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Alternate Systems of Correspondence?

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Cheiromancer  Cheiromancer is offline
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Alternate Systems of Correspondence?


Am I alone in being unhappy with the existing system of correspondences between the major arcana and the signs of the zodiac, planets and elements? I suppose I should say systems, since there is Crowley's system in addition to the Golden Dawn's.

I remember how excited I was when I learned that Hebrew had 3 mother letters, 7 double letters and 12 single letters, corresponding nicely to the tree of life's 3 horizontal paths, 7 vertical paths and 12 diagonal paths. If you let Malkuth be earth, then the 3 could be fire, air and water, while the 7 are the classical planets and the 12 are the signs of the zodiac. Yet this is not how they are arranged on the standard trees.

I have cooked up one such arrangement, which also has a number of other interesting features. For instance each path representing a sign of the zodiac connects with the vertical path of its ruling planet (Cancer - Moon, Leo - Sun, Virgo and Gemini - Mercury, etc.). There is also a path from Malkuth that covers every path of the diagram (some paths more than once), hitting every sephira in reverse order (e.g. 7 is not touched until 8 and 9 are), going through the planets in the classical order (moon, mercury, venus, sun, etc.), and going through the signs of the zodiac in order (starting from Cancer). The path finishes at Malkuth after only 28 steps.

I can't post a picture right now, but if there is interest I'll try to get something up. In the meantime I would love to hear about alternative systems of correspondences that people know of, or have discovered on their own.
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Richard  Richard is offline
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That sounds really interesting. I would like to see a picture if it is not too much trouble.
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devilkitty  devilkitty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheiromancer View Post
Am I alone in being unhappy with the existing system of correspondences between the major arcana and the signs of the zodiac, planets and elements? I suppose I should say systems, since there is Crowley's system in addition to the Golden Dawn's.

I remember how excited I was when I learned that Hebrew had 3 mother letters, 7 double letters and 12 single letters, corresponding nicely to the tree of life's 3 horizontal paths, 7 vertical paths and 12 diagonal paths. If you let Malkuth be earth, then the 3 could be fire, air and water, while the 7 are the classical planets and the 12 are the signs of the zodiac. Yet this is not how they are arranged on the standard trees.
But that is how they are arranged in the Lurianic system -- which predates the "Kircher Tree" generally associated with Western Esotericism -- and according to the Bahir and the Sepher Yetzirah. I can't post an image, but here's a link to one at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:T...hir_hebrew.png

I still think Mathers et al. were just "phoning it in" when they just went sequentially through the alphabet from top to bottom and built the G.D. system around it. They took their diagram from Kircher; the G.D.'s pervasive influence (perpetuated in form, though not entirely in essence, by Crowley's A.A. and other orders) ensured, for better or worse, that this late rendition by a seventeenth-century Jesuit and some Victorian and Edwardian magicians became "the" Tree of Life.
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Cheiromancer  Cheiromancer is offline
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Originally Posted by devilkitty View Post
But that is how they are arranged in the Lurianic system -- which predates the "Kircher Tree" generally associated with Western Esotericism -- and according to the Bahir and the Sepher Yetzirah. I can't post an image, but here's a link to one at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:T...hir_hebrew.png
Wow. I guess I am solidly in the Western Esoteric tradition; the Lurianic tree just looks weird to me. The "extra" paths between 2&5 and 3&4 make it look to me like there's an inverted pentagram imbedded in the tree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by devilkitty View Post
I still think Mathers et al. were just "phoning it in" when they just went sequentially through the alphabet from top to bottom and built the G.D. system around it. They took their diagram from Kircher; the G.D.'s pervasive influence (perpetuated in form, though not entirely in essence, by Crowley's A.A. and other orders) ensured, for better or worse, that this late rendition by a seventeenth-century Jesuit and some Victorian and Edwardian magicians became "the" Tree of Life.
I agree with you about the lazy way they assigned letters to the tree. But despite the fact that the Lurianic system is older; well, no one would say that older is always better (nor do I think you are suggesting this); it makes me sad to think that knowledge only declines over the centuries, and never increases. But if it increases, it means that sometimes an innovation is actually an improvement, at least in a certain context. For me, in my context, it would do no good to try to adopt the Lurianic tree. I don't have the kabbalistic knowledge (or knowledge of Hebrew and gematria and the like) that fit with it. Instead I have astrological and tarot associations that assume and reinforce the Kircher tree. For me, given my associations, the Kircher tree is better.

Anyway, I made up a JPEG, but I can't post it. If anyone would like to see it, PM me their email address and I'll happily send it off. (If you want the PDF or doc files it was based on, just ask for them too.)

If you give the paths the usual numbering (e.g. Kether-Tipheret is path 13), my correspondences are:

Path-Trump-Sign-Hebrew Letter
11-Devil-Capricorn-Lamed
12-Temperance-Aquarius-Het
13-Hermit-Saturn-Tav
14-Judgment-Fire-Shin
15-Hanged Man-Sagittarius-Yod
16-Wheel of Fortune-Jupiter-Kaf
17-Death-Scorpio-Tet
18-Tower-Mars-Pe
19-World-Water-Mem
20-Hierophant-Pisces-Nun
21-Empress-Venus-Dalet
22-Emperor-Aries-Zayin
23-Magician-Mercury-Bet
24-Strength-Leo-Tsadi
25-Sun-Sun-Resh
26-Star-Virgo-Qof
27-Fool-Air-Alef
28-Justice-Libra-Ayin
30-Priestess-Cancer-He
31-Lovers-Gemini-Vav
32-Moon-Moon-Gimel

I don't know what I did with my notes for this arrangement, so I'd have to reconstruct the reasons for various assignments. I know that in at least a few cases I went with visual resemblance; i.e. Zayin looks like Aries, and Samek like Taurus. Some of the other correspondences are also fairly simple-minded. The Moon is the moon, the Sun is the sun, Justice is Libra, Temperance is a water carrier (Aquarius) and the Star is a virgin (Virgo) and so on. I have Justice = 8 and Strength = 11, but the order of the trumps isn't very important. Neither is the order of the letters.

I assigned the planets first, and then put in the signs they correspond to. The existence of a 28-step traversal helped fine tune exactly where the signs went. If you switch a pair the signs don't get visited in order unless you add extra steps (detouring around through the vertical and horizontal paths). The traversal order is:

10
9 8 7 6 8 5 4
7 9 6 3 5 4 2
6 1 2 3 1 6 4
5 6 9 10 7 8
10

I don't know if another assignment would allow a faster traversal. I don't think any closed route can beat 26 steps if it visits every path. With the added constraints about visiting spheres, planets and signs in order I think that 28 might be the best that can be done.

The result is something of a cosmograph. Below the Fool (air) is basically the person, their psychological dynamics, their spiritual initiation and their basic ways of relating to others; between the Fool and the World is civil society, surmounted by the political and religious authorities symbolized by the Emperor and the Hierophant. The sides of the diamond whose axes are the Sun and the Fool are virtues: Leo is Fortitude/Courage; Libra is Justice; Cancer is Faith/Prudence; the Star is Generosity/Purity. Above the World are basically cosmic and supernatural forces. Above Judgment/Fire is some very mysterious and primal stuff. I was very disturbed by the position of the Devil, but I think I can justify its placement.
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bradford  bradford is offline
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I for one am OK with seeing the scales of 3, 7 and twelve in both the Trumps and the Hebrew alphabet. But I do think it's ridiculous to see another layer of significance in the overall sequence of the 22 letters, and doubly so to mindlessly stick those onto the paths of the Hermetic Tree in some kind of linear sequence from Kether to Malkuth. The alphabet sequence came to be historically associated with numbers only because the people lacked numbers. There is nothing inherently sacred about the Hebrew alphabet simply because JHVH used this to dictate the Torah, and this in turn is primarily due to YHVH himself being nothing more a bronze age myth.
With that said, I am inclined to look for a system in which the Mothers, Simples and Doubles find some geometrical expression as such on the Tree. There are, for example, only three horizontal paths. Do these work as the Mother letters?
The human mind evolved to make sense out of the barest hint of order (pareidolia) and even out of white noise (apophenia). Of course finding some relationship between any two ideas, however disconnected, can be an informative and creative meditation or exercise. We do this all the time when we are reading the cards. I just like to have something a little less arbitrary in understanding the underlying structures of ideas that give the cards their meanings to begin with.
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Cheiromancer  Cheiromancer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradford View Post
I for one am OK with seeing the scales of 3, 7 and twelve in both the Trumps and the Hebrew alphabet. But I do think it's ridiculous to see another layer of significance in the overall sequence of the 22 letters, and doubly so to mindlessly stick those onto the paths of the Hermetic Tree in some kind of linear sequence from Kether to Malkuth. The alphabet sequence came to be historically associated with numbers only because the people lacked numbers.
I came to a similar conclusion with the alphabet I am typing in right now. I was going to say the Roman alphabet, but of course the "I" and the "V" the ancient Romans used have both been doubled to yield the "J" and "U". Come to think of it, the "W" is based on "V" as well. The Y is a late addition (borrowed from Greek). Something weird has gone on with C and G, too. Anyway, how do can I assign significance to the sequence and number of a letter when these kinds of interpolations and borrowings have radically changed them? Attempting to 'reconstruct' a primal alphabet would lead to all kinds of other difficulties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradford View Post
There is nothing inherently sacred about the Hebrew alphabet simply because JHVH used this to dictate the Torah, and this in turn is primarily due to YHVH himself being nothing more a bronze age myth.
I am comfortable with people assigning personality and agency to the archetypes depicted in the Tarot, and even to individual decks or cards. How much more so for a bronze age myth that is worshiped today by over 2 billion people!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradford View Post
I for one am OK with seeing the scales of 3, 7 and twelve in both the Trumps and the Hebrew alphabet. But I do think it's ridiculous to see another layer of significance in the overall sequence of the 22 letters, and doubly so to mindlessly stick those onto the paths of the Hermetic Tree in some kind of linear sequence from Kether to Malkuth. The alphabet sequence came to be historically associated with numbers only because the people lacked numbers. There is nothing inherently sacred about the Hebrew alphabet simply because JHVH used this to dictate the Torah, and this in turn is primarily due to YHVH himself being nothing more a bronze age myth.
Does it matter? The Tree, and the alphabet, are paradigms who's worth is in their construction and subsequent deconstruction, stimulating thought and meditation. I agree with you that the idea that one language is "holier" than another is silly, but it doesn't have to be holy in order to work. What one's definition of "work" is, that's subject to personal interpretation, be it reaching advanced level of concentration/meditation or contacting winged beings playing harps. When all is said and done, it's the same thing, since it might be seen as absurd accepting one model, the Trumps, but not the letters, both being artificial constructs.

In defense of the Tree the GD used, and the magickal system derived from it, I would say that it is very satisfying, whatever else one may say about it. One could quibble about the placement of paths and letters, but ultimately it is very internally consistent at least in my opinion. It is made even more so by the addition of the GD body of work, and study tools in the form of Tarot decks.

Can one even say "right" or "wrong" about these things? Isn't that being a bit "more-kabbalah-than-thou?" While discussion is always good, these in particular tend to get a little sidetracked by "mine is better," even though (I'm guessing) no one here has reached the dizzying heights of Keter in Aziluth and could say without a shadow of a doubt that one attribution of the other is right or wrong. I also suspect that should anyone reach that point, they would have other things on their mind (assuming they still had it).
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The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not speculation about how shoddy and stupid the GD was. The same old same old really gets stale after awhile. The system works. You can't argue with that.
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Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not speculation about how shoddy and stupid the GD was. The same old same old really gets stale after awhile. The system works. You can't argue with that.
I should hire you, with your amazing ability to say what I try to say in a whole page, in a single sentence. (:

Anyway, one of the reasons it works is its accessibility. In my opinion any musings on any Tree add great things to one's personality, awareness and views on life, there may not be anything inherently "magickal" about the GD Tree. The important thing is to do, what it is you do is secondary.

Rabbinical literature (an umbrella term for many different things) which is the main body of work dealing with the Lurianic Tree, is dizzyingly complex, assuming one is even fluent in archaic Hebrew and Aramaic. The GD system has a huge support network, of which even sections of Aeclectic are a part. There is no shortage of help when one wants it. Does this imply anyone who uses it "lazy," "accepts whatever fodder he is given," "uses Britney Spears' kabbalah" or any of the pejoratives I have seen leveled at the GD over the years? Not in my opinion, but I'm biased because I myself base myself on the low, mistaken pop-Tree that is the Golden Dawn.

It is easy to be a snob, but why bother?
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bradford  bradford is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by closrapexa View Post
Does it matter? The Tree, and the alphabet, are paradigms who's worth is in their construction and subsequent deconstruction, stimulating thought and meditation.
Good question. Please see amended post above.
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