[NB] Sketching Sefer Yetzirah‘s Emanation

I did mention that I wanted to try and add a few more visual elements to these discussions, right? I wanted to try and sketch out the way emanation could be modeled using the SY’s description of the sefirot as a starting point.

Caveat: You know how people will talk down a piece of modern art with some jibe about how their kid could do it? Well, my skills with this are just about what a kid can do and modern art it ain’t. This won’t be pretty, but I hope it will be helpful. This is honest to goodness crayons and a sharpie. It’s an experiment!

The key things I was hoping to represent are

  1. the existential equality of Malkuth, Binah, and Chokmah
  2. the dependence of Chesed, Gevurah, Tifaret, Yesod, Hod, and Netzach upon Malkuth
  3. Chokmah and Binah embracing Malkuth
  4. the differentiation of Binah from within Chokmah
  5. the way in which the directional sefirot fall into pairs (Tifaret-Yesod, Netzach-Hod, Chesed-Gevurah)
  6. the way in which each of those pairs form a triplicity which in turn gives them an especial affinity for Chokmah or Binah (Binah’s trio: Hod, Yesod, Gevurah; Chokmah’s trio: Netzach, Tifaret, Chesed); I suspect you can read other triplicities within it productively.
  7. gesture toward the role Binah seems to play in some other accounts, namely suggesting the sepal of a rose with the flames

Okay, here they are and you can judge for yourself. First the whole diagram, then a close-up of Malkuth.

A picture of a crayon drawing. At the center, is a star composed of two interersecting triangles (i.e., a Star of David) in a circle ornamented with five flames against a blue background. The star is labeled "Malkuth," the flames are labeled "Binah," and the blue field is labeled "Chokmah." Each point of the star is a different color and labeled (see next picture for details).Next up, here is a close-up of Malkuth.

A close up of the star from the image above. The center of the star is colored black around Malkuth and each of the star's points are labeled with a name and color of their own. Starting from the top and moving clockwise, the names and colors are: Netzach in pink, Tifaret in goldish-brown, Gevurah in red, Hod in grey, Yesod in green, and Chesed in a darker blue. The base of the Binah flames can still be seen, arranged around the circle in which the star is embedded as if they were part of a five-pointed star sitting behind the circle.

Don’t put too much weight on those colors. I chose them because they felt right and contrasted reasonably well from each other, not for any deep symbolic ties to the SY material.

8 thoughts on “[NB] Sketching Sefer Yetzirah‘s Emanation

  1. Just to check they are emanating from Malkuth?

    As I understand – breath is keter, breath from breath is malkuth, water from breath is hokmah and fire from breath is binah. So if they are emanating from Malkuth then technically Binah as fire from water should be surrounding Hokmah, no?

    I think this is an excellent exercise and I might make a crack at it myself – a thought I had about yours though. When corresponding the Sefirot names to Depths which I find more useful in figuring these things out – you would have spatial directions surrounded by space, and I thought about space as binah and the depth of evil.

    What after all is more hostile/disadvantageous than pure space. The vacuum, the cold, no gravity… Space itself perhaps is the most ”evil” force regarding life which can only subsist in it in the form of speed-spores.

    If you are following the ToL in a different manner and Keter is the first emanation, followed by Hokmah, then Binah etc, it would suggest that space itself, as the ultimate hostile thing is actually contained in a dimension which is immensely positive for life – a Goldilocks dimension? – maybe a fluid…

    Anyway a bit fragmented, I hope you can find some useful in the musings.

    1. Io

      I figured it was just a slip of the fingers. Regarding the presentation, the graphical presentation explores a model something like this:

      Chokmah and Malkuth as being both emanating from Breath (Keter), Chokmah being the moistness of the breath Malkuth being the breathness of the breath (which strikes me as one of the hard and mysterious kernels of the SY). With Binah as the fire of the water, I am thinking about the way lightning flashes *within* a cloud.

      In this way, Chokmah corresponds to the atmosphere and Malkuth to the Earth proper. so, it is a less that Malkuth is the source of the emanation of Binah and Chokmah than that as Malkuth and Chokmah emanate from the Breath, they embrace each other (and Binah emerges within Chokmah, capable of flashing between the two).

      Keter-Breath is in some ways the whole drawing all at once.

  2. As I understand it – breath emanates from breath and the water emanates from the emanated breath not the original breath. Perhaps then it is Kether that is in the inbreath and Malkuth the outbreath. So creation would go – Keter, Malkuth, Hokmah, Binah or Future, Past, Good Evil. The spatial directions would then emerge from Binah.

    The outbreath (Malkuth) is where first good, then evil can subsist. That the future is the inbreath and the past the outbreath seems to make sense in the same way one has to make time for events to happen in the first place. Also this speaks to me of the connection of Malkuth with the voice, it is in the outbreath that the letters take hold and therefore denote whether the ”word” will be of tov or ra. The exception is Alef which is generally connected with the inbreath and why ”Beit” is first – the first ”spoken” letter.

    Although I see in Kaplan that he maintains/suggests that Hokmah emanates from Keter as well in that both breath and water emanate from breath, I feel he does this out of deference to the later Kabbalists (a disclaimer he makes at various points in the book) in terms of portraying the material in its full context. Using the depths as the primary point rather than their later Kabbalistic titles of Kether, Hokmah etc, I see future then past then good then evil to make more sense than future and then simultaneously past and good and then evil to make less. It appears to sidestep the very rational order of the rest of the book.

    Without the notion of time nothing can happen, but where do we draw time from? The well spring of undifferentiated time or the depth of the future. Once we have a block of time from our ”quarry”, all of that time automatically becomes the past, as I tried to explain in my shadows of the past post. It is also why prophecy can happen.

    If you read that first letter Beit of Berashith as within rather than in. I think we can get closer to this understanding of time. Alef the inbreath takes hold of a quantity of air which the voice then shapes into words and meanings – Berashith as ”within the beginning” is calling our block of time the beginning and suggesting all events take place inside that block.

    Archangel Uriel attempted to explain these things to me once but it involves Daath as ”Breath of the Breath” as a pre-fall Malkuth. In this we get Kether – Daat – Hokmah – Binah – and then the six spatial sefirot, which ”’break” Daat making it Malkuth and causing it to fall. In this it seems that restoring Malkuth means restoring it as Daath, I believe that the ideas of understanding that the reality you percieve is just that, rather than actual physical reality, a delusion most labour under, goes a long way to making that restoration possible.

    What do you think?

    1. Io

      That makes sense, but I think of it just a little differently. No critcism of what you say intended (I’ll reflect upon it more), here is where my work is taking me:

      Malkuth emanates from the future as its past, but so, too, does Good and Evil emanate from the future as the injunctions (“thou shalt”). Part of the moral force of good and evil derive from their special relationship to the future as such weighing upon the world of Malkuth, indicating to us the present action that properly joins past and future.

      The fall, as I understand it presently, occurs due to a disruption that transpires between moral (Chokmah/Binah) and temporal creation (Malkuth), between which opens the immense temporal gap between the fulfillment of the past in the future.

      I’m still working through how to articulate my sense of Daath, so I’m going to have to think through what you said more closely and see how it illumines what I’m experiencing.

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