I always enjoy hearing David Wells speak, so when I saw he was giving a talk on the Tree of Life I went along. I’ve been studying Kabbalah on my own for several years and it is good to hear someone talk on the subject.
David explained that he came to the Qabalah in his thirties when he had a period of illness. In his healing journey he was led first to Astrology and then to the Qabalah. His teacher told him, “You don’t learn the Qabalah, you live the Qabalah.” This concept of making the Qabalah practical rather than purely theoretical is an important part of David’s message. David studied Qabalah for 11 years and has applied Qabalah throughout his life ever since. He explained that the Qabalah is so vast that you can spend your lifetime learning and not exhaust the subject.
There are many forms of Qabalah and several different spellings which confuses people. Western Mysticism uses the Q spelling, whereas Jewish Mysticism uses the K. David stressed that you need to find the form that suits you best. There are enough common threads between the different teachings to access the other forms if a book or a teacher appeals to you. Qabalah is not tied to any one religion, the word means ‘received’.
Looking at the Tree of Life David explained that the symbol stands for a wealth of information and can be read and applied to all aspects of life. The Universal Tree of Life is studied as it faces you, but when you map the Tree onto the human body you need to imagine you are physically backing into it; this is important for healers who wish to understand where the body is out of balance.
David gave us a quick overview of the Tree sephira by sephira, taken from the top downwards, keeping things simple for the audience. You can access a free Tree of Life Diagram to follow this on David’s site.
Kether was described as ‘God sitting at the top’, the Crown. Chokmah is Wisdom, the original spark of creation, Binah is Understanding, structuring and giving shape to that creative impulse.
Chesed is Mercy, an expansive energy, containing endless possibilities. Related to the body Chesed is the left hand in which you would have held a shield as a warrior. In contrast Geburah is Severity, it cuts away that which you do not need and is the right hand, which would have held a sword. Geburah is the seat of Karma. Tiphereth is Beauty, it is perfect balance sitting as it does in the middle of the Tree.
Netzach is Victory. It helps you bring your ideas into manifestation especially through relationships, it is also Nature and emotions. Hod is Splendor, the sephira of thought where you analyse and plan. You need to balance your emotions with the mind. Yesod is Foundation, the sephira of your past lives and everything you’ve ever experienced.
Malkuth is the Kingdom, which is Earth. This is where you ground the energy of the Tree. You are grounding your spiritual Self down to Earth. David says, “None of this knowledge is worth anything unless you ground it. Unless it is helping you in your life it is only theory.”
Finally David spoke of the non-sephira of Daath, the place of hidden knowledge and the shadow side of us.
David showed us the pathway of the lightning flash as it moves downwards through the Tree and explained that whether you know about Qabalah or not you will go through this creation process as you manifest any idea or project. We all walk the Tree knowingly or not.
David then drew on Astrology in order to make the Tree accessible for the audience. It was a good way to engage people. He plotted the planets onto the Sephiroth to show how the Tree could relate on a personality level. By looking at the position of the planets ruling your Sun sign, rising sign and Moon sign on the Tree you can see where you are most at home and gifted.
For example I am an Aquarian, I am ruled by Uranus which belongs in Chokmah. I see this as free flowing inspiration which comes all the time; so many brilliant, exciting ideas. I have to be careful not to try and do them all at once, to focus in on just a few, otherwise my energy is too scattered and I would never bring anything to fruition. My Moon is in Cancer, the sign ruled by the Moon. The Moon is found in Yesod and this has a particularly strong resonance for me, supporting my intuition and explaining why past life work comes so naturally and has had such an important part to play on my Path. Gemini is my rising sign, ruled by Mercury. Mercury is in Hod, which relates to words and communication, particularly supporting my work as a writer and teacher. A Tree with the Planetary glyphs is available for download on David’s site.
It made me smile that David asked the audience if anyone had spent the previous few days with a focus on cleaning and clearing out. The day before I had washed down all my doors and door frames. David sees cleaning and clearing as preparation for Malkuth, which is the point of departure on the Tree. You walk the Tree of Life starting at Malkuth following the path of the Lightning Flash upwards, spending time studying each Sephira and meditating in the specific Temple before moving on. Reflecting on my (out of character) impulse to wash all the doorways in my house I wonder if this was a preparation for resuming my exploration of the Tree again, perhaps I subconsciously cleansed my physical doorways in order that the doorways were readied for me on the Astral? As above, so below and vice versa.
We completed the session with a beautiful visualisation to the Temple of Malkuth which is the safe starting place for anyone embarking on study of the Tree of Life. The temples and pathworkings are described in Dolores Ashcroft Nowicki’s The Shining Paths if you would like to work in this way. I found these visualisations were complex so my top tip is to record them for yourself and then listen to your audio to keep you on track.
Although Qabalah is a lifelong study the basics can be grasped relatively quickly and David has a book available to download, 21 Days to Understand Qabalah. He did stress that these are not intended as 21 consecutive days of study and should be worked through at a steady pace.