The Kabbalistic Tree of Life
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I share here a chapter from the book Kabbalah and Anthroposophy that exemplifies how the agreement between Hermetic Kabbalah and Anthroposophy can be expressed.
Those who have stumbled upon the cross-references between Felkin's Stella Matutina and Steiner's Misraim Service will surely have wondered how to reconcile Hermetic Kabbalah and Anthroposophy. The task seems arduous because of the different terminologies and processes involved in the two systems, but since both of these traditions spring from the original source of the Ancient Mysteries, they certainly have a relationship although it is difficult to discern it since it resides on a higher spiritual level, lost both in history and in the various currents of the West. We will see how the Rosicrucian pursuits are the key to understand how to relate the Hermetic Kabbalah with Anthroposophy.
Following Steiner's indications we can draw a parallelism between Kabbalah Worlds, Sephiroth and the Seven Metamorphoses of the Earth. The most concise and illuminating reference dates from January 12, 1908, an answer given after a lecture in Leipzig:
The ten Sephiroth refer to periods of time, stages of evolution, which the human being went through. The physical body went through four stages of evolution: Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth. The ether body three stages: Sun, Moon and Earth, the astral body two: Moon and Earth. The I is in its first stage. Together this makes ten.
Following Steiner’s indications we can establish a parallelism between the Worlds of Kabbalah, the Sephiroth and the Seven Metamorphoses of the Earth on which spiritual science is based. To better comprehend how this can happen, it is necessary to describe the correspondence between Metamorphosis of the Earth and the orbits of the planets in the present 172nd Physical Condition of Form (Globe). Although there is not a direct relation between the names of the present day planets and the names of the Seven Days of Creation, it indeed exists at the level of the planetary orbits themselves. In fact in anthroposophy, every Planetary Metamorphosis happens in the boundaries of a certain planetary orbit of the solar system:
Ancient Saturn in the orbit of Saturn;
Ancient Sun in the orbit of Jupiter;
Ancient Moon in the orbit of Mars;
Present Earth in the orbit of the Earth;
Future Jupiter in the orbit of Venus;
Future Venus in the orbit of Mercury;
Future Vulcan in the orbit of the Sun.
At first we can notice that, cabalistically, if Saturn is placed in Daath, then the Sun is placed in Tiphareth, the Moon is placed in Yesod and the Earth is placed in Malkuth. These are in a straight line descending on the Middle Pillar from Kether through four worlds which are also four stages of condensation from warmth to solid, thus giving the same overall sequence of the Metamorphosis of the Earth. Now we can go on to describe the process of evolution descending from spirit into matter both from the kabbalistic and the anthroposophical point of view. Starting with the comparison between the Four Worlds of Kabbalah and the Metamorphoses of the Earth:
Ain, the Nothing; Ain Soph, the Limitless; Ain Soph Aur, the Limitless Light: the three Veils of Negative Life correspond to the Great Cosmic Night (in theosophical terms called Mahapralaya) between two planetary chains of the Great Cosmic Day (Mahamanvatara), in which Creation manifests itself in different stages of increasing complexity, going forth from the One (Kether) to the many (Malkuth). In the Cosmic Night only a spiritual seed remains of what existed before, this will give birth to the new worlds, heavens and beings, each one continuing its earlier evolution. This corresponds, cabalistically, to the multiple creations which existed before our present one. Man, whose body is here a purely potential seed, at one with the Cosmos, he is the Adam Kadmon before separation. Cabalistically Adam Kadmon is in fact the fifth world, before and beyond the four following worlds. It awaits in the womb of the Ain Soph having all the subsequent worlds in itself, then unfolding out of it.
Atziluth, the World of Archetypes, Yod: element of Primal Fire, condensation to Warmth-Fire, Sephiroth: Kether, Chokmah and Binah. It corresponds to the Metamorphosis of Ancient Saturn, which took its name from Saturn attributed to Binah, or alternatively placed in Daath on the Middle Pillar. Ancient Saturn takes place in the Buddhic World (or World of Foresight) which happens in the element of warmth (the Primal Fire). This metamorphosis is internally delimited by the present orbit of the planet Saturn (Binah) and externally from the Zodiac Belt (Chokmah). The Thrones (hierarchy of Binah) give their Spirit-Man substance to form the seed of the physical body of man. Man and the Earth are still one, and man is at the mineral stage having only the perception of temperature, composed by spheres of warmth (Neshamah) which will eventually form the body of man and the planet Earth. The state of consciousness is the one of trance which corresponds to the Adam Kadmon before the descent into the Veil of the Ancient of Days: here he is one with God.
Briah, The World of Creation, first Heh: element of Primal Water, condensation to Light-Air, Sephiroth: Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth. It corresponds to the metamorphosis of Ancient Sun, which takes its name from the Sun in Tiphareth on the Middle Pillar. The world in which Ancient Sun mainly takes place is the Mental World (Devachan) which takes place in the state of warmth and light. If we follow the alchemical principle of condensation, as in anthroposophy, Air follows Fire, but we can also say that air and water are both fluids, thus both can be taken to represent primal rarefied fluid in which warmth condensed. This the element of Primal Air can also be substituted for Primal Water. This metamorphosis is internally delimited by the orbit of the present planet Jupiter (Chesed), and externally by Saturn (Binah, of the previous metamorphosis). The Dominions (hierarchy of Chesed) gave their Vital Spirit substance to form the seed of the vital body of man. Man is composed by warmth (Neshamah) and air (Ruach), in the form of calyxes, the plant-man, with a polarity between body-Earth and life-Sun, being able to perceive light and dark. The state of consciousness is one of dreamless sleep, which cabalistically corresponds to the Adam Kadmon before the descent beyond the Veil of Paroketh.
Yetzirah, the World of Formation, Vau: element of Primal Air, condensation to Sound-Water, Sephiroth: Netzach, Hod, Yesod. It corresponds to the metamorphosis of Ancient Moon, which takes its name from the Moon in Yesod on the Middle Pillar. The world in which Ancient Moon mainly takes place is the Astral World which takes place in the state of warmth, light and liquid. As before, in a cabalistic context we can substitute the element of Primal Water with Primal Air, in this case a synthesis and compensation of Primal Fire and Water. This metamorphosis is internally delimited by the orbit of the present planet Mars (Geburah) and externally by Jupiter (Chesed). The Virtues (hierarchy of Mars) gave part of their Spiritual Self substance to form the seed of the astral body of man. Man is composed by warmth (Neshamah), air (Ruach) and water (Nephesh), in the form of a fish, the man-animal, being able to perceive sounds. The state of consciousness is one of dream, which cabalistically corresponds to the Adam Kadmon after the descent beyond the Veil of Paroketh.
Assiah, World of Action, final Heh: Primal Earth, condensation to Life-Earth, Sephiroth: Malkuth. It corresponds to the metamorphosis of the present Earth, which takes the name from the Earth in Malkuth on the Middle Pillar. The world in which it mainly takes place is the Physical-Etheric World which is in the state of warmth, air, liquid and solid (element of Primal Earth), having in itself all the four materialised elements. The metamorphosis is delimited internally by the present Earth (Malkuth) and externally by the Moon (Yesod). It hides within itself the so called Eight Sphere, in which all the spiritual impulses go to die. The Eight Sphere thus corresponds to the Tree of Death of the Qliphoth placed beyond the Earth quadrant of Malkuth in Assiah. The Elohim (hierarchy of the Sun) gave their I substance to form the I principle to man, the implications of this are fully explored in Anthroposophy and the Mysteries of the I Am of Man and Christ. Man is composed by warmth (Neshamah), air (Ruach), water (Nephesh) and solid (Guph), with the five physical senses. The state of consciousness is wake, which cabalistically corresponds to Adam and Eve after the Expulsion from Paradise.
We can notice many levels of parallelism: the names of the planetary metamorphoses correspond to the Sephiroth on the Middle Pillar. Also there is an almost perfect correspondence between the planets involved in the evolutionary process and the emanation sequence of the Sephiroth. The main difference lies in the inversion of the Air and Water states, here Kabbalah shows pair of opposites, first the primary elements, Fire and Water, which are parents to the secondary elements, Air and Earth. While Anthroposophy draws its elemental sequence from western alchemy, from the subtler element, Fire and then Air, to the densest, Water and then Earth. But overall these discrepancies do not compromise the general validity of the parallelism, especially considering that Air and Water are exchanged even in two of the fixed signs of Astrology: Aquarius or Water-Bearer is assigned to Air and Scorpio or Eagle is assigned to Water. This is also a key mystery in the Tarot de Marseille.
This parallelism extends even in the final goal of evolution which from matter ascends again to spirit in a conscious manner, in other words as the process of Tikkunof Kabbalah, the Restoration or Reintegration. It starts in Assiah and ascends towards Atziluth:
Assiah: ascendent half of evolution from matter to spirit, when man passes from material thought in the Physical World to living thinking in the Etheric World. In the Tree of Life in Assiah, with which correspond to piercing beyond the Veil of the Profane or Maya in Malkuth;
Yetzirah: corresponds to the condition of Future Jupiter in the Astral World in the orbit of Venus (Netzach), which is the next metamorphosis of the Earth, its next overall incarnation. Then man will lose the physical body and will ascend to the rank of Man-Angel, acquiring the Spiritual Self, corresponding to the cabalistic Neshamah. The state of consciousness will be Imagination, which is Moon clairvoyance (Yesod) in full I consciousness, it corresponds to the meeting to meeting one's own Holy Guardian Angel of Kabbalah, as in anthroposophy Imagination, or picture consciousness, is the stage of consciousness of the Angels.
Briah: corresponds to the condition of Future Venus in the World of Thought (Inferior Mental) in the orbit of Mercury (Hod), which is the sixth metamorphosis of the Earth. Then man will lose the etheric body and will ascend to the rank of Man-Archangel, acquiring the Vital Spirit, corresponding to the cabalistic Chiah. The state of consciousness will be Inspiration, which is Sun clairaudience (Tiphareth) in full I consciousness. Cabalistically this would correspond to the consciousness beyond the Veil of Paroketh.
Atziluth: corresponds to the condition of Future Vulcan in World of Reason (Higher Mental) in the orbit of the Sun (Tiphareth), which is the seventh and final metamorphosis of the Earth. Then Man will lose the astral body and will ascend to the rank of Man-Archai, acquiring the Spirit-Man, corresponding to the cabalistic Yechidah. The state of consciousness will be Intuition which is the Saturn consciousness (Binah) in full I-consciousness, which will transcend himself in a god. Cabalistically this would correspond the Gnosis of Daath will reach for the Veil of the Ancient of Days beyond the Abyss.
Then, spiritual evolution will proceed again in the unmanifest beyond the Creation, in the Veils of Negative Existence(Ain Soph Aur, Ain, Soph and Ain) or anthroposophically speaking with the Great Cosmic Night (Mahapralaya). The world, the heavens and the beings will return to the spiritual seed waiting for the beginning of the next planetary chain.
The plasticity of the kabbalistic meta-system of the Tree of Life, allows to see the same process from another point of view, which nonetheless is compatible with the previous. It is thus possibile to draw another parallelism, between the whole Tree of Life and the series of Metamorphosis of the Earth.
First of all we have the Three Veils of Negative Life which can be equated to the Trinity in Eternity, the so called Three Logoi of Theosophy and Anthroposophy, which dwell beyond the planetary evolutionary chain and oversee it:
Ain: the First Logos, the Father, the point of Absolute Consciousness;
Ain Soph: the Second Logos, the Son, the extension of the Absolute Life;
Ain Soph Aur: the Third Logos, the Holy Spirit, which is the relation between the Father and the Son in Absolute Form, the reflection of the Life of the Son in the central point of consciousness of the Father.
After this we have the Tree of Life proper, which is thus divided in two halves:
The the Supernal Triad, which represents the Trinity in the act of creation and thus active in evolution. Kether is the Father in action in the evolution of Ancient Saturn, Chokmah the Son in action in the evolution of Ancient Sun; Binah is the Holy Spirit in the evolution of Ancient Moon;
The Sephiroth from Daath to Yesod(comprised Malkuth) which represent the subsequent Seven Days of Creation, as well as the 7 planes or worlds of existence in which evolution itself takes place.
From the numerological point of view, this division is similar to the one of the Seven Heavenly Palaces, in which the ten Sephiroth are reduced to seven. The Supernal Triad is thus comprised in one Palace (the Holy of Holies); each of the Sephiroth from Chesed to Hod occupies one Palace; while Yesod and Malkuth are contained in one Palace (the Palace of Crystal Whiteness).
Not only the Sephiroth, but also the Worlds or Higher Planes in anthroposophy have the same configuration of the 4 Worlds of kabbalah, each with its own Tree of Life, which summed up to the 3 Veils of Negative Life, can be organised in a “wheel” (the Rota), composed from 7 + 1 Worlds. The last kabbalistic world is the Tree of Death, which in anthroposophy is called the Eighth Sphere:
World of God (Mahaparanirvana) – Ain, the Nothing;
World of Virgin Spirits (Paranirvana) – Ain Soph, the Limitless;
World of Divine Spirit (Nirvana) – Ain Soph Aur, the Limitless Light;
Buddhic World (World of Providence) – Atziluth, Archetypal World;
Mental World (Devachan, Higher and Lower) – Briah, Creative World;
Astral World– Yetzirah, Formative World;
Physical-Etheric World– Assiah, World of Action;
Eighth Sphere– Qliphoth, Tree of Death.
The superior worlds of the Cabala and the Science of the Spirit
In anthroposophy, each of the four Worlds (Physical-Etheric, Astral, Devachan and Buddhic) has 7 evolutionary principles in itself which unfold during a the Cosmic Day (Manvatara): these are the Condition of Form (Globes). In addition there are 3 occult principles, which give start to the sevenfold evolution but which do not become involved, they become active once the Cosmic Night (Pralaya) comes. The same parallelism is present between the Supernal Triad of the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life and the other seven Sephiroth of the Creation.
In this way, from the three Veils of Negative Life, we descend to the Supernal Triad, composed by Kether, Chokmah and Binah. Even these represents the Trinity but instead of being in their eternal presence, they represent it in its dynamic unfolding, active in the Creation and thus in planetary evolution in the series of 7 Metamorphosis of the Earth:
Kether: the Father, correspondent to the Ancient of Days, which reside in Atziluth;
Chokmah: the Son, correspondent to the Spiritual Sun at the center of the Sphere of the Zodiac, the Thirteenth at the center of the Circle of the Twelve;
Binah: the Holy Spirit, and so the Great Mother, in the guise of the Divine Sophia, from the womb of whom Creation is given birth beyond the Abyss.
As the three Veils of Negative Life made themselves manifest in Kether, so the Supernal Triad emanates the Creation from itself, through the combination of the three Persons of the Trinity or the three Supernal Sephiroth. Each Metamorphosis of the Earth corresponds to one Sephirah and the orbit of the planet attributed to the Sephirah itself in Assiah and so to one Day of Creation, these are the Conditions of Form (Globes) of theosophy and anthroposophy:
First Day of Creation: Ancient Saturn in the orbit of the present Saturn, which in the Seven Days of Creation occupies the position of Daath as a synthesis of the Supernal Triad. Creation of the physical body, Without Form (Arupa) Condition;
Second Day of Creation: Ancient Sun in the orbit of Jupiter, cabalistically in Chesed. Creation of the etheric body, Condition of Form (Rupa);
Third Day of Creation: Ancient Moon in the orbit of Mars, cabalistically in Geburah. Creation of the astral body, Astral Condition;
Fourth Day of Creation: Present Earth in the orbit of the Earth, cabalistically in Tiphareth, since the Earth is anthroposophically the future Sun. Creation of the I, Physical Condition;
Fifth Day of Creation: Future Jupiter in the orbit of Venus, cabalistically in Netzach. Birth of the Spiritual Self, Higher Astral Condition;
Sixth Day of Creation: Future Venus in the orbit of Mercury, cabalistically in Hod. Birth of the Vital Spirit, Higher Form (Rupa) Condition;
Seventh Day of Creation: Future Vulcan in the orbit of the Sun, cabalistically in Yesod + Malkuth, since the Earth will have become the new Sun and it will have absorbed the Moon back in. Birth of the Spirit-Man, Higher Without Form (Arupa) Condition.
It has to be noted that the Seven Days of Creation are also the Seven Rays which come forth the Seven Sacred Planets, and thus the seven sides of the Vault of the Adepti, the Tomb of Christian Rosenkreutz. There exist also a correspondence between the Persons of the Trinity active in the particular Metamorphoses of the Earth in which they were active and the Sephiroth associated to the Days of Creation which are mirror to one another, on an ascending arc (1=7; 2=6; 3=5): thus these share a relationship of opposition, overcoming and ascension, through Tiphareth.
Father (Kether): active in both the Without Form (Arupa) Conditions, in the Ancient Saturn, which is the First Day in Daath, and in Future Vulcan, which is the Seventh Day in Yesod-Malkuth;
Son (Chokmah): active in both the Conditions of Form (Rupa), in the Ancient Sun, which is the Second Day of Creation in Chesed, and in Future Venus, which is the Sixth Day in Hod;
Holy Spirit (Binah): active in both the Astral Conditions of Form, in the Ancient Moon, which is the Third Day in Geburah, and in Future Jupiter, which is the Fifth Day in Netzach.
In the Metamorphosis of the Present Earth, which correspond to either Tiphareth or Malkuth (depending on the system of association), are in a certain way active all the three Persons, because the Christ, the Son incarnate in the initiate Jesus of Nazareth, mediates the past action of the Father and the future one of Holy Spirit. Tiphareth is at the center of the whole Tree of Life, representing the cross of the activity of the three Persons of the Trinity in planetary evolution. It is no chance that it also correspond to the I Am. The Christ, which is the Son, proceeds from the Father and announces the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete or Helper, which anthroposophically is the redeemed Lucifer. Also, Lucifer (Path 25 Ayin, XV The Devil) and Ahriman (Path 24 Nun, XIII Death) surround the inferior half of Tiphareth, since the Metamorphosis of the present Earth is under the double influence of the two Hinderers.
The correspondence between subtle bodies and Sephiroth also has a basis in the same anthroposophy:
If we consider the whole human being as I have presented the subject in my Theosophy, in his nine parts, we find that from above down they are: Spirit-Man, Vital Spirit, Spiritual Self, spiritual soul, rational soul, sentient soul, sentient body, etheric body and physical body. These are nine. They would not connect with earthly life in the right way if there were not also a synthesis, which is the tenth. This gives us ten, and these also appear in the Sephiroth of pre-Christian times, though in a form that was right for that time, when I-awareness did not yet wholly exist.
In Steiner’s own words, the synthesis is clearly the I Am, the spiritual consciousness in human being; in kabbalah this is clearly the sixth Sephirah, Tiphareth, which corresponds to the Sun, and which occupies the central position on the Tree of Life, being connected directly to all the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, excluding Malkuth, the Kingdom, which is the physical body. The Paths of Wisdom coming toward Tiphareth can also be interpreted as the Seven Rays plus an eighth, which anthroposophically we associate to Vulcan, "as the higher octave of evolution". But nonetheless there is also an occult connection between Tiphareth and the present Earth Metamorphosis and thus even with Malkuth: this is the occult connection between the I and the physical body, the Sun and the Earth, Christ as the Spirit of the Sun and Christ as the Spirit of the Earth.
Steiner states when Man will have com penetrated all his bodies with the I principle, is destined to become the Tenth Hierarchy. This statement cabalistically means that Man will reach for Kether, in a state which in the Golden Dawn tradition is indicated by the grade 10=1 Ipsissimus, which in fact means “the one who is truly himself”. In kabbalah there is the hermetic axiom “As above, so below”, expresses in sephirothic terms: “Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether, but after another manner”, this means that in the Metamorphosis of Vulcan (Yesod-Malkuth, back to Atziluth) Man will have arrived to create new worlds starting from new sublime heights. Kabbalistically expressed, this implies that the Malkuth of a World is the Kether of the one following.
In the light of these various and precise parallelisms, here just summarised, we can do away with any doubt of incompatibility between the wisdom of hermetic kabbalah (i.e. western kabbalah) and rosicrucianism-anthroposophy of Steiner. This incompatibility derives from the fact that both kabbalah and anthroposophy are later particular forms of the Gnosis of the Ancient Mysteries, also because the spiritual evolutionary process of anthroposophy, though having a distinct individuality, formally follows the sevenfold system of Blavatsky’s theosophy which on its turn this takes as much as from kabbalah as from a certain eastern esotericism. This possibility of union in a comprehensive whole the western esoteric impulses in Rosicrucianism, has been essentially what Felkin recognised in Steiner when he offered his help to reform and develop the Stella Matutina.
The Superior Worlds according to Kabbalah
taken from The Operational Kabbalah of Robert Ambelain, Amenothes Editions, 1987