Kabbalah with Less Neoplatonism

Yesterday, I had a brief exchange between Ted Hand and Cole Tucker on twitter that warrants a lengthier response for which twitter is not suited. The discussion began with a question from Ted as to whether we should identify the Kabbalistic sefirot with the Neoplatonic henads. He also posted a snippet from a related discussion in which the Porphyrian Tree was used to suggest the common roots of Kabbalah and Neoplatonism (here is a link to Wikipedia where you can see the tree more clearly).

I want to unpack my answer (that the proper units of comparison should be between the henads and the channels of the tree, the henads and the sacred alphabet) because I think that comparison helps to differentiate the Kabbalistic perspective from the Neoplatonic one. The tendency to fuse Kabbalism and Neoplatonism has obscured fundamental differences between them and I want to talk about how my practice has led me to redifferentiate them. This is primarily a conceptual discussion, though, and I touch on practical matters lightly, as illustrative tangents.

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