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

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Chokmah - Wisdom

Situation on the Tree: At the head of the Pillar of Mercy in the Supernal Triangle.

Magical Image: A bearded male figure.

Titles given to Chokmah: Power of Yetzirah. Ab. Abba. The Supernal Father. Tetragrammaton. Yod of Tetragrammaton.

God Name: Jehovah.

Archangel: Ratziel.

Order of Angels: Auphanim, wheels.

Mundane Chakra: Mazloth, the Zodiac.

Spiritual Experience: The Vision of God face to face.

Virtue: Devotion.

Vice: ----

Aspect of the Soul: Chiah. The Life Force.

Correspondence in Microcosm: The left side of the face.

Symbols: The Lingam. The Phallus. The Yod of Tetragrammaton. The Inner Robe of Glory. The Standing Stone. The Tower. The Uplifted Rod of Power. The Straight Line.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Pure soft blue.
In Briah: Grey.
In Yetzirah: Pearl-grey, iridescent.
In Assiah: White, flecked with red, blue and yellow.

Gemstone: Star ruby, Turquoise.

Incense: Musk.

Magical Weapon: Inner Robe.

Tarot Cards: The four Twos.



Peace Restored

Harmonious Change



The following papers describe Chokmah, the Second Sephirah. Chokmah emanated into existence from Kether. (More to follow)...

(Updated 12 November 2020)


Chokmah - The Sphere of the Zodiac

By Jane E. Young (1984)

It is at Chokmah that 'God’ or Kether the Crown is seen face to face, and not through a glass darkly - because this Sephirah is Lucifer the Light Bearer from on high - the second principle which is the Illuminating Intelligence.

From the Crown the force of the first swirlings flows through Chokmah which is a channel, dividing the potential of Kether into the 12 Rays and the 12 Zodiacal signs. Chokmah is known in Hebrew as "Mazlott" (the Zodiac) - the 12 banners of the Holy Name; and here there is pure force without boundaries or limits. There is incessant movement and rotation as the sparks emerge from the 12 gateways impregnated with wisdom, each individuals in their own right on their own particular rays - these sparks are sped across to the awaiting ovum or Binah via Daleth the door.

It is Chokmah which is the prism of the Tree, splitting up the totality, the crystalline brilliance of Kether, into its many facets which are the Rays. Chokmah is Wisdom because it is here and nowhere else that the totality can be seen.

Chokmah at the lower levels, in the world of Assiah, sends out a different Ray of physical being each time an incarnation occurs. If we consider the subjective path of the Fool we see how everything is made in the image of the Greater and thus this is Zero Arcanum, symbolising the wheel or round of immortality from which all emerges and to which all returns. The Fool is the spark, the blueprint for all paths, who in his time plays many roles in the Divine Comedy - thus on his death he wears the wheels of the zodiac, which represent the many, many incar­nations he will go through in his journey from unconscious perfection to conscious perfection.

At a mundane level close bonds have always existed between medicine and astrology, indeed until the 18th century the two sciences were inextricably mixed, a study of astrology being, as a matter of course, part of a doctor's training, and a vital element in his treatment of disease. To my mind this makes sense; through a deep study of astrology and the Rays, healers could have a wider understanding of the basic principle that disharmony is the root cause of dis-ease.

The various parts of the body were considered to be under the rulership of specific signs and planets, which were also associated with specific diseases if those organs or glands were blocked or not functioning properly. Astrological medicine was first formalised in the writings of Hermes Trismegistos, the name the Greeks gave to the Egyptian God Thoth, a God of Wisdom, appropriate to Chokmah. This put forward the view that man is both a macrocosm and a microcosm - reproducing in himself a miniature. The structure of the whole universe.

Aries                governs the head and adrenal glands (the fight and flight mechanism).
Taurus             governs the throat, neck and thyroid
Gemini             the nervous system, lungs, arms and legs
Cancer             the stomach, alimentary canal and breasts
Leo                  the heart, spine and back
Virgo                the nervous system and intestines
Libra                the kidneys
Scorpio            the sexual organs
Sagittarius       the liver, hips and thighs
Capricorn         the knees, bones and teeth
Aquarius          the circulation, shins and ankles
Pisces              the feet

Bailey also lists the 7 major Rays known to man with the 7 Chakras and the 12 Zodiac signs.
The Arabs were the first to link the curative qualities of herbs with specific signs and planets, and various systems of attribution were used to decide which planet should rule a herb, generally through the triplicities. "The Complete Herbal" by Nicholas Culpeper (1616-54) attributes herbs according to the diseases they cured, e.g. agrimony was good for liver complaints - Jupiter rules the liver, therefore Jupiter rules agrimony. Each planet became in turn "Lord of a day", e.g. Sun - Sunday, Moon - Monday, etc., and herbs gathered on their planet's day especially at the appropriate hour were considered to be at their most effective. With the 12 Zodiacal signs we have 13 as the synthesising principle - the 12 dis­ciples or 12 types of man plus Christ, Jacob and his 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 foundation stones of New Jerusalem, the Pearl as the synthesising gemstone.

From the esoteric standpoint these represent the 12 qualities which make up a perfect whole. 13 is the number which is said to contain the Key to all mysteries, and it reverts to 4 in numerology - a number of construction which holds the key to all arrangement and interpretation of form, plans and ideas.

One important way of dividing the Zodiacal signs is into triplicities - each consists of 3 signs linked with one of the 4 elements - Air, Fire, Earth and Water -and each of these represent types of initiations undergone by the Fool during his experience. Likewise, races and planets also go through initiations, and initiations are experiences of wheels within wheels - as a planet the life forms of Earth are entering a major initiation under the influence of the Amethyst Ray of the Aquarian Age.

When we are born under a Zodiacal sign our aim should be in a particular incarnation to develop the positive attributes of that sign and master the negative vices.
Signs linked with the Air element, namely Gemini, Libra and Aquarius - here we have the principle of creative thought and mental activity, the motivating force of the intellect, of reason, communication and refinement.

Water signs, Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces - here we have the principles of desire and emotions, of wisdom and receptivity, of caution and secrecy.
Fire signs, Aries, Leo and Sagittarius - here we have the energising and activating principle, the ambitious pioneer, the Fool with his head in the air who goes boldly where angels fear to tread.

Earth signs, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn - here we have the practical, solid, down to earth types, often blunt, rigid and stubborn, yet also reliable, steadfast and true.
With the 4 we have the division of the wheel of life into the quaternary - East: Air, South: Fire, West: Water, North: Earth.

The signs on a mundane level are also classified into 3 groups of 4 signs called Quadruplicities. According to some modern astrologers, the 4 cardinal signs of Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn rule the conscious mind of man, and have a dynamic influence although sometimes lacking direction. At an esoteric level, Bailey refers to these 4 cardinal signs as the 4 arms of the Cross of the Risen Christ - of the spirit which has risen and freed itself from matter - of the superhuman. She uses the symbol of the arrow to represent the cardinal signs, or a fire triangle over a wand, and she calls this Father, or the mind of God, and the highest form of spiritual man.

Individuals governed by the fixed signs - Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius -are said at a mundane level to have a tendency to strong desires and are often stubborn and rigid, but reliable creatures also. At an esoteric level these 4 signs are referred to as the 4 arms of the Cross of the Crucified Christ. It is the cross of the Son of God, driven through love to incarnate in matter and to be consciously crucified for the redemption of lower man. The fixed signs underline the principle of service. The symbol Bailey uses is the Christian cross with a circle in the centre: spirit crucified on matter, the cross of a pledged disciple.

The mutable signs, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, are said to be linked with the spiritual qualities which struggle to develop in the material man. Bailey refers to the 4 mutable signs as the 4 arms of the Cross of the Hidden Christ, who works subtly and unnoticed, refining matter, nurturing and developing the indwelling Christ within. It is the Cross of the Holy Spirit which activates the mind. On the negative side it can be the cross of the trickster and thief. The swastika is its symbol - the wheel of karma - the journey of the spark through many incarnations to ultimate union with the infinite and it is the cycle of cause and effect.

Thus the 4 triplicities and the 4 elements are represented on the Arcanum of the Wheel of Fortune by the 4 Holy Living Creatures. The wheel is Taro, the royal Path of Truth and knowledge. It is Rota, the cyclic effect of many incarnations, and Tora, universal law and ancient wisdom which is Chokmah.
The Hebrew letter for the Path is Kaph, which means "palm of the hand" - the celes­tial palm - each fingertip representing a different planet and other areas of the palm being associated with the Zodiac.

The 12 gateways are the 12 houses of life through to death. These were numbered by ancient astrologers from East downward under the horizon.

The planets were described according to the houses they occupied and also in terms of the aspects they formed with each other, the angles between them revealing the kind of influence they were likely to exert.

The planetary influences of an astrological chart indicate the trend of the outer life circumstances. To the average man in the street this means fate; to the occultist it means karma - cause and effect - of the principle that "we are the sum total of all our yesterdays, and the potential of all our tomorrows".

The sun sign indicates the nature of the individual at physical, mental and spiritual levels. It indicates the present problem of the man. Thus, for example, a person born under the sign of Libra is not born in perfect balance, but has to learn and strive to seek balance and harmony within.

The rising star or ascendant indicates the more remote possibilities and the spiritual goal for an incarnation, as well as for future incarnations. It indicates the intended life or immediate destiny; and represents the secret force which, when rightly used, will lead the human into success because he has fulfilled his destiny and followed his Royal Star.

The position of the moon in the chart indicates that which is past, and some suggest that it can summarise a certain amount of limitation or an emotional weakness in a particular area.

Returning to the number 13 as the synthesizing principle of the zodiac, 13 seems for some reason to have undergone considerable purging from the text of the bible. As one religion succeeds another, those elements of the old religion that can be assimilated become part of the new religion, the remaining elements are strongly suppressed. It seems reasonable to suggest that the purging of the number 13 from the bible indicates that it was of significance that Judaism and later Christianity perhaps replaced the older religion of moon worship, where the number 13, the number of the full or new moon in the 13 months of the year, was held in great reverence. An American researcher, James Togh, recently discovered the remnants of a moon Zodiac in a Jewish Gnostic synagogue in Beth Alpha in the Jezreel Valley in Israel. Orthodox Jewish thought even today maintains that there are 13 central qualities to God.

Through the study of astrology we can appreciate that we are an integral part of a still greater life. From what we know about this subject, it seems that at its deeper, most occult level, astrology is far more than a rigid, exact science. The planets are points of light and transmitters within the universal life, and it is these Rays which are the creators, maintainers and destroyers. Bailey writes on behalf of her inner plane master when she mentions that it is important for each occultist to consider the true nature of the emanating source and the eternal causative principles (rays), rather than concentrating solely on the effects of ephemeral creations, solar systems or planets which are themselves mere recipients of divine energy or rays.

This fact can be underlined by the words of the poet Tennyson:-

Our little systems have their day,
They have their day and cease to be.
But thou O God art more than they,
And we are broken lights of thee.


The Zodiac - Chokmah

By Judith M. Wickens (1984)

The second path is called the Illuminating Intelligence. It is the crown of creation, the splendour of unity, equalling it. It is exalted above every head and is named by Kabbalists the second glory.

Ezekiel had a vision that he thrust his head out from the sphere of material reality up through the starry edge of the physical universe into that piece of higher understanding called infinity, and in his vision Ezekiel saw the appearance of the wheels and their work. He saw a wheel in the middle of a wheel. The wheels within wheels of Ezekiel's vision reminds us of the cyclic order of the universe, of nature and of man and his soul.

The Archangel to the sphere of Chokmah is Ratziel, and it is Ratziel who gives to mankind the wisdom of the stars. The order of Angels is Auphanim which means wheels and the mundane chakra attributed to Chokmah is the Zodiac. So to understand Chokmah and the lessons Ratziel teaches, we necessarily have to comprehend the cyclic expressions which culminate in the crown of creation.

There are so many aspects of the zodiac we could study in an attempt to glimpse the nature and working of Chokmah. The mundane chakra to Kether is the Primum Mobile or First Swirlings. This is pure uncontrolled force. Chokmah receives this force or directs this force to Binah. I imagine this constant action by Chokmah rather like the twelve Rays forcing through the centre of a wheel and being distributed or forced out as the wheel rotates, through twelve sections of the wheel.

Binah receives these forces and channels the Rays into manifestation.

A symbol of Kether is the point within the circle, so at the highest point of the Tree we are led to imagine the idea of the wheel behind every aspect of life. The circulatory action of the blood as it is channelled through our bodies. The seasons from spring through to winter and into spring again. And, of course, the continuing process of birth, life, death, birth and so on.
Walter H. Sampson describes the Zodiac as an imaginary belt, that belt of the heavens through which passes the apparent path of the sun, its point of commencement is the vernal equinox which is in continuous retrograde movement through a circle of constellations which lie near the ecliptic. The zodiac is divided into 12 equal portions of 30 degrees each. Alan Leo reminds us that there are two Zodiacs, the greater and the lesser. The former comprises the 12 constellations through which the sun and planetary system appear to pass in a great cycle of over 25,000 years. The lesser Zodiac is the same circle of constellations through which the earth appears to pass in its annual revolution round the sun. It is upon the lesser Zodiac that astrologers base their predictions and calculations to cast a horoscope. Thus we have in these two zodiacs the symbol of the progress of the life energy in forming a solar system, a planet, a man.

The Zodiac is the Path or Way. The labours of Hercules gives us a deep insight into the struggles, tests and trials, the failures and achievements of a heroic figure who strove towards the same goal as we must strive. To live in harmony, to achieve a balance with all the signs, Upon the positive pillar of Wisdom is the Wheel of Fortune. All mankind and life at all levels are subject to the great law of cause and effect. All activity is cyclic, Chokmah keeps manifestation in motion. Beginnings and endings of constant movement, Chokmah directs force towards form.

Alice Bailey writes of the Zodiac in the introduction to the labours of Hercules as follows:

The presiding one looked forth upon the sons of men, who are the sons of God. He saw their light and where they stood upon the way which leads back to the heart of God. The way sweeps in a circle through the 12 great gates, and cycle after cycle the gates are opened and the gates are shut. The sons of God, who are the sons of men, march on.
Dim is the light at first. Selfish the trend of human aspiration, and dark the deeds resultant. Slowly men learn and in learning, pass between the pillars of the gates time and again. Dull is the understanding but in the halls of discipline found in each section of the circle's cosmic sweep the truth is slowly grasped, the needed lesson learnt, the nature purified and taught until the cross is seen. That fixed and waiting cross which crucifies the sons of men, stretched out on the crosses of those who serve and save.

From out of the mass of men, one man stood forth in ancient days and caught the great presiding Elder's watching eye, he who eternally presides within the Council Chambers of the Lord. He turned to one who stood, close at his hand, and said: "Who is that soul upon the way of life, whose light can now be dimly seen?" Quickly the answer came: "That is the soul who, on the way of life, experiences and seeks the clear light which shines from the High Place." "Let him proceed upon his way, but watch his steps".

The swiftly passing aeons ran their course. The great wheel turned and turning brought the seeking soul upon the way. Later, there came a day when the presiding one within the council chamber of the Lord again drew to the circle of his radiant life, the seeking soul.

"Whose is this soul upon the way of high endeavour whose radiance dimly shineth forth?" Came the reply: "A soul who seeks the light of understanding, a struggling soul". "Tell him from me to return the other way and then travel round the circle. Then he will find the object of his search. Watch over his steps and when he has an understanding heart, an eager mind and skillful hand, bring him to me". Again the centuries passed. The great wheel turned and in turning carried all the sons of men who are the sons of God upon their way. And as those centuries passed a group of men emerged who slowly turned the other way. They found the way. They passed the gates and struggled towards the mountain top, and towards the place of death and sacrifice.

The watching teacher saw a man emerge from out of this crowd, mount the fixed cross demanding deeds to do, service to render unto God and man and willingness to travel the way to God. He stood before the great presiding one who works within the Council Chamber of the Lord and heard a word go forth.

"Obey the Teacher on the way. Prepare for the last tests. Pass through each gate and in the sphere which they reveal and guard, perform the labour which be of its sphere. Learn thus the lesson and begin with love to serve the men of the earth." Then to the teacher went the final word. "Prepare the candidate. Give him labours to perform and place his name upon the tablets of the living way."

If we look at the Tarot card of the Fool we can attribute his journey around the Tree of Life. His travelling through wheels within wheels. Above his head the Tarot is numbered zero, but could not this zero or circle represent the Zodiac, which is constantly above and within him. In his bag he may well carry his horoscope, his personal plan of each incarnation, indicating the qualities he must attain and the labours he must symbolically perform.


A Vision of Chokmah in the Four Worlds

By Tony Tredgold (1977)

"Imperfect wisdom is to be found in the World of Assiah."

This is represented by the two lower faces. I will deal with the upper of the two faces first. There is a smug look upon his face, the look of a man living in his own little world of what he believes is right, although in essence he ignores the truth, blinded by his own, as he thinks, virtue.

The face is superimposed upon a reversed pentagram, shaded black to symbolize the dark or negative side, but I have left a white border, because there is a little bit of good in the worst of us. The radiating light of the upright pentagram behind it represents the positive or good aspect of every man, waiting the opportunity to shine through, dispelling the dark or negative aspect.

All this symbolism is inside a circle revolving anti-clockwise, the Fool working against himself.
The circle below is turning clockwise, both the circles are touching but pulling opposite ways so that the rope which stretches between them is formed into the symbol of eternity (8) only in an upright position and so symbolizing good and bad, positive and negative, revolving together in unison both relying upon each other, which implies that in the physical world of Assiah, both are required.

The face within the lower circle is held prisoner by the black pentagram although it is the upright pentagram and the face is upside down and has no shape. It is a reflection of the upper circle. It symbolizes the ideal although it is not actual. It is saying to the upper face "this need not be so". To sum up this aspect or four world symbolism, the evil man reverses good and although it is evil to him it remains good. The height of illusion through ignorance.
"The formation of wisdom takes place in Yetzirah".

The third sphere represents the third world of Yetzirah, although the head is that of a woman, the hand which cups the ear, gesturing, listening, is in appearance masculine; this symbolizes that the two opposites, masculine and feminine, are required for perfection and completion. The woman is thinking and listening, the hand aiding this act, the eyes are opened to the truth, preconceived ideas fall away, there is the renouncing of the material world.

"At the Briatic level the Wisdom of Chokmah is drawn upon in the work of Creation"
The Man and the Woman symbolize creation, the hand symbolizes what is, and how it should be, "as above, so below". Although Chokmah is on the Masculine or positive pillar, it has its own feminine or negative side to it, also Chokmah in Briah can not be fully expressed without Binah. These two Sephiroth symbolized by the man and woman are the expression of the perfect balance of Kether above them. The man has the wisdom to begin the process of creation and the woman the capacity to finish the process. Positive drive and passive fruition.

This is the work or action of the second world.

Chokmah Image

"In the World of Atziluth, Chokmah is pure alive Wisdom"

The globe between the two figures symbolizes Kether and the small spark in the centre is a symbol of Chokmah in Kether or the world of Atziluth, radiating out the pure alive Wisdom. The rays extend down through the whole picture symbolizing the wisdom in all things.

The two doors symbolize the positive and negative pillars; they are also the doors of perception. The right hand door with the keyhole upside down symbolizes the force coming down the right-hand pillar, the left hand door with the keyhole the right way up symbolizes the force in form, the World as it is. If through these two keyholes we can perceive the perfection of force and form combined. When the two lower figures can perceive this, even at this lower level, the next stage of evolution is reached, the top circle, where force and form are as perfectly balanced as they can be in the two lower Worlds,

NB: The quotations preceding each World are taken from "Kabbalistic Aphorisms" by James Sturzaker.


The Sephirah Chokmah

By Keith Perkins (1996)

The sephira Chokmah is the second emanation. It heads the positive pillar upon the Tree of Life from which stems the tradition as it was revealed to the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament.

Here is the Primum Mobile or the first swirlings of the Nebulae in outer space, and this is where Universal systems are conceived and born.

At this point intuition dominates the psyche of Man, it is the hot-line to God as Man looks up from Chokmah towards En Soph. He can also stand and receive things at this point and reveal them to those who stand below.

The Hebrew letters, by gematria j-8 + k-20 + m-40 + h-5 =73, giving the term 'ag'  gu , meaning to make a circle. We are, at this stage, reminded about the study circles of the ancient times, where Kabbalah was disseminated and assimilated for the good of those concerned.

At this point we encompass the highest form of intellectual learning that man can comprehend, this is the right hand side of the brain and all its functions as it dominates the left hand side of the body.

Here we have to understand our incarnatory cycle and the reason for our life, we can also delve into the mysteries of letter combination in all its forms.


Chokmah's Feminine Aspect

How a Positive Potency like Chokmah can have a
Feminine Goddess like Athena Attributed to It.

By Rupert A. Badgery (1985)

Chokmah is the sphere of Wisdom, the Knower. It is force embodied in form and form ensouled by force. If I may digress for a moment - Einstein's formula E=Mc2 is merely the mathematical way of stating what the Kabbalist has attributed to Chokmah for centuries.

Since there is a continual alternation of polarity on every plane, it follows that male and female or positive and negative aspects are in all forms of manifestation of life. The soul is bisexual. Netzach (Venus, Aphrodite) is the basal Sephirah of Chokmah's pillar, and Elohim really ought to be translated "God and Goddess" for it is a feminine noun with a masculine plural termination affixed.

As previously stated, Chokmah is the sphere of Wisdom as also is Olympian Athena. Now Athene is said to have sprung from a breach in Zeus's skull, she is called the virgin daughter of Olympian Zeus. So in fact, she is a part of Zeus, I think she is Zeus's alter ego. Anyway, she appears to be as powerful as him in a different way and the other gods complain because he allows her to get away with things which he would not allow them.

Athena has a male name as her principal title, i.e. she becomes androgynous when a god enters into equal power with her. The Orphic hymn celebrates Zeus as both Father and Eternal Virgin.

It seems to me that Zeus must be attributed to Chokmah. Perhaps Uranus, Cronus and Zeus are in fact different aspects and progressions of the One Force.

There is a couplet by Valerius Soranus which goes:-

All kings, all things, entire,
From Jove the Almighty came.
Of Gods both dam and sire,
Yet God the sole and same.


To be continued...