When approaching the Tree of Life as a map of an initiatic journey, most modern CM groups taking a que from the GD follow the Flaming Sword pattern which takes them through the 10 spheres in a specific order. A few months ago, I wrote a post about how the Sangreal Sodalities "Office of the Tree of Life' works all 22 paths, rather than focusing on just the spheres. This is IMO far superior because the paths are necessary bridges between the powers represented by the spheres, and if you only hit the ones covered by the Flaming Sword you will not work them all. Most modern CM people I tell this too get a look of astonishment on their face as if they had just been told a great secret, but its right there on the map. If you werent meant to work them, than what they hell are they doing there?
So within the context of our Sodality as a group, that is how we work them. That is not however how I worked the tree.
I advocate my own pattern for working the tree. I call it: THE WATERSLIDE.
The waterslide kabbala advocates the view that the pillars of mercy and severity have far more to do with manifesting spirit into matter than matter ascending into spirit.
On a waterslide you typically climb a ladder or staircase that goes in the most direct way possible to the top of the structure. Once at the pinnacle of the structure you can choose any number of slides. Some will straight shots right down as fast as possible. They get the job done,suddenly or shockingly, but you have to keep your legs closed or you will hurt your nads, or if you are a woman, loose your bikini top. If you ever rode the Kamikazi at Action Park, you know what I am speaking of. Other slides will be twisty and slower, but more fun. Some will be tunnels that eve, go completely underground (the cannonball at action park).
Crowleys book of the Law was right in pointing out that there are only three real grades.
1. Those that have set foot into Yesode to see the world beyond conventional perception.
2. Those that have entered Tiphareth and attained the K&C of the HGA, know their True Will.
3. Those that have crossed the Abyss and know reality as it is. The non-dual gnosis.
These can all be attained by using the central pillar; the stairwell that leads to the top of the structure. This is the pillar used by Mystics who yearn for"union" or "enlightenment" or "Gnosis". Esotericists who are more concerned with mapping the trip than they are in reaching their destination are trying to climb up the slide rather than take the stairs. Note with the exception of the path from Malkuth to Yesode, that flaming sword pattern avoids the central pillar of the tree almost entirely. WHY? It leaves the paths entirely when crossing the abyss.
I say take the stairs. I have climbed up a slide in the past (worked at six flags GA for years as a kid) and I can tell you its not all that fun. Once at the top you can look down and choose whatever slide to get back down to Malkuth that you want. Best of all, you can quickly run back up the stairs in your soaking wet bathing suit and slide down a different one.
If you really want to make that map, its a lot easier from the top. There is a saying that all paths lead to the same place. Experience has taught me that this is false. Most paths don't lead anywhere. Sadly you wont realize this until you get to the top of the structure and see the slides.
Like the tree of life, don't take this metaphor to literally. The tree of life is not a place. Its a map, and truth be told, its sort of a shitty map at that.