This post is the third in a series highlighting each sphere in the Tree of Life. For additional background on the Qabala, see Guided Meditation: Introduction to the Tree of Life, Learning Qabala through story, Learning Qabala: Where to start?, and Qabala is queer, and it isn’t even sneaky about it.
Hod is the eighth sphere on the tree, and the lowest sphere on the “feminine” pillar, also known as the pillar of form or pillar of severity. It’s also part of the lowest pair of spheres on the tree, sitting across from Netzach. It has a critical role to play in our understanding of the world around us, in our magick and interactions with deities, and in our conceptualization of love.
Without Hod, our lives and relationship to the world around us would be chaos. Hod is where language and communication are born, and it is the sphere of labels and names, where we catalog and sort and understand distinctions between different things.
Hod is where our conceptualization of the tree glyph originates. It’s where you’ll find the source of astrological signs, occult symbols, and Tarot. It is also the sphere in which we anthropomorphize our deities – where we give their energy patterns “clothes” of earthly form to make them more approachable and easier to understand.
When we talk about ceremonial magick, we’re talking about taking energy and putting it into a specific, ritualized container to get a result, much as you’d force steam through a combustion engine to create movement. A magickal container is formed with words, correspondences, symbols, gestures, chants – each piece playing a part in manifesting that which is needed from the ritual or working.
As the center for language, labels, and knowledge, Hod gives us the tools to create the container. Netzach, the seventh sphere, provides the energy. We’ll dive deeper into Netzach in the next post.
What makes Hod queer?
Like other spheres on the tree, Hod’s “gender identity” is wibbly-wobbly. It also the most explicitly intersex and asexual/aromantic sphere on the tree.
The magical image for Hod is that of an intersex person presenting visible breasts, a penis, and a vagina. Hod’s Hebrew name is masculine and its planetary and deity connection is Mercury, a masculine deity, yet it sits firmly at the base of the “feminine” pillar. It is peak “both-and” in terms of sexual identity, a meta-sex that is beyond the binary.
There is no part of the tree without passion, and the passion of Hod is that of learning, not only about the world, but about other people. Hod is the sphere of deep friendships and platonic love, particularly the kind of love built from shared intellectual interests. It’s a good sphere to meditate upon if you crave a deep, platonic relationship. Many asexual and aromantic people may feel a particular kinship with this sphere.
One of the pop culture correspondences I hold for Hod is that of Peridot from Steven Universe. I see Peridot’s intense-and-apparently-platonic relationship with Lapis, a character defined by wild, emotional passion, as representative of the Hod-Netzach dynamic, and how those two spheres can balance and create amazing things together.
Pathworking to experience Hod
Welcome to the Hod pathworking, from Major Arqueerna. Please ensure you are seated comfortably and won’t be disturbed for the next ten minutes while you do this pathworking.
Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths, slowly, in and out. With each exhalation, let go any tension you find in your body.
Without opening your eyes, visualize the room around you. Now picture it filling with a gray mist, starting at the floor and working its way up to the ceiling, until the only thing you can see is grayness. As the mist dissipates, you find yourself in a field, sitting on a small, wooden platform colored olive, citrine, russet, and black. It’s dark, but there’s a glow at the horizon – it’s either just after sunset or just before sunrise.
In the sky, near the horizon, you can see a bright, yellowish dot you know to be Mercury. As you gaze at it, the platform you’re sitting on begins to move toward it. The field and its sounds and smells fade into the distance as you ride the platform, slowly rising higher in the air, flying over forests and hills, until you gradually leave the atmosphere and are flying in space. You can breathe normally and are unafraid of the height – the platform feels stable and secure.
As Mercury grows larger in your sight, you feel your mind suddenly racing, analyzing aspects of its features and location in the sky, and all the correspondences you know for Mercury. You think of Hermes, the caduceus, winged shoes, communication. Words and symbols flash through your mind like lightning and suddenly you are surrounded by an orange mist, obscuring your view.
When the mist dissipates, the platform and Mercury have vanished, and you find yourself in a vast library with orange shelves, going in every direction, higher and further than your eyes can see. The air smells a bit musty, like old books, and the floor is composed of pearl and azure tiles, each inscribed with a different symbol. You recognize some as runes, some as astrological symbols, some as alchemical symbols, some as abbreviations from the periodic table of elements, but the rest are a mystery to you. The sheer size of the library and the amount of knowledge it contains boggles your mind.
A person walks around a bookshelf to your left and greets you. They’re wearing rich orange robes and have a stack of books under one of their arms. They explain that they are the librarian here, and bow in welcome and respect. You bow in return, and notice that you feel an instant kinship with this person, a desire to pick their brain about any number of subjects.
Your host leads you to a corner where there is a small cafe. They offer you a hot drink and some cookies, and you accept. Setting their stack of books on a table, they retrieve your snacks and drinks and you both sit in soft leather armchairs. “So,” says your host. “We’re here in this vast house of knowledge. Knowledge is gained and discoveries are made by making connections between different ideas. I want to talk to you about your connections for a minute.”
Your host makes a complicated gesture and in the air above your heads appears a vast diagram of people connected with lines. You recognize a small image of yourself in the middle, and all the lines and points emanating from that image to represent your family, various friend groups, professional networks, casual acquaintances, and others. You notice there are different types of lines connecting you to the other people. They appear to indicate the quality and type of the connection.
Your host points at the diagram. “When we step back and analyze things, our relationships can look a lot different,” they say. “Look at the lines. Which of these relationships feeds you, and which ones drain you?” Look at the diagram, and answer.
Your host nods. “Is there anything you see here that surprises you?” they ask. Answer them.
Your host nods again. “Is there anything you need to do to strengthen any of your connections so that they are more nourishing and less draining?” asks your host. Answer them.
Your host clears your empty plates and cups and leads you to a corner of the library, where you see lots of colorful books on display. “Please take one of these, and let it guide you in the days and weeks ahead,” your host says. Examine the display, and choose a book. Note the title and any images that appear on the cover.
When you’ve chosen your book, your host guides you to an elevator. You notice the floor of the elevator is the same wooden platform you took to get here. They bid you farewell and you thank them for their guidance and the gift. You step into the elevator and the doors close. The night sky surrounds you. You think on what you have learned as you zoom back through space, Mercury appearing once more and growing smaller and smaller until it’s just a dot near the horizon as you glide safely back down towards the field. You make a soft landing and step off the platform. You gaze at Mercury one last time, whispering a thanks for the experiences you’ve had.
Eventually, the air around you begins to fill with a pearly-gray mist, until you can no longer see the field. When the mist dissipates, you find yourself seated comfortably once more. Take a deep breath, wiggle your fingers and your toes, and when you are ready, open your eyes.
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