“You receive inner answers to all your questions and all your
prayers. If you do not hear the answers, it’s because you have
surrounded yourself with thick walls by indulging in thoughts,
feelings, desires and actions not inspired by love, wisdom and
truth. If you begin to knock these walls down, you will hear.
Now, it may happen, of course, that you don’t find it easy to
accept the answer you receive. When you’re wrestling with an
insoluble situation and wondering how you can get out of it, you
tend to imagine that a solution will appear as if by magic to
extricate you from it. No, no, the solution may require enormous
effort on your part. But don’t back away, because, if it really
is the solution, however painful, it’s worth more than all the
hesitation, uncertainty and anxiety you have been living with up
until now, none of which will go away as long as you refuse to
make any effort.”

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

The Sefirot in Love and Relationship


Gershom Winkler

(from “The Place where You are Standing is Holy”)

The sefirot represent an ancient Jewish mystical formula for esoteric gymnastics and God-shuttling. They are based on the ancients’ understanding of the attributes of God, the qualities of the Creator revealed within the fabric of Creation. The sefirot are symbolized in the human form, each attribute corresponding to a particular sector of the body. What follows is a loose adaptation of this ten-point kabbalistic formula for a clearer understanding of relationship dynamics. The Shadow side of each is described as well.


Keter means “crown.” A crown symbolizes representation. Before engaging in a relationship encounter, make sure you are wearing your personality where it can be seen. When engaged in relating to an Other, be fully aware of your own greatness, your own uniqueness. You, too, count. You, too, wear the royal crown because you, too, are the child of the Cosmic Sovereign. Do not lose yourself in the Other to the point where you feel inferior to them, or less adequate or talented, or that you must conceal some part of yourself from the Other to win their favor. The Shadow side of Keter is staying so clear you are actually unconnected and functionally rigid.



Chokhmah means “knowledge.” Knowledge means yesterday’s consciousness. All that you know, in other words, comes from your past. In entering the arena of relationship, get in touch with your knowledge, your consciousness level as it has been up to the point of the encounter with the Other. Your past will need to be prepared for attunements and adjustments if it is to merge with the knowledge/consciousness of another, if you are to have a future with another. The Shadow side would be staying so logical and immersed in what follows from before that you cannot see the innovations, transformations, and surprise gifts that the universe is offering through yourself and others.



Binah means “understanding,” “intuition,” from the Hebrew word for “construction.” And it connotes tomorrow’s consciousness. It processes, builds upon, what you’ve known until now. And this is the next stage of encounter, seeing whether you can build a unit out of the merging of your past, your knowledge, and the other person’s past/knowledge; seeing whether there can be a future, whether you can move together, or whether you might not end up obstructing the movements of one another’s mind. The Shadow side is that, without Chokhmah, Binah consciousness renders you too fluid and in the moment so that you do not keep agreements because they don’t feel right anymore. The Other can see and respond to your authenticity but can barely find you or count on you for anything.

(These three processes take place in the initial embrace and therefore their acronym, in sound only, is CHiBeK, Hebrew for “embrace.” But this acronym works in sound only, not in actual spelling, for the initial embrace is not clear, it only sounds good. It hasn’t been tested. It is a social, rather than intimate, embrace. If the embrace, the greeting or meeting, has succeeded, the next three movements of the dance can begin.)



Chesed means “grace.” Once there is a meeting of minds, a synchronicity of consciousness, there develops an innocent sense of trust that unleashes a sometimes overwhelming desire to express, to give to the other. The giving may take any variety of forms ranging from loving, caring, and giving gifts to sharing your innermost secrets, spilling your guts. Its Shadow side is oversharing, losing boundaries, engulfing the Other, swallowing them up. Or, on the other hand, sharing too much when the Other is not honoring you in your deepest places.



Gevurah means “constriction.” The initial unleashing of the emotion we call love often gets us into a lot of trouble, a lot of pain, because of the tendency to spill it rather than to pour it. The attribute of Gevurah helps one to direct the outpouring in such a way that it does not overwhelm Self or Other but leaves ample space for feedback, for the Other to respond, for the Other to choose either to receive the Chesed expressed or reject it or harness it toward alternate directions for the relationship. Gevurah checks to determine whether the love is real, or infatuation, or perhaps even psychotic and obsessive. Its Shadow side is harshness, inflexibility, and demanding of too much structure and restriction around how each emotes or even around what time dinner is served. It can also involve censoring your feelings too harshly so that the Other is left with uncertainty about how you are seeing them. Too much Gevurah leads to emotional as well as sensual frigidity.



Tiferet is feeling. It means “beauty,” but beauty is determined by feeling. Tiferet is the end result of the processes worked out up to this point, a healthy, well-toned feeling. Love. Harmony. Clarity. Good—as in: “And God saw all that God had made and behold it was Good” (Genesis 1:31)—when everything comes together and clicks. The Shadow side is feeling so blissfully complete about the relationship that you leave little or no room for the possibility of change in either your Self or the Other. The notion of conflict, too, becomes taboo, and you end up suppressing your feelings if you are hurt by something the Other says or does, because, after all, you have the perfect relationship.

(This second three-part process is that of interaction, playing out the mind merging of the first stages. Its acronym is appropriately CHuG, which means “circle,” as in a circle or intimate gathering of people. The “T” for tiferet, stands for the final letter in the Hebrew alphabet, tuf, for like the tuf, Tiferet is the climax of the merging. The relationship has begun. Likewise, so have the most challenging of all the dynamics in a relationship: the power struggle, the nature of the final three-part process.)



Netzach means “victory” or “mastery.” It is the expression of assertive power, or commanding presence, in a relationship. Once the security of relationship has been established, either by marriage or other commitment, or merely by living under the same roof, the idealism of mind meeting and integration give way to soul-deep linking of each person’s powerfulness combined with a drive to manifest personal ideals. It is a dance in powerfulness. There are times when one partner feels the need to take control momentarily due to a situation that calls for someone taking action. Netzach would be an aggressive way in which this would happen. Its Shadow side is aggression, domination, sometimes violence, and ego-deep competitiveness in which each partner strives for the most power in the relationship, for the leading role.



Hod means “splendor.” It, too, is mastery or victory, but in a more gentle sense. Hod consciousness emanates from a place of solid self-esteem, a quiet affirmation of Self and Other, and a peaceful determination to work things out. In doing Hod, you affirm your stance in the relationship but without intimidating the Other from theirs. Its display or exercise of power is in its majesty, as opposed to force, being moved to religiosity by the awesome beauty of God’s Creation, for example, as opposed to the awesome voice of God commanding. Hod would be a balancing, more gentle way to take control when needed, or to act out the power struggle if there is too much of a dominating presence of the Other in the relationship. The Hod method of dealing with Netzach would be akin to the art of Akido, where the martial artist operates with, rather than against, the force of the opponent’s movements. It is diplomacy. The Shadow side of Hod is an inexorable force unceasingly pushing the Other toward a resolution of a process or issue that the Other finds untenable in timing or form, a nonviolent but unrelenting compulsion of the Other. Or, in Yiddish, being a nudnik.



Sod means “mystery” or “secret.” It also means “foundation” and in talmudic terminology connotes “intimate council.” On the Sefirah model, it is the genitalia. And, indeed, it is the sexual arena where the power struggle or power play forges its foundation. It is in the sex act where a couple engage in secret, intimate council to work out the dynamics of control, of whether the relationship is to become one of give and take or one of give and receive. The mystery, or secret, of relationship interplay is contained deep within the body, at the base of desire, of want, of need: the Sod. Here lies the test of truth, the proficiency test for the mastery of all the above processes. The body rarely lies. Here the couple is tested on whether they have truly been honest in their representation of Self to Other (Keter); whether their respective pasts are truly compatible for a mutual future (Chokhmah and Binah); whether they are truly capable of harmonious interaction (Chesed and Gevurah) and have integrated enough to feel clearly whatever it is they feel toward one another and from one another (Tiferet); whether they are capable of balancing respective roles in the relationship so that there is a mutual respect for each other’s presence and leadership rather than a competitiveness (Netzach and Hod). Its Shadow side would be a linking through passion when all or most of the above “tests” have proven negative: cementing two people in an innately destructive combination.

(The acronym for the final three-part process is appropriately HaNeS, which means “the experience,” or “the miracle,” and is related to the word HaNesayon, “the test.” It is the revelation of the relationship, as the initial revelation of God to Moses at the SeNaH, the revelatory burning bush. Because Sod is where it all coalesces into the total experience of mind, emotion, and body: the climax.)



Finally, there is Malkhut, which literally means “kingdom.” Malkhut is where the downward spiraling of divine energy fully reaches integration between Ideal and Real. The Ideal relationship has not come about—each Self and each Other has had to learn, compromise, do tzimtzum, assert themselves, dance, get hurt, and heal in order to get this far. But if the Keter started out right and the Shadow of each movement forward was danced back to a sense of rightness and strength of each stage, then the Real expresses the Essence of the Ideal even if the form, character, and flavor are all innovations. The process is highly personalized, but in its authenticity reaches the completeness of the Divine Will for there to be Life in physicality. The Shadow side is that without manifesting the consciousness of the other Sefirot, Malkhut becomes gluttony for the gifts that God creates for physical beings, a gobbling up of the riches of Life without absorbing them. One then becomes insatiable, because even as the food, power, sensuousness, fame, creativity, and so forth, are experienced in their most condensed form, there is no Whole Self sharing in the experience. There is always emptiness but for momentary illusions of fulfillment.

Malkhut and Keter are therefore one and the same, the point where the two ends of a line meet in a circle of wholeness, and holiness. Malkhut is the realization, the actualization, of Keter, of the initial move between the couple to engage one another in the dance of relationship, in the embrace. The Hebrew letter mem, for Malkhut, is described in the Kabbalah as the womb, for it is in Malkhut that the relationship has developed from unformed potential into a fully formed Creation; from a seed, Keter, to a tree, Malkhut—one being the fruition of the other. The acronym for the two, Keter and Malkhut, is KoM, which means “rise,” for here the relationship has risen and now stands erect as a tree, risen from its seed. KoM can also be received as sound advice for the couple to rise up to Keter again and periodically begin the processes anew; to proclaim a Sabbath every now and then. The Sabbath is a period of rejuvenation, of taking a deep breath and regaining composure and clarity. No task needs this more than that of making a relationship.


it is said in kabbalah there are only two things

Vessels and light

Vessels receive
Light gives

that is the nature of the universe, there is nothing else…. thus to “take” is “against” the very nature of the universe….  as one gives, they will be open to receive…. thus there is no need to take…ever…

We can see this clearly in the zen allegory of the tea cup..

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring.

The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself.

“It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted.

“You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”


a western hermetic kabbalist once said:

“Once we gain great power, we must give it away
A cup cannot be filled, unless it is emptied”…

This to me is the path of the Gnostic….
One prepares the cup to be emptied (the Grail as the self), in which to be filled…

we give our selves away in order to gain ourselves


Of course there is complicated Kabbalstic dogma regarding the problems of vessels only being able to receive and light able to give….and what occurs if a vessel wants to give…etc.