The Nazarene Way of Essenic Studies
~ The Tree of Life ~

Excerpted from "The Teachings of the Essenes: From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls."

By Edmond Bordeaux Szekely

Edmond Bordeaux Szekely (pronounced Say-Kay)
The Teachings of the Essenes

From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls

Chapter Three

The several chapters of this book are compiled from material antedating the findings of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. During the twenty preceding years, 1927 to 1947, I wrote and published a number of books on the Essenes based on certain historical sources such as the works of Josephus Flavius, Philo and Plinius, and on manuscripts in the Library of the Vatican, the Library of the Habsburgs in Vienna and the Library of the British Museum. In these books I concentrated on the Essene traditions which I consider of great practical value for modern man.


When the first discoveries at Qumrum became public and many persons urged me to publish an interpretation of these new findings, I decided to do so in two volumes. This first volume condenses the quintessence of the Essene traditions from pre-Qumrum sources. The second volume will deal exclusively with the new discoveries.


The present work is concerned with the meaning of the Essene traditions in relation to their values for mankind today and the actual practices which result in an expansion of consciousness. These values may be considered from four standpoints.

  • The Essene traditions represent a synthesis of the great contributions to humanity of the different cultures of antiquity.

  • They represent for us a path leading away from the one-sided utilitarian technology of contemporary civilization, a valid and practical teaching utilizing all the sources of energy, harmony and knowledge everywhere surrounding us.

  • They give us permanent standards in an age where truth seems to dissolve in a continual shifting of concepts.

  • This resulting neurosis and insecurity is given a complete balance and harmony through the Essene teachings.

It is noteworthy that in his book, "The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls," A. Powell Davies says of the Essenes, "The Christian Church in its organization, its sacraments, its teaching and its literature is related to-and in its early stages may have been identical with-the New Covenanters, who were known as Essenes, some of whom wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls."


Likewise significant in the pre-Qumrum traditions of the Essenes is the existence of certain Zoroastrian elements, a fact which I have previously maintained and which Arnold Toynbee has also pointed out in a recent writing. They bear a similar correlation to later teachings like those of the Kabala and Freemasonry. Their most unique element, which has apparently been developed independently, is their science of Angelology.


The quotations appearing on the page preceding each chapter are from two of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the "Manual of Disciplines" and the "Thanksgiving Psalms," or "Book of Hymns," which I have translated from photo static copies of the original texts found in the caves of Qumrum.

Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, San Diego, California, 1957


Chapter 3

The Essene Tree of Life


Man has appeared to realize, as far back as records exist, that he was surrounded by invisible forces. In culture after culture of the past he has used a certain symbolism to express his relationship to these forces in the midst of which he moves. This mystical symbol which has been imbedded in almost all religions and occult teachings is called the Tree of Life. In outer legend and inner wisdom man's deepest intuitions have focused about it.


It was considered by Zoroaster as the law itself and was the center of his philosophy and way of thinking. In the hidden teachings of Moses, the Essene Book of Genesis, it was the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden guarded by angels. The Essenes called it the Tree of Life.


To the earlier concepts of the Tree, the Essenes added what the ancient writers called Angelology. This Science of the Angels was brought forth by the Essenes at their brotherhood in Palestine. Their angels were the forces in the universe.


It was known by many of the ancient peoples that these invisible forces were a source of energy and power, and that man's life was sustained by contact with them. They knew that to the degree man was able to utilize these forces, he would move forward in his individual evolution in body and spirit, and as he put himself in harmony with them, his life would prosper. Certain of the people not only knew of these forces but had specific methods of contacting and utilizing them.


In many lands these forces were considered to be of two kinds, good and evil, and eternally opposed to each other. Zoroaster in his Zend Avesta described the Ahuras and Fravashis as the good forces forever battling with the evil Khrafstras and Devas. The Toltecs in Mexico and Central America held a world picture in which the good forces were called the Army of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, and the evil forces were the Army of Tezcatlipoca, the Jaguar. These two armies were shown in the Toltec pictographs as being in continual conflict with each other. In the Zoroastrian and Toltec concepts destructive forces were always fighting the constructive ones.


The concept of the Essenes differed from these and other world pictures in that it recognized only the positive and constructive forces in the universe. The Essene angels correspond to the good forces of Zoroaster, the Ahuras and Fravashis, and to the good forces of the Toltecs, the Army of Quetzalcoatl. It was held to be man's role in the universe to so strengthen the good, positive forces that the evil negative ones would be overcome and disappear from the earth.


The Essene Tree of Life represented fourteen positive forces, seven of them heavenly or cosmic forces and seven earthly or terrestrial forces. The Tree was pictured as having seven roots reaching down into the earth and seven branches extending up toward the heavens, thus symbolizing man's relationship to both earth and heaven.


Man was pictured in the center of the tree half-way between heaven and earth. The use of the number seven is an integral part of the Essene tradition which has been transmitted to Western cultures in various outer ways, such as the seven days of the week.


Each root and branch of the tree represented a different force or power. The roots represented earthly forces and powers, the Earthly Mother, the Angel of Earth, the Angel of Life, the Angel of joy, the Angel of the Sun, the Angel of Water and the Angel of Air. The seven branches represented cosmic powers, The Heavenly Father, and his Angels of Eternal Life, Creative Work, Peace, Power, Love and Wisdom. These were the Essene angels of the visible and invisible worlds.


In ancient Hebrew and Medieval literature these heavenly and earthly forces or angels were given names, Michael, Gabriel and so on; and they were pictured in religious art as human figures with wings and clad in flowing robes, such as in the frescoes of Michael Angelo.


Man, in the center of the Tree, was seen to be surrounded as in a magnetic field, by all the forces, or angels, of heaven and earth. He was pictured as in the meditation posture, the upper half of his body above the ground and the lower half in the earth. This indicated that part of man is allied to the forces of heaven and part to the forces of earth. This concept closely parallels that of Zoroaster who represented the universe as a framework of realms with man in its center and the various forces above and below him. It also corresponds to the Toltec ritual performed on the steps of their pyramids with man in the midst of all the forces.


This position of man in the center of the Tree, with the earthly forces below him and the heavenly forces above, also corresponds to the position of the organs in the physical body. The gastric and generative tracts in the lower half of the body, being instruments of self-preservation and self-perpetuation, belong to the earthly forces. Whereas the lungs and brain, in the upper half of the body, are the instruments of breathing and thinking and thus connect man with the finer forces of the universe.


Contact with the angelic forces represented by the Tree of Life was the very essence of the daily life of the Essenes. They knew that to be in harmony with these forces they must make conscious effort to contact them. The Essenes were spoken of by the ancient writers as an extremely practical people. Their concepts were not just theories; they knew exactly how to be continually aware of the forces about them and how to absorb their power and put them into action in their daily lives.


They had the deep wisdom to understand that these forces were sources of energy, knowledge and harmony by which man can transform his organism into a more and more sensitive instrument to receive and consciously utilize the forces. Furthermore, they considered that to put himself into harmony with the forces of the Heavenly Father and the Earthly Mother was man's most important activity in life.

The characteristics of each one of the different forces was very clear to them and they knew what the force meant in each individual's life and how it should be utilized.


They also understood the relationship between the forces. They considered that each heavenly force has an earthly force corresponding to it and each earthly force a corresponding heavenly power. These corresponding heavenly and earthly forces were placed on the Essene Tree of Life diagonally across from each other, one above and one below man. A line drawn between any two corresponding forces consequently passed directly through man in the center of the Tree.


The forces which correspond with each other, above and below, are as follows:


The Heavenly Father and the Earthly Mother


The Angel of Eternal Life and the Angel of Earth


The Angel of Creative Work and the Angel of Life


The Angel of Peace and the Angel of joy


The Angel of Power and the Angel of the Sun


The Angel of Love and the Angel of Water


The Angel of Wisdom and the Angel of Air


These correlations showed the Essenes that when an individual contacts any earthly force he is also in touch with a certain heavenly power. This enabled them to understand how necessary it is to be in perfect harmony with each and every one of the forces and angels, both in the visible and invisible worlds.


The symbolical Tree of Life made it clear to the people how inseparably they are linked to all the forces, cosmic and terrestrial, and it showed them what their relationship is to each.

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