International Order of Kabbalists - Tree of Life (Western Hermetic Tradition)

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Chesed and Netzach on the Pillar of Mercy.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Kaph. Palm of the hand.

Titles: Lord of the Forces of Life.

Spiritual Significance: Jupiter.

Tarot Card: X - The Wheel of Fortune.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Violet.
In Briah: Blue.
In Yetzirah: Rich purple.
In Assiah: Bright blue, rayed yellow.




The papers below describe the Twenty-first Path of Kaph that symbolises the infleunce between Chesed and Netzach. (More to follow)...

(Updated 13 January 2021)


The Wheel of Fortune - 21st Path - Netzach to Chesed

By Doreen Sturzaker

KAPH is the Hebrew letter for this Path and it symbolises a curve, the hand in the act of grasping or to hold, comprehend, master. There is a clear positive definition of what can be grasped mentally; there is clarity and precision.
If you want a biblical quotation, there is Isiah 40:12, “Who hath measured the Waters in the hollow of His hand and meted out Heaven with the span.”

Jupiter is the planet attributed to this Path, so this gives us the idea of circulation and movement. (Jupiter is said to govern the circulation of the blood). It also signifies the clear statement of ideas or the practical application of ideas in everyday business. Jupiter also is the planet of expansion . . .  follow the book.

The 21st Path is called the Intelligence of Conciliation and Reward for Those who Seek. This implies an adjustment, harmony and order or an agreement; the reconciliation of apparent differences which will then lead to a greater harmony and peace. There is, too, the integration of the Four Elements; notice the Four Holy Living Creatures at each corner of the card.

As the Wheel turns it brings us to either good or bad Karma according to the Law but see, the Four Holy Living Creatures remain on the outside of the Wheel, symbolising their permanency above and beyond the flux and re-flux of events.

The symbol of the Wheel gives us the idea of cyclic motion, of rhythm, ascent and descent or Involution and Evolution; it shows us that every effect can be traced back to a cause. It refers to the Law of Periodicity in mental activity; mental states have a tendency to recur in definite rhythms.

It is the Law of the Involution of undifferentiated conscious energy and it’s Evolution through a series of forms.


The Sphinx signifies the Real Self of Man and can be known by the unfoldment of certain inner senses that correspond with the outer ones. Remember that our Real Self asks the riddle of existence and it is our Real Self that can answer it. The highest self-knowledge is really self-recollection.

Inside the Wheel we find that Mercury is at the top indicating Consciousness; the symbol for Sulphur is on the Right, signifying energy and activity; Salt is on the Left showing inertia and ignorance and Aquarius is at the bottom for dissolution, dissolve and reform the fundamental basics of the Great Work.

The Intelligence of Conciliation or the Rewarding Intelligence of those who Seek. Hebrew letter Kaph - Value 20 - A curve. The hand of man in the act of grasping. To grasp, comprehend, master. Mentally - what can be grasped is clear, explicit, positive, precise, definite. Kaph is a double letter. Wealth and poverty are the pairs of opposite attributions. It signifies completion of work, mastery, success etc.

Jupiter governs the blood and circulation generally. Also adjustment of differences, establishment of harmony and order.

The Law shown is that which reconciles apparent differences, helps us to harmonise the elements of existence, conduces to peace and prosperity.

The Wheel tells of cyclic motion, simultaneous ascent and descent (invocation and evolution) necessity, rhythm.
Four Holy Living Creatures at the corners are the fixed signs of the Zodiac, which is the symbol of the whole cycle of Cosmic expression. The highest self-knowledge is really self-recollection.

The Path connects personality and individuality. The aim of Magic and the true meaning of priesthood is to use all one's talents and possessions in the service of others.


In the World of Assiah colours are a mixture of Bright Blue, Red and Yellow. These are the three Major Rays of Manifestation, the Rays of Life and they form the background to the Bright Blue, flecked Yellow colour of this Path. The Major Rays also represent the three Gunas in Yoga.

The Fool here learns that as he gives out in thought, word and deed, so will it be returned to him. It could perhaps be called 'love under Will1 or Universal Law which tends to good or Wisdom sometimes through necessary chastisement. The Path colour is Bright Blue rayed Yellow, the colour of our Solar Logos and the Rays of Yellow creativity flashing through the bright Blue indicate that cyclic activity never ceases, while indeed it cannot, while there is a Manifestation.

At a mundane level the Wheel takes him up to the heights and equally down to the depths, while buried in Malkuth he is ceaselessly turned on the Wheel in the grip of circumstances over which he seems to have little control as he fluctuates from one extreme to the other without any apparent rhyme or reason to it. So he may continue for much of and incarnation or maybe for several. While he is on the 'ups’ of the Wheel all is well and he does not question or seek answers, but eventually comes the time when as the Wheel turns he finds himself on the downward arc and then possibly he may begin to wonder how and why life keeps hitting him so hard.

This then may be his turning point as he seeks answers to this problem, curiosity aroused he may consider the physical Laws of Periodicity and Cycles and try to see how they apply to his life. This is the first step to the way to controlling the Wheel.


The Path in the World of Yetzirah is a Rich Purple. This is a royal Ray, a forceful, powerful Ray, the Ray of the ruler, yet it is a benign power, never despotic, although it can be proud, proud of achievements on the stage one has reached.
In Briah the Path is Blue. This is unselfish Love and is shown in the Creative World; it also indicates patience and aspiration.

Jupiter is the planetary attribution governing not only the circulation of the blood but circulation generally. So here the Fool learns that on an emotional level what he gives out to others so will it be returned likewise to him sooner or later. Purple is a forceful, over-bearing colour and these qualities can push him to the top of his Wheel for a while but on an emotional level it also denotes pomposity and pride and these very qualities can cause him to come walloping down again because based on the lower octave of the Purple.

Nevertheless, Purple assists him to search and probe deeply into things for their hidden meanings and this helps to give a necessary balance to the emotional nature. The influence of Jupiter together with the Moon, the Mundane Chakra of Yesod, makes it favourable for the individual to begin searching into deeper realities and through his varying emotional problems with their varying fluctuations he realises something of the necessity for the 'ups' and 'downs' of the Wheel of Fortune.

When he gets to Hod the Path colour Purple is over-shadowed by the Sephirah colour of Violet-Purple so that there is an even deeper probing into the realities, whereas in Yesod it was more likely to be how the turns of the Wheel affected him in his personal life and his own emotional responses to it. In Hod he is more likely to take a wider view and his mind searches for the more hidden reasons for the state of the world and conditions as he finds them. Purple has the quality of honesty, he can face up to the negative aspects of his character and can see clearly what has to be done to alter them, the way of mastery over the personality can be trodden with a clear uinderstanding of what is involved.

Netzach has a powerful balancing influence. One end of the Path starts at Netzach so that the reconciling of apparent differences can be undertaken. Amber is powerful and a receptive colour, the influences of beneficence and peace pour through from Chesed and help to harmonise the four elements within the man. It may possibly be done unconsciously but a linking up of the personality with the individuality can be commenced in Netzach, if it has not already been started.
In the clear Rose-Pink of Tiphareth a measure of balance has been attained, a clearer understanding of the nature of Universal Law and what it involves emerges as the Wheel turns.

There is power to handle the destiny, the power of the Purple Ray signifying rulership. In this instance, rulership over the elements in himself, which was started in Netzach is now completed. He sees the necessity for the Wheel of involution and evolution. The serpent shows the involutionary movement down, the life force moving into successively denser form life, cosmic cyclic motion is expressed. Then there is Anubis, the jackal-headed god, on the right side signifying intellect and evolution, the progressive development and upward movement of Life into ever more refined and tenuous forms. Purple signifying rulership under the influence of the Rose-Pink of Tiphareth shows it to be a kindly beneficence to all creatures, an out-going love to all but not sloppy sentimentality, love under Will or true leadership.

Alchemical mercury corresponds to Sattva, one of the three Gunas of Yoga, and signifies balance attained and so he is equipped to go on to the sphere of Geburah. At this stage it deems that he could be in command of the Wheel for the colour is still Purple and the colour of the Sephirah over-shadowing; is Orange, a genial colour of ability, giving great organising abilities. If used positively the power will be used for the benefit of the many, not for the individual himself, it can give a quiet strength and confidence. On the negative side however the Ray can bring pride and here lies the danger. It can mean a pride in achievements so far attained or a pride in intellectual abilities and this will have to be eradicated before he is ready to go on to Chesed.

In Chesed the deep Violet lifts the Purple to a higher level, a level of aspiration and devotion to the Great Work which is shown on the card by the sign of Dissolution similar to the Zodiacal sign for Aquarius. The Wheel has turned and he is now the Sphinx on the top watching the goings on beneath him. Mental balance and poise is his. Now he is beyond Karma having balanced it, flux and re-flux no longer applies to him and he works entirely within the Law.


In the Creative World he is Karma-less but he is not yet free of form, tenuous though it may now be. The Red Ray of Binah works towards the break up of that form with its usual destructiveness that clears the way for a rebuilding process. It is a ray of courage and gives him the enthusiasm to go on, the turn of the wheel has brought him to where the sphinx sits on the top passive and unaffected by passing events. It seems to me that once he knows the riddle of the sphinx which is really to know himself and what is the true purpose of incarnation, once he has realised this within himself then there is no need for a form of any kind and he finally discards it and proceeds to Chokmah.

In the sphere of Chokmah there is the Blue of the Path together with the background colour of the sphere which is a soft shade of Blue, so it seems that here there is unwavering aspiration to reach the highest and the wisdom to carry it out. At this level there can be no taint of selfishness, only a clear perception of the goal ahead and where the soul has to go. The Spark has now discovered that the Path to follow lies in the qualities of selfless love, faith and innocence. These are the qualities that emanate from the pure, soft Blue of Chokmah.


The World of Atziluth the Path is shown as being Violet, indicating sensitiveness, delicacy, aspirational tendencies. Here is a mental house, balanced. It is a Ray of calm and tranquillity.

As Chokmah puts its foot on to this upward turn of the Wheel it eventually spins and at its highest point the Spark moves back into the archetypal World of Atziluth where in the complete Brilliance of perfect balance it truly takes its place poised, like the sphinx in a perfect combination of all the attributes of the archetypal Wheel of Fortune.


The Wheel of Fortune

Considering the Influences of Gedulah and Netzach

By Paul J. Elliott (1981)

Rota is the wheel that grinds us mercilessly, the effect of our own karma. To complain of its actions is pointless, for the solution lies, inour own hands. A student of esoteric philosophy, as a seeker after Truth, cannot abdicate from responsibility and the acceptance of his karma.

Yet our first reaction to the conditions of this path might well be one of indignation or disappointment, at the turmoil of the rounds of birth and rebirth. How will we be affected by the vast panorama of events that spread out before us each day. Appalled by the unbounded folly of humanity, surging along a river in flood, the student must hold fast to what he knows is true, lest he be swept away by the chaotic torrent.

The student's belief that there is Truth, an expansion of consciousness on higher levels, is a victory in itself. It is a recognition of the possibility of the existence of Cosmic Harmony. Thestudent may be aided in this recognition through the influence of the Venus aspect of Netzach. Netzach, as the sphere of the creative imagination, will help the student to clarify his aspirations, to form an idea of what he seeks.

The influence then of Netzach, will be one that is conducive to spiritual harmony, and to high ideals and aspirations which work toward that harmony. A certain amount of conflict will be necessary to reach spiritual harmony, but there must be no conflict within the initiate.

The Yetziratic Text states that the path is one of "conciliation and reward"; the initiate must balance the elements within himself, like the sphinx. He has the four hermetic virtues to guide him, as symbolised by the four Holy Living Creatures “To Know, To Dare, To Do, and To Be Silent".

The initiate thus moves towards the centre of the ten-spoked wheel, ten for the number of the Sephiroth, and moves through the wheel, no longer whirled around by it, towards Gedulah consciousness.

The influence of Gedulah being an expansion of consciousness the initiate should begin to fully realise the Oneness of all Being. The infinite compassion of Gedulah, the concern the Masters feel for all creatures, is an influence in the nature of a benediction on all lower spheres.

The initiate may begin to understand how his karma came to be, perhaps through losing sight of the Oneness of Being, and believing himself to be separate. No man could offend against another knowing all beings to be One. With this realisation the knowledge of how karma is to be worked out.

On the Wheel of Fortune those who believe themselves to be ends in themselves separate from the One, or indeed refusing to acknowledge any kind of spiritual reality, will continue to whirl round, subject to their accrued karma which they may call Fate. Those whose desires are in the purely material make a tragic mistake in believing the visible, end product of an emanatitive process to be the only reality as in naive and childish existentialist philosophies. The initiate seeks the spiritual in the material, knowing that the material is simply the logical continuation of astro-mental formations.


The Wheel of Fortune

By Barbara M. Croucher (1978)

The Eagle, symbol of the air belongs to this path, which reminds us immediately of Scorpio - so appropriate a type to represent the heights and the depths of life as shown on the wheel. One who either crawls with the worms or soars among the gods. Existence causes man to pass many times through both these stages to increase his understanding and raise the level of his experience.

How strange that this dual situation of agony and ecstasy - one bad, the other good - should be between Victory and Mercy.

Victory is surely a good condition. A state of triumph implies a state of satisfaction that the efforts and suffering expended have not been in vain. There is no more to do about that particular situation, so we may sit back and relax.
What about Mercy of Gedulah above this path? Surely Mercy also signifies peace and protection, for now the wisdom of the gods will pour upon us, so it would appear that good, things are to be expected whether we are high on the zenith or below on the nadir of our wheel. Yet we knew from experience that this is anything but true. The ups and downs of life are not like this at all. Rather a paradox isn't it? If the Wheel does not fit logically into the situation, why then is it here on the Tree?

The key seems to be: "Yes indeed. The ends of the diameter are certainly opposite in character, but first recognise that contrast is necessary for a picture of the whole, then try to make a compromise.”

Contrast - Agony and Ecstasy, Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Male and Female, Positive and Negative etc., contrast - a rule of the Universe to contribute to the whole. Thus a rhythm is established and the various cycles find their courses - a time to wake and a time to sleep; a time for birth and death, a time for activity and a time for rest. Ebb and flow; waxing and waning, breathing in and out. Without these patterns, there is no rhythm in the Universe, no life.

Now we must accept, therefore, that contrast is a sine qua non, and compromise accordingly. The unification of these opposites is possible. Do we not say "May the Elements within me blend in perfect harmony"? What could be more opposite than fire and water? Hence the motion of our Wheel seems something like an egg-beater at the physical level.
Let us think about the number of this card: 10, the number of perfection. We hope for thetime when the elements within us will be blended also in perfection - not forgetting the value of the name KAPH adding to 10 x 10 or 100 - also the value of the single letter Kaph and the Hebrew word for sleep - reminiscent of night time and the Moon. We look, therefore, to the time when we can put the lower selves to sleep and so hear the wisdom from Chokmah.

Yet it seems that unless the whips of suffering strike us, rotation coaxes, and stagnation causes us to topple over, helpless, hopeless and dumb into the Abyss of inertia or even fall back forever down to the darkness of Qliphoth.
These are ideas which are well expressed in a sonnet in Dorothy Sayer's detective story "Gaudy Night".

"We have come last and best
To that still centre where the spinning world
Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.
Lay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright
Poised on this perilous point in no lax bed
May sleep as tension in verberant core
Of music sleeps. For if thou spare to smite
Staggering we stoop, stooping fall dumb and dead
And dying so sleep our sweet sleep no more."

Here the whips are those of Love. But does not Love often bring the desire to undergo great suffering? Is not love charity - associated with this path?

SLEEP - termed by another writer "opiate forgetfulness". How strange that opium should be associated with Gedulah.
Again the path of Kaph also, as we have seen associated with sleep, leads to Gedulah.

"How wonderful", says the poet, "is death. Death and his brother sleep!" But death of what? What sleep? Why this perpetual emphasis on sleep? Death of, or victory over, the lower self is necessary before we pass up the positive pillar to Chokmah. Stillness AT THE CENTRE, that is: sleep of the physical powers is essential or the wheel comes off the axle and the rhythm is broken. Harmony and peace within are necessary so there can be growth and movement from the perimeter from external contacts. So this wheel is both moving and still. It is something of a paradox, but a most ingenious one!

The Wheel, as we have seen, must rotate for life to progress, but so often it becomes stuck in the mud of despair and exhaustion on the smaller cycles, or in Karmic mud on the larger ones. Does not the fallen one so often cry ''Have mercy, gods, help me to pay my debt in other ways!"

If there is mercy, the burden may be lifted and that will be a victory - not so much the winning of a fight, as the chance to be fighting again in the swim again, moving again in the life-giving rhythm of the universe. The Wheel Rotates once more.

Take a completely different look at this Wheel: symbolic of this universe, where planets rotate round their sun, electrons round their nucleus. Rhythm and ordered movement.

The eight spokes, on some packs, remind us of the Pythagorean 8,which was termed universal harmony. Most appropriate. Friendship, love, conception of life and law were then added. These all produce the concrete forms which we see around us in Assiah.

The element of water is usually associated with Gedulah, implying change, flux and flow because of the movement within the Spirit, Mind and Heart of man . . . "And the spirit of God moved upon the waters." Yet we suspect that the glittering splendour associated with Netzach presupposes Fire. The Fire of the Holy Spirit . . , "Except a man. be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven" - he will not grow and progress; he needs both extremes of the Wheel.

All three paths of Yod, Teth, Kaph lead us to Gedulah in preparation to crossing the Abyss. Yod by intuition and faith, Teth by hope and fortitude to "stick it to the end", but Kaph by first hand experience of good and evil, from the grasping hand bringing charity. The outstretched palm of Yod no longer receives anything, but grasps firmly those things and ideas which are worthwhile, making a good rope to leap across the chasm. Kaph grasps firmly why things happen to us and others, and glimpsing something of the Karmic pattern, can feel nearer to grasp the hand of the Lord, less separation and despair, even in apparent chaos and disaster.

The Aleph and the Yod would seem appropriate for the Wheel,Aleph as the rhythmic cycle of life and death, sometimes activated, sometimes dormant, but always with Yod at the centre - permanent still and continuous. Is there continuity of lives?

Chesed or Gedulah is a sphere for someone who has no need to reincarnate. Does this mean a contradiction? No. It merely implies no more need to incarnate on a certain level, because of passing on to a new cycle on a higher plane and so ad infinitum.

The number 10 having the digit 0 to signify continuity and completion - the VICTORY over one aspect before being MERCIFULLY released into the next. Also reading 10 Hebrew-wise, we get first the 0, then the 1 implying the cycle of everlasting creation with 1 as the phallic symbol.

The Wheel of Fortune echoes the Zodiac from above, pouring the waters of wisdom upon the VICTORY passing up to Gedulah reminding him of the infinity of the Ain - 8 spokes, 8 on its side, the sign of infinity - infinity ranging from the zero in Assiah to the ONE through the worlds.

The planet we think of is Neptune - refinement through dissolution. No birth without death. No creation without destruction - his three-pronged trident reminiscent of Sheen, the fires of the Holy Spirit which creates and inspires. The beginning and the end are one.

In 10 also we see the glyph of the umbilical cord plus the womb of the mother, Victory of rebirth as a result of mercy and sacrifice and pain. The show goes on. The secret meaning of 10 is the strong grip of the Lion of Judah – Kaph and the influence of Mars below.

One could also associate Samson the Strong with this, so that we could say about the Wheel - "Out of strong and courageous victories comes the sweetness of even greater ones to come on future cycles due to the ever turning and rhythmic Auphanim".

So perhaps the Wheel of Fortune is on the right place on the Tree after all.


The Wheel of Fortune

By Joanna Fullick (1977)

Our life is governed, whether we run around in circles or not, by cycles, cycles and more cycles. From New Years, financial years and anniversaries to harvest time, Standard Summer Time and spring tides. From new moons, menstruation and pay cheques, to colour 'supp' day, washday and Friday Night is Music Night. From lunch hour, rush hour and lighting up time to the sound of Big Ben and traffic lights changing, to the second hand of your watch.

Being the 10th card, the first of the double numbers it symbolises spiritual achievement, a new beginning and the completion of an earlier series, the completed circle returns to unity. The perfect number, a circle, Tetragrammaton, Jehovah, The pyramid of the goddess. Beginning, Middle, End; Birth, Life, Death, Rebirth. As the 21st path it equals three which forms the half circle of birth, zenith, death.

The sides of the tetractys plus the centre makes five, the number of the elements plus the spirit. The sphinx is another combination of the four elements with parts from each of the four Holy Living Creatures portrayed in the corner of the card, and the face of a human. It is a symbol of wisdom and justice. Perhaps it is the point we should aim for, balanced on top of the wheel, but there are always more experiences to gothrough so perhaps it represents the virtues and the balance of mind that will help us reach the right decisions and take the best course through life. Remember the story of Oedipus who met the sphinx on the roadside, letting no one pass till they solved ariddle: What has one voice yet walks on four legs, two legs and three legs. Oedipus solved it by replying that a man crawled on all fours as a baby, then on two legs until he was old, and then walked with the aid of a stick - the cycle yet again!

Kaph (whose word value comes to 100 - the macrocosmic cycle) is the letter assigned to this path. It means the palm of the hand, also indicating grasping, receptivity, control and comprehension relating to the search for experience, knowledge and adventure that everyone should undertake in order to extend themselves, otherwise, as the saying goes, you haven't lived. This extension and achievement is not surprising since not only the path but also the Sephirah to which it leads is governed by Jupiter, the planet of beneficence and expansion.

Netzach, at the other end of the path, is the source of inspiration and creativity which should help us become receptive and to develop, and so increase the value we get from our experiences and the cycles in which we exist. Known as the Conciliating Intelligence and the Rewarding Intelligence of Those Who Seek, we get some idea, of this from the customary handshake between friends or to finalise agreements, as well as the golden handshake which is a reward or just desserts. The influence of Geburah, Sephirah of justice, can be shown numerologically by adding the number of the path and the two connected Sephiroth, in this case 21+4+7 = 5. This also emphasises the importance of the five elements in connection with the card.

The letters in the wheel give further clues to the meaning of the card. The Hebrew letters make up the word Jehovah and show that the presence of God is woven amongst the wheels of existence. The other letters - A, T, O, R - have values of 1, 9, 70, and 200 which makes 280 reducing to 10! Also, if one takes the order in the Zodiac (another cycle) in which the equivalents of the four Holy Living Creatures appear, namely Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, that is, 2nd, 5th, 8th, and 11th, the sum is 26 which is the same as the numerical value of the letters I.H.V.H. or Jehovah. A, T, O, R, are written around the circle so that they can be read in several ways: TARO, TORA, ORAT, ATOR, ROTA. If one takes each letter as having the meaning of the word that it initials, as follows: A for Ator, the Egyptian goddess of nature; R for Rota, a cycle; O for Orat, to speak; T for Tora, the law, T also stands for Tarot but one can take it that this also means law, not as given as in Tora but as acted upon.

The results are thus:

TARO - the law of nature's cycles speaks (as it does through the Tarot cards - here is another connection with Kaph, since the palm of the hand is also used in fortune telling).
TORA - the law speaks through the cycle of nature.
ORAT - to speak of the cycle of nature's laws.
ATOR - the goddess' law speaks through cycles.
ROTA - cycles speak of the laws of nature.

If one follows the tree alphabet according to Robert Graves in ‘The White Goddess’ one comes across another cycle. Taking it in the order of A.T.O.R. one finds that A is for AILM, the silver fir or palm which were birth trees, the phoenix for instance rises from a palm tree. T is for TINNE, the holly, a sacred tree denoting sacrifice, O was ONN, R is the RUIS, the elder, tree of death, the thirteenth letter.

The other symbols refer to Alchemy. Against R is the sign for dissolution, against O is salt, against T is mercury and against A is sulphur. There is an argument for changing around the last two, and this is related to the fact that they represent the four elements, respectively, air, earth, water and fire. It would, have been nice if the Hebrew equivalents of the letters had also represented each of the elements but although O = Ayin = Path of the Devil = Capricorn = Earth and A = Aleph = Fool = Air by the same method we get two fires, T = Teth = Strength = Leo = Fire and R = Resh = Path of the Sun = Sun = Fire. Perhaps the last two cover the heat and the light aspects of fire and the water aspect is covered by the fact that water is the element for the path of the Wheel of Fortune.

Ator is a form of the name of the goddess Hathor, the equivalent of Venus and Aphrodite. Represented as a woman with the head of a cow, she was the Great Mother, the Goddess of Creation. She was also shown as a woman crowned with horns, sun disc and the royal serpents, representing respectively, strength and intellect, divinity, wisdom or the opening of the third eye. She was the sky goddess but with the fire aspect of Sekhmet, which she gave to Horus, who dwelt in her breast in the evening and was born again each morning. Anubis was the god of the Dead, he was present when the heart was weighed against the feather of truth to decide whether the person was worthy of a place in the Land of the Dead. When a man was allowed in he was called an Osiris, if a woman, a Hathor, and it was Hathor who conducted souls to the Underworld. In ancient civilizations the kings and/or high priest was ritually killed after a certain length of time, possibly 28 years (note that this reduces to 10 again), since it was after 28 years reign that Osiris was killed. The ritual killer was dressed as Anubis and carried a viper. The snake on the card symbolizes Typhon or Set, Osiris' brother who carried out a plan to kill him by tricking him into a coffin, nailing it down and throwing it in the Nile.

Isis found her husband and brought his body back but it was found by Set who cut it into 14 pieces. Isis got them back so that he could go through the Hall of Judgement. Horus was born to Isis after the death of Osiris who typifies the sacrificed king, and he revenged his father’s death by beating Set in battle.


The Wheel of Fortune

By Richard Stewart (1987)

The Wheel of Fortune is a mortal cycle which exists for all mankind. It is a rhythm in life of which we are constantly reminded. Inherent in this path is the "Intelligence of Conciliation and Reward".

It is in this that the initiate is reminded that once the Wheel of Fortune is set in motion, it can never be halted but must be completed. It shows the justice of Karma in action. The initiate must try to understand the laws of this divine cycle and try to unite himself with it. For to attempt to go against this - as with any law - brings only discord and disharmony resulting in wrong attitudes and actions to outside stimuli. The outcome is then usually more Karmic justice to work through.

The tenth Arcanum seems to answer the "Why are we here?" question, in that it implies that knowledge is the process of conciliation and perhaps reconciliation and is to be ever searched for to the final light of day.

The main theme of the Wheel of Fortune or fate lies in potentiality. Upon this earthly orb we can create our own heaven or our own hell. In potentiality we can have anything we require or desire, provided the mental pressure we call "will" is sufficiently strong. Potentiality is discovering just what we can do and are unable to do in given situations. It is the responsibility of the initiate of magic to discover the circumference of the Wheel of Fortune and having found this to expand it in infinite directions, expanding his own consciousness at the same time. As this process commences, the initiate realises that unless he wishes to be entombed in a limited field of experience, he must search for knowledge on all the four worlds, the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, and as he does so he awaits each experience with the excitement and expectation of a child.

It is in this area of expansion of consciousness that the planet Jupiter plays its role.
The magical weapon of this Path is the sceptre, which stands for the aspirations of the initiate to become master of his own fate and to have dominion over the earthly vehicle.

Gedulah shares the attributes of Jupiter with the tenth Arcanum. The keywords of Jupiter are Acceptance and Expansion. We must find the foundation within us with which to build or expand. It is the acceptance of our shortcomings which gives the guiding strength to gain control of the spinning wheel of life, death and rebirth and to be transformed into the sword brandishing sphinx who is master of the elements within. Along with this self mastery in Gedulah come the attributes of Love and Mercy, both of which are most desirable and necessary pre-requisites for further expansion of consciousness.

The attributes of Netzach are essential to the spiritual growth of the initiate. The Venusian Imagination is the seed and machinery upon which the individual builds his experiences.

It is upon the path of the Wheel of Fortune that the initiate aspires to the Sphere of the Masters where he prepares to cross the abyss or stay in his present state of consciousness in order to help other members of the Great Lodge in their quest.


The Wheel of Fortune

By Vipin Prithipaul (2000)

The Wheel of Fortune is the 10th arcanum and the 21st path on the Tree of Life, bridging Gedulah, the sphere of mercy to Netzach, the sphere of victory on the right hand pillar. I believe that this path represents the Fool’s victory over the cycle of Birth and Rebirth by obtaining the mercy of the Almighty, which can only be obtained by harmonising the antagonistic aspects in one’s actions and deeds.

In most Tarot decks this arcanum depicts a Wheel, with an outer circle, a middle circle and an inner circle. From the centre radiates eight spokes beyond the inner circle but within the middle circle. At the corners of the arcanum are the four Holy Living Creatures, each holding a book. On the left side of the wheel is a serpent, on the right side is a Jackal-headed creature and seated on the wheel is a sphinx holding sword in its left hand. In the Wheel between the outer and middle circles are inscribed the letters TORA and between them are the Hebrew letters IHVH.

The Wheel symbolises time as it turns. It also represents totality, perfection without beginning nor ending.
The Wheel of Fortune represents our destiny, the different incarnations that  we have to go through in order to be freed from the karmic wheel. In the normal process of evolution many millions of years may pass for mankind to be freed from the cycle of karma, but though the ultimate goal of the spirit is to return to its source some of us yearn for a wealth which is not material but more precious and this is the knowledge and understanding of divine laws and their mastership. For these few individuals the state of freedom from this cycle of “necessity” which is karma will take a fraction of the time taken by the natural process.

Turning our attention to the letters on the Wheel depicted and starting from the top in a clockwise direction we get the word TARO. Starting from the bottom off the Wheel, still in a clockwise direction, we get the word ROTA. If one starts again at the top in a clockwise direction and completes the circle we get the word TAROT. If one starts at the top in an anti-clockwise direction we get the word TORA.

According to Mr. Sturzaker these words mean: TARO - Royal Path, ROTA - the cycle of life and TORA - wisdom. According to P.F. Case the word TAROT “is a symbolic wheel of human life”.

In between these letters are the Hebrew letters IHVH meaning according to P.F.Case, “That which was, That which is, That which shall be.”

The wheel also depicts the ups and downs in our everyday life, for instance sadness and happiness, etc...
The centre of the circle has many interpretations, it is the only point of the cosmic wheel that does not move. In the centre is “Chakrvarti”, the Buddha, who turns the wheel.

The centre or the point is the sky, the circle or circumference is the Earth and the Spokes - MAN who acts as a mediator between the two. In Hinduism the most frequent wheel has eight spokes which represent the eight directions of space and refer to the eight paths on One’s way.

In Kabbalah the centre of the Wheel of Fortune represents Atziluth (Kether) the Archetypal world. The inner circle Briah (Chokmah and Binah) the Creative world. The middle circle - Yetzirah the Formative world containing Gedulah, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod and Yesod. And finally the outer circle is the Assiatic world of the physical or Material world containing Malkuth.

The eight Spokes radiating from the centre symbolise the expanding force of Kether permeating all creation.
On the left-hand side of the wheel is a serpent in motion (wavy) which makes me think of the alchemical Ouroboros which has freed itself from the movement of continuity and eternal return. On the right hand side of the wheel is a jackal-headed being representing Anubis, the Egyptian Jackal-headed god whose duty it was to weigh the heart of the deceased against  feather symbolising Truth and Justice. Only the true in heart were to pass this test and those who failed were fed to Amnit the “eater of the dead”.

It is interesting to note that starting with the letter A at the head of Anubis and going anticlockwise we get the word ATOR which is the name of the Egyptian goddess Hator, the goddess of motherhood, love and drunkenness. As a goddess of motherhood she is a giver of death. This relates to the cycles of birth and death and as a goddess of drunkenness she can symbolise the attraction of the divine spark to the material.

The serpent and the jackal-headed being depict an anti-clockwise motion which for me symbolises regression and is a warning in the sense that if we wrongly use the divine wisdom -TORA we shall be at the mercy of Hator and become a prisoner of the cycle of incarnations. It is a warning that we shall be rewarded or punished according to our actions and deeds. This also rejoins the karmic law of cause and effect according to which one can evolve or regress spiritually and materially.

The enigmatic sphinx sitting at the top of the wheel represents the “Fool” who has freed himself from cycles of incarnations, but even at this level he can “fall back” into the karmic wheel! I believe that is why the Sphinx holds a sword in his left hand, making the weapon a passive one, that is one used for defence. In a sense the Sphinx is still in a perpetual fight with himself and his “Great Work” at this level is conquer “himself” and defend “himself” from his “own self”.

Though the Sphinx has escaped the cycle of birth and rebirth and mastered the riddles of life, he still has to progress so as to become a mediator between the material world and the higher ones.

Turning our attention to the four Holy living Creatures, we find that each one of them is holding a book which symbolises wisdom and knowledge. Another striking feature is that they are all winged creatures as opposed to the Sphinx which makes me think again that the Sphinx is not entirely freed from the Wheel of Karma as wings are symbols of flight, dematerialization and liberation. In occultism wings do not grow but they have to be conquered with much sacrifice and patience through initiation and purification.

The Hebrew letter Kaph, meaning Hand or Palm of the Hand, is assigned to this path. According to the science of Palmistry our destiny is written in the lines of our palms and no two palms are identical. So we can again find a very close relationship between Kaph the hand and the wheel of destiny.

It is interesting to note but difficult to analyse that in the Rosicrucian Fama Fraternatis, mention is made that when the body of C.R.C. was found, he held in his hand a parchment called 77, where as Israel Regardie mentions that when the body of C.R.C. was found, “upon his breast was the book T, a scroll explaining in full the mystic Tarot” and that arcanum No.2 depicts the High Priestess holding a scroll with the word Tora written on it.

I will end by saying that I believe that the Wheel of Fortune is finally the Law of Nature, the Law of reaping what one has sown!


To be continued...