In the Name of the One, by the Grace of God Triune, and by the Favor and Appointing of the Ever-Coming Son, I will now endeavor to expound that which has been revealed unto me.
First, let me state my conviction that this universe is the perfect work of a perfect being, and that any apparent imperfections are due to the limitations of our finite consciousness, so that even these contribute to the larger perfection of the whole.
Secondly, I believe there is a Supreme and Perfect Order in all things, in spite of any apparent disorder which, again, is but the result of restrictions in man himself.
Thirdly, that the essence of Order consists in the perfect adjustment of parts in subservience to the ends of the Whole, so that that which is most complex is most perfect, but that this very complexity is due to the combination of a few Ultimate Ideas which go to make up the One Thought of the Supreme Being.
I am inclined to believe that the perfection of the existing Universe is Progressive, insofar as the Whole may be said to expand and become more and more complex and greater and greater in extent while still in accord with the One Order which prevails from its most minute atom to its inconceivably vast circumference. I incline to believe that the finite universe is not spherical, though tending ever to become so as its substance materializes. In other words that the Light precedes the Life which is its Substance, and the Life precedes the material which is its substance. Thus the rays of Light may spread out in the form of a Star, while the Ever-becoming Life and material substance tend to expand as a Sphere. The projecting rays, so to speak, drive back the primal chaos more easily than would a smooth sphere which expanded equally all over its surface. That such a conception implies at least a possibility, I shall presently endeavor to show.
There is another important point which should be mentioned. The Spiritual World of Ideas is in Perfect Order; the Material World of Substance is in Perfect Order; the Soul of the World, and of Man, which is the result of these, is capable of comprehending that Order perfectly.
But, again, the spirit of Man is perfect, his body is made in the Image and Likeness of God and of the Universe, but his soul, having within it the power of personal choice, or will, which alone enables him to progress in a free and intelligent manner, is at the same time liable to distortion if the personal will is ill-used or restricted. In that case the Eye of the soul sees things out of proportion and order, and this astigmatism must be corrected. Otherwise, man is under an illusion, self-created, which, however, in no way interferes with the Real Order of the Universe, but merely tends to confine him and to prevent him from enjoying his due heritage in all its fullness.
Thus the Great Work for Man consists in the adjustment of the soul, or Intellectual Sphere, so that it bears a perfect resemblance and correspondence to the Material and Natural Order of the Universe and at the same time exhibits its relation with the Supreme or Archetypal Order. This possibility of distortion in the soul has led him into the direst troubles, but unless that soul were thus plastic it could not expand and take on the complex Design of the Greater Universe. Man’s work consists in building up his soul by means of his personal will and creative imagination, under the guidance and direction of the Will of the Universe, into the same Archetypal Pattern which is to be found in the One Thought of God.
But how shall man discover this Design upon the Trestleboard of the Grand Architect? He may at least make an intelligent attempt to do so, as we shall endeavor to show.
Since perfect Order consists in a right relation, adjustment, and proportion of all the parts in subservience to the Idea of the Whole, we must first consider some of the necessary requirements of that Order.
The “Tree of Life” of the Qabalists has been called the “Minutum Mundum” or “Little Universe,” and students of the Qabalah will have become aware that this system has great possibilities as a convenient means of classification in regard to every thing in the Universe, or idea in the mind of man. The Universe, for each one of us, consists of what we are able to comprehend of it. Some are content to feel themselves at one with a very limited part; others realize that if once they could obtain the true Design, all would become possible of comprehension in a spiritual manner. But this Design has been lost, or so it seemed.
In Book 4, Part III—still in ms.—we may read: “An excellent man of great intelligence, a learned Qabalist, once amazed FRATER PERDURABO by stating that the Tree of Life was the framework of the Universe. It was as if some one had serious maintained that a cat was a creature constructed by placing the letters C-A-T in that order. It is no wonder that Magick has excited the ridicule of the unintelligent, since even its educated students can be guilty of so gross a violation of the first principles of common sense.”
I may state that I have not the slightest idea who this excellent man was, and that I have a good deal of respect for the opinions of Frater Perdurabo, but, at the risk of falling under the same stigma as this “unknown warrior” I shall break a lance with Frater Perdurabo on this point, before this treatise is completed.
Meanwhile, let me refer Students of the Holy Qabalah to the various designs of the Tree of Life which may be in their possession, or readily available.
Let us examine, for instance, those shown in Westcott’s “Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah,” Mather’s translation of the “Kabbalah Unveiled,” Pike’s “Morals and Dogma,” Inman’s “Ancient Faiths,” “The Equinox,” Volume One, Number 2, page 243, Waite’s “Doctrine and Literature of the Kabalah,” Ginsburg’s treatise on the subject, the Frontispiece to Book 777, the oldest extant design in the British Museum, etc., and we shall notice one very striking thing: The all vary greatly in their proportions. Some, it will be seen, are long and thin, others short and squatty. 777 alone gives a well proportioned Tree.
It would seem that this important aspect of proportion has received little or no attention in the past. But let me once again refer you to the ancient “Sepher Yetzirah” (as I did in regard to the arrangement of the Paths in “Q.B.L.”); in it we are told to “Fix the Design in its Purity,” to “Replace the Formative Power upon His Throne,” or to “Restore the Device or Workmanship to its Place.”
Was the author of that old treatise using mere idle words, or did he mean what he said? It is possible he did not know how to do this himself, since the mss. of the “Sepher Yetzirah” contains no diagrams of the “Tree of Life”; but, in any event, we may at least attempt to follow his lead and try, if possible, to discover more Light from a study of the trueproportions of the Tree.
The formation of the “Tree of Life” is entirely geometrical, and as might be expected, we find the simplest elements of geometry as its basis: The Point, the Line, the Circle, the Triangle, and Right-angled figures.
The proper method of finding the correct centers of the Ten Sephiroth, and thus the points connected by the Paths, is as follows: Upon a vertical straight line of convenient length, describe with unchanged compasses four circles, the center of each being on the line, the point where the upper arc of the lowest circle cuts the line forming the center of the circle above, and so on. Thus:
The center of the top circle gives the central Point of Kether, the intersections of the first and second circles form the centers of Chokmah and Binah, [the intersections of the second and third circles form the centers of Chesed and Geburah,] the center of the third circle is Tiphereth, the intersections of the third and fourth circles indicate Netzach and Hod, the center of the fourth circle is Yesod, and the lower point of its intersection with the vertical line is Malkuth.
This method produces a perfectly proportioned Figure of the Tree of Life, and the connecting Paths can all be made by joining the various points, thus:
In Freemasonry, Geometry is referred to as the “first and noblest of the Sciences” and as “the head of all learning.” One of the simplest figures is produced by the intersection of two circles, thus forming what is known as the VesicaPiscis.
The curious and marvelous properties of the VesicaPiscis and of the Rectangle formed on its length and breadth, have been subjects of profound speculation, and perhaps nowhere have they been better described than in the “Magister-Mathesios” by our learned Brother Sydney T. Klein. I am sure he will have no objection if I quote a few passages from his work, which has been one of the means of opening up before me such marvelous vistas.
After discussing the properties of the Masonic Square, obtained from the right angled triangle by means of mundane measures of 3, 4, and 5 units to each side, respectively, he points out that a wave of wonderful enthusiasm must have swept across the civilized world when they first discovered that the Geometrical way of creating a right angle as given in Euclid I, 11, was by means of an equilateral triangle, by joining the vertex with the center of the base. “This Equilateral Triangle” he writes, “was the earliest symbol, in connection with the Vesica Piscis, we know of the Divine Logos and, as the Bible declared that the Universe was created by the Logos (the Word) so the form of the Lodge which represents the Universe was naturally created by means of the Equilateral Triangle. A great mystery this must have appeared to those who, like the Hellenic philosophers, postulated that everything on earth has its counterpart in heaven, and who, in their religious mysticism, were always looking for signs of the transcendental in their temporal surroundings.
“But in what awe and reverence must they have held Geometry when they further found that the Equilateral Triangle was itself generated, as in the first problem of Euclid, upon which the whole Science of Geometry was therefore based, by the intersection of two circles.
“This figure was not only looked upon as a symbol of the Three Divine personae, but that part of the figure which is bounded by the arcs of the two circles and which takes to itself one-third of each of the two generating circles (making its perifera exactly equal with that remaining to each of the two circles, all three therefore being co-equal), and in which the triangle is formed, was naturally held from earliest times as the most sacred Christian emblem, namely that of regeneration or newbirth. To how the extraordinary reverence and high value attached to this symbol, it is only necessary to remember that from the fourth century onwards all Seals of Colleges, Abbeys and other religious communities have been made invariably of this form and they continue to be made so to this day. It was also in allusion to this most ancient emblem that Tertullian and the other early Fathers speak of Christians as “Pisciculi.” It was called the “Vesica Piscis” (Fish’s bladder) and named such no doubt for the same reason as led the learned Rabbi Maimonides in the twelfth century, when dealing with a similar religious subject, to command his hearers: ‘When you have discovered the meaning thereof, do not divulge it, because the people cannot philosophize or understand that to the infinite there is no such thing as sex.’
“The Vesica Piscis is intimately connected with the discovery by Augustus Caesar, as narrated by
Baronius, of a prophecy in one of the Sybilline books foretelling ‘a great event coming to pass in the birth
of One who should prove to be the true “King of Kings,” and that Augustus therefore dedicated an altar in his palace to the “unknown God.” ‘ “
Brother Klein then goes on to show how the Vesica Piscis was the true foundation of Gothic Architecture, and that its influence accounts for the sudden change from the old Norman style, which was based on the properties of the square rather than the triangle.
He the discloses some of the great wonders of the Vesica Piscis and points out: “The rectangle formed by the length and breadth of this mysterious figure in its simplest form has several extraordinary qualities; it may be cut into three equal parts, by straight lines parallel to its shorter sides:
and these parts will all be precisely and geometrically similar to each other and to the whole figure, strangely applicable to the Symbolism attached at that time to the Trinity in Unity, and this sub-division may be proceeded with indefinitely without making any change in the form; however often the operation is performed the parts remain identical with the original figure, having all its extraordinary properties, and nootherrectangle can have this curious property. It may also be cut into four equal parts by straight lines parallel to the two sides, and again each of these parts will be exactly similar to each other and to the whole, and the process may be continued indefinitely, the equilateral triangle appearing everywhere:
(Figure 6 missing!)
Once more, if two of the tri-sub-divisions be taken, the form of these together is exactly similar geometrically to half the original figure, and the equilateral triangle again appears everywhere in both; as in figure V.
(Figure 7 missing!)
In Figure VII I have carried the tri-sub-division to the sixth degree, and to help the eye I have marked with darker lines one of the tri-sub-divisions of each degree; it is only owing to the above unique similarity that the equilateral triangle is again formed on every part of the base line. Again the diagonal is exactly double the length of its shorter side, which characteristic is also unique and greatly increases its use for plotting out designs, and this property, of course, holds good for all the rectangles formed by both species of sub-division, but perhaps its most mysterious property (though not of any practical use) to those who studied geometry, and to whom the figure was a Symbol of the Divine Trinity in Unity, was the fact that it actually put into their hands the means of trisecting the right angle. Now the three great problems of antiquity which engaged the attention of geometricians throughout the Middle Ages were ‘the Duplication of a Cube’, ‘the squaring of the circle,’ and lastly, ‘the trisection of an angle,’ even Euclid being unable to show how to do it, and yet it will be seen that the diagonal A-B of Figure IV and the diagonal A-E of the subsidiary figure, which is also the plumbline, actually trisect the angle D-A-C. It is true that it only shows how to trisect one kind of angle, but it was that particular angle which represented the Craft and was created by the equilateral triangle. All these unique properties place this figure far above that of a square for practical work, because even when the diagonal of a square is given it is impossible to find the exact length of any of its sides, or vice versa.”
I have quoted Brother Sydney Klein thus fully in order to give him due credit for his detailed working on this most important matter, and also to supply the reader with a clear idea of the unique features of these symbols, as well as of their deep religious significance and the actual effect that their practical application produced on all the religious Architecture of the Gothic period. On this basis many of the most important Cathedrals and Churches were erected, and their Beauty is not to be denied. When we compare some of these beautiful Gothic structures with the Pyramid, for instance, we cannot but notice the difference; but after all the Pyramid is a truly Symbolic structure in every detail, while the Gothic Cathedrals only show part of the truth.
Imagine my overwhelming joy when I discovered that the ancient Qabalistic Tree of Life, with all its wonderful possibilities as a means of mental classification of every idea in the Universe—Natural, Human, and Divine—wasinitsentiretybaseduponthesamefundamentalpr incipleofthe VesicaPiscis, and was therefore notafixeddesign but capable of indefinite progressiontowardstheInfinitelySmallortheInfini telyGreat. For it can be so drawn that it appears with all its details and properties, repeating themselves indefinitely in every direction of Space to Infinity.
Imagine what it means to a Qabalist who has arranged all the ideas in his mind, in duly Balanced and Equilibrated formation, to discover a way of perpetuating in thought all these Ideas, and to be able to realize that the “Tree of Life” upon which they are based is a LIVING TREE, with its Roots in the Infinitely Small and its Branches and Fruits extending to the furthest Limits of the Universe.
This is the nature of the discovery, or revelation, which came to me on April 14th, and it will form the subject of our further studies and researches.