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

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Netzach and Hod.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Peh. Mouth.

Titles: Lord of the Hosts of the Mighty.

Spiritual Significance: Mars.

Tarot Card: XVI - The Tower.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Scarlet.
In Briah: Red.
In Yetzirah: Venetian red.
In Assiah: Bright red, rayed azure and emerald.

 

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Description:

The papers below describe the Twenty-seventh Path of Peh that symbolises the infleunce between Netzach and Hod. (More to follow)...

(Updated 14 January 2021)

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The Lightning-Struck Tower - 27th Path

By Doreen Sturzaker

The Path lies between Netzach and Hod. This state of consciousness is brought about by a sudden influx of spiritual consciousness, which changes all our ideas about ourselves and about the Cosmos. Our cosy material castle or tower is toppled, or having reached a pinnacle of worldly success we are knocked off the summit and we have to pick ourselves up and adjust to more spiritual ways of living.

The Active or Exciting Intelligence. Peh - Mouth, utterance, assent, agreement. Also to come onto harmony with others, with oneself and universal Law.

Atziluth

In Atziluth the colour is Scarlet. This demonstrates the latent qualities in Archetype; there is an active destructive force at work which recognises that old traditions and customs have to make way for more advanced forms. The active, energetic stimulation of the Scarlet prepares the way for the changes that must come about in the worlds of Form. It is therefore a constructive destructiveness, a breaking down in order to rebuild, initiating the alterations that have to be made in the Personality so as to align it more along the true spiritual lines.

Briah

This Path in Briah receives its spiritual influx with influences from the Buddhic plane so it is possible that the destroyer aspect of the Red which is the Briatic colour is more swift in its action. The action at this level would be a sharp cutting through the vestiges of materiality but at the same time the individual would presumably understand why the consciousness had to clear itself of its grosser elements, the understanding would be tinged with Wisdom because even on this Path, although it lies between Netzach and Hod, it would still receive part of the influences of Chokmah and Binah as it is in the World of the two Supernals.

It is an energising, dynamic power that helps the Man to slough off the more materialistic elements in his nature if he is on the upward arc.

On the downward arc of Involution it would be inclined to push him onwards since the spiritual force would understand the necessity for it even though the further he got towards the physical the more the Personality would be likely to forget his reason for being there.

Yetzirah

In Yetzirah, the Formative World, the power is drawn down, the path is on the Path of the Lightning Flash and this spiral force is directly drawn down to destroy the existing forms, in this instance they are most probably old-established thought-forms. There is a sudden flash of inspiration so that the structures that have been built up hitherto, based on false reasoning, may now be corrected.

This is the Venetian Red, all-powerful, stimulating Red tempered with a little Brown. This helps to stabilise giving a certain amount of single-mindedness and a power of concentration. The Brown in it helps the intuition which is of the sphere of Netzach to come through and to be used for constructive thought in the sphere of Hod. So the new way after the breaking-down of the old thought processes can gain a certain stability.

Assiah

In Assiah it seems that those ideas of change that were latent in Atziluth, and became definite urges and prodding from the higher Worlds to make changes have now concretised, and the Man if he has ignored all the prodding of his higher self to change and reorientate himself now finds it done for him, and rather drastically. Now when I say, done for him, this only seems to be so to the lower self in a dense physical body and the changes brought about may be very upsetting and uncomfortable for him. Yet it is really he, himself, who has initiated the changes and who has chosen the resulting discomfort, although his Lower Personality self may not always realise this. The colour Red here is rayed with Azure which does point to spiritual aspiration or it can be rayed with Green which shows ambition which is devoted to spiritual ends.

It does seem a rather drastic Path, crossing it we have the Path of Temperance which as we have seen is one of the "dark nights of the Soul" which is a Path of trials where old familiar things are swept away and the one treading it feels completely forsaken, so these two Paths do appear to fit in with each other. It is possible that one is treading them both together for I think that we are all probably working along more than one Path or state of consciousness at a time, possibly several during an incarnation.

In Yesod the background of Indigo lends fortitude to the task of withstanding the emotional upheavals consequent upon the destructive action of “The Tower” and the very steadfastness of the background colour reinforces the spirit’s resolve to enter physical life with all its attendant trials. The Red of the Path in Yetzirah gives the driving force to take him even lower into dense matter. The action of the Tower is drastic or less severe according to how much we have allowed our hidden, sub-conscious motives to dominate our lives, and if we have let our emotions run away with us for most of our incarnation then we are in for a grand upheaval when the Lightning Flash strikes and our grey Tower topples brick by brick.

The devotional aspect of the Ray can lead him to pursue his object single-mindedly, whether it is to leave the astral world and take another physical body or to leave behind him the astral world of desires and travel with faith and idealism to long way back up the Tree. In the colour of the Path which is a Venetian Red, the tinge of Brown raises the tendency to superstition, which can be a characteristic of Indigo on the lower levels to a higher inspiration, so that while the shock of the Lightning Flash can sear and burn the dross of the desire body, the Red will drive him on to the Sphere of Hod.

In the world of Assiah the Tower has been built of necessity as a natural outcome of the Spark's progress in the formation and development of concrete mind. It is on the Path of the Lightning Flash and has therefore a significant and important role to play. Its alternative title, the House of God, is meaningful too and denotes that it’s appearance at that point on the Tree and the experiences it brings to him are the inevitable consequences of the descent into matter.

The Path of Peh Through the Ten Spheres

The colour in the world of Assiah is a bright Red rayed with azure or emerald, which immediately tells us that the forces we are dealing with here are very powerful and from a limited, totally physical aspect - are quite ruthless. Mars is the planetary attribution, its effects are sharp and sudden, though usually not too long-lasting and Mars is on the Red Ray too. So what has been built up during the gradual descent, if it is not on a firm basis of truth will have to go. If we ourselves are not prepared to discard it voluntarily then at the level of Malkuth it is done for us, suddenly and unexpectedly. But the sharp pain of shattering is soon over because we can very soon see that the break-up was necessary in order to clear the way for something new and higher.

There are twenty-two sparks or flames on the card; perhaps they symbolise the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Now if these letters are wrongly used, or to put it another way, if we have built up a structure of erroneous thought when it is translated into speech, the Peh meaning utterance, then it will be faulty or wrong speech and so an inharmonious vibration sounds out into the world of Assiah and like the walls of Jericho the Tower we have been carefully building, whatever its nature may be, collapses.

In Yesod, we are dealing with the underlying stresses of the physical world. The colour here is a brownish Red which against the background colour of Indigo will give a rather dull Purplish tone, a prideful tone bringing to mind the saying "pride goes before a fall" and this is what can happen when the imaginative principle (Netzach) holds sway and lets the emotions have full rein. We are more than likely then to go off and build ourselves a Tower wobbly on its foundations and a perfect candidate for the lightning flash that will inevitably strike it. But as it crumbles around us the shock may channel the wayward emotions forcing them into less selfish lines so that out of the wreckage we can salvage a new beginning based more solidly on eternal truths.

In Hod at one end of the Path we have the concrete mind to deal with. We have seen that there are twenty-two flames representing the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is in Hod that their importance becomes manifest. For it is by the written and spoken word that our thoughts and ideas are expressed and if our thoughts and ideas are not in accord with Cosmic Law then our actions will necessarily be against the Law too.

Here is the aspect of the rent lower mental body that must bring everything into form. We have the story of the Tower of Babel where Man thought he could only reach God by creating a tower, a form, and even when disposing of the astral and physical body this aspect of the mind still functions on a restrictive basis. There must be a form of some kind or another to cling on to, by and through which he thinks he can attain his objective at whatever level he has set his sights.

It is the attachment to form that makes it so difficult for the individual on this Path in Hod to deal with the destruction of the forms he has so carefully built up and nurtured, be they actual long cherished beliefs or his fixed ideas which he may be unwillingly forced to abandon. I wonder whether an extreme example of this would be where an individual has died but cannot believe he has lost his physical body and is said to live in the astral as though he were still a physical being. It takes him a very long time to become reconciled to the knowledge that his physical tower has actually crumbled and no longer exists.

As he continues he comes to see that the only way to make real progress is not to let the Tower experience happen to him but instead to willingly shatter his self-imposed edifices of his own volition. This, of course, takes a lot of courage and will-power and here the Red of the Path comes to his aid in strengthening his will, once he has decided to take this course of action, the light of reason guides him. The quality of Red destroys the Tower, at the same time energising him and the Violet-Purple of Hod helps him to acquire rulership over himself.

An old text associates the letter 'Y' with the Purple Ray. 'Y' or 'Yod' is the activating agent, to cast forth power, power diffused through the Universe. If we can grasp the nature of abstract power, the Purple Ray, we can begin to understand the being or creative force that was power and wisdom before the boundary of form enclosed it. Violet possesses the quality of humility and spiritual dedication and once he has obtained rulership in handling Cosmic Rays he can apply the Violet Ray qualities and thus escape from the sphere of form into Netzach.

In Netzach his experiences could lead him into difficult situations with his fellow beings. On his journey he will have built up many different relationships with his fellow Sparks, family ties between brothers and sisters as well as husband and wife, parent and child and those between Master and pupil. Netzach is the sphere of polarity and he will have been taking part in the subtle exchange of energies albeit unconsciously, he will be the positive pole in some of his relationships, brother to sister or parent to child and as master to pupil and in other situations he will be the receptive element in the relationship. But he can meet with difficulties and this is how the Tower experience can affect him. Perhaps he has used others for his own selfish ends or exploited situations so that the polarity becomes lop-sided, then the Tower will topple and he is left to pick up the pieces.

There has to be an exchange of energies between his own bodies too, similar to that which carries on between the planes of consciousness. Spirit inspires the mind or mental plane, the mind or mental plane directs the emotions, the emotions in turn form the etheric vehicle and the etheric moulds the physical plane where the energy circuit is earthed.

Supposing there is an energy break or blockage between the spiritual and mental planes, this disturbs polarity between the vehicles and eventually will result in mental disturbance and imbalance, or suppose the circuit is broken between the mental and emotional bodies then chaos will be caused in the life because the emotional are not controlled and directed by the mind and as it works through into the physical, it may manifest as ill health and sudden physical disruption, again another aspect of the Tower which we bring upon ourselves when we are not properly and adequately functioning in all our vehicles. The Amber background gives a sense of wholeness, helping to gain an understanding of integration, giving the idea of unity and peace within the individual and the necessary mental vigour to achieve it.

In Tiphareth there continues the struggle for polarisation in the early stages at any rate, because he is reaching up to the higher consciousness, the vision of harmony is still far off in the distance and may seem an illusion to him as he commences on the Path in Tiphareth. To appreciate and really have awareness of what the harmony of Tiphareth actually is he must first suffer its opposite so that his life to the outside observer could seem a very unfortunate one. Just as he seems to be making some progress in controlling his mental vehicles something comes along and knocks him askew and if he hasn't got himself sufficiently balanced mentally, the Tower will be devastating in its effect upon him. While he is learning to make contact with his higher self he finds that he has to subjugate his little self, his personality, and from the lower levels of Tiphareth this appears to him as a sacrifice particularly when the Path he is treading removes from him suddenly and without warning something which has been precious to him as a personality.

The Red of the Path in its destroyer aspect works on all the Yetziratic levels but always in order to rebuild; it is the necessary clearance before something new and hopefully better can be constructed. It provides the energy to do it moreover.

The background of Clear Rose-Pink keeps ever before him the vision of universal oneness and the inner conviction that no matter what happens to him all will finally work out because at this level he should have access to the flow of knowledge and understanding from higher levels; his intuition should be functioning well as his inner being responds to the call of the higher self. He will be tinged with the Rose-Pink of universal love which strengthens and supports him on this difficult Path. When he has attained to balance, which means his vehicles are well-integrated and the exchange of energies is taking place between them, then for him the Tower is over. He will no longer need its help to force change upon him, he will know when changes must be made and act accordingly.

In Geburah the Path again strikes him, probably in the form of Karma. He has reached this Sphere where he must rid himself of all hindrances before he can leave the Sphere for Gedulah.

Orange is the background colour. On the higher octaves of the Orange, the heat is so intense that not only are physical atoms but even the etheric and astral bodies are fused in the intensity of the Rays. Could it be then that through this colour of Geburah the dross that needs purifying can be ruthlessly exterminated, suddenly and irrevocably with the suddenness of a lightning flash striking down all that lies in its path; in this case it will be the last vestiges of the lower emotions that may still be clinging to him but in a very subtle form, no longer obvious perhaps not even to him but still under the Law they have to be purified.

He may come to look upon the way of the Path as a friend because by its lightning action it helps him to progress quicker. The hindrances are of a more subtle nature; among them are spiritual pride and arrogance. If the lessons are not fully learned here there will be a long way to fall. A mental attitude that is in any degree selfish must be finally adjusted.
The Hebrew letter Peh means to come into harmony with others, with oneself and with Universal Law. It also means assent or agreement so we can assume that his ‘true will’ knows that what is happening to him is for his own spiritual progress and is working fully in accord with this. He realises that what he is suffering is the final elimination before he enters the Sphere of the Masters and his assent to this is gladly given.

In Gedulah sees him in a high state of consciousness, he has got rid of the last taint of selfishness before leaving Geburah and is settled in the realms of abstract thought, a situation I don't pretend to know very much about. But the background colour of deep Violet tells us something of his life in this state of consciousness. He is the ruler of himself and at the same time the fatherly guide and counsellor to those not yet at his level of attainment. A benevolent ruler his work is one of organisation and order. There is stability here and this is where the Tower proves useful for he now must stir himself from a pleasant state of being in Gedulah and brace himself to cross the Abyss to enter the Sphere of Binah.

The Tower may be used to topple and even out the vices of the Sphere if he has fallen prey to them, bigotry and hypocrisy will be challenged and tyranny too as the Tower sweeps away all pretence and cuts him down to size preparatory to the great leap. For it does constitute a great leap in consciousness and an entirely different state of being. The unexpected energy shock provided by the Tower gives him the means to bridge the Abyss.

In Binah, the sphere of understanding, the energies are beneath the surface, latent and stabilising. Here is the last vestige of form and here he may settle for a long time assimilating what he has learned in other spheres, full of ideas but holding them to himself, avarice, the vice of Binah. So the Lightning Flash strikes once more, helping him to break out of restriction, he uses the Red Ray of the Path in its destroyer aspect to help in this work. He may need a push to propel him out of the arms of the Great Mother where he is cosily enfolded, at first resistant to the dynamic force of the next Sphere Chokmah but it is not without significance that the Atziluthic colour of Binah is Crimson to provide the necessary courage and to kindle the pioneering spirit to shake off the last traces of form and to enter the next sphere of wild uncontrolled force.

In Chokmah the Red of the Path is mingled with a soft Blue to give Amethyst, so he is now pure force untrammelled with any kind of form. He combines energetic activity with a loving wisdom and a devotion receiving the many and varied potencies of life via the sphere of the Zodiac. The fertile Yod of Tetragrammaton penetrates and peoples his world of abstract thought.
Here is the abstract idea of the perfect Tower which cannot fall apart based upon a firm foundation but if on reaching this sphere perfection has not been fully attained, on seeing face to face the searching power of Chokmah is such that he will topple out of his personal Tower and may either have to return to Binah or to Malkuth on the Tree in Chokmah according to the degree of impurity that has still to be eradicated.

In Kether is the archetype of the perfect Tower, a firmly constructed Tower or one based upon shifting sand, and Man in his journey through life has to keep experiencing this Path until he has successfully built the replica of the archetype in Kether that is built on the true spiritual foundation. This Path does demonstrate that God or the Ain is no respecter of persons and we all go through the experience of the Tower many, many times.

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The Lightning Struck Tower

By Dorothy Horan (1989)

The Falling Tower. Tower struck by lightning. Tower of Babel. House of God. This is the 16th Arcanum and the 27th Path. The third barrier or veil is formed by this Path, the last on the Path of Outgoing and the first on the way back.

Netzach and Hod are joined by this path to give a balance of victory and glory. Imagination, illusion and the energetic principle are brought together on the 27th Path. In all packs the Arcanum is depicted as a tower struck by lightning. Two figures are falling from the Tower, one crowned and one uncrowned. Here indeed is the Tower of Babel being brought to ruin. Hod is the sphere where religions are built up and destroyed because imagination runs riot. Man builds in imagination and with illusion, and. this is the Path that brings it to nothing.

This Path shows that in universal law all men are equal. Destruction for reconstruction is also an aspect of this Path. Here is the point where a way of life is broken down by choice. With a true knowledge and understanding of the Sephiroth Netzach and Hod, the student or initiate can use the 27th Path to his advantage. Rigid thoughts can be broken down and a new outlook or thought process commenced. On the Path of Outgoing these changes are made involuntarily.

On the Path of Return, the change must be made voluntarily if this barrier is to be passed. If the student or initiate is on the Path of Return and an involuntary change is brought about, the barrier will not be passed. On the Path of Return only negative actions are involuntarily brought to destruction.

Heaven, God, the Source of Life, will never be discovered by building a physical tower. This is the Path of Active or Exciting Intelligence. By this Path is created the intellect of all created things. It is the purpose of this Path to destroy all thoughts not in accord with the Universal Law. Thoughts within Universal Law differ in degree with the world in which the student or initiate is operating.

In the World of Assiah, the trend of thought should be towards helping humanity, a conquest of the I. At the Yetziratic level, the power of thought should extend beyond the personality and individuality level. On the Briatic level this barrier of the 27th Path can only be passed when the thought process is joined more to the Universal Mind. In the World of Atziluth it is the archetypal potential of Universal Mind.

The Lightning-Struck Tower is a minor punitive Path. There is a link with Geburah (Justice) as both have the astrological influence of Mars. Fire is the element of the Path with all its burnishing and purification.

The Hebrew letter for this path is Peh, meaning assent or agreement. It also means to come into harmony, and this is also a lesson of the lightning struck tower. Harmony with life, with Universal Law and within the individual. Only perfect agreement and harmony with the life consciousness at his level of being will take the student or initiate across the barrier. It is the Path where the individual has to say, and mean, "not my will but thine be done". An alternative name for this Arcanum is "The House of God".

The colour for this Path is Scarlet, the fire of divine justice which strikes the tower.

378 is the mystic number which in numerology becomes 9. 9 is the ultimate number, and by it the student or initiate will rise or fall. The triangle of the ternary, and the triplication of the triple. It is therefore a complete image of the three worlds. In medicinal rites, it is the symbolic number par excellence, representing triple synthesis, the disposition on each plane of the corporeal, the intellectual and the spiritual.

A number of completeness and high achievement because it is the last and highest of the series from 1 to 9 and because a human child is normally born 9 months after conception. 9 also marks the tran­sition from one series of numbers to a higher, series and is therefore the number of initiation and initiation rituals frequently take the form of a mock "death" followed by a "rebirth".

Ruby is the precious stone that vibrates to this path. Absinth and Rue are the plants that belong to the 27th path.
The Bear and the Wolf are the animals of the lightning struck tower. The wolf symbolic of valour among the Romans and Egyptians. In Nordic mythology it appears as a symbol of the principle of evil. Nordic mythology presupposes that cosmic order is possible only through the temporary shackling of the chaotic and destructive potential of the universe - a potential which must triumph in the end. It was said the priest of Zeus could take the form of a wolf.

Hecate could also take a wolf shape. The mother of Apollo and Artemis, Leto, appeared as a she-wolf, and a wolf was emblazoned on the Shield of Artemis. Despite myths of kindly wolves, the Romans associated it with Mars, the God of War. In Scandinavian and Nordic mythology, a wolf swallows the sun - connected with concepts of the final annihilation of the world -whether by water or by fire.

In alchemy the bear corresponds to the nigreds of prime matter, and there­fore is related to all initial stages and to the instincts. It has conse­quently been considered a symbol of the perilous aspect of the unconscious and as an attribute of the man who is cruel and crude. Since it is found in the company of Diana it is regarded as a lunar animal. The ancient Greeks told of a bear-goddess named Callisto, who was transformed by Zeus into the constellation called the Great Bear. The cult of Zeus Lycarus which is connected with were-wolfism and others with bear worship, definitely involved human sacrifice. Lycaon the father of Callisto and the cult grew out of his sacrifice of a boy to Zeus.

Callisto was closely associated with Artemis. The Great Bear is a powerful god in the mythologies of peoples, linked by a basic language form. Naturally the bear is important in the myths of North American Indians. The bear was the Indians' greatest competitor, eating the salmon caught by the tribes, the stored buffalo meat, the maize grown (and sometimes the members of the tribes themselves). Indian myths and customs naturally show a great respect for the creature.
Pepper is the perfume to be used in working this path. Its magical weapons are wrath and vengeance. The magical weapon is a two edged sword.

Gods predominant on this path are Mars and Ares.

Ares, Olympian God of War. The early equation of Mars lent great emphasis to the literary role of Mars as War God. Ares appears in Greek poetry, mainly as a divine personification of war and violence. Some argue that Ares means "destroyer".

Mars - the primitive and astro-biological conception of creation is that it can take place only through "primordial sacrifice", similarly what has been created can only be preserved through sacrifice and war. The image of Janus, or the twin peaked mountain of Mars, are symbols of inversion, that is, of the intercommunication between the upper, non formed world of future potentialities, and the lower world of materialised forms.

Schneider insists upon this principle as characteristic of the primordial order, commenting that "its rigid law demands a death for each life, sublimates the criminal instinct to serve good and humanitarian ends, and fuses love and hate in the interests of the renewal of life. In order to preserve the order of existence, the Gods struggled with the giants and monsters who from the beginning of creation sought to devour the sun." - the logos.

Mars is the perennial incarnation of this necessity for the shedding of blood, apparent in all orders of the cosmos. Hence early cults of Mars embraced vegetation, it was to Mars that the Roman farmer appealed for the prosperity of his harvest. His attributes are weapons, and especially the sword. The month of March preserves the memory of his veneration (spring).

Confusion, ruin, the fall of man, the expulsion from paradise: the destruc­tion of false doctrines and mistaken attitudes: discipline, cruelty, pain, sexually a symbol of ejaculation. In the Egyptian system of hieroglyphs, the tower is a determinative sign denoting height or the act of rising above the common level in life or society.

The tower is a symbol of ascent. The analogy between the tower and man, the windows at the topmost level correspond to the eyes and the mind of man. In this same way the Tower of Babel acquired a special symbolic point as wild enterprise bringing disaster and mental disorder. For the same reason the Tower struck by lightning denotes catastrophe by this image. A dual tendency in the symbolism of the tower is its upward impulse may be accompanied by a deepening movement, the greater the height, the deeper the foundations.

Nietzsche talked of descent during ascent. Nerval refers to the symbolism of the tower and says "I found myself in a tower, whose foundations were sunk so deep into the earth and whose top was so lofty, reaching up like a spire into the sky, that my whole existence already seemed bound to be consumed in climbing up and down it."

The allegory of a tower half destroyed by a flash of lightning, which strikes the top (symbolically equivalent to the head). This tower could be identified with the first of the two columns known as Joachim and Boaz, as a symbol of individual power and life. Girlot emphasises this by saying the bricks are flesh coloured. The pieces of the tower that have fallen away are shown to have struck first a king and secondly the architect of the tower. The evil implications are connected with the dangerous consequences of over-confidence, or the sin of pride, with its related symbolism of the Tower of Babel. Megalomania, the wild pursuit of fanciful ideas, and small-mindedness, form the context of this symbol.

In the Hermetic Tarot - the Blasted Tower = Lord of the Hosts of the Mighty - Peh - Mouth. A blast of lightning renders total destruction and clears the way enabling new forms to emerge. An outline of the Tree of Life appears at either side of the Tower, the sephiroth black on one side and white on the other, suggesting the wide scope this card must cover. The symbol of Mars appears at the upper left of the card.

This sigil of destruction represents the antithesis of Temperance. For purposes of divination it is the worst card in the pack - for all that, it was clear to William Butler Yeats, whose knowledge of occult doctrine and whose sensitivity to mystical truth were among the most prodigious of our time, that "I declare this tower is my symbol. This winding, gyring, spiring treadmill of a star is my ancestral stair..."

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The Lightning Struck Tower

By Francis Morris (1977)

The path of the Tower is one of the main supports of the Tree; it is the basal girder of the Temple holding together the great pillars of Boaz and Jachin. It joins Hod and Netzach, the two great forces in the physical world, creative imagination and concrete ideation which together bring about the manifestation of the life force in Yesod and in final physical manifestation in Malkuth. It is therefore a path of tremendous energy, which passes backwards and forwards from positive to negative like an electric current.

Further, it is on the direct path of the Lightning Flash passing down the Tree of Life from Kether. This is the lightning which strikes whatever edifice Man has built which is false. For this is the Ain force and what is not in accord with divine law cannot withstand it. What opposes it is destroyed by reason of its own imbalance.

In Malkuth the Tower symbolises Man's search for everlasting life; a means by which to rediscover his lost godhead: but onemay not build a stairway to deity, the Kingdom of Heaven will not be taken by storm.

Gilgamesh, legendary king of Uruk was a great builder. In the epic of his adventures there is a passage reminiscent of the description of the Tower of Babel. He says 'Urshanabi, climb up on to the walls of Uruk, inspect its foundation terrace and examine well the brickwork; see if it is not of burnt bricks and did not seven wise men lay these foundations'. Hence Uruk was called 'Uruk of the Strong walls' and within the walls it possessed a ziggurat, a holy mountain in miniature, an antechamber between heaven and earth where the gods could converse with men. But in spite of all this Gilgamesh failed in his quest to wrest the secret of eternal life from the gods.

After having built his tower, killed monsters and endured all sorts of hardships and difficulties, including crossing the waters of Death he, in a moment of carelessness, lets the plant which symbolises this life slip from his fingers and it is swallowed by a snake which immediately sloughs its skin. Hence we see that the secret of self renewal has nothing to do with striving, whatever acts of bravery and ordeals of suffering accompany it; but is concerned with wisdom as symbolised by the snake.

And how may this wisdom be obtained? It is not that we must not strive and build but that we must be prepared to see our edifices destroyed in a continuous process until at last we have produced a worthy vehicle for the Divine Force. Each tower we build, ever supposing its foundations are sound can only take so much of the Ain force before it collapses. Then we must build another, stronger, taller tower which in its turn will be destroyed.

The letter for this path is Peh, a meaning of which is acceptance, and this is a lesson to be learnt on this path; the acceptance that each of what seems to us a crowning achievement is nothing more than a step on the ladder and must be swept aside. The crown is knocked from the top of the tower. This experience may plunge us into the dark night of the soul of the Path of Temperance but if we have learned the lessons of the path of the Tower we will pass through safely. These are the lessons of acceptance and of combining the opposing forces of Netzach and Hod. For we must not forget that, as well as the lightning flash, this path, as already mentioned, is a path of dynamic power passing from Hod to Netzach and back again.

Gilgamesh on his journey comes to a mountain guarded by two creatures described variously as man-scorpions and half human, half dragon. Only when he has satisfied their questioning will they let him pass. One is male and the ether female: they are described as 'terrifying in their glory, their stare strikes death into men and their shimmering halos sweep the Mountain'. So they are clearly basilisks, the creatures of Mars, astrological influence on this path of the Tower. The passage through the mountain which they guard is twelve leagues of utter blackness, giving access eventually to the earthly paradise, the garden of Shamash, the sun.

This would seem to be the path of Temperance and the entrance the creatures guard the point where Temperance crosses the path of the Tower. Hence we have to overcome the fiery basilisks of Mars, male and female issuing from Netzach and Hod and learn the answers to their questions, balancing their influences, before we may pass on.

In Yesod the tower is a light house or look-out. The Lighthouse stands alone in the watery waste shedding a beam of light for the guidance of travellers. The look-out is found in desolate unfriendly countryside, a vantage point from which to see what enemies may be lurking.   In this sphere of dreams and fantasies we need the elevation of the tower to pierce the fog of illusion and make visible the truth. The tower we build on sound foundations in Yesod is a vantage point and guiding light not only to ourselves but to other travellers also.

The man who has transformed all his desires to the desire for the one life and built his tower within on this foundation will have the light of truth shining from his forehead. His purpose will be clear for all to see.

We find in the gospel of Matthew:- 'Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but on a candlestick and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ and again:- ‘Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Wherefore by their fruits shall ye know them'.

The golem, a giant fashioned of clay, had the word 'Emeth’ or "Truth’ imprinted on his forehead. When the first letter was erased the word for 'death' remained and the golem crumbled back to lifeless earth. So our Tower in Yesod if fashioned with false and worthless desires will crumble.

In the spheres of Hod and Netzach which on the main tree are at either end of this path we learn more about the combining of these opposites, a conjunction which transforms two separate and warring extremes into a united, peaceful and balanced whole. This is an alchemical marriage as described in the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz and is actually celebrated under the sign of the phoenix, that is in Tiphareth. However the process of regeneration, which is the meaning of this marriage, takes place in a tower where both the influences of Hod and Netzach are first stabilised.

In Hod the characteristics of the Hod end of the path are emphasised. The building goes ahead apace; dogmas, creeds, books of philosophy and theology are each cemented to the other with the mortar of logical thought and sound religious precepts. But what of the soul? How will it fare amidst so much learned noise and activity?

Folk tales and legends abound with the image of asad and languishing princess locked in atower and this represents the imprisoned soul kept from the true light of day and all wholesome contacts. If, in Hod, we build too strongly and are too severe and dogmatic, we will imprison the beautiful naked woman of Netzach in our ivory tower and will make no further progress until the power of the Ain force has encountered our rigidity and shattered it.

In Netzach the action is opposite to that in Hod. Here there are no plumb lines and next to no mortar. The tower is built with wild flights of the imagination, irrational theories extravagant emotions and dreams. The soul, represented by the beautiful virgin is not confined to her cell. She can run up and down the tower at will, she can look from whatever window she pleases on all manner of strange and exotic vistas. But we must beware lest she become drunk by over stimulation of the senses and rage like a screaming bacchante or rant and wail like the demented Cassandra on the battlements of Troy. Here again the Ain force will destroy this tower but this time on account of its shakiness and lack of discipline.

However these two experiences in Hod and Netzach show us what is necessary in Tiphareth. On the arcanum we see the male and female figures thrown down from the tower. These are the king and queen who submit voluntarily to execution in Christian Rosencreutz. We too must accept the destruction of our two unworthy towers, and set about learning the process of regeneration and unification.

In the story, even before this process starts, we see a white unicorn kneeling before a raging lion and quietening him, thus symbolizing the purified thinking mastering the feelings, although at that stage they are not combined as one. To achieve this, fresh bodies must be prepared for the king and queen and these are made from the ashes of the bird which has drunk the blood of a white snake. This is the snake of Hod representing purified intellectual wisdom and the bird is the dove of Netzach representing spiritual intuition.

These two are both sacrificed then blended to form the new bodies. Thus by voluntary sacrifice of what is best in Hod and Netzach we achieve the means to build afresh in Tiphareth. There are twenty two rows of bricks in the tower representing the twenty two paths or subjective states. We see therefore, that the tower represents the personality and even in Tiphareth all we have done when we have made our alchemical gold and effected the marriage of Hod and Netzach is to bring the lower self into balance.

And so the lesson of the path continues. With acceptance of the destruction of the perfected lower self we progress to Gevurah and Gedulah where the marriage takes place again but on a higher level.

In the tower of Christian Rosencreutz those who are put to making the alchemical gold think they are fulfilling the ultimate task, the highest initiation, but on the topmost level the new bodies for the king and queen are made and then revivified: this is the magical process known as golem-making. This, when practised by the ancient rabbis involved a repetition of the creation of Adam, that is fashioning a body from virgin soil and running water and breathing life into it by reciting certain combinations of letters forming the names of God. Now whether in fact an actual living being was created by this process need not concern us, for on the path of the Tower the process is purely mystical and involves the receiving of the power of the Ain and using it for the purpose of creation.

In Gevurah our golem is moulded. It must be stressed that this act of creation, which is the highest form of spiritual activity may only be achieved by the most pure in spirit and its purpose is not to rival the Ain, but to demonstrate the power of the Holy Name and to enter into communion with it. The building of the tower or golem in Gevurah demonstrates the power and omnipotence of the Ain. When built the creation is tested in the merciless fires and if found to be whole and complete the breath of life is breathed into him in Gedulah. In Christian Rosencreutz this life, or the souls of the king and queen, enter through a trumpet let down from the roof of the tower into their mouths. Again we are reminded of the letter of the path, Peh, a mouth, by which we take the sustenance of the spirit, of the Ain. This imitation of life can obviously only be performed by a master and therefore takes place in the sphere of the Masters. If performed wrongly the ritual of golem-making led to the destruction of the magician not the golem.

When the golem is thus given life the word 'Emeth’ of 'Truth' appears spontaneously on his brow and thus the marriage has taken place in the realm of the higher self and the operator has learnt how to give flesh to the 'word' on his own being by the correct merging of his own justness and love, even as the Ain does. As Rudolf Steiner says, "Now there is nothing which may in reality be called bliss except the vision of the process of creation, the process of becoming".
However, the golem of the ancient rabbis was to serve no other than a ritual purpose, its creation being an end in itself, and was regularly destroyed and recreated as a ritual, and likewise the towers in Gevurah and Gedulah must be destroyed in order that they may be rebuilt on a higher level yet.

So far in the spheres below the Abyss the Tower has been built as a means of attracting the Ain force and obtaining contact with it and on each level the building has become more pure and the Ain power received by it more powerful and rarified.

Now in Binah, sphere of the first archetypal forms and the objective reality behind all conscious existence the Tower becomes a real construction in a sense it has not been before. It is built directly according to the blueprint of divine form. It coils upwards with a continuous almost fluidic motion like the tendril of a climbing plant. Here we are called upon to be still and listen to the ultimate reality, the word of God, which whispers like a mighty ocean in the delicate spiral of a seashell.

In Malkuth the Tower was like the Tower of Babel and with its destruction the one language was split and became diverse. Men could no longer hear the voice of God and they could not understand one another. In Chokmah the process is reversed. The Ain force descending is like the tongues of Pentecostal fire and we hear again the one language, we understand everything, we have restored communication with the Ain.

In Kether we see the archetype of the Tower, the powerhouse itself receiving the Ain force and dispensing it. All previous towers have been destroyed by the Ain force because of their imperfections but the tower in Kether being negative like the Ain force itself, is also perfect like the Ain force. It is the vessel for the divine power of the 'Word' which created all things, the reverberation which set in motion the wheels of Chokmah and fashioned the thrones of Binah; the reverberation which creates and destroys unceasingly and for ever.

The Word with which all things were called forth into being and with which all things are called home again to their rest. The holy vibration with which we seek to tune our beings, vibrating in harmony with it and creating within ourselves, the music of the spheres which reduces ever more and more until it becomes one note alone, like the flight of an eagle into the blinding light that is all colours combined.

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The Shattered Tower

By Trine Moore (1994)

Illusion is shattered by illumination and the tower of intellect falls, all that was held 'sacred' is broken, the eggshell of illusion is cast aside as the hatchling emerges. The truths of before become memories as the tower is left behind.

The experience of the Tower can be extremely disturbing, threatening the person emotionally and mentally, an 'all  shook up' experience which is sometimes diagnosed as  'mental breakdown'. It is unfortunate there is so little  understanding and support for the positive necessity of transition and transformation which the Tower represents, for if there were, such rebirths could be followed by a speedy reintegration instead of disintegration. More often than not people are left to find their own way, without access to the skills or knowledge  or experience of those who  know  the Paths of the Tree and know how to initiate the rights  of  passage  of the human psyche they represent.

Alone along the path ahead which they are neither ready nor able to fly the fledgling  disciple  must  tread  if  they are to make progress on the path of enlightenment and become human in being. The nest is now shattered, the relic of the  tower  remains, a salient reminder of what one was the  vehicle  that the person then considered them and by which others recognized them.

The Tower conjuncts Hod  and  Netzach. A more balanced view can be obtained by viewing the Tower in a triad. It is better considered in the context of a triad of Tarots conjoining Hod, Netzach and Yesod, and in conjunction of those  Sephirah and as conjoined to the higher triad through Tiphareth to Binah, Chokmah and Kether. Seen in this light the Tower symbolizes the shedding of the lower self and the emergence of the Overself.

The shattering of the nature of the sensational ego lifts the veil of illusion and the initiate passes the veil of Paroketh and crosses the Abyss in the mystical marriage with the Higher Self. This is the mystical allegory of the alchemical  journey of 'solve et coagula' where the male and female principles contained in the human are enlightened and begin to unify. The Divine Intelligence and Creative energy in the Lightning flash can be likened to a mystical orgasm if which the seed sound of the divine, the mystical mantras awaken in the human.

Thus the Star is born within the Atman (from which are word Adam is a sonic derivation) and man emerges as humane man, as a living religion, a divine  incarnate being enthroned in the higher triad through the path of the High Priestess,  having learned to apply the exoteric and esoteric skills and with awareness of the within and without.

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The Tower

By Peter Oddey (2001)

The Twenty-Seventh Path of The Tower adjoins and equilibrates the World of Victory and Eternity with the World of Glory and Splendour. When a subjective Path unites two objective Worlds of boundless wonder, Netzach and Hod, one can anticipate the unexpected. It is said that lightning never strikes twice, but the Path of The Tower is a permanent state of lightning and enlightenment. As the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom states:

The Twenty-Seventh Path is called the Intelligence of the Active or Active Intelligence. It is called this because it is from here that the spirit of every being of the Supreme Orb is created. It is here too that the energy or activity which they display is created.

Compilation of translations by Westcott, Waite and Stenring.

Eliphas Levi, in his “Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regnum” leaves us in no doubt about the profundity of mystery attaching to The Tower:

Angels have fallen because they have attempted to divulge this Great Secret. It is the secret of Life, and when its first word is betrayed, that word becomes fatal. If the Devil himself were to utter that Word, he would die.
Strong stuff, but this Path is clearly at the centre of the mystery of life as it spans the full width of the Tree on our upward journey to light, wisdom and understanding.

The secret of which Levi speaks is indeed “The Word”; that which formed all worlds; the Logos; the Magician; in scientific terms, the one rate of vibration underpinning all other rates of universal vibration. And appropriately, the Hebrew letter assigned to the Path is Peh, meaning a mouth, through which we speak the words of creation or the words of destruction and so it is that we are altogether judged by our words and we are either created or destroyed. The Path of The Tower is about enlightenment and the creative force, but it is also about judgement and the experience of change and destruction.

As we are aware, the Jewish Kabbalah holds an alternative configuration of the Paths in the Tree of Life. For example, the Paths of Judgement and the Moon are not in the places with which we are familiar, from Malkuth adjoining Hod and Netzach respectively. However, both Chokmah and Binah have an extra Path adjoining Geburah and Chesed respectively. In our system, these Paths are the Paths of Zain and Quoph; the Emperor or Star and The Moon. These matters do not concern us now. However, the three lateral Paths of the Jewish Kabbalah are assigned the three Maternal letters and to the Path of The Tower is assigned Mem and The Hanged Man. This is highly appropriate as the experience of the Path of The Hanged Man may be more easily understood in terms of The Tower and vice versa. Both Paths entail a complete re-orientation of experience, understanding and awareness.

A further indication of the forces and laws at work on this Path may be gleaned from its colours, more or less throughout the Four Worlds of Emanation. The Martian World of Geburah is depicted in reds and scarlet, as are the Paths of The Hierophant and Star or Emperor, both of which are regarded as being hard Paths to tread. Indeed, there is generally agreed to be an element of cruelty associated with The Hierophant. Lower down the Tree, the Path of Judgement is also depicted in scarlet and vermillion, as one would anticipate with a fiery Path of Judgement and so it is that the Path of The Tower is assigned scarlet, red, Venetian red and bright red, rayed with emerald and azure, from Atziluth to Assiah respectively. The Path of The Tower is the crucible in which the upward aspiration of intellect and emotion and of the analytical and instinctual natures within us, find fusion and synthesis beneath the higher light of the Solar Logos.
Considering each Path in respect of its adjoining Sephirah; for some of us, with greater or lesser success, the Twenty-Seventh Path is entirely dependent upon the polar opposites of Netzach and Hod, where its equilibrating function is easily discerned. One could almost state that WE ARE THE TOWER, constantly aspiring, constantly re-orientating ourselves to the ever-changing nature of experience. Indeed, it may be perceived that the Path of The Tower, with its lightning blasted Crown, its falling occupants and its numerous other symbols of light and darkness, is, in fact, a comfort to us. It confirms that at this level of the Tree, the level of human psychology, we face a world of constant change and personal disruption. The history of the Saints and Sages tells us that often when the Holy Spirit is encountered, there is a total reconstruction of the personality to follow.

For example, The Christ, following his baptism by John, entered the desert to face triumph over temptation; St. Paul, after conversion, also escaped to the desert for a number of years prior to his missionary work; the Irish and Celtic Saints all bear witness to the call of solitude; the medieval mystics were often solitaries and whatever faith or calling one considers, the outcome is a personal and usually profound change. The Tower therefore, simply confirms the nature of existence as we experience it and should not be viewed as a once-off devastating event, to be avoided at all costs; indeed, it is safer to walk into rather than turn one’s back on, the Path of The Tower. Change is normal: it is stasis that should be feared.

However, we have considered the Path of The Tower mainly from the personal. Microcosmic perspective only so far, but the Path of The Tower is also a revelation of the infinitely, macrocosmic universal level also. The Tower is also telling us about the rise and fall of nations, empires, even perhaps races of beings different and prior to our own and the life of worlds and stars also.

It is the Zohar that speaks cryptically about the fall of the Kings of Edom. In the first verses of the Book of Genesis, the words “without form and void” are translated in Hebrew “Tohu” and “Bohu” and these words are only used elsewhere in the Old Testament scripture in the sense of holocaust following divine judgement and retribution. The inference, therefore, that between Genesis verses 1 and 2 there are immense tracts of time in which other forms of creation came and went prior to the current creation and the race of humankind and that is in some way related to the Kings of Edom and their fall. To the Jews, the Kings of Edom were synonymous with all things evil, including, it would seem, the so-called “fall of Satan”.

As the Siphra Dzeniouta tells us:

The Book of Concealed Mystery is the Book of the equilibrium of balance.

For before there was equilibrium, countenance beheld not countenance.

And the Kings of ancient time were dead and their crowns were found no more; and the earth was desolate.
The Book of Concealed Mystery therefore confirms the existence of “the Kings of ancient time” and their demise prior to the new, current state of equilibrium; the race of humankind. The intimation of the rise and fall of the ancient Kings also declares the pre-existence of the Twenty-Seventh Path of The Tower. The Laws set out in the Kabbalah are truly universal and enduring throughout time and space. They originate from The One, Kether, to where they must all, ultimately return.

And by the same token, if the Law of The Tower stretches back into the infinite past, so, we should assume, it will extend into the infinite future; or at least as long as time and space, the space/time continuum, exists.

In the Twenty-Seventh Path of The Tower and in a few simple, almost naïve symbols, we come face to face with the Primordial One, the Eternal One, the Ancient of Days.

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To be continued...

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