Don Kraig stresses that magick isn’t something you do, but rather is something you are. By this he means that it should be a part of everyday life, and not just something practiced when the moon is full.
The Spartans pushed the ideal of striving for excellence in body and mind. The diligent study of magick will certainly develop the mind, but what of the body? Most people are aware of the benefits of moderate regular exercise, but whether they actually engage in it, is another matter altogether.
Gyms in our society provide a convenient way for patrons to exercise regardless of the weather, and are a great way to socialize and meet like-minded, health-conscious people.
So many people in society have only small amounts of time at their disposal, especially if their responsibilities include full-time employment and a family. Working out in a gym takes up valuable time, and practicing magick and developing spiritually take up valuable time as well. It is however possible to combine them so as to save time.
Those practicing contemporary Qabalistic magick tend to work with Golden Dawn-type magick, centered on the Tree of Life. With a little bit of ingenuity, it is possible to structure gym workouts on Qabalistic principles, leading to what could be termed “Qabalistic Workouts.”
Please note that this article is not targeting gargantuan behemoths, but rather the average person in the gym seeking to spice up his or her workouts.
Principles of Qabalistic Workouts
The Tree of Life is the central glyph in the Qabala. It can be seen as the blueprint for all of creation, providing a model both for the macrocosm and the microcosm. For centuries, Qabalists have been projecting the figure of the primordial man, Adam Kadmon, into the Tree of Life. In some early attempts the Tree of Life was distorted to neatly project onto Adam Kadmon. In the Golden Dawn tradition, the only distortion was to extend Malkuth to the feet of the figure. For reasons that will become apparent later, I will also use this representation.
The Tree of Life is aspected to the human body through the primordial figure of Adam Kadmon, with Malkuth at his feet and Kether at the crown of his head.
| Sephira |
| Body Part |
| Sphere |
| Color |
| God Name |
YHVH ELOAH VE-DAATH
SHADDAI EL CHAI
ADONAI HA ARETZ
Note (*) corresponds to a combination of the earthy colors citrine, brown, olive, and black.
As we know, each day of the week is associated with one of the seven planets, as defined by the ancients. For the purposes of this essay, I will hence limit myself to the Sephiroth aspected to the seven planets.
It is interesting to note that there is only one Sephira for the chest and only one for the legs, indicating that there are no choices available. On the other hand, there are two Sephiroth to choose from for arms and stomach, as well as for shoulders, back and traps. Arms and stomach can easily be trained in one session, so readers are encouraged to experiment with the Sephirothic correspondence that best suits them. Shoulders, back, and traps make for a formidable training session. I will leave it up to the readers’ discretion as to whether they wish to train them all in one session or split them.
- Yesod is the lowest Sephira aspected to a planet, and hence represents the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
- Hod and Netzach represent the arms (biceps, triceps and forearms) and stomach (abdominals).
- Tiphareth represents the chest (pectorals).
- Geburah and Chesed represent the shoulders (deltoids), back (latissimus dorsi), and traps (trapezius).
- Binah, which represents the head, implying a day of rest, and possibly meditation and spiritual study!
Tabulating the planetary spheres, days of the week and corresponding muscle groups:
| Sphere |
| Day |
| Muscle(s) |
Quads, hamstrings, calves
Shoulders, back traps
Arms and stomach
Shoulders, back, traps
Arms and stomach
Rest / Meditate
It is interesting to note that the day of rest corresponds to the Jewish Sabbath rather than the Christian one.
There are two rituals which will complement your efforts in the gym.
The first is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). This is without a doubt the best known banishing ritual amongst ceremonial magickians. Apart from creating a safe zone within which rituals can be performed, it psychologically prepares for further magickal work. Kraig’s version is very clear and easy to follow, but unfortunately changes the spelling of the words of power in an effort to make them easier to pronounce. I recommend using Kraig’s technique, but taking the spelling and pronunciation from the Ciceros.
The second is the Middle Pillar Exercise. This exercise has the effect of astrally constructing the Tree of Life in the body and strengthening the aura. Readers should strongly visualize themselves standing within the Tree of Life whilst performing it. The diagrams in Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and the Ciceros’ Self-Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition indicate that the Tree of Life should be visualized as normally represented by the Golden Dawn, but with Malkuth extended to coincide with the feet.
The purpose of the Middle Pillar exercise in Qabalistic Workouts is to form a bridge between Qabalistic spirituality and our muscles.
These two rituals can be performed physically before going to the gym or mentally whilst at the gym. Silently chanting the corresponding god name will help to reinforce the connection between the Sephirothic/planetary energies and the muscles being trained.
Cranking it up a notch
- Incorporating color
Readers who have the flexibility to go to the gym on the required minimum of four days per week, so as to put Qabalistic Workouts into effect, may be interested in intensifying their efforts. The most popular colors in gyms tend to be very “safe” colors—black, grey, blue, and white. Why not add the other Sephirothic colours to your wardrobe?
| Day |
| Color |
The really upsetting thing about these colors is that black, which is without a doubt the “coolest,” most slimming, and easiest to coordinate color, is scheduled for the day of rest.
- Optimal Times to Train
The Greater Key of Solomon provides magickians with a system of planetary hours. They can be found in Kraig’s book Modern Magick. The planetary hours are the optimum times to work rituals, and can be readily applied to Qabalistic Workouts.
Planetary hours are not the same as hours as determined by a clock. To determine the length of the planetary hour of any given day, divide the total time between sunrise and sunset by 12. To determine the length of the planetary hour of any given night, divide the total time between sunset and sunrise by 12. The planetary hours for the day and for the night will be of different lengths except on the Equinoxes.
A perusal of a table of the planetary hours indicates that on each day of the week, there are three optimum times for performing a ritual or training in the gym:
- The first planetary hour after sunrise
- The eighth planetary hour after sunrise
- The third planetary hour after sunset
See Don Kraig’s Modern Magick for easy-to-follow instructions on determining the precise times for rituals and training.
Once the precise times are known, it is a matter of coming to the gym a short time beforehand for stretches and warm-ups. The workout should be completed within the planetary hour for optimal results. Save your gossiping for after your workout!
- Incorporating Lunar Phases
The waxing moon is a time of growth and expansion, while the waning moon is a time of attrition and contraction.
Heavy weights and low repetitions (from 6 to 10) are traditionally considered good for building muscle, while high repetitions (from 10 to 15) are good for defining and trimming muscle.
Combining these principles, the Qabalistic Workouts aficionado would train with low repetitions from the day after the new moon to the day of the full moon; and then with high repetitions from the day after the full moon to the day of the new moon.
Some readers may find the whole concept of Qabalistic Workouts rather fanciful and contrived. However, by only adding a few extra minutes to their gym sessions, readers will be performing the LBRP and Middle Pillar exercise at least four times a week, thus enhancing their auras and strengthening their ties to spiritual dimensions. They will be harmonizing with the subtle Sephirothic/planetary energies that permeate every week and every day, not to mention becoming very familiar with the Tree of Life. Finally, they will be harmonizing with the lunar phases.
So, pack your workout gear, go to the gym, and have a magickal training session!
Cicero, Chic and Cicero, Sandra Tabatha. Self-Initation into the Golden Dawn Tradition. St Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2003.
Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts. St Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 2010.
Regardie, Israel. The Golden Dawn. St Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn Publications, 1989.