Kircher’s tree of life

The Latin text on Kircher’s version of the Tree of the Sephiroth is almost impossible to make out, even in the original print. Fortunately, the Freemason Manly P. Hall published Kircher’s Tree with English translations in place of the Latin.

Notice that Kircher appears to have intended that the horizontal channel between the seventh Sephirah, Hod, and the eighth Sephirah, Netzach, be numbered fifteen, and that the vertical channel between the sixth Sephirah, Tiphareth, and the ninth Sephirah, Yesod, be numbered seventeen. This is not absolutely clear, but seems most probable since on Kircher’s original diagram we see the Latin text 15 Canalis reciprocus Victoriae et Honoris on the channel between Netzach and Hod, then upside down in the same channel the Latin text Canalis: 17. Because this second caption is inverted on Kircher’s diagram (but not on Hall’s translation), it was probably intended to be placed on the vertical channel between Tiphareth and Yesod.

This is the opposite of the Golden Dawn practice, where the horizontal channel between Netzach and Hod is numbered seventeenth in order from the top, and the vertical channel between Tiphareth and Yesod is numbered fifteenth (the actual Golden Dawn numbering of these channels is twenty-seven and twenty-five, because it was the Order practice to begin numbering the paths with eleven, rather than one). The Golden Dawn numbering of these two channels is more sensible than Kircher’s numbering, based on the overall numbering on the Tree, but in my opinion is still not correct.

In my book New Millennium Magic I’ve given what I think is the correct numbering of the paths. I believe the Golden Dawn made a mistake in their numbering of the lower paths of Tiphareth (based purely on a logical analysis of the structure of the paths). Mathers numbered the vertical path between Tiphareth and Yesod fifteenth in sequence, and the diagonal path between Tiphareth and Hod sixteenth. In my view these numbers should be reversed. In all other respects the Golden Dawn numbering of the pathways is correct, for this particular pattern of the Tree (it is not the only possible pattern).

Kircher’s assigned the seven traditional planets of astrology differently than their Golden Dawn assignment. From a Golden Dawn point of view, all of Kircher’s planets are incorrectly place with the exception of the Sun in Tiphareth. However, Kircher’s assignment does make a lot of good sense. In the Kabbalah, Malkuth is the bride of the son (Messiah) in Tiphareth, so it is not unreasonable to give it the Moon. Mercury is a balanced planet, so it makes sense to put it on the middle pillar of the Tree. Kircher put the two male planets Mars and Jupiter on the masculine right pillar of the Tree, and their female opposites, respectively Venus and Saturn, on the feminine left pillar of the Tree.

It may be argued that Saturn is male, not female. However from the esoteric perspective Saturn exhibits many feminine qualities. It is common in alchemy to make a sexual pairing between Mars and Venus, and also between Jupiter and Saturn.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Athanasius Kircher

Portrait of Kircher from Mundus Subterraneus, 1664
Born 2 May 1601 or 1602
Geisa, Abbacy of Fulda
Died 27 November or 28 November 1680
Rome
Nationality German
Religion Roman Catholicism (Jesuit scientist-priest)[1]

Athanasius Kircher (1602–1680) (sometimes erroneously spelled Kirchner) was a 17th century German Jesuit scholar who published around 40 works, most notably in the fields of oriental studiesgeology, and medicine. Kircher has been compared to fellow Jesuit Roger Boscovich and to Leonardo da Vinci for his enormous range of interests, and has been honoured with the title “master of a hundred arts”.[2]

Kircher was the most famous “decipherer” of hieroglyphs of his day, although most of his assumptions and “translations” in this field have since been disproved as nonsensical. However, he did make an early study of Egyptian hieroglyphs, correctly establishing the link between the ancient Egyptian language and the Coptic language, for which he has been considered the founder of Egyptology. He was also fascinated with Sinology, and wrote an encyclopedia of China, in which he noted the early presence of Nestorian Christians but also attempted to establish more tenuous links with Egypt and Christianity.

Kircher’s work with geology included studies of volcanos and fossils. One of the first people to observe microbes through a microscope, he was thus ahead of his time in proposing that the plague was caused by an infectious microorganism and in suggesting effective measures to prevent the spread of the disease. Kircher also displayed a keen interest in technology and mechanical inventions, and inventions attributed to him include a magnetic clock, various automatons and the first megaphone. The invention of the magic lantern is often misattributed to Kircher, although he did conduct a study of the principles involved in his Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae.

A scientific star in his day, towards the end of his life he was eclipsed by the rationalism of René Descartes and others. In the late 20th century, however, the aesthetic qualities of his work again began to be appreciated. One modern scholar, Alan Cutler, described Kircher as “a giant among seventeenth-century scholars”, and “one of the last thinkers who could rightfully claim all knowledge as his domain”.[3]Another scholar, Edward W. Schmidt, referred to Kircher as “the last Renaissance man“.

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