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

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Chokmah and Binah in the Supernal Triangle.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Daleth. Door.

Title: Daughter of the Mighty Ones.

Spiritual Significance: Venus.

Tarot Card: III - The Empress.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Emerald green.
In Briah: Sky blue.
In Yetzirah: Early spring green.
In Assiah: Bright rose or cerise rayed pale green.



The papers below describe the Fourteenth Path of Daleth. The Path of Daleth is under the infleunce of Chokmah and Binah. (More to follow)...

(Updated 15 August 2020)


Chokmah to Binah - The Path of the Empress

By Jeanne Hayman (1995)

Every state of evolution begins by being in a state of unstable force and proceeds through organisation into equilibrium. Once equilibrium is achieved, no further development is possible without upsetting the stability and passing through a stage of contending forces. Kether is the Point formulated in the Void. If you visualise this point extending through space and becoming a line of force, in other words Kether being extended into a line which is Chokmah. The energy represented by this straight line, or uplifted rod of power, is essentially dynamic. The ever inflowing force of the unmanifest demands fresh modes of development, establishing fresh relationships and stresses. It is this outdriving of unorganised, uncompensated force which is Chokmah.

Chokmah, the dynamic Sephirah, ever outflowing in boundless energy, which is the channel for the passage of force, which passes to Binah, the receptacle for the force on its downward journey. Binah being the first organising, stabilising Sephirah. In Chokmah and Binah we have the archetypal positive and negative, the primordial male and female. It is between these two polarising aspects of manifestation that the Web of Life is woven, souls going back and forth between them like a weaver's shuttle. Father is the giver of life, but mother is the giver of death because her womb is the ingress of life into matter, and through her life is ensouled in form, and no form can be infinite or eternal. Death is implicit in birth.

The magical image of Chokmah is that of a bearded male, bearded to indicate maturity, the father who has proved his manhood. Hence the standing stone, the tower, and the uplifted rod all signify virility at its most potent. Do not think that Chokmah is merely a phallic symbol and nothing more, as in Chokmah we also see the creative word which said "Let there be Light". Remember Chokmah means wisdom and wisdom is the result of applying spiritual purpose to understanding. Chokmah is attributed to the planet Neptune, the controller of the sea of Binah. It is also attributed to the 'sphere of the fixed zodiac'. The traditional virtue associated with this sphere is devotion to the Great Work, that is, devotion to one's true will and purpose. This is the sphere of the Magus, the perfect magician, who has achieved complete self knowledge and knows fully his True Will or Spiritual Purpose.

Binah in Hebrew means understanding which is clearly distinguished from the knowledge of Daath. There can be no true knowledge without understanding. Binah forms a dynamic partnership with Chokmah and is sometimes given the title "Marah", the Great Sea. The image associated with this Sephira is of a mature woman. The planetary correspondence is to Saturn, not the leaden Saturn, but the Saturn that represents the essence of Spiritual awareness.

Binah represents the female potency of the Universe, even as Chokmah represents the male. Chokmah stands at the head of the Pillar of Mercy and Binah at the head of the Pillar of Severity. Perhaps you may consider this unnatural and that the Supernal Mother should preside over the mercies and the Supernal father over the severities. But we are dealing with Cosmic principles, not personalities. Freud would have agreed with Binah at the head of the pillar of Severity and he had a good deal to say about the Image of the Terrible Mother.

Consider then that form disciplines force with merciless severity. The disembodied spirit is immortal; there is nothing of it that can grow old and die. But the embodied spirit sees death on the horizon as soon as its day dawns. We can see then how terrible the Great Mother must appear as she binds free moving forces into the discipline of form. She is death to the dynamic activity of Chokmah, the Chokmah force is contained as it issues into Binah. These are the two sephiroth between which lies the path of the Empress.

The 14th path, the path of the Empress is known as the Luminous Intelligence. Chokmah (wisdom) and Binah (understanding) are the two Sephiroth concerned. The path runs horizontally across the Tree of Life and is the first barrier on the way down and the last on the return up the Tree. The Hebrew name for this path is Daleth which means door. The door is the eye of the needle, through which the (camel) High Priestess must pass, as the path of the Empress crosses the path of the High Priestess.

Venus has influence on this path and brings in the element of Earth, as Venus, ruler of Taurus, the fixed earth sign of the zodiac. Through the earth element the Empress rules nature. The female energy of this path is represented in the proliferation of images of the fertile Mother Goddess which is common to all cultures and all peoples at all times since the beginning of human consciousness. It is thought before ideas of a paternal God were placed in the minds of men, humankind worshipped the Deity as Mother for many ages. There are many artefacts of female fertility and goddess figures, which seem to confirm this, as they date anywhere from 6,000 to 30,000 years ago.

In Greek mythology the Mother Goddess Venus Aphrodite, born from the sea (Binah), gave birth to flowers wherever she walked. She is Mother Nature blossoming in magnificent fruition. Waite describes her as the "fruitful mother of thousands", and "woman clothed with the Sun". She is also described as wearing a crown of 12 stars which refer to Chokmah, the wisdom which dominates the zodiac and all the worlds, and which is the destination of this path on its evolutionary ascent. In the Path of Involution, it proceeds to Binah, the ocean of unconsciousness, and then to all other spheres. As one who is "clothed with the Sun", the Empress represents the Mother principle impregnated with the "saviour-God". As the "luminous intelligence", Daleth signifies the gateway to the Sun, the radiance of the sunrise.
This same archetypal idea is expressed in Egyptian mythology, where the lily, representing the goddess Isis, gives birth to the Sun, at the dawn of creation. The lily was also sacred to the Roman goddess Juno, by it she conceived her powerful son, Mars or Ares. The lily was an emblem of Mary, representing Christian purity during much of the middle ages, and was a Byzantine symbol of royalty.

This is the path of true compassion, the quality essential to pass the last barrier. Binah, mother-quality, and Chokmah, father-quality, are combined on this path as is force and matter. This path is the dividing line between the waters above and the waters below the firmament.

The path of the Empress is the path just above the great abyss. From the "Empress" the vitality of the life force flows out. This is a path of union and creation and here the dual principle becomes one on the return path whilst on the outward journey the two principles split and flow down as separate entities. "Male and female created He them", at this point.

This arcanum is the perfect symbol of the Hermaphrodite. On leaving the path of the Empress the major portion of life is influenced by Chokmah or Binah, only a small section retain the perfect balance that flows down the middle pillar.

As the Empress is the womb and the door we are all its keepers as we approach our own images of her and bring to fruition the ideas she manifests in us. An important idea connected to this path is that of bridging, as the Empress does, the two halves of personality, the male and female aspects, the anima-animus, the two sides of the brain. As we walk this path we learn to connect our Yang logic and our intuitive Yin wisdom. As a symbolic representation of the creative powers of the mind, the Empress points the way to new levels of consciousness - awareness and expansion.

Research today supports the mystical notion, which has persisted for many ages in esoteric teachings, that conscious visual imagery is a great boon to the powers of the mind. Imagery is now recognised as the primary way of encoding information from storage in memory. It is an effective way of dealing with fears and phobias. It fosters mental and emotional health and increases creativity, behavioural flexibility, classroom learning and athletic performance. It may be effective in the treatment of hosts of physical disorders.

Mental images are matrices for physical and emotional conditions. Regular use of the Empress Tarot card in particular will increase creativity, productivity and inventiveness. As seeds of wheat multiply when planted and nurtured in fertile ground, so do seed- forms manifest creatively in the fertile ground of our conscious imagination.


The Empress

By Peter Oddey (2001)

The Path of The Empress unites the Great Father with the Great Mother, Chokmah and Binah. Her esoteric title is appropriately, therefore, “The Daughter of the Mighty Ones”.

The Hebrew letter assigned to the Fourteenth Path is Daleth, meaning “a door”, and a door opens in two directions; the door of Daleth is the means of access from the Heavens to the Earth and the Earth into the Heavens. It is also appropriate therefore, that Daleth is a double letter, denoting either wisdom or folly.

One might note the fundamental meanings of the double letters at this level of the Tree:

Beth    - The Magician; life or death
Gimel  - The High Priestess; peace or war
Daleth - The Empress; wisdom or folly.

When one strips away the luxuries and non-essentials of life in the world, the meanings of the first three letters tell us just about everything there is to know.

For the first time in our descent of the Tree, with the Path of The Empress, we have moved from seeking to understand the purely supernal to a Path that holds a greater connection with the world of the elements as we know them. The Empress is the Mother of Nature, or Mother Nature.

Professor Robert Wang has captured the essence of The Empress by suggesting that the Fourteenth Path is the essence of pure emotion and fruition. The substance of that found in the Sephirah Netzach, but without the opposing poles of love and hate and with no subject of object: simply the underlying energy generated between the two Sephiroth Chokmah and Binah, along the Fourteenth Path, is of an incomprehensible magnitude. The Empress is the fruit of the primal union between the two Sephiroth of primary creation at the head of the Pillars of Force and Form and as such, she is indeed “The Daughter of the Mighty Ones”.

The Yetziratic Text of the ‘32 Paths of Wisdom’ tells us that in Chokmah:

“. . . in Illuminating Intelligence. The Crown of Creation and the Splendour of Unity . . .”

The Path of The Empress, we are told, is also:

“. . . the Illuminating Intelligence. The founder of the Concealed, fundamental ideas of holiness and their stages of preparation.”

Thence to the Sephirah Binah, which is:

“ . . . the Sanctifying Intelligence. The foundation of primordial wisdom and the parent of faith.”

The Text reveals that the work of The Empress in providing the link between the unmanifest World above the Abyss and the order of manifestation below, is not a work of faith, but faith itself. We can see from the Text that The Empress is a Path of gestation and the beginning of things.

We have previously considered the concept of holiness as “light” and mystics down the ages have testified to the encounter of this light as being an experience of where all questions cease and all knowing begins. More often than not, such knowing cannot be subsequently formed into words and spoken language. As St. Paul states, ”I know . . . a man – whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not know – was caught up into paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Corinthians 12:3,4). St. Paul’s experience was of “the concealed fundamental ideas of holiness”.

So we understand that the Path of The Empress is a Path where the basis of holiness, or the primal light behind manifestation, is to be found and the preparatory stages of manifestation are nurtured. In this case, the Paths of The Empress and The High Priestess fulfil similar functions: they both provide the balance of force and form from which manifestation is wrought. The High Priestess is a reconciler of the polarity of manifestation and acts as the medium upon which the commands of The Magician are executed: The Empress provides the link between the manifest and unmanifest and she is that which The Magician actually commands. The crystal water that flows from the base of the throne of The High Priestess in the Rider-Waite and Foster Case deck has become a flowing riverlet in the depiction of The Empress and it will appear regularly in other forms as we travel along the Paths that follow.

As the Kabbalistic Aphorisms emphasise, the Fourteenth Path runs laterally, above and along the edge of the Abyss, at the boundary of manifestation and is crossed by the Path of The High Priestess, which also travels from the unmanifest to the manifest. As The High Priestess is the great mystery of life, so The Empress is life’s means of manifestation.
The Desert Fathers, considered on the Path of the High Priestess, represent something of the idea of life in the midst of death. It is generally agreed that the desert is one of the harshest of terrain in which to survive and because of this the early monks, mystics and ascetics embarking on the desert Path were known as “white martyrs”; as contrasted with the violent and bloody deaths of the “red martyrs”. Indeed, it reiterates the theme begun on the Path of Beth, The Magician; a double letter meaning life or death and this is carried through into The Empress, in that she is the force behind both the living cells and the dying cells of our earthly existence. The Empress is the source of life and death behind the World of Nature.

Something of the immense forces at work in the Creation of The Empress can be found in the underlying principles of the Kings and Queens of the Minor Arcana. The Empress is the culmination of the swift, rapid force of the King, meeting the consolidating and enduring power of the Queen. The idea of where the unstoppable meets the immovable comes to mind; although obviously, this is not the “big bang” itself, the roar of which continues to reverberate around the perceptible universe, but the subtle and exquisite interface of the union of opposites, which is far more powerful and inconceivably profound.

The Twos and threes of the Suits relay a similar message: the Twos denote the beginning of a sequence and the Threes represent its culmination and then a new sequence. The Empress is that sequence.

Looked at sequentially:

The Path of The Fool has provided the breath that fills the vacuum.

This has enabled The Magician to pronounce the Word of Power.

The Word both Creates and utilises the medium of The High Priestess.

Out of the medium of The High Priestess, The Empress is Created.

With the Creation of The Empress, The Magician has something to command and as “The Daughter of the Mighty Ones”, that command is great indeed.


Tarot Reflections on the Empress

By John Hudson (1997)

The card shows her enthroned in the midst of Nature with the symbols of Venus. Being at the supernal level of the Tree of Life, the first joining of the male and female principles as expressed by Chokmah and Binah, the Great Father and Mother.

In the Rider pack her heart shaped shield bears the astrological sign of Venus, which can be seen as the orb of the world surmounted by the cross of manifestation. The Venus sign can also be drawn on the Tree of Life to encompass every sephirah. The old saying is ‘Love makes the world go round’ but this is true at the supernal level rather than at the usual mundane level.

Manly P. Hall’s card shows a dove on the shield, a bird attributed to Venus. Other packs show a phoenix (the principle of regeneration) and an eagle, a bird considered to be the only creature able to look directly at the Sun.

Upon her head the figure wears a diadem of twelve stars, these being six pointed - the number twelve indicating the signs of the zodiac - and the six pointed hexagrams shows that she has control over the laws of Nature. Her hair is set with a wreath of Myrtle (attributed to Venus) while around her neck is a necklace of seven pearls (seven being the number of Netzach) and pearls being attributed to the 29th path, the Moon, leading from Malkuth to Netzach.

So all this represents fertility which is essential for an evolving scheme of creation, but this is fertility at the supernal level and the idea conveyed is that the growth of the plant world (and the human world, for the Empress is pregnant) is the result of cosmic forces which are operating at far higher levels.

In the Greek pantheon, Aphrodite besides being the goddess of Love is also the goddess of Desire and in order to create something it is first necessary to desire it, albeit that here we see the principle acting in the most abstract form, for when we lose all desire, we shall become at-one with the universe, i.e. Kether.

Finally, Venus on the path of the Empress is a subjective state as opposed to Netzach which is objective. This also applies to the rest of the astral triangle, Mercury - Hod and the ‘Magician’ and ‘The Moon’ - Yesod and the High Priestess. As above, So below.


To be continued...