Symbology 101: The Kabbalistic Tree
The Kabbalistic Tree, also known as the Tree of Life, is a map of the hidden mysteries. Formulated within Jewish mysticism and the study of the Kabbalah, it symbolically lays out the teachings of the Tora. The Tarot also does this referring back to Kabbalistic teachings all through out the deck. Essentially the Tarot is the western guide to the Kabbalah.
The mystical nature of the Hebrew alphabet is embedded in each key of the Major Arcana, and is associated with each path along the Tree. This allows each Major Arcana Key to also sit upon a path, embedding the Fool’s journey into the Tree.
As much as the entire Major Arcana is embedded in the Tree, the Tree itself is embedded in individual cards. It starts with the High Priestess. The entire card is the Tree. Her heart rests at Tiferet and her crown reveals the hidden sephirot Da’ath. She is the middle neutral pillar sitting between the female – male polarity of the two other pillars. The curtain behind her is decorated with the Tree using pomegranates as the sephirot. The scroll in her lap is literally labeled Tora telling you that this is her book of hidden mysteries. The High Priestess is the Tree and her teachings will allow us to travel the paths on our way to enlightenment at Kether
We also see the pattern of the Tree in The Lovers, their hands meeting at Jesod suggesting that it is through their union that the energetics of the universe (Kether) manifest in reality (Malkuth). We can also lay this pattern onto the Moon. The Moon speaks to our journey back to Kether. As much as in The Lovers we see the energetics from the universe coming into the world, in The Moon we see those same energies moving back to the universe. Hence the Tarot is teaching us that we can travel in many different ways up and down the Tree.
There are ten Sephirot, there are 10 minor arcana cards in each suit. Yes, they line up; each telling their own part of the story. When we see groups of flaming Yods clustered in 10’s we are being shown a reference to the Tree. In The Tower we have the flaming Yods actually in the Tree pattern. This is what tells us that the fall is according to divine intervention (in the long run the fall will be good for you).
Sometimes we get references to the Tree through its absence. The Hermit, standing like a pillar dressed in grey is the middle pillar of the Tree. His story is about travelling the Tree without being distracted by polarities. His journey of wisdom and manifestation is the direct route between Kether and Malkuth, yet he is assigned the path on the tree between Tiferet and Chesed, so when he does stray from the path it is on the side of mercy.
Today I contemplate the Tree of Life. There are many ways to get where we are going, no one way is more correct than another. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations is what makes life so interesting.