A Meditation on the 9 Knots and The Tree of Life

I had a bit of an epiphany today I want to share, to some this may be a bit of a revelation, to others it may be old news, to me it represents one of those ‘spiral’ moments where something clicks, a cog turns and you find you are right back where it all began, only this time with a greater understanding.

As a Traditional Witch following the Cochranian tradition I observe 9 knots (some call them Sabbats) throughout the year. Candlemas, around February, marks the start of a new year and is followed by the spring equinox.  Then comes Beltane and the Summer Solstice or Midsummer.  The latter half of the year then begins with Lammas, then the Autumn Equinox and finally All Hallows or Samhain.  The year then ends and we exist in the in between, neither one year or the other, and it’s during this period we celebrate the Winter Solstice or Yule and then finally Misrule.

None of this will be groundbreaking knowledge to most but today, sat at my desk at work, the monotony overwhelmed me and I slipped outside for a ciggy break.  The sun was setting and my thoughts turned to the rhythm of nature, the ebb and flow of the sun.  As I travelled the great wheel in my mind, round and round I found my thoughts veered off onto the tree of life, the great Kabbalah… The great wheel was no longer a wheel, but a writhing serpent ascending the great tree, following the path of the lightning flash.  Lets look at this in more detail.

Our year starts with Candlemass, the feast of Our Lady and Brighid, sometimes called Bride.  What better association has this day with Malkuth, the Earth, the maiden princess and eventual bride.  The final He. The Birch Tree, the first tree to grow in virgin soil.

As the Spring Equinox approaches, we climb further into Yesod, the domain of the Moon, of dreams, even hopes and aspirations perhaps? Spring is when nature awakens and minds turn to play and to sex, Yesod is the Sephiroth associated with the sexual organs and reproduction.

Beltane, when male and female are revered as one, the potent life forces within each are honored and celebrated when combined.  The great marriage of self with fetch…what better way of representing this rich symbolism than with the figure of Hermes in Hod, the youthful Adrogyne.

The fervour of sexual interaction and mating can only lead to one thing… Life, renewal, love, abundance.  All good nouns for the peak of Summer, the Summer Solstice, all equally fitting for the Lady Venus, Goddess of Love, fertility, fecundity etc who reigns happily in Netsach, the same place where the planet who shares her name also resides.

Abundance serves no one when it can not be harvested, corn and grain must be reaped if it is to sustain life.  Sometimes life must be sacrificed in order to sustain it.  At Lammas our King makes the ultimate sacrifice to guarantee the success of the land and therefore his people.  He married the land at Beltane, and now the land demands payment in full…his life.  However he shall go willingly, for it is only from the other side that he can speak directly into the ears of spirits, he takes with him the hopes, the fears, the sins and success of every loyal subject, his blood cleanses the land and his flesh shall feed it…Tiphareth, home of the sacrificial King, Jesus Christ, Osiris, Baldur.  Yet here in also resides  hope, a child of promise! In mating with his queen, his seed is sown, but death assured.

Our King now slain, makes his descent and becomes lord of the Underworld, the Dark lord.  In the fiery forge of the Earth will he be transformed for in descent, there is ascent.  Vulcan, Hephestus, Weyland, Giobhniu, Old Tubal Cain himself…all master smiths, master craftsmen, master alchemists.  Here we are in the realm of Mars, of Iron, of Fire, of Geburah.

Once transformed, our King, once Son, is once again Father, The Merciful, the provider.  To the sick and the suffering, the lame and infirmed what greater mercy is there than freedom from pain, and sweet sweet death? Chesed – Loving Kindness, ruled by Jupiter the two-faced one who sees what has been and what is yet to come who dwells here in the final Sphere before we cross the great divide, into the abyss neither here nor there.  Where life is washed away, the trials are forgotten and we become nothingness….void.

Until, that is, we are gathered up into the arms of the Great Mother, she who is Womb, and Tomb.  The Black unknowable Lady….Binah.  From Her, Within Her the child of promise grows awaiting return Our King, once son, once Father, transformed is now Son again…form became force became form. All he needs is a Bride …thus we return to where we started and the cycle begins again…

What of the 9th knot? What of Misrule?  Neither in one year or the other…neither here nor there, everywhere but no where…everything and nothing.  Could Misrule be all the above…yet none of the above.  Maybe it is Kether…the font which pours forth the light of all creation?  Maybe it is the common thread of fate which runs through every seasonal celebration and Holy Day? Maybe it is a time before even there was King and Queen…when there was no rule…there just was…??

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