The Tree of Life Choices
(The Kabal Temple)
by Tom Gilmore
All graphics by Tom Gilmore
Index of all Articles
Part I – Solving the Tree
A cabal is a secret association of conspirators (originally defying oppressive religious intolerance to preserve knowledge). The word cabal came from the secret society preserving the knowledge (gnosis) of the Kabal Temple.
Many “secret societies” arose during the brutal Spanish Inquisition, and the gnosis (knowledge) was passed on through initiation of aspirants in the effort, but the most effective means of transmitting the forbidden knowledge was out in the open, hidden on the 22 Major Arcanum Cards of the Bohemian Tarot.
It is evident that a Sumerian/Egyptian philosophical message known as “The Tree of Life Choices” was also incorporated into the Hebrew alphabet cards. The origin of this “Tree” was an underground temple called the Kabal, which although not (yet) discovered, was reported to have been excavated by the Titans somewhere near the Sphinx on the Giza plateau.
The Titans used a “language” that works by concatenating concepts. The Minoans of Crete used a script termed “Linear A”. It has never been deciphered. This is because it has been assumed to be an alphabetic language. Early Egyptians used it, and when converting to the “hieroglyphic letters”, concept symbols were retained, confusing early Egyptologists to term them hieroglyphs. Early Chinese characters were also concatenated (and used by Lao Tzu in writing the Dao teh Jing in 500 BC).
Clues were provided on the Tarot cards for solving the message of the Kabal Temple. The Tradition is that the temple consisted of an excavated underground chamber with 10 interior stone pillars supporting the ceiling. The pillars were colorfully illustrated, and 22 “linear” illustrations on the ceiling connected the pillars. The illustrations were concept icons intended to be concatenated for interpretation.
Diagrams of the Kabal Temple show 10 pillars as circles with Hebrew “words” written inside. The Hebrew “words” are a method of hiding the concatenating symbols, by pointing to the icons on the alphabet cards to be associated with the Hebrew letters in the “word”. Each Hebrew letter on the 22 cards has a hidden concept symbol. To interpret the meaning of the pillars, the Hebrew letters on the pillar should be substituted with the concept symbols from the cards and then concatenated. A sample of this process is shown in Part II. However, it is not necessary to interpret all of the Hebrew “words” because the diagrams show a key-word on the pillars that approximates the concatenated result.
The layout of the temple diagram was deliberately altered to hide the significance from the Inquisition. In the disguised temple layout (shown to the left below), the Daath pillar is removed and the Malkuth label is drawn as a pillar. This layout results in multiple possible 22 connecting lines between pillars (for this reason the diagram below left does not show connections), and because the layout is wrong, it effectively precludes finding the correct key-word associations to the paths.
The key-word meanings of the 22 pillar connections of the temple are derived from the pictographic content of 22 Major Arcanum cards. The 22 connections between pillars are called "Paths" because they represent the path taken and the consequences.
A coherent temple layout of the 10 pillars with 22 logical symmetrical paths is self evident. The restored layout is shown above to the right, with Daath restored as a pillar, and Malkuth restored as a label (as with Jakn and Boaz).
There are 22 direct paths between pillars, and they correspond in number with traditional Hebrew-letter-categories specified on the cards.
3 letters are "mother" or "main"
letters (lines in yellow above).
7 are "simple" letters (lines in red above).
12 are "compound" letters (lines in blue above).
The numbering and Hebrew letters on the Tarot cards can be verified as correct because they correctly order the Hebrew (and Greek) alphabet. The Kabal path-pictographs are disassociated from the letters, but have a proper number association. Four numbers are currently incorrectly associated with the path-pictograms. As seen with the switching of pillars of the temple, symmetry considerations reveal that two of the number-to-letter-designations were switched (12 and 17). These corrected designations are shown with an asterisk (*) in the list of cards below.
The numerical pattern of the paths (see temple diagram below) suggests that the pictographic contents of cards 18 and 19 were also switched, and to be consistent with the numerical pattern, should be “The Sun” (18) and “The Moon” (19). Alistair Crowley is known to have switched the pictographic contents of cards 21 and 22, mistakenly thinking he was correcting an earlier switch. The numerical sequence pattern shows that this switch is invalid, because obviously The Fool (Card 21) represents Emotionality, and should be Card 22. These two switches are shown in the list below with an * by the card numbers (and the correct number in parentheses after the key-word). Key-words are interpretations of the card pictograms as shown in Part III.
2 Comp. Science
3 Comp. Nature
4 Comp. Domain
5 Simple Supplication
6 Simple Temptation
7 Simple Subjugation
8 Simple Arbitration
9 Simple Serenity
10 Simple Turmoil
11 Comp. Happiness
12 Comp* Suffering (traditional Simple)
13 Main Physical
14 Simple Temperance
15 Simple Enslavement
16 Simple Destruction
17 Simp* Nurturance (traditional Compound)
18* Simple Cooperation (traditional 19)
19* Simple Conflict (traditional 18)
20 Comp. Failure
21* Simple Success (traditional 22)
22* Main Emotional (traditional 21)
The corrected diagram of the Kabal temple is shown below, with the corrected path-numbering and key-words. You can verify the corrections by following the sequential symmetrical pattern of the numbering.
The “main” letters
are the 3 horizontal paths representing the realms of mind, body, and spirit (mental, physical, and
The 7 “simple” letters are vertical paths representing manifestations of the 3 Realms (central verticals), or results of the path taken (left and right verticals).
The 12 “compound” are diagonal paths that represent life-path choices.
Reading the right and left stacks of columns and their connections in the graphic above it says: “The Wisdom of showing Mercy and seeking Peace result in Happiness and Success, while using Wit for the Severity of Victory results in Suffering and Failure”.
Part II – Secret Revealed:
Concatenating the Life-path Choice
The 3 columns of pillars are labeled Jakn, Malkuth and Boaz. The secret meaning of Jakn and Boaz is revealed by the Tarot icons of the Romanized Hebrew letters.
The JAKN title of pillars interprets as "fish hook, man, hand (work), fish", or obtaining sustenance from work (being a laborer, by example a fisherman).
The BOAZ title of pillars interprets as "house, pillar (support), man, sword", or taking possessions supported by force (being a soldier or mercenary).
Part III – The Hermetic Tarot
The traditional Bohemian use of the Major Arcanum was fortune telling, a precursor to psychiatry. In Mid-Evil times, village life was rife with gossip and innuendo, making it dangerous to reveal personal issues to others. Gypsies traveling around the countryside were not involved with the village life, and served to listen and advise in a psychiatric function, under the guise of fortune telling. For this purpose, only the 22 cards of the Major Arcanum were used, because the 56 cards of the Minor Arcanum were devoid of psychological aspects. Later "mystics" invalidly used all 78 Bohemian cards in the pretense of “actual” fortune telling, which became a charlatans trade.
The Egyptian Major Arcanum cards originated as Hebrew alphabet cards during their enslavement in Egypt. The cards had a number from 1 to 22, and a Hebrew letter in numeric order (Aleph, Beth, Gimel, …). Various objects with names beginning with the letter were illustrated on the cards.
When the Catholic Inquisition kicked in, occultists added hidden astronomical, mathematical, and scientific knowledge on the cards, using various means, such as disguising symbols as jewelry, and placing Zodiac icons.
At some point illustrations of the 22 “steps” of the Sumerian myth “The Journeys of Gilgamesh” were combined with the Hebrew alphabet cards, but it appears many of the illustrations did not get transferred to the Bohemian version (possibly because they had no awareness of the Sumerian myth at that time).
The source used in developing the Bohemian Tarot is unknown. The following Hermetic Tarot Cards were drawn by Tom Gilmore in 1988 were based on the Papus, Smith, and various other card decks. Refer to the article on Hermes for detail on the Greek Hermetic system of communication.
The pictograms suggest the Kabal Temple key-words (listed above the cards).
1 Mental Realm – 2
The Bohemian version of Card 1 shows a man (the card icon) holding a wand (why the card has the vulgar title of “The Magician”), which should be a club to match with the other symbols on the card (the seasonal symbols of goblet, coin and sword on a table top). These seasonal symbols tie into the Minor Arcanum of calendar cards. On the Bohemian versions (see Papus card below) the man wears a floppy hat with a twisted brim disguising a Moebius Band (a band with a twist resulting in having only one side and one edge). The Hermetic card shows an “infinity symbol” over his head, as shown on the Smith card.
Card 2 Shows a Priestess holding a book. She sits in front of the temple of knowledge (gnosis). The astral bodies (of Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, etc.) are shown atop the pillars. Although the cards are not colored, the cube she sits on represents the Color-Cube of astro-logic inherent to Astrology.
3 Nature – 4 Domain
The Empress of Card 3 is Mother Nature (Gaia on Earth, and Theia in the Cosmos). She is shown pregnant (symbolizing the female role in propagating life), with her foot on the Moon (that has the same 28 day period as her). She is standing on the same cube as in cards 1, 2 and 4, but each of these 4 have a different face forward. As per a Hermetic description of the card, she stands on a cube with a sphere under it (as also shown on Card 15). The cube and the sphere is the basis of the Geocubic Model. Similar to Card 1, she holds up a wand (actually a scepter, the Egyptian icon of clubs. She holds a shield that hides the Hebrew letter Gimel. The icon of the card is a camel, embossed on the shield. She has 12 stars in a halo around her head which matches in number to the 12 points on the helmet of the man on Card 4 (and 3x4=12). The helmet on Card 4 hides the Hebrew letter Daleth. The icon of Card 4 is the door (which he is opening). The vulgar title of Card 4 is “The Emperor”, matching with the “Empress” title of Card 3. The Emperor holds the sphere above the cube.
5 Supplication – 6 Temptation
7 Subjugation – 8 Arbitration
Card 8 depicts a blindfolded woman seated in front of the same temple as in Card 2 and Card 5, but a sheet is draped over the sun and moon reinforcing the concept of blind justice.. She holds scales signifying judgement, and a sword signifying punishment. The icon for the card is the Fence (in the foreground). When Zeus rebelled against the Titan elders and lost, Athena judged him, and as punishment exiled him to the island Nysa in the Aegean.. Subsequently Zeus took the name Dionysus, meaning “myself of Nysa”.
9 Serenity – 10 Turmoil
Card 9 represents the “light on the path” that Jesus offers Thomas to find his way, saying “I am the way the truth and the light, come to the Father through me”. Those who follow the teaching of Jesus are illuminated, or in plural the Illuminati.
Card 10 depicts the wheel of change that has 4 quadrants: North, East, South, and West. There are 8 spokes because there is also Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest. For the Moon the 4 stages of change are Full, Waning, New, and Waxing. For the Sun the 4 stages are Day, Dusk, Night, and Dawn. For the Seasons the stages are Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. The TAROT was named for this card because the Latin word for rotation R-O-T-A are written on the quadrants and when the wheel is rotated a full circuit spelling ROTAR, from the top it spells T-A-R-O-T..
11 Happiness – 12 Suffering
Card 11 depicts a woman holding the mouth of a lion open. This illustrates the Sumerian myth, when Gilgamesh journeys to the sacred grove of apple trees (the forbidden fruit brought to Earth by the Titans), and he encounters a barrier guarded by Khumbaba, a giant mechanical dragon breathing fire and spitting acid. His pet lion was so frightened that it cowered into a stunned state. Once Gilgamesh disengaged the protective mechanism and gained access to the grove he encountered the grove keeper Ishtar, who cured his cowardly lion, making the lion roar by forcing its mouth open. The myth has parallels to the “Wizard of Oz” because Gilgamesh wore a suit of armor (tin man), and he transported his injured twin brother Enkidu in a cart filled with a bed of straw (straw man), seeking a cure to his crippled brother’s Achilles tendon from Ishtar. The Greek name of Gilgamesh was Hercules, and Enkidu was Achilles.
On the Hanging Man of Card 12 the ancient symbol for Jupiter (a + over a triangle) is conveyed by the arms and legs of the hanging man. Also, the symbol for Gemini is hidden in the scaffold. These are clues that the numerological value of both Gemini and Jupiter is 12.
13 Physical Realm – 14 Temperance
15 Enslavement – 16 Destruction
On Card 15 the character (Pan) sitting on the cube has the wings of a bat (Sumerian icon of Aries) and the horns of the Ram (Greek icon for Aries). This card is used in the deduction of the Color-Cube, which is the key to understanding Time, Quarks, and Electron Spin. The words “solve” and “coagula” are written on his arms. This is the Alchemy card. The arm held up means “dissolve” and the arm down means “coagulate”, opposite alchemical forces.
Card 16 depicts a tower being hit by lightning, and crumbling. This illustration is from the Sumerian myth when the Tower of Babylon (built by the Babylonian King Enkidu) was hit by lightning in a violent storm and crumbled to ruins. In the myth, when forming the nation of Sumer, to facilitate commerce, King Enkidu decreed that one dialect would become the standard for the entire region, and forbade the speaking of other tongues. After the death of Enkidu (subsequently mummified in Egypt under the name Osiris), the Assyrians conquered Babylon, and the regional dialects and languages returned. This is behind the Biblical myth element of the confusion of tongues after the fall of the tower of Babel (from whence the word babbling came).
17 Nurturance – 18 Conflict (19)
Card 17 shows a maiden watering a plant, symbolizing nurturance. The woman is Demeter, a Titan who gave humans the productive grains (like wheat and barley) and taught agriculture. The star is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, and the home of the Titan Explorers.
Card 18 is a scientific card relating the phases of the moon to the extent of the tides. When the moon is full (and when new) the tides are greatest, and when the moon is waxing or waning it is least. Tide extents vary by location, depending on the underwater landscape and the latitude. The tides are caused by gravity which is symbolized by the droplets from the moon to the water, where a crustacean is exposed by the low tide. The concept of conflict is symbolized by the 2 towers, and by the dogs or wolves confronting each other.
Card 19 is a scientific card paired with Card 18. The Gravity from the Sun interacts with the gravity of the Moon to cause the fluctuating tides, and this is tied to the Sun reflecting on the Moon causing the phases as the Moon orbits the Earth. Refer to the article Sun, Earth, Moon for a full explanation of the phases. As in Card 18, the droplets from the sun to the ground represent the gravity from the Sun. The boy and girl are playing with a ball, symbolizing the friendly competition exemplified by sports.
19 Cooperation/Competition (18) –
20 Failure (Death)
21 Emotional Realm (22) –
22 Success (Life) (21)
Card 21 shows the Fool, who, blinded by emotion (especially infatuation and love), is bitten, and who travels from home in search of an elusive fulfillment. Alistair Crowley incorrectly switched the pictograms on Cards 21 and 22. The Fool should be Card 22, and the World should be on Card 21. On most other card decks, Gaia (Mother Nature) is shown standing in front of the world, because at the planetary level a living bio-realm (or ecosystem) operates. Gaia designs the bio-forms (individual organisms) and coordinates their interactions with the intent to successfully perpetuate life.
Part IV – The Deadlocks
The color-cube below is elaborated in the Astro-logic article. The secret of the Houses is also in the Astro-logic article, also connected to this color-cube.
The edges are labeled with Signs, and the faces with Planets. Each Sign is an edge that connects 2 faces in unique pairs. For example, refer to the cube above to see that Leo, the front-right edge, pairs the Sun and Mercury. The chart below lists the Signs in astronomical sequence, showing the Planet pairs for each Sign. You can verify the list by examining the color-cube above.
1 Aries Mars Sun
2 Taurus Moon Venus
3 Gemini Mars Mercury
4 Cancer Moon Sun
5 Leo Sun Mercury
6 Virgo Mars Venus
7 Libra Venus Mercury
8 Scorpio Mars Moon
9 Sagittarius Saturn Sun
10 Capricorn Saturn Venus
11 Aquarius Saturn Mercury
12 Pisces Saturn Moon
In the book “Synthesis”, the planetary pairs of the Signs (and 3 other non-Sign pairs) are used in a theosophical construct similar to the Houses, aimed at defining the limitations of personal existence (termed “Deadlocks”), to the purpose of offering the advantage of not wasting effort on futile objectives. The chart from the book is shown below.
Elaborations of the theosophical implications are developed in the book “Synthesis: The Hermetic Tarot” (very hard to find). In the book, prior to the chapter on Deadlocks, a system of personal power enhancement (termed “Arrowglance”) is presented, based on the icon interpretations of the 11’s triad of Leo, Scorpio, and Capricorn.