Animated Tree of Life Showing Daath and Malkuth in the center by Kythera Ann
Animation by Kythera Ann
I don't know why, but the animation only looks good on a Netscape browser, my apologies.

On the Tree of Life, What Is "Daath"?

Many people ponder what part of the Tree of Life "Daath" (Hebrew for "Knowledge") is. Is Daath (sometimes transliterated as Da'ath, Da'at or Daas) a real Sephira or not?

 The theory I will put forth on Daath is not new, but it is not the currently most popular one within Kabbalah. Kabbalah is not a rigid doctrine; therefore the realizations and correlations of the Tree should not be intellectually cast in stone, either. It is the "Tree of Life." Life is dynamic, unfolding, and ever changing into new permutations of should it be with our Spiritual beliefs and understandings. Kabbalah means to "receive." Like Malkuth, "the Kingdom," we receive our inheritance from the Creator...what we believe that inheritance to be, how we receive it, why we receive it, and what we should do with it are contemplated within Kabbalah. The Tree of Life is but one set of metaphors for meditating upon these questions.

The tree I describe in this article, with Daath being the transformation of Malkuth, can be seen in very old manuscripts with the following titles: "Tree of Life," "Tree of Peace," "Tree of Perfection," and "Tree of Realization." I have rendered the "Tree of Realization" as the drawing for the "Tree of Life Course Description" page...for to me..."realization," personal revelation, is what Kabbalah is all about.

Classic Tree of LifeWhen I look at the Tree of Life commonly shown in modern Kabbalistic texts, poor ol' Malkuth (Kingdom) is just hanging out there at the bottom, unintegrated. This reminds me of people who operate from the belief that reality IS the world around them that they see with their five senses. Such people are connected to a bigger picture, but aren't in the picture because they cannot perceive it. I believe that when you transform that viewpoint into knowing you are a part of the big picture and functioning in that way (using all your senses on all levels), you transform your reality. A person (Malkuth) becomes Daath (you know, the tradition of changing one's name) which is Knowledge. So the tree (or person) remains having ten Sephira, but it is now all nice and integrated. There is no Malkuth swinging by a thread at the bottom any more. Anyway, that's how I like to view it; it works for me and solves the paradox of "there are only ten Sephira."

 I do not believe that Daath is Tiphareth (a common theory). Malkuth is the "kingdom," and a kingdom...which is crowned (Kether)...would seem to encompass everything else...I think when we are "aware" that we are the Kingdom, then the Temple dwells within (Tiphareth?) and the treasure of Malkuth is held in Chesed (compassion?). These insights all point (to me) to a better diagram that is like the tetraktys.

non animated version of Kythera's treeSee how the Supernals (Kether, Binah, Chokmah) enfold all existence and how Malkuth/Daath is in the center...the focus and seed point of all the energies? This reminds me of the tee-shirt of the universe that says "you are here"; that is what Malkuth is to's "awareness" = their "Kingdom." As awareness expands, it encompasses and becomes aware of the six Sephira surrounding it. Six Sephira are rotating around Malkuth, the Supernals stay at the three corners, and Malkuth/Daath is in the center. This enfolding, this containment of Malkuth (ourselves) within the All, is why I believe it would be renamed "Daath" upon our realization of self and the All that enfolds/contains it.

 I don't think any other Sephira of the lower seven has the inclusive possibilities of Malkuth. The other Sephira each have a "flavor" of the All...only Malkuth can receive all the flavors, develop them, and recapitulate them back. To say that Daath is actually Tiphareth would be, to me, to continue the fracturing of the tree instead of integrating all the elements in Malkuth.

 The vision of the Sephiric energies having to move through Daath I find in alignment with my philosophy. Definitely the classic texts reiterate that there are only ten Sephira and not a transformation must take place...

 The idea of them moving through Daath puts me in mind of a lecture Stan Tenen did with the Meru Foundation. Stan is a Physicist/Kabbalist researching the letter/number coding of the Torah.

 To describe the Universe in terms of "flow and form" (ascending/descending tree), he used the model from physics of the 2-torus and tetrahedron. In mathematical terms, one translates into the other. The 2-torus (a bagel shape *smile*) rotates on a horizontal and vertical plane at the same time...much like a smoke folds into itself and continues to rotate into expression, while at the same time revolving around itself.

 If we considered Daath/Malkuth as the hole in the center of the donut...and the lower six Sephira create the ring around the hole...each of these Sephira would revolve around Daath and rotate into it. They would become transformed into a new ever-expanding and transforming expression of G_d in manifestation.

 Why Malkuth/Daath? The Universe is created in six days. There are six lower Sephira of emanation (Malkuth does not emanate, but receives/reflects). The number six represents Universal law...the star of David, "as above, so below." The 7th Sephira is Malkuth..."the Kingdom," the seventh day...the point where G_d rests and we are supposed to do something with the gifts transform, to realize, to become "conscious."

Daath is "knowledge," which comes from experience and conscious realization of the experience. That is what we are attempting to do within the Sephira of Malkuth. The tree of "good and evil" that represents the paradox of Malkuth experience and consciousness is resolved through the tree of "knowledge." Each of the other six Sephira, of necessity, will be filtered through our experience of Malkuth and therefore eventually transformed when realized as Daath.

 As an aside, although certainly not within the scope of traditional Jewish mysticism or authority, the book A Practical Guide to Qabalistic Symbolism by Gareth Knight has intriguing commentary about each of the sephirah including Daath. It is well worth considering.

Black & white Tree of Life showing hidden DaathWe cannot focus on Daath, because it is the point of "conscious realization," not a goal outside of the realization. Daath is not an attribute that is "unique," but a compilation of the "reflected attributes" of G_d that we embody and become aware of in our desire to become ever more directly conscious of Spirit in our life. It is traditionally shown dotted, because it is like our conscious awareness...the possibilities are infinite and not structured as to how we will uniquely reflect and connect to the Divine.

 I think the classic texts clearly state that each Sephira is but a reflection, or an aspect, of the Supernal. This is because the full, undifferentiated energy would disallow the physical paradigm...or as others put it, "cannot contain the energy in its purest form." I'd say that "purest" in current semantics tends to lead one to equate it to "better." I prefer restructuring the statement to: "the purpose of the sephiroth is not to contain the totality of the divine essence, but to refract it so that consciousness can evolve through the experience of differentiation, thus allowing G_d to reflect self and experience/understand/know self through its reflection."

 Therefore, all the Sephira need to be assimilated/understood equally. We do this from our "here/now" or Malkuth position. We are here; that necessitates our perspective. Tiphareth must come through our perspective and experience of Malkuth, as must all the Sephira. When we "grok" it (the Sephiroth, Gevurah through Yesod) and can see them all operating at once within us and within this paradigm, and understand their function, not intellectually but with our "essence" having connected to the "G_d essence" of each one...we have re-synthesized, within our consciousness, the refracted tree into a brilliant single-pointed reflection of G_d. It is at that point we "say" we are at Daath...but since we are still right here on actuality we have only transformed our awareness/consciousness. Metaphorically one could say that we now sit under the Arik Anpin, and can look directly into the splendor and see nothing that is not in ourself. At the same time we can redirect our gaze into the world of phenomena and see how that splendor is manifested in a myriad of unique and differentiated ways...all the time being the same, yet appearing different.

 From classic Kabbalistic texts:

In Oneness,
Rev. Kythera Ann

The black and white Tree of Life illustration is courtesy of Tony White.

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