CHAKRAS AND THE TREE OF LIFE
PART 17 - The Tetragrammaton and the Shekinah
There are thirty-two paths of wisdom within the Tree of Life; ten sephiroth and twenty-two links between them. These links or paths relate to the twenty-two cards in the Tarot, and to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; three 'mother letters', seven 'double letters' and twelve 'single letters'. In the first chapter of Genesis, the part that tells of the seven days of creation, there are thirty-two references to God (in the original Hebrew text God is actually called the Elohim). Ten of these are occasions where God 'said' something, Three where God 'made' something, seven God 'saw' and twelve God 'did'. Each of the Hebrew letters also has a number value, so that words have a 'numerical' as well as a 'textual' meaning. It is interesting that the Hebrew word for 'love' adds up to thirteen, the number of Christ consciousness. The path linking the heart to the crown is path number thirteen, again that enigmatic number.
One of the interesting mysteries of the Qabala, which has turned out to be a big factor in the shaping of our world, is the concept of the Tetragrammaton, which means 'name of four letters'. The one that represents the 'name of God' is YHWH, which became Yahweh and then Jehovah. Each of the Hebrew letters has a name, such as Aleph, Beth, Gimmel, Yod, Heh and Vav. Thus the original pronunciation of YHWH was closer to Yod Heh Vav Heh. This word is considered by the Qabala to be the most powerful of all mantras (although the Qabala does not use the word 'mantra'), and the possessor of its correct pronunciation is said to be capable of great feats of magic. This true pronunciation is thought to be lost or to be a closely guarded secret and it was traditionally forbidden to even attempt to say the name. Ancient Hebrews used the word 'Adonai' to refer to God. This led to the use of the name 'Jehovah', which according to the Old Testament, was the true and only God.
The four letters of the Tetragrammaton represent the four levels of the human being, the four worlds mentioned earlier, as well as the four elements - air, fire, water and earth. The first letter, Yod, represents the primal father, Heh represents the Primal mother, Vav is the son and the second Heh is the daughter. The numerical value of this four-letter word is 13 + 13 = 26.
This brings us to another Qabalic concept, that of the Shekinah. Related to the Mesapotamian goddess, Anath/Ashtoreth/Astarte/Ishtar, the Shekina is considered to be the bride or consort of YHWH. She is also an archetype, the female representative of God on Earth, the embodiment of wisdom and all things feminine. The concept of the Shekinah is actually quite elaborate, similar to the idea of Shakti in Hinduism. Tradition says that the Shekinah, the female aspect of divinity, vanished from the Earth circa 600 BC, leaving Jehovah, the male aspect, to rule alone. Some would say she was 'banished' or ignored by the emerging patriarchy. The mystics feel that Jehovah is incapable of ruling, of moving mankind forward, without this feminine presence. They long for the return of the wisdom of the Shekinah, the restoration of balance. This reunion has been named the 'tzaddig'.
The Qabala recognizes four levels of meaning or classifications; the practical, the dogmatic, the literal and the unwritten. The practical level interprets the Qabala in terms of hidden meaning pertaining to magic, talismans, etc. The dogmatic or academic Qabala refers to the study of the meaning of the texts. The unwritten Qabala is concerned with the many correspondences of the Tree of Life and its paths, ranging from the Hebrew archangels to the hexagrams of the I Ching. The literal interpretation, called the 'gematria', is concerned with the meaning of the Qabala, not in terms of its text, but in terms of the numerological meaning as mentioned earlier. Many attempts have been made to explain strange passages in ancient texts using this method and there is a general agreement that many ancient texts were purposefully written with different levels of meaning. The Torah is said to have at least four such levels, the literal, the allegorical, the hermeneutical (relating to Hermetic magic), and the mystical.
This is the end of this series of articles on the Chakras and the Tree of Life. They offer a glimpse into the Tantra and the Qabala, two huge bodies of information that attempt to make some sense of our mysterious reality. One could easily spend a lifetime in the study of either of them. One can't help but marvel at the depth and complexity of these ancient schools of thought and at the degree of similarity between their concepts, even though they come from different cultures. There is also a great degree of accord with other mystical knowledge, and with modern science.