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4. Core Teachings of the Mystical Qabalah

E. The Four Qabalistic Worlds

4 Worlds The Qabalah describes four "worlds." These four worlds are respectively called Atziluth (World of Emanation), B'riyah (World of Creation), Yetzirah (World of Formation), and Asiyah (World of Activity, Making or Physical Manifestation). The World of Atziluth is also called the "Supernal World." It is rooted in the Sefirah Crown/Above and correlates with the letter Yod in the Name YHVH. In Atziluth, the twenty-two Hebrew letters are yet unmanifest, and are said to "stand alone ablaze the crown of the King Most High."

"The Ancient One is hidden and concealed.
Small Face is manifested and NOT manifested.
The manifested is written in the letters;
The NOT on Its level is hidden in the letters.
Twenty-two letters that are concealed,
Twenty-two letters that are manifest.
A concealed Yod, a manifest Yod .
The concealed and manifest are balanced in weight." (Sifra Detzniyutha 4)

The World of B'riyah is rooted in the supernal Sefirah Wisdom/East, and correlates with the Upper Heh in the Name YHVH. In the World of B'riyah, the Word of God (known in the Qabalah as the "Alef of Unity") becomues manifest, whereby the letters vibrationally differentiate and combine to form Divine Names. In B'riyah, beings are formless and exist as vibrational signatures.

"Two stones (letters) build two houses, three stones build six houses, four stones build twenty-four houses, five stones build one hundred and twenty-five houses, six stones build seven hundred and twenty houses, seven stones build five thousand and forty houses. From here go out (i.e. extrapolate) and think what the mouth is unable to speak and the ear is unable to hear." (Sefer Yetzirah 2.4, see "The Wall")

The World of Yetzirah is commonly known as the Astral World. It is rooted in the supernal Sefirah Understanding/North and correlates with the letter Vav in the Name YHVH. In Yetzirah, the Names of B'riyah interact and manifest the forms of the divine archetypes, which are latent and undifferentiated in Sefirah Understanding/North. Beings in the World of Yetzirah have both Name and Form.

Finally, in the World of Asiyah, there is the apparent solidification of the Yezirathic forms in physical matter. The World of Asiyah is rooted in the Sefirah Knowledge/First in the Upper Worlds and is represented on the Tree by the Sefirah Kingdom. The Sefirah Kingdom is associated with the Shekhinah and the Lower Heh in the Name YHVH. The four worlds are represented as a continuum by the Tree of Life. They are successively connected to one another by the letter-gates, which allow consciousness to move to and from them.

4 Worlds Many people find it difficult to grasp the idea of the four worlds contained in the Tree. The difficulty often stems from the fact that the four worlds can be assigned to groupings of the Sefiroth on the Tree in its flat, vertical form (see Diagram). At the same time, each Sefirah contains a complete Tree that extends through the four worlds (see Diagram). The first of the two figures shows the qabalistic worlds associated with successive sets of Sefiroth along the Tree. The second figure shows the four worlds as concentric circles of successively smaller diameter within each Sefirah. The outermost circle of each Sefirah, starting from Crown/Above, corresponds to the Tree of the World of Atziluth. The second circle within each Sefirah, starting from Wisdom/East, corresponds to the Tree of the World of B'riyah. The third and next smaller circle within each Sefirah, starting from Sefirah Understanding/North, corresponds to the Tree of the World of Yetzirah. The final and smallest set of concentric circles, representing the seven Sefiroth of the World of Asiyah, completes the Tree in the four worlds.

Each of these figures contains two different forms of the Tree. The diagrams in which the throat Sefirah Knowledge/First is visible, and there is no anal Sefirah Kingdom, are Trees of Perfection. The Trees in which the Sefirah Kingdom is visible and the throat Sefirah invisible are Working or Fallen Trees. The difference between Perfect and Working Trees is discussed in detail in the page "The Tree of Life and the 'Fall of Adam."

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