Well ! I shall try. That sketch was done in 1992, and I seem to remember, there was some written material with it … (which I located yesterday! See further down). But first, some warm-up flourishes with the Tree:
General – the Tree and Jacobs Ladder
The Chakras embody the seven levels of the Tree of Life.
More than enough has been written about the Chakras, their tonalities and symbols in different systems, for a student to become thoroughly confused! It feels superfluous to compare or reconcile cultural viewpoints – they all come back to the same principle. Bridging the traditions, I intend to pick up on a few of my insights which accumulated experientially here.
The Chakras are seven beads strung upon a thread. Like our classical planetary octave to which were added for the modern era, the outer planets, supplementary beads appear among the basic seven.
In Tarot and Alchemy, the Chakras are called the “Interior Stars”. Our spine is a stem for their expression, like a flute or a fountain.
The Tree of Life is a fountain: root and shoot: a gravitation of Light into earth. The lightning flash upward or downward, completes an electric circuit. It unites the polarities through centre. From the heart the shoot ascends; the root descends.
On this foundational principle is based the Cup and Blade, Feminine and Masculine triads, the interplay of Grace and Kundalini, the Book of Changes. Rise and fall.
At the heart, Tifareth (Beauty) – is sustained through Kether (the Holy One) and our Ground (Malkuth). The cosmic song of Kether, Tifareth, Malkuth is: “I AM THAT I AM”.
The Tree’s centre pillar is sometimes called KAV. This inner thread unites galaxy to earthworm through DNA and atomic lattice. When the Tree extends into Four Worlds (dovetailed through the upper and lower ‘faces’), the KAV forms – up through the centre pillar, or stem – a vertical Jacobs’ Ladder of 11 Sefiroth – Malkuth, Yesod, Hod, Netzach, Tifareth, Gevurah, Hesed, Daat (which is a non-Sefira), Binah, Hokhmah, Kether. Or in physical terms – body as vehicle, the persona, mind-stuff, desire, beauty(heart centre), constraints, opportunities, unknown-cognition, understanding, wisdom, the Divine thread. The language is refined through the 3 higher worlds, and becomes archetypal. The psychological world – Yetzirah – penetrates our physical organs – Assiyah – through Daat (union, unknown cognition, capillary) and “rests its feet”/Malkuth, in the heart/Tifareth of the physical world. And so on.
The KAV feels like a tweak of the divine Thread through fontanelle and soles of feet: sky to earth – the Tree is strung upon it, as I am.
The Four Worlds
In his autobiography The Path of a Kabbalist, Halevi writes:
“Jacob’s Ladder is the Kabbalistic version of the Chain of Being or interacting Worlds, well known to the ancient and medieval mystics and philosophers. In the Zohar, the Ladder is spoken of symbolically as one reality inside another, like a nut within its shell, which in turn is inside another nut and shell: (or the brain inside the skull). In the extended diagram of interlocked Trees, the lower ‘face’ of a higher Tree overlaps the upper ‘face’ of the next Tree below or World down, and so on.
“However, this metaphysical diagram was never openly revealed in the public domain, although it was hinted at in many Kabbalistic texts.
“The nearest reference I have seen is a document from Yemen in the late 15th century. In this, a chain of eleven interlocked circles clearly define Jacobs Ladder, but without the sefiroth or paths. This meant the original scheme of what was called the Great Tree, running down the centre, was not shown. The KAV or middle column line of Divine Presence that permeates existence, makes up what is seen as the fifth ‘Great Tree’. Together with the forty Sefiroth of the four Trees, they make the Fifty Gates spoken of in some texts. The eleventh, mysterious non-sefira, Daat or Knowledge, representing direct experience, adds the eleventh circle of the Yemeni Ladder which is composed of Biblical verses.”
(See drawings of Jacob’s Ladder – the 4-World Trees – in this post, below.)
Halevi continues: “Jacob’s Ladder was rediscovered by my Instructor and another member of our circle. The latter brought him the reproduction of a modern painting of kabbalistic Trees, set inside one another. The idea, that within each Sefira there is a little Tree, and within that, another, and so on until there are ten, is well known but not in terms of a Ladder. The painting had several Trees telescoped inside one another, but in no obvious order. My colleagues then saw that if this image could be pulled out like a telescope, it might make more sense. They redrew the model in terms of the Four Worlds (Ezekiel’s vision), and suddenly Jacob’s Ladder was there with the Great Tree on the central column. When the Kabbalah group was shown this scheme, we were stunned. It explained many of the obscure texts in Kabbalistic literature where a ‘Ladder of Ascent’ is mentioned.
“The Yemen manuscript (in the British Museum) was confirming evidence for the metaphysical model spoken of, in symbolic terms. Discovering it (at a later date) was a great relief, as it backed the interlocked Ladder, as against the generally misunderstood view that the Worlds were joined by the bottom and top of their Trees. This view did not explain how they interacted, whereas the overlaying and underlying upper and lower Trees did.”
Zev ben Shimon Halevi 2010
(My grandfather Jim Ede had a bas-relief this same shape, carved out of dark greenish stone. He played with the curves between his thumbs, and said it was very ancient and he could make it “bend”, but of course it didn’t. I grew up with it. But I cannot find a photo of it anywhere in his book of Kettles Yard “A Way of Life” – perhaps he carried it in his pocket. It had at least five circles. Not surprisingly, when I was first shown Jacob’s Ladder in ’88, I felt at home.)
This sketch is by his friend Dino Valenti:
Gallery 1 – click on any image to view
Note in one of these, the Seven Kabbalistic Heavens on the KAV – a numerical correspondence with the Chakra stem. The Four Worlds are Aziluth (Emanation), Beriah (Creation, archangelic laws), Yetzirah (Formation, the psyche and astrology archetypes) and Assiyah (material world). Our worldview is in general where the two lower worlds, Yetzirah and Assiyah, overlap. The worldview alters radically as we ascend the Ladder and gain altitude and objectivity.
So what is a Chakra?
The Sanskrit word for this is “wheel”. The wheel turns slowly at its hub, and moves faster around the rim. The galactic wheel in which our solar system travels, moves at a rate we cannot conceive. All originates from “spin” or torque: the beginnings of the whirlings, or GILGALEM. Waves for instance are spiral rotations; and concentration of any medium, curves gravity towards and around itself. The Sun as a gravitational focus, travels along a vast galactic spiral: the planets spiral around him. Any singularity produces a curvature of time and space – like water around a plughole.
A Chakra embodies this principle. It has no speech or theory. It is life – the thread pulled from above and below, vibrates, and the universe spins. At school we made and played with spinzips. We cut a disk out of card, coloured it, and threaded a loop of string through two holes (like a button) in its centre. Grasping the loop’s two ends, we whirled the disk round and round, and when it was all wound up, we played the length of string like an accordian, in and out, watching it whirl and twist each way, watching the colours – and it made a wonderful whooshy spin-zippy sound. Try it.
A Chakra, like a tree, grows up through its own concentric rings. A chakra has a simultaneously horizontal and vertical movement – like the Sri Chakra Yantra.
Mandalas and Yantras are Chakras, as are concentric wavelengths and sound-waves. A Mantra is a vibration of consciousness. A Chakra vibrates from centre which is still, to circumference which is active: from formlessness to form: from the core of a tree through yearly rings, to the outer bark and upper leaf and birds. A Chakra is everything we see around us, as our vision moves through the sphere. Our spatial geometry is the sphere, whose limitless fluidity is supported by interior Tetrahedrons – the stability of existence.
A chakra is, experientially, EXISTENCE: with – if we are fortunate – consciousness and peace: sat chit ananda.
The sequence of seven interior Chakra notes in the subtle body, aligned to the spine, implies the Octave. Normally, they are obscured by life. Practices of Yoga and Alchemy assist and attune our Chakral consciousness – like cleaning a window: a lens.
The seven Chakra tones suggest a spectrum with higher and lower tones beyond our sensory field: and therefore, the rainbow.
Pure white light, growing up through the stem from ground, is a hidden treasure whose crest is the thousand petalled lotus.
The rainbow’s primordial refraction of light (fire) through water (rain) – converts white light to our seven perceptual tones (and all the shades between). In this drawing, the seven Chakra centres in our body are aligned to seven levels – (or “heavens”) – in the Tree of Life. The encircling “fountain” through our auric field, has seven sheaths, and is brown, the colour of Earth. With conscious breath, we inhale while visualising a fountain or a waterfall: root and shoot: the interpenetrating triangles, male and female, of the Seal of Solomon.
4 January 1992 – What did I write, with this sketch ?
Surprise! It was the first draft of Tsim Tsum, a “landmark” essay which I found and blogged last summer, 18 July:
“In Genesis, And There Was Light was the handwriting of space, time and matter visible to the eye – how it ballooned over the aeons. To withdraw into attention – lotus, stem and flower – is to centre a radiating concentric ripple. The infinite centre emits signals of itself. A centre which emits a signal, concentrically, is a creation of time – relative to the receiver. But the ripple which is the signal, is a wave, leaving the centre at the speed of light, perhaps.
“Sudden gleam of realisation in half-sleep last night: if I emit rays of speed of light, then I myself travel (away from the emitting) at the speed of light. What moves and what is moved is purely relative, in the universal constant of 186,000 miles per second … … Listen carefully. Matter is formed at the speed of Light, wherever on the circumference of the sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere!”
There follows my then favourite passage (slightly abridged) from Leo Schaya’s The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah:
“When Baal-Shem says that ‘God the infinite brings about a contraction and makes room in himself where the worlds can be created’, he is alluding to the Kabbalistic doctrine of tsim tsum … ‘The Holy One, blessed be he, withdrew his powerful light from one part of himself and left a void to serve as a place for cosmic expansion’; it concerns ‘that part of the divine essence in which the light was weakened to allow the existence of souls, angels, angels and the material worlds.
“In reality, God the absolute One, has no ‘parts’, but an infinity of possibilities of which only the creatural possibilities have the illusory appearance of separate forms. … The part from which the light has been withdrawn to make room for the cosmos, is nothing other than God’s receptivity which actualizes itself in the midst of his unlimited fullness. This receptivity has a transcendent aspect and an immanent aspect. ‘Above’, it is identified with Binah the supreme Mother, eternally filled with the infinite and luminous emanation of the Father Hokhmah. ‘Below’, it is Malkuth (substance), the lower Mother or cosmic receptivity of God.”
He is talking about Binah the Dark Mother inseminated by Hokhmah, wisdom; and Malkuth the realm of Earth – the field.
“Malkuth absorbs the influx from the Sefira of Benevolence, luminous and overflowing, and the influx from the Sefira of Severity (Rigour), dark or empty.” (This is like the tide, the breath, the chambers of the heart. Malkuth realises tangibly, the principle.)
“Thus, in contrast to Binah (the Understanding) which is always revealed as filled with the infinite, Malkuth the divine Immanence can take on the appearance of a dark void in the midst of its radiant fullness.
“Indeed, Binah is … without all rigour, though rigour emanates from Her, while Malkuth receives the emanations of rigour (Gevurah) together with those of grace (Hesed) to produce and dominate the cosmos and hold it in equilibrium through the interpenetration of two simultaneously opposite and complementary influxes.
(In other words, where was ever a big bang or beginning?)
“Through the effect of tsim-tsum, the divine fullness withdraws from the ‘lower Mother’ and awakens creative receptivity in her. This takes on the aspect of the Void or ‘place of the world’, ready to receive cosmic manifestation. Then all creative possibilities spring up from the existential seed which is left behind by divine Fullness on its withdrawal – as a luminous residue in the immanent emptiness. Thus, thanks to the divine contraction and the void it brings about in the Shekhinah, the expansion of the world takes place; and everything living in the immanence of God, is a small world created in the image of the macrocosm. It is a void to which life is given by a luminous residue of the One Reality: a central and divine spark which projects onto it the reflection of some eternal archetypes.”
(As we saw in my earlier post, the balloon can only expand with an emptying lung.)
“Kabbalah expresses the same process as the pargod, or curtain. The Idra Rabba Kadisha says of the Ancient of Ancients that he draws a curtain down before him’ through which his kingdom begins to take shape.”
(The curtain is a starling’s breast, a raven’s wing, the High Priestess or veil – daughter of the stars.)
“This image and that of the tsim tsum not only point to the same truth, but complement each other. God appears to withdraw himself from himself to the extent that he draws down a ‘curtain’ before him. The curtain hangs before him like a darkness; this darkness is none other than his cosmic receptivity, which allows his Reality to appear through it as a light. But his Infinite Light appears through the dark veil only in a weakened, fragmented and limited way, which is the mode of existence of the finite.
Gallery 2 – click on any image to view
“God is hidden in everything he creates, the way light is contained in the innumerable reflections which produce a mirage … The desert where the mirage is produced, represents the Void or Place of the World made by tsim tsum. The (imperceptible) screen on which appear the vanishing forms that lead the pilgrim astray, is the pargod, curtain or mirror of Shekhinah (holy Bride, or Presence).”
“This passage parallels Ramana Maharshi’s analogy of the screen as the Self, on which are projected the movie-pictures of the world. The movie-picture is the curtain. That which is unchanging, onto which the world pictures are produced, is the Self, Brahman, the Holy One, I AM.
“The speed of light, perceptible as a physical constant, is but a pale echo of the Holy One’s effulgence. For the speed of Light, written everywhere in the universe – the Signature – is not … the Scribe! It is only what appears on the curtain, the spectrum of the Rainbow.”
Now follows the sketch, and this explanation:
Embodying the Chakras on the Tree of Life
“1. EARTH. Malkuth. Awareness in physical organs, and of surroundings. Base of spine. Tail. Root of the Tree of Life. Connection with the ground, through any part of the body, to the planetary core. Lotus roots in soil. Snake (Kundalini coil). RED, fiery or rosy red.
“2. MOON. Yesod. Edited image of ‘I’ the doer. Conception and infancy. Scenario which changes with conditions. Screen of consciousness. Picture of self. Feelings and urges, emotions, appetites, ideation. Sexual, naval, reproductive reservoir. Personality. Foundation of the Tree of Life, where the branches begin. Conditioned censor (filter) of material from within or from without. ORANGE.
“3. MERCURY AND VENUS. Hod & Netzach. To left and right, the child’s mother and father branch out from Yesod, as their type of interior chatter. Observe mental activity, processing, and the rhythms of breath, pulse and desire, hunger or habit, generating energy and nature’s warmth. Awareness and submission to the dance. Seat of everyday mind-stuff and response to stimuli, reactivity, fears. Internal politics, environmental information, sights and sounds. Solar plexus; kidneys; YELLOW.
“4. SUN. Tifareth. “I” that AM. Hod & Netzach converge through Triad of Awakening, upon the Heart of the Tree, its centre stem (green sap) of the Lotus through which all light travels up, down, receiving above as below, the wisdom. Beauty and rest. A decisive factor through lifetimes. Concentration, freedom, acuity, detachment, enquiry. The heart, to both sides of sternum, a depth of green transparency: solutions. Esoteric Sun of the soul. From the seed, the shoot grows upward and the root downward. Source. Heart chakra – GREEN.
“5. MARS AND JUPITER. Gevurah & Hesed. Branching again to left and right, becoming blue; throat area. The balance of rigour and grace (benevolence), centred upon Tifareth forms the Triad of the Soul where we are tested. Faculties for discrimination, taste, equilibrium, evolution. Force and Form. Parental archetypes – the archway. (“All experience is an arch where thro’ gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades, for ever and for ever as I move.”) Pillars Jakin and Boaz, of Solomon’s Temple. Throat chakra and expression – BLUE.
“6. SATURN AND URANUS (OR STARRY SKY). Binah & Hokhmah. Quantum leap through deep indigo effulgent darkness, over the abyss of Daat, forms with Tifareth the Great Triad of the Spirit – a curtain filled with stars.
“Daat is a non-Sefira beyond and yet within the whole Tree, and even encompassing it. In each Sefira, the worlds meet – tetrahedral vesica pisces – and so Daat is called “Union”. Daat’s region is the subatomic worlds.
“Receptive cosmic intellect – creation’s blueprint or understanding – and the wisdom-flash of Light before it congeals to the speed of light. Intellect receives Light as a cable receives and contains the current. Third Eye chakra between the brows: intuition and prophecy. Luminous VIOLET, like sapphire crystals.
“7. NEPTUNE. Convergence upon Kether, the Divine. Lord Mother, thou Art God. Just above crown of head or infant fontanelle – source opening, white light unadorned, thirty thousand petalled lotus. WHITE.
“8. PLUTO. Daat: completion of musical octave, by turning within the Tree. The in-turning suggests the Primordial One’s withdrawal or interiority, to yield a place for Creation. In Vedanta and Yoga, the third eye bows to the heart. The thread on which the worlds are strung, is called sushumna – the nerve current from muladhara (root) to sahasrara (thousand petalled lotus) through which Kundalini is made to rise.
“The centre stem of the Tree, between Kether and Tifareth, central and upper spine column, carries the vast collective mystery, quantum factor, key hole to death, birth and the interpenetration of the Worlds. See through a glass darkly. The white lotus bows as the veil of embodied identity sunders. Path of return from the Crown to heart’s Source. Contact with the deep. INDIGO.
(In this context, The Seven Year Cycles on the Tree of Life may be of interest also.)
“I found that to have viable wings – the subtle opening between shoulder blades when all the Worlds connect (heart chakra and Daat) – a viable Tail must connect my dragons’ Head to Earth. The Tail performs the functions of balance and rootedness, and is formed from the two base chakras, Earth and Moon (Malkuth, Yesod, red and orange.) Elder lizard vertebrae!”
This is not a traditional view of the chakras: the colour scale is not that of the Builders of the Adytum, nor of Vedanta, theosophy or G.D., nor of the Tree School. It made sense to me because it is simple, and takes me up the Tree; it fits the bill sufficiently, and is beautiful. These concepts with the colour were germinal, and helped me to build. They are not rigid. So nowadays I do not worry when esoteric models appear to disagree, nor try to reconcile them, but place them side by side – as languages for the same thing.
“I perceive the rainbow Chakra column “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” within the centre of the Tree, enhancing the structural Kabbalah. The Tree and its 10 Sefiroth are a Mandala, a concentric circle or auric egg/seed of light around the rising pillar of the rainbow which centrally cleaves the seed. In the same way, our orbit around the Sun travels with it as a dimensional spiral.
“Sap rises through the stem to the Sun, through osmosis. Moisture, lifted from the ground through absorbtion and evaporation, travels through a semi-permeable membrane – the stem cells. It is drawn up to occupy the ‘vacuum’ of varying fluidic densities in neighbouring cells. It is drawn up to the light against terrestrial pressure. It is green in leaf, and embraces the Sun.
“Physically – world of Assiyah – the ground-level where the growing Tree or plant appears, is Hod-Netzach, and at Tifareth the green grass flourishes. Below this membrane of the physical world, the psyche exists vegetatively – according to habit and to the seasons. The soul, questing upward through the earthy membrane like a blade of spring crocus, discovers air. Deep under the ground, where roots quest delicately in the dark towards their antipodes, it is red or rose-red – the warmth of Mother Earth’s inner fire. No tall Temple spire can be built without a foundation equally deep. If the root does not penetrate the earth to stabilize it in the sky, it will crack and fall down. If we get caught in the astral sky ungrounded, we wrap illusory demons of guilt, pride and fear around ourselves; for we still dwell underground, a prey to unconscious forces.
“So see to the root. Then ascend the mountain path.”
Paths of Awakening. Colours of Sefiroth are shown in BOTA Queen scale, not as the Chakra spectrum discussed here. As the rainbow, we are looking at: Malkuth red. Yesod orange. Hod-Netzach yellow and Tifareth green.
Gallery 3 – click on any image to view
Finally: what is practical? When strong images of colour and growth are generated, they link with the ageless prototypes. Everything we touch is vibrational. Words are initial tetrahedral processes to support our understanding. After they are built into colour and sound and light, we no longer need to remember them. The key then is intention, love and goodwill. So we can be seated, or out walking. We can make ourselves a fountain, a channel to receive and to give. We can savour the colours and their resonance. Through red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, is threaded the KAV, the white brilliance, the light everlasting.
Aahh! Those far off days at art school …
Gallery 4 – click on any image to view
These were done in 1968, looking at an object or picture through a tilted magnifying glass or lens – the light spills out of the earth’s dark cloth: the tones are dragged apart.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/