The 10 Sefirot of the Tree of Life

The 10 Sefirot (Hebrew for “emanations”) are the 10 attributes of God in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (the Everlasting name of God) reveals Himself/Themselves to humankind. There are a few different ways of using the Sefirot. Some Kabbalists study and grow from attribute to attribute, while others see them as an urim and thummim. As an urim and thummim, the right and left sides create a series of “lenses” for the natural eyes, while the center creates a series of “lenses” for the third or spiritual eye. Through this urim and thummim, God helps us see both the physical realm and the chain of higher metaphysical realms.

In Mormon Kabbalah, we do both; using the Sefirot for growth and as seer stones. We grow from Sefirot to Sefirot in Christ’s grace, and seeing the world through spiritual eyes by the power of the Holy Ghost. Here we will give a quick over view of each Sefirot and how one may grow their perspective with each as we grow closer to God.

Keter

Christ with the Cross and Crown of Thorns by Andrea Solario

English: Crown
Body part: Top of the head, just above the head, or third eye
Color: white
Element: Spirit: intelligence, priesthood, oneness
Associated with: Ehveh “I AM” (the power of God, the unity of God)
Herald: Enoch/Metatron “a divider and fixer of boundaries;” archangel known as the Recording Angel or the Chancellor of Heaven. See the herald of Binah for more information.

In the Zohar, Keter is known as “the most hidden of all hidden things,” being incomprehensible to man. Only through God may the incomprehensible be known. Keter teaches us humility, “the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). To see the world through the Sefirot Keter:

  • one’s thoughts should be pure
  • one’s temperament should be gentle
  • one’s face always shining
  • one’s ears should listen to hear the good in all places
  • one’s eyes should not seek evil, always looking for the good in all things
  • one’s nose should be free from the breath of anger
  • one’s mouth speaking nothing but good, righteousness.

We see Keter through Binah, which is a reflection of this Sefirot as seen by the human soul once we are born again.

Da’at

Eye on the Salt Lake Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

English: Knowledge
Body part: Left eye
Color: Yellow
Element: Air: knowledge, intelligence
Associated with: Abba/Avinu “Father” (God the Father)
Herald: Jehovah (YHVH), the premortal Son of God/Jesus Christ the Son of Man

Da’at is associated memory and concentration, powers which rely upon one’s recognition. In the Zohar, Da’at is referred to as “the key that includes six.” This “key” opens all six attributes of the heart. Combining with Chokhmah (Hebrew for “wisdom”) creates Binah (Hebrew for “understanding”). Knowledge may be gained by all, and wisdom may be obtained as well. Only by combining the two, through Christ’s grace and the Holy Spirit can we see with our third eye and gain true understanding. With the knowledge of God, and the six attributes open, our kli spills God’s light into the invisible Sefirot, Binah (understanding) and into the world.

Da’at helps us then on two levels: the lower level (mundane) and the higher level, Da’at Elyon (Hebrew for “higher knowledge”) or Da’at hane’elam (Hebrew for “hidden knowledge”). The lower connects us to the intellect within the realm of emotion. This enhances one’s ability to act in accordance with the Law in truth and righteousness. The higher knowledge helps us on the mortal plain by giving us hidden knowledge from Keter, above Da’at on the Tree.

Chokhma

Coronation of the Virgin by Diego Velázquez, 1599-1560

English: Wisdom
Body part: Right eye
Color: Green
Element: Earth: wisdom
Associated with: Yah, Shekinah, the Queen of Heaven (God the Mother)
Herald: Melchizedek/Raphael “God heals;” also known as Raziel “Secret of God,” or “Angel of Mysteries;” or Galizur “Revealer of the Rock.” As the king of Peace in his earthly life, Raphael holds the keys of organizing God’s Churches on the Earth, giving to us the keys of offices of High Priests and High Priestesses. The archangel Raphael was the angel in the Gospel of John stirring the water at the healing pool of Bethesda.

Chokhmah is the uppermost of the Sefirot of the right line or kav yamin (Hebrew for “Pillar of Mercy”) in the Tree of Life. This Sefirot possesses two faces: the higher being the feminine half of Abba Ila’ah (“the higher father”), or in other words, our Heavenly Mother, the Queen of Heaven. The lower being the Mother of Yisrael/Israel, which is to say the mother of the Body of Christ, or the Church of God (Revelation 12:1-2). Chokhma is associated with Eden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (wisdom, knowing right from wrong). This wisdom holds the keys to God’s light and must be “unlocked” by Da’at, knowledge (God the Father). Together, the male and female haves unite to create within us Binah; understanding, through the mercy of Christ and the fire of the Holy Ghost.

More than merely meaning wisdom, Chokhma breaks down into two words: koach (potential) and ma (what is). Just as God said in Genesis, “man has become like us, able to know good from evil), Chokhma sees the divine potential in us to, through Christ, inherit all that the Father and Mother have.

Chesed

Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dalí, 1951

English: Mercy
Body part: Right hand
Color: Blue
Element: Water: baptism
Associated with: YHVH/Jesus Christ (the Son of God on the right hand of the Father)
Herald: Zadkiel “Righteousness of God” or “Grace of God;” Zadkiel is also known as Sachiel, Zedekiel, Zadakiel, Tzadkiel, and Zedekul. He is the archangel of freedom, benevolence and mercy, and the Patron Angel of all who forgive.

Chesed is the first Sefirot in the attribute of action in the Kabbalistic Tree of life. The Bahir states, “The fourth is the righteousness of God, His mercies and kindness with the entire world; this is the right hand of God.” As Christians, we know God’s Mercy, and the right hand of God as Jesus Christ. Chesed then is the Sefirot that manifests God’s absolute, unlimited benevolence and kindness. Chesed is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending of the Law.

Chesed teaches extend mercy to others as God has extended mercy to us. We go the extra mile, are faithful to our covenants with God and are forgiven of past deeds (Mosiah 2 RAV, 4 OPV). Chesed enables us to pick up our cross and follow Christ, as he makes our burdens light.

Gevurah

Saint Michael the Archangel, anonymous Spanish colonial, 18th century

English: Judgement
Body part: Left hand
Color: Red
Element: Fire: cleansing
Associated with: The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost
Herald: Adam/Michael “One who is like God;” Michael is the chief archangel who leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces in  the war in heaven he defeats Satan, as recorded in the Book of Revelation (12:7-9). As Adam, he is  the Ancient of Days, a prince, and the patriarch of the human family (Daniel 7). Some branches of Mormonism teach or imply that Michael or Adam actually is the Holy Spirit.

Gevurah is Din, the essence of judgment. If we are saved, the Holy Spirit cleanses us with Fire. However, if we are wicked we are burned as those same flames become Hellfire. Gevurah then is both God’s mode of perfecting the Saints and punishing the wicked; judging humanity in general. It is the fulfillment of the Law, and strict meting out of justice. It stands in contrast to Chesed, though Christ’s mercy in Chesed will protect us from Genurah’s fire.

It is because of Chesed that Gevurah is associated with the power to bestow goodness upon others, the cleansing fire becoming Christ’s light of Creation. Gevurah allows one to overcome the true enemies, be they from without (Satan) or from within (Ego).

Tif’eret

St. Uriel by James Powell and Sons of the Whitefriars Foundry, St John’s Church, Boreham, Wiltshire

English: Beauty
Body part: Bosum
Color: Grey
Element: Spirit
Associated with: YHVH
Herald: Joseph Smith Jr./Ariel “lion of God” also known as Uriel “God is my light” or Malachim; an archangel, divine messenger of the Holy Spirit.

Tif’eret is the bosum where we feel the Holy Spirit and where the Light of Christ overflows from our kli to fill the world. It occupies a place on the middle pillar of the Tree of Life, as it is a lower reflection of Keter. Tif’eret is a unique Sephirot as it is connected to all of the other Sephirot, with the exception of Malkuth. It is tied to all the subjective paths of the unconscious. It is the Philosopher’s Stone, the restoration of all things, containing the transmutative properties. When we chose good, it allows God’s light to pour from us, changing us and the world. When we chose evil it pollutes us, there by polluting the world.

Tif’eret represents the sun, it takes a central place in the Tree of Life just as the sun is at the center of the solar system. It is not the center of the universe, yet it still gives light and life. Like man, it did not create itself. Tif’eret can be seen as a metaphor for mankind’s role in the creation.

Netzach

Moses with the Ten Commandments by Philippe de Champagne, 1621-1674

English: Eternity (seem to represent God’s eternal victory)
Body part: Right foot
Color: Light yellow
Element: Air
Associated with: Moses
Herald: Moses/Haniel  “Joy of God” or “Grace of God” also known as Jophiel “beauty of God” or “divine beauty;” one of the seven archangels.

Netzach is one of the “tactical” Sefirot. Its purpose is not directed towards itself, but rather to assist in another work. We saw this in Moses’ earthly ministry when he lead the Israelites out of bondage, but not into the promised land. This Sefirot marks a turning point, we may change to act as free agents for God rather than salves to sin.

Netzach marks endurance, the patience to follow through on your passions without being overcome by them (40 days in the wilderness). It is leadership, bringing others to a cause and motivating them to act. Netzach answers the questions: How shall mankind receive God’s message? How can God’s will be done effectively? For it was Moses that brought us the Law and the Torah. Netzach teaches us strength, endurance, long-suffering, strength, and patience.

Hod

1893 engraving by Edward Stevenson of the Angel Moroni delivering the Golden Plates to Joseph Smith in 1827.

English: Glory
Body part: Left foot
Color: Orange
Element: Fire
Associated with:
Herald: Moroni “at the place of fire;” Moroni was the last Nephite, after losing the war and being driven away he buried the Gold Plates for Joseph Smith to “translate” by divining their meaning into English by the use of a seek stone.

Hod is connected to prayer and and submission. Rather than conqueror, Hod teaches us to subdue our passions. And, at times our prayers aren’t answered the way we want. We must submit to God’s will. What may seem like defeat in the mundane world can lead to greater success in the spiritual world.

Being a “foot,” attributes become actions to move us forward rather than backward in defeat. Hod is a “tactical” Sefirot. Hod can at times teach us what to do when “the wicked prosper,” understanding that God will ultimately win in the end. We saw this when Moroni, the last Nephite, buried the gold plates, watching over them to give them to us in the Last Days. Hod is the group, the team; the work needed to follow through on ideas and make them happen.

Yesod

The Annunciation: The Angel Gabriel by Martin Schongauer 1435-91

English: Foundation
Body part: Reproductive organs
Color: Light blue
Element: Water
Associated with: El Shaddai “God Almighty”
Herald: Noah/Gabriel “God is my strength;” the archangel who typically serves as God’s messenger, best known for announcing Jesus’ birth.

Yesod is the foundation God has built the world upon. Because of this, it serves as a transmitter between worlds; the sephirot above, and the mundane reality below. It is placed in the center of the Tree, light of the upper sephirot gather in Yesod and are channelled to Malkuth below through one’s third eye.

Yesod is associated with the sexual organs, the part of the body given the power of creation. While the floods drown in Noah’s time, so too did they bring life back into the world. Yesod collects the vital forces of the sephirot above, and transmits them to the world below and the earth is able to interact with the divine.

Malchut

Elijah Taken up in a Chariot of Fire by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, circa 1745

English: Kingdom
Body part: Earth
Color: Light green
Element: Earth
Associated with: Adonai, Shekinah, Eden
Herald: Elijah/Sandalphon “companion or co-worker of God;” this is the angel mentioned in Revelation 19:10, and he holds sealing keys of ascension.

Malchut, the tenth of the sephirot in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, sits at the bottom of the Tree. This Sefirot represents Eden as a symbol the Bride (the Church, the body of Christ upon the Earth). Malchut is the “first lens” of one’s third eye. Rather than emanating from God like the other Sefirots, it emanates from us, God’s creation reflecting God’s glory from within us (mankind was created in God’s image).

Even though it is the last Sefirot, it is also the first “the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). This creates the eternal loop between Keter and Malchut, creator and creation, God and offspring. God’s divine energy comes down and finds its expression in this realm. God grants us the priesthood, God’s power, is to bring that energy back around In a circle and back up the Tree of Life.

Binah

(the hidden Sefirot)

By the illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728

English: Understanding
Body part: Soul
Color: Light grey
Element: Spirit
Associated with: Elohim “Gods/gods”
Herald: Enoch/Zaphkiel “God’s knowledge;” also known as Tsophiel “watchman of God” or as Zuriel/Tsuriel “my rock is God;” an archangel over wisdom, understanding, and judgment, chief of the order of thrones and one of the 9 angels that rule Heaven, helping make messages more clear. This is Enoch’s name when acting as a herald for Binah.

Resting between but below Da’at and Chokhma, and between but above Chesed and Gevurah, Binah is the understanding that comes from Da’at (knowledge) and Chokhma (wisdom). It can only be reached after one is cleansed by Chesed (God’s mercy) and Gevurah (God’s Holy Fire/Judgement). Binah is the Holy Spirit giving us intuitive understanding, contemplation by Christ’s Grace. It is the womb, a temple inside us housing the Spirit of God. It is the birth of the soul.

In a mundane way, Binah may also be seen as deductive reasoning. It is God helping us understanding one idea pondering or gazing at another one. Binah can be a rational process that within a person which guides us to develop an idea to its fruition. Thus scientific breakthroughs and revelation giving us guidance can both be Binah; understanding from divine knowledge and wisdom given us by God.

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