the mutational alchemy tarot: sephiroth spread

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Sephiroth spread with astrological correspondences and Da’ath by m1thr0s. Background photo by Izi Ningishzidda on location at The Abrahadabra Institute, Olympia, Washington, Winter 2014.

To many people the Sephiroth spread seems large and intimidating, but it’s important to remember it’s the same size as the Sword and Shield or Celtic Cross. Sure, you need to memorize a little Hebrew and the ordering of the Sephiroth to pull this one off from memory, but it’s not that hard. I started using this spread spontaneously after my studies required that I memorize the ordering of the Sephiroth for pathworking. Don’t be afraid to play with Kabbalah and the Sephiroth. Let m1thr0s and I tell you as a Jew you are welcome to it and don’t let anybody tell you it is anything less than your human inheritance if you want to claim it. 

On this handy sheet which you are welcome to print out, the Sephiroth are denoted by their classical planetary attributions from antiquity. The symbols m1thr0s created to represent the astrological signs are very important and have their own secrets. For example, the symbol for Terra or Earth has points that are at a 23.5 degree angle – the same as the axis of the Earth in relation to the sun. It’s also got a vesica pisces in the center, the universal symbol of unity and the vagina and it’s a symbol for the swastika, a traditional symbol of the goddess Kali. The little dot in the center resembles the eye of Siva or the All-seeing eye.

When m1thr0s put all of these symbols and meanings together in one killer talisman for Earth, I was really fucking impressed. I immediately disposed of all of the concept art I had done on the astrological signs and gave it over to him. I also love how Ma’at or Saturn, at Binah, The Sorrowing Great Black Mother looks like a huge pregnant lady opening her arms to give the viewer a hug. 

So when you start this reading you’ll decide whether or not to do Earth Ascending or Heaven Descending. These are the two fluxes. Earth ascending tends to be violent, unstable and chaotic, like the Kundalini Shakti, while Heaven Descending is steady, ordered and logical like Mercury or Logos. We’ve numbered this chart in the Heaven Descending order, as it is more common. You may want to use Earth ascending for help in attacking a difficult problem or situation which requires shaking things up. Just reverse the chronological order for Earth Ascending.

A note about Da’ath: You can cast Da’ath first or last. I usually cast it last. It’s not a Sephiroth so it doesn’t get a number, but it is important. Think of it as like a non-Sephiroth that acts as the seat of God, or if you like, the Cosmic Vagina. It’s called the Seat of Knowledge and it can also be thought of as the fruit of the tree of the knowledge. 

  1. Ruling Power or Energy.

    Kether.  Neither wholly male or female, it’s transliterated as “Crown”, and the brilliant white gold light of Kether represents the highest you can go on the tree, the “star” of the yuletide tree you put on the top of your evergreen for the holiday. It’s not the absolute highest, that doesn’t begin until you go even higher into Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur. These are on the map where Abrahadabra is concerned. (Abrahadabra Grid Proofs, The Abrahadabra Institute, m1thr0s www.abrahadabra.com, The Book of Mirrors) but we don’t address them in this spread. Consider them to be acting through Kether which is synonymous with the all-good well-wishing Will of Heaven or The Dragon. The position of Kether will tell you what the primary energy of the situation or person is. It dominates all of the other cards in the spread and if it’s a bad card of any sort, examine “afflictions” elsewhere in the tree. Otherwise it may indicate the need for a major change in thinking and behavior. When in doubt, remember you can ALWAYS cross a card you don’t understand, with another card. You can also do an I Ching reading in order to solve any confusion.

  2. The Wise All-Father, Logic 

    This position can illuminate the logic and rationality of the person or situation, and also signify one’s atttitude towards men and career relationships. Chokmah is called Wisdom in English. It also represents the grey All-Father and is the top commanding Sephiroth of the male pillar. The energy here is powerful and wise of course, able to discern between things and manifesting perspective from the Yang side of universal energy. Bright, logical, thinking, communicating active warm and passionate energy resides here. A good symbological representation for it in the archetypal library of humankind is Mercury or Logos. It can represent males in the situation or in the person’s life. Adventure, plans,  fun and technology are all ruled by this Sephiroth. There is a chance it is talking about a marital proposal. He also rules over words, while Binah rules over sound. It can talk about the relationship to society and to males, and looks at the big picture that can be difficult to see in the sandstorm of emotion and detail. Ouranos, also known as King George, is the ruling planet. This planet is all about eccentricity and futuristic ideas. He’s the guy that guides us into a better place, the world we can only dream of. All in all you should trust this guy because he has a better way of doing things, but emotions can often blind us to what is correct dharma. Chokmah is the aspect of the masculine side of universe that walks besides us when we are afraid or facing a challenge that requires thoughtfulness and courage.

  3. The Understanding All-Mother, Emotions 

    This position can illuminate deep seated emotions influencing the person or situation especially in relationship to loved ones. Binah is called Understanding in English, she’s the Great Black Mother in the East. We know this because in Kabbalah she’s the “mother of mothers”, as the mother to the Shekinah or personification of the wife/house of Hashem. This also applies to the Sanatana Dharma concept of the overarching Devi principle who stands above all Devis. Also known as The Sorrowing and the Great Sea of Binah. She’s the All-Mother and is associated with learning and teaching. Life itself is precious as it teaches and she grows. She is always virgin and whore. This is the last of the three supernals, forming the squat triangle that is called The Cave of the Ancients. Stillness, peace, justice, emotions, dreams and intuition are ruled by Binah. There is a Jewish saying that says “The mother understands what the child does not say” This position can reveal emotional issues in the subconscious or problems with women or ideas about women. It can also reveal hidden injustices. Saturn, her ruling planet has long been associated with justice, karmic repercussions and the gods of time, as a woman it is closely associated to the goddess Ma’at. Binah is the feminine aspect of universe that is with us to support us when we are suffering, either emotionally or physically, especially where there is injustice or sorrow.

  4. Generous, Helping and Kind Actions, Relationships 

    This position can advise how to rule the situation. Chesed is properly translated as Merciful-Benevolence, but it’s often given other titles like Love, Mercy and Kindness. It’s got an alternate name: Gedulah, which means Majesty. He is the ruler and is signified by a scepter, where Geburah his partner is signified by a sword. A good deity association is Elohim or any of the thunder-related sky gods, Rudra, Zeus, etc. It’s the middle part of the male pillar and there is also a saying to go with it and its partner, Geburah, Severity. “A turn of severity must be followed by a turn of kindness”. Chesed is all about stability and joy, taking care of things as they are and preventing misery and displeasure. If afflicted it may mean someone is being too lenient, or laws are not strict enough, but it can also mean tyranny and overstepping one’s bounds of authority. Its ruling planet, Jupiter, is bombastic and not interested in the small stuff. Its energy asks us to ignore details that arn’t important and forces us by its sheer size and presence to pay attention to “reality”. The magick of Jupiter can offer extreme joy and pleasure or it can draw our higher selves away from the task at hand. It’s also associated with sex and reproduction, but in the physical sense, down to genes and DNA, and not past lives and karma.

  5. Restrictive, Punishing, Just and Warlike Actions and Karma. 

    This position can advise on what actions to take. Geburah doesn’t mess around. She is the Law and Management. She’s red like blood and has Mars in the palm of her hand. This planet carries out the orders of Binah above her in the name of justice. What causes sorrow must be eliminated. This is far more complicated than one would think, as we can see from the state of the world today. Geburah can be set against the querent, representing a challenge, but it can also be benign. The reasoning of Geburah rules the chaos in Hod below and it also regulates Tiphareth. This area of the tree can indicate past karma influencing the situation, or some injustice being perpetrated that must be answered for eventually. It can also have to do with war and conflicts, soldiers or trials. There is a connection with the feminine as well. Even though Binah is the mother, Geburah can be considered the womb, where Chesed is the consort father. Geburah is also the proper seat of the Prince of Darkness which is probably why it’s been earmarked as the secret entry to the underworld by Satanists. The reason for this is not only the womb connection but that fact that it’s ruled by Mars, so it can be depicted as a knight in a chariot going to battle. The chariot is the uterus. Crowley depicted this scene on his Chariot card, as a golden knight decorated with the stars of Assiah.  Geburah is associated with the transition from spirit to the physical world, Karma and past lives in a newborn. 

  6. The Future to Be, True Will, Higher Self, Good Direction 

    Tiphareth translates as Beauty and it connects to all of the other Sephiroth with the exception of Malkuth. Many of the attributions spouted about Tiphareth are merely incorrect assumptions, mostly perpetrated by Cabalists (Christian Kabbalah practitioners.) It is called The House of the World to Come in the Bahir, and represents a perfected and complete world template which Malkuth is bound to follow. It is also the throne of light, so that adherents of Luciferianism may find it interesting, but since Lucifer is associated with the moon in the Greek language it is more properly the domain of Yesod, which may be considered the Alembic that filters the data from Tiphareth to Malkuth.  The position will indicate the current aspect of the energy and information coming from Kether that is at play in the situation, relationship or activity in question. Consider that this position is always positive no matter how weird or bad the card seems to you, it is basically good in this spot. For example, if you get Debauch you may need to live it up a little more in your life. 

  7. Endurance, Challenges, A Journey, Romantic Relationships,Trials

    Netzach is associated with the planet Venus and translates as “Victory”. I used to keep getting “bad” cards here and I thought I had an affliction in Netzach, but it was just a failure to comprehend that this sephiroth is all about the current challenge that needs to be addressed. Consider that it’s the quest given out by Tiphareth in order to achieve its splendid state. It can especially address problems in romantic relationships as it is ruled by Venus. Love is often a key to winning the war revealed here.

  8. Art, Creativity, Scholarly Pursuits, School, Non-Romantic Relationships

    Hod, is properly associated to Mercury and is defined by its orange and electrical energy. Ritual, art, religion, scholarly and intellectual activity are constants here. The act of creating a representation of invisible concepts is the property of Hod.  On the tree Hod represents the left thigh and Netzach the right. 

  9. Tomorrow, Spirit Manifesting, Entheogens, Possibilities

     Yesod is called Foundation, which is important to us in the sense that Malkuth isn’t the Foundation of Man. The procession of the Aeons marks the steady progress Man is making towards the glorious future of Tiphareth where everything will be perfect and ecstatic. This position will indicate actions or events that are coming into being. Right now they are only present in the intimations from fate or they are on the horizon about to come into being. The card here will indicate something that is already happening or will happen very shortly. 

  10. Present Circumstances and the Physical Reality

    Malkuth is finally the present enviroment surrounding the querent and is a matter of fact summary of things as they stand in the relationship, activity or venture. It also represents the querent’s physical self but not the higher self. Remember the entire Sephiroth is YOU. 

  11. Mystery, Knowledge, Magick

    The mysterious non-Sephira Da’ath called the Seat of Knowledge can be placed at the beginning or at the end of the spread. It can be a hidden ally or power, and the card will tend to be magnified in this area. If it’s afflicted, consider flushing Da’ath by actual banishment rituals of one’s choice, especially helpful would be the TwinStar ritual or the Da’ath hack. 

the mutational alchemy tarot: sword and shield spread

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Sword and Shield image by m1thr0s. Creative Commons attributions license 3.0 A credit hyperlink / printed credit to this site and to cr103.com is required to reproduce this image where it is re-used.

Sometimes called the Celtic Cross, here we use the less common name for the spread, Sword and Shield. In this context the right vertical pillar represents the sword, and the diamond shape formed by the left pattern represents the shield.

One of the most widely known and used spreads, the Sword and Shield is a very useful general purpose spread. It’s better suited for situations than it is for analyzing people themselves. The complex Sephiroth spread is better at analyzing personalities. 

  1. The first card in the spread represents the querent – either you or someone you’re reading about. If it is a card with a person on it, one should consider the figure to be one and the same with a querent. If there is no figure or that doesn’t make any sense, it could represent the thoughts dominating the querent. 

  2. The crossing card. The represents the dilemma, person, or situation facing the querent – the person holding the shield and sword. If it’s an enemy this should be fairly clear. If using reversals it’s important to remember that the card is normally read as being about go either way. You can certainly interpret it with reversals but there is a reason why it is laid sideways. It represents the changeability of fate. 

  3. This position represents the past. This card can have a strong effect on the other cards, so even if there are difficulties if this card is auspicious it slants the reading towards a more manageable scenario. If it’s an unlucky card one should take this into account and advise corrections based on past behaviors that aren’t working for the querent. In the context of the Shield, it represents that path which the querent is already in the habit of following. One should consider if they wish to repeat the past or not.  

  4. The malleable future. It is the right hand path, the more difficult path often, requiring the use of the Sword. Although sometimes it will proclaim the querent should keep to “steady as she goes” if the past and future cards are dramatically different, changes should be considered.

  5. The path we are on, and the enviromental factors we can’t see. The querent could be about to trip on a banana peel or they might have solid footing. Whatever it is will affect the situation in front of the querent. 

  6. Above we have the higher will and unseen forces of the superconscious. There are other wills at play in the world and some of them are helpful, others are adversarial. This card will reveal what is acting over the situation. Changing this requires higher powers as well, but this will mean something different to everyone.

  7. The hilt of the sword is the querent’s handle on all of the other aspects of this pillar. 

  8. The left side of the sword represents one’s external enviroment, things that have nothing to do with the querent or the situation but which can change everything about the outcome. It can also hold secrets about hidden paths and ways of doing things the querent hasn’t looked at yet, especially if the outcome is poor.

  9. The right side of the sword represents the ideas, thoughts and plans of the querent which are being used in that given moment. If the outcome is poor, consider this card carefully.

  10. The point of the card, the essence of the element of Air and Jen. This card is the most important card in the spread, if it’s a good outcome card, such as the Hierophant or the Emperor, even if all of the other cards are horrible the final outcome will be a positive one. 

As always consider coincidental pairings, strong elemental showings, such as an unusual multitude of Pentacles, or many ATU, or many male or female figures. In meditation one may visualize oneself as a figure carrying a sword and shield on a kind of road, on their mission. Pay attention to what kind of enviroment populates as well as the details on both pieces of equipment, as well as the appearance of the object or lifeform in front of you. 

Izi Ningishzidda

 

 

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