Ripples

I’m skipping across the surface like a stone over water. I’m skimming across a topic, then jumping off from it into another topic, then another, all the way across the pond. There is nothing complete; it’s all schematic. At some point, I’m going to turn back and start to take a look at what gathers to the ripples, at the still and stilling waters.

The talk of ripples is useful, too, because Kabbalists have also used a rippling diagram to model the relationship between the sefirot. Keeping that in mind helps make clear that the diagram is a model, one with limits, and that we will benefit from exploring alternative diagrams, too.

I have seen the ripple diagram modeled in two inverse patterns, one in which the ripple starting at Malkuth and proceeding toward an unbounded Keter and another in which the ripple begins with Keter and proceeds toward an unbounded Malkuth. Such a diagram makes it easy to imagine the channels as something else, as the boundary between the influence of sefirot, and gives pride of place to the planetary channels (here appearing as the trace of their actual movement through space).

The planets become boundaries and the system of planetary gates appears. Between each orbit lies the mysteriously empty but potent depths of a sefirot. The diagonals are the angles that subdivide and clarify the positions of the planets along their orbit-channels. The planets themselves appear as the doors, through which what resides in the depths may transit to another depth.

The first (Malkuth rippling toward Keter) reflects the person on the earth extending their awareness outward toward the limit of their comprehension embodied by the furthest (‘slowest’) Saturn. The second (Keter toward unbounded Malkuth) follows the descent of the soul into the complexity and confusion of daily life. (I have a difficult time not comparing this with the way each step of a ziggurat encompass the previous.)

All of those presume a geocentric perspective. Once we get going, we can look at the transformation of the pattern into a heliocentric perspective. While a superficially abstract change, it rewrites the boundaries in a big way, because the Lunar boundary is now small ripple along the boundary of Malkuth, a stirring that we are aware of only because it is so proximal to us and because it is of such great mass. By comparison, Mars’s satellites are downright tiny.

A ripple within a ripple. It’s entrained to the channel carved out by the earth but it carves out its own channel, too, creating a shadowy double of it. Yesod’s peculiar relationship to Malkuth on the tree becomes clear, opening the imaginal doors that make our peculiar form of life possible. The experience of Yesod so often manifests as a doubling and imaginal extension of our world pushed through the lunar channel and here that really makes sense. It winds through and pulls from the sefirot of Malkuth.

It also suggests that the way in which Yesod forms a gathering in the Kabbalistic tree diagram is a peculiar property of our world, not a universal property of the relationship between sefirotic forces. Notice, too, that it is because of Yesod that the rule of three is distorted, producing a tenth where we would expect only the nine where each of the three unfolds into a three of its own.

This diagram also rewrites the order through which transformations take place in the descent (though not necessarily the channels that contain them). The center of the tree is no longer the Malkuthian depths and Keterian beyond, but a potent Tifaretian ordering exerted simultaneously through the channels of the Sun (who holds the planets in sway) and Saturn (who demarcates the visual limits of the sun’s influence). Notice that this inversion preserves the primacy of the tree’s central column but inverts the privilege of its elements.

Tifaret
(Sun)
Hod
(Mercury)
Netzach
(Venus)
Yesod/Malkuth
(Earth-Moon)
Gevurah
(Mars)
Chesed
(Jupiter)
Tifaret
(Saturn)
Binah
(Indeterminate horizon of solar system)
Chokmah/Keter

Meanwhile, other patterns of relation unfold, with the columns broken and new relations formed as the Earth interposes itself in the chain. In place of the pillars we have the proximity of Jupiter and Mars (disrupted by a Da’ath-like mystery) and the intimacy of Mercury and Venus. These too can be glimpsed backward onto the structure of the tree diagram. These zones of proximity are all mediated in the form of the three mothers on the tree, which suggests avenues for further contemplation.

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