The following chapter will briefly describe each Sephiroth as well as the nature of its equivalent Qliphoth. The intention is to foster a deeper understanding of how the respective divine and demonic forces are related to each other. Bringing together the nature of each Sephiroth and the literal translation of the respective demonic name might proof to be a valuable key for unlocking the dark side of the tree.
KETHER – THAUMIEL
Kether (Crown) represents the first and purest emanation of the Divine. Kether also represent the first moment of creation. It marks the moment of first motion, before non-self turns into self. With regards to spiritual development Kether is the highest point that can be conceptualized theoretically, yet it can not be accessed by our rational minds. Its symbol is a single point as all differentiations or qualifications merge together in a single indivisible union in Kether.
The name of Kether’s Qliphoth Thaumiel hasn’t been passed down with a precise translation unfortunately (just like the word Sephira itself). However, its archetype is the nature of the two conflicting forces and thus suggest a translation of ‘The Contending Forces’ (german, ‘Die Widerstreitenden Kräfte’). Thaumiel being the evil side of Kether represents the eternally aggressive tension or duality between two opposing polarities. If all is one and unified in the first ray of light in Kether, all is divided and cleaved in its most inner essence in Thaumiel.
CHOKMAH – GHOGIEL
Chokmah (Wisdom) correlates to the male aspect of Kether which is still completely indistinct in its presence in Kether. This Sephira is therefore also called ‘the father’. Chokmah expresses the idea of overflowing divine vitality and the yet unshaped forces of creation. As Kether is inaccessible to human perception Chokmah can be understood as the point of origin of all dynamics and the beginning of perception.
Ghogiel (also Ghagiel) represents the antagonism to the well of creative potential and eternal motion in Chokmah. This qliphothic aspect is fully encapsulated in the traditional translation of its name, ‘The Hindering Ones’. Ghogiel itself is the nature of blocking and inhibiting the influx of divine motion. Thus, the Qliphoth of Chokmah represents the death of the first seed of creation and the obstruction of the first movement of creative forces in nature.
BINAH – SATORIEL
Binah is traditionally translated as Understanding or Intelligence and correlates to the female aspect of Kether. Binah is also called ‘the mother’ and within her all formative forces rest which help shaping and balancing the creative potential of Chokmah. If the second Sephira is the archetype of overflowing vitality it is the influence of Binah that grants structure and form to these forces.
If Binah’s light side represents the starting point of clothing unbound creative forces into equivalent shapes (german, Formwerdung), Satoriel represents the death of creative energy in aid of eternal, lifeless structure. The pursue of Satoriel is to becloud the nature of being behind shapes that fail to reflect the essence they represent. Thus perception and contact with these types of lifeless shapes runs dry on the surface and cannot connect with their inner creative forces. Satoriel is translated as ‘The Concealing Ones’ (german, ‘Die Verberger’).
DAATH – BELIAL
Daath is traditionally translated as ‘Knowledge’ and often called a Pseudo-Sephira or the 11th Sephira. Daath emerges from the union of Chokmah and Binah; the Zohar therefore quotes Daath as the “son of wisdom and intelligence” (Sohar III. fol. 291) who is called Knowledge or Insight (ref. Franck, A.; o.A. (1844); p.137). Daath is described as a Pseudo-Sephira because at its position in the Etz Chiim no original center of divine power is located. However, Daath is the secret entrance and exit point for the influence of the Sephiroth of the First Triad to manifest in creation. Similarly Daath also is an exit and entrance point on the dark side of the tree that leads down to or up from Yesod.
The knowledge of Daath is a door that leads from the First Triad to the Second and Third and equally from the light side to the dark side of the tree. The Qliphoth of Daath is blocking passage through this door by creating the notion of knowledge as an end in itself. When curiosity changes to greed for knowledge one loses the actual intent of one’s (spiritual) journey and gets caught in an ivory tower of (secret) information.
The Qliphoth of Daath is knowledge that isn’t brought to or re-unified with life. At the same time the Qliphoth of Daath can take the opposite shape and present itself in the contempt and demise of knowledge. Either way, the Qliphoth of Daath is taking the most precious value from knowledge – making it a door and passage from one perspective and state of being to another. The Qliphoth of Daath is called Belial which can be translated as ‘The Worthless Ones’ (german, ‘Die Wertlosen’).
CHESED – GHA AGSHEBLAH
Chesed (Mildness) is the forth Sephira and the first of the Second Triad. In kabbalistic sources Chesed also is referred to as ‘the extension of the divine will’, whereas the following Sephira is described as ‘the concentration of the divine will’. This interpretation is supported by the fact that mildness (Chesed) can be understood as the reflection of divine wisdom (Chokmah) on a spiritual level: Chokmah was identified as the overflowing yet still unshaped source of divine creative forces. Chesed accordingly is the reflection of this Sephira on a spiritual level. Thus at this point in the tree the forces of Chokmah have been shaped by the influence of Binah and are now ready to expand as the spiritual reflection of the divine will.
The Qliphoth of Chesed is the divine force that spreads so far and thin that it breaks due to its own weakness. This Qliphoth represents the misguided and imbalanced love which exhausts and ultimately suffocates its object with its borderless benevolence and tenderness. The Qliphoth of Chesed is called ‘Gha Agsheblah’ which can be translated as “The Smiting Ones” (german, ‘Die Zerbrechenden’).
GEBURAH – GOLOHAB
Geburah (Severity) is the fifth Sephira and the reflection of Binah in the Second Triad. The forces of giving shape and form are compressed in Geburah to become the severity of court of justice. In order to balance the expansive forces of Chesed, Geburah represents the ‘concentration of the divine will’. Equally the fifth Sephira establishes the severity that grants authority to the mildness of Chesed.
The qliphothic aspect of Geburah is the most easy to explain of all: it is the corybantic severity and merciless violence which judges according to biased standards. It is wrath against the wave-like, unpredictable motions of life and creation (Chokmah/ Chesed). The Qliphoth of Geburah is prepared to burn the last seed of life in order to maintain an established structure or law. The Qliphoth of Geburah is called ‘Golohab’ which can be translated as ‘The Flaming Ones’ (german, ‘DieVerbrenner’).
TIPHARETH – TAGIMRON
Tiphareth (Beauty) is the sixth Sephira and the reflection of Kether in the Second Triad. Just like the heart in the human body, Tiphareth forms the centre of the EtzChiim. The idea of beauty as represented by Tiphareth, however, doesn’t aim at aesthetic forms of beauty in the first place. Rather, it is an expression of all spiritual and moral qualities that help to establish a harmonic balance between the influences of Chesed and Geburah (Kiesewetter, K., 1987, p.396).
The qliphothic aspect of Tiphareth is represented by all influences that help to conceal rather than unveil beauty. The essence of this demonic nature becomes apparent if one truly tries to understand the meaning of beauty in Tiphareth: here beauty is not a term to coin cultural expressions of physical aesthetics, but it is the most inner nature of creation itself. In order to grasp the mystical or secret beauty of nature one depends on an intuitive access uninfluenced by intellect or rationale, i.e. a state of Gnosis or Henosis.
The Qliphoth of Tiphareth thus are the forces that hinder man from experiencing this state of union, communion and beauty. They can take shape in any force that creates confusion rather than fusion of heart and mind. The Qliphoth of Tiphareth is called ‘Tagimron’ which can be translated as ‘The Disputers’ (german, ‘Die Streitenden’ or ‘Die Disputierer’)
NETZACH – GHARAB
Netzach (Victory) is the seventh Sephira and thus the first one of the Third Triad. Its nature is hinted at by its position in the tree as the second reflection of Chokmah and the first reflection of Chesed: the term victory has to be understood as the triumph over the opposing forces which were still immanent in Chesed and are fully expressed in Netzach now. Creation has given birth to the fundamental forces of attraction and rejection which can now unfold harmonically in all principles of physical and biological life.
The Qliphoth of Netzach is represented by these two opposing forces of nature without the influence of wisdom (Chokmah) and mildness (Chesed). If creation starts to produce life as carelessly as it is prepared to destroy it again we can see the demon of Netzach unfold. The Qliphoth of Netzach is called ‘Gharab’ or ‘Areb-Zereq’ which can be translated either as ‘The Corrosive Ones’ (german, ‘Die Zersetzer’) or as ‘The Ravens of Death’.
HOD – SAMAEL
Hod (Radiance) is the eighth Sephira and the first reflection of Geburah as well as the second reflection of Binah. Expressed in Hod we find the principle idea of fluctuation. This creative idea lay concealed in the strength of Geburah and is founded on the selflessness of Binah. The fluctuation of Hod is the sparkling and twinkling of reflective objects under rays of light. It is the fluidity and flexibility of our thinking mind. With regard to creation it correlates to the idea of multiplication.
The Qliphoth of Hod similarly is founded on the idea of a radiating object: our eyes are blinded and cannot look behind the radiating surface. Unauthentic brilliance can be understood as the beginning of illusion and deceit. In the realm of the mind the shadow of Hod therefore is represented by the lie, artfulness or beguilement. At the same time the demon of Hod correlates to the ideas of fickleness, hesitation and lack of determination – the negative fluctuations of our mind. The Qliphoth of Hod is called ‘Samael‘ which can be translated as ‘The Deceitful Ones‘ (german, ‘Die Täuscher’) or ‘Poison of God’ (german, ‘Das Gift Gottes’).
YESOD – GOMALIEL
Yesod (Fundament) is the ninth Sephira and the last of the Third Triad; it is also the first reflection of Tiphareth and the second reflection of Kether. The analogy of Yesod in the human body are the genitals. This correlation expresses the positive harmonization of the forces of Netzach and Hod with fertility as their natural result. The Zohar explains this thought with the following words:
“Everything returns to the base it originated from. All mark, all juice, all might is gathered here. All forces of existence pass from this point through the generative organs.” (Der Sohar III. fol. 296)
The idea of the fundament, therefore, is materialized in the process of taking shape of the forces of attraction and rejection (Netzach) in all their diversity (Hod) within creation.
The qliphothic aspect of Yesod is represented by a distorted or destructive sense of fertility. On a plain physical level this signifies the sexual urge which is never satisfied but always demanding new and stronger stimuli and thus consuming vitality and creativity without offering anything in return. The more general idea of this Qliphoth, however, is any act of creation which is not based on an intention of beauty (in a sense of Tiphareth) and thus fails to generate a creature of beauty. The Qliphoth of Yesod is called ‘Gomaliel‘ or ‘Gamaliel’ and can be translated as ‘TheObsceneOnes‘ (german, ‘DieObszönen’).
MALKUTH – LILITH
Malkuth (Kingdom) is the tenth Sephira and the only point outside of or below the three Triads at the very end of the Etz Chiim. Malkuth therefore cannot be described as a single reflection of any specific Sephira but has to be understood as a reflection or point of culmination of all nine Sephiroth above her. The last Sephira in the Tree doesn’t express a tenth quality of divine forces of creation, yet it is the expression of all focussed and manifested powers above her: Malkuth is the concentration and materialization of all preceding emanations of the divine in a single point. Thus the forces of divine creation take shape in Malkuth just like a king in his kingdom.
Just like the positive forces of the nine Sephiroth above Malkuth are condensed in this single point, the Qliphoth of Malkuth equally is a culmination of all preceding demonic forces. The shape and influence of this Qliphoth is therefore one and many at the same time; just like it is stated in the Bible “My name is Legion, because there are many of us.” (Mark 5:9). The name of the Qliphoth of Malkuth is ‘Lilith’ or ‘Nahemoth’ which can be translated as ‘Queen of the Night’. The Zohar explains “the disgracing spirit of nature” (Sohar I. fol. 55a) as the source or reason of Lilith and her sister demons ‘Naama’ and ‘Igrith’.