Perhaps it’s Uranus transiting over my natal sun right now that’s inspiring me to write a bit about the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. For beginners, I’ll just mention that the Tree of Life is an interesting model of consciousness. Based on the mythical tree in the book of Genesis (from which one could eat and live forever), the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (often abbreviated as ToL) metaphorically explains how divine energy can move from the heavenly to the earthly.
Most sephiroth on the ToL are considered to be ruled by celestial aspects or by the elements; the ten sephiroth, or spheres (i.e., of consciousness/spiritual states) on the ToL and their respective rulers are:
- Kether, “The Crown”
- Chokmah, “Wisdom,” ruled by the Zodiac
- Binah, “Understanding,” ruled by Saturn
(Da’ath, “Knowledge,” is considered to be a false sephirah; in some traditions it’s also thought to be all sephiroth at once, though I find this unhelpful and somewhat incorrect)
- Chesed, “Mercy,” ruled by Jupiter
- Geburah, “Strength,” ruled by Mars
- Tiphareth, “Beauty,” ruled by the Sun
- Netzach, “Victory,” ruled by Venus
- Hod, “Splendo(u)r,” ruled by Mercury
- Yesod, “Foundation,” ruled by the Moon
- Malkuth, “Kingdom,” ruled by the four elements
The rulership of these sephiroth differ from the astrological essential dignity of domicile, which holds that planets have greatest effectiveness in zodiacal sign (e.g., Aries, Taurus, etc.): the Sun is strongest in the royal sign of Leo, the Moon in the nurturing sign of Cancer, etc. There are further essential dignities including
Sephirothic rulership, however, is less about what brings the planet strength, but rather what brings the sephiroth completeness. The Splendor of all the possibilities of form to be made in the physical world is brought to completion by Mercury, which can flow from idea to idea, configuration to configuration. The Triumph of any given form, moreover, is brought to completeness when it is in fact a pleasurable one (for what is the point in Victory without the thrill?).
One consideration is whether to re-assign the planets Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto to the final two sephiroth. From personal experience of the higher sephiroth, my judgment is not to do so. Uranus, the planet some folks consider to rule Chokmah, is commonly considered among astrologers as a “wild card” planet and a rebellious planet. My experience of Chokmah (“Wisdom”) is that it provides an individual insight into an optimal approach to reality. Wisdom is an optimal means to govern one’s life because it is an incorporation of an undeniable aspect of nature, which can be succinctly declared in a Law. Rebellious Uranus doesn’t seem to fit this idea, though one could argue that the newly declared Law is a necessary reflection of a previously unseen aspect of reality.
Nonetheless, more fundamental to my judgment is the contrast between Binah (“Understanding”), ruled by Saturn, the greater malefic and Lord of Time, and Chokmah. Binah occupies the top of the pillar of Severity on the ToL, while Chokmah occupies the top of the pillar of Mercy (ascending the Middle Pillar of Mildness is often considered a standard goal of the Kabbalah). Saturn reflects the need for discipline and patience, and brings Binah (often described as all possibilities and thus bringing the initiate the Vision of Sorrow) to completeness by imposing its cold order and a logical connectivity of these possible states into a coherent flow (eliminating–bringing death!–to nearly all of them!). If feminine Binah is ruled by the Lord of Time, then masculine and protruding Chokmah, it follows, should be ruled by Space itself. Space and time being essential aspects of the universe, the Zodiac seems like the superior choice of ruler.
What rules Kether, the Crown? As you might guess, I don’t believe it is ruled by either Neptune or Pluto. My argument is that it lacks formal rulership, except that it is existence itself, which does have limits. Therefore, I would argue that perception rules Kether–reality perceives itself, no matter what, and therefore perhaps the best way to put it is that the Divine rules it, for the Divine is the Complete Perceiver, and initiates into Kether may partake of the perception of the Divine.
Some scholars suggest that the Biblical Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil are the same tree. Eating of the Crown this Tree, I can tell you that the answer is yes: as I put it when first scrying the Enochian Aethyr of LIL: “This is the End of Death.”