Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Advanced Search

Magick 101 # 6.2.1: Secrets of the Kabalistic Cross

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on September 23, 2011 | Comments (7)

Secrets of the Kabalistic Cross
Part 1

In my previous blog post I described why the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram remains a valuable rite. In this post I’m going to begin looking into the first section of the ritual, known as the Kabalistic Cross.

According to Regardie’s The Golden Dawn, the book responsible for originally revealing the LBRP to most people, here are the complete instructions for performing this part of the ritual:

  • Take a steel dagger in the right hand.
  • Face East.
  • Touch thy forehead and say ATEH (thou art)
  • Touch thy breast and say MALKUTH (the Kingdom)
  • Touch thy right shoulder and say VE-GEBURAH (and the Power)
  • Touch thy left should and say VE-GEDULAH (and the Glory)
  • Clasp thy hands before thee and say LE-OLAM (for ever)
  • Dagger between fingers, point up and say AMEN

And that’s it. It doesn’t seem like there’s much there. In fact, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can I say this is an important ritual when all you’re doing is touching yourself with a dagger? And if you’re holding a dagger, what do you do with it when you clasp your hands? And then, how do you put it between your fingers? And how is reciting the last verse of the Lords Prayer in Hebrew while doing a version of the Roman Catholic crossing of oneself (and that’s odd considering the original Golden Dawn manuscripts said not to allow Catholics into the GD, but “with pity”) going to accomplish anything magickal?

As I wrote in the previous post of this series, “The full details [of this ritual] were expected to be given [to you] by your mentor in the Order.” I don’t claim to be such a mentor in any GD group, but I believe I can share with you the concepts that help make this section important.

The Words

This final passage of the Lord’s Prayer first appears in the Gospel of Matthew in the Christian Bible. Modern versions of the Bible have this passage in parentheses. That’s because this passage is not found in the oldest copies of this book. It was added. So why is it there? Is it possible that some mystic—perhaps an early Kabalist—knew that by adding this to the prayer it changed the very tenor of the devotional from hope to a magickal act?

On the mundane level, there is a very important meaning to these words. The “thou” described in the English translation refers to the Divine—to God. To most people, even 125 years ago, there was the mundane, physical world, and “the house of God”: churches, synagogues, cathedrals, mosques, etc. In this ritual you identify the physical world everywhere, including right where you stand, as being part of the Divine. Since you can’t see, feel, touch, etc. this other “world,” it’s evident that there is something non-physical—a spiritual or astral world or “plane”—that intersects with our physical plane. Wherever you are can become spiritual because its nature is spiritual. You don’t need to go anywhere. You just have to recognize it. Therefore, one of the purposes of this passage on the mundane level is to open you to the greater reality—there is more than the physical world.

But what is this greater universe that belongs to the Divine, is non-physical, and is spiritual? How can we learn about it? For most, it is just an amorphous concept. But, if you were a traditional Kabalist (or a member of the Golden Dawn), you knew there was a map of the spiritual plane. It’s called the Tree of Life and has had many forms over the centuries. The current most popular version looks like this:

If you can read Hebrew, you’ll see that the circle at the bottom reads “Malkuth” (pronounced mahl-koot) just like the second word of the ritual. The word in the circle in the center on the left is “Geburah,” the same as the third word in the rite (the “ve” means “and” or “and the”). An alternate for the word in the circle in the center on the right is “Gedulah.”

So what we’re doing is pointing out that the greater spiritual universe is not only without, it’s also within.

Sort of.

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the ritual seems to put these on the opposite sides of the body when compared to their positions on the Tree of Life. However, imagine you are backing into the image of the Tree of Life. You aren’t merely observing it (in psychology this would be called a “dissociated” experience). Rather, it is literally part of you (an “associated” experience). So on an inner, spiritual level, you are literally uniting yourself with both the physical, mundane world, and the spiritual, non-physical, world. Wow! This ritual is starting to look more and more important! And to that I say…

AMEN

We say “Amen” after most prayers. Look it up in most books and you’ll see that it’s supposed meaning is “So be it.” Spiritually and Kabalistically, however, the meaning goes far deeper.

As with many old magickal folk traditions, as well as traditions that evolved from folk magick, the Kabalah uses word and number codes to keep spiritual information out of the hands of the mundanes. One such Kabalistic system is that of using acronyms, creating new, magickal words from the first letters of a phrase of words. As a non-magickal example, the word NASA is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “Amen” is such an acronym (in the Kabalah it’s called a Notarikon), too.

There is a traditional Jewish prayer that is quite old. Today it is performed as a call and response with the Rabbi making a statement followed by the congregation giving a repetetive phrase. That phrase is

Al Melech Ne’ehman

It means, “God [Al—pronounced "Ehl"] is a faithful [ne'ehman] king [melech].” The Notarikon for this phrase is AMeN (generally pronounced “ahh-mehn,” although different dialects and tradition have differences including “ahh-main” or “oi-main”). Therefore, when you say “Amen,” you’re saying that “God is a faithful king.” But faithful to what?

The concept goes to a third level of meaning for the word, beyond mundane or spiritual and all the way to magickal. It means that there are certain spiritual laws in the universe, and if you do something to follow those rules, even though God is free to do whatever God wants, God is agreeable to following the second part of the bargain: If you do X, God will do Y, not because God has to do this, but because God has given hir word to do so.

Thus, if you perform this ritual, you will blend your magickal abilities with the authority and power of the Divine for the purpose of banishing your area and making it sacred.

Summary

In this section we’ve seen the outer, inner, and magickal meanings of the words of the first part of the LBRP known as the Kabalistic Cross. Its key points consist of understanding there are physical and non-physical or spiritual planes, and this ritual teaches you how to work with them, blending yourself and your energies with the spiritual, linking with the Divine and the energy of the Divine, and working with all worlds to make the area, right where you are, a sacred place.

In the next installment I’ll be going into how to sound the words, do the visualizations, and perform the physical actions to make this ritual highly effective.

Reader Comments

avatar
#1 
Written By Daniel Exposito Romero
on September 23rd, 2011 @ 10:27 am

Wonderful article.

I decided to give a chance to Kabalah years ago, even thinking it was ‘some crazy christian stuff’ and it was the best thing I could have ever done.

The Kabalistic cross is not just a -key- strucuture to understand LBRP, or High Magic, but even to understand any construction – being it christian, pagan or whatever.

Certainly, it is also a great thing to visualize the own cross while performing the ritual, it makes the first steps of it quite more clear.

Thank you very much for the article

avatar
#2 
Written By Gordon
on September 24th, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

Great post. This “not allowing Catholics” thing. Where are you getting that from? I find that really interesting (and really Victorian).

avatar
#3 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on September 24th, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

The second page of the Cipher Manuscripts upon which the Golden Dawn was founded has 17 lines. Lines 16 & 17 read:

“Avoid Roman Catholics but with pity.”

avatar
#4 
Written By Corvi
on September 26th, 2011 @ 1:58 pm

What a wonderful article and thanks for posting the Tree of Life graphic.

The bit about “Avoid Roman Catholics but with pity” was interesting to me too. I wonder about the origin of that line. If it was based in politics or had some other reason.

avatar
#5 
Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on September 26th, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

My guess—and it is only a guess—is twofold.

First the inner order of the Golden Dawn was Rosicrucian (or at least called itself Rosicrucian). The founding documents of the Rosicrucians appeared in Germany in 1607 and 1618, just under 100 years after Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses that literally started the Protestant Reformation and only 60 years after Luther’s death. So it is likely that the Rosicrucian movement had strong pro-Protestant feelings and anything they did, including founding the Golden Dawn, would have an anti-Catholic bias.

Second, it was quite common at the time to segregate mystical groups. Thus, there were Jewish Masonic lodges, Islamic Masonic lodges, etc. As I understand it, the different lodges respected each other, but gave each other room. It is possible that the original Golden Dawn was for Protestants. Since the Golden Dawn developed in England for the first decade, it is also likely that few Catholics would have even applied. Besides, the Catholic Church barred members from joining the Freemasons, so it is likely that members would have been barred from joining the Golden Dawn, too. (The Knights of Columbus was founded in the U.S. in the early 1880s, just years before the Golden Dawn, to give Catholics a chance to participate in benevolent organizations similar to many aspects of the Masons.) As time went on and people from other religions (and atheists) joined the Golden Dawn in countries such as France, where there was a strong Catholic church. And of course, the membership of Israel Regardie indicates that Jewish people could become members.

I’m glad that we live in an age where we can look back and be puzzled why one group would discriminate against another. The fact that the Golden Dawn not only accepted women as members but also had women in important leadership roles indicates to me that the Golden Dawn was both ahead of its time in some areas, and a child of its time in others.

It wasn’t that long ago when overt discrimination existed in most areas of the U.S., limiting the potential of people who were of African, Asian, or Irish descent, as well a people who followed Jewish, Catholic or Mormon beliefs. In the 1840s and 1850s there was even an anti-Catholic political party commonly called the Know Nothings. I believe our schools should teach more about these forms of discrimination in our distant and recent past. Only fifty years ago many people refused to vote for John Kennedy because he was a Catholic. Today, with some Mormons running for President, some people are questioning them on religious grounds, too. The discrimination today against many people of Latin American descent is similar to the discrimination that was practiced against the Irish and the Catholics not all that long ago. I would like there to be more education and information on this because I believe:
With information comes knowledge,
With knowledge comes wisdom,
With wisdom comes understanding, and
With understanding comes tolerance.

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address

Verification Code:
Please enter the words that you see, below, into the box provided.