Friday, August 5, 2011


By Frater Barrabbas

Studying the Qabbalah isn’t just a lot of book reading, memorization or picking up handy practical techniques for working magick. The themes that it relates, the esoteric doctrines it explores and the various Godhead names, spirit lists, symbolic tables of correspondence and practical techniques that it reveals are not the source and core of the spiritual discipline of the Qabbalah. Like everything else, the Qabbalah is not reducible to being nothing more than the sum of its parts. Qabbalah is a living and breathing tradition, and for those who do not engage with it so as to make it come alive for themselves are missing something very crucial and important in their occult studies and practices.

It’s quite obvious to anyone who seeks to be proficient at magick that at some point, you have to put down the books, papers, notes and other materials, and actually attempt to perform rituals and ceremonies. Nothing is more contemptible than an armchair magician, but what about the armchair qabbalist? That would seem to be OK, as the Qabbalah often gets lost in the details of its various and multitudinous amounts of lore. Yet as the discipline of magick requires one to perform rituals and ceremonies, so too does the Qabbalah require one to adopt a qabbalistic spiritual discipline. To be a true adherent of the Qabbalah, one must practice and perform qabbalistic operations, exercises and rites. The key to a true realization and understanding of the Qabbalah is that it must become a living and breathing spiritual tradition for anyone who seeks to use it in any manner other than a purely mercenary one. A student of western occultism and magick can also be a qabbalist without also having to be an adherent of one of the Abrahamic faiths, particularly, Judaism and Christianity. Qabbalah lends itself quite well to the polytheist, animist, gnostic, theosophist and pagan witch, but it is also quite important to anyone who seeks to work ritual or ceremonial magick. Why do I think that this is true?

Unless the purpose of magick is just for enriching and empowering oneself without any spiritual considerations or, for that matter, consequences, then the typical magickal practitioner is seeking some kind of spiritual realization and growth. I have also repeatedly pointed out the fact that spiritualization is a natural outgrowth of magickal practices, whether one intends that to happen or not. I believe that transformative experiences and even the accumulation of occult knowledge and spiritual awakening is inescapable. Root doctors and hoodoo specialists become wise and deeply insightful over time, and so do practitioners of ritual and ceremonial magick. A constant and continuous exposure to spirits, various Godheads and the domain of Spirit in general will have a profound and permanent effect on the practitioner, whether intended or not. However, if magicians deliberately seek to be spiritually transformed and achieve the effects of ascension and gnosis, then it behooves them to have a road map so that they might know where they are, and where they are going.

Qabbalah gives the practicing magician a road map to personal transformation, ascension and ultimately, pure gnosis. Not only that, but it also gives the practicing magician a trigger to make those processes happen, whenever and wherever he or she wills it to be. So, it’s not only a spiritual road map, but it’s also the levers that help the magician to achieve those higher conscious strata of the domain of Spirit. Yet there is one little catch, and that is that the magician must make the various structures and doctrines of the Qabbalah into an experiential phenomenon. And to fully use the Qabbalah as a mechanism to trigger ascension and enlightenment, it must become a living spiritual tradition.

How do we make the Qabbalah into a living tradition? We make it real by taking the various symbologies and structures, and through meditation, contemplation, pathworking, invocation/evocation and Godhead assumption, transforming them into an awakened and living part of our beings. It is through the five operations named above that we are able to fully activate the symbologies and structures of the Tree of Life. If we superimpose the Tree of Life over our own bodies and activate its various structures within our own being, then that great symbolic structure will become a powerful and dynamic element in our spiritual lives. There is no other way to inculcate the Qabbalah into one’s life except by bringing it literally into the body and the mind of the practitioner.

I have proposed exercises and operations to achieve this kind of union, and I can assume that there are a myriad of ways of achieving this important goal. Yet I am also quite amazed and amused that many others haven’t been able to recognize its importance. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if a magician chooses another system or discipline over the Qabbalah, as long as they approach this alternative methodology with the same design of merging one’s spiritual and magickal practice with an active metaphysical system of speculation. Without that combined approach, a magickal or mystical practice will ultimately produce very little over a long period of time. As my favorite chiropractor was so fond of saying (in regards to the stiffness of my back), “With enough force, even a brick can fly.” But I would reply that a structure that is designed to fly well requires a lot less force and energy to get it airborne. So it is with a system of magick that has a designed activated system of metaphysical speculation - it will require a lot less time and effort to produce ascension and the gnosis of perfect enlightenment.

If my assumption that the ultimate quest for anyone who is practicing ritual or ceremonial magick is to achieve a state of at-one-ment with the Deity is wrong, then all of the other assumptions written here are also wrong and irrelevant. I am writing this article for the sake of those who are actually seeking to ultimately become enlightened and a spiritual “master.” To such a practitioner and spiritual adherent, I would recommend the Qabbalah as an important tool to wed magick with applied metaphysical speculation, and that combination will produce a system that is capable of acquiring all that a magician might seek to achieve, whether on the material plane or within the mysterious vaults of the highest spiritual Being. If the Qabbalah appeals to you, then your next question (if you don’t already know the answer) will be, “How does one learn the Qabbalah?”

How do we approach such a vast and massive discipline, if we are pagans who are practicing ritual or ceremonial magick? Obviously, we don’t need to embrace everything that has ever been published or taught under the rubric of Cabala, Kabbalah, Qabalah or Qabbalah? Some of these studies will be relevant, and some of them won’t. If we want to understand how the Qabbalah evolved over time, we will need to become much more aware of some of the different topics, practices and beliefs written by those remarkable Jews and Christians who took this wonderful and diverse discipline upon themselves. However, if we just want to learn about the Qabbalah and how to use it in our own pagan based studies and practices, then some of the more intensely Jewish or Christian perspectives will not be particularly relevant. Let us, then, undertake a subject matter examination and pull together a very basic curriculum for the average occultist to study the Qabbalah - I will also include a few books and materials.

To have a reasonable understanding of the Qabbalah, the student should attempt to learn the following subjects, in the sequential order that they are presented. I will place these subjects from the least difficult to most difficult, and also the most relevant to least relevant. At some point, though, to be a truly accomplished qabbalist, the student should seek to master all of them.

1. Basic overview of the various elements of the Tree of Life and the practical application of the Qabbalah. (Why is the Qabbalah relevant? - What is the Qabbalah? - build yourself a definition.)

2. Ten Sephiroth - including all symbols and correspondences

3. Twenty-two Pathways - including all symbols and correspondences (Tree of Life)

4. Four Worlds and the Four Bodies - planes of consciousness and human related bodies

5. Three Negative Veils, Myth of Creation and the Origin of Evil (Qliphoth)

6. Practical Qabbalah - Gematria, Nortiqon and Temurah - Numerological Analogies, Magickal Formulas, Ciphers, & Name-based Sigils, various Magickal Squares, etc.

7. Spiritual Hierarchies and other systems of correspondences

8. Techniques of meditation, contemplation, pathworking, invocation/evocation, Godhead assumption (making the Qabbalah an experiential discipline)

9. Greek Qabbalah and English Qabbalah - and other systems of speculation

10. History of the Qabbalah and its Evolution - including the different religious based systems.

11. Classical Qabbalah - Zohar, Sepher Yetzirah, Sepher Bahir, Cordovero & Lurian Kabbalah

I would consider items 1 through 8 to be very important, and 9 through 11 as topics of interest (but not essential). Eventually, as I have stated, the truly proficient qabbalist will have gained some deeper insights by studying these other areas, but by then, he or she will have already fully activated a qabbalistic spiritual discipline.

Recommended reading regimen: I would recommend that the following eight books be studied in great detail. I would also include on that list my own writings, of course. (All of these books are currently in print.)

1. Chicken Qabalah - by Lon Milo Duquette
2. Ladder of Lights - by Willian G. Gray
3. Practical Qabalistic Symbolism - by Gareth Knight
4. Garden of Pomegranates - by Israel Regardie
5. Qabalistic Concepts: Living the Tree - by William G. Gray
6. 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings by Aleister Crowley - Aleister Crowley
7. Complete Magician’s Tables - by Stephen Skinner
8. Kabbalah - by Gershom Scholem

In addition to the five operations that I have outlined above (and the associated five exercises), I would also recommend a technique that is found in a pamphlet published back in 1970 entitled, “The Office of the Holy Tree,” and written by William G. Gray. Unfortunately, this book is no longer in print, but it can be found in the back of the book “Sangreal Ceremonies and Rituals,” also written by William G. Gray.

The reason that this book is so important is that it has a qabbalistic spiritual office that is written to express, in prayer form, the essential symbology of the Tree of Life. It is loosely based on the Catholic Office, which is a prayer book that is used for each of the eight prayer time periods of the day, for every day of the year. Catholic monks, nuns and prelates of all grades were expected to use the Office as a regimen of prayers, readings and meditations to be strategically used every three hours of the day, for every day of the calendar. It included particularly relevant readings and prayers for specific feast days, religious holidays and other special religious observances. A qabbalistic office would incorporate special prayers and meditation topics for each sephirah and path on the Tree of Life. Thus it would be very useful for anyone who was engaging in a session of contemplation, pathworking and even forms of qabbalistic theurgy and Godhead assumption. So for these reasons, I highly recommend it.

Once the above topics are pretty well mastered, at least to the point where they are very familiar, then the student should assemble the required things needed to perform a regimen of daily exercises. There are very few things needed, but these items should be considered as quite important.

A sequestered room to meditate and perform simple rituals - this room can be adorned with pictures, posters and paintings, all relevant to the work. It should be kept clean and used just for the spiritual work, but it can be of any size, small or large.

Oil lamps, incense burner and charcoal, incense, perfumes, blessed salt water (lustral water).

White robe, special jewelry, consecrated lamen, dagger and wand. (Dagger is optional).

A journal or notebook - I can’t emphasize more strongly the importance of writing down everything that is experienced, dreamed, sensed, transmitted or otherwise received when engaging in intense qabbalistic workings.

The following exercises and techniques are used in Qabbalistic workings:

Exercises: Qabbalistic Cross, Middle Pillar, Opening the Self, Closing the Self, Grounding.

Operations: Meditation, Contemplation, Pathworking, Invocation/Evocation, Godhead Assumption.

The Key to the True Qabbalah is to use all of the above practices in a regular schedule, and with them, to explore all of the aspects and attributes of the above list of seven Qabbalistic subjects and their associated lore. Contemplation should be used to realize the deeper elements of the Qabbalah, and path working should be used to make the pathways and sephiroth into a truly experiential phenomenon as well as activate the process of spiritual ascension. Theurgy and Godhead Assumption should be used to encounter and intimately experience all of the angels, archangels, super-archangels and Godhead aspects of the Tree of Life. By performing all of these disciplines at various times, I can guarantee that the practicing magician will also ultimately experience the full and profound awakening that is associated with total enlightenment.

Combining the practice of ritual or ceremonial magick with an activated and dynamic regimen of metaphysical speculation and mystical revelation will produce an overall system that will rival anything that the various eastern traditions can provide. Such a profound and useful combination will truly forge, for the practitioner, a comprehensive Yoga of the West.

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