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The Tree of Life

In the Tree of Life series, each painting represents one of the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom as described by the Tree of Life, a philosophic structure that is part of the Cabalistic system of knowledge.

Diagram of the Tree of Life
© 1980
Diagram of the Tree of Life

(Swartz created the above Tree of Life diagram in 1980 while working on her Ten Site series honoring women from Israel's historic past.)

Cabala is an ancient Jewish philosophy based upon a mystical interpretation of Scripture.

(Note, cabala may be spelled in many variants including: cabbala, cabalah, kabala, kabbala, kabbalah and qabalah. English dictionaries show the preferred usage as cabala although most books in English on the subject apparently use kabbalah .)

One author calls cabala, “ . . . a guide book for the soul in its return path upward.”  Cabala may be appreciated by considering the system as a way of personal development and self-realization based upon a map.  The map describing cabala is called the Tree of Life.  A student of cabala uses the Tree of Life map to integrate inner and outer experiences and awareness thereby creating an active bridge between the two.

The Tree of Life map is composed of ten “numbers” or “spheres” (Sephiroth in Hebrew). Each "number" or "sphere" (Sephirah or Sephira) corresponds to a portion of a whole person. Daath, the eleventh sphere, does not exist in the same sense as the other spheres; Daath represents the abyss, the void.  Caroline Myss and others have noted an interrelationship between the ten cabalistic “spheres” and the seven chakras of the Hindu system of yogi and also with the seven sacraments of the early Christian church (baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, confession, ordination, and extreme unction).

Individual Sephirah express one of the ten aspects of the divine and may be assigned a letter, number, color, and meaning unique to that sphere. The Tree of Life maps twenty-two pathways to achieving spiritual realization up from Malkhuth, the foundation Sephirah, through the other nine Sephirah; the journey upward along the twenty-two paths running through the ten Sephiroth creates the Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom.

Cabalistic thought holds that everything in the universe is connected; thus, there are no coincidences in life. Every moment is a potential doorway to celestial guidance and inspiration. Study helps integrates the self with the cosmos.

In the Tree of Life series (as with the prior series by Swartz, Visible Reminders) words are somewhat hidden behind the paint. Viewers consciously may recognize some words, yet the message remains beyond deliberative awareness.  Strained concentration will not help a viewer receive the wisdom; it is intended that the viewer relax and allow their unconscious to function.

Sephira #1, Kether, sphere of radiance colored white and yellow
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#1 (Kether)
BASID #484
acrylic on canvas
30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m)
2002
Painting of Sepira #3, Binah, sphere linked to understanding and the color indigio
© 2002
Sphere #11, Daath, linked to knowledge and the abyss, it is invisible
© 2002
Sephira #2, Hokhmah, sphere linked to wisdom and the color silver
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#3 (Binah)
BASID #486
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#11 (Daath)
BASID #494 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#2 (Hokhmah)
BASID #485 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #5, Geburah, sphere linked to righteous severity and the color red
© 2002
Painting of Sephira #4, Chesed, sphere linked to mercy and the color blue
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#5 (Geburah)
BASID #488 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #6, Tifereth, sphere linked to balance and the color gold
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#4 (Chesed)
BASID #487 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #8, Hod, sphere linked to intelligence and the color orange
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#6 (Tifereth)
BASID #489 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #7, Netsach, sphere linked to eternity and the color green
© 2002

Beth Ames Swartz
#8 (Hod) BASID
#491 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002

Sephira #9, Yesod, sphere linked to foundation and the color violet
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#7 (Netsach)
BASID #490 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#9 (Yesod) BASID
#492 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #10, Malkhuth, sphere linked to kingdom and the color russet
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#10 (Malkhuth)
BASID #493 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Sephira #5, Geburah, sphere linked to righteous severity and the color red
© 2002
Painting of Sephira #4, Chesed, sphere linked to mercy and the color blue
© 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#5 (Geburah) transition
BASID #482 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002
Beth Ames Swartz
#4 (Chesed) transition
BASID #483 (SOLD)
acrylic on canvas 30" x 30" (0.76m x 0.76m) 2002