The Tree of Life & Jacob’s Ladder
Philosophy is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes – I mean the universe… This book is written in mathematical language and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without whose help…one wanders in vain through a dark labyrinth. Galileo Galilei
It usually takes about two thirds of a book or three complete workshops to explain The Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder so you might like to address this bit with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit or two. I did.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Life is a game like Snakes and Ladders and it’s helpful to know the rules in order to play the game. If you don’t know or apply the rules, you can get frustrated, angry and hurt.
The Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder contain all the rules of the Game. Its not much more complicated than a computer game and all the clues are in the journey. Most of us take a couple of dozen lives to get the knack of it and, even then, we’re only beginners. The only difference is that with this game we all get to go home winners in the end.
Jacob’s Ladder is a diagram of the Universe. It contains four versions of the Tree of Life, each of which represents a different world; the Physical, Psychological, Spiritual and Divine Worlds. The Worlds also represent the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The fifth element, usually referred to as Metal, would be a fusion of the upper and lower Worlds, Earth and Fire.
In the beginning God created a womb in which the Universe might grow, a kind of negative space ready to receive the egg. Then God breathed light into that womb which became the world of Fire, Azilut. Why? Because God wanted to recreate Itself which meant that It had to give birth.
From Azilut (white), flowed Beriah (blue), the Spiritual World. Beriah is the realm of creation and ideas, so you could say that Azilut was the spark and Beriah the concept. Neither world has any form or image in it so they are very hard to imagine—and even harder to describe.
Yezirah (purple), the third World, which descended from the other two, is the one where forms exist and definitions could be made. It is the World of images, emotion and the human soul. Adam and Eve were formed here (although they had to leave Paradise and put on coats of skin, i.e. go into physical reality, before the rest of us could turn up and take our places in the Game). Paradise is in Yezirah and so is hell; they are both psychological realities.
Finally, there is Asiyyah (red), the physical World where we are incarnated to play the Great Game of Life.
Humans are the only beings who have access to the four Worlds. Archangels have access only to the top two, angels only to the middle two and animals only to the bottom two. We are made in the image of God and our job is to reflect all that is in Creation back to the Source. As we grow, the Divine baby grows. I gather that it’s just about reached the ‘terrible twos’ at the moment which might explain a lot…
There are four journeys of humanity. Down into the physical World, then climbing back through consciousness towards God, then down again to help out our fellow humans who have not learnt yet what we know. Finally, we will return to the Light. Journeys two and three are the Snakes and Ladders part as we learn and teach simultaneously and the ego tempts us all the way into thinking we know more than we do.
The Game is simple but it isn’t easy. It’s about using Free Will to choose Life over Death. That doesn’t mean we don’t get to have fun, just that nobody needs to get hurt while we’re doing it.
The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is Yezirah, the World of Forms. Basically, it is a diagram of a human being’s aura. This, of course, would be a perfect human being. The rest of us look rather more wonky.
There are different levels in this one Tree—they are shown in the same colours as the chakras and demonstrate the same aspects of the psyche.
You can also look at the design as being like a boat—with the central circle (sephira), of Tiferet as the boatman. Tiferet is your real self as represented by the Sun in your astrological chart.
The prow is Keter, the Crown, which is the place where we have direct access to God and the stern is Malkhut, the physical body and its desires which have a tendency to pull us in the opposite direction.
If you know about personal growth, you’ll know that all too often it’s our Ego that is in charge of our life, not the Self. The Ego is at Yesod and if we sit there instead of at Tiferet the boat is unbalanced and we can’t see where we are going. Yesod is represented by the Moon in the astrological chart and in Kabbalah the Moon is the reflection of our everyday persona, not the feminine.
Yesod is constantly chattering at us and nagging and it’s one of the purposes of meditation to still its constant voice and move into real consciousness at Tiferet where we can get the wider picture.
You may also notice that there are three vertical columns on The Tree. The central one is the path of Consciousness and the idea is to walk that path with a hand out to either side pillar to help us balance.
The left-hand column is the feminine aspect of the Tree, the one that receives information and knowledge, thinks things through and makes decisions based on our level of understanding.
The right-hand column is the masculine aspect, the part that acts on inspiration, gives out and generally does things. Each column is out of balance without the other.
So how does it help us to live The Game of Life? Knowledge of our own Tree of Life helps us to achieve consciousness and, if we can learn how to understand and apply the principles of the Tree (especially if we place our astrological chart on it), we can see which parts of us are out of balance and likely to slide us down the Snakes. Then we can apply the checks and pushes that are needed to climb a Ladder instead.
The goal is to climb up to God and the prize is happiness.
Have another cup of tea! Then if you want to know more, take a look at the workshops, books and the other Kabbalistic sites. Remember, though, that Kabbalah is an oral tradition and can only be completely understood through discussion with fellow companions in a School of the Soul. They are out there if you want to find them.
As my teacher says: Life is the best Game in town. Enjoy!