This is a transcription of an audio lecture from The Eternal Tarot of Alchemy and Kabbalah, originally given live at the Chicagoland Gnostic Academy.
In this course, we’ve been discussing the nature of numerology, numbers, and its mystical application within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all religions. Numbers in themselves are intuitive principles; they express and elaborate the path of the soul in its unification with divinity. This path is taught, in a didactic manner, within the Egyptian Tarot, the Torat, the Torah, which literally means “law” or “laws.” Numbers describe laws in nature, the steps the soul needs to follow to achieve religare, religion, reunion. The knowledge of the path, based on experience, is gnosis, what we have verified through facts, what we know for ourselves.
There are two forms of nature: material and spiritual. Numbers govern the laws of both natures, both worlds. The number three is particularly important in relation to this, because the number three is the law of creation, the law origination, of genesis.
We spoke previously about the first card of the tarot: The Magician. This is the masculine principle that initiates life, the force that begins any endeavor, whether material, economic, psychological, or spiritual. However, the masculine, positive, of affirming force cannot develop, unfold, or impact anything without his counterpart, his feminine unfoldment, the Second Arcanum: The Priestess of the Tarot. She is the divine feminine within our consciousness. She is the negative or, better said, receptive force of nature that receives the masculine impulse, but to achieve what?
Man and woman in unison are represented by the holy name of divinity in Judaism: יהוה Jehovah, properly pronounced Jah-Chavah. Jah is the Divine Father, the masculine entity. Chavah is the negative or receptive force, the Divine Mother. Jah is represented by Adam. Chavah is represented by Eve, the “mother of the living” in Genesis.
As we've explained previously, the Hebrew letter ו Vav represents the phallus. The Hebrew letter ה Hei represents the uterus. Together, through the power of love, אל El, the spirit, Chesed in Kabbalah, they unite as the reconciling force of the divine mother, אלוה Eloah, the Empress.
When man and woman sexually unite, they give birth to a child. Just as husband and wife can give birth to a physical child, they likewise can give birth to the golden child of alchemy, the spiritual force known as Christ, Khristos, in Greek; who is an enlivening, spiritual fire that radically transforms our psychology when we have been properly prepared through scientific procedures.
Nature does not ignore the laws upon which it is founded. If we want to create life, we need a man and a woman. All of nature is governed by sexuality. This no one can deny. Life cannot exist for human beings, for animals, for plants, without the unity of masculine and feminine. Even chemicals, molecules, unite and join through sexual bonds, to create new substances, elements, or qualities, new compounds.
The same principle applies to spirituality, for as Jesus taught:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.—John 3:3-6
Nicodemus was a literal man. Likewise, many people who read the teachings of Jesus. The prophet was speaking about the need to transform the sexual act into a sacrament, to not approach sex in the manner of everyday persons. He is speaking about the third arcanum of the Tarot: The Empress, how a man and woman can give birth to spiritual consciousness. For when the Magician works with his priestess, when the Divine Father, the masculine force, and the Divine Mother, or feminine force, work within us, they can give birth to the purified soul, represented by Sol, S-O-L, the Sun, the Solar Christic force, free of defect, blemish, or impurity.
Spiritual birth or creation is the third force, the force of reconciliation. These three forces are well cited by Gurdjieff: the positive masculine force is Affirmation, the negative / receptive feminine force is Negation. When they join, they unify through the synthesis, the union, the force of Reconciliation. Sexuality is the force of Reconciliation, how husband and wife come to enjoy the conciliating forces of divine love.
The Third Arcanum of the Tarot is light, signified in Genesis 1:3, יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור Yehi Ha-aur, Va-Yehi-Aur: “Let there be light, and there was light.” The number three is precisely the life or light of comprehension, of spirituality, that is gestated, between husband and wife in the perfect matrimony and, more importantly, in meditation.
The woman represents the divine, feminine soul or consciousness. She is clothed in white garments, which represents the solar bodies. The Gospels speak about the Wedding Garment of the Soul, the solar vehicles (see Matthew 22), of which we spoke about in our lecture entitled The Solar Bodies, available on our website: chicagognosis.org.
A vehicle is a means by which something is transferred. Therefore, for the light or energy of Christ, to manifest within our soul, we need to create the solar bodies. Just as light cannot function without a bulb, we cannot manifest the supreme energies of divinity without purifying ourselves and giving birth to the soul or solar bodies.
We must have a mind, heart, vitality, and body that resonates with higher laws. Our mind, heart, vitality, and body, the lower four vehicles at the bottom of the Tree of Life, are afflicted with suffering, with conditions, with mechanical ways of behaving, represented by the moon. Netzach (mind), Hod (emotions), Yesod (vitality), and Malkuth (physicality) are governed by lunar desires. The moon governs mechanical forces or laws in nature. Therefore, our egos, desires, and defects are represented by the moon as well, because they are conditions, mechanical habits or behaviors. We must transform our psyche into a sun. This means that our willpower overcomes its conditioning so it can vibrate and transmit superior forces. This is accomplished in the perfect matrimony.
The Empress is in white garments because she is pure in thought, word, and deed. She is the Christified Soul, a consciousness that only knows how to do the will of divinity.
The Empress is represented by the Greeks as Urania-Venus. She is of the stars, of divinity. In Chaldean, Ur-Anas, signifies “fire” or “light” and “water.” That light is generated when we learn to work with our sexual waters, our seminal energy, and practice meditation. Light is created through harnessing the fire of sexuality.
She sits on the cubic stone, referring to the stone of the Masons, the sacred Ka’ba of Islam, the power of Yesod: the Foundation Stone of our temple. This stone is shown resting above a crescent moon, demonstrating that the soul has conquered instinct, sex, and desire: the vital forces of nature. The symbol of Islam also shows the crescent moon with the star of Venus, indicating how the lunar energies are transformed through the star of love. Therefore, a true believer in esoteric Islam is one who works with Yesod and governs it in him or herself.
The twelve stars residing above the head of the Empress signify the twelve faculties of the spiritual human being: the five senses plus clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, polyvoyance, omniscience, and other refined senses of the soul. The twelve stars also represent the Zodiac and the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Empress is greeted by a bird, sacred symbol of the Third Logos, the Third Force known as Binah in Kabbalah. This is the white dove of the Holy Spirit. She also bears a staff in her right hand, indicating that through the work of the spinal column, of raising the power of the Holy Spirit or Kundalini up the medulla to the brain, one achieves genuine religion.
Explanation of the Third Arcanum
The number three is sacred, the law of creation is divine, and is found in many scriptures and cosmogonies. But the law of three is best explained through studying the Kabbalah: The Tree of Life. This is a map depicting different levels of consciousness, in all levels of matter, manifestation, expression, and abstraction / potentiality.
The Tree of Life is governed by the law of three. We find three triangles. The top is the Logoic Triangle, constituted of Kether, Chokmah, and Binah in Hebrew: Crown, Wisdom, and Understanding or Intelligence. These are the First, Second, and Third Logos: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Christianity.
It's important to understand that the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit are not people, but energies in nature. We find the holy trinity, this primordial root energy, behind every level of nature and experience. In the atom, we find the proton represents the Divine Masculine; the electron represents the Divine Feminine; and the neutron represents the Holy Spirit that binds these two forces together, to create an atom, a unity.
The second triangle, in middle of this glyph, is the Ethical Triangle, constituted of Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth: Mercy, Justice, and Beauty. These constitute our Innermost God, known as Mercy; the divine consciousness, known as Justice, and the human consciousness known as Beauty, respectively.
Tiphereth is the beauty of our soul that we develop through the application of willpower. This is a human quality. When we talked about the Magician, we spoke about how our own willpower must obey divine will, Chesed: the spirit, as well as the Logoic Triangle above. Kether, the Father, the Magician, must manifest in our willpower, Tiphereth, in our heart. Remember that when you transpose the Tree of Life on the image of a human being, Tiphereth resides in the heart.
The spirit, Chesed, is divine, and is also represented by the First Arcanum of the Tarot: The Magician. There are levels of divinity. We say that our Innermost Being is Chesed. But even Chesed has Innermost Being, known as Kether. These are levels upon levels of experience, for as the Qur’an teaches us in Surah Al-Nur, verse 35: “Light upon light!”
Tiphereth is our willpower that is enmeshed in psychological impurity, in selfishness, egotism. Our present consciousness is a fraction of Tiphereth, an embryo of our full human potential and will. Parts of our consciousness are trapped in defects, vices, errors, represented by qualities of mind (Netzach, known as Victory in Hebrew), qualities of heart (Hod, known as Glory), qualities of vitality, instinct, or energy, known in the East as chi, (or Yesod in Hebrew, translating as Foundation), which all manifest in our physical body (Malkuth).
The Law of Three and the Three Brains
You can see that the law of three permeates every level of existence, of nature. More practically for us, we can relate the law of three to our three brains.
A brain in esoterism does not exclusively refer to the cranial center, but to a psycho-somatic machine that processes material, psychic, and spiritual forces. The three brains are how we relate to life, and it is in this manner that the law of three becomes most practical for our studies.
The intellectual brain processes thought and is a vehicle of the mind (Netzach) on the Tree of Life. It is how thought can express. Thought is a form of psychological energy that manifests within our physical brain, yet it is not limited to the physical brain. This is evident by a profound study of dreams, of awakening consciousness within the dream state, whereby we realize we are not in our physical body, Malkuth, but the fifth dimension: the astral and mental planes.
The emotional brain is the machine that focuses and processes sentiment, feeling, like, dislike, love, hate, etc. The emotional brain is constituted by our physical heart and its nervous systems, which materially manifest the energies of Hod on the Tree of Life.
The motor-instinctive-sexual brain is a machine that process vitality, the energies of procreation and life. It is the brain of movement, impulse, and sexuality. It can be said to be the brain of action, for it is our motor capacities, our impulses, and our sexual drives that push us to act. This is well known in media and advertisements, which use our most base impulses to try to get us to purchase their products.
The motor-instinctive-sexual brain relates to Yesod in Kabbalah. The foundation of our spiritual life is based on how we not only govern our mind and heart, but also our body. Our body is the vehicle through which our egotism, our desires, act.
We tend not to be very conscious of our impulses, because these operate in a very quick fashion. The energies of movement, instinct, and sex are very fast and hard to perceive and control. The heart is also difficult control, especially in moments of anger, because emotional energy functions on a very fast level, yet not as quickly as sexual energy. The intellect is the easiest to control, because it is the slowest of the three brains, despite what modern psychologists or esotericists may think.
Sexual energy is the most powerful force we carry within us. It is the force that gives us magnetism, internal chemistry, metabolism, catabolism, and drive. It can be used for creating material life, or if we know how, spiritual life.
So why study the three brains? Why study the Tree of Life in relation to the Third Arcanum? It is by studying ourselves and the dynamics of our mind, heart, energy / body, that we create spiritual life. We must learn to dominate our mind, heart, and bodily energies through willpower. Tiphereth is willpower and is in the very center of the Tree of Life. This graphic cannot function without the exercise of will. However, what willpower are we actualizing here and now? Is it selfish, egotistical, or unconditioned, pure? Is our willpower following divinity above, or is our will catering to our selfish thoughts, selfish feelings, and cravings and lusts of the flesh?
We must learn to perceive with our willpower and divine consciousness how our defects of mind, heart, and body produce suffering. What are the thoughts and anxieties we experience? Where do they come from and why? What are our attachments and insecurities? What psychological qualities do we carry within that make us dejected? Frustrated? Vain? Proud? What are our defects that make us vibrate at a very low level of being? We need to know the psychological obstacles if we want to ascend to a higher level of being.
We create our psychological experience based on our perception of the moment, which are conditioned and crafted based on our use of the three brains: thought, feeling, and will. If we want happiness, to create a spiritual life inside of us, we must intimately comprehend and control our thoughts, feelings and impulses, our three brains, using willpower, Tiphereth. This is the quality that can make us true humans, spiritual beings.
Remember that the Magician of the Tarot needs to organize the contents of the table in the first card to be a priest, to conquer the four elements represented by the quadrature of the table. He accomplishes this by means of the wand, symbol of the phallus, of masculine or assertive spiritual will. The four elements are represented by the following Hebrew letters:
א Aleph—the air, relating to the mind / intellectual brain
ש Shin—the fire, relating to the heart / emotional brain
מ Mem—the waters, relating to will / motor-instinctive-sexual brain
ה Hei—the earth or physical body
A practical magician has complete control over the aerial nature of his thoughts, to yoke the tempests of antithetical thinking to replace it with the calm, natural, flowing winds of a heavenly, serene mind. Likewise, he controls the fires of the heart, curtailing any explosions of anger, resentment, fear, etc., to replace it with the fire of cognizant love. And likewise, a practical magician controls his sexual waters, who never wastes them through acts of desire. All of this is obtained by managing the physical body, the earth. An explanation of these four elements will be forthcoming in our lecture for Arcanum 4: The Emperor.
But you can see how the law of three organizes the Kabbalah. The three mother letters of Kabbalah constitute an important trinity, not only within our three brains, but in the Tree of Life. Aleph can signify the Magician, Kether; Shin, or the sacred fire or Menorah of Christ with its three wicks, represents Chokmah, the Second Arcanum. And the third force, the force of reconciliation, is found within Binah: the Holy Spirit, the Third Arcanum as the power of Mem, the waters of sexuality.
When you transpose the Tree of Life on a human being, the Logoic Triangle governs the head (Aleph), the Ethical Triangle governs the torso and heart (Shin), and the Magical Triangle, constituted by Netzach, Hod, and Yesod, relates to Mem, how we use our waters. Aleph has three iods, signifying the three primary forces of nature. Shin also has three wicks or points, indicating the union of Chesed, the spirit, Geburah, the divine soul, and Tiphereth, the human soul.
In relation to the elements, the true gnostic seeks to comprehend his or her defects and overcome them, to become cognizant of their sources. We do so by analyzing our three brains and how they function. We must understand how our mind is in turmoil, storming between thesis and antithesis, positive and negative concepts. Constant thinking is an obstacle to genuine self-knowledge, of spirituality, of gnosis. Genuine experiential knowledge of the higher worlds, of divinity, is only accessible by the consciousness, when the mind is still and serene, when it is not blowing like a hurricane. The mind tends to be caught between two extremes of thinking: accepting or rejecting ideas. The mind, in its conflict, becomes peaceful as we learn to apply the third force: reconciliation or comprehension.
Who is the one that must achieve comprehension? The silencing or serenity of the mind? The consciousness, through the application of will. Comprehension arrives when we introspect, when we learn to observe our mind, heart, and body with the sense of self-observation, with self-analysis, through the perception of unconditioned consciousness.
Three forces apply to the psychological work: when we begin to affirm the work of self-observation, we encounter resistance. Resistance is the force of the ego, of our defects, that does not want to be discovered and removed. Therefore, meditation is essential, to sit quietly and examine the mind without external distractions. We learn to introspect and observe our defects, to comprehend them through the application of will, of concentration, through the power of perception, known in esoterism as imagination. The third force arrives when we comprehend the source of resistance by exercising our willpower and perception, our consciousness, for through perceiving the origins of conflict, we resolve conflict.
This same dynamic applies to the rest of the other three brains.
The motor-instinctive-sexual brain, or better synthesized as the sexual brain, is the machine of attraction and repulsion. Through sexual energy we are either attracted to a member of the opposite sex or we do not. We find desire or revulsion in this center.
Despite the wisdom of this center, many people sadly do not comprehend how to use the sexual brain in a spiritual manner. They believe they must either indulge in sensual pleasures, in lust, or to run away from sex, to treat it as something filthy and disgusting. Both these approaches to sex are rejected in the Gnostic Tradition.
We do not go to either extremes in relation to sex. We do not reject sex as something disgusting, nor do we glorify its lustful applications. We instead comprehend sexuality and govern it with wisdom, with temperance, with enlightened eyes. We do not dive into impure usages of sex, and neither do we repress sexual instinct. We instead comprehend it and use sexual energy in a synthetic way, with cognizance, with purity. You see the three laws here? Many people get stuck in either affirming or denying sex as something lustful, but not comprehending its actual function: how to create spiritual life, cognizance, and the development of the soul. Affirmation is the first force. Negation is the second force. Comprehension or conciliation is the third.
Gurdjieff aptly stated that “humanity is third force blind.” People are indeed blind to the true purpose of sexuality, the force of conciliation.
The gnostic scriptures speak abundantly about overcoming the flesh. This flesh is Malkuth, but also expressed as desires in Yesod, Hod, and Netzach. Desire is ego, defects, degeneration, impure ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Remember that ego is Latin means “I.” The ego is multiple. Desires are multiple. Desire is a technical term or equivalent of “ego.” The ego says “I want. I crave. I desire.” This is selfish will, not pure will. Pure will is known as Tiphereth. Let us understand that willpower is very different from desire. Tiphereth or willpower way of acting and knowing in accordance with the commandments given by our Divine Father and Divine Mother in our consciousness.
Therefore, we do not overcome the flesh by flagellating ourselves or rejecting the body, but using it appropriately, with the beauty of our pure willpower. This is well documented in books like The Perfect Matrimony and The Mystery of the Golden Blossom.
We must govern sex with willpower, and not let sex govern our will. This is how we become magicians. We work in the magic of love to create the Empress, the Christified or purified soul. Likewise, we control the other brains in this endeavor. The three brains can be used by our defects and desires, or by our soul, consciousness, known as Tiphereth. It is the heart that tells us which actions are wrong or right. It is the voice of conscience or intuition that states, “I should do this.” “I should not do this.” It is our willpower that knows how to govern the mind, heart, and body to create harmony within one’s psychological kingdom or empire.
The Law of the Pendulum and Force of Equilibrium
It’s easy to see how the first two forces relate to the three brains. We affirm some concept, religion, or idea with the first force: Affirmation. We arrive at a different idea, the antithesis, through Negation. Affirmation and Negation place each of the three brains in conflict.
We may like a person at one moment but hate them the next. We may also be attracted to someone sexually and yet also be repulsed by them. This is the dualism of the emotional and the sexual brains, respectively.
It’s enough to look at society to see how people constantly fluctuate between two extremes, two ends of a pendulum: positive, negative; affirmation, negation; thesis, antithesis; yes, no; good, bad. People don’t realize that these dualistic ways of thinking, feeling, and acting produce the hypnosis of the soul, the sleep of our consciousness. People are not aware of the psychological sources of their problems. Humanity simply likes to “go with the flow” of things. They do not like to comprehend the source of their sufferings, because to do so is to face a certain resistance in the mind, which tells them, “It doesn’t matter if I think or feel this way. I don’t need to change. The world needs to change instead.”
The reason why society is in conflict is because we are in conflict. We bear the same habits we blame in others within our three brains. It is hypocritical to condemn others for the same defects we accuse others of having, as Jesus teaches in the Gospels.
We like to affirm or reject things all the time in our psyche, habits, and dispositions. We believe in one religion with our heart one day, then reject it the next. People tend to change religions, political parties, or ideas like changing clothes. There is a constant fluctuation between extremes in the mind, heart, and body.
Therefore, where is the authenticity of our desires and yearnings in thought, feeling, and will? All of this is vain, to assume things will get better in time once other people change. External changes are superfluous. What’s important is the make psychological changes.
We have many conflicting desires that do not have any real sense of integrity, unity, or wholeness. They are separate, disparate, conflicting. So when we learn to look inside of ourselves, we face a difficult problem, which is seeing the mind, heart, and body exactly as they are, seeing the psychological contents of the three brains as they exist in the present moment.
The third force, the Third Arcanum, is necessary for our spirituality. The third force is developed as we introspect, as we self-observe our psychological conflicts, when we combine our willpower and perception to understand the sources of our conflicts. When we achieve comprehension of conflicts in the psyche, those conflicts will disappear. This is the third force: equilibrium, understanding, or psychological balance, represented in the Hebraic Kabbalah as the Third Sephirah at the top of the Tree of Life: Binah.
The Three Souls of Alchemy and Kabbalah
The number three relates not only to our three brains but to three types of soul in the Kabbalistic and Alchemical traditions. The three souls of Kabbalah are known as Nephesh, Ruach, and Neshamah.
All three of these terms signify “breath.” In our discussion of The Magician card, we spoke abundantly about the Hebrew letter א Aleph, that it signifies the breath, the wind, that initiates spiritual life. What is the relationship of the soul with breath? The Sufis state that the gnostic must guard his breaths against God Most High, to not use one’s breath or speech in vain. This is because the throat is the uterus of the Verb, the Word, the Logos, to Logoic Tringle. We create or destroy life based on our words.
Yogis and gnostics work with breathing exercises to transform energies in the body, whether through mantras, pranayama, runic exercises, sacred rites of rejuvenation, etc.
The word for breath or vanity, mentioned in the Book of Ecclesiastes, is הֲבֵל Habel, which is where we get the name Abel. “Vanity of vanities,” saith the preacher. “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים Habel Habelim.
Remember that Abel, Habel, was killed by his brother Cain, symbolizing how our defects, our Sensual Mind, kills our soul through wrong thinking, wrong feeling, and wrong acting. Therefore, all of life is vain, because our spiritual potentiality has been nullified.
The Kabbalists also state that the inhaled breath is Neshamah, which is still pure and unsullied by the body. Ruach is the breath prepared for exhalation. Nephesh is the breath that finally reaches another person through dialogue. All three souls are different modifications of א Aleph, the spiritual energies of God, but in different levels of purity or conditioning.
Nephesh is the Animal Soul. It is constituted by our consciousness trapped in defects, egos. Nephesh is the origin of suffering. These are the lusts of the psyche and the flesh. Nephesh is animalistic and low, associated with different forms of violence. Notice how the animals within the animal kingdom follow the law of “kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten.” As the Bible states in relation to Nephesh, “Nephesh, Nephesh, Blood is paid for blood!” Or as Jehovah Elohim states to Cain, “The blood of your brother cries out to Me from the ground!”
We can easily see Nephesh in our media, where our television shows are saturated with sarcasm, with mental violence, making fun of or belittling others. This is a form of bloodshed in the mental plane (Netzach). We also find Nephesh in our Hollywood actors who abuse the emotional brain, tearing their hearts open with shows of extreme grief, cursing, and hatred. This is violence in the emotional world (Hod). And when people makes pornographic films, everyone is abusing their vital energies (Yesod) and defiling their bodies (Malkuth).
Remember the Fifth Commandment states: “Thou shalt not kill,” and yet everyone is killing the energies of divinity within their three brains and by violating the will of others. The Ten Commandments were given unto Nephesh in order that it can learn to stop being an animal.
All of us are Nephesh without exception. We constantly repeat egotistical and animalistic behaviors, including hatred, pride, greed, gluttony, etc. These elements constitute our animal inheritance, which have only become more complicated through the forces of evolution, devolution, and our intellect. The only difference between us and the animals in the animal kingdom is that we have intellect. We rationalize.
Nephesh-desire is one hundred percent lunar, mechanical. It is constituted by our habits. This is easy to see in Kabbalah, because Nephesh corresponds to Yesod, the vital forces, our instincts, as we see in this image on the tree of life. Our animality is defined by our mechanical, repetitive behaviors, our conditioning, associated with the moon, luna, which is where we get the word lunatic, someone who is depleted of reason and who follows degenerated, mechanical thinking. Nephesh is governed by the moon.
You can see by this definition and by reflecting upon yourself in meditation that everyone has many mechanical habits that are engrained, that are hard to change. We have a strong sense of ego, of self, of desire, that rationalizes and justifies its behavior. You see the problem here? The ego uses thought to justify its degeneration. Therefore, Samael Aun Weor stated that the greatest weapon the demons or black magicians use to pull the aspirants from the path is the intellect. Because everyone fortifies and worships the animal mind.
The intellect is not entirely bad. It is only bad when Nephesh, ego, desire, uses the intellect to propagandize its agenda. The intellect simply is a machine that can be used to process information, whether materialistic or spiritual. Therefore, in comparison with the animal kingdom, we have an advantage to use the intellect for divine purposes, to learn how to stop being an animal. When we acquire the intellect for the first time, divinity gave us certain commandments throughout the diverse religions traditions, to rationalize and demonstrate to us the path of becoming a true human being. And this is where the second type of soul, Ruach, comes into play.
Ruach is the Thinking Soul. This is our conscience, that part of us that gives us a sense of right and wrong, a certain level of gnosis: how certain actions and psychological behaviors are proper or improper given the circumstances. We’re are talking more about a soul that reflects upon itself, that conceptualizes its habits and seeks to remedy them.
Ruach relates to Chesed: Mercy in the Kabbalah, our Innermost God. Chesed is our Spirit on the Tree of Life, our Being, our divinity. This is our Inner Buddha.
When we face conflicts and difficulties in life, we must learn to use our Ruach. In the spiritual work, Nephesh, the Animal Soul, and Ruach, the Thinking Soul, are submitted to ordeals. This is to give Ruach the opportunity to see the lower, animal soul, and to comprehend its errors. For when we face tremendous and unexpected difficulties, we have the opportunity to see our most hidden defects, egos which we never thought existed in ourselves. But of course, we must be in self-observation to catch them. Whatever defects we catch through self-observation must be wholly comprehended in meditation. Through comprehension in meditation we learn to transform the animal in us into the human.
In a moment of anger, Nephesh pushes us to speak hurtful words, perhaps to a friend or co-worker. We must, in those instances, learn to reflect and rationalize with Ruach, to work with our conscience, to comprehend the source of that animalistic anger, so that we do not behave in mistaken ways. This is how we can transform our daily life.
According to Friedrich Nietzsche, animals are at least innocent. We are not. Because we have the intellect, we have greater responsibility for our actions. Human beings as they are now are worse than apes, because they have the intellect but continue to behave degenerately. We should not justify the animal within us, but seek to become a human being and afterward a superhuman being.
So what can make us into a human and even a superhuman being? Neshamah.
Neshamah relates to the powers of Geburah, Justice, or our divine consciousness, on the Tree of Life. Neshamah is pure, divine. It is a soul that is not mixed with degeneration, with egotism. It is a power of tremendous spiritual caliber, with the power to create a true human being, as represented in Genesis. When Jehovah Elohim (Binah) created the human being into His spiritual image, He used his Neshamah to enliven Nephesh, to purify it and make it holy. Jehovah Elohim breathed the breath of life, Neshamah Chaiah, into the nostrils of Adam, and Adam became a living soul, a Nephesh Chaiah.
A Nephesh Chaiah does not relate to common, ordinary persons like us, but to fully enlightened beings who have no defects. A Nephesh Chaiah is a Jesus, a Buddha, a Krishna, a Muhammad, etc.
We must use Ruach to control Nephesh. When Nephesh in us is conquered, and purified by Neshamah, the spiritual soul, Nephesh becomes a Nephesh Chaiah, it resurrects, it becomes a new being: one without anger, fear, resentment, jealousy, etc. This process is accomplished through the path of initiation and psychological purification in meditation.
The Three Kabbalistic Souls in the Qur’an
The Qur’an also refers to these three types of soul in the following manner:
Only Ruach, the thinking soul, with the help of Neshamah, can control Nephesh: the soul that commands to evil, our egotistical desires. When we face ordeals, our Nephesh is stimulated and comes to the surface, screen, and attention of our self-observation. If we are not in control of ourselves, then we will follow the animal in us: the soul that commands to evil.
The Surah entitled: The Resurrection, speaks of the blaming soul, another term for Ruach. Ruach is the one that blames us for our faults, Nephesh. This is not a term of masochism, that we enjoy blaming ourselves for our faults, or that we are pessimistic people. The question is: who is blaming who? It is the spark of divinity we carry within that is helping to call us to attention for our faults. The Bible states: “God loves those whom He chastises.” We must self-observe and see our animal desires for what they are. This is a form of blaming or criticizing our own selves, so that we can transform the consciousness. This is positive and necessary, for remorse is good, not egotistical, morbid, and self-flagellating shame. That is not the meaning of the term “blaming.”
When you look within yourself and comprehend how a certain action produced harm, you are blaming yourself with Ruach. You are becoming cognizant and remorseful for how your words of anger produced suffering. Suffering is always produced by animality. Remorse is a necessary emotional quality of the thinking / rationalizing soul. We must be responsible and take ownership for our faults if what we want is unification with divinity, with Neshamah.
In the Surah entitled The Dawn, verse 27, the Qur’an states, “O soul at peace! Return to thy Lord, content, contenting.” It is very appropriate that the soul at peace, Neshamah, is associated with the Surah known as The Dawn, whereby we witness the rising of the sun, the Solar Logos, a symbol of the Christic energy.
Neshamah, the spiritual soul, is what grants us peace, which allows us to return to divinity content and contenting others. Is our soul like this yet? Observe and be honest. Do we naturally irradiate light, happiness, contentment for others? Patience and fortitude? Compassion? Or are we self-wiled, self-centered, concerned for our self-image, the gratification of our senses?
If we are honest with ourselves we can admit that our souls are not at peace, that we do not have Neshamah developed inside. What we tend to have are a lot of social, personal, psychological, and economic problems.
Therefore, we need ordeals and difficulties. Ordeals are given to us by Neshamah, from the divine soul, by Geburah in Kabbalah, who signifies Justice. To be just and upright spiritual beings, we need to pay our debts, to pay what we owe. For if we spilled blood in the past, then we must pay for it in this life. It could mean that we are humiliated by the people we once condemned or shamed in past existences, or even in this life. To shame someone is to spill blood, to make blood flush a person’s face. If we harmed others, we will be harmed in return through the power of Justice. But this not a mechanical dynamic. Ordeals bring Nephesh to our attention, so that we can comprehend our faults. Without this conflict, we cannot arrive at genuine self-knowledge.
Here the three forces are at work against to create Neshamah within us. We begin to self-observe, to analyze our minds and hearts in depth; we affirm this teaching in practice. Then resistance of the ego emerges; our Nephesh-desire fights, it wants to continue being an animal. Therefore, Paul of Tarsus stated:
For we know that the law [of Neshamah] is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin [Nephesh].
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin [Nephesh] that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good [through Ruach] I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil [of Nephesh] which I would not, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin [Nephesh] that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law [of Neshamah], that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man [the spiritual human being or superman, Neshamah]:
But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members [sex].
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death [lunar vehicles]?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the [solar] mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin [Nephesh]. —Romans 7:14-25
Right now all of us are enslaved to desire. We must wage a holy war, to purify the psyche. We accomplish this through ordeals and by overcoming our lunar, mechanical habits. Neshamah is only fully developed in us once we have passed all the tests and ordeals, once Nephesh and Ruach are fully purified.
What’s also interested is that the Arabic word for Tranquility or peace is shekinah or Shekinah, the Kabbalistic name for the Kundalini, the power of the Holy Spirit. For in the Surah known as the Victory, verse 4: “He it is Who sends own Tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may increase in faith along with their faith—to God belong the ghosts of the heavens and the earth, and God is Knowing, Wise.” Just as the tongues of fire descended upon the Apostles in the Book of Acts, likewise the Tranquility, the Shekinah, Neshamah or spiritual soul, the Kundalini, comes down to use once we have passed the psychological tests and have been working diligently in a matrimony.
The Hebrew Letter Gimel
In relation to the three brains, the three Mother letters of Kabbalah, and the three souls, we can speak abundantly about the third Hebrew letter: Gimel, which is associated with the Empress of the Tarot.
Gamal is literally the Hebrew word for “camel.” It can also signify a rich man, which is a direct reference to St. Paul’s spiritual man. Remember that he speaks in his Epistles about the two men: one terrestrial, and one heavenly. The terrestrial man is poor, the human soul lacking virtue and development. He is made up Ruach. The spiritual man consists of the power of Neshamah, and constitutes the most divine within Kabbalistic psychology.
We are Nephesh, which has nothing to do with human qualities. We are not human beings; neither are we Paul’s terrestrial man, which fully manifests the developed Ruach, the Thinking Soul. Many people read the Old and New Testaments and want to believe that they are true human beings, just as Adam was created by the breath of life, Neshamah.
To become “a living soul” is to incarnate Neshamah, as I stated earlier. This is a very high level of attainment, achieved near the end of the path, at resurrection. We, right now, have animal mind, a mind that is poor, destitute, requiring assistance from divinity above, from Gedulah, Goodness, our Innermost Spirit, known also as Chesed: Mercy in Kabbalah.
The truth is that we have a fraction or portion of Ruach in us at this moment, which is the small still voice of our conscience. This must be developed further through comprehending and transforming Nephesh through initiation. Until Nephesh is controlled and transformed by Ruach and Neshamah, we are not human beings yet.
So why is the Empress, the three types of soul, associated with ג Gimel, the camel? ג Gimel is constructed of an elongated, erect Vav, symbol of the spinal column, but also the phallus. Remember that the distinctive feature of a camel is its spine, it's hump. The י Iod / Yod, the dot at the top can also represent a phallus, but also the sexual energy and potential of God that rises within the spine. Notice that there are three י iods, three types of soul hidden here, that we must work with alchemically. By working with the creative energy we aspire to reach our own inner Gedulah, Goodness, another term for Chesed, our Spirit, and to fully command the three types of soul within us.
The Zohar, when introducing the teachings of the Hebrew, Kabbalistic alphabet, discusses the symbiotic nature of ד Daleth and ג Gimel, the terrestrial and the heavenly men. The Zohar explains how when Iod-Chavah, Jehovah, wanted to create the heavens and the earth using the Hebrew letters, he called upon them from last to first. I won’t narrate the entire account at this point of our course, but regarding Gimel and Daleth, we find the following emphasis:
The Zohar states:
“The letters ד Daleth and ג Gimel entered and made the same request [to initiate creation]. He replied to them as well, “It is enough for you to be with each other, since the poor will never cease from the world, and need to be treated kindly. ד Daleth is poor; ג Gimel, Gomel, renders, goodness to her. Do not separate from one another! It is enough for one of you to sustain the other.”
Who are the poor that will never cease from the world? Those souls who are filled with Nephesh, who are poor in spirit, who lack development, yet who want to receive the riches of the Innermost, Gedulah, Gimel, the Spirit. The Essence—which is us—is merely a fraction of the human soul known as Tiphereth. It is conditioned and animalistic, yet wants to become transformed by Gedulah, by Goodness, by the Being.
The Qur’an gives us a similar teaching in Surah 47 verse 38:
“Behold! You are those who are called upon to spend in the way of God, yet among you some are miserly. And whosoever is miserly is only miserly towards himself. God is the Rich, and you are the poor. And if you turn away, He will cause a people other than you to take your place, and they will not be the likes of you.”
This is paralleled in the story of Pinocchio; a doll, a wooden boy, ד Daleth, who wants to become a true human being made into the image of God, of Gedulah, ג Gimel. ג Gimel in this story is the carpenter, Geppetto. See how everything is beautifully hidden within names and words? גאפטו Geppetto starts with the letter G, Gimel. He represents the Being who fashions Daleth, the poor human soul, from the wood of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Gimel also reminds us of Gnosis, Knowledge, since these words begin with G or a silent G-n, read as a “Neeyah” sound, such as with Jnana Yoga.
But of course, there are challenges to be faced and overcome for Pinocchio to cease being a Daleth, a poor puppet, to become perfected being, a Hebrew letter Gimel, as described in that fable. What’s also interesting is that our present word “God” is composed of ג Gimel and ד Daleth. ד Daleth represents and literally relates to a poor man, a fakir, or faqir. We need to reunite Daleth with Gimel in order to spell Gedulah, or G-D, God.
All of this occurs through the help of the Blue Fairy, the Divine Mother Kundalini through initiation, hidden within Arcanum 2. So I hope the relationship of ד Daleth and ג Gimel is obvious now.
We are also like a camel wandering the wilderness of initiation, seeking to be guided by our inner God. Nietzsche speaks about this in his Thus Spoke Zarathustra, through a chapter entitled: “On the Three Metamorphoses of the Spirit.” We must become like camels, entering our own particular wilderness or states of suffering, our daily life transformed through the work of initiation. This is for us to become a lion of Judah, a Bodhisattva, a master who has incarnated Christ. Much later does a Bodhisattva, the lion, reach perfection, resurrection, to become a child, but that is a topic for another lecture.
What keeps us alive in this search and longing for transmutation is the water in our hump, the transmuted waters of life ascending within our spine to nourish our brain, also signified by the top or head of the letter ג Gimel.
Speaking of initiation, the camel is also associated with the serpent and the angel Samael, the divinity responsible for raising the fire of Kundalini within his initiates or adepts in this present epoch. This is textually based from the following verses of the Zohar:
“Camels are the primordial serpent that was like a camel. When the angel Samael [the creative sexual energies of the sign of Scorpio] tempted Adam to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, he was riding on a camel-like serpent [a Gamal or a Gimel like a serpent within the spine, the Hebrew letter Vav]. We learned that whoever sees a camel in his dream was punished by death from above but was saved from it. It is all the same, which means that the camel and the serpent that delivered death to the world are the same thing.”
The Zohar also explains how the Angel Samael is related to the power of the serpent in our spinal column, our ג Gimel or camel’s hump:
“When Samael tempted Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, he descended from heaven riding on this camel-like serpent at that time, all the creatures saw his image and fled from him.”
Let us unpack this passage. Astrologically, Samael governs Aries and Scorpio, relating to the head and to the sexual organs respectively. Samael is an angelic intelligence who works with the serpentine power Kundalini, rising from Scorpio, in sex, towards the brain, Aries. Adam is the head, and Eve, Chavah, is sex, as we’ve explained many times. The unification of the two is Iod Chavah, Jehovah, the Superman.
Therefore, we are tempted through sexuality, Eve, Chavah, and the brain, Adam, experiences the fruits of desire, the pleasures of fornication, through the animal spasm or orgasm. When this occurs, the serpentine power descends within the spine and Nephesh is fortified. Demons make that energy descend towards Klipoth from the Chakra Muladhara, forming the tail of Satan.
Because the power of Samael can elevate or destroy us, the Zohar often refers to this angel in a mixed way, as being demonic and heavenly. Right now, the Master Samael is risen, perfected. He was once fallen, but now he is resurrected. While Samael Aun Weor achieved perfection once more, the energy in us—known as Samael—is not. Therefore Samael, the serpent within our bodies, according to the Zohar, has tempted us and continues to tempt us. Let us not confuse the Master Samael with that serpentine power we carry in our sexual organs referred to as Samael, the sexual strength of divinity.
Always remember that we are Daleth, the poor man, an initiate seeking to receive the riches of the spirit, Gimel, the camel. But if we expel our seminal energies, we will be poor and without spirit.
As Proverbs 21:20 states: “There is treasure to be desired and oil (Shemen) in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.” The treasures of the spirit are in our semen, our י iod, sperm or ovum, hidden within the bottom of ג Gimel, the spine. But as I said, if we ejaculate the י iod from our bodies, from the bottom of the Hebrew letter ג Gimel, we become spiritually dead. Through fornication, our sexual energy, our י Iod, is expelled from the bottom of the Hebrew letter ג Gimel, leaving us spiritually destitute. Daleth, the terrestrial soul, then becomes separated from Gimel, the spiritual being or Innermost.
As the Zohar states:
“We learned that whoever sees a camel in his dream was punished by [spiritual] death from above but was saved from it [when practicing transmutation]. It is all the same, which means that the camel and the serpent that delivered death to the world are the same thing.”
Therefore, spiritual death occurs when we make the serpent descend towards the Klipoth, but saved when raising that power up the spine, our camel’s hump, through scientific chastity. The iod above Gimel signifies chastity, and the iod at the bottom expresses the possibility for fornication.
Regarding the psychology of this Hebrew letter, we have all heard Jesus teach, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven.” Who is the rich man, in this case? I just stated that we are poor, poor in spirit, lacking development. However, all of us are rich with ego, self-sufficiency, pride, anger, etc. Therefore, we cannot enter heaven in this manner, because the ego is not compatible with heaven.
It is not by believing in anything, in anyone, that we will enter heaven, but becoming humble, like the Hebrew letter Daleth. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). Remember that one must be poor in the spirit, not poor of spirit, lacking knowledge. As will be explained in the lecture on Arcanum 4: The Emperor, we must enter Daleth, the door, of initiation, through becoming humble. We must annihilate our ego and become poor in spirit, to recognize our misery, so that we can later ascend, as the Magician card indicates. We ascend only after descending into our own infernal worlds to work in sexual magic.
A camel, Gimel, the Innermost, is humble, and therefore can pass through the eye of a needle. Why a needle? A needle is used for sewing, and can symbolize the sewing and weaving of the solar bodies. We weave the solar bodies through sexual magic, through raising the creative energies up our spine, our camel’s hump. Not only is this significant, but the needle has an eye, which is the shape of a hidden י iod, a point, or dot; this signifies the power of Kether, divinity, the height of heights, the top of the Tree of Life. It is the power of divinity, the sperm or ovum in potentiality that becomes elongated and formed within our spinal medulla, becoming the letter Vav through alchemy. When an embryo forms, what we see is the spine, initially. This physically parallels how the energies of our iod, our energies, rises up and elongates, becoming a Vav, the spinal column. Our Vav, the spine, is hidden within the calligraphy of the Hebrew letter Gimel. It’s easy to see here that Gimel has a Vav, a spine, with three different י iods.
As we discussed the nature of Aleph in our first lecture, Aleph has three י iods, signifying the three primary forces. The Hebrew letter ג Gimel also represents, in its three י iods, the equilibrium of air, fire, and water, a direct reference to controlling the energies of the three brains. Remember that the mind is signified by א Aleph, the wind; the heart is signified by fire, ש Shin; and sexuality is represented by מ Mem, the waters of life.
The throne of the spirit is the spinal column, Gimel, whereby the power of Neshamah, the Kundalini or serpent power of Samael, works, but always against and upon Nephesh and Ruach. We must spiritualize ourselves through working with Neshamah in sexual magic, and to be resolved to endure the initiatic ordeals through using our Ruach over Nephesh, being guided by divinity.