Some Qabalistic reflections on the September 11 Tragedy
Copyright: Nick Sandberg 2002
I scarcely move,
Yet swiftly seem to run;
My son, thou seest,
Here Space and Time are one.”
– Wagner’s “Parcifal”
Author’s Note: This piece is a personal Qabalistic reflection on some of the symbols arising from the tragic events of the date September 11th 2001. Images from that day will now have likely passed into the minds of several billion people worldwide, and I hope the subject can be viewed as a valid topic for discussion. In this piece I hope utilize two central esoteric works on higher dimensional experience – the Tarot and the biblical book of Revelation – to show that behind the terrible human tragedy of the day remains a very positive and powerful symbol for human and planetary development – Nick Sandberg, March 2002.
At around nine in the morning local time, in the heart of downtown Manhattan, the twin towers of the World Trade Organization building were struck by two hijacked airplanes, bringing both to the ground and resulting in the tragic loss of many thousand lives. The planes that struck the towers were American Airlines flights AA11 and AA77. Both hit from the north. The scale and shock of the incident ensured that it was a lead news item for many weeks. The image of the twin towers falling will by now have been deeply ingrained into the minds of likely several billion people worldwide.
The 78 cards, or “keys,” of the Tarot pack have for centuries been renowned for their power to read fortunes and tell the future. Less widely known, however, is the role played by the cards in the Western esoteric school of wisdom known as Qabalah. To the Qabalists, the 22 trumps of the Tarot major arcana are powerful and evocative symbols – symbols that are believed to have existed for aeons in our unconscious mind. By focusing and meditating on the cards, it is believed, these powerful images gradually awaken their counterparts buried deep in the unconscious, helping the individual clear away obstructed and repressed elements of the psyche, and allowing them to awaken to a deeper reality. Qabalists, from some schools, make use of this principle and thus utilize Tarot to guide and stabilize the individual on the spiritual path – a journey from our ordinary state of awareness to a higher, more unified, state of consciousness.
Qabalists usually envision the cards laid out as in the diagram above – three rows with seven cards in each, with the 0 card, The Fool, on top. Each row of seven cards depicts the seven stages in the development of consciousness at a different level.
Thus the first row, Keys 1 to 7, represents seven principles by which consciousness develops; the second row, Keys 8 to 14, seven powers or agencies through which these seven principles operate or manifest; and the third and last row, Keys 15 to 21, seven effects or actual experiences which the awakening individual or group undergoes as they continue on their own path of development.
The symbol of the tower struck by lightning, and the symbol of the two towers are found in Keys 16 and 18 respectively, and thus represent elements of the awakening process as they are actually experienced by the developing individual. I will now describe this spiritual awakening process as it is related by Tarot, drawing particular attention to symbols relating to the September 11th tragedy.
Key 16 – The Tower
The first key on the bottom row is Key 15 – The Devil. This key symbolizes our ordinary waking consciousness with its inherent quality of “inimicality,” of us being surrounded by “others” – people and structures that may or may not bear us good will, and of life being a struggle or a burden.
Key 16, The Tower, the next key in the series, represents “Awakening.” This “awakening” takes the form of a sudden impact of divine energy rising from the deep unconscious, thrusting the individual briefly into a higher state of consciousness. The belief in our intrinsic “separation” from that which surrounds us is suddenly shattered by this lightning bolt from the divine. Qabalists believe this awakening occurs only once the individual is ready to experience it. The image of the tower represents the false perception of the world, and the falling figures are the conscious and subconscious mind. The tower is struck by a bolt of lightning, associated with Mars, originating in a solar disk, associated with superconsciousness – the divine.
A famous reference to this awakening is found in the biblical Book of Job. Job 37:22 (numbers that indicate the passage’s significance to Qabalists) commences: “Fair weather cometh from the North.” This is a play on words by the translator, for the direction north is Qabalistically associated with Mars and with chaotic, stormy energy. The weather is described as fair because this divine strike of Mars energy has a liberating effect. That the passage refers to the Mars energy is revealed by its numerology. In the original Hebrew the passage reads htay bhz nwpcm – tzarphown zawb athah – letters which reveal, by gematria, the number 696 – also that of the phrase mymvh va – esh ha-shamaim, meaning “Fire from Heaven” – an alternative name for Key 16.
That our belief in our personal separation is illusory is shown symbolically also by the falling crown. It is surmounted by four letter M’s – which in Hebrew numerology, gematria, add up to the number 160 – the number also of Cain, nyq, and thus “error.”
The numbers of the aircraft that struck the World Trade Center in this horrific tragedy were AA11 and AA77. Both of these numbers would suggest to Western Qabalists the concept of superconsciousness, or the influence of the divine. The letter “A” is the first letter of the alphabet, and its Hebrew couterpart, a – aleph symbolizes superconsciousness. The numbers 1 and 7 are the first and last in the base seven number system found throughout Qabalah and other esoteric doctrines. In addition, aircraft are constructed of steel, a metal sacred to Mars. At a deeper level of our being, it is believed, we are already well aware of these principles.
This bolt of divine Mars energy, striking from the North, obliterates the personal ego for only a brief period, however. Once this awakening is over, the individual returns to normal consciousness and continues his or her personal transformation at a more gradual pace, progressively clearing whatever it is that is blocking their development. The transformational process continues and eventually the individual will return to the awakened state and find it the norm. The following stages relate how this unfolds.
Key 18 – The Moon
Key 17 – The Star, depicts the process by which the awakened individual gathers useful insights unto his or herself through concentration and meditation. At the same time the body progressively integrates the experience of awakening as it continues to unfold and this process is depicted in Key 18 – The Moon.
This key shows the progress of the evolution of consciousness, which takes place in and through the evolution of living organisms. In many ways, in this school of thought, the evolution of life, from the tiniest micro-organism to the most complex creature, occurs only such that consciousness itself may evolve. From the early life forms capable only of housing and defending the most basic level of consciousness, natural evolution progressively develops a series of increasingly complex organisms, passing between the extremes of nature and environmental adaptation, until the human being, and thus human consciousness, is born.
The path onward represents Man’s ongoing journey toward higher states of awareness and it leads between two towers, themselves the edges of a containing wall that passes behind the pool from whence life was born. This enclosure, like the shell of the crayfish within, again symbolizes our normal state of consciousness and the erroneous belief in personal will. As the awakened individual continues along the path, he or she must eventually pass beyond the towers, and thus say goodbye to the typical set of beliefs we have about our world and the nature of our existence. The two towers may thus be seen as a gateway leading out of our ordinary world and into the next sheaf of consciousness above – the astral – the world of dreams – sometimes known as the Fourth Dimension. This is the world from which Qabalists believe our world descends.
The ideas represented here by the two towers are also found in other Tarot Keys, notably Key 2 – The High Priestess, and Key 11 – Justice, where they take the form of two pillars. At this, more archetypal, level of manifestation, the two represent the opposing polarities characteristic of our limited state of awareness – of things being either positive or negative. The destruction of the two towers therefore symbolizes, at an unconscious level, the passage into the deeper worlds of our being. To Qabalists, the effect of filling the conscious minds of a generation with this image will be to have opened the door to a higher level of consciousness – the Fourth Dimension.
Key 20 – Judgment
The symbols of Key 19 – The Sun – the smiling solar disk and the two small dancing children – depict another stage in the awakening process. Close to achieving the final state, often called enlightenment or, by Qabalists, cosmic consciousness, the developing individual finds that his or her conscious and subconscious mind have regained the childlike sense of innocence and wonder that they once had. At this stage the awakening to the Fourth Dimension actually takes place, an event depicted in Key 20 – Judgment.
The term “judgment” here refers to the end of a process of deliberation – an end to the developing of a series of ideas. The concept of “judgment,” therefore, means an end to interpretation, an end to the assimilation of ideas, it means the experience of true “understanding” – of true knowledge of our world and our role within it. It means awakening to the Fourth Dimension – the astral realm.
Numerous different cultures, ancient and modern, reflect, through myth, symbolism, and ritual, their belief in a higher realm than our own, a realm with dictates the events that occur here on Earth. The “day of the dead” ceremonies common to Southeast Asia and Latin America, relate to the astral, as do the “land of the ancestors” beliefs, common to many African tribal religions. Virtually every human culture known to have existed has believed in the astral, and likely for one simply reason – it is the world many believe we journey to in our dreams.
Modern psychology regards dreaming as a nightime pseudo-sensory experience where unresolved situations from our past, often revealed in symbolic form, are played out before our mind’s eye. The overall aim of dreaming appears to be to try and integrate painful and emotionally charged memories, thus lowering daily stress levels.
Ancient schools of belief, such as Qabalah, however, go much further than this. To them, the world we venture into in our dreams is, in many ways, actually a higher reality than that we inhabit in our waking state. The repressed situations the psychologist uncovers in the analysis of dreams are, to many Qabalists, actually the reason the day-to-day world we inhabit exists. The imbalanced patterns we hold at an astral level are, it is believed, what actually cause us to incarnate on Earth such that we might resolve them through our interractions with others.
The scene depicted in Key 20 is that of the Archangel Gabriel awakening the conscious and subconscious mind of the individual via a trumpet blast of seven tones. The child, symbolizing the regenerated consciousness of enlightenment, is thus born. The three figures rise from rectangular coffins representing the prison of the 3 dimensional world, and they are coloured grey to indicate that the opposing poles of normal sensory experience have now been blended into the fuller awareness of the astral.
The angel’s body placed within the ring of clouds forms an esoteric symbol for the astral – the figure 8 of infinity placed within a circle. The Hebrew letter Shin, v, meaning literally “fang” or “tooth,” and symbolizing “divine fire” – the higher dimensional counterpart of the Mars force of Key 16, furthers the symbolism. Teeth break down form, reducing it to its essence, and the divine fire of Shin is that which finally and totally liberates the individual from the restraints of 3 dimensional existence.
This divine fire of liberation, who’s action is the true meaning for Christian myths relating to a “Last Judgment,” relates to the September 11th tragedy via the symbol for the US dollar. Popular culture has for decades connected the two towers of the World Trade Center with the two pillars that stand in front of the letter “S.” Esoterically, the glyph may be thought of as both a Saturnine symbol and, related, a symbol of the divine fire of Shin restrained.
The planet Saturn has forever been connected with the concepts of control or restraint. The dollar sign thus makes an excellent Saturn symbol, for the currency it represents is the principle means by which the world markets are governed, thus effectively dictating the life conditions of many millions worldwide. The symbol also resembles the planet in that a letter “S” appears restrained behind two columns, just as the planet itself is encircled by its famous rings.
Relating to this, the dollar sign is also a symbol of Shin restrained. The Hebrew letter translates in the West as a letter “S,” and thus the two columns restrain the divine fire of creation in the bi-polar, 3 dimensional world. The divine fire is the fiery essence of matter held prisoner in the unawakened mind. When the two towers fall it is released.
In practical terms, to find oneself awakened at this level has several obvious effects. The notion of personal will disappears and the individual realizes that, in truth, they have “no will but to do the will of He that sent me.” In addition, they will gain conscious control of the dreamstate, meaning that sleep will, from now on, be simply a time for work to continue at another level, in another body.
The final card in the series, Key 21 – The World, relates the final state of cosmic consciousness – enlightenment. Once the realm of the astral is conquered the individual is truly reborn and spends the rest of their days undertaking that which is their destiny.
The biblical book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, is, essentially an account of the full awakening to fourth dimensional, or astral, experience, though this, its true meaning, is only currently understood by relatively few people – those from various schools of western Qabalist thought.
The word translated “Revelation,” in the original Greek, was “Epopteia” (later “Apocalypsis”), terms that mean “unveiling.” The Revelation is thus the “reveal-ation” or “revealing” of just how man’s individual and group destiny will unfold.
The book serves two principle purposes. Firstly, by simply reading and re-reading the 22 chapters of the book, without attempting any deeper interpretation, one will become familiar with the various symbols relating the experience of the Revelation. These symbols, like those of Tarot, many of which are the same, pre-exist in our subconscious and will, on us simply re-familiarizing ourselves with them, become active and begin to allow the experience to physically unfold. Secondly, penetrating the surface layer of the symbology reveals a deeper set of metaphysical relationships, one that explores many aspects of the awakening process. Of the two, the first purpose is by far the most important.
|“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…..And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them……And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou should givest reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:3,7 & 19 (KJV).|
It is beyond the scope and purpose of this piece to explore in great depth the symbolic elements of the Revelation (in many ways it would also diminish the value of the text) but I will give basic details such that the meaning and role of the “two witnesses” may be understood. It is important to remember that the book has been written from the perspective of actual fourth-dimensional experience, and thus that a number or symbol may simultaneously represent many concepts that appear quite detached from one another in our ordinary waking awareness.
The Revelation is usually split into three sections. Chapters 1-3 introduce the seven chakras, the “seven cities which are in Asia,” examining their nature and their positive and negative qualities. With the commencement of chapter 4, so the Revelation itself begins to unfold. The initiate, seated in deep meditation, understands that he or she is now properly prepared to experience what will come to pass. The four living creatures, symbols of the four cardinal signs of the zodiac, are correctly aligned 1, and the 24 elders and seven spirits of God are likewise present. Chapters 5-11 now explore the actual experience of awakening, as two subtle energy channels that wind around the spine – known in Sanskrit as the Ida and the Pingala – sequentially energize the seven chakras and thus prime the central channel – the Sushumna – which then itself explodes into life, awakening the initiate to fourth-dimensional reality. Chapters 12-22 explore the same process from a different perspective – that of the created universe slowly re-assembling itself into the true creation of God via the transformational and redemptive power of regenerated, fourth-dimensional consciousness.
The two towers are here subconscious symbols of the Ida and the Pingala, the “two witnesses.” They are symbols of the preparatory mechanism which will ultimately facilitate the full awakening. Revelation 11, as quoted above, reveals of them:
– that they will be active for half of one cycle of time, 1260 days representing 3.5 “original years” of 360 days. 3.5 is half of 7, the number used throughout Qabalist texts to indicate a full cycle.
– that their true meaning will be hidden and appear mundane, cloaked “in sackcloth.”
– that they will be destroyed by the beast, the physical manifestation of the Greek “lower mind,” or bestial nature of Man, written originally hf rhn – hê phrên – a phrase with the gematria 666.
– and that their destruction will eventually herald the time of the “judgment of the dead” – the end of limited, three-dimensional awareness and the move to the fourth dimension, explored in similar symbols in Key 20 above.
Thus, again, one may see that the symbols arising from the tragic events of September 11th 2001 have a powerful, and very positive, meaning within the context of the Revelation. The collapse of the two towers, at a subconscious level, symbolizes the destruction of the two witnesses, or prophets of God, whose existence both foretells and prepares the way for higher dimensional experience.
The underlying idea that I hope to have conveyed in this piece is that the human tragedy that occurred on September 11th 2001 may have a very powerful flipside in terms of the development of human consciousness on both a personal and planetary level.
The image of the two towers collapsing will have passed into the minds of likely several billion people worldwide, and the immense emotional weight of these images will have ensured that they are ingrained deep within our minds. The effect of this will be rather as though a generation of the earth’s inhabitants had spent a large period of their lives meditating upon several of the keys of the last row of the Tarot major arcana. From deep within the unconscious of our generation, the symbols of liberation will begin to be made active.
In practical terms, this will mean an increase in “awakenings” from now on. Changes in dream behaviour might also be expected, with people experiencing more dreams intended to integrate deep and dark aspects of the human psyche.
Though the war of attrition that has followed the tragic events of that day may continue for awhile, from deep within the collective unconscious of a whole generation, the divine fire of human liberation has been lit.
(1) – Note that the astrological configuration suggested by the text, that of the heavenly bodies studied by the ancients moving into the four fixed signs of the zodiac – Aquarius, Scorpio, Leo, and Taurus – occurs only once roughly every 24,000 years. And that this recently did take place – on August 18th 1999 (See Key to the Gnosis below).
Case, Paul Foster, Dr. (1995). The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Builders of the Adytum Ltd.
Pryse, James Morgan. (1910). The Apocalypse Unsealed, Health Research.