The Tree of Life
(An Astrological Exegis)
A Brief Outline
19) And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20) The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
22) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Book of Revelation – King James Version.
“In Mathematics, the greatest degree of self-evidence is usually not to be found quite at the beginning, but at some later point; hence the early deductions, until they reach this point, give reasons rather for believing the premises because true consequences follow from them, than for believing the consequences because they follow from the premises.”
Bertrand Russell (1903, p.iv)
I utilise the quote from Bertrand Russell as an indication of where I am coming from with this essay, what follows is a supposition; if I have already lost a reader because I have quoted from the Bible, or if I have lost Christians because I have referred to the science of astrology, then so be it. This material has proved itself to me, so I will do my best to prove it to you.
That the tree of life in mentioned in the passage from Revelations is referring to an astrologically based pictorgram is to me beyond doubt. The tree of life you will usually come across though has ten sephiroth, though the tree depicted in the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscript (Runyon 1997) bears a closer resemblance to the one pictured here. The paths on the conventional tree are attributed to the tarot trumps, some of which have astrological attributions – though a close examination of, say the pip cards reveals little clear evidence of astrological knowledge. Take ten of swords ‘Ruin’ – the astrological attribution is Sun in Gemini, but the sun is not neither in its detriment or fall when it is in Gemini – people with their sun on the cusp of Gemini can be particularly shy and sensitive but a card as grim as ‘ruin’ should really have a truer astrological attribution. And here we return to the quotation from Principia Mathematica – are we to accept the premises because true consequences follow from them? Well then, please question what I am putting forth.
There are twelve sephiroth, which correspond to the 12 astrological signs, and a 13th semi-sephiroth which is the conciousness and transcendence of the other 12 sephiroth : this represents unity (as number 13 always has done) and it is to this that I would refer Daath (13=1 + 3 = 4 – i.e. knowledge. It is transendance and all that that implies – and the will to transcendence which draws us through life, if we are drawn.
The colour attributions follow the modern astrological colour attributions with red for Aries through to violet for Pisces, but this is not born out by classical astrological colour attributions. The ‘jewels’ mentioned in Revelations and the birthstones sometimes attributed to astrological signs bear some resemblance to this colour scale. There is a rainbow scale similar to the colour attributions of the chakras and nadas – although the rainbow is reversed here.
There are four sets of three upwardly facing triangles: the apex of each triangle is a cardinal sign. These represent a spiritual ‘supernal’ triangle of Aries, Taurus & Gemini; an ‘intellectual’ triangle of Cancer, Leo & Virgo; An ‘Emotional’ triangle of Libra, Scorpio and Capricorn; and a transcendental reality function based on Capricorn, Aquarius & Pisces. These roughly coincide with Jungian the functions of intuition, thinking, feeling, sensation – see Jung (1921) for a fuller ttreatment. There is also a correspondence to the division of the soul into divine, intellectual, rational and animal as detailed by Dr Rudd (Skinner/Rankine 2005, p.44-47).
In addition to this there are three pillars: a central ‘middle pillar’ made up of the cardinal signs; a ‘pillar of mercy’ made up of the negative/feminine signs and a pillar of severity of the positive, or active signs (see Hamaker-Zondag 1990, p.31).
The Kabbalistic cross
There is a cross formed with the vertical axis made up of the middle pillar from Aries down and a horizontal axis of Leo and Virgo. The cross formed between Aries, Carpricorn, Leo and Virgo: here the ‘Power’ and ‘Glory’ are represented respectively by Leo’s strength and Virgo’s perfection. I personally find this a better arrangement than the ‘Chesed’ and ‘Geburah of the Hebrew Kabballah.
I mentioned the Chakra’s and Nada’s earlier in relation to colour and there are certainly correspondencies to these and the astrological attributions of the body. The path of the twin serpents of the Cadaecus is primarily what the astrological nada’s represent. They cross at the chakras as represented in the classical texts (see Woodroffe p.110-114)
Whether the qaballah is regarded as original wisdom, once lost and now reinstated; or as a fixed system – a firm suppository of divine ideas; an ever-evolving body of the summation of human mystical understanding and science, a map of the divine in man, and the mirror thereof, it is evident in the etymology of QBL that it is it is the primary significator and resonator and database of the divine science.
1) See Jean-Paul Sartre (1943) for an extensive treatment of the subject, indeed it could be argued that transcendence is at the root of all Existentialist thought and there is a thread that can be traced through the history of philosophy.
Hamaker-Zondag K., Psychological Astrology, 1st ed. New York: Samuel Weiser Inc.
Jung C. J., Psychologsche Typen, 1st Edition Zurich: Rasher Verlag. The in print version is the translation of H. G Baynes revised but R. F. C. Hull as Volume 6 of the Collected Works: Psychological Types , 1971 New York, Princeton University Press.
Sartre J.P. , 1943, L’Etre et le Néant, Gallimard. English translation by Barnes H. E., 1958, Being and Nothingness, 1st ed. London: Methuen & Co Ltd.
Skinner S./ Rankine R., 2005, Keys To The Gateway of Magic, 1st ed. Singapore: Golden Hoard Press.
Runyon C., 1997, Secrets of The Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscript, 1st ed. Silverado: CHS Inc.
Russell B.,Whitehead A.N.,1903, Principia Mathematica , 1st ed. London: Cambridge University Press. This passage is, I think specific to this edition.
Woodroffe J., 1958, The Serpent Power, Madras: Ganesh & Co.
From the wellspring of being all colours emanate.
Divide, Add, Multiply and Understand
Firstly, I am not a dyed in the wool Thelemite, I personally try to avoid strongly dogmatic or fundamentalist thinking and hopefully this is reflected herein.
Ch1.v24. I am Nuit, and my word is six and fifty.
Ch1.v25. Divide, add, multiply, and understand
It is possible to read these verses from the Book of the Law, as per the official Crowley commentary, as instructions to divide the two numbers, six and five, and then analyse the decimal fraction:
24. Nu HB:NV = 6 + 50 = 56.
25. Dividing 6/50 = 0.12.
There is an interesting route to be taken though if we take the starting point as the number fifty six and then execute the algorithm as instructed in Chapter one, verse twenty five.
Our first operation is ‘divide’; the simplest division is division by two – I believe division by two is asking the question, “what is the essence of the existing entity?” – it’s parentage so to speak. In terms of numerology the divine unity achieves existence through the duad and consciousness through the triad. It is the nature of the second house in astrology to materialise in the physical world as it is for the zodiacal sign of Taurus to be earthy and geocentric, so by halving we are investigating the first house ‘personality’, the Arian attributes, of the existent entity ‘56’. This is also an assessment of its inner opposites
56 / 2 = 28
So, the progenitor of 56 is 28: 28 is the second ‘perfect number’ (the first being six) as discovered/recorded by Euclid – based on the formula 2p−1(2p−1). So, by inference we are implying that ‘56’ is the physical actualisation of the concept ‘28’. There are roughly twenty eight days of the Lunation and female menstrual cycle and the sidereal rotation of the sun (as seen from the earth) also follows roughly a 28 day solar cycle. Of relevance too is the appearance of 28 in the cosmology of Anaximander where the number 28 represents the totality of the universe – the Anaximanderian universe is 28 units across, the cosmos mirroring the ‘perfect number’:
Our next operation is to ‘add’:
2 + 8 = 10
This addition is in astrological terms a uniting of the opposites: the second house Taurean duad is conjoined to the opposing eighth house Scorpionic octad. Whereas the second house is ‘the house of possessions’ the eighth house contains ‘sex, death and the occult’  these are ‘hidden’, by self, society or nature, ‘the house of the dispossessed’ maybe. This addition is a symbolic uniting of the hidden and the visible into a synthesis of both. In terms of relatedness Taurus and Scorpio are both ‘sensual’ in all aspects of the word.
In their uniting by addition the product is the decad/tetractys – revered by the Pythagoreans as the uniting of heaven and earth: because it is the sum of the first four numbers/Euclidian dimensions. As ten kabbalistically it is Malkuth and its astrological resonances are tenth house, Capricornian and, in Tantric philosophy it the Muladhara chakra. The transmogrification of the Cancer/lunar twenty eight to the Capricornian/Saturnine ten too is illustrative of how the ancients, saw the soul descending through Cancer to be given birth in Capricorn – see Porphyry’s “On the Homeric Cave of the Nymphs as the Sun itself descended from the Tropic of Cancer at the summer solstice down to the tropic of Capricorn to be reborn at the winter solstice. We could view it as the birth, or the consciousness of, the material world from the concepts of being and non-being, cf Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.
As our next operation is to multiply, we split the 1 and the 0 of the ten:
1 x 0 = 0
The ‘One’ of Kether is resolved into nothingness = ain.
The zero is the innumerable and the unlimited, symbolised in the eternally recurring path of the ‘0’: the primal Shakti power from which all, with the Siva/Hadit point, are generated. There are parallels to be drawn here too between Nuit and Aditi, the Vedic Goddess of the sky; she is mother of the main pantheon of Gods. Aditi’s name is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Da’ to bind – which can be rendered as a-diti, translated variously as ‘the unbound’, ‘the free one’, ‘the boundless’, ‘without limits’: Nuit declares too ‘Bind Nothing!” . Both are conceived as the Great Mother, the ultimate source of all things.
Aditi also could well be the earliest representation of the concept of infinity within the history of thought; there are certainly similarities with the limitless Aperion of Anaximander – the ‘indefinite’ and thence into the Milesian school – from thence into Greek philosophy. It is worth also noting that Pythagorean table of opposites had male and limited on one side and female and unlimited on the other.
In relation to infinity as envisaged as the eternal recurrence: it was a way for the primal mind to be able to contemplate eternity, the uraeus/uroborus serpent, or the saintly halo – to view the world sub species aeternalis was the goal of the wise of all ages. For all our troubles when compared to, or factored against eternity are as naught, or as near to naught as makes no difference, so it is that every number, great or small, when multiplied by zero becomes zero – as in Ch1.v21. With the God & the Adorer I am nothing.
But here we see symbolically the material universe, reality, facticity, represented by the ’10’ resolved into nothing, represented by the ‘0’.
Further to this there are two passages which are relevant:
Ch1.v46. Nothing is a secret key of this law. Sixty-one the Jews call it; I call it eight, eighty, four hundred & eighteen
Ch1.v47. But they have the half: unite by thine art so that all disappear
There is also much to be gleaned from assessing these verses in a similar vein to the previous ones. I see no reason not to follow Crowley in interpreting 61 as indicating ain, the negative first veil of existence (איך = 61) and 61 is prime. It is asserted that 61 is only half of the equation – the other half, as in verse 46 above are the numbers 8, 80 & 418:
So, if we take sixty one as the secret key of the law, multiply it by eight:
61 x 8 = 488
4 + 8 + 8 = 20
2 x 0 = 0
It is resolved into zero via the duad.
Eight provides the key to enumerate negative existence (61) as zero: the significance of 80 too is, I think in 8 realised by multiplication with the decad, the material realisation of 8, it reduces 61 to zero in a similar manner to 8:
61 x 80 = 4880
4 + 8 + 8 + 0 = 20
2 x 0 = 0
Four hundred and eighteen has been treated extensively by Crowley and is full of permutations. In 4 + 1 + 8 = 13 though we have the significant figure of unity – i.e. thirteen encompasses and transcends the twelve zodiacal constellations and is the kabbalistc number of Achad – unity.
418 and 61 though do an interesting thing when multiplied:
61 x 418 = 25498
2 + 5 + 4 + 9 + 8 = 28
As with 56 the number resolves into 28.
And if we treat it as above:
2 + 8 = 10
1 x 0 = 0
So, we’ve divided added and multiplied – have we then ended up with nothing?
Thankyou for reading.
 The Equinox, Vol 1, Number 7, Aleister Crowley, 1st ed.1912, p.389
 Anaximander and the Architects, Robert Hahn, 1st ed. State University of New York Press, 2001, p.218.
 The Living Sky, Steven Forrest, 1st ed. Bantham Books, 1984, p163.
 Selected Works of Porphyry, “On the Homeric Cave of the Nymphs”, Thomas Taylor, 2nd ed. The Prometheus Trust 1999 p.144 – 168
 The shape of the zero finds its origin in the calculation with stones where the ‘0’ was the shape left in the sand by a removed pebble.
 Ch1.v22: Since I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. Bind nothing!