“We have a kabbalah, too, but it is in the form of a circle”: Canadian Medicine Man, quoted by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi in The Path of a Kabbalist
The Sacred Geometry of Our Ancestral Pathways
Topological Transformations Between Two Culturally Independent Kabbalistic Glyphs
and Practical Implications of Their Shared Hidden Pathways
Part the 1st
Ever since the fateful year of 1492, the cultures of Europe and the West have been at odds. The purpose of this presentation is to indicate that on an esoteric level and revealed by an examination of the geometrical analysis of their archetypal glyphs there is a deep complement of perspective between them. Details of how these glyphs encapsulate the assumptions and structures of their societies is beyond our present focus. Inferences abound from an analysis of the archetypes involved but for the most part they will need to remain as such to be worked out by the attentive observer.
In this exposition we will focus on deriving implications of the basic core structure of the
Tree of Life and of its counterpart, the Circle of Life. In the case of the former, this is the Middle Pillar and its three Thresholds. In the case of the latter, the Center and the iterations of its horizons. Reference to secondary commentary of various traditions is minimal although the influence of Rudolf Steiner and R. J. Stewart permeates.
Here we will be examining the two fundamental maps which are the armatures – the basic structures – which lie at the core heart and mind of our colliding civilizations in the Americas of the West. That is, the Far West, the True West, the actual West, as opposed to the self-designated ‘west’ of the overlaid superstructure of European colonization. We will be unfolding the built-in “hidden wisdom” within the paradigm glyphs which lie at the core of, on the one hand the dominant, and at the other hand, of the indigenous civilizations that occupy the same space within the West. We can only note the very revealing linguistic knot in which “Western [. . . science, . . . medicine, etc.]” is used to denote that which is native to European culture while leaving no space or term in language for that which is local to the actual West of global culture. These kinds of things pop up in all languages as seemingly random but revealing ‘significant quirks’ or ‘Freudian slips’, remarkably resistant to change or even examination, so deeply a part of the general bushel basket of unexamined assumptions that comprise the bedrock of mass culture. The use of the loaded word ‘mankind’ as synonymous for humanity or “Father” for the deity are others. But we will not be beating that horse today.
We will be examining what R. J. Stewart calls the “pan-global, trans-cultural” virtues of these systems, ones which derive from basic observation of processes and features common to natural life. For instance, according to the dictum that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), the Tree of Life can be understood as, observationally, a quite accurate map of our own solar system and philosophically as an objective starting point for the Hermetic principle of “As Above, So Below”; the principle of iteration throughout all orders of existence.
These two maps which I will be referring to are those of the kabbalah and of the medicine wheel, as expressed in the glyphs of the Tree of Life and that of the Circle of Life (aka The Medicine Wheel of the Four Directions). Their classical depictions are as such:
For convenience sake in our exploratory transformations, we may abbreviate them as such:
And, on occasion, even further, in their most severe reductions, as:
Which brings out, for our immediate purposes, their typical associations of:
Line: Space and Circle: Time
Vertical towards higher dimensions horizontal across space
Universal values Diversity in relationships
Many cultural associations may come to mind, like Progress and Sustainability, or
Aspiration and Appreciation for instance. These simple but profound symbols go deep into the Collective Unconscious, Group Mind, Cultural Mythos, and the like and can reveal significant signature attitudes about life and reality – as we shall see. Consider the case of the line, for example. The definition of a line is illuminating: “a one-dimensional figure formed by a point moving along a fixed direction that has no thickness and extends endlessly in both directions”. While there is no center point on a line; the very concept does not exist, in the case of the circular form, the Center is everything.
One can also reflect on the classical method of ‘erecting’ the Tree using only straightedge and compass and how this reflects the primordial dynamic of Keter, Chockmah, Binah and their reflection in their corresponding social systems. Much of the material here derives from such ruminations. Much also derives from more than forty years immersion in various indigenous societies local to my native Southwest USA as well as shamanic immersion in its pre-historical backstory in Mesoamerican Teotihuacan.
This initial procedure of reduction of complex glyphs to core geometric essentials is legitimate since their common forms are themselves reductions of even more complex iterations, as we shall proceed to demonstrate. We will also be unfolding also their embedded philosophical and initiatory implications as we unfold these iterations; the “hidden pathways” or “secret teachings” which lie within the Imaginations of such potent Memory Palaces.
Since the concepts of iteration, Imagination and kabbalahs are extremely important ones, we shall define the terms as we will be using them:
Iteration is the repetition of a process in order to generate a (possibly unbounded) sequence of outcomes on larger or smaller scales. Each repetition of the process is a single iteration, and the outcome of each iteration is then the starting point of the next iteration. Successive iterations are usually not simple repetitions because each shift in scale brings about not only more or less detail but also more or less capability of application; “scale has a quality all its own”.
An example of this in the domain of Space are the Russian matryoshka dolls, each of which in the series nests inside of a hollow, larger one and in which the level of detail increases as one increases in scale.
Another kind of iteration across space is the example of tree leaves or snowflakes, for instance: none are identical, but all are recognizable as being visible iterations of the same invisible (aka “spiritual”) archetype. Allied with this is the phenomenon known as fractals, as popularly Imagined in the fascinating Mandelbrot or Julia sets, which generate an unbounded sequence of iterations in virtual space. “As above, so below” is a most succinct formulation of the same process of non-repeating self-replication.
Another kind of iteration pertinent to our subsequent transformations of the Circle involves the cyclic nature of all things that exist in Time, upward across scales of day, year, lifetime, cosmic or downward across processes of respiration, heartbeat and mental and emotional ‘loops’ or outward across wave phenomena of all sorts, large or small. Anyone who does any kind of meditation is familiar with this!
Imagination (capitalized letter “I”) is not used in the sense of unrealistic fantasy but is a technical term of art for the sense ability of being able to “see” those overarching archetypes which are invisible to the material eye but area yet constant within related shifting forms. Joseph Joubert defined Imagination as “the eye of the Soul” or, more precisely, of the lunar body. This faculty can be stimulated out of latency by work with such potent glyphs as we are examining here, ones which are designed to assist in exactly that: they are potentized and imbued with that intention by the sustained attention of generations of those already accomplished in it. Such is the value of a living tradition; one which maintains links with what has proven to be of value. Kabbalah is that heartwood core of such tradition within our own Judeo-Christian culture. Every culture has one; this is ours.
Kabbalahs are the original Magical Mystery Tours maps and yes, there are more than one. You want to step outside the world of your own little self? Best to have some idea of what you will be experiencing so that you will be better equipped to make some intelligent decisions about how to conduct yourself. Other people have gone there and done that. Life is a dangerous thing. The path is a braided one but there are signposts which may not be initially recognized as such. Some principles are applicable across the worlds, some are location-specific. You should know how to conduct yourself when certain processes begin to educate your perception of reality. The lessons about such things are designed to be corrosive to conventional wisdoms as well as destructive to arbitrary and fixed personality patterns. An actual kabbalah is a transformational experience.
The reader will note that we will not be making any reference to the Hebrew legacy and lore of the kabbalah, the variant with which most are familiar – if they have made any contact with kabbalah at all. We will be dealing with the fundamentals of the representations, not the philosophical iterations of one or the other cultural variant. No one owns the map of the world, for the Tree of Life is, as any kabbalah is, at the same time a multi-dimensional map of the solar system, the stages of human life, the processes of initiation, the civilizations of the spiritual worlds, and much else besides. As different cultures, in accordance with specific and unique conditions have acquired from them different foods, clothing, music, languages, all serving the same ultimate purposes, so also have they expressed their own ancestral identities via their uniquely representational kabbalahs. Such is our proposition herein and which we will proceed to demonstrate by comparison in the case of two particular instances.
(It remains to be worked out in detail how this same method of iconographic mapping is revealed in Eastern Hindu or Buddhist traditions. Perhaps Thomas Cleary, in defining Zen as
“gnostic Buddhism”, intuits use of the Point as core symbol!)1
Although a comprehension of the basic principles and forms of our mass-culture’s esoteric kabbalah are not all that difficult for one who is interested, a similar appreciation of locally indigenous cultures’ kabbalahs (all are similar in detail and exact in essence, according to the principle of fractal diversity as opposed to that of uniform universal doctrine) has been thwarted by the equivalent of an occult genocide executed by ascendant Shadow and Double aspects within the dominant culture, a factor addressed continually in this series. This writer has acquired the native equivalent of PhD by recognition of his effective participation in native ceremonial and by his adoption into Navajo Medicine Ways; he is an Eagle Staff-holder for the diyin dine’e and has been given permission and encouragement to visit and make offerings across the dine bikeyah on behalf of the people and his core spiritual practice has involved native protocols for over forty years and he pursued studies in his own ancestral traditions, that of kabbalah in many variants, not the least of which has been Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy in which he has been an active First Class member in its School for Spiritual Science for almost forty years. When I was first given an opportunity to start on this path, I was told: “Ok, but it won’t be easy.” Truer words were never spoken but here I am and I own what I say.
Kabbalahs of whatever sort are for our present purposes like a combination of source code, preflight checklist, operating manual, crib sheet and memory palace. It’s not a matter of doctrine; maps don’t tell you what to do, they merely indicate “if you do this, then that”.
Let us proceed with our examination of our kabbalistic maps.
First of all, we will begin to unpack the almost necessary implications of the highly abstracted glyph that is the ordinary representation of the kabbalist’s Tree of Life (there are many others but although this is the one in common use, authentically useful ones could also, theoretically, be subjected to the same process – a good exercise for the budding kabbalist!):
We begin with the geometrical skeleton of the Tree, reduce it to its core structure (as before), but now tilt it out of the plane of the page, like so:
as before; flat projection, 0° basic elements, edge-on, 0° same basic elements, tilted out 45°
Thus we see that what is typically given, highly abstracted, as the form of the Tree might possibly be a projection of a more real-world three-dimensional original. Let us look at the practical applications to see if this is justified. Taking the process one step further and tilting it a full 90° we have, looking down on it:
Illustrating the proposition that “Wherever you go, there you are.”
This is how the surrounding field of the Tree of Life looks in outline if one steps into it, looking down from Keter – or up from Malkuth. We will add detail as we proceed.
Note most particularly how the principle of the Circle thus reveals itself within the Line.
We will repeat this procedure of “unfolding the glyph” of the Circle in due course.
Already we are beyond the initial process of “stepping into the Tree” in which one maps it into the body toward the aim of transforming the persona into the authentic Individuality according to the dynamics of the originating Christic template:
purification blessing reconciliation
This indicated set of attributions is fundamental, applying the process of the reconciliation of opposites on the three iterating levels of personal/psychological, transpersonal/spiritual and cosmic/divine integration as indicated by the three horizontal Threshold crossbars of the Tree. This particular kabbalistic mapping has proved useful for centuries and has proved quite useful as an invitation to the mother lode of professional grade spiritual wisdom at the core of our mass culture. But it implies much more than it indicates.
Full disclosure: In the opinion of this writer but in accordance with the principle of individuation into relationship – as most profoundly integrated into magical praxis – there is no “kabbalah” as such and as doctrine; there are only individual kabbalists who participate in an open-source program which has endured in continuing to generate a meandering, braided pathway. I take responsibility for it by contributing my own insights on which it will be up to others to accept or ignore. But it does work for to the extent that in indigenous contexts I am not considered a tourist but a participant since I had, first of all, learned the ways of my own people.
But enough of that.
Continuing, if instead of contemplating the flat diagram but steps inside the 3-D glyph one obtains a much more dynamic and accurate mapping of the relevant energies and additional insight as to how one can both attain and maintain that same “Middle Way” which the Buddhist prizes so highly and which is the kabbalist’s Middle Pillar meditation, for the energies within the actual Tree are not static and bound by grid but are dynamic, circulatory and rhythmic even though there is a relatively undeveloped provision for the latter in the typical angular representation:
Cyclic Cyclic Linear
We can now display the classical Tree of Life with the names of the relevant Sephiroth nodes along with the expanded version indicating the same plus some extra:
Severity Mercy Retiring/Decreasing Advancing/Increasing
In this scenario, a two-dimensional map tending towards locked polarities shifts into a more lifelike higher-level three-dimensional iteration in which there are only single energies on each level (Personal: Hod-Netzah, Transpersonal: Geburah-Hesed, Divine: Binah-Chokmah) whose pulsing may or may not be smooth depending on the equilibrium attained by the person who is at the center of it all. The principle of the vortex begins to emerge.
Application to the Imagery yields the indication that the dilemma of reintegration is not so much a reconciliation of opposites as a restoration of self-stabilizing circulation, a process not of tension but of accommodation.
Thus the tremendous value of mindfulness mediation and a validation, in colloquial language, of the principle of the inherent sanity of the Original Mind, protected and upheld by the dynamic security of pulsing life, the ebbing and flowing iterating tides of rhythmic existence: a bedrock principle to rely upon if there ever was one.
Of course and all to typically if you get too far off center, the coalescing centripetal force fades and one is flung onto the rocky shoals of fragmentation, aka the “qlippoth” (turbulent eddies of “unbalanced force” (per Dion Fortune) in the technical vocabulary. The useful mapping of qlippah in classical kabbalahs has yet to be accomplished; the “inverted” (upside down) Tree of demonic hells is obsolete (sic).
A surprising insight, true to inner lifework as well as to general theory of cycles, is that if one considers the 3D space-filling Tree, that in addition to the paired Sephiroth clearly designated on the crossbars of the flat Tree (e.g.: Hod – Netzach, etc.), two more points appear on each of the circular threshold bands: those which, on the 2-D maps are either coincident with or obscured by the vertical line of the Middle Pillar. If we align the negative and positive (Severity and Mercy) Sephiroth nodes on the 3-D Tree with the 0° and 180° points on the circular bands, the newly revealed nodes will be at the 90° and 270° degree points.
In support of this perspective, we may indulge the mathematics of it in that it is a fact that in the principles of wave mechanics there are four, not two critical nodes in every pattern of rotation or circular motion. We can see this most clearly in the typical depiction of the sine wave: the map of the motion of a single point on the surface of a circle as it moves through space:
0° 90° 180° 270° 360°
The points noted on the horizontal line of the graph are the crucial maximums, minimums and threshold crossover points in the life of any repetitive cycle: at 0° the vertical motion and the horizontal movements (aka vectors) are equal and the waveform is halfway between its extremes but tending upwards at maximum velocity: this corresponds to the Spring Equinox in the life-cycle of the year or dawn in the iterated cycle of the day where the length of the days are equal but which are also changing at their maximum rate. At 90° the vertical motion is zero (shifting from + to – ), is at its positive extreme but horizontal movement is at a maximum. This describes the state of the year or the day at Summer Solstice: the length of the days have reached their maximum but the rate of change is essentially zero as they shift from increasing length of days to decreasing length of days. And so forth.
This archetypal curve can be generated by taking a point on the circumference of a circle and tracing its path as it is rolled out on the bottom line of the graph, the red line is the trace or graph of that point, 360° being one complete revolution of that circle.
Conversely, if the graph is collapsed or the page tilted in order to view it edge on, the path of the sinusoidal waveform collapses into a straight line and one would only see the moving point oscillating right to left and back again between their extremes without any hint of waveform pulsation. Such is the indicated the negotiation the energies of the opposing Sephiroth (eg Hod – Netzach) of the flat Tree but the psychology of grokking the passage past that Threshold is exceedingly awkward if conceptualized in those terms of opposed polarity, for those energies are essentially one and the same, periodically increasing or decreasing in intensity, integrated or disassociated as they may be.
Thus, what are missing in the flat Tree glyph are the 90° and 270° degree balance points which on the flat Tree are coincident with the Middle Pillar; these will come up for examination in our next segment. Their invisibility is a significant if inevitable absence in the typical glyph – even a “blind” perhaps – one which must be amended and rectified by the student. These come up, inevitable, in every system and must be noted and adjusted in practice, for maps are only small slices of actual territories and can only indicate features deemed significant to those in the circumstantial time and place of origin. The spirit-thread in Navajo woven blankets is an acknowledgement of the inevitable presence of flaws in any such cosmological representation.
For the thoroughly geekified among us, I have included as an afterthought gif depictions of the basic wave-cycle phenomenon, one which is at the basis of just about everything in physics and engineering. 2
Fritz Lang, in 1927’s Metropolis, had a remarkable Imagination. When the scientist Rotwang needed to animate film science fiction’s first robot, thegynoid Maschinenmensch, his artistic intuition immersed it in an intruiging field of electrical life-forces:
Completely left unaddressed in what I have seen in the lore of Hebrew, Sufic and Christian kabbalah is the nature of these “hidden” equilibrium wave points, although Frater Achad (in his Anatomy of the Body of God) has a parallel intuition. We will find that the Western Circle of Life kabbalah includes them as primary factors.
Only one more thing remains before we can shift to our consideration of those and other mirrored themes as embodied in our native kabbalahs.
Once again, we return to the formative principle of iteration when we illustrate the expanded version of the Tree of Life known as Jacob’s Ladder. The terminology as well as literature’s first mention of it derives from Torah’s Genesis 28:11-13 . . .
“On reaching a certain place, he spent the night there because the sun had set. And taking one of the stones from that place, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. And Jacob dreamed about a ladder that rested on the earth with its top reaching to heaven, and God’s angles going up and down upon it. And there at the top the LORD was standing and saying, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of
Isaac . . . .”
And referenced later in the New Testament in John 1:51.
Then He declared, “Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
The esoteric – expanded! – version of that Imagination was expounded by the Hebrew Rabbis in various depictions in which the expanded (iterated!) diagrammatic mapping of the Tree in the Four Worlds is remarkably consistent:
From: Scala Philosophorum Cabalistica Magia, 1785courtesy janeadaamsart
courtesy Colin Low, digital-brilliance.com courtesy Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi
Thus the kabbalist’s full Universe, which we cannot explicate in detail in this chapter, although we will see the native American analogue arrives at the exactly the same thing as reflected in the UnderWorld of the Mother and via a different route. For, as we can note, the kabbalah of the Tree of Life is oriented towards the Overworld of the Father and the path of initiation is mapped as upwards, whereas the kabbalah of the Circle of Life derives from the Mother and grows from the roots of being which lie in the Below (it must be repeated that there is no necessary link between the Below and the qlippoth, religious depictions of Hell notwithstanding. Conflation of the two is a crucial occult error).
Thus concludes Part the One. Part the Two will present a parallel examination of the indigenous Western Circle of Life and will complete the topological transformations between the two ultimately equivalent glyphs. Concluding will be the examination of the combined glyph representing the conjunction and convergence of the two.
The Sacred Geometry of Our Ancestral Pathways Part the 2nd
In the preceding section we laid the groundwork for an appreciation of another kabbalah; that of the Land in which most of you, dear readers, reside. Although most of it may not have seemed that remarkable to those with a working knowledge of kabbalah, I felt it worthwhile to scan the details of my method and argument since they will be leading directly into more unfamiliar territory.
Before we take that plunge, I am honored to pay my respects to those who have lent
me their shoulders to stand upon, not that I am seeing further but looking out in a different direction. Only belatedly did I realize that Rudolf Steiner’s Occult Science was a kabbalistic textbook on the directed evolution of our present world: better late than never. R. J. Stewart provided invaluable introductions to inner plane mentors and environments in many oral tradition workshops and the like, influences proven reliable in now more than twenty years of application. Local group work in New Mexico associated with Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi filled many fine details of the rich Hebrew kabbalistc lore.
Thus when I took up with my local Southwestern indigenous traditions I had “first learned the ways of my own people”; my initial instructions received from a venerable native elder. Principle among the latter is Scripsema “Gomo” Martinez of Lukachukai, AZ, a traditional Medicine Man of the first order. Of course such do not exist in isolation and I have been most honored to have been accepted as family among a large interconnected web of clan and professional relationships across the Navajo Reservation; ‘dine’ bikeyah’ as it is called.
Much is made of “oral tradition”: even among academic anthropologists it is increasingly considered to be the gold standard of passed-down knowledge within culture3. However what I have found peculiar but characteristic of how such things are done among indigenous American culture is that over the course of more than twenty years of association with native elders, explicit ‘verbal’ oral communication has been the least of it. What is substituted for that is what I have come to comprehend as an even deeper sources of wisdom: the lived-in body language of example of Real People and the language of the Land and its creatures itself. Recognizing the fact that native ceremony is never an intellectual exercise but is always directed towards a closer integrated bond with that land, on the land, one realizes that the only thing to do is ‘watch and learn’ and that the basic instruction is: “Do the ceremonies; they will teach you.” For while in the frequently completely ungrounded European philosophical tradition the dictum is: “The map is not the territory” in the pathways of the West which grow out of a coherent relationship with the Mother, the territory is the map. As Stewart
was fond of remarking in similar contexts: “All the rest is commentary.” Which we will indulge to supply.
This writer’s commentary will be in a language and format alien to its native subject. As John R. Farella remarked in his remarkable book The Main Stalk – A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy4 it is not the case that rural and frequently pre-literate peoples are not capable of intellectual thought; they are, it’s just that they don’t find it very interesting nor does it serve any useful purpose. Yet their actualized pathways are full of potentized BeautyWay imagery that outsiders abstract and trivialize as folk art. Working on the principle that a picture is worth a thousand words, we shall proceed on that basis. My wish is that a certain amiable charm may rise from them for it is from the beauty of the land itself that my Inspirations arise.
In the previous section we have emphasized the typically unnoticed rhythmic properties
concealed within the gusseted gridwork of the traditional representation of the Tree of Life. Thus:
tends to lend itself, by itself, to a gusseted gridwork of
intellectual abstraction, a syndrome taken to a terminal phase (and beyond, as reflected in the state of the social life of the movement in the years since) in the amazing work of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. The Germanic tendency of “A place for everything and everything in its place” in his “Path of Thinking” [sic] was ineffective in its primary task of preventing the mass-suicide of European culture in the two World Wars of this century (a predictable outcome of a religious culture with no grounding in the Actual). The underlying paradigms, which in their persistently devolved forms deriving most historically in Europe from the Roman Empire, drove the worldcataclysm of 1492 still remain unaddressed, unacknowledged. In this section we will examine a persistent living tradition which persists in raising up its initiates in every generation. In the West, that sort of thing is not an esoteric matter; it is an open secret for anyone who can recognize the responsible people in the community, for the spiritual life there is not separate from community life. In it, the paradigm is that of the Quartered Circle:
Which has, as an integral component, the living and dying of all things in Time (the Tree
has this in nascent form as the ‘Lightning Flash’, but even its depiction is a glyph of linear forms):
As indicated in the common representation where the colored segments (the
equivalent of the Tree of Life’s interconnecting pathways) indicate in their fundamental association, the inevitable succession of the times of day: White the color of Dawn in the East, Yellow the color of the Sun at Noon, Red the color of Sunset in the West and Black the color of Night in the North.
The fact that some native cultures alter the color scheme in no way invalidates this
observation, for if the blue of the sky at is used for South by some it still clearly indicates what is seen overhead at Noontime.
The parallel method of derivation of map from territory in the Tree of Life’s map of the solar system should be obvious:
Whereas the Tree of Life glyph maps the cosmic in an observationally accurate vertical fashion of increasingly larger orbits, the Circle of Life maps the earthly environment in corresponding horizontal fashion. Unfolding the functional implications of this Western glyph, we can indicate equivalent boundary regions of its natural world suchly:
In this, the nested spheres (for it also is 3-Dimensional in its full unfoldment) section the environment in terms of natural space. The inner circle is your personal environment. The features of E, S, W & N as it they can be marked and experienced within the local horizon can be located within the next boundary zone. The boundaries of the known world, usually significant geographical features of the tribal homeland, are mapped on the next enveloping zone. Creator and Sustainer beings of the spiritual world which also interpenetrate and envelope the other two find themselves within the outer boundary. Beyond all and off the map is the Great Mystery.
To illustrate the uniquely sensible and immediately apprehensible character of the indigenous Western universe we will present images of the Four Sacred Mountains, boundary taproots into the originating spiritual WithinWorlds ofthe Navajo Diné Bikéyah, anchoring everything as the embodied representatives of their gods (all photographs by the author).
In the East is Sisnaajini’(White Shell Mountain and numerous other associations)which is the Blanca Peak Massif,
14,351 ft., E of Alamosa, CO. This pic from the South looking North.
In the South is Tsoodził (Turquoise Mountain, etc.) which is Mt. Taylor 11,306 ft., N of Grants, NM on US I-40 which is pretty much also the southern boundary of Dine’ Bikéyah. This pic from the East looking West at Tó Hajiileehé, NM, home of Leon Secatero, headman and mentor, during ceremonies there.
In the West is Dook’o’osłííd (Abalone Shell Mountain, etc.) which are the San Francisco Peaks North of Flagstaff, AZ . This pic taken from the North looking South in a stockpen housing Miracle Moon, the first White Buffalo born to the Lakota Sioux and harbinger of Pte San Win, White Buffalo Calf Woman, their Persephone and spiritual beloved, honored in every blade of grass and gentle breeze. As time went on the entire fencing was adorned in tobacco and other offerings from people come from all over.
In the North is Dibé Ntsaa (Black Jet Mountain, etc.). which are the La Plata Mountains NW of Durango, CO and its Mt. Hesperus at 13,232 ft. Looking NW from Ignacio, CO. Going up in there to pay your respects and make your offerings in the winter is obviously impossible but no less necessary so certain natural features iterated in the foothills stand in for the entire thing and since intention is everything that works just fine.
This potent glyph also works equally well to map time on its successively longer-range cycles: the inner zone quarters the phases of the day within the cycle of the year within the stages of a human life within the sustaining embrace of cosmic rhythms. Off the page is, again, the Great Mystery. The multiple 4-Fold symmetries are a constant motif throughout, regardless of application, for instance, the phases of intellectual and emotional life within the psyche.
One more thing to note before we sum up the deformations to date. One of the most
common designations of the Sephiroth spheres on the Tree is as such:
Note the quartered circle in Sephirah 10 (Malkuth) designating the Four Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air) altho the four-fold symmetry also applies to a multitude of other associations native to its own discipline: Seasons, Humors, Directions, Archangels, etc. Elements of this kind of quartered symmetry can be found in religions and traditions of whatever sort, latently in the Tree form. This is an observation
which will pursue as we continue to unfold the projections of both the Tree of Life its mate, the Circle of Life.
The significant difference of emphasis – tho not content – lies in the psychologically revealing fact that in the geometry of the former the dimension of Malkuth is hardly more than that of a point, while in the latter, it comprises the entire glyph. As Rudolf Steiner observed, language precedes and conditions thinking. This applies no less to symbolic languages.
We shall now proceed to demonstrate how these two glyphs – ToL (Tree of Life) and CoL (Circle of Life) – can evolve to morph into each other, geometrically. Finally, we shall demonstrate a few further kabbalistic transformations, as embedded in the inspired symbolism of their geometries. This is revealed on its own and by no other means than by direct gnosis from sustained contemplation on these forms combined with ruthlessly scrutinized results of such interaction. The teaching is found within the practice. Work with straightedge and compass recommended! I would be remiss if I did not also make a nod and a wink in the direction of the absolute necessity of one’s having a consistent discipline of meditation, the gist of which is: “Less is More”.5 The first trap in all this is getting stuck in the intellectual!
Although the Tree of Life’s basic orientation is vertical and the Circle of Life’s is horizontal, these are neither absolute nor fixed and in practice are supple. A simple rotation of the Tree, superimposed upon the Circle yields the following, which does no violence to either.
This brings us to our first waypoint:
Stage One in our series of transformations – Coincidence of Tree and Circle
(which is no coincidence!)
At this point the similarities between the two symbolisms become more obvious as comprising differences in emphasis instead of contradictions of essence, there being no irreconcilable implications although there is one set of additional perspectives unique to the Circle of Life traditions which will comprise our journey towards Stage Two. Before we do that, we will continue to observe that, apparently divergent elements tend to complementary as we continue to expand our unfoldments into a full three dimensions, an aspect which we have only touched on briefly so far.
While on pages 8 & 9 we reviewed one particular mode of circular motion implicit
within the Tree of Life glyph, there are yet other modes of three-dimensional activity within it:
Whether the creation of the Worlds is seen as:
1. emanating from the point in Keter in Aztiluth and proceding progressively in scope outwards, culminating in the furthest expanse of Malkuth in Assiyah or 2. contracting from the full expanse of Ain Soph, precipitating through Aztiluth and down through the Worlds culminating in the full density of Malkuth in Assiya, 3. it is the same thing from one essential point of view: development proceeds in top down fashion and in strict hierarchical order as befitting the paradigm embodied in the rigid geometry of the glyph.
In another fashion, we can work with the crossbars of the flat Tree as arcs, sections of nested circles:
Certainly, more fluid as well as more complex perspectives can be had on this matter but at this point we are only focusing on the most
basic characteristics of this map, as we continue to contrast equally basic features of its companion glyph; the Medicine Wheel.
And another mode exists latent within the two-dimensional representation, indicating a
circulating vortex system of generating influences:
[illustrate vortex motion generating Lightning Flash, pix of Zome System Tree]
Needless to say, in the Circle of Life glyph, these insights are already explicit.
Thus, still working with the Tree system, arcs expand into sectors of circles which then
inflate into full surrounding spheres – as do also the expanded sectors of the Circle of Life.
Stage Two in our series of transformations – in three full dimensions Tree and Wheel converge
I will not belabor additional philosophical or practical implications of this expanded
iteration, they will become obvious to one who can read the map of the glyphs. In indigenous ceremony, many of these implications are taken for granted.
The Sacred Geometry of Our Ancestral Pathways Part the 3rd
In this section we will examine the ramifications of one unique virtue of the Medicine Wheel, aka Circle of Life. Thus far we have been dealing with the convergent representations of the Worlds, as they have been depicted in the geometrical depictions developed in two disjunct cultures. However . . . in one crucial respect they are based on quite opposite perspectives about how and from where these worlds are generated. In culture they lead to different orientations toward this one.
Regardless of variations in representation, the Tree of Life depicts the generation of the Worlds as proceeding from the top down:
Whereas the lore behind the Medicine Wheel depict the generation of the Worlds developing from Below upwards, their representational colors being Black, Blue, Yellow and White, respectively (and as they are iterated within the body of this one):
In the same fashion as the
Tree and Wheel exchange emphases of Space and Time, with the Tree system being explicit about outer cosmic relationships as mapped in Space while only revealing temporal relationships on a secondary basis, and whereas the Wheel system emphasizes natural relationships in Time while indicating their mythological origins within a different kind of interior space (as we shall see), so also is there another still deeper level of asymmetrical polarity between them which reveals itself when we examine the kabbalistic process of
Creation described within each of their mythologies.
In other words, as we have seen that while on a primary level Tree and Wheel exchange emphases but can be shown to converge in their geometrical reading on both as regards the main factors (including, primarily but not only Space and Time), on a meta-level regarding emanations from Origins, there is another dynamic in play that on further examination also only seems to be a polarity.
What this meta-level dynamic between the two systems involves is that while Tree kabbalah has the worlds generated from the Top down, Wheel kabbalah does not generate the worlds from the Bottom up – still a spatial representation (the fault with most qlippoth mapping) – but from Within outwards. This is not a symmetrical polarity in Space but a polarity between vibrational levels.
And just as there are disjunct “quanta” jumps in orientation as one progresses through the levels of consciousness within each system of mapping the Worlds6, whether expressed as from the Material to the Personal, Trans-personal, Spiritual and Divine or as from Immediate to Local, Continental, Planetary and Great Mystery, so also is there another, meta-shift involved in recognizing that the InnerWorlds of the Wheel are not just as mapped out on an upside-down or mirror-image Tree but as iterated levels within the Malkuth of the Tree map.
Again, in other words, instead of having the Four Worlds in each system align with each other in parallel fashion, in the system of the Tree the Jacob’s Ladder extends around the Place of Here, while in the other of the Wheel, the Four Worlds – not the same ones – are located as compacted within this one. Hang in there!
Thus whether the Source of Life in Tree proceeds either as a surrounding Aztiluth contracting progressively into Assiyah or as an Aztiluth expanding successively into full manifestation, that source is envisaged as being in an Aztiluth existing outside of the natural world, beyond its limits. In Wheel, on the other hand, the source of life is found within successively deeper inner dimensions.
It was twenty years ago when I first had the “Drop”, as I call it, when the world opened up beneath me and I tumbled down the rabbit hole into the First World, the InnerWorld counterpart of Aztiluth. The psychological shock of instant deconstruction of the basic “Western” orientation was total when I met the beings resident there. As in the UpperWorlds, there is nothing separate from the beings who constitute them, yet this was a realm of Feminine identity which, as I was to find out, was as manifoldly diverse as the Lordly realms on high. I still struggle to describe the shift and the altered meta-perceptions that ensue in navigating the passage. While the shift from
Yesodic or Yetziric to Tipharetic or Beriatic consciousness is stark enough, that meta-shift from OverWorld to UnderWorld consciousness is of another order altogether. The flip involved in transitioning from one mode to the other is similar to the one when the necker cube flips:
In other words, it is emphatically not the case that the InnerWorlds within this one can be represented by a simple upside-down Tree:
for the format of Top-Down with Origin outside and above this world remains constant:
Nor is it an appropriate representation of the Divine Feminine in Her Homeland of the Underworld even if phantom [sic!; “Sophia”, etc.] elements of the divine feminine as are inevitably intuited are incorporated into the hierarchical paradigm of the Tree:
Furthermore, it verges into disinformation if the UnderWorld is conflated with the lair of Satan,
as is frequently the case when religious superstition is not deprogrammed:
And even more so if the realms of the UnderWorld are equated with the Qlippoth (disordered Sephiroth). Even Rudolf Steiner fell prey to this error7:
The only semi-realistic way that I have found of representing the UnderWorld/InnerWorlds
within the classical Tree of Life format is to indicate the them as nested within the realm of Malkuth, continuing on in the progression of Worlds from Keter to Da’at to Tiphareth to Yesod to Malkuth with the succeeding InnerWorlds as shown by the inclusion of the InnerWorld Tree within the Sephirah of Malkuth:
which is but another version of
The Interior UnderWorld of Malkuth
The crucial difference in the way the OverWorld and the UnderWorld operate is that the
OverWorld derives from the One and tends toward a universal encompassing of EveryThing while the UnderWorld, though increasingly miniscule in graphic depiction, is fractal and tends toward the particular and is at the heart of Every Single Thing, galaxy to electron. The old distinction between Transcendent and Immanent, the One and the Many. Both Divine. Each very different from the other, neither mirrored images nor polar opposites.
Rudolf Steiner had this most acute insight:
“When [cosmic] evolution had progressed to a sufficient stage of development, some of the
spiritual hierarchies left the realm of the periphery and descended to dwell within the embryonic creation.”8
My thesis on this point is that at the very moment when the very first item of creation –
whatever and however it is conceived – emanated out of the Void/the All/the Great Mystery – and was no longer the One itself, it was poised between exterior and interior sets of also developing dieties. These were the masculine and the feminine gods. Both realms are Heaven and either can be Hell. Hell is persistent dysfunction anywhere in the realm of creation. All that glitters is not gold and darkness can be luminous in its own fashion.
Stage Three in our series of transformations
the Four Directions Stack and revolve within and around the Worlds
It only remains to close out the above and segue into my final dropkick namely that since Christ, having passed through the physical incarnation, now resides distributed across the “in-between” between all things; in the relationship among things – and people and every existent loving thing in this world, freer to manifest the BeautyWay. You had to be there . . . still do. The Born-Agains should get it right away, someday; they’re pointed in the right direction, at least. But its humility that get you in the door – All My Relations, Metakue Oyasin on your hands and knees on the ground thru the door works real good. No striving on the Circle it will take you right where you need to go (The Tree of Life looks like a compound crossbow ready to launch a bolt into God’s eye and its always the collateral damage that blows back. But although it does have its unique and valuable applications the balance these days lies in the direction of more soul, the UnderWorld and the Mother). Take it from me and check it out with your local native elders. Any Indian on the street should be able to point you in the right direction! As my To’Hajiilee band Navajo mentor Leon Secatero said was worth getting with, the Next 500 Years is now. Has been for a while now. Seeking a critical mass. Ancient currents are flowing, ancient spiritual warfare’s, once more astral than nowday’s fully precipitated scientific industrial or financial black magics. The necessary but technically impossible remediation of the tremendous load of critical masses of nuclear cores disintegrating in the world’s oceans. The continental as well as local entities of
Mesoamerican lore who would love to help and be known, as they have asked me to represent for them, in my own fashion.
So, this is my reconciliation of my two ancestral streams: biological bloodline and spiritual adoption. Home at last, tumbling across the doorway, as usual. But it’s a moving target, isn’t it? Expect a miracle, everything is a miracle anyway.
Somebody needs to work out the possibly mutually beneficial interactions between equivalent cultural kabbalahs in places like Africa, Pacific Islands, Tibetan mountainlands, Siberian tundras and Amazonian jungles. And your backyard; learn the history of your place, move into it. Just a suggestion. As you know when you ask your Navajo friends for advice, you know what they’re gonna say ahead of time so you usually don’t even bother: “It’s up to you.” And since it’s all an open-source project make yourself useful. Lead, follow or get out of the way maybe. I think in the long run we’ll all end up with the world we make happen. It’s the short- and medium-term future that’s gonna be a bitch, that’s for sure so get smart and keep your powder dry.
And you can cast white corn meal to the early Dawn Boy, offer corn pollen to Brother Sun when you see him for the first time that day, if not at sunrise. Why? Because it pleases them, it’s what they have told me. It’s a small thing but it signifies. It gets you noticed, helps when you have to pray for help; they know who’s coming in. To get respect, give respect. Those nice little things that friends do for each other. Things like that, make up your own perhaps. It’s all about the focused intention of the Heart. It takes you right off the map of the Matrix and into the Web of Life. Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Middle Pillar and the branching
Tree of unintended consequences of good intentions. They both grow out of the same ground: VITRIOL. Seek and ye shall find. It means exactly what it says, needs no interpretation. Sometimes you need to take scripture literally. Not all the time but you have to know when and poets are sly they like to mess with your head and scripture should be read like that I say. Those oldtimers didn’t waste words they said what they meant and they meant what they said, in Imaginal language much more suited to the subject than this one.
All Best Regards from deep in the heart of political Mordor gazing over at Gondolin,
rising in the East, carrying Power from the South, Blessings from the West and Wisdom from the North under the starry sky and upon the breasts of Mother’s milk. Hozhonahasglii x 4!
The Sacred Geometry of Our Ancestral Pathways Part the 4th
Abstract: Topological Iterations of the Basic Kabbalistic Glyph in the Lore of the True West
Take ToL (Tree of Life) & CoL (Circle of Life aka Medicine Wheel) to 3-D
ToL goes to space-filling form, Thresholds then have 4 main elements – 4 Directions (e.g.: East-SouthWest-North circular Hod-[X]-Netzach-[X]), up from 2 (e.g.: polar East-West Hod-Netzach). The number of Trump Pathways goes up from 22 to at least 3 times that (does one count all the hidden pathways?) and “Hidden” Sephira appear. Centering in Middle Pillar is then a dynamic instead of static exercise. CoL goes from single circle to 4 concentric bands, locates mainly in Real, not abstract or philosophical space; these are present but secondary and are reduced to commentary on the Landscape where the Territory is the Map.
ToL lays over, hinged on ToL Malkuth and CoL 7th Direction, onto CoL in topological equivalence and full practical congruence.
ToL expands up Jacob’s Ladder to the 4 Upper Cosmic Worlds
CoL goes down into the 4 Lower InnerEarth Worlds
There is no simple mirror-image equivalence or congruence between Tol & CoL maps across the Upper and Lower Worlds although there is a dynamic relationship that still needs to be worked out.
RJStewart’s UnderWorld Qabala goes far into this but although he sources it in remnants of indigenous
European lore, the parallel transformations in the still-living indigenous pathways of the West and their correlations with those of Europe have yet to be investigated and opened up. This is my project.
Both glyphs expand into full spherical expansion and merge towards identity although the presiding angels, archangels, etc., although identical in function do vary according to the cultural geography with diverse aspects and mythologies unique to each region. Altho some functions may actually be identical in some functions (e.g.: Navajo ‘Niłchi’ and Christian ‘Holy Spirit’) such correspondences cannot be assumed simply on the basis of cross-checking lists of attributes since those associations cannot always be translated accurately and may not be the same in other respects. Certainly, the associations present in the mind of any specific practitioner will be local to that tradition, if not to them personally! This is an excellent example of “distributed intelligence” in action; the key to sustainability of a Living Tradition, lost to the mass culture of the present era but still alive and well in the Peripheries. The www may still prove to have a silver lining by contributing to the promotion of linkage between these persistently surviving Mythologies.
A crucial distinction remains predominant: Philosophically as well as practically that the Line proceeds from Above while the Circle arises from Below; The Sky Father and the Earth Mother, the former tending towards unity, the latter from the UnderWorld and tending towards fractally iterating diversity. This is a crucial difference on a fundamental level. The real-world implications are fundamental also: This is all terribly esoteric for the Line-world paradigm culture yet for the cultures still ruled by the wave-patterns it is a simple matter of common cultural heritage where children absorb it with their mother’s milk, so to speak. This stage of reflection is resolved by recourse to The Great Mystery, whether it is the Ain Soph or Omeoteotl: the Unitary God beyond all manifestations. (The meso/American Omeoteotle is translated as the “Two-Faced God”, hence literal “Lord of Duality” but this is fundamentally misconstrued.)
Typically enough, but with true-Western iterations unsuspected by typical Euro-neo-pagan commentary.
Holy Nights 2021-2022
Pagosa Springs, CO USA
- Thomas Cleary, Kensho – the Heart of Zen, Shambala, Boston & London, 1997. “Zen Buddhism emerged in China fifteen hundred years ago as agnostic revival of Buddhism” – p. vii
- Sine_curve_drawing_animation.gif https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Simple_harmonic_motion_animation.gif https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:LucasVB/Gallery#/media/File:Circle_cos_sin.gif
- Cf. Robert S. McPherson: Viewing the Ancestors, U. OK Press, Norman, 2014.
- John R. Farella: The Main Stalk: A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy, U. AZ Press, 1985.
- My favorite go-to on this is Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Weatherhill, NY & Tokyo, 1970.
- The electron shell theory, with its quantum jumps, explains the chemical nature of elements on the Periodic Table.
- Cf. Rudolf Steiner’s “Mexican Mysteries” Revisited, elsewhere in this series by this author.
- Rudolf Steiner,