Monday, July 11, 2016

Hacking The Middle Pillar

Many years ago now, before I started using the Elevenfold Seal (the First Gesture from Liber V vel Reguli) as part of my daily practices, like a lot of other magicians I practiced the Middle Pillar technique. I say "technique" and not "ritual" because I didn't learn the version used by the modern Golden Dawn orders, but rather interpolated my own based on Israel Regardie's general arrangement and Aleister Crowley's Liber 777.

This is pretty easy to do, because the basic idea behind the technique is simple. The Middle Pillar Ritual proper mostly consists of aligning the sephirothic names of God found on the middle pillar of the Tree of Life with the corresponding points on your body by vibrating the name while you hold your attention at the proper point. So right there, you actually have most of what you need to do what I did. You can make this more elaborate, too, by adding the sephiroth from the Pillar of Mercy and Pillar of Severity.

So when I recently went to look over online versions of the actual ritual, there were a few parts that I found surprising and, frankly, a little weird. I mentioned the Middle Pillar Ritual in the Elemental Work posts, but unlike the other rituals I decided not to link to the "official" version from those articles. If you really are looking for that, one of the places you can find it is here, but I also want to point out some of the differences between my version and the way that the ritual is often taught.

I will add the usual caveat here: if your practice is getting you good results, there's no reason to for you to change anything. My suggestions are based on my own experiments and may not be for everyone. However, if you are just learning this technique, I invite you to try out my suggestions along with the official version and see which seems to produce the best results. In the end, the final rule of magick is that if it works it works, regardless of how pretty a particular pattern might be.

So the first oddity to me, right off the bat, is that according to the source linked above you face west when performing the ritual. I never have done that, and only found out about it fairly recently. I would start facing east, perform the LBRP, and then perform the Middle Pillar Ritual likewise from the west of the altar facing east. Apparently facing west has something to do with the layout of a Golden Dawn temple, which models the flow of mezla as passing from east to west. However, I orient my temple with a central altar space and model the flow as passing from above to below.

Since this orientation is vertical, it seems to me that it should make no difference which way you face, and frankly it's just easier to integrate into other ritual forms without having to turn and face the opposite direction. Interestingly enough, in Regardie's original description there's no mention of facing west. He even suggests that you can do the technique while lying down once you are familiar with it. So I'm not sure how this direction came to be part of the ritual.

At any rate, I soon followed the LBRP in my opening with the LBRH to bring in the macrocosmic elements, and then changed that over to the LIRH once I worked out the logistics of the operant field method. So that's another change from the "official" version - it does not incorporate the LRH, just the LRP. According to my model, then, that version would be basically microcosmic in nature. I am of the opinion that if you want operant results, not just psychological ones, you should incorporate the Lesser Hexagram.

Another point that is a little odd when you think about it, but which I always did anyway, is using of YHVH Elohim as the godname for Daath, even though it actually corresponds to Binah. Now I do know that the godname is used there because Daath occupies the "Saturn point" on the planetary hexagram when you center it on Tiphareth, and also because it maps to the vishudda chackra which Regardie did not want to skip. Logically it would probably be better to use a godname actually matching Daath, but since that isn't actually a sephira, no such godname is found in Liber 777.

An interesting point related to this name and some of the work we've been doing at the Leaping Laughter Ritual Workshop is that Regardie DOES NOT recommend spelling out the Tetragrammaton. We have found that spelling out YHVH as "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh" is one of the fastest ways to make your LRP less effective. Regardie recommends "Ye-hoh-voh," more along the lines of the pronunciation found in Liber O. But in the section quoted above from Regardie's The Middle Pillar, there's a footnote instructing the student to spell out the name:

7. Daath has no divine name of its own, so in the exercise of the Middle Pillar, it "borrows" the divine name for Binah which is the highest Sephirah that is close to Daath. (Since Daath is usually considered a passageway to the Supernals, Binah would be the Sephirah at its point of termination.) Although Regardie states here that YHVH is to be pronounced as "Yeh-hoh-voh," we see no reason it should be pronounced differently from the way it is pronounced in the LBRP - as "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh." The term Jehovoh or Jehovah is simply a transcription of the Four-lettered Name YHVH - the letters of which were merely considered as stand-ins for the actual name of God, which was unknown and unpronounceable. We believe that the divine name YHVH Elohim should be pronounced "Yod Heh Vav Heh El-oh-heem" in all Golden Dawn rituals.

So where did this come from? I don't have a copy of Regardie's book on hand, but my guess is that it was written by the Ciceros, who annotated the most recent version. But in my experience if you want your Golden Dawn rituals to be effective, DO NOT spell out the Tetragrammaton! The closest pronunciation to the Hebrew is probably "Yah-Weh" rather than "Ye-hoh-voh," but the mere act of pronouncing the word rather than spelling it makes a much bigger difference than variations in the exact pronunciation.

My next issue is Regardie's is the use of Adonai Ha-Aretz as the godname for Malkuth. In Liber 777, the godname is given as Adonai Melekh, which is the one I used. Aretz is the name given there for elemental Earth under the Heavens of Assiah, but that's as close as it gets. I recently was discussing this at our Leaping Laughter Lodge ritual workshop, and I was told that Regardie may have adapted it from the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ritual - the problem being that in the original Golden Dawn system, this is one of the only places where that godname is used.

Another point we discussed at the ritual workshop is that the Middle Pillar could also be performed moving upwards. So you would start at the feet with Adonai Melekh and conclude with Eheieh at the level of your head. I never experimented much with this back in the day, but it would seem to me that this version would correspond to the ascending Serpent of Wisdom while the top-down version would correspond to the Lightning Flash, and I can see both versions being useful depending upon your specific intent. You could also go ahead and do both, which winds up looking similar to one of my Qigong practices.

In Qigong, there is an energy work practice called the Lesser or Microcosmic Orbit. It is performed by visualizing the energy from the base of your spine moving up your back, over the top of your head, moving down your front, and returning to the base of the spine. You then continue to circulate the energy in this fashion for as long as you wish to maintain the practice.

A "Middle Pillar Orbit" would look something like this. Open with your usual procedure, performing at least the LBRP but possibly including the LIRH to integrate macrocosmic forces. Then follow these steps:
  1. Focus your attention at the base of your spine, the muladhara chackra. Vibrate ADONAI MELEKH three times as you visualize a ball of black light forming at that point. The ball of light should be centered on your vertical axis (the spiritual channel) rather than your back and should extend past both the back and front of your body. You can also start and end at the feet, which correspond to the Malkuth point on the middle pillar, but you should still keep in mind the association between that point and the base of the spine.
  2. Shift your attention to the small of your back, the svadhisthana chackra. Vibrate SHADDAI EL CHAI three times as you visualize a ball of deep purple light forming at that point.
  3. Shift your attention to your mid-back, the anahata chackra. Vibrate YHVH ELOAH VE-DAATH three times as you visualize a ball of yellow light forming at that point.
  4. Shift your attention to the back of your neck, the vishudda chackra. Vibrate YHVH ELOHIM three times as you visualize a ball of bright lavender light forming at that point.
  5. Shift your attention to the top of your head, the sahasrara chackra. Vibrate EHEIEH three times as you visualize a ball of white brilliance forming at that point.
  6. After a momentary pause, vibrate EHEIEH three more times without shifting your attention from the ball of white brilliance or the top of your head, as you visualize the intensity of the light increasing.
  7. Shift your attention to the front of your neck, the vishudda chackra, and the ball of bright lavender light. Vibrate YHVH ELOHIM three times as you visualize the intensity of the light increasing.
  8. Shift your attention to the center of your chest, the anahata chackra, and the ball of yellow light. Vibrate YHVH ELOAH VE DAATH three times as you visualize the intensity of the light increasing.
  9. Shift your attention to a point just below the navel, the svadisthana chackra, and the ball of deep purple light. Vibrate SHADDAI EL CHAI three times as you visualize the intensity of the light increasing.
  10. Shift your attention to the feet or the perineum, the muladhara chackra, and the ball of black or green light. Vibrate ADONAI MELEKH three times as you visualize the intensity of the light increasing.
At this point, energy should have been drawn to all the relevant points on the subtle body and the spiritual channel should be fully activated. The official version recommends vibrating each name three or four times, and I went with three here because three in front plus three in back equals six, which corresponds to Tiphareth, the sephira of beauty and harmony.

You can transition from here into the Lesser Orbit quite effectively, visualizing the energy circulating up the back and down the front in a continuous loop. Your tongue should be touching the roof of your mouth, your spine should be straight, and your breathing should be from the diaphragm, deep and slow, allowing the abdomen to fully expand and contract. Also, if you are a student of Qigong, you can synchronize your breathing with appropriate rhythmic movements as you may have been taught.

Finally, when you decide to conclude the practice, drop the orbit visualization and proceed to a closing Qabalistic Cross. This grounds and stabilizes the energy raised and circulated. Do not conclude by repeating the LBRP, as you want the energy to fortify your body and a microcosmic banishing often can send much of it away.

The Middle Pillar technique is ripe for further experimentation, especially if you want to bring in some of the other attributions from Liber 777. The general form can be used as part of your preliminary invocation, to associate each point of your subtle body with aspects of the godhead. This process can also be made more elaborate by bringing in all of the sephira and their corresponding points, for example as Mark Stavish discusses in his article The Flashing Sword.

One of the most important points about this method is that it incorporates many of the basic ideas and practices of energy work into the Western ceremonial system. When I learned Qigong, I was amazed at how much of a difference it made in my ceremonial work, though I probably should have expected it. Energy work is important, and using it to build up your subtle body should increase your effective magical abilities greatly.

A number of the modern models of magick don't do the subject of energy work justice, when I am of the opinion that they should be teaching it as a central magical technique. Without it, in my experience your ability to produce practical effects can be quite limited.

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Anonymous said...

I find this method as a much needed upgrade to the traditional exercise. I like the fact that both the frontal and the rear regions of the energy centers are activated. I'd have to say that I've also achieved this with the regular MP, but i didn't always feel the specific points so intensly activated at the same time. There were a few times when I felt like I was shooting a massive amount of energy from Tiphareth, for instance, both forward and backword, but not all the spheres at the same time.

It also makes sense to be able to perform it both ways, depending on the nature of the working. I suspect that if you start from the top, you'd go over the front side first and climb up the back. It seems more logical for a mystical ritual for the practitioner to elevate him/herself towards the godhead, rather than to call upon its power like they would do for a practical working.

Don't know what to say about the godnames. It seems that the rituals work fine for me, but I'm gonna try switching them a few times and see what happens.

Wonderful article!

Temperamentvm said...

I've got to try this.

I hacked your NAZ OLPIRT a bit, to integrate it with Regardies "Fountain" method and projecting energy outward to another person. It yielded good results although it left my head spinning. A Solar Grounding ritual (with another tiny hack from MADRIAX worked wonders...

Excellent work Brother :)


Scott Stenwick said...

Thanks! Those are some interesting ideas. I will have to try them out myself at some point here.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing your method of the MP for some time now and I really enjoy it.

I adjusted it by visualising a black beam of light going up the back, from Malkuth to Kether and a white beam going down the front from K to M. Then I perform the fountain by visualizing a black beam of light going up from M to K through the middle of my body and from there white brilliance shoots in all directions, encapsulating me like an egg shell. Then i do the QC inside the shell.

Unknown said...

Excellent! I really like how you have integrated qigong into your writing. Thanks

Steven Desilets said...

So i open with the KC -> LBRP -> MP ->KC ?

What can happen if i do the MP alone, without KC and LBRP?


Scott Stenwick said...

It just will not work as well. That pretty much is all that can happen if you skip steps or whatnot in magical procedures. The sequences are set up the way they are because the ritual forms work best when you combine them in particular ways.

Steven Desilets said...

Thank you for your answer.

Big Twig said...

in section 4 of an essay upon number in 777 crowley notes that 361 Adonai Ha Aretz “embraces all ten sephiroth” via 3 supernals 6 ruach and 1 malkuth. found this after having switched to Adonai Melekh for my malkuth vibration via your suggestion and added a final set (after middle pillar is established) of vibrations of Adonai Ha Aretz while visualizing the entire tree in my aura. creates kind of a pulse of energy in all the sephira while maintaining emphasis on the central pillar and has accelerated the establishing/opening (or at least sensory awareness) of the Paths within my aura. have been doing this for months now to notable benefit as the energies of the side pillars are brought into use without having to perform a full lightning flash or serpent if you’re shorter in time.

Scott Stenwick said...

That sounds like an interesting addition. By all means keep it up if it's working for you!

Philip said...

Regardie is not consistent. He sometimes says to touch the left shoulder first during the QC and the right other times.

In his tape series, he spells out Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh for the LRP but pronounces it for the Middle Pillar.

He presents the MP as purely Microcosmic. Have you written about it's Macrocosmic aspect? I'm google searching your blog for it but haven't found it yet.

As for Qigong, wouldn't the MP be the activation of the penetrating meridian through the center of the body?

Scott Stenwick said...

I know Regardie is not consistent. That is one of the reasons that I started experimenting with variations, and that experimentation led to some of the points in this article.

I'm not sure that there's enough to discuss about the macrocosmic aspect in particular for a whole article. I do mention it in a number of places, though.

The MP is microcosmic if it follows the LRP, and macrocosmic if you add the LRH. From a microcosmic standpoint it activates the spiritual channel through the center of the body and engages the psychological aspects that correspond to the sephirothic godnames.

The MP is macrocosmic if it follows the LIRH, because that ritual engages the macrocosm. In addition to doing everything the microcosmic version does, it aligns your consciousness or sphere of sensation or whatever you want to call it with the macrocosmic principles corresponding to the sephirothic godnames.

Since the macrocosm includes the microcosm but not vice-versa, I always personally do the macrocosmic version.

Adrian C said...


This might be a basic question, but what is the role of the MP in the context of your operant field model?

E.g. what is the difference between the following two ritual sequences:

1) LBRP/LIRH --> MP --> GRH (or GRP)

2) LBRP/LIRH --> GRH (or GRP)

Scott Stenwick said...

Both can work. The difference is that in 1. the MP is being used as a preliminary invocation - that is, to identify the practitioner with the divine. This adds a theurgic component to the purely thaumaturgic method in 2.

There are plenty of other methods available besides the MP that will work for a preliminary invocation. The Bornless Ritual is great, though it's longer. I commonly will use also use the Elevenfold Seal from Liber Reguli in that position, especially when working with the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire instead of LRP/LRH.