The Ten Sefirot, or "emanations" or "enumerations", form the very heart of all Kabbalistic theology and theosophy. The sefirot are the ten archetypal attributes or characteristics of the Godhead. A distinction is made in Kabbalah between the unknowable Godhead, the En Sof or "infinite", and the knowable qualities of God, represented by the sefirot.
The idea of ten archetypal qualities first appears in an enigmatic pre-kabbalistic text, the Sefer Yetzirah. They are next found in the Sefer Bahir, one of the earliest treatises of Kabbalah-proper. As Kabbalah developed the Sefirot have been given different meanings, each later meaning been superimposed over the earlier ones. The arrangement of the Sefirot in the "Tree of Life" (Aytz Hiyam) has also differed slightly.
It is necessary to visualize these Ten Sefirot as being connected by "pathways" that go both down and accross the diagram -- and particularly the Pathway of the "Center Column" (Sefirot 1, 6, 9 and 10, the sum of which, incidently, equals 26, the Gematria of the Hebrew letters YHVH, the name of God). The central pillar and the two side columns have also been identified with the central nadi and the two side channels of the Tantric Kundalini system of chakras.
Click on the appropriate sefirah on the above image, or on one of the following links, for more information.
The Ten Sefirot of the Kabbalah - by Eliezer Segal. An excellent introduction to the details of each sefirah - tabulates the correspondences of each. Note that some of these attributes differ from those asigned the sefirot in the Qabalistic system.
Peter Nordquist's array formulation of The Tree of Life - Concerning this diagram Peter says: "There are many processes that are mapped to this array that I am becoming aware of but have not yet made a proper diagram of, such as the "As Above, So Below", which would work from the extremes toward the center, for example. I find it especially noteworthy that I have not come across a mapping of the 10 commandments to the 10 Sefirot, so I mapped according to the most obvious and in accordance with the natural array. I am beginning to understand the very controversial nature of the disagreement regarding the numbering of Yesod and Malkhut, since they represent the male and female sexual organs." It should be added that the Sephirotic Tree is in these diagrams conveyed with its "front" to us rather than its more usual "back." i.e. the polarity of "mercy" is here on the left and the polarity of "severity" on the right..