Kabbalah: A Real Basic Introduction

Copyright by Karen Chapdelaine, 1994

A Beginning

Many people when they start getting into magick, try to read someone
like Crowley, Dion Fortune, W.E. Butler, etc., and become frustrated
by all the reference to the Kabbalah (or Qabalah), of which they often
know nothing. And, the "usual sources" often are as confusing and
complex as the original references. Everyone has their theory, and
no one seems willing to simply get people started.

Following is a basic tree diagram, with planetary correspondences, and a
quick discussion of pillars, a few theories, et al. It is intended to
provide the novice student some basic building blocks, not be the "be
all and end all" of the Kabbalah, or its correct application in magickal
practice. I have conspicuously chosen to avoid any discussion of paths
and their numbers, considering that an advanced and often unnecessary
topic for those who have not delved too deep.

In the interest of making my life easy, I have turned the usual circles
for the Sephiroth into squares. Ascii art is easier that way.

In the Tree-of-Life, there are ten Sephiroth. These can be seen as
corresponding to the known planets and the Sun. In various magickal
systems, a common goal is the attainment of understanding such as
results from successful traveling the tree from Malkuth, or Earth, to
Kether, the attainment. In this presentation, I will associate Kether
with Pluto, Chokmah with Uranus, and Neptune with Da'ath, the "invisible
Sepiroth." I realize this is at odds with many systems and presentations,
which often give no planetary correspondences whatsoever for these
Sephiroth. However, it seems logical that these "recently discovered"
planets should be assigned, and when this is done, these are the usual
choices. These attributions can be especially meaningful and helpful to
a new "magickal" student with a background in and understanding of
astrology and/or planetary attributions.

The Tree

The three "veils" ****Ain**** Negativity
of negative existence ***Ain Soph*** The Limitless
(unmanifestation). **Ain Soph Aur** The Limitless Light

(Middle Pillar,
"Mildness" or "Equilibrium")
| Kether |
| (1) |
| Pluto |
/ ------------\
(Left Pillar, / | \ (Right Pillar,
or "Severity") / | \ or "Mercy")
------------/ | \------------
| Binah | | | Chockmah |
| (3) |-------------------|-------------------| (2) |
| Saturn | | | Uranus |
------------ | ------------
| \ | / |
| \ | / |
| \ | / |
| \ - - - - - - - / |
| \ Da'ath / |
| \ * (The Abyss) * / |
| \ Neptune / |
| \ - - - - - - - / |
| \ | / |
| \ | / |
------------ \ | / ------------
| Geburah | \ | / | Chesed |
| (5) |--------\----------|-----------/-------| (4) |
| Mars | \ | / | Jupiter |
------------ \ \ | / / ------------
| \ \ | / / |
| \ \ | / / |
| \ \ | / / |
| ------------ |
| | Tiphareth | |
| | (6) | |
| | The Sun | |
| / ------------ \ |
| / | \ |
| / | \ |
------------ / | \ ------------
| Hod | | | Netzach |
| (Cool |-------------------|-------------------| (7) |
| Mercury | | | Venus |
------------ | ------------
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \------------/ /
\ | Yod | /
\ | (9) | /
\ | The Moon | /
\ ------------ /
\ | /
\ | /
\ | /
\ ------------/
| Malkuth |
| (10) |
| The Earth |

Okay, so you get the picture. Lots of interesting Hebrew names of the
Sephiroth, with their various meanings and attributions according to
which author you are reading, and according to the classic Jewish
scholars on the Kabbalah. Their "most common" planetary attributions,
which with a good book on astrology or a good book on magickal
attributions of planets are one means of shedding light on the "nature"
of these Sephiroth. They also get numbers.

There are 22 "paths," or means of connecting the Sephiroth, which will
not be discussed here. I have drawn them in for clarity, but I have not
appropriately numbered them.

There are also three "veils of negative existence" beyond Kether. I
will not discuss them. Someone else will.

Some Ways of Viewing the Information

According to certain means of addressing the Tree, the Sephiroth can be
further subdivided into groups. One manner of doing this is to label
each "column," as shown here, the left-hand "Pillar of Severity," the
right-hand "Pillar of Mercy" and the Middle Pillar, also known as the
"Pillar of Mildness" or the "Pillar of Equilibrium." In perusing my
library of works by magickal authors, the most common opinion about
these pillars seems to be that one should proceed up the tree focused
on the Middle Pillar. I would not recommend the beginning student
concern themselves much with these or other labels, merely understand
that they are there and so labeled. Various authors will present their
own opinions as to what these labels mean and the importance thereof.

Another manner of subdividing the Sephiroth is to group them into
triangles. Da'ath and Malkuth are basically "left out" of these
groupings. One grouping is Kether, Chokmah and Binah, sometimes called
the "supernal" triangle. A second is Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth,
with labels too numerous to mention. The final triangle consists of
Netzach, Hod and Yesod.

Still yet another way of viewing the tree is the "path of the serpent"
and the "path of the sword," which visually appears like many magickal
symbols, as well as resembling a caduceus somewhat. In this
construction, the "path of the serpent" follows the numbers given in
order, with the "head" of the serpent in Kether and the "tail" of the
serpent in Malkuth. This manner of addressing the three noticably
"touches" all the Sephiroth. To visualize the sword, overlay it on the
Middle Pillar, with the hilt in Kether and the point in Malkuth.

Some people will tell you you need to "back into" the tree. Some people
will talk about "Qlippoth," or "negative shadows" of the Sephiroth.
Some people will tell you that Kether is in Malkuth (i.e., they connect
back together). These can all be very interesting or very boring ways
to look at things, depending on the author and your interests.

The Importance of Tiphareth and That Annoying Invisible Sephira

Tiphareth, or "the Sun" is associated in many magickal systems,
including Aleister Crowley's with what he called "knowledge and
conversation of your Holy Guardian Angel" or understanding of one's
True Will. He even wrote a ritual specifically geared to attain this
state, or what could be seen as "progress" to this point in the Tree.
I can attest from personal experience that this is a rather heady
experience, to be fully "in the glory of Tiphareth." In a Middle Pillar
approach, the obvious "next step" is crossing the "abyss", or passing
through (or around, or over, etc., etc.) Da'ath. Phrases such as
"dweller on the threshold," names such as "Choronzon" or the "demon of
the Abyss" are tossed about. Doesn't sound like fun? It's not supposed

A psychological approach might say that this is the part of yourself you
deny: the things you don't like about yourself. In a departure from my
"info only" approach I will offer this "way of looking at it" that I think
gets passed over and/or shrouded in mystery by those who martially enter
the Abyss to "defeat" the demon.

In an old Star Trek episode (oh no, she's using television shows!),
Captain Kirk is split by the transporter into two beings, one "evil" and
strong, and the other "good" and weak. Now, I don't believe in evil and
good, per se, but the analogy is useful. The "weak" side had all the
intellect, control and compassion we associate with "nice" behavior,
while the "strong" side had all the power, passion and forcefulness we
associate with "emotional" and "not so nice" behavior. Problem was, the
"weak" Kirk couldn't even make a decision by himself, he couldn't commit
to a choice, and the "strong" Kirk couldn't control his behavior or
understand the needs of another human being. He was divided against
himself. In the resolution, they are sent through the transporter
again, and the "weak" Kirk reassures and embraces the "strong" Kirk so
they can be together again, and he can be whole again and "able to

Why does this seem so important to me? It often seems we are "divided
against ourselves" in this society, calling parts of ourselves "bad" and
others "good," judging ourselves and others very harshly, perhaps
disabling ourselves by denying ourselves all our abilities. I don't
think we all divide like Captain Kirk, but I suggest that the "demon of
the abyss" is this "shadow self" we have judged and thrown away, rather
than choosing to embrace and also control. However we visualize the
process, I would like to offer that a useful way might be to see
ourselves embracing the demon and unifying it with the angel, to become
more whole. I have found it very useful for me, at any rate, and offer
it to others as an idea I think has merit and may be helpful for the
beginning student in magick, once he or she progresses a little further
on the path.

In Conclusion

Many writers will toss the Kabbalah, several perspectives on Astrology,
the Tarot, 6 or 7 systems of magick, Yoga, numerology, etc. at you.
Some of it will stick. I hope this little treatise provides some "glue"
for the Kabbalah information. In my estimation, they all relate back to
each other, and the importance of them all is understanding of self. In
other words, take a step back once in a while, don't get too mesmerized
by all the details. The "goal" is to become more aware of the "real
world," and more effective in your chosen path in the universe, and
hopefully a more wonderful human being, in touch with your starry
nature and the starry nature of the other beings on the planet. Magick
should help in this task. The ways of viewing the tree, the symbols you
might associate with a particular thing, tools you choose and the
rituals you perform should be focused on what they teach you, and how
they help you become what you want to be, or your "best true self," they
are not an end in and of themselves.

***Every man and every woman is a star.***


1) _Magick in Theory and Practice_, by Aleister Crowley.
Castle Books, New York.

2) _777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley_.
Samuel Weiser, Inc., New York, 1973.

3) _The Mystical Qabalah_, by Dion Fortune.
Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1984.

4) _Inner Traditions of Magic_, by William G. Gray.
Samuel Weiser, Inc., New York, 1978.

Karen Chapdelaine @}->-- Love is the Law, Love under Will

....You can do what you want....
...You will get what you create....