TheTree of Life, orEtz haChayim(עץ החיים) in Hebrew, is a classic descriptive term for the central mystical symbol used in the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism, also known as the 10 Sephirot, and the 22 Paths. Its diagrammatic representation, arranged in 3 columns/pillars, may derive from older sources and is not known to the earlier Jewish tradition.The tree, visually or conceptually, represents as a series of divine emanations God's creation itselfex nihilo, the nature of revealed divinity, the human soul, and the spiritual path of ascent by man. In this way, Kabbalists developed the symbol into a full model of reality, using the tree to depict a map ofCreation.
The symbolic configuration of 10 spiritual principles (11 can be shown, of which -KeterandDa'atare interchangeable), Jewish Kabbalah usually refers to the symbol as the 10 Sephirot, while non-Jewish Christian Cabala and Hermetic Qabalah generally terms it universally as the Cabalistic/QabalisticTree of Life. This metaphor derives from Judaic Kabbalah, though is understood less universally. In the Jewish Kabbalist view, both of the two trees in the BiblicalGarden of Eden, the Tree of knowledge of good and evil and the Tree of Life were alternative perspectives of the Sephirot: the full array of 10 as seen respectively from the last SephirahMalkuth, and the middle SephirahTiferet.
From theRenaissanceonwards, the Jewish mystical concept was adopted by some esoterically inclined Christians as well as someHermeticists. Among the Christian Cabalists,thesephirotwere also calledDignities, referred to by Latin, instead of Hebrew, names.Christian Cabala also places emphasis onChristas Sustainer and Preserver of the Universe, and the Malkuth of Jewish Kabbalah is absent, as it is considered of a different order-of-being.Hermetic Qabalah's use of the Tree continues as a contemporaryWestern esotericismtradition, with alternativeEsoteric ChristianandOccultist emphases.