1. In thirty-two wonderful Paths of Wisdom did Jah, Jehovah Tzabaoth, the
God of Israel, the Elohim of the living, the King of ages, the merciful and
gracious God, the exalted One, the Dweller in eternity, most high and holy
engrave his name by the three Sepharim-Numbers, Letters, and Sounds.
2. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth. Twenty-two are the Letters, the Foundation
of all things; there are Three Mothers, Seven Double and Twelve Simple letters.
3. The ineffable Sephiroth are Ten, so are the Numbers; and as there are in
man five fingers over against five, so over them is established a covenant
of strength, by word of mouth, and by the circumcision of the flesh.
4. Ten is the number of the ineffable Sephiroth, ten and not nine, ten and
not eleven. Understand this wisdom, and be wise in the perception. Search
out concerning it, restore the W'ord to its creator, and replace Him who formed
it upon his throne.
5. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have ten vast regions bound unto them; boundless
in ongin and having no ending; an abyss' of good and of ill; measureless height
and depth; boundless to the East and the West; boundless to the North and
South; and the Lord the only God, the Faithful King rules all these from his
holy seat, for ever and ever.
6. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth have the appearance of the Lightning flash,
their origin is unseen and no end is perceived. The Word is in them as they
rush forth and as they return, they speak as from the whirling wind and returning
fall prostrate in adoration before the Throne.
7. The Ten ineffable Sephiroth, whose ending is even as their origin, are
like as a flame arising from a burning coal. For God is superlative in his
Unity, there is none equal unto Him: what number canst thou place before One.
8. Ten are the ineffable Sephiroth; seal up thy lips lest thou speak of them,
and guard thy heart as thou considerest them; and if thy mind escape from
thee bring it back to thy control; even as it was said' " running and
returning" (the living creatures ran and returned) and hence was the
9. The ineffable Sephiroth give forth the Ten numbers. First; the Spirit of
the God of the living; Blessed and more than blessed be the Living God of
ages. The Voice, the Spirit, and the Word-, these are of the Holy Spirit.
10. Second; from the Spirit He produced Air, and formed in it twenty-two sounds-the
letters; three are mothers, seven are double, and twelve are simple; but the
Spirit is first and above these. Third; from the Air He formed the Waters,
and from the formless and void made mire and clay, and designed surfaces upon
them, and hewed recesses in them, and formed the strong material foundation.
Fourth; from the Water He formed Fire and made for Himself a Throne of Glory
with Auphanim, Seraphim and Kerubim, as his ministering angels; and with these
three he completed his dwelling, as it is written, "Who maketh his angels
spirits and his ministers a flaming fire".'
11. He selected three letters from among the simple ones and sealed them and
formed them into a Great Name, I H V, and with this He sealed the universe
in six directions. ,
Fifth; He looked above, and sealed the Height with I H V.
Sixth; He looked below, and sealed the Depth with I V H.
Seventh; He looked forward, and sealed the East with H I V.
Eighth; He looked backward, and sealed the West with H V I.
Ninth; He looked to the right, and sealed the South with V I H.
Tenth; He looked to the left, and sealed the North with V- H I.
12. Behold ! From the Ten ineffable Sephiroth do proceed-the One Spirit of
the Gods of the living, Air, Water, Fire; and also Height, Depth, East, West,
North and South.
1. The twenty-two sounds and letters are the Foundation of all things. Three
mothers, seven doubles and twelve simples. The Three Mothers are Aleph, Mem
and Shin, they are Air, Water and Fire. Water is silent, Fire is sibilant,
and Air derived from the Spirit is as the tongue of a balance standing between
these contraries which are in equilibrium, reconciling and mediating between
2. He hath formed, weighed, and composed with these twenty-two letters every
soul, and the soul of everything which shall hereafter be.
3. These twenty-two sounds 'or letters are formed by the voice, impressed
on the air, and audibly modified in five places; in the throat, in the mouth,
by the tongue, through the teeth, and by the lips.
4. These twenty-two letters, which are the foundation of all things, He arranged
as upon a sphere with two hundred and thirty-one gates, and the sphere may
be rotated forward or backward, whether for good or for evil: from the good
comes true pleasure, from evil nought but torment.
5. For He shewed the combination of these letters, each with the other; Aleph
with all, and all with Aleph; Beth with all, and all with Beth. Thus in combining
all together in pairs are produced the two hundred and thirty-one gates of
6. And from the non-existent He made Some-Thing; and all forms of speech and
everything that has been produced; from the empty void He made the material
world, and from the inert earth He brought' forth everything that hath life.
He hewed, as it were, vast columns out of the intangible air, and by the power
of His Name made every 'creature and everything that' is; and the production
of all things from the twenty-two letters is the proof that they are all but
parts of one body.
1. The Foundation of all others is composed of the Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem
and Shin; they resemble a Balance, on the one hand the guilty, on the other
hand the purified, and Aleph the Air is like the Tongue of a Balance standing
2. The Three Mothers Aleph, Mem and Shin are a great Mystery, very admirable
and most recondite, and sealed as with six rings; and from them proceed Air,
Fire, and Water, which divide into male and female forces. The Three Mothers
Aleph, Mem and Shin are the Foundation, from them spring three Fathers, and
from these have proceeded all things that are in the world.
3. The Three Mothers in the world are Aleph Mem and Shin: the heavens were
produced from Fire; the earth from the Water; and the Air from the Spirit
is as a reconciler between the Fire and the Water.
4. The Three Mothers Aleph, Mem and Shin, Fire, Water and Air are shown in
the Year; from the fire was made heat, from the waters was made cold, and
from the air was produced the temperate state, again a mediator between them.
The Three Mothers, Aleph, Mem and Shin, Fire, Water and Air are found in Man:
from the fire was formed the head; from the water the belly; and from the
air was formed the chest again placed as a mediator between the others.
5. These Three Mothers did He produce and design, and combined them; and He
sealed them as the three mothers in the Universe, in the Year and in Man-both
male and female. He caused the letter Aleph to reign in Air and crowned it,
and combining it with the others He sealed it, as Air in the World, as the
temperate (climate) of the Year, and as the chest the lungs for breathing
air in Man: the male with A.M.S., the female with S.M.A. He caused the letter
Mem to reign in Water, crowned it, and combining it with the others formed
the earth in the world, cold in the year, and the belly in man, male and female,
the former with M.A.S., the latter with M.S.A. He caused Shin to reign in
Fire, and crowned it, and combining it with the others, sealed with it the
heavens in the universe, heat in the year and the head in man, male and female.
1. The Seven Double Letters, Beth, Gimel, Daleth, Kaph, Pe, Resh, and Tau
have each two sounds associated with them. They are referred to Life, Peace,
Wisdom, Riches, Grace, Fertility and Power. The two sounds of each letter
are the hard and the soft-the aspirated and the softened. They are called
Double, because each letter presents a contrast or permutation ; thus Life
and Death; Peace and War(Evil); Wisdom and Folly; Riches and Poverty; Grace
and Indignation; Fertility and Solitude (Desolation); Power and Servitude.
2. These Seven Double Letters point out seven localities; Above, Below, East,
West, North, South, and the Palace of Holiness in the midst of them sustaining
3. These Seven Double Letters He designed, produced, and combined, and formed
with them the Planets (stars) of this Universe, the Days of the Week, and
the Gates of the soul (the orifices of perception) in Man. From these Seven
He hath produced the Seven Heavens, the Seven Earths, the Seven Sabbaths:
for this cause He has loved and blessed the umber Seven, more than all things
under Heaven (His Throne).
4. Two Letters produce two houses; three form six; four form twenty-four;
five form one hundred and twenty; six form seven hundred and twenty ; seven
form five thousand and forty; and beyond this their numbers increase so that
the mouth can hardly utter them, nor the ear hear the number of them. So now,
behold the Stars of the Universe (Planets) are Seven; the Sun, Venus, Mercury,
Moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. The Seven are also the Seven Days of Creation;
and the Seven Gateways of the Soul of Man-the two eyes, the two ears, the
mouth and the two nostrils. So with the Seven are formed the seven heavens,~
the seven earths, and the seven periods of time; and so has He preferred the
number Seven above all things under Heaven.
NOTE. The above demonstrates the number of permutations and combinations which
can result from fundamental numbers of energy patterns or archetypes in terms
of the factorials of numbers, e.g., 5 factorial (or 5!) = 5x4x3x2x1 = 120.
Accordingly, considering the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet as the primeval
energy patterns of creation (and they have been shown to be projections of
one Master Pattern), 22! = 22x21x20x . . . x1 = 1,124,000,728,000,000,000,000.
The tremendous versatility of forms seen in the natural world (and their invisible
archetypes) bears witness to this consideration.
SUPPLEMENT TO CHAPTER IV.
NOTE: This is a modern illustration of the allotment of the Seven Letters;
it is not found in the ancient copies of the " SEPHER Yetzirah."
He produced Beth, and referred it to Wisdom; He crowned it, combined and formed
with it the Moon in the Universe, the first day of the week, and the right
eye of man.
He produced Gimel, and referred it to Health; He crowned it, combined and
joined with it Mars in the Universe, the second day of the week, and the right
ear of man.
He produced Daleth, and referred it to Fertility; He crowned it, combined
and formed with it the Sun in the Universe, the third day of the week, and
the right nostril of man.
He produced Kaph, and referred it to Life; He crowned it, combined and formed
with it Venus in the Universe, the fourth day of the week, and the left eye
He produced Pe, and referred it to Power; He crowned it, combined and formed
with it Mercury in the Universe, the fifth day of the week, and the left ear
He produced Resh and referred it to Peace; He crowned it, combined and formed
with it Saturn in the Universe, the sixth day of the week, and the left nostril
He produced Tau, and referred it to Beauty; He crowned it, combined and formed
with it Jupiter in the Universe, the Seventh Day of the week, and the mouth
By these Seven letters were also made seven worlds, seven heavens, seven earths,
seven seas,. seven rivers, seven deserts, seven days, seven weeks from Passover
to Pentecost, and every seventh year a Jubilee.
1. The Twelve Simple Letters are Heh, Vau, Zain, Cheth, Teth, Yod, Lamed,
Nun, Samech, Oin, Tzaddi and Qoph:They are the foundations of these twelve
properties: Sight, Hearing, Smell, Speech, Taste, Sexual Love, Work, Movement,
Anger, Mirth, Imagination and Sleep. These Twelve are also allotted to the
directions in space: North-east, South-east, the East above, the East below,
the North above, the North below, the South-west, the North-west, the West
above, the West below, the South above, and the South below; these diverge
to infinity, and are as the arms of the Universe.
2. These Twelve Simple Letters he designed, and combined, and formed with
them the Twelve celestial constellations of the Zodiac, whose signs are Teth,
Shin, Tau, Samech, Aleph, Beth, Mem, Oin, Qoph, Gimel, Daleth and Daleth.
The Twelve are also the Months of the Year: Nisan, Yiar, Sivan, Tamuz, Ab,
Elul, Tishri, Hesvan, Kislev, Tebet, Sabat and Adar. The Twelve are also the
Twelve organs of living creatures, the two hands, the two feet, the two kidneys,
the spleen, the liver, the gall, private parts, stomach and intestines.
He made these, as it were provinces, and arranged them as in order of battle
for warfare. And also the Elohim made one from the region of the other.
Three Mothers and Three Fathers; and thence issue Fire, Air, and Water. Three
Mothers, Seven Doubles and Twelve Simples..
3. Behold now these are the Twenty and Two Letters from which Jah, Jehovah
Tzabaoth, the Elohim of the living, the God of Israel, exalted and sublime,
the Dweller in eternity, formed and established all things; High and Holy
is His Name.
SUPPLEMENT TO CHAPTER V.
N OTE.-This is a modern illustration of the allotment of the Twelve Letters;
it is not found in the ancient copies of the " Sepher Yetzirah."
1.God produced He, predominant in Speech, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Aries in the Universe, Nisan in the Year, and the right foot of Man.
2. He produced Vau, predominant in n~ind, crow-red it, combined and formed
with it Taurus in the Universe, Aiar in the Year, and the right kidney of
3. He produced Zain, predominant in Movement, crowned it, combined and formed
it with Gemini in the Universe, Sivan in the Year and the left foot of Man.
4. He produced Cheth, predominant in Sight, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Cancer in the Universe, Tamuz in the Year, and the right hand of Man.
5. He produced Teth, predominant in Hearing crowned it, combined and formed
with it Leo in the Universe, Ab in the Year, and the left Kidney in Man.
6.. He produced Yod, predominant in Work, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Virgo in the Universe, Elul in the Year, and the left hand of Man.
7. He produced Lamed, predominant in Sexual desire, crowned it, combined and
formed with it Libra in the Universe, Tishri in the Year, and the private
parts of Man. (Kalisch gives " gall.")
8. He produced Nun, predominant in Smell, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Scorpio in the Universe, Heshvan in the Year, and the intestines of
9. He produced Samech, predominant in Sleep, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Sagittarius in the Universe, Kislev in the Year, and the stomach of
IO; He produced Oin, predominant in Anger crowned it, combined and formed
with it Capricornus in the Universe, Tebet in the Year, and the liver of Man.
11.He produced Tzaddi, predominant in Taste, crowned it, combined and formed
with it Aquarius in the Year, and the gullet in Man.
12. He produced Qoph, predominant in Mirth, crowned it, combined and formed
w~th it Pisces in the Universe, Adar in the Year, and the spleen of Man.
1. Three Fathers and their generations, Seven conquerors and their armies,
and Twelve bounds of the Universe. See now, of these words, the faithful witnesses
are the Universe, the
Year and Man. The dodecad, the heptad, and the triad with their provinces;
above is the Celestial Dragon, T L 1, and below is the World, and lastly the
heart of Man. The Three are Water, Air and Fire; Fire above, Water below,
and Air conciliating between them; and the sign of these things is that the
Fire sustains (volatilizes) the waters; Mem is mute, Shin is
sibilant, and AIeph is the Mediator and as it were a friend placed between
2. The Celestial Dragon, T L I, is placed over the universe like a king upon
the throne; the revolution of the year is as a king over his dominion; the
heart of man is as a king in warfare. Moreover, He made all things one from
the other; and the Elohim set good over against evil, and made good things
from good, and evil things from evil: with the good tested He the evil, and
with the evil did He try the good. Happiness is reserved for the good, and
misery is kept for the wicked.
3. The Three are One, and that One stands above. The Seven are divided; three
are over against three, and one stands between the triads. The Twelve stand
as in warfare; three are friends, three are enemies; three are life givers;
three are destroyers. The three friends are the heart, the ears, and the mouth;
the three enemies are the liver, the gall, and the tongue; while God the faithful
king rules over all. One above Three, Three above Seven, and Seven above Twelve;
and all are connected the one with the other.
4. And after that our father Abraham had perceived, and understood, and had
taken down and engraved all these things, the Lord most high revealed Himself,
and called him His beloved, and made a Covenant with him and his seed; and
Abraham believed on Him and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. And
He made this Covenant between the ten toes of the feetthis is like that of
circumcision; and between the ten fingers of the hands and this is like that
of the tongne. And He bound the twenty- two letters unto his speech and shewed
him all the mysteries of them. He drew them through the Waters; He burned
them in the Fire; He vibrated them in the Air; Seven in the highest heavens;
and Twelve in the celestial constellations of the Zodiac.
The End of the " Book of Formation."
THE PATHS OF
WISDOM AND GATES OF UNDERSTANDING
(The 32 Paths of the Sepher Yetzirah)
(From "The Holy Kabbalah" by A. E. Waite)
In the Latin collection of Pistorius the marrow of philosophical Kabbalism
is presented in the form of certain terse propositions or dogmas, according
to one of which the ways of eternity are thirty-two--Viæ æternitatis
sunt triginta duo. These are the Paths of the SEPHER YETZIRAH, namely, the
ten SEPHIROTH and the [twenty-two] letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The doctrine
concerning them is a dependency of this fundamental treatise, but of much
more recent date, and without even an imputed authorship. It tabulates the
special graces and illuminations which may be communicated to man from above
by means of these channels, and is not unimportant, because it shows that
Kabbalism, even on its most speculative and formal side, had a practical
application to the human mind, and was not a purely arbitrary system. It
is outside the province of this work to offer translations to the student,
but as in the present instance it could be difficult to summarize the tabulation
more briefly, I shall give it in extenso, premising only that it has been
translated more than once into English, and is indeed available in a number
of European languages.
I. The first path [KETER or Crown] is called the Admirable Intelligence
[Mystical Intelligence], the Supreme Crown. It is the light which imparts
understanding of the beginning which is without beginning, and this also
is the First Splendor. No created being can attain to its essence.
II. The second path [CHOCHMAH or Wisdom] is called the Illuminating Intelligence.
It is the Crown of Creation and the splendor of the Supreme Unity, to which
it is most in proximity. It is exalted above every head and is distinguished
by Kabbalists as the Second Splendor.
III. The third path [BINAH or Understanding] is called the Sanctifying Intelligence
and is the foundation of Primordial Wisdom, termed the Creation of Faith.
Its roots are AMeN. It is the mother of Faith, which indeed emanates therefrom.
IV. The fourth path [CHESED--Mercy, Exuberance or Generosity] is called
the Arresting or Receiving Intelligence because it arises like a boundary
to receive the emanations of the higher intelligences which are sent down
to it. Herefrom all spiritual virtues emanate by the way of subtlety, which
itself emanates from the Supreme Crown. (It contains all the holy powers,
and from it emanate all the spiritual virtues with the most exalted essences;
they emanate one from the other by the power of the primordial emanation
V. The fifth path [GEBURAH--Justice, Limitation or Severity] is called the
Radical Intelligence, because it is more akin than any other to the Supreme
Unity and emanates from the depths of the Primordial Wisdom (the primordial
depths of Chochmah).
VI. The sixth path [TIPHERETH or Beauty] is called the Intelligence of Mediating
Influence (or of Separated Emanation), because the flux of the emanations
is multiplied therein. It communicates this affluence to those blessed men
who are united with it.
VII. The seventh path [NETZACH--Victory or Eternity] is called the Hidden
Intelligence, because it pours out a brilliant splendor on all intellectual
virtues which are beheld with the eyes of the spirit and by the ecstasy
VIII. The eighth path [HOD--Glory or Reverberation] is called the Perfect
and Absolute Intelligence. The preparation of principles emanates therefrom.
The roots to which it adheres are in the depths of the Sphere Magnificence,
from the very substance of which it emanates. (It is the means of the Primordial.)
IX. The ninth path [YESOD or Foundation] is called the Purified Intelligence.
It purifies the numerations, prevents and stays the fracture of their images
(or proves and corrects the designing of their representations), for it
establishes their unity, to preserve them from destruction and division
by their union with itself. (It disposes their unity with which they are
combined without diminution or division.)
X. The tenth path [MALCHUTH or Kingdom] is called the Resplendent Intelligence,
because it is exalted above every head and has its seat in BINAH: it enlightens
the fire of all lights and emanates the power of the principle of forms.
(It causes a supply of influence to emanate from the prince of Countenances.)
XI. The eleventh path is called the Fiery Intelligence. It is the veil placed
before the dispositions and order of the superior and inferior causes. Whosoever
possesses this path is in the enjoyment of great dignity; to possess it
is to be face to face with the Cause of Causes. (It is the essence of that
curtain which is placed close to the order of the disposition, and this
is a special dignity given to it that it may be able to stand before the
face of the Cause of Causes.)
XII. The twelfth path is called the Intelligence of Light (or Transparency),
because it is the image of magnificence. It is said to be the source of
vision in those who behold apparitions.
XIII. The thirteenth path is called the Inductive Intelligence of Unity.
It is the substance of glory, and it manifests truth to every spirit. (It
is the consummation of the truth of individual spiritual things.)
XIV. The fourteenth path is called the Illuminating Intelligence (or Luminous
Intelligence). It is the institutor of arcane, the foundation of holiness.
XV. The fifteenth path is called the Constituting Intelligence, because
it constitutes creation in the darkness of the world. (or--It constitutes
the substance of creations in pure darkness.) According to the philosophers,
it is itself that darkness mentioned by Scripture (Job xxxviii. 9), cloud
and the envelope thereof.
XVI. The sixteenth path is called the Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence,
the delight of glory, the paradise of pleasure prepared for the just.
XVII. The seventeenth path is called the Disposing Intelligence. It disposes
the devout to perseverance and thus prepares them to receive the Holy Spirit.
(It is the path of Life and Death.)
XVIII. The eighteenth path is called the Intelligence or House of Influence,
(by the greatness of whose abundance the influx of good things upon created
beings is increased) and thence are drawn the arcane and the concealed meanings
which repose in the shadow thereof.
XIX. The nineteenth path is called the Intelligence of the Secret or of
all spiritual activities. The fullness which it receives derives from the
highest benediction and the supreme glory.
XX. The twentieth path is called the Intelligence of Will. It prepares all
created beings, each individually, for the demonstration of the existence
of the primordial glory.
XXI. The twenty-first path is called the Rewarding Intelligence (or the
Conciliating Intelligence or the Intelligence of Desire) of those who seek.
It receives the divine influence, and it influences by its benediction all
XXII. The twenty-second path is called the Faithful Intelligence, because
spiritual virtues are deposited and augment therein, until they pass to
those who dwell under the shadow thereof. (By it spiritual virtues are increased,
and all dwellers on earth are merely under its shadow.--Westcott)
XXIII. The twenty-third path is called the Stable Intelligence. It is the
source of consistency in all the numerations.
XXIV. The twenty-fourth path is called the Imaginative Intelligence. It
is the ground of similarity in the likeness of beings who are created to
its agreement, after its aspects.
XXV. The twenty-fifth path is called the Intelligence of Temptation or Trial,
because it is the first temptation by which God tests the devout.
XXVI. The twenty-sixth path is called the Renewing Intelligence, for thereby
God--blessed be He!--reneweth all which is capable of renovation in the
creation of the world (or all the changeable things which are renewed by
a new cycle of world creation).
XXVII. The twenty-seventh path is called the Natural Intelligence, whereby
the nature of everything found in the orb of the sun is completed and perfected.
XXVIII. The twenty-eighth path is called the Active Intelligence, for thence
is created the spirit of every creature of the supreme orb, and the activity,
that is to say, the motion, to which they are subject.
XXIX. The twenty-ninth path is called the Corporeal Intelligence; it informs
every body which is incorporated under all orbs and it is the growth thereof.
XXX. The thirtieth path is called the Collective Intelligence, for thence
astrologers, by the judgment of the stars and the heavenly signs, derive
their speculations and the perfection of their science according to the
motions of the stars.
XXXI. The thirty-first path is called the Perpetual Intelligence. Why is
it so called? Because it rules the movement of the sun and the moon according
to their constitution and causes each to gravitate in its respective orb.
According to Eliphas Levi, this verse contains the secret of the Great Work
of Alchemy. The reason assigned is that path thirty-one corresponds to the
Hebrew letter SHIN (Sh), which represents the magic lamp, or the light between
the horns of Baphomet. "It is the Kabbalistic sign of God or the Astral
Light, with its two poles and equilibrated center" The sun mentioned
in the paragraph represents gold, the moon silver, and the planets correspond
to the other metals.-LA CLEP DES GRAND MYSTÈRES, p. 234. It is needless
to say that the SEPHER YETZIRAH and its developments have nothing to do
with Alchemy. As regards the Great Work and Levi's pretended discovery of
its secret, see my annotated translation of his TRANSCENDENTAL MAGIC, pp.
345 - 347.
XXXII. The thirty-second path is called the Assisting Intelligence, because
it directs all the operation of the seven planets, with their divisions,
and concurs therein.
The comparatively modern accent of this tabulation will occur to the reader,
but its quotation was necessary to exhibit the intellectual profit believed
to follow from the study of Kabbalism, and still more that it was in the
last resource the understanding of man methodized, embracing, as such, the
entire circle attributed to human knowledge. After what manner the Paths
correspond to their various affirmed offices, how they communicate the powers
and graces which abide therein, and for what reason they bear their distinctive
titles must remain open questions. The thesis concerning them constitutes
a body of dogma, and is to be taken or left as such. The Paths are those
of the Tree and its SEPHIROTH.