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What are the Sephirot of the Tree of Life? Discovering the Kabbalah

Discover the meaning of the sephirot that make up the tree of life in the Kabbalah and learn about the different types of sephirot

the Tree of Life
What are the Sephirot of the Tree of Life? Discovering the Kabbalah | iSTOCK

The Sephirot are central elements to understand the mysticism of the Jewish cabal.  Discover what they are and what they are for, as well as the paths that we must travel spiritually to evolve within the Tree of Life. This will bring you closer to a better understanding of reality, regardless of your religion.


What are the Sephirot?

The Sephirot (which means emanations in Hebrew) are the ten attributes that represent the manifestation of the essence of God according to the Kabbalah, they are the forms through which the infinite manifests itself. They show us the microcosm and the macrocosm, if we know how to study the meaning of the Sephirot. From here derives both the physical kingdom and a series of higher worlds that are not accessible to our ordinary consciousness, although with the right work we can acquire the necessary wisdom to enter those kingdoms.

The Sephirot tree of life

It could be said that it is the diagram, or structure, in which the 10 Sephirot are located. The Tree of Life is a scheme of the cosmic organization, but it is also a scheme of the human body and of the mental and emotional and spiritual formation of our nature. It goes from the macrocosm to the microcosm.

Each Sephira (sephirot singular) is related by what we call Paths. They are paths that establish a relationship between different levels of manifestation. The importance of the Sephirot and the paths lies in the fact that if we understand their true meaning, we will understand the structure of all reality, at any level. 

Psychological work with the Sephirots of the tree of life

Before proceeding with the enumeration of the Sephirot, it is important to know what work we must do with them to achieve their virtues. Being abstract concepts, to invoke their power, we must use our active imagination. This consists of closing our eyes to let the inner vision fly about what we focus our attention on. The power of our unconscious is expressed when we let our heads rest and let the images that form in our mind develop without our intermediation.

Each sephira corresponds to virtues that we can invoke in our lives if we think of the images associated with them, they are the archetypes. These represent both the Sephirot in themselves and the paths that form between them in order to make the powers of these emanations permeate our conscience and with it, we can transform our reality.

Sephirot types

The tradition of the 10 Sephirot comes from the Kabbalah book Séfer Yetzirá. It describes everything we know about the Sephirot, both its position and its attributes and archetype that helps us invoke its power.

1. Kether

At the top of the tree of life, in the same center and crowning it, is the sephira Kether. It is the origin of all other Sephirot and is responsible for the explosion of creation. It is related to the divine will.

It represents the universe, the nature of divinity, the understanding of all archetypes and also helps us find the mysticism that is hidden in the events of daily life. In man he tells us about his spirit and his consciousness in a state of elevation. It corresponds to the white color. This sphere is unknowable and therefore difficult to visualize in a meditation.

2 Hochma

Hochma, which means "wisdom," is the second sephira, located at the top of the right column. It is the outbreak of ideas, the unlimited possibilities of thought and from this emanates all artistic activity. It is associated with the right side of the brain, related to intuition and creativity. Its color is gray. Visualizing Hochma brings us imaginative and fantastic, spatial and perceptual capacity. His archetype is the figure of an old and wise man who brings knowledge to the world.

3. Bina

Bina, the "Understanding" limits and restricts the thoughts of man but makes them accessible to consciousness and therefore, it is possible for us to operate with them. It is located at the top of the left column, opposite the other point to Hochma. If this was the right side, Bina represents the left side of the brain, since it is the center that is responsible for rational thinking. It is associated with the water element and therefore with femininity. It represents the future and corresponds to the color black. Because of his great understanding of the circumstances, this inevitably brings some sadness. To harbor a better understanding of reality, we will visualize Bina in our mind as a mature and silent woman.

4. Jesed/ Chesed

The sephira of Mercy or goodness, as translated, is known by both the names of Jesed and Geduláh (greatness). Of the sephirot of the tree of life, she is responsible for radiating altruism and selfless generosity. There is some renunciation and sacrifice that can be compared with Pisces or with the tarot card of the hanged man. It also refers to what is fair in the world, to fulfil the agreed word, which is of paramount importance for spiritual growth. Visualizing this emanation fills us with great kindness and love for all things. His self-denial is reminiscent of the hanging tarot figure.

5. Geburá/ Guevuráh

The fifth of the sephirot is Geburá or Gevuráh, "Heroism" or is also known by the name of Din, "Right." It is below Binah, next to Chesed and above Hod. This emanation is known as force, judgment and power. Its color is red and it is associated with the planet Mars and it is that energy necessary to carry out all our projects. It is our most warrior fighting side. We must visualize it invoking the image of a warrior we admire.

6. Tiferet

Tiferet is the sephira of beauty and glory. It is situated between compassion and severity (the sephirot of compassion and severity, respectively). These two forces cannot exist without each other, since they are necessary for the flow of divine energy to manifest. It is the only one of the sephirot that connects in the middle of the tree of life with all the others, except Malchut, in the trunk. This gives us an idea of the importance of knowing beauty in our lives to lead a realized existence. Life is beautiful because God is beautiful, in his infinite compassion. Tiferet has similar attributes to those of the Priestess, whose main feature is intuition, that is: the direct reception of knowledge without the intervention of the mind. Its color is white.

7. Netsaj

Netsaj means "Victory" and is the seventh sephira of the tree of life. It is located below Chesed and is paired with Hod. Netsaj is the sphere of Venus. This planet represents very well the positive attributes of the sephira: the triumphant beauty, the power of desire, the instinctive and eternal impulse, the artistic inspiration, everything in order that makes life worth living. Nétsaj represents the active polarity or the force, in front of the passive polarity, or the form of the mental matrix of the sephira Hod. It is the sphere of feeling in front of thought and its color is green. We think of this sephira visualizing a beautiful woman radiating all her goodness.

8. Hod

Hod, which translates as "Majesty" or "Splendor," constitutes the eighth of the sephirot. It is just opposite to Netzaj in his position in the tree of life. While Netzaj is emotional, Hod stands as the mental aspect. It is the concrete mind, which allows us to shape our projects and helps us overcome the emotional phases and the most instinctive impulses. It corresponds to the color orange and when it is active in our life, it brings truth to our words.

9. Yesod

The ninth of the sephirot is Yesod, "Foundation", and is located below Hod and Netsaj, just above Malchut. It is associated with the moon, because it is said to reflect the light of the other sephirot. The archangel Gabriel corresponds to him, the violet color represents Yesod.

Yesod is the foundation of personality. Built from childhood, it includes temperamental, family, social and cultural factors. It is the part of ourselves that we identify with, at the expense of leaving out other parts that we do not recognize, and that, remaining unconscious. To rectify Yesod's strength is to visualize in our mind a beautiful face.

10. Malkut

Malkut is the tenth of the spheres. It is the lowest divine attribute in their descending order, according to the structure of the Tree of Life. It is said to be the recipient of all the attributes that are above it. Its main characteristic is that it configures the matter that we can analyze with our five senses. It is the world of action, representing the physical plane as such. The associated color is blood red and corresponds to the alchemical element Earth. It grants discernment when viewed through the image of a crowned young woman.