Going off the Map

I don’t like the hermetic Tree of Life.

Well, I don’t like it for me.

I see why people use it. But I don’t like it. And I like titanic World Trees. And you encounter the qabalistic, hermetic, and/or Golden Dawn-derived Tree of Life in hermetica, Thelema, Wicca, and elsewhere.

And over the last few months, I’ve noted how several experiences I’ve had reflect parts or aspects of the Tree. Those experiences can be interepreted in Tree of Life terms. They can reflect Yesode or Tiphareth, gesture at Daath and Abyssal bits, Netzach, and so forth. And I’ve found these—well, I’ll call them parallels—incidentally–as I go along The Path. But I resist going into the established hermetic lore, resist buying into or investing myself in the overt symbology of the Tree.

In part, I’ve done so because I didn’t need that symbology to get where I’ve gotten to. I also don’t trust the symbology: so much of it is too neat and even constraining to me. It’s a feeling more than anything else.

A good chunk of it is that the established 22 paths and ten Sephirot and Daath and so forth represent a very particular hierarchy and internal microcosmic-macrocosmic schema which doesn’t reflect other things I’ve experienced or encountered. And that’s the thing about the Tree’s lore: it’s so regimented while also wanting to be all encompassing.

The color scales. The unending correspondences (most of which are pretty damn appropriative as you dive in to 777). The angelic and Abrahamic correspondences (because, really, while I’m willing to believe Ratziel is out there, I don’t want to talk to hir most days of the week). And so forth and so on. And the GD-derived systems believe in internalizing and making all of that part of you—reproduce the Tree within the Sphere of Sensation, reweave your microcosm to reflect the supposed Macrocosm the Tree points to.

And, well, no. The Tree of Life is ultimately a cosmographic model—a way of conceptualizing different levels of reality and their interconnections and so forth, but I can already see how the Tree obscures or ignores or just outright misses a good chunk of the Otherworlds. I also feel very much the sweaty coils of the Great Chain of Being when I consider the Tree.

So, better to find and map your way through the Otherworlds, I say. Compare your experiences to similar models and accounts—Carthiron is a bit Tiphareth, I would say, but in a very broad sense. It’s too easy to go where the tourist map tells you to go rather than seeing what’s over there. And there’s something very artificial and tower-like about the Tree to me rather than something far more organic like Elethis.

Image: Tall Trees by Ernst Vikne 

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