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

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Daath - Knowledge

Situation on the Tree: On the Pillar of Equibrium, astride the Veil of the Abyss.

Magical Image: A head with two faces.

Titles given to Daath: Knowledge.

Mundane Chakra: Vishuddha. The Throat Chakra.

Spiritual Experience: Vision across the Abyss.

Correspondence in Microcosm: The neck.

Symbols: The Empty Room. The Absence of All Symbolism. The Pyramid.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Lavender.
In Briah: Pale silver-grey.
In Yetzirah: Pure violet.
In Assiah: Grey, flecked gold.



The following papers describe Daath, the Hidden Sephirah, the Bridge across the Abyss (More to follow)...

(Updated 17 November 2020)



By Sue Bashford (1979)

Daath is the occult Sephirah of the Tree. At limbo in the Great Abyss, situated between Kether and Tiphareth, its coalescent property unites knowledge with experience. Daath facilitates all mysteries concerning the buoyancy inherent in the "Waters of the Deep". This truth is the "good news brought to us by the Comforter".

In the ascent of the Tree it is the absolute test of faith and the mystical point of complete surrender. Ultimately it is the door to Timelessness and escape route from the Wheel of Existence. It veils the Supernal Triad from the gaze of mortals and acts as a prismatic lens through which the Brilliance of Kether is projected. The spectrum so created gives light and life to the seven lower Sephiroth.

Positioned on the central column of Equilibrium, it fosters action in inactivity and marries force with form. It fecundates the stillness of space and links the worlds of Briah and Yetzirah, giving tenuous form to creativity. Thus the pneuma or breath becomes the Word.

Depending on which direction a soul is travelling, it is the collective and not the personal womb or grave of the created universe. Therefore it can be likened to Yesod operating at a higher octave. Placed below the Crown, it symbolises in man the point where he not only "knows”, but “is". At a certain level it is Nirvana or the mystical experience of at-one-ment. The separated personal ego is dispersed into the Great Abyss. The veil of Maya has been torn aside and Reality has been embraced. Daath’s objective is articulated by the adage, "Man know Thyself". It is a necessary station on the Serpent Path of the Master.

In terms of the Heavenly Man, Adam Kadmon, Daath is the throat chakra and in a human being it is connected with the will-power. Viewed clairvoyantly this centre radiates a lilac hue, and a person with it under active control can surely say, "Iron bars do not a prison make", because at a psychic level he has attained freedom. He has conquered the emotional astral plane and travels with authority through this lower realm.

This gives a clue to the Daath applied symbol of the condemned cell or Empty Room. The correct use of free-will is not possible until the ego has become subservient to the Higher Self and the Higher Self totally responsive to the Divine Will. Free from personality considerations, the Daath virtue of detachment has a warmth and meaning beyond the wisdom of man to comprehend. It endows the same with the divine quality to forgive and forget, and the ability to love its enemies. Thus at Daath the pride of Tiphareth has been surmounted.

The analogy of a high mountain peak with its summit engulfed in mist is very appropriate. Only the really brave, or as far as man is concerned, the very foolish, scale the bare rock face and straddle the enormous chasms to reach the top. But none save the few know the sublime reality of this conquest.

The magical image of Daath is a head with two faces looking in opposite directions. A Janus figure who gave his name to the first month of the year. In ancient times this was the beginning of the agricultural year when the presence of Sirius in the sky signalled the annual flooding of the Nile. The geographical fact which gave the title "The Fertile Crescent" to this area of the Middle East. A grain of corn (another symbol of Daath, signifying potential abundance) was buried in the dark earth, only to spring forth later and complete a dramatic resurrection.

It comes as no surprise to see the Archangels of the Cardinal Points here pre­siding over the Elementary Powers, bringing this whole physical endeavour to a harmonious conclusion. This is Daath operating in Malkuth at the Assiatic level.

Janus was also named the "Stout guardian of the door". This was the door to the Underworld, and the mythical dog Cerberus was the animal appointed to help with this task.

The identification of Daath with Malkuth was due to a theory postulated by the medieval European Kabbalists. Malkuth, it was suggested, was the fallen Sephirah of Daath which after its committal of original sin was expelled from Paradise. This teaching was an attempt to synthesise Christian dogma with the earlier Jewish Tradition, made by Christian Kabbalists. The fear of heresy inhibited the development of understanding where Daath was concerned, and we can only hope that the Aquarian Age will bring enlightenment in this respect.


Daath - The Sephirah That Is and Is Not

By Diana M. Defries (1977)

Daath is the bridge across the Abyss - the link between the worlds of force and the worlds of form, and yet it does not exist, for the human mind being what it is, we cannot aspire to such heights and fully understand, we must use imagery and speculation. Thus we can consider Daath intellectually, yet we cannot know the reality.

Daath is the secret unknown place where force becomes form and vice versa. It is a universal safety valve, a prism diffusing white light into the colours of the rainbow. It is the bridge across the Abyss.

When the individual spark on its journey down the Tree crosses the Abyss it is gaining form not losing. It is unadulterated, pure, ignorant, therefore it is a natural process requiring little or no effort - just a long fall into form, to be crystallised into matter, clothed in personality, shrouded in intellect and reason, and shackled by a physical body. How much easier the fall than the return!

To reach the Abyss is an achievement when returning, but how does one cross it? Via Daath - and to find Daath one has to believe in its existence, and to cross the Abyss via Daath to shed the last vestiges of form and reach Binah is an act of pure faith. If the faith is not whole and strong; for the way across must be like crossing a suspension bridge in a gale force wind, you will not cross successfully.

Once Daath is reached the spark must travel from it to Binah then back to become purer in Daath, the cosmic filter, up to Chokmah for the vision of God face to face, then back again to Daath for the final spit and polish before journeying along the path of the High Priestess to Kether.

Where the path of the Empress crosses the path of the High Priestess is yet another barrier. It is Daleth, the door - or the Eye of the Needle - it is so fine that if the spark is not in perfect alignment it cannot attain to Kether.


The Purpose of Daath

By Sylvia Swinborne (1975)

Daath - the Invisible Sephirah, the Hidden or Unrevealed Cosmic Mind, the Empty Upper Room. These are some of the titles of this unnamable, unknown Sephirah which exists, and at the same time is non existent. By these titles it is known, and it is from these titles that we must begin our understanding of Daath, for it is a Sephirah about which little is written. The ancient Kabbalists in their Yetziratic Texts did not even mention this Sephirah for they realized its power and the dangers of concentrating on such a centre of power.

For this reason then, and for its intangibility, it is called the Mysterious Sephirah and the only way in which we can approach it - at our stage of development, whilst it remains intangible to us - is obliquely, through images which conjure up further images. When it is no longer intangible to us, then that is a different matter, and we can face the full knowledge of its nature and its power.

It is called the Sephirah which is, and is not, so it has this dual aspect of existence and non-existence. It appears before us only when we are ready to use it as a stepping stone or a bridge to another land of consciousness and, in fact, we must conjure it up ourselves by the power of our faith.

Its spiritual experience is the Vision across the Abyss, and Jung speaks of the Muse, the third division of the anima which leads to Sophia or Wisdom, the fourth division of the anima. This takes the form of an archetype of a woman standing across the other side of abridge, beckoning. We can see that the Muse is the Empress or Door, leading to the vision of Binah, the Great Mother, who beckons us across the bridge of Daath. The danger is that the security of the bridge depends on us - our own faith, and our own acceptance of the loss of Personality involved in making this crossing. To our Personality - on this side of the chasm - to be met by Binah is to be engulfed by the Black Ray of Absorption into its dark void.

To our Personality this is an acceptance of death and annihilation, for at this stage Binah represents the death aspect of the female - Hecate the Hag. In order to reach the other side of the chasm safely we must see the other aspect of comfort of the Black Ray and this death as a comforting embrace of the Great Mother of Binah. Once across the other side we will see that this death of the Personality - the Personality which once seemed to be so completely us - is in fact birth and life to the true I Am.

This calling across the Abyss of the initiate by the Great Mother is described in Hesse's "Demian" -

"A great town could be seen in the clouds and out of it poured millions of men who spread in hosts over vast landscapes. In their midst strode a mighty, godlike form with shining stars in her hair, as huge as a mountain, but having the features of Frau Eva. The ranks of men were swallowed up into her as into a gigantic cave and vanished from sight. The goddess crouched on the ground, the 'sign’ shone on her brow. She seemed to be in the grip of a dream. She closed her eyes and her great countenance was twisted in pain. Suddenly she called out, and from her forehead sprang stars, many thousands of them which leaped in graceful curves across the dark heavens. One of the stars shot straight towards me with a clear ringing sound; it seemed to be seeking me out. Then it burst with a roar into a thousand sparks, bore me aloft and cast me down to the ground again; the world was shattered about me with a thunderous roar...."

One of the virtues of Daath is confidence in the future and we need a great deal of this confidence to make this leap. If we study the path of the High Priestess which shoots straight through Daath, this can give an impression of the tremendous act of faith needed to cross the Abyss. Daath is the Mystical Sephirah, and the High Priestess is a mystical path. Balanced as it is between the positive and negative pillars and between the supernals and the lower worlds, this is a path on which there is nothing on which we can lean. The Sephirah of Daath itself has no symbols in spite of the symbolical ideas and visions we can attach to it, and on both the path of the High Priestess and in the Sephirah of Daath there is nothing we can hold on to. We must, in fact, let everything go and take this jump into the unknown. We have said that one of the titles of Daath is the Empty Upper Room and one of its symbols is the Sacred Mountain. How often in stories of initiation and illumination does this take place in an upper room or on a mountain? We can call to mind the Last Supper and the Pentecostal Fire in the Upper Room; Abraham's sacrifice and Moses' receipt of the Law on the mountain.

The Abyss - the chasm above which Daath is seated - is the vast chasm between the unconscious mind of the creative force and the first vague conscious manifestation of its unconscious dreams. We can see once again then the action of the anima as Sophia at this point. As wisdom it is the anima of God or the creative force itself. So many of the symbolic images of Daath convey this idea of the no man's land between unconsciousness and consciousness - always a weird and surrealist landscape, but on a cosmic scale how much more so.

This idea of Daath being the gateway to the unconscious of the creative force is conveyed by the magical image of a head with two faces, and the attribution of Janus, the guardian of the gate, who looks both ways.

When we think of guardians of the gate we also think of Cerberus and Anubis guarding the entrance to the Underworld. The symbology of dogs is very relevant at this point of the Tree for we have all the female goddess images of the path of the High Priestess which shoots straight up through Daath and throughout mythology dogs have been associated with the female goddesses as guardians of the entrance to another world - be it heaven or hell. The power of Daath is expressed through Sirius, the Dog Star.

Daath then is a prism which focuses the pure force of the Supernals into a form. Although Binah is spoken of as the Sephirah of the first forms this is only a blueprint of form which manifests in Gedulah - the first Sephirah in the world of form, although a Sephirah of force.

These two functions of Daath - to focus what is above below and to draw what is below above - are its cosmic functions, but it also has a function which can affect us before we reach the stage of complete loss of personality.

A consideration of another of the virtues of Daath can give a clue to this other function. This is its detachment. This detachment cuts the student or disciple off from the standards of social living about him and stimulates the higher levels of his psyche. This detachment from the lower practical levels of existence and manifestation can, if carried to excess, become a vice, driving him into a sense of unreality, but in balance this stimulation of the higher levels regardless of the welfare of his personality can create a disciple with such a sense of mission that he will use this detachment to cut through any obstruction, whatever the cost to himself. If unbalanced this sense of mission can lead to the vice of Daath of pride which, combined with the detachment can lead to complete isolation from human contact. The quality needed to transform this cold isolated detachment into discipleship and service to humanity is compassion, and compassion should be found in abundance in Daath with Sirius as its mundane chakra. Gedulah is known as the sphere of the Masters, for it is from here that the Masters operate in their service to humanity, but Sirius is said to be the home of the Great Masters. Sirius is the sun behind our sun – the source of life to our sun which is the source of life to us, and the Great Masters could be said to supply the life force to the Masters, who guide us in this sphere. These qualities of compassion and service which should be operating at this stage through the mundane chakra of Sirius teach us that although a sacrifice of personality is the aim at this point this should not be achieved as an abandonment of personality and an abandonment of those who are our responsibility. We cannot abandon ourselves to the embrace of the black ray until we have chosen to remain for a while - as the Hierophant in Gedulah - to help others to this level. Sometimes just to make the right choice is enough - if it is a sincere and true intention to help others. In Hesse's "Glass Bead Game" this is expressed allegorically when, at the height of his career, the Master of the game chooses to leave his privileged position at the centre of the game to return to teach a young student. Having made this decision and abandoned his privileges and authority it is enough. The waters of the lake close over his head and to physical eyes he is dead having been absorbed by the Great Sea of Binah.

We should remember, however, that although to successfully bridge Daath we must attain the quality of understanding of Binah, this must be combined with a vision of the wisdom of Chokmah through Binah, for Daath is perfect knowledge - a combination of wisdom and understanding.

We have said that Daath is the link between cosmic unconsciousness and consciousness and we can recognize Binah and Chokmah as the anima and animus - archetypes of the collective unconscious. On the Path of the Empress - the door to the experience of Daath - we must recognize both existing within the other and combine the two within ourselves.

Perhaps we can conjure up the magic and unreality of Daath as it appears to us, standing outside, by quoting again from Hesse as Steppenwolf steps inside the magic theatre, the door to which appears in a previously blank wall. "Magic Theatre" read the sign over the door, "Entrance not for Everybody - For Madmen only". As he stepped inside he walked into a whirling centre of unreality seeing all the experiences that life could offer him as ephemeral illusions. The looking glass of his own personality was held before him and he watched its convulsions and felt the accompanying feeling of buoyant relief as it relinquished its hold.

"I fixed my eyes on the little mirror.... For a moment there was a convulsion deep within me... a faint but painful one like remembrance or like homesickness, or like remorse. Then the slight oppression gave way to a new feeling... a sense of relief and of letting out a deep breath, and of wonder, at the same time that it has not hurt in the least. And this feeling was accompanied by a buoyant exhilaration and a desire to laugh so irresistible that I was compelled to give way to it.

The mournful image in the glass gave a final convulsion and vanished. The glass itself turned grey and charred and opaque, as though it had been burnt. With a laugh Pablo threw the thing away and it went rolling... down the endless corridor... and disappeared."


Thoughts on Daath

By Neil Skinner (1979)

Daath is the "hidden" Sephirah, which is placed astride the Abyss, thereby con­necting the Supernal Triad of Kether, Chokmah and Binah with the lower part of the Tree of Life. It is this Sephirah which transforms archetypes into something more concrete, and as such must have qualities of both the Archetypal and the Moral Triads within it.

Daath is the point at which the force generated by the Supernal Triad is stored and then thrust into the Moral Triad. Because it acts as a transformer between these two Triads it is a mistake to imagine Daath as a Sephirah between Binah and Chesed. Its function is to mediate between Triads, not between individual Sephiroth. Therefore, to understand Daath we have to look at two quaternaries, the first being Kether, Chokmah, Binah and Daath, the second being Daath, Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth.

To analyse these quaternaries, it is useful to ascribe each of the four parts to one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton in the following fashion:

Kether         Yod
Chokmah     He
Binah           Vau
Daath           He

and for the second quaternary:

Daath           Yod
Chesed         He
Geburah       Vau
Tiphareth      He

Turning first to what may be called the Archetypal Quaternary: Yod is the root of the Hebrew verb "to be" and represents the active principle. Kether is also the root of being and the active principle upon which the rest of the Tree of Life relies. Therefore it seems reasonable to ascribe to Kether the letter Yod. The Hebrew letter He has two basic meanings, the first is as the definite article “the” and the second is as an interrogative participle meaning "which?" or "what?” When He is attributed to Chokmah this second interpretation seems to be more appropriate. Chokmah is undifferentiated force. It has existence but no form. As it is undefined it questions or seeks for its identity. Vau as well as meaning ''and" also means "that". Thus after asking the question "what?" in Chokmah, the answer "that" is given in Binah. And the "that" to which Binah points is the He of Daath, the definite article "the".

The letters of the Tetragrammaton (Yod-He-Vau-He) are often transliterated as Jehovah, but if translated the word is found to mean "that which is becoming". Thus there is atransition from the root of being in Kether to "that which is becoming" in Daath. Up to Daath existence has been searching for its identity, so to speak. It is through Daath that this existence realises itself and seeks to exert itself.

From the lower standpoint of the Moral Quaternary, Daath then becomes the active principle, the Yod. Chesed (or Mercy) is the question (He), which is of course the essential nature of mercy. It questions and inspects all arguments before arriving at a decision. The outcome of this questioning is Geburah. Perhaps a clearer understanding can be gained of the relationship between Chesed and Geburah in this context if the Sephirotic name Pachad, rather than Geburah, is used. Pachad means "fear" which is what every person experiences when their actions are being assessed. However, these fears are unfounded because the answer to the question is found in Tiphareth (Beauty), the balance point of the Tree of Life. The answer to the questioning of Chesed lies at the end of the Path of Justice and though it may be unpleasant, that answer is always the just answer.

Thus Daath in being the expression of the answer to one question immediately becomes the subject of another.

It is said that the supernal revelations of the great spiritual leaders have resulted from their contacting the Daath-consciousness. These people have stood at the edge of the Abyss, across which Daath is the bridge, and seen the further side. They have experienced true moral knowledge and know the difference between good and evil, not only on this plane but also on a more cosmic level.

The word Daath itself means knowledge and is used in the Torah to convey the idea of moral knowledge. Genesis II: 9 talks of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Daath is also used when God says, after learning that Adam and Eve have eaten the fruit of the tree, that "the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil" (Gen.III: 22).

Early Kabbalistic writings did not admit to the existence of Daath as a Sephirah. Indeed the Sepher Yetzirah is emphatic when it says "Ten is the number of the wonderful Spheres, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven". Daath is also the only Sephirah to be placed across a Path. This Path is the 13th, the Path of the High Priestess,which is a Path of transition upon which it is said that the justice aspect of Daath is met (later reflected as the "just answer" of Tiphareth). The possibility must be recognised that Daath per se may only be a stage which has defeated so many travellers on this Path, and thus it has been given an objective rather than a subjective existence.


To be continued...