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

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Binah and Geburah on the Pillar of Severity.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Cheth. Fence.

Titles: Child of the Powers of the Waters. Lord of the Triumph of Light.

Spiritual Significance: Cancer. The Crab.

Tarot Card: VII - The Chariot.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Amber.
In Briah: Maroon.
In Yetzirah: Rich bright russet.
In Assiah: Dark greenish brown.




The papers below describe the Eighteenth Path of Chet that symbolises the infleunce between Binah and Geburah. (More to follow)...

(Updated 09 January 2021)


Justification for the 7th Arcanum Placed on the 28th Path

By James Sturzaker (1980)

The 28th Path running between Yesod – the firm Foundation, and Netzach – Victory, appears to be the ideal Path for the 7th arcanum – The Chariot.

On the arcanum we see the Charioteer on his firm foundation, the cube of his chariot, he is standing four square.
From the whole pictorial description of the arcanum Victory is symbolised, and the Charioteer is looking for fresh worlds to conquer, and Netzach is the sphere of Victory. In the foreground of the arcanum there is grass, a river and trees, it is amidst this that the Charioteer stands triumphant, indicating victory over Nature – another aspect of Netzach.

The Winged Sun Disc indicates where his next conquest should be – Tiphareth, the next sephirah up from Netzach.
The two sphinx indicate that there will be the balance of the two pillars, this is before him as symbolised by the sphinx. The sphinx are not harnessed to the chariot and there is no sign of a harness of any kind, this is why I say they symbolise the next step forward.

The buildings of the city or fortress is behind him thus indicating that the Material has been conquered, the firm foundation of Yesod has been passed.

The eight pointed star on his head symbolises the Middle Pillar or path that is above him, Tiphareth above Netzach.
Victory or conquest implies the end of a cycle and the birth of a new one, this is the state of the Charioteer. The Hebrew letter Tzaddi, associated with this Path, means not only a fish-hook but hiding, lying in wait in a narrow place, this is just what the Charioteer is doing. A fish-hook implies the same thing, the fisherman lying in wait.

An interesting point, in the relationship of the twelve simple Hebrew letters to the twelve drawings on the Buddhist Wheel of Existence is Jati, the 11th drawing and related to Tzaddi. Jati is birth, the beginning of a new cycle.The sign Aquarius is associated to this path and is the 11th sign as Jati is the 11th drawing on the Wheel, thus further support to the Chariot being placed on this path. Aquarius is a sign that gives the qualities of determination, the forming of definite objectives towards which to work, but with the ability to adjust the line of approach so as to accord with the circumstances of the moment. A good description of the Charioteer.

A final point on this association – Tzaddi also means The Spirit of Enterprise which gives the power of springing forth new-born, as it were, in the hunt for experience.


The Path of The Chariot - The 18th Path

By Doreen Sturzaker

The Path runs from Geburah to Binah. The Hebrew letter is Cheth, which signifies a field and a fence enclosing the field. So it suggests protection or defence, an area set aside for cultivation, it can also be a refuge or a safe-guard.

The act of defining something in the mental world limits it and places a fence around it, so speech as we know limits and encloses a particular field of consciousness.

Travelling in a tube train carriage reminded me that we are all enclosed in our own little Chariot, safely insulated from the other by a subtle barrier. Yet from beyond the personality ideas can flow in if we choose to accept them because, of course, we can exclude them up to a point. But if we allow the Universal forces to flow into us they become our thoughts and later, perhaps, we translate them into speech and out they go again into the Universe beyond our own private little enclosure.

In Assiah, the Charioteer has gained a measure of control over the Universal Forces and he has also gained control over the forces in his own nature, i.e. the Four Elements. His personality is the vehicle or channel of expression through which his true Self dominates all things. Dark Greenish-Brown is the colour and in the absorption of the Brown he is learning to be receptive, to focus attention one-pointedly on an objective. On the physical level it may result in a certain self-centredness as he consciously tries to bring into order the opposing forces in his nature. Just how difficult this can be we probably all realise, but even if we don’t, the clue lies in the colour, Dark Greenish-Brown; the opposition he has or has had to face before in Assiah. He is in control of his Chariot, the conflicts and struggles at a personality level he has faced and overcome before the victory is his and mastery over the forces is gained.

In Yetzirah the colour changes to Rich Bright Russet. In the Sphere of Yesod the background colour is a very dark Purple. It denotes leadership, which can be overbearing and pompous although through it all there is the quality of honesty. It is a Ray of Power and in Yesod it may mean that the Charioteer still has pride to overcome, but he has the confidence to achieve and a quiet assurance.

In Hod the Bright Russet has a background of Red-Russet, a double combination, which will accentuate the colour. There is absorption in mental activities to the point of complete single-mindedness. He is engaged in organising and controlling his thoughts as they well up from the sub-conscious; he seeks to formulate them. He can possibly influence others by the power of his thoughts; he has the power to do this if he so wills it. The spicing of Red helps him to break through the limiting effect of the Brown contained in the Russet.

In Netzach the colour is a Bright Yellow-Green. Mental imagery that bubbles up from the sub-conscious discloses a fertile imagination, creative imagination accentuated by the Yellow Ray; lively ideas spring into the mind where they can be acted upon in the Sphere of Hod. The Green Ray here brings harmony as he is balancing the Four Elements, not merely within himself but without too.

Tiphareth has as a background to the Russet a Rich Salmon-Pink, which floods the Russet in this Sphere. He is well and truly standing four-square. It is a high level of consciousness and he fully realises the innermost harmony and cyclic rhythm of the whole of Life; there is a flow of intuition coming from Chesed and Geburah, the link is established between the higher and lower mental planes and the Individuality is in close contact with the Spirit.

In Geburah the Bright Scarlet activates very strongly the introspection and develops a single-minded Will, which is, nevertheless, working under the power of the Spirit and so is aligned with the True Will of the Divine Plan.

In Chesed the Deep Purple emphasises the powers of leadership and integrity; it is rulership of a high order, magnanimous and just, a loving rulership. He has gained self-mastery over his emotions, which he was learning to do in Netzach and he is now fitted to rule others.

In Briah the Black overtones of Binah give an effect of restriction. If he is on the Path of Out-going then here the Spirit will realise that it is going to have to accept the limitations of a physical body. The colour of the Path is Maroon, energetic, dominant; he has the will and the power to hold the Four Elements in balance. Were it not for the effect of the Black of Binah, this domination would expand, eventually becoming uncontrollable and would take on the lower aspects of the war-like nature creating strife and filled with lust for power, as these are the qualities at the lowest level of the Maroon Ray.

In Chokmah the Grey assists him to gain endurance and he has great persistence combined with the will of the Maroon now in perfect control, which aids the soul to gain its freedom and achieve the perfect stability as symbolised by the Charioteer standing four-square in his Chariot.

In the World of Atziluth the Path of the Chariot is Amber, one of the higher octaves of the Orange Ray, which contains the qualities of self-control, reliance and orderliness. This gives a clear picture of the Archetypal Charioteer, the perfectly balanced vehicle composed of he Four Elements, which has carried the Spark on its journey through time and space in the differing worlds of Objective and Subjective states of consciousness.


The Chariot

By T.S. Shepherd (1976)

The path of the Chariot runs between Binah and Geburah. The angels of Binah are thrones and one of its titles, Khorsia, means throne. The Chariot is a throne in motion, the movement derived from the energy of Geburah. The letter associated with this path is Cheth, which means fence. This is an enclosure, a container for the waters pouring from Binah. Cancer is the astrological sign of the path and this represents the first onrush of water. The Chariot is the onrush of water as the Hierophant is of fire. The card, shows fiery wheels within an enveloping sea. The triumphant warrior returns purified to the waters. He is form for the spirit on the outward journey; the Ring-Pass-Not, and the Word that encloses the Will. He is spirit in incarnation in motion, the lotus growing from the waters. He is fire within water, and the red of the fire is also that of blood. He is the perfect knight riding out carrying the Holy Grail, within which is seen radiant blood spinning, filled with force and motion. He wears the amber/gold armour of the Sun linking him with Apollo, the Charioteer. He is entitled, "Child of the Powers of the Waters, Lord of the Triumph of Light", and this duality is seen in all his aspects.

He is the consciousness of that which is the enclosure of inflowing power, the intelligence of the house of influence. In the Rider pack he is crowned with an eight pointed star showing mental dominion, the triumph of spirit over matter, and logic over emotion. The card conveys a feeling of the clarity of light and water, of purity rather than richness. Mercury connects with this path through his attributes of mental domination and swiftness.

The waters from which he rides are also the night sky and in the Rider pack the canopy of the Chariot is of stars, and on his shoulders are moons. It is the moon that controls the movement of the sea arid is the ruling planet of Cancer. The Moon and the waters are links with the High Priestess, as are the black and white sphinxes. Intuition is another link, as the Chariot is the path on which the hidden senses are drawn from the cause of causes.

The four sphinxes of the Crowley pack are composed of the interchanged parts of the four holy living creatures, creating a unity of the four squared or sixteen sub-elements. Sixteen also reduces to seven, which is the number of the card and of the sphere of Victory. The Chariot has four pillars and is a double cube, representative of the maxim, "That which is above is analogous to that which is below".

Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, which links the card with the Wheel of Fortune, where the sphinx is found again, and also the whirling motion connected with the wheels of the Chariot and the circulation of the blood. One answer to the sphinx's riddle might be the discovery of the hidden senses, which is, on a higher arc, similar to the discovery of the hub of the wheel in card Ten.

The Egyptian god Khepera sheds much light on the understanding ofthis card. Thename comes from the root Khepher meaning ‘to make, to fashion, to produce, to form, to become and to roll’. The god is Scarab headed and this is the link with the Crab. In one representation he sits in a boat with a lotus and a bird in front of him and two apes behind him. He is, like the Charioteer, riding between matter and spirit. Where the cypher for his name is used it means "Coming into Being", and it is coming into being from the watery mass of NU. The Self-Existent god uttered his own name and came into being as Khepera in the form of a Scarab. He is the god of the Sun about to rise, who is unknown and more hidden than the other gods, the god of the first hour of the night. The title of the first hour is "the Crusher of the Forehead of the enemies of Ra". This is the pure triumphant warrior of the Sun.

A line in the Egyptian Book of the Dead runs, "Hail Khepera in thy boat, the double company of the gods is thy body". Here again is the double cube. The scarab represents matter containing the living germ, as does the card of the Chariot. The link with Binah is made clear through the coming into being from NU and the link with Geburah from the fact that it is the scarab that is called on to protect man in the presence of the Guardian of the Balance, for the Scarab is worn as a “Symbol of Triumphant Acquittal in the Judgement Hall of Osiris”.


The Chariot

By Robert Starke (1987)

The Path of the Chariot depicts that stage one often reaches in life, that of becoming restless with the surrounding situations that influence one's life at the time. The card can be seen in two different ways, both are viable but it depends upon the significator, which idea is used (using the Celtic Cross spread).

One is the idea that the Charioteer stands in his chariot looking outwards for new territories to conquer, the horses or two sphinx before the chariot sit quietly awaiting the slap of reins to send them galloping in the desired direction. Behind the Charioteer lies the fortress or home city from which he has ventured in search of new experiences. The main idea portrayed here gives the impression of someone who is quietly observing the outside environment, waiting to move off. He is capable of making this move when it occurs, because he has the protection of the chariot in which he stands, to help him. This interpretation would be applicable if the significator was the Knight of Pentacles.

The other way to see the Path of the Chariot relates to its position on the Tree and the influences of the Sephirah Binah and Geburah. It seems to me that the flashes of intuition one experiences are connected with Binah - a feeling of guidance leading to greater awareness in the situation, a sensation which is not truly describable. The link between the supernals and the rest of the Tree is the great chasm or abyss; there is no real tangible connection except through Daath (knowledge), the tunnel through which the flash of intuition passes so as to connect with the planes of consciousness available to us, e.g. mind, intellect, emotions, etc. From Binah comes all life in its most tenuous form and to which all returns across the Abyss. "A woman's intuition" is a term often used, and I think the reason women tend to be slightly more aware of it at times is because it is based upon the feminine quality of the Tree - "the Great Mother". (The mother guiding her children from across the Abyss using her voice or what we understand as intuition.)

When one becomes to a certain extent aware of one's intuition, enough to rely upon it without fear that it may be wrong, one finds such situations when they occur will change one's outlook on the situation, leading to action or setting things in motion as a result of the intuition. It may seem that Iam digressing from the Path of the Chariot, but I feel that all the cards which connect with the supernals or cross the Abyss are connected with intuition or the greater awareness it imparts.
The picture of the Chariot depicted in the Tarot seems to show the second aspect: the charioteer, his robe blowing backwards, pulling at the reins controlling the two horses coloured black and white (positive and negative) which gallop forwards at great speed. The scene shows a rocky mountainside rising into the sky on the right, whilst the charioteer is galloping along the edge of another dusty mountaintop with his horses throwing stones, picked up from their hoofs, over its side down into the great stretching chasm that exists between both mountains.

To me this could show that the intuition of Binah has crossed the abyss, setting in motion the charioteer, who leaps forward, creating the visions which he has just seen. Being soclose to the chasm between the mountains or the Abyss, I think, shows the subtlety of intuition - "Can you really be sure what you have seen is REAL!" Only the charioteer can truly be sure.

The idea here is that the charioteer may not always be sitting looking out quietly - this to me is more appropriate to the Hierophant - but in fact he is in motion through what has been seen in the flash of intuition caused by Binah, e.g. there has been movement caused by influences that are outside our comprehension. The card seems to me to be one of movement, and not stillness.


The Chariot

By Peter Oddey (2000)

According to an anonymous treatise, written in Palestine in 1295 and called "The Gates of Justice", there are three roads to spiritual expansion. The first, it calls the vulgar way, lies through concentration and asceticism to the exclusion of natural forms and images. The second is 'philosophic' and to the intellectual, is more attractive. It passes from the study of the material world to the principles that lie behind; from natural science to theology, culminating in contemplation, but its danger is that it is difficult to pass on from the simply intellectual and the delights thereof. The third road is the Kabbalistic, which starts indeed from the natural sciences and the literal meaning of the Torah, but then reaches out beyond the finite forms, through the spiritual interpretation of names and numbers, to the infinite Truth, to a force which the seeker cannot control but which controls the seeker. Such a spiritual ascent starts with the cleansing of the body, then the cleansing of the emotions, then the cleansing of the soul from material. The author advises isolation in an environment of fresh green colours, prayer, Psalm singing and the study of the Torah, imaginative concentration on the principles behind the world, Temurah, abstract meditation, until the seeker reaches a point that is beyond thought and words and then beyond that, through the power of imagination, he can contemplate his utmost being as in a mirror. (Source: Encyclopaedia of Mysticism by John Ferguson).

A high and awesome road indeed, but with the Path of Cheth, to which is ascribed the Tarot card of The Chariot, we are travelling upon such a road. Incidentally, Temurah is the inter-change of letters according to fixed principles, a peculiarly Jewish Kabbalistic discipline; similar to Gematria, the assigning of numerical values to words and exploring their relationship to other words of the same value; and Notarikon, which is the interpretation of a word by means of a sentence of which its letters provide the acronym.

Each of the four Paths that cross the Abyss represent one of the Rivers that flow from Paradise, governed by a Fifth, the Path of the High Priestess, which is the Spirit. The four Paths of He, Vau, Zain and Cheth constitute Fire, Earth, Air and Water respectively; although these are clearly primal elements, not the earthly representation, allowing them to be more fitfully described as rivers. The universe, of which we are ourselves a part, is constituted entirely of these elements and in this sense, the Renaissance was right to denote a man or woman as a balanced or unbalanced combination of these elements. As Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535) wrote in his Occult Philosophy, published in 1531, "Man has in himself All that is contained in the greater world. There are in him the four Elements in just proportion and the quintessence of Aether, the chariot of the soul."

But to return to the Path of Cheth, which runs from the Supernal World of Binah to the severe world of Geburah, we see in A.E. Waite's and Paul Foster Case's version of the card, a triumphant king, standing astride his chariot, where the four pillars which hold up his azure, starry drapery represent the four universal elements themselves Where the wheels are coloured golden yellow, symbolic of spiritual activity and where the signs and emblems with which he is adorned, confirm his mastery and sovereignty over the city depicted in the background. The figure in The Chariot is our higher self and our response to his image, is a measure of our own development.

In sequential terms, the Path of Cheth is the last Path to cross the Abyss and, as one would expect, it is the completion of the others. It is a stabilising extreme, as it runs from Binah to Geburah, both of which worlds fulfil an incisive function in the material plane: Binah is the Throne World, from whence proceeds the commands and judgements, carried out in Geburah.
The word Cheth, means a fence, enclosure or field. A defined, quantifiable measure, through which the experience of life is received and assimilated. Cheth is the finishing touch, as it were, to our higher faculties, as we walk the Path of incarnation. The full, balanced assimilation of each of the five Paths which cross the Abyss, is in fact our restoration to the Garden of Eden. This is the world of the higher self and the inter-action between our higher selves and the divine takes place along these Paths.

The high station in which the Path of Cheth lies, is an indication of the implicit forces and powers underlying the Path. The Yetziratic Text of the “32 Paths of Wisdom” tells us that the Eighteenth Path is "the House of Influence (by the greatness of whose abundance the influx of good things upon created beings is increased)". Here also is to be found the development of a person's arcane senses, gifts and abilities. The Tree tells us that such gifts are not given indiscriminately, but only in accordance with the high standards that accompany the Path's high position on the Tree of Life. The Path represents the totality of our existence, body, soul and spirit, in pursuit of the higher life and The Chariot rides through all planes of existence simultaneously, but is at rest. This is a great mystery, yet it would seem that the perception of movement of The Chariot is entirely on our part. In fact, The Chariot, so marvellously described by the Prophet Ezekiel, is eternally still and eternally silent and this is reflected in that it is only in the stillness and the silence we can hope to hear our innermost selves.

To associate the Path of Cheth and the Tarot card of The Chariot, with Ezekiel's apocalyptic vision, is natural, in so far as Kabbalism is historically associated with Merkabah mysticism; or the Jewish throne mysticism. The great Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem says: "The earliest Jewish mysticism is throne-mysticism. Its essence is not absorbed contemplation of God's true nature, but perception of his appearance on the throne as described by Ezekiel". But in this, Scholem does our brother Jewish Kabbalists a disservice. His inference appears to be that the early Jewish mystics and Kabbalists, had somehow missed the point; that his intellectual view, rather than their spiritual view, is superior.

However, the validity of their aspiration to contemplate God's image, no doubt draws its authority from one of the greatest of all Kabbalistic documents, the Book of Genesis. “And God said, 'Let Us make man in Our own image, according to Our likeness’, and God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Unfortunately, the English translation of the Hebrew does not convey the sense of the multiplicity of both male and female gods implied by the name Elohim, creating humankind, but the inference is obvious: the early Kabbalists were seeking to emulate God by the spiritual experience of contemplating God’s splendour. They were seeking to conform the likeness of their image, more specifically to that of the Creator. They believed that direct personal experience of the Creator, aligning their personal images with the Archetype of all Images, far surpassed any amount of intellectual appreciation. In this sense, the Path of Cheth is the fulfilment of our meditation of the five Paths that cross the Abyss.


The Chariot

A Geburah Lodge Compilation

By D.M. Dalton (1999)

The Canopy:

A canopy is a protection and thus relates to the Hebrew letter Cheth. The veil of the canopy is tied back, suggesting that the hidden wisdom is available, and the Fool should be able to recognise the true reality.

The decorations on the canopy vary slightly. One card shows twelve stars, which are symbolic of illumination and being twelve represent the Zodiac, upon which all creation is based. Another card shows stars and two hexagrams, one on either side of the canopy. Stars are five pointed so can be seen as pentagrams, which are another form of protection. With the pentagram perfectly balanced within man, the message of the hexagram is understood. The canopy forms the upper half of the double cube, which signifies “As above, so below”. It signifies the trinity of the elements within, with those without.

The Number Seven:

If we accept that the Chariot is the correct card for this path, then the number Seven is the perfect number for it and it’s mundane chakra Cancer. Number Seven is one of the numbers of the Moon and the Moon is the ruling planet of Cancer. It is a highly occult number and at this point on the Tree that would be expected. A further link with this path are the waxing and waning Moons on the shoulders of the charioteer.

As the number Six is classed as the perfect number at the material level, the number Seven is classed as the number of spiritual perfection. At this level of the Tree the Charioteer has just come out of Binah and so there is very little imperfection. On the way back he has been through Geburah so again practically all imperfections have been burned out.
The spiritual perfection of this number is shown in the first verse in the Bible (), containing seven Hebrew words. These seven words have 28 letters – 4 x 7. The first three words have 14 letters (7 x 2) and the last four words have 14 letters (again 7 x 2). (Gen.1:1 - BRAShVTh BRA ALHYM ATh HShMYM VHARTz).

In Masonry, Seven is the number by which the lodge is made perfect, and in the ceremony of raising the method of advancement is Seven. One of the qualifications for entering the lodge or Masonry, of which there are seven, is to be of mature age. This qualification is explained as meaning the full age of years, 7 x 3.

The number Seven is a number of intuitional and spiritual vibration. In it’s positive, constructive aspect Seven is the number vibration of mysticism, it relates to the interior spiritual force of man. It stands for silence, introspection, wisdom, poise and calm. It represents the consciousness on the path of life, where one stands still and waits, moulding qualities within the self before bringing them forth into the externalities of life. People on number Seven may dwell in consciousness either on the spiritual or material plane or both, the Charioteer stands between the two.

The Orb with Wings:

Looking through the different Tarot packs, it was found that the symbol of the ‘Orb and Wings’ resting upon the chariot as a coat of arms only occurred in two known packs. One being the Rider/Waite pack and the other being the ‘Magical Tarot’. Both packs had Golden Dawn influence when conceived (the ‘Magical Tarot’ being Crowley oriented). This could show that it might be a symbol created by the Golden Dawn with reference to their basic system structured upon the Enochian system, with added Egyptian symbolism incorporated at a later date. The reason seems to be because the symbol appears with the cards that use the symbolism of the sphinx, rather than the more usual horses, to draw the chariot.

This symbol of the ‘Orb and Wings’ represents the top of the caduceus whereupon the two fiery snakes are coiled. It is interesting to also note that within the Crowley pack, on the card of the Magus, this is represented by showing the force of the caduceus flowing down through the white mists of Kether, at the top of which rests an orb with a downward pointing arrow (showing the force pouring from Kether downwards presumably) with protruding wings. The force flows from here down into the head of the magician and through his feet into the black oval upon which he stands, i.e. Binah.

Crowley has this to say about the caduceus: “It represents the Tree of Life, the cosmos as the wand or creative force of Mercury, that is of the balanced energy which has created the illusion of existence. It will be noted that the shape of the symbol shows the three mother letters of the Hebrew alphabet – Shin, Aleph and Mem – in it’s three sections. The importance of this symbol is mainly that the Tarot is primarily the ‘Book of Thoth’ or Tahuti, the Egyptian Mercury. For the understanding of this book it is necessary to learn how to transmute instinctively and automatically every simple symbol into every complex symbol and back again; for only so is it possible to realise the unity and diversity which is the solution of the cosmic problem.”

I think what Crowley is saying here is that the caduceus, like any other symbol such as the Tree of Life, represents the idea of consciousness and the higher planes of existence, the Creator. But that this is also represented in the symbol of a square, circle, triangle, straight line, etc. If we were only able to see the same ideas we see in the complex diagram of the Tree of Life in a straight line say, then we would have the solution to the cosmic problem, so being able to see God in everything. Maybe?

It is also interesting to note that by the left arm of the Magus also hovers an egg shape with wings upon it, floating in the mists of Kether. I am not sure if it is an Egyptian myth but if this is the case then maybe this refers to this myth - that creation began in black chaos from which an egg appeared, which was then coiled around by a serpent which fertilised it so bringing life into manifestation. Looking at the basis of the symbol, it shows a circle which is mostly understood as the superconsciousness from which two wings protrude, wings obviously representing the assent of some kind, maybe it could mean that we ascend when finding the superconsciousness or God within ourselves.

The symbol of the ‘Orb with Wings’ on the Rider/Waite pack seems to be linked to an odd shaped shield which has what looks like a spinning top on it. Maybe the top symbolises the same thing as the sphinx that sits on top of the Wheel of Fortune, i.e. life is an ever revolving thing, “From the Great Mother Binah all things spring and to the Great Mother they all return”. This also includes intuition or the power of the caduceus, for too much of it would overload or burn out the brain, so leading to death or insanity. The Shield also seems to have the shape of a spinning top as well. (Editors Note: The spinning top mentioned above is in fact a phallus interlocked with a yoni symbol).

Crowley believed that Aiwass, his Holy Guardian Angel, was an extraterrestrial from the Sirius star system. The whole basis of his ‘Book of Thoth’ was written after his contact which, it so happens, occurred while he was performing magical rituals, which of all places happened to be in Egypt. Within a great deal of his symbolism the ‘Wings and Orb’ appear, which is possibly connected with the ideas he had of the extraterrestrial Aiwass. Crowley was a product of his age, i.e. the Golden Dawn  was built on the belief that there were hidden masters guiding them and maybe this is the connection of why it appears upon the Rider/Waite pack. If, however, Crowley was genuinely in contact with an extraterrestrial from Sirius then maybe the symbol of the ‘Orb with Wings’ and the shield with spinning top represent the ascent into space to meet with these extraterrestrial forces, in what we call a flying saucer. Who knows?


The Path of the Chariot

By Vipin Prithipaul (2000)

The Chariot is the 7th arcanum and the 18th path on the Tree of Life. It joins Binah to Geburah and is the first completely negative path. The Chariot is a path of severity and rigour (which it inherits from Geburah) as well as being one of restriction due to the influence of Binah. The Hebrew letter Cheth, meaning fence, is assigned to this path. The arcanum depicts a young man standing in a rectangular shaped chariot made up of four pillars which support a starry canopy. The canopy symbolises the Universe (Macrocosm) extending from East to West and North to South.

The four pillars, the cube shaped chariot and the square canopy are all symbols of the quaternary. Four is symbolised by a square, the corners of which correspond to the corners of the Universe - The square thus fixes boundaries to the Universe. It should also be pointed out that to each side of the square is assigned an element which also corresponds to one of the four Holy Living Creatures, i.e. Eagle - Air, Man - Water, Lion - Fire and Bull - Earth.

The square canopy resting on the square chariot forms a double cube. The double cube symbolises the macrocosm and the microcosm and their interaction has been veiled in one of the oldest texts of Hermetic Wisdom which is the 'Emerald Tablet of Hermes' and which states amongst other things - "That which is above is as that which is below, and that which is below is that which is above for to perform miracles of the One-Thing. From One do all things originate. By One are all mediated. All things have their birth from this One by adaptation".

The canopy represents the Spirit, the Chariot Matter and the Charioteer symbolises the balance of both. May I venture to say that this arcanum depicts the Fool who has his head in the sky and his feet on the earth, i.e. Head in Kether and feet in Malkuth, making him "the centre of the quaternaries, the central point, the quintessence or the 5th element which contains the other four in balance", and that though matter and spirit are two distinct things they meet in a point which is man.

The young Charioteer wearing a crown represents a victorious king and the sceptre he holds is an emblem of power. It is the Fool who has mastered the four elements and who can control the Universe as he has been able to dominate matter with his spirit.

Like the preceding ones this path is also dualistic in nature and it exhorts the right use of power. Duality is depicted by the two sphinxes as well as the two faces of the Moon. The sphinx who keeps its thoughts and feelings secret symbolises the sacred wisdom. The black and white sphinxes represent the positive and negative aspects in all manifestation. The Charioteer is the only one who can direct his chariot and this sense of direction depends on his spiritual maturity, in the sense that he can direct his chariot between the extremes (to the right or to the left) or straight ahead (middle path of equilibrium). The Charioteer's ebbing and flowing attraction to the spiritual and/or material realm is depicted by the two faces of the Moon on his shoulders, the left crescent is the waning Moon and is negative whereas the right crescent is the waxing Moon and is positive. These opposite 'energies' are also known as the Urim and Thummim.

It is interesting to note that the Charioteer holds no reins in his hands and this symbolises that he has spiritually harnessed the antagonistic forces within himself.

Cancer the Crab is the astrological sign of this path. The crab has a hard protective shell and the life force which animates it is "confined" in, or "fenced" by the shell. In the same way the divine spark in Man is "clothed" or "fenced" in his vehicle made up of flesh, bones and blood. Broadly this arcanum can symbolise Spirit (Charioteer) restricted in a vehicle (Chariot).

The Lotus is the plant assigned to this path and as such I believe that the Lotus is a symbol of the four elements as its roots are anchored in mud (Earth), its stem grows up through Water and blooms in Air at the surface of the water into an immaculate white flower under the rays of the Sun (Fire).

The eighteenth path of Cheth corresponds to the seventh arcanum of the Tarot. Seven is a sacred number as well as being a complex one. Amongst the various associations of the number seven are: The 7 days of the week, the 7 colours of the rainbow, the 7 notes of the musical scale, the 7 liberal arts. As far as Kabbalah is concerned, I believe that the number seven refers to the 7 days of creation and most of all to the 7 lower sephiroth.

Concerning the gods assigned to this path may I venture to add the Hindu God KRISHNA..(Refer to the "Bhagavat Gita" which is itself an expanded teaching found in the "Mahabharata".) - KRISHNA accepted to be the Charioteer of Arjuna and drive his chariot but on the condition of not fighting….

To conclude I quote from Kabbalistic Aphorisms by James Sturzaker, "We have a choice at every point in our life but only within 'Our' Potential" and "Man is only free within limits".


The Path of the Chariot

By Malcolm Ballan (1997)

1) Relax. It is night - a crescent moon hangs low in a dark blue night bedecked with stars. You are standing on heathland - the landscape around you is empty, almost desolate, the air has a slight chill to it and you draw your cloak around you to keep warm. You are totally alone - there is no one else with you and you feel very isolated - almost as if you are the only person on Earth.

2) As you gaze around the bleak landscape you become aware of dark shapes on the horizon but you cannot yet see what they are. In the far distance you can make out the glow of a lamp or light and something deep inside you seems to draw you towards that light. Taking a well-worn path you begin to walk toward this light. As you progress you begin to see what all the dark shapes were - empty and broken buildings, machinery laying broken and rusting, toys discarded and broken - a multitude of items from our lives just thrown down on the barren ground.

3) We continue towards the light stepping over all the broken items, we enter through villages that are now just ghost towns. Their buildings are dilapidated, falling apart, empty and forgotten. The whole atmosphere is very depressing and makes us remember all of the things we have discarded in our own lives because we were bored with them or they had failed to be useful anymore to us - people as well as material items.

4) Gradually the light draws nearer and we see, set on a low hilltop, a chalice that hovers above the ground - within the chalice burns a golden fire that cases a gentle warm glow over the hilltop. Above the chalice the crescent moon and a bright star seem to be suspended as if watching/guarding the chalice. As we reach the chalice we see that it hovers over a small pool of water - a well - that appears almost like a mirror in the moon-light. We sit by the pool and gaze into its depths - having seen so much desolation, we begin to think about our own lives and all the times we have broken promises, or trust, or of times when we have lost hope, dreams or opportunities. As we sit by the pool we realise that this is the well of truth and become aware that the truth can often be painful. Nonetheless we remain at the well’s edge and look into the surface of the water - after a few moments images begin to appear of all these sad times and we endure these images reminding ourselves that they were caused by us and we can blame no one else.

Spend a few minutes examining those lost opportunities, dreams and broken promises - some of which may be very painful.

5) A voice - mellow and calm - speaks and pulls us from our reverie - “We have all made mistakes in the past and the past can not be changed - however you can change your future”. We see a man standing on the other side of the well, he is dressed a little like a Roman soldier and smiles warmly to us. “Come”, he bids, “I have something to show you”. We stand and follow him towards a chariot harnessed to two fine horses. He climbs onto the chariot and, offering his arm, helps us onto the craft. After telling us to hold on tight, he cracks a whip and the chariot moves across the landscape, leaving the well and chalice behind. We travel for some time, the chariot flying across the landscape, the wind blowing through our hair, we feel wonderfully exhilarated, as if we have left behind our problems and worries, now we ride on the wind, the charioteer our guide.

6) After a while the chariot draws to a stop - we are near to a cliff edge and in the distance we can see the glint of moon/star light on a vast sea. We leap from the chariot and walk to the cliff edge, the charioteer joins us and places his arm around us - we feel somehow very safe and secure. The charioteer points towards the horizon - slowly the sky begins to change, light begins to slip over the seas edge turning the sky a wondrous pink, golden, amber as gradually the dawn approaches and there suddenly from beneath the void beyond the sea the sun appears on the horizon. It slowly begins its majestic journey across the sky - scattering all the images of the night and with it all our previous gloomy thoughts and deeds. And as that dawn fills the world with light so all the images begin to gradually fade and we return back to our room.


To be continued...