The Extras

by Tabitha Chamberlain

Tree Life Kabbalah Deck 001

Hermetic Kabbalah Tarot by Marcelo Del Debbio and Rodrigo A. Grola, published by Daemon Editora

Kabbalah is going to be that one thing that’s either going to be seriously fascinating to you and want to devour as much information as possible or you're going to hate it. Most everyone hates it and doesn't believe that it has much to do with Tarot. The other thing, this word is spelled so many different ways that I'm going to use the spelling: Kabbalah to stress it's relation to Tarot.

Kabbalah isn't like anything else you’ve ever dealt with. There are many long time Tarot readers that only have a passing knowledge, if any knowledge of this particular subject. As always never feel you need to learn something to be a “Real Tarot Reader”. I personally, am one of those people that are fascinated by the subject. I would like to spend more time with my studies unfortunately my current working schedule doesn't allow much time for such things.

I guess I should explain a bit about what Kabbalism is. First things first, Kabbalah that is associated with Tarot, or Hermetic teachings, are slightly different from that of traditional Judaism Quabbalah, mainly due to the fact that Judaic religion forbids any ideology of magic and occult. Only allowing a few elite teachers the opportunity to learn this sacred knowledge.

The basic, if seriously complex idea behind Kabbalah is that it is to help explain the universe. It's to help us to be able to see the world and the universe as the same entity, along with our place in this universe.

Both forms of Kabbalism has a very heavy reference to the bible and religion. Do you need to believe in or agree with it to learn and appreciate the theory behind it? Not at all, I am a Pagan that doesn’t agree with bible. I will say that some working knowledge and willingness to learn more about the bible and religion is important to this particularly subject.

For me the idea of "As Above, As Below" doesn't ring truer than in Kabbalism. It takes the macrocosm, into a microcosm. Meaning what is large and massive is repeated in smaller repetitive structures as well. You look up to the skies seeing the complex structure of a galaxy, yet if you look into a microscope you can see the same similar structure in cells. The most perfect example of this idea is the Golden Ratio idea that you can see repeated in everything.

The more you study Kabbalism, you're going to start noticing this collective idea of everything being related to everything else. There is nothing that is self-sustaining in Kabbalah, it all has something larger or smaller versions of itself that relates to something else.

This seems to be oversimplifying the ideas behind Kabbalah, truly it is not remotely easy to understand. It takes years to fully grasp. Even those that study for years are still learning something new day to day. Those that practice Quabbalahism will tell you this as well. There is no simple quick answer here.

To start your journey on Kabbalah, you're going to need a lot of patience with yourself. No question there, but you're going to need to start with the basic structure of how it is set up. That is all I’m going to cover with this Extra. The basic structure known as the Tree of Life.

The Tree of Life symbol, we all have seen depicted somewhere in our Tarot studies, honestly if you look you'll see it in mainstream areas of life as well. The Tree of Life is the foundation of everything Kabbalah related. If you take away nothing else for this extra, please learn this: the Tree of Life structure is so closely knit to the Tarot number structure.

What is the Tree of Life and how does it connect with Tarot? Let’s look at the Tree of Life itself. You’ll start to see aspects that you’re familiar with in tarot. Or even other areas of interest that you didn’t even realize are connected. (As Above, As Below)

You see a weirdly shaped form; that kinda resembles a tree like thing? Maybe, if you squint at it? What you generally see is 10 Spheres that are connected or bridge together with what looks like 22 roads or branches. Believe it or not, both of these things are important in understanding the Tree of Life. One thing that isn’t noticed by just looking at this 2 dimensional form of the Tree of Life, is that there are four layers or Worlds that are pressed together creating a larger more complete world.

Each one of these worlds relates to each one of the Tarot suits. Yes, in the same manner as traditional Tarot thinking. Fire is the World of Atziluth, Air- Yetzirah, Water- Briah, and Earth- Assiah. The bonus is that each one of these stay within the realms that most of us are comfortable with. The World that they rule in the Tree of Life, is the same of that of the Tarot world. So while the names and the idea may seem foreign to you, you're actually pretty well informed about them.

Taking this four layered Tree that is laid one on top of another creating our own universe and everything in it. But, that just the bare bones of our universe. Think of it as our "house" or "living space". Yes, we have walls surrounding us; that doesn't mean that we have created anything in our lives. We are just being protected from the elements.

The Spheres, 1-10, is where we start to develop our personalities. This is our ego, mapped out in ways that most of us would be terribly uncomfortable to visit too closely. Each one of these Spheres relate to each one of the numbered cards in the Minor Arcana. Certain Spheres hold a numbered card and a Court card, but we'll go into that in a later article.

Those branches that I mentioned earlier? Those things are important as they are how we travel from Sphere to Sphere. Which is why they are Major Arcana, they are major events in our life to get us to move from one area to another. One safe zone to one that isn't so safe. Admittedly we all are going to be more comfortable within one Sphere than another. If we do take the time to learn the lesson of the Major we can move from Sphere to Sphere with relative ease.

A gray area that everyone is slightly confused on, is the Hebrew letters that is generally associated with Tarot. A lot of this has to do with Kabbalism. Each Major Arcana is assigned a Hebrew letter, how do you know which is where? Well 7 are assigned to planets (Double letters) just like in astrology. 12 are assigned to the Zodiac (Simple Letters) like in astrology. Basically meaning that if you know which Planet or Zodiac that is related to said Tarot card, you are likely going to be able to remember the Hebrew letter. There is one minor difference of the 3 "Mother Letters", these three Tarot cards are assigned an element of Air, Water, and Fire respectfully to the Fool, Hanged Man, and Judgement.

The reason for this, goes back to the seven original planets. At the time only 7 planets could be seen by the naked eye. They therefore used other areas of understanding to gap the bridge. Each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew language is shown in each one of the Majors Arcana. Which in turns is shown within each one of the 22 Paths on the Tree of Life.

An interesting fact for you to realize that anytime you throw out a Tarot reading, especially using the Majors only. You're actually spelling out a word in Hebrew. Read it right to left, and remember that language takes finessing to get it to make sense to any of us that is not a native speaker of said language.

One other thing I would like to mention about the Tree of Life. A lot of people who practice magick or meditation of any sort have heard of the "Middle Pillar" meditation. It is the center column of the Tree of Life that they are talking about. This is a journey and understanding that you've got to take on for yourself for it to get it to full blossom for you. It also overlays the major Chakras as well. While there is only 5 Sphere show on this Middle Pillar, unlike the 7 Chakra if you take the time to study these two ideas you'll see some overlapping here as well.

As Above, As Below

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