Monday, May 11, 2015

The Tree of Life - The Saadia Tree and the Seven Planetary Paths

In the Saadia Tree the seven planets are associated with the seven vertical paths.  These paths lead between the Depths (or Sefirot) on the Tree of Life.  By looking at the supporting diagram we can see that these planetary attributions make sense.

For instance Jupiter is placed on the path between the Depth of Good and the Depth of South, and Mars is placed on the path between the Depth of Evil and the Depth of North.  We can understand South to also mean warmth/expansion and North to mean cold/contraction (this is a European/Mesopotamian system after all) therefore Jupiter is seen to be in an extremely fortuitous position and Mars an extremely malign position.

But fortuitous and malign may seem like strong descriptions - in Mars we see the contraction of muscles and the disadvantage (Evil) of the individual that must be addressed by work - whether it is hunger that is addressed by fishing or hunting or lack of money or resources addressed by mining, carpentry or another skill - this can equally be applied to DIY or soldiering.  It is at work that the individual is most likely to suffer the kind of harm associated with Mars, a mortal injury in war, an industrial accident at the chemical plant, a bruised thumb putting up a shelf.  Similarly - although Jupiter is beneficent, jovial and implies successful expansion, it is possible to inflate too much - whether it be through overindulgence of alcohol, sex, sleep, sugar or play.  This shows how any individual must* maintain a balance between work (''evil/contraction'') and play (''good/expansion'').

The paths of the middle pillar are also worth looking at more closely: the Moon running between the Depth of the Past (your birth) and the Depth of the West (the sunset and passing of the day therefore the Moon); the Sun running between the Depths of East and West highlighting its role in the day; Saturn running between the Depth of the East (sunrise) and the Depth of the Future (your death); all of these planets unite in the central axis of both local time (east and west) and ''grand'' time (birth and death).

We know that the Moon is associated with menstruation and motherhood and it makes sense that we associate this with birth, but in its association with memory and the subconscious we also connect it with the West (the setting of the sun, the rise of the night and the fall into the dreamworld) and Past (our memories of this life and others - by reincarnation or genetic/epigenetic memory).

That the path of the Sun should connect the Depth of East with the Depth of West seems fairly straightforward.  We know the Sun is associated with the light of consciousness and this contrasts with the path of the moon after the depth of the West and the subconscious.  Note also how in this ''Saadia'' arrangement the path of the Sun crosses the path of Fire.

That Saturn is the highest path and the Depth of the Future is clear in that it is the outermost planet, traditionally associated with time (Chronos) and Death.  Time emerges from the Depth of the Future and runs down the central path until it reaches its end in Depth of Past.   If we look at the alternate traditional names for Kether - our Depth of the Future - we find such titles as absence, annhiliation and darkness titles that surely resonate with where Saturn would lead. Saturn is the great malefic in astrology, but also the wise but strict teacher and the ''godfather'' - as mediating the path between the East and the Future it also represents our Death.  I disagree with the linking of this to the Depth of Evil**, it is more to do with the Depth of the Unknown (which some people fear and therefore mistake for evil, conversely some people however love the thought of Death).

Our lower paths of Mercury and Venus are also paths of contraction and expansion.  Mercury connecting the Depth of the North (cold/contraction) with the Depth of Down (in/fall) is our contractive path and Venus linking the Depth of the South (warmth/expansion) with the Depth of Up (out/rise) is our expansive.  Since our planet is a globe any ''up'' is taken from the centre of the Earth and ''down'' vice versa*** - we can then see the ''pillar of severity'' or left-hand path as one that is fundamentally about the journey within and the right-hand path the journey without - Mercury as Lord of Science, is about analysis, details and breaking things down, Venus as Lady of Love, is about bliss and the ecstatic rise of the spirit (i.e. seeing the parts vs seeing the whole).

In following the Saadia arrangement, inspired by the Saadia Version of the Sefer Yetzirah and facilitated by Aryeh Kaplan's SY in Theory and Practice we have created a fairly self-explanatory system that is not dependent on the unnecessary conflations and logical contradictions inherent in the Kircher Tree.

*''Must'' is a strong word too - character seems to be derived from suffering - so ''too much'' work results in officiousness, workaholism, etc and too much play results in indolence, loafing, etc.  Its up to you if you want to be lazy or busy.
**In the Kircher Tree Saturn is conflated with Binah whilst also having a path on the Tree of Life running between Malkuth and Yesod.
***The paths of the Pillar of Mercy increases the radius of the imaginary sphere around the centre of the Earth, the paths of the Pillar of Severity decreases it.

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