The Astropsychology of the Tree of Life, Part 2: General Notes

Since the philosophical and hierarchical bases (beyond my First Principle that “Nothing is sacred”) may not be perfectly clear for my comprehensive redistribution of the planets, signs and tarot trumps on the paths of the Hermetic Tree of Life , I decided to post my notes.

  • My goals in reallocating the seven traditional planets to the paths were two-fold. First I envisioned grouping them around the sephira tied to the same planet as much as possible. This was generally successful with the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn; it was less coherent with Mars and a “mixed bag” with the Sun given the central position of its sephira as a kind of “hub” for most of the other planetary energies since they all have an “oar in the water” there.

  • Secondly, I tried to keep the notion of personal, interpersonal, social and transpersonal planets in mind, as well as their proper allocation between the three pillars of the Tree. There was a little bleed-over here, with only the Moon being entirely contained within the “Personal” sphere. Mercury and Venus have one foot in both the self-interested “Personal” zone and the “Interpersonal” realm of one-on-one relationships, while potentially manipulative Mars resides entirely in the latter, and the “Interpersonal” Sun sends one “ray” (Sun in Aries with the Emperor as its “ambassador”) up into the “Social” region of multi-party connections. The classical “social” planets Jupiter and Saturn are largely true-to-form. I used different esoteric assumptions for Uranus, Neptune and Pluto as noted in my previous post. Regarding the “Pillars,” I mostly succeeded in keeping the “kinder, gentler” planets Moon, Venus and Jupiter to the right-hand Pillar of Mercy and the more intensely single-minded planets Mercury, Mars and Saturn to the left-hand Pillar of Severity (with only the Moon and Mars creeping over to the opposite side on two paths). The Sun keeps its central location even more emphatically than before.

  • When relating the zodiacal signs to the paths, I tried to stick with the sign of rulership for each of the already-placed planets first, and then its sign of exaltation where necessary to fill out the model. For the Sun I needed three paths, so I brought in its sign of detriment (Aquarius) to kind of “countervail” the path of the Sun in its natural rulership of Leo. I only went with a disassociated sign for the Moon (Gemini) where its path conjoins the sphere of Mercury, creating at least a little convergence. This allowed me to have all of the “Vernal” signs appear in support of the “Earth” emphasis at the bottom of the Tree. Once again, for Uranus, Neptune and Pluto I used other esoteric assumptions.

  • In the Personal zone, I kept the three lowest paths “Earth-related” (Moon in Taurus, Venus in Taurus and Mercury in Virgo) due to their contact with Malkuth, the “Kingdom” of Earth. The Interpersonal zone I wanted to reserve primarily for Venus and Mars because of their involvement in sexual and romantic relationships, with only minor intrusions by the Sun, Mercury, Saturn and Neptune and with its upper boundary formed by Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius. The Social zone is bounded by Jupiter and Saturn at both sides and above-and-below, with only the Sun transiting it upward on the path of the Emperor and Neptune descending on the path of the Hanged Man. The Transpersonal zone is set up as described in my previous post.

  • At first glance, it doesn’t seem particularly intuitive to place the Lovers in the same “astropsychological zone” as Death, the Devil and Judgement, but bear with me here. In her book The History of the Tarot: Origins, History and Symbolism (review to follow shortly), Barbara Walker notes when discussing the Temperance card: “Gnostic alchemical texts placed Love in a central position between Death and the Devil: ‘What is stronger than Hell and Death? Yet Love is the triumphant conqueror of both . . . Love is of a transmuting and transforming nature.'” She goes on to say in discussing the “confluence of the waters” performed by the Angel in Temperance (which I place at the upper boundary of this zone) that this signifies the “mingling of male and female waters (as) symbolized (in) universal sexual union.” It all makes sense to me.

  • I did some radical retrenching regarding which trump cards go with which paths and their planet-and-sign combinations since I threw out most of the earlier Golden Dawn premises and started over. Only the paths of the Fool, the Magician and the Emperor carried over from the previous model, while the Chariot, Death and the Devil changed pillars but stayed at roughly the same elevation on the Tree. (Examination of the network of planet-and-sign correspondences across the Tree and a little thought should reveal why I did this.) Only Strength retained its transverse orientation, but not at the same level as before since I decided that Temperance and the Jupiter/Sagittarius pairing are better vehicles for the refined fiery energy at that position on the Tree. There is now a ladder-like ascension of the inner modes of consciousness embraced by the “Divine Feminine” (Barbara Walker’s quoted phrase “ascending light-planes of experience” strikes a chord): Strength (Sun in Leo) at the “emotional” level of Sublimated Desire; Temperance (Jupiter in Sagittarius) at the “mental” level of Contemplation and Concentration (although the Angel is considered by some to be androgynous); and the High Priestess (Saturn in Libra) at the “archetypal” level of Spiritual Enlightenment, as well as mediation of the patriarchal extremes of Uranus and Saturn.

With these elaborations, I believe I’ve established a fully-realized philosophical matrix for my assumptions.

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