The Qabalistic Cross & the Middle Pillar

The Qabalistic Cross

qabalisticcross1This is a very basic ritual, one of the very first that students learn. It utilizes the archetypal symbol of the cross, which has possessed a significance in magic that long pre-dates the Christian era. One very early use of the equal armed cross was as a kind of basic map, representing the circular horizon visible from a person’s point of view divided into four quarters and four cardinal directions: North, South, East & West. It thus came to symbolize the condition of being oriented, of knowing exactly where you are. [1]

The ritual of the Qabalistic Cross is a basic psychic exercise of the modern Hermetic tradition. Its purpose is to re-enforce a sense of the “Here and Now”, the conscious self awake in the present moment. This active meditation will focus and integrate one’s whole being–body, mind, emotions, and imagination — toward the ideal of one balanced “Higher Self.” In the Qabalistic Cross ritual, we intensely visualize and imaginatively feel ‘streams of energy’ passing through the body in a meaningful pattern. If the exercise is performed with real effort and attention it does reliably produce a profound and distinct effect. [2]

The Qabalistic Cross is primarily an exercise of ORIENTATION. It is a formalized way of reminding yourself that you are the exact center of your own universe, and that everything that you think, feel, and see is created by you in your own brain and mind. [2]

You will visualize a cross of brilliant light shining brightly within your body. This particular cross symbolizes a kind of spiritual orientation. It symbolizes the intersection of the two primal dimensions, worlds, or stages on which the drama of our individual destinies plays out: the dimension of Being, symbolized by the vertical line; and the dimension of Action, symbolized by the horizontal line. [1]

Being able to achieve “centeredness” is a basic requirement of practical magick. It is the equivalent of being able to play the scale or do simple routines in music and dance. Like elementary exercises in art, the Qabalistic Cross should be performed over and over, month after month, and year after year, until it becomes so perfectly developed that it can be done quickly and naturally as a spontaneous part of one’s magickal repertoire. As with all meditative exercises, remember that it is the achievement of the desired state of consciousness, and not the rote performance of the ritual, that is the best indicator of success. [2]

Once mastered, The Qabalistic Cross becomes a foundation stone. It can be performed in a second, at any moment of crisis, during trance, or during a pause in a larger group ritual, to strengthen, make secure, and concentrate one’s consciousness. It ‘activates the heart chakra’, making it an appropriate background exercise for healing and self healing, for achieving inspiration, and for all other ‘heart’ practices. It fills the aura with the cleansing light of the Higher Self, which protects one from psychic dangers without fighting. Think of it as a type of universal ground, a system check which puts your body-mind back into a naturally balanced stability. When in doubt, perform the Qabalistic Cross. Give your genius a call, and get its advice on the situation. [2]

To perform the Qabalistic Cross, first take a few seconds to become aware of yourself and your surroundings. Feel yourself as a living, thinking animal, and feel the world around you. Then take a second to clearly and definitely affirm your purpose– say to yourself: “l will now perform the ritual exercise of the Qabalistic Cross, in order to achieve a state of balanced centered selfhood.” [2]

Face east. Perform the Qabalistic Cross as follows:

  • Imagine a sphere of light just above the crown of your head. Touch the forehead and vibrate Ateh (Thou Art, or, Unto Thee)
  • Bring hand down the body. At about the level of the genitals, indicate the feet and vibrate Malkuth (The Kingdom). Imagine a shaft of light descending from the Crown Sphere to the feet where another sphere expands just under your feet.
  • Touch the right shoulder and vibrate Ve-Geburah (and The Power). Imagine a 9 inch sphere of brilliant white light appear just next to the right shoulder.
  • Touch the left shoulder and vibrate Ve-Gedulah (and The Glory). Imagine a shaft of light emerge from the right Sphere and cross your breast to expand and form another Sphere at your left shoulder.
  • Clasp the hands before you and vibrate Le-Olam (For Ever). Imagine clearly the cross of light as it extends through your body. Amen.

Below are two different demonstrations of the Qabalistic Cross. The first features the QC exercise on its own and the second demonstrates its use as part of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP).

The Middle Pillar

Shellay Maughan,
Sponsored by Horizon Oasis OTO,
March 31, 2005

tree-of-lifeDeveloped by the Golden Dawn and expanded by Israel Regardie, the Middle Pillar exercise is one of the basic magical techniques that every practitioner should know.

Use this active meditation for cleansing and balancing the auric body, establishing mental and emotional equilibrium, and increasing vitality.

The name of the exercise is taken from the position of the central Sephiroth on the diagrammatic Tree of Life. As has been said… “The Secret of Wisdom can be discerned only from the place of balanced power” – that is, from between the pillars of Severity and Mercy. The Middle Pillar positions us at a balanced point, neutralizing to some extent the swing of the psychic pendulum from one extreme to the other.

In this exercise we will visualize the sephiroth of the middle pillar as part of our bodies, illuminating them in descending order while vibrating the sephiroth’s divine name. This establishes balance and fills us with energy. Once the middle pillar is ‘lit’ we will circle the energy around and through our bodies, to cleanse and fortify.

Think of the names as vibratory rates.

The exercise can be performed standing, sitting, or lying down. Names can be vibrated aloud or internally.

Regardie writes:

To my mind, the exercise described as the Middle Pillar is the groundwork of all actual developmental work. It is a process which is the basis of magic. The name of the exercise is taken from the position of the central Sephiroth on the diagrammatic Tree of Life. This exercise concerns those centers numbered one, six, nine, and ten. It also includes the shadowy center drawn in dotted lines, placed between three and four.

As has been said… “The Secret of Wisdom can be discerned only from the place of balanced power” – that is from between the two temple pillars. Poise at a third point, which neutralizes to some extent the violence of the swing of the psychic pendulum from one extreme to the other, is the result of cultivating equanimity representing an equal capacity to be either at rest or active, interested or withdrawn at will, and not from emotional compulsion.

To the four central Sephiroth plus the shadowy Daath as the fifth, are attributed divine names – which, as in the former exercise, are to be vibrated powerfully in conjunction with the imaginative formulation of various images.

Let me expatiate upon these divine names by stating that they may be considered as the keynote or vibratory rates of various degrees or grades of consciousness. In their prolonged investigation into the hidden knowledge and the secret side of man’s nature, the ancients who were as empirical scientists as our psychologists today, came to associate various sound-values or rates of vibration with various parts of the body, and also with particular types of magnetic force and strata of consciousness. No religious or metaphysical theory need attach to the employment of these names. The system rests entirely upon its own merits. The simplest way of regarding them is, as explained above, as vibratory rates. Again, they may be considered as key notes by means of which access is obtained to the consciousness of the different parts of our being, the existence of which hitherto we have been kept in ignorance.

Some will note that this exercise corresponds in some ways to the yoga chakra system. There is, assuredly, correspondence. But there are several very important differences and variations. The first, a minor difference, is the number and position of the centers involved. But this does not require discussion. What is fundamental, however, is the entirely different approach. The yoga technique commences its meditations from the lowest chakra and works upwards to the Sahasrara above the head. On the other hand, in the western system, the Middle Pillar starts from the highest and works downwards. In a word, the Western ideal is not to escape from the body but to become involved more and more in life, in order to experience it more adequately, and in order to obtain a mastery over it. The ideal is to bring down godhead so that one’s manhood being enriched may thereby be assumed into godhead. Always does this system begin from the real center of working – the higher genius which, by definition, is in contact eternally with whatever infinite deity there may be.

In the video below Dr. Israel Regardie guides us through the middle pillar exercise. The audio is shared strictly for the benefit of instruction in this exercise directly from its source. Audio is taken from “The Golden Dawn Audios: Volume II”  See the YouTube page of this video for more information.

The Middle Pillar Exercise

Pick a time when you know that you will not be disturbed for at least 20 minutes and attempt to keep this time as regularly as possible, preferably first thing in the morning but evening is also good.
Step 1 — Centre yourself by standing with your arms to your sides and your feet forward. If you are sitting then make sure that your legs are at a right-angle with your back straight, your chin tucked comfortably looking straight ahead, and your arms resting on your knees.
Step 2 — Centre yourself by taking note of your environment and allowing every noise, twitch, and thought to just be. Awareness of your sphere of sensation is vital in your magical training and by simply setting the intent that will allow these things to simply be, you will establish control over your mind. If you need to move or scratch during the exercise then do so without berating yourself, but do it gently and gracefully as if your were attending to Royalty.
Step 3 — Focus on your breathing, allow it to settle into a rhythmic pattern, then breathe in for 2, hold for 2, breathe out for 2, hold for 2, and so on for a couple of minutes.
Step 4 — Follow the instructions on the podcast (private) or in “Establishing the Pillar” below.

Meaning of the Divine Names

YOD HEH VAV HEH ELOAH VAV DAATH — The Lord God of Knowledge
SHADDAI EL CHAI — Almighty Living God
ADONAI HAARETZ — The Lord of Earth
Vibrate each name at least 4 times each.

Establishing the Pillar


middle-pillarAfter a few minutes of relaxation, imagine a sphere of white light just above your head. Vibrate the name Eheieh (pronounced Eh-hey-yay, meaning I am). Keep vibrating this word until it is the only thought in your conscious mind. Then imagine a shaft of light descending from your Kether center to your Daath center at the nape of the neck.


Form a sphere of light at the Daath center. Vibrate the name YHVH Elohim (pronounced Yode-heh-vav-heh El-oh-heem, meaning Lord of Hosts).


Bring a shaft of light down from the Daath center to the Tiphareth center around your heart. Form a sphere of light there. Vibrate the name YHVH Eloah ve-Daath (pronounced Yode-heh-vav-heh El-oh-ah v’-Dah-ath, meaning Lord of Knowledge).


See the shaft of light descending from Tiphareth into the Yesod center in the genital region. Imagine a sphere of light formed there. Intone the name Shaddai El Chai (pronounced Shah-dye El-Chai meaning Almighty Living God. (a)


Visualize the shaft of light descending from Yesod into your Malkuth center at the feet and ankles. Vibrate the name Adonai ha-Aretz (pronounced Ah-doe-nye ha-Ah-retz, meaning Lord of Earth).

Visualize the Middle Pillar complete.

Circulating the light

Then circulate the light you have brought down through the Middle Pillar around the outside of your body to strengthen your aura (Perform each circulation a number of times.):

Circulation One: Side to Side

Using the cycles of rhythmic breathing, bring the light down one side of the body and up the other, from Kether to Malkuth and back to Kether. Exhale and visualize the light descending the left side of the body. Inhale and imagine the light ascending the right side of the body back to Kether. (b)

Circulation Two: Front to Back

After performing this for a short space of time, imagine the ribbon of light descending from Kether down the front of your body to Malkuth and rising up your back, returning again to Kether. (c)

Circulation Three: The Shower of Light

Still employing rhythmic breathing, visualize the sphere of Malkuth, then see the shaft of light rising up the Middle Pillar in the center of your body. When it reaches Kether, imagine a shower of light cascading down the outside of your body as it descends to Malkuth again. Circulate the light in this manner for some time.

Circulation Four: The Ascending Spiral

Then see the light rise again in a ribbon that spirals around the outside of your body from Malkuth to Kether. (d)


Finally focus some of the energy back into your Tiphareth center, the seat of equilibrium and balance.

Adding Color

Once the ritual becomes familiar, try adding color to the spheres. While white light contains all colors within it, visualizing the spheres in color can strengthen the individual energy of each.

Colors in the LBR

Ateh – White
Malkuth – Brown, or russet – olive – citrine – black
Ve-Geburah – Red
Ve – Gedula – Blue
Le-Olam – Yellow
Visualize the complete cross in white.

East – a yellow pentagram
South – a red pentagram
West – a blue pentagram
North – a green pentagram

Colors in the Middle Pillar

Kether – White
Daath – Lavender or grey
Tiphareth – Yellow
Yesod – Violet
Malkuth – Traditionally a swirl of russet, olive, citrine and black. Or simply brown.


(a) The “ch” in Chai is to be pronounced like the “ch” in the Scottish word loch. The word rhymes with “eye.”

(b) The direction of this circulation (down the left and up the right) has a tendency to energize power in the Middle Pillar, resulting in a feeling of energy increase and a swelling in the Body of Light. The other direction (down the right and up the left) tends to relax the energy body, possibly resulting in a trance-state.

(c) This direction of circulated energy tends to cleanse the Subtle Body.

(d) In his early works, Regardie advocated using the Ascending Spiral circulation. In his later works, he replaced this circulation with the Shower of Light. Some students still enjoy the Ascending Spiral circulation, so it is included it here as an option.

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