The Tree of Life is a diagrammatic glyph depicting a representation of the structure of both macrocosm and microcosm; God/the universe, and man. It is sometimes depicted as within an egg-shaped boundary, denoting that what lies beyond the boundary is barred from, or perhaps incomprehensible to, our minds.
There are ten circles upon this structure, each connected to some of the others via paths. The ten circles are each referred to as Sephira (Sephiroth in plural). Each Sephira and path is referred to many other things, such as planets, Hebrew letters, tarot cards, and more...even numbers and colors.
Each Sephira follows a sequence, one proceeding from another. Though each Sephira is distinct, it is thought that during the formation of the universe each Sephira became full and overflowed in order to become the next - before the universe attained the seeming stability it has now.
The first Sephira, which is placed at the top of the Tree, emerged from a threefold inversion of what is presumed to lie beyond our universe:
• From boundless light (transcendental infinity).
• From limitlessness.
• From nothing.
1. Boundless light (transcendental infinity) inverted into darkness; that is to say wholeness inverted into separation. Consciousness became enshrouded behind a barrier that cannot be sensed.
2. Limitlessness inverted into the limited. Although, from a human perspective, there may be countless units at all scales to consider, limits are all around us all the time. Change may be the only constant, and that means that anything that exists must inevitably morph until it no longer resembles what it once was (die or be destroyed) - mortality.
3. Nothing - literally, "no thing" - inverted into things. Whether you think of it terms of quarks, atomic clusters, molecules, or what have you, every whole is comprised of units, and every whole is a unit in some greater whole. Thus there are "things". With these inversions, the stage was set for a creator being to begin.
The first Sephira, which is placed at the top of the Tree, is named Kether/Keter in Hebrew. Translated it means "Crown", the highest point of being in this existence. The power of God originates here and continuously overflows into the other nine Sephiroth, thus animating our universe. It is also the uppermost Sephira on the central column, called the Pillar of Equilibrium, the Pillar of Mildness, and the Pillar of Consciousness.
The second Sephira, which is placed at the second row, is named Chokmah in Hebrew. Translated it means "Wisdom", being purely the right way of action. This Sephira, placed on the right-hand side of the Tree, is at the top of the Pillar of Mercy (Joachim/Jachin in Hebrew; masculine/positive/outgoing).
The third Sephira is also on the second row, and is called Binah. Translated it means "Understanding", the modeling of 'what is' into comprehension (thus, it is subject to error and improvisation). It is on the left side, at the top of the Pillar of Severity (Boaz in Hebrew; feminine, introverted, negative).
Notice that the seat of consciousness, wisdom and understanding are at the top of the Tree. These form a triangle referred to as the "Supernal triad". They represent the highest aspects of our minds, but also that of the universe - a region of existence so subtle it can scarcely be fathomed by an ordinary human mind. The region of the Tree of Life directly between these
three Sephiroth and the rest, is referred to as the "Veil of the Abyss", referring to this gap in comprehension. Some diagrams show another Sephira, an eleventh or 'false' Sephira, called Daath, hanging over the Veil of the Abyss. This represents "knowledge", which is illusory because anything we glean to be true or factual is in fact a projection of Light much the same as everything we reject from reality. What we claim to know and understand can only at best be a phantom of our minds, even if this knowledge serves us well and reliably throughout our lifetimes.
The fourth Sephira - third row, -hand column - is named Chesed in Hebrew. Translated it means "Mercy", a permissive and forgiving element to existence.
The fifth Sephira - third row, left- hand column - is named Geburah in Hebrew. Translated it means "Severity" or "Strength", a harsh and destructive element of
The sixth Sephira - fourth row, central column - is named Tipharet/Tiphereth in Hebrew. Translated it means "Beauty" or perhaps, in a sense, "Harmony", the element which organizes existence so that all elements can co-exist efficiently and effectively.
The three Sephiroth just mentioned form a downwards-pointing triangle on the Tree of Life, often referred to as the "Ethical triad" – they determine what is 'right' for that which manifests below them, and thus further order the development of the universe.
The seventh Sephira - fifth row, right-hand column - is named Netzach in Hebrew. Translated it means "Victory", an element which guides existence into greater and greater forms of harmony, thus facilitating expansion and prosperity.
The eighth Sephira - fifth row, left-hand column - is named Hod in Hebrew. Translated it
means "Splendor", an element which amplifies complexity and intricasy in existence.
The ninth Sephira - sixth row, central column - is named Yesod in Hebrew. Translated it means "Foundation", an element which is the finer of the gross material of existence, and the precursor to actual material formation - the stuff of raw thought, and dreams.
The three Sephiroth just mentioned form a downwards-pointing triangle on the Tree of Life, often referred to as the "Astral triad" - they govern the background processes and hidden mental systems of the universe and its denizens which cannot ordinarily be detected.
The tenth Sephiroth hangs at the bottom of the Tree by itself, at the end of the central pillar. It is called Malkuth, which translates as the "Kingdom". This refers to the entire material universe, which of course includes our planet Earth.
We are born in Malkuth and we die in Malkuth. It said that "Kether lies in Malkuth, and Malkuth in Kether", as if to say that God resides in creation, just as creation resides in the mind of God.