The Ten Sephiroth

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According to the teachings of Mathers, Fortune, Crowley, and others, the cosmos is divided into ten fundamental archetypal essences; the ten sefirot (or “sephiroth”), which are organised in three pillars.

The Sefirot as understood in the Golden Dawn system are not so much attributes or structures of the body of God (only remnants of the original Jewish theology remained), as occult or psychic  powers or archetypes, which were secondarily located  within the human body.

Mathers also divided the Sefirot into three triads, which he called the “astral”, “moral”, and “intellectual”, the lowest sefirot meanwhile representing the physical world.

This system of ten sefirot and twenty-two paths is used as a stylised “map” of consciousness in ritual magic of the “Golden Dawn” tradition  And while this form of Qabalah is certainly a workable magical system, it bears little similarity to the original Jewish metaphysic from which it was ultimately derived during the Renaissance.

Traditional spelling Golden Dawn
(Qabalistic) spelling
Meaning position on body Astrological correspondence Magickal image Jungian and pseudo-Jungian Archetypes (Dion Fortune etc)
Keter 1. Kether Crown crown Prime Mover (God)
[later, Neptune]
venerable bearded old man – face seen in profile Godhead, God,
the Self
Hokhmah 2.Chokmah Wisdom left side of face Fixed stars [later, Uranus] wise old man, Yang,  male polarity
Binah 3. Binah Understanding right side of face Saturn Great Goddess,
old hag
Yin, female polarity
Daat Daath Knowledge none
[later, 3rd eye or throat]
none [later, Pluto] none none
Hesed 4. Chesed Mercy, generosity Left arm Jupiter King seated on a throne
Gevurah 5. Gevurah Strength, power Right arm Mars Warrior
Tifaret 6. Tiphareth Vision of  Higher Self Heart, breast Sun Child, King, Sacrificed God (e.g. Christ) Ego, self,
Netzah 7. Netzach Emotions, spontaneity Loins, left hip, left leg Venus anima
Hod 8. Hod Intellect Loins, right hip, right legs Mercury
Yesod 9. Yesod Astral plane, the unconscious Genitals Moon Hermophrodite
Malkut 10. Malkuth Physical reality (as seen through the imagination) Feet, anus Earth Maiden

Image above from
Information & table above from

Conception of Divinity

A primary concern of Hermetic Qabalah is the nature of divinity, its conception of which is quite markedly different from that presented in monotheistic religions; in particular there is not the strict separation between divinity and humankind which is seen in monotheisms. Hermetic Qabalah holds to the neoplatonic conception that the manifest universe, of which material creation is a part, arose as a series of emanations from the godhead.

These emanations arise out of three preliminary states that are considered to precede manifestation. The first is a state of complete nullity, known as Ain (אין “nothing”); the second state, considered a “concentration” of Ain, is Ain Suph (אין סוף “without limit, infinite”); the third state, caused by a “movement” of Ain Suph, is Ain Suph Aur (אין סוף אור “limitless light”), and it is from this initial brilliance that the first emanation of creation originates.

The Sephiroth in Hermetic Qabalah

The emanations of creation arising from Ain Suph Aur are ten in number, and are called Sephiroth (סְפִירוֹת, singular Sephirah סְפִירָה, “enumeration”). These are conceptualised somewhat differently in Hermetic Qabalah to the way they are in Jewish Kabbalah.

From Ain Suph Aur crystallises Kether, the first sephirah of the Hermetic Qabalistic tree of life. From Kether emanate the rest of the sephirot in turn, viz. Kether (1), Chokhmah (2), Binah (3), Daath, Chesed (4), Geburah (5), Tiphareth (6), Netzach (7), Hod (8), Yesod (9), Malkuth (10). Daath is not assigned a number as it is considered part of Binah or a hidden sephirah.

Tree_of_lifeEach sephirah is considered to be an emanation of the divine energy (often described as ‘the divine light’) which ever flows from the unmanifest, through Kether into manifestation. This flow of light is indicated by the lightning flash shown on diagrams of the sephirotic tree which passes through each sephirah in turn according to their enumerations.

Each sephirah is a nexus of divine energy and each has a number of attributions. These attributions enable the Qabalist to form a comprehension of each particular sephirah’s characteristics. This manner of applying many attributions to each sephirah is an exemplar of the diverse nature of Hermetic Qabalah. For example the sephirah Hod has the attributions of; Glory, perfect intelligence, the eights of the tarot deck, the planet Mercury, the Egyptian god Thoth, the archangel Michael, the Roman god Mercury and the alchemical element Mercury. The general principle involved is that the Qabalist will meditate on all these attributions and by this means acquire an understanding of the character of the sephirah including all its correspondences.