The Tree of Life And The Qabalah (which means “To Receive”)
The Tree of Life is the image and symbol of the mystical system called the Qabalah. This symbol is on the altar, and is suspended as a wall hanging, as you enter the gallery space. It is a very ancient symbol and tradition that maps out who we are, how creation of the cosmos came about, what consciousness is and the levels of consciousness that we partake in as humans. It reveals how the process of creation takes place in our daily life, in other words, how we create our realities. This symbol, essentially, maps out our relationship and connection with spirit and soul, with the unconscious, our personalities, our bodies and speaks to us of the journey of life in general. The symbol itself, was said to be imprinted in the pyramids of Egypt.
The Tree of Life consists of 10 Sephiroth, known as shining jewels or faces of the divine, (11 Sephiroth, if you include the invisible sephira, Da’at). They represent 10 aspects of consciousness in the process of creation and 10 aspects of consciousness within the human experience, along with the different dimensions of Self. Our painting class was set up to experience these states through self reflection, meditation, visualization and movement, before moving into painting. Some painters painted the interior experience of what that state evoked and other painters painted their conception of the state. Below is a description of the 11 Sephiroth, so that while you view the art you can have a better understanding of each of these states and what the painters were reflecting on while painting. The Qabalah comes from the Hebrew esoteric tradition of the Kabbalah and each of the names are in Hebrew with their English translation.
The Sephiroth or Shining Jewels of the Tree of Life
Keter- “The Crown”- Keter is known as the Crown of Creation, where light emerges from the nothingness of vast infinity to focalize into creation. It is known as the first swirlings, setting into motion the patterns and archetypes that form manifestation, that form our human consciousness. Keter is pure potential of being, crowning into birth. All creation has its seed in the light, intelligence and consciousness of Keter. Keter is our deepest source.
Chokmah – “Wisdom” – Chokmah is the all pervading intelligence of the cosmos, a reflection of Keter. It is a dynamic creative force that pervades all experience, the dynamism of creativity and consciousness. Chokmah is also known as cosmic yang force or the great Father energy.
Binah – “Understanding” – Binah is the Great Mother, known as the container of the dynamic force of cosmic creation. It is the deep maternal understanding of the nature of things, and existence. It is the compassionate and organizing principle which holds, forms and defines all the archetypes of existence. Binah is the power that births life into form and that which calls us back into oneness with source. Binah is the deep silence that holds the Presence of life and creative dynamism. A great creative interplay takes place between Chokmah and Binah.
Da’at- “Knowledge” – Da’at is a bridge between the transpersonal and the personal worlds. It is a place of transformation and it is the great transformer of our life experiences. To reach Da’at we must cross the abyss, a confrontation with the unresolved issues of our life.
Chesed – “Mercy” - Chesed is the Grace of the Universe. Chesed is the divine, creative, spiritual energies that we experience as compassionate love and kindness, opportunity and synchronicity. This is the place where we attune to inner guidance and expansion of consciousness to build a new reality for ourselves.
Gevurah –“Severity or Strength” – Gevurah is the power of the Cosmos and psyche to cut through the old, the nonessential. It is the power of karma and the forces that destroy so the new can take root. Gevurah is the force of truth that cuts away all that is nonessential. It is the strength and discipline of the warrior. It is focused directness. It is justice. Chesed and Gevurah form the yin and yang of seasonal cycles of growth and decay.
Tiferet – “Beauty” – Tiferet is the place and heart of our higher Self. It is awareness. It is Presence, perception of Oneness, wisdom, understanding, love, and strength, all existing in balance, a center of Being. It is the place of the soul, a divine presence, which we can all experience. It is individualized reflection of our source, Keter. It is the place of seeing the interrelationship of all things and this state is known as “Beauty”.
Netzach – “Victory” – Netzach is the realm of feeling, imagination and nature. Here we have descended into denser energy planes of manifestation of the personality. The dynamic forces here can entrap us in illusion, drama, and habituated emotional patterns that play over and over or they can lead us to a Victorious life. This happens when the context of our feeling and imaginative states are aligned with the transformative powers of the highest spiritual truths we find at the top of the Tree, Wisdom and Understanding, or when we perceive the essence within nature. This is also the realm of the artist, the state when creative forces move through the artist or any one who uses the imaginative powers of the universe. As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.
Hod – “Splendor” – Hod is individualized power of one’s mind and thinking. This is considered a great gift that each of us possesses to perceive the splendor of creation. This Sephira, as the power of thought, gives us the choice of how we want to shape our realities through how we use our minds and direct our thoughts.
Yesod - “Foundation” – The foundation of the universe and ourselves is the collection of all that has been created. Yesod is also the sexual and desire energies that support creation. The foundation is a deep reflecting pool of eternal being, a great container that at the deepest level holds the divine, its love and wisdom. It is the place where dreams are created and from which they arise, the subconscious.
Malkuth – “Kingdom” – Malkuth is the manifest world, our bodies and all we see in form. Malkuth is known as the shining bride of Keter. It is the Goddess energy of the Earth, the feminine, known as the great portal to birth and death. It is the Garden in which we create.