Here is a glossary of terms for talking about the Tree of Life. I’ll update it as we go, but please let me know if you’d like me to add anything in particular.

Sephira: one of the spheres on the Tree of Life. There are ten in total.

Sephiroth: plural of Sephira

Path: there are 32 paths on the Tree of Life: 22 paths for the Major Arcana and 10 for the Sephiroth. The Tree of Life is always in motion, so the Sephiroth are also considered to be a temporary state leading somewhere else.

Path number: In practice, when you read about a path number, it almost always refers to the 22 connecting paths of the Major Arcana. They are numbered starting with The Fool and going in order to The World. Stick with me here: The Fool is number 11, the Magician is number 12, the High Priestess is 13, etc. The reason for this is that we start numbering with the Sephira, 1-10, and then move on to the Major Arcana.

A note about the image above: I’m using this one because it’s great for showing where the Major Arcana go, but for some reason it doesn’t give the name of the Sephiroth in English (it’s there in Hebrew). It does give their mystical name in English (Crown, Wisdom, Understanding, etc) which gives an idea of what you learn in that Sephira. We’ll discuss what happens in each Sephira in a later post. For today, please refer to the main Tree of Life image at the top of this page for the Sephiroth names. Here is a complete list of the path numbers starting with the Sephiroth names – you’ll notice that I am keeping Strength at 8 (Path 19) and Justice at 11 (Path 22):

Path 1: Kether
Path 2 Chockmah
Path 3 Binah
Path 4 Chesed
Path 5 Geburah
Path 6 Tiphareth
Path 7 Netzach
Path 8 Hod
Path 9 Yesod
Path 10 Malkuth

Path 11: The Fool
Path 12: The Magician
Path 13: The High Priestess
Path 14: The Empress
Path 15: The Emperor
Path 16: The Hierophant
Path 17: The Lovers
Path 18: The Chariot
Path 19: Strength
Path 20: The Hermit
Path 21: Wheel of Fortune
Path 22: Justice
Path 23: Hanged Man
Path 24: Death
Path 25: Temperance
Path 26: The Devil
Path 27: The Tower
Path 28: The Star
Path 29: The Moon
Path 30: The Sun
Path 31: Judgement
Path 32: The World

A little trick to quickly figure out which Major Arcana card is on which path is to take the number and subtract 11. If I gave you Path 28, you would take away 11 to get 17, The Star.

Tree of Life with Sephiroth numbers and names

Reflect: Movement of energy between Sephiroth is ‘reflection’. For example, when energy emerges from Kether at the top, it ‘reflects’ into Chockmah and from there reflects into Binah and so on. Each time it reflects, characteristics/lessons are picked up from the Sephira it passes through. The image of a mirror is usually used to describe this, but I think the image of a pinball machine works better. Each time your ball hits a bumper and is bounced to the next one, it collects the kinetic energy from that bounce and takes it along. As energy moves from one Sephira to the next, it also collects characteristics/lessons/wisdom as it goes, so that when we get to the 10s at the bottom, we are the result of all the work we did along the way.

Using the image of the divine energy moving down the Tree of Life to earth (marked by the yellow arrows in the image to the left): If we look at Chockmah in Sephira 2, it contains the energy of itself and Kether. It also contains a foreshadowing of Binah. When the energy then moves into Binah, it becomes Binah energy that also contains what it absorbed from Chockmah and Kether … and it projects into Sephira 4, Chesed.

Terms I’m not sure anyone else uses, but which I think help clarify things:

The Tree of Life
August Klimt, 1909

Geometric Tree of Life: the abstract image of a Tree of Life that we use today, with Sephiroth and paths. I use this term if I need to distinguish our Tree from earlier illustrations of Trees of Life that are depicted as real trees, e.g. a pomegranate tree or an apple tree. If I’m just talking about the Tree of Life and Tarot, with no mention of images of real trees, I just call it the Tree of Life.

Connecting path: the paths that connect the Sephira, where the Major Arcana are placed. This distinguishes this more literal-looking ‘path’ from the concept of the Sephiroth as ‘paths’.

Reside: a term I use to mean ‘belongs’ or ‘rules’. Venus resides in Sephiroth 7, for example. The Queens reside in Sephiroth 3. The Fool resides on the top-right-hand connecting path.

Placement: where a tarot card belongs on the Tree of Life is its placement. You can find all the Minor Arcana 2s in their placement in the 2nd Sephira.