The colour-related pages in this site are organised according to the Hebrew names for the ‘Four Worlds’ of the Qabalah/Kabbalah: Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah. The extensive symbolic structure of the Tree — including the Colour Scales used to make the Trees in Colour — is built around these ‘Four Worlds.’ There are other versions of these Worlds to be found, but these are the ones I learned through study with The Servants of the Light.
The Luminous Tree is principally about colour, although everything on the Tree is interrelated so other aspects will slip in — and each component part has numerous attributes. For those not yet familiar with colour in the modern Qabalah of the Western Mystery Schools, in the 1800s the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn determined a different set of colours for each of the Sephira and each of the Paths in all Four Worlds. This site exists to present, research and consider that fact.
Although elegant and cohesive, the Qabalah is inherently complex and can be confusing, especially when starting out. However sometimes things can be made a bit clearer without oversimplifying and further understand grows from there.
In an interview with Sounds True (that no longer appears on their website), Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki discussed Pathworking and mentioned the Four Levels in a way that helped me better understand the Four Worlds. She called them:
- The Spiritual
- The Mental
- The Astral
- The Physical
In the same interview, she also said: “…We’ve got these four [levels] — the physical, the astral, the mental, and the spiritual. And not only that, there are spaces between those levels. Dimensions that exist between them.” The same also applies to the Tree.
In A Garden of Pomegranates, Israel Regardie cautions that “…It must not be supposed that these worlds are above one another in space and time…. They are realms of consciousness each having an appropriate vehicle of matter, some more subtle, others more dense….. their substance is not of the same degree of density, although spatially they my occupy the same position. The distinction, however, is of quality of matter, not of position in space.” (p.127)
The diagram below presents another perspective on the same topic with the Four Worlds in a more vertical orientation:
Atziluth is the World of Archetypes and Divine consciousness. It corresponds to the element of Fire, and the first letter of the Hebrew four-letter name of God: Yod. It can also be thought of as the Spiritual World.
Briah, is the Creative World of Archangelic concsciousness. It corresponds to the element of Water and the second letter of the Name of God: Heh. It can also be thought of as the Mental World.
Yetzirah, is the Formative World of Angelic consciousness, corresponding to the element of Air and the third letter of the Name of God: Vav. It can also be thought of as the Astral World, as well the world of emotion and connection/relationship.
Assiah, is the Material World of Elemental consciousness, corresponding to the element of Earth and the fourth letter of the Name of God: Heh. It can also be thought of as the Physical World of action and manifestation. (Dion Fortune notes that “The Assiatic World is not, strictly speaking, the World of Matter when viewed from the Sephirotic standpoint, but rather the Lower Astral and Etheric Planes which, together, form the background of matter.” The Mystical Qabalah, p. 25). However, it’s the manifestation aspect that is perhaps due emphasis here.
Three other ways of thinking about it
William G. Gray presents an interesting and practical exposition of these four Worlds in his book Growing the Tree Within. Very briefly, he suggests the energies involved in the Four Worlds relate to Inventing (Atziluth), Designing (Briah), Forming (Yetzirah) and Finishing (Assiah). See pp. 42-43 for a longer an more eloquent presentation of this analogy.
While discussing preparation for ritual to help develop “organisation” utilising the Sephira Chesed, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki writes: “…All of the Spheres on the Tree work on four levels, which are known as the Four Worlds of the Qabalah. The first of these Worlds is Atziluth, the World of the spiritual level. Here is found the essence of all things; the highest expression possible. A colour is assigned to each Sphere in each World: the colour Chesed in Atziluth is deep violet. The World of Briah, or the mental aspect, is the next of the Four Worlds, and here the colour we are interested in is deep blue. The third World in named Yetzirah: this is the creative-astral World, its colour being deep purple. The last of the Four Worlds is that of Assiah, the physical World where all takes shape: here the colour is blue flecked with yellow. …
“These Four Worlds are all part of the ritual intention. The first World stands for the primal desire or intent, the second for the imprint of this intent upon the mental process, the third for its prototype on the astral, and the fourth for its appearance on the physical. ” (First Steps in Ritual, pp. 17-18)
An encompassing view that emphasises the immanence of the Four Worlds comes from Bayit which describes itself as “building a soulful, inclusive and meaningful Jewish life for all ages and stages.” It helpfully explains: “Jewish mystical tradition teaches that we live simultaneously in four worlds: the world of action, the world of emotion, the world of thought, and the world of spirit. This is one of the teachings that animates our work at Bayit. We can imagine the Four Worlds as a ladder or a tree (one above the next), and/or as concentric circles (one inside the next).”
Along similar lines, I just noticed there’s an informative article on the Four Worlds in Wikipedia. It includes a discussion on Adam Kadmon with many other links and references to sources that can be further researched.