NB: Taken from a conversation with Tad.
The great chain of being is a hierarchical structure of all matter and life, thought by medieval Christianity to have been decreed by God. The chain begins with God and descends through angels, humans, animals and plants to minerals.
The great chain of being (Latin: scala naturae, "Ladder of Being") is a concept derived from Plato, Aristotle (in his Historia Animalium), Plotinus and Proclus. Further developed during the Middle Ages, it reached full expression in early modern Neoplatonism. (Wikipedia)
This “great chain of being” reminds me of the “ladder of animals” shared earlier. As God (the One) is all being, it follows that his emanations (the beings of the physical cosmos) exist on a spectrum of higher or lower levels of being. We observe this both in the animal world (a lion is at a higher level of being than a mouse) and in the human world (where someone of the “lion” archetype is at a higher level of being than a “mouse”).