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

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Situation on the Tree:
On the Pillar of Equilibrium, between Tiphareth and Yesod.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Samech. Prop.

Titles: Daughter of the Reconcilers. Bringer Forth of Life.

Spiritual Significance: Sagittarius. The Archer.

Tarot Card: XIV - Temperance.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Blue.
In Briah: Yellow.
In Yetzirah: Green.
In Assiah: Dark vivid blue.




The papers below describe the Twenty-fifth Path of Samech that symbolises the infleunce between Tiphareth and Yesod. (More to follow)...

(Updated 13 January 2021)



By Peter W. Oddey (1990)

The translation of "Samech" means "staff" or "prop". The significance of this becomes clear as we understand that the 25th path leads to Tiphareth, the Sephiroth of the sacrificed gods, and that most sacrificed gods are lame like Hephateus, Aesculapius and Jacob; also the image of Jesus on the Turin Shroud seems to have one leg shorter than the other. The lame need a crutch and this Path is a crutch on the Tree of Life; also mankind could be considered as lame.

The staff can also be seen in the staff of Aesculapius which is sometimes a symbol of the healing profession.
This Path is also a Path of Temptation; a Path which Jesus trod when he spent forty nights and forty days in the desert. This ties in with the title of "Dark Night of the Soul", and is one of the three Paths which go under this title.
Another symbol for the path is the rainbow, which represents a bridge between God and man; it could also be symbolic of the fact that death is not the winner, and that there is hope and life after death.

A beginning of a reunion with God. This symbol is also represented on the card associated with the Path Temperance. Here Raphael is depicted pouring a liquid, rainbow coloured, between two cups - one silver, one gold. These cups are the sun and the moon, which are the mundane chakras of Tiphareth and Yesod.

This symbol of the 25th Path, being water, is also in corres­pondence to an early Golden Dawn ritual which associates Samech with "Pharath", the river flowing out of Eden. This river is the river of the Apocalypse, the water of life. Also, this is aPath which has Sagittarius as its astrolo­gical sign - a fire sign which seems to contradict the above, but contradictions such as this are always encountered in the Kabalah which is full of opposites which cannot exist without each other. It is these opposites which when joined bring forth a third in equilibrium, and this Path is on the Pillar of Equilibrium. Samech's numerical value is 60 which can be reduced to 6 - the value also of Temperance, Staff and Rainbow.

There is also a visual representation of a staff on the Tree of Life: if we look at the 25th path with the 32nd path, it forms the down part of the staff and the 27th path the cross section of the staff.


Temperance - 25th Path

By Doreen Sturzaker

Now let us go the 25th Path, the Path of Temperance or Probation. It is the contact between the Individuality and the Personality so along it we may find the first intimations to us of a higher consciousness. It is one of the Paths of the dark night of the soul when the life seems to have become completely arid and we are thrown back on our own inner resources.


In Atziluth the colour is Blue. The Blue of aspiration, the individual is leaving the illusory sphere of Yesod and proceeding towards the sun of Tiphareth which, in other words, means the Personality is striving to make a link with the Individuality, the part which is meter in incarnation. Or, if you like to take it the other way on the Path of Involution it is aspiring towards a physical incarnation. This, of course, is in the Archetypal World.


In Briah we have Yellow, the definite activity working creatively at making the link. It is the colour of Unity. The Mayas and the Egyptians both claimed that the Great Serpent of the Universe, who symbolises eternal mental activity and Wisdom, was Blue in colour and had Yellow scales. Both of these ancient races seem to have had a knowledge of the meaning and symbolism of colour. On this Path in the World of Briah it could even imply direct communication with the Universal Mind.


Green is the colour of the Path of Temperance in Yetzirah. There may be a conflict as the soul sets out leaving the sphere of Yesod with its cozy, illusory aspects the seemingly secure world and sets foot on the early stages of this dark night of the soul. The vision of the harmony of Tiphareth is a long way off and may be this is where the conflict in the Green Ray comes in, the aspiration which draws the man on end yet there is the cozy way of life he has to leave pulling him back and hindering him. But this Ray helps him to see ahead and assists him to gain what he greatly needs at this particular time; that is balance.


In Assiah the colour is a dark, vivid Blue. On this Path of Probation, which is another title for this Path, devotion in the sense of sticking to the job in hand is essential and the dark Blue helps, so also does the dark Blue give fortitude and this is another necessary qualification.

The individual treading this Path is being tried and tested all the way the familiar things known for so long, all the comforts enjoyed for years are swept aside and in the early stages it can be a very lonely and desolate way, until one presumes that eventually some intimations of the necessity for it is received even in the sphere of Assiah and one gets a perhaps brief contact with the higher consciousness.

The Path of Temperance through the Ten Spheres

This is the Path of Temperance in the sense of modification and change. It is the time on our journey when our life changes, and it is said to be one of the Dark Nights of The Soul when life seems to have become completely sterile, the light of inspiration has gone very dim and we are thrown back on our own inner resources. This stage can last a very long time, sometimes over more than one incarnation. Yet it is along this Path that we may perceive the first intimations of a higher consciousness for it is the contact between the Individuality and the Personality. I think that all the time we are traversing this Path we are doing a balancing act, or we should be, we should be bringing about a balance of the Lunar and Solar forces within us.

There is a continual see-saw effect as we fluctuate between the comparative mental stability of the lower aspects of Tiphareth before sinking back to the sphere of Yesod with its emotionalism. There is nothing wrong with emotions, we all need them and I feel that if they were not an essential part of our nature then we would never have developed them, but here on this Path they may take the form of negative emotions such as depression and despondency while we are on the beginning of the Path.

In the World of Assiah on this Path of Probation the student is being tried and tested all the way, familiar things known and enjoyed for so long, all the comforts enjoyed for years are swept aside and in the early stages it is a very lonely and desolate Path. Eventually some necessity for all the trials may be received even in the Sphere of Assiah and we can get a contact with the higher consciousness, the sun of Tiphareth shines through and for a brief instant the way ahead is illuminated for us and the Path of Probation becomes more bearable.

Dark, vivid Blue is the colour giving devotion, a necessary attribute, for devotion in the sense of staying-power or sticking to the job in hand is essential here. So also does the dark Blue give fortitude, another helpful and necessary qualification.   

In the Sphere of Yesod, which is also at the lower end of the Path the Lunar forces hold sway and the terrible emptiness of the Path looms ahead. There seems no end to the obstacles that beset the Fool, many of them of an emotional nature and of his own making. Green is the colour and the conflict of the Green Ray is uppermost as the Fool sets out leaving the well-known, cosy though illusory aspects of his seemingly secure world and starts out on the early stages of the Path. Aspiration draws him on and yet there is the comfortable way of life he is leaving behind which hinders and pulls him back again.

In Hod there is more stability, the Green Ray is being used here to bring about a balance. The Fool is mentally polarised, the illusions of Yesod are recognised for what they are and Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, and Mundane Chakra of Hod, is the sphere of a quick wit and scintillating humour and this stands him in very good stead and helps him to cope with all the difficulties of the Path, giving him a sense of proportion and balance. If he can see the funny side of life it will go a long way towards bringing out and using the harmonious aspect of the Green Ray, although the turbulence will still be there until he has progressed a good deal further but having received a certain amount of understanding of what it is all about the concrete mind plods on into the Sphere of Netzach and helps to bring through the illumination of Tiphareth to bring hope to the one on this probationary Path.

In Netzach a clearer vision of the way ahead can be gained. Green is still the colour but whereas in the lower Spheres there was some conflict, an inherent feature of the Ray, now the other aspect is more dominant that of balance and a true harmony. The quality of imagination is well-developed which should be used to keep the goal in mind even when the Probationary Path seems utterly gloomy.

Exaggeration may develop and we need to be careful that we don't allow ourselves to become immersed in negative thoughts of despondency but rather to use the imagination to find and work towards the sun of Tiphareth in the distance. Not only is Green the colour of the Path in Yetzirah, it is also the colour of Netzach itself, there will be times when this colour of nature will act upon his soul giving him a sense of merging and of being one with all of nature.

In Tiphareth the Fool learns to tread the Middle Way of balance, how to balance the Lunar and Solar forces within himself, which seems to me to be the secret lore of the Path. At this stage the emotional pull of the Lunar or Yesodic influence is waning and the clear light of the sun of Tiphareth illuminates the way ahead. It is possible for fire and water to mix and blend together in perfect harmony and if the Fool can do this then he has conquered the Path of Probation on the Tree in Tiphareth.

There is always an element of sacrifice in this Sphere and he will begin to see that gradually he must learn to walk alone; it is a preparation for this state which comes along the Path of the Hermit. Until he attains balance there are the two sides of the Green Ray affecting him, the inner sense of isolation and turmoil within himself and the glimpse of the harmony of Tiphareth at the end of the Path which encourages him onwards.

In Geburah, the Path takes on again a much harder, perhaps even colder aspect, any flaws or insincerities in the character are now ruthlessly rooted out of his nature. This is said to be the centre of the Dark Night. Here the Fool realises that he has still a very long way to tread but here also he has the fiery Red Ray of the Mundane Chakra of Geburah to give balance to its complementary colour, Green, so always this balance is to be sought and found on the Path of Probation. There is a chance to adjust Karma, to learn more about Universal Justice.

Whatever the difficulties there may be to face, those same difficulties carry within them the seeds of understanding. While there may be disruption and destruction in the life it can be seen as a necessary part of the out-working, for until the scourge and the whip have been suffered it appears that the Fool is unable to progress to the gentler Sphere of Chesed.

In Chesed once more the harmonious aspects of the Green Ray are experienced. If the Fool has attained to this Path on the Tree in Chesed it would seem that he must be at least at the level of discipleship. I would think possibly he could be at adept level preparing himself for the relative perfection of mastership although this will possibly take many lives and attempts before he finally makes it.

Solar and Lunar force is now equilibrated and the attribute of love for all is his, higher and lower mental are united and mind and heart are closely united both in the work he performs on himself and in the energies he beams out to other lives lower on the Tree. Since the Fool is still in the World of Yetzirah the quality of love has an emotional content and one of the errors he could make now is to be too sentimental and weak, which is of no real benefit to the recipient and may even be positively harmful. At the same time having just transferred his consciousness from the stern and harsh realities of Geburah he has to remember to temper justice with mercy for others while still being firm with himself and his own errors.

In the World of Briah the colour of the Path is Yellow, activating, creatively working at consolidating the link between higher and lower natures. It is the colour of Unity. The Mayans and the Egyptians both claimed that the Great Serpent of the Universe who symbolises eternal mental activity and wisdom was Blue with Yellow scales, both of these ancient races seem to have had a knowledge of the meaning and symbolism of colour.

In Binah the restrictions of the Sphere must be almost over-powering I would think and the flow of activity of the Yellow dammed up in the Black Ray would be quite engulfing. This "Dark Night" must be unimaginably dark and to struggle out of it very difficult, yet of course it is the Sphere of Understanding too and at this level on the Tree the Fool might be expected to have sufficient knowledge to work constructively with the Yellow Ray and with the fiery principle of Sagittarius to overcome the deadening inertia of Saturn. Here he will come to realise the value of destruction in order to build something more progressive.

On this Path in Chokmah the Fool will learn to use the knowledge he has gained all along the way with wisdom, wisely to direct and employ the forces emanating from this Sphere. How he uses these forces will depend whether or not he passes his probation and shows himself fitted to handle the power they bring him. Although his sincerity of purpose has been well and truly tested all along this Path in all the various Spheres he could presumably still go crashing back into the Abyss if he was tempted into using these Cosmic Forces for selfish ends, but I think really this would be unlikely, because the personality is firmly united with the individuality by now and his will, will be the same as the One Will.

I cannot really visualise the Path in Atziluth, the colour is the Blue of aspiration so there is no place for despair, there is only hope in the Archetypal World because the tempering is for his good and he knows that ultimately he must progress, providing he never gives up trying.

Personally, I feel that all who are interested in this study of the Ancient Wisdom and who are trying to do something to help the rest of humanity at this time are on the Path of Probation.

Obviously some may be further along it than others but when you consider that everyone who sets out to make a start on this work finds that all sorts of things happen in their life to deter them and in fact it can be that they are forced off the Path and just give it all up when events get too much for them, which seems rather a waste of an incarnation because sooner or later everyone must take this road.

As these various crisis points affect our lives it might be worth while to remember that this is a characteristic feature of the Path of Probation and that if we just manage to hold firm we shall be that much further along with more experience gained to take with us and we shall be that much better equipped when the pressure is taken off for a while.

Then too, it may help to know that we are not on our own in this experience though it may sometimes seem as if we are, other members of humanity, some we know and others we don't, are going through it too and then there are those advanced ones who have made it before us who do stand by our side ready to help when the time is right and we have in fact earned their support. I think when life is particularly difficult that it is worth remembering this fact.


Path of Temperance

By Margaret Roy (1978)

The Path of Temperance is the 25th Path linking Tiphareth and Yesod. It is one of three links between the personality and the individuality. A greater change of consciousness than usual on a path can be expected here because this path links the point of balance of two different triangles, i.e. the triangle forming the structures of the personality and the triangle forming the structure of the individuality.

Movement is the main characteristic of the Path, as is implied by ascribing to it Sagittarius, the sign of mutable fire or soul in motion. Movement is also found in the nature of the intelligence ascribed to the Path: The Intelligence of Probation or Temptation is so called because it is the primary temptation by which the creator trieth all righteous persons. Behind the idea of probation is that of movement to another state of being; and direction of movement upwards would seem to be a predominant feature of our times, basic to which is the reconciliation of the opposites of Hod and Netzach.

The manifestation of this reconciliation is at the bottom of the conflict and stagnation of the GULF or Dark Night of the Soul experienced on the path. But this reconciliation or integration of the two poles is only part of a more complex integration of the personality with the individuality. In terms of consciousness, this is a development from the psychic lunar consciousness of Yesod to the intuitive collective consciousness of Tiphareth, also called Cosmic Consciousness. This could be described as the difference between the Personal Unconscious and the Collective Unconscious, but such a statement would be far too generalised! However, it is no surprise to find that one of the titles of the path is the Daughter of the Reconcilers.

The blue colouring on two levels of the path suggests that the movement is towards unity - an integration or reconciliation - of the personality and individuality. Moving upwards, BLUE is LOVE, and moving downwards it is the Daughter or Virgin who, pure of heart, brings Light into the world as Wisdom - hence the other title of the path is the Bringer Forth of Life, Sagittarius is the positive expression of Jupiter, said to represent esoterically the soul expanding beyond matter, but retaining the material form.

Mythologically this is the journey of Psyche returning through the trials of love to unite with Eros, who has been freed and purified by her love. Reversed, this is part of the mystery of the Christ birth - the Virgin birth, or it is the presence of the Holy Ghost in our own consciousness. Other, more common symbols for the path stress the upward movement, e.g. Diane the Huntress, Artemis of the Silver Bow, the Archer, the Arrow, and the Bow of Promise, all of which reach to the heights for their goal.

That this movement is away from our animal nature is seen in the symbol of the Centaur for Sagittarius, and in Artemis' title as 'The Lady of the Wild Things'* in which she is like the Virgin, who alone can tame the poisonous Unicorn, The upward direction in astrological terms comes from Jupiter's positiveness which is expansion, and from the mutability of Sagittarius, which is an airy characteristic giving movement and change. In human astrology Sagittarius is represented as an upward spiral of energy bringing ceaseless movement and a 'restless aspiration propelling one towards an ideal'. Here the ideal is the vision of harmony or unity in Tiphareth.

* Artemis is a primal mother with three faces, that of Mother, Crone, who is goddess of childbirth and the maiden, who is a light-bringer.

The air in which the fire burns and the hidden ideal are seen in the yellow colouring of the path in Briah. They represent the role of the intellect, which is the Light which guides the blinded Soul through the Dark Night. It is not ordinary intellect, but intuitive in the upward path, and instinctive in the downward path. The number 7 of the path describes this inner knowledge coming into manifestation beyond the level of the macrocosmic 6, but this nature can be more clearly seen in the transcendental function of alchemical Mercury, anarchetype of the unconscious that seems to appear on this path. What the nature Of this inner knowledge signifies can also be discerned from the God-Name as Tiphareth, which means God made manifest in mind.

Mind as knowledge and awareness is Mercury, or Hermes. But Hermes is not twice-born as is the individual reaching the levels of the individuality at Tiphareth. Hermes is thrice-blessed and in mythology, is the God of the Source, showing much higher origins for this kind of intellect.

The Soul travelling this path is faced with an unknown, a black cloud that may or may not be a, situation of imbalance or disintegration. It requires action or light, FIRE, on the part of the personality in order to cope with the situation. The green on the path in Yetzirah relates to the conflict and struggle which is resolved by balancing the opposing forces preventing unity. The knowledge or ideal of unity is intuitive or transcendental and comes from Mercury as Trickster or God of Thieves (he who tricked Apollo into giving him knowledge).

Mercury doesn't belong to Tiphareth, but, like a thief,will make use of other people’s property, etc. Because of its high source, we can seldom experience the esoteric aspect of Mercury, except as a part of the Sun. Hence, it is in order to find Mercury present in Tiphareth, since it is also here that the higher forces representing the individuality find a point of balance and integration.

Tiphareth contains the whole triangle of individuality, and as the apex of the triangle is the central point for departure to the levels of pure spirit, or for the appearance of insights from the Spirit at Kether. Mercury plays an important role in the individuation process occurring below Tiphareth, and it is worth looking at its purer nature before considering how it functions on the path.

Alan Leo describes it as governing “Pure reason and abstract reason, that which is truly human and entirely free from the animal and coarser sides of nature, a state which for many is super human". He goes on to say:“It is essentially the planet of rhythm and harmony, and therefore adverse positions or aspects to this planet disturb the reason and the higher and purer thoughts and intuitions in man. Its best expression is through the airy and mutable signs, with Virgo as a sub-influence, the most etheric of the signs. Its influence alone and apart from the signs can only be felt by adepts."

Now this is relevant to the path of Temperance because the change in consciousness involves a liberation from the unconscious control in Yesod to the understanding and attunement to unconscious forces at Tiphareth. The individual at Yesod is still more animal than human and is ruled from the unconscious through passion and desire, the opposites that co-exist in the unconscious become active and in conflict when raised to consciousness. The individual at Tiphareth is a complete human in which the conscious opposites have been reconciled, and in whom psychic energy is subordinated to the needs and purposes of the individuality.

The Soul on the path would seem to undergo the purification by FIRE, in which the spiritual is freed and the material, animal dross, is left behind. This is represented by the suffering and sacrifice of the Soul on this stage of its journey to its primary goal in Tiphareth, and it is also represented in the sacrifice of Cheiron the Centaur so that Prometheus might attain immortality. Prometheus is truly human, and like Mercury stole fire from Heaven, the gods.

This fire is the inner knowledge or light which appears to the mystic or the person undergoing the individuation process. It can manifest as animals that appear as guides, especially in more Yesodic type persons or situations, or in dreams or fairytales, it may take the form of a child or king (the magical image of Tiphareth), or it commonly takes the form of the number 4.

Hermes attributes change through time. In pre-archaic Greece he is a fertility god with altars in the shape of a square; god of source and movement, swastika; god of death and life, child and king. By Classical Greece, he is messenger to Father Zeus during the period of development of human reason. From being the main male god, the essence of active masculinity, he takes a back seat when the development of reasoning faculties come to the fore.

Alchemically, it is the process which occurs when the blood of the red lion intermingles with the gluten of the white eagle, each taking the colour of the other. If we see the red lion as being a symbol of the path of the Sun and the white eagle as being a symbol of the path of the Emperor, then we can see that this brings in the reconciliation of the opposites of Hod and Netzach. This union is the fulfilment of the functions of the opposites and the Gulf, or Dark Night, cannot be traversed until this is accomplished. In order to reach Tiphareth, the animal desires must be exchanged for the ideal or purposes of the individuality. Great emotional upheaval will no doubt accompany this process. (I shall return to this later.)

Gareth Knight speaking of it says that, “. . . the lower vehicles must first be quietened so the inner light is invoked in darkness”. This is a move away from the active dualism of Yesod to the quiet centre of Tiphareth, but there are several pitfalls in doing this. The first is in trying to quieten desire and needs that have not been fulfilled and therefore continue to rule from the unconscious and often appear as animals in dreams. Here the animal still exists and has only temporarily been caged. It is still wild. But these desires and needs also have a function in the preservation of life. Therefore what needs quietening is not the desires and needs themselves, but their excessive domination and imbalance in consciousness.

They must be transformed or sublimated into the level of the functioning of the individuality. So the waters of Yesod are calmed by putting into perspective the astral images, dreams, fantasies and wishful thinking which are personal. When we do this we become aware of a paradox - it is by stilling the unconscious that it becomes active. By clearing away the personal cluttering at the door of the unconscious, Chaos, the Dark Mother, may initially be invoked as we strive to balance and integrate split off parts of the personality. This is the Purifying Intelligence of Yesod "which purified the emanations, proves and corrects the designing of their representations, and disposes the unity with which they are designed without diminution or division".

This door is opened by Hermes, who is not only the doorkeeper, but as Hermes Stropheus is also the socket in which the door moves. He is the Psycho-pomp who guides the Soul, but as the Trickster he leads it first to Darkness, to Hell, before he leads it to a new birth. (This is why Hermes was associated with the Primal Mother Archetype as a fertility figure). To balance and integrate is the only way to really still the desires and needs of the lower bodies. When this is done the psychic mind is drawn into alignment with the central axis of consciousness which is the Light of the Ain from Kether projecting through to Tiphareth. When personal desire is set aside at this level of integration, the imbalance created falls towards Tiphareth along the Path of Temperance and is represented mystically as a yearning of the Soul for union/unity with the Divine.

Thus the Initiate in search of the Greater Self enters the Darkened Temple and is told to go forward by the Light of his/her own Soul. The still centre is invoked. This is one side. The other is symbolised by the Initiate of the Osiris Mysteries whose Heart was weighed against the Feather of Truth, thus indicating the need for freedom from the burden of imbalance in the physical world - in other words the desire of the lower bodies. Truth, or Maat, is the Law of Harmony. The heart is the seat of the Soul.

These two, the seeming active and passive ways, are drawn together by Christian Mysticism in which the conscious being must be reborn into higher consciousness and in doing so must face a death or darkness, usually called the Dark Night of the Soul, in which the Soul or heart is purified and cleansed by its longing for Light and Truth - the active, seeking Soul is acted upon and is purified by fire through suffering and self-sacrifice.

In all of these, it is only the emphasis that is different. The Collective Unconsciousness casts Light into the stillness of the Personal Unconsciousness and the path is called the Temptation Intelligence because the animal part which tends towards separate existence is more truly aligned and integrated to the purpose of the Individuality and it is set and strengthened in that purpose.

However, going back to the pitfalls entailed in entering that quiet centre of Tiphareth along the path of Temperance, it is worth noting recent work done in Analytical Psychology which shows two situations that are widespread and which throw more light on the Dark Night of the Soul phenomenon. The Ego, in its attempts to reconcile the opposing worlds of intellect and imagination - the individuation process - seems to fall repeatedly into two holes.

The first of these is to achieve such conflict between the two opposites that they are irreconcilable. In this stalemate, the Ego is abandoned or surrendered, i.e. the individual gives up, and it is only when this happens that dreams start to show symbols of the individuality intercepting usually in the form of transcendental symbols (of the transcendental function). The other occurrence is when the Ego fails even to function due to lack of psychic energy from Yesod.

Then a stagnation occurs and this, too, is enlightened by the appearance of symbols of the transcendental function in dreams. Now, a very interesting point in these case histories is that when the transcendental function appears it acts by stimulating the anima/animus, i.e. it does not lead directly to Tiphareth but creates an imbalance or impulse of energy which is designed only to create movement. A relevant point may be that most of this research was done with male patients, but it more probably reflects the overbalance of our culture in Hod, if the anima/animus is seen to be a Netzach characteristic.

This seems to bring us right back to the major characteristic of the path which is movement towards the reconciliation of opposites within the personality before achieving or attempting unity with the individuality.


To be continued...