Welcome back to our next article on the Zefra and their real-world origins! Today we're going to finish off with the last round of monsters; cards we didn't touch last time. The Zefra theme's seen a bit of competitive play recently, paired with the Yang Zing. As Pendulums continue to grow in power and new Pendulum decks emerge, the deck will likely continue to get better through related Pendulum support.

Just like in the Kabbalistic Tree, each of the linked sephira (spheres) associated with the Zefra work together, or compliment one another. Opposites on the tree will work together to curb or pacify the aspects of the other to create a harmonic relationship. While all ten spheres are meant to work in tandem, that can't always be the case for imperfect beings such as humans. The same can be said about the Zefra monsters and the combos you can create by following the paths mentioned in the actual Kabbalstic texts.

Essentially, if you understand the paths set forth as denoted by the tree itself in real-world mythology, you'll actually be able to understand the combinations set forth by the Zefra monsters. Someone REALLY did their research in Konami R&D when they built and planned this theme...or it's just a really hilarious coincidence.

Hod - Glory Is The Color Orange
The orange sphere of Hod represents Zefraxa, Flame Beast of the Nekroz. Hod is the sphere of "glory" or "majesty" and perseverance. It's in this sphere we learn to overcome, and to become more than an obstacle in front of us. Rather than being consumed by adversity, this sphere teaches us to turn adversity against itself. It's a power not to be used against one another, but rather a useful tool to enrich and help our lives and the lives of those around us.

I can't think of a better Zefra monster to personify the concept of Hod than Zefraxa, Flame Beast of the Nekroz. Not coincidentally, it serves as the delegate of this sphere since it features the orange sphere of Hod within its chest. While not necessarily an ends to a means, in a time of need, Zefraxa, Flame Beast of the Nekroz will summon itself from the hand or graveyard acting like a shield, or being a possible attacker, after running smack into Mirror Force! It can also set you up for further Synchro or Xyz Summons as well. I think the monster enforces the concept of Hod very well in that manner.

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Exa, Enforcer of the Nekroz is one of the few Zefra monsters that transforms from one monster into a new monster in attribute and name, becoming Zefraxa, Flame Beast of the Nekroz. Interestingly, the newly christened monster's name is very similar to the word "abraxas," or more conveniently "abraxas stones." Abraxas stones were gemstones worn as pendants or jewellery in and engraved with the mystical word "abraxas."

The word "abraxas" serves as a reference to the gnostic archons, which were demons and angels mentioned in Gnostic writings. I'll go into more details on the archons another day as they're very important in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! imagery at the moment, specifically an older, forgotten monster. But for now, know that the word "abraxas" itself is made of seven letters – another reference to seven as a an important number – which are thought to represent the seven planets and the word "abracadabra." It's thought that a being named Abraxas was also an Egyptian god, or perhaps a demon. Abraxas was said to be a very frightening god at that, and shares some similarities with the monster Zefraxa, Flame Beast of the Nekroz.

Both this monster and Abraxas are featured with flaming hands and serpentine tails, and they both feature head combs. Coincidence, of course, but it's fascinating that these two entities could in fact be related to one another. Abraxas was found in both Judaic and Greek cultures and wasn't exclusive to either.

Chokmah - Grey Is The Color Of Wisdom
The concept of wisdom, conscious intellect of creation. Chokmah's the act of selflessness, that which puts others before itself. Consideration of other things allows for the mind to be open to concepts we wouldn't otherwise be able to see or experience. Wisdom, the forefront of action before all else, knowing when and when not, is affiliated with this sphere. Wisdom's something accumulated and not a basal skill, something learned.

While the actual story of Saterllarknight Zefraxciton, originally Steelswarm Roach, isn't exactly laid out for us in plain fashion, we know that it's related to this form. In fact, based on fragmented images, this monster has existed since the original Duel Terminal War making it one of the oldest monsters in the very long backstory. You can see that Evilswarm Roach is present in the artwork of Sacred Serpent's Wake, and that it's somehow involved in the last appearance with the Shaddolls in the form of Evilswarm Exciton Knight. Eventually, it's relegated to the role of a Stellarknight.

It's safe to say this monster sort of acts as a hierophant; a living memory of all that was and what has become. Perhaps that's why it's delegated by the sphere of Chokmah. Like all Stellarknights, Zefraxciton's flanked by the constellation of Musca the fly constellation – it's a constellation not found in the northern hemisphere, but rather in the southern hemisphere.

Interestingly, the symbol represented in the sphere of Chokmah is the phallus, and as the usual symbol for the phallus we have Satellarkngiht Zefraxciton holding a sword in its hand. In fact, all of the "male" monsters associated with the explicitly male Sephira hold swords. Probably just a coincidence, but an interesting one. The angel representing Chokmah is Raziel, an angel associated with helping humanity turn their knowledge into wisdom so that we can better understand the will of god and how we are one with it.

Gevurah - Red Is The Color Of Might
Power is only as useful as one's ability to understand it, wield it and reciprocate it. While Gevurah may stand for "might" in the mythology of these traditions, it also stands for "restraint." Represented as the physically weak, but powerful effect of Satellarknight Zefrathuban, that card very accurately represents the concept of Gevurah. While the monster may lack Attack Points, it makes up for that in its destruction effect and DEF.

The monster wearing the armor in the artwork for Satellarknight Zefrathuban is unknown, but the armor looks a lot like Chiwen, Light of Yang Zing. Chiwen's seen falling from the constellation of Draco in Yang Zing Creation's artwork, further solidifying these two monsters in their affiliation with Draco.

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Thuban, a star found in the Draco constellation, was thought to have been the original Pole Star (a prominent star aligned with the earth's axis of rotation). That probably explains why Zefrathuban's a Satellarknight, not a Stellarknight like Stellarknight Zefraexciton. Coincidentally, Thuban's presumed to be either a white or red dwarf star, informing the prominent color of Zefrathuban's armor and the red jewel adorning its chest.

The angel associated with Gevurah is Kamael, an angel associated with the wrath of god. It's formally recognized as a destroyer, but for divine purpose, acting in a sense for the greater good. If some must perish for others to be safe, it's what must be done; such was the angels' way in these mythologies. That kind of concept resembles Satellarknight Zefrathuban perfectly.

Binah - Blue Is The Color of Understanding
Binah is meant to be "understanding," helping you determine truth from falsehood through comprehension and analysis. This sphere brings things into creation and being, which may explain the relation between this monster and the Yang Zing and Zefra themed spell and trap cards, searching them out. It doesn't symbolize physical creation, but the ability to create form.

That's is true for the monster representing Binah as well: Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing. The secret here is the ability to understand; to truly recognize and comprehend. It's an ability that not everyone is gifted with and must sometimes be learned. Representing the secret of creation, Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing allows you to search for any Yang Zing or Zefra spell or trap.

It's an amazingly useful effect and can help solve your problems with a variety of different answers: Yang Zing Creation and Yang Zing Path can create more monsters and forward your range of options; Zefra Divine Strike can skillfully evade threats; and Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing is related to the feminine principals of Binah. To read more about the feminine qualities and aspects of Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing, click here.

The angel Tzaphkiel is associated with Binah. Its job is to help enlighten others in matters regarding the divine and help them better understand the ways of god.

Chesed - Black Is The Color Of Mercy
Chesed is the fourth sphere in the Tree of Life and is translated to something akin to "loving kindness," "mercy," or "generosity." It's the primary moving action or the beginning – that which knocks the dominos over. The message of this sphere should be interpreted as treating a person as you would yourself, a force for goodness or mercy.

The kind of mercy Chesed represents can go so far as to be called a covenant between two individuals. It's an act that has no cause, in that it's the beginning, the mover and that which initiates. It gives with nothing asked or expected in return. Generosity with no reward. It's the beginning of any relationship.

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Chesed can also be associated with prosperity, opportunity, building and releasing the inner form. All of these could be considered part of its ability to transform others, and it ties into Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing and its ability to transform monsters into Tuners. Zefraxi even returns itself to the deck so it can fulfill its ability again and re-establish itself as the primary mover of transformation, enabling more Synchro Summons.

The angel Zadkiel is associated with Chesed, and was said to be responsible for answering people's prayers and assuring them of god's goodness. Zadkiel's sort of like god's postman, delivering god's grace and answering the prayers of his creations. The effect of Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing grants its "Tuning" effect in much the same way.

Yesod - Violet Is The Color Of Foundation
Yesod translates as "foundation" and is associated with the monster Shaddoll Zefranaga. Yesod's strength lies in its ability to remain grounded. Associated with the male procreative organ, the monster's design suggests it was converted from Evilswarm Kerykeion. Both Kerykeion and its foil Constellar Sombre were chosen to establish and build upon the "Lswarm" and "Constellar" archetypes. Yesod is mythologically the bridge that connects, and is the manifestation of creation, the foundation of a continued heritage. This sephira's concerned with future generations and establishing their continued survival.

Shaddoll Zefranaga's effect returns any Pendulum Spell back to the hand when it's sent to the graveyard or summoned. That can re-establish and create new combinations of Pendulum Scales, balancing and restoring a new "foundation" or even rebuilding it into new set-ups. You can also use it for combos that involve activating card effects again, such as Luster Pendulum the Dracoslayer, Performage Plushfire or any other abusable Pendulum monster.

Gabriel is Yesod's associated angel, said to have proclaimed faith and help believers connect with the divine. As the herald of the divine, it marks the starting point of divine education for those with no understanding of such.

Malkuth - The Polychromatic Of Kingship
We spoke about Malkuth at length when we discussed El Shaddoll Shekhinaga. Malkuth is known as "the Kingdom" wherein everything resolves and becomes completed, quite the opposite of Yesod. Malkuth is where we resolve and are granted "self-expression." In this sense, we are free to affect ourselves and the environment and people around us. Imposing influence is an important part of Malkuth. Such imposition doesn't have to be a negative thing; it can be a helpful solution. Malkuth takes aspects from the sephira above it and reconstitutes them into itself.

Physically, this monster is a dichotomy, torn between the darkness and light, composed of the Gem-Knights and Shaddolls. Its body shares the features of both, displaying the gemstone and armor of the Gem-Knights, as well as the "puppet-like" pieces that mark the Shaddolls, and which keep the monster mobile and attached to one another. Interestingly, this monster shares MANY physical aspects with the card Condemned Maiden. Perhaps it's an allusion to both monster tribes having fallen from grace? This dichotomy of color's also associated with the sphere of Malkuth, which is depicted as being multi-colored in real-world traditions.

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Shaddoll Zefracore physically resembles Shaddoll Core, and I think it's safe to say that the two cards are essentially the same entity. In fact, El Shaddoll Grysta can be included to create a sort of triptych. While Shaddoll Zefranaga was concerned with re-establishing and creating combos, Shaddoll Zefracore gets right to business and summons the Zefra monster from your Pendulum Zone instead. In that way it can help to finish combinations in the form of Xyz, Synchro, Fusion or Ritual Summons.

Zefracore probably doesn't see play because it really hasn't found a way to be useful yet. Most Zefra monsters won't activate their effects through a traditional Special Summon but it combos well enough with Shaddoll Zefranaga, fulfilling the summoning needs of the Shaddoll theme.

Sandalphon is the angel associated with Malkuth, answering the prayers of humanity and delivers them to the divine. Sadly, Shaddoll Zefracore has yet to answer any prayers for the deck itself or even the Shaddoll theme.

I hope you enjoyed today's article on the Zefra and the Inspiration that created them. I hope the theme sees more support and play as Pendulum cards continue to grow in power!

-Franco Ferrara