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Tree of Life

Ten Sephirot of Kabbalah


Tree of Life
Catherine Beyer

The Tree of Life, called the Etz Chaim in Hebrew, is a common visual depiction of the ten sephirot of Kabbalah. Each sephirot represents an attribute of God through which he manifests his will.

The Tree of Life does not represent a single, cleanly definable system. It can be applied to the formation and existence of both the physical world and metaphysical worlds, as well as to one's own soul, state of being, or understanding. In addition, different schools of thought such as Kabbalistic Judaism and modern Western occultism, also offer different interpretations.

Ein Soph

The divine essence from which all creation springs, known as the Ein Soph, remains outside of the Tree of Life, utterly beyond definition or comprehension. God's unfolding will then descends through the tree from left to right.
Read more: Robert Fludd's Spiral Cosmology - Intermediary Steps Between Matter and Spirit, for another occult model of the unfolding of God's will into physical creation.

Vertical Groupings

Each vertical column, or pillar, has its own associations. The left-hand column is the Pillar of Severity. It is also related to femininity and receptivity. The right-hand column is the Pillar of Mercy and is related to masculinity and activity. The central column is the Pillar of Mildness, a balance between the extremes on either side of it.

Horizontal Groupings

The top three sephirot (Keter, Chokmah, Binah) are linked to the intellect, ideas without form. Da'at might be included here, but as the invisible sephirot and reflection of Keter, it generally is not counted at all. Keter may also form its own subgroup, being the unconscious intellect and will rather than the conscious.

The next three sephirot (Hesed, Gevurah, Tiferet) are the primary emotions. They are the spark of action and are goals until themselves.

The final three (Netzah, Hod, Yesod) are the secondary emotions. They have a more tangible manifestation and are means to other ends rather than being the ends themselves.

Malkuth stands alone, the physical manifestation of the other nine sephirot.

Read more: Meanings of Each of the Sephirot

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