Path 28


   When I was seventeen, I borrowed the family’s Plymouth and drove north on Highway 41. My father had died a month before, and I had some vague notion about finding a place to live by myself outside of Fresno. I found a dirt road heading west that wound around the southern base of Little Table Mountain through grasslands and vineyards. Since no one else was in the area, I parked the car by the road and rolled under barbed wire. Then I climbed to the top of the bluff, surprised by how empty and quiet it seemed, and strolled toward the northernmost ridge, hoping to find a place to hang out, at least for a little while. A hawk circled overhead, and blonde grass dried in the sun. I noticed what appeared to be an unraveling woolen sweater on the ground and discovered the disintegrating skin of a gray squirrel. As I stared at the carcass, I felt an unexpected sense of peace. I thought of my father and tears welled up in my eyes, but at the same time I felt a surge of well-being for the first time since my father’s death. I sensed an overarching consciousness, as if all the plants and trees and even rocks in that place had tuned to one frequency, a peace beyond understanding, and I too had effortlessly tuned my mind to that vibration.
   On the bluffs that day, I had one of my first encounters with an Over-soul. Every time I have returned to nature since then I have to one degree or another felt that sense of an intelligence or “spirit" of the place. For me each region, such as a watershed, has a distinct “feel” to it. Dion Fortune, the spiritual adept who wrote the Mystical Qabalah, claims that an intelligence exists within each “organized unit” within nature. Often, however, as I experience a distinct overarching intelligence within an ecosystem, I am not sure if it is the collective consciousness of the creatures who live there or a deity. In one watershed I have felt the presence of a joyful maternal spirit brimming with love for every creature in its domain; in another I have felt a primal, threatening presence; in another I have several times heard a voice that has correctly predicted what would happen many years later, almost as if in a previous life I had established a parley with that Over-soul, so I am inclined to believe that deity is behind each “organized unit.”
   In terms of the Tree of Life, the type of psychic connection that I experience is suggested by a Tarot card known as “The Star,” which is associated with my birth sign, Aquarius. On the Tree of Life, The Star represents the path between Yesod, the ninth sphere associated with psychism, and Netzach, the seventh sphere associated with nature and the arts. I confess that I had put no stock in astrology until I recognized the significance of the archetype of my birth sign and its position as a path on the Tree of Life.

Tree of Life

   The card shows a naked woman kneeling by a pond, pouring liquid from a pitcher in her right hand into a pond and liquid from another pitcher in her left hand onto the earth. One large, central star floats over her head and seven other large stars shine nearby. On the microcosmic, or personal level, the seven stars correspond to the seven primary chakras, or energy centers, within the aura. After purification, they shine brightly without any clouds or veils to dim them. The central eighth star is a special kind of consciousness that exists after purification of the energy centers, the integrated consciousness of the higher self. With this higher consciousness, the woman is completely open to the world, naked, revealing the truth of her soul.
   The ibis, symbol of Thoth, perches in the tree behind the woman. Thoth, the Egyptian equivalent of Mercury, is associated with the intellect, with communication and the creation of form. Directly across from the sphere of Mercury on the Tree of Life is the sphere of Venus, the sphere of emotion and beauty, of nature and the arts.
   Sothis, the celestial Isis, associated with Sirius, the star that appears just before the Nile floods, pours the higher consciousness of the Goddess into the Kingdom. She works with Thoth, the great magician, who crafts the forms that ensoul the forces. She is also Isis as Venus, the Goddess of the sephira Netzach, who creates beauty and harmony and manifests divine love in the Kingdom. Hathor married Horus, Venus married Mars, these Goddesses containing the power of the life-force on all levels, the power to create great beauty and harmony through love.
   The usual astrological prediction, such as the one found in the newspaper, is, of course, nonsense, but a good description of the archetypal elements, or basic patterns, of an astrological sign can be very useful. The internet abounds with descriptions of astrological signs. The following is fairly typical (and I, of course, have accentuated what I consider positive aspects):

An Aquarian man is a natural rebel, which means he will want to do away with all those old customs and traditions of the world. To put it mildly, he is a revolutionary.

He is a visionary, and often is seen to be taking the untrodden path. He makes his own path wherever he goes.

He is creative, carefree, daring and spontaneous, and thanks to his curious bent of mind, he tends to get involved in things instantly.

He hates lying and cheating. He is a staunch believer in fair play.

The Aquarian man is never short of surprises and is known for his innovative bent of mind.

   On a personal level, I have subconsciously been so compelled my entire life to follow the archetype of Aquarius that many people have interpreted my behavior as pure stubbornness or careless rebellion or stupidity or just plain foolishness. Of course, even in middle age I feel no regrets, only anger at people who still don’t “get” me. It is often very instructive to identify the Tarot cards associated with your sign and their position on the Tree.

Six of Swords

Six of Swords: Lord of Earned Success
Decan: Mercury in 11 - 20 degrees of Aquarius
Tree of Life Association: Sun in Tiphareth (Sixth Sphere)

   It is important to remember that the spheres on the Tree of Life represent states of being that human beings can experience in the material universe, known as Malkuth, the Kingdom. In terms of the Tree of Life,Western societies still mainly value strength, the virtue of Malkuth (the tenth sphere), and “concrete mentality,” a characteristic of Hod (the eighth sphere representing the intellect). For instance, in the United States, especially in California, the educational system in recent years has spurned Netzach, the sphere of Venus (arts and literature) and emphasized Hod (the sciences), which reflects a terrible spiritual imbalance in our society. Avoiding the thirty-second path, which leads to the ninth sphere of psychism, as well as the twenty-ninth path which leads to the sphere of nature and the arts, the educational system channels those who use the mind into the path from Malkuth to Hod. No matter what you believe about preparing children for work in a capitalistic economy, this limited focus leaves children emotionally, mentally and spiritually unbalanced.
   As an Aquarian male I have become extremely sensitive to people’s reaction to the arts. And I have become so peevish that I believe the vast majority of people do not or simply cannot appreciate great music or art or literature. Compare the number of people who attend sports events--including wrestling matches--to the number who attend poetry readings or museums or concert halls, for instance. In the sphere of Malkuth, the populace admires physical strength, agility, and quickness while honoring sciences that show us how to dominate and manipulate the physical world.
   The imagination establishes the links to otherness--other creatures, other people, other forces, other vibrations of energy. A person who cannot imagine what it’s like to be someone or something else, who cannot “feel with the other” is devoid of empathy. Exposing children to the arts and the natural world opens the imagination to the paths that lead to understanding and appreciation of diversity. Lack of empathy is at the root of our inability to create sustainable communities, an inability that might very well lead to cataclysmic economic and environmental crises even in this generation. Lack of empathy makes us blind to the ravishing beauty that still exists in some areas, a beauty we could soon lose. Environmental degradation is essentially a spiritual problem, an inability to connect.

Path 27

   Often it takes the equivalent of a lightning strike to make an individual move from the intellect to the sphere of nature and the arts. On the Tree of Life, this is shown by the path of Mars known as The Tower. A tower, which coincidentally appears “ivory,” is struck by lightning and two people, a man and a woman, suggesting the masculine and feminine aspects of the psyche, fall out of a window to the ground below. Mars, of course, is married to Venus, which suggests that experiencing Mars--in other words experiencing the potency of the life-force--can result in a greater appreciation for nature and beauty and emotion. This experience, especially in societies that have shut the doors to most of the states represented by the Tree, is often unpleasant, even terrifying, often occurring during crisis, such as the death of a friend or relative--during a time when one is totally shaken up. Unfortunately, due to social conditioning too often it takes a crisis to make a person open enough to experience other emotional, mental, and spiritual states.
   If you carefully examine the Tree of Life, you can see that one of the paths stemming from the sphere of Venus leads to the Christ-center, the sphere of equilibrium that harmonizes all the other paths on the Tree. Another path from sphere of Venus heads straight up to the sphere of Jupiter, a sphere of spiritual harmony, magnificence and abundance. A person who has not experienced the initiation of Netzach, the sphere of Venus, would have great difficulty understanding the spiritual inebriation of the Christ-center, known as Tiphareth, or the harmony and order and magnificence at the root of creation, represented by the fourth sphere, Chesed. Shutting the doors on the paths to Netzach is dangerous because it also shuts the doors to these other paths and creates a lack of balance in the individual psyche and ultimately within society. Sooner or later the lightning bolt of Mars will strike any system that insists on maintaining this false sense of order.
   The path from Hod, the sphere of intellect, to the Christ-center, is the path known as The Devil, a path which has deep significance regarding an individual’s or a society’s focus on materialism.
   My experience on the bluffs at the age of seventeen helped me touch the sphere of Netzach on the Tree of Life. I could no longer accept society’s view of nature as something for humans to exploit. Each natural ecosystem is alive, containing an overarching intelligence that should be treated with love and reverence and awe. Tuning the mind to the frequencies of nature, the heartbeat of mother nature, we find peace, and we ignore or abuse the spiritual forces behind nature at our own peril.

Take the next path.
Find an over soul.