Chapter Six; Binah, The Angel of the Tides

A useful analogy of the creative process represented by the uppermost three Sephiroth of the Tree, the Supernal Triad, is that of water flowing from a tap. The source of the water is the Kether, whilst the pouring stream is the Chockmah aspect of the system. If one cups ones hands into a hollow and places them in the path of the water, this represents Binah, the formative aspect of the creative process. The water then forms tides and eddies, and moves within a defined area. The bubbles formed in this process, turbulent, chaotic and transient are the Da'ath, the non-sephiroth formed of the interaction between Chockmah and Binah. The water fills the well of the hands, then bursts forth between the gap of the wrists, the "Abyss", and into the sink or bath (manifestation). Thus Binah shapes, and is, in a sense, manifestation, and contains the influx of Chockmah and Kether, before transmitting the influence into manifest existence.

Although the Supernal Triad can be seen as a historic cosmological model, detailing the birth of the universe, it is important also to recall that the Tree is an immanent model of the current, on-going process of manifestation, and hence Binah is shaping reality always now, as the source of Archetypes.

Binah is the indivisible template of all things, and hence is the source of all forms, of which names are a symbolic key, and thus it is no surprise that the Sephirah is accorded many titles, amongst them the ultimate Mother, the primal ocean of birth, the Queen of Heaven, the bitter sea, and the city of Pyramids.

Binah is spelt in Hebrew Beth-Yod-Nun-Heh (BYNH), and is translated as "understanding". The word begins with Beth, which is taken to be the "archetype of all containers", appropriate to the position of Binah as head of the passive pillar of form. The letters of Binah signify the process as follows :

Beth : The Universal Will is Contained

Yod : and creates the principles of existence

Nun : passing through the fifty Gates of Understanding

Heh : into manifestation

The numbers of Binah are :

BYNH = 67


TzPQIAL = 311

ShBThAI = 713

The number of Binah is 67, which reduces to 13, the number of Unity (Achad) and Love (Abava), the binding elements of manifestation, and further to 4, the number of manifestation. Obviously, Binah contains 4 letters also.

The number of the Archangel Tzaphkiel, relating to Binah in Briah, the world of creation, is 311, which by Gematria equates to certain relevant words :

QVRH ; A beam, shelter, house (Binah as container)

GBVSh ; Crystallisation (Binah as the formative process)

ShIA ; Loftiness, summit, height (Binah as eternal rest)

Also, ShIA, "height", can be compared with Mary, "exalted", one of the key biblical aspects of Binah.

Binah interacts with Chockmah through the fourteenth path, to which is attributed the Tarot card of the Empress. The number of the card is 3, which is also the number of Binah, and the first of the numbers to enclose a space :

0 : No space Nought (Ain Soph Aur)

1 : Point Point (Kether)

2 : Vector Line (Chockmah)

3 : Space Triangle (Binah)

The Empress is a fitting personification of Binah as Mother of Life, and Nature as the formation of living things.

The Tarot cards to which the letters of Binah are attributed are the Magician, Hermit, Death and the Emperor. These show the action of the process of Binah thus :

The Magician is the Logos, the Creative Word issued from Chockmah as the Universal Will, given direction and the light enclosed in a container (the light in the lamp of the Hermit). It is then transformed or translated across the Abyss (symbolised by the Death card) and the energy structured into manifestation (the Emperor bearing the "red ray" of Creation, or Aries in the Zodiacal system).

Binah, as the top of the passive pillar of Form, symbolises the ultimate feminine archetype, that of the Great Mother. The feminine can be broken down into a two-fold division, and a three-fold one :


AMA : The dark, sterile, Mother. Light Isis

AIMA : The Bright, fertile, Mother. Dark Isis


Sattva : Goodness ; Maiden (First Quarter) - Mary, Isis, Nephthys

Rajas : Passion ; Mother (Full Moon) - Venus, Aphrodite, Nike

Tamas : Darkness ; Crone (Third Quarter) - Kalli, Lilith

Other forms of the feminine associated with Binah range from the Shekinah, the "indwelling presence of God" (also associated with Malkuth as the unwedded soul), to Babalon, the Great Whore or Scarlet Woman, deified by Crowley in his elaborate symbology as the Lady Babalon, nursing the Babe of the Abyss in the City of Pyramids under the Night of Pan.

The Catholic "Litany of the Blessed Virgin" lists titles which could be transposed onto the Tree of Life with appropriate relevance, such as :

Mary i.e., exalted, also "bitterness of the sea", "Myrrh of the Sea", or "Lady/Mistress of the Sea"

Mother of Christ Binah connecting to Tiphareth

Mother of divine grace Binah connecting to Chesed

Mother inviolate etc Binah above the Abyss of manifestation

Mirror of Justice Binah connecting to Geburah

Seat of Wisdom Binah connecting to Chockmah

Gate of Heaven Binah as the first of the Supernals above the

Abyss and connected to Malkuth

Refuge of Sinners Binah as the place of rest

Queen of Angels Binah as Briah

The fifteen "Mysteries" of Mary are divided into three groups, the number of Binah, being the "Joyful", "Sorrowful" and "Glorious" Mysteries. The first set of five relate to the Creative and Formative (descending) aspects of Binah, the second set relate to the Manifestative aspects of Binah, and the third set relate to the Mystical aspects (ascending) of Binah.

An example is the Annunciation, which is the first "Joyful Mystery", and depicts the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she is to be the Mother of God. In Kabbalistic terms it can be seen that the Archangel Gabriel, attributed to Yesod, the "formative" aspect on a lower plane, acts as the bearer of the "Word" or Creative Spark of Chockmah, the Father, into Binah, the Mother. Thus Yesod and Binah are linked by the attribution of Gabriel, "ruler of the waters", the waters being creation (Binah) and the unconscious (Yesod), their interface being the archetypes.

An example of the Kabbalistic interpretation of the Glorious Mysteries is that of the Assumption, where the Blessed Mother is united with her Divine Son in Heaven, which can be taken as the Mystics raising of his Awareness (Tiphareth, Vau, the Son) to transcendent universal understanding (Binah). Indeed, the five Glorious Mysteries can be taken as a symbolic representation of the Mystical ascent from Tiphareth (the first mystery of Resurrection) through the upper Sephiroth to Kether (the fifth mystery of coronation).

Binah means "Understanding", and as the song says, "Love is Understanding,/It's hard to believe..." (Madonna, from "Rescue Me")

If Kether is taken to be a point, static, and Chockmah a line, the primary dynamic state, then Binah is the triangle, the first steady state of equilibrium. Indeed, Binah is the "Primary Definition", the original matrix of space, from which dimensions themselves spring. Thus, the quality of Binah in the human psyche is not the wisdom of Chockmah, the height of linear thinking where all implications are seen and dealt with from vast experience, but is understanding, the synthetic, connective, holistic thinking, in the form of a matrix or lattice, rather than a straight line process, which is often more direct.

The "Master of the Temple" (the title of the grade attributed to Binah) has the Understanding that all events are "the dealing of God with his soul", as Crowley put it, but the Magus (Chockmah) has the further knowledge of what that dealing is (the Logos, or knowledge of the Divine Will).

Appropriate symbols of this state of understanding are the lattice, or net, indeed anything representing the concepts of linking, organisation, symmetry, and complexity. Binah is also the Sephirah from which Maya issues, the net of manifestation that is ultimately illusion. In the psyche, this relates to the archetypes that are "hard-wired" into our brain so that we perceive the universe as we do. The transcending of this biological programming is part of the "crossing of the Abyss", in a sense. Note that there is a scientific and philosophical argument which parallels the magical argument of whether such a feat is possible. The Magicians argue whether it is possible to cross the Abyss whilst alive (it is difficult to know where the disproof of this argument could be), whilst the scientific philosophers argue whether it is possible for a system to escape itself.

Another of the concepts associated with Binah is faith. The idea of faith is often taken to be merely a "strong belief", but true faith is more than that. As defined by Paul, faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11.1). Faith is that aspect of our psyche that "understands" aspects of the universe that cannot be translated into rational thought (i.e. Hod), and remain above the "Abyss".

Thus, faith rests on transcendent experience, not on belief or hope - substance and evidence must be experienced first, and hence with faith "we understand [i.e. Binah] that the worlds were framed by the word of God [i.e. Chockmah], so that things which are seen were made of things which do not appear" (Hebrews 11.3].

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