Notes on Kabbalah
The author grants the right to copy and distribute these Notes provided
they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained.
The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend
Copy date: 17th. January 1992
Copyright Colin Low 1992 (email@example.com)
Chapter 5: Practical Kabbalah (continued)
The Kabbalistic ritual technique I am about to describe is based
on an assumption which may or may not be valid, but which gives
the technique a characteristic style. The assumption is "form
precedes manifestation"; that is, anything which manifests in
this, the real, physical world, is preceded by a process of
"formation", a process described in its general outline by the
doctrine of sephirothic emanation and the Kabbalistic Tree of
Life. This premise is not so odd or metaphysical as it might
seem. Every object in the room I am sitting in is a product of
human manufacture. The mug I am drinking my tea out of was once
clay, and its form existed in someone's mind before taking shape
in fired clay. The house I live in was once an architect's
design, and before that, an abstract object in a land developer's
scheme for making lots of money. Every object of human
manufacture originally existed as an idea or form in someone's
mind, and each idea went through a process of development, from
inspiration to manufacture - I have described much of this
elsewhere in these Notes. It is not a large step to conceive of
the whole universe as the product of mind, so that every form of
substance - the physical elements, each species of plant and
animal - are the result of a process of formation occuring in
mind. Where are these abstract minds? They compose a whole which
the Kabbalist conveniently labels "God", and the parts, if we
want to refer to them seperately as subordinate components, we
call "archangels", and "angels" and "spirits", and "elementals"
and "devils". Each of these minds or intelligences holds a
portion of the archetypal form of the world in place, and each
mind is a form in its own right; each of these archetypal
intelligences can be comprehended as a part of Binah, the
Intelligence of God and Mother of all form.
When I drop a stone, it falls to the ground. It does this
because the spirit of matter inhabiting the stone uses messenger
spirits (or angels) called gravitons to communicate with the
spirit of matter inhabiting the Earth. It turns out that the
curvature of space-time (its form) is determined by the Lords of
Matter in an intricate but completely exact way according to the
distribution of mass-energy - the details can be summarised in an
equation first written down by Albert Einstein. It may seem
absurd and retrograde (and William of Occam would certainly turn
in his grave) to suggest that what we call the laws of physics
are forms maintained in the minds of archetypal intelligences,
but as Einstein himself stated, "The most incomprehensible thing
about the world is that it is comprehensible"; that is, it can be
described using language. There *are* abstract forms which
describe change in the physical world, and they *can* be
comprehended by mind, and although it is a large step to propose
that mind takes primacy over matter, it is a view attractive to
the practising magician. It is a view completely consistent with
Kabbalah. When I call upon a spirit to modify the law of gravity
at a specific time and place, I am not violating a physical law;
I am *changing* it at its source.
If "form precedes manifestation", then practical magic is
about understanding how the future is formed out of the present.
The seeds of many futures are planted in the present, and
accessible to the magician as the forms of the future. The forms
of the future are being progressed by many minds; where they
overlap, there is conflict and inconsistency, a situation
resembling a bus where each passenger has a steering wheel
providing an unknown and variable input to the eventual direction
of the bus. In one interpretation (primacy of will) the magician
is the person with the most powerful steering wheel; in another
interpretation (Taoist nudging) the magician is a person who
understands the dynamics of steering sufficiently well to use
opportune moments to move the bus in a desired direction. Perhaps
both interpretations are valid. In either case, if one accepts
the simile, then it should be clear that magic is rarely about
certain outcomes. In both cases the magician must have a clear
notion of direction, what is usually called *intention*.
Formation is a process of increasing limitation or
constraint. Once something is manifest it is constrained or
limited by what it is at that instant. Suppose I want to make a
film. It could be a film about *anything*. Once I have a script I
am more limited, but have a lot of scope in directing the film -
choice of actors, sets, locations etc. Once I have the rushes my
choices are even more constrained, but I still have some freedom
in the editing. Finally, once the film is released, I have no
more freedom to change it, unless, like some directors, I choose
to re-edit and re-issue it. Intention is also a limitation: it is
a limitation of will. I chose to make a film, but I could have
chosen to write a book instead, or chosen to take a holiday. In
choosing to make a film I limited my free-will. I could of course
abandon the film project, but a life of incomplete, abandoned
projects is not very satisfactory to most people, so my will to
complete (i.e. to bring into manifestation) sustains my intention
and I have to learn to live with this fairly considerable
limitation on my theoretical free-will.
The limitation of will and the formation of the film go
hand-in-hand. I can't just intend to make a film: I have to
intend to get a script, find some money, borrow the equipment,
recruit some actors and a crew. The formation of the film is
driven by a fragmentation of my original intention into many
components and sub-components as the task proceeds, and activity
and intention feed off each other until, knee-deep in the details
of film making, I might find myself thinking "I'd give anything
if we could get this scene in the can and knock off for a beer."
We have gone from a person with theoretically unlimited free-will
to someone who cannot knock off for a beer. Most people who go to
work and attempt to bring up a family are in this situation of
being so limited by previous choices and past history that they
have very little actual free-will or uncommitted energy, a
situation which has to be understood in some detail before
attempting serious magical work.
To summarise: if magic is about making things *happen*, then
the magician might want to understand the process of formation
which precedes manifestation, and understand not only the forms
which other people are *intending*, forms which may be
competitive, but also the detailed relationship between formation
and intention. You don't have to understand these things; many
people like magic to be truely *magical* (i.e. without causality
or mechanism), but Kabbalah does provide a theoretical model for
magical work (the lightning flash on the Tree) which many have
found to be useful. I think it is a mistake to confuse a lack of
consciousness of mechanism with a lack of mechanism, just as
someone might look at a clock and assume that it goes round "by
magic", and so I'd like to say something more about the concept
of limitation, a concept essential to understanding the ritual
framework I am going to describe.
We are limited beings: our lives are limited to some tens of
years, our bodies are limited in their physical abilities, and
compared to the different kinds of life on this planet we are
clearly very specialised compared with the potential of what
we could be if we had the free choice of being anything we
wanted. Even as human beings we are limited, in that we are all
quite distinct from each other; we limit ourselves to a small
number of behaviours, attitudes and beliefs and guard that
individuality and uniqueness as an inalienable right. We limit
ourselves to a few skills because of the effort and talent
required, and only in exceptional cases do we find people who are
expert in a large number of different skills - most people are
happy if they are acknowledged as being an expert in one thing.
It is a fact that as the sum total of knowledge increases, so
people (particularly those with technical skills) are forced to
become more and more specialised.
This idea of limitation and specialisation has found its way
into magical ritual because of a magical (or mystical) perception
that, although all consciousness in the universe is One, and that
Oneness can be perceived directly, it has become limited. There
is a process of limitation (formation) in which the One
(God, if you like) becomes progressively structured and
constrained until it reaches the level of thee and me. Magicians
and mystics the world over are relatively unanimous in insisting
that the normal everyday consciousness of most human beings is
a severe limitation on the potential of consciousness, and it
is possible, through various disciplines, to extend
consciousness into new regions. From a magical point of view the
personality, the ego, the continuing sense of individual "me-
ness", is a magical creation, an artificial elemental
or thoughtform which consumes our magical power in exchange
for the kind of limitation necessary to survive, and in order to
work magic it is necessary to divert energy away from this
obsession with personal identity and self-importance.
Now, consider the following problem: you have been
imprisoned inside a large inflated plastic bag. You have been
given a sledghammer and a scalpel. Which tool will get you out
faster? The answer I am obviously looking for is the scalpel. The
key to getting out of large, inflated, plastic bags is to apply
as much force as possible to as sharp a point as possible.
Magicians agree on this principle - the key to successful ritual
is a "single-pointed will". A mystic may try to expand
consciousness in all directions simultaneously, to encompass more
and more of the One, to embrace the One, perhaps even to
transcend the One, but this is hard, and most people aren't up to
it in practise. Rather than expand in all directions
simultaneously, it is much easier to limit an excursion of
consciousness in one direction only, and the more precise and
well-defined that limitation to a specific direction, the easier
it is to get out of the plastic bag. Limitation of consciousness
is the trick we use to cope with the complexities of life in
modern society, and as long as we are forced to live under this
yoke we might as well make a virtue out of a necessity, and use
our carefully cultivated ability to concentrate attention on
minutiae to burst out of the bag.
We find the concept of limitation appearing in the process
of formation which leads to manifestation; in the limitation of
will which leads to intention; now I suggest that a focussed
limitation of consciousness is one method to release magical
energy. Limitation is the key to understanding the structure of
magical ritual as described in these notes, and the key
to successful practice.
I decided against giving the details of any rituals. All the
rituals I have taken a part in were written by one or more of the
people present. I do not think any of the rituals would be worth
preserving for their literary or poetic content. On the other
hand, the majority of the rituals I have taken a part in have
conformed to a basic structure which has rarely varied; this
structure we called "the essential steps".
There is never going to be agreement about what is essential
in a ritual and what is not, any more than there will ever be
agreement about what makes a good novel. That doesn't mean there
is nothing worth learning. The steps I enumerate below are
suggestions which were handed down to me, and a lot of insight
(not mine) has gone into them; they conform to a Western magical
tradition which has not changed in its essentials for thousands
of years, and I hand them on to you in the same spirit as I
These are the essential steps:
1. Open the Circle
2. Open the Gates
3. Invocation to the Powers
4. Statement of Intention and Sacrifice
5. Main Ritual
6. Dismissal of Powers
7. Close the Gates
8. Close the Circle
Step 1: Opening the Circle
The Circle is the place where magical work is carried out.
It might literally be circle on the ground, or it could be a
church, or a stone ring, or a temple, or it might be an imagined
circle inscribed in the aethyr, or it could be any spot hallowed
by tradition. In some cases the Circle is created specifically
for one piece of work and then closed, while in other cases (e.g.
a church) the building is consecrated and all the space within
the building is treated as if it was an open circle for long
periods of time. I don't want to deal too much in generalities,
so I will deal with the common case where a circle is created
specifically for one piece of work, for a period of time
typically less than one day. The place where the circle is
created could be anywhere: indoors, outdoors, top of a hill, a
cellar. It could be an imaginary place, the ritual carried out in
a lucid dream for example. Most often a ritual will take place in
a room in a house, and the first magical ability the magician
develops is the ability to turn any place into a temple. I like
to prepare a room with some kind of cleaning, and clear enough
floor space for a real or visualised circle. I secure the room
against access as far as possible, take the phone off the hook
The Circle is the first important magical limit: it creates
a small area within which the magical work takes place. The
magician tries to control everything which takes place within the
Circle (limitation), and so a circle half-a-mile across is
impractical. The Circle marks the boundary between the rest of
the world (going on its way as normal), and a magical space where
things are most definitely not going on as normal (otherwise
there wouldn't be any point in carrying out a ritual in the first
place). There is a dislocation: the region inside the circle is
separated from the rest of space and is free to go its own way.
There are some types of magical work where it may not be sensible
to have a circle (e.g. working with the natural elements in the
world at large) but unless you are working with a power already
present in the environment in its normal state, it is best to
work within a circle.
The Circle may be a mark on the ground, or something more
intangible still; my own preference is an imagined line of blue
fire drawn in the air. It is in the nature of consciousness that
anything taken as real and treated as real will eventually be
accepted as Real - and if you want to start an argument, state
that money doesn't exist and isn't Real. From a ritual
point of view the Circle is a real boundary, and if its
usefulness is to be maintained it should be treated with the same
respect as an electrified fence. Pets, children and casual
onlookers should be kept out of it. Whatever procedures take
place within the Circle should only take place within the Circle
and in no other place, and conversely, your normal life should
not intrude on the Circle unless it is part of your intention
that it should. From a symbolic point of view, the Circle marks a
new "circle of normality", a circle different from your usual
"circle of normality", making it possible to keep the two
"regions of consciousness" distinct and separate. The magician
leaves everyday life behind when the Circle is opened, and
returns to it when the Circle is closed, and for the duration
adopts a discipline of thought and deed which is specific to the
type of magical work being undertaken; this procedure is not so
different from that in many kinds of laboratory where scientists
work with hazardous materials.
Opening a Circle usually involves drawing a circle in
the air or on the ground, accompanied by an invocation to
guardian spirits, or the elemental powers of the four quarters,
or the four watchtowers, or the archangels, or whatever. The well
known Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram  can be used as the basis
for a Kabbalistic circle-opening. The precise method isn't so
important as practicing it until you can do it in your sleep, and
it should be carried out with the same attitude as a soldier on
formal guard duty outside a public building. The kind of ritual I
am describing is formal; much of its effectiveness derives from a
clinical precision. For example, I never at anytime turn or move
in an anti-clockwise direction within the circle. When I work in
a group one of the most important officers is the sword-
bearing sentinel, responsible for procedure and discipline within
the circle. When you create a circle you are establishing a
perimeter under the watchful "eyes" of whatever guardians you
have requested to keep an eye on things, and a martial attitude
and sense of discipline and precision creates the
right psychological mood. When working in a group it is
helpful if the person opening the circle announces "the circle is
now open" because there should be no doubt among those present
about whether the opening has been completed to the satisfaction
of the person carrying it out, and the sacred space has been
Step 2: Opening the Gates
The Gates in question are the boundary between normal and
magical consciousness. Just as opening the Circle limits the
ritual in space, so opening the Gates limits the ritual in time.
Not everyone opens the Gates as a separate activity; opening a
Circle can be considered a de-facto opening of Gates, but there
are good reasons for keeping the two activities separate.
Firstly, it is convenient to be able to open a Circle without
going into magical consciousness; despite what I said about not
bringing normal consciousness into the Circle, rules are made to
be broken, and there are times when something unpleasant and
unwanted intrudes on normal consciousness, and a Circle can be
used to keep it out - think of pulling blankets over your head at
night. Secondly, opening the Gates as a separate activity means
they can be tailored to the specific type of magical
consciousness you are trying to enter. Thirdly, just as bank
vaults and ICBMs have two keys, so it is prudent to make the
entry into magical consciousness something you are not likely to
do on a whim, and the more distinct steps there are, the more
conscious effort is required. Lastly - and it is an important
point - opening the Circle is best done with a martial attitude,
and it is useful to have a breathing space to switch out of that
mood and into the mood needed for the invocation. Opening the
Gates provides an opportunity to make that switch.
There are many ways to open the Gates, and many Gates you
could open. I imagine the gates in front of me, and I physically
open them, reaching out with both arms. I visualise different
gates for different sephiroth, and sometimes different gates for
the same sephira.
Step 3: Invocation to the Powers
The invocation to the Powers is normally an excuse for some
of the most leaden, pompous, grandiose and turgid prose
ever written or recited. Tutorial books on magic are full of this
stuff. If you are invoking Saturn during a waxing moon you might
be justified in going on like Brezhnev addressing the Praesidium
of the Soviet Communist Party, but as in every other aspect of
magic, the trick isn't what you do, but how you do it, and
interminable invocations aren't the answer. On a practical level,
reading a lengthy invocation from a sheet of paper in dim
candlelight will require so much conscious effort that it is hard
to "let go", so try to keep things simple and to the point, so
that you can do an invocation without having to think about it
too much, and that will leave room for the more important
"consciousness changing" aspect of the invocation. When I do
sephirothic work I use the sephirothic God, Archangel, Angel
Order and sephira names as part of my invocation, and put all my
effort into the intonation of the name rather than memorising
An invocation is like a ticket for a train: if you can't
find the train there isn't much point in having the ticket.
Opening the Gates gets you to the doorstep of magical
consciousness, but it is the invocation which gets you onto the
train and propels you to the right place, and that isn't
something which "just happens" unless you have a natural aptitude
for the aspect of consciousness you are invoking. It does happen
that way however; people tend to begin their magical work with
those areas of consciousness where they feel most at home, so
they may well have some initial success. Violent, evil people do
violent and evil conjurations; loving people invoke love - most
people begin their magical work with "a free ticket", but in
general invoking takes practice, and the power of the invocation
comes from practice, not from deathless prose.
I can't give a prescription for entering magical
consciousness. Well devised rituals, practised often, have a way
of shifting consciousness which is surprising and unexpected. I
don't know why this happens; it just does. I suspect the peculiar
character of ritual, the way it involves every sense, occupies
mind and body at the same time, its numinous and exotic
symbolism, the intensity of preparation and execution, involve
dormant parts of the mind, or at least engage the normal parts in
an unusual way. Using ritual to cause marked shifts in
consciousness is not difficult; getting the results you want, and
avoiding unexpected and undesired side-effects is harder.
Ritual is not a rational procedure. The symbolism of magic is
intuitive and bubbles out of a very deep well; the whole process
of ritual effectively bypasses the rational mind, so expecting
the outcome of a ritual to obey the dictates of reason is
completely irrational. The image of a horse is appropriate:
anyone can get on the back of a wild mustang, but getting to the
point where horse and rider go in the same direction at the same
time takes practice. The process of limitation described in these
notes can't influence the natural waywardness of the animal, but
at least it is a method of ensuring the horse gets a clear
Step 4: Statement of Intention and Sacrifice
If magical ritual is not to be regarded as a form of
bizarre entertainment carried out for its own sake, then there
has to be a reason for doing it - healing, divination, personal
development, initiation, and the like. If it is healing, then it
is usually healing for one specific person, and then again, it is
not just healing in general, but healing for some specific
complaint, within some period of time. The statement of intention
is the culmination of a process of limitation which begins when
the Circle is opened, and to return to the analogy of the plastic
bag, the statement of intention is like the blade on the scalpel
- the more precise the intention, the more the energy of the
ritual is applied to a single point.
The observation that rituals work better if their energy is
focussed by intention is in accord with our experience in
everyday life: any change, no matter how small or insignificant,
tends to meet with opposition. If you want to change the brand of
coffee in the coffee machine, or if you want to rearrange the
furniture in the office, someone will object. If you want to
drive a new road through the countryside, local people will
object. If you want to raise taxes, everyone objects. The more
people you involve in a change, the more opposition you will
encounter, and in magic the same principle holds, because from a
magical point of view the whole fabric of the universe is held in
place by an act of collective intention involving everything from
God downwards. When you perform a ritual you are setting yourself
up against that collective will to keep most things the way they
are, and your ritual will succeed only if certain things are
1. you are a being of awesome will (you have the biggest
steering wheel on the bus).
2. you have allies (lots of people on the bus want to get to
the same place as you).
3. you limit your intention to minimise opposition (Taoist
nudging); another analogy is the diamond cutter who exploits
natural lines of cleavage to split a diamond.
Regardless of which is the case, I will suggest that precision
and clarity of intention will generally produce better results.
And so to sacrifice. The problem arises from the perception
that in magic you don't get something for nothing, and if you
want to bring about change through magic you have to pay for it
in some way. So far so good. The question is: what can you give
in return? You can't legitimately sacrifice anything
which is not yours to give, and so the answer to the question
"what can I sacrifice" lies in the answer to the question "what
am I, and what have I got to give?". If you don't make the
mistake of identifying yourself with your possessions you will
see that the only sacrifice you can make is yourself, because
that is all you have to give. Every ritual intention requires
that you sacrifice some part of yourself, and if you don't make
the sacrifice willingly then either the ritual will fail, or the
price will be exacted without your consent.
You don't have to donate pints of blood or your kidneys.
Each person has a certain amount of what I will call
"life energy" at their disposal - Casteneda calls it "personal
power" - and you can sacrifice some of that energy to power the
ritual. What that means in ordinary down-to-earth terms is that
you promise to do something in return for your intention, and you
link the sacrifice to the intention in such a way that the
sacrifice focuses energy along the direction of your intention.
For example, my cat was ill and hadn't eaten for three weeks, so,
as a last resort, fearing she would die of starvation, I carried
out a ritual to restore her appetite, and as a sacrifice I ate
nothing for 24 hours. I used my (very real) hunger to drive the
intention, and she began eating the following day.
Any sacrifice which hurts enough engages a very deep impulse
inside us to make the hurt go away, and the magician can use that
impulse to bring about magical change by linking the removal of
the pain to the accomplishment of the intention. And I don't mean
magical masochism. We are creatures of habit who find comfort and
security by living our lives in a particular way, and any change
to that habit and routine will cause some discomfort and an
opposing desire to return to the original state, and that desire
can be used. Just as a ritual intends to change the world in some
way, so a sacrifice forces us to change ourselves in some way,
and that liberates magical energy. If you want to heal someone,
don't just do a ritual and leave it at that; become involved in
caring for them in some way, and that active caring will act as a
channel for the healing power you have invoked. If you want to
use magic to help someone out of a mess, provide them with
active, material help as well; conversely, if you can't be
bothered to provide material help, your ritual will be infected
with that same inertia and apathy - "true will, will out", and
in many cases our true will is to do nothing at all.
From a magical perspective each one of us is a magical being
with a vast potential of power, but that is denied to us by an
innate, fanatical, and unbelievably deep-rooted desire to keep
the world in a regular orbit serving our own needs. Self-
sacrifice disturbs this equilibrium and lets out some of that
energy, and this may be why the egoless devotion and self-
sacrifice of saints has a reputation for working miracles.
Step 5: The Main Ritual
After invoking the Powers and having stated the intention
and sacrifice, there would seem to be nothing more to do, but
most people like to prolong the contact with the Powers to carry
out some kind of symbolic ritual for a period of time varying
from minutes to days. Ritual as I have described it so far may
seem like a fairly cut-and-dried exercise, but it isn't; it is
more of an art than a science, and once the Circle and Gates are
opened, and the Powers are in attendance, whatever science there
is gives way to the art. Magicians operate in a world where ordinary
things have deep symbolic meanings or correspondences, and they
use a selection of consecrated implements or "power objects" in
their work. The magician can use this palette of symbols in a
ritual to paint of picture which signifies an intention in a non-
verbal, non-rational way, and it is this ability to communicate
an intention through every sense of the body, through every level
of the mind, which gives ritual its power.
Here are a few suggestions:
- each sephira has a corresponding number which can be used
as the basis for knocks, gestures, chimes, stamps etc.
- each sephira has a corresponding colour which can be used
throughout the working area: altar cloth, candle(s),
banners, flowers, cords etc.
- many occult suppliers make sephirothic incenses. The
quality is so variable that it is best to try a few
suppliers and apply common sense.
- each sephira has corresponding behaviours which can be
used during the central part of the ritual.
- if you are working with several people then they can take
their roles from the sephira, and wear corresponding colours
etc. For example, a sentinel would use Gevuric
correspondences, a scribe would use Hod correspondences.
- each sephira has ritual weapons or "power objects" which
can be used in a symbolic way.
- every sephira has a wide range of individual
correspondences which can be used on specific occasions e.g.
a ritual of romantic love in Netzach might use a rose
incense, roses, a copper love cup, wine, a poem or song
dedicated to Venus, whatever gets you going...
Step 6: Dismissal of Powers
Once the ritual is complete the Powers are thanked and
dismissed. This begins the withdrawal of consciousness back to
its pre-ritual state.
Step 7: Close Gates/Close Circle
The final steps are closing the Gates (thus sealing off the
altered state of consciousness) and closing the Circle (thus
returning to the everyday world). The Circle should not be closed
if there is a suspicion that the withdrawal from the altered
state has not been completed. It is sensible to carry out
a sanity check between closing the Gates and closing the Circle.
It sometimes happens that although the magician goes through the
steps of closing down, the attention is not engaged, and the
magician remains in the altered state. This is not a good idea.
The energy of that state will continue to manifest in every
intention of everyday life, and all sorts of unplanned (and often
unusual) things will start to happen. A related problem (and it
is not rare) is that every magician will find sooner or later an
altered state which compensates for some of their perceived
inadequacies (in the way that some people like to get drunk at
parties), and they will not want to let go of it because it makes
them feel good, so they come out of the ritual in an altered
state without realising they have failed to close down correctly.
This is sometimes called obsession, and it is a difficulty of
magical work. Closing down correctly is important if you don't
want to end up like a badly cracked pot. If you don't feel happy
that the Powers have been completely dismissed and the Gates
closed correctly, go back and repeat the steps again.
Using the Sephiroth in Ritual
The sephiroth can be invoked during a ritual singly or in
combination. This provides a vast palette of correspondences and
symbols to work with, and one of the most difficult aspects of
planning this kind of ritual is deciding which sephiroth are the
key to the problem. It is an axiom of Kabbalistic magic that
every sephira is involved somewhere in every problem, and it is
sometimes difficult to avoid the conclusion that all ten
sephiroth should be invoked; there is nothing wrong with doing
this, but if one goes the whole hog with colours, candles etc.,
then the temple begins to look like an explosion in a paint
factory, and this tends to dilute the focus of rituals if done
A ritual would involve typically one to three sephiroth. An
important consideration is balance: when invoking sephiroth on
either of the side pillars of the Tree one is creating or
correcting in imbalance, and it is worthwhile to consider the
balancing sephira. For example, when using Gevurah destructively,
what fills the vacuum left behind? When using Chesed creatively,
what gives way for the new? The same principle applies to the
pairs of Hod/Netzach and Binah/Chokmah.
The Tree is naturally arranged in many triads, or groups of
three sephiroth, and after one has gained an understanding of
individual sephira it is natural to go on to investigate the
triads. From the point of view of balance there is a great deal
to be said for initiation into triads of sephiroth rather than
individual sephira. The sephiroth are interconnected by paths,
and again, the paths can be investigated by invoking pairs of
sephiroth. This further extends the palette of correspondences
and relationships, and over time the Tree becomes a living tool
which can be used to analyse situations in great depth and
detail. Unless one works closely with a group of people over a
period of time the Tree must remain largely a personal symbol and
vocabulary, but if one *does* work closely with other people it
becomes a shared vocabulary of great expressive and executive
power - ideas which would otherwise be inexpressible can be
translated directly and fairly precisely into shared action via
Clues as to when to invoke a given sephira can found in the
correspondences, but for the sake of example I have given an
indication in a list below:
The sephira Malkuth is useful for the following magical work:
- where you want to increase the stability of a situation.
Particularly useful when everything is in a turmoil and you
want to slow things down.
- when you want to earth unwanted or unwelcome energy. Also
useful for shielding and warding (think of a castle).
- when working with the four elements in the physical world.
- when you want an intention to materialise in the physical
world; when it is essential that an intention "really
happens". e.g. it is one thing to write a book, it is
another thing to get it printed, published, and read.
- when invoking Gaia, Mother Earth.
The sephira Yesod is useful for the following magical work:
- for divination and scrying; to increase psychism -
telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition.
- when changing the appearance of something, for works of
transformation, for shape changing (e.g. marketing and
- when trying to manipulate the foundation of something, the
form behind the appearance.
- for works concerning the sexual urge, the sexual organs,
fornication, instinctive behaviours, atavism.
- for intentions involving images of reality - painting,
photographs, cinema, television etc.
- for lucid dreaming, astral projection.
The sephira Hod is useful for the following magical work:
- for healing and medicine (Raphael is the healer of God).
- when dealing with spoken or written communication.
- the media, particularly newspapers and radio.
- propaganda, lying, misinformation.
- teaching and learning.
- philosophy, metaphysics, the sciences as intellectual
systems divorced from experiment.
- computers and information technology.
- the nervous system.
- protocol, ceremony and ritual.
- the written law, accounting.
The sephira Netzach is useful for the following magical work:
- when working with the emotions.
- the endocrine system.
- when nurturing or caring for someone or something. Charity
and unselfishness, empathy.
- for works involving pleasure, luxury, romantic love,
friendships etc. (e.g. parties).
- anything to do with aesthetics and taste: decor, art,
cinema, dress, fashion, literature, drama, poetry, gardens,
song, dance etc.
The sephira Tiphereth is useful for the following magical work:
- work involving integrity, wholeness and balance.
- work involving the Self (the Jungian archetype), self-
importance, self-sacrifice, devotion, compassion.
- overall health and well-being.
- communion with your Holy Guardian Angel.
- the union of the microcosm and the macrocosm.
The sephira Gevurah is useful for the following magical work:
- active defense.
- justice and lawful retribution.
The sephira Chesed is useful for the following magical work:
- growth and expansion.
- vision, leadership and authority (e.g. in business
management, in politics).
- inspiration and creativity.
The sephiroth Gevurah and Chesed are best considered as a pair,
since any work concerning one usually requires consideration of
the other. For example, if you want something to grow and expand
(Chesed), will it grow at the expense of something else
The supernal sephiroth of Binah, Chokmah and Kether can be
invoked, but I would not recommend doing so until you have
considerable experience of invoking the other sephiroth - either
nothing will happen, or the scope of the results may go beyond
Other Practical Work
The sephirothic ritual technique described can be used to
design an enormous variety of rituals quickly and easily, as the
basic format can remain the same. A ritual involving Yesod should
have an utterly different feel and effect from a ritual involving
Tiphereth, and yet the basic construction of the two rituals can
be identical. Because a ritual can be quickly carried out (not
necessarily easily, but certainly quickly), sephirothic ritual
can be used to add clout to other magical and mystical
techniques, such as meditation, divination, scrying, oath-making,
prayer, concentration and visualisation, mediumship and so on.
I wanted to provide in these notes approximately the same
information as I was given when I began to study Kabbalah. The
person who gave me this information said "You don't need to read
lots of books, just go off and do it." It was sound advice. If
you want to learn how to build bridges, read books about building
bridges, but if you want to learn about yourself, just go off and
do it. "Doing It" consists of invoking the sephiroth and asking
to be instructed. It consists of jumping in with both feet when
something new comes along. It involves trusting your intuition
and conscience. It requires you to question everything. It also
requires countless meditations, concentration and visualisation
exercises, self-examination, rituals, dream-recording, prayer,
whatever you want, but there is no prescription for this, and
each person tends to find their own happy medium. As a chronic
reader I found the advice about not reading books on magic and
Kabbalah hard to take, but I took it, and for something like ten
years I lost the habit completely. I'm very glad I did.
There is almost enough information in these notes to go off
and "just do it". The information I have withheld I have done so
deliberately, as it consists of little things which any person
with a small amount of common sense, initiative and trust in
themselves can work out. You don't need to learn other peoples'
rituals: trust your own imagination and creativity, however
insufficient they might seem, and write your own. You need to
trust yourself, and that is why I haven't provided a
detailed prescription. If you think Kabbalah should be more
complicated, then make it more complicated. If you think it is
essential to learn about the four worlds, or the parts of the
soul, or the beard of Arik Anpin or whatever, then learn about
them, but I don't think it is essential to begin with, and there
are better and quicker ways of learning than running off and
buying the "Zohar". If you trust in yourself, you will learn what
you need to know at the rate at which you can learn it. Kabbalah
is only a map (but for the record I believe it is an accurate and
useful map), and the entrance to the territory lies within you.
In my experience the sephirothic magical rituals are the key
to everything else. If you are afraid of ritual that is fine;
lots of people are. If you are afraid of ritual but you invoke
the Powers with the attitude and respect that is their due, and
you are not afraid to give freely for what you get, then you will
get a great deal, and almost certainly a great deal more than you
would have expected.
Colin Low 1992
 Epstein, Perle, "Kabbalah", Shambhala, 1978
 Regardie, Israel, "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic",
Falcon Press, 1984
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