A tree from The Garden of Eden whose fruit was purported to grant immortality. Not to be confused with the other important tree from the Garden of Eden, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was the latter whose fruit was eaten by Adam and Eve.

A network diagram studied in the Kabala consisting of ten nodes and twenty-two edges or paths connecting them. The ten nodes are numbered one to ten and each is assigned a set of characteristics which form the basis of numerology. The twenty-two paths are each assigned a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Golden Dawn made further correspondences between the paths and the the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck and the planets, signs and elements of astrology.

The Tree of Life is not a tree in the network-theory sense of the word.

In the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, about a ten-minute drive west of the French Quarter on the south side of St. Charles Street, there is a park and a zoo named after John J. Audubon. The main drive through this park is essentially a semicircle. If you view this semicircle as the bottom half of a clock-face, and drive around the outside until you come to about 4 o'clock, you will see a massive live oak tree.

As poetic as "The Tree of Life" sounds, its real name is "Etienne de Bore", after New Orleans' first mayor Jean Etienne de Bore, at whose wedding the tree was planted. That was back in October of 1792, making the tree over two centuries old. It is a Live Oak, or quercus virginiana, and thus retains its coloration all year. These mundane facts should not color your perception of the tree; it's bigger than these words.

The first time I was ever in New Orleans, this tree was introduced to me as "The Tree of Life" by Ken, and Josh, Jay, Jason & I all came along to see it. As soon as its clearing came into view--a clearing which is home to many large trees--there was no question of which tree we were there to see. It's simply massive. It sprawls through one's sense of space; it alters one's entire perception of the word "tree."

The trunk measures over 26 feet in circumference; if it were circular and you knew pi, you could estimate its mean diameter. The main lower branches extend out for at least 30 feet before touching the ground... and having rested their airborne bulk on the earth, give in to their tropisms and arch upward again and continue to grow outward. The exposed parts of the root system look like a giant wooden carving of a lava flow, and rest like a broad skirt around the base, easily covering a circle more than 20 feet in diameter. Beards of Spanish moss grow from every available crevice. The area that it covers in shade must be comparable to a baseball diamond, but Abner Doubleday himself, having seen this tree, would concede that the Tree of Life deserves the space far more than a sandlot.

The tree--of Life, Etienne de Bore, whatever you call it--is bigger than its strictly physical presence. Even if you've seen pictures, I doubt you will understand what it is. Like so many other things, it simply must be touched to be understood.

your aerobies are powerless here.

A common and old knitting motif, Tree of Life may be executed in either contrasting colors or single twisted-stitch cables. The branches usually stretch upwards, though it may also be knitted in reverse.

        |            |
       \|/          /|\
      \ | /        / | \
     \ \|/ /      / /|\ \
    \ \ | / /    / / | \ \  
     \ \|/ /      / /|\ \ 
      \ | /        / | \ 
       \|/          /|\ 
        |            |

The kabbalahistic diagram of the Sephiroth, with Hebrew letters describing the Paths:

--------------------------------------------------o o o--------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------o o---------------------------------------------------



The tree of life is a kabalistic construct complex enough I don't even begin to understand it, really. There is a very complicated meditation based on the 'proper' tree of life which involves clearing and connecting the 10 points and the paths between them. Perhaps someone who understands this better will node it. But there is another form of grounding, centering, meditation also called the tree of life that is much simpler that I will now attempt to describe.

sit, or stand, but most people don't like standing this long.) Get comfortable. Visualize yourself standing in a beautiful grove of tall stately trees, warm sunlight streaming through the leaves and a cool breeze blowing. Then become a tree in that grove yourself. It's not as hard as it sounds.

Feel your spine straightening, thickening, growing, becoming a tree trunk. Feel energy from the earth rising up through it.

Feel roots growing down deep deep into the earth, from your trunk, your legs, anything touching the ground. Roots growing deep into the love and warmth of the earth herself.

Feel power up through the earth, drawing it in with each breath rising up through you like sap through a tree, bringing energy and warmth and peace in with each breath.

Now feel branches growing up through the top of your head, growing and branching and spreading in all their glory. Feel the branches grow so rich and large and lush that after reaching for the sky they bend gracefully back down to brush the earth with their leaves. (You may physically raise your arms skyward if you wish, but many people find this tiring.)

Now instead of just taking energy in, pull it through your trunk and your leaves and send it back into the earth, a complete and whole circuit. Breathe energy in and up through you, then back down, feeling power go wash through your entire body, cycling through. Continue as long as desired, taking energy in and returning it back, until you feel centered and energized.

Then return to yourself, take a breath in and energy in, then pull up your leaves and branches and pull those back into the crown of your head, and feel the power draining back down your trunk, energy returning, going out through your roots as your branches dissipate. Some people prefer to pull the roots in, then release the trunk, and some prefer to feel the trunk return to flesh, then release the roots. Choose what feels right to you. Relax, breathe deeply, pull yourself back to reality completely again.

The "Tree of Life" is a biological term reflecting the shape of evolution through the passage of time. It begins with the trunk, the universal ancestor of life on earth; splits into its major branches, animals, plants, fungi and so on; splits again into smaller branches, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians within the vertabrates; all the way out to the very tips of the branches which represent each individual species.

The Tree of Life represents evolution unfolding through time; the most ancient life begining at the trunk, and the most recent in the twigs.

The Tree of Life that is commonly pictured (as above) in the form of three pillars and seven plateuas was never used in the Jewish community. It was drawn out by a rather curious Jesuit monk and ployglot named Athanasius Kircher in the year 1653, in his work Aegypticus Oedipus.

While the easy to read layout of the Sephiorth has been handy for hundreds of years of developement of magical and alchemical theory in the west, it perhaps misses the point of such works as the Zohar, where the movement of the spirit is a moving and mysterious narrative, not a chart for studying personality traits, or vices and virtues. In the Zohar, the Sephiroth are barely mentioned at all, and never (as far as I know) by name. To lay them out in a neat, tidy diagram is somewhere between gaudy, ludicrous or blasphemous. In other words, Kaballah was meant as a story, and not a map.

On the other hand, the diagram undoubtdly was a piece of work on the part of Fr. Kircher, and it certainly makes a better impression in the freshly bombed skies of Tokyo-3 than several hundred thousand lines of Hebrew text.

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