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

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Situation on the Tree:
On the Pillar of Severity, between Geburah and Hod.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Mem. Water.

Titles: Spirit of the Mighty Waters.

Spiritual Significance: Water.

Tarot Card: XII - The Hanged Man.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Deep blue.
In Briah: Sea green.
In Yetzirah: Deep olive greene.
In Assiah: White flecked purple.




The papers below describe the Twenty-third Path of Mem that symbolises the infleunce between Geburah and Hod. (More to follow)...

(Updated 13 January 2021)


The Hanged Man - 23rd Path - Geburah to Hod

By Doreen Sturzaker

MEM is the Hebrew letter attributed to this Path and signifies ‘seas’. It really means here ‘Water’, or perhaps, ‘the Seas of the Great Unmanifest’, ‘the Mother’, the ‘Root of Ideas’. It is a symbol of reflected life; images in water are reflected upside-down. Now this upside-down aspect means a complete reversal of consciousness; an entire change in one’s habitual ways of thinking or point of view from a worldly-based one to a more spiritual way of thinking.
Notice that the eyes are open and he appears quite calm and contented; this implies a certain acceptance of the Plan of Evolution there is no pain or suffering attached to it.

The golden hair is similar in meaning to that of the Fool and the hair of the Empress too; it signifies radiant energy, the Life Breath. It means, too, that we have to change direction, to realign our personality and give it up to the direction of the Universal Mind.

Another small point I’ll throw in for what it is worth. The feet in the Zodiacal Man represent Understanding and here we have the feet above the head, showing that the individual is using the understanding he has previously gained and is truly seeking of the Waters of Wisdom. He has pulled his feet out of the mud of Malkuth; he is now in a position to have a clearer understanding of what he is aiming for. It represents the potential Adept, potential, for the figure is passive not active.


The colour is White flecked Purple – like Mother of Pearl.

Even in Assiah there is a certain purity. A Ray of quiet activity, a cleansing Ray, combined with, or flecked with, Purple, it gives a peacefulness, spirituality; there is still a little pride at this level of consciousness.


The colour is Deep Olive-Green. Here a degree of harmony through conflict has been established and there is tranquillity for a time; there is a love for the spiritual home, the direction towards which his eyes are turning. Here there is an ability to balance opposites; he hangs between the two Pillars and it is balanced and calm for the time being.


The colour is Sea-Green. Again there is, perhaps, more harmony through the conflict of the Green Ray here. There is in it, too, part of the Blue Ray, wisdom; he has gained enough of the True Understanding to realise that he has to change from a worldly viewpoint to a truer one. There is Grey here, too, again signifying peace and tranquillity, balance. He can receive knowledge of the higher Universal Laws with equanimity; perfect contemplation can be reached.


This colour is Deep Blue. At this level it signifies deep devotion and high aspiration. There is a selfless love for all Life. Here is, too, patience in the Archetypal World. There is no hurry.

Trees Within Trees - The Hanged Man in the Ten Sephiroth

In the World of Assiah, looking at it cosmically it could be the illimitable ether of space, which is the White of Manifestation and the Purple fleck is the Ray shooting down to the depths of Space, the digging deep into life in all its aspects in order to experience.

In Assiah it is the Spark or Man who has sunk deep into Matter and has experienced many lives and innumerable events until eventually he realises that the way the world is orientated is not really to his liking, it is not his way, or more particularly he finds he has changed his outlook. The innate honesty of the Purple forces him to acknowledge this and once he has decided literally to turn his world upside-down then he is ready to go on to the more spiritual side of life, because this is what he knows he really wants.

In Yesod the colour of Olive Green underlines the turmoil present in the emotional content of the Hanged Man. On the outer planes or in his everyday life he carries on as if there is nothing untoward happening to him, it is all within himself that the change is taking place. Olive is a Yellowish-Green with some Grey in it. The Yellow stimulates and supports the Fool and gives encouragement to keep going and the Green he can use to correct and align his new reversal of consciousness.

It is quite a big emotional upheaval for some, the leaving behind of an established way of life which is comforting and comfortable because most of his friends are in that state too and he is completely changing his desires and wishes. How strange is his behaviour to his friends and colleagues who may perhaps be ever striving to keep up with the Jones', or may even be those same Jones', when he suddenly shows them he is no longer interested in their way of life.
Upon the mental planes of Hod this reversal of consciousness or change of focus continues, one end of the Path lies in Hod, so he can use this influence to stabilise and make firm his feet, or rather his mind which has brought him to his new position. I think probably here he is acting on the ideas he has received from a higher source. The seed idea as a vision somewhere and in Hod he is seeking to attune his mode of thinking to the vision.

Olive Green in this Sphere gives the impatience of the Yellow content urging him on to seek his vision and make it a reality and not be content to stay anchored in the mud of Malkuth. The Green makes him rebellious too so that he can break through crystallised ideas and meet new challenges. Now he must break out of the Sphere of concrete mind which has served its purpose so that the changes taking place within himself can continue. Hod can at its extreme bring about a mental breakdown, temporarily the strain of transmutation on to a higher level can prove too much. Drastic as this may be, once over it re-building can commence more in-line with the higher vision.

Netzach brings him a stage nearer his ideal. In the Olive-Green are traces of Light Grey and this helps the consciousness to expand so as to receive knowledge of higher Laws of Life by which he will set his course and try to live them. It is the Sphere of Polarity, so not only does he receive the higher influences flowing through but he will find he is being thrust into difficult conditions and situations which cause him constant friction at the personality level. So the one on this Path needs to gain a degree of harmony in himself before he can find it with others. There will be difficulties in relationships perhaps for many years while this process of reversal is going on within.

In Tiphareth the work on polarity continues but the vision is now clearer, the process of upside-downness brings him to the point of sacrifice. He finally as to renounce the pulls of the world if he is to be able to rid himself of the hindrances and become again as a child, simple and uncomplicated, but also he has developed quite a high degree of self mastery and so he is as a king. The colour Olive-Green indicates that the way of the king and the sacrificed God is a hard one but the Grey inherent in the Olive gives a persistence to his efforts to attain to freedom and the Green does include the promise that after the conflict is over, the harmony will prevail. Green brings harmony through conflict and the Yellow still stimulates and pushes him onward.

Geburah brings him to a point where the last adjustment has to take place and his own personal will has to be entirely submerged in the One Will. In this sphere the intellect will be highly developed and polished and the Laws of the Cosmos will be co-operated in fully because he has penetrated deeply into them and learned to under­stand their hidden workings. I think facing upside-down as he is with his eyes open and looking quite serene he has learned acceptance of whatever comes to him and plunges into life literally with his eyes wide-open. The intellectual Hod end of the Path gives clear, logical reasoning powers, he will know where he wants to go and what must be entailed before he succeeds in arriving, but mingled with this clear, maybe daunting view, he will receive from the Orange of Geburah an influx of spiritual wisdom which takes him on to the Path in Chesed.

The Purple sphere of Chesed spreads a peaceful atmosphere in marked contrast to the struggles of Geburah just left behind. I see this as a consolidating or a gathering together path, consolidating what has been learned on this Path in all the other spheres and gathering together his spiritual resources for the considerable jump into the Briatic World. He is ruler of the lower Worlds and has little use now for material things, this is emphasised by the coins falling from his pockets. In Gedulah, as he gazes upwards from his upside-downness he is looking upon the Creative World, the World of Beginnings. The World of Effects is within his control, now he begins to understand ultimate causes and how they affect the lower worlds. The great leap in consciousness across the Abyss into Binah enfolds him in the consciousness of the Great Mother which is really unexplainable at our level. I can only think of it as an all-embracing love in which state of being the lower worlds of Form will no longer beckon him, not for a long while anyway, then perhaps there does come a time when out of love he does decide, or maybe he is compelled, to return to the physical world again.

The Crimson of Binah possibly helps in this, it is tremendously energetic and the out-going energy conceivably pushes him either back across the Abyss on his way to another eventual physical incarnation or in the other direction it provides the necessary impetus to take his consciousness on into the Sphere of Chokmah.


Geburah - Hanged Man - Hod

By Jean Thornton (1983)

The 23rd Path lies completely on the negative Pillar, the summit of which is Binah, and so the Hanged Man has reversed vision (mirror image or water reflected image).

This Path is influenced in many ways. One could say taking a direct route the initiate has made his decision at the Chariot, and by coming down the negative Pillar, views an incorrect vision of his aim. As Justice (Geburah) and Glory (Hod) are the two basic qualities of this Path (due to the spheres at either end) and also due to one of the symbols being incorrect vision, the student should be wary of wrong forms of justice and glory.

Self sacrifice is the main theme of this Arcanum, sacrifice of the material things for the more spiritual.
Another form of sacrifice is the submergence of the higher into the lower, in order to sublimate the lower. The descent of Spirit into matter. The incarnation of God in Man.

The colour of the path is deep blue, the colour of the High Priestess; both hold much in common.
The path of The World also holds much in common, except in reversed way.

The wreath which encloses the woman on the card of The World has its leaves very much in harmony, uniform, whereas the leaves on the Hanged Man structure grow haphazardly.

The figures areopposite to each other, and although on turning the Hanged Man card upside down one finds both figures cross the same leg, his hands are concealed and hers are not. The 5 pointed star may be placed on both cards.

Even the numbers are opposite: Hanged Man = 12 - The World = 21

The connecting sphere Hod, referring to Mind, shows the reflected images to be NOT of Yesodic imagination dream type image, but a pure reversal image of the other sphere, Geburah.

There is a corrective or assessing element here, which implies the ability to see what is. The ability to see what should be, and then the ability to take action to merge the two kinds of reality so that after the Geburic action, everything that is, is as it should be.

The Hanged Man, one could say, as he is upside down shows that the values of the higher worlds are the reverse of the lower. Not forgetting that his eyes can look upwards, across or downwards.

One should make the mind into a clear receptive vessel, capable of receiving pure reason (Hod) without being occluded by false opinions (reversed vision) or mental taboos. Once the light of pure reason is achieved, one's destiny becomes clear.


To be continued...