Greek Kabala Series
Greek Kabala Part 18
by Jack Courtis
Let us finish this series as we began, by considering the relationship between Greek and Hebrew kabala. The Fibonacci spirals of a sunflower give us a good visual analogy. They are similar in their form and cross over each other, but they go in different directions. We shall consider the Greek and Hebrew Trees of Life in the same way and take note of where they are similar and where they differ.
There is a common centre in the above diagram in the form of a circle. This manifests in the Greek and Hebrew Trees as the 10 spheres and 3 pillars common to both. That is, they each have the same fundamental structure as their starting point. We can therefore deduce that they both describe the same truth in their own way.
There are crossing points in the diagram that manifest on the Trees as the 12 and 7 paths common to them. In both the Greek and Hebrew Trees the 12 paths correlate with the 12 signs of the zodiac. We can therefore draw the inference that at some deeper level, the 12 spiritual disciplines apply to both. This tells us that the same minimum standard of behaviour works in each case. The 7 paths both correlate to the 7 planets and we can infer that the ascent of the soul can be achieved by either system.
The most obvious difference is that although the remaining paths correlate with Alchemy, there are only 3 such paths on the Hebrew Tree (Air, Fire, Water) whereas the Greek Tree has all 5 (Aether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth). The real difference emerges from realising that this difference in the number of paths results in a difference in the internal structure of the Tree. The best example is that on the Hebrew Tree there are 8 paths to Tiferet whereas on the Greek Tree there are 6 paths to Goodness:
What is the significance of this difference? To answer that question we have to consider the way in which the number 8 appears in the scriptures. For example Jesus says, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!……", 8 times in Matthew 23:13-36. This is a clear reference to the Hebrew Tree because he is describing behaviour that is the opposite of what is required in order to activate Tiferet properly. To help us understand the point, let us borrow from the Lord Buddha and his Noble Eightfold Way:
- Right understanding.
- Right motives.
- Right speech.
- Right action.
- Right means of livelihood.
- Right endeavour.
- Right attention.
- Right contemplation.
The 8 paths to Tiferet are the 8 ways of right conduct, or the Noble Eightfold Way. If we act in the right way, we shall activate all 8 paths to Tiferet properly. However if we act as the scribes and Pharisees (and don’t we?), then we are behaving in the opposite manner and we simply cannot activate Tiferet correctly. The consequences are all around us in our everyday life. What about the Greek Tree with its 6 paths to Goodness? Jesus says, "Woe unto you….", 6 times in Luke 11;42-52. Thus a subtly different point is being made in apparently the same form. It still has to do with our behaviour but our attention is now being drawn to the consequences in terms of our fate. Remember this diagram? It represents the fate we create by our own actions.
At the centre of merciless and implacable fate, there exists the mystery of the forgiveness of sins as the key that unlocks us from its prison bars. Who is the source of forgiveness? He that looks at us directly in the eye and says "Woe unto you!" On the Christ Journey this is the place of the Transfiguration and hence the place of the fundamental change that we must make in our own nature. This unlocks the merciless fate that we create for ourselves by not heeding the 6-fold warning of "Woe!"
Another difference between the two Trees is that the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot correlate with the 22 paths of the Hebrew Tree but do not match up with the 24 paths of the Greek Tree. That means the Tarot cannot be used in conjunction with the Greek Tree. This brings into focus the true nature of the Tarot cards. Fundamentally they are a series of ikons that are connected to each other by the internal logic and relationship of the Tarot system. What then is the function of ikons? They are doorways to the next level of reality because we can use our imagination to project ourselves through them and have direct experience of the other side. Are there ikons connected with the Greek Tree? Certainly and we have already seen 10 of them in the Christ Journey. The challenge is to identify 24 ikons from the scriptures to fit the 24 paths. This is the subject of a further series of articles.
Thus the internal structure of the Greek and Hebrew Trees and the differences and similarities between them, can give us a clue to the meaning of the scriptures. If you look at the spiral diagram again, it provides the analogy of how the two Trees interact. That is an important insight and the guide to future research. Happy reading.