph means "spoon" or "the hollow of one's hand". It
connects the expansive generosity of Jupiter to the love nature of
Venus. This path is called "The Conciliatory Intelligence" and the
tarot card is The Wheel of Fortune, the ever fluctuating cycle of
existence and the ups and downs of life. The jewels are lapis lazuli
and amethyst, plants are hyssop and oak, perfume is saffron, the
color is blue.
Twelfth letter is Lamed "L", is the 22 path linking Geburah to
Tipareth, Severity to Beauty, and it's numerical value is 30. Lamed
means "ox-goad" or a "whip". It's astrological sign is Libra and
the "scales" are it's most important attribution to remember, for the
corresponding tarot card is Justice. The plant attribute is aloe,
associated animals are the spider and elephant, scent is galbanum,
color is blue. It is called "The Faithful Intelligence".
Next letter is Mem "M", path 23 with a numerical value of 40. It
joins Geburah to Hod, Severity to Glory. Mem means Water and is
represented by the Hanged Man and is called "The Stable
Intelligence". The symbols of Water are the eagle, snake and scorpion
(all attributes of the sign Scorpio) and represents the unredeemed
man, his magical force, and his final salvation.
All water plants and the lotus are of this path, its color is sea
green, perfumes are onycha and myrrh, it's gemstones are, my all time
favorite, wonderful sparkly ocean blue aquamarine, and all other
beryl's. The Hanged Man's position is hanging by one foot with one
leg bent, hands behind his back, is the formula of the "Savior"
bringing light to the men of earth.
The twenty fourth path joining Tipareth to Netzach, Beauty to
Victory, with numerical value of 50 is Nun (pronounced noon) "N". It
means "fish" and is represented by the card Death. It's magical
formula, regeneration through perfection, and is called "The
Imaginative Intelligence". This can be analogous to the alchemists
procedure for turning their "base" metal, usually lead, into gold,
by which the base had to pass through many states of putrefaction
(chemical changes). In regards to the Death card, one goes through
many stages of desolated reflection or the "Dark Night of the Soul"
where the spiritual parchness of the mystic rectifies itself to bloom
forth in the spiritual light of Day. It's gemstone is snakestone,
color brown, scent opoponax, it's plants are cactus and other
The fifteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the 25 path join
Tipareth with Yesod, Beauty to Foundation, Sun to Moon. The letter is
Samekh "S" and it's numerical value is 60. This letter means "prop",
is the sign Sagittarius and is called "The Tentative Intelligence".
Sagittarius is the archer and the attributable plant is the rush,
used to make arrows. The tarot card is Temperance and signifies the
Holy Guardian Angel to whom man aspires. The scent is lignaloes, it's
color green, stone is jacinth.
Next is the sixteenth letter, Ayin "O", is path number 26 from
Tipareth to Hod, Beauty to Glory, and it's numerical value is 70.
Ayin means "eye" and is symbolized by the yoni and the lingam and
typifies the creative forces of nature. The tarot card is The Devil
and is known as "The Renovating Intelligence". Regardie says "Ayin
represents the creative force of godhead, which, should it become
manifest in man, makes him the All". This path is symbolic of man
being consciously aware of his True Will and ready to set out to
redeem the world. The Devil is the beginning of spiritual
enlightenment. It's gemstone is black diamond, color is black, scent
is musk, the animals are goat and four legged ass.
Path number 27 is Peh "P", the seventeenth letter joining Netzach to
Hod, Victory to Glory, and has a value of 80. It means "mouth" and is
the third of the reciprocal paths. It is called "The Natural
Intelligence" and is attributed to Mars. The tarot card is the Tower,
or referred to as "The House of God". This letter is similar to the
letter Caph, and too has the same magical formula. It's animals are
the bear and wolf, plants are rue and pepper, perfumes are pepper,
the color is red, metal is iron.
Next is Tzaddi "Tz" the eighteenth letter and path 28, Netzach to
Yesod, Victory to Foundation, numerical value is 90. Tzaddi
means "fishhook" and is attributed to Aquarius and is distinctively
feminine with the tarot card being The Star. It is called "The
Natural Intelligence". The plant is the olive, perfume is galbanum,
color is sky blue and gemstone is chalcedony.
Path 29 joins Netzach to Malkuth, Glory to Kingdom, is the nineteenth
letter of the alphabet, Qoph "Q", meaning "the back of the head" and
is valued at 100. It is called "the Corporeal Intelligence" and is
represented by Pisces. It's gemstone is the pearl. The tarot card is
the Moon. It's animal is the dolphin, the color buff, doesn't list a
scent. Resh "R" is the twentieth letter and the 30 path from Hod to
Yesod, Glory to Foundation, and has a numerical value of 200. Resh
means "a head". All the attributes are those of it's tarot card, the
Sun. Yellow is it's color as is called "the Collecting Intelligence"
with cinnamon and olibanum as it's perfumes. Animals are the lion
and sparrow hawk, gold is the metal, plants are heliotrope,
sunflower, laurel. Crysoleth is it jewel.
Shin "SH" is the twenty first letter and the path number 31 joining
Hod to Malkuth, Glory to Kingdom, with numerical value of 300. Shin
means "tooth" and the Hebrew glyph of Shin means "hissing", the
implications being the Holy Spirit descending in tongues of fire as
its attribute is to the element Fire.
The tarot representation is The Last Judgment and is called "the
Perpetual Intelligence". The corresponding plants are red poppy and
hibiscus, the jewel is fire opal, the perfumes are olibanum and other
fiery spicey scents.
The last path no. 32 and the twenty-second letter is Tav "T". Linking
Yesod to Malkuth, Foundation to Kingdom, and has a numerical value of
400. Tav means "cross". This path depicts the lowest dregs of the
astral plane to the universe as the sum total of all existent
intelligence's and rightfully is called "the Administrative
Intelligence" is the tarot card The World. The animals are the
crocodile and similiar prehistoric reptilian creatures, pungent odors
like asafoetida. It's color is black, plants are the ash and
Suggested News Resources
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- Initially I was delighted by the arrival of Anita Kraft's new book on Qabalah, The Qabalah Workbook for Magicians: A Guide to the Sephiroth.
- Seekers and Guides: A Few Books that I Think Every Witch Should Read (Part Two)
- Some more metaphysical books Last column I laid out a list of recommended reading for witches. This column continues that list. A little reminder of my conditions: As I said last time, some of these books are by Pagan authors and some are not.
- The Taboo of Studying Kabbalah
- Yes, it is easier to follow either the extreme of total denial or the extreme of total indulgence; it is far more challenging to take the middle path and fuse intense physicality and intense spirituality.
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