I humbly invoke Adonai ha-Artez; and ask Him to send the Arch-Angel, Sandalphone; I politely ask Sandalphone to send an Angel of the order of Ashim; and I sternly demand that the Ashim send to me the proper spirit of Malkuth.
Where is one to begin a discussion of the Qabalistic Tree of Life? With Sephir Yetzirah and The Zohar? With 777? No, as none of these sources tie in satisfactorily with the purpose of this essay.
The main point we are trying to address here is that we are seeking to understand the Tree by one Sephira and One Path at a time. We are undertaking this work because we accept that the soul descended from the divine to incarnate, and that at death the soul will re-ascend to the divine; but that it is possible to make that ascent in our lifetime, and this spiritual journey is the Great Work that we have undertaken.
So, then if we are to begin at the bottom of the Tree, and claw our way upward, we must begin with Malkuth, also known as Kingdom.
Malkuth is the entire physical world as we understand it: the grimy streets, the beauties of Nature, the workaday world, the laughter of children, the gossip across the back fence—in short, everything that we associate with the physical world.
If we then consult such books on the Qabalah as we have on hand (A Garden of Pomegranates, 777, Simplified Magic, etc.), how deep of an understanding do we have of Malkuth? Well, the various color scales more of less give us the impression of dirt (also the yellow of sunlight; i.e.: that by which we see the physical world). If we look at the figures from myth, we end up with a handful of virgins. Yet we need to look at those virgins, not as some sort of ultimate perfection, but rather as being imperfect until they are impregnated. Likewise, many sources see the sum crystalization of the four classical elements in Malkuth as the physical world. We could go on as correspondence after correspondence reinforces this image of the physical world, but there is another important consideration to face.
This physical world is also the sum total of all the distractions that keep us from the Great Work. We see this reflected in Crowley’s description of the four tens of the Tarot in The Book of Thoth:
The Ten of Wands is “Force detached from Spiritual Sources,” while the Ten of Swords describes itself and therefore the world as a “ramshackle riot of soulless mechanism” and “the ruin of intellect, and even of all mental and moral qualities” and also as “the damping down of the Creative impulse. Therefore we get a picture of what we must overcome. There is a muck and mire in which our everyday lives are based and in which we can get lost. These are the great distractions which create an Inertia that we must overcome as our first step to achieving the Great Work.
To further understand this Inertia we look at the Ten of Cups: “Perfection disrupted by violent and disruptive force.” If we let it, the so-called real world can be the great disruptor of our spiritual lives. Likewise if we consider the Ten of Disks we see “Force completely expanded and resulting in death” and “the futility of material gain.” If we expand our energies in the physical world, we achieve nothing and die in the depths of Malkuth; and also if we are only concerned with what seems important in Malkuth, we become trapped in it and die unfulfilled. We are like those virgins mentioned earlier—we are awaiting the fulfillment of spiritual success that we recognize the Great Work to hold for us.
The Princesses of the Tarot are also linked to Malkuth, and they pretty much tell the same story of the “Muddy vastness of decay” in the physical world that we’ve seen before. But it doesn’t take much imagination to also see a promise in the Princesses: if we have the courage to rise above the material world, the world of true spiritual awareness is there waiting for us.
As so we recognize Malkuth for all it is, good and bad, and we go on. We brace out courage as we banish this Sephira and advance along the path of Tau.