32 Paths of Wisdom
I use some really strange language to describe the different cards in the Tarot deck. Some of you may think that it sounds cool and mysterious, others may think that it sounds like I’m a complete nut case.
There is actually a method to my madness.
In order to give you a reference point so that you can understand some of the words and phrases that are used, I’m going to continue with a basic overview of the Kabbalah from the hermetic point of view.
In the last post we went over the Tree of Life and some general attributions to the Tarot. Let’s delve deeper into these concepts.
The structure of the Tree of Life is described in a really old book called the Sepher Yetzirah, which loosely translates into, “The Book of Creation.” The information in it was passed from teacher to student verbally, presumably for centuries, before it was recorded in a book. Sepher Yetzirah describes the act of creation from God to the physical universe in 32 steps. These are the 32 Paths of Wisdom, and these paths take shape as 10 stages and the 22 relationships betwen the 10 stages.
According to the Sepher Yetzirah, God “carved out” 10 spheres from nothingness. The concept of “carving out” would be like taking a big bucket of ice cream and digging out perfectly round balls of ice cream from it. After you have scooped a ball of ice cream from the bucket, you are left with perfectly round holes that you can now fill up with really yummy chocolate. In the case of Creation, God carved 10 empty spaces out of nothingness, and the really yummy chocolate is energy. Each sphere gets filled with a particular form of energy, or a vibration of the Breath of God.
The Tree of Life is all about objects and relationships. Objects are “things.” Relationships are the interactions between things. Relationships can’t exist until objects are created. The 10 empty spaces, or Sephirah, are levels of existence: they are things. As the Spheres fill up with energy they reach a point called “critical mass” where the attraction between them spontaneously happens. This spontaneous attraction is like gravity. The Earth and the Moon have a strong attraction to each other, so much so that the Moon orbits around the earth. If you draw a straight line between the center of the Moon and the center of the Earth you show the line of strongest attraction between the Moon and the Earth. This is the same concept behind the 22 Paths on the Tree of Life: each path is the strongest point of attraction between two Spheres.
This diagram shows the numbering of the 32 paths of Wisdom on the Tree of Life. It is the natural order of Creation. First you see the Sephiroth, numbered 1 through 10, in the order they were “carved out” of nothingness. Then you see the paths, numbered 11 through 32, in the order they appeared as the Spheres reached critical mass.
Now when you see a statement like, “The 29th path is the Corporeal Intelligence,” you can look at this diagram and see where the 29th path exists in the scheme of Creation.