The following seven papers describe Geburah, the Fifth Sephirah (More to follow)...
(Updated 22 February 2021)
By Doreen Sturzaker
The main function of Geburah is as a corrector of imbalance and it does this by what we may call Martian methods, sudden and stringent. Its keywords are strength, severity, justice and fear, the fear which is really awe, as it is said "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom". Although Mars, its Mundane Chakra, is supposed to be warlike, Mars is not a starter of wars, but he does finish them with explosive Martian force. It all depends on when and how the force is applied as to how serious the results of Geburah may be. The longer one is allowed to act without its counter-balance the more unbearable the results become from our present human standpoint. The exuberance and abundance of Gedulah must be balanced by the stringency and economy of Geburah.
Mars wields the sword like a scalpel cutting out all that is unwanted, a breaking down in order to rebuild something better in the life. Geburah breaks up matter so that force is released for a different purpose, for example, as with an atomic reactor this can be peaceable or with violence as with the Bomb.
The Magical Image of Geburah is a mighty warrior king in his chariot going forth to war to see that justice shall be done, where the weak need protecting or where there is a merciless use of strength against another the sword of the warrior king is of more use than the orb of Gedulah. We can see in life the alternating rhythms of these two Spheres, we swing from one to the other like a pendulum.
Sometimes we are in a severe Geburah phase which taken to extremes leads to cruelty and harshness, I think certain aspects of the Victorian era were Geburah in quality and now with the so-called permissive society we have swung to the other side of the Tree and in some respects we are in danger of over-doing the mercy of Gedulah and finishing up with weakness, a wishy-washiness. When the extreme is reached the pendulum swings, we reach a point of near stability and then it moves off again to the opposite Pillar, but always the two Spheres work in rhythm, there could not be one without the other.
The Angelic Order are the Seraphim or "Fiery Serpents" and their task is to work with the principle of heat just as their opposite numbers in Geburah work with light. The heat aspect is not just physical but also refers to a burning zeal for a cause or even a heated argument.
Many people seem to have the idea that Geburah is a Sphere of retribution but this really is not so, it is a Sphere of adjustment, of purification. We need to learn to let go of what is outgrown and useless to us and if we can detach ourselves, if we can voluntarily relinquish what is unwanted for our spiritual progress then we shall not feel the scourge of Geburah. However, if we do not exercise self-discipline then Geburah is there to do it for us, and probably in ways we shall not like.
From all this we see that Geburah is a dynamic power, its Spiritual Experience is the Vision of Power. Before we are capable of handling great power it is necessary to learn the lessons of control, discipline and stability.
Here is where the Path connecting these two Sephiroth is helpful. The Paths are the subjective states of consciousness that we are treading, usually more than one Path at a time. We probably tread them many times in our spiritual progress back to the Source, the Ain.
The Path linking Gedulah and Geburah is the Path of Strength. The figure on the Tarot card is a young girl holding open the jaws of a lion, around her waist is a chain of flowers and she is leading the lion by the chain. The lion signifies the untamed animal force in man, and woman, which has to be controlled and turned into more spiritual channels. Unchanneled and uncontrolled, our lower natures take command of us and we are unable to progress very far.
On this Path we are learning how to balance and adjust ourselves. It is not done by force, subjugating our emotions, that way lies disaster as the wild beast within rises up and attacks us causing our Path to become unclear as we get side-tracked. The girl demonstrates a quiet, gentle, inner strength which suggests perhaps it is by gentleness that we may conquer ourselves.
The Hebrew letter for the Path of Strength is Teth, meaning a snake or serpent. The serpent power, called by some "Fohat" the universal life-principle or cosmic electricity, a conscious energy within all things. We see in occultism illustrations of the serpent biting its own tail, so the serpent-power feeds on itself or in other words it is self-sustaining. The sum total of conscious energy in the Cosmos remains the same but it enters into different forms of expression so it does point out to us that there is a Law of transformation and conversion.
Again, the Zodiacal sign of Leo is attributed to the Path of Strength and if you look at this sign it is like a serpent in shape, a fiery solar power which is the source of all human action. Also, according to how we select and direct our conscious mental processes so it affects the outcome of the subconscious operations and hence our control over our emotions so that we begin to achieve a balance and stop flying from one extreme to another which is what a great many of us do. So we need to cease acting like pendulums and try to find that still centre of balance from where we can direct our actions, blending strength and justice with mercy and compassion.
Colours of the Path are:-
in Assiah it is a Reddish-Amber. In the early stages of the Path the Red aspect gives the fiery zeal of the reformer and the Amber can give a mental rigour but as the Path is traversed the individual may seek and find the qualities of justice and wholeness so that the Red aspect is controlled and a more balanced outlook adopted.
In Yetzirah the colour is Grey which can give endurance and persistence. Always on this Path there is a control of force in some way or another.
In Briah the colour is a Deep Purple, a Ray of great power, forcefulness and purpose as befits the Path of Strength. The understanding and the wisdom of the World of Briah augments the steady but strong striving to gain spiritual strength.
In Atziluth it is a Yellowish-Green signifying the activity of all spiritual beings, which is the Intelligence of the Path and the Green portrays the struggle and the conflicts each will undergo until they achieve the quiet, steady, spiritual strength within which is the goal of the Path of Strength.
Since Geburah is on the feminine Pillar it is interesting to recall that some of the older Semite peoples had a Goddess of love and of war, e.g. Anat or Anatha, the wife of Yahwe. She did not actually make wars but fought and finished them. Likewise, Geburah is not the cause but the cure of imbalance, somewhat homeopathic in as much as it uses the disease as its own remedy.
As in the other Spheres it, too, has its vices and these are as we might expect, cruelty and destruction, yet it is definitely not a Sphere of cruelty in its true nature, but one of balance and cruelty only enters into it when we have too much of the Geburic force applied. Its virtues are energy and courage. Symbols of Geburah are the pentagram, five-petalled rose, sword, spear, scourge and chain.
In Atziluth it is Orange, at this high octave of the tone we have the qualities of wholeness, self-control, practical knowledge, orderliness and, of course, justice. At this level in the Archetypal World it is pure justice.
In Briah, the Creative World, the colour is Scarlet a colour of great power and energy.
In Yetzirah, the Formative World, it is a bright Scarlet giving energy and the will to do, the will to help the individual to continue with the often painful process of balancing up and resolving Karma, because if we don't do it for ourselves then it will be done for us.
In Assiah, the Physical World, it is Red with Black. The type of justice emanating from here at this level of the Tree is a very rough kind of justice. There is the will and the power to rule at all costs, whether it be by the rule of law or the rule of violence and without the restrictive qualities of the Black Ray the justice would be even harsher.
Compiled by Anthony Reed (2021)
One of the least understood things in Christian philosophy is the problem of EVIL; and one of the things least adequately dealt with in the Christian ethic is the problem of FORCE, or SEVERITY, as contrasted with MERCY and MILDNESS. Consequently Geburah, the Fifth Sephirah, which has for additional titles DIN (Justice) and Pachad (Fear), is one of the least understood of all the Sephiroth, and is therefore one of the most important.
Geburah or "strength" is usually understood as God's mode of punishing the wicked and judging humanity in general. It is the foundation of stringency, absolute adherence to the letter of the law, and strict meting out of justice. All this contrasts with Chesed (Gedulah) or "kindness" which implies mercy and forgiveness.
We thus speak of God's primary modes of action as being the kindness and unaccountability of Gedulah, versus the stringency and strict accountability of Geburah. It is called "strength" because of the power and fury of God's absolute judgment.
However, when something is given for nothing, then there are no necessary limits placed on what is given. True, when a human being acts in a Gedulah mode, he is limited by the resources he possesses, but God is infinite and therefore His Gedulah is boundless.
Gedulah on its own is endless. However, the transactions that are "tit for tat," or "measure for measure" are based on what one deserves and are clearly defined and limited. The second element limits the first element. If goods are sold for money, then the amount of money given defines and limits the amount of items sold.
When God proclaimed "Enough!" He was introducing a new concept, hitherto unknown to the world: The concept of "limits" or "boundaries" -- the concept of "finite.
"But what defines this boundary? It is not because of any limit in Divine resource and ability, for God has none. Rather, it is the limits of the recipient. God determined that the relationship would be "something for something." If man had enough "purchasing power" he could gain commensurably; if not, he would do without.
The entire system of reward and punishment is rooted in this attribute of Geburah.
The answer is if God were to treat us only via the perspective of His infinite gifts, then we might have many gifts but our existence would cease to have any meaning. For whatever existed in the world would be due to His magnanimity. We could be here or not, the world would receive and continue to receive, regardless.
But if the world possessed only that which we've earned on its behalf, then our existence would be meaningful.
If only Gedulah existed, then our existence would be akin to a person who is institutionalized for life.A powerful paradox exists. On the one hand, we are in awe of this attribute of Geburah knowing how difficult it is to make it in this world, where every act is scrutinized and weighed, and where by the strength of our own deeds that we must survive. Yet it is the only way that we can survive! If only Gedulah existed, then our existence would be akin to a person who is institutionalized for life. Yes, he is not lacking shelter, clothing or food, but he exists not as a capable human being.
For example, imagine a situation where a person in need of a livelihood is hired by a friend to work in a factory. He is put to work making widgets and is paid a reasonable wage. One day he comes to the factory late at night and sees a truck pick up all the widgets he produced and dump them into the garbage. He realizes that the "job" is really just charity and his work is meaningless.
Do you think he could continue working?
Let us expand this illustration. An infirm person is totally dependent on caregivers, and on financial providers. All of his needs are taken care of, yet he begins to shrivel up mentally and emotionally. He feels that as a person he does not exist. His existence is simply the largesse and goodness of other people. It is only when a person's actions carry some import that he truly is aware of his own separate existence.
Geburah As Restraint
The rabbis teach:
At first God meant to create the world only with the attribute of justice ... for the real existence of man is through justice.
This statement might seem confusing as it implies that the world was meant to be created with the attribute of judgement. Did we not state in our previously that Creation is perforce an act of Gedulah that by definition the first act must be Gedulah?
The answer is that we cannot confuse the act of creation with the modus vivendi of life within the creation.
There is another point concerning Geburah that merits a point of discussion. The word Geburah literally means "power" and "strength." It is at first glance taken to allude to the fury of God punishing the wicked etc., which to us appears as an act of mighty conquest.
God need not "kill" someone; He simply refrains from giving him life.
The primary mode of God's punishment is a withholding of good that might have otherwise been bestowed upon man. God need not "kill" someone; He simply refrains from giving him life. He need not impoverish a nation; He simply stops giving rain. Geburah is primarily an act of constraint and restraint.
The primal force in the world is Gedulah. It is a manifestation of God's desire to give man whatever possible. The second force, Geburah, restrains the first basic force of Divine Providence and bids Him not to give.
Imagine a parent watching a toddler struggle to walk. As the toddler falls again and again, the parent must muster every ounce of strength not to extend a hand. This is Geburah at its most powerful.
For instance, let us analyse parents raising a child, or a wealthy man deciding to bestow kindness upon a pauper. They both realize that the best way to help a person is by providing him with a means of independent sustenance.
The parents proceed to give the child an excellent education and the wealthy man gives the pauper a job. In both these cases the initial act was Gedulah. It was not prompted by anything done before, and it is not a return fora previous favour or in anticipation of a future gain. But in both cases, once the initial Gedulah has only sparked the relationship into existence.
In what sense is this "power" and "strength" of Geburah displayed?
The answer lies in a teaching of the rabbis concerning human character: Who is a strong person? He who sublimates his own passions. (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1)
Our rabbis taught us two extraordinary points in this seemingly simple and pious saying.
First of all, the strength to withstand an internal urge needs to be greater than the opposition to resist an outside force. Many a valiant soldier has succumbed to personal addiction!
Secondly, constraining a basic urge requires more power than an occasional outburst of greatness. If offence is the best defence, it is because restraining an enemy is more difficult than overpowering him.
Geburah is associated in the soul with the power to restrain one’s innate urge to bestow goodness upon others, when the recipient of that good is judged to be unworthy and liable to misuse it. As the force which measures and assesses the worthiness of Creation, Geburah is also referred to in Kabbalah as midat hadin (“the attribute of judgement”). It is the restraining might of Geburah which allows one to overcome his enemies, be they from without or from within (his evil inclination).
Ultimately, the might of Geburah becomes the power and forcefulness to implement one’s innate desire of Gedulah. Only by the power of Geburah is Gedulah able to penetrate the coarse, opposing surface of reality.
In Gematria the numerical value of Geburah is 216, or 6 times 6 times 6 (63) –or 3 times 72. The first gives that the Tablet given to Moshe were 6 x 6 x 6 handbreadths. The second indicates Gedulah or the 72 hidden names, each of which contain 3 letters.
In the Bhagavad-Gita it is said on pages 104 and 105:
“A pure soul is the eternal servant of God as His fragmental part and parcel. He comes into contact with maya, (illusion) due to the desire to lord it over Maya, and that is the cause of his many sufferings.”
And on page 171:
“Fear results from worrying over the future. A person in Krishna consciousness has no fear because his activities assure him of going to the spiritual sky, back to Godhead. When one has no knowledge of the next life, then he is in anxiety. Fear is due to one's absorption in illusory energy, and certain that he is not the material body, then he has nothing to fear.”
In the Qur’an, in the Surah ‘The Cataclysm’, it is said:
“O Man! What evil has enticed you from your gracious Lord who created you, gave you an upright form, and well-proportioned you? In whatever shape He could have surely moulded you according to His will. ... The righteous shall surely dwell in bliss. But the wicked shall burn in Hell-fire upon the Judgement Day; they shall not escape.”
The Epithet Geburah
Literally, and in its biblical usage, the word Geburah refers to that which makes the hero (gibbor) a hero. In both Bible and rabbinic literature the root gv"r is distinctly associated with masculinity. This is especially clear when someone's Geburah is contrasted with his "effeminate" appearance of weakness.
The related word ever means man, plain and simple. One could say, the gibbor is a heightened version of the ordinary gever. While the gendered meaning of the abstract noun Geburah can be uncovered in this way, it is as oblique as the vir in the Latin virtus ("ViRtue"; cf. GvuRah!).
When translating the divine epithet (hag-Geburah), It can be rendered as "The Power." By what stages "power" attained the rank of a name of God in rabbinic parlance is unclear; it seems a relatively surprising candidate for such honours as expressed for example in the rabbinic topos referring to Moshes' having received the Torah "from the mouth of the power" (mip-pi hag-Geburah).
A common denominator of the variations on the rabbinic epithet Geburah can also be indicated by pointing to what it does not mean or imply. In no case does the epithet Geburah approach the philosophical meaning of "omnipotence." The medieval Hebrew translators of Jewish philosophical works composed in Arabic were sensitive to this fact when they coined a new term: hak-kol yakhol, a pale, abstract, and philosophically unambiguous attribute lacking the colourful armoury of the epithet Geburah.
In the Bahir it says, on page 110, “.... the Chet in the word Ruach alludes to the three directions or winds – Ruch-ot in Hebrew –which are closed. These closed directions are South, East and West, corresponding respectively to the Sephiroth of Gedulah-Love, Tiphareth-Beauty and Yesod-Foundation. The only open direction is North, which corresponds to Geburah-Strength.
The concept of Gedulah-Love is that of freely giving, while that of Geburah-Strength is that of restraint. When it is said that Strength is restraint, it is in the sense of the teaching, “Who is strong, he who restrains his urge” (Avot 4:1). It is obvious that a man can restrain his nature, but if a man can do so, then God certainly can....”
Divine Power, Omnipotence, and Theodicy
The notion of power is central to the religious experience. Eliade speaks of "cratophany" as a primary element of that which we perceive as sacred or holy. In this sense, power is a defining characteristic of the divine. In monotheistic religion and in its philosophy of religion power is mostly conceived in terms of omnipotence. In turn, the notion of the omnipotence of God is related to whether and how it is possible to "know God" as well as to the perennial discourse on the main challenge to this notion, the problem of suffering and the existence of evil.
Although not immediately apparent, the monotheistic revolution of ancient Israel that bequeathed to the West its monotheistic thinking had need for theodicy built into its system from the very outset. In this dramatic scenario, humans replace the forces of chaos and the lesser gods as agents that are sometimes self-centred, sometimes obedient, agents who must be forcefully guided through blessing and curse, reward and punishment, towards acknowledging God's agency in nature and history. The alternative is destruction.
In the Torah, human disobedience is the source of evil and God is at once the long-suffering benefactor, plaintiff, and judge. In ancient Israelite religion, human agency, loyal and disloyal to its maker, emerges as human possibility and as an implication of monotheism. The Israelite religion gradually refined its understanding of human agency and its relation to evil and God. Early Israel thought in terms of the tribal conglomerate, the state, and heroic leaders. The need for a justification of God in the face of suffering arose here in the context of historical threat and destruction.
The pious individual, like prophet and psalmist, experiences a God who keeps silent in the face of unjust suffering and gratuitous evil. Gratuitous suffering and the phenomenon of martyrdom, first evidenced in the Maccabean revolt, call for a strong answer that the Exodus and the prophetic traditions about national rebirth cannot address. The individual (Jeremiah, Job, and Ecclesiastes) is not just the penitent (cf. Psalm 51) but the one who radically questions God's justice.
By Desmond Creagh (1991)
Geburah is the fifth Sephirah on the Tree and the second on the negative pillar. It is the negative opposite of Gedulah and counter-balances the influence of this Sephirah. Geburah is translated as "severity", but it has two other titles, Pachad, which means fear or awe, and Din which means justice. As indicated by the symbolism attached to it, that is the Magical Image of a mighty warrior in his chariot and the magical weapons of the sword, the spear and the scourge, Geburah is a sphere of power, energy and destruction.
The association of Geburah with destruction and its martial symbolism could easily lead to a misunderstanding of this Sephirah, in that its influence could be seen to be malefic. However, the severity of Geburah is necessary to balance the mercy of Gedulah and to ensure that there is harmony in the Tree, An excess of mercy is weakness, and love can turn into sentimentality, which is what happens when Gedulah goes out of balance. When the power of Geburah is uncontrolled, the warrior can run wild, raping, pillaging and burning on a foray of wanton destruction. But when Geburah is acting under the guidance of Gedulah, the power is under control like the discipline of a well-trained army, the barbarian warrior becomes the mighty king going to battle in his chariot, fighting to protect his people. He could also be perceived as the knight in shining armour embarking on a quest to rescue a damsel in distress.
To understand the subtleties of Geburah, it is worth considering the meanings of its alternative titles. The title Pachad, Fear, refers to the fear of God, which is awe, and is very different from ordinary fear. It is the same as the respect one might feel for the king or the knight in armour mentioned above. Unfortunately figures such as these tend to exist in myth only, as in reality most powerful leaders maintain "respect" through cruelty and oppression.
Fear in its true sense is often felt when "awe" would be a more appropriate reaction. This is due to a lack of faith. We fear the sword of Geburah, which is a manifestation of God, because we fear change and death. This fear inhibits our growth and development, because we are often afraid to face up to the truth as to what is good for us, and to discard outworn beliefs and situations. The influence of Geburah is like the surgeon's knife which cuts away tissue that has become diseased so that the rest of the body can stay healthy. A surgical operation may be painful, but it is often necessary to ensure survival.
The title Din - Justice, refers to the way in which Geburah judges and assesses, taking any action which is necessary to restore harmony, and that action is often severe. Like Binah, Geburah is a Sephirah of discipline and is a stern schoolmaster. Strength and severity are often necessary to correct a wrong, however, and although the action of Geburah may appear to be cruel in the short term, it is usually beneficial in the long term. The power of justice also distinguishes between truth and falsehood. Geburah makes us see things as they really are, and not how we would like them to be. Its realism balances the idealism of Gedulah.
Because Geburah is the sphere of justice, it is also the centre of Karma. In physical life, Geburah is the katabolic down-breaking force which breaks down physical tissue for the purpose of ingestion or elimination. The anabolic function in metabolism is represented by Gedulah, and is the force which builds up and enables physical growth. This fundamental action of Geburah in Assiah illustrates how the powers of destruction are a necessary part of existence.
Geburah is said to be the centre of the Dark Night of the Soul. In his quest for spiritual enlightenment, a person will have to undergo the changes forced upon him by Geburah. This process may involve painful readjustments and the realisation of some home truths. This is a necessary cleaning out process, so that the soul may continue to evolve.
The Yetziratic text says that Geburah is the Radical Intelligence, because it resembles Unity. This tells us that Geburah is a modification of the emanation which comes from Kether, taking Wisdom from Chokmah and Understanding from Binah, in the journey down the path of the Lightning Flash. Geburah's influence acts as a protection against the rigidity imposed by Binah, Geburah is negative to Binah, the primordial feminine principle, thus its attributes appear to be masculine because they oppose those of Binah.
The God Name of Geburah is Elohim Gibor which can be translated as Mighty God, which refers to the cosmic power inherent to this Sephirah, a power that cannot be evaded. The Archangel Khamael sees that justice flows in accordance with universal law. He is protector of the weak and the Avenging Angel who pursues transgressors. The Fiery Serpents or Seraphim are the order of Angels attached to Geburah.
The planet Mars is the mundane chakra, the planet of energy, drive and confrontation in astrology. A person with a weak Mars in their horoscope will lack the ability to move forward in life and to assert themselves. Mars is the red planet and ruler of the fiery sign Aries. Red is the colour attributed to Geburah, which corresponds to the Red Ray. Mars was the Roman god of war and the equivalent of the Greek god Ares. All warrior gods may be attributed to Geburah. The myth of Hercules may also be considered in the working of the Geburah principle in man. However, many of the warrior gods were viewed as disorderly influences, so there is a danger of forgetting the positive aspects of Geburah, such as justice assessment and endurance. The Roman god Mars is perhaps more appropriate to Geburah than Ares, who was not highly regarded by the Greeks and Thor, who was also a crude warrior, because he was also a god of spring and the father of Romulus who founded Rome, the great empire which brought order to a chaotic world through the use of force.
Geburah corresponds to the left arm of man, because when we walk into the Tree, our left arm aligns with Geburah. Otherwise, if we back into the Tree we will be looking into the face of God. The Tree is a mirror image of Man.
By Patricia Fox (1986)
Geburah is the fifth Sephirah and is in the centre of the pillar of severity, the negative pillar. Alternative names given are Pahad (Fear) and Din (Justice).
The magical image of this Sephirah is the king in his chariot going to war. In his hand is the sword of righteousness which ensures justice shall be done. He commands respect. Its position upon the Tree is that of the katabolic, down-breaking force, with the release of force in activity. This Sephirah of punishment, rigour, fear and severity is important to keep the equilibrium on the Tree with Gedulah the Sephirah of love and emotions. As to the polarity of the Tree, Geburah is negative to Gedulah and Binah, but positive to Tiphareth and Hod. The Archangel is Khamael, temperate and not destructive. He does God's service in order that evil may be overcome and good can prevail.
Radical Intelligence is this Sephirah because it resembles unity, as in Kether, but on a lower level, taking understanding from Binah and wisdom from Chokmah. Mars is the mundane chakra and is known in astrology as the lesser infortune. Geburah is known as the destroyer, because the fiery Mars force breaks down forms and destroys them. And so it follows that the colour of this Sephirah is Red, vibrant and powerful. Geburah is the corrective of Binah, without which Binah would bind all creation into rigidity.
In this Sephirah, the Vision of Power can be experienced. It is only after this has been received that man can become an Adeptus Major. The correct handling of power is one of the greatest tasks. Energy and courage are its virtues. Cruelty and destruction are its vices.
The number 5 and the 5 sided figure are attributed to this Sephirah. The pentagon and the five petalled rose, active red and passive white are also symbols. Iron, the metal of Mars, and reference to iron discipline is needed in this Sephirah of controlled force.
The four 5’s of the Tarot fit in here, because they are all attributed to strife, trouble, defeat or loss of pleasure.
Religious fanaticism can come into being here and can only be avoided if the Sephirah of Tiphareth has been entered first, because that is the place of the Redeemer, the centre of equilibrium.
It is in Geburah that we learn to use power instead of submitting to it, but also to understand the consequences that go with the freedom of use.
The Host of Angels are the fiery serpents (Seraphim) who are ready to go into battle to ensure justice is done.
In Christian teachings the attributes of Geburah are said to be evil, that evil is a thing we recognise. I believe it is not. To me it is conditions misplaced in time.
In the first world of Atziluth, the highest level, the idea of justice is born. Moving into Briah we see justice perfectly balanced and part of universal law. (No being is outside the universal law.) What you sow, so shall you reap. Next comes the Yetziratic level where the actual formation of the system takes place. Where people of higher consciousness can understand. Finally we reach the world of Assiah, the material level where deviations can take place, where justice is always overshadowed by the higher level. Man has to be very careful in the levels of Yetzirah and Assiah when encountering the power of this Sephirah, he can soon become a fanatic to science, politics and religion and believe that Utopia (an ideal but imaginary place) can be reached through cruelty and misused power.
Geburah is said to be the ‘dark night of the soul’, where you are truly tested for your motives, desires, strength and compassion. If your motives are of the highest ideals then you will not fear this Sephirah’s weapons of the scourge, spear and whip. It is here that the sacrificed God of Tiphareth will destroy all insincerities. Any breaks in the universal law will be put right here as this is the centre for Karma. Karma is paid off all the time we are here on earth. We are continually working through it and making new Karma as we go along. Once you understand this you realise and understand that the goal is still a long way off.
The Gods of Geburah are:
ARES - Greek God of war, son of Zeus, identified with the Roman Mars.
HORUS - Egyptian God of Light, represented with a hawk's head.
THOR - Scandinavian God of Thunder, War and Agriculture, represented with a hammer in hand.
NEPHTHYS - Egyptian Goddess.
Magical Weapons are:
SWORD - a weapon for cutting and thrusting, with a hilt and usually double edged.
SPEAR - Thrusting and hurling weapon, sharp pointed with long shaft.
SCOURGE - Whip for chastising persons. Also can be person or thing regarded as instrument of divine or other vengeance or punishment. Used to afflict or oppress.
The Divine Name is ELOHIM GEBUR - Mighty Gods.
Zahab is the shining yellow gold attributed to Geburah by Kabbalistic alchemy.
On the Divine man, Adam Kadmon, Geburah is his left arm and the point of entry for Geburah force is that of Anahata, the heart centre.
The animal of this Sephirah is the BASILISK - a cockatrice, fabulous reptile hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg and said to kill by its breath or glance.
Drugs of this Sephirah are:
COCAINE - Alkaloid obtained from coca leaves and young twigs, used as a local anaesthetic and a stimulant.
ATROPINE - White crystal-like alkaloid prepared from deadly nightshade and used to dilate the pupil of the eye or to relieve pain.
OAK - Tree with hard timber bearing acorn as fruit
NETTLE - These grow profusely on waste ground. Noted for its stinging properties of leaf-hairs.
HICKORY - North American tree closely allied to the walnut and bearing bunches of pecan nuts.
The aromatic is TOBACCO - an annual plant native to tropical America with white and pink tubular flowers. The large ovate leaves are used for smoking and chewing.
The stone associated with Geburah is the RUBY - rich red colour and rare and precious stone.
ATZILUTH King Scale Orange
BRIAH Queen Scale Scarlet Red
YETZIRAH Emperor Scale Bright Scarlet
ASSIAH Empress Scale Red, flecked Black
In this Sephirah, patience must not become weakness and mercy must not become folly.
When anything has outlived its usefulness, Geburah wields the knife. If there is violence against the weak, the merciless strength of Geburah's sword is used. This has to be, for the health of society but only when it is done without vengeance.
By Carol Ann Fellows (1988)
Geburah, also known as Din-Justice, and Pachad-Fear, is in the centre of the Pillar of Severity. It represents the katabolic or down-breaking aspect of force. Geburah, the destroyer - Lord of Fear and Severity, removes anything that has outlived its usefulness. It is as necessary to the equilibrium of the Tree as Gedulah, Lord of Love. Just as we need to temper justice with mercy, so we need the realism of Geburah to balance the idealism of Gedulah. Geburah serves that which is eternal. It is only destructive to that which is temporal. It is the dynamic element in life that drives through and over obstacles.
The fifth path is called the Radical Intelligence because it resembles unity. Unity is one of the titles of Kether, therefore Geburah is akin to Kether on a lower arc. Geburah is a highly dynamic Sephirah, its energy overflowing into the world of form. It bears a close analogy to the overflowing of Kether, which is the basis of all manifestation.
To Geburah is attributed the planet Mars, indicating action, initiative, critical judgement and energy. Mythologically, Mars has always been connected with war. It indicates the inability to accept and work with prevailing circumstances and the desire for change produces conflict. Geburah unites itself to Binah - understanding, in astrology Saturn and Mars are called the great and lesser misfortunes. Binah is called the bringer of death because it is the giver of form to primordial force.
Geburah is called the Destroyer, because the Mars force breaks down forms and destroys them. Thus we see that Binah is perpetually binding force into form and Geburah is perpetually breaking up and destroying all forms with its disruptive energy. But it is only when the protecting, preserving influence of Gedulah is in abeyance that the destroying influence of Geburah is able to work on forms built up by Binah, for the path of emanations between Binah and Geburah is via Gedulah. Geburah is the essential corrective of Binah, without which Binah would bind all creation into rigidity.
Five is the number of Mars and the five-sided figure is the symbol of Mars. The five-petalled Tudor Rose is another symbol, and although the rose is the flower of Venus, in mythology there is an intimate association between Mars and Venus. The lines of force go from Geburah-Mars to Netzach-Venus through Tiphareth, the centre of equilibrium.
Red is the colour of Geburah, indicating cause, the initiator, the pioneer. It represents the initial phase of self assertion, the I AM function of being, the primal expression of individuality. Without proper restraints or considered judgement it can lead to an outward drive having no limits, either in purpose or in means. Red's energy is of an unrefined nature. While there is great physical strength, it is of a brute force. Geburah is the most dynamic and forceful of all the Sephiroth, but also the most highly disciplined. We speak of iron strength and discipline, and iron is the metal of Mars.
Geburah is the Sephirah of punishment, fear, rigidity and the symbol of death. In the Briatic and Yetziratic worlds it is death to all impurities, for these are all burned away by the fire of Mars. Geburah is also a driving force at the level of Assiah, giving man that inner burning desire to reach a goal. At higher levels of consciousness Geburah can be a Sephirah of transformation, giving aid to the spirit in its progress. At the physical level of Assiah we first need to find the balance between justice and mercy.
Geburah is the sphere of the Lords of Karma. It is here that judgement, subject to the universal law is pronounced. Of the gods attributed to Geburah, Horus - known as the Hawk God - is said to "bestoweth wickedness upon him that worketh wickedness, and right and truth on him that followeth after right and truth".
Horus - son of Osiris, comes in several archetypal guises. The warrior, avenging the death of his father. As Lord of prophecy; god of music and art - patron of all things beautiful to behold. The prophecy that he will return to re-establish the solar cycle of his father, is thought by some to presage the Aquarian Age.
It is said that Nephthys - the dark goddess - sometimes thought of by the Greeks as Venus, guardian of things hidden or concealed, seduced Osiris in order to have her son Anubis, indicating the principles represented by these Rays when united produced a third principle. Osiris, representing light and truth and Nephthys, the Revealer. When light and truth unite with revelation a force is brought into being that will guide us safely through the dark regions of the underworld - that is - in order to regulate the realms of altered states of consciousness we must develop the Anubis within us.
Geburah is the Sephirah of termination and new beginnings, when life has outgrown its form, it must die so that life energy can be released in a new birth, a new form. This is the Sephirah of passage and, as such, part of the cycle of self-transformation. Positive growth and change, however, may involve passage into darkness as part of the cycle of perpetual renewal. As in nature, the progression consists of five parts death, decay, fertilization, gestation, rebirth. Geburah prompts us to undergo a death within ourselves. Since self change is never coerced - we are always free to resist - Geburah reminds us that the new form, the new life, is always greater than the old.
Mars: Mundane Chakra to Geburah
By Walter Allchin (1982)
Geburah is the fifth Sephirah and second on the negative pillar of the Tree of Life, and is otherwise known as Pahad. Geburah, as the red Sephirah is the sphere of punishment, severity, rigour, fear and vehemence, strength and power. Geburah is the reflection of Binah, a radical intelligence correcting Binah's rigidity. It is also the sphere of Justice, and thus the centre of Karma, symbolizing death and destruction, the sphere of the scourge, the spear and the whip. However, the turbulent destructive fire of Geburah is often part of the necessary burnishing, destructive purification which sows the seed for new beginnings.
On the plane of consciousness in the world of Assiah, Geburah can produce scientific, political and/or religious fanaticism. Geburah is feminine in potency, but its attributes are masculine in nature, and is symbolized by the magical image of a mighty warrior in his chariot. Mars, the mundane chakra to Geburah is the fourth, distinctly red planet of the solar system from the sun and represents in Roman mythology the God of War. Therefore, Mars represents the chakra or whirling vortex of energy patterns and potentialities at the interface of manifestation for the expression of a whole range of human qualities essential for man's development and being.
The qualities of the Mars principle include a host of extrovert leadership qualities such as energy, power, action, potency, aggression - all very much related to human development, self assertion, ambition, pugnacity, passionate quick temperedness, impulsiveness, fierceness, competitiveness, self expression, adventurousness, pioneering, courage, spontaneity, decisiveness and directness.
These qualities are not only generated by the aggressive form of the human instinct for self preservation, which is itself a great forceful human drive, but also as part of the psychological processes of individualisation and personal and social independence. This urge for independence and individual integrity and recognition involves the often painful self alienation by the individual from the collective, e.g. parents, family, peer and work social groups as he/she fights for self expression and self discovery against the tendency towards social conformity and the total loss of individual identity. In this search for identity or search for self, the individual, driven by an innate sense of destiny, creates his/her own values from the contents of the psyche.
This aspect of Mars, especially the search for personal identity is responsible for the generation of intense, personal and deep involvement and experiencing of life's activities, particularly sexually and emotionally. The discovery and expression of sexuality is closely related to the formation of individual personal identity and thus Mars represents the spheres of lust and passion and the associated sexual motive seeking sexual gratification on the sensual and physical levels.
Therefore, psychologically the Mars principle is a measure of individual health and vitality, responsible for governing the gonads or sex and adrenal glands of the endocrine system, as well as the sympathetic nervous, muscular and uro-genital systems. The adrenal glands, situated like hats on the kidneys, produce the "fight, flight and frolic" hormones, including adrenalin.
The Mars qualities within man pave the way for his establishment in the world, and determine according to their intensity his position within the usual hierarchy, or on the social ladder. Thus the Mars chakra is responsible for the urge to "prove oneself", and the search for social position, status, recognition, and can be the root of much frustration. The qualities generated by the Mars chakra are essential for man to break free of current, customary group, parental and social conventions and this is part of man's "becoming oneself" on the path to selfhood and 'maturity’. However, restrictive social, parental and family conventions and norms preventing growth lead to frustration, resentment, conflict and tension both socially and psychologically. Either the individual breaks free with the destructive but purifying forces of Geburah, or he/she becomes a deformed, crippled personality confined within a social straight-jacket.
Therefore, this deformity of growth and maturity creates an afflicted Mars, exhibiting the qualities of cruelty and destructiveness. Courage becomes recklessness, self expression and assertion become impertinence and rudeness, aggression becomes destructiveness, violence, bad-temperedness, while impulsiveness and spontaneity develop into impatience and intolerance.
Therefore, human aggression is neither positive nor negative, this will entirely depend on how it is used and channelled. The active, extroverted, masculine qualities of the Mars chakra need to be expressed through the human psyche as a vital part of man's self realisation and fulfilment.
Geburah through the Four Worlds
By D. M. Dalton (1984)
Geburah is a sphere of strength and Karma, a fiery place where change rules. Change is the basis of all action. The Red Ray of Mars symbolises the destruction which is necessary before any construction or reconstruction can take place.
In Atziluth the initial idea of this destruction for reconstruction first arises. It is archetypal balance because if this element of change was excluded, stagnation would be the result, and hence nothing would move.
Geburah in Atziluth becomes a Brilliant Orange like the sun, destroying itself, but in the process giving off energy and power which sustains the whole system.
Geburah in Chokmah gives each spark a degree of kinetic energy, so that they may continue alone and change throughout their course. In Binah this kinetic energy is limited by a form. The overbearing forceful qualities are moderated by the Black of Binah acting upon the Scarlet of Geburah.
In Gedulah, Geburah supplies the necessary balance to the compassion of Gedulah, so as to stop it becoming a weakness, which it would do if the strength of the sphere were not behind it to back it up.
Geburah in Geburah is the place where justice is meted out, the place of retribution, where justice or balance is restored ruthlessly. Perhaps that is why this sphere is also called Pahad, Fear, because justice is no respecter of persons. This is also the place where fanaticism is overcome. "He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword".
In Tiphareth, Geburah is the power and energy by which one makes sacrifices. Sacrifice is, itself, a destruction for the purpose of reconstruction. Here one has to become receptive to the callings of justice and change accordingly.
Geburah in Netzach supplies the energy to look beyond the simple idyllic ideas and search for higher things, the wisdom of the Blue Ray of Venus to compensate for the love aspects of this sphere. Geburah also destroys the excesses of the imagination, rife in this sphere.
In Hod if balance is to be found, the limited ideas of the concrete mind must be shattered, so as to allow the mind to expand into the more creative environment of Netzach. This is the breaking down of old forms in the cause of progress.
In Yesod the mind is trapped by the emotions and desires and all the subsequent illusions that arise from these factors. This is the sphere where fanaticism has its roots. Devotionalism can here also degenerate into fear, the fear of punishment, the root of purgatory. These illusions can only be overcome by the severe action which Geburah supplies.
In Assiah, Geburah is the sphere of the warrior, impulsiveness and war. But fortunately, even power has its two sides and with the influence of the Yellow Ray of creative activity, the power of Geburah, although destructive, supplies the energy which generates and powers all forms.
To be continued...