As part of my A-Z blog on all things mystical, here's the letter Q...
Qabbalah (also spelled Kabbalah or Cabalah) is a branch of Judaism that acknowledges and delves into the study of mysticism. Though dating back to ancient times, Qabbalah is still in wide practice today.
Interestingly, whereas many religions advise training up family members from a very young age, those interested in Qabbalah are not permitted to study unless they are part of a select group--at least forty years old and married.
A commonly seen symbol for this Jewish mystical tradition is the Tree of Life seen at left--a symbol found in nearly every culture. In its Qabbalistic inception, the tree is comprised of a sephiroth, or a series of ten interconnected spheres representing a map of the psyche and the universe itself. Within this tree lies secrets tying us to the world of the material and the supernatural.
Practitioners of Qabbalah believe that understanding its mysticism brings them closer to God--bringing enough understanding of the divine to invoke prophecy and other mystical abilities. They believe that letters and numbers and their relationships have magical significance. Gnosticism is often an element of Qabbalah--in short, the belief that God's knowledge has been imparted by way of secret teachings.
Many mystical uses of Qabbalah are practiced, including astrology, healing, and divination. Enough fear and dispute existed for a ban to have been enacted against its practice--a ban that was lifted in the 1600's. The religion gained some notoriety a few years back when Madonna began her own study of its mysticism.
For more information on Qabbalah, check out these sites:http://www.bookrags.com/research/qabbalah-eorl-11/