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Middle Pillar Ritual

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Art by Alex Grey

Middle Pillar ritual

It is my confirmed belief that several weeks at the very least of patient application to the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram should precede any effort to perform the Middle Pillar. For one thing, it will have trained the aspirants  in several little tricks of routine and magical technique quite apart from the intrinsic virtues of the exercise, which is to purify and cleanse the entire sphere of personality to the end that the higher self may manifest through a purified body and mind. If the exercise has been labored at for two or three months, performing it two or three times during the course of each day, the aspirant will approach the further stages of magic well-prepared, quite able to cope with and accommodate the increased vitality and power which will pour through him.

It will be realized how necessary analysis is as a preliminary routine to magic. The aspirant should have arrived at a fair understanding of himself, his motives, and the mechanism of his mind, and integrated himself more or less thoroughly so that no dissociation or serious neurosis exists with the psyche. For the presence of a powerful complex of associated ideas in the unconscious, or a marked dissociation splitting off one part of the psyche from the other, will have the effect of short-circuiting the flow of energy generated or released by the Middle Pillar. An explosion in the form of a complete nervous breakdown, or even of the destruction of mental stability will be a likely result. Many instances have been known of unprepared aspirant contracting fatal physical illnesses through attempting work of this nature, though he is more true where Eastern exercises have been unwisely attempted. Some of these unfortunates, when the dissociation was rendered complete, have succumbed to chronic melancholia or taken their own lives. These warnings are not intended to be portentous or terrifying, but only to impress upon the student the solemnity of these undertakings, a journey of self-conquest than which nothing could compare in importance or seriousness.

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. Suffice to say here that it arises from a consideration of the process of evolution on the one hand, and the two pillars previously referred to, on the other. The ancient philosophers who developed this system believed that as man evolved, that is to say as he developed sufficient control over his emotions as to be able to remain poised in a detachment from the dual pull of the opposites, so there developed with him a new faculty of discrimination and spiritual discernment. Psychologically this idea has been verified. For it has been said that as the over activity of the superficial mind, the flitting from one thing to another, prevents creativeness, so equally does inertia, dullness and the unwillingness to move.

In fact, any of the two extremes or opposite modes of behavior or thinking are characteristic of the un-evolved man. As was said by one magician “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 psyche 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.

This central point between the two symbolic pillars of the opposites, the place of balanced power from which the working of the opposites may correctly be viewed, is the implication of Daath, which is the name of this shadowy Sephirah. Rightly it is shadowy and the word is used advisedly for in the majority of us who have not cultivated the difficult art of avoiding the opposites, the development of  the new principle has proceeded with the utmost slowness. It is a new factor of adaptation or equilibrium, especially between the two broad divisions of consciousness-the ego on the one hand with its desire for adjustment to modem life with its refined and non-natural conditions, and on the other hand with the superficial levels of the instinctual life, concerned with primitive things, of self-assertion and the unbridled gratification of its every whim and caprice.

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.

With each of these five centers there is associated a divine name to be used as a vibratory formula. The attributions as we have received them, together with the traditional name of the Sephiroth, are given below with the names of the principles active in the human psyche. The numberings are those that appear on the Tree:

1. Kether-Yechidah
” A H I H (pronounced “Eh-he-yeh)

– Daath-The Link
“YHVHALHIM (“Ye-hoh-voh E-loh-heemn)

6. Tiphareth-Ruach
“YHVHALOAHve-DAATH (“Ye-hoh-voh – El-oahve – Da-ath)

9. Yesod-Nephesh
“SHADDAI AL CHAI” (“Shah-dai EI Chain)

10. Malkuth-Body
“ADNI HARTZ” (“Ah-doh-nai ha-Ah-retz”)

Figure 2: Tree of Life



The Body of Ritual

1. Do a Relaxation.

2. Do the LBRP. When finished, stand behind your altar (if you have one) with your hands at your sides, eyes closed, steady relaxed breathing and, above all, try to get your mind into a still, quiet and calm state.

3. Focus your attention just above the top of your head. As a result of the LBRP there should be a sphere of white brilliance at this point. If not, visualize it. Take your time. Regard this white brilliance with a sort of awe: it is the spatial equivalent to the vital core of your being, your higher self your link with the Divine.

The result of this contemplation should be that the brilliance becomes even brighter. Now vibrate the God name, Eh-heh-yeh three or four times. The sphere should get brighter still.

4. Now visualize a slender beam of light descending from the brilliance through the center of your head, and stopping at the nape of your neck. Here, the beam widens into a ball of light, although not as big as the one above. At this point you should be visualizing simultaneously the brilliant sphere above your head, the small ball of light at the base of your neck, and the beam of light connecting the two. Understand that this is the link between your conscious and your higher self, and the ball of light at your neck should grow in size and intensity. Vibrate the God name, Yud-Heh-VahvHeh EI-oh-heem, three or four times.

5. Keeping the above in mind, cause a beam of light to descend from the ball of light at your neck, go down your torso, and light up the solar plexus in the form of a sphere. Understand that this represents your consciousness, and the ball should increase in brightness and intensity. You may feel as if you are being warmed by an internal sun. Vibrate the God name Yud-Heh-Vahv-He El-oh-ah V’dah-aht three or four times.

6. In the same manner, see the light descend to the area of the genitals and form a sphere. Here, regard yourself as master of your ‘lower” self. The God name to be vibrated three or four times is Shah-dai EI Chai.

7. Again the light should descend, here to form a sphere which encompasses both feet and the ground; that is, the sphere should be half above the ground, covering the feet, and half below the ground, under the feet. The God name to be vibrated three or four times is Ah-doh-nye Ha-ahr-etz.

8. At this point there should be large spheres of light above the head, at the throat, at the solar plexus, at the groin and at the feet.Each sphere of light should be connected with the sphere above and below by a beam of light.

9. Stay in this state for as long as you desire. Then, take a deep breath, and as you exhale, visualize the images fading and becoming invisible. They are still there, but they cannot now be seen. This completes the Middle Pillar Ritual.


The Ritual unveiled

The divine names and the names of the Sephiroth should naturally be committed to memory, as also the following scheme of their position or relation to parts of the human frame. Kether, the first Sephirah, is a center of light, and in the Qabalistic Cross, it is attributed to a center posited slightly above the crown of the head. It refers to that higher genius or it which, not yet fully incarnated within, broods above, a silent watcher. It is for each of us the source of inspiration and freedom and enlightenment. It is life itself. Daath, the shadowy Sephirah, which develops in the course of evolution as we learn the domination of our mental and emotional propensities, is situated at the nape of the neck. Its position is at a point on the spine just below the occiput, about one or two inches above the larynx, and its diameter may be imagined to be about four inches in extent. It is conceived to be a symbolic link, self- induced and self-devised, between the higher genius on the one hand, and on the other, the ego, the conscious self referred to that group of characteristics clustered around Tiphareth.

Figure 3: Backing into the Tree of Life

On the Middle Pillar, Daath connects the higher faculties to the ego, Kether to Tiphareth. This latter Sephirah is resident in the neighborhood of the heart, and its sphere extends from the diaphragm or solar plexus more or less to the spine. Its center may be imagined to be the lowest point of the sternum or breast-bone to which the ribs are attached, its diameter being about six inches.

Below Tiphareth is Yesod, a center which is referred to the region occupied by the generative organs, and its size should be visualized as of the same dimensions as Tiphareth. The final center is Malkuth, referred to the feet, and it will be found by experience that the ankles comprise the periphery of a visualized sphere about four inches or so in diameter, the center being the sole of the foot.

The method of working this practice called the Middle Pillar is to stand upright, hands to side, eyes closed, breath being inhaled and expired steadily. Above all the mind should be quiet, calm, and still. When familiarity with the exercise is obtained, it may be performed sitting or lying down. These preliminary conditions being fulfilled, let the student begin by transferring his attention to that region immediately above the crown of his head, where he should endeavor to visualize a sphere of white brilliance. To accomplish this may take some little while. Several attempts may be required before any realization of the center occurs. But when it has been obtained, let it be regarded with a certain sense of devotion, and contemplated as being the spatial correlative or correspondence of the vital core of  his being. This devotional attitude should enliven it considerably, and the sense of light and power, the first avenues of sense by which this higher phase of consciousness may be grasped, should increase wholly beyond anticipation. At this juncture let him vibrate three or four times, slowly, the name Eheieh.  This is a Hebrew divine name meaning “I am” (or more accurately “I will be”) a statement which in reality is all that one can truthfully say of the self. Every other characteristic and quality belongs not to its own intrinsic nature but to the vehicles and sheaths of consciousness through which it functions.

Steadfast in the contemplation of this source of power and enlightenment, he should endeavor to feel that an all-penetrant beam of brilliance is emitted downwards towards the nape of the neck. Here it widens, expanding to form a brilliant center similar to, though smaller in diameter than, that above the head. Applying the same vibratory technique here, while realizing that this is not his divinity but its conscious link or point of contact with his ego, the student should again feel the radiation of power and vitality. So marked and powerful should this become at this juncture that even in the palms of his hand will the vibration of energy be felt as almost of a physical nature, and quite possibly a prickling sensation will be noticed in the head and neck. A quite indescribable sense of poise and mental quiescence should also be experienced- no inconsiderable attainment, no small acquisition in these days of hurried business life and social fluttering.

After several vibrations of the appropriate name, again the beam of light should descend to the heart or region of the solar plexus, and from there a warmth and a quite different sense of power will gently radiate as though from an interior sun. Here too, a name should be slowly vibrated in such a way, w h c h can only come through practice, as to detonate precisely in the physical area being contemplated and not in another. It must be felt to vibrate in the region between the diaphragm and the point opposite to it on the spinal column.

Pass in contemplation from the heart to the center of the generative organs. Visualize the sphere of light and vibrate the name, employing the same technique as before and noting carefully the reaction in consciousness. Some minutes having been spent arousing this center and vitalizing in with power, pass downwards to the feet where the magical center will be found to awaken quite easily In point of fact, it will be discovered that the mere contemplation of Kether, the center above the head, will by reflex action bring into operation the Malkuth center, these being the two poles, height and depth, of the Middle Pillar.

Middle Pillar as an Initiation technique

When seeking for the ideal technique of initiation, to perfect a rite of initiation from a purely individualistic point of view, one of the methods is the combination of the Middle Pillar formula with an actual ceremony. That is to say, by ceremonially invoking a spiritual force by means of the appropriate Pentagram (For  novices) or Hexagram (For adepts) ritual, vibrating congruous divine names, and performing the Middle Pillar in a room or temple thus powerfully charged by the manifestation of this spiritual force, the result was all the more effectual and definitely realized in consciousness.

A simple ceremony which invokes the divine and archangelic currents of elemental force, using invocations composed of ecstatic passages from various sacred scriptures, is almost ideal for the purpose. Not only does this method succeed in providing an aspirant of Liber Null with an introduction to the light of his own higher genius and to the realm of magic, but it is a supreme technique of self-initiation. Various changes may be rung on a simple theme. And according to the student’s own ingenium and spiritual aspiration, so will he devise several methods of employing the techniques described above.

Middle Pillar and Chakra System

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. That is to say, through the Yechidah we have immediate access to all the dynamic inspiration and spiritual power of the collective unconscious.

By the magical hypothesis, the higher genius corresponds within man to the possible relationship of God to the universe.

Middle Pillar, Rythmic Breathing, and Healing

That is to say, man being the microcosm of the macrocosm, a reflection of the cosmos, is a universe within himself, a universe ruled and governed by his own divinity. So whatever magical work is undertaken must always be in accordance with the dictates and under the surveillance of that higher genius. And since, at first, there is no immediate method of realizing whether any particular magical effort has the approval, to state it simply and naively, of the higher self, the sole course of action must be for the student to place himself in alignment with that genius. This is done by invoking it at the outset of any magical operation, and trusting to be made a vehicle of wisdom and understanding. The first movement of the Middle Pillar-as also the Qabalistic Cross, which is a quick method of obtaining the same result-achieves precisely that. For since the source of life and love has always been conceived of as light, the preliminary step is to perceive that brooding brilliance above which is the emanation of, or the direct center through which manifests, that higher genius, or with which the latter is in especial sympathy. And the remaining steps are deliberately to open one’s manhood as it were to the descent of divinity-to bring down the light into the personality. Here it must be emphasized lies the vital distinction between the yoga chakra system of the Hindus and the magical exercise of the Middle Pillar. At first, such a descent is characterized by an increased sense of power and vitality. Gradually this widens to emotional quiescence and control with a mental poise, followed by a gradual broadening and enhancement of the entire mental horizon.

There is yet another highly useful application of this formula. It is to the art of healing that I refer. Formerly when I employed massage and magnetic healing in my professional work I found the Middle Pillar and the spiritual energy that it generates and makes available of inestimable value. Cases of nervous exhaustion, catarrh, constipation, incipient consumption, pleurisy and many another will respond in an incomparable manner to this combination of massage and the willed communication of power. That is to say, using effleurage and friction, especially on the spine, as the principal massage technique one should place oneself en rapport with the higher self by the contemplation of the center of light above the head.

By silently vibrating the divine name appropriate, one is enabled to tap a tremendous source of healing power that is infinitely greater than that which ordinarily one has at one’s disposal as an average human being. This magnetic or spiritual power flows through one steadily and powerfully. Directed by a calm will, and assisted by a clear visualized idea of the result desired, it may be communicated like an electric current through the arm and hands to the finger tips. Thence it enters the patients body as the palms of the masseur’s hands glide over the surface being treated. It requires some little practice to retain awareness of this divine Light while engaging in so strenuous a physical effort as deep massage, but it is not an impossible one. It is a great help if the visualization of the sphere above the head is attempted whilst walking, for example. When this can be done, then its employment for the purposes of healing is quite simple. I can commend it unequivocally, both to physicians and psychologists. It is my hope that analysts will take over the technique for use in their own consulting rooms. Let them adopt it in its entirety as the one ideal method of inducing the right state of mind appropriate to free association and the cathartic confession. Should its present form be considered unsuitable, I reiterate that it has possibilities which render it worthy of being remodeled in the light of present-day psychological knowledge to suit modem contingencies.

There are several little physical helps which greatly enhance the degree and amount of power which can be made available. Correct breathing, especially, is one of them. There could hardly be a better adjunct than breathing in a rhythmical manner. The latter in itself, quite apart from the Middle Pillar, is supremely efficacious in producing quiet and calm. The entire system is stilled and strengthened as the lungs slowly take up a rhythm, and keep to it indefinitely.

Ceremonial Magick


[1]. Article “Rituals of the Pentagram” adapted from http://www.thelemistas.org.

[2]. Michael Craig, Donald. Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts (Llewellyn’s High Magick) Paperback – January 1, 1988.

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