In one of his lectures, Gurdjieff compares the Ninefoldness of the Enneagram with the Kabbalah: "Those of you who are acquainted with the Kabbalah may now apply its symbol of the nine in interpreting the laws of active operation in the processes of the harmonization of the nourishing of man's physical body. To those acquainted with the Kabbalah, I may give a passing reminder also of the symbolics of letters and of the combined symbolics of words. Word, number, and form, when combined, give a still more perfected symbol. It is not possible for me to dwell in detail on every aspect of symbolism. For the sake of those acquainted with occultism in its different parts, I can only mention the system of the great symbols called 'Tarot', and the symbols of magic, astrology and alchemy, each of which represents a symbolical system, that is, the path leading to a knowledge of the truth of unity."
Tarot decks have been in existence possibly since Egypt and the same may be true for the Kabbalah. The Tarot deck consists of 22 cards called the Major Arcana and four suits of 14 cards like playing cards, but with each containing an extra face card of the Page to sit beneath the Jack (or Knight), Queen and King. It does appear that the 22 cards of the Major Arcana must be a left over from some important spiritual knowledge in the same way as the diagram of the 10 Sephiroth of the Kabbalah. Between the 10 Sephiroth of the Kabbalah there are 22 paths of action, which has led to placing of the 22 Major Arcana Cards on each of these connecting lines.
The Kabbalah relates to the Enneagram's Ninefoldness because there are really nine distinct Sephiroth, since the bottom Sephirah is the mirror of the top Sephirah and thus the Major Arcana of the Tarot must also be connected. The 21 cards of the Major Arcana (leaving out the 22nd which is the Fool Card (0)) must represent the three octaves of the possible human bodies: Body, Spirit, and Soul. The enhanced Gurdjieff Enneagram shows the 7 notes plus 2 points of action from its center triangle for each of the three octaves. Thus all three methods are clearly related. I intend to show this relationship in more detail here.
One could take years of study to gain a full understanding the Kabbalah (also known as the Tree of Life) and I cannot pretend to be an expert on it. However, I will discuss its connection with the Major Arcana of the Tarot and the Enneagram.
Below is a traditionally accepted figure showing the ten Sephiroth (1-10) and with the count of the 22 Major Arcana Cards starting with 11 up to 32 on the lines that connect the Sephiroth. (I will be reversing the position of these cards.)
How these got assigned has to do with the following history that lead to the universal Rider-Waite deck of the Tarot and it relationship to the Kabbalah.
Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) was born Alphonse-Louis Constant in Paris in 1810, adopting the name by which he is better known (a Judaized version of his forenames) in 1845. In his 1854 visit to London, he summoned the spirit of Apollonius of Tyana, and in 1856 he published perhaps his greatest work, "Dogme et Rituel de 'la' Haute Magie" (Dogma and Ritual of High Magic). In this work he expounded the idea that all sacred writings and beliefs share at the heart "a doctrine which is everywhere the same and everywhere carefully concealed". In this work he also discussed the affinity between the 22 Major cards of the Tarot, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the Kabbalah. His death in 1875, the year Alestair Crowley was born, would lead Crowley to claim to be his reincarnation. Levi's work would later be translated by Arthur Edward Waite.
Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) was an English occultist and member of the famous magical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and published a number of important books on esoteric matters. His most enduring legacy is the Tarot deck he created, which was probably the most popular deck of the twentieth century. In 1891, Waite joined the Golden Dawn, and he remained a member through its upheavals at the turn of the century, actually becoming leader of the London temple in 1903 and changing the Order's name to the Holy Order of the Golden Dawn. The Holy Order of the Golden Dawn declined after Waite's departure in 1915. He emphasized the insights of the meaning of the Tarot, whereas Crowley their use in magic rituals.
Waite's Tarot deck is known as the Rider-Waite or Waite-Smith deck (Rider was Waite's publisher). Waite directed fellow Golden Dawn member Pamela' Colman Smith in the design of this beautiful set of cards, whose main innovation was the illustration of all the Minor cards in ways portraying their divinatory meanings. (Previously, most decks had taken a rather literal view of illustration, with the Four of Swords being depicted as four swords, for example.) This deck was used to illustrate his book "The Key to the Tarot", published in 1910.
Waite switched Justice and Strength, from their Major Arcana positions in the Tarot of Marseilles. (The abstraction of these cards make them somewhat interchangeable.) I have left Strength as Waite's Card 8 because it fortuitously has a lion (representing Ezekiel's lion).
However the there was a problem with the drawing on the Judgement Card (Waite's card 20) as the Last Judgement does not apply to the realm of Soul, but rather to the Spirit realm, so I moved it down to replace Waite's card 14 Temperance because this position fits better as the final card of Spirit. In looking at the drawings I felt that Waite's Card 11 Justice would work well at position 20 so I renamed it Understanding. (Clearly, these two cards are meant to be next their respective Sephirah: Judgement (14) at Gevurah (Sephirah: Judgement) and "Understanding" (20) opposite to Binah (Sephirah: Understanding).
At this point I had Waite's card 14 Temperance without a home and position 11 empty. Now, I and many others have a problem with the Devil card being in the deck at all and for me especially that it should be the lead card of the Soul. Seeing the first cards of the three sets of Major Arcana Cards beginning with Magician with the letter Aleph derived from the pictogram Ox on the first set which I represent as the Body and the words Strength with a picture of a Lion for the Spirit set and the Devil for the first card of the Soul set, I thought of
Alestair Crowley also renamed Major Titles, such as Lust, Fortune, and Adjustment in his Thoth Tarot Deck. The worst mess was created when Crowley and others decided to place the 22 Major Arcana cards starting with card 1 (Magician) or the Fool Card (usually marked a zero or 22) on the Kabbalah on the first line at the top that connects the highest Sephirah Kether with the next highest Sephirah Chokhmah. Then continuing to place them in ascending order on the descending positions of the Kabbalah lines that connect the 10 Sephiroth. (See diagram below.) Waite did not place the Fool Card first as Crowley did, but now most contemporary diagrams show it as first on the Kabbalah next to God! (Some have placed the Magician first, but still have the Fool as either 2nd or 3rd as one of the direct rays of Kether.)
All those who have assigned the numbering of the Tarot Cards have assigned the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet from Aleph (1) to Tau (22) to the same card numbers 1-22 (21+0) (Aleph is shown in the figure at the beginning of this discussion as card 11 (the first card after the 10 Sephiroth) assigned as the Fool or the Magician and card 22 assigned as Tau (the World). This association may have caused the upside placing of the Tarot Cards; but, clearly, this order did not come from ancient times as can be seen in the next diagram:
The figure above is an ancient representation of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life from the 1st Century with the names of the Sephiroth and paths assigned to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (from Fig. 10, page 155, of The Bahir attributed to Rabbi Nehuniah ben HaKana, Aryeh Kaplan trans., First edition, 1979, Samuel Weiser, New York). However, as you can see from this ancient figure above, the letters are located in different places. The first letter of the alphabet Aleph is in the center. The last letter Tau of the alphabet is at the bottom and yet the second to last letter Shin is near the top. This goes to show that their ancient significance seems be lost or ignored. The modern Kabbalah Tarot decks are all supporting these same erroneous positions of the modern Tarot cards.
Let me say here that when used in fortune telling, the Tarot cards are perfect in any order as their purpose has been decided before the reading (like heads is good and tails is bad or vice versa). In any case, these cards function by engaging the psychic abilities of the brain, as long as the reader does not give too much weight to the painted interpretive pictures. It is the ancient knowledge that these cards contain that is being analyzed here and which needs to be as correct as possible.
Given the obvious relation of the Major Arcana to three sets of seven, I decided to use the Tarot for giving insight of the three octaves of the three bodies of humans: Physical, Spirit, and Soul. Clearly,the Kabbalah contains these three Spheres and so do the Tarot Cards when divided by three, giving three sets of seven for the seven notes of the octave with the Fool Card left out. In a moment of Divine Intuition, I looked at the Kabbalah Sephirah: Tiphareth in the center with the attribute of Beauty and realized that it connected to everything and realized that it must represent the engine that drives the discontinuities of the Gurdjieff Enneagram between 'mi'-'fa' and 'sol'-'la' (caused by 'ti'-'do').
The Food Octave of Gurdjieff (shown above) begins at 'do', passes the discontinuity from 'mi' to 'fa' with the help of breath in the Lungs. It is at this point that the 'do' of the Spirit octave begins. (See Key to Soul Is Within The Missing Stopinder in the Food Octave for more detail):
At the place 'sol' to 'la' a certain effort described by Gurdjieff as being-Partkdolg-duty allows Food to continue to its 'higher do' and also allows the Spirit octave to pass through its discontinuity of 'mi' to 'fa' (note that in this case there is no automatic help like air in the Food Octave, thus the Spirit development usually does not transmute further than 'mi' in its octave). This place 'sol' to 'la' is also the place where the 'do' of the Soul octave begins.
Food completes its octave at the 'higher do' bridging the discontinuity 'ti' to the 'higher do'. This 'higher do' helps the passage of the Spirit Octave's passage through the activation point of 'sol' to 'la' and the Soul Octave's passage through its 'mi' to 'fa' discontinuity. Then the Spirit and Soul continue forward to their completion. (See figure and chart at the end.)
*" Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson"page 796
Using Gurdjieff's Ouspensky diagram above which shows levels within the body (lower, middle, and head), the Three Food Octaves might look like this:
In my moment of intuition I realized that Tiphareth is then the engine that helps to bridge these three positions: 'mi'-'fa' and 'sol'-'la' and 'ti'-'do'! No wonder it is called 'Beauty':
What must be considered when assigning the Tarot Cards is the fact the Kabbalah being a Hebrew symbol would be read from right to left, although the Tarot Cards are placed left to right. To account for this I have switched the Hebrew labels of the Sephiroth to opposite sides. I used the English principles of the Sephiroth (mirroring the brain!):
Note how the four triangles and the two squares of the Kabbalah conform to my assignments of the octave positions of the Sephorah:
There is a triangle at the top for the triune God (Kether- Chokhmah-Binah); an inverted triangle at the bottom for the physical realm(Yesod-Hod-Netzach) (The bottom one showing that Malkuth connects with Kether); two triangles (one inverted) with their apexes at Tiphareth (Hod-Netzach and Gevurah-Chesed) which are the upper Body and the Astral Body, and one triangle formed by Tiphareth- Chokhmah-Binah which is the Soul. Note how Tiphareth connects to all and helps the three octaves to complete their passage through the discontinuities to the next higher 'do'.
The goal of my analysis of the 22 Major Arcana cards (3x7+ Fool Card), once placed on the Kabbalah at its 22 joining lines, was to give insight into the attributes of the Spirit and the Soul on the Three Octave Gurdjieff diagram (shown previously and at the end). By analyzing the interaction of these Major Arcana cards on the Kabbalah, I intended to apply these relationships to the Three Octave Gurdjieff diagram to further describe the attributes of the Spirit and the Soul. However, this project was first delayed by the major mistake that apparently all of the so-called experts have made in the current placing of the Major Arcana Cards on the Kabbalah.
When I purchased my first deck of Tarot Cards after graduating college, I always assumed the numbers of the Major Arcana represented a progression of spiritual growth from Magician (1) (or Fool (0)) to World (21). The Kabbalah clearly shows the action of God (Kether) to our World (Yesod/Malkuth). (See my song: The Reading performed by our family.) However, once I looked at the now current placing of the Major Arcana Cards on the Kabbalah, I was amazed to find them reversed! Having searched for any ancient text that might support the accepted placement, I realized that the placement was arbitrary and, to my mind, totally incorrect to logic. It is no wonder that many have claimed that the Major Arcana Cards have no relationship to the Kabbalah. However, since both have 22 and there is also a relationship to the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, a connection has to exist. So instead of just proceeding into my project, I suddenly was faced with having to justify what I believed to be the true order, namely World (21) being the Universe of God-Kether) and Magician (1) (or Fool (0) being our world (Yesod/Malkuth).
In respect to the Major Arcana, it is in some way fitting that in modern times the Fool has been exalted on the Kabbalah. Clearly the origin of the concept of labeling the lines that connect the Sephiroth of the Kabbalah must have begun by placing the Hebrew alphabet on them and designating the first letter Aleph as 1. On the Kabbalah all the experts have made the Fool (0) or the Magician's position (1) equal to א Aleph "Ox" next to Kether. Regardless of the Fool's or the Magician's position, it is the superficial alphabetic positions that must have determined the numbering of the Major Arcana from Aleph "Ox" (1) to ת Tau "Cross" (22). This placement violates the gematria of the letters and also Essene doctrine that places the letters of the Hebrew alphabet from less to greatest importance. The last letter תּ Tau (400) is archangel Michael, the next to last is שׁ Shin (300) is Gabriel, רthen Resh (200) is Sariel, and then ק Qoph (100) is Raphael.
Are we dealing with a pack of Fools here? Am I really out on a limb to say that the card positions (with the alphabet tagging along) are backwards?
One of the reasons for the reversed direction could be that the Tarot interpreters have related Card 21 literally as 'World' and equated it with the last Sephirah (10) of Malkuth ('World '), which definitely represents the world we live it. Perhaps, Crowley may have suspected his error by relabeling the 'World' card as 'Universe'. It is, of course, easy to fudge the mislabel, by saying that Malkuth connects with Kether, but that suggests a backdoor to Kether which negates the quest up through the Sephirah!
In placing the cards on the Kabbalah in my order (reversed from the consensus order), I could have just reversed all the correspondences making Card 1= Card 22 instead of Card 22 to Card 1, but in going through them and taking into account the triangles and the Tiphareth engine, I altered their positions slightly as I will explain below; and, also, as I go through the Major Arcana Cards from 1-21, I will justify my order from lower to higher. First here is my complete diagram and spreadsheet:
To emphasize the Major Arcana as representing the three bodies. I have notated the three sets of 21 cards as follows:
Here are my positions:
and then here is the final result on the three bodies Gurdjieff enneagram:
(I will continue my discussion of this topic to analyze the Three Body Enneagram of Gurdjieff/Ouspensky titled Will my Spirit and Soul Survive my Death?)