Performing the Qabalistic Cross
by Simon Jester
A Brief Introduction--This 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.
In the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross, 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.
The vertical line of Being, which is visualized emanating from a sphere of brilliant white light floating just above the crown of your head, moving down through your body, and entering another sphere of light encircling your feet, forms a connection between the Source of All (symbolized by Qabalists as Kether at the very top of the Tree of Life) and here: this place, this time in which you now find yourself (symbolized in the Qabalah as Malkuth, the lowest sphere on the Tree of Life.) Visualizing this line of power running vertically through your body is a ritualistic expression of the truth that you are a bridge between the Upper and Lower Worlds; a conduit through which the higher spiritual energies manifest here in the material world. Through performing the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross, you form a conscious connection with these higher spiritual energies.
The horizontal line of Action is visualized as a line of brilliant light running from a sphere of red light at your right shoulder (symbolizing Geburah on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah) through the top of your heart center into a sphere of blue light at your left shoulder (symbolizing the sephira Chesed or Gedullah on the Tree of Life.) The line expresses the Truth that you are a conscious being with the power to make decisions that are based on values. The red Geburah sphere at your right shoulder symbolizes your ability to make limiting decisions (e.g., the decision to say "No!" or "I will not…"). The blue Gedulla/Chesed sphere at your left shoulder symbolizes your ability to make expansive (or giving) decisions (e.g., the decision to say "Yes!" or "I will…")
In the Qabalah, Geburah is also called Judgement or Power and Gedullah/Chesed is called Mercy or Loving Kindness, and through forming a line between them that intersects with the vertical line of Being at the center of your chest, you symbolically place yourself at the point of perfect balance where your decisions will be neither too harsh nor too lenient. You also symbolically locate your decisions (and the consequent actions which follow from them) at the point where they will be most greatly influenced by the higher spiritual forces flowing down from Above.
The Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross is thus a magical method of gaining spiritual orientation, of affirming that you know exactly where you are spiritually and what you are going to decide to do. This is the perfect metaphysical position, the magical "High Ground" upon which to build the Holy City and from which to venture forth on Quests or to wage battle with the Dark Forces in order to make Conquests in the Name of the Empire of Eternal Light.
Performing the Ritual—Here are the simple steps of the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross. It may be performed anywhere, at any time you feel the need to become spiritually centered. But, for learning purposes, begin by selecting a quiet place and time. As your power of concentration increases with practice, this will become less necessary. But for now, try to eliminate interruptions and distractions as much as possible.
1. Begin by standing (or sitting, if that works best) facing toward the East, the direction of the rising sun and the dawning light. You may either close your eyes or leave them open, whichever works best for you. Visualize a glowing sphere of white light, about ten inches in diameter, forming approximately 6 inches above the top of your head. Imagine that its light is blinding, like the sun at high noon, and that you can't look directly at it without squinting. Take time for this image to form clearly in your imagination and allow your thoughts to consider that this sphere symbolizes the Source of all created Being, infinitely high above your worldly worries and ambitions. Raise your right hand, place the tips of your fingers into this sphere of light, pull the light downward and touch your forehead, intoning the word "Ateh." This Hebrew word means "Thou art…" and acknowledges the Being of God.
2. Now slowly move your right hand downward from your forehead and let it hover a few inches away from your chest. Imagine that the light is moving downward with your hand, and that it continues straight down through your body till it reaches the region of your feet. (Try to imagine that your body is semi-transparent and that you can see the line of light moving down through yourself.) Visualize another sphere of radiant white light forming around your feet to the height of your ankles, touch your chest with your right hand, and say the word "Malkuth." This Hebrew word means "The Kingdom," and the sphere at your feet symbolizes the here and now in which you find yourself, now perceived as filled with the Holy Light of the Divine. Allow this image to become clear and strong in your imagination, and let your thoughts consider that you are the bridge between the Upper and Lower Worlds, and that it is through your decisions that the Divine Light manifests here on Earth. Place both hands at your sides while visualizing the upright line of the Cross for a while.
3. Now raise your left hand and let it hover a few inches away from your right shoulder. Visualize a sphere of burning red light, about ten inches in diameter, forming around and within your right shoulder. Allow this image to become strong and clear in your imagination. The red Geburah sphere symbolizes your power & vitality, your ability to define boundaries and defend them, your strength to resist harmful negative influences. Keeping all this in mind, touch your left hand to your right shoulder and say the words "ve Geburah," which are Hebrew for "the Power."
4. Still keeping your left hand on your right shoulder, lift your right hand and let it hover a few inches away from your left shoulder. Imagine that a line of light is streaming from the red sphere on your right into your left shoulder where a sphere of glowing blue light forms, again about ten inches in diameter, around and within your left shoulder. Allow this image to become clear and distinct in your mind, touch your left shoulder with your right hand, and say the words "ve Gedullah," which, in Hebrew, mean "the Glory." The blue sphere symbolizes your ability to be giving, loving, compassionate, and forgiving.
5. While keeping your hands crossed over your chest, visualize the horizontal line of light moving through your chest, connecting the red and blue spheres and intersecting with the vertical line of the Cross right in the center of your chest. The horizontal line represents the complete spectrum of your moral/ethical actions, and wherever your consciousness falls on this line will determine whether your decisions are made for the sake of your Self or Others, and whether they are harsh or loving. At the point where the two lines intersect, visualize a glowing sphere of yellowish-golden light forming. This symbolizes Tiphereth on the Tree of Life, the central sephira of Enlightened Consciousness, that perfectly balances influences from Above and Below, and from the Sephiroth on either side of it on the Tree. Imagine that the Tiphereth sphere is moving downward slightly until it is at the same level as your heart & now forming the base of a triangle with the Geburah and Gedulah spheres. See this clearly and vividly in your imagination, and watch as its light radiates from within you to surround you and illumine the room in which you stand. Say the Hebrew words "la olam," which are variously translated as "unto all the ages" or "forever."
6. Conclude by clasping your hands together, as in prayer, and holding them against your chest at the place where the sphere of golden light manifests. Say the word "Amen." This expresses your conscious decision to elevate and shift your consciousness to a Center of Perfect Spiritual Balance.
7. Stand for a while and visualize the light of the spiritually orienting Qabalistic Cross glowing brightly within you. See the light radiate around you like a protective sphere, a Magic Circle of spiritual protection and illumination. Meditate on the symbolic significance of the ritual you have just preformed. You are now ready to go about your business from an altered point of view. This is a perspective that will put you more closely in touch with Higher Spiritual Forces, and make you more open to their positive influence.
There are many, many versions of this basic Hermetic ritual available in books and online. Many of the online versions simply outline the steps of the ritual without explaining its inner significance, and so people perform it mechanically without a true understanding of what it's really all about. That's a shame, because the Qabalistic Cross (with sufficient familiarity) provides a very potent ritual that clears the mind, calms the emotions, and enlightens the thoughts and decisions of the magician.
As with all magical rituals, the primary purpose of the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross is to tune the mind so that it can begin to pick up higher frequencies. But this beneficial result can never be attained by a person who merely imitates the motions and sounds made by the magician without any comprehension of their meaning. Nor will results come quickly even to someone who does begin with an appreciation of the inner significance of the ritual. It must be done repeatedly on a twice-daily basis, until the mind no longer has to consciously remember the steps and is thereby freed to concentrate on their Hermetic significance while engaged in the performance.
Teaching the mind the trick of raising itself above the material concerns which weigh it down so heavily takes a lot of time and a lot of hard work. Don't be discouraged if you get nothing out of the Ritual of the Qabalistic Cross for a while. Keep at it. Meditate on it. Write down any inspirations that come to you while performing it and study them closely. Diligent efforts will be crowned with eventual success.