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The Kabbalah in Spanish Christianity : Two Holiday Snaps
The Trinity in a Kabbalistic Definition : Illustration from an Illuminated Manuscript in Seville Cathedral
With the wonderful painting of the Tree of Life from Cordoba Cathedral (below), these images reveal a profound and astonishing Kabbalistic understanding at the heart of Spanish Christianity at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.
The Sephiroth read PATER, FILIUS, SPIRITUS SANCTUS, DEUS : Father, Son, Holy Spirit, with God in the centre. The Paths read NON EST and EST : 'Is Not' and 'Is.' Full page image of the Trinity illustration. This is a remarkable Kabbalistic definition of the Trinity, an artistic variation on Heaven on Earth's Christian Tree of Life and the full Tree of Life. Note the position of the Sun in the centre on the full Tree.
The Christian Trinity on the Tree of Life
The message from the illuminated manuscript above is stunning. It clearly places the Trinity in a Kabbalistic definition on a stylised portion of the Tree of Life. Above all it uses this metaphysical model to offer an entirely original understanding with a fourth central figure, beyond the Three, holding the position of God.
Just Like Heaven on Earth : Is this an Astrological, Solar God ?
This is precisely the definition proposed by Heaven on Earth, also inspired by the metaphysics of the Tree of Life. Heaven on Earth is equally strongly prompted by the astrological correspondences, particularly the overwhelming role of the Sun. The originality of this definition might well suggest a similar inspiration, an esoteric astrological recognition which naturally would not have been wise to publicise, even in more tolerant times. These were the times of the Spanish Inquisition.
A God Beyond the Trinity
The diagram actually insists quite clearly the Trinity by itself is not God : the linking Paths are all inscribed 'NON EST' : 'IS NOT.' This is essentially heretical according to conventional dogma. The common understanding, so far as there is any comprehension of this obscure theology, is that the Father is the Godhead and His Son and the Holy Spirit are united in Him.
This little gem insists only in their connection to another Sephira, another Spirit, ('DEUS' : 'GOD') do they achieve their divine status. These Paths are marked 'EST' : 'IS.'
This appears to exactly echo Heaven on Earth's recognition it is the supreme, divine Spirit of the Sun within the other major planets, as within all Creation, which bestows their divinity and confirms their status as Persons of the One God. They have no independent reality, whatever their combined force. They only exist in relationship to the Sun, the centre, the One.
This is the true meaning of the mysterious Three in One of the Trinity but it takes the original metaphysical blueprint to recognise it properly. We should add, the original metaphysical blueprint of the Tree of Life, inspired by a simple recognition of the astrology behind it all. Without the astrology, it's not obvious. With the astrology, it is.
Astrology Surrounds the Throne of God
Around the Trinity we find four fabulous beasts, unquestionably echoing the four fabulous creatures attending the throne of God in Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation. These are variations on the Bull, the Eagle, the Man and the Lion, representing the four metaphysical elements in the four 'fixed' Signs of the zodiac, Taurus, Scorpio, Aquarius and Leo.
In this case we seem to have a dragon, a crow, a human-headed eagle and a man with a lion, though the miniature size makes details difficult. A dragon seems to represent the the dynamic power of Aquarius, as in the symbol for China. A crow suggests the earth element, more particularly the Sign of Capricorn. The differences are not particularly crucial.
The significance lies in a recognisable, if inventive version of the symbols which represent the astrological elements. These symbols repeatedly announce Kabbalistic imagery within the Bible, and proclaim the astrology within this Tradition. If we suspect an astrological dimension in this remarkable definition of the Trinity, these four symbols are probably there to confirm it. The message is so strong and so sensitive, it may well explain why they are slightly disguised.
Not Clear Enough ? - The Burning Question
This sophisticated message is quite sensational in its explicit, original theology of the Trinity and its definition in terms of the Tree of Life, not to mention the hints of astrology.
If we lack unequivocal evidence of the fundamental role of astrology in the Kabbalah Tradition, it is hardly surprising. It is a shocking idea for most devoted theologians even now. These were days when heresy condemned to an unpleasant death. 'Not to mention astrology' was the order of the day.
Christians, Jews and Muslims Agree
No less important is the simpler statement Christian scholars, alongside Jews and Muslims, were discovering the Kabbalah and the Tree of Life has a place in Christianity which extends as far as a metaphysical definition of the Trinity itself. This discovery was endorsed by the highest church authorities in times which remain a byword for enforced orthodoxy. We shall find this simple statement endorsed even more forcefully below.
Cordoba Kabbalah : Christ on the Tree
Below we have Mary and Christ clearly placed in the position of one of the Sephira, Keter, the Crown, at the top of the Tree of Life. This in itself is a powerful departure from the Traditional Judaic attributions of Old Testament figures. It strongly suggests a Kabbalistic definition for the Christian pantheon on the Tree of Life.
Heaven on Earth places Christ at Keter on the Tree of divinity but a familiarity with Spanish Catholicism suggests this portrait is more to do with elevating Mary, with her close identification with the Church, to the top spot. Nevertheless the message is unmistakeable and impressive from a corner of Christianity deeply immersed in Kabbalistic knowledge yet at the same time enduring a period of profound orthodoxy.
Sophisticated Astrology in Spanish Christianity ?
At the risk of reading too much into the evidence, we might note the striking design of the Cordoba Tree. It is abbreviated at the bottom with the removal of the final two Sephiroth, Yesod and Malkuth, Foundation and the Kingdom, but this is a mere artistic economy. The striking feature is the arrangement of two figures on each of the lower four branches. The upper two have only one, while the figures of Mary with the infant Jesus at the top can be said to be a special arrangement which we have already attributed to Church orthodoxy, perhaps even vanity.
We have recognised strong hints of astrology in the Kabbalistic representation of the Trinity. It is quite peculiar to find the Sephiroth represented by two figures. We can see on Page 11 the Traditional attribution of patriarchal figures to the Sephiroth, one at a time. Heaven on Earth's astrological emphasis also uses a peculiar approach to representing the Sephiroth, and indeed the planets, using a dual colouring to emphasise the dual rulerships, dual characters, of the planets.
The Cordoba Tree has two figures to represent those Sephiroth which boast a dual astrological character while one figure represents the Sephiroth whose planets have a single nature : Wisdom, Knowledge and Beauty; Uranus, Pluto and the Sun.
The exceptions, intriguingly, are Understanding which has one figure and the Crown two, despite Saturn's dual rulership and Neptune's single nature. (See the full Tree of Life.) Heaven on Earth associates Mary with Understanding (see the Christian Tree of Life) but it is not unusual in Indian theology to promote one's own favourite deity to top spot. A deliberate transposition or exchange here is not entirely beyond question. We should imagine a pretty sophisticated metaphysical school behind this majestic public statement. But these last are somewhat speculative suppositions with no great consequence and should be clearly distinguished from earlier observations.
The Tree of Life in the Cathedral of Cordoba (1523)
Cordoba was a great centre for Kabbalah studies under the Muslim Moors and Christians before the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews in 1492. (The year Columbus discovered the Americas.) We should deduce and conclude the most eminent theologians and strictly orthodox church authorities were evidently impressed the Kabbalah of the Tree of Life was not just a Jewish Tradition. They might have been persuaded by Revelation Ch.22 v.2 it was Christian and astrological.
Heaven on Earth finds evidence to deduce and conclude it was a worldwide Tradition, recognised as central to spiritual understanding, the spiritual facts of life, in every major faith.