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The Four Worlds of Kabbalah

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An introduction to the four worlds of Qabalistic thought - Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah.

In Qabalah it is taught that there are four worlds or realms / levels of existence. As with the Tree of Life the four worlds emanate from one another in a series, from the highest and most divine to the lowest material level. The four worlds describe different regions of the Tree of Life, with a number of spheres, or sephira, being attributed to each world. In addition to this it is said that each of the four worlds contain a full Tree within it, and this is depicted in a diagram called 'Jacobs Ladder' in which four connected trees are shown, and the bottom sphere of one tree is the highest sphere of the next tree down and so on. In Qabalah all things are interconnected and any abstraction from this inherent unity is recognised to have limitations.

 

The Four Worlds are:

 

Atziluth: The highest of the four worlds Atziluth is known as the realm of causes. This is a world of pure spirit, unadulterated divine light. It is entirely active and giving and thus is sometimes considered to be symbolically masculine. The three highest spheres, sometimes known as the trinity - Kether, Chokmah and Binah belong to this realm. The various Divine Names of Qabalah are also associated with this world.

 

Briah: The second highest of the four worlds Briah is known as the realm of Ideas. This is a world of pure intellect, but this should not be considered to relate to logic and rational problem solving and such like. Briah is abstract Intellect, the realm of Plato’s Ideas, the divine archetypes from which all things are created; in Briah is the Idea of the world, before it is actually created. Briah is composed of the three spheres directly below the abyss: Chesed Geburah and Tipareth. The Archangels of Qabalah are associated with this realm, and may be thought of as residing within it just as we reside within the material world.

 

Yetzirah: The second lowest of the four worlds, Yetzirah is known as the realm of formation, or the formative world. This is the realm of the Astral, of the collective unconscious and the Anima Mundi (world Soul) and such like. It is the realm where specific forms are created. Yetzirah is composed of the three spheres directly below the veil of Parekh: Netzhache, Hod and Yesod. The Angels of Qabalah reside within this world.

 

Assiah: The lowest of the four worlds, Assiah is known as the realm of effects. It is the world of the body and the senses, and of all objects and matter. Only one sphere belongs to this realm and that is Malkuth

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