International Order of Kabbalists - Tree of Life (Western Hermetic Tradition)

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Tiphareth and Hod.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Ayin. Eye.

Titles: Lord of the Gates of Matter. Child of the Forces of Time.

Spiritual Significance: Capricorn. The Goat.

Tarot Card: XV - The Devil.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Indigo.
In Briah: Black.
In Yetzirah: Blue-black.
In Assiah: Cold very dark grey.




The papers below describe the Twenty-sixth Path of Ayin that symbolises the infleunce between Tiphareth and Hod. (More to follow)...

(Updated 14 January 2021)


The Path of the Devil

By Doreen Sturzaker

The Path runs between Hod and Tiphareth and is the Renewing Intelligence. Baphomet contains within himself the highest elements of the light-bringing force that can lead to illumination, yet in his lower aspects the influences can be evil because it can exalt the self-will instead of the One Will, thus running counter to Universal Law. If the word Baphomet is read from right to left as in Hebrew we have TEMOHPAB which by notarikon means; Templi Omnium Hominum Pacis Abbas meaning, the Priest of the Temple of Peace for all Men. Apparently the Knights Templar used this term for the individualised astral vortex which if skillfully directed could lead men to the way of inner peace and self-perfection. The Knights Templar were endeavouring to bring about the creation on Earth of a kingdom of Peace and union of all Nations and they magically sought to direct the powerful currents of their Astral Chain or Egregor.

Looking at the Path in the world of Atziluth we have the perfect balance of good and evil or positive and negative poles. It is all there in potential and both are needed in the scheme of manifestation that is to be and ever is.

This will be the joining with the upper cube on which the Devil is seated, the complete unification. But even at this level of the Archetype there are the seeds of egotism which is really the desire for a separate existence and herein lies the cause of Evil, what has been called the Great Heresy or sin of separateness. It is ignorance really, for once Man really understands this and learns to act in accordance with Law then he is no longer in bondage to the Devil, he is free of the chains binding him to the lower cube.

Indigo is the colour of the Path denoting a devotion to Truth. The Master said, "Know the Truth and the Truth shall make you Free."

In Chokmah the forces from the Path of the Devil are thrown out through the sphere of the Zodiac, thus endowing the Zodiacal signs with their potential for vice or virtue and ultimately humanity is impregnated with the same potential for working through and experiencing the virtues and vices of the signs. Black is the Path colour indicating that all is withdrawn, still in potential both light and dark are there and who can say which shall eventually be predominant.

Binah, this is where the negative, or if you like evil or deviation, first becomes positive through the restriction of form. Restriction is an aspect of Saturn with its Black Ray and the sphere off Binah is also Black in the world of Briah. The Path of the Devil is governed by Capricorn which also responds to the Black Ray. With all this Black around it is not surprising that the Devil or Evil is associated with Black and even in occult sources we hear references to the powers of Darkness. Perhaps somewhere there is a distorted memory of the Black Ray and its purpose. To most people restriction is irksome and Evil is the breaking out of restrictions. Universal Law is restriction in a way and to break restrictions means really to go against Universal Law and so is evil.

Now for the other side of the Devil - that of Lucifer the Light Bringer.

By working intelligently within the restrictions and accepting them we can gain the light of true Binah understanding.
Capricorn, the ruling sign of the Devil is looked upon in esoteric astrology as the culmination of a process towards initiation at the end of which a choice is made, wither to go forward or to slip back but in Capricorn is the potential for perfection, the outcome of a successful initiation.

Before leaving the Supernals in the world of Briah there is one last thought. Evil becomes Devil by the addition of the letter "D". This is Daleth, a door. This could imply that through this Path of the Devil we are led to the doorway beyond which lies the light.

In Gedulah the light of Binah understanding is veiled. It is the first Sephirah below the Abyss but a certain amount of the pure wisdom of Chokmah flows down the 16th Path, the Hierophant, into Gedulah. The Key 15 is a significant number - it relates to the divine name, Jah, which is especially ascribed to wisdom. According to Kozminsky however it is a number of occult significance, of magic and mystery. In the Middle Ages it was associated with the Witches' Sabbath and represented the lower side of magic. It was considered to be a number of eloquence, fatality, marriage troubles and voluptuousness. It represents the temptation of Man and has been compared to the Dweller on the Threshold.

If the soul of the man proves to be weak, then with the temptations of vice implicit at one level of this number, he will be engulfed. Yet the understanding of the number can lead on to great spiritual heights. This does bear out the dual nature of this Path of the Devil.

In Geburah the one on this Path will feel the full strength of justice being meted out to him according to how the experiences on the Path are being used. If there is any fear it is the fear born of ignorance which chains him to the lower half of the cube. The Hebrew letter Ayin has as its function consciousness attached to it the quality of mirth. There is much wisdom in this for if he can manage to laugh at his human predicament then he is half way to shaking off the chains and limitations that bind him. A sense of humour can certainly overcome many unpleasant situations in life, not least anything that he may meet up with in the sphere of Geburah.

The ancient Greeks appreciated the value of humour with their masks, comic and tragic linked implying that unhappiness can be short-circuited by a prophylactic dose of laughter and the tyranny of any "devil" in human form can be vanquished by a touch of humour or even outright ridicule.

In Tiphareth it seems he has reached a point of balance of a kind. The pure Rays of the sun of Tiphareth stream down to mingle and enhance the light of Lucifer. He is in the position of having cast off, temporarily at least, the chains that he thought were holding him in thrall and see them as the illusion that they are. But as he is not yet ready to walk always in the light with the discipline of self that this entails, the chains will most likely slip over his head again and again until he can finally scramble up on to the upper cube beside the devil who has truly become his light-bringer and remain there poised and free before setting out on the Path of the Hermit, alone.

In Netzach the individual treading the Path of the Devil has the help of the Mundane Chakra of Venus to guide him. Venus-Aphrodite is called the 'Awakener' which apart from any sexual connotations also refers to the awakening of consciousness. It is interesting that Lucifer has been closely associated with Venus. So the creative imagination is stimulated resulting in new ideas flowing through, and without them he will lack the necessary inspiration to carry through the great change in polarity necessary to take him from the lower cube on to the upper. He has to change his way of life so that the actual reality of his life as he lives it conforms as nearly as it can to his ideal.

In Hod where one end of the Path commences, we find the idea of God and the Devil or good and evil more definitely expressed or recognised in the life. Evil is, I feel, basically ignorance and as thought or what passes for it usually precedes an action good or bad, then the root of much of our human evil must emanate from the sphere of mind or Hod. I am not here going into the problems of Cosmic Evil but the evil that Man brings upon himself. But just as it emanates in the sphere of Hod through faulty thinking or ignorance so it can be corrected in the sphere of Hod by the light of the mind.

From the Sun centre and along this Path come the teachers of humanity to bring to Mankind the light of their knowledge and through their teachings Man can lift himself the chains from around his neck. Here too, the World teachers meet up with the temptations of the world and like every other individual have to decide whether to follow their own light or whether to take up the offer of the devil and get themselves bogged down in the concrete of Hod. Having withstood their temptations and having given their teachings they return along the same Path of consciousness to Tiphareth and pass beyond.

In Yesod we have the power to feel pleasure and pain because the etheric is the basis behind the fibrous cells which constitute the nerves, it controls changes in protoplasm and organisms respond to stimuli because it is the etheric body and not the physical which actually has the power to feel. In this emotional plane where the feelings hold sway the individual is at the mercy of the lower cube and he will waft backwards and forwards on the tide of desires as the fancy takes him. Actually this can be quite enjoyable and there seems no reason why he shouldn't succumb to temptation and let the devil take the hindmost. But eventually even this surfeit palls on him and he begins to look for a more stable condition than being at the mercy of his feelings, which he finds usually means that he gets hurt in the end, or at least his personality takes a knock.

The colour influence of Indigo can emphasise the selfishness in his nature, and his devotion in this sphere is more likely to be to himself and his own interests, whereas in a higher sphere it will be devotion to an ideal. However, the colour may help to bring about a higher realisation because it enables the mind to be receptive to new ideas and ideas of a progressive nature so while on the first stages of the Path he may be devoted to material possessions or apply himself to getting an easy living by not too scrupulous means, even resorting to black magic, but  it is more than likely that he will as he progresses turn his attentions maybe to a religion which catches his imagination for a while. Whether the individual follows the way of black magic and the inverted pentagram or whether he turns his eyes towards Lucifer and opens his mind to receive higher influences, he will pursue either course with equal devotion.

Now in Malkuth the destructive side of the devil can be seen wielding his torch of destruction which has a curiously cleansing effect burning away the dross by giving to man such a surfeit of terrorism and sensationalism that he cries "enough" and takes the ashes of bitter experience to commence to build for himself a firmer base on which to stand. The devil is the thrust block pushing him on to build his character and strengthen it to withstand the tugging of his lower nature. Without our friend, the devil, we would not recognise the other side of the coin.

Yet both sides are present, the black and the white. Out of seeming evil good can sometimes come, for instance in a war which tears nations apart and destroys so much some good may come in the form of new inventions for the betterment of life, medical discoveries their development is hastened so that eventually everyone may benefit. In peacetime it often takes much longer to develop a product and put it on the market. Certain technical developments in space satellites which could and probably would be used in warfare are turned to improve the performance of stereo sound equipment. But looking at the other side we can of course equally have evil coming out of seeming good.

The Christian church may have started off admirably enough and taught the Christian virtues (which incidentally are no different to any other virtues) but then schisms developed and we have had all the blood-spilling, cruelty and intolerance which has followed in its wake and in a sense still exists today in the Catholic Church, only it is in a more subtle way nowadays but it can be just as cruel.

It is a Path of paradox, Saturn governing Capricorn brings in all the limitations and restrictions of the intellect and yet it has also the eye or Ayin, the all-seeing power of the intuition. To see through the illusion of the devil we need the eye of intuition to transcend the intellect. The colour in Assiah is dark grey, almost black; this speaks to us of the balance between the two poles, the Androgyny. When we have achieved this balance we are free to join with Lucifer because we then really understand the true meaning of the Path which is to show us that we are not bound in material conditions but that even though wearing a physical body we can still be free, we can experience a renewal or a re-orientation and tread the Path to illumination.


The Devil

By Peter Oddey (2001)

When Paul Foster Case has written: “Of all the Keys of the Tarot, Key 15 is one of the most important. It is the symbolic veil for the greatest practical secret of occultism”, you know that the full weight of mystery, secrecy and arcane law are about to bear down. But that is the point, the ridiculous figure of the devil depicted in the cards, is really a figure of fun. As the inverted pentagram found in the Golden Dawn  and Waite cards, which like the Hanged Man tells us to look at things from another perspective, the word DEVIL spelt backwards is LIVED and you haven’t LIVED, until you have had a jolly good laugh at yourself and life and avoided taking it all too seriously.

As Robert Wang intimates, the card might be appropriately called “Mirth”, after the Hebrew letter Ayin (u), which means ‘an eye’ and is a simple letter related, in the Sepher Yetzirah, to the fundamental property of ‘mirth’. Certainly, laughter and light-heartedness are two powerful tools in overcoming the illusion cast by the Devil, on the twenty-sixth Path. As the valiant Christian would remind us, of all things, the Devil hates to be laughed at.

The twenty-sixth Path joins the intellectual world of Hod, with the Solar Logos of Tiphareth. It is the Path on which the empirical scientist misses the point. It is where the supposedly rational and acutely analytical mind of modern man fails to progress. In this sense, it is the Path of higher consciousness and life; the Path of the “Renovating Intelligence, because the Holy God renews by it all the changing things which are renewed by the creation of the world”.

The esoteric law teaches us that we do not live in a Newtonian universe, where man lives on earth, while God is in His Heaven. No. The material world where we dwell and of which our bodies are composed, is the culmination of the progress of ever denser planes of matter, beginning at the Godhead with the most rarefied, imperceptible particles of holy light and culminating in the infinite density of a collapsed star and a so-called ‘black hole’. It is therefore easy to understand how we, living and experiencing life through sensory organs of dense matter, spend most of our lives fumbling about in the dark; a life of illusion and delusion.

The Christ sought to impart this in his teaching on ‘Ayin’ the eye, where he said:

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.” – Luke 11:34 and Matthew 6:22

…. Where words such as eye and body do not infer simply the physical vessels, but rather the whole being, body, soul and spirit.

So it is that the Path of The Devil enjoys the grand esoteric title:

“Lord of the Gates of Matter; the Child of the Forces of Time”.

It is time and evolution through which we trust that mankind will progress to the higher planes. Indeed, the action of the Devil, in causing us to fall so often along the way, is the very means by which we come to know the truth and adjust our course accordingly. Paradoxically, the Devil is the means of our salvation. Perhaps it was the prurient proclivity of the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, at which time it is fairly clear that The Tarot underwent significant re-constitution, that caused the three lower Paths of Tiphareth to bear such dread names: Death, The Devil and Temperance. We all know of the Middle Ages spiritual pre-occupation with death, hell and the devil. These days, the same cards may be titled: New Life, Salvation and Self-Control.

It is for us to ensure that the inverted pentagram, held mockingly aloft by the Devil in the Tarot card, is firmly oriented point upwards; even if this means standing the Devil on his head!


The Path of the Devil

By Frances A. Morris (1975)

The Devil is Lucifer, and Lucifer means the lightbearer. The Devil tempted Eve in the garden and gave her the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Thus from Lucifer man received knowledge, which is the light by which he sees evil and without which he cannot know good. Without knowledge of evil man would remain choiceless, perfect, but a robot. So it is the Devil who has given man the possibility of becoming a god, of being perfect by choice.

On the Tarot card we see that the Devil is holding a fiery torch which he appears to be about to apply to the two human figures. In some packs he also holds a whip. This is symbolic of the fact that it is the Devil who constantly spurs us on and reminds us that we have choices to make, that we may not sit back complacently and take things easy if we wish to make progress. This is true at any stage of development; once one ceases to question, and either accepts another's decision as valid for oneself, or rests on the laurels of past achievement, then stagnation sets in, and since one cannot for any length of time remain stationary, one starts to slip back. And this is where the Devil comes in, with flaming brand and whip he drives us on again.

There is, of course, the possibility that the wrong choice will be made and the result will be evil instead of good. But knowledge of evil is necessary since it is as much a part of human experience as is good. The two figures on the card represent the opposites, positive and negative, and the Devil himself the fusion of the two. So we are taught that we must experience everything, both good and evil and understand it, so that we may be whole and balanced. It is the understanding of one's experiences which is vital. This has nothing to do with passing moral judgements, but it is the ability to observe the experiences of one's life objectively and absorb them.

This is, in fact, the path taken by the sacrificed gods, who then proceed from Tiphareth via the path of the Hermit to Gedulah, sphere of the Masters.

Further, the astrological sign for this path is Capricorn, the goat, which illustrates the high aspiration of the path, the craving for the mountain tops. We may understand the urgency and energy behind this aspiration if we remember that the goat is also a symbol for sexual lust and that a god attributed to the path is Pan. This then is the force of the path, akin to sexual ecstasy; and we can compare it with the will to life and growth of a plant which will force its way up and crack thick concrete in order to reach the Sun.

The Hebrew letter for this path is Ayin, an eye, and this refers to the pineal gland, or third eye, the all-seeing eye, the eye that sees through appearances and perceives the truth beneath.

When we learn to see with this eye the paradox of finding God through a knowledge of evil becomes clear to us; we may gain an impression of the oneness of life as a reality and not merely as a belief to which we pay lip service; and we understand in the symbol of the Devil that lust for perfection, which like the philosopher's stone transmutes all dross to gold and is all-begetting and all-powerful.


The Devil

By Vicki Gregory (2000)


It was in the 12th century that the Cathars emerged. This sect took the power of the Devil to it's ultimate. They believed that Satan had made the world, not God, and therefore everything within it. This was twisted by their opponents to claim that the Cathars were worshippers of Satan rather than God, which was of course completely the opposite of the truth. It was whilst dealing with the Cathars that the term Inquisition was coined. They were callously and quickly removed.


The height of the Devil's influence came with the anti-witch inquisitions between the 15th-17th centuries, when up to 100,000 were burnt at the stake. It was during this time that we see an explosion in the anti-female stance which had always been present in religion. Since Eve tempted Adam to bite that apple women have been blamed for all that is evil in the world. Indeed the 15th century witch-hunters bible - the Malleus Malificarum - states that women are genetically more predisposed to influence from the Devil. With attitudes such as that as the norm, it's no surprise that 90% of those burnt at the stake were female. Apparently the attraction that men feel for the opposite sex is evidence that women are by their very nature channels of the Devil! - the Malleus Malificarum again.

The Devil Today:

Nowadays the Devil is more a literary or artistic inspiration, than something to be feared. Even the Church tends strongly towards the monist doctrine – stating in the 1993 Catechism of the Catholic Church, "He is only a creative, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but always a creative. He can impede but not stop the building of God's kingdom". Yet, the Church maintains a network of diocesan exorcists, however discretely, which implies an acceptance of demonic possession. Here we see again that age old dilemma still apparent.

Other Christian sects are equally undecided, but again tending towards monism. However, fundamentalists are a different story. To quote Billy Graham, "The Devil is real and that he is wielding unholy power and influence, there can be no doubt. Switch on your radio or T.V. if you feel you need concrete evidence. Scan your newspaper... Could hearts filled with God's love deliver such acts of destruction?... In reality Satan is a resourceful, highly intelligent, powerful spirit". This is an easy answer to all the worlds problems - blame the Devil, something beyond your control.
So we can be sure the Devil is still very much alive and well in the minds and consciousness of many people today.


Indeed, some sad people perform travesties of Christian ritual, wear inverted pentagrams, and claim to worship Satan. To me, although they would deny it, they are a branch of Christianity, if warped of course, we must acknowledge, even respect, our darker aspects - our aggressions and negativity, but without balance with the light we become distorted. Whilst their is no evidence of large organised Satanic groups involved in illegal activity, I am sure there are many who do evil in His name, or the name of other malevolent entities. Unfortunately there will always be such people, but on the positive side, there will always be others who counter them with white magick and true hearts.


I am sure there is no single omnipresent force which represents evil, all sides emanate from the Ain through Kether. Others may disagree, but really it is irrelevant to the final result. Evil is a moral concept that we, as humans, define individually and as a society. Whether it is the Devil or our darker subconscious, it is within each of us to resist that evil impulse or temptation and try to follow the Divine Plan, and strive towards perfection.


Tiphareth, the Devil and Hod

By Anona (1979)

On the card of the Devil we see that he has horns, which refer to the sign of Capricorn which is the astrological sign ruling this Path, Capricorn is an earth sign and is a goat. The devil always has the face of a goat, but has the ears of a donkey, which show obstinacy and stubbornness; we all know the saying “as stubborn as a mule". The torch in the devil's left hand is giving little light and could be thought to be singeing the tail of the male creature in front of him. There is the symbol of Mercury just below his navel, which probably shows the influence of Hod at the lower end of the Path, as Mercury is the planet of Hod. This makes the Hod consciousness quick-moving and adaptable.

Hod is the sphere of materialism and also of illusion. Here religions are created and destroyed. Hermaphrodite is the focal image of this sphere. On the card of the Devil there are two figures in front of him, one male and the other female. They are chained to the cube that the devil is sitting on, but they are really free to go for the loops of the chains are quite large enough to slip over their heads, but they choose to stay there and associate themselves with the devil - shown by their horns, hooves and tails, bringing out the animal in themselves and thereby restricting themselves spiritually and as real human beings exercising their free wills. Saturn ruling Capricorn is a limiting planet and can make us feel ignorant.

Between the horns of the devil is a white inverted pentagram. This is the symbol of man; an inverted pentagram suggests a misunderstanding of man's place in the cosmos.

Now, if we will look to the numerological side of it all, we see that Hod is 8, Tiphareth is 6 and the numerical value of the Hebrew letter to the 26th path is 70, singling down to 7. Ialso note that as this is the 26th path, we have another 8, and as it is the 15th arcanum we have another 6.

Number 8 is of earthly material power. Once we get on this number we go round and round and round, although it would feel as though we were going fast, but we eventually loop back and so to looping the loop over and over again. Blissful eternity! Maybe so if you are so fond of your material comforts and security, but there is usually the thought, isn't there something more than this?

Here we come to number 7, for we are one of the creatures tied to the devil, realising that we are chained to him but that in fact we can walk away, if we dare. We must have a goal though, and we have it at Tiphareth, the centre of the Tree, the heart of the Universe. Seven coming from 70, numerical value of Ayin which means "eye" and "foundation". Look for yourself.

Also, man receives his first light of knowledge from the Devil or Lucifer and can see good and evil. There is another aspect of the "eye" where the eye brings in vision, and vision is limited by the circle of the horizon, so the eye represents the limitations of the visible. This again relates to Saturn and vice versa

I also read that sacrifice of some kind usually enters into the lives of number 7 people, for this is the number of soul growth. Tiphareth is the sphere of sacrifices. One must be careful though, for as Neptune rules this number, there can be a desire to escape from reality through drugs, drink and promiscuity. This isthe dark side of the devil. We must think of Lucifer the light bringer, and make for the light of Tiphareth.

Six is the number of Tiphareth. Six is the number of beauty and harmony. Draw the number six down the curved line and then round the circle folding in on itself, but with the ability to unfold and come out again.


The Path of the Devil

By M. E. Henbury-Ballan (1987)

The Devil represents the 26th Path and is the 15th Arcanum linking Hod with Tiphareth. In the Yetziratic Text it is called the "Renewing Intelligence" because the Holy God renews by it all the changing things which are renewed by the creation of the world.

This Path is one of the three associated with the Dark Night of the Soul, in that the Path tests the initiate on three aspects of human nature as they relate to spiritual growth - love, wisdom and power. This Path will give us the opportunity to look back and reflect upon ourselves - to find the answers we seek not from teachers or books, but from that divine spark that resides within us.

As this Path travels from Hod, the sphere of the mind, to Tiphareth, the Solar Logos - so can we expect to have all our wrong ideas and false notions laid open to us through the light of the Sun at Tiphareth. Some of our most favoured and cherished illusions will be challenged and it will be natural for the personality to fight to retain them. This Path will therefore be to us a battle-ground with the forces on this Path ranging against the falsities, wrong ideas and revered images with which we have nurtured ourselves for so long. The illusion of self can be very hard to give up but for us to gain a wider appreciation of the Path, we will need to understand the forces at work in the two Sephiroth each side of the Path, through the four worlds of the Kabbalah.

Hod is the 8th Sephirah and in the Yetziratic text is called the "Absolute or Perfect Intelligence because it is the mean of the primordial, which has no root by which it can cleave or rest, except in the hidden places of Gedulah, from which it emanates its proper essence." It is the sphere of splendour and the glory of God, and is seen as the Sephirah of the forms of the concrete mind and intellect. It shares with Chesed and Binah the presi­dency of water, as these spheres share the ideals and concepts of the creation of form.

Hod is situated at the base of the negative pillar and receives some of the divine force from Binah via Geburah. Hod is very much a sphere of this century - for as the human mind works in terms of form, it is obvious that Hod is the "Perfect Intelligence" as the use of from is needed for man to personify the forces of the god(s), which he seeks to understand. Yet form, when viewed from the spiritual standpoint has no reality - it is a phenomenon of existence and thus, as the Yetziratic Text states, these lower forms, however valuable to us, have no basic reality. Thus we see the forces at Netzach, given form by man, as forces of nature and the internal forces of mankind. Be they a picture image of a god as an old man with a beard and robes, or the various pictures painted by each race and tribe of man from the despotic Yahweh of the Jews, to the masculine and heroic images created in the Scandinavian god forms.

Despite its association with form, logic and science, it is also a sphere of illusion, for here are religions created and destroyed. For here man comes to worship the teacher and not the teachings. In Hod at the Atziluth level are the archetypes of gods and religions created - the world of Briah creates abstract but pure forms, though at the Yetziratic level slight deviation has begun to take place and which is finalised in our ideals of the images of god(s) and religion at the Assiatic levels - where further deviation has perverted the original pure spark and it is from this that illusion can arise.
Hod upon the Tree is negative to Geburah and Tiphareth, but positive to Malkuth and Yesod. From Hod, the masters and gods proceed through the sphere of Tiphareth, to move into the sphere of Gedulah or Chesed. To rise from Hod without going through the harmonising sphere of Tiphareth can only bring disaster and a necessary return to Hod.

The magical image of Hod is the hermaphrodite - an unusual image at first sight until we realise that the word comprises a conjunction of Hermes and Aphrodite - these are the principal god forms associated with Hod and Netzach respectively. When we recall that in Netzach we found a masculine force residing within a female image - here in Hod we find a feminine force within the masculine god form of Hermes. The apparent and actual polarity of images at this level of the Tree are not as confusing as they may seem. The clue lies in the God-name Elohim Tzabaoth, of which the part of most interest is the first name (Elohim) which has both polarity and duality within it - for it is a combination of the many in the form of the one. As a feminine noun with a masculine plural it indicates the nature of a dual force functioning through organisation.

The word Tzabaoth means a "Host or Army", representing the divine force via a group of forms endowed with spiritual force. This word also has other connotations with the concept of "ensouling form with spiritual force" - for the magical rituals associated with Hod show "where the many receive the blessing of the one, and to transform force into form that it may be partaken thereof". Hod is there seen as the place where the craft of the priest and the magician work in harmony with the divine force to create intermediaries which transmit the Divine Will.

This may be accomplished in many ways, one of the better known being the construction of god forms (telematic images) and by knowledge of the Holy Names. These magical rituals combined with a true appreciation of cosmic polarity may open the door andwindow of Hod and allow the lesser temple to connect and function with greater forces.
At the other end of the Path of the Devil lies Tiphareth, the Sephirah of beauty, harmony and balance. It lies central upon the Tree of Life and is the keystone of creation, holding the balance between the other spheres, from God in the highest at Kether to the physical manifestation in the Universe of Malkuth. It mediates between the two pillars and is called the "Mediating Intelligence" forming a pure balance between all the other forces. This sphere provides an imprint of unity, integrating the many aspects of the Tree of Life and which ultimately leads to synthesis and unity.

Tiphareth represents the goal we must all obtain and its virtue is devotion to the great work. This is represented through the ideals of rebirth, with this sphere relating to symbolism concerning death and sacrifice but leading through to regeneration, resurrection, as shown in the sacrifice of the chosen gods associated with this sphere, i.e. Osiris, Christ. Tiphareth is unusual in that its spiritual experiences are two, through which we reconcile the upper part of the Tree to the lower. Its spiritual experience is the vision of harmony of all things and in the understanding of the mysteries of death and sacrifice. This is further illustrated in its magical image of a child, a king, and a sacrificed god.

Tiphareth is therefore unique in sharing three meditational or magical images. These reflect the birth and death cycle of the Divine King - the living grail - as shown in so many religious mysteries. The essence of the redeemer, manifested in this sphere, is based upon this concept of their eventual sacrifice - the destruction of their physical being that sets in motion the spiritual force required to re-unite the lower sephiroth with the supernals beyond the Abyss.

The Abyss itself can be seen as the result of the Fall of Man and is representing at one level the difference between Man and God. Hence Tiphareth, the sphere of the incarnate gods is our key to reunion with Kether via equilibrium and harmony. For as Kether is absolute balance, so Tiphareth is its shadow beyond the Abyss, as it receives some of the Divine force via the middle pillar.

However, although Tiphareth may be seen as a place of harmony and equilibrium, pure spiritual energy is potentially a dangerous force for the unprepared to handle. Our own history has left many examples of those who receive an "overdose" and are unable to control it - the religious fanatic, full of pride in his assumed ultimate knowledge and "divine mission", is one example. Too many of these and we can embark upon a path leading to witchhunts, persecutions and inquisitions. Tiphareth has as its mundane chakra, the Sun, for all its gods are solar plus it helps to reinforce this warning. For the sun is vital to life; yet over-exposure may be fatal and no-one cannot stare at the sun without inviting eye damage or blindness. In moderation with a sense of balance, Tiphareth will illuminate our path, but without caution we may overreact and face the price of spiritual blindness.

At the Briatic level we have the archangels Michael in Hod, and Raphael in Tiphareth. Michael is the commander of the armies of light and is often portrayed at the forefront of the good versus bad battle. The name means "Perfect of God" and this is one of the Archangels called upon in ritual magic to guard the southern quarter of the temple. As such, he represents the illuminating and anti-darkness properties of fire.

In this aspect he should not be confused with Khamael, who represents a different aspect of Divine Fire. For here, the element of fire is that which transmutes forms to a higher level and is associated with Michael by virtue of the fact that he deals similarly with unregenerated forms and forces. Fire is the purging element as Michael is the purging Archangel. It may seem strange that fire should be associated with a water sphere, but as pointed out above, the aspect of Hod (as seen in logic and sciences) is the categorising of the unknown into knowable and stable structures for our comprehension.

Thus we can also see Michael as shedding a light into the dark unknown places - especially as one of our greatest fears is the fear of the unknown. For despite our passion for logic, we still mock that of which we are still ignorant, and that ignorance can be the breeding ground of evil - yet this could be dispensed with by the mental processes shown in Hod. Therefore our attribute of Michael as the dispenser of the forces of darkness and ignorance is a correct one.

At Tiphareth in Briah we have the Archangel of Healing, Raphael. His name means 'Healer of God’ and Raphael's role is to heal the wounds both physical and spiritual, of mankind. Raphael is also the supreme hermetic teacher and one of the finest guides that a mystical traveller could ask for. Raphael is a wise and farsighted counsellor, able to direct us to the path of balance, harmony and inner reconciliation.

The lessons which Raphael grants to those who enquire, place emphasis not on suffering to achieve a means to an end, but of learning from painful experiences and then transcending the need for them. Thus the true 'healing of God’ is for us to gain sufficient wisdom to avoid the Paths which necessitate pain. Raphael can teach us that suffering is merely an indication that progress is being made but is slightly 'off target' and that through further effort we can develop ourselves to the degree that such painful lessons will no longer be needed. In ritual magic Raphael is the guardian of the Eastern quarter of the temple and as such he presides over the element of air.

Coming to the Yetziratic level, we first encounter the angelic forces of the two spheres. In Hod we have the Beni Elohim, which translates as the 'sons and daughters of God', if we take into account the mixed feminine and masculine plurality of 'Elohim’. They can be more fully understood when coupled with the order of angels in Netzach - the Elohim - for together they can be considered as the force and form aspects of all the various gods and goddesses created by the mind of man. The Beni Elohim are present in all of us, as they are present throughout all creation - for if only we could develop the ability to contact them and to learn from them, we would find their aid invaluable in our quest. They provide the 'feeling' that a great truth awaits discovery but it is up to us to initiate our search with correct motives and through controlled conditions.       

In Tiphareth we find the Malachim (Kings, Rulers or Masters) who strive to maintain the various individual aspects of the universe, the galaxies and the stars and how they relate to each other. Existence is always fluctuating and changing, for it is the Malachim who must provide points of stability and balance for these fluctuations to harmonise with each other. They cannot prevent death or destruction but will salvage what is usable by maintaining focal points in new fields of existence - for all existence is a continuous system.

The Malachim maintain the balance in human life by harmonising all the aspects of each being, building new patterns where needed and healing by harmonising areas of unbalance.

And finally at the Assiatic level we find that the mundane chakra of Hod is Mercury - as the planet is the closest to the sun and therefore receives more light than any other. It is also closely involved at esoteric levels with Venus and Earth and is associated with the psychic levels of the abstract mind. Hod is also the realm of the magician and has much to do with the mysteries of Hermes.

This has led to a complete occult tradition - the Hermetic Path, which is the way of enlightenment through the mind. Hod is therefore the sphere of esoteric philosophy and magic. The three main Paths of Western occultism can be aligned with the lower Sephiroth - the Green Ray of nature mysticism refers to Netzach; the Purple Ray of devotional mysticism to Yesod; and the Orange Ray of magic and occult practices to Hod. All three paths however, unite at the level of Tiphareth.

This sphere also has connections with the concepts of logic and truth - and can be associated with such names as Plata, Synesius and Plotinius - all who developed the art of logic, but this was a logic that is based upon the truth and which speaks to the intuition as well as the lower mind. If logic is not built upon a foundation or rock of truth, then regardless of how cleverly it was constructed, it will eventually collapse. This helps to illustrate the vice and virtue of Hod - falsity and the truth. This idea of logic can be taken a step further in that logic can lead to scepticism which can destroy the spirit if not balanced with Netzach.

The images and forms of Hod are not the same as in Yesod - they are forms made and controlled by the mind and will, and reflected in the Water Temple of Hod. They are images of eternity often conceived and placed there by higher beings, to be picked up by man and meditated upon to give further revelation and the Vision of Splendour that is the spiritual experience of Hod. The waters of Hod are not the elemental waters, but the crystal clear waters of the Well of Truth.

Understanding Tiphareth is essential in understanding the Tree of Life - it is the keystone for the whole of creation - the central balancing point for the other spheres that surround it. As stated, its mundane chakra is the sun - which is the source of light, warmth and life in our own physical universe, as well as a manifestation of the divine power of God. It is the sphere of Tiphareth which concerns us with the concepts of sacrifice and regeneration. A sphere of paradoxes - death is life and life is death.

Tiphareth is the heart of the Tree - a focal point, a centre of transition or transmutation - with the four lower spheres representing the personality or lower self, and the four higher spheres representing the individuality with Kether as the divine spark. We must therefore never view Tiphareth as an isolated sphere, for it is not only central to the Tree of Life linking the lower spheres to the higher, but is also the cornerstone of the Divine Plan. We can also further understand this sphere as a sphere of illumination, for it can introduce the mind to a higher form of consciousness, allowing us to perceive the higher forces manifested by the four Sephiroth above this point on the Tree. It is therefore fitting that the symbol of the sun is the universal image of illumination in our own physical plane.


The Path of the Devil

By Jane H. Brod (1978)

Gareth Knight calls this Path a Dark Night of the Soul on the Way of Wisdom, testing the intellect, as the Path of Temperance tests the devotional aspirations, and the Path of Death the driving emotions.

I've read in several places that in order to reach Tiphareth and then Kether, one must have faith hope and love, and that these qualities are continually tested in various degrees, up the Middle Pillar. I doubt that many of us really have developed actual concepts of faith, hope and love, and I would guess that these words strike a very shallow and naive level of understanding in our minds.

The limited range of ideas connected with faith and hope, especially hope, might well make us shift with a feeling of vague embarrassment, since the ideas raised are associated with puerile illusion and unrealistic behaviour; whereas the word 'love’, which is pushed around with self-righteous fervour, and which most people do think they have a concept of has, in my opinion, merely been appropriated to promulgate sentimental hypocrisy and muddled thinking, or to support fanatic exclusivity - and any real meaning has been drowned. However, whatever associations these words usually give rise to - simplistic or sentimental - I would think that they all, in fact, do have a very deep and very real meaning and application in terms of the higher psychology of an individual rising through the Paths of the Tree.

Although in "climbing" the Tree one must probably have a balance of these three qualities together on the High Priestess (or at least after reaching Tiphareth), I think in order to centre consciousness in Tiphareth, to transfer the axis from the Personality to the first point of the Individuality, these three qualities are acquired separately on the Paths of the Devil, Temperance and Death, and blended together at the higher point of Temperance.

On the Path of the Devil, therefore, I think what is being tested is not simply the intellect, as is stated by Knight, but the individual's quality of hope, which is an attribute of the higher intellect with its roots in Chesed - or, to put it another way, the capacity of the functional Hodian-type intellect to go inside itself, to follow its inward spiraling through the inner meaning of Hod (which is Virgo, or the Path of The Hermit) to Chesed.

From the point of view of the Personality, the possibilities of being or doing arising through Chesed are infinite, and since the functioning at Hod has its basis there, the individual working from Hod should have an unconscious awareness of these infinite realms of possibility - this is what I mean by hope. Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, expounding the workings of Hod in relation to the psyche, states that Hod loves novelty, and again elsewhere, that Hod loves excitement and anything new - this, of course, has a direct bearing on the leaning process. Thus, there is a capacity in Hod which gives itself to openness, to awaiting or seeking out fresh horizons; it is constantly on the alert, receptive - again, the capacity for hope.

However, the fact that this capacity is the innate desire which spurs the concrete intellect to exercise itself, can eventually give rise, on the Path of the Devil, either to total despair and "dryness" (as with certain of the existentialists, e.g. earlier Sartre and Camus), or the creation, adoration or final acceptance of a God of Concrete Intellect as the summit of man's possibilities, moral, intellectual and spiritual (as with, e.g. the later Sartre, and possibly Colin Wilson, who looks as if he's going that way).

This comes about through the acceleration of activity of the Hodian intellect, responding to the call of Tiphareth/Chesed, or listening to a whisper of higher authority on the Wisdom line, which is inherent in both the awareness of Capricorn on the Devil, coming from Tiphareth/Chesed - and in Chesed itself, the root of Hod and the archetypal seat of authority with digesting as many moral-political religious or occult oriented philosophies as the person can lay his hand on, constant discussions with himself and others building up a consistent and coherent structural unity of academic knowledge about "life", "higher states of consciousness", etc., continually trying to understand himself and others through this structure. But the problem confronting him is always his limitation of awareness; concrete knowledge he has in abundance, but that does not help him - it is his own limitation of mind, symbolised by the Devil who here signifies negative evil, or the ring-pass-not of Saturn, in the realm of material thought, which brings him back again and again to the same point in his deliberations.

Depending on his quantity and quality of hope, i.e. his capacity to align his Hod truly in receptivity to Chesed, he will do one of three things: give up completely, imagine that he has reached the limits of possibility and that he must rely on the intellect itself as the highest level of validity and authority for the construction by the Personality of a philosophy of life (e.g. the later Sartre's Philosophy of Commitment) - this way, the individual is accepting a false God, yet in Sartre for example, one can see that he is at least still trying, through this way, to live through the highest ideal he can conceive of - his hope ( in the sense in which I am using the word) is still with him, though he has perverted its basis, its truth to an illusory conclusion; secondly, the individual can wander around for years in an existentialist desert of self-hate turning to indifference through, a kind of "mental retching" of his being, having lost hope completely, his thought going round in circles again and again until he no longer places any confidence in the intellect, yet is unable to stop the thoughts going over the same ground (e.g. Camus "L’Stranger"); thirdly, if his quality and quantity of hope is developed to the extent where despair can be transcended by faith, he can make some form of sacrifice. (The standard definition of sacrifice - given by Dion Fortune - is where "a static form of energy is taken, and by breaking up the form that imprisons it, (it is put) . . . into free circulation to turn up in due course in another form").

A relevant quote from Dion Fortune is:

"It is by means of an understanding of the Mysteries of Crucifixion which concern the magical power of sacrifice, that we are able to transcend the limitations of brain consciousness, limited to sensation and habituated to form (i.e. Hod) and enter into the wider consciousness of the higher psychism (i.e. Tiphareth). We thus become able to transcend form and thereby release the latent force, changing it from static to kinetic and rendering it available for the Great Work..."

According to her, it is "Devotion, rising to Adoration... which initiates us into the Mysteries of the Crucifixion". "Devotion", she says, "might be defined as love "or something higher than ourselves, something that evokes our idealism".

Though the word "devotion" brings associations to mind not immediately applicable to the Path of the Devil, this definition seems to me to correspond with the description I have given of a Hod receptive to Chesed. " . . . with a stronger emotional content is infused into devotion and it becomes adoration, it carries us across the great gulf fixed between the tangible and the intangible and enables us to apprehend things that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard".

Again, "adoration" seems a strange concept to apply to this Path, but reflection reveals that the "strongest emotional content infused into her definition of "devotion" can, in fact, be applied to the infusion of faith - overcoming - despair, into the hope ("devotion") which has been strong enough to generate such faith. (From the point of view of Death on the other side of the Tree, her definition of "devotion" can equally apply to the aspect of love/energy operating in Netzach oriented, to Tiphareth/Geburah and the "stronger emotional content" infused, is again faith; although the word "belief" would perhaps be more appropriate in this case).

However, the question arises of - What is the sacrifice to be made which will transform the consciousness of Hod, through the "Mysteries of the Crucifixion", into the consciousness of Tiphareth? Ramana said, "There are only two ways to Realisation: either thoughts are eliminated by tracking down the root-thought of "I", or, one surrenders unconditionally to the Higher Power. (This) consists of giving up all thoughts of me and mine, and leaving it to the Lord to do what He wills with us. Surrender is not complete as long as we want anything from Him. It is Love of God for the sake of Love, and for nothing else. Translated into Kabbalistic terms, this second way seems highly appropriate to the Death side of Temperance, i.e. the sacrifice to be made on the way of faith / love. Ramana’s first way is attributable to the Devil side of Temperance, i.e. faith/hope.

The sacrifice to be made is that of thought; firstly inhibiting thought to what is essentially the Path of the Hermit, i.e. the Spiritual Significance of Virgo which is contained as the inner meaning of Hod, breaking down to its roots the concept of "I", and then once it has been found to come from beyond the intellect, sacrificing thought completely.

This method seems to me to be very relevant to the Path of the Devil, since it is the concrete intellect which gives rise to the greatest degree of ego-awareness, and is also the hardest thing for a person to let go of - since the loss of the intellect is the greatest threat possible to the ego, not only for its security, but also for its very survival. Intellect and ego-awareness are more or less one concept, or at least two sides of the same coin. This method is a perfect transmutation of force - the intellect/ego concentrates on itself in such a way that it eventually becomes "turned inside out" and intellect is transformed into intuition, or illumination takes place.


To be continued...