Relating the Major Arcana to the Tree of Life

Libaws

I am having a hard time with the Golden Dawn associations of the hebrew letters-Tarot cards to the 22 paths of the Kaballah. I cannot agree with quite a few of them notably the Empress being the path between Chokmah and Binah and the Fool being in the column of the male energy.

The Empress is clearly a manifestation of Binah on a lower arc rather than the energy which carries the initial will of unlimited energy, power, from Chokmah to Binah. Deep reflection says this path should be divine will and fire such as the Magician but he could also be the will coming from Kether to Chokmah with the High Priestess coming from Kether to Binah. I feel the fool should be placed in the central column because it is a neutral card neither male nor female for this is how I see Kether and the central column.. However this arrangement leaves no early card for the connection between Chokmah and Binah. After much meditation I feel that the Sephiroth themselves better embody the cards in the beginning but due to the fixed number of 10/11 sephira, this system lacks the places for all the major arcana.

I realize this system was created fairly recently (in relationship to the life of the Kaballah) and I have been trying to find other associations of the letters to the paths predating Golden Dawn but have found no older traces. Has anyone else found them? Has anyone ese come up against this block?
 

Barleywine

This has been a source of endless contemplation for me. There is an excellent (but I believe out-of-print) little book by James Sturzaker called Kabbalistic Aphorisms that makes good sense out of the Empress on this path. Paul Foster Case, in his book The Tarot and at much greater length in his BOTA course material, made Herculean efforts to come up with a reasonable basis for the Golden Dawn path assignments. Eden Gray tried to reconfigure everything to her own satisfaction but it left me unconvinced. I made my own stab at it using her model. See the attachments. Note that both of these use the sephiroth and astrological associations, not the Hebrew letters and the paths.
 

Attachments

  • Tree in Oval II.pdf
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  • Eden Gray Model.jpg
    Eden Gray Model.jpg
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Libaws

Thanks Barleywine :)

I heard the other day that there are around 1000 tarot decks out there. (sounds amazing and i don't know if it is really true) Either way there are many. The tarot is a deep mirror of our own descent into matter and our own voyage within matter. so it is no wonder there are so many decks.

I will look up the books you suggested and check out your charts. Merci! :)
 

Zephyros

There are a good deal more than a thousand decks, Aeclectic alone lists "only" about 1200, and there are many it doesn't have. Most modern decks follow the Golden Dawn structure even if they aren't strictly Kabbalistic decks.

However, although the Golden Dawn developed and expanded their Tree, it wasn't their invention. It was actually the Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher who developed the Hermetic Tree in use today. I remember looking for texts of his, explanations for his Tree, but couldn't find any, although I admit I didn't look very hard. Does anyone know if he wrote some notes on his system?
 

Abrac

Eliphas Levi's system predates the GD's but to me it seems almost as random and illogical as the GD's, assuming he used Kircher's paths. I don't know of any letter/path correspondences earlier than Kircher; there may be but I've never seen any.

Waite changed a lot of the paths and tarot correspondences for his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross Tree design. He kept Kircher's paths/letters together but assigned different tarot trumps and moved the paths around. The result is a completely new system that makes a lot more sense to me, at least within the system for which it was designed.
 

Barleywine

There are a good deal more than a thousand decks, Aeclectic alone lists "only" about 1200, and there are many it doesn't have. Most modern decks follow the Golden Dawn structure even if they aren't strictly Kabbalistic decks.

However, although the Golden Dawn developed and expanded their Tree, it wasn't their invention. It was actually the Jesuit priest Athanasius Kircher who developed the Hermetic Tree in use today. I remember looking for texts of his, explanations for his Tree, but couldn't find any, although I admit I didn't look very hard. Does anyone know if he wrote some notes on his system?

I certainly hope not. I found this interesting observation in one of the on-line articles.

"Kircher’s writing is some of the most rebarbative, unreliable, undigested and polyglot the world has ever known, bursting at the seams with learning, overflowing with ideas and possibilities, and pointing confusingly in many different directions. To be fair, many admired his style, and some even sought to imitate it; nonetheless, it groans with an appalling amount of verbosity that would make any print cartridge run dry."

Hmm, I wonder if he was being paid by the word like Charles Dickens, or whether Waite admired him. I've read several articles, but found no specific mention of his work with the Tree of Life yet.
 

Ross G Caldwell

Kirher published the Tree of Life that inspired the GD in Oedipus Aegyptaicus, volume II part 1 (1653), on a plate between pages 288 and 289 -
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k111867w/f293.item.r=oedipus+aegyptiacus

He discusses the Kabbalah, including the various meanings and uses of the alphabet, paths, and sephiroth, for hundreds of pages. His book has never been translated.

Links to all four volumes here -

http://gallica.bnf.fr/services/engi...=disabled&query=dc.relation all "cb30682438b"
 

Abrac

Wow, thanks Ross. Do you happen to know if Kircher is the first known example of the paths illustrated on the Tree of Life? Does the Sefer Yetzirah itself illustrate them or describe them?
 

kwaw

Wow, thanks Ross. Do you happen to know if Kircher is the first known example of the paths illustrated on the Tree of Life? Does the Sefer Yetzirah itself illustrate them or describe them?

The Kircher pattern of paths is one of two described by Moses Cordovero in his 'Garden of Pomegranates' (the attribution of letters to paths however may be different). It is called the Tree of Emanation. The other described by Cordovero is that associated with Luria, and called the Tree of Return.

Kircher quoted several sections from the Garden of Pomegranates, albeit without stating his sources (we know he had a copy as there is a manuscript in the Vatican with Kircher's handwritten notes and annotations on it). However, his diagram, and the various trees and other diagrams, is adapted from that published in 1625 by Philippe d'Aquin.

There is of course no attribution of tarot Trumps to paths in Kircher, that isn't made until the 19th century.

Kircher used a different attribution of planets to sefiroth; those of the Golden Dawn however can be found in Agrippa, and go back to at least the 12th century. (Lurianic/Gra tradition follow a different set of attributions.)
 

Abrac

Quite interesting kwaw, thanks. :)