The following papers describe Yesod, the Ninth Sephirah (More to follow)...
(Updated 15 November 2020)
By J.C. O'Sullivan (1989)
Yesod is usually considered as the lunar aspect of the Tree; however, she is much more than that. Kabbalistically, Yesod is the "Treasure House of Images" and the doorway to the Astral World (Astral Triangle, Magical World or lower astral). Here at Yesod, we have the last stepping down of energy into matter and energy into energy as we know it.
This primal urge to create has come a long way from origination and is unknown to us in its original expression (it would be wrong to say "original form" because, at origination, it is formless).
So when you look in the sky and gaze up at the Moon, you are seeing much more than a dull, lifeless rock just hanging there, seemingly motionless. Out there exists another reality - it is one step away from Assiah (best thought of as the Kingdom of Malkuth) and penetrates directly into something which seems inaccessible to the waking mind - the astral reality. It took mankind a long time from the emergence of life from the seas to actually reach the Moon, but the light we see of her is actually reflected from somewhere further in space - the sun.
The vision of Yesod is of the Machinery of the Universe, but when this is seen it is not as some vast horary split into ten stations. What is glimpsed is rather space and time as they are, but seemingly impossible to understand. What is needed is an understanding of Yesod before any true wonder in creation is made manifest.
There is a Yesod-Daath polarity which it is difficult to speak of. At Yesod we have the last step to Malkuth and, on return, the first path to Atziluth and, as stated, the noumenal (i.e. greater) reality starts at Yesod before it is actually attained at Daath. Both act similarly to doorways.
By Carol Ann Fellows (1988)
In Yesod there are two seemingly contradictory sets of symbols. One set contains the idea of strength - "Foundation of the Universe", established in strength. The magical image of Yesod is a strong, naked man. The God Name, Shaddai - Almighty, - Kerubim - the strong angels; and the 9 of wands - Lord of great strength.
On the other hand, there is the symbolism of the Moon - fluidic, in a continual state of flux and reflux.
This contradictory symbolism is reconciled by the nature of the spiritual experience of Yesod: "Vision of the Machinery of the Universe" - Yesod purifies the emanations, and the fluidic waters of chaos are gathered up and organised by means of representations that were designed in Hod.
Yesod receives the emanations of all the other Sephiroth, and conducts them to Malkuth. It is Yesod's function to purify the emanations and prove and correct them. Netzach and Hod find equilibrium in Yesod, which receives their emanations and also the emanations of Tiphareth, and through Tiphareth, of Kether.
This is the sphere of illusion, because the "Treasure House of Images" is the reflecting ether of the earth sphere, and corresponds in the microcosm to the unconscious - filled with ancient and forgotten things.
Indigo is the colour of Yesod, in the world of Atziluth when manifesting the positive arc, it can be used to free us of our inhibitions, so too does it seek to broaden the horizons of the mind, to communicate the dual aspects of life, to make clearer the process of reality, reforms are carried out at all levels of being.
Shu, the god of space, and his sister Tefnut, were twins. Shu was the Atlas of Egypt, his role being to support the sky. He is usually depicted in human form, but according to some, both were originally leonine deities, being the twin lion gods who guarded the gates to the Kingdom of Osiris. Shu and Tefnut united to bear the gods Geb and Nut - Earth and Sky. They are seen as representing the blending of two primary principles, to produce two further archetypal Rays, ultimately destined to become involved in the growth and development of our solar system.
The mundane chakra of Yesod is the Moon, the great mother, goddess of nature. There are three goddesses assigned to Yesod: Diana, Selene and Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft and enchantment. The Moon goddess usually has a dual nature, sometimes a virgin goddess, and sometimes a fertile goddess. The Moon signifies the creative and fertile powers of nature, water - fluidity - the ebb and flow of tides and emotions - a time for cleansing - for contacting your intuitive knowing - attuning your own rhythms - and a failure to draw on the wisdom of the instinctive, intuitive side of nature may leave you out of balance.
Two is the number of the Moon. In two we are dealing with the primal division, expressed in the statement of the ancients: from the one to the many. For from the unity of the one, from the gestalt or totality of existence differentiation occurs. Two represents the duality in nature, positive and negative, both essential to life. Two is the prime feminine number, the Yin, the eternal female - polarities - pairs - opposites -good/evil - the beginning of intellect - perception and consciousness of someone/where/time/thing - male/female.
Two was often referred to as audacity, because it was the first number to separate itself from the Divine One. A symbol of ignorance and despised by the Pythagoreans as a symbol of polarity, it was also known as genius - evil - darkness - division - marriage - the mother - Isis - Lydia - Diana (because the Moon is forked).
The truth of the true wisdom can be seen from the Moon of Yesod. But when the emotional body is in full control, truth and wisdom can become distorted, it is then that we only "grasp the waters of the Moon". It is not the destruction of the emotions that Yesod teaches, but to achieve a balance.
Yesod integrates the process of understanding within itself, and offers the opportunity to perceive more clearly the reality of the life process. The consciousness is focussed upon worlds beyond the physical manifestation. Man's dual nature of the spiritual and the material becomes more integrated, and better understood. A sense of eternity within is established. No longer are energies concentrated solely on the eternal outer-directed arc of existence. Rather, Yesod offers a greater receptivity in order to allow impressions a fertile ground for increased perception.
By Michael Kusz (1994)
Yesod is the 9th sphere on the Tree and has as one of its titles 'foundation'. A foundation means laying the basis of anything and here that 'anything' covers the greatest multitude of sins, in that it actually encompasses anything and everything within physically manifest existence.
Yesod is the (mostly) invisible warp and weft on which the manifest universe is condensed into physical existence. However it also contains much more than this. We are told that physical existence is the concretion of the divine light from the source. As this divine light is all pervasive, it would follow that concretion of its entirety would result in an impermeable, undifferentiated, indivisible mass.
As the Tree unfolds, the formation of each of the spheres accounts for a proportion of Divine essence, whether from the +ve, -ve or balance of the creative force. Thus a percentage of energy is retained at each evolving station. This affords the possibility for recombining and separating in an increasingly complex fashion. To emphasise this point, we know that from the homogenous mass of milk can be separated cream of various types, from the cream can be created butter. If the separated milk is left longer it becomes sour and then coagulates, from which can be extracted curd which in turn yields a multitude of cheeses. Milk of course is not consumed just as cheese. All its other possibilities are as equally available.
Having arrived at cheese we might consider the symbol of Yesod in its densest focus - the Moon. Notice I say here 'symbol', as within Lunar symbolism we find the keys to Yesod, and not in kicking cheesy rocks about in 1/6th gravity.
Like the uncertain shape of things seen by moonlight, Yesodic matters are revealed as allegories, allusions, euphemisms, or anything reflecting their actual realities. What we meet with at Yesod is not so much untruth as truth adapted to our capacity to understand. Thus a child is given explanations relative to their terms of reference which as reflections of truth are designed to one day lead them to the reality represented.
Such reflective myths and symbols are the foundation on which the inner life is built and that is the significance of Yesod. Every thought of man creates a ripple in the sea of Yesod. Yesod is a sea of thoughts, a strange stockpile of conglomerated consciousness, its images superb in their beauty and seductiveness but with a capacity to be equally hideous and frightening. However, these Yesod forms are illusive. The Moon has no light of its own, and we must never make the mistake of taking these Moon images of Yesod literally. Light is not for looking at, but with.
Out of this apparent confusion and deception we have to construct the symbol / pattern of our own foundations on which will be built our 'Stairway to Heaven'. Such is the real purpose of all the myths, legends, practices, rituals, costume and customs of what we call magic, whether Kabbalistic or otherwise. They are not ends but means and without means we cannot reach ends.
The Moon has always been a measure of time. The Moon-rhythm applies to the fertility of ideas as well as to other kinds, and if we apply the Lunar tides to studies it works very well - increasing effort to maximum at full Moon, easing to a minimum and resting before recommencing at the New Moon.
Being the last of the digits, the number 9 is the symbol of that which brings to an end and prepares for a new manifestation.
It is a fascinating number, there being numerous mathematical oddities about it, e.g.
1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 =45 =9
Divide any number by 9 and if there is no remainder the digits of the number so divided will add up to 9. If there is a remainder, the number will add up to the same digit as the remainder.
The number 9 also reproduces itself in all multiples, thus:
7 x 9 =63 =9, 3 x 9 =27 =9, 9 x 9 =81 =9.
The ninth Hebrew letter is Teth, meaning a serpent. The hieroglyphic meaning of Teth is a 'roof', the idea being that of a covering or protection. Another meaning of the letter is 'El Chai', the Mighty Living One. For it is the universal force manifesting in man as an electro-dynamic force, the Kundalini or Serpent Power, which when lifted up and dominated by the spiritualised Will, makes of man an Initiate. In this sense Teth indicates that only when we have become 'wise as serpents and harmless as doves' can we consciously express the power of the Mighty Living One.
Yesod Through the Sephiroth
By Sue Bashford (1980)
In whichever sphere Yesod is contemplated, it serves as a repository for libido, that is psychic energy or the urge towards Life. With this in mind, I feel that the Yesodic power must play a vital role in the emission of the Lightning Flash which proceeds from Kether to Malkuth.
The Ketheric Yesod reflects the mystical character of the Godhead and supposes the impressionable nature of Divinity. It therefore constitutes the first mirror, so to speak. With Yesod in this archetypal environment, we solve the problem of where to situate Jung's Collective Unconscious on the Tree. With it posited in the World of Emanations we can realise that although the images which symbolise the Archetypes can be discerned at each level of Being, their source forever resides at the crown of Adam Kadmon.
In the Briatic world, these occult powers are dissolved into spiritually charged particles. These particles respond initially to Chokmah's influence of continual activity. But at Yesod in Chokmah the flow begins to respond to the tidal rhythms that trouble the healing waters of wisdom. Indeed, the eddies predict the inherent instability of force. Thus the intuitive capacity of Pure Intelligence perceives the need to embrace the characteristics of Binah.
The Supernal Mother's Yesod is surely the light shining in the darkness. Although, when it is "new'' it is not comprehended. But it is to become the object of faith which leads to greater consciousness. It is attested that the frustration of libido can lead to loss of faith. Can we assume that a surfeit of libido would engender greater faith, enough even to overcome the fear of darkness or loss of soul?
On the outward journey of involution these impressions are projected across the Abyss to become, in Gedulah, the complexities which test the psycho-religious pretensions of all aspirants who seek mastership. The ego has been elevated to the role of servant. He who washes the feet of his friends. Yesod’s evocative perfumes reflect the sweet breath of life, which is the essence of all formation.
At Geburah the etheric model is infused with the Karmic seeds of previous deeds. In the world of Assiah they fulfil their promise and become the shadow personality which must be faced and integrated into the totality of the individual.
Passion clouds this hidden darkness and self-deception becomes the sore which must be bathed in the Yesodic lagoon of Tiphareth. Narcissistic love must be exorcised of its power so that the dammed up libido can vivify the higher chakras. Thus the self is transfigured (if only for a moment) and radiates the light of life.
In the Venusian world of Netzach sensual excitation belies the presence of Yesod as the imagination is seasoned by the fluctuating action of the Moon. The Yetziratic model of manifestation is energized by the refracted lights of Yesod and this in turn gives Nature its unpredictable quality. This is why the concrete mind of Hod is doomed to prove inadequate in the final analysis of universal law.
Hod itself has the frailty of Yesod built in. But it also lends a necessary enthusiasm and curiosity to the enquiring mind. Yesod also exercises a valuable psychological power in Hod and Netzach, for it is instrumental in the ego's battle to resolve the contra-sexual problem of anima/animus projection.
Positioned at the gonads of Adam Kadmon, Yesod in Yesod is the reservoir of life which fecundates the world of Assiah, while at Malkuth, Yesod affects the timing of fertility and growth. As the practice of magic is largely connected with the distribution of vitality, the Moon has long been an object of veneration. But it is only regent to the sovereign power of Heaven, and must be recognized as the mediator of an immanent God
Yesod through the Four Worlds
By Richard F. Stewart (1980)
In Kether, Yesod would represent the Akashic Kingdom, the reflective surface in which are mirrored the Archetypal Images formed by the Logos in their undeviated state. On the downward journey of spirit, Yesod represents the Ocean of Brilliance in which the formless forms of the Divine Mind are purified and made whole before coagulating them together to establish the environs of the gods in the Malkuth of Kether.
In Chokmah, Yesod reflects the Wisdom of Kether and is the empathic medium for the whirling forces of the Universe to operate within. Here the Spark can divine the unrestricted expressions of Cosmic Force in its depths and glimpse its hidden structure reflected in what remains of the body of Spirit.
In Binah, Yesod may reveal the process of formation in its tenuous beginnings and impart understanding of the Sheath of Spirit which encloses all things of form.
In Gedulah, Yesod heralds the vision of the Sphere of the Masters. Here the foundations of Compassion and Mercy, the highest qualities of Mind may be seen. The Image may here be distorted or may be interpreted through form, but the inkling of another view also exists.
In Geburah, Yesod represents a very dangerous stage for the Spark, for here the vision of correction and justice is seen as though through a glass darkly. The raw energy and power of Geburah is in a state of flux and reflux which may trap the Spark by its glamorous persuasions. Here the Spark must think and act with intuitive justice and by its actions be itself judged.
In Tiphareth, the Spark looking in the Mirror of Yesod views the world of the Higher Mind through that of the lower Mind. The Spark must quickly learn to cope with the lower Mind in its final stages and coordinate its workings in harmony with the protective influence of Michael whose image turns every way on the path to the higher Mind.
In Netzach, Yesod acts as the individualizing medium through which all things develop their varied character. The Spark at the stage of Yesod views Netzach in the ebb and flow of the imagination, under whose influence it may be drawn to the phenomenal or outer illusory factor of nature, or see through this and use the Netzachian force to anticipate higher realms.
In Hod, the Mirror of Yesod reflects the forms of the Mind where the Spark must rely on the Archangelic force of Raphael to keep the formulating principle of the Mind ever moving, otherwise stagnation and dogmatism may cause the forms of Mind to devour the Spark. With Raphael's help the Spark will breeze through the mental formations to arise triumphant at their source in the imaginative realm of Netzach.
In Yesod in Yesod, the Spark discovers itself to be the centre of its Universe. It stands at the foundation of the Formative World where all the Spark desires or wills is brought into being. On the outward journey the Spark sees how the admixture of form and force makes matter exist for a time in the transitory world of physical matter, and on the upward journey it is reborn in Yesod to direct the reversal of this process.
Yesod in Malkuth reveals the way in which balance and creative harmony may be accomplished through the uniting of opposite forces. Here, the sexual aspect of dense matter is explored with all its uniting and destructive effects, and it is the task of the Spark to use the Mirror of Yesod as an eyepiece to the World within. The Outer World is the experimental laboratory where the Spark in Yesod must relate his experience to the higher principles it contains, and apply them to itself.
Yesod and Egyptian Mythology
By Sue Bashford (1981)
Many thoughts fashioned the images which portrayed the influence of the Moon in the Egyptian Pantheon, and like the Kabbalistic symbols of Yesod the representations are all-embracing and at times extremely tenuous.
No single god fits succinctly the Sephirotic Tree in Yesod, but the similitude of characteristics attributable to several of their divinities give a profound insight into the cosmological ideas which affected both the Hebrews and their imperious neighbours.
Yesod is the sphere of astral light and Shu the god of air, space and dryness exhibits the power that pervades this rarified medium. He is seen as the figure which holds the sky or celestial regions above and beyond the earth.
Tefnut, Shu’s consort, personifies humidity and together they composed the substantial atmosphere of the astral realm. It is interesting to note that the Coptic form of Shu is "meni" or intellect for Tefnut, and Shu represented the intuitive capacity of mankind, being significantly the receptive and perceptive minds respectively, they constitute the Pure Intelligence which purifies the Emanations.
Esoterically, Saturn has an intimate affinity with the Moon, and as astronomers and astrologers the Egyptians witnessed this connection, Saturn was designated the Star of the West (much as Gabriel, Yesod’s Archangelic power, rules the western quarter). When the Sun entered the Western hemisphere, darkness inevitably ensued so Saturn together with the Moon supposedly ruled over all hidden and shadowy places. Naturally this included the world of the dead and the end of things in general.
This Star of Fate was observed to accomplish its Zodiacal journey in roughly as many years as the Moon took in days to complete its monthly cycle. As the Moon governed the gestation period on Earth, Saturn was depicted as Master of Time for men.
Thoth, who was identified with Saturn, counted the years on a frond of the palm tree that put forth a new branch each month. Thoth, although akin to Chokmah, was symbolized by the ibis, a wader,sacred to the Moon. More properly, he was the Moon’s genius and guardian, for it was he who recovered and made whole the fragmented Eye of Horus (which, as the left eye of the celestial hawk, represented the moon).
Isis, whose name means seat or throne, is primarily a Binah figure, but corruptions of the ancient texts caused her, for political reasons, to emerge from Egypt as an exportable lunar/ fertility goddess. But in fact her original attributes were much more far reaching and less definable and apart from her proficiency in the art of magic, there is little to support her connection with Yesod.
Nevertheless, it appears to confirm the Kabbalistic claim that in Yesod the qualities of Binah and Chokmah co-mingle and profoundly affect the foundation which supports our material existence.
Another god, Khensu, son of Amen-Ra and Mut, was the personification of movement and action, as symbolized by the Moon. His name was derived from the root verb "Khens", which means "to travel, to move about or run", Khensu was believed to have powers which controlled the evil elemental spirits which brought pain and illness to man. This gave him the capacity to dispel the illusions which caused psychosomatic disease. Because of his lunar nature, the month Pakhons bears his name.
Finally, the divinities which presided over childbirth should be mentioned; Taueret with the head of a hippopotamus symbolized maternity and suckling, as did Renenet; Heker the frog-headed goddess symbolized the embryonic state and Meskhent personified the two bricks which supported the mother at the moment of delivery. The Hathors prophesied the destiny of the newborn. Selket was the guardian of conjugal love and together with Neith protected loving couples from annoyance. Because of their aptitude for nocturnal vision and their supple fluidic movements, deities which took the form of a cat, such as Bast, were also identified with the Moon.
To be continued...