But I digress.
Thanks to tyrsalvia for re-awakening my interest in the symbolism of the Hebrew letters. See here.
My meditations on some of the letters:
11. ALEPH -- sekhel metzuchtzach
· Glaring mind: the essence of the Veil of the Sanctuary, recounted in the description of the priestly sacrifices, which separates the place of the food-offerings from the chamber of the Spirit; it connects the Paths, that they may stand before the Most Hidden .
· vertical axis
The diaphragm of the body is analogous to the Veil of the Sanctuary, as it separates the organs of digestion from those of respiration (in fact, ruach in Hebrew means both “breath” and “spirit”). By extension, this represents the separation between heaven (the abode of the spirit) and earth (the world of the body). You can see this in the shape of the Aleph, where the diagonal crossbar establishes the boundary between the upper and lower parts. The path denoted by Aleph is the first emanation from Keter, joining it to Chokhmah. Thus the letter symbolizes the paradox of Spirit and human. In the Tarot, this is the Innocent (or Fool) who, like the silent Aleph, is yet unformed.
The Aleph suggests the paradoxical nature of the Creator. As humans, we are limited and finite. We have certain desires, and limited means to achieve them; therefore, we see the world as a place full of obstacles to be overcome. Not so the Creator. All things and their opposites spring from a common Source.
Aleph is the first of the “mother letters” and corresponds with the vertical axis on the Cube .
12. BETH -- sekhel bahir
· Glowing mind: the essence of the wheel Chesed, called the visualizer, the place where seers (prophets, and mystics who enter the merkava ) find their visions.
For more on the merkava (chariot), see #18 (Cheth), which connects with Beth at Binah. Beth signifies the idea of instrumentality: it is the letter that introduces the process of creation in the book of Genesis. In the Tarot, this is the Mage (or Magician), who represents psychic power and the ability to channel energy.
According to Eakins, the Mage is “the motivating energy at the center of the turning of the spring ... standing at the center of the Wheel of Fortune, which is the circle of life”.
23. MEM -- sekhel kayam
· Established mind. The power of enduring for all of the sefiroth.
· east-west axis
Mem refers to the element of water.
The Tarot card for Mem is “the Hanged Man” and the figure is drawn in a curious position: he is hanging upside down, tied by one ankle to a tree. What are we to make of this?
In fact, the Hanged Man is a sign of rebirth. Look closely: his head is down; he is tied by a cord to the tree of life. He is the fetus in the womb.
This explains why the card is associated with the waters of birth. It is the goal of endurance (recall from # 8 that kayam, like kiyum, means “standing fast”) and the outcome of authentic meditation. It is what happens when seclusion leads to self-discovery. It is the reason for having the strength to “hang in there”.
31. SHIN -- sekhel tamidi
· Perpetual mind. It conducts the path of the sun and the moon according to their structure, each in its proper sphere.
· north-south axis
This is the connection between the body and the rational mind. The “sun” and “moon” represent logical and instinctive modes of thought respectively.
I still have my calendar from 1985 featuring reproductions of art by Shmuel Brand, inspired by the kabbalistic letters. Here's a scan from his piece on Aleph:
All of these scans are cropped because I don't feel right about posting the complete piece in a public area.