The 8th sphere and path on the Tree of Life is called Hod, הוד, hode. The Dictionary of Targumin, Talmud and Midrashic Literature defines Hod as ‘distinction, pride, majesty, splendor’. In the 32 Paths of Wisdom Hod, Splendor, is named שכל שלם, Sakel Shalom, ‘the Perfect Intelligence’. The familiar ‘shalom’ has various shades of meaning as: peace, health, prosperity, perfection, wholeness and good of all sorts. Waite’s commentary on the path: “The eighth path is called the Perfect or Absolute Intelligence. The preparation of principles emanates therefrom, The roots to which it adheres are in the depths of the Sphere Magnificence, from the very substance of which it emanates.” The eighth sphere, in "the preparation of principles", directs all those principles from above it on the Tree. It is by this means that we intellectualize thought arrangement to develop plans and methods by which we materialize imagery. This is the last sphere and mental mechanism transporting information into the spheres below it, into the sub-conscious, and the arena of sensations. The roots, mentioned by Waite are “in the depths of the Sphere Magnificence,” one name given the fourth sphere on the Tree, Chesed, Mercy, and the central sphere of the Pillar so named. The “the depths” is the ocean of Universal Memory.
Therefore to this sphere, mentioned previously, Qabalistic Psychology assigns human Intellect. When we each come to the perfection of Self we shall disseminate Universal Good Will through the equally perfected Intellect. We could not do otherwise having come into the Universal Memory and that being permanently united with the renewed mind.
The gematria of Hod sums to 15, which a seasoned Qabalist would immediately recognize as the same number in the Divine Name יה, Yah, attributed to Chokmah, Wisdom. If you have read Adam thru Seth – Genealogy II, you might remember that the influence from Yah and Chokmah were the constant recurring themes through Seth’s descendancy and the Pillar of Mercy. Self-consciousness is actual awareness, the realization, that our intellectual capacities are actually extensions of the Universal One Life working through us. Otherwise how could Wisdom, the 2nd sphere, express Itself in physical manifestation than through the human Intellect? This even works mathematically when we see that 8 is also the cube of 2. Hod is the Qabalistic extension of Chokmah. Number 15 is also the value of אביב, aviv, meaning ‘spring, springtime; prime, early stage of ripening, season of beginning’. These ideas suggest expansion, unfoldment. Aviv is rooted from אב, ab, meaning ‘young sprout, shoot; youth,’ and, of course, AB, ‘the Father’. And AB is indeed the root or shoot, expanded throughout creation as all we can measure.
Chokmah, as one of the Supernals and the Omnipotent mode of the Triune One-God, is the only power in the universe. Qabalist call this power כחמה, kachmah. It is the creative power of the universe; God’s own power, expressed through the human organism as Kundalini. Kundalini is behind all human animation, and thought, being one activity, is a way of directing God’s power, kachmah.
Moreover, observe the three paths emanating downward from the second Sphere Chokmah. Hebrew letter Daleth (ד) is assigned the 14th Path; letter Heh (ה) is assigned the 15th Path; and letter Vav (ו) is assigned the 16th Path. Do not these letters spell out HOD (הוד), the eighth Sphere of the Tree? This connection between Sphere Chokmah and Sphere Hod would take pages of explanation. The meditative exploration around these associations reveal the actual Hermes Trismegistus.
Our seemingly ‘personal’ mind, like so many of our patterns, is also a pattern of habit. The only ‘free choice’ we have is the power to change our habitual way of thinking by means of will. Geburah, the 5th Sphere and the seat of Volition, is above Hod on the Tree. Hod, the seat of Intellect, is of the Formative World, Yetzirah, because the mind is in the realm of causes, which create the effects in our personal world, Assiah.
Therefore we may also see that the definition for this sphere, commonly named Splendor, can also carry the negative connotation of Pride, of the false kind. Gematria, while demonstrating that the same number within other words may gather additional imagery to a difficult term or idea, may also provide proof that opposites are essentially extreme poles of the one, same term. Our egotistical expressions of pride is one inheritance from the line of Cain.
So, we see that number 15 is also the sum of איד, eyd, meaning, ‘calamity, misfortune, misery, distress’; and of גאוה, gaavah, ‘haughtiness, arrogance’. These are diseases within and from Intellect when the self-conscious mind is devoid Spirit and conscience as was described under the descendancy of Cain. Nonetheless, these misguided actions are also expressions of Yah from Chokmah, however immaturely played out currently. Mankind is yet an incomplete work.
Intellect transmits information principally via thought, speech and the written word. Therefore Mercury is also assigned to the eighth sphere. This is not the planet Mercury of astrology, Qabalists warn, but the influence Mercurial. Ancient philosophers told us that as a god Mercury was a messenger of other gods. Why is this? As Mercurial influence is attributed to the sphere of Hod, Qabalistically representing self-conscious Intellect, Mercury as a lessor god is the androgynous personification of yours and my self-conscious minds, transferring information. We, collectively, are the messengers of Deity, even though the bulk of the messages we transmit by speech and script are currently saturated with mischief and disinformation. The ultimate Universal truths will out eventually, regardless.
It has been queried if color is actually that important within the various alchemical drawings and paintings of the philosophers. What is color after all, but different frequencies of One Light energy through sound vibration. Sphere Hod is a perfect answer and example of the subtle use of color by Qabalists. Many times written words just cannot convey the impact of pictures in color.
In the western tradition astrological signs and planets have all been assigned specific colors to convey subtle messages. Readers of Qabalah and Rosicrucian literature are very familiar with the color associations to all the spheres and paths on the Tree of Life through the worlds of Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah. As most commonly represented on the Tree of Life the 6th sphere, Tiphareth, assigned the Sun, is colored yellow, while the 8th sphere, Hod, assigned Mercury, is colored orange. These are the exact opposite colors normally attributed these two planets in all other colored representations for the Sun and Mercury from western traditions. On the Tree this reversal is deliberate.
Hod, the sphere assigned Mercury and colored orange (the most frequent color for the Sun), illustrates by this color hint that the human Intellect is actually an expression of the Solar Deity, the Christ Consciousness. What moves yours and my self-conscious mind is actually God the Father, through is Son, the Christ, albeit presently imperfectly expressed by us humans, save for the saints among us. In Chokmah the Father, AB (also called Yah), is one with the Son, BEN, in Tiphareth. The two compose ABEN, The Stone. Hod, human Intellect, finds its highest expression as the Christ Consciousness. Qabalists teach that the Theosophical Extension of 8 is 36. The fullest expression behind 8 is hinted to be the full manifestation of the powers of the Christ because, Qabalists explain, 36 is the multiplication of 6x6, and 6 represents the Christ Ego in Tiphareth. However immaturely the solar energy is manifest currently in world affairs, rest assured that eventually it will manifest flawlessly through each of us. The Christ said this Himself. Read John 14:11-13. Many erroneously believe in the Second Coming of the Christ as the reappearance of the man, Jesus. What the Christ was telling us is that He, the Christ, will appear again when we, each of us, come into the full realization that He will come through us. This can only happen when each of us takes up the deliberate, conscious effort to make this prophesy come through. You and I, each of us all, are potentially harboring the Second Coming within us.
Consider again the Sun Tarot Trump on the 30th Path connecting Hod with Yesod. The Sun is positioned upper and central within the Tarot Key. Would not this Tarot Key have been better placed under Tiphareth and connecting Yesod on the Middle Pillar, on the path where Temperance is correctly placed? And, in some older assignations of the Keys to the paths on the Tree, the Sun is erroneously placed just so, or perhaps it was a deliberate blind to make the aspirant ponder. Nonetheless, the Sun Key is correctly placed connecting Hod to Yesod to illustrate that solar energy, the color orange, is actually coming through Hod, human Intellect.
Finally there is this concerning the color exchange between Hod and Tiphareth. As the physical planet Mercury is nearest to our Central Sun in this galaxy, so is our intellectual apparatus, our Self-conscious mind, nearest our Central Ego. Our Ego (the Christos Consciousness), Qabalists instruct, works through Its Own power of human Self-consciousness. Put another way, ‘our’ self-conscious mind is a concentration of the solar force at the center of our galaxy. It may feel as though our self-conscious mind is ‘ours’ personally. But if we can perceive the actual meaning behind this feeling, we may come that much closer to knowing the Cosmic Will flowing through us. To know this is to know and live the ‘Mercury of the Sages’. At the end of the Introductory to Solomon Trismosin’s Splendor Solis (Splendor of the Sun, publishing details in the Bibliography on this site) is the Latin:
“EST IN MERCURIO SOLIS QUOD QUAERUNT SAPIENTES.” – “It is in the Mercury of the Sun that the wise seek.”
You can download a black/white version of Splendor Solis here, as of January 2020:
We, collectively, still transmitting the influences from the descendancy of Cain, can and will turn these effects within us by following the instructions presented in the symbolic language of the Middle Pillar. Our desire is paramount for the process to unfold. We are not alone with the doing. We have the assistance of God, Almighty, equally inherent in each of us from the descendancy of Seth. All we need be is receptive and accepting to that Love, the very reason, and goal, for the study of Qabalah.