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Kabbalah and Theosophy

Kabbalah and Theosophy


A Summary

September 2015


Edmonton Theosophical Society

by Peter von Sass


Table of Contents

1. Historical Background

2. The Concept of Emanation and the Tree of Life

3. The Sephirothal Tree of Life and its Triadic Nature

  • The Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom

  • The Three Pillars

  • The Chakras and Kundalini/Kabbalah Yoga

4. The Four Worlds/Adams and the Four-Fold Nature of Man

5. Distribution of the Ten Sephiroth Through the Four Worlds

  • The Diminution of the Fours Worlds (Globes)

  • Distribution of the Ten Sephiroth Through the Four Worlds

  • The Four Worlds & Correspondences with the Divisions of the Soul

  • The Tetragrammaton (JHVH) - Yod-He-Vau-He

6. Epilogue

  • Bibliography

  • Charts and Diagrams


1. Historical Background

Kabbalah and Theosophy, in reality, represent two interpretations or representations of the same inner, mystical teachings of the universal, ancient wisdom religion, even though Theosophy is generally being referred to as having an Eastern source, whereas Kabbalah is being considered the Western equivalent, based on the mystical “mouth to ear” teachings of the Hebrews, dating back to 13th century Spain (Moses de Leon), but more likely derived from the ancient “Chaldean Book of Numbers” (626 BC) or earlier Eastern scriptures.

This unity of essence should not surprise us when we remember that all the great systems of thought and inquiry spring from an identical source: the brotherhood of spiritually advanced human beings and the inner core of each individual, which is identical with the core of every other being. (Grace F. Knoche: Theosophy in the Qabbālāh, pp.138-139)

Two major mystical books on Kabbalah were generated by the Hebrews: The first book is “Sefer Yetsirah”, the Book of Creation or Cosmogony, dealing with the genesis of worlds through ten (10) numbers (ciphers) or Sephiroth and the twenty-two (22) letters of the Hebrew alphabet as depicted by the respective globes and pathways on the Tree of Life, a symbol used by most jamor spiritual traditions. While the author of Sefer Yetsirah is not known, it was attributed to Patriarch Abraham and/or to Rabbi Aquila. 

The second book on Kabbalah is “Sefer-ha-Zohar”, the Book of Splendour or Light, containing commentary on the Pentateuch, the first five (5) books of the Old Testament, in addition to eleven (11) treatises. The three (3) principal volumes of the Zohar are: Ha-‘Idra’Rabba’Qaddisha’ (The Great Holy Assembly). Ha-‘Idra’Zuta’Qaddisha’ (The Small Holy Assembly) and Sifra’di-Tseni’utha’ (The Book of Concealment). This last book contains elements of the “Stanzas of Dzyan” upon which H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine is based. She writes (Isis Unveiled 1:1): “There exists somewhere in this wide world an old book — so very old that our modern antiquarians might ponder over its pages an indefinite time, and still not quite agree as to the nature of the fabric upon which it is written. It is the only original copy now in existence. The most ancient Hebrew document on occult learning — the Siphra Dzeniouta [Book of Concealment] — was [arguably] compiled from it, and that at a time when the former was already considered in the light of a literary relic.” “[T]here is a striking similarity between the Zohar and the Stanzas of Dzyan insofar as they relate to the emanation or coming forth of worlds from the Boundless.” (GFK, p.6)

By the end of the 15th century (1492) the “New World” had been discovered and the Jews had been expelled from Spain. Trade between Europe and India had commenced and the Lutheran Reformation was about to sweep Europe. Many gentiles, including Jacob Boehme, Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, Paracelsus and Pico della Mirandola became enamoured with the Kabbalistic interpretations of Christianity, and Kabbalistic thought influenced such thinkers as Spinoza, Newton, Kepler and Francis Bacon, and liberated spiritual thinking throughout Europe. (GFK, p.8)

#1 Illustration: “The Ten Sephiroth” (p.225) in The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages by Paul Foster Case.


2. The Concept of Emanation and the Tree of Life

From the “One” to the “Many” — “Qabbālāh deals in large part with the doctrine of emanation. It describes in pictorial fashion a tree of life . . . formed of ten emanations or sefiroth, issuing forth from the Boundless (‘ein sof). Sefirah means ‘number’ or ‘emanation’ — the concept of the universe being established in and on numbers is found also in the doctrines of Pythagoras. . . The Sefirothal Tree is a symbol of man, atom, star or any other hierarchy. It depicts . . . the series of emanations that the One or divine monad of any being unfolds from within itself in assuming full imbodiment. . .

Ein sof (without boundary or limit) is equivalent to the Sanskrit parabrahman (beyond Brahman). From it issue at karmic intervals universes great and small . . .” The Boundless, while having no attributes, was “conceived as containing a series of ‘concealed sefiroth’. While completely unmanifest, these nevertheless exhibit in potentia a three-in-one or a one-in-three garment of nonbeing: ‘ayin, ‘no-thing-ness,’ the darkness of pure nonbeing, which produced ‘ein sof, boundless or limitless light,’ the primal light of pre-manifestation.” When the Boundless wished to manifest itself, it focused its essence into a single point: the primal number or sefiroth, called Kether the Crown, from where it expanded to unfold and permeate a universe of tenfold character, unfolded into manifestation, by issuing “forth in time and space nine lower sefiroth or emanations of graduated spiritual and material texture.” (GFK, pp.9/11

Various are the ways in which the Boundless is portrayed as emanating a succession of sefirothal trees: at one time the sefiroth are described as sparks from the central fire; also as ten vessels into which the life-stream from ‘ein sof flows; and still again as a series of concentric spheres. They all attempt to describe the indescribable: the issuing forth of finite entities fromthe infinite bosom of Duration’ to quote from the ‘Book of Dzyan’. From this archaic manuscript H.P. Blavatsky used seven stanzas as the foundation of her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine.

It is intriguing to observe the close similarity of fundamental tenet between the Stanzas of Dzyan and the doctrine of emanation found in Qabbālāh. HPB states that these stanzas ‘give an abstract formula which can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to all evolution: to that of our tiny earth, to that of the chain of planets of which that earth forms one, to the solar Universe to which that chain belongs, and so on, in an ascending scale, till the mind reels and is exhausted by the effort.’ (SD 1:20-1)

The same may be said of the fundamental doctrines of Qabbālāh: they can be applied analogically to the evolution of man, planet, solar system or galaxy”. (GFK, p.12)

To quote . . . from the Stanzas of Dzyan as an aid to understanding the Zohar:

Darkness alone filled the boundless all, for father, mother and son were once more one, and the son had not awakened yet for the new wheel, and his pilgrimage thereon. (1:5)

Alone the one form of existence stretched boundless, infinite, causeless, in dreamless sleep; and life pulsated unconscious in universal space, throughout that all-presence which is sensed by the opened eye of the Dangma [initiate] (1:8).

The hour had not yet struck; the ray had not yet flashed into the Germ; the Matripadma (Mother-lotus) had not yet swollen (2:3).

The last vibration of the seventh eternity thrills through infinitude. The mother swells, expanding from within without, like the bud of the lotus (3:1)

The vibration sweeps along, touching with its swift wing the whole universe and the germ that dwelleth in darkness: the darkness that breathes over the slumbering waters of life (3:2).

Darkness radiates light, and light drops one solitary ray into the mother-deep. The ray shoots through the virgin egg; the ray causes the eternal egg to thrill, and drop the non-eternal germ, which condenses into the world-egg (3:3).

Behold, oh Lanoo! The radiant child of the two, the unparalleled refulgent glory: Bright Space Son of Dark Space, which emerges from the depths of the great dark waters (3:7).

Where was the germ and where was now darkness? Where is the spirit of the flame that burns in the lamp, oh Lanoo? (3:8).

It expands when the breath of fire is upon it; it contracts when the breath of the mother touches it. Then the sons dissociate and scatter, to return into their mother’s bosom at the end of the great day, and re-become one with her; when it is cooling it becomes radiant, and the sons expand and contract through their own selves and hearts; they embrace infinitude (3:11).   (SD1:27-30)

Turning to Qabbālāh we discover the same ideas. ‘Darkness alone filled the Boundless All’ recalls ‘ayin, ‘no-thing,’ filling all the spaces of space — that condition of no-thing-ness where the seeds of future sefirothal trees of cosmic lives are still sleeping in darkness. From ‘ayin, darkness of no-thing-ness, comes ‘ein sof, limitless or boundless fields of infinitude: the ‘one form of existence’ that stretches ‘boundless, infinite, causeless, in dreamless sleep.’ ‘Ein sof, the mystery of mysteries, is called in the Zohar the ‘closed eye’ because the lives sleeping therein do not perceive what is ‘sensed by the opened eye of the Dangma (initiate),’ which ‘opened eye’ in Qabbālāh is termed Kether, the Crown or first emanation. As the Zohar states:

When the Unknown of the Unknown wished to manifest itself, It began by producing a point; aslong as that luminous point had not gone out of Its bosom, the Infinite was still completely unknown and diffused no light.              ([Zohar]1:2a, Myer, [Qabbalah] p.127).

. . . The vibration of the incoming universe or sefirothal tree quickens the sleeping seeds, and the ‘Light that was wrapped in Darkness’. . . floods the expanse. ‘Ein sof has become ‘ein sof’ or: infinite space has become infinite light. ‘Bright Space Son of Dark Space’ as the Stanzas of Dyan express it . . . [a] division of the One into the many. We may here conceive of darkness as pure spirit, and light as matter.” (GFK, pp.12-15)

In his Fundamentals (p.99), [G. de] Purucker translates the word ‘elohim in the first verse of Genesis as a plural: ‘in a host (or multitude) the Gods [‘elohim*] found (made) themselves into the heavens and the earth.’ Genesis 1:2 is usually translated ‘And the earth was without form and void.’ . . Purucker’s literal translation of the first verses of Genesis continues:

And darkness upon the face of the ethers. And the ruahh (the spirit soul) of the gods (of Elohim) (fluttered, hovered) brooding’ . . .

And said (the) Elohim (the gods) — light, come-into-being! and light came-into-being. And saw (the) gods the light, that (it was) good. And divided Elohim between the light and between the darkness. And called Elohim the light day, and the darkness called they night. And (there) came-into-being eve, and (there) came-into-being morn. Day one."  Fundamentals, p.100


(GFK, pp.19-20). [* added by GFK]

#2 Illustration: “Ain” p.300 in Concepts of Qabalah by Wm G Gray


3. The Sefirothal Tree of Life and its Triadic Nature

#3 Illustration: “The Sefirothal Tree” p.10 in Theosophy in the Qabbālāh by Grace F Knoche. (This book is on TUP website)

The first and foremost ‘emanation’ from ‘ein sof, the Boundless, is the first of the sefiroth . . . called Kether (. . . crown), and is known by various other names such as . . . Ancient of Days, Macroprosopus or Great Face . . . because it contains potentially all the other ‘small’ faces or lower sefiroth. The term face is used to signify the ancient idea of the mask or maya, the Great Face signifies the cosmic illusion of manifestation, called in Sanskrit maha-maya.

Kether is Number One, [the] Indivisible, the monad of Pythagoras . . . the first unmanifest Logos. Its divine name is ‘ehyeh (“I am”). . . When correlated to ‘Adman Qadmon (archetypal man or universe), Kether is the head or ‘crown’ of the head.

From Kether . . . the indivisible point, issue forth two rays of active and passive — or masculine and feminine — potency . . . ‘Each sefirah is feminine or receptive to the one above, and masculine or transmitting to the one below it.’ [Mathers, pp.27, 335nn] The right and masculine energy is focused in Hokhmah (wisdom), the second sefirah, termed . . . ‘ab (father), likewise called by its divine name yah. It corresponds . . . to the second Logos, and represents the right shoulder of ‘Adam Qadmon. The third sefirah, Binah (intelligence, insight, understanding), is the feminine passive stream of energy flowing from Kether through Hokhmah, and forms the left shoulder of ‘Adam Qadmon. Its divine name is heh. It is also called ‘em or ‘immi [Aima] (the Mother), coequal with the Father. Binah is the Supernal Mother as contrasted with the tenth sefirah, Malkhuth, the inferior Mother, Bride or Queen. Binah is the third Logos. . . .

These three sefiroth form the invisible [first] triad of archetypal man. . . The position of Hokhmah and Binah as the second nd third — respectively the masculine or Father, and the feminine or Mother — is by certain Qabbalists reversed . . . with Binah as the feminine aspect representing the Mother issuing first from Kether, the two giving birth to or emanating Hokhmah as the Son. This placing would immediately identify these first three sefiroth, or the first ‘face’ of the Tree of Life, with the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, and with the Christian Trinity as originally understood as Father, Holy Spirit and Son . . . the essential point being that the supernal triad of Kether, Hokhmah and Binah represents the unmanifest triad of divine forces and powers, which in time and space emanate from themselves the remaining sefirothal powers in orderly progression. (GFK, pp.21-23)

The union of Hokhmah and Binah, Wisdom & Understanding, yields a son Da’at, Reason, although this son is not [usually] counted amongst the Sefiroth.” (Charles Poncé, Kabbalah, p.122)

As a direct emanation from this [first] triad, the second ‘face’ or triad is born, consisting of Hesed, Geburah and Tif’ereth: Compassion, Strength and Beauty. Hesed (ardor, love, goodness, compassion, or mercy) is the fourth sefirah — a masculine active power, corresponding to the right arm of ‘Adam Qadmon, and whose divine name is ‘el (the mighty one).

Geburah (strength, power, might), the fifth sefirah, a feminine potency issuing forth from and complementing Hesed, its masculine counterpart, corresponds to the left arm of ‘Adam Qadmon. Its divine name is eloah (goddess).

Tif’ereth (beauty, magnificence, glory) [also the Son and/or the Sun], the sixth sefirah, is the fruit of Hesed and Geburah. It represents the heart of ‘Adam Qadmon, and is said to be the seat of the sun, from which flows into the surrounding and lower sefiroth all goodness and inspiration. This sefirah is often termed the Small Countenance or Microprosopus. . . The divine name of Tif’ereth is ‘elohim (divine or might ones, gods-goddesses). Tif’ereth is sometimes called the King (Melekh) in connection with Malkhuth as Queen, the tenth sefirah.” (GFK, pp.23-24)

Tif’ereth essentially represents the God (Christ) worshipped by the Christians (“I and my Father are one” and “No one comes to the Father other than through me”).

While the Macroprosopus “is thought of as unmanifest; the . . . Microprosopus is referred to as both unaminfest & manifest. . . But the most important difference has to do with the statement that the Microprosopus is androgyne . . . [and] that the source of this androgyneity has its origin between [the] two arms, that part which is called Tifereth, which expands to form two breasts . . . Tifereth having the attribute of the heart. . . . With the manifestation of Tifereth the second triad, that of God’s moral power, is complete.” (Charles Poncé, Kabbalah, pp.127-128)

From [the] second triad or face of the sefirothal tree, a third triad emanates of still greater heaviness of texture, formed of Netsah, Hod and Yesod: Triumph or Firmness, Majesty, and Foundation. Netsah (glory, splendor, occasionally time), the seventh sefirah is variously translated as Triumph, Firmness, or Subtility. It is the masculine potency representing in archetypal man the right thigh and its divine name is yehovah tseba’oth (lord of hosts or armies).

Hod (splendor, majesty), the eighth sefirah, is the feminine potency accompanying the masculine power of Netsah. It represents the left thigh [of archetypal man] and its divine name is ‘elohim tseba’oth. . . .

Yesod (foundation), the ninth sefirah, is the fruit or son of Netsah and Hod. It represents the generative or productive power of [archetypal man]. . . [A]ll energy and life from whatever plane found its portal through Yesod into the manifested world. . . Its divine name is ‘el hai (the mighty living being, lord of life). This name is reminiscent of the Sanskrit term prajapati, ‘lord of lives,’ the progenitor of all living beings on earth.” (GFK, p.24)

Yesod — Foundation . . . is symbolic of both male and female genitals. This Sefirah completes the last triadic division of the Sefiroth, the triad representative of the result of God’s reproductive or creative power, the material world. It symbolically represents the sixth day of Genesis when God created Adam & Eve . . . [and] is also the last of the six members of the Microprosopus. . . Mercy is his right arm, Judgment or Power is his left arm, Beauty is his trunk, Victory is his right leg, Majesty or Glory is his left leg, & Foundation are his reproductive organs.

In summary, “[t]he first triad, representative of En-Sof’s power of thought, is composed of the Sefiroth Kether, Hokhmah & Binah, the latter also known as Abba (father) & Imma (mother) respectively. The union of the Father & Mother give birth to . . . the second triad composed of Hesed, Gevurah & Tifereth, which is representative of the En-Sof’s moral power in the universe. . . . Tifereth has as its primary role that of mediation between Mercy & Judgment. The third triad . . . represents the material universe in its multiplicity of forms, variety of change & all movement . . . therein. This triad is composed of Netsah, Hod & Yesod (Foundation). The latter . . . symbolizes the stabilization of the opposites.” (Charles Poncé, Kabbalah, pp.124-129)

The final and tenth sefirah is named Malkhuth (kingdom, dominion), carrier or vehicle of all ten sefirothal powers. As Kether is said to contain all the sefiroth in seed, so Malkhuth . . . is said to express by transmission . . . all the superior sefiroth. Representing the feet of archetypal man, it is called also the Bride, Inferior Mother, or Queen, whose symbol is the moon [and/]or the earth. Malkhuth represents the close of the spiritual ‘Construction or Building of the Universe,’ with which the six sefiroth immediately preceding it were concerned. Its divine name is ‘adonai, literally meaning not ‘lord’, but ‘my lords.’

Thus have the sefiroth unrolled forth from the Boundless through a series of triads, each of which is progressively more material. . . .

. . . Finally, all seven manifest sefiroth are formed, no one coming to birth except as the fruit and product of all the preceding ones.” (GFK, p.25)

. . . Malkuth is a feminine & passive principle . . . also symbolically representative of God’s feminine counterpart, the Shekhinah. . . It is through her that the divine grace of the En-Sof [the light] passes through into the lower world. Malkuth is assigned to the seventh day of Genesis, when God rested. (CP, Kabbalah, pp.129-130)

In the Kama-Kala-Vilasa [of Tantric Buddhism], the manifestation of the created universe follows the entrance of the feminine principle, Vimarsa, into the space of creation. We are told that ‘The Great Lord . . . is mere illumination. Merged in him is Vimarsa’ . . . The moment this feminine principle becomes active, the masculine experiences itself [and develops from “ain” (nothing), coming into being] as I.” (CP, Kabbalah, p.133). Everything that exists in the physicalworld has its higher or supernal counterpart in the celestial spheres. As Above — so below.

. . . Qabbalists compare. . . (the Unity) [of the Ten Sephiroth within themselves — always concentrated in Ain Soph —] to a chain forming an uninterrupted unity by its joined links.” (Qabbalah, Myer, pp.251-252, GFK, pp.27-28)

This is a graphic symbol of the inner being of planets and stars, described in theosophy as a planetary and/or solar chain of globes. Each sefirah or ‘link’ (be it globe, planet, or sun) is within its own realm an independent, self-contained entity, composed of its own substance and manifesting its unique character; nonetheless each sefirah is bound with the whole and with the other sefiroth or ‘links’ in unbreakable unity. In The Secret Doctrine (2:23) HPB writes: ‘In the ancient Cosmogonies, the visible and the invisible worlds are the double links of one and the same chain,” i.e., the upper sefiroth and the lower, the ‘invisible’ and the ‘visible,’ are all, individually and collectively, links of the one chain.

The second illustration likes the sefiroth ‘to various waters issuing from one source, and separating into many rivers, which become (again) united in the ocean; from whence they return again, from beneath the earth, to their former divisions; and so on in an uninterrupted unity; . . . (Myer).

[W]e have a profound symbolism: the Waters of space (‘ein sof), without form or shape, as soon as the ‘last vibration of the seventh eternity thrills through infinitude’ (SD 1:28) spread and take form (dimyon). The source of the Waters, the current or stream of water that flows from it, and the reservoir into which the stream empties, are the three unmanifest sefiroth — Kether, Hokhmah and Binah — from which issue the seven kelim (vessels), the seven manifest sefiroth.

Comparing the Qabbalistic statement that ‘the master breaks the vessels’ with a stanza from The Secret Doctrine, ‘Then the sons dissociate and scatter . . . ‘ (1:30), we see two ways of describing the withdrawal of the life-hosts from the world or chain of worlds for the period of dissolution which follows each period of activity or manifestation. ‘The waters return to their source,’ but not the vessels, the vehicles which the life-waves use, are cast off and broken into pieces, yet the essences endure and ‘return to their source’ as the Zohar says; or as the Stanzas of Dzyan have it, they ‘return into their mother’s bosom at the end of the great day, and rebecome one with her’.” (GFK, pp.28-30)

#4 Illustration: “Human Principles and Planetary Chain” p.114 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing.

#5 Illustration: “Human Principles traditionally numbered (and) Spiritual, Psychic and Physical Circles” p.125, ibid (adapted from one in The SD 2, p.633)

#6 Illustration: “The Planets in the Two Systems” p.153, ibid

#7 Illustration: “The Ensof & The Sefiroth” p.161 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . By Charles Poncé

#8 Illustration: “The Three Triangles” (Triads), p.309 in The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune

#9 Illustration: Table of Correspondences, p.18 in Archetypes on the Tree of Life by Madonna Compton

#10 Illustration: “Science of Kabbalah”, p.93 in A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie



  • The Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom

#11 Illustration: “Horizon of Eternity” p.92 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . By Charles Poncé

 Our next consideration of the Sefiroth will be with the [twenty-two] paths [letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Tarot)], the connecting links between the Sefiroth. . . [The] illustration sets out the number of each path. . . with the letter of the Hebrew alphabet [or Archetype] assigned it. The nature of [each] path is determined not only by the letter assigned it, but by the two Sefiroth which it connects.” (CP, Kabbalah, p.157)

The characteristics would include: Astral-emotional-psychological symbolism, geometrical/causal symbolism, colour and sound, astrological correspondences, numerical value etc. When adding the 22 paths to the 10 sefiroth, we arrive at the thirty-two Paths of Wisdom. This set of correspondences is not described in further detail, as it did not become associated with the Kabbalah until the late eighteenth century, mainly on the insistence of Christian Kabbalists. (CP, Kabbalah, pp.157-158) 


#12 Illustration:  Table on p.63: The Twenty-Two Paths, in A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie.


  •  The Three Pillars

In addition to the relationships to be found in the triadic divisions of the Sefiroth . . . there is another configuration of the Sefiroth in which they are arranged into the three pillars of Mercy, the Middle [or Blalance (mildness)] & Judgment [severity].

The Pillar of Mercy, on the right, is composed of the three masculine Sefiroth: Hokhmah, Hesed & Netsah.

The Pillar of Judgment [Severity], on the left side, is composed of the three feminine Sefiroth: Binah, Gevurah & Hod.

The Middle Pillar [of Balance] is composed of the four Sefiroth: Kether, Tifereth, Yesod & Malkuth.

In this configuration the Sefiroth enter into a new relationship with one another. The two pillars of Judgment & Mercy are balanced by the pillar of the Middle. The Sefiroth contained within each pillar or unit are connected only to the others contained within the same pillar. The theme [is] of polarity, the distinction of the opposites as male/female, positive/negative & dark/light. . . In the triadic division of the Sefiroth the opposites are present, but they are always seen within the context of relationship.

In the first triad —Kether, Hokhmah & Binah — the opposites are separated out of the first Sefirah & are thought of as existing in permanent relationship with what gave birth to them. In the second triad — Hesed, Gevurah & Tifereth — the third Sefirah, Tifereth, is a composite figure created . . . by the powers of its parent Sefiroth. Hesed & Gevurah give birth to Tifereth, which then mediates between them. The third triad — Netsah, Hod, & Yesod — follows the pattern of the preceding triad. (CP, Kabbalah, pp.142-144)

Whereas in the triadic division the centre sefiroth depend upon the other two sefiroth for their existence and characteristics, “[i]n the pillar arrangement all three pillars are independent units, the middle pillar standing as a unit of pure & unsupported divinity . . . the perfect pillar, [serving] as a mediating factor between the pillars of the right & the left, but . . . not dependent on theirexistence. . . [We are presented] in this configuration [with] the idea of three powers: the powers of the left (darkness), the powers of the right (light) & the power of the soul, for the middle pillar is also called Shekinah, the feminine counterpart of God . . . [as] the center pillar is a direct line from the divine [unmanifest] world of Kether to the material world of Malkuth. . .” (CP, Kabbalah, pp.144-145)

13 Illustration:The Three Pillars and Descent of Power”: p.11 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing


  • The Chakras and Kundalini/Kabbalah Yoga

The Chakras (Wheels) represent the seven energy centres corresponding to the seven manifest Sephiroth and the seven Tattvas (Aether). In Kundalini/Kabbalah Yoga, “the human body is conceived as a microcosm, in which the spinal column is the Axis Mundi. The life force [Shekina/Shakti] . . . is imagined as the Serpent Kundalini, which [is slumbering] at the base of the ‘spinal tree’,” the Middle Column of the Tree of Life. The task of the yogi is to arouse this sleeping creative energy force so as to have it “climb the spinal tree,” invigorating the various chakras (sephiroth) on the way up, until the energy is finally “released from the Sahasrara [Crown] Chakra, the Thousand-petalled Lotus . . . This difficult ascent follows a twofold path, representing the tension between the dynamic polarities of life,” Ida and Pindala, at the centre of Yesod (Svavisthara). As the energy makes its way upward through the chakras, “the tension is resolved: the paths cross, and a breakthrough in consciousness is achieved. This motif of intertwining serpents is an archetypal model for spiritual and psychological development, also found in our Western spiritual tradition as the Caduceus, the staff of Hermes, healer of souls, messenger of the gods, and master of the Hermetic art of Alchemy.” (Cook, The Tree of Life, p.113) The objective of this form of yoga, of course, is to raise and purify the creative life force and consciousness via energizing of the ascending chakras toward an eventual conscious union with the Divine, resulting in an inner transformation toward a light body.


#14 Illustration: The 10 Sefiroth and the 7 Chakras.


4. The Four Worlds, the Four Adams and the Four-Fold Nature of Man

Far from teaching the existence of one Adam as sole progenitor of humanity, Qabbālāh distinguishes four Adams or humanities, existent on and appropriate to four ‘olamim (worlds or planes [of consciousness]). These Adams range in quality of character from the spiritual or first Adam, the ‘Adam Qadmon of the Zohar, to the lowest or most material, the terrestrial Adam of Genesis. Four worlds or planes gradually decreasing in spirituality are described as four extensions or manifestations of the primeval Heavenly Adam.

“ ‘Olam (singular of ‘olamim) is from a Hebrew verb signifying . . . ‘to conceal, to hide’, with a philosophical extension of meaning of ‘hidden time,’ or an age whose birth and death are ‘concealed’ from profane knowledge, but during whose existence spiritual beings ‘live and move and have their being.’ In brief, ‘olam is a world or condition of being in which entities, human or other, pass a certain portion of time, and thus undergo in space a number of experiences. It is similar in conception to the Sanskrit loka and identical with the Gnostic aion.

“ ‘Olam is the old word for ‘eternity,’ often misunderstood to mean forever and ever without end. Originally it did not connote endless duration; on the contrary, the Zohar regards it as a defined period of time during which entities manifest in one or another condition of being — hence a world or sphere.

The four Adams are conceived of not as distinct from the ‘olamim, but rather as their consciousness side. So intimately related are they to one another than the ‘olamim are often termed the Adams, while the four Adams are just as frequently called the four ‘olamim. When viewed from the standpoint of the entities who inhabit and inform these worlds or planes, they are called the Adams; when considered as the worlds on and in which entities evolve, they are called the ‘olamim. Further, each of the Adams has its own sefirothal tree of life, in and through which it experiences the tenfold qualities of consciousness.” (GFK, pp.49-50) These qualities have also been referred to as “the garments of the Gods”.

Thus three streams of emanational energy issue forth from the Boundless, ‘ein sof: (a) the tenfold sefirothal tree of lives; (b) the four ‘olamim, and (c) the four Adams. Correlating these with the theosophical philosophy, and taking as an instance the manifestation of the planetary chain: (a) the sefiroth would correspond to the varying states of consciousness of the seven (or ten or twelve) globes of such a chain; (b) the ‘olamim to the lokas and talas or the four cosmic planes or worlds on and in which the globes or sefiroth function; and (c) in the human context, the four Adams correspond to the four root-races or humanities of our present planetary life cycle or round of existence . . . each of them distinct, yet intimately related and mutually interdependent like the sides of a triangle.

The four worlds or ‘olamin are considered as four emanations or productions of ‘ein sof, the Boundless which ‘as it could not be made manifest, was conceived to emanate manifesting Powers. It is then with its emanations alone, that human intellect has to, and can deal (SD 2:41)’.” (GFK, pp.50-51)

According to Kabbalistic Treatise on Emanation, “manifestation took place on four planes, or worlds, simultaneously:

* “The first world [and highest] is called ‘atsiluth, the world of emanation [or numbers], in which God [‘ein sof] manifests himself [within himself] in the form of archetypes. . . . [It] represents . . . God’s first form of activity . . . It is in this world that the union of God & his Shekhinah [or Shakti], his feminine counterpart, takes place. The three worlds [triads] which follow are the fruit of their union.

* “The second world is called beri’ah, the world of creation [or production]”, becoming the prototype of the next world. “Here reside the puret spirits . . . & the highest ranking angels. . .”

* “The third world is called yetsirah, the world of formation, & is the abode of ten angelic hosts, . . . presided over by . . . Metatron, the Prince of the World, the Angel of Presence.” Nevertheless, the third world acts as prototype to our earth, the lowest of the ‘olamim. “Each of the preceding worlds diminishes in [spiritual] quality . . . [as their respective] formation becomes grosser. (CP, Kabbalah, pp.64-66)

* The fourth world . . . is called “asiyah, . . . the world of making” [also action and labour], the world of earthly existence, the world of matter, also referred to as “Kelippoth” (CP, Kabbalah, p.67), world of shells and rinds, indicating that on our earth only the rinds or shells of reality manifest, while the qualities of the human spirit find themselves in varying degree at home in the upper ‘olamin . . .

[E]ach of the four worlds emanates or manifests a sefirothal tree in harmony with the specificquality (or level or consciousness) of the ‘olam . . .

The . . . diagram reproduced from The Secret Doctrine shows HPB’s comparison of the Eastern Gupta-Vidya (secret wisdom) with the Chaldean Qabbālāh. We have here seven cosmic planes, three of which remain unnamed and undefined because they are of so spiritual and ethereal a quality as to be incomprehensible to our terrestrial intellect. In modern theosophical literature these three higher planes are called in Sanskrit arupa, ‘formless’, (. . . without a body . . .). But they are just as real and vital in the consciousness of those supernal beings who inhabit and vivify those spheres as our earth is to us. . . . HPB writes: ‘The three upper are the three higher planes of consciousness, revealed and explained in both schools only to the Initiates, the lower ones represent the four lower planes — the lowest being our plane, or the visible Universe’ (SD 1:199). These three upper planes, in which the supernal triad of Kether, Hokhmah and Binah are dominant, cannot be reached by the ordinary consciousness, as the individual ‘must awaken the three “seats” to life and activity. And how many are capable of bringing themselves to even a superficial comprehension of Atma-Vidya (Spirit-Knowledge) . . .’ (ibid).” (GFK, pp.55-57)

The four Adams follow the same plan of development as the four ‘olamim [and the four Worlds]: each becomes both prototype or pattern for the succeeding Adam, and reflection or image of the preceding Adam; the highest being prototype alone, while the lowest serves solely as reflection or image of the higher Adams. . . . [T]he Smaragdine Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus [states]: ‘That which is below is like that which is above, and that which is above is like that which is below, for the performance of the miracles of the one substance.’ ([The Kabbalah Unveiled] Mathers, p.155n).

Note the identity of conception between the Qabbalistic four Adams and four ‘olamim with the four yugas or ‘ages’” with reference to “the bull of truth and light.” There is also a correlation of “the four Adams with the four root-races as outlined in theosophical writings” with the major significance being represented “in the spiritual transformation from Adam Qadmon, through the descending spheres, to Adam and Eve of present humanity. The physiological conversion from the homogeneous Adam of the first ‘olam, through the . . . androgynous state of the second Adam, to the sexed humanity of today is of secondary importance” in the course of evolution. “According to HPB:

The original Kabala was entirely metaphysical, and had no concern with animal or terrestrial sexes; the later Kabala has suffocated the divine ideal under the heavy phallic element. (SD 2:457)

Esotericism ignores both sexes. Its highest Deity is sexless as it is formless, neither Father nor Mother; and its first manifested beings, celestial and terrestrial alike, become only gradually androgynous and finally separate into distinct sexes. (SD 1:136n).”

(GFK, pp.63-67)

#15 Illustration: Concentric Circles” between pp.54 & 55 in Theosophy in the Qabbālāh by Grace F Knoche. (This book is on TUP website)

#16 Illustration: Chart adapted from The SD 1:200 on p.56 in ibid

#17 Illustration: Diagram “Adapted from Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy”, p.240 [G de Purucker], p.83 in ibid

#18 Illustration: “The 7 Kosmic Planes, the 4 Worlds . . .” p.148 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing

#19 Illustration: Adam Kadmon. . . p.141 in Kabbalah, an Intro . . . By Charles Poncé

5. The Distribution of the Ten Sefiroth Through the Four Worlds

In addition to the aforementioned detailed descriptions of the “Four worlds, the Four Adams and the Four-fold Nature of Man”, the Kabbalah has also focused on the following schematic presentations:

  • The diminution of the Four Worlds (Globes) as they become manifest. The ten Sefiroth appear again in each of the Four Worlds, however, their qualities and essences are diminishing as they approach their final and lowest formation in the Fourth World.

  • The distribution of the ten Sefiroth through the Four Worlds corresponding to the triadic schema of the Tree of Life as follows: (see also article 3)

Atsiluth – represented by: Kether, Hokhmah and Binah

Beriah – represented by: Tifereth, Hesed and Gevurah

Yetsirah – represented by: Yesod, Netsah and Hod

Asiah – represented by: Malkuth (and Kelippoth)

#20 Illustration: “The Tree of Life” p.198 in Introduction to the Cabala: Tree of Life by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

  • The Four Worlds (Globes) and their correspondence with the divisions of the Soul:

World One – Kether – Atsiluth – Neshamah (Shekinah, highest degree) – intellectual)

World Two – Tifereth – Beriah – Ruah (Moral element, determining good and evil)

World Three – Yesod – Yetsirah – Nefesh (Corresponding to animal life and desires)

World Fourth – Malkuth – Asiyah – Earth soul, matter, physical existence, Shekinah in exile

  • The Tetragrammaton – JHVH – The unspeakable name of God (Jehova), a Mantra.

The Tetragrammaton appears to have its origin in the phrase found in Exodus 3, 14: “I am that I am”. “The Zohar tells us that before God [‘ein sof] created the world[s], His name was contained within Him. . .” The creation of the universe was brought about by his emanation through ten Sefiroth, corresponding with the birth of the Tetragrammaton.

(CP, Kabbalah, pp.64/73), 178)

#21 Illustration: “The Tetragrammaton . . .” p.179 in Kabalah, An Intro. . . by Charles Poncé

The three triads of the Tree of Life are encompassing the Four Worlds of: Emanation, Creation, Formation and Matter, each represented by one letter of the Tetragrammaton i.e. of the unspeakable Divine name “JHVH” (Yod-He-Vau-He) (Jehova, Yawe or Lord), and also assigned one of the four elements: Fire, Water, Air/Breath and Earth:

J (Yod) - Emanation (Kether/Hokhmah) - Father - Transformation - Union: God/Shekinah - Fire

H (He) - Creation (Binah) - Mother - Understanding, Emanation - Water

V (Vau) - Formation (Tifereth) - Son/Beauty - to: (Yesod) - Foundation (Sefiroth 4 to 9) - Air

H (He) - Matter/Evil (Malkuth) - Bride - Evolution, Nature, Human existence - Earth

The Tetragrammaton is a mantra of the first order. In her book Initiations & Initiates in Tibet, Alexandra David-Neel speaks of the mystical use of the mantra ‘Aum mani padme hum! (The Jewel [shines] in the Lotus!),” with each syllable referring to a specific world or universe, and corresponding precisely to the four letters of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton. (CP, Kabbalah, pp.178/191) 

#22 Illustration: “Four Worlds” p.72 in Introduction to the Cabala: Tree of Life by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

#23 Illustration: “Jacob’s Ladder” 

6. Epilogue

There are several key concepts common to the essence of the mystical wisdom teachings East and West. This must be so, since their original source is the same. However, their expressions, appearances and interpretations will reflect differences corresponding to the respective cultural differences and changes experienced over time. These concepts would include:

* The Oneness of all.

* A Continuous Life for the Real, the non-manifest spiritual essence or creative life force, whereas periodic Death is inevitable for the Unreal (Maya), manifest lower aspects of life or the “vehicles”, that are subject to decay, however carrying the Real.

* The Universal Brotherhood of man and his Universe.

* The Purpose of Life consisting of a conscious ascent of man’s spiritual essence from the lower toward the higher, with the ultimate objective of “The dew drop merging into the shining sea.”

* The conduct of Life focusing on “being” that which one aspires to “become”, i.e., walking one’s talk.

HPB wrote in The Voice of the Silence: “The mind is the great slayer of the Real. Let the disciple slay the slayer” and “When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE — the inner sound which kills the outer” . . . “And then to the inner will speak — The Voice of the Silence” (pp.1-3); and “Thou canst travel on the Path before thou hast become that Path itself” (p.12); and “The way to final freedom is within they SELF.” (p.39)

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: “Oh, I who long to grow, I look outside myself, and the tree inside me grows.”

Mary E. Frye wrote: “Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”

Geoffrey A. Farthing quotes HPB (p.139): “I have studied the Kabbalah under two learned Rabbis, one of whom was an initiate, and there was no difference between the two teachings (the Esoteric Eastern and the Western) in this instance.”

William Q. Judge stated: “By using it [the Kabbalah], we will find in the Old testament and in the records of Jesus a complete and singular agreement with Theosophy.” (Echoes of the Orient 3, 2nd ed, p.107)



SD The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky


Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky

The Voice of the Silence, H.P. Blavatsky

GFK Theosophy in the Qabbālāh, Grace F. Knoche

CP Kabbalah: An Introduction and Illumination for the World Today, Charles Poncé

A Garden of Pomegranates, Israel Regardie

Introduction to the Cabala, Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

Concepts on Qabalah, William G. Gray

The Tree of Life, Roger Cook

Foundations: The Kabalah & Theosophy, Geoffrey A. Farthing

The Mystical Qabalah, Dion Fortune

The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Paul Foster Case

Archetypes on the Tree of Life: The Tarot as Pathwork, Madonna Compton


Charts and Diagrams

1. “The Ten Sephiroth” p.225 in The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages by Paul Foster Case

2. “Ain” p.300 in Concepts of Qabalah by William G. Gray

3. ”The Sefirothal Tree” p.10 in Theosophy in the Qabbālāh by Grace F. Knoche

4. “Human Principles and Planetary Chain” p.114 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing

5. “Human Principles traditionally numbered (and) Spiritual, Psychic and Physical Circles” p.125, ibid (adapted from The SD 2:633)

6. “The Planets in the two Systems” : p.153, ibid

7. “The En-Sof & The Sefiroth” p.161 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . By Charles Poncé

8. “The Three Triangles” (Triads), p.309 in The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune

9. Table of Correspondences, p.18 in Archetypes on the Tree of Life by Madonna Compton

10. “Science of Kabbalah” p.93 in A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie

11. “Horizon of Eternity” p.92 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . by Charles Poncé

12. Table on p.63: The Twenty-Two Paths, in A Garden of Pomegranates by Israel Regardie

13. “The Three Pillars and Descent of Power” p.11 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing

14. The 10 Sefiroth and the 7 Chakras. http//

15. “Concentric Circles”: between pp.54 & 55 in Theosophy in the Qabbālāh by Grace F. Knoche

16. Chart adapted from The SD 1:200 on p.56 ibid

17. Diagram “Adapted from Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy” p.240 [G de Purucker], p.83 in ibid

18. “The 7 Kosmic Planes, the 4 Worlds . . .”  p.148 in The Kabalah and Theosophy by Geoffrey Farthing

19. Adam Kadmon . . . p.141 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . By Charles Poncé

20. “The Tree of Life” p.198 in Introduction to the Cabala: The Tree of Life by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

21. “The Tetragrammaton. . .” p.179 in Kabbalah: An Intro . . . by Charles Poncé

22. “Four Worlds” p.72 in Introduction to the Cabala: The Tree of Life by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi

23. “Jacob’s Ladder” Source unknown.