Notes on Kabbalah 

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they remain unmodified and original authorship and copyright is retained.
The author retains both the right and intention to modify and extend
these Notes. 

Release 2.0      
Copy date: 17th. January 1992

Copyright Colin Low 1992 (cal@hplb.hpl.hp.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.

Essential Steps

     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 
received them. 
     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 [2] 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 
lengthy invocations.  
     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 
ritual magic.

     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.

-    destruction.

-    severance.

-    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 
your intention.

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. 
In Conclusion

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  

[1] Epstein, Perle, "Kabbalah", Shambhala, 1978

[2] Regardie, Israel, "The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic", 
                      Falcon Press, 1984

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