Mishkan ha-Echad

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Sexual Symbolism On The Tree Of Life

Often times new students to the Qabalah are surprised when they find that sexual symbolism plays a key role in describing the various processes of emanation, etc. For example, Chokmah (the Supernal Father), as the second Sephirah, has a geometrical symbol of a line (made of two points), which can represent the phallus, or, since the line has no defineable end ("how long is a line?"), it can represent the rushing forth of force indicative of the sperm. Binah (the Supernal Mother), as the third Sephirah, has a geometrical symbol of a triangle (made of three points), which contains the force of the line in form, and represents the womb or vagina of the woman (particularly when the point of the triangle is pointing down). While some people may find this symbolism uncomfortable, it is intrinsic to a proper understanding of the Qabalah, and thus the student should not shy away from it.


The above diagram explores one more aspect of the sexual symbolism on the Tree of Life, exploring some the often-ignored representations of the Sephiroth. The most obviously sexual Sephirah is, of course, Yesod. When the Tree is assigned to parts of the body, Yesod represents the reproductive organs. This can also be seen via its role as the watery lunar sphere, representing the reproductive fluids, as well as the menstrual cycle of women, obviously connected to their reproductive organ.

However, this sphere was originally only representative of the phallus (considering the male-dominated Jewish society of the time), while woman, in her entirety, was pushed down to Makuth, having but that single Sephirah as her domain. This is also where Malkuth has taken on a feminine nature, as the Shekinah, the Holy Spirit or Presence of God in the physical world, not to mention its role as Earth (Earth Mother), and even some odd references to it (instead of Yesod) as the Moon (allowing its union with Tiphareth, the Sun, to be more alchemically acceptable). Thus, Malkuth is sometimes depicted as the womb, the earthly counterpart to the womb of Binah, just as Yesod is the lower counterpart of Chokmah. Binah and Chokmah can be seen as the two hemispheres of the brain, and thus the different gender aspects, as opposed to the sexual ones, which are much more linked to the physical (and thus, the lower spheres).

But these are not the only sexual Sephiroth, for Hod and Netzach are sometimes depicted as the testicles (more often, however, as the legs), pumping the sperm into the phallus of Yesod. And the energy that goes behind this, the ultimately primordial "drive", comes from Chokmah and Binah, their divine counterparts, pushing energy down into Tiphareth, which distributes it to the "testicles" of Hod and Netzach, then to Yesod, and lastly into the womb of Malkuth.

This is but one example of the various arrays of sexual symbolism in the Qabalah, but it is one that is rarely seen, explored, or understood. Sex is but another warehouse of myth that the ancient Qabalists utilised in their attempts to hint at the majesty of God.
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