The Tarot and the Sephirotic Tree of Life
As for the diagram of the tree of life, it has a design10 that is susceptible of certain differentiations. Traditionally, it is divided into four horizontal planes, or worlds, called 'olam ha'Atsiluth (emanations), Beriyah (creation), Yetsirah (formations), and 'Asiyah (which gives rise to the manifestation and the material concretion).11 Corresponding to the beginning are the sephiroth Kether (crown), Hokhmah (wisdom), Binah (intelligence). Corresponding to the second are those of Hesed (grace), Din (judgment), Tifereth (splendor). Corresponding to the third are those of Netsah (victory), Hod (glory), and Yesod (foundation). And finally, correspondig to the fourth, is only Malkhuth, the king's consort, she who receives and concretizes the legacy, the earth, or the world in its broader sense of the universal manifestation perceived by the senses, which has been able to be thanks to the process described by the sephirotic model. 
The diagram itself also naturally produces its division into three vertical planes, traditionally visualized as three columns. One central, neutral, axial column, which is the invisible axis of the other two is called the pillar of equilibrium or balance, or of the mean, being constituted by Kether, Tifereth (the center or heart of the whole tree), Yesod, and Malkhuth. Symmetrically, on each side of it are two pillars or columns, to which are attributed, respectively, active and passive energies, also designated as the column of grace or love, and the column of justice or rigor. The first is constituted by the sephiroth Hokhmah, Hesed, and Netsah, and the second by Binah, Din, and Hod. It can also be imagined as a point (see the illustration on page 125), a symbol that, like the horse, the shop, or the bridge, indicate transfer from one space to another. 

Descending the tree of life from central unity, or better, from the first manifestation of metaphysical unity, are Kether (the crown), descending to the peripheral multiplicity of the manifested, and Malkhuth, the materialization of that energy. Thus a closed circuit is created (1 + 9 = 10) which implicitly contains the idea that this energy, once having attained its limits, returns to its original source (10 = 1 + 0 = 1).12 Perpetually, the energies of the cosmos ascend and descend between sky and earth, from its finest quality to its most gross form. This process is realized in simultaneous fashion, which concretely includes the fact that it is effected in all things, or animate beings, and in distinct degrees or worlds. 

The idea that we should be able to be part of a gigantic, primordial human being, that we are a blood cell of this person (or that our solar system is this cell) is not foreign to the cabala. On the contrary, the latter is denominated Adam Cadmon, and its multiple dismemberment forms the universe, as is also the case with the Egyptian Osiris, the Dionysos Zagreus of the Greeks, and many other cosmogonic myths. That universe of models, numbers, letters, stars, members is only a manifest symbol of the immanifest, and the keys for making the transition from manifestation to immanifestation. 

The descent of the divine emanations concretized in cosmic creation is occurring at this moment, and the fact that the world is such or such a thing, for the modern mentality, or that in accord with our viewpoint we perceive this or that, is completely indifferent to the process of the universal creation, which is ongoing, even visualized from the horizontal viewpoint, and simultaneous, from the vertical projection. 

This laboratory, which is the world, has also been described as a broth, in which various energies cook-the more dense being solidified, and the more subtle being volatilized and seeking a space beyond the structures that have contained them. 

In the tree of life, three energies or principles constantly interact. One is active, the second passive, the third neutral. The active is opposed to the passive and the passive to the active, but they do not exclude each another. Rather, they are mutually complementary. The neutral energy is that point at which the active and the passive cease to be such. It is a latent energy that exists in all things, a genuine factor of equilibrium, and a vertical projection of the axis of the sky upon the horizontal plane of the earth. It is the invisible pillar, or axis, from which as a point of departure all things have been created, and to which all things return. It is a place of peace: struggle and imbalance have come to an end. 

This ongoing struggle and complementarity (yin and yang) to which the process of life, and the human being himself, are subjected is expressed in the cabala not only by the triple division of the model of the cosmic tree, to which we are referring, but also to the theory of the Tsim-Tsum.13 

If the whole world were an exhalation, or a sound, or the emanation of light, it would also have this triple division, produced on four fields, or planes, or different "readings" of one fact or thing, if we may so speak: or, a vision of "parallel" or simultaneous worlds, or different states of a universal being. In that case there are four trees of life, or four different manners of seeing the same tree. One is the model of the cosmic tree visualized at the level of Atsiluth, the world of the primordial emanations of which nothing can be known from the plane of ordinary cognition. The second would be the diagram of the tree in the plane of creation (Beriyah), signed with the number four. The number four is always taken as the number of the first manifestation or first creation.14 The third is the diagram on the level of the cosmic formations (Yetsirah). These first three would be invisible, and would be included in the fourth, for, if truth be told, this last is but a manifestation of the first three, and corresponds to the cosmic manifestation in its physical, corporeal, or sensory degree. 

In turn, a cosmic model on a level of reading (or a tree visualized on one or another plane) would also include the possibility of three other planes or levels.15 Indeed, if each thing has nine reflections of itself, each sephirah would include a sephirotic tree within, and so with each sephirah limitlessly. This multiplication is not produced in the plane alone, but is volumetric, and projected in the six directions of space: north, east, south, west, zenith, and nadir, opposing themselves two to two as the faces of a cube, having Tifereth (splendor or beauty) as center or axis, the projection of the vertical in the horizontal, the neutral point or heart of the tree.16 

In this same sense, we shall indicate that the model of the tree is in relief, since it admits three readings of itself, which, added to the vulgar or profane, will give us the idea of depth, beyond the plane.17 That, on the other hand, is what expresses the difference among four colors, and also among four hierarchies. The cosmic model symbolizes "in little" what the original is "in great," whence it is easy to infer that the manifest, the entire universe, has four readings or four hierarchized degrees of itself--as material, solidified existence is mere raiment, or form, or manner, which takes a current of energies as it "concretizes." Whence it can be observed that the Tarot, and its interrelation with the sephirotic, is something quite distinct-and in not so facile a manner-from that vision that frames it in a game, or in a predictive procedure, in the most literal sense applied to these words.18 With the tree of life of the cabala, the same thing occurs. And these mandalas, which gleam with the lights of the cosmos, completely ignore speculations of minor tone, inasmuch as the latter are steeped in a utilitarian character, where personal problems are always at issue. 

The cabala, the Tarot, the cosmic model of the wheel, are only vehicles of knowledge. And although knowledge is expressed through them (for our realization), they themselves are not the knowledge. They are the bridge,19the passage, the bark that bears us from one space to another space; but they are never an object of adoration or devotion in the sense that these terms are given today. 

Once our mount has borne us to the terminus of the journey, we take our leave of it, with all gratitude and tenderness, however good a mount it be, since the function of our vehicle has been fulfilled at the finalization of our route. It is not possible to take the relative for absolute, however much it may have been inculcated in us to do so in this world of enormous minutiae, of anecdotes and "historical fact," always "transcendental" for what we call "our life." We take the brilliant, polished surfaces for what things are in themselves. This superficiality prevents us from seeing that the body is the garment of the soul. And that this latter is but the attire of the spirit. 

Coming back to the greater arcana of the Tarot-in its relation with the cabalistic model of the tree-let us indicate that the successive series numbered one through twenty one, with the inclusion of the "wild card" (zero ) can be ordered in the following manner: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, arriving at the completed cycle of the series, descending by the tree of life, from Kether to Malkhuth,20 or, in the cosmic model of the wheel, from the initial virtual point to the multiplicity of the points of the periphery. And returning from the limit of the series, or plane, to the center or original unity. Which would give us, in the case of the greater arcana, the following round-trip series, of descent and ascent, through the tree of life: 

Round-trip series of the Arcana

To each arcanum of the Tarot, then, would correspond a sephirah: "the conjurer" (number one) to Kether (number one), and so on to the tenth, an arcanum precisely called the "Wheel of Fortune," identified with Malkhuth, sephirah number ten. In the ascent, the route would now begin from below, in inverse form, and to Malkhuth would correspond, in the same way, card eleven, "the force." Yesod, which on the route of descent will be equivalated with card nine, "the Hermit", would also coincide with the twelve, "the Unsettled," and so on in succession. Two cards would remain outside the tree of life, which would be the zero and the twenty-one,21 and would symbolize the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the point of equilibrium and union-and fission-between what is properly called vertical and the plane of its horizontal reflection. This emergence from the cosmos, beyond Kether-in Kether as  

'Ayin, for the Cabala-and reintegration with the world, is symbolized by the arcanum twenty-one,22 and, when all is said and done, is the goal that these Hermetic vehicles render possible, as they describe movement from the viewpoint of immobility.23 

In the diagram of the Cabala, each sephirah has one aspect luminous and another dark. One faces Kether, and the other Malkhuth. The entire tree could be visualized in this way, having as its center Tiphereth, the surface of the waters. This would be tantamount to being precisely the opposition (and complementarity) of the flying and the creeping. Just so, each sephirah of the active column must have something of the passivity of that which opposes it, and vice versa, for this to be possible.24 As we know, Far Eastern tradition expresses it by saying that in every energy yin there is a yang, and in every yang a yin. In the Tarot, this is manifested by the "beneficent" or "maleficent" sense a given card can have. It is also manifested by whether the cards come face up or face down with respect to the one consulting the oracle. Medieval alchemy called this process dissolution and coagulation (solve et coagula), the former being expansive or centrifugal (ad extra), and the latter being contractive or centripetal (ad intra). The union or complementation of these opposites-in the center or axis of the wheel, the place where all oppositions are resolved-constitutes the alchemical hermaphroditic, or primordial androgynous. 

On the other hand, as we have already said, the forty lesser arcana are gathered in four packs, equal groups (or colors) numbered from one to ten. In these groups, the first, called clubs, begins with the number one of this suit and continues in series to ten. With the subsequent series, the same thing occurs: they go from one to ten in colors-or suits-which, as we know are clubs, bowls, spades, and coins; and in the French deck:  

trefoils, hearts, pikes, and squares or diamonds. They correspond to the ten sephiroth in the four worlds or planes, and give us the immediate idea of a three-dimensional quadruple diagram. Better, of four superimposed diagrams, emerging from the plane and forming a volumetric whole, a structured box that gives the image of a construction perfectly organized in its totality.25 Likewise, to each denomination corresponds a sephirah, number one corresponding to Kether, number two to Hokhmah, and so on up to number ten, Malkhuth, where the series ends. To each color or suit there corresponds a world or plane of the tree: to clubs Atsiluth, to spades Beriyah, to bowls Yetsirah, and to coins Asiyah. 

Let us take an example. Suppose that we draw from the deck of cards a seven of clubs. By its denomination it will correspond to sephirah number seven, Netsah, and as such will have all of the attributes and energies referred to this cabalistic sephirah. But at the same time, its color or suit tells us that this deck refers to the plane in which this energy acts, in this case the plane or world of Yetsirah. This card then alludes to a concept26 or to an energy denominated Netsah in Yetsirah, perfectly specific and distinct from the other thirty-nine symbols or cards of the whole, or deck of the lesser arcana. 

As has already been said at the beginning of the present considerations, there are four different trees, each one with its ten sephiroth, which, in the cosmic schema of the wheel, spread out, like the arms of a cross, toward the four cardinal points, with Kether the common central point.27 

This same idea is also represented as a prototypal tree (reflection of an archetype or universal idea), in which life has four readings or distinct colors, visualized in the plane diagram as successive, although they are actually simultaneous. That is, life is illustrated by the prototypal diagram of the tree, divided into four horizontal portions or levels. This quadruple division also refers to the human being, inasmuch as she is a miniature of the cosmos. And just as life has four readings-going from the most superficial, or external, to the deepest, or internal-so also this differentiation obtains in any expression subject to the limits of time and space, as a hierarchy (and thereby a succession), in which the highest would correspond to the origins and the lowest to the present. Actually, what happens is that certain vertical, simultaneous energies are transferred or translated into other, horizontal and successive, energies, and are sensibly manifested at the level of these latter. 

The macrocosmic model of the tree can likewise be equivalated to the microcosmic and human (recall the cabalistic version, in which the cosmos is a gigantic animal), and can be referred to the human being's physical structure. In this case, his head would be composed of the Sephiroth Kether, Hokhmah, and Binah-with the right eye and the left corresponding to these last two respectively, and likewise the hemispheres of the brain in its binary division. The trunk would be composed of Hesed, Din, and Tefireth, with the first two being the right and left arm, and the third the heart and solar plexus to the navel, as well as all of the organs contained in the thoracic cage.28Netsah and Hod would be the right leg and hip and the left leg and hip. They would also be acting in the ventral zone and its internal organs, while the genitals would correspond to Yesod. Finally, Malkhuth, the sole sephirah of the plane of Asiyah, is related to the feet.29 

Besides this physical microcosmic analogy, the prototypal tree has macrocosmic and astral correspondences. In fact, each sephirah can be connected with a star (or god, for other traditions) in the universe, in a changing succession of energies, the greater part of which are invisible (or "angelic"), inasmuch as the only one to symbolize concretion or earth-procreating the divine receptivity-the manifest physical cosmos, is Malkhuth, the crystallization and solidification engendered by the passive energy, which is capable of receiving the whole vibration of life and materializing it. For our era, these astral corresondences can be drawn up in this manner: Saturn corresponds to Binah, Jupiter to Hesed, Mars to Din, the sun to Tifereth, Venus to Netsah, Mercury to Hod, and the moon to Yesod. This moves us into a close relationship with alchemy, since for alchemy the minerals with which it works are also the energies of the stars that have ripened in the bowels of the earth. 

It is very important to bring out that the model of the tree of life is inverted. Any "normal" tree has roots in the ground and its fruit in the air. The cosmic model of the sephirotic tree has its roots in the sky (Kether), and its fruits are the concretion of life in the earth (Malkhuth, the divine immanence), which makes us think that we, as manifest beings, are inverted vis-à-vis the emanations of the deity.30 Further: this inversion, produced in the properly human plane through the senses, is on the other hand a key in the structure of the model of the universe. This is perfectly clear in the symbol of the star of David, or Solomon's Seal, which, as we know, consists of two equilateral triangles interlaced and opposed, shaping the typical symbol of analogy. At the same time, it must be noticed that the energies of the tree's sephiroth, by interacting and interrelating with one another, are what finally shape the cosmos, bringing it about that all things unfold in a perfect order, and arranging the heavenly and earthly bodies in harmonious movements. This universal equilibrium is actualized through the intermediary of the angelical energies called ophanim (wheels), and its spiral gravitations known as whirlwinds (galgalim). 

Now, the incarnation of these cosmogonic cognitions, referred to other manners of space and time, and their apprehension, that is, the access to other worlds present in our ordinary world31-although in concealed form-is a task that can be performed with the model of the cabalistic tree and the Tarot, which have been designed for this purpose, in analogous correspondence with the cosmos. Teaching suggests study and meditation, as well as silence. It demands an internalization of the energies of the tree of life, expressed by the sephiroth, for the determination of certain divine attributes. It demands the application of the task realized with this tree of life to the everyday.32 This diagram is the model of all things, and accordingly, is present now and always. It is a legacy of the past for us, actualized in reliving the energies found to be contained in it, which is tantamount to arousing sleeping symbols that begin mysteriously to be discerned, to echo in one's interior, establishing a kind of "bridge" or axial vehicle, for passing from one space to another space, or from one world to another world. 

And it is by this same central axis, which binds together all of the planes or stages that have a being in themselves, that one will be connected with the supracosmic. By which we understand not only what is "beyond" the sephiroth of "cosmic construction," but also what overspills the model of the tree itself, symbolized by Kether, which in its more elevated acceptation is identical with 'Ayin, the absolute, nothingness.33 Although this sephirah, in its lower aspect-if one may so speak-in being the first determination, is already conditioned by being.34 

This emergence from the cosmos is what alchemy proposes, working with the method of the transformations of the physico-symbolical virtues of life in their mineral aspect, in correspondence with the human being and his psyche.35 

The wizard accomplishes his work in the athanor, or alchemic furnace. This artifact is also a model of the universe, and its body consists of three superimposed horizontal levels, in the first of which the dense "matter" passes into the athanor, and in the last of which it emerges in the form of subtle gases through an upper orifice corresponding to the apex. In the symbolism of construction, the door of the temple or of the home fulfills this same function of means of passage, or of horizontal translation from a profane, or ordinary, space to another, sacred or significative, one.36 Furthermore-as in the athanor-the emergence is through the vertical axis, symbolized in the temple by the altar, or ara, as a projection of the cupola in the plane. In the home, this is manifested by the fireplace or hearth, which is a way to the "outside," to another world or space "beyond" the one manifested by the cosmic, or constructive model. 

Ultimately, this athanor, temple, or hearth is but the symbolization of the human being herself, and a central reflection of the universal axis, by which, through distinct levels or planes, one goes from the most dense to the most subtle, from the most coarsely manifested-by a transmutation, refinement, or developmental process-to the most etheral, as with gases with respect to solidified material. From manifestation to the immanifest. So we have it described in the model of the tree of life, with its division corresponding to the horizontal planes of the athanor, in relation to the previously mentioned worlds of this cabalistic diagram. Again, in the constructive symbolism, in the figure of the pyramid or ziggurat, we note these superimposed planes from the base to the summit. On the other hand-and in conclusion-we must say that these levels or hierarchies are found expressed, in the plane representation of the cosmic model of the wheel, by four concentric circles around the original point, and that they are diverse stages going from movement to immobility or vice versa, depending on how the figure is read. 

It is not surprising, then, that alchemy, the cabala, the Tarot, numerology, astrology, construction, magic, and so on, should be found to be closely related. For indeed they shape cosmology and ontology, as supports of metaphysics, constituting a single science or art, bound in a single knowledge, whose experience, or incarnation, is obtained simultaneously with transmutation. 

In the movement of the wheel are joined central unity and peripheral totality. The immobile, with what circles and passes. The fire that burns not, with the wheel of the sun. And both elements-which in reality form a single, polarized element-are found in the human heart, and generate their images in order that that heart, working with the alternation of its rhythms, anticipating that alternation, adapting to it, realize the work of chemistry in the garden of its soul. The wheel, indeed, is the cognition of this dual principle experienced as synthetic or equally well as multiple, as certain or as illusory. It is the same being that joins these possibilities together.

11 Atsiluth would be the principle of ontological manifestation, Beriyah the informal manifestation, Yetsirah the subtle manifestation-beneath the level of the higher waters-that is, the lower waters, and Asiyah the coarse manifestation, corresponding to the corporeal state of the human being or the cosmos. These last two planes are closely united, and constitute the psycho-physical composite of the macrocosmos or the microcosmos. They are the inferior soul and the body, while the superior soul and the spirit would be symbolized by Beriyah and Atsiluth.
12 The sephirotic or numeral series develops a complete cycle, which reaches from the conception of unity to that of circularity, expressed by the number nine. If it is the unity of this original point that generates the numeral series-or the spoke or radius of the wheel that goes from the center to the periphery-in nine successive emanations (1 + 9 = 10), the number ten, which is the limit of it development, reiterates it (10 = 1 + 0 = 1). This means that the peripheral point, where the radius stops, is also unitary-and accordingly, equally capable of engendering and renewing the cycle-save that, as we must note, it is inverted vis-à-vis its origin.
13 The infinite makes room in itself, and concentrates itself in a point from which as point of departure space acquires its characteristic and the cosmos is then created.
14 It is interesting to observe that, if the consecutive numbers of the series 4 = 1+ 2 + 3 +4 are added together, 10 is obtained, which is equal to 1 + 0 = 1, that is, a return to the original unity, or the manifestation of unity on another level or plane. The same occurs with the number seven, which is equal to 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 28, which is equal to 2 + 8 = 10 = ! + 0 = 1. That is, it repeats the unity once more on another level, such as occurs with Netsah, the first sephirah of the subsequent lower plane. Finally, the same occurs with sephirah number 10, Malkhuth, the only one located on the plane of Asiyah.
15 "In turning, the four 'colors' or 'rays take on the appearance of four 'wheels' (Ophanim), each of which was, so to speak, a wheel within a wheel" (Leo Schaya, El Significado Universal de la Cábala ["Universal meaning of the cabala"]).
16 The six lower sephiroth, of the first triad, are denominated those of (cosmic) "construction." They are seven if Malkhuth is included.
17 Dante, as well, in the dedicatory passage of the Divine Comedy, attributes these four simultaneous levels of reading to the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments, besides his own work.
18 In its origin, the word "divination" has an intimate relation with the divine. In every civilization, those charged with consulting the oracles (men and women) discharged a priestly function, in Delphi and in all of the cultic centers. Similarly, vaticinium, from vate (or "inspired.")
19 Recall the relationship between bridge (Lat. pont-), pontiff, and card five of the Tarot, relative to teaching and apprenticeship, called "the Pope" or "the Hierophant," or "psychopomp" (initiator into the mysteries for the Egyptians and Greeks).
20 The unity, contrary to what we are accustomed to, would be the largest of the numbers, since it contains all of them. The greater the numerical quantity, the greater the fragmentation or division of the energy symbolized by the unity. The small is the most powerful.
21 Let us observe that the sum of the greater arcana corresponding to each sephirah is always equal to twenty-one.
22 In the Tarot of Marseilles, this picture card or plate is a woman within a wheel (the form is elliptical, since the quadrangle of the card is rectangular, in a proportion of two to one. 
23 The two cards, "the Magus," the number one, inaugurating the descent, and the one that initiates the return or ascent, the number eleven (one and one), "the Force," are the only ones to have, in the greater arcana, a strange hat that is "above" the body-or structure-and "crowning" it. It has the form of an elongated eight, a sign that it has come to be the arithmetical symbol of the infinite. Indeed, it is the representation of a closed circuit or continuous whole, like the wheel with a twist;, studied nowadays as "Moebius' ribbon."
24 Every sephirah, like each number, is active with respect to the one following it in the series and passive with respect to the one preceding it. Thus, the three (Binah) is active with respect to the four (Hesed) and passive with respect to the two (Hokhmah). The two (Hokhmah) is passive with respect to the one (Kether) and active with respect to the three (Binah). And so it is with all, symbolizing going and coming, a constant current of energies that will always be resolved in unity.
25 When this "throne" begins to move, it is called "the coach." Then the four hayoth, or peripheral axes arising from the "throne" are converted in turn into coaches, and while they travel in all of the directions of the cosmos, wheels (ophanim) or angelic powers emanate from them, which play their part in the actualization of spherical forms and the cyclic movements of all creation. Their spiritual vibrations are called swirls or spirals (galgalim).
26 In the sense of conception, of conceiving. Not in that of conceptualizing-an indirect operation in which the verb is supplanted by a verbal manifestation. Worse, the latter "is taken" in an exclusive, and excluding, fashion. 
27 They would be the four rivers of Paradise, arising from a single source (projection of the vertical). And likewise, the four sages who reach this paradise or state of original purity. It is interesting to observe that, of these sages, one alone is suited to live in the paradise: of the other three, one goes mad, the second becomes ill (loses the faith), and the third dies. Nevertheless, these four personages coexist in our depths. Each letter of PaRDiS ("paradise" in Hebrew, whose letters are always consonants) corresponds to one of the worlds or planes of the tree of life. 
28 The omphalos or navel of the world corresponds properly to the middle or center of the human physical shape. Nevertheless, the cabala takes Tiphereth, the heart of the tree, symbolically as center. This conception of the heart as center is also present throughout the traditions, although without the sentimental character customarily attributed to it in the West today. The two spatial localizations are equivalent, and are found situated on the same axis, although one is on a higher plane with respect to the other. 
29 It is interesting to relate this "universal person" with the image narrated by Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar, in which a statue is visualized,differentiated in four planes by the quality of the material employed in its construction: gold for the head, silver for the trunk, bronze for the belly and genitals, and clay mixed with iron for the legs and feet. This figure has occasioned the expression "colossus with feet of clay," referring specifically to the cycle in which we live and its gradual decline. 
30 "If creation is the image of God, the cosmogony functions in a fashion exactly equal to a projection reflected by the law of inversion, or more precisely, by inverse analogy. The law derives from the principle of the divine 'contraction,' Tsim-Tsum" (Schaya, Significado Universal).
31 And in a fashion so well known that the latter is but a "prolongation," "crystallization," or "concentration" if the former. 
32 What "I" am, and what "the sephirotic tree" is, are not different things. The diagram is open to microcosmic transpositions into symbolical correspondences that include even the physical. The tree is a model, and I:am that too. Incarnation is the ritual actualization of the original energy, on all levels. 
33 "Nothing" taken as total self-identification-within. As for the profane reading given today to this word, this pretended concept does not strictly exist, since in being "nothing" nothing would still be something. 
34 Above the one, above being, is nonbeing. But above being and nonbeing is nonduality.
35 We cannot here take up the theme of operative, laboratory alchemy, as we have insufficient space, and the theme does not strictly fall within our field. Suffice it to say that this science or art has been practiced by various traditional civilizations, including under its vegetal aspect. Its objectives have not been anything as facile as the obtaining of longevity or physical gold. But these same actions upon the "matter" of the world, which prove their knowledge and incarnation of cosmology, are but results, or derived operations, of the great work which is what the alchemist really proposes: the realization or actualization of other states of universal being, performed by human beings themselves, who would be capable of self-transmutation or self-transformation into a distinct "thing" from what they were. In these other milieus of being-or of knowledge-dwell the immortals, amidst crowds of angels and demons (from the Greek word daimon), who live in a space and time distinct from those of simple mortals-in a supra-spatial place and an a-chronologic time-ourselves, whom we could perhaps consider as an experiment in the laboratory of life.
36 As we know, the Hermetic tradition is an initiatory chain of the West, which includes numerous disciplines and orders of realization or artisanries. The relationships with construction in general find their adequate medium of expression in the Compagnonnage and in Freemasonry-in certain lodges that have not followed the process of general degradation of which our contemporary world is the subject. The builders of the Gothic cathedrals are intimately akin to the alchemists, and both work on the intermediate plane of the soul. 
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