Featured Arcana: The Devil (XV)

I am continually fascinated by the Major Arcanum, The Devil — he seems to show up in a lot of my daily spreads. 🙂 It’s taken me a while to finally get a better grasp on what he typically means in my life…

The Devil branches from the 6th sephirot to the 8th on the Tree of Life. This indicates a few important aspects of his character:

Another way to think of Hod (sephirot 8) is the allowing of chaos to occur while we simply observe it; we submit and watch it unfold. Or, if 7 represents the raw energy needed to make things happen in our lives, 8 represents the physical form we assign to the Ineffable Energy in order to better connect with it and call upon it for practical use.

So I have come to understand my friend, The Devil, as an archetype of submission to my Shadow Self. (Notice in the imagery of Baphomet the presence of male and female, animal and human…indicating that we are All at all times…)

Coming from a place of Balanced Interpersonal Interaction, the Devil is the name we give our nature when it releases itself from dogmatic control and we submit to our gut instincts. We experiment and see what happens, without apology. Notice the two children, one chained and the other holding the chains– we are in control of our own selves. Though we may feel chained by circumstance, this card reminds us that it is we who hold our own chains…

Ultimately, when the Tree guides us through 8 via the Devil, to the 9th sephirot of Self-Reflection, we find ourselves walking in the Sun… the two children of our nature have broken the chains that bound us and found even greater liberty than we’d had before.

Segmenting the Tree of Life


By isolating certain aspects of the Tree of Life for in-depth study, we’re better able to not only understand the parts that make up ourselves but also how they interact to influence the whole.

Horizontal Planes

  • Starting at the top, sephirots 1, 2, and 3 form the Supernal Triangle.
    • This can be seen as “The Head.” Our subconscious and unconscious minds (and the Ultimate Source beyond ourselves) are the spigot from which all else arises.
    • The dealings within the Supernal Triangle are all ways we may receive this Inspiration and Seed of All.
  • Sephirots 4, 5, and 6 make up the Ethical Triangle.
    • This can be seen as “The Hands.” The Ethical Triangle deals with all the ways we may choose to interact with others: either by way of cooperation and community, or by exploitation and selfishness.
  • Sephirots 7, 8, and 9 form the Astral Triangle (where all practical magick is achieved).
    • This can be seen as “The Feet.” This is the Triangle of Action. Here, we take what has come before and we either expound energy into it, to mold things to our liking and withstand or overcome obstacles… Or we withdraw our energy and wait and observe, forced to submit under that which is greater than ourselves and simply strive to gain a better understanding of that which we face.
  • We also find important horizontal planes at the Great Abyss and the Veil of Paroketh:
    • The Abyss marks the point at which subconscious interactions with the Source crosses into Intent — how we decide to use this knowledge in regard to our dealings with others. 
    • The Veil marks the point between Force and Form — below the Veil is Reality and the Physical Outcome of all that came from the upper portions of the Tree. 

Vertical Planes

  • The Tree is divided into three pillars:
    • The center is known as the Pillar of Mildness
    • On the right is the Pillar of Mercy
    • On the left is the Pillar of Severity

These three pillars, in conjunction with the Triangles, grant a greater sense of the flow of energies within a spread and/or within either a single card of, or series of, Major Arcana.

The Lovers (VI)


The Lovers Major Arcanum presents a fine example of how knowledge of its placement in the Tree’s branches can grant further illumination into the card’s meaning.

The Lovers branch from sephirot 3 to sephirot 6.

  • 3 is both within the Supernal Triangle (“the Head”) and at the top of the Pillar of Severity.
  • 6 is both within the Ethical Triangle (“the Hands”) and in the center of the Pillar of Mildness

From this we gather several points of interest:

  • The Lovers begin at: the point where we have “taken apart” the elements of the Source we received in order to better understand it. (davar mitoch davar — understanding one idea from another idea; deductive reasoning)
  • The card ends at: a point of total balance in regard to our intentions and interactions with others.
    • So, where there are two people in our imagery at the start of this branch, there winds up being a united couple at the end; a balanced whole emerging from the separate parts. Each person starts alone to try to understand the elements given to them, but they find balance in uniting together as one — a balance that further influences their interactions with others around them.
  • We get a sense of the move of energy on the vertical plane: moving from a sense of Severity (or, disciplined intellect) to Mildness (balance and emotional/conscious harmony) — this certainly creates a sense of release. 
  • We also see that The Lovers cross the Great Abyss: horizontally, they have moved from the realm of the Head (or subconscious) to the realm of what we might call the Heart — the Hands (the outer pillars of the Ethical Triangle which the 6th sephirot balances) do the work of our intentions created in this Triangle, but the Heart creates a harmony of consciousness.

Within this harmony we are at ease enough to make balanced decisions with regard to how we intend to interact with others in our lives — “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy”… and cast judgement on those I judge. From a place of disciplined intellect we move into a place where we are at home with the intentions we mete out to others. And in so doing, we feel like The Lovers; we move from isolated parts of ourselves into a united and balanced whole of consciousness. 

Featured Arcana: The Wheel

On the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the Wheel of Fortune forms a bridge between the 4th and 7th sephirots, forming the bottom half of the Pillar of Mercy.

Chesed (4) is within the triangle of Intention (with regard to how we intend to deal with others). Netzach (7) falls within the triangle of Action. The 4th sephirot represents the spirit of (or Intent to create) community with others, to draw others into our personal circle. The 7th sephirot represents the Action of endurance against an obstacle.

Connected directly above the Wheel on the Pillar of Mercy is the Hierophant. They share the 4th sephirot of Intent to Draw Others into Community.

The Hierophant takes the pureness of the Source above and distills and disseminates that divine Source to the community below. The Wheel then is situated within this community and takes Action in courage to endure against obstacles.

But what is the deeper interpretation?

Naturally, a lot depends on where the Wheel falls in any specific tarot spread. But we can ascertain a basic understanding of this card’s implications based upon its placement on the Tree.

We can learn from the Wheel, then, that we come from the passed-down purity of the Divine Source, to a unifying of community and drawing others unto us — only to learn that our Action of Enduring (though we may feel empowered by the divine knowledge passed down to us and the community that surrounds us), is not solely in our hands.

The Universe has a “will” of its own (in a sense) and is not always lined up with our own personal will — because, we are only one cog in the giant machinery of the Universe….

In fact, the wills and actions of others that are brought into our Circle (4), have a correlation with the results around us– no matter what our Action to Endure is.

Whatever Action we take to Endure or Resist will affect the Community from which we stem; as well, the Community has an affect on our Actions.

We are all interconnected. Thus the Wheel of the Universe turns seemingly of its own accord at times. In these moments it may be best to step back from our own little corner of understanding to embrace a fuller view of the Community around us.

A Revised Study on the 3 Triangles

I’ve been really enjoying the process of studying the Tree of Life and gaining further understanding of the roles and attitudes of the 10 Sephirot. I’m telling you, nothing has helped me understand myself and the nature of Life and humanity like the Tales Tarot Tell and the rich gnosis found in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life!

So here is a rundown of the deeper understanding I’ve been gaining lately. Hope it might be of some help to you in your journey! 🙂

The Triangles:

SupernalFile Mar 16, 11 26 19 AM

  • 1 is the Pureness of the Element or Knowledge.
    • Since it is the Source, it is the reverse and opposite of the funnels found in 6 and 9.
  • 2 has 2 Faces= receiving the purity of the Element (from beyond the conscious/unconscious mind) and sharing that purity with the rest of the Sephirot… Without any further thought or deductive reasoning on the matter! It is the furtherance of an idea that is inspired or taught; Nothing extra added.
  • 3:

    Binah is ‘intuitive understanding’, or ‘contemplation’…On a psychological level, Binah is “processed wisdom,” also known as deductive reasoning. It is davar mitoch davarunderstanding one idea from another idea. While Chockmah is intellect that does not emanate from the rational process (it is either inspired or taught), Binah is the rational process that is innate in the person which works to develop an idea fully. (Source)

EthicalFile Mar 16, 11 26 35 AM

  • 4 & 5:

    Chesed and Gevurah act together to create an inner balance in the soul’s approach to the outside world. While the “right arm” of Chesed operates to draw others near [think, Mercy and Lovingkindness], the “left arm” of Gevurah reserves the option of repelling those deemed undeserving [think Judgment]. (Source)

  • The Ethical Triangle is the triangle of Intention.

AstralFile Mar 16, 11 26 43 AM

Hod (8) is explained as an analogy – that instead of “conquering” an obstacle in one’s way, (which is the idea of Netzach [7]), subduing oneself to that “obstacle” is related to the quality of Hod. (Source)

 

  • Hod is considered “prayer”; Netzach is considered “fortitude,” “long suffering,” or “endurance”…
  • The Astral Triangle is the triangle of Action.

The Funnels
File Mar 16, 12 05 09 PM

6 and 9 are both filters and balancers for their respective triangles…

6 receives all from the prior journey and passes it down to 9…

9 then receives all from prior journey and filters and passes it on to the Physical Form of Reality (10), creating the RESULT