Kabbalah is spelt in three different ways. In Hebrew it is QBLH but, as the first letter can be equally translated as a ‘K’ or a ‘C,’ different schools have used different spellings down the ages.
- Kabbalah is the name usually used in Jewish, interfaith and modern spirituality circles and is the most popular of the three. It includes Platonic, Neo-Platonic and other Greek-influenced traditions.
- Cabala is usually used within esoteric Muslim and Christian circles.
- Qabalah is used within the magical tradition and many of the other Western Mystery Traditions which focus on tarot, alchemy, numerology and sacred geometry.
However it may be spelt, Kabbalah is Hebrew for ‘receive.’
Kabbalah is the only complete Western Mystery Tradition and underpins the three main Western religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). A ‘Mystery Tradition’ is the name for the inner – or esoteric – teaching of any particular religion or belief.
Kabbalah is both a path of personal development and a way of understanding how the Universe works. Although it is traditionally believed to be Jewish, it pre-dates Judaism – in fact it is said to be as old as humanity itself. It can be practised by anyone seeking a more balanced and happier life, regardless of their religion, nationality, gender or personal belief system.
Kabbalah is now very much in the public eye. The Kabbalah Centre has brought it onto the front page of our newspapers and many people who are interested in spirituality have begun to investigate it.
At first it may seem difficult to understand how a subject which, for centuries, has been closely guarded within the Jewish religion, taught only to men aged over 40, and which is deeply complicated and imbued with sacred ritual, can be the same tradition as the simple, positive-thinking, inter-faith philosophies taught in books and workshops nowadays.
However, the two can live side by side very comfortably because the secret of Kabbalah is that it is a road map to individual growth which can be adapted for each and every individual. It can be used within a religion very successfully but it can also be used outside of any conventional faith.
Kabbalah provides a structure for study, growth, belief and self-realisation rather than a form. Structure is like scaffolding. It is there to demonstrate certain simple principles of how the Universe and humanity work. But, within that scaffolding, we can grow in whatever way is right for us.
The two structures that are Kabbalah’s main tool for understanding are the Tree of Life and Jacob’s Ladder. Interpreting these gives us the ability to plot our route on our own personal life-map.