The papers below describe the Thirty-second Path of Tau that symbolises the infleunce between Yesod and Malkuth.
Please note that although the Tarot Card of 'The World' is assigned to this Path, it is also called 'The Universe' and it is ba the latter name that the Path of Tau will be referred to.
(More to follow)...
(Updated 15 January 2021)
The Path of the Universe
By James Sturzaker (1976)
As above so below is expressed by the 21st Arcanum, comprising Aleph, the Fool and Kaph, the Wheel, to which he is attached as centre point.
The androgynous counterpart to Kether is seen on this Path as the central figure within a Vesica, her feminine guise relates to that hidden essence of All-potential, the dynamic spark of Energy central in the World of Action.
Yesod, at the other end of the Path, emanates the lunar influence associated with the hidden side of Kether and the limitless circumference of that beyond, i.e. the Zero of Ain.
The Fool’s involutionary journey follows the Life-Force spiralling down from Kether As a descending arc it reaches its declination as the waning Moon of Path 29; its subsequent emergence is portrayed as the regenerated First Quarter on Path 31. The Universe, then, represents that enigma, hidden and potential, i.e. the New Moon, qualifying the virgin state.
Of the Virgin all speech is sacrilegious, description denied save to say she is the Shekinah in exile, The High Priestess of misfortune, her sorrow reflected in the dance of Shiva at the death of his beloved Sati. The dance of Shiva brought terrible destruction to the world and the gods failed to dissuade him from this course. Her lifeless body in contact with his prevented the process of decomposition and the gods were obliged to intervene, cutting her body into tiny pieces. Shiva saw the yoni falling towards Hell and went to the rescue. As Shiva is an androgyny, the experience undergone by his feminine counterpart is indeed his experience.
From other stories across the world that follow a similar motif, it becomes apparent that the negative, or feminine, side of the androgyny offers no resistance , whereas the positive, or conscious element, is thoroughly involved with the experience, which facilitates expression of a formerly latent force; that of heroic effort and courage in the face of adversity. With this positive and optimistic outlook, the Fool may succeed, but he will have to pass through the phase of inflation (egoic as well as economic!) and at this point is decided whether he can assimilate and correctly direct the new-found power, or whether he will become a slave unto it.
The 32nd Path in Assiah represents evolutionary progression from dominance by the stars and planets held in fearful awe to a sense of orientation within the environment and the implementation of the celestial spheres as a means of guidance and navigation, but equally as important Man became aware of what was previously an instinctive sense of time and timing. The primitive dance was begun as the latent force became utilised. Aware of his limitations under the constant Scythe of Time (Saturn), the Fool on this Path makes preparations collecting together only that which is vital to his survival on the Path to Infinity.
In Yetzirah the dance of Yesod is emotive as the Fool turns about to face the multi-visaged World of Illusion. With the quality of Discrimination (Malkuth) he may aspire towards Independence, the Virtue of Yesod. This Path consists of one adventure after another, carrying back to the palace rough stones that polished shine with Resplendent light. With them he must toil to fashion the perfect ornament for Malkuth, the Bride. Desire and Action are the opposite poles between which he stands as mediator.
In Hod his step changes to a more systematic form. Already his movement is restricted to conventional forms of expression. But his desire for concretion and knowledge entails expansion of the limitations encircling him and a conscious movement towards spirit and its epitome in Netzach. In Netzach is the Victory dance, the hero crowned with laurel finds himself caught up in the ecstatic gyration of energy; if he can but grasp the Ankh firmly the Life-Force which issues from it can be directed in the healing light of Venus. He must produce equilibrium in the form of a philosophy built upon a firm foundation, a philosophy based on Cosmic Law in relation to Nature. His role as the hero is a protective one; if She is violated, Man must suffer both the physical and spiritual consequences.
Tiphareth is the centre of synthesis, here, as already mentioned, inflation is a prominent feature of the Path. The first time forms of self-expression are here experienced as the Fool projects desire and action towards the altruistic goal.
In the Moral World of Geburah and Gedulah, the Fool moves towards amorality and a love of knowledge that, once acquired, may be spread to the four quarters – for those that have ears to hear.
Through the Understanding quality of Binah, the Inferior Bride may be reinstated upon her throne. Under the Black Ray we encounter once again the hidden or latent force contained, as the letters Yod and Heh are combined. With this knowledge of combination/permutation, the Fool moves to a most appropriate position on the Tree. Appropriate because Malkuth is referred to the Northern Quarter, from thence comes the conqueror. To Chokmah is attributed the constellation Ursa Major, of Great Bear or the Northern Quarter. Regarded by the Chinese and Egyptians as the goal to which the liberated spirit aspires amidst the circumpolar stars that never set. He stands now as the synthesising central and 13th point working to assimilate the 12 Rays until he is, at last, face to face with the Perfect Essence.
In Atziluth he is truly conqueror of the Universe as the perfected spark of Brilliance shines against a black background and the final absorption.
The Path of The Universe – 32nd Path
By Doreen Sturzaker (1976)
Atziluth - Indigo, Briah - Black, Yetzirah - Indigo or Blue Black, Assiah - Black rayed Yellow.
The sky darkens, storm tossed clouds rush across the back-cloth of night. In the far distance on the far horizon a cross appears starkly outlined in the gathering darkness, it stretches in length from earth to heaven; it grows larger and larger until it fills the entire view as if in a huge frame. The horizontal bar divides the Waters above from the Waters below the Firmament. The stormy turbulence above glows a sombre, sulphurous Yellow behind the darkness while below all is Black, a hint of seething, writhing movement like a cauldron on the boil in the dense darkness. What strange alchemy is at work?
What strange creatures are to emerge from the cauldron fructified by the life-giving TAU Cross impregnating Assiah with the essence of higher realms. The end is the beginning, O Child of the Universe. Learn that it is the same for all in the World of Assiah. The Word sounded forth aeons ago, the Cross appears, the ancient symbol of eternal spirit and virgin matter, ever one, the only Reality. It sets the seal on the completion of the Great Work.
The shower of brilliant, scintillating Sparks that left Kether countless ages ago are unrecognisable in their coats of skin and so, too, many of the Sparks or the Fool have failed to remember they have forgotten their origins but even as the Fool has tarried in the World of Assiah savouring its delights and its sorrows, gathering the rich experiences of the material plane, the first stirrings of a divine discontent are felt within him.
The Paths of the Empress and the Universe form a Cross on the Tree, highest spirit joining with the lowest material, Kether in Malkuth. From the Daughter of the Mighty Ones the Spark descends to find completion on the circumference at the furthest limits of the Scheme. Far from his source, yet ever linked by the tenuous thread of the Middle Pillar if he only realised it he must act out his journey through the TAU Cross. It is only when he has mounted all three Crosses of the Zodiac, the Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable and has accepted the responsibilities and the trials of each that he can say that the Work is well done and he is ready to commence on the Path of Return; when he has overcome the duality of physical plane existence, when he can see Life as a continuous Oneness.
The Fool is the eternal dancer depicted on the Card, there is no end to the Dance of Life, only fresh beginnings; new cycles taking him on to an ever higher arc of the spiral. He inwardly seeks balance, equilibrium; this is the Great Work he has set himself to accomplish. Balanced between the two Pillars he remains poised, briefly the symbol of Earth is achieved; positive and negative forces are in perfect equilibrium, the four elements at peace within and without, for are not both the same? He is master of the cube of Matter. And why? Because he understands the reasons or the limitations and restrictions it imposes.
The Black Ray of the Mundane Chakra has taught its disciplines over the ages, confinement in a three dimensional body makes the Fool cast around for some means of escape and this gives him the impetus to fight against inertia which eventually leads him on to Yesod.
Yesod - The forces of the four elements shape and form his emotional body. The Indigo of the Path acts on him to impel devotion, devotion to the Great Work, for on every level this is a Path of completion and completion without finish, for each ending is part of a new beginning yet another movement in the eternal Dance of Life. The essences of the four elements have their balance in a fifth, or ether, the central point. Saturn acts as a break preventing a too free flow of fluidic force forming and holding the Magnetic force fields of the pattern of the physical world which is to be, holding it in its perfection before the forces of the World of Assiah have acted upon it and again when the physical shell has broken Saturn orders the released energies into new patterns ready for a new birth into the physical.
Hod - The restriction of reason curbs the free flow of forces, all the fruits of the intellect are here developed and the perfect ashlar is worked. An ashlar is an emblem of the human mind. It is a stone in shape a perfect cube and an ornament to the structure it supports, it is the mind in its highest state. It is the culmination of the mental faculties in a state of balance. In Assiah it is still very unbalanced, we all know of students who suffer breakdowns because their emotional life gets mixed up with their intellectual studies and their reasoning powers suffer as a consequence, but in Hod in Yetzirah the emotional content has already been equilibrated in Yesod and so the Fool is able to tread the Path of thought and reason with clarity and calm logic to guide him, until this very logic leads him to reach for a different state and the glory of Hod is his having achieved through attaining to the perfect balance of the intellect, and the Fool is no longer held fast by the rigidity of Hod form and can move on to Netzach.
Netzach - Here he finds greater freedom to pursue his way. The restriction of Hod is well understood, it keeps him within bounds yet allows the artist in him to flourish while the disciplines imposed by Saturn prevent him from dissipating his energies in fruitless artistic pursuits and abandonment. His work is polished and mature, a disciplined art form (i.e. Ballet) yet fully creative in its expression. So his life is lived in rhythm and order. Sensitive to the natural flow of universal forces he responds utterly with all his being, he is at their centre and they are centred in him. The Eternal Dancer sways to the rhythms and ecstasy of the Dance of Life and trips gaily into Tiphareth.
Tiphareth - centre of the Tree as the Dancer is central on the Card, the Human monad, centre of the Universe. As units of consciousness the Universe is all about us, we are the link between the conscious and the unconscious because whilst we are conscious at recognisable levels also deep within us is a spark of the unconscious and this is shown clearly on this Path in Tiphareth, perhaps better than on any other Sephirah on the Tree. Here the Fool stands balanced between two planes, the lower mental or the conscious and the higher mental which is moving towards the unconscious. The Universe exists because we exist and we are conscious that it exists, the inner central core of us links with all other Units, this central core is the Inner Ruler Immortal seated in the chamber of the heart.
It is in Tiphareth that the Cross appears again, the Christian Cross, symbolising that though he gains the World or the Universe, yet he has to renounce and shake out of himself those elements which yet remain to be resolved. Perhaps absorb would better describe the process; he must absorb within himself the unruly elements and transmute them so that the Calvary Cross becomes the ancient equal-armed Cross of the elements in harmonious accord. At the central point where spirit and matter meet blooms the mystic rose, symbol of the transcendence of the human spirit and the vision of rebirth and completion and the vision beyond so well portrayed by the calm poise of the figure, ready to tread again another newer measure on a higher arc. Adam, the gardener, brings to birth the mystic rose, tends it into glorious immortal bloom and his work is finished, he moves on to Geburah.
Geburah - This Path on the Tree in Geburah acts as a final rectifier. It is the Administrative Intelligence. Here the lessons learned on the lower branches of the Tree are put into practice and he is a conscious participator in the implementation of the Laws of the Cosmos. Over many journeys he has been on the receiving end of Cosmic Justice and doubtless he will be so again on an even higher turn of the spiral, but for the length of time it takes him to tread the Path of the Universe in Geburah he will be learning to administer its Laws by living in conformity to them, and by obeying the Laws he becomes the Ruler of Nature.
Saturn aids in this, the Black of Saturn and the Blue-Black of the Path itself gently encompass and restrict his actions, when they tend to stray away from the true Path. By using the Blue-Black, a near Indigo, he develops the quality of devotion and by the influence of Mars, Mundane Chakra of Geburah, he gains the energy to vigorously live his life in accordance with the basic laws of life he has discovered. Laws of electro-dynamism, a dynamic power and vibrant aliveness. Magnetism or the strong and subtle attraction between particles at this level is transmuted into attraction to all, a Cosmic Love divorced from sentimentality and from this higher rung of the ladder he swings into Gedulah.
Gedulah - All the inclusiveness of the Sphere is his. Jupiter, then lends its expansiveness, he has found the centre of being, that mysterious circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. The outer and the inner have merged and he embraces all life as a part of himself for there is no barrier between the inmost core of his being and all other life forms - the dancer and the dance are one. Here is the true expansion of Jupiter, in all directions at once, huge, embracing all that lives and everything lives, reaching out to the four Quarters of the Universe so bringing the realisation of the true quality of the Universe in this Sphere, the all-embracing love and wisdom that unites the four elements into the perfect Sphinx.
Binah - Through the realisation of Death he moves to Binah and the typification of the restriction of our physical Universe from the dense physical through the astral and the lower and higher mental planes. It is the ultimate ring-pass-not at this level of being symbolised by the wreath surrounding the figure. The flimsy drape covering the figure hides its nakedness and at the Binah level on the Path of the Universe consciousness has been practically stripped bare of all extraneous coverings and it only awaits the removal of the last flimsy veil of tenuous matter, that will enable the life force, or the Fool, to move beyond that particular ring-pass-not into the freedom of pure energy which is the balance of the four elements depicted as the Four Holy Living Creatures outside the wreath and leads him on to the sphere of Chokmah.
Chokmah - In Chokmah the Fool meets yet another ring-pass-not and one of much greater dimensions. He is caught up in the swirling mass of the Sphere of the Zodiac. This ring is now composed of all those many Cosmic Forces that make up the Universe clothed in matter and yet at this level it is without a physical covering. The clothing now is one of invisible Cosmic Rays forever circling around-and through the entire Scheme of manifestation and still beyond are the Four Holy Living Creatures bringing together and blending all these Cosmic Forces into the perfect Whole.
Kether - As he treads the last Path of the Universe in Kether he meets the Four Holy Living Creature's face to face and blends in a harmony with these mighty Forces. The Fool now realises that the restriction as deputed at the lower levels of Kether is the Primum Mobile or the 'ring-pass-not' of the pure concentrated light streaming through from Ain Soph Aur which on reaching this state of perfection will draw the Fool back into the Negative Existence of Ain. This is shown in the Black Ray of Saturn, Mundane Chakra of the Path and the realisation of the final victory is symbolised by the laurel wreath and by the Tau Cross - proclaiming the last and final victory of spirit over matter for this Scheme.
This is the last Path on the downward journey and so its culmination results in a Path of Completion, for contained within it is the integration of the totality of all the Kether principles and qualities as typified by the Four Holy Creatures and although the Path of the Lightning-Struck Tower is sometimes called “The House of God” I believe that title “The House of God” could equally well be applied to the Path of the Universe. However, as the 32nd Path is at the lowest point of the Tree, the Ain force is submerged in the density of matter and the restrictive influence of Saturn and so it follows that to travel the Path of the Universe, Man must break through the limitations of this confusing corporeality.
On the Path of the Universe in Malkuth, Man could not be more imprisoned and chained. He is not only restricted by the Saturnalian influence, but also circumscribed by his own body and only by realising the light of Divinity within himself will he desire to commence his journey. Malkuth reflects the consummation of Kether and is known as “The Kingdom” and consequently, the searching and discriminating man has abundant help to draw upon, as signified by the Four Holy Living Creatures, common to both Malkuth and the Universe. As this is the first Path on the return journey, it follows that Man must now begin to free himself from all the encumbrances he has amassed on the downward journey and in Malkuth the bonds to be broken are those which anchor him firmly to his physical body, leaving him liberated to travel in search of his spirituality.
On the Path of the Universe in Yesod, Man is at the mercy of his emotions. No longer has he the stabilising influence of his body and Yesod is a sphere of Illusion. How readily can he become immersed in blind devotion to the wrong star. In this sphere the restricting quality of Saturn serves a dual purpose. It curbs the blind devotion of the Indigo Ray and tightens the reins for the man’s emotional body. The Silver of the Moon also gives peace and calmness to his deceptive emotions and with a new clarity of vision he can discard his emotional body and travel on to Hod.
Hod, like Malkuth, is a constraining Sephirah and this, coupled with the restriction of the Path, suggests that to achieve the victory of the laurel wreath in Hod will be almost impossible. Unless Man can extricate himself from hate-bound beliefs, bigotry and dogma, he is likely to stay in Hod for ever and it would seem that the combination of Hod qualities and those of the Path form an insurmountable barrier. What can be done? Where is the help? It lies mainly in the Yellow Ray of Creativity of Hod, which stimulates the mental process and through Mercury, all the Kether qualities of the Path can be communicated to the mind.
Passing on to Netzach, we find a similar situation to that in Yesod. In both of these Sephiroth, Man needs a harness to keep him in check. Netzach is a seething mass of intangible ideas and Man if grasps the wrong ideas he will be led into credulous wishful thinking and live in a state of imaginary perfection. It is in deed fortunate that Saturn is assigned to the Path of the Universe. Saturn arrests the flights of fancy and brings Man back to start again and truly fulfil the purpose of the Path; this he does by drawing upon the Blue Ray of Wisdom and realising the Venusian quality of spirit over matter at this stage he begins to realise where the Path leads.
When I began this paper, it seemed to me that the main work of this Path was to break through the restrictive Saturnalian influence, but as I write it becomes obvious to me that this restriction is a very necessary component of the Path.
Having conquered the lower mental world, the initiate now finds himself in Tiphareth and he believes that all is now revealed to him and he is in a hurry to proceed to Geburah. He is more than willing to discard the last of his lower mental body and hasten on, but the Black Ray keeps a tenacious hold over him for he cannot aspire to Geburah until he has learnt the balance of Tiphareth and this is when the quality of absorption of the Black Ray is needed. The initiate must assimilate the knowledge of Universal Love projected direct from Kether to Tiphareth and when he comprehends the all-embracing Love of Tiphareth, he will be ready for Geburah.
In Geburah he is immediately aware of the necessity of his stay in Tiphareth, for without the lessons of Tiphareth he would not wish to continue. No situation could be more daunting and he needs all the valiance and energy of the Red Ray to assist him. Man is there to destroy his own conception of law and again, through the Black Ray, he absorbs and accepts the rule of Divine Justice – an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
I do not see this Path of the Universe as an active or “doing” Path, but more a Path of Awakening and Realisation and so it would seem that in Gedulah the possibilities are inexhaustible, for here Jupiter prevails. The only limit upon the initiate is that of the Black Ray of Saturn; he will learn to comprehend the needs of Humanity with the discerning wisdom of benevolence and compassion. He becomes dedicated to a “way of life” and will remain in Gedulah for some time because he cannot abandon Humanity until others appear to take his place.
In Binah, with the restriction of the Path and the restriction inherent in Binah, the initiate still finds himself tied to form and must develop the Understanding of Binah, to free himself. He learns that matter or form is the outward expression of the Kether principle and that all life, animate and apparently inanimate, stems from the same source. At this point he realises that matter has served its purpose and has no further use for it and he can pass on to Chokmah as pure spirit.
It is in Chokmah where there is no stability that again he needs the Black Ray.
Although as spirit he has no anchor, he must find the balance brought into being through the knowledge of Perfect Wisdom. He has mainly used the strength, courage and patience of the Lion and Ox in the Yetziratic World and in Binah the Eagle and Man are more prominent. At last he can soar to the heights, safe in his spiritual wisdom.
The Hebrew letter assigned to this Path is Tau and arriving in Kether the initiate fully comprehends the meaning of the Tau cross and that is that spirit transcends matter.
By Pamela Defries (1981)
The path of the Universe is the 32nd Path and the 21st Arcanum, and links Malkuth (the physical world) to Yesod (the universal unconscious and the foundation of physical existence). The whole of the Path is closely connected with the every-day world of this earth. It is the final Path on the outward journey; and being the first on the return journey, represents the uses of limitation. The influence of Saturn is always limiting and restrictive,but this limitation is never malefic unless we allow it to use us, instead of us using it. The result of such right use brings about the stage of spiritual unfoldment called Cosmic Consciousness.
In Assiah, the restricting influence of Saturn gives the seeker the power of concentration, enabling one to measure and know with exactness and precision. This form-building and solidifying power is the basis upon which all science is founded. The discipline of the Path cannot be learned from books, it is experience alone which brings realisation. A certain stage of experience has got to be reached before we are ready for initiation. In the Yetziratic Text the key to the Path of the Universe is the Administrative Intelligence, and is an indication of the correct way to use the force of limitation. Here in Assiah, the initiate understands the necessity for unity with the whole, just as a world contains in it everything belonging to its system.
The four Holy Living Creatures represent the four elements, and indicate to the seeker the necessity to fit in and adapt to the world of Nature and its cycles. On the return journey,this is a Path of initiation, and the initiate must pass through many gates, which represent minor degrees of attainment. With acquired knowledge comes understanding of the manifestations of Divine Love and Wisdom, and with this knowledge, the seeker will not despise Nature; but will develop a reverence for all living creatures.
These qualities will give him victory over his lesser self, so that he may reach for the next step on the Path.
In Yetzirah the seeker feels a strong urge to struggle free from limitations and restrictions, but is overshadowed by the emotional clouds in Yesod. Overpowering emotional forces can crush and overcome the initiate, and set him back on his journey to the higher planes of consciousness, and only by great endurance can this be surmounted in order to accomplish the next stage in Hod. It follows that, as a preliminary to all mental processes, we must gain complete control of the emotions so that they do not function involuntarily. Such control is not gained by repression but by the more difficult process of sublimation, so that the force generated by an external stimulus is re-directed and discharged harmlessly upon another plane. The immediate reaction of resentment from such a situation becomes transmuted into compassion.
Here, in Hod, the initiate learns to harness the powers of his mental body and also learns the value of concentration, which is also a form of limitation. The seeker begins at last to understand the illusion of images on the physical planet, and with the aid of spiritual dedications, takes control of the sphere of form. From this point, the initiate now swings to the opposite pillar to the sphere of Netzach, where the streams of Venus reach out and radiate love and wisdom, and with these streams comes a strong feeling of freedom. However; the limitations of Saturn once more curtail any freedom gained, and the initiate learns the hard lessons of discrimination and its application. By continuing the search for Truth through discrimination, victory is at last gained and the seeker now reaches for the Path in Tiphareth.
Now, the initiate learns and understands the true qualities of universal love, and must accept the fact that all life is precious. The true Adept knows what every initiate must learn, that no true spiritual teaching of any consequence can sanction the taking of life – whether animal or human, and the initiatehaving understood the importance of this principle, can stand victorious over the lower mental universe, and is ready to take the next step towards the path in Geburah.
Here the essential qualities of courage under all conditions - even those of fear and punishment - can aid the initiate to overcome all forms of death, especially those on the mental planes, so that he may exercise a proper control over his destiny. With the aid of ceremonial magic, the initiate can overcome all difficulties and become a Master of Administrative Intelligence, and, at last, through a full expansion of his mystical powers, the initiate can control the higher mental universe.
By combining the qualities of control in Chesed, the initiate can now start to take the steps across the abyss.
In Briah the Path of the Universe in the sphere of Binah is dominated by the vibrations of Saturn, and the seeker must learn to handle and control latent powers and secret esoteric knowledge, and attain the full realisation that true freedom can only be gained through the discipline of restriction. With this knowledge, the restriction of Binah is conquered, and the next step towards Chokmah can now be taken. In Chokmah, the seeker is faced with the enormous task of balancing all the rays from the Zodiac, and it is here that the true qualities of wisdom and understanding are attained, through purity and innocence.
The true seeker learns that purity is of the heart, first in its intent; then of the mind in its outlook; and then of the attributes and potencies in its uses and applications. It is in the purpose, motive and intent that all feeling and action have their true value.
At this point, the seeker is ready to move forward into Kether.
In Atziluth the path of the Universe is pure shimmering radiance, reflecting the qualities of devotion to purity and clear thinking. Here one reaches the state of conscious perfection, and in these realms the Adept will find, beyond his seeking, qualities and quantities associated with the Mystery of God within us. Here he touches the realm of the Divine Mind in himself through the enrichment administered to him in this realisation.
The Path of the Universe
By Alan Goffin (1976)
We begin with a quote attributable to Aleister Crowley: “A red rose absorbs all colours that are not red. Red is then precisely the colour that a red rose is not”.
This is a pregnant quote. One wonders if Crowley himself was aware of the full implications. We see that it is not merely true of red roses, but extrapolated to other phenomenological entities, true of all precepts, true of all appearances, all feelings, even perhaps, all thoughts. We are, not unnaturally, inclined to assume that our feelings and thoughts have a definite ontological substratum, a ground, related to what we see of them. But our feelings, thoughts, sensations and intuitions are what the Universe offers to us. Since the Universe offers them to us, it is no longer in possession of them they become ours in the sense that they are our substance, our reality. What the Universe is in itself, its essence, remains and must definitely remain a mystery.
It is not at all surprising that this revelation is the final Path on the Tree and, of course, at the same time the first Path. On the Path of Outgoing it represents the final division between the Self and the Not-Self. The Self encompasses all that is present in consciousness and the Not-Self that which is permanently mysterious. On the Path of Return it is the recognition of the sublime ignorance of the Self that is a prerequisite for progress. The Self, as it were, encompasses more of the Reality by rejecting the gifts of the Universe. One is not satisfied with what Divine Providence has to offer and demands more. This sounds terribly arrogant, but on reflection one can see that it is just the reverse of arrogance; it is rather a great humility. Rejecting the gracious offerings of the Universe is rejecting the World of the Self, the familiar.
To get back to the quote; to see the essence of a red rose as belonging to its redness and its rosiness is to reject the real and to substitute a selfish addendum, a string of characteristics entirely related to the Self. A red rose is anything but a red rose.
In Tarot, the thirty-second Path is called ‘the Path of the Universe’. It represents the dreadful impact of Reality upon illusion. What do we, as human beings, ask of the world? Do we ask for peace and security; demanding challenges; comfort and ease, hardship and sacrifice, wealth and plenty, self-depreciating poverty?
Are our aims high or low, simple or sophisticated; or do we perhaps ask for nothing at all? Whatever we ask, whatever we expect, the Real World, the Universe, will reject. It will destroy our artefacts, frustrate our ambitions, abort our plan, mutilate our ideas. If we demand praise we shall be humbled, if we demand self-abnegation we shall be raised up in glory.
Saturn represents the reversal of fortune. In Saturn is embodied the substance of the Gospel statement that “… the first shall be last and the last first”. Jupiter may be regarded as that Cosmic mechanism whereby sentient creatures receive their impressions of the world. Jupiter provides the grace, the gifts I spoke of earlier. To Saturn obtains the cast, mysterious residue – the forbidden. If Man rejects race he invokes Saturn and cannot know what to expect. It is small wonder that the thirty-second Path is the first Path on the return.
The Path is depicted by Waite as a young girl, partially veiled and surrounded by the four Cherubim where she, like Eden, represents the essence of all phenomenal objects, the Holy Spirit. She appears as the Angel of the 25th and the Priestess of the 3rd Paths. As the Angel she is invoked, as the Priestess she is consulted and as the girl she is pursued. We may interpret the Cherubim as agents of Saturn, as symbols of Saturn phenomenologically revealed. On this Path we may only understand Saturn phenomenologically; all talk of essence being futile. The girl is an ever-receding mirage. She personifies Truth of whom, in the words of Samuel Butler, “… whenever we push her hard she runs to earth in contradiction in terms, that is to say, in falsehood. An essential contradiction in terms meets us at the end of every enquiry”.
Thus are Man’s plans frustrated. It is the very frustration that spurs him to action. Man’s truth is false at heart and here we encounter the status of Saturn as Shaitan, the deceiver, the falsifier, the liar. It is not that Saturn or Shaitan actually lies himself, but his very existence causes Man to lie. One could equally blame Jupiter for lying by giving only a fraction of the truth. The girl is also Hevah of Eden, who, as we know, was tempted, or rather tested, by the Serpent. If we must insist on the Serpent being identified with the Devil, then we see immediately that a creative act is in process. Hevah’s agency in the beguiling of Adam and their subsequent expulsion from Eden is a precise allegory of the acts of manifestation, the birth of the Phenomenal World.
It is with a reversal of this process of manifestation that the thirty-second Path is concerned. The would-be lover of the virgin must take all that grim Saturn has to throw at him before he may close in on his quarry, Truth. But, of course, this process is never-ending: - so the whole Tree is spanned by the thirty-second Path.
The Path in Assiah
The curious thing about Assiah is not that the Assiatic creatures are prone to illusion but is rather the reverse of this. Assiah is the Real World. The illusions are a result of the unconsciousness of Assiatic creatures wandering beyond Assiah. Thus Man tries to get beyond his senses and as a consequence falls foul of Reality. Assiah is the confluence of Yetzirah. Yetzirah is divided and Assiah is the union. Assiah is Atziluth, or rather the essence of Assiah is Atziluth.
Let us interpret the Cherubim as processes – the Lion as intuition, the Eagle as feeling, the Man as thinking and the Bull as sensation. All of these can be understood as inputs to the psyche as ‘graces’. The Bull is the source of the five senses; the other three are less obvious although we may regard them as senses in a much wider interpretation. The five senses merge into one sense which is the sense of impact with the World. We shall not consider them as fivefold. Physically they are all electromagnetic in the ultimate analysis.
The sense of impact is followed by the sense of orientation, of having a position and a viewpoint; the sense of pattern. This is derived from the Thinking Cherub, Man. The third sense is the sense of knowing, of being certain, of remembering and recalling. This sense is provided by the Cherub of Feeling, the Eagle. Finally we have the sense of being itself, the sense of continuity, provided by the Cherub of Intuition, the Lion. If we imagine these Cherubim as agents of Saturn they become our gateway to the unknown. The conflict between the Self and its Self-images provided by Jupiter and these four are symbolised by the Zodiac, with Cardinals representing victory of the one and the Mutables, of the other.
The Zodiac is placed between Saturn, as Binah and the One; between restriction and liberation. The message is clearer if we try to understand the paradox that the creature who feels free isn’t and the one who feels restricted is tasting freedom. Knowing that the Real World rejects the Self is to thrust one’s psyche from these very fetters. Of course, it is not merely being aware that one is restricted that causes liberation; the awareness merely releases one from the illusion. Unless the awareness leads to a reorientation of the psyche consistent with reality one naturally remains in bondage.
Acute restriction and frustration cause deep anxiety, which usually becomes internalised and redirected as hatred, anger or envy. Anxiety is, of course, not awareness at all but quite the reverse. Anxiety is the chief property of the thirty-second Path in Assiah. Most people cannot comprehend the Path of the Universe and instead of rising to greet the Real World sink into the Pit with their illusions.
In Assiah the Cherubim defend the real according to the following priority of power:
- The Bull.
- The Man
- The Eagle
- The Lion
The strongest of the Strong is Impact and signifies the weakness of flesh when subjected to the power of the Bull. In order to relieve this physical punishment the Thinking process concocts illusions which provide temporary relief from the torment. These illusions then come under the attack of the Cherub, Man, causing distress and doubt, leading often to Nihilism. As the barriers of the mind surmount to Reality, the Assiatic creature abandons reason and clutches at faith and ideology in order to eradicate doubt. His new state may survive quite a long time as this influence is quite weak compared to the others. The flesh is very transient and soon succumbs to the power of the Bull after a brief flourish. Ideas last a bit longer but they, too, eventually disintegrate. Ideologies and Faiths last much linger than ideas. Finally, when all his faiths and religions collapse, the Assiatic creature is left alone with Reality and seeks shelter behind mysticism. Mysticism is often considered to be Man’s true link with Reality, but as we can see, it is merely his last earthly or Assiatic illusion, ultimately dismantled by the Lion, the Cherub of Fire. It is interesting to note that in Assiah religion precedes mysticism, not the other way about. This can be demonstrated historically as mystics normally mushroom out of the putrescence of religious orthodoxy.
The Path in Yetzirah
The transition to Yetzirah is not the abandonment of Assiah. One does not “leave Assiah behind”. The transition to Yetzirah is the first stage in what may rather clumsily be called the spiritualisation of Assiah. It is, in fact, the expansion of Assiah. The Sephiroth of Yetzirah are the sources of influence on Assiah and must be examined in turn. Knowledge then gained is used to unify the worlds.
On the thirty-second Path this transaction is symbolised by the defeat of the Bull. The centre of consciousness is raised and the priorities are lifted by one. Thus the Cherubim defend in this order:
- The Eagle
- The Lion
- The Bull
The Bull’s influence is now the least. The strongest of the Strong is now the Cherub of Thinking (Air). Ideas become the most difficult to sustain and have short lifetimes. The physical world of the Bull is the last refuge. Mysticism is to our world as our world is to Yetzirah, but our world in Yetzirah is quite unlike our world in Assiah. It is a spiritual world, full of beauty and certainty. It is, of course, merely a different viewpoint. The struggles on the Path of the Universe are quite as powerful as in Assiah. Mysticism adopts the flavour of orthodoxy and its new Nirvana is the Physical Universe, raised to glory.
If we take the Sephiroth one by one we may examine the impact of the Path in each. Firstly the downward triangle of Water – Gedulah, Geburah and Yesod.
Gedulah provides the antithesis to Saturn. In Gedulah one receives tremendous assistance on this Path. The Masters may, however, only provide clues. These clues may well cause aspirants to persist in even greater illusion than before. When this happens the centre of consciousness passes to Yesod.
In Yesod the clues must be re-examined. They have been dissolved in illusion, one has missed the point. Some ideas are the shortest lived entities in Yetzirah, there is not much time. Misunderstanding the Master’s message has much greater effect in this World than in Assiah. The alchemical process by which the truth behind the clues is obtained is by evaporation. The illusions are swept aside by the fire of Geburah.
The cycle on the triangle of Water is continued when the clues are released by Geburah. This cycle continues until the Bull is realised, the mystical goal of Yetzirah.
Secondly we examine the upward triangle of Netzach, Tiphareth and Hod.
The image held in Tiphareth is the image of self-suffering. Self-sacrifice is an act of supreme pride for one considers oneself important enough to be sacrificed. In order to achieve liberation on this cycle the sacrifice must be involuntary, like the Satori of Zen. Mostly, the sacrifice is voluntary and therefore does not constitute a sacrifice as this must be understood on the thirty-second Path. Remember that the goal to aim for is the realisation of the beautiful Earth. The false sacrifice of Tiphareth leads to the first attempt at realising the Bull in Netzach wherein he is entirely at home.
Picasso once said that, “… art is a lie that makes us realise the truth”. This precisely sums up the function of the Path in Netzach. The work of the Yetziratic creature in Netzach is a lie, the lie of Shaitan, but it is a lie with a purpose, namely, that through it we may see what reality is not. It is the dismantling of the lie that takes place in Hod.
Hod, in analogous fashion to Geburah, eradicates the illusion in order to release the truth. This process is continued until true sacrifice is made – a Yetziratic Satori.
The Path in Briah
In Briah we might ask: “Who does what to whom?” The thirty-second Path is the “what”, Chokmah the “who” and Binah the “whom”.
Once more the priorities change. Now the order is:
- The Eagle
- The Lion
- The Bull
- The Man
The final barrier is the Cherub, Man. Ideas are the most permanent entities in Briah. Indeed, the world, in the Tetraktis division of the Tree, is called the “Intellectual World”. It is a Platonic World in which the Bull constitutes an experiment that has as its outcome the perfection of pure thought. The least permanent entities are the irrational feelings.
The Path in Atziluth
In Atziluth the priorities change thus:
- The Lion
- The Bull
- The Man
- The Eagle
This is the order in which the Cherubic signs appear in the Greater Zodiac, starting with Leo. We now have the Cycle of Ages. In Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah and Atziluth we have taken the order to be traditional. Saturn and the thirty-second Path are the dynamic behind the selection of influences on our evolution, our struggle for the Truth.
The Path of the Universe
By Lars H. Bratt (1976)
The Path connects Yesod, the Sphere of the Moon, with Malkuth, the Sphere of the Elements. The Path of the Universe lies on the Pillar of Equilibrium and so it has very strong connections with consciousness. Yesod being the Sephirah of the sub-conscious Mind, the first Sephirah of the World of Yetzirah, and Malkuth, the Sphere of Physical Life, the World of Assiah, this Path represents the turning back from the outside world, on introversion, into the depths of our inner being where we will eventually, after continuing our journey on the Path of Temperance and, ultimately the Path of the High Priestess, attain to Kether and stand united with God in the glittering splendour of the peak of the Inscrutable Height.
Before we are able to undertake such a journey, we have to complete all our experiences in physical life; that is, the Tree in Malkuth. But Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether. When attaining finally to Kether in the Tree in Malkuth, we are also standing in the Malkuth of Yesod. This is the completion of physical incarnation and we now begin our titanic Cosmic journey into the inner nature of Reality and, as this Path represents this turning point back from outer manifestation into THAT which lies within, cosmically speaking, I have decided to interpret the nature of this Path from a meditative approach. Here, then, is a series of meditations which I will record as they happened and then try to interpret them at the conclusion of this paper.
1. - When passing through the Pillars, I found myself in a cold, rocky desert, in utter darkness of night. A robed figure then appeared before me out of the darkness and I found that he was limping and had to support himself on a crutch. Could he be Oedipus, he who answered the riddle of the Sphinx? He tells me that we are all on the Path of the Universe from the moment we are born to the moment we die, whether we know it or not. This is the Path of Life and it is truly ruled by Saturn, the Planet of Restriction.
As I went stumbling along behind him, always tripping over the sharp, unseen stones, which came out of the gloom along the rough, hostile Path, I realised just what he meant. The gloom was lit up eventually as we came to a large Hebrew letter, Tau, hanging in the air and glowing with a very bright light. We passed under it and proceeded back into the gloom. After a few more miles we came upon a log fire, burning in the middle of the Path. My guide told me that Fire was caveman’s first attempt to change the harsh conditions of this Path. We proceeded onwards and eventually came to a lake, which was lit up by the rising of the Full Moon. My guide indicated a small boat, pulled up on a rocky beach and having pushed it into the water, we climbed in. For the first time, in the increasing light of the Rising Moon, I could see the surrounding landscape, the arid, hostile cliffs and valleys of a rocky desert, extending to the horizon.
In the centre of this placid lake lay a small island made up of huge quartz crystals, sparkling in the Moonlight. Sitting on a throne of quartz at the centre of the island was the robed figure of a woman as seen in the card of the High Priestess. (Here I feel that the vision has been biased somewhat by an ego trip.) My guide and I sat down before her and she began to speak in a beautifully clear voice, which echoed in a tremolo around the quartz crystal facades. I was reminded of the sound of a clear mountain stream.
I asked her if she would teach me of the nature of the 32nd Path. The Priestess of the Moon taught me that this Path was very important for it teaches us what is subjectively real and what is objectly real. Those in the asylums who cannot differentiate between physical reality and their own astral fantasies have not yet learned of the 32nd Path. But then, what is real for the physical world is only there because we create it all the time in our minds, owing to the continued stimulus of our five physical senses. So, although we go through life always treading the 32nd Path, we still can know nothing of its true nature, for that lies beyond the Abyss where Reality IS and so therefore is incomprehensible to us.
I thanked the Priestess of the Moon and we returned to my starting point. I bade my guide farewell and returned across the Pillars.
2. - When passing beyond the Veil, I found myself again in the same rocky desert in the Indigo colours of deep night. Somehow, I felt a strong hostility towards my presence. Eventually my guide came, but took on the appearance of an haggard old man in rags, who limped along on crutches. He tells me that in the Path through Life we are very often alone with only the stars above to guide us. We eventually came again to our letter Tau, burning in mid-air, with a yellow glow and finally find ourselves in a deep, narrow valley between two high cliffs.
A piercing howl from a wolf is heard from the top of the right-hand cliff and I can see the Moonlight through holes in the thick black clouds racing overhead. I can hear the snarls of wolves closing in around me in the darkness and feel that I have perhaps wandered off onto the Path of the Moon, or perhaps even somewhere else even less pleasant. With so much hostility around me I decided to end the journey and so returned back across the Pillars.
3. - When entering beyond the Veil I found myself again on the rocky desert, but this time it was evening, with the Sun setting in the West. A wind was blowing from the West and my guide was waiting for me dressed in a silk Moroccan jelaba. We set out together again across the desert and I suddenly realised that in answer to my thoughts concerning the nature of the 32nd Path in the various Sephiroth, I was, in fact, all this time on the 32nd Path in Yesod, following out its imagery on the Astral Plane. The 32nd Path in Malkuth is experienced by living physical life.
As the Sun is setting on my left, we must be heading in a Northerly direction. We eventually arrive at a building shaped in five tiers and made of mud blocks. I feel that this is some kind of a temple with a square base and if it had not been for the tiers it could have passed for a pyramid. I walked over to it and entered through a low door at its base. Inside, the temple was filled with Egyptian symbolism painted on the walls.
There were gods and goddesses all around me with hieroglyphs. At the centre of the floor stood a black altar of the double cube. I stood there, gazing for a while and then my guide re-appeared again through a curtain at the other side of the room. He stepped up to the altar and with one sweep of his staff, knocked the four elemental weapons off the top of it. He then took a fistful of wheat grains and poured them onto the altar top. “This is a sacrament,” he said, “for you are on the Path of Regeneration.”
I asked him why this temple had five tiers, the number of Mars. He replied that this was also the number of Man and that on the card of the Universe we see only four of the points of the Pentagram representing the four elements, the Bull for Earth, the Man for Air, the Eagle for Water and the Lion for Fire. [The fifth element, Spirit, is dancing in the centre in full harmonious control of the four surrounding elements.] I thanked him for his help and mentioned that I must now continue my journey to the Priestess in Yesod in order to complete this Path.
He replied that I was already in the Temple of Yesod, for did not the five tiers of the building and the four sides of the altar make up nine, the number of the Moon? At those words the walls of the Temple became transparent and I noticed that although I was in the Temple only a short time, it was pitch black outside. But the Moon rose again over the horizon and, having bade my guide farewell, I returned to Malkuth along the Moonlit Path and returned across the Veil.
The next few meditations followed fairly closely to the pattern of what I have just recounted, so I have decided to do two more meditations from an intellectual point of view. That is to say, I try to pick up trains of thought and hope that inspirations fall into my head in the process.
4. - In the Waite Arcanum of the Universe there is a figure of a naked woman dancing in the centre of a laurel wreath. The Wreath is circular, without beginning or end. This is Eternity, the circle is complete and this gives me the idea of attainment. The four elements are distributed equally around the four point of the circle. This suggests the elements being blended together in perfect harmony. When the Elements so blend together, the fifth Element, Spirit, will manifest among them, in perfect control. This reminds me of Tiphareth.
If you want the Godhead to manifest within yourself then harmonise the elements within. Once Spirit is in perfect control we have attained the state of the Wise Fool dancing in the centre of the Universe of the four elements around it. This reminds me of the Path of the Wheel of Fortune, for there too, we must turn within to find the immobile peace at the very centre of the Wheel before we can turn outwards and control the four elements around us. The woman stands in such a way that she forms a triangle with her arms, surmounting the cross formed by her legs.
This again is Spirit dominating the four Elements, as contrasted to the Spirit still bonded and controlled by them as we see on the Path of the Hanged Man, the Cross of his legs surmounting the triangle formed by his elbows and head. There is a mystery concealed behind the purple scarf, for it is said to cover male genitalia. The woman is thus an hermaphrodite and we are reminded of the days before the Fall when Adam and Eve were both hermaphrodites. This shows the union between the female sub-conscious and the male consciousness, which reveals Super-consciousness.
This, then, is the lesson to be learned on this Path; Life in Malkuth is teaching us to blend the elements within us in perfect harmony, which will then produce Super-consciousness within us. Once we have attained Cosmic Consciousness we will have completed our need to reincarnate in Earth.
5. - In the Crowley Arcanum of the Universe the card is the last in the series of 22 trumps. This is Omega, completion. But the circle which the woman is dancing in is complete, without beginning or end. Therefore it is also Aleph, the Path of the Fool. So, like the Phoenix which rises out of the ashes at the end on every cycle, there is a beginning. Between the Alpha and the Omega is the true essence of Reality as is indicated by the word ATEH, made up of Aleph, the Path of the Fool, and Tau, the Path of the Universe.
The dancing figure forms a cross with her legs. She has complete control of the four elements. She holds and dances on and around and within a serpent. All the associated ideas of Kundalini, the coiled splendour within us come to mind. She has awakened and mastered this coiled splendour within her and has therefore attained Cosmic Consciousness, the end product of the experiences of Life. Here is Union with Kether, the Fool become Spirit again, the completion of the Great Work. The Eye of Shiva opens and the present cycle of manifestation comes to an end. In the background, behind the dancing figure is a very intricate pattern of coils and cycles within cycles.
This represents the actions and reactions of planetary forces, whose intricate cycles and whorlings cannot be seen or comprehended except by Vision. This is the Cord of Life, which becomes active and fulfilling when we have come to terms with it.
6. - This is the final Pathworking in this series.
When passing through the Pillars into the Path of the Universe in Yesod, I found myself on the edge of a cliff in the rocky desert which has now become quite familiar. It is a grey afternoon, with heavy clouds hanging low in the sky. My robes are being blown about by a hot, dry wind. I see a rocky path which leads down along the face of the cliff to the valley below. In the distance I can see a glitter of some ocean far away. I descend this path and find that I appear to have a lame leg, for I have to support my weight on a staff.
I eventually hobble along slowly down the steep, winding path until I reach the valley below, which is strewn with sand, rocks and boulders in all directions. I am completely alone and save for the dry wind blowing the dust around, all else is still. I eventually arrive at a magic circle, very ancient, carved into the bare stone of the ground. The magic letters and sigils around the circle are partially filled with sand. In the centre is an eroded altar flanked by two Pillars, one white, one black. On the altar is the Card of the Universe. I realise that this is the gateway into Hod and, after having made the sign of the Rending of the Veil, I stepped into the circle and entered the Card through the Pillars and into Hod.
Suddenly I find myself standing on the top of a lush, grassy hill, on a clear, sunny afternoon. I notice a modern city in the valley below, with oil tankers and freighters going in and out of a very busy harbour. I am clearly in the 20th century and the city could either be Istanbul or Hong Kong. Then I notice that I am standing in my tattered desert robes, which might look quite out of place in this city. So, by an act of will, I transform my clothing into a modern business suit. I had a long way to go as well, so, having walked down from the hill top and arriving at a road, I snapped my fingers and conjured up a car, a Mach 1 Mustang, no less. Just like that. How nice, I thought, to be able to work magic in the very Sphere of Magic! So away I went, driving down the road and into the crowded city beyond. I felt that my destination lay, somehow, at the University which was the most imposing building in the whole city.
I parked the car and climbed the steps that led to the Great Hall. There, among crowds of people, I was drawn to an old Professor, who told me that I had come far enough on my journey without guidance and it was time he took control of my Path if it was not to lead completely to the ridiculous. I felt that he was the guide I was looking for and, after having walked along corridors, past laboratories and lecture halls, working our way past groups of students and technicians, we arrived, at last, to a solitary lab, where we were alone. This place was filled with atomic, electronic and chemical apparatus. He took me to the centre of the room and there, in a cleared space, was a beautiful Magic Circle painted on the floor. An altar stood in the centre and standing on it was the Card of the Universe. Hello, old friend! The altar was flanked, as per usual, with the two Pillars of Polarity.
Having carefully locked the doors, the Professor came and stood at my side. “This University,” said he, “is the ultimate boundary which Man has reached in the domain of intellectual knowledge. Here is the Gateway which leads to the next dimension, upon completion of the lessons gained by our knowledge.” We both did the Sign of the Rending of the Veil and stepped into the Circle. Immediately the lab disappeared and the Circle became lost in a sea of impenetrable darkness. We approached the altar and entered the Card through the Pillars and into Netzach.
I felt that I was falling, falling through a bottomless hole in the University and I was surrounded by long shouts and distant screeching sounds echoing all around me. Stars fled by, cosmic Rays flashed through me and the whole vision became shaken by a terrific cosmic thunder. Suddenly all changed and I found myself in a state of being, yet not being. I had no body, but I was a point of consciousness in a realm where distance, direction and time were meaningless. I felt that I was everywhere, yet nowhere.
I called out to my guide and found he was within me, or I within him. Suddenly, out of this chaotic dispersible medium, a vision formed. I saw a rocky mountain peak jutting out of a sea of deep clouds. The sky overhead was brilliant blue and I saw a brilliant star, the Planet Venus, shining overhead. I found myself slowly floating towards this peak and found on it, all entwined with vines and roses, another Gateway, with the Card of the Universe awaiting my passage into Tiphareth. It was a beautiful scene, almost like the top of Mount Olympus, with the rich vines so tightly entwined around the Pillars and the altar. I entered past the Pillars into the Card and found myself in a place of pure Cosmic Fire. Was I inside the Sun? The energy around me seemed limitless. I had the feeling of inharmony being slowly burned out of me and I was beginning to become absorbed by this state of existence, when I suddenly felt that I had come far enough and could go no further.
And so I retraced my journey away from this Cosmic Inferno, back to the lab in the University and having parted company with my Professor Guide and that there may be peace between us, I drove back out of the city to the hill top, wished the car out of existence, changed back to my desert robes, returned back to the wilderness in Yesod, returned up the face of the cliff and finally returned to Malkuth, closing this meditation.
- O – O – O -
We can see from the above meditation that there is an awful lot of information to process. Just how much of it is truth and how much of it is romantic daydreaming is hard to tell. In many cases, I feel that my ego was very much in the way of things, especially when I am given information by no less a being than the Priestess of the Moon, the Veiled Isis. The problem of ego is a serious one and is a major factor to be reckoned with in trying to come to a clear conclusion when breaking down these impressions into clear definitions of meaning. I feel that although I had experienced the nature of the Path in various Sephiroth, they were still perceived in terms of form, reflected in Yesod. This is probably the reason, then, why I could not continue my journey beyond Tiphareth, for Tiphareth is the link between the Worlds of Force and the Worlds of Form. Being only able to comprehend that which presents an image of form to me, I can thus only describe the nature of the Path in the rest of the Sephiroth from a purely intellectual approach. So let us now leave the reflections of the Formative World and continue our journey.
The next World that lies beyond Yetzirah is Briah, composed of Chokmah and Binah. In Briah, the Sphere of Saturn, the Path of the Universe is exalted, being ruled by Saturn. As the name of the Tarot Trump indicates, the ‘Great One of the Night of Time’ is home in her own den. Here we see the true nature of Saturn, the planet of the Supernal contacts. Here we have the myths of Time, Cronos, castrating his Father, Space, Uranus. The Sickle is a reaping instrument and here we have a link with the grain poured upon the altar in the Five-Tiered Temple of Yesod. So Time and Space become separated into two concepts and manifestation is complete.
At this level, the Master learns the true meaning of the Yetziratic Text, the Administrative Intelligence, which shows that attainment and completion is only possible when the outermost of the Seven Planets, Saturn, has full control of the rest of the planets which make up the psyche of our true natures. This, in fact, is the lesson of Life itself, for we are always having to overcome our difficulties and restrain our lesser desired characteristics.
This gives the qualities for Spiritual attainment, aided by the influence of Binah in Atziluth and its Mundane Chakra, Saturn. Here we face the last Ring-Pass-Not, which is overcome and after attaining Kether in Binah, proceed on our journey into Malkuth of Chokmah. Here, the Path of Completion is surrounded by the Zodiac, which, at the Briatic level, is way beyond my comprehension. But, just as we master the whirling natures of our lives in Malkuth, these same influences will also have to be harmonised and it is only because of our great journey up the Sephiroth of the Cosmic Tree that we are able to handle these influences, for they shine upon us with the intensity of God seen face to face. But Chokmah is Wisdom. Here, then, we find the qualities which allow us to handle such an intense experience. This quality, tempered with Understanding, allows the Divine Spark to ascend up the Tree in Chokmah and, having gained mastery of the Buddhic level of his being.
The Divine Spark, the Wise Fool, now leaves the World of Briah to enter into the Atmic states of consciousness of the Path of the Universe in Kether, the World of Atziluth. Here is the source of the Cross, the Hebrew letter Tau in its pure concept. It is the true Light of the Ain Force in Extension and we have the pure untainted essence of the Path of Completion, glittering in the Brilliance of Pure comprehension. For Kether is the Light-giving Power of Comprehension of the First Principle, then the Fool has attained Conscious Perfection and is able to lift the Veil of Negative Existence to see into the Beyond. At this level the qualities of Devotion to Purity and clarity of thought are bestowed. Here, at least, is the true concept of Spirit over Matter, standing once again in Union with God, the Completion of the Great Work.
The Path of the Universe
By R. Cousins (1976)
The Universe or the 32nd Path between Malkuth and Yesod is called the Administrative Intelligence, because, to quote the Yetziratic Text:
“…it directs and associates the motions of the seven planets directing all of them in their proper courses.”
Yesod is the foundation of the Tree and the base of the physical World of Assiah. After the division at Kether, the subsequent development occurs on the Positive and Negative Pillars, the balance being maintained by the Middle Pillar. The various aspects of the Tree reunite in Yesod, but in a very loosely organised, if not disorganised, form. As such, it forms a foundation for the physical world, but it is unsuitable for actual manifestation.
The 32nd Path sorts and orders and binds together the diverse forms, channels them and finally projects them into the physical manifestation in Malkuth. This process is exemplified by the Hebrew letter Tau, consigned to the Path. For the Tau Cross symbolises the creation of a denser form as a result of a struggle between forces upon a higher plane. As such, the Path represents the completion of a cycle of development. Embodying all within itself the Universe in Assiah bears the weight of the Four Worlds and supports the whole edifice of the Tree.
Consequently it is also the first Path to be travelled upon the return journey. It is the Path of Initiation into a new, higher state. It is those first movements of change and as such it is hence one of the hardest Paths to conquer; in meditation one will briefly travel the Path. The physical body is stilled and the mind begins the journey into the unconscious to seek experience of higher planes. Many of the successful are dazzled by images of the Astral World which, henceforward, becomes as a drug, draining them of energy and leading to an unfulfilled physical existence.
One is thus free to initiate oneself whenever it is wished, but only a minority ever make progress. The personality dominates Malkuth and for many the leaving of the apparent contentment of the physical world is inconceivable. Because of the condensing, rigid and confusing nature of the Path (which is well expressed by the assigning of Saturn to the Path), the personality tends to draw from the foundation only that which it deems necessary for a satisfactory personal existence in Malkuth.
These demands are themselves shaped by the nature of the particular physical existence itself. In this way the World of Yetzirah and the will of the individuality is veiled like the ultimate form of the female figure upon the card manifesting within the Universe of the laurel leaves. But the wisdom of the Tree, though veiled, is accumulated in Assiah. The four elements, the basis of the four corners of the world, are a reflection of the Holy Living Creatures in Kether, the builders of the unseen Universe.
As the 32nd Path in each Sephirah holds the ultimate form of that Sephirah, travelling up the Path in Assiah will begin the process of breaking down the physical structure. Saturn’s restriction holds the key to progress, for it is linked to the Saturn of Binah, which holds the essence of form. Hence the eventual union of the like forces acts as a powerful magnet to help draw one through the World of Yetzirah despite still being prey to the lives of Assiah. The rigidity allows the course to be steered straight.
Leaving Assiah one is sucked into the whirlpool of the Treasure House of Images that is Yesod. Here is the uncontrolled concentration of the upper eight Sephiroth, but the Universe supports the quest and the channelling process commences, whereby the Astral World is finally confined and ordered. By breaking the veil of the Astral World upon the 32nd Path, the Intelligence of Hod can be turned to in order to help plough the way through the imagery and so formulate a coherent picture by selection and rejection. Thus the Waters of the Moon are stilled and the intellectual mind dominates.
In Hod there is a danger of being rendered totally inflexible by the reasoning mind and sinking into stagnant waters. Taken to extreme one could reason oneself straight back to Assiah via the Path of Judgement. Such obstinacy is rare and is seldom able to withstand Netzach’s constant attempts to infiltrate the intellect. The apparently illogical intuitive wisdom, which proves to be correct, the flights of fancy and inspiration, alongside with other delights of the Right-Hand Pillar, assail the mind and the moment reason listens to these whispers, the ultimate support of an intellect still more or less programmed by physical existence, is ripped away. The Path of the Universe is trodden, allowing the commencement of the expansion of the intellect.
Netzach supports the Right-Hand Pillar. As the Occult Intelligence, Netzach holds in secret the wisdom of Chokmah. On the other hand, the imagination may fail to perceive this. Instead it may be drawn by the memory of pleasurable incarnations directly to Malkuth or, alternatively, to Yesod, in order to satisfy unfulfilled dreams. Nevertheless, armed with the knowledge of Hod and assisted by the restriction of the Path of the Universe, the way is steady. The restrictiveness enables the superfluous and regressive imaginings of Netzach to be cut, turning the vision towards Tiphareth and the individuality. The traversing of the 32nd Path allows inspiration from Chesed and Chokmah to support one’s quest and allows the back to be turned upon the physical world.
The sacrifice of the personality ensures the transition to Tiphareth and the acquisition of Beauty and harmony, the consequence of merging with the True Self, which is crystallised in this Sephirah. If the need for Assiah is truly over, the desire to progress will predominate. It is a desire which is enriched by direct contact with Kether and which now wishes to remove the Karmic debt in Geburah. With the merging of the Personality with the Individuality and the stability thereby attained, it may be considered that the veil upon the face of the figure of the Universe is removed, but, in fact, the veil now forms the Abyss, preventing the Vision of Kether face to face.
The stability of Tiphareth is thus disturbed.
In Geburah the Individuality must finally absorb all the unpleasant aspects of its Personalities which it had hitherto ignored. The proximity of Binah holding the concept of form provides the power for the Individuality to accomplish this, for the 32nd Path is endowed with similar confining qualities which lead to the final state in the development of a form whether manifest or unmanifest. Binah, therefore, gives added support to this Path in Geburah, providing extra strength and courage to make this difficult first step. This is the movement that breaks the initial inflexibility found here that led, for example, to the dogged adherence to causes whose ultimate development in Assiah resulted in harm to Mankind. The persistent use of a self-deceiving and subtle basic insincerity to support dubious actions for the so-called “good” of Man is also exposed.
The Mercy of Chesed sooths the self-chastisement of Geburah and one is rewarded for the pain. On the edge of the World of the Spirit, the Sephirah points to the road to the Supernals across the Abyss, revealing the expanding boundaries of the Universe. Upon the 32nd Path, the last stronghold of the World of Form is entered. It allows one to stand strong in the majesty of the Sphere enriched by the total experience of physical manifestation. The World of Form at work beneath can now be surveyed and guidance to it given, by observing the interaction of its manifold aspects and acting accordingly.
As a result of the domination of the World of Form, the knowledge gained from the experience of physical manifestation which the spirit had sought, is able to be assimilated by Daath.
In the Briatic World at Binah the spirit acquires an understanding of that knowledge. The Mother of Form encompasses all in her great black cloak, absorbing all. The 32nd Path is the first inroad to the breakdown and understanding of the knowledge. The constriction of the Path dispels the restriction of Binah, dispersing the created concept of Form itself. From the action of Binah the Wisdom of Chokmah expands enriched. The journey along the Path of the Universe in Chokmah no longer signifies turmoil, battle and pain for the traveller as it does in the lower Sephiroth, where sacrifices had to be made. For here one enters into the very force behind the creation of life. The initiation is the direct vision of Kether, leading to union within that Sephirah. The Path itself prevents deviation from this road. There is no other brilliance.
In Atziluth the Path of the Universe constitutes the ultimate and hence the archetypal initiation into the splendours of the Crown. With the acquisition of Cosmic consciousness the cycle is complete. The figure within the wreath has lost the veil and has been refined, in mundane symbology, to the point within the circle, from Man within the physical universe to the Divine Spark within the Ain Soph.
To be continued...