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Supplement to: The Kabbalistic Tree of Life as a Soul Map
Adam Blatner

Revised November 30, 2008   This paper offers further ideas, correspondences, aimed at enriching the understanding of the already powerful "meta-symbol"--a symbol that includes in itself many subsidiary symbolic ideas and relationships. The paper is titled, The Kabbalistic Tree of Life: A Map of the Soul, elsewhere on this website.  Also on this website is another  webpage with references.

A Color Diagram

(From book, "The Anatomy of the Body of God")

The Geometry of the Tree

The drawing itself is a meditation, as anyone who has experimented with the quasi-spiritual exercise of exploring the results of drawing with a compass and a straight edge. These are the tools of Euclid and Pythagoras, the early Greek mathematicians, and also probably were used much earlier by the unnamed architects who built the pyramids and other structures. The game here is to intuitively contemplate the analogies–remembering that what's at stake is also the frontier of in here and out there, of mind and so-called objective reality.

It begins with a contemplation of the empty page. Yet there is the contemplator, who is also the potential artist. There is the idea of doing something–perhaps not even clear what–just something, of drawing. There is the idea of making a mark, of having a mark-maker, a pencil or its equivalent, a finger on sand. Not in the air–part of this paper-and-pencil idea has to do with a mark that will stay still, that will sit there, an extension of mind, an expression of will, a putting out there so that it sticks what is only glimmeringly becoming in the mind. So a toddler may experience the miracle of a crayon and paper–or before that, what? His own poop and a wall?

What if, as the esoteric students of many millennia suggested, what we do is in the "image of God," not just humans, but actions, and all the world. What exists in the divine milieu, the essential underlying principles, is manifested in what we call reality–even if that manifestation is only partial, only a tiny shadow of the greatness that expresses us. Thus, artists are known to express their frustration that their best efforts are only incomplete gestures, mere efforts at capturing the magnificence, the numinosity, of their mystical experience.

What if, speaking poetically, God wanted to express in a relatively static, dense context, in a form that wouldn't dissolve, like dreams, like water, a creative inspiration. She might begin by making a figurative mark on a figurative piece of paper. The paper is space-time, the mark is–well, we call it the "big bang." But at first it was just a mark, a gesture of God.

By the way, this initial point is the beginning of drawing the tree of life diagram. It is the first sphere, a radiating sphere–like a very dense ink on a very absorbent paper–starting infinitely small, but being Divine, almost infinitely energetic, and spreading over a billion or more years.

Becoming, yet going nowhere. That calls for a second geometric event: the extension of a point as a line. In geometry, this moves from zero dimensions to one dimension. A line–but a line can be of any length, it can be infinitely long. There is no defined space yet. There's a sort of direction, but no form. It's perhaps poetically related to the light in the darkness described in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, or that wonderfully ambiguous word, "firmament." The kabbalists really contemplated this creation story, seeking the deepest meanings, including the ingenious idea that we are constantly, every moment, creating and being re-created as part of this divine process. It didn't just happen then. Like here and there, then and now may be equally an expression of our deepest habits of thought.

We don't even begin to have a diagram yet, we're just setting the stage for a process of diagraming, but pausing to contemplate how necessary it is to set this stage, to have a pen, a piece of paper, one who makes the mark, who moves, who stays involved in the creative process, proceeding from one step to the next. Each of these elements may have metaphysical meanings, equivalents.

 (What have I been smoking? Naw. You see, when you really think about it, you don't need to alter your state of consciousness; the science-fiction / poetry activity is a stretching agent enough.)

Okay, so you point, line, and at some point, you say–wait, something else is needed. At least let's pick another point so that the line has a limit. A limit?  Well, if you want to draw anything, you've got to have a limit. Two points. A beginning and an end. Oooh. Okay, let's stop this line...here. Wow, in all the time we've been talking, you've made the line really, really long. Depending on divine perspective and your belief in the limitations of the speed of light, let's just say that this line is... well, what?  Several billions of miles long?  Whatever, it won't fit on the paper. So let's have just you make it, not God, and let it be, say, four or five inches. We can work with that. Two parts of a line–pen, straight edge. Now what. Well, pick up the compass. A new tool–really, it could even be just the straight edge, the line itself, only able to move in a new way, in another dimension, off of the line. The line makes an angle, and fools around. A little angle, a bigger angle, a 90 degree angle, hey, why not go all around.... oooh, look what you made, a circle.

Circles are very heavy, very primal, very magical. People have written a lot just about the circle. It's one of the first designs kids make as they learn to draw. And it defines a space. It's very two-dimensional. No longer just a one-dimensional line. It's got two dimensions. A little bending here and there and you could make a triangle, a square, a figure with all kinds of edges and curves. But let's stay with the circle.

For now, we'll stop. The construction of the diagram deserves a separate paper from here, the compounding of circles, edges, angles, triangles, cross-connections. But it's very elegant, and its construction partakes of what the ancient yogis called the making of mainly circular (sometimes square or triangular) diagrams for meditation called "yantras."  The point is to contemplate the "deeper"meanings of such configurations, what dimensionality, space, regularity, symmetry, and other fairly basic categories mean, and why, in a world suffused with chaos, we nevertheless also find amazingly widespread evidences of the operations of mathematical expressions in space–i.e., geometry.
geometric construction


A variation of geometry is numerology. We are more consciously sensitive to the implications of numbers like 1, 2, 3, 4, less so the higher ones. Occasionally, geniuses such as Ramanujan, a mathematician of the early 20th century, arise whose sense of mathematics is as deep as Mozart's sense of music, or certain Indian sages and perhaps Jesus had a sense of what the deeper spiritual world was about.  The tree suggests a deeper contemplation of not only the smaller numbers, but how and why certain larger numbers are often significant in mystical experience and symbol, the 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s, especially.

Those are enough for contemplation for a lifetime, for most serious students. The game is not to overload the limited capacities of human mind, which tends to require numbers less than thirty or forty–or a hundred–to make meaningful alphabets, for example–and to really work well, enough to promote enough complexity and variety to address the subject, while still remaining comprehensible.

It turns out–this is just poetry–that for God, the number of operating variables are in the billions, not at the order of ten to a hundred. So our diagrams and maps, and the philosophy that it entails, is as limited as this comparison of numbers. In other words, there's no pretense that these diagrams, maps, and interpretations reflect the actual nature of the cosmos. (By cosmos, I include not only the vast realms of material reality, both astronomical and sub-microscopic, but also the even vaster realms of imagination, dream, thought, sensation, will, creativity, emotion, and other extensions of mind. This could also conceivably include all the minds of all possible extra-terrestrial sentient beings in other galaxies, also.)  All this is to re-emphasize the practical nature of the diagram and its limited purpose: Can we have a map for stretching our own imagination towards intuitions of more spiritual levels in our lives, and also a greater mastery of our own turbulent clouds of foolishness and illusion?  This is the goal–just a few steps towards greater wisdom. Still, for our world and time, this is a noble and theoretically achievable goal, at least for those who care and try.

Each number has its own complex associations, so that while 4 has an interesting form of double symmetry, allowing for graphs and differentiations that happen when two different dualities intersect, still it is relatively more stable than 5. Five is a dynamic number, tending towards spinning this way or that, and the angles and nature of its internal geometry give way to the magic of phi, that golden mean, golden triangle, logarithmic spirals that are found in fractals and other organic and pervasive phenomena. And on, and on, one could rhapsodize at length about the many aspects of six, seven, and so on.

What needs to be noted is that in addition to exploring the mathematical possibilities of number in various dimensions, there are qualitative elements that are allegories to life, to aspects of mind, principles of wisdom. The three invites people to move from simply noting contrasts, either-or thinking, so typical of early-mid childhood, to developing in-between categories, spectra, compromise, and new syntheses. This is the problem that Freud called the Oedipal conflict–but it's more primal: How can I relate to two people at the same time?  A relationship is difficult enough, but add the problems of jealousy, and shifting motivation: Sometimes I like Billy more than Jane. And I get worried if Billy likes Jane more than me. But sometimes I like Jane more than Billy, so why should Billy resent it?  This is an inevitable problem for kids around age 5, and only in certain circumstances does it become a big problem in the nuclear family. The solution?  As my son resolved the conflict: At age 5, after telling me that he was going to marry mommy, I said, "but I'm already married to mommy."  He thought for just a moment and then replied, "Okay, I'll marry both of you."  The three solves the implicit conflict of two, and the great philosopher Hegel noted the universality of this flow of mind in what he called the process of dialectic.

There are similar resonances of all kinds that bring in numbers, and these help to illuminate the deeper meanings of the tree of life, as we contemplate what it means to evolve (or, one might say, de-volve) from one–unity with the Divine–through phases of gradual manifestation–to final becomingness in material time and space, to move from one through 2, 3, 4, and other phases of essence until we are here in 10-ness. Don't try to understand all this at this point, just recognize that all these resonances of being are part of the way mind can discover meanings and learn to build further useful meanings based on those discoveries.


The sefira also correspond with astrological signs–especially the planets–, according to those esoteric scholars of post-Renaissance Europe. For those with this bent, it only adds a greater depth of symbolism to the diagram.

This diagram refers to nothing objective. It isn't real, but rather a map. In some ways, it is more like a mathematical theorem or some recognition of the underlying patterns in music, as Pythagoras began to elucidate. In this case, the figurative equation is more metaphysical. The essential ideas is akin to what has been called the "great chain of being," not only at the level of evolution in time, but in terms of levels of subtle manifestation.


The Paths also correspond to the Major Arcana of the Tarot Cards as shown above and below, and explained in another small essay: Tarot Cards: An Interpretation.

tarot correspondences