One of the first rituals taught in the different schools and traditions linked to the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is the Qabalistic Cross. It has many uses that have evolved over the past century or so when it was first introduced in ritual form by the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and has been modified to suit individual schools of thought and practice. This post will explore an alternate way of looking at and using the Qabalistic Cross in individual work, thus serving to further help the reader explore and experiment with this ritual.
The structure behind the Qabalistic Cross is formed from the Tree of Life as seen in the diagram to the right. The vertical line starts at Kether-The Crown and runs all the way down to Malkuth-The Kingdom. The parallel arms stretch from Geburah-Severity over to Chesed-Mercy. The hands at the end of the ritual are placed just below the parallel arm of the cross at Tifareth-Harmony. This is the standard way of drawing the cross according the Tree of Life and is also where the names used in the short ritual originate in its modern use. They are also the same names used in the New Testament at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. Interestingly these are terms translated from Aramaic, to Greek and then to Hebrew and seen on the Tree of Life as the more well known titles for the Sephiroth they touch. The Qabalistic Cross should not be seen as Christian, Jewish or as exclusive to any one religion but as a part of the Perennial Philosophy, that all the world’s religions share a single truth manifested in different ways to the world.
In the Jewish Kabbalah the traditional way of viewing the Tree of Life on the physical body is that the left shoulder and arm correspond with Geburah (red sphere), while Chesed (blue sphere) corresponds with the right shoulder and arm. The Jewish Kabbalistic way of viewing the Tree of Life is that the diagram maps directly onto us and we are one with it. In the Golden Dawn these correspondences are reversed, the view being that one is to turn around and back into Tree of Life diagram. The version of the Qabalistic Cross below takes the Jewish Kabbalistic view into account. It is suggested to experiment with both ways of drawing out the cross, the one suggested below as well as the Golden Dawn way. Either are fine, use what feels best and most effective for you as they are just different ways of viewing the same truth.
Working with the Tree of Life from the Jewish Kabbalistic view has the right side of the individual as the pillar of mercy (white-active), the left side as the pillar of severity (black-passive) and the middle pillar of mildness (gray-neutral). This aligns with most traditions in regards to polarity and the human body. One such tradition is Kundalini Yoga. In Kundalini Yoga there are three main Nadis. These Nadis, or vessels of energy, can be compared to the three pillars of the Tree of Life. The Ida with the black pillar, the Pingala with the white pillar and the Sushumna with the gray pillar. This is not to say they are one and the same, as they come from very different places, times and cultures, just that there is a core truth here. There are many more examples to explore as well as different insights as to which method you prefer and why. You are invited and encouraged to share your thoughts, experiences and opinions in the comments sections below.
In regards to the Qabalistic Cross, the balancing effect it has is intimately related to these three pillars. The vertical arm of the cross brings down the Light from the Highest Sephira through the central column down to the center of the Earth. In turn the parallel arm extends to infinity on both the left and the right sides. The ending has the hands at the center of the Heart balancing the above, below, active and passive polarity while finding the center amidst it all. One of the goals of all magic and mysticism is to find balance, peace and harmony. Working with the different polarities on the Tree of Life as mentioned above, in conjunction with the Qabalistic Cross, can be very fruitful as a meditation.
There are several practical uses of the Qabalistic Cross. Most notably it is used as an opening and closing for many of the rituals used in the Golden Dawn System of Magic, such as the different pentagram rituals. Using it as an opening aligns and links the student to the Higher Self, Lower Self and Physical body as well as balancing the polarities of their being on all levels. During a sequence of rituals as a closing it forms a link between two or more rituals. The rebalancing of the polarities takes place again and it tends to give a feeling that the beginning and the end are part of a larger cycle of energies linked by the Qabalistic Cross.
Here are a few suggested uses of the Qabalistic Cross. After using this simple but important ritual for a time other uses and deeper meanings will come to mind.
- Using the Qabalistic Cross after the Middle Pillar Exercise or working with the Chakras is very useful. It tends to ground one’s self as well and do a last rebalancing of any energies we may have struggled with during the exercises.
- It is an excellent preparation if you are heading into an environment that you know may have chaotic energy. The alignments help to keep your center.
- As a quick centering when needed to enter peaceful state of mind if you are feeling unbalanced or ungrounded.
- Silently in the workplace before a large task or meeting.
Below is one way of doing this ritual. The position of the hands seem to be something that becomes very individualized over time. Centering them over the heart in an individual manner is reminiscent of an A.M.O.R.C. expression “God of my Heart, God of my Realization.”
The Qabalistic Cross
- Take a couple of deep relaxing breaths
- See a bright white light above your head and extending to the heavens above you to infinity and then draw down this light with your right forefinger (or your left if it is your dominant hand) and touch your forehead at the third eye and vibrate AH-TAH on the out breath
- Draw this beam of white light down your center line until your forefinger, touches your Heart center and vibrate the first part of Malkuth- MAL. Now continue drawing this white down til your finger is pointing directly down to your feet and vibrate the second half of Malkuth- KUTH. See the light descend to the center of the Earth below you.
- Bring your forefinger up to your heart center again and vibrate VEH and draw the line to your left shoulder and vibrate GEBURAH and see the light extend out to infinity.
- Bring your forefinger back to the heart center and vibrate VEH and draw the line to your right shoulder and vibrate GEDULAH and the light extend out to infinity.
- Bring your hands together in your preferred method of prayer such as holding the hands palms together with fingers pointing up. Or the left hand over the heart, the right hand over the left. Another option is the left hand touching the right shoulder and the right hand over the left touching the left shoulder. The important part is to feel the energy of the heart in the center with the head slightly bowed. Vibrate LAY-OH-LAM AH-MEN.