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Tarot & the Kabbalistic Tree of Life

Learn about the kabbalistic tree of life from tarot expert Ellen Goldberg, M.A. in this Howcast video.


Hello, I'm Ellen Goldberg and I welcome you to a Tarot Moment from the School of Oracles. In this segment we're going to take the fastest journey through the Tree of Life, probably ever. We're going to look at the Tree of Life, not in a traditional cabalistic, but in how it is used in the western hermetic tradition, and especially how it impacts the meaning of all of the pick cards - the aces through tens in the minor arcana. For it is the tree that gives rhyme and reason to the meaning of these cards. 

Each card in the minors is going to have one safira, that it is associated with. All of the aces belong to the top of the tree, catcher the crown; all the twos belong to hochma, which means wisdom; threes belong to bena, the mother which is understanding; all of the fours belong to Hased, the seer of mercy; all of the fives belong to Givurdas of Verity; All the sixes take their meaning from Teferet - beauty, there in the very center of the tree; the sevens belong to Netsach, Victory; the eights belong to Huud, Splendor; the nines belong to Yessad, Foundation; and all the tens belong to Malkut which is the Kingdom - our kingdom.

Techter is unmanifest. It is pure spirit. It is the divine before it has any division in it at all. And so, it's both masculine, it's feminiine, it's before even masculine and feminine. It's just pure essence of life. In fact the Cabal is called the beginning of the whirlings. You'll notice that when we talk about the Aces they are always called the Root of the Powers of the Element. Root of the Power of Water and so forth. One of my favorite sayings about the tree is that, "The Tree of Life is a tree that grows upside down and it's roots are in heaven," and those are the roots that are referred to in the aces. Hochma, the first reflection back to Keter. The second sphere on the tree of life, Wisdom, is showing, is going to show us the elements in their purest fom because it is the first manifestation. Keter, Hochma, and Bina, that top triangle on the tree is called the sephernal triangle. It's the divine. Of course, the whole tree takes place and manifests in a lightning flash, but we have to look at them sequentially, so we see that Keter manifests Hochma, the Great Fater, then in manifest in Bina, the Great Mother. And notice how on the tree the divine is equally divided between God the Father and God the Mother. The inner roots of these mystic paths are not as patriarchal as the outer forms.

All the threes, because they have a feminineness that is connected to Bina, because Bina is ruled by the planet Saturn. The first sefira to be actually connected to a planet, Keter, is called the Beginning of the Whirlings. Hochma, represents the entire Zodiac. But here we have with the Great Mother, Saturn. Her sphere is dark, like the darkness inside the womb. And Bina is also called The Great Dark Sea, she is the great sea out of which multiplicity will become. All the threes are a fulfillment and about to give birth to something. Then the energy crosses over what is called the abyss, because you see there is a great space between Bina and the next safira that it goes across the tree to that next sphere, that fourth one, that blue sphere, Hased, mercy. 

Mercy is Hochma on a lower arc, it's ruled by Jupiter. A demi-urge. It is the rulership of the world with kindness. its the fourth and all the fours have a certain stability that can never be upset and we will see in all those fours very stable aspects of their suit. The energy travels across the Givurda, severity and all the fives are going to be testing cards - difficult cards, because Givurda judges and assesses. All those polarities on the two outer pillars on the tree of life work in pairs. We can see right away Hochma and Bina, the father and the mother, here in Hased and Givura - i always think of them as good cop and bad cop. Hased is gratuitous kindness - the world was created with just giving regarless of the merit of the receiver. But not so Givura, the tester. And every card thats a five will bring you to your limits.

After the fives, we return to the central pillar on the tree of life, the middle path. And it is the center Safira, Teferet - the sun, and ruled by the sun, indeed. I guess you could see that Gavura was ruled by Mars given how red it is. Teferet, and all the sixes, being called beauty, are the most beautiful of the suit possible and we will see an idealized form of each suit in the six. 

The energy then moves down in to Netsok, victory, its ruled by Venus, and has much to do with love and motion and the desire nature. The sevens will show us many things about desire. And about things that we want. When we cross to the other side of the tree, we have it's partner Huud, which is the intellect - the eighth sphere on the tree of life ruled by Mercury and all of the eights will have some metal attributes and show us something about how the mind works. 

Then we come back to the middle pillar and we have the ninth sphere, Yesud. Yesud is the collective unconscious. It is the soul sphere. In fact, it is actually the bottom of the tree of life. our earth, which you see, the tenth sphere, hangs like a pendant underneath, is really the fruit of the tree of life. The tree, in actuality, ends with the ninth sphere, Foundation, ruled by the moon. Its the astral plane. And Shakespeare said, "We are such things as dreams are made on," he was referring to the ideas expressed in Yesud. And all the nines are going to take that suit to the nth degree. Sometimes they're beautiful, sometimes they're difficult, but we will see extremes of the suit in the nines.

And then we come to the tens. All the tens are a form of completion. They belong to the Earth and to Malkut. They're also a resting place, a place the turns around. And so we will see not only a completion in the tens, but the possibility of new beginnings and what things will lead to next. But they will also be a sum-uppance. They alternate, the tens, both in positive and negative meanings because, well, we're here on planet Earth and we know what life is like here. It's equally divided between the easy and wonderful.

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