Yesod, Nephesh, and Animal Spirits

Continuing the longer responses to some of the questions Iago posed, I want to talk a little more about Yesod as it came up in the discussion. One of the things I feel that I need to do before I start into some of the specific elements under discussion, though, is clarify a little about how my Kabbalism differs from Crowley’s. Don’t take these as gospel; they are just my efforts to make sense of my work.

I’ll point readers to this post a while back about some big shifts in how I approached the Tree of Life diagram so I don’t have to start from the very beginning. With that in mind, I need to make clear that I do not link Yesod and the Moon as Crowley does (under the influence of the Golden Dawn). Rather, Yesod serves as a point of articulation between several heavenly powers, of which the Moon is one. So, when I say that the Tarot is lunar, for example, I most definitely don’t mean that it is Yesodic except as Yesod discharges some of its potency into the lunar channel.

Yesod pulls together forces form the Sun, from the Moon, and from what I have tended to call the Fallen Stars, each of which have ties to other sefirot, other constellating points that transform energies received from the channels and discharge aspects of that transformation back into the channels. When we take the whole diagram into consideration, there is an organismic mingling of the spheres through the channels, which results in every channel being at least latently connected to every other channel.

The substance of that movement is nothing less than time itself, which manifests as both the foot (Malkuth) and crown (Keter) of the ‘classic’ Tree of Life diagram.

While there are beings that manifest at this level in the forms of animals, I don’t think that they are identical with the spiritual forces of animals. Because most animals exist as manifest forms, their appearance can be taken on by spirits moving in these channels. These animal-appearing spirits are one of the products of the Yesodic workings, of a specific sort of excess that manifests in the confluence of Sun, Moon, and Stars as they relate to the already manifest patterns (i.e., past) of Malkuth.

Moreover, I would suggest that they take residence in the lunar channel easily and can only be purified by raising the back up from the lunar channel into Yesod, and then into the channel of the Sun, where the manifest forms constituting them are dissolved by the Sun as an expression an intermediary between the power of the past and the power of the future.

Yesod, in its proximity to Malkuth, has a close relationship to the past, as do the other two sefirot in its triad (Hod and Netzach). By contrast, the nephesh is what gives us a present, a living and embodied being. That occurs at Tifaret, though as living we are constantly in contact with the past and through that connection constantly capable of energizing our past with our present (and thereby generating the tempting and trying spirits). It seems to be the same with some animal spirits—they reside at the level of Tifaret’s triad and exert a purifying force downward on the manifest forms of their animal existence. Animal saints, if you will.

So, while there are tempting animal forces that can manifest in the lunar channel, they aren’t the same thing as the animal forces that can manifest in the channels around Tifaret, the channels where we find the sort of ‘totemic’ connections between a people, a culture, and a place, as they are embodied in the nonhuman life that populates it. I suspect, too, that Tifaret’s channels represent the ‘highest’ levels of animal life, with the channels connected to the upper portion of the tree connected to subtle realities that animals possess a derivative relationship to (e.g., Adam names the animals).

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2 thoughts on “Yesod, Nephesh, and Animal Spirits

  1. Iago Pereira

    Thank you deeply for your detailed explanation. I’m aware of your usage of Saadia Tree, and it indeed allows for a very nuanced understanding of the sephirot (while it still permits the links with the planets from the Kircher tree).
    I believe we can benefit from a more detailed report of my experience, so as to try it out on the (very insightul!) model you layed on for us.
    I had in total 2 experiences with spirit animals (of the same species) during this session of ayahuasca rituals (at amazon forest). At first, in the end of the first ritual after a hardcore gross cleansing an Animal came, with an obviously vile appearance, and offered me power, in exchange of some sort of maiming of my body. Not quite subtle of a temptation, right? I obviously declined. It fits (schematically!) as the first kind of spirit animal.
    The next ritual, a few days after, I underwent being burned by an exalted light, then a series of revelatory states, then a more bunch of fine cleansing, and then I was clean as very white sheet and in a very expansive mind state. Only thus I came in contact with the Spirit claiming to be my familiar (in a totemic sense), who presented an exalted appearance (not that this means much in the astral anyway).
    And this entity explained to me as such: that our bond came from beyond the birth; that it’s an astral family of sorts; that it imparts the appetites of the animal, to be “tamed” by awareness only possible in human incarnation; and that it adds also in it’s singularity (each animal has an specific wisdom only possible through experience of it’s niche, it’s own potency). These “appetites” of the animal were tied (since the start) with my destiny. And that everyone thas their astral family also.
    So these two encounters seems like the “same phenomena” experienced in two distinct levels. In the sphere of the moon, only the lower is apparent (the greed, first of all). When I experienced this animal from the sunny side, the lower (the karma/habits of the animal) was integrated in a sense of whole and thus allowed the possibility of rendemption (a Tipharetic theme I guess). Also, from the sunny side, that encounter had much to teach (in the sense of infusing life with powerfully resonant myths and symbols), and was quite beautiful. Animal saint, hahaha – that’s quite appropriated.

    ps. what are the Fallen Stars? You mean the sphere of the Zodiac and the “Fixed Stars”?

    1. Io

      That makes sense to me–I have found ayahuasca remarkable at clearing out the gunky and lower material, allowing the higher to shine through more clearly. The first time, I think I might have been literally and figuratively white as a sheet afterward!

      The Fallen Stars…I think of them less as the fixed stars than as the way in which the fixed stars become entangled in matter, what you find in some apocalyptic/gnostic material as the pact made between the angels and the earth which gave the earthly powers a degree of heavenly authority.

      They occupy a special relationship to the Moon, as one of the avenues through which they are cleansed and through which they can be returned to a higher form in order to (re)constitute the broken channels.They may be the sort of thing you encountered–something that seems unclean but through a series of operations becomes a means of enlightenment, a dual enlightenment both of the stars and of the earth.

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