vendredi 14 septembre 2007

Structure of the Universe

The engraving is commonly interpreted as saturnine effect on creative genius, whereas the magical square of Jupiter enhances that explanation since it is saturnine antithesis with its benevolent influence, used as a promise of breaking the darkness. But beneath this interpretation hides a very precise structure, a world of language itself.

The cabalistic Tree of Life is a glyph that comprises the numbers (Sephiroth) and the letters. Ten numbers are connected to each other with 22 letters. Everything phenomenal and noumenal is expressed in this context. The nature of the Tree of Life is similar to the scientific paradigm of the boundaries of a sphere, where it is observed that the defined surface offer infinite number of meridians - paths on that surface. One of the known primal sources about the Tree of Life is Sepher Yetzirah published in thirteenth century.

Some elements on the engraving invoke the symbolism of ten different spheres of the Tree of Life. Also the ladder on the engraving has seven visible rungs for seven planets or seven sephiroth bellow the Abyss, whereas the remaining three, the invisible triad, is hidden up in the sky but out of the picture.

The ten spheres are also concealed in 55 modules of the width of the engraving mentioned before; 55 is the sum of the first ten numbers, equivalent to the ten spheres of Sephiroth.

The Middle Pillar

It is hardly a mere coincidence the exactness of the representation of the middle pillar, often called the 'Path of Mildness' or the 'Path of Messiah'. 'The Measure' is the sphere lying on the floor in the lower left corner of the engraving. It is Malkuth, the Kingdom, the tenth sephira. This sephira is associated with Earth, and it is the material world, which we perceive as reality. Above the Sphere of Malkuth rests a dog. It is sleeping thus directly associated with the ninth sphere called Yesod, the Foundation. A dog is a guide into the underworld, into sub consciousness, into realm of consciousness below the sixth Sephira called Tiphareth, the Beauty. This sphere is the center of consciousness, the Stone of Wise of the alchemists, usually represented by a hexagram (the sixth sephira) or as a cube (isometric projection of a cube outlines a hexagram). It is a much-discussed truncated cube of Melencolia I.

Various interpretations have been given concerning the nature of the truncated cubical stone lying on the floor. It has been suspected that it is nothing less, but the Key of the engraving. Such a universal symbol has naturally many levels of meanings attached to the glyph.

The cube in isometric projection outlines a hexagram, which represents the first six sephiroth. The missing rhomboid is in place of the 'missing' sephira Daath, Knowledge. Positioning the phantom rhomboid below the hexagram of the first six sephiroth reveals additional four sephiroth to complete the Tree of Life. The truncated cubical stone is a representation of Sephiroth.

The Sephiroth is divided into seven sephiroth bellow the Abyss, traditionally related to the seven planets, and three above, the divine Triad. Above Tiphareth opens the great Abyss, the gap between the Ideal and Real. This void that separates the seven sephiroth below from the upper triad is represented by the horizon where the sea meets the sky. Above it is a radiant point, Kether, Crown, the supreme Unity, a singularity. A brilliant ray of light is coming from the point resembling the cabalistic concept explaining the beginning of creation, Tzimtzum. In order to create God withdrew the infinite light, which previously filled the entire space, making a vacant space for creation. Only a thread of light is placed into the vacant space, the thread from which all creation springs. Above the radiant star is a rainbow of three belts resembling the three veils of negative existence above the Tree of Life, namely Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur.

If the diameter of the sphere on the floor is taken as a module, then the dimension between the center of sphere (Malkuth) to the center of star above is exactly 10 modules, for these are the ten sephiroth of the Tree of Life.


The truncated cube also presents the symbol of number five; the pentagonal sides are alluding to the fifth sephira Geburah, Strength. The cube thus comprises two numbers 5 and 6, the numbers of micro and macrocosmos, woman and man, being a perfect glyph of the Great Work.

The metaphors of the first four sephiroth are in horizontal line at the top of the engraving. Next to "the radiant point", attributed to Kether that has already been mentioned, is a pair of scales expressing the first duality emanating from Kether - Chokmah, Wisdom. Next to the scales hangs a sand watch, the measurer of time, which is metaphysically attributed to the Great Mother Binah, Understanding. I am told that certain adepts hear a bell-like sound while crossing the Abyss, and a recognition of the sound as a bell throws them out of the Abyss, one step bellow the false sephira Daath. The first sephira bellow the Abyss is Chesed, Mercy, the sphere of Jupiter with its camea bellow the bell.

The writing angel, a messenger next to the main figure invokes Hod, Splendor - the sphere of Mercury often identified with the rational aspect of mind.

The remaining seventh sphere is the sphere of Venus in Hebrew cabala attributed to Netzah, Victory. The main figure is sitting under the camea of Jupiter (Chesed) just as is Netzah positioned on Sephiroth directly bellow Chesed. The number seven is hidden in the compass with pointers open at angle of 51.4 degrees, which is a seventh part of the circle.

Venus is appointed over beauty, over mercy, lust and desire, sexual intercourse, fertility, nature, over birth of man and birth of beasts, over the spirit of the earth and fruits of the tree.

Sepher Ratziel ha-Melak1

The figure is usually considered female, even though it much resembles the author himself clothed in the symbols of Venus, female - the obvious balance of sexes is combined in the figure of hermaphrodite. The gematric value of the Greek word is written in the main proportional measure 14.


Melencolia I is the last in the set of the three engravings started in 1513 with Knight, Death and Devil, followed by St. Jerome in his Study in 1514, also the dating of Melencolia I. In Reuter the Sanctuary was approached and in St. Jerome conquered. The adept rests after the battle, somehow dubious since the goal of the quest is achieved, and link with divine necessary in order to advance even then when everything is already achieved.

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