The Tree of Life has undergone several changes over the years, as people work with it and find ways to clarify how we try and understand the world around us and the Divinity that created it. Da’ath was added to the Tree of Life after the structure of the main ten Sephiroth was well-established, and it’s unique in that it doesn’t have a number and is not connected to any of the other Sephiroth by a Path. It’s illustrated differently from the others, too – it’s often shown with a dotted outline, for example, rather than a solid circle. Not everyone thinks it’s necessary, so you do see Trees of Life without it. When you’re working with the Tree of Life and Tarot, you can include Da’ath or not. What effect does it have to include or exclude it? What does it actually do?
The Abyss is definitely there, whether or not you conceptualise a Sephira in the middle of it. The Abyss can be frightening, knowing there aren’t any landmarks or yellow lines on the road to make sure we at least don’t end up wandering around in the dark desert. It would be reassuring to think there is something in the middle, however nebulous, that might give us a clue or attract us somehow. A dim light in the dark is better than no light at all in that respect. But does it affect the faith that is involved in that crossing? If the whole point is to work your way across on your own, creating your unique path, then what happens when we know in advance there’s something circumscribed in the middle already?
Let’s look at it from another angle. When we position a human behind the Tree of Life, the Sephiroth align with parts of our body. Kether, Chockmah, and Binah are all in the head area; Chesed and Geburah are on the arms; Tiphareth is in the solar plexus; Netzach and Hod are on our hips; Yesod is around our genitals, and Malkuth is at our feet. In some versions of this illustration, the only Sephiroth that are shown are on the Middle Pillar, so we then have Kether, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth. Da’ath would also belong in this version, since it’s also on the Middle Pillar. If we keep the original physical correspondences, Da’ath would fall between Kether and Tiphareth – between our head and our solar plexus – aligning with our throat.
Is this about speech, then? Or in a more mystical sense, our voice? We know that speech is powerful because so many religions address how we should talk to each other. It’s not just about being nice; it’s important because it has a spiritual effect on us. There’s a reason why gossip in Buddhism is right up there with stealing and anger – harmful speech damages everyone and it’s almost impossible to truly repair. But it can also be magickal.
When we think about the spiritually transformational role of Qabalah, we know that work is often done via speech. If we work with Angels, or pray, or ask for help, that all relates to our voice. Avara Kedavra, a Hebrew phrase meaning “I create as I speak”, relates to the Tarot Magus, and as we travel down the Tree of Life following the path of Divine Lightning, the Magus is the last Major Arcana we contact before striking out across the Abyss.
Perhaps the message here is that we can create the Abyss that we experience. Da’ath may be there less to act as a Sephira (which is why it’s never drawn as a solid), and more to be the clue about the potential we have, i.e. which of the Magus’ tools will serve us the best at this moment: speech. This isn’t about visualising alone, although that is a powerful tool. It is about the kind of magick we all have access to, to visualise clarity and then make it real by speaking that vision out loud.
We still have to take the leap! But it’s not quite a leap into the darkness, not quite being abandoned in the desert. There also is not quite a Sephira there to help explain what’s happening. That’s because we create what happens in the Abyss, and it’s not the same for everyone. This is your experience with Spirit and it’s yours alone. So as you step forward to make the crossing, say what you will, and create.