the Flash of Light
The Flash of Light

"Mysterious Energy, triform, mysterious Matter, in fourfold and sevenfold division, the interplay of which things weaves the dance of the Veil of Life upon the Face of the Spirit..."

Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass

The creation of the universe proceeds in stages, starting at the Ineffable and working its way down to us. These stages map to the letters of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), and correspond to several things that we are taught to see as separate. But how can two things be separate if they both correspond to the same thing? To understand the mystery of Qabalah more closely, we should investigate and meditate upon how these separate things are actually one:

  • The triad Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur
  • The four Worlds of the ten Sephiroth

The three principles

Ain, Negativity, is the most primal force in this universe or beyond it. It is the fundamental active principle, the Will to Bestow. It is the One, the infinite Light that is the fundamental element of all creation, and it must be bestowed because its entire will is to bestow. This is "what is willed where what is willed must be."

But without a recipient, there is no gift, and unless the Light is contained it cannot be seen. All we see, we see by reflection; and to be bestowed, it must be received. Thus — because it must — there exists Ain Soph, the Limitless. It is the fundamental passive principle, the Will to Receive. It is the balancing opposite without which Ain cannot exist; but Ain exists, so Ain Soph must. The two are inseparable, each a perfect Will. "The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!" Liber AL I:45

But infinity cannot be contained! How can it, and remain infinite? The Light pours itself into the vessel until the vessel becomes full; but the Light continues to pour until the overfull vessel breaks. This overflowing of the Light is Ain Soph Aur, the Limitless Light; and it, finally, brings Creation to a place where we can begin to apprehend: it leaks out into Kether, the top Sephirah of the Tree of Life. Ain having been moderated by Ain Soph, it is transformed, and tumbles down as Ain Soph Aur, dissipating its energy as it descends until finally at Malkuth it is diffuse enough to form mere matter. This descent through the ten Sephiroth in turn is the Flaming Sword, the Descent of Power.

As the Light descends, it passes from its pure form into other, baser forms, each more and more removed from the Ultimate. These dilutions cross boundaries that we describe as "veils"; and the veils separate the Worlds. (Within the third world, Yetzirah, there is an additional veil, that of Paroketh, about which I'll say more in a different essay.)

The four worlds

The first World is the Sephirah Kether, where Ain Soph Aur leaks from the breach in Ain Soph. This is where, were it possible to do so, we could by looking upward apprehend the Ultimate. This is Atziluth, the archetypal world, where desires are conceived. Moving down the tree, the Light must cross a boundary on its way to the next Sephirah. That boundary is the Veil of the Presence of the Most High.

Below the Veil of the Presence of the Most High are the Sephiroth Chokmah and Binah. This is Briah, the creative world, where desires turn into ideas. Below this is the boundary we call The Abyss.

If you look at the twenty-two paths of the Tree that are represented by letters and compare them to the Flash of Light, you will see a clear picture of the Abyss. In its descent, the Light passes from Binah to Chesed, but no path exists to make that transition. This division is where all logic falls apart, where the rules change. Below the Abyss, opposites divide; but above the Abyss, opposites unite, conjoin, annihilate. We cannot pass directly between Chesed and Binah by any means available to us; but the Light does this, crossing the Abyss on its way down.

Below the Abyss are six Sephiroth in two triads, from Chesed down to Yesod. This is Yetzirah, the formative world, where ideas turn into designs. The creative flash of an idea has happened, and now the idea must take form as a design before it can manifest as reality. But in order to create that reality, there is one veil left to cross: the Veil of the Profane.

Below that is one Sephirah, Malkuth: us, the created universe. This is Assiah, the world of action, where designs take form. Here, finally, the Light has lost enough of its energy that physical matter can hold together, elements can form, and eventually beings can exist who wonder Why Are We Here?

Our story continues

Those, then, are the three principles and the four worlds. As you can see, Ain Soph Aur is all four worlds, as it is the Flash. (Ain and Ain Soph are not part of that Flash. They exist above the flash point, Kether, as they are the source from which Ain Soph Aur springs. By themselves, they have no separate existence. "Existence" as a concept is meaningless until after they join as Ain Soph Aur.) That Flash creates the Tree as it descends down through its various energy states to a place where creatures with voices can exist, so we can begin to talk about it.

But I talked about a dichotomy, the schism between the principles and the worlds, and about how that schism doesn't really exist. ...Even though the Tree really "manifests" by the action of Ain Soph Aur... To see this, we need to examine the Tetragrammaton, the Name of God. That Name is a picture of the method of Creation, from the initial Will to its fulfillment. It works like this:

The four Worlds are each represented by one letter of the Tetragrammaton. Atziluth is Yod, Briah is the first Heh, Yetzirah is Vau, and Assiah is final Heh. But the Tetragrammaton is also Infinity itself: Ain is Yod, Ain Soph is the first Heh, Ain Soph Aur is Vau, and the culmination of Creation, Malkuth, is final Heh. So, Vau is Ain Soph Aur, and the entire Name is the four Worlds, which means that the entire Name is enclosed within Vau; and in this way Ain (Yod) is Atziluth, and Ain Soph (Heh) is Briah, and Ain Soph Aur (Vau) is Yetzirah. And Assiah, Malkuth, is us ... but, being part of the Tree, Assiah is also in Vau — and thus in Yetzirah — and so you can drive yourself crazy trying to understand this recursive logic, this Will from above the Abyss that is itself part of its own Creation.

Within each Sephirah exists another entire Tree. And within each World exists another entire Infinity, world without end, amen.

Creation continues

This being so, it's senseless to talk about an "end point" of creation, or to suggest that Malkuth — us — is that point. The infinite cannot be contained in any finite vessel. Every Sephirah contains within itself another entire tree. That Will continues to bestow, and every particle of Creation receives, and is filled to overflowing, and bursts to become another Creation as the energy flows through it.

Each element along the path, from Ain all the way down to Malkuth, isn't so much a "point" as it is a transition. One stage must give rise to the next, because it has been Willed. The Will sets forces in motion that eventually must become the Thing. There is no pausing for assessment or reflection — each step must continue to the next, because the Will cannot be denied, and cannot be contained.

The energy flows. The energy flows. There are eddies and whorls along the way — you, for instance, who think you are somehow separate from the rest of this restless Thing that is Creation — but ultimately the current rushes on, pushed by the relentless outflow of its Creator's Will, filling each vessel with infinity until it overflows.

... Which is, of course, a lie. Yes, the energy flows through you, but that energy is you, because it is the only thing there is. The Creator and its Creation are one. So if you fill to overflowing, what exactly has overflowed?

Just think about that the next time you feel alone. It's true: you are alone, you and every other thing in the universe, as alone as any thing can be, because in all of Infinity there is only one Thing. And that Thing is you.

One moment, please.
x Pages available here:
An Interactive QabalahThe Mother lettersSeven of Swords A Brief Introduction to QabalahNepheshSix of Swords Kether, the CrownNeshamahFive of Swords Chokmah, WisdomThe Veil of ParokethFour of Swords Binah, UnderstandingPermutations of the NameThree of Swords Daath, KnowledgeThe Three PillarsTwo of Swords QliphothThe ProfaneAce of Disks Chesed, MercyReflectionKnight of Disks Geburah, StrengthRuachQueen of Disks Tiphareth, BeautySefer Yetzirah, the Book of FormationPrince of Disks Netzach, VictorySeverityPrincess of Disks Hod, SplendorThe simple lettersTen of Disks Yesod, FoundationWhat is a Soul?Nine of Disks Malkuth, KingdomThe SoulsEight of Disks AlefThe Supernal TriadSeven of Disks BetThe FoolSix of Disks GimelThe MagusFive of Disks DalethThe PriestessFour of Disks HehThe EmpressThree of Disks VauThe EmperorTwo of Disks ZainThe HierophantAdjustment ChethThe LoversAeon TethThe ChariotArt YodAdjustmentThe Chariot KaphThe HermitDeath LamedFortuneDevil MemLustThe Emperor NunThe Hanged ManThe Empress SamekhDeathThe Fool AyinArtFortune PehThe DevilThe Hanged Man TzaddiThe TowerThe Hermit QophThe StarThe Hierophant ReshThe MoonThe Lovers ShinThe SunLust TauThe AeonThe Magus The Qabalistic WorldsThe UniverseThe Moon Atziluth, ArchetypesAce of WandsThe Priestess Briah, the CreativeKnight of WandsThe Star Yetzirah, the FormativeQueen of WandsThe Sun Assiah, the ActivePrince of WandsThe Tower The court cardsPrincess of WandsThe Universe The AcesTen of WandsHebrew alphabet transliterations The KnightsNine of WandsThe Triads The QueensEight of WandsThe Qabalistic Veils The PrincesSeven of WandsThe Name of Names, YHVH The PrincessesSix of WandsAlef The TensFive of WandsAyin The NinesFour of WandsBet The EightsThree of WandsCheth The SevensTwo of WandsDaleth The SixesAce of CupsThe double letters The FivesKnight of CupsGimel The FoursQueen of CupsHeh The ThreesPrince of CupsKaph The TwosPrincess of CupsLamed The 32 Paths of WisdomTen of CupsMem The AbyssNine of CupsThe mother letters Adam Kadmon, the Body of GodEight of CupsNun AlchemySeven of CupsPeh The Alef-Bet in Space and TimeSix of CupsQoph The Ari TreeFive of CupsResh The Astral TriadFour of CupsSamekh BalanceThree of CupsShin The double lettersTwo of CupsThe simple letters The Ethical TriadAce of SwordsTau the Flash of LightKnight of SwordsTeth The Gra TreeQueen of SwordsThe Tree of Life The 72 Hidden Names of GodPrince of SwordsTzaddi The Tree of LifePrincess of SwordsVau The Hebrew alef-bet letter classesTen of SwordsYod MercyNine of SwordsZain The Presence of the Most HighEight of Swords