Reflections on the Qabalistic Cross as a Microcosm for Occult Learning

The Qabalistic Cross practice was initially taught to me years ago in my pre-first degree training. As I recall it, aside from being taught HOW to do it, there was very little explanation about WHY we do it beyond it being a grounding and centering practice. I was told that, in addition to being a daily practice, I could use it when I was feeling anxious or unbalanced as it would bring about a feeling of calm. The only other instruction I was given was to observe and record how the practice impacted me and evolved over time.

I have used this practice regularly over 9 years and it has been a foundational practice in my daily routine. but I only recently started to research the practice to find more information beyond what I’d been initially given. When I recently started reading more about the practice, I realized there was a wealth of information related to this practice that I hadn’t considered before and I quickly turned to Iris to reflect on it.

My biggest question was: should we know all the deeper symbolic workings behind a practice in order to fully appreciate the work we are doing? The answer of course, wasn’t as simple as it might seem.

Her first question to me was to reflect on what I knew the ritual to be without the research as she believed I’d have answers intuitively from years of practice. (I cheated, I researched first – I’ll own it, I’m a Capricorn and I like being in control of the answers).

After having done all this reading, I started to apply the inner knowledge to my practice. It added a new energy to the practice, a new sense of inspiration and meaning to the work. So of course, my initial reaction was “Hell Yeah, we should know this shit!” Because after all, a practice without awareness of the inner meanings can end up being rote work that is devoid of intention and mindfulness.

But then I played with it longer and after the initial rush of inspiration and newness, I realized that I already intuitively knew the answers to the practice. I just didn’t have the language behind it. By not filling in the gaps, my teachers gave me the space to learn it for myself and there is a benefit in that too; one that shouldn’t be underestimated. A student needs to learn to find the energy, meaning, and method of a practice; while also understanding that sometimes that process of learning can lead them astray. Ultimately, there has to be a balance between the two: we need the basic deeper meanings and we need time to feel the practice out and learn it for ourselves.

This is very much the nature of occult work: knowing and doing versus learning through doing and study. However we choose to proceed, I feel that it is super important that focus on the experiential knowledge as book learning can only take us so far on this path.

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