The papers below describe the Thirty-first Path of Shin that symbolises the infleunce between Hod and Malkuth. (More to follow)...
(Updated 15 January 2021)
The Path of Judgement
By James Sturzaker (1976)
I listened to a play on the wireless recently and in it one of the characters said: “I divide people into two groups – those who know that they live by a lie and those who live with what they believe – falsely – to be the truth”. He was being cynical, because there is a third possibility – to know the truth and to live by that. But at the same time that speaker was being realistic, for it is extraordinarily hard to know the truth and the search has to be conducted among many snares and pitfalls. But this search may be the purpose of our lives. For if we think of our lives as a journey, it is a journey whose destination is unimportant. We journey only to find out why we are travelling. The 31st Path is a Path of instruction: it is the way of enlightenment through the mind.
On the Path in Malkuth we learn to cope with the physical world. Here is the baby, helpless, learning to handle its own body and immediate physical objects. This helplessness is reflected in the figures on the Tarot card, who are shown naked. Their nakedness symbolises also that what we have is nothing (summed up in the expression – “you can’t take it with you”); all that counts is what we are.
The process of learning that begins in Malkuth continues as we reach Yesod. But here the learning is of a different kind. In Yesod our psychological and emotional foundations are laid. Here we build up that vast store of treasure – or source of pain – that Freud called the personal unconscious. And the learning process is itself unconscious. That is to say, at some levels of learning we can apply our minds consciously to the task, but at the Yesod level we learn whether we make an effort or not. And again, at other levels what we learn is to a considerable extent a matter of our conscious choice, but at the Yesod level the words of the Jesuit teachers apply:
“Give me a child until he is seven and you can do what you like with him ever after”.
And the experience of this phrase and the reactions we make to these experiences, that have such an everlasting effect on our character and personality, are often not available to the conscious mind in memory at all. The period of life between the ages of one and three was called by Freud “the prehistoric period” because our memory does not reach back to it. Here we are concerned with laying the foundation and it is right that foundations should be out of sight.
In Hod, mind begins to operate on its own level. The child gradually becomes able to form abstract ideas and grasp intellectual concepts. It is well known in industrial psychology that until a certain stage of development has been reached it is impossible for a child to grasp certain concepts. Schoolboys of an earlier generation used to have Latin whipped into them. But what the school master saw as wilfulness on the part of the pupil was, in fact, lack of development. There is in theory no reason why the mind should not continue to develop throughout life. But motivation is often lacking and the great majority of people do not seem to tread this Path in Hod for very long.
In Netzach we are concerned with learning to deal with emotions of a different kind from those of the Yesod level. Here is the adolescent, experiencing sensual feelings, romantic feelings, poetry, emotional religion. Here is life, energy, the creative urge. Here is what Freud called “the will to live”. On the Path in Netzach we learn to cope with the feeling side of our nature.
Having been successful in this, we reach Tiphareth. On the Path in Tiphareth the spirit makes its first contact with the mind of Man. There is a story that seems to me relevant to this Path in Tiphareth. It is about the Teacher of Wisdom; from his childhood he had been as one filled with the perfect knowledge of God. He left his parents and went out into the world that he might speak to the world about God. And as he walked along the highway he was full of the joy that comes from the perfect knowledge of God. And he passed through eleven cities, and in each city he found a disciple who loved him and followed him; and a great multitude of people also followed him from each city and the knowledge of God moved in the whole land.
Yet the more the people followed him and the greater the number of his disciples, the greater became his sorrow. He asked his soul why he was filled with sorrow and his soul answered him and said, “God filled thee with the perfect knowledge of Himself and thou hast given this knowledge away to others. The pearls of great price thou hast divided. Who art thou to give away the secret that God hath told thee? I was rich once and thou hast made me poor”. And he said to himself, “I will talk no more about God. He who giveth away wisdom robbeth himself”. So he dismisses his disciples and the people and goes away and becomes a hermit.
Now one evening, while he sits outside his cave, a young man goes by and the following morning the young man returns with is arms full of jewels. This goes on for some time and every time he sees him the hermit looks at the young man with eyes of pity. Eventually the young man asks the hermit, “Why do you look at me in this manner as I pass by?” The hermit answered him and said, “You see pity in my eyes. I have pity for you because you have no knowledge of God”. The young man asks, “Is this knowledge of God a precious thing and have you got it?” “Once, indeed,” answered the hermit, “I possessed the perfect knowledge of God. But in my foolishness I parted with it and divided it amongst others. Yet even now is such knowledge as remains to me is more precious than pearls.”
The young robber threatens to kill the hermit if he will not give him the knowledge of God that he possesses. But this does not frighten the hermit and the young man then says that he is going to the City of the Seven Sins. The hermit begs him not to do so, but the young man goes off. The hermit follows him, all the time begging him to turn back. They reach the gates of the city and as the young man is about to enter, the hermit stops him and says, “Stretch out your hands and set your arms around my neck and put your ear close to my lips and I will give you what remains to me of the knowledge of God”. And when the hermit had given away his knowledge of God, he fell on his face and wept.
And as he lay there weeping he was aware of the One who was standing beside him. And he raised the hermit up and said to him, “Before this time thou hadst the perfect knowledge of God. Now thou shalt have the perfect love of God.
Wherefore art thou weeping?”
On the Path in Geburah our learning can be painful. It is learning by correction, not unlike the schoolboy receiving the cane. But our attitude is all-important here: if we can appreciate the purpose behind our troubles and suffering, if we can recognise that:
Who never ate his bread in sorrow
Who never spent the midnight hours
Weeping and waiting for the morrow
He knows you not, ye Heavenly Powers
then we shall be able to move on to Chesed.
On the Path in Chesed we require the fruits of our experiences, good and bad alike. Here we stand on the threshold of a new world. But a new world means that learning must begin anew and before that new world is reached the Abyss must be crossed. As Gray says, the Last Judgement is mostly the crossing of he Abyss. We have come a long way and there’s no turning back:
We must go on from here
Timeless and turning
Carry what we have learnt,
for there is no unlearning;
The bridge behind is down.
On the Path in Binah, we encounter the Great Mother receiving back from those who have learned the lessons of life in physical bodies. In the Christian vision of the Last Judgement the graves will be opened and their occupants come forth apparently in physical form. But the true resurrection is this being received back into the arms of the Great Mother after the Abyss. It is truly a form of rebirth – life without the physical body – and from the Great Mother we shall have to learn how to live in our new world as we learned from our earthly mothers when we entered this one.
When we reach the Path in Chokmah, it no longer matters what we have learned, for we have achieved a state of wisdom and this transcends both knowledge and understanding. “And there was silence in the House of Judgement and the Man came naked before God. And God said to the Man, ‘Thy life hath been evil and thou hast shown cruelty to those who were in need of succour and to those who lacked help thou hast been bitter and hard of heart. With evil didst thou requite good and with wrongdoing kindness.’ And the Man made answer and said, ‘Even so did I.’ And God closed the book of the life of the Man and said, ‘Surely I will send thee into Hell. Even into Hell will I send thee.’
And the Man cried out, ‘Thou canst not!’ And God said to the Man, ‘Wherefore can I not send thee to Hell?’ ‘Because in Hell I have always lived.’ answered the Man. And there was silence in the House of Judgement.
And after a space God spoke and said to the Man, ‘Seeing that I may not send thee into Hell, surely I will send thee unto Heaven. Even unto Heaven will I send thee.’ And the Man cried out, ‘Thou canst not!’ And God said to the Man, ‘Wherefore can I not send thee unto Heaven?’ ‘Because never, and in no place, have I been able to imagine it.’ answered the Man. And there was silence in the House of Judgement.”
What can we say of the Path in Kether? At this level what more is there to learn? Right and wrong, truth and falsity are no more. Reality is and these pairs of opposites are seen for what they are – two sides of the same coin.
I will end by describing a painting I saw at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The city is surrounded by a wall and there are several gates set into the wall. The painting was of the walls of the city and the gates seen from above. The person I was with said, “But the picture shows ten gates”. There are in fact not as many gates as that. But I could see that the picture was not just a representation of the outline of the city, but it was at the same time a picture of the Tree of Life. The title was “The New Jerusalem”.
The Path of Judgement - 31st Path - Hod To Malkuth
By Doreen Sturzaker
Orange Scarlet; Vermilion; Scarlet flecked Gold; Vermilion flecked Crimson and Emerald.
A desert scene, a conclave of Bedouins around the remains, the burning embers of a smouldering desert fire; four horses are tethered nearby. The light is intensely brilliant, a white-heat sun shining from a sky of luminous pearl. The words, 'Mene, mene, tekel upharsin', or 'Numbered, numbered, weighed and divided.' A decision has been reached, a judgement made. The four mount their horses and gallop away into the far horizon fanning out in a single line, white burnouses billowing with their speed and soon only a pall of dust remains kicked up by the horse’s hooves. The desert is alone, everlasting and eternal, the sun blazes down on silent burning sands. The decisions of men so important and weighty are but transient. The great source of all life, the solar fire, changes from brilliance to a huge ball of flame sailing rapidly westwards soon to sink beneath the horizon. The purple shadows fall, the night wind fans the flickering embers of the fire into a brief blaze before, like its Cosmic counterpart, it too dies to physical sight.
In the etheric-astral World of Yesod or the desire World we are said to get whatever our strongest and habitual desires and wishes are or were in Malkuth, they are gratified there in a way that they cannot always be here.
We can see an example of the Path of Judgement in Yesod in Malkuth in the situation in South Africa and Rhodesia. There is an atmosphere of fear in the case of the minority white population which sees a possible threat to its cozy way of life and the end of their supremacy. This causes them to react in certain ways to the coloured population who in turn react, not unnaturally. Unwise decisions are taken to deal with the situation, good judgement is impaired and this is mainly due to the emotion of fear and perhaps to some extent greed.
In Yesod we enter the etheric-astral or Fourth Dimensional world, the card shows the figures standing upright and at right-angles to the coffins depicting this state of being. The judgement of Yesod is not always sound, in this changing, fluidic world it is difficult to keep a balanced viewpoint. Conditions fluctuate with great rapidity but here use can be made of the Indigo background colour to see that the judgements are based upon the archetypal ideal.
Now this would seem to call for the exercise of judgement on our part. We need to examine pretty closely our habitual emotions not only to see what they are doing to us or what effect they may be having on our health over a long period if they are rather negative emotions. Our mental and emotional behaviour is keyed to our major glandular centres so it is obvious that any prolonged emotional or mental stress will affect our endocrine balance which in turn will affect every other part of our physical organism.
But this is when we are in Malkuth, what happens when we depart from the physical and find ourselves in Yesod? The Christian belief of heaven and hell could well apply here. If we have not developed sufficient discrimination and have lacked judgement in choosing which emotions and desires we will allow to remain in our consciousness while we are in Malkuth, then we may find that if it is true that all desires are granted and worked out in Yesod, we shall then find ourselves in either the heaven or hell of the Christian’s, getting too much of what we thought in Malkuth it would be nice to have and strongly desired and from thinking in heaven it would eventually turn into a bore or even a hell of having too much of a good thing. And if the emotions have been really destructive ones then presumably the hells of the lower astral world would be our abode.
So it seems that the judgements we make in Malkuth will later affect us in Yesod and we are judged by our behaviour and placed accordingly.
In Hod we have one end of the Path so there is the power of mind doubled. The Scarlet flecked Gold of the Yetziratic World gives energy and stimulus to the mental processes. Prometheus whose name means 'Forethought' brought the gift of fire to early man. This could have been at more than one level. Fire is a great civilising medium, it evokes a warm, protective centre for the family and the tribe, a means of preparing and making more palatable the communal cooking-pot and for the making of tools.
On a higher level, Prometheus brought the fire of mind or in other words, the spiritual Will in man was stimulated and he became enabled to exercise choice. Hod sees him engaged in much activity; the striving for enlightenment through the way of mind is the very essence of this Path which leads him into the realms of science and technology. Without a physical body the mind is free to roam untrammeled, geometrical shapes take life and form, numbers twist and turn in endless and exciting permutations revealing their secret wisdom. Seeing something of their hidden potencies as they dance out their story he receives the message that ideas received from Netzach have to be formulated in Hod.
The mind must grasp and work upon them turning them into practical, scientific theories and mathematical formulae capable of having a practical application, but in case this should result in merely sterile exercises of the concrete mind he has the Scarlet Ray to energise and with its powerful penetration the insight into what lies behind the sciences and technology and where the life and ideas animating them comes from. Hod has no roots to cleave save in the hidden places of Gedulah so the culmination of mental ideas lies in Gedulah but first he is ready to enter Netzach where the potencies are stepped down.
Netzach touches him with the fiery essence of mind. Pluto, god of the fires of the subterranean regions stirs the depths of his subconscious mind, vague images arise of volcanoes, earthquakes, tongues of fire shooting forth from vast chasms. The same essence of flame that lives at the heart of a volcano lives in him, all-consuming, devouring the dross, arousing and stimulating, re-kindling for a new beginning. As the Plutonian flames leap upwards to meet the heavens so are the fires of mind quickened in the Scarlet and Gold and leap up to greet the intuition, a new awakening dawns on higher planes.
Tiphareth and the trumpet sounds. Its silver clarity calls forth the note within. Thrilling in unison the lotus petals slowly open one by one, the seven lights of sound stir and awaken, called to life anew by sympathetic vibration. The renaissance to a higher state of being, individuality calls to personality and the call is answered. In Tiphareth higher and lower meet and synthesise. The rectangular-shaped coffins symbolise the three dimensional world or the four lower Sephiroth, in Tiphareth there is a stretching up, a reaching out into the freedom of the mental realms. The seven flames leap upwards to illumine the awakened one.
On this Path in Geburah the last traces of his personality are adjusted in the light of Divine Will. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. He stands alone, the mask stripped away, there is no pretence here. The cold searching eye of Osiris is upon him as Anubis stands testing the tongue of the balance of whose scale lies a heart and in the other scale is the feather of Maat, the feather of Right and Truth. Judgement, the mighty and inescapable judgement of Osiris as arbiter of the Divine Will is pronounced and the heart representing conscience is tested in the balance. When the tests of Geburah have been successfully passed the purified one can pass on to the Sphere of Gedulah.
In Gedulah the one who has successfully passed the rigorous testing of Geburah awakens to the clarion call of the silver trumpet of Gabriel. Sound vibrations thrill through the Being and as grains of sand are formed into patterns by the notes of a violin, so are the subtle atoms of mind-stuff that is his body shaped into ever more refined patterns by the call of sound coming from the Archetypal World through to Gedulah and influencing the Path through Hod. Hod and Gedulah .are subtly linked.
It is the Sphere of order and of abstract thought; it is interesting to speculate that his actual 'shape' or 'body' at this time might possibly be like a mathematical cypher, a number. The coffins are four-square and the figures are three making the number seven or the seventh Sphere progressing up the Tree from Malkuth. In this Sphere, too, is a truer knowledge of the Divine Plan and of the individual destiny as the Path is trodden out of the physical World of Malkuth via the uttermost depths of the concrete mind and carrying on in Gedulah to link in with the abstract and intuitional which will give him telepathic contacts with higher Beings. Again, the influence of Gedulah on Hod.
Across the Abyss the Path of Judgement takes on a different aspect for we have taken the great leap in consciousness and the Worlds of Assiah and Yetzirah with their various aspects of form are now completely cut off and we are in the World of the Known Unknowable. Although he is now cut off from form he realises that even at Geburah and Gedulah on the higher mental plane there was still form of a kind but here in Binah he sees he is still trapped in a rarified and tenuous restriction that holds the Divine Spark struggling for its liberation in delicate but strong bounds like a fly in a spider's web, gentle but ruthlessly strong.
We are always rising from the grave of our dead selves to higher things and now he has risen from the Worlds of dense form to face the last barrier, the Tree in Binah. On the Tarot Card the Archangel hovers overhead as he rises from his last grave sounding a message and it is this; "You are the judge of yourself, according to the judgement you deliver, so shall it be with you". For the Path is just that, Judgement in all its aspects, judgement pronounced upon us and judgement pronounced by us. What Judgement are we and indeed all of us going to make on the Path in Binah? Form with all its limitations and irritations has always given a sense of security, it has always anchored us. Have we now the courage to make the last judgement on form, pull up the anchor and sail away free as air towards Chokmah?
We have all been judged many times, we have formed judgements many times, not only of others but of ourselves and from all the fruits of these experiences we are now in a position to make good and accurate judgement, spiritual judgement on the present position on the journey back.
What does this tell us? In our journey across space and time, incarnation after incarnation we have been like the oyster, each body we have put on has created more restriction like small pieces of grit and that grit has created more and more irritation, but now at Binah the last restriction-grit-irritation may be removed and the lustrous pearl born of all that restriction is released. This is our judgement on the Path in Binah and having made it the pearl of great price or the pearl of wisdom now reaches out to the Sphere of wisdom - Chokmah.
In Chokmah we are a pearl amongst pearls, each one is a tiny droplet of wisdom in a great ocean of wisdom. Spiritual judgement has still to be made, we must know when we are ready to proceed to the last sphere on the Tree, when the pearl has been refined and polished and is one with all the other pearls to be found there, no longer any grit or irritation or restriction of any kind. The power that has drawn us onward on the path of evolution is the Archetype; in Chokmah we see face to face, we glimpse the final goal and we must judge when we are ready to tackle the final judgement of all which is at Kether. And on the judgement we make we stand or fall - alone.
In Kether we find the perfect Archetype of all the different aspects of Judgement. On the lower levels of the Tree Judgement is more often pronounced on us and we learn not to be the judge of others lest we ourselves get more than we bargain for. On the higher mental realms of Tiphareth to Gedulah we learn to both accept judgement meted out to us and as we become more and more spiritually aware we are able to judge for ourselves until we reach the stage where we stand or fall on our spiritual judgement of our qualities. All of this is expressed in the perfect Archetype of this Path in Kether which, in the last analysis, pronounces the final Judgement.
The Path of Judgement
By Michael Defries (1976)
“The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised.” Thus runs the traditional refrain that we all know so well.
Another reference to trumpets, but one that is not so well known, says; “… sound the Silver Trumpet, even in the valley of Beersheba – the land of the seven wells.”
In this particular exposition of the meaning ascribed to the Path known as the Last Judgement, I am drawn to the particular aspect which might be described as coming under the teaching of “The Call”.
At various stages along our evolutionary journey we are moved to respond to various calls; time and again we reach the culmination of certain areas of experience along a particular path of development, at which climatic moments we can see as clearly, perhaps, as never before, the precise reasons underlying the entire process we have undergone, enabling us to arrive at a unique and valuable assessment of our progress up to a particular point. This constitutes the judgement aspect of the Path when we weigh up and assess the pros and cons of a particular section of our experience and progress.
It obviously applies in greater and lesser degrees where, for example, we may be sitting in Judgement upon a life, or a series of lives, or perhaps just a small fragment of intense experience occupying only a moment in time as we measure it with our earthly and limited senses. Whatever it may be an aspect of Judgement is called forth from us and we are constrained to weigh certain matters in the balance and to arrive at balanced and mature conclusions.
Having arrived at our judgements or conclusions, we are then in a position where just the experience is required and this is where the symbolic trumpet associated with the Path begins to apply.
At certain times upon our long and complex journeys across the great spans of time we are called to higher work. We may be quite successful in whatever we are doing at the time – and seemingly happy as well in our complacency and cocoon-like existences, but at any moment we may be privileged to hear the clarion call of Gabriel – advising us the time has come to lay down our existing work and to look for new fields to conquer. It can be as traumatic as upon St. Paul’s journey to Damascus, where he was struck blind by the sheer intensity of the light which suddenly encompassed him, or it can be a comparatively slow and insidious process in which a niggling of dissatisfaction can grow and expand until it becomes such an absolute conviction of the necessity for change that there is no room left for doubt. And by change we do not imply the mere exchanging of one set of circumstances for another, but the arising from the lower to the higher, the raising of the life to a more profound level of spirituality: this involving a veritable resurrection within the life with the new and illumined consciousness arising phoenix-like from the remnants of former ways.
Once this alchemical process has taken place a new way of life is unavoidable as the old modes of existence are reduced to unrecognisable ashes.
Whatever form the Call may take when it penetrates into the consciousness of anyone of us, there is little doubt that it is a continuous process operating at all levels of existence. It is that mysterious process which continuously draws us towards those unfathomable aspects of life which continually challenge the seeker and the researcher within each one of us.
Those of us who are drawn irresistibly to the esoteric side of life cannot always give tangible explanations of why this is so. We know only that there is a rising tide within us which carries us forward and which, if resisted for too long, will simply impel us ever onwards towards a goal which becomes increasingly hard to define as we approach it. All we can say is that we must keep moving forward even though the journey may seem at times to demand much more from us than we appear to receive in return.
Those of us who are drawn to the Kabbalistic Path are attracted by the inherent magnetism of the forces operating upon the Tree. We make our approach, hesitant but intrigued by the mysterious complexity which confronts us. The powers that operate upon the Tree are basically the same powers that move within us, we being part of the Tree – hence intimate involvement – but our awareness of the Tree and its implications is commensurate with our own degree of soul growth and this also decides the intensity of the power that can flow through us from the Sephiroth upon the Tree. The strange but compelling “Call” which operates along the Path is the AIN force calling to its own. Sometimes and perhaps too frequently its own recognises it not and this leads to much struggle and discord as the fallen and impure elements within Man fail to respond to the pull and attraction of the higher Cosmic Forces.
In the physical world this call can intrude into everyday life and unsettle the mind until the life that seemed to be adequate becomes a mere existence and finally a wilderness in which the mind can find no rest or contentment. Physical or material possessions bring no satisfaction and finally the tormented one is impelled to follow the notes of the trumpet wherever they may lead and whatever it may cost in terms of worldly possessions.
The initiate, once drawn away from the enmeshments of the material world may seek arrangement in emotional recompense and for a time he may choose to wallow in situations of emotional stimulation until finally he feels satiated with experiences which, although more expansive and expressive than those he knew in the physical, nevertheless still leave him dissatisfied and unfulfilled.
The notes of the trumpet draw him ever onward, as compelling as the magical music played by the Pied Piper of Hamelin in ancient fable. He moves into the world of mentality and grapples with the various systems of thought which provide for the aspiring mind. Mathematics, Philosophy, Science, are all explained and whilst they meet certain needs within the initiate, the eternal restlessness within drives him ever onwards. He moves through the artistic worlds and becomes deeply involved with nature, seeing within its manifestation as aspect of deity and yet having savoured the world of nature and its forces, both within and without the Call is felt to abandon the world and seek the mystery of life in isolation and within the monastic cell or cave where much is learnt that might not be possible under different circumstances.
The soul in isolation ponders the great mysteries and realises that illumination can only be preceded by sacrifice – the abandonment of the Self in all its aspects to the Great Work. In isolation the soul ponders its past mistakes and makes the great resolve to redeem the past and pay back the debts which have been incurred. This is not, at this level, merely action and reaction, but the great redemptive process whereby the Karma is actuated in service rather than in retribution and the initiate at this stage becomes the servant of all, seeking no power for himself other than to further the Great Work and being thus devoid of all ambition the forces of destiny raise him to true kingship within his own soul kingdom and bestow upon him the accolade of spiritual nobility.
But there is still no rest for the eternal pilgrim: the call is imperative and draws him ever towards the Crown and source of life. At the Supernal level he is empowered to sacrifice all aspects of the personality he has built up so painstakingly over the oceans of time. At this level he becomes a passive but willing instrument of the purpose which has been seeking to express itself through him since the beginning of Creation.
He sees the meaning behind the pattern of his lives in its entirety. He understands the purpose behind Creation but condemns nothing he has been or passed through, it all being contribulatory to the final outworking and completion. Karma and limitation are no more and he waits for the final call which will draw the distilled essence of all that he has been and can be back into the AIN force from whence it originally issued forth.
The Path of Judgement
By Alan Goffin (1976)
I must have been unconscious. I must have been unconscious for I could not recognise my surroundings. Weak and afraid I gazed about me; the elements were closing in, threatening me with a primeval malignity, a penetrating loathsomeness, a chaos that would engulf me, digest me, erase me. Am I a stone that awaits pulverisation by the hammer of Nature? Am I a worm to be swallowed, an insect to be crushed?
Shiver - the wild wind tosses me to the ground. Writhe - the earth tries to break my bones. Gasp - the waters rob me of air. I sweat as my flesh struggles with the heat of the sun. Mortal, born to die, born to suffer, hardened by a hard god who promises peace and plenty in the spring but wrenches his gifts away when winter falls. All I may do is worship this ordered chaos called Nature, this harridan that feeds me when she will, deprives me at a whim kills me at her fancy. O for a sword; O for a god that acts as I would him act; O for power, for the key that would release me from the travail of Nature!
Darkness robs me of the burning sun only to plunge me into helpless confusion. Thick slime, like the ordure of nameless animals, grasps my ankles as rain tries to drown me where I stand. The gale moans and cries as it tears its way through unseen crags, filling the air with fragments of the earth, sucked from depths one dare not speak of. Electric shadows dart too quickly to be discerned. Ah, this my world, this my fate, this feeble cipher in the madhouse of God!
And yet I see a light: a scarlet glow upon a massive table of rock far off across the slime. The glow flickers, it beckons me with warm promise: excited to sense the threat that twinned with hope. I grovelled toward that titanic plateau, and as I made my way it seemed that lurking claws grabbed at me as if to hinder my progress: She knew that my successful journey would mean her ruin.
I scaled the sheer walls in terror of my life and as I peered across the lofty plain I gasped in awe. Three towers, too massive for description reached into the black sky, and at their summits raging fires burned. Red glowed the plain, red from edge to edge. Red glowed the sky above them. Around the central tower coiled a massive serpent. But this was quite unlike the snakes that I knew. It was metallic, glowing in the heat, as still as death. A voice seemed to fill the air around me and yet it was the serpent who spoke:
“Tower you desire, and power you shall have. See the columns and understand their meaning - one is your past and what you might have been; one is your present and what you are and the third is your future and what you may become. Scale them all and take the torch that awaits you in each. These three torches will enable you to command time itself. Nature Herself shall bow before you, for you may demand aught of her and she must obey. But before you choose, remember the price that you must pay. Whatever you ask of the world shall be given to you but you will never know what it is you want. That which is given will never suffice; your demands will grow and you will never be satisfied. For though you may control Nature you will never control yourself. You will become the enemy of yourself, your only enemy and your deadliest"
I had already scaled the first tower as the serpent spoke. His words passed through me like light through glass, for here is what I want and now the world will be mine. As I raced with my three torches to the precipice I thought I heard a metallic slither behind me. Sure enough, the serpent was following me. It would be with me always. Dawn broke as I reached the ground; birds were singing, insects crawling and a breeze was causing the plants to dance. But it all looked so different. It all sounded so different. It was as if my ears were assailed by a remorseless ticking, as of a million clocks, short, soft ticks, long, loud ticks in a rhythmic confusion. The animals fled from my sight and even the plants seemed to turn away. I hardly noticed the sparks that fell from my torches and lay in the grass, smouldering.
Mankind has not always been at war with nature. If his youthful experience has been one of conflict it has been a respectful conflict, a struggle waged in an unassailable spirit of unity. Indeed, being himself a creature his very battles with the elements were an essential part of the fabric of life. The noumenal cycles of the Cosmos that gave life and took it away were not thought of as external to him, but actually gave meaning to his life. Not so now.
The history of man reveals a growing antagonism to the forces of nature, manifesting itself in his crass materialism and his penchant for bogus dogmas. Man's godlike pretensions are based upon what appears to be a feeling of despair. We see the tumour of super-technology, a desperate attempt to wrest the crown from Nature: but the burden of kingship is too great to bear, and the embers dropped from the torches of knowledge are about to ignite and engulf the world in a Holocaust.
Nature will recover, but can the human race?
Parallel with the human war on life has been the vicious slaughter of man by man.
Needing one another they are yet unable to live with one another. The words of the serpent return to mind ... "you are your own enemy, your only enemy, your deadliest."
Assiah is the scene of man's war on life. It is here that the misuse of the flame of knowledge has had its profoundest effect. The quest for a mechanical universe has presented the mind with nothing but a panorama of charnel. Living organisms are things, human beings are things, minds are machines. This worldview is desperately absurd, yet its lunacy fades into obscurity behind the facade of glamorous banality that can be its only product. Man plunges headlong into spiritual suicide surrounded by his silly electronic printed circuits, his clumsy computers, drowning in a lake of oil! He leaves behind a devastated globe, dying animals and plants and mountains of waste.
Though he shudders and shies away from blood, sweat, urine and faeces, the products of natural cycles, he cannot stop himself from belching deadly poisons into the very air he breathes. Though our dear clinical friend raves over smoking tobacco, a natural product, he sits idly by while billions of cubic feet of carbon monoxide are pumped daily into his suffocating cities. He hates life and the products of life. He detests anything that is not hard, mechanical and making a lot of money. He is a very sick patient. No wonder the gods wanted to keep the fire to themselves.
That this sickening parasite should be allowed to continue to live his half-life is a measure of the mercy of Adonai ha-Aretz who must yet hope for a growth in spiritual awareness. Indications of this hope are present in the Tarot card of Judgement. Here, men are recalled to the life of the spirit; they are woken and rise from their self-made coffins to greet the visage of the Messenger of the gods. But the coffins, symbols of decay and death, are there. Must destruction precede illumination? Yet how can we talk of awakening a race? Only individuals may be woken, races only rise and perish. Like the other great races of the past the human race must perish and only a few individuals will meet the challenge and escape. It is this appalling realisation that makes the eschatological force of the Day of Judgment so powerful. Unconsciously human beings know that their race is doomed, for was this not part of the gift of the three torches - knowledge of time?
Other animals live quite unconscious of even their individual deaths. Man knows he is a dying race. Indeed, in the context of eternity he is dead - dead, buried and forgotten. It is this knowledge that makes him so aggressive, that fills such a loathing of life. The knowledge may be temporarily repressed in times of peaceful reflection where the myth of an afterlife with the attendant assumption of perpetual personality soothes the psychic hurt. But inevitably it rises to grip his personality, causing him to rage insanely at life. Death and destruction result: a mini-judgment day in each epoch. It is arguable, in fact, that man's technology is unconsciously derived from a wish to destroy the entire universe.
However, the fact that the evil of which human beings are capable, of which they are the instrument, is derived from Hod via this path is not to suggest that the path itself is evil. That, of course, is quite untrue. Man's misuse of fire is due to his premature invocation of the power of the rational mind. This power, instead of maturing gradually and in a spirit of compassion and humility has been allowed to disrupt the instinctive foundations of life. It is the instincts which are the fuel behind the destruction, the mind is purely the engine. Man's mind, even that of a genius, is desperately slow and clumsy compared to the vitality of the human being qua brute.
What must be sought is the gentle application of reason, reason as servant of the beauty of the world, revealing yet more subtle mysteries behind the face she presents us with.
Perhaps the most famous initiate of the thirty-first path was Pythagoras, who, from the geometrical regularities of the universe and their numerical associations penetrated the spiritual core of Nature and saw, through her forms, the matchless beauty of Adonai. The Pythagorean approach, purged of its errors, is the most elementary way of achieving a more balanced approach to the thirty-first path. Analysis must be balanced by rapture.
The lack of balance in Assiah brought about by a partially realised c splits Yetzirah into two: the trinity Gedulah, Geburah, Yesod and the trinity Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod. These six surround the infant Assiah as it gasps for the air of Spirit. Gedulah, Geburah, Yesod pull "downwards" in the process of revifying the psychic forms of the Moral World. Here, fire directs its energy from the Pillar of Severity. It is the trinity of dissection and power. Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod draw the infant upwards towards spiritualisation and fire directs from the middle Pillar. It is the trinity of abstraction, of generalisation, of unity. It is the fire triangle pointing upwards. Gedulah, Geburah, Yesod form the water triangle, pointing downwards.
In the unbalanced state the illusion of power derives from Gedulah, the illusion of individual power from Geburah and the illusion of alienation from Yesod. The three together represent dissipation. Efforts to become objective, to sever the umbilicus which links the Fool with his body, lead to the despair that results from feeling responsible yet impotent, all-knowing but alone.
Firstly, alienation. In Yesod the unbalanced c causes permanent disappointment. The serpent's warning is here at its most relevant. "What do you want?" In Yesod all the confectionery of experience is presented to the Fool for his selection. From nothing he can conjure anything his heart desires. But he sits there, alone, unable to move, unable to act. "If all this is possible, then I want the impossible". And Abrahadabra: the impossible can also be provided. There the useless husk sits, terrified of his own power, unable even to look at the possibilities. Occasionally a finger points and fairy gold falls into his hands, pounds of it. He flings it around and then is suddenly depressed again for the gold is seen for what it is; dead leaves, useless, empty like the Fool himself. This inability to choose is the result of alienation.
Alienation is a modern concept but quite simply means emotionally and spiritually separated from the world. One does not feel really there, one is a mere cipher. Alienation is the negative aspect of independence. Alienation produces masses of fairy gold, from "heaven" theory to social theory.
Secondly, Power. The thirty-first Path in Gedulah produces the mystique of achievement. In an imaginary world one can be the lord of Creation and by inventing worlds to conquer one can become the greatest emperor of all. All it requires is to discover laws of Nature, then one can begin systematically to break them. The thirty-first path in Geburah places the sword of rectification in one’s hand. No longer does one merely live in dreams, one may actually act them out in reality. One's fantasies suddenly become real as the fire scorches everything in sight, as one burns the very foundations from under one's feet.
In the unbalanced state the illusion of personality derives from Tiphareth, the illusion of knowledge from Hod and the illusion of glamour from Netzach. The three together represent the dissolution of meaning. This is the existential triangle, representing the dilemma of the Fool who in striving for greatness actually shrinks, as everything around him becomes tainted by his own nausea. His universe is a puny aggregate of facts and totally devoid of moral purpose.
Glamour is a word derived from the power of Faery to mystify by presenting meaningless surfaces as the totality of reality. It is easy to rectify a universe of surfaces for that requires no spiritual knowledge whatsoever. A plastic butterfly or a plastic flower look real but, of course, even the plastic itself is not real for plastic should never be made to look like a butterfly or a flower. It is a masquerade - a gooey substance pretends nobility. The universe of the Fool is a mockery, a conceited travesty of Creation.
The human body is a complex tailor's dummy, a fortuitous blob of chemicals. So mote it be! A dummy certainly looks like a human being so why should not a human being act like a dummy? And, of course, they do, so the theory is proved. The perfect justification for an intellectual pigmy pretending he is a giant.
Knowledge in the unbalanced state is not knowledge at all. The vast bulk of scientific knowledge is a polemic against Nature - a manifestation of hatred, a whining catalogue of reasons why we should not be alive at all. This is not because facts are not facts or theories have no relationship with reality, it is because of its use as a weapon to disembowel the world. It is arrogant, specious and banal. In the Yetziratic world the Assiatic excrement of technology appears as a cloud hiding the jewels imprisoned in the human mind. Perhaps it is only for angels to exercise judgment; human beings are too boastful and selfish. In Yetzirah human souls must judge themselves.
The personality is a symbol of the uniqueness of the soul. It is the shadow of the Ruach, the permanent Ruach that waxes and wanes, emerges and is absorbed into the great Spirit. In the unbalanced state the shadow is mistaken for the real thing. Now shadows change considerably as they pass over different surfaces. The man casting the shadow walks where he would and his motion causes the shadow to move. But to suggest that the shadow is caused by the surface, that the undulations of the ground are the essence of the motion is to forget firstly about the man, and secondly about the the sun shining on him. Thus it is with the personality; soul and spirit are defined away and we are left with a shadow which is in itself non-existent. That must be the easiest thing on the universe to rectify. That is the "science" of man, of human behaviour. It is the science of the non-existent, a staggeringly presumptuous piece of nonsense, a monumental blasphemy against life.
The foregoing, somewhat depressing account of this important path represents the current development of c on Earth. It is but a small element in the collapse of human consciousness which will unquestionably augur the rising of a new race, for the new race will surely rise on this path. Crowley calls the path "The Aeon", representing the birth of a new god, a new age, a new race.
We now, thankfully, move to the more positive aspects of the Card symbolised by "The Aeon". The words of a hymn spring to mind:
These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known shall rise,
With flame of freedom in their hearts
And light of science in their eyes.
Human beings are only halfway there, halfway between the beasts and the angels. The new race will arise from humanity and hints of its qualities may be discerned even in the history of man. They did not desire peace, for peace was within them; they did not desire love, for their souls were love; they did not desire harmony, for they resonated with the whole world. Their flame was the flame of the Spirit, the flame that unites Yetzirah, the Shekinah that binds the seven Sephiroth to the bosom of their holy parents. For when we notice the six-rayed star and observe the exquisite symmetry displayed therein, momentarily we are elevated from our human bondage and become, alas only briefly, one of Them. Whilst Samael keeps us in darkness - and there is good reason for it as we have seen - his brother Michael may grant us a glimpse at the splendour, the glory of the Kingdom. That same Shekinah that unites the Ruach is the c that is prostituted for man's incorrigible vanity. The brazen serpent becomes the symbol of rapture, whose cleansing spirit will heal the scabs and scars left by a humanity whose bones will gather dust, in peace at last, in their urban tombs.
If this attack on man's historic journey smacks of treachery, as if one's race must of necessity be the only one worthy of eternity, then so be it. But it is not so, for to be human is to be witness to the most wonderful efflorescence of the natural world, if one evan cares but to look. If one may only wonder then that surely is a grace that makes this life worth living. To rob Nature of her mystery is to damn oneself; to strip her of her beauty is to condemn oneself to a life of drab mediocrity, to cripple the psyche.
The perfect balance that obtains when this is correctly applied can be measured by the illumination it brings in Binah; vaguely like the poet who can merely look at the world and cry "I love you!" is the inner energy of love. Love and knowledge are the same. True knowledge is almost an act of coition with the entity known. Such a union always gives birth to poetry. To the poet the world itself is a poem, a concatenation of priceless gems of which he may humbly select only a few. It is impossible to recreate the splendour, one may only marvel. How different is this knowledge from our drab scholarly nonsense! Binah resonates with love for at her most exalted she is fire, she is crimson, a soft crimson, tense and pregnant with glory; the crimson of the menses, the crimson of life-blood. The Fool as poet is not afraid of blood for he is willing to shed it for his mistress.
c animates the Neshamah for it is from within the Neshamah that the creative energy flows. It is like a great red sun, bursting with energy yet releasing only soft gentle rays on the planets that surround it. Fire need never be usurped when simple grace provides all the aspirant's needs.
If the Fool were poet in Binah, in Chokmah he is philosopher. Not the philosopher of categories, syllogisms, antimonies and the like, but the true philosopher, the lover of wisdom. The meaning of love here is no different from that applied to the poet. It is passionate love, uniting love, even desperate love, insatiable love. The Chiah qua Phallus; how different from the muddled rod of power wielded solely for possession in the lower Sephiroth. There is no doubt about the Chiah; it is power from the loins of God himself. Possession obscures the light of the sparks owned, the Chiah frees them to illumine the universe.
The transition to Atziluth, if one may speak of such a prosaic process, is not really a transition at all for the Fool has always dwelt in Atziluth. It is more the awakening of the godhead within him, the Yechidah. Kether may be thought of as the peak of the pentagram, whereupon rests the seat of the Spirit. This same Spirit, represented exoterically by fire is present in the thirty-first path, as if to reveal the glory in Malkuth itself. The fire that destroys the universe is the fire that embraces it. At each level of existence it is not recognised for what it is. Is it power as in Assiah? Is it revelation as in Yetzirah? Is it passionate love as in Brian? No, no, no. As the flame dies down to an ember in the peace of Atziluth and a soft glow dims still further we look closely. At the moment the glow vanishes we praise Adonai, we join in the worship of Elohim Tzabaoth; for it is at that moment that the truth is revealed. But that will be the very last secret that Nature will vouchsafe.
The Path of Judgement
By David Woodin (1976)
In Assiah – Perhaps the first conscious use of Judgement as a mental faculty came into being as primitive man endeavoured to produce fire from two sticks. Parallel to his physical progress of training, a new-found energy and burning his fingers from time to time, was the awakening of consciousness to the forces both outside and of those within, that stirred him to action.
Mythology relates that fire was stolen from heaven – this is the Fire of Divine Will, in the Ark or coffin lies the dormant spark, here resurrected as personal will with a new directive. In the distance are mountains, at the foot of which the libido serpent has sway, contending forces arise here from the most primitive levels to ensnare the traveller in the realms of sensuality.
There is a Talmudic saying, “Serve God both with your bad impulses and with your good impulses”. This means then, the conscious direction of libido force in all bio-physiological tendencies to higher purposes and creative activities. This can only be accomplished through the use of Judgement, designed as a discriminative assessment that recognises opposing factors and brings them into harmonious conjunction. Past experience and present need govern his actions at this personal level, but most important is his outlook on the future with its karmic consequences.
The diverse fires that burn at this level may be united as a concentrated flame, a flame controlled, in the lantern it gives a steady light, helping us to see that on which we are concentrating. It is a law of Nature that concentration and crystallisation are necessary to the forming of matter. By collecting together scattered energy he is in the powerful position to change both himself and the environment in which he lives.
Travelling between past and future, man’s very existence depends upon his judgement and whether it be in accord with the Divine Will.
The message is clear from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistos; “Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the dross, acting prudently and with judgement.”
In Yetzirah – His wild enthusiasm of life may be curbed and redirected through the channel of Religion, though there is the inherent danger of following a false teacher and being fleeced in the process. Again, he may take a too conventional approach to life and religion, with an open mind his judgement will loosen some of this bias, but his view still remains a personal one. The life-force he has personified as gods, and at this level he pays them homage with devotion, conformity and idealism, as the emotional realm catches him in its sway.
At Tiphareth the sacrifice and reconciliation of opposites is possible if he is able to look beyond his personal needs with a love of humanity rather than self-love. By the negating of opposites a channel is opened for the higher mental and moral influences. There is the danger that befell Adam - stepping from the Ark or coffin he became intoxicated with his own importance.
In Geburah – he may lose nerve at the forethought of drastic changes to his personal sphere, as the fear of change comes to the surface, willpower and courage, the strong lion, drive him on to accept the moral obligation to act in accord with Universal Law.
In Chesed – the bond of moral influence is cemented with further knowledge of the Divine Will. With enthusiasm under control he may persuade others to follow a less materialistic outlook on life – as the preacher, his message is love, love under will and love under merciful dispensation. The choice between material and spiritual love is to be made here, a decision based on moral values which govern his every action.
In Briah – We see the importance of understanding in connection with Judgement and Cosmic Law – Shin, the Hebrew letter of this Path, is valued at 300, its archetype is the number three of Binah – the Mother, whom, according to Jewish tradition, was to hand out punishment to the disobedient child – having, as we say, ‘a will of its own’. As mediator between three and 300, 30 is the number of the Path of Justice, here representing the harmonious quality of a balanced relationship within the psyche between Anima and Animus – the Sun and Moon (past and present) regulated in their orbits by the Perpetual Intelligence.
The duality still prevails as twin energy in Binah and this duality is fragmented into the Zodiacal divisions in Chockmah, where Judgement is raised to an abstract level where energy and motivation are judged with wisdom.
In Atziluth – potential judgement in its most perfect and archetypal form is represented by the 31st Path in Kether. It is the element of change and the driving enthusiasm of the life-force at its point of beginning. Separation, conjunction, both vital forces of Judgement directed as a single stream of energy as a fiery Path throughout the four Worlds. The Vital force then is the sustenance of life as we know it and that beyond.
Another word for sustenance being manna, and if the letters of the Divine Names related to Hod and Malkuth are added together we arrive by gematria at the word “manna” – the heaven-sent gift of sustenance to those who wandered the barren material wasteland. Single pointed, his motive is towards Unity. The Perpetual Intelligence at this level is the ever-vigilant eye of Deity emanating Divine Will through Judgement. The triple flame, Shin, represses the manifest Deity – with the fangs of the mind fastened deeply into any point of Judgement is a potentiality to be put into action.
The Path of Judgement
By Robin Cousins (1976)
At Malkuth in Assiah the physical manifestation of the Ketheric First Swirlings is complete. From Hod, the Intellectual and Reasoning side of the Lower Mental World, the physical being is infused via the path of Judgement with these mental qualities, endowing man with the ability to weigh, judge and so choose his path in life. This ability is inherent in all men and, as crystallised in Hod, has as its origin the Triad formed from Binah, Gedulah and Hod.
Hod, therefore, at the base of the Left Hand Pillar of Severity has an intense strength, which contains the Understanding of Binah and the rigorous Justice of Geburah. This is reinforced by the influence of Gedulah, the sphere of Compassionate Wisdom and Mercy, directed by the Hermit's will with gathering intensity to Hod. Absolute thus is the Intelligence of Hod. Transmitted by the path of Judgement to Malkuth the Intelligence is sharp, clear, biting and is summed up by the Hebrew letter of the path, Shin, meaning Tooth. All consuming and ready to devour, upon the return journey, impurities and those emotional distractions transmitted by the Moon from Netzach, it is also aptly expressed by the element Fire. Everlasting and consistent, the Absolute Intelligence has become the Perpetual Intelligence of the oath of Judgement. The Angel of Reason trumpets the quality to Man, the cross on the banner representing the pure and ideal nature which itself forms the ultimate means by which Man can return upon the path.
Whenever a judgement is made, one travels upon the path, but for a successful journey, the judgement must be objective. Purely subjective decisions influenced by the emotions and by selfish desires stemming from a too material existence will cloud one's judgement and prevent progress. Objective judgement invokes the Perpetual Intelligence. All factors are examined and assessed according to their own merits for their worth and eventually, when no further deliberations are possible, the final or Last Judgement is made. If correct, there can be no other solution. The result is perfect and the Absolute Intelligence of Hod is achieved.
The insight gained from the judgement constitutes an awakening, as depicted by the complete family of man, woman and child rising from their tombs in the light of heavenly glory (i.e. Hod) ready to commence, through the child, a new state of higher existence. Such wisdom lifts one from the Darkness and allows progress to be made, opening the way to the next path in life to be travelled and reveals, too, the purging and transmuting action of fire. Objectivity, however, is no easy achievement, the greedy ways of the Personality often being most devious and subtle. In a sense one has to be awake in order to be awakened.
In Assiah, successful progression through life rests upon this path. Man continually wrestles with problems and undergoes trials of a physical and spiritual nature. The correct solutions and their adoption allows a movement to a new state, however apparently unimportant, and thus maintains the circle of change towards Atziluth and beyond.
The moment of death is the final judgement of Assiah or the subjective end of the world. Anubis weighs the soul and the spiritual progress achieved determines the course of the future journey. In Yesod, the foundation of the Physical World, the Angelic force, the Aishim, must direct the life force away from physical manifestation towards eventual union with the Spirit? But those whose Earthly life failed to commence the process of the alignment of the Personality with the individuality must return for further incarnations. The fires of Yesodic Judgement will make the basic transmutation to open the way to the kernel of Yetzirah and the root of the Individuality in Gedulah.
The Lower Mental World of Hod and Netzach constitutes a severe barrier to overcome. The immense tension between Hod, the reasoning mind, and the emotional force of Netzach results in the path of the Lightning Struck Tower. But from the destruction of the Foundation, the seeker who is prepared can attain the harmony of Tiphareth and the perfected Individuality. The tooth that takes the bite from the world of the intellect commences the initial emotional and imaginative onrush from Netzach that will eventually assimilate Hod. Yet that very assimilation will itself provide a firm and solid form which will control the diverse whirling forces of Netzach. Judgement in that Sephirah commences the process which throws down the Tower of the Personality which dominated the Lower Worlds.
From this destruction the Personality merges with the Individuality at Tiphareth. After the struggle in the Lower Mental World, the stability and harmony achieved in this Sephirah may encourage a peaceful state, inducing a reluctance to progress further. But the sacrifice is only half complete. The Abyss runs across those paths which bring light to Tiphareth direct from the Supernals, veiling its origin - and this is not sufficient.
Reluctance to ascend will also be due to the fact that the Individuality must now pay the Karmic debt and accept all defects, however repulsive, of its personalities. The acknowledgement of this is the Judgement of Tiphareth which later allows the Sacrifice to be finalised and which brings the Abyss closer, along with the need to fuse indistinguishably the knowledge of good and evil.
Geburah is the sphere of Justice and the seat of Karma and to move to Gedulah requires great strength in order to face and absorb the ultimate Dweller and aggregate of the wrong doings of all incarnations. But the Judgement here produces a greater pain to concur and, consequently, creates a driving force. For underlying all the crimes is now the bitter realisation that the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil and the betrayal of the Individuality of the Divine Plan are responsible for the present trial. Far from the source, but no longer a complete Individuality with links with the Lower Worlds, as is found at Tiphareth, the Soul enters the Dark Night.
With the Karmic debt paid, compassion is found at Gedulah. Here there is domination of the World of Form and the root of the Individuality is reached, thus making further incarnations in the Physical World unnecessary. Gedulah holds from Chokmah and Binah the image of what the Spirit should be in manifestation, but because of the Prime Deviation the image may not be the true image. The Thirty-first path in Gedulah is the decision either to make the Last Judgement of the Abyss, end the Dark Night, redeem the Fall and achieve union with the Spirit or return to the Self forever.
Knowledge was sought through the experience of Man and its basis is the Wisdom of Chokmah and the Understanding of Binah. The Judgement to cross the Abyss is based on the sum of the knowledge of good and evil gained in manifestation. Perfection is demanded and those presumptuous souls whose hearts fail to strike the balance with Ultimate Truth are devoured by the Abyss. The successful passing through Daath is the Judgement in Briah. It reconciles the opposites. Knowledge is One. it is Wisdom and it is Understanding.
The Judgement is the Last, because the necessity of judgement arises from the consequences of fission - and there now is none. Janus no longer looks simultaneously up and down the Tree. The vision is the Godhead face to face and the movement is to the Atziluthic archetypal world of Kether and beyond to the Ultimate Union.
The Path of Judgement
By Patrick Fullick (1976)
I lie in the garden, my little patch of security that steadily grows back to the natural nature despite my efforts of puny will to impose otherwise.
Seeding grasses bow down in pregnancy ready to loose the future into the warm waiting earth. Red encased ladybirds thrive on abundant food and still remain sacrosanct to the civilized man. Cherished with fondness, treated like children, these ferocious carnivores defy the sterility of concrete and steel.
The beautiful, but short-lived, butterfly wends this way and that, seemingly intent on nothing but sampling something here, something there. How can this creature, any creature, not have direction, a purpose? I remember the cold, walled-up pupae lying on the winter’s sterile earth; what power sustains them through the transformation – what miracle?
In the butterfly we see so much of the human soul that I begin to wonder if not all the varied processions of birds, plants, insects and animals mirror parts of ourselves and the constellations. So runs my train of thought until I stop – knowing that I have been snared by the very Path I seek to pin down and mount in the showcase of words. From life to life little changes grass roots to remain as ever they were, perhaps hidden under deeper layers of rotting manure that humans disgorged at tremendous speed.
Images of all that were pronounced dead dance before my eyes, thuswise they have life and through me, act. Is this not the meaning of poetic myth, what was making what is? The physically dead all have that in common, i.e. a lack of lustre, the glow departed – no fire. It is as if all of them have been shared amongst all that they knew, places they saw, things they touched, as if they died so we may live. One fire in many.
Threatened with these thoughts the idea of static earth dissolves in a flurry of interconnecting multiplicity and spectral shape-shifting. I feel as if I could sink into the ground, be absorbed and tossed about by intense and dramatic happenings. A far cry from good old solid earth we see every day.
Einstein once said, “What is inconceivable about the Universe is that it should be at all conceivable”. In pre-literate times there were vast amounts of effort concentrated upon the outer universe of planets and stars. Time as a continuum was measured and myth as scientific language evolved to encapsulate time itself. The effects of space and its occupants, upon this planet was seen, not as later through maths, but through analogy and the pun. What the gods did through the agent of fire, man could do. Fable could extol any labyrinthine doctrine and keep it alive because the images were themselves life and devolved from the romance of everyday existence. It may be fair to say that no mythical beast exists that comes directly from the imagination but rather from empirical experience and thence reordered by Hod not haphazardly, but obeying certain laws.
Even today Myth and Legend fascinates with rich, strange symbols and beckons with great images to deeper awareness that we emotionally surrender to without even knowing, on occasions.
Archaic Man, however, kept a firm grip on the conceivable by framing within his cosmos an order of Time that made sense to him and reserved a fate for his soul unlike the aimless butterfly.
Yet it was a prodigiously vast theory with no concessions to merely human sentiments, just as were the seasons that gods and men were subject to. From all this observation the arts and sciences of agriculture, metallurgy and building boomed.
Hod and Netzach
When we now discover remote galaxies by the uncountable zeros with intervening gaps as large, all confounding certain speculation, we are happy to toy with ideas as long as others remain unsolved.
However, we pay a terrible price for this achievement of waking up and reaching out. The Royal Science of Astrophysics reaches out on an ever-widening scale without losing its footing but to the lone mortal the threat of unbalance is too much. In the depths of space he loses himself and all notion of his significance. He is unable to fit himself into the new world of numbers short of Schizophrenia. Modern Man is facing the inconceivable and finding that he is Prometheus bound or Sisyphus on the wheel in a world of shimmering paradoxes, the invariable meeting the illusory quality of things in flux.
Anaxinander preached that the cause of things being born and perishing is their mutual injustice to each other in the order of Time; “as is meet”, he said, for they are bound to atone forever for their mutual injustice. A nice way of saying we are ignorant. All that this area has succeeded in doing is replacing things with numbers and therefore making us uncomfortable, but as Alan Watts says, there is wisdom in insecurity. The signs of agitation are here, now. Do we not see an almost pathological nostalgia for the past, a past which did not divorce us from the nurturing Earth, in its widest aspect? A time when we could practically apply and identify ourselves within the largest scope? We look into a mirror and see not the visions of splendour or beauty but a riddle, a maze of riddles. Hod’s acceptance of what is demonstrably tangible, although to a certain degree sterile and divorced (witness modern education), has a head-on clash with the virile forces of Netzach, the questioning Sphinx always ready to unsettle the staid with their own weapons. Fire with Fire.
People are taught trends and when the teachings are turned upon themselves we see chaos with few avenues of escape.
Perhaps the most evocative symbol for this Sephirah and Path is Vesta, or Greek Hestia – goddess of the hearth fire. Vesta is always represented as veiled, no doubt meaning the result of mind looking at itself.
It is around the fire that the family gathers and its place in the household was, until very recently, almost sacred. The fire could be said to represent the living symbol of family unity and all that entails. The essence of warmth between each member is seen reflected in the flames, warmth of love as well as friction, tenderness and logic, imagination and experience.
The modern ideas of marriage and family tends, I believe, too much towards the Negative Pillar, maybe because of the background ideas which rule us at present are Hod also. Trial marriage is, from the start, a TRIAL in this sense; to start anything with a sense of if, but or perhaps, is a foundation of negativity. To hide this follows the feelings of keeping up to scratch, hiding failings and looking for boredom and routine in the partner; is this not a trial, a delicate balance from which the original fire could so easily leave all concerned.
Marriages are made in heaven and that’s where they should stay. To submit heaven to commonsense and fashion negates a basic social and evolutionary unit, whose function is to create a working unit that grows upon the earth and returns to the earth more than it took.
We now turn to a much larger area of social structure affected by fire, the fire of hostility fanned by the flames of idealism.
Revelations are not new upon history’s face although they could be described as the child upon the Tarot because they are new to the society concerned. When a society has had enough injustice, falsehood or inertia of its alleged leading citizens then it shakes itself by the roots. Peasants, workers and women lend the heavy-weight of Malkuth to the minds of the artisans and intellectuals of Hod and destruction for the sake of better erupts. One has no need to stress the grief and misery caused by these volcanic disturbances to the racial structure. There is, of course, no guarantee that whatever replaces the old will be any better because an innocent leadership with the reigns of power and pride grasped in its hands may be an entirely different beastie.
People can be led quite easily with enthusiasm, the trouble is that this Path passes through the influence of the Moon and what distortion this causes images is well known.
By now I am feeling that this Path is quite narrow in its effects upon the ego and group, constricting, as idealism is constricting in that it does not allow for outside its realm or scope. This way the mind is focussed on immediate needs, true, the weight-lifter does the same but he has to face the reality of a world away from the gymnasium.
To compliment the sudden and often erratic outburst of change, we find the slower acting consolidation of Chesed. This Sephirah’s vice on any large complex social group could be termed ‘routine grind’ or ‘sent through channels’, another way of saying, ‘have patience’.
Hod has, or rather inherits, an amount of Chesed’s love toned down to kindliness and magnified again by Chesed, the background to this Path at the moment. In the Path of the Sun, another fiery Path, I mentioned missionary zeal brought about by the religious images of Yesod and justified by Hod. On the Path of Judgement, however, the kindliness of Hod is turned to The People and their needs. I refer, of course to the Welfare State or Communism or whatever machinery exists for this purpose. The idea at origination was remarkably lofty, inspired no less for the era. Now, of course, routine has dulled our wits and so abuse (Mercury – God of Thieves) is occurring, but a radical, peaceful, generous idea.
Good intentions are never enough without some training which is in itself a Path of Judgement or gradual awakening of awareness to other angles or filling in blanks. Discrimination here is seduced from earthy ignorance by Hod, others thoughts and feelings.
The future appears to take thought in precedence to action the past spoke of the opposite, learning by mistake. The Predecessors used hand or body, we use mind, word, number. One autonomous Judgement, the other self-willed, so the Tree unfolds.
Whether the trend towards dissociation from the true needs and realities continues or not remains to be seen. Humanity has this perverse inclination to push each Sephirah to extremes as though unsure which is the best stand to take. We are unsure, of course, just like children.
Judgement in Atziluth – mind is in everything, nothing escapes the Eye.
The Path of Judgement
By Alfred Lesser (1976)
When dealing with this Path it is well to consider equally at the same time its outgoing and its returning aspects, since there is an immediate turn-round from outward to inward or descent to ascent. There are probably instances where we find ourselves simultaneously walking the Path in both directions, or if not simultaneously, then at least in quick succession.
In Malkuth three Paths converge and with them the whole contents of the Tree with all its Sephiroth, so that there is no Sephirah which can be compared to Malkuth other than Kether, its master and origin, the Husband of the Bride, equal in essence and comprehensiveness, not in function or degree. Thus it is that in Malkuth we meet the confluence of the whole of existence, an illimitable gamut of possibilities, to which the 31st Path only contributes that part which is channelled into it through Hod.
Hod itself has of course its main outlet along the 30th Path of the lightning flash towards Yesod, and we must here first of all examine which aspects of Hod come down to Malkuth direct along the 31st Path. The text of the ‘32 Paths of Wisdom’ in the Sefer Yetzirah provides a guide in this respect and shows that it is those aspects which are so definite and precise that they do not require the correcting influence of Yesod. I will quote the text in full: "The 31st Path is the Perpetual Intelligence, but why is it so called? Because it regulates the Sun and the Moon in their proper order, each in an orbit convenient for it." The Sun and the noon are surely not the only forces which the Perpetual Intelligence forever regulates in their proper order.
They are here chosen because they are the forces with the greatest influence on earth and are thus indicative of the whole of the universe. But the clue to my question lies in the last phrase: each in an orbit convenient for it. Convenient here means logically and rationally correct and obviously unsurpassable. It is rationality and logic, evolutionary and civilising principle as well as physical law which are passed by Hod directly down to Malkuth via the 31st Path.
As the ascent of the Path toward Hod is one for man to accomplish it is tantamount to an evolutionary progress during an earth life or after death, and since the evolution of man itself is controlled along this Path, it becomes clear that throughout the many incarnations of each one his spiritual evolution is governed by the laws of the Path. And what applies to one man applies equally to groups, families, tribes and nations. The Perpetual Intelligence regulates their rise and fall as it does the orbits of the Sun and Moon.
The direct continuation of the 31st Path past Hod is the Hanged Man and the two are the shortest route leading us straight into Geburah, the bastion of karma. This makes the 31st a stark or severe Path, a rigorous aspect to the cool logic of Hod, where every word of law means what it says and demands appropriate action. In the first place we have to follow the law blindly, as it is handed down to us by innumerable old religious demands and rituals designed to prevent us from burning our fingers.
Later we ourselves have to find out the laws governing our own problems, and in the measure in which we succeed in this upward walk of the Path we are being judged fit or unfit to proceed along our evolutionary march. This judgment is pronounced hourly and has no finality except perhaps in Kether. It leads man on from Sephirah to Sephirah in his quest to understand and, still more, to practise what is expected of him, and to experience what lies ahead of him.
In connection with our earthly incarnation this Path has not so much to do with our body as with our character, in particular that part of our personality which we have brought with us, that is to say, the result of former incarnations, which is passed down to us along the 31st Path. Equally those aspects of our character, as it develops on earth, which, judged suitable from an evolutionary point of view, are allowed to filter back to be incorporated in the more permanent aspect of our being.
But let us first of all enter the more mundane consideration of what constitutes the 31st Path in Malkuth itself:
Taking as a criterion the direct application of a law to produce a physical effect, we can conclude that any natural phenomenon which falls into the fields of physics or chemistry is brought about through action along the 31st Path. That applies of course in the first place to such obvious phenomenon as gravitation which maintains the sun and the moon in their proper orbits, as it does equally to all physical and chemical experiments or the weather. We see here that in order to affect the weather or to prevent natural catastrophes such as drought, floods, hurricanes or earthquakes we have in our evolutionary drives to rise past Hod or even past Geburah in order to cause a less merciless law to inflect that of Geburah-Hod severity.
The first return in Malkuth along the 31st Path in the upward direction came with the first animal to become conscious of the need to take an action of any kind, be it a counteraction to danger or simply the search for food in self preservation, with this awakening to the consciousness of reason the first return was taking place along the 31st Path. This was of course secondary to the original gaining of any consciousness at all, which was the first return along the 32nd Path, but it nevertheless constituted the first purposeful return by which the nadir of involution was turned.
Yesod has a variety of functions which come to execution in Malkuth, and we have to ask ourselves, which is the one that derives directly from Hod. It would hardly be that of astral consciousness or clairvoyance; certainly not its biological functions; but when it comes to the process of perfection of that which is to manifest materially, that is where law and order, logic and purpose come in. So it is that aspect of Hod which descends the 31st Path. We must ask ourselves how it is that Yesod has this function at all of perfecting things for manifestation in Malkuth in view of the fact that the farther we descend the Tree the more imperfect everything tends to become. It is worth noting here that Yesod can in no way put back perfection into a creation which has lost some of it on the way. But what happens is that on the 31st Path in Yesod the Perpetual Intelligence adapts the descending forces according to the rules of Hod to become "convenient" for materialisation.
Here it is decided what is to materialise and how; for by no means everything is capable or worthy of materialisation. After all materialisation or our consciousness of it is not to be considered a drudge or punishment, though sometimes it turns out to be that through no fault of its own. But it is a privilege which confers upon the forces and beings thus materialised the opportunity of being eligible for the ascent from and out of matter which otherwise they would not have.
And once we have risen the first lap to Yesod we can choose the 31st Path on our return by aspiring to put some order and logic into the phantasies of the primitive Yesod consciousness and to evolve towards Hod, taking with us on our journey not only what has originally come down the Path, but all we are capable of advancing in this direction from the store of life and experience accumulated on earth This may well happen after death, and on this occasion the Path will again act as filter through which the Perpetual Intelligence passes only that which is suitable for preservation.
In Hod we find on the 31st Path the rule and order for the crystallisation and application of thought. This is the domains of the administrator, the organiser, and the business executive, who has to conceive the ideas and find ways of bringing them into operation. They will still be only ideas, but it is the process between their conception and their adaptation of application which characterises the 31st Path in Hod in its downward aspect. The upward Path belongs to the philosopher who observes critically all that goes on, in fact, in thought, and in essence, and tries to deduce from the effects, what are the underlying ideas; a mental process going straight from Malkuth to Hod. The theologian or religious organiser walks this Path in Hod in both directions: In his capacity of organiser he compares with the business man, and as theologian with the philosopher; the object of this dual activity being to evolve the masses to ascend the Path with him.
Turning to Netzach we find in Malkuth the concretion of the arts, the higher emotions and ideals and the various aspects of love, all states which are not amenable to a rational state of consciousness, although in order to become effective and potent they have to submit to a minimal amount of reason and logic. It is precisely the studied refusal to admit any rational thought into the art of to-day which makes it so difficult to accept by many who may not immediately vibrate in sympathy. Beside these aspects we find at the issue of Netzach the whole of nature, as we know it, in the making as well as the developing potential of our own personality. These are certainly in need of a generous shot of planning and organisation, which are influences coming down into Malkuth along the 31st Path.
Once man has gained the conscious mastery of Netzach and is preparing himself for the sacrifice which his progression to Tipharet implies, he will find his reasons for this along the 31st Path and will again be Judged in accordance with his merits.
Crowned King in Tipharet and striving for the respite and rest he can hope to enjoy at the very centre of the scheme of things, he is measured by his Devotion to the Great Work which he can muster by way of sacrificing entirely the kingdom which he has just gained driving from his former personality, and becoming again like a little child in his primitive stage of further evolution. This may perhaps not seem reasonable to use in our material consciousness, but is eminently logical in terms of Tiphareth consciousness; and it is the determining factor in our further evolution. So much for the upward leading 31st Path in Tiphareth. In its outgoing direction we have the rationale for the great rest which on the evening of the sixth day (which is Malkuth in Tipharet) and the morning of the 7th day (which is Kether in Netzach) became the holy Sabbath. Innumerable books have been written on the meaning and object of the Sabbath and what it has done for mankind over the millennia. Suffice it so say that without it civilisation would be the poorer and we today cannot imagine ourselves with a 365 work-a-day year.
In Geburah the Tarot Trump judgement really comes into its own, both on the downward and on the upward Path. This upper half of the card represents the downward Path, the lower half the upward one. The head of the angel represents Hod, the bottom of the trumpet with the cross on the banner represents Malkuth. Karma is not here working out its judgment. That was done earlier on the Path of justice and modified by all the other influences exerting themselves on its way to crystallisation. Here the super computer to which we can liken Hod is working out the exact way the judgment is to be applied, what is to go straight down into its final verdict in Malkuth and what is to pass through the filter of Yesod for implementation of the sentence. Here our fate is in the making, blown down and announced by the bugle call to every ear that can hear.
Here also is the call to rise again heard by those who are ready for this journey having evolved the consciousness of Tipharet and purified themselves on their may to Geburah. Now the angel becomes the gate keeper and decides who is ready to enter the judgment hall and who is not but has to go back and perfect himself further. Again it must be stressed, there is no finality in the judgment. Though it may be severe, it is a judgment of love, never recrimination.
After this formidable hurdle to our progress, once passed, we are ready to approach Chesed or Gedulah. I suggested once before that Chesed may perhaps best be applied to the downward aspect and Gedulah to the evolving upward once. Chesed is the outpouring of Creation’s bounty, the whole of that which is to diversify itself in Netzach and particularly in Hod. Here the Zebaot, the Hosts, are still unidentifiable as individual entities and grouped in large units. The gods are still in the head of Zeus or Jupiter but there they are and the point of condensation of all this potential is Malkuth and the plan for its organisation is Hod.
In this largesse streaming incessantly down the 31st Path the plan for man's return is also contained. But in order to return along this Path and be judged fit to become a Master in the Sephirah of Gedulah, Greatness, man must be able to match the love and benevolence which is foreshadowed by the outgoing bounty of mercy. If he does he will, as a Master, be willing and able to intensify the merciful organisational work in Hod to pour into Malkuth what the world needs to be saved from turmoil and suffering, and to be uplifted.
What now is man's fate on the 31st Path in Binah.
To answer this question let us examine the states which Malkuth and Hod represent in Binah. We have seen that the Malkuth of each Sephirah represents the concentrate, the extract as it were of all the Sephirah stands for and the point of transition to Kether of the next lower Sephirah. At this point we find the blueprint of the whole universe as it is to develop. Everything is here indicated in its perfection and it is to this point that we have to refer if we desire perfection in whatever it may be. This is also the point at which man's soul (Nephesh) makes contact with his spirit (Neshamah) and the latter absorbs along the 31st Path what Hod decides is worthy of absorption among the treasures which man has brought with him from his experiences during an earth life.
The trash is discarded, and that which requires further refinement has to go back on the next round. There is still no finality of judgment but repeated comings and goings along this 31st Path of Binah of souls coming from and going out into incarnation. Again Hod is the organiser and its nature is such that the ideal plan, the blueprint of each life as it ought to develop at its best, is clearly indicated to the receptive soul. The question remains - will it respond?
Only when the Neshamah has accumulated sufficient true wisdom can it proceed farther along the 31st Path of Chokmah. The process is the same as in the other Sephiroth. Chiah, the life force goes out from Malkuth under instructions from Hod - all force at this level and not thought-form. The wise Neshamah comes back to behold the Father face to face and prepare for the final sacrifice, the last judgment when the Divine spark, Yechidah, the uniqueness of each man, may at first, if judged worthy, join and become one with Adam Kadmon - the image of the Creator, the total manifestation of the Ain. This is the 31st Path in Kether.
Judgement with Malkuth and Hod
By Nina G. Starke (1977)
At the lower end of the 3lst Path is Malkuth, where all that emanates from Kether and spreads through the Tree joins and unites again to form the World of Assiah. In Kether the Yod He Vau He prevails, but in Malkuth it is the lowest aspect of the Tetragrammaton, the elemental Earth, Fire, Air and Water, and because man does not comprehend his destiny the elements are in control instead of man controlling the four, and thus we have a sphere of trouble, apparent inhumanity and wars.
Another name for Malkuth is The Kingdom - the realm of the magical image of the King in Kether, and man being the microcosm of Malkuth is a kingdom within himself, or the Divine Principle in manifestation, so why is man so imperfect?
Several reasons apply - man is clothed in matter, and matter used incorrectly is inert and lazy. The Black Ray of Malkuth is restricting, the Citrine and Olive Rays contain the quality of deceit causing self-deception, and the Russet Ray brings about egotism, causing separateness.
While man continues to live in the purely physical and material world he is dead to reality. Perhaps another aspect of the Tetragrammaton in the Four Holy Living Creatures can come to his aid. Man signifies intelligence and devotion - intelligence prompts him to question and desire "to know". The Eagle typifies aspirations and swiftness. The Lion the courage to look for a new life, and the Ox gives him the strength and patience to pursue the quests and so man takes his first step forward along the Path of Judgement, and is no longer "the man”, but "the initiate".
When I say "his first step forward" I am not forgetting the Path of the Moon and the Universe. The initiate probably steps onto all these paths at the same time, for one path cannot be divorced from the rest of the Tree because the Tree is a complete whole and this is part of the lesson of the 31st Path.
The Path of Judgement is the Perpetual Intelligence signifying eternity and the continuous rhythmical cycles of manifestation. On this path the initiate learns from whence he came and the composition of himself and the Universe, or in other words he learns the basic teachings of the Kabbalah, so when man begins his Kabbalistic studies, or studies in most esoteric groups, he has stepped on to the Path of Judgement.
The Tarot card showsthe male, the female and the child. The male and female represent the Chokmah/Binah Principle, or the final He in Malkuth, and through the union of male and female, positive and Negative, the child is produced - the child who stands with his arms outstretched in the form of a "V", being the Vau.
The Hebrew for Angel is Malakh, which means a messenger with a specific purpose (Gabriel), In this case Michael is the chosen messenger of Kether. With his trumpet call he wakens the initiate from a death-like existence to a new life. Applicable to Kether is the quotation "In the beginning was the Word', not the word of the physical world, but cosmic sounds which is vibration, and this equates with the sound from the trumpet.
On the 3lst Path the initiate realises the meaning of Universal Law coupled with Divine Justice and one might think that his way ahead is inevitable, but this is not so for with the knowledge of his future course, he also acquires the deflation produced by the enormity of the work ahead. Added to this is the eternity implicit in the Path, so of course there is no hurry, is there? Why not begin in his next incarnation?
However, attached to the Path is Pluto, the God of breaking up. Pluto causes the disintegration of our purely material way of life, and with it any desire to live in Malkuth in Malkuth. The fire element of the path energises and propels us forward, and the communicatory quality of Hermes and Yellow Ray of Hod activate us to the attainment of Hod.
Hod cannot exist as a consciousness without the duality of relationship with Netzach. Alone, on the negative Pillar of Form, Hod would be static and unproductive, but combined with Netzach all the creative activity of the Yellow Ray can be seen and used. Male and female unite, as the Hermaphrodite suggests, to bring about the Glory of Hod.
Hod is the first Sephirah of the lower mental consciousness, and consequently the use of mind is the purpose of Hod. It is the Sephirah which educates the intellect, so that "mind over matter" prevails. However, mind alone is not conducive to progress, and in this connection there are the scientists and many members of the medical profession, who refuse to contemplate new ideas, or ideas without physical proof. Hod isthe sphere where religions are built, and here again, we often see the form and rigidity of Hod, predominating and dogmatic creeds established.
In these cases only part use is being made of all that Hod offers. The true initiate draws from Hod in its entirety, and in particular its mundane chakra, Mercury, which embodies initiative, education in the widest sense, and adaptability. By using these qualities the closed doors of mind are opened, and the spiritual element of Netzach is allowed in. At this stage, the initiate understands the term "The Sphere of Magic".
On the Path of Judgement he learnt the composition of the Universe. In Hod he learns the nature of the Universe, and the use of the natural elements, so that in Netzach he will be the magician working for the benefit of humanity.
By Peter Oddey (2002)
“For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.
“ ‘ Is not My Word like Fire? ‘ declares the Lord”.
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire”.
“ . . . each man’s work . . . is to be revealed with fire;
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work”.
(1 Corinthians 3:13-15)
“. . . for our God is a consuming fire”.
So declare a spectrum of Old and New Testament quotations, from the threatening tone of the Old Testament to the scintillating proximity of the New. But is there any sense of co-incidence that the Thirty-First Path, to which is sequentially assigned the Hebrew letter Schin, which the Sepher Yetzirah denotes a Maternal letter representing Elemental Fire, should also be sequentially assigned the Tarot card of Judgement? Judgement and Fire are practically inseparable throughout both exoteric and esoteric literature.
However, this is not “The Last Judgement” of the Christian Parousia; that which has been asserted to be a once and for all space/time event where we will all be despatched, either heavenwards or otherwise, for evermore. The teaching of the Thirty-First Path and the Tarot of Judgement tell us that “the fire of judgement” is an ever-present and perpetual process.
We constantly assess and judge, our experiences as they occur throughout life, in the same way the process of nature and evolution assesses and judges which species survive and which become extinct, or which historical facts and events are deemed of significance to the historian in rewriting history.
The placing of the Thirty-First Path, as the final Path prior to arriving at the fullness of the Thirty-Second Path, The World, is that it acts as a kind of quality control for all the “coheres” in the Paths and Worlds above prior to manifestation. And on the upward ascent it is the Path that assists in fulfilling the virtue of Malkuth. It enables us to discriminate and discern. Indeed, for the initiated it acts as a guiding light in our experience and direction in incarnation.
The Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom provide further insight:
“The Thirty-First is the Perpetual Intelligence . . . it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon in their proper order . . “
In effect, the Perpetual Intelligence is constantly judging, discerning and discriminating that the Sun and Moon are adhering to their proper course and one assumes the Sun and Moon to be both the spiritual and physical. The correctness of their paths is but a reflection of that which is deemed right or wrong by our personal consciences; the level of precision is perfection itself.
It is entirely appropriate, therefore, that the Path should run between Malkuth, the Kingdom, and Hod, the Intellect, for what takes place along the Path is an amalgam of all facets of the personality, but all ultimately adjudicated by the intellect. The difference between us under conscience and the Sun and Moon under the Perpetual Intelligence is, of course, that we can exercise free will.
The idea that the Path of Judgement is not the one, only and final judgement is supported by the Eights and Tens of the Minor Arcana. Generally, the Eights show solitary success; i.e. success in the matter for the time being, but not leading to much result apart from the thing itself. The Lord of Swiftness in Wands, the Lord of Abandoned Success in Cups, the Lord of Shortened Force in Swords and the Lord of Prudence in Pentacles (perhaps over prudence: the straining of a gnat but gulping down a camel of the New Testament). Clearly the Eights leave much remaining to be completed, but the “completion” is grounded in the Tens, where generally the cards represent a fixed, culminated and completed force, whether for good or evil.
The Ten of Wands as the Lord of Oppression, the Ten of Cups as the Lord of Perfected Success, the Ten of Swords as the Lord of Ruin and the Ten of Pentacles as the Lord of Wealth. Pretty much a 50/50 split as an outcome.
In this sense, there is much to connect the Thirtieth and Thirty-First Paths. The fire of the Sun acts as a connecting link between incarnations on the Thirtieth Path as the perpetual fire of Judgement acts as the Gateway through which we discern and discriminate our experiences in incarnation and the future Path we decide to tread.
In this sense, the words of the Thirty-Two Paths text are misleading. They appear to refer solely to physical laws applied to the Solar System; whereas, in fact, their true meaning could not be more profound.
As one might expect, the colours for the Path and indeed the Thirtieth Path and the World of Hod comprise the Infra-Red end of the Spectrum; vermillion flecked crimson and emerald, golden yellow, red russet and orange. It is a veritable blaze of reds, scarlets, oranges, crimsons and ambers throughout the Four Worlds.
Finally, the Hebrew letter Schin, which means literally a tooth. Why a tooth? Teeth are the most enduring part of the body. Time Team are always finding teeth after everything else has long-since decomposed. As the mind must chew over the experiences in incarnation prior to digestion, so mental teeth are required and the longevity of the teeth in the physical is but a reflection of how long our experiences in incarnation will outlast all other aspects of life; perhaps even longer than the Sun himself.
When mature, we ultimately produce thirty-two teeth. Is it a co-incidence that, in principle at least, we have one tooth for every Path we are called upon to tread? Although for those of us, like me, who have had our wisdom teeth removed, there is likely to be a little further to travel!
The Path of Judgement
By Pamela Defries (1976)
The 31st path and 20th Arcanum commences on the negative pillar joining Hod with Malkuth. Influenced by the element of Fire, it is depicted by an archangel awakening the dead. The naked child is the balance between positive and negative aspects and also represents rebirth or the beginning of a new cycle.
The Symbol of the Tree of Life is neither static nor dead, but a growing and flexible Life-Pattern, relating to all possible aspects of life from cellular organic life to the whole of Being, and is a pattern which constantly and consciously aims at its own perfection.
in Assiah the initiate is met by a recurrence of situations emphasising those weaknesses which have to be overcome and conquered before any real progress is made. The process of learning takes many decades according to the learning propensities of the initiate, and the path in Assiah can only be conquered by the control and balance of undisciplined force. In the every-day world of this Earth, the appointed Divine Agent is Man whose task is to gain mastery over the so-called Elemental Spirits and evolve beyond the necessity of inhabiting bodies made from cellular material. Useful though our bodies are, they fall short of perfection, and we must ultimately learn the secret of living in vehicles constructed from far finer materials more adaptable for the expression of the Real Self. To gain true immortality, mankind must live by other means than flesh and blood.
The knowledge and understanding of the world of spirit will bring about a change of outlook and is one of the first steps in overcoming the negative aspects of the path; a new life cycle commences and the seeker can commence to move onto the path of judgement in Yetzirah.
Yetzirah - The seeker must now learn to conquer the excesses in his nature by building a strong foundation at Yesod. Strong emotional characteristics at this level have enmeshed the spirit with material desires. So starts the battle of the spirit against the lower promptings of the emotional body, leading the initiate through the refiners fire of Karma. After the initiate has passed through successive stages of incarnation and is strong enough to overcome the desires of the flesh, he will pass on to the sphere of Hod. Here he must adjust and balance his powers of true judgement, and learn to break away from rigid patterns of thought. The steadying influence of Netzach will bring love and wisdom to bear and victory will be gained with perfect balance and control. At Tiphareth the quality of universal love is the aim. Knowledge of the spirit only comes through personal endeavour, and after constant striving through the stony wilderness.
There is all eternity to learn the Divine truths, and the longer a seeker takes to learn, the harder the lesson seems to be.
The assimilation of knowledge moves on like the shadow across the face of a sundial. At first is seems that there is no progress, but the shadow is moving all the time. The seeker is now on the path of judgement in Geburah, and great courage is needed to withstand the soul-searching experiences of Judgement in this sphere. It is now that the initiate must call upon such qualities of self-reliance and self-control in order to meet the judgement and by accepting whatever is meted out, is able to make further spiritual progress towards Chesed where the qualities of spiritual devotion can be developed. Here the initiate must once more make the choice to move on and walk alone, or through love and dedication help those seekers struggling to reach this sphere.
In Briah the initiate now begins the process of harmonisation of the conflicting forces that arise from the most primitive levels, leading to the control of the individuality. At this stage the initiate should be able to judge as well as be judged and with knowledge and understanding, use the restrictive qualities of Binah in order to draw out latent powers. Spiritual evolution through the discipline of experience and the development of powers of creation at last indicate that the initiate is now judged ready to go forward to Chokmah. Here the initiate realises correct judgement is required to balance both wisdom and mystical qualities. Here, too, the goal of evolution is the development of a consciousness which can unite with the Logoidal consciousness and having done so, pass from one phase of a reflected or projected existence, to that of a real or actual existence in the Cosmic state.
This can only be achieved when the entire manifested universe is perfectly synthesised. Failure to work within Universal Law could, at this stage, result in a complete reversal, sending the initiate to the beginning again, to restart the cycle. Having learnt to use Judgement with wisdom, the initiate now knows that wisdom is power applied properly and is hopefully ready to move on to the Sphere of Kether.
In Atziluth the initiate has at long last reached the brilliance of Kether and has found the Kingdom of God within and having found it, all lesser desires fly away in the complete Cosmic harmony that this brings. The knowledge of God which passeth all understanding is the Crest Jewel of a spiritual victory.
To be continued...