Method of Divination using the Golden Dawn Tree of Life


The practice of reading a Tree of Life really isn't new, nor is it my invention, but I thought it would good to have and to share my own method if anyone is interested in trying it out for themselves.

This spread was born as a result of my studies into Qabalah. Now, although Qabalah may seem stiff and divorced from reality it is actually a great way of looking at the world, analyzing influences and energies, making decisions and even making predictions about the future. The Tree of Life works under the assumption that all energies are connected and that a certain mix of influences will (probably) lead to a certain mix of results. This spread was born out of experimenting with synthetically simulating the Qabalistic vision in a Tarot spread. It works by being built in a modular fashion, with each card drawn affecting and changing all the other cards in the spread. In this sense it bears more resemblance to a meditation rather than a run-of-the-mill reading, but it does yield a great amount of information and introspection. Too much, in fact, which means that with this spread less is far more. Although one can use the method to build an entire Tree of Life for a given situation that would be dizzyingly complex and needlessly big; I've found that six cards usually suffice. The spread can be as large or as small as you wish, that's one of the advantages.

It is meant primarily for people well-versed in Qabalah as it requires quite a bit of mental juggling with the ideas. For the purposes of examples which I will need to give, let's imagine we are doing a reading about the process of a making a sandwich.

We begin by determining which Sephirah we will be in the vicinity of, so we shuffle the deck and draw cards until we draw any Minor card. This card represents the stage in manifestation the situation is at. In mundane terms, this could be the "present," "essence," or whatever you decide upon. What's important is that this is the central card around which the entire process revolves. I myself use this card as the "present" of the situation, or as a significator of sorts representing me, or the essence of the question. This may be vague, but as a meditation into a situation or question this makes sense.

At this early stage of working with only one Sephirah, the card is interpreted "basely" in that the number and Sephirah are already present. For example, if our first card is the Four of Wands, the influence of Chesed and Jupiter are already inherent in the card. In a way this is the simplest card to interpret, because here what you see is what you get (not so the others). What matters here is keeping in mind the role of the Sephirah in interpreting the whole. Since our first card was at Chesed, that gives us a clue that the situation is about giving, forthing out, outward energies, raw materials, construction of projects, etc.

The Four of Wands in this position would tell us that the potential for making a great sandwich is there, it is as good as made in theory. A very good influence for sandwich-making.

Now, moving on, we decide what we want to look at. From Chesed we have a choice in going in three directions, and what we want to analyze is wholly up to us. Going up the Tree on the path to Chochma will give us an "earlier stage" of the issue, or its root causes and influences. Going forward towards Geburah would give us the next step(s) that will come, or that we should take. Going down will give us the eventual evolution of the situation. Whatever we decide, the next card drawn will represent one of the paths that connect to our first Sephirah.

For the sake of explanation, let's go forward towards Geburah. The card we choose will represent Lust, the path of Tet. This is where things get fun. Any card drawn will have a dual nature of being both itself as well as acting through the energies of its respective path or Sephirah. These bear a similarity to traditional spread positions but are far more than that, since every path holds the influence of the both Sephirahs attached to it, and every Sephirah is made up of the paths that feed it, and those influences flow both ways.

So, the next card drawn represents the path of Lust leading toward Geburah, and drawing randomly I got The Aeon. In this position we read the Aeon not as Lust itself but as the "Lust influence." In a nutshell, Lust depicts the ecstasy of Will-fulfillment, and so the sandwich we project in our minds is no ordinary one. With two such overwhelmingly powerful cards, it seems that we desire the king of sandwiches, we wish to try new variations of fillings, to redefine what a sandwich is. The sandwich we make will be singularly personal, it will have all the things that we like, even though others may frown at our choices. Since The Aeon holds a bit of the Four of Wands in it, this suggests that we have all the necessary ingredients that we need.

Although the explanation is a bit iffy, it is quite easy to keep in mind all the different things that go into making up each position. The Aeon in this case is read as itself, acting through Lust, receiving energy and impetus from the Four of Wands and is evolving into Geburah. So that's a lot for one card, but that's why this exercise is so versatile and useful. It really, really forces you to get out of your Qabalistic "comfort zone" and juggle ideas around.

Moving on, the next position connecting is that of Geburah, symbolizing motion, desire, force and change. Geburah limits the limitless plenty of Chesed by forcing different elements to mix and interact. It could be thought of as both the obstacle to a given aim or the impetus for making it happen, depending on your own interpretation and use of the Sephirah. In our example I drew the Three of Cups for this position, implying perhaps that emotions or people might be a stumbling block on your path to the perfect sandwich. Your roommate may have used up all the cheese, for example. As a desire, the Three of Cups at Geburah might suggest that although we are hungry, we also want to impress others with our culinary prowess. Receiving The Aeon from the Four of Wands, the Three of Cups has a sort of finality, both cards that drain into it deal with endings and completion. Perhaps we need only a little more to be really full?

Here as before, the card is read through the lens of whatever position it is in, together with the influences of the cards that go into it. The Three of Cups has its own ideas, it has those of Geburah, it has the influence of Mars and deals mainly with the energies it receives from the two previous cards. In some cases I like to draw an additional adjacent card to shed light on another, going by the reasoning that knowing all the ingredients helps. For this card one can choose to draw one representing the path of The Chariot, which drawn randomly is the Star. So we have the Star as the Chariot and The Aeon as Lust as the two most immediate influences upon our Geburah/Three of Cups.

From Geburah, we can again decide where we wish to go next. Do we wish to know the pain that giving birth to the sandwich will entail as the Hanged Man? Do we wish to look toward the ideal version of out sandwich and aim for Tiphareth through Adjustment? Again, the choice is yours in how you wish to build your Tree and what you wish to find out.

The sandwich example isn't really clear, but this spread isn't really aimed at doing small, mundane things. It is more for reflection, weighing options, making projections, looking into the past and ascertaining likely outcomes. It also works even if you don't do it in order. I can go back to the Four of Wands, our first card, and drawing one to represent the Hermit, which could symbolize the seed of our aim, the original vision or inspiration that leads us. It would not be directly influenced by The Aeon, but it would have the same driving force, since both emanate outward from the Four of Wands. Similarities could be found and explored.

As you can see, this method is endlessly complex, but can be as simple as you wish it. Keeping in mind the basic rules under which the Tree of Life operates you can deeply explore any question or situation from all sides and in all aspects. For some situations this method may even be too complex, and would be too much. You can also "cheat" a bit, and not go through the whole Tree. Sometimes my first and primary Minor card falls on one of the upper Sephiroth but I wish to know the final outcome, so I draw a card for Malkuth and others for its vicinity. Usually this isn't as effective as going down the whole Tree, but doing a full Tree would be prohibitively long and involved, and is usually unnecessary. You can also decide where you wish to start from, like drawing cards until you get the first Minor with the number you wish. You can also decide to start with a Major and begin with a Path. It's ultimately the same.

In addition, the picture that you get in the end is more than the sum of its parts. In my explanation I interpreted each card as it was drawn but I usually give the whole thing a once-over after I'm done because there can be subtle changes. We drew the Four of Wands first, the Aeon as Lust next and the Three of Cups last, but interpreted The Aeon independently of the Three of Cups. This means that our path card changed once we closed it off with a Sephirah, so that's even more information and shades of meaning that can be taken into account.

You could, of course, unfold your Tree to the limit with 32 cards, each read as something else and all interconnected, but that would be a huge amount of information that would be difficult to assimilate and work out.

Keep in mind I wrote this during a night shift while I was very cold, so the editing isn't perfect. I hope you like this method/spread and that you use it. If you have any questions or comments I would be happy to hear them.


A valuable survey of psychological exploration. Thank you.


Very interesting, but too advanced for me. I need to learn more Qabalah before doing anything like that.