“Are there many of these great bands?” I asked.
“As many as infinity itself,” he replied. “Seers have found out, however, that in the earth there are only forty-eight such bands.”
“What is the meaning of that, don Juan?”
“For seers it means that there are forty-eight types of organizations of the earth, forty-eight types of clusters or structures. Organic life is one of them.”
“Does that mean that there are forty-seven types of inorganic life?”
“No, not at all. The old seers counted seven bands that produced inorganic bubbles of awareness. In other words, there are forty bands that produce bubbles without awareness; those are bands that generate only organization.
“Think of the great bands as being like trees. All of them bear fruit; they produce containers filled with emanations; yet only eight of those trees bear edible fruit, that is, bubbles of awareness. Seven have sour fruit, but edible nonetheless, and one has the most juicy, luscious fruit there is.” –Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 158
- One organic band of awareness
- Seven inorganic bands of awareness
- Forty inorganic bands without awareness.
Let’s compare this with Qabalah. According to Qabalah, the world has four levels or universes: Atziluth (spiritual), Briah (heavens), Yetzirah (astral), and Assiah (physical).
Each universe has a particular elemental modus operandi:
- Atziluth: fiery (spirit)
- Briah: liquid
- Yetzirah: airy
- Assiah: earthy
Each universe has its own Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life has ten spheres (Sephirah) and twenty-two paths connecting those spheres.
The twenty-two paths (bands) associate with the twelve zodiacs, the seven basic planetary forces, and the three spiritual planetary forces. Qabalists like to call these paths intelligences.
The Tree of Life has seven visible layers and three pillars. The eighth layer, occupied by Daath, is invisible.
He said that the way the Eagle bestows awareness is by means of the three giant bundles of emanations that run through eight great bands. These bundles are quite peculiar, because they make seers feel a hue. One bundle gives the feeling of being beige-pink, something like the glow of pink-colored street lamps; another gives the feeling of being peach, like buff neon lights; and the third bundle gives the feeling of being amber, like clear honey.
– Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 159
22 paths in four worlds – that makes 48 paths in total.
The sun in Tarot card 19 has 48 thin rays between the larger rays. This is an illustration of the last sentence of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes: What I have to say is completed according to the operation of the Sun.
What is the sun’s operation? The sun organizes matter to produce organic life and biological awareness.
We are the Tree of Life too and all Sephiroth and intelligences are inside us. The paths/intelligences of the Tree of Life hold the secrets to enlightenment. We don’t acquire a Sephirah or an intelligence, we only become conscious of them. As we ascend the Tree of Life and descend again, we receive all the powers of the inferior and superior intelligences. Hence, the number 48 symbolizes the conscious conquest of all paths of the Tree of Life in all four worlds.
48 = 3 x 16. The third Tarot card is the Empress and the 16th Tarot card is the Tower, the Mars force. The Mars force signifies our raw mental drive and ambition. This force can easily turn into anger and become destructive.
The sun is made of fire, but it is benevolent. It does not burn, it glows. How does fire become benevolent? The Empress turns Mars into a benevolent force. The Empress is the womb of the world, the life-giver. In the context of psychology, she represents creative imagination.
48 is the value of GDVLH, Gedulah. Gedulah means magnificence, greatness, majesty, and magnificence. It is a title of Chesed, Mercy, the fourth Sephirah on the Tree of Life. The root of Gedulah is GDL, which means to twist, suggesting a spiral motion. Gedulah is associated with Jupiter, the Greater Fortune in Astrology (Venus is the Lesser Fortune). Jupiter rules the cyclic activities of the macrocosmos and microcosmos. Jupiter is the key force of evolution and expansion.
48 is also the value of the Latin arbor (tree), fons (fountain), and rota (wheel). Arbor and fons are all over Qabalistic and Rosicrucian texts. The Tree of Life is the Fountain of Life (at the center of the City of Peace). Rota reminds of the Wheel of Fortune, which is associated with Jupiter. It also designates the mysterious book of nature that nobody has ever seen. A hint: rota is the origin of the word Tarot.
The Megillah, a Talmudic tractate, states that Israel had 48 prophets and seven prophetesses. The 48 prophets are the 48 intelligences and paths on the Tree of Life in four worlds, and the seven prophetesses are the seven visible layers of the Tree of Life. The prophetesses also symbolize the seven cosmic powers, the seven days of creation, and the seven inner planetary spheres (chakras).
“The total world is made of forty-eight bands,” he said. “The world that our assemblage point assembles for our normal perception is made up of two bands; one is the organic band, the other is a band that has only structure but not awareness. The other forty-six great bands are not part of the world we normally perceive.”
He paused again for pertinent questions. I had none.
“There are other complete worlds that our assemblage point can assemble,” he went on. “The old seers counted seven such worlds, one for each band of awareness. I’ll add that two of those worlds, besides the world of everyday life, are easy to assemble; the other five are something else.”
– Carlos Castaneda, The Fire from Within, page 163