The Nightside of Eden by Kenneth Grant
Source: Nightside of Eden
Included to explain the meaning of Scientology’s Tree of Death
THE TREE of Life is a key to occult power in both a mystical and a magical sense. Numerous books have been written about the Ten Sephiroth and the Twenty Two Paths evolved by human consciousness in its attempt to comprehend macro-cosmic powers in terms of microcosmic values. Occultism in the West, however, has been dominated by interpretations that take into account only the positive aspect of this great symbol. The other side, the negative or averse side of the Tree has been kept out of sight and sedulously ignored. But there is no day without night, and Being itself cannot be without reference to Non-Being of which it is the inevitable manifestation.
Any allusions to this aspect of the Tree and its branches have been subsumed under opprobrious heads or related to the infernal realm of the Qliphoth, the world of shells or shadows that is none other than our world as we know it, without the transforming light of magical consciousness.
Full magical initiation is not possible without an understanding of the so-called qliphotic paths which are, in practice, as real as the shadow of any object illumined by the sun. In other words, the well-lit highways of Horus, the paths that man has projected to connect the cosmic power-zones (Sephiroth) with his own consciousness, have their counterparts in the Tunnels of Set, a dark web or nocturnal network of paths, the very existence of which is denied or ignored by those who are unable to realize the total truth of the Tree and its validity for those who would climb even its lower branches.
The mind is beguiled with promises of ‘cosmic consciousness’ and the senses are lulled to sleep or bewitched by the constant reiteration that if we spread our wings and fly we shall attain to the topmost branches in the space of a single life-time. But do those who speak so glibly of enlightenment, and who brush aside with apparent ease the averse sides of the power-zones with which they boast familiarity, do they really imagine that one side only exists? It is futile and false to imagine a coin with one side only.
It is only after mastering the world of shadows within himself in the form of the arch-demons, anger, lust, and pride, that man may truly claim to be Lord of the Shining Wheels or Discs. 1
It was partly due to Frater Achad’s work on the Tree2 that I first realized the multi-dimensional nature of its many aspects. It then assumed for me a totally different form; it was no longer a mere diagram symbolizing a precise though complex system of spiritual attainment; it came alive, rounded out, and appeared as different from a diagram as a country from its map. I became aware that the Tree had not only a top and a bottom, but a front and a back, and although Achad did not develop his thesis in quite the way in which I then began to view the matter, he was nonetheless aware of its backward implications. This fact may be appreciated by a study of his Formula of Reversal in connection with magical words of power, and his interpretation of certain verses of The Book of the Law.3 It struck me at that time4 that if the
Revelation of cosmic Consciousness, by Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones) Chicago, 1925. Reprinted recently by Samuel Weiser, New York.
Sephiroth were seen as globes rather than as wheels or discs, the paths deepened accordingly and appeared not as flat aridities between the power-zones, but as tunnels boring deeply into space, for the Tree as a whole is rooted in the inner and mystical voids of multidimensional consciousness which cannot be adequately represented by a two dimensional diagram.
I am fully aware that the averse regions of the power-zones are dangerous territory, and at the outset I would remind those who feel that such an exploration had better not be made that one cannot begin this initiation, or journey inward, as one begins one’s ascent from Malkuth,5 for only by projecting consciousness through Daath,6 the Gate of the Abyss, can one enter the Kingdom of infernal spaces that is under the dominion of Choronzon. 7 One has therefore to be familiar with these paths before one can enter the Deep Place where they continue, not as well-lit Ways of Horus plainly signposted in the light of day, but as the Tunnels of Set that turn and twist like a serpent, or like the entrails of that nameless God of the Gulf whose darkness makes possible, by contrast, their light counterparts. If this is borne in mind it will not be necessary to charge me with irresponsibility towards those who may be lured, even against their will, to commence a journey for which they are improperly equipped and which may therefore prove fatal.
One other observation seems relevant. During the course of writing the three volumes that constitute my Typhonian Trilogy8 an Adept named Michael Bertiaux wrote to me from Chicago. His letter was the beginning of a fruitful correspondence during the course of which he sent me the Grade Papers of his secret society.9 I found to my surprise that he had, quite independent of my own researches, formulated a conception of the Tree of Life that comported among its many facets the Backward Paths that I here call the Tunnels of Set. Although there is no precise alignment of our respective theories, it is perhaps interesting to note how the two conceptions confirm and supplement one another. I therefore take this opportunity of drawing the reader’s attention to Mr. Bertiaux’s treatment of the subject.
This brings me to the final point: Unless occultism becomes creative in the sense of opening up new approaches, modifying and developing traditional concepts and generally revealing a little more of that Supreme Goddess whose identity is hidden behind the veil of Isis, Kali, Nuit, or Sothis, there will be stagnation in the swamp of beliefs rendered inert by the recent swift acceleration of humanity’s consciousness, which is little short of miraculous. If the science of the unmanifest is not to remain grounded at a pre-pubescent stage, while the manifested sciences soar into space, the mature occultist must put aside the toys of superstition and face fearlessly the Trees of Eternity whose trunks and branches glow with solar fire, but whose roots are nourished in the dark.
Grant, K. (1977, 1994). Nightside of Eden. London, Skoob.
- I.e. the ten Sephiroth. (See Diagram of Tree). ↩
- The Anatomy of the Body of God, Being The Supreme ↩
- A book received by direct transmission in 1904 by Aleister Crowley. See Aleister Crowley & the Hidden God, Muller, 1973. ↩
- In the year 1952 e.v., when I was reforming the O.T.O. and composing rituals later used in New Isis Lodge. See The Magical Revival Muller, 1972. ↩
- The usual mode of procedure is to ascend the Tree from Malkuth to Kether wa the Middle Pillar. See diagram. ↩
- The eleventh power zone. ↩
- Glossary for a definition of this term which is here used in a sense other than that in which Aleister Crowley and others have used it. ↩
- See Bibliography ↩
- The Monastery of the Seven Rays, which includes the Cult of the Black Snake (La Couleuvre Noire). See particularly the Grade Papers appurtenant to the 4th Year Course. ↩