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Qabalistic Background

New Page -- 2 February 2007

The Ninth Gate is a film by the well known director, Roman Polanski. The Qabalistic Background -- this webpage -- is Laurel Whitney's continuing analysis of the movie and the book on which the movie was based. This is the fourth section of nine, in which Ms. Whitney relates the contents of the movie and book to the Qabala and The Tree of Life. The nine sections include:

The Big Picture

Deciphering the Engravings

The First Three Gates

Qabalistic Background

The Second Three Gates

The Final Three Gates

John's Apocalyspe

The Polanski Code

Appendix P

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Engravings from the book, The Dumas Club, and the movie, The Ninth Gate, can be found at An Eclectic Historian.

(6/20/9) Make that Apocalyptic Productions, for the movie version (but you will have to buy the book for the novel's version). (An Eclectic Historian is not currently on the web.)

It is strongly recommended that you print out these pages (all 18) and use them in the process of reading Ms. Whitney's essay. In addition, version of the Tree of Life used by Ms. Whitney can be viewed at: http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Image:Tree_simple.gif.

A WARNING -- other than "abandon hope all ye who enter here" -- is that you might want to see the movie before reading the essay, inasmuch as the analysis pretty much gives away the plot, like who gets killed and who doesn't.




Author's Note: The following 'background' is a bit long, but we only have to go through it once and it helps to supply a context for all of the other Gates as well. Those who aren't interested in the more esoteric aspects of the Qabalah can skip to The Second Three Gates.


Yesod, like every other sephira, contains and reflects the energies of four separate worlds (each constituting a complete Tree on its own level). These four worlds are:

Aziluth, the highest Divine Archetypal World (or Heaven) beyond time and space in which each sephira has its own God aspect and Divine Name. Yesod's Divine Name is 'Shaddai El Chiiam', the Lord Of Living Waters.

Briah, the Archangelic Creative World (or lower Heaven). Yesod's archangel is the Archangel Gabriel, who announced to Mary her divine conception by the Holy Spirit, and who represents a connection to God in the form of the 'River of Life'.

Yetzirah, the Angelic World of Formation (the 'astral' level just prior to material manifestation). Yesod's rank of angels is the cherub, agent of desire and Love.

Assiah, the Material World of Manifestation, the final 'incarnate' expression of all of the energies of the higher worlds, energies which have been described and can be understood through the language of astrology. Yesod is associated with the astrological Moon whose crescent shape resembles a bow. The Moon is symbolically linked with the mother, fertility, and the subconscious mind.

The Tree which we are dealing with at the level of the quest represented in the engravings is that of the Material World of Assiah and on the Tree of Assiah there are levels that reflect aspects of the nature of all four worlds and the levels of consciousness which experience them (in descending order). [A diagram of the Tree can be found at http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Image:Tree_simple.gif.]

In descending order, the levels of theTree of Life are

The Supernal Triad -- Kether, Chokmah, Binah -- Realm of the Spirit (above the Abyss)

The Abyss & 'non-sephira' Daath -- Barrier / Interface between Transcendent Spirit and Incarnate Soul

The Ethical Triad -- Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth -- Realm of the Higher Mental/Emotional, Soul

The Veil of Paroketh (the barrier to "remembering who you are") -- Barrier / Interface between Soul and ego

Lower Triad -- Netzach, Hod, Yesod -- Realm of the lower mental/emotional, ego -- Yesod - astral/dream self

Malkuth - physical/etheric bodies

As shown above, separating the Transcendent World of the Supernal Triad from the Ethical Triad (a part of creation) just below it, is a barrier called the Abyss. A similar, lesser known barrier also exists which separates Tiphareth in the realm of Soul from Yesod in the realm of ego. It is called the Veil of Paroketh, a symbolic portal through which we must travel (going 'up' the Tree) to reach a conscious union with our Soul. The word Paroketh (PRKTh) refers to the Four Elements: Peh (Water), Resh (Air), Kaph (Fire), and Tau (Earth). It is the Veil of the Temple before the Holy of Holies (the Glory of Kether reflected down the Central Pillar to Tiphareth), a veil made up of the four classical elements of the human body.

One of the conditions for birth into earthly life is a forgetfulness of our earlier identity and experience and the Veil is a symbolic representation of this. 'Below' the veil, the ego believes itself to be the individual's ultimate and sole identity, while dimly sensed attractions to certain life paths and experiences are defined as "character". Once the pull of the Soul overcomes the inertia of the ego, the obscuring nature of the Veil between Soul and ego begins to dissipate. This does not happen entirely at once but gradually as the higher faculties of the upper sephiroth of the Tree are activated and their energies are used in an unselfish and responsible way with the intent to help others. Only then does the Soul begin to "remember itself" and consciously acquire the powers it needs to take up its work.

From the limited perspective of the ego, its potential capacity for experiencing the wholeness, unity and love of its own Higher Self (Tiphareth/Sun) remains *unconscious* and is perceived only as it is reflected by the "watery" surface of Yesod, where it appears as that love and connection which we perceive as coming to us through relationships with others -- beginning with our mother and expanding from there to include friendships and various kinds of "romantic" relationships. This experience of being able to feel our connection with the wholeness and love of our own Souls, only as these are reflected back to us in the "mirrors" of other people is the basis of the spiritual-evolutionary process in which our love for a "beloved other" draws us "upward" on the Tree and prepares us for the journey through the Veil to the experience of conscious union with our own Souls.

At the evolutionary point when this transition becomes possible, as the ego begins to perceive the experience of love and unity as arising from a Source which is somehow "within itself", the unconscious, reflective/watery experience of separation from this Source gives way to the direct, conscious awareness of the Soul, and the Veil is transcended. In the traditional symbolism of the Tree, this transformational experience is symbolized as an encounter with a portal which, when approached from below, is perceived to resemble a reflective barrier of water, which is just what the traveler faces in the engraving for the Third Gate.

The physical body cannot cross over into the nonphysical desire world of Yesod. It is only experienced by the 'astral body' as it 'travels' at the astral level, for example in dreams. Practitioners of the Practical Qabalah train the 'astral body' of their imagination through the medium of symbols to 'travel' the Tree in a similar (but conscious) way through rituals called 'path-working'. In the same way, the astral body of Yesod cannot cross over into the Soul world of Tiphareth. In the path-working ritual to pass through the Veil of Paroketh, to make the transition from Yesod to Tiphareth, there are four stages of purification to effect the transition between the astral realm and the realm of the Soul.

Paroketh is known as the 'Veil of Illusion' because the traveler approaching from Yesod will see reflected back at him all of his unresolved fear and desire, projected into forms that appear 'objectively' real. If the traveler has a strong belief system, this will be projected and appear to be real, and the traveler may believe that he has passed through the Veil when in fact he is still lost in an illusion made up of his own preconceptions. The genuine piercing of the Veil, as reflected in the symbolism of the ritual, involves invoking the Four Powers (in Latin/English): Velle/Will, Tacere/To Be Silent, Scire/To Know, and Audere/To Dare (have Courage). This piercing of the veil requires that these qualities have been developed enough to draw a Fifth Power down from Spirit: Ire/To Go, which is the power to become an instrument of the True Will of the Soul.

We saw the personal will to pursue the quest and the commitment to Silence in the First Gate, and the commitment to the acquisition of True Knowledge in the Second Gate. It is the degree of capacity for and commitment to the Power of Love, drawing us 'up' towards communion with our Soul, which determines whether Courage will be sufficient to overcome illusory fear. When the Love of the Soul overcomes the fear of the ego, "Perfect Love casts out fear", and the ego is transcended. It is in the resulting conscious communion with the Soul that knowledge of the True Will of the Soul is gained, a Higher Will always in perfect alignment with the Will of God.

And now we continue on to the Fourth Gate.

Note: In addition to making comments and suggestions via the Feedback mechanism for this website, one can also make comments directly to the author, Laurel Whitney, at hesper79@uneedspeed.net. Comments worth sharing with others may be included in The Ninth Gate Commentaries.


Ha Qabala

The Ninth Gate

Deciphering the Engravings

Forward to:

The Second Three Gates

ORME         White Powder of Gold         Star Fire



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