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The Tree of Life Oracle
Use the sacred wisdom of the Kabbalah to enrich your life
by Cherry Gilchrist and Gila Zur, illustrations by Helen Jones

The Kabbalah is an ancient mystical and philosophical system, which originated in the Jewish mystery traditions. Although some people believe its age to be only a few centuries, many others, including the author of this oracle, cite its age at over 1,000 years. Whatever its age, it has sparked much recent interest, as practitioners of all faiths have discovered its timeless wisdom and applicability in modern lives. The Kabbalah offers us a map, or several maps really, of creation, universal principles, and our interaction with the Divine. And significantly, it also offers us a very usable map for finding fulfillment and inner peace. True transformation and growth can be accomplished through serious study of Kabbalah.
Tree of Life Oracle The Tree of Life Oracle is a wise and profound tool for using Kabbalah quickly, without years of dedicated study, to understand our lives, our purpose, and ourselves. The set includes a deck of 57 cards, a reading cloth, a reading diagram sheet, a comprehensive, illustrated guidebook, and a nice compact notebook for jotting down reading information. Kabbalah uses as its most basic but sacred symbol, the "Tree of Life." This symbol consists of two main pillars, a middle pillar, and ten spheres, or sephirot, located on each of the pillars. The sephirot can be seen simply, as emanations or forms of energy with specific qualities, and their placement is important, as the twenty-two paths that lead from one to another become paths of knowledge, awareness, wisdom, and ultimately lead to oneness with God - or enlightenment. These paths correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, although their precise correspondences vary from one school of belief to another. With study, the Tree of Life offers us a deep reflection into the eternal mysteries of life, God, and our humanness.

The oracle itself uses the Tree of Life for its design.
"There are four suits of fourteen cards in the pack. Each card is a 'wheel' based on a segment of the Tree of Life. These wheels can easily be related to the Tree, although their shape has been adapted. Every wheel comes in four different aspects, each with a different name gleaned from the Hebrew letter combinations on their relevant paths, and so each card aspect is assigned to one of the four elements: earth, water, fire and air."
There is one blank card, which may confirm the validity of each reading. All of these elements come together to create an unexpected, effective wholeness.

Tree of Life diagram with Wheel 1 highlighted in red The reading layout is also intriguing. The cards are shuffled and cut and laid out as instructed on the accompanying reading cloth, which is an adapted diagram of the Tree of Life. Each location in the layout corresponds to an astrological house, and although this is all explained thoroughly, a basic understanding of astrology might be of benefit. To aid in the reading, a diagram sheet is provided - and this really is needed, because the order in which the cards are placed on the layout cloth does not match the order of houses. So, the first card put down is actually for the fifth house, and so on. The first card put down is not the first card to be read. The interpretations for each card are based on the houses, so for the first house we look at beginnings, initiative, energy; the second house refers to possessions, money, desires; the third to communication, study, skills, etc. The reading can also point to time frames if desired, the first four cards indicating the present, second four the past, and the final four the future. There are two significators as well.

Interpretations for each card are quite thorough and very insightful. Card titles, and corresponding Hebrew words, Wheel number, Suit, and companion cards are listed. A diagram of the Tree of Life is provided with each card, so that visualizing the wheels is easy, and understanding the sephirot in each wheel helps in learning the system, as well as beginning to understand the system of Kabbalah. An "Oracle" section defines the card philosophically, and a "Commentary" on each card shows the applicability to personal situations, and offers life wisdom. Basic interpretations are given as "Life Tasks," which include brief advice or insight, and as "Possible Meanings," which bring the card back to its most basic significance. All of these are well written, and offer a surprising amount of insight and helpfulness.

The card themselves are pretty and unique. They remind me of the style of some of the Jewish art in my in-laws' home. The wheels appear to be 3D, looking like they are raised off the parchment background, which is decorated with Hebrew letters. The silver border, where the wheel number and card title are located, is adorned with an upraised leaf design. Overall, they give the impression of philosophy and wisdom, and are quite cool looking, although some might find the lack of human figures a bit plain or boring.

Readings done with The Tree of Life Oracle, despite the complexity of this system, are unusually cohesive. They flow, regardless of whether one is familiar with the Kabbalah. This set can potentially offer deep and profound insight into ourselves, and uncover the truths of our mundane and not-so-mundane existence. I truly appreciate how well thought-out the entire set is, to the inclusion of a small notepad for recording readings. Even though the first reading I did with the set required three full pages of my own commentary and notes, the little notepad was a great place to jot down the cards drawn, with their wheel number, suit, and house placing. On a personal note, I have come to love this set for its uniqueness and its incredible usefulness in my own life. Recently I have come back to a place of more meaning, after a long while of dealing with the mundane, material concerns of life, and this set has really given me a method of confirming my own searching, and offering further insight. It has also awoken a previous interest in the Kabbalah and the Hebrew language, thus setting me off into renewed study.

I would highly recommend this set for those with an interest in Kabbalah, even just a small, curious interest; and to those who perhaps have no familiarity with Kabbalah but enjoy Western mysticism and a more philosophical approach to divination.

The Tree of Life Oracle - 5 - The Dancer The Tree of Life Oracle - 9 - The Disciple The Tree of Life Oracle - 11 - The Veil The Tree of Life Oracle - 13 - The Sorrow

Card artwork by Helen Jones

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Illumination Tarot has been publishing articles, reviews, tarot spreads, and personal reflections for tarot enthusiasts and followers of alternative spirituality online since 1999.
All writing, reviews, and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2021