Understanding the Tree of Life, and the Qliphoth

This is an appendix to my series of posts about my adventures during 2005, leading up to the performance of Paul Green’s play Babalon. The story is full of cloak and dagger, initiatory strangeness, chaos, and hysteria. It shows what can happen on the Magical path if one is not careful…(as if one has choice…)

Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 5, 2005, at the John Gielgud Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to a sold out audience of London’s finest occultists and magicians. If you want to listen to it, click Radio QBSaul: Archives: Babalon. I played Marjorie Cameron/Babalon. I am called Angela Murrow because I had to hide my identity.

Babalon Diaries: Appendix 1

I am very excited to announce that an interview with Paul Green, author of the play Babalon, is coming up on the Winterspells blog. This should be very interesting, as he is a wonderful writer with a lot to say. He shall bring us his insight into the magical paths of Jack Parsons. L.Ron Hubbard, Marjorie Cameron, and the Babalon Working.

Since Paul’s knowledge of magic, and  especially Thelema, is very deep, I thought I should give you an overview of the one of the most prevalent Magical Patterns in Occultism, or Western Mystery Tradition: the Qabbalistic Tree of Life. An basic understanding of the Tree will provide a foundation for understanding most magical systems, from Ceremonial Magic to Wicca.

My Background in Qabbalah

I began my study of the Qabbalah in 1983, when I was reading book by the esoteric author, Dion Fortune, a former Golden Dawn Magician. The book was the Mystical Qabbalah, a journey through the ten Sephiroth, with descriptions of the spheres of the Gods, and their corresponding planets, colors, numbers, choirs, and the Legions of Angels. The Qabbalah is the key to the Magic of the Angels and for the Union with the Holy Guardian Angel.

During the time of my studies, I was living in the servants quarters of big mansion in Seattle that was home of my  Middle Eastern Dance director and instructor, Elizabeth Dickinson. She gave me refuge when I broke up with my rock star boyfriend who was fun, but drank way too much. I couldn’t physically take it any more…wimpy I know, but I had to leave. (But his idol was Keith Moon who was dead, after all.) I also left because I read Dante’s Inferno as part of my study for a Shakespeare play I was in, and I realized I was, oh my God, in the Upper Hell!

I guess my latent Catholicism kicked in big time, because I went through a very holy phase. One holy thing I did was wake up at 5:00 every morning to study the Qabbalah book and meditate. I worked with it like this for a very long time and began having visions of the Sephiroth Gods and Goddesses, using all the correspondences to build altars, and just got into doing Magic. I think I wanted to be like Vivian LeFay Morgan from Dion Fortune’s Sea Priestess book among other things. I used the magical images and ideas I learned in the Mystical Qabbalah in my own dances for the troupe I was in called the  Companions of the Musavir. It was Sufi dance troupe. As the dance company was about using Scared Dance to tell Sufi stories, my contributions fit in very well. I always liked the idea of the theater as a temple.

So my knowledge of the Tree is pretty extensive, but also very old. I will give you what I have internalized over the years. It may be technically off for some people, but if you are one of those, please feel free to leave comments. I would enjoy an refresher and it will help the other readers as well.

Tree of Life, Tree of Lights

Above is a very nice diagram of the Tree of Life, the basic glyph, or magical pattern, on which the Qabbalistic system is based. But in case you are new to this, here is a simple one:

As you can see, there are ten spheres with thirty-two paths linking them together in various ways. The spheres are called Sephiroth and, in my experience, when you work with them, they open up as little chapels with altars in them that correspond to the qualities of the deities that work through them. Each Sephiroth is aligned to a planet and with the Gods, Goddesses, Planetary Intelligences, Angels that make up the consciousness of that Sphere.

You can also meditate standing within the Tree, so that your feet at at Malkuth (Earth), your pelvis is at Yesod  (Moon), heart is at Tiphareth (Sun) and so on. You must “Cross the Abyss” (Daath) so that your head is just below Kether whose symbol is appropriately enough, a Crowned King.

This is a huge topic that entire books have been written about, but these little keys can help you go through the doors on your own. It is the basis of Tables of Correspondences, relationships between powers and deities, and many other things. It is very enlightening to take your favorite Gods, say the Greek Gods, and put each one in a sphere according his or her planetary association and see how the energies collide and interact. You can understand things at a much deeper level when you play with the Tree of Life in this way.

The Dark Side of the Tree, Tree of Death?

Now, more appropriately for Parsons and Thelema, I shall do my best to explain the Dark Side of the Tree of Life. Think of it as the same as the Dark Side of the Moon, where a crater has been named for Jack Parsons, where everything is reversed like a reflection in a mirror.

The mirror can be front to back as with a coin, but also up and down as when a tree is reflected in a lake. (See  the image at the top of this post.) This essay is about the front/back dichotomy. The up/down has to do with the Underworld of Faery.

Most things that live in the dark, or on the dark side, have developed fearful shapes in the minds of the members of the Big Three religions that have been indoctrinated to to seek, exclusively, the Light. In Christianity, I think the idea that God is Logos, equated to the Sun, may have something to do with this. Therefore, the moon, or the dark being opposed, must be anti-God.

Exploring the reverse side of the Tree of Life was forbidden, for it was said to be  the abode of demons, shells, and destructive, chaotic forces — the flip side of the acceptable qualities of the bright side of the tree. An example of this would be:

Chesed, ruled by Jupiter and all the Gods of beneficence, mercy, abundance, and expansion can flip over into excess, greed, compulsion, and cancerous growth. Think of the good and bad sides of Sagittarius: jovial, fun- loving, active, philosophical, but wow, can they be dogmatic, bullying, crude, and its my way or the highway!

Its like that for all of the Sephiroth, whether Netzach (Venus), Hod (Mercury) Geburah (Mars) Binah (Saturn), etc.. (See the charts) The Dark Tree houses  chaos, disintegration, unbalanced power, or forces out of conscious control — for what is in the dark is unconscious, instinctual, reacting without thought. Furies live on the dark side of tree, and all those beings that we, or society as a whole, reject. Death lives on the dark side, waiting in the shadows.

Qliphoth and Astral Shells

Some Occultists have a need to redeem these exiled entities, wishing to bring about wholeness and healing. In order to do that safely, one must have been initiated into their own shadow side, in a real way, so that when these beings show themselves, they can be understood.

Some Occultists feel that the Qliphoth are storehouse of power.  The truth is that the darkness brings you deep, and if you seek to look into what has been repressed, or forbidden, then the paths that work with the dark side of the Tree will have a magnetic pull for you.

The Qliphoth are what are called by Occultists, Astral Shells. What this means is that, at one time these were bodily forms with souls, perhaps human, but they are now dead and emptied out of any Divine spark, or consciousness. Ghosts are considered by some Parapsychologists to be Astral Shells, or just figments or imprints left behind in the aethers after the original occupant has moved on. These shells can be used, taken over by wandering entities, that seem a bit like hermit crabs looking for new homes. Since they are floating around on the dark side, the  spirits that take them over are, of course, low grade entities and demons who can be magically persuaded to do the bidding of Black Magicians. Nyahahah! The lovely Lillith is considered to be one of these.

Lilith by Anandazone

Lilith by Anandazone

Astral Realm or Sub Lunar Realm

I have a question about the idea of Astral Shells. The word Astral means Star, so it suggests that the Qliphoth are dead stars perhaps? But the Earth is under the Moon; we live in the Sub Lunar Realm. It is said that, at one time, the Earth and the Moon were joined. The Moon split off and we descended into denser material forms.

Therefore, are the demons Astral Shells or Lunar Shells? They sure seem to be of the dark side of the moon to me.

I understand why someone would want to do magic with the Underworld Tree, another forbidden zone by the Big Three Religions. It is because  I feel very resonant with Faery. But I must admit, even though I played Majorie Cameron/ Babalon in the play and was deeply effected by Her, I don’t understand the attraction of some people to destructive forces, chaos, and astral shells. there is a gap in my education that, hopefully, Paul Green will fill when we speak at the end of this week.

The interview will be recorded over Skype and then I will stream it from the blog. Cross fingers that all goes well. Technically speaking that is.

Of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 5, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…


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Creating Sacred Space: Part 2

Above, Below, and Between

In the preceding article, Creating Sacred Space, I described how to create a Magic Circle based on the Four Directions of the compass. East, South. West, and North. This is the horizontal Place Between the Worlds, but there at three vertical directions needed  to complete the Astral Temple that really takes one safely into the Otherworld.

Magical Circle

Reestablish yourself within the Four Directions of the Magic Circle. I like what my teacher R.J.Stewart always says: “The direction in which you stand comes through you, the direction that face comes to you, the directions to you right and left uphold you.”

Now you stand in the center of the circle and raise your Magical Weapon to the sky and say:

“I call forth the Gods and Goddesses of the Celestial Realm. The Moon, the Sun, and the Stars, the Seven Planets, the Signs of the Ecliptic, are arranged above us tonight.”

Earthlight Ritual

You can perform the Faery Earthlight Ritual while you call the Sky, as taught by R.J.Stewart at this point to bring it into your body:
*Standing straight with your arms at your sides, visualize the color green in your feet and moving up your legs.
*Raising your arms a little, visualize the color blue moving into your pelvis and generative organs.
*Raising your arms so they are even with your shoulders, visualize the color red moving into your chest and heart.
*Raising your arms so above your head, visualize the color yellow around your head.
*Slowly bring your arms down, visualizing the colors as you go.
This is called Raising the Earthlight and is a Faery technique.

Descent to the Underworld

Now see the ground at your feet. Depending on your tradition, see a five-pointed star shining with blue light, or a six pointed star, the door of a well, and stairway or the roots of a great tree whose branches spread down into the Underworld.

Traditions with Judeo-Christian values, may avoid going into the Underworld, known to them as the Infernal Realm, abode of Demons, or Qlippoth. They may believe that the Faery are Demons. Even I know that they are Fallen Angles — but so are we.

If you feel safer to work in a Temple that has no basement, then it it is perfectly fine to work within the SIX. For those of Faery or Infernal leanings, you will want to include the SEVENTH.


Take your seat in one of the Four Directions. Focus on the well, stairway or tree roots in the center of the Circle. There is a different feel to each.

The Well has a watery feel and tends to take you to twilight places. I find dew spangled grass, trees, and it is through the portal of the well that I have met Merlin, Morgan LeFay, Vivienne, and the Priestesses of the wells.
Around the well grow red and white roses. Roses are sacred to the Faery, and in facet have been created by them. Roses belong to Lucifer and the Madonna as well. I also give them to King Solomon, and the Black Madonna.

Stair to Moat

Stair to Moat

The Stairway that spirals down into the earth has a feel of ancient stone. In my experience, it leads to ancient temple precincts, ruins, and libraries. Also cemeteries, catacombs and the like. Goths will like the spiral stairway, for it seems to lead to the darker mysteries.

The Reversed Tree leads to the Faery Realm, the Green Land and the path to the Palace Under the Hill. This is very potent. There are rules.

I will write another post on the subject of Faery etiquette in the future. If you insist on trying it out before that, use impeccable manners and treat the Lordly Ones with deference, and respect. This isn’t just about being nice — its a warning.


The Sphere Of Light

Now you are within the sphere which is your Astral Temple. You can work within and below as I described, you can journey into one or all of the Four Directions and learn form them. This is never boring as far as I am concerned, because it changes all the time.
This horizontal work can bring amazing experiences. You can wander into the dark forest of the Grimm’s fairy tales, or dive into Undersea Palaces, dally in the Garden of the Rose, or walk among the Standing Stones that shine on the low hill at sunrise..

If you want to move Above, Rising on the Planes, set your intention and you feel yourself shift. Shifting usually brings a sensation of light pressure in your solar plexus and head.
You can visit the Moon, Sun, or Stars. I like to see a golden ladder come down and climb it sometimes. Tower imagery works very well. They have different feels about them. I have often found myself lying in a long golden boat called Millions of Years.


Mood Enhancers

*Music instantly changes the atmosphere. Ambient music, Tibetan bowls, drumming can help focus the mind.
*Incense acts on ancestral memory. Some incenses are designed to call upon certain spirits or deities. Benzoin and Amber call the Faery.
* Crystals, stones, flowers, leaves, figures, and other images can help one to focus, adding a visual link to the deep, subconscious mind. I used to use a crystal bowl filled with water as the centerpiece of my Moon Circles for years.

Every item in the circle should follow the Correspondences to bring through the energies to want to work with.

I will write more on these topics as we go along. Any requests? have any questions or ideas come up about this work of Creating Sacred Space?

For more Magical Instruction, subscribe to my email list and you will be updated.

You can’t go wrong with these books by R.J.Stewart Faery Magus

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