In the Sepher Yetzirah, the Tree of Life is referred to as “Ten emanations of nothingness”(phrasing may vary depending on translation), not only revealing the origin of the Sephiroth, but also their nature. They are empty, mere vessels or shells. The “Tree of Qliphoth” that most today think they are talking about is the tree within Geburah.
However, this is not the only place where Qliphoth can be found; each Sefirot, before it builds its internal trees, is actually Qliphothic. This is the reality of the Tree of Qliphoth; it is the nothing surrounding the infinite light that is the representation of the content of the Tree of Sephiroth. The “nothing” which makes up the tree of Qliphoth condenses into the Ain Sof in lower trees; it is the Ain that destroys all because it has yet to condense into all, and anything from below that is unified with it is made synonymous with nothing.
The easily discussed purpose of the worlds is to diminish the light of Ain Sof so that it can be experienced by even the lowest reaches of Creation. Each Tree within Malkuth is, as a baseline, as close to a Qliphothic entity – in entirety – as it can get; a shell with one infinitely small spark of the divine light within it, when brought into positive existence.
At first, this is all the light that can be handled by the vessel, and the goal of the kabbalist is to prepare a vessel that can withstand a greater inpouring of the supernal light. If the light were to pour into the shell all at once, without limitation, a “shattering of the vessel” would occur. Initially, the “shattering” was of the vessel of the light of Adam Kadmon, which was the creation of the Ain Sof Aur, the “first man”. As it stands, Adam Kadmon is without a proper vessel, and exists as the supernal light which impregnates the tree. It is associated with Kether and, in the Lurianic tradition, is the intermediary between the Ain Sof Aur and the Sephiroth.
The spark within a Qliphot can also contract, in the same manner as the infinite light does. With it, a Sephirot can create a microcosmic tree inside of itself; this is actually what Creation is doing, apart from ascending the macrocosmic tree, in its quest to prepare a suitable vessel for the light.
As an element of Creation makes the tree inside of itself, it makes itself more like the greater tree that it is a part of. This is the concept of the rectification/salvation of the world – not just the external world, but the internal one as well. In the lower worlds, where the vessel initially stood in all its emptiness, is where the breakage now occurs.
These lower worlds are “beneath” Adam Kadmon, and are lacking the quality of tikkun ( תיקון ) – they are tohu wa-bohu ( תהו ובהו ), or chaotic/imperfect. Initially, when the light of Adam Kadmon comes down into the vessels, they are imbalanced and, instead of adhering to tzimtzum ( צמצומ ), or restriction, and being compacted in order to form the lower realms of Creation, the light expands without limitation; this is what shatters the Qliphothic vessels of nothingness, the not-emanations.
Thaumiel and Kether
The reason for which Thaumiel ( תומיאל ) represents duality as differentiated from Kether’s תר) ) unity – Unity, at that – is because Thaumiel, while containing within itself a spark and beingכ at the head of the Tree, is not inclusive of higher worlds, even at the highest place that it can be found; it is of an order of Tree lower than the absolute. Kether has its shoresh ( שרש ), its root, in the absolute – it is, at the most macrocosmic level, the First.
A note on Kether. Kether is, again on the highest macrocosmic level, the result of tzimtzum, yet exists at all previous stages of tzimtzum; it is the instantaneously self-creating. Power of God. The three prior stages of (negative) existence are: Ain ( עין ) -(tzimtzum)-> Ain Sof עין סוף) ) -(tzimtzum)-> Ain Sof Aur ( עין סוף אור ).
Kether itself is the nested summation of these, and is technically different from Creation, which begins with cHochma ( חכמה ), Wisdom. It is this state of requiring Ain, Ain Sof, and Ain Sof Aur, in addition to not yet being cHochma, that grants Kether its association of being the intermediary between Ain Sof Aur and cHochma, and being the Crown, which is placed above the head and is not precisely a part of the body, but adheres to it nonetheless and, once it does so, is synonymous with the essence of the product of this adherence. On a more microcosmic level, Kether is the “point in the heart” of a higher Sephirot ( .(ספירות
Of Thaumiel it may be asked, at this point, “How is it not Kether?” in good faith. Again, I direct our attention to the Highest of the High. In Kether is All; in Thaumiel is some , not all .
Thaumiel is the Klippa ( קלפה ), or shell/husk, which is contained by other parts of the tree. It is the vessel that shatters at the head of any lower or self-same breakage of vessels, while the Highest Kether does not shatter ; at least, not properly – any level of expanding of the light at this level has only Ain to grow within or, in other words, it has no vessel to break. Chaigidel and cHochma.
As Thaumiel stands in opposition to – or, more clearly, in differentiation from – Kether, Chaigidel ( ח יגדאל ), or confusion, is the husk of cHochma. Moreover, it is cHochma, yet not, just as Thaumiel is Kether, yet not. It is nothing-in-the-place-of cHochma; on a microcosmic level, when the light passed from Kether to Creation does not undergo a tzimtzum (i.e. it fails to condense) it is unlike the Creator. When this happens – when Chaigidel does not limit the light passing through it in order to pass it on and instead, in its confusion, allows the light to pour forth infinitely within it to fill its nothingness, it shatters. In this catastrophic case, the entire tree, all the way up to the Highest of the Highest High Kether, is shattered. In this is the secret of the constant destruction and creation of the entirety of Creation.
In what we shall take as the simple case of a granted, unshattered Chaigidel, there can be an infinitesimal spark of the infinite light – this is all that can be tolerated by the Greater Tree, in order to avoid breakage of all creation; just enough to sustain Creation within Chaigidel. The way that Chaigidel can increase its capacity for light is to create within itself a world for the light; when this is at its most developed, cHochma is realized, as the shell of confusion is developed into the sphere of Wisdom.
Sathariel and Binah
The counterpart to the Sephirot of Binah ( בינה ) is the Klippa of Sathariel ( .(סאטאראל
Where Binah takes the light of cHochma and gestates it, making it ready for the lower levels of the Tree, Sathariel simply takes the light into itself, hiding it completely from lower existence.
For Sathariel to take up the mantle of Binah is for it to grasp the light in its truth; to fix the paradox of Not and All and perceive its nature – to become a percolation matrix, as opposed to a simple stopping-point. This happens in a way nearly-identical to the path that Chaigidel must take to become rectified as cHochma; Binah creates for itself an internal world where each layer of existence takes for itself a small, small, small piece of the light it receives and condenses it within itself.
Gamchicoth and cHesed
Gamchicoth ( גאמחיכות ) is the not-cHesed; where cHesed ( חסד ) is permissiveness, mercy, and loving-kindness, commonly, Gamchicoth is a snare, a trap unattended, and the cause of wastefulness. As the first of the Klippa beneath the triad of Thaumiel, Chaigidel, and Sathariel,Gamchicoth in a state of positive existence has within it the small spark of the Ain Sof Aur as processed through Kether, cHochma, and Binah; this prompts it – the spark – to act in a way not directly contradictory to its fully realized form in cHesed, but in a different duality. Here is introduced the concept not of simple opposition, but of corruption. Where cHesed is the application of the light to providing Creation with its associated qualities, base Gamchicoth takes these qualities and turns all of Creation into a waste of these qualities.
Permissiveness to the point of chaos, mercy to the point of weakness, loving-kindness to the ends of destruction. The way for Gamchicoth to become cHesed is, again, to diminish the light within itself; to create a vessel for limitation restriction. This is how cHesed conceives of Geburah ( גבורה ), its own balance, which leads us to our next section.
In Golacheb, Creation twists and writhes in agony eternally, with no recompense or relief; only the possibility of a deepening of the torment. In this way, Golacheb is an excess of Geburah, and not a flat contradiction. The remedy for this is a reminder and recollection of the qualities of cHesed, and an application of these qualities to the light flowing into, and eventually through, the Klippa of Golacheb. To reach this point, Golacheb must subject the quality it colours the light entering it with to a tzimtzum – restricting its own restriction, if you will. This completion Geburah, the mate of cHesed, creates the vessel for their unity, Thagirion ( .(תאגרירונ
Thagirion and Tiphareth
In Thagirion, the qualities of cHesed and Geburah are nullified by the continual spread of them into oblivion, like so much butter spread across an infinite slice of bread. The first of the Qliphoth to be, again in positive existence, the result of the interplay between complimentary
Sephirot – in this case, cHesed and Geburah – Thagirion follows in the steps of its lineage in bringing us new insights. Where its Sephirothic counterpart is Balance and beauty. Thagirion follows more after the example of the upper Qliphoth than its direct progenitors do in being a sort of negation of Tiphareth, though it does follow Gamchicoth and Golacheb in that it negates it through proliferation.
In Thagirion, balance is unnecessary due to there being nothing to balance with. Beauty is so omnipresent that it loses meaning; when all is unique, there is a homogeneity to it all, in its uniqueness. In yet another corruption of Tiphareth, Thagirion serves to hoard and conceal the beauty of the light from the rest of the Tree, keeping it hidden within itself. Through once more applying a tzimtzum, Thagirion can achieve devekut ( דבקות ), or closeness to God, and complete its tikkun, or rectification, into Tiphareth; the distributor of balance and beauty. This victory of Creator and Creation brings existence to the next of the Qliphoth.
Harab Serapel and Netzach
The Sephirot of Victory – Netzach ( נצח ) – is born from the tzimtzum of the Klippa Harab Serapel ( ערב זורפיאל ). Harab Serapel is the victory that brings ruination – the ego inflated by success, the emotions riding a wave of elation, the mind gloating over its own accomplishment, all run wild. The key to the transmutation of this Klippa into its Sephirothic counterpart is in the reaction to the victory. The contraction that takes place here is of the explosiveness of victory down into a single point, diluted through the appropriate channels of creation, and the very essence of all of this work passed on to the next levels of Creation in the Tree of the initial Harab-Serapel/Netzach.
Samael and Hod
The Klippa known as Samael ( סמאל ), is the not-Sephirot that, when first impregnated by the great light from above as filtred through the previous seven Sephiroth, is a wasteland representing the complete and utter failure of Creation; the unraveling of Victory, the dissipation of Balance, the pointlessness of Permissiveness and Limitation, the wasting of Wisdom and Understanding and the mistake of Will. In order to avoid this conclusion to the opus of All, there must be a realization of the Glory produced by Victory, or Netzach. Samael is the failure to realize Hod ( הוד ). Samael is crushing darkness; Hod is radiant light. The tzimtzum that must occur here is crucial from a qualitative assessment of the Tree – not that the others are otherwise! It is the last Sephirot to occur before the Foundation is set.
Gamaliel and Yesod
In Yesod ( יסוד ), the result of the light from the previous Sephiroth is ready to become made manifest in Malkuth; In Gamaliel ( גמליאל ), the light which impregnates it never reaches its readiness, is made to foul, and is roundly thwarted until the Klippa makes the necessary tzimtzum. This would be akin to a womb reabsorbing a foetus, again, and again, and again ad nauseum, then finally producing individual life. Gamaliel and Yesod both represent – and are represented by – sexual energy.
Nehemoth and Malkuth
Nehemoth, without the tzimtzum of the light of its existence, is a world that is not, never was, and never will be; it is not merely a lack of physical existence but a complete Not, categorized firmly under the banner of Nothing. When light and life is introduced to it sustainably, it is the harshest of environments physical environments. Malkuth is reached by a tzimtzum of the light first put into it.