Mycelium of Life

Trying to figure out where this image came from.

See that thing at the centre of the circle above? It’s like a cross, kind of, with circles, and lines between them. That was part of the original design for theAbysmal Calendar (as were the 13 months around it). I developed it while studying the Qabalah (moreso the Hermetic one than the Hebrew Kabbalah). I still haven’t assigned any particular significance to it – only general ideas. The swirly circle at the centre is the Abyss, the centre, the unknowable.

I just wanted to review the process, and see if I can’t stumble on a greater significance for this thing. I’ve been calling it the mycelium of life, as I derived it from the tree of life. But as the mycelium isn’t hierarchical, I named it after the mysterious mushroom.

So above we have the Qabalah tree of life. There are 10 circles and 22 paths between them. The circles, called sephiroth, represent different “enumerations” of divine creation. The tree is also arranged in three columns – the left is the divine feminine, the right the divine masculine, and the centre is balance. In the Hebrew origins, each path was associated with one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s worth noting that each letter has a number associated with it (see gematria – the assigning of meanings to words through numbers).

One can spend a lifetime (and some do) studying and learning all there is to learn about the Kabbalah (or Qabalah). When I looked at this, I focused on two aspects – the four worlds of the tree of life, and the central sephiroth – Tiphareth, Beauty, Balance, Compassion. In the traditional symbology, the four worlds are each represented by a tree of life in an overlapping hierarchy. Imagine four trees of life, interlinked one above the other, each part of the hierarchy of the path from the divine to the mundane.

That’s about as much as I care to delve into the Qabalah, because frankly, I only ever scratched the surface, and I found that after a period of time, the complexity reinforced a particular approach, and I preferred to use its basic structure as a starting point. What I wanted to develop was a radial image, instead of a hierarchical one.

All fourth-dimensional functions are radial in nature and imply a principle of centre from which the structure is projected…
V.I. Vernadsky

So to begin, I focused on Tiphereth as the centre of balance, and looked at the part of the tree above it.

Here, the sephiroth Da’ath is usually invisible, or defined by a dotted line. It has its own special significance as the Abyss (in a sense). The next step was to take this part of the Qabalah and rotate it around the central sephiroth, which is similar to the idea of the four worlds, only in a radial sense instead of a hierarchical one.

And the final step is cramming these four together, with the central Tiphereth overlapping, as well as the sephiroth around it.

This is the final result of my toying around with the Qabalah Tree of Life. It has no relationship to its inspiration at this point, but I thought the process was worth sharing.

The Hermetic Tree of Life assigns a card from the major arcana of the Tarot Deck to each of the 22 paths. These are trump cards, numbered 0 to 21, that follow their own progression from the Fool to the World. (mind you different decks use different cards – see Thoth Tarot designed by Aleister Crowley). These have their own esoteric richness which I shan’t belabour here. I’d recommend Alan Moore‘s Promethea graphic novel series for a tutorial on Hermetic Cabalah.

The Mycelium of Life has the central Abysmal sphere, surrounded by an inner circle of 8 spheres and an outer circle of 12 spheres. It has 52 paths altogether.

When I illustrated the 13 months of theAbysmal calendar, a commenter suggested I put the central month in the centre of the circle of 12 months to see the symmetries it created between them. So I did this, drawing lines between the months across from each other laterally, diagonally and vertically. Here’s the result.

The resulting paths describe the Mycelium of Life. As a result, it’s become a symbol of sorts for the entirety of the calendar system.

The 12 outer spheres + the central abysmal one represent the 13 months. The 8 inner spheres can stand for the eight cardinal directions as well as the eight planets, with the sun at the centre.

the 52 paths are equivalent to the 52 weeks of the year.

The numerology of this also ties into Maya numerology – 13 and 20 are key numbers. There are 20 spheres (plus the abysmal centre). The outer spheres + the abysmal are 13. It’s flexible that way. The 8 inner spheres + the abysmal are the 9 lords of night (another cycle to the Mesoamerican calendar), however, it is also a key number in the Long Count. There are 52 named years in the Mesoamerican Calendar system, consistent with the 52 paths.

The 12 outer spheres can also stand for the 12 months of the Gregorian, Coptic, Persian and Islamic Calendars, and has the flexibility to stand for the 12 (or 13 including the abysmal sphere) months of lunisolar calendars.

So that’s where I’ve left it for now. There’s possibility to formalize this symbol, but I haven’t committed to it, as I’m hoping it can remain a flexible enough symbol to work for a variety of systems, and not have to become overly rigid to the exclusion of anything. I’ll likely post more on this as I give it more consideration in future.

Happy days.

P.S. Mycelia look an awful lot like nerve cells, and more importantly, in mycorrhizal fungus, they form a vast natural network between trees, plants, bacteria and other fungi.

289 Days to Dec 21st 2012

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