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

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Situation on the Tree:
Between Tiphareth and Netzach.

Key: The Hebrew Letter Nun. Fish.

Titles: Child of the Great Transformers. Lord of the Gates of Death.

Spiritual Significance:. Scorpio. the Scorpion.

Tarot Card: XIII - Death.

Colours in the Four Worlds:
In Atziluth: Green blue.
In Briah: Dull brown.
In Yetzirah: Very dark brown.
In Assiah: Livid indigo brown.




The papers below describe the Twenty-fourth Path of Nun that symbolises the infleunce between Tiphareth and Netzach. (More to follow)...

(Updated 13 January 2021)


The Path of Death

By Alfred Brown (1985)

This is the twenty-fourth Path and the thirteenth Arcanum. Tiphareth and Netzach are the Sephiroth joined by the 24th Path. The Path crosses between the middle pillar of balance and the positive pillar.

Imaginative Intelligence is the designation for the 24th Path. The Hebrew letter assigned to this Path is Nun, which has two meanings: (a) propogation, by budding or division; (b) fish.

Death strikes everyone. Kings and commoners alike. This basic democracy of death was a favourite theme of medieval sermons. As an idea it goes back at least as far as the Jewish practice of burying everyone in the same style, a white shroud and a plain pine box, so that in death rich become level with the poor.

Because people fear death they seek reason and value in it. The Christian religion teaches us that death liberates our souls from the sinful flesh so that we may join God in a greater life to come. Carl Jung has written of the value of believing in an afterlife. Without it, death may seem too monstrous to accept.

Contrary to what many people believe, the card of Death does not actually refer to transformation. Rather, it shows us the precise moment at which we give up the old masks and allow the transformation to take place. Perhaps we can understand this better if we consider the Tarot's parallel in psychotherapy. By force of will (Strength) the person, with the help of the therapist-guide (the Hermit), allows knowledge to emerge of who he or she real is, and what habits or fears he or she wishes to shed (Wheel and Justice). This knowledge brings calm and a desire to change (the Hanged Man). But then a fear sets in "If I give up my behaviour", the person thinks, "maybe there will be nothing left. I will die." We live under the ego's control for so many years, we come to believe that nothing else exists. The mask is all we know. Often people will stay stuck in therapy for years because they fear release. The nothingness of the Fool terrifies them.

The Waite image for Trump 13 increases the psychological meaning of the card. The four people demonstrate different approaches to change. The King, struck down, shows the rigid ego. If life comes at us with enough power the ego may collapse; insanity can result from an inability to adjust to extreme change. The priest stands and faces Death directly; he can do so because his stiff robes and hat protect him and support him. We see here the value of a code of belief to help us past our fears of death. The Maiden symbolises partial innocence. The ego is not rigid, yet still aware of itself, unwilling to surrender. Therefore she kneels but turns away. Only the child, representing complete innocence, faces Death with a simple offering of flowers.

Death wears black armour. We have already seen how blackness and darkness symbolise the source of life as its end. Black absorbs all colour; death absorbs all individual lives. The skeleton rides a white horse. White repels all colours and therefore symbolises purity, but also nothingness. The white rose stands for the desires purified, for when the ego dies selfish and repressive needs die with it.

At the back of the card we see a sun rising between two pillars. The ego belongs to the outer world of duality, separating and categorising experience. Through Death we feel the radiant power of life, which knows only itself. The landscape before the pillars reminds us of the "land of the Dead" described in all mythologies.

A river flows through the middle of the card, as in the Empress, indicating the unity of change and eternity. The fact that they lead to the sea reminds us of the formlessness and oneness of the universe. The boat, reminiscent of the Pharaohs' burial boats, symbolises the true self carried through Death to a new life.

Life is the dream, Death is the dreamer, they belong to each other like lovers, and like lovers they are parted for a while and come together again at last. The title of the card is "Child of the Great Transformers". The Transformers here are Life and Death, the Child is man.

The Zodiacal sign of the 24th Path is Scorpio, which makes it a water Path even though it travels from a sphere connected with fire. It is the old story of transmutation once more, fire plus water equals the force and power of steam. Transmutation is one of the prime functions of the 24th Path, and being on the line of the lightning flash it will pack more than the usual punch.

All three of these paths leading into the sphere of Tiphareth are concerned with change in one way or another. Hod to Tiphareth changes our ideas, where they pertain to the spiritual levels. When we travel from Yesod to Tiphareth we must change our ideas of self sufficiency, then we have need of faith in its deepest sense, no matter by which tradition we live, we have to realise our need for a Primal Source. When we come to the 24th Path, it is our fear of change in all its aspects that we must face, transmuting that fear into an acceptance of what is, and what will be.

There is a practice known as the Seven Levels, a series of withdrawals from the outside world. The first level is that of Attention, the second is Concentration, next comes Meditation which is followed by Contemplation. The fifth is natural Sleep, the sixth is Deep Trance and the last is Death. This series of withdrawals has much to do with the 24th Path, and is said that this was the correct way for an initiate to withdraw from the body.

The Hebrew letter is Nun, the fish, and on this Path of water it is in its own element. It is interesting to note that the letter of the 28th Path, from Yesod to Netzach, is Tzaddi, the fish hook, making this Path going from Netzach to Tiphareth a natural progression; though one wonders if the hook is catching the fish, or the fish is swallowing the hook in the fashion of the whale swallowing Jonah?

Another water link is the symbol of the Death Boat in Celtic lore, many of the heroes and some of the gods of this tradition have left the shores of life by the Glass Boat of Death; Arthur among them. The Viking custom of sending the body out to sea on a burning boat has both the fire and water element of this path, and some sects in India send their dead floating down the Ganges to the sea. The ancient Egyptians laid their important dead on barges symbolising the Boat of Millions of Years, and rowed them to the Necropolis beyond the city.

Fire and Water have always been methods of returning the human shell to its earthly components and setting the soul free. It has been said that cremation is the quickest way to set the spirit free, and the way that is best for an initiate, making sure that a full three days has elapsed for withdrawal.

The story of Osiris has a place here also, though in many ways it is also part of the 32nd Path. The deaths of the heroes of mankind can give many clues to this Path, and they are worth checking on. This is not being morbid, death is a natural as life, and it is seen by initiates as a higher birth, with life on earth as the real death. If the 32nd Path is trodden at physical death, then perhaps we could call the 24th Path a practice run.


Tiphareth - Death - Netzach

By Allan Withers (1987)

Tiphareth, the Sun in the physical world, represents the centre of our being, the central pivot point of our existence microcosmically, and the centre of the outer universe too.

We can view the Tree from two different positions within us: either from the position of the lower self, or from the point of view of the higher self. From the lower self the Tree is a ladder, the spheres being stations which are levels of consciousness. As the lower self is in its waking mode, it ‘looks up’ the Tree. It is, of course, the aim of the lower self, which seems to make all the decisions in our lives (or apparently so), to establish ‘contact’ with the higher self. This situation gives the higher self a chance to direct the incarnation, which advances the spirit's rate of progress. The point of contact between the two selves is at the state of consciousness described by Tiphareth.

The journey to Tiphareth from Netzach involves travelling the 24th Path, which is a subjective state described by the tarot card Death. To all newcomers to the Tarot this card is one of the most fearful, because of the inherent fear of death that many people have. Death is the final part of all, but because of the universal law of duality there can be no death without rebirth. When death of the physical body occurs, the higher self transforms into its sleeping mode, where it absorbs the essence of the life; the next time the higher self ‘wakes up’ it has advanced in evolution and is thus in a position to start a new phase. Death can be looked on very positively, especially when things need to be renewed that no longer function in a desired way. Initiation into the Mysteries is a form of death, the death of the old way of life and the birth of the new.

So how is death linked to the change from the Netzachian objective state of consciousness to the Tiphareth state of consciousness? If we look more closely at Netzach we see it is a fire sphere of force, a male sphere. The forces and passions of nature are associated and the planet Venus is its mundane chakra. Venus in astrology concerns the relating of two parts, in this case this could be the two selves when considered from one point of view, or the male physical self with the anima. It is the interchange of forces that causes passions to rise, so there is here a great sense of movement. From the physical plane point of view the images that are formed in Hod are dancing, and their interplay creates.

The Path of Death is linked to the astrological sign of Scorpio, which is a deeply sexual sign and it can be seen that the dancing of the forces has a sexual angle. The climax to this is the state of Tiphareth, where all activity takes on a transcendent mode; it is at this point where the bliss generated from sex can be experienced. The harmony and beauty here are released.

Tiphareth is the sphere of the sacrificed gods, which indicates a place of transmutation of forces from the lower mode to the higher mode. The key factor to note from this path is the resurrection after the death represented in Tiphareth. When all moves in accordance with the divine plan, this Path is one where much progress can be made. As in astrology the transformation factor represented by Pluto is some systems or a higher octave of Mars, and is spiritually the most beneficial. From this very fact, a glance at one's natal chart could indicate one's attitude to this Path. The position of Mars and Pluto indicating the way one copes with death and transformation, and the severity of the aspects to these planets indicating the ease or difficulty with which one deals with it.

The sign Scorpio has often been feared because of its unknown aspects. So it is with this Path. We learn lessons about our attitudes to mysteries and secrets. Here then we see that as with all situa­tions, the most intense tests bring us the most telling insights. The transformation should be one of attitude; if the Path is represented in our natures as weak, or in other words we have to learn a lot here, then we must develop a way of coming to terms with it. In the case of the occultist it is most likely to be a testing Path, because being more equipped to deal with it, the occultist is allocated more of a test. As with astrology, the most difficult charts are of astrologers themselves.

The way to transform this Path is to use the positive side of its energies. The other symbol for Scorpio is the eagle and this shows how the sign symbolises flying to the heights which is like the inspiration of the soul coming through. So instead of concentrating on the sad sorrowful aspects of loss connected with physical death, one must look deeper - see how the start of a new life is a very happy event, marvel at the scheme of things, and participate in the intense joy of knowing that no-one can really cease to be and that within each one of us is a free spirit which is eternal.

So with this combination we see the forces of nature blending with the forces of balance resulting in a transformation that ends an old phase and begins a new one, it is a goal of all of us to activate the control of the higher self in this life and use the lower self from above - thus to set a course for humanity toward the correction of the Fall, which means to aid in the quickening of evolution for man and to realise the cycles of nature and the universe which are all death and rebirth, wheels within wheels.

The Path of the Lord of Death (and birth) leads from Tiphareth and is part of the lightning flash. This makes it possibly more fundamental than the other two Paths. It is a Path to the Yetziratic world of form, which is made possible by high imagination. This then is the "Imaginative Intelligence". The Hebrew 'Nun' is the fish (or Pisces) which is the beginning from the end, or propagation.

It is possibly useful at this point to define the occult meaning of death. Dion Fortune gives seven definitions:-

  1. Two forces come together giving a third or vortex force, but ceasing to exist until reborn when the third is split.
  2. In evolution one life form goes extinct in generating a higher form.
  3. The material shell dies and the imprisoned soul is reborn.
  4. A body sleeps, enabling its mind to work independently on the input of the day. This is a most important occult ability and is the reason given for the review of the day just before one sleeps.
  5. The surrender of personality in order to progress to a new personality - probably the most important property of the path.
  6. The lapse from consciousness to trance.
  7. The death of oblivion is the birth of awareness or the death of insensitivity is the birth of sensitivity.

It is the imagination of the urge or intelligence which gives aspiration to man as the path enters Netzach. Netzach is the "Occult Intelligence". The imagination produces the ideas and consolidates them in the forces experienced subsequently in the material. The Path of The Wheel goes from Netzach to the sphere of Chesed.



By Peter Oddey (2001)

The Path of the Tarot Card of Death, to which is ascribed the Hebrew letter Nun and the Imaginative Intelligence, joins Tiphareth, the World of Beauty with Netzach, the World of Victory. The Path of Death is the Path of Transformation; on the downward arc it is the Path on which the higher self adopts the personality in which it will function in incarnation and on the upward Path it is the Path of liberation of the soul-self to the higher life of the spirit.

In the Path of Death consciousness falls under the authority of imagination. It is imagination that changes the world whether it be God imagining the continuation of Creation or man imagining the world in which he wishes to dwell.

Imagination is a killer; when man imagines that which he intends to pursue, the existing order must die as that imagined becomes reality. Hence the esoteric title of the Path, “The Child of the Great Transformers; the Lord of the Gate of Death”.

The Tarot card of Death symbolically relates the full revelation of the Path.

The Foster Case card, which is an esoteric version of the Rider-Waite, depicts the stream of consciousness winding its gentle way from the rising Sun of Tiphareth. In the background Cypress trees wave gently symbolising resurrection and to the right is the ten-petalled white rose, which symbolises the fullness of the entire Tree to be found in the Path of Nun. The Transforming Power of the Path is absolute.

The skeleton, which is to be found upon all the familiar packs, is the age old symbol for Death, who, with the Scythe of Time, shaped as if it were the Crescent Moon of the High Priestess, is the Lord of the Gate of Death. The Skeleton, along with the teeth, to be found under the Path of Schin – Fire – and the Tarot card of Judgement, is the most enduring feature of the human consciousness and as with the hard facts of teeth and bones, so Judgement and Death are the hard facts of our existence.

But this is not supposed to be the depths of pessimism, rather optimism at its height, because the card informs us that whatever death we face, emotional, psychical, spiritual or physical, we are assured of new life; death is the Gateway to the Realms of Light.

After all, whichever direction one travels the Path, we know that at one end is the World of Beauty and Harmony, the Sephirah of Kings and at the other, the World of Victory and the ineffable energy of Eternity. The Princes of Tiphareth represent the royal power and authority of the King and Queen; the Sixes of the Minor Arcana attributed to Tiphareth generally infer the accomplishment and carrying out of a matter. The Sevens of Netzach generally imply a power over and above the material plane; although affected by surrounding cards, circumstances, events and personalities.

In its highest level, the card symbolises the ultimate transmutation of the lower human energies, the passions of Netzach into the sublime reaches of purest spirit. The transmutation is total and is the sublimation of all things and specifically the sexuality. To the Path of Nun is ascribed the mysterious depths of Scorpio, to which are attributed sex and death. Hence, in the Golden Dawn card, a miniature motif to the top right depicts the transformation of a wriggling snake into the soaring eagle.

In view of this, the card might have truly to be called “Birth”, but as we enter this world we have to die to the inner reality and to pass back into the infinite we have to die to this world, so the card must hold the title it does.

“Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat
falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

St. John’s Gospel, Chap.12, v. 24


The Aftermath of Death

By Arthur Henrey (1982)

The act of dying is something we all know about, and will experience as a matter of course; death itself is often a closed book. To most people it consists of bereavements a disposal of the body by burial or cremation, and consideration of a possible life hereafter for the soul. Even those with strong religious beliefs often do not consider the immediate aftermath of death - the period which generally elapses, between the moment of death, and the final parting as the mortal remains are lowered into the earth or rendered to ashes.

Many esoteric writings suggest that a three-day period should elapse before the body is actually removed for burial, to allow the Soul to depart. In Western countries this amount of time often does elapse,but there are many variations to this rule. The Jewish faith, for example, demands that the body is buried within 24hours, whilst in very hot countries of the East, the dead are buried the same day, or cremated.

In these modem times, other problems arise when organs of the body are urgently required for transplants, for unless the body was, first put into deep-freeze for at least three days following death, the removal of the heart or whatever organs were to be used, would affect the psyche of the Soul, for they form part of the overall live elements of the body until the Soul itself has departed. Legally, of course, death is considered to be from the time the heart stops, but even this accepted act has been challenged by science and machines.

When, in fact, does the state of death commence? In most cases, apart from sudden death, accident or catastrophe, the body organisms have reached the end of their normal life; this may be due to old age, disease, or other causes of failure. The heart ceases to beat and breathing stops. This is usually considered as the moment of death, the departure of life, and the severance of the ego contained within the body. But these are only the exterior signs of death. Although the heart has stopped and the lungs no longer pump breath through the body, the brain itself is still alive. It takes several minutes for the brain to use up theoxygen residue, until it too finally expires. The remaining organs of the body slowly die throughout the following 24-36 hours, until by the time two to three days have elapsed, there is no life left.

'The entire process is rather like switching off a live current to running machinery, which then runs down slowly, section by section, until it is still. As machinery will then be left to rust, so the lifeless body will gradually decompose. The motivating power of the body, although cut off, is still in existence. Its functions for the body itself may have ceased, but the power is not dead as is the body. It is held to be essential that three days should elapse to allow this power of the Soul, to withdraw.

The ancient Egyptians believed in the departure of the Spirit to another life, and allowed time to elapse before their dead were embalmed and, eventually, entombed. The very early Persians also had a belief that "the Soul hovers near to the head for three days after death, whilst forces of Good and Evil fight for possession. After three days the Soul passes over the Bridge of Time and Eternity, and if evil deeds outweigh the good, it tumbles into the Abyss, but the Soul which is good passes on to the realms of happiness". Tibetan writings state that the Soul slowly leaves the body and forms itself into an astral counterpart which, as the organs of the body slowly die, spreads itself like a cloud above, linked only to the physical shell below by the Silver Cord. Gradually, the Silver Cord dissolves from the body until they are no longer linked, and only then can death besaid to have taken place. The Soul departs to the afterlife, and the meaningless husk, once host to the departing. Soul can be removed. Interestingly, the Bible refers to this Tibetan belief in Ecclesiastes, chapter 12; "Or ever the silver cord, be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

The process of death, following on from the pain of life, is a peaceful event, one which is near to a contemplation of what is past and what is to come. It is a transitional time, when the cares of the living no longer give concern and the Soul is resting before its journey into the unknown. According to the individual's beliefs during their lifetime, the Soul's life ahead will reflect in part what is expected at the moment of death, be it Nirvana, Heaven, Purgatory, or even Hell. This state will be experienced after death, until the moment of illusion disperses and the purpose of the Soul’s true destiny is revealed. But during the three days immediately following death, the Soul will need solitude and peace. The removal of the body from the place of death, unless necessary, or the abrupt burial or cremation, can disturb the Soul itself during this vital time. If at all possible, the body should be allowedto rest alone during the three-day period,and the natural processes of gradual death and withdrawal of the Soul should take place in absolute silence and peace. Only at the end of this time should the inevitable trappings of death intrude. Although death is often a sad occasion for those left behind, for the Soul it is a happy moment of release and the wailings of the bereaved would not assist the passage of tran­sition. Ideally, prayers of thankfulness and joy should be offered at the time of death, for what we call life is truly death, and what we term death is truly life.

As John Donne wrote in his lines from "Holy Sonnets" - "Death be not though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so . . . one short sleep past, we wake eternally, and death shall be no more."



By Andy Austin (1990)

Ever since man evolved conscious thought he has sought an explanation to the ultimate enigma, that of death. Few if any cultures have evolved purely as existentialist. Different cultures have evolved different belief systems on what happens to man at the point of death. Different concepts as to the make-up of man have emerged i.e. that of the soul, the etheric body, the astral body, angelic beings, demons etc.

Generally belief systems emerged at times when the culture or society faced oppression and the system offered provided hope of salvation in the face of despair. Frequently the belief system was enforced onto the peoples with penalties against those who did not implement it or refused to accept it or followed another system. The belief system thus became a method and measure of societal control.

One only has to look at the witchcraft persecutions of the Catholic Church in the not to distant past, the oppression of the Knights Templar, the damnation of anything “occult". All too frequently the belief systems served to hold the peoples in their oppressed state in order for the rich to remain in power. Many of the old belief systems still exist today in the form of the established religions; many more have emerged with the emergence of fringe groups such as the numerous cults that exist today, modern day psychology and the availability of mind altering drugs to youth sub-cultures.

With the advent of mass communications and multi-racial societies different belief systems exist together in the same society, each claiming to offer the truth and salvation of the soul. Each group has its devotees and advocates, fringe followers and believers, initiates but non followers and those who are indifferent, not forgetting those who vehemently oppose the group.

Thus in our culture those of us who are generally religiously indifferent are able to "shop around" these different groups to find the one that most appeals to us. We find our beliefs by drawing from the abundance that is available to us. Thus we may come to have a vast array of different beliefs, each fulfilling a need within ourselves or being used to provide an excuse for our behaviour. All to often analysis of the beliefs reveal them to be conflicting and incompatible with one another.

Loose justification may be offered to support ones beliefs but the justification may be shallow and not fully understood. Narrow mindedness is usually helpful in maintaining the belief since it is all too frightening to think that something that is used to explain part of ones life is just complete fallacy and that one has been "had". Every religion requires faith and for faith to exist it must not be questioned, this leads to the submission of will and sheer ignorance.

The concept of reincarnation does not require faith because it is a belief. To this end Buddhism is not a religion but a system of practice. It does not require faith but does require belief, the difference between the two is subtle but I would hope it is apparent.

It is not the purpose of this essay to look at Buddhism, many a good book has been written on this subject and I am no expert. The western idea of reincarnation is merely that the human soul is recycled from one human or animal incarnate being to another until such a point that it is ready to pass on to the "other side". It would appear that few people relate the concept of reincarnation to the concept of karma.

The concept of reincarnation to the western mind would appear to be an amalgamation of eastern and western philosophy mixed with a bit of wishful thinking and pure fantasy. There is much available literature on reincarnation; its advocates can offer much proof of it. We can meet people who can remember past lives and offer accurate details from it, hypnotists can claim to regress people to previous incarnations not only as humans but as animals. I have read an article by one chap who claims that we will all end up as dolphins in our last incarnation before passing onto the paradise that awaits us all. He offers to be able to tell us how far we all are from this last incarnation by the use of regression under hypnosis. I'm without a doubt that this is quite a financially rewarding pastime.

You have probably guessed by now that l am no exponent of this belief of reincarnation or indeed the law of karma in relation to this concept. As a Kabbalist you will be aware of the four-planes of existence, i.e. that of Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah, and Atziluth. Let us pause and examine a concept:

  1. Consider that since essentially every man started of as the resulting emanation of the point that first occurred as Kether.
  2. Thus every man resulting from the divine spark has some identical attributes within him.
  3. When applying the Sephiroth to man, if we leave out Assiah, Briah and Yetzirah from each emanation we are left with the archetypal man.
  4. By removing the superficial layers of emotion, intellect and personality from man then every man stands the same.

So now let us consider what lies beneath these superficial layers to leave this archetypal man. In psychological terms we are dealing in part with the subconscious. Devout Christians may say that all we are dealing with is heaven and hell and there is no archetypal man. In occult terminology I would say we have the microcosm, others would say this is not the case, man is the microcosm. Mystics might say that we have a resulting universe that it is our duty to explore through to reach spiritual enlightenment. With this I would suggest we have an entire occult dogma emanate. Every man’s microcosm draws an experience from it identical with another’s subjective.

There is no real answer; who knows, maybe the Jews are right. Maybe in reality there is nothing more than an active imagination that given human nature is easily manipulated. But then could l get away with saying that human nature is archetypal. In his book "Man and his symbols" Carl Jung puts forward the concept that man has an archetypal subconscious which he termed as the collective unconscious. He believed that this is reflected in the symbols that man uses to express himself. Here I would dare to suggest that much Kabbalistic symbolism is archetypal especially that of the tarot. So then, where does this leave us with the past life experiences that people report. Is it a reality, mere illusion and fallacy, or a psychological principal? By digressing once again l hope to demonstrate that it is the latter two in varying combinations that cause this effect. Every brain is capable of giving such a response, every response subjective and individual.

A similar view is presented by Crowley in his introduction to "Goetia" which he translated. (Before giving this piece complete credibility it must be remembered that in this piece of work Crowley was trying to present himself as the "Secret Chief of the Rosicrucian Order.") In this piece he discusses whether or not occult phenomena are illusions or realities or hallucinations, he tells us:

"Magical phenomena come under a special subclass, since they are willed and their causes are a series of "real" phenomena called the operations of ceremonial magic".

These operations are the stimulus provided by ritual to all the senses. The stimulus is in itself unusual and thus the result from the brain is itself unusual. This result will be projected out from the subconscious which is experienced as a reality. Crowley even goes on to break down ritual to its components and explains how these components affect the brain:

"The spirits of the Goetia are the portions of the human brain.

Their seals therefore represent methods of stimulating or regulating these particular spots (through the eye).

The names of God are vibrations calculated to establish;

  1. The general control of the brain (establishment of functions relative to the subtle world).
  2. Control over the brain in detail (rank or type of spirits).
  3. Control over one special portion (name of spirit).

The perfumes aid this through smell, usually the Perfumes only tend to control a large area."
Thus in the Goetia there exists a spirit called Cimieres that teaches logic. Crowley states that this means:

"Those portions of my brain which subserve the logical faculties may be stimulated and developed by following out the process called the "invocation of Cimieres".

he goes on to explain:

Solomon promises us that we can:

  1. Obtain information.
  2. Destroy our enemies.
  3. Understand the voices of nature.
  4. Obtain treasure.
  5. Heal diseases."

Crowley briefly explains these five promises with:

  1. This brings up facts from the subconscious.
  2. Here we have an interesting fact. It is curious to note the contrast between noble means and the apparently vile ends of magical rituals. The latter are disguises for sublime truths, 'to destroy our enemies' is to realise the illusion of duality, to excite compassion. (A remarkably Christian viewpoint coming from the legendary great beast!)
  3. A careful naturalist will understand much from the voices of the animals he has long studied. Even a child knows the difference of a cat’s miauling and purring. The faculty may be greatly developed.
  4. Business capacity may be developed.
  5. Abnormal body states may be corrected, and the involved tissues brought back to tone, in obedience to currents started from the brain.

Thus we can see that the human mind is easily manipulated for constructive means. Pre-arranged changes in consciousness can be effected by accessing the sub-conscious in a logical manner. However it is not unreasonable to suggest that access of the subconscious may arise spontaneously and without conscious effort. Frequently though this may give rise to beliefs and theories with the situation being misunderstood.

Often these strange beliefs behind the phenomenon may lead to self delusion, one may believe he is psychic, mediumistic, clairvoyant, prophetic, a healer or a guru specially gifted and destined to be a great leader. I have studied many self-proclaimed mediums and by mimicking their techniques and by using a basic knowledge of psychology I evolved a pretty much standard repertoire that never failed. My client would believe what I say because he wants to (in some instances he has to believe what is said, some "mediums" don't come cheap!!). In our repressive culture with it's stiff upper lip and sexual taboos and an emphasis on conformity, many people have many unmet needs and desires that are filled quite inappropriately.

People are easily manipulated and deceived because they want to be. We would rather have faith in other people than in ourselves. People need to hide from themselves and not understand what they are; we only need to look and the level of alcohol and drug consumption in our society to get a measure of this. It is too hard for us to take a good look at ourselves and understand our true motives behind our beliefs and actions. Thus repressing our true emotions and desires and stuffing them away deep within our subconscious, sooner or later it is likely that the subconscious will throw it back to the conscious mind in a form that we find acceptable to our social conditioning but may not understand. This is analogous to Freud’s theory on dreams. We find that there are three main theories on dreams:

  1. The pre scientific view that dreams have a supernatural significance and prophetic value. This is best demonstrated by a study on the beliefs of the shamanic Indians.
  2. A psychological theory. In that dreams have no psychological value but are the result of cerebral cortical activity reflecting the impressions of the previous day.
  3. Another psychology theory that considers dreams as products of fantasy and attempts to interpret them using psychology.

In his book "The Interpretation of Dreams" Sigmund Freud suggests that dreams serve to protect sleep. They prevent the sleeper from being woken up by internal stimuli. We close our eyes to exclude visual stimuli and find quiet to lessen auditory stimuli. We withdraw from the outside world and our mental activities reduce to a minimum. We cannot however hide from our internal stimuli such as a full bladder, an empty stomach, thirst, the pressure of unfulfilled wishes, frustrations, guilt, worries etc. All of these will continue to affect us when we sleep. Dreams serve to reduce these so that our sleep continues undisturbed.

This sleep preserving function can be best demonstrated by the simplest type of dreams which satisfy basic demands such as thirst or hunger. The thirsty subject dreams that he is drinking and by this hallucination achieves temporary gratification. He can continue sleeping instead of being awakened to satisfy a physiological demand.

The same principal operates in the dreams of young children. These are simple wish fulfilments in which a child satisfies in fancy what he has been refused in reality. The child has the problem that most of his needs will be met by adults providing the means. However the parents may refuse a child’s want and thus dreams and fantasy offer a compensatory mechanism for these unmet desires and needs. Far removed from the simplicity of a child’s dream, adult dreams tend to be disjointed and confused.

The reason that adult dreams are not a transparent expression of unfulfilled wishes is that most wishes of adults are modified and adapted by internal obstacles, unlike the child’s obstacles being mostly external, i.e. that of parents. These internal obstacles that the adult faces consist of the products of socio - cultural conditioning such as guilt, morals, belief-system employed, standards etc. Thus the need or desire is expressed and presented to the conscious mind in a manner that is acceptable to the individual.

By now I would imagine that one is wondering what all this has got to do with reincarnation and the past life experience. Recently I read a book by a South African chap who was offering "past life therapy". The belief here is that hang ups and trauma from previous lives continue to affect us in this life and can be used to explain phobias and problems in our current life. The therapy consists of regressing the client to a past life and then guiding him to the point that the trauma or cause of problem is incurred. Thus the problem acknowledged and confronted disappears. This type of therapy is remarkably successful and in some cases preferential to modern psychotherapy. However I feel that the actual processes involved are being grossly misunderstood.

Hypnosis far from being the dramatic trance like state that we see on the stage act, serves to loosen the girders on the mind so that inhibition and self repression is dramatically reduced. Thus one cannot be hypnotised to rob a bank unless one already want to do this and when something is suggested to the individual that is not acceptable to him then he simply wakes up. Therefore it is sometimes not appropriate to use hypnosis as a direct access to repressed painful events in ones life where the individual is in danger of "snapping out of it" retaining the fear of the occasion and bringing it out into consciousness. The individual who believes in the value of hypnosis and in reincarnation will have the event presented to them in a manner that they find acceptable.

Just as in dreams, the fear and the cause of it is fitted around the Individual’s belief system and socio-cultural conditioning and appears as fantasy. It has to appear as a past life because once the individual is regressed beyond the point of memory the brain struggles to find further knowledge because the hypnotist demands it. Thus the imaginative component of the brain kicks into gear and the demand of past life is met. If this doesn't occur because it is unacceptable to the individual then he simply wakes up.

So what of people who are not having past life therapy but can remember previous incarnations with specific details that are quite accurate. I have met a patient in a psychiatric unit who was quite remarkable in his knowledge of Cliff Richard. This man claimed to be the singer himself. He wasn't of course and his singing voice was quite appalling and the bane in the life of the other patients. Now this man knew every little detail from the singer’s life, the name of his cat when he was a kid, his mother’s nickname at school etc., etc. Now this man was an obsessive and had probably at some point in his life become obsessed with cliff and thus read every cliff article, book, journal, etc, on the man and consciously retained knowledge as well as subconsciously retain tit-bits of information as he went about his life.

Now this is something we all do, we consciously retain information and subconsciously pick up other information that we retain but do not know that we have done so. This starts in the womb and continues until we die. This information can be retrieved under hypnosis and is blended to conform to our needs and standards. It can spontaneously manifest in a similar manner to the archetypal unconsciousness and is often similarly misunderstood. This misunderstanding occurs because we want it to be something more.

Currently there are two people that I know of that both run there own occult orders and both claim to be Crowley reincarnated. Crowley himself claimed to be Eliphas Levi reincarnated, amongst others. In every institution around the country you will find someone claiming to be Jesus. It’s a mad world we live in and appears to be getting madder.


If There Is No Life After Death Then Why Follow A Spiritual Path?

By Richard F. Stewart

It might be useful if before I start in earnest to find some answers to this question if I firstly outline my own views on the subject of life after death, as the assumption is implicit in the question that the questioner does not believe in life after death, which in my case is far from the truth.

I think it is true to say that the Individuality centred in Tiphareth is an abiding principle to which the personality is attached and that for a lifetime the personality is an instrument through which the Individuality finds expression. However where my personal views may differ from those of more Christian orientated kabbalists is in just how abiding this Individuality is.

It comes down to the basic doctrines one believes in, either you believe in the Self which exists or you do not. I have to admit that I believe that the Soul or Self exists only as an illusory body in the mind of the beholder. To believe in a Self which is beyond death is to strengthen the bonds of the Ego and to perpetuate a falsehood. The only thing which leads one to believe in the permanence of the Self is the notion of separateness which the Ego constantly needs to promote.
To portray in more detail how I have come to see myself, let me explain. The Self is a construct, an aggregation of elements, or if you like personalities, fragments of all I have known, many of which have causes which stretch beyond my lifetime, perhaps even those of personalities who have long since ceased to live in the material world now reside as fragments, which when taken as a whole constitute my Self. There may be facets of my father, my mother and the rest of my family. In addition to the more obvious influences which have conjugated in my Self we might also cite those thoughts which I have picked up from books and from tuition, and therefore elements from the life of Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed may well be present, as well as the less glamorous characters which have at one time or another influenced my life. We might as well say that, in fact, these beings to the extent to which they are present live within me. Beyond these even, it has to be said that there are myriads of effects within me whose causes remain unknown, from the forces of the stars and planets and even from mother Earth have all undoubtedly played their part.

This inner multitude are constantly trying to achieve supremacy over each other. Not just the memories of the great and not so great but the characters themselves whose presence is active due to the forces formerly set in motion and who themselves were composed of myriads of former beings whose ancestry lies in the dim and distant past.
So according to this view there is no death and all beings live on through the causes or forces which they set in motion by means of thought, word and deed.

What the of the theories of reincarnation and transmigration as taught by the major religions of the world?

Reincarnation, or the belief in the re-birth of the human soul in another body is possible when one or more of the multitude of beings composing the ego determines strongly to accomplish a goal whose length defies the span of one lifetime. It is possible that such determination to create an instrument capable of bridging the interruption of death and causing the birth of a suitable individual, or possessing itself of an already existing individual and guiding it in a suitable direction, is sufficient to bring about the desired result.

What is not possible is that of an ego which is permanent and which transmigrates like a man moving house. Even if the outward appearance tells us so.

What about the succession of priests and Lamas as in the Tibetan Dalai Lama, who I believe has reached the fourteenth incarnation?

Such people are perhaps examples of what I have just explained, otherwise how could it be that the head of the Buddhist philosophy preaches a belief in the non-existence of the Ego and at the same time admits to being an incarnation of a succession of Priest-Lama’s.

In the memoirs of the Dalai Lama of Tibet he describes incarnations by way of a simile: The Buddhas re-incarnate by virtue of their innate wish to help others and do so whenever conditions are suitable, though they do so without leaving their state in Nirvana. It is rather as reflections of the Moon may be seen on Earth whilst the Moon itself remains in it’s course in the sky. By the same simile, the Moon may be reflected in many different places at the same moment, a Buddha may be incarnate simultaneously in many different bodies.

Such people as the Dalai Lama are called by their own nation as Tulkus, the word meaning “Illusory Body”, as in that created by magical means. The Tibetans distinguish between Tulkus and Tulpas. The Tulpas are ephemeral creations which may take human or other forms and who co-exist with their creator, sometimes freeing itself from its masters dominance and attaining a certain independence, whilst a Tulku, on the contrary, is the incarnation of a lasting energy directed by an individual with the object of continuing a certain kind of activity after his death. The Tulku is not co-existent with his ancestor but carries on his work and has not the same but a similar disposition.

What perhaps I am trying to arrive at here is a subtle but persuasive difference between what appears to be one thing on the surface and what may lie underneath.

Before I finish with the first part of this discussion on Life after Death and enter on a discussion of the Spiritual Path let me answer for myself one last piece of the jigsaw.

What about the numerous claims of people with supernormal powers which allows the knowledge of preceding lives?
It can be conceded that all people have experienced past lives of countless numbers and that these lives extend not only in the succession of time but also are capable of co-existence in the same time frame of one life, as in the Dalai Lama’s simile of the Moon casting it’s image on many reflective surfaces at one time. Therefore, it follows that if Jesus continues his life in his followers then not one of these followers can rightly claim to be Jesus, or for that matter any other of the late and greats, for only fragments live on in them. Furthermore, the lives of the followers are not in isolation and they themselves have been touched by elements which have taken root in them and have determined certain of the Mental, Emotional and Physical activities to which Jesus may not have been privy.

Why then follow a spiritual path if one believes in this particular philosophy?

The simple answer is that it makes no substantial difference to the reasons why one would follow a spiritual path anyway. Each and every persons motive is different. To one it may be that they realise that they are imperfect or could improve upon themselves through spiritual practises, whilst to another it may be the desire to move up through the planes of existence and escape the so-called ‘Vale of Tears’. Either way it signifies a willingness to work upon themselves, for the betterment of themselves and ultimately that of humanity as a whole.

The very nature of the question, “If there is no life after death then why follow a spiritual path?”, presumes that one follows a spiritual Path because there is something to be gained in a future life. In this idea there lies a modicum of selfishness and poor motive, not to mention a basic misunderstanding of the nature of karma, as least as I understand it.
Whether you are bound by gold chains or iron chains the simple truth is that you are bound. In other words, as long as we are attached to the material life, irrespective of whether we lead the life of a Saint (the gold chains) or a sinner (the iron chains) we will remain chained to the wheel of rebirth and death.

What is important is to realise that each one of us is an actor on the stage of life, and that the future lies beyond.


To be continued...