- Celebrities including Madonna, Demi Moore and Gwyneth Paltrow turn to Kabbalah for spiritual guidance
- More than 1,000 students a week now attend classes at the Centre in central London, moments from Oxford Circus
- Popularity has prompted ambitious expansion will seen the area of the grand, Georgian building double in size
Stephanie Linning for MailOnline
14:33 EST, 23 October 2014
15:14 EST, 23 October 2014
Ever since Madonna began wearing a piece of red string around her wrist in the Nineties, Kabbalah – a mystical offshoot of Judaism – has attracted an impressive list of celebrity devotees.
Actress Demi Moore and former husband are Kabbalists, while there has been speculation that Gwyneth Paltrow’s interest in Kabbalah hastened the end of her marriage to Chris Martin. And One Direction’s Harry Styles is reported to be one of the most-recent A-list converts.
Now the stars are set to have a new spiritual home. The Kabbalah Centre, a grand, Georgian building just moments from Oxford Circus in central London, has been given planning permission to double in size after witnessing a boom in the number of people turning to Kabbalah for spiritual guidance.
Sanctuary: Plans for the expansion to the building in central London apparently show a new roof garden with glass panels, above
Light and airy: One of the rooms, as shown in this artist’s impression, boasts a number of large sky lights and a curved, modern ceiling
Spiritual guidance: Gwyneth Paltrow, pictured left, and Madonna, right, are among a number of A-listers who follow Kabbalah
View from above: Westminster Council has just granted the Centre planning permission to double the size of the central London site
But while it might be the rich and famous that transformed Kabbalah into a household name, it is the surging number of ‘ordinary’ devotees following in their footsteps that has prompted the expansion of its British base.
Attendance at the Centre has reached a tipping point. More than 1,000 students – from City CEOs to teachers – now flock to join in a number of spiritual classes every week.
The surge in demand prompted the expansion project, dubbed ‘the Ark’, to be undertaken. It has now received the go-ahead from Westminster Council.
Digital imaging of the centre’s expansion reveal that the roof will be transformed with a modern, glass-pannelled extension – with long grass planted outside ensuring the privacy of the A-list visitors.
Though it is not clear what the new rooms will be used for, it appears that many have been designed as multi-function spaces that can be transformed depending on the occasion.
There is a theme of lightness and brightness throughout – with large windows and glass panels inside creating the illusion of more space.
Modern touch: The Centre, a grand, Georgian building just moments from Oxford Circus, will have an all-glass extension on the roof
Central location: The site, outlined in red, has been visited by a host of A-list celebrities – and a growing number of ‘ordinary’ devotees
Sleek finishes: In this digital image of what the Centre will look like, materials including glass, wood and mirrored surfaces are used
The spiritual mentor of the London Kabbalists is Marcus Weston, 41, a former investment banker who is now senior teacher and trustee at the Kabbalah Centre.
Mr Weston grew apathetic toward City life, becoming increasingly frustrated until he had an epiphany on the way to work 16 years ago.
He ended up taking a course under Rabbi Philip Berg, the founder of modern Kabbalah, and now devotes his life to teaching, proselytising and charitable works. He has since held talks about the religion at Buckingham Palace and the UN.
Speaking earlier this year, he said that when he first got into Kabbalah, he would often be the only one in his class. Now, he said, the Centre has a footfall of about 1,000-a-week.
Ambitious: Plans for the expansion, entitled ‘The Ark’, reveal that the central London location has a number of meeting rooms
Meeting point: A large multi-function hall, seen in blue, allows for large numbers of Kabbalists to gather together
Accommodation: Floor plans for the expansion reveal that there will be self-contained living quarters included in the Centre
And while teachers and nurses are among those attending the central London centre, many of the devotees are well-known personalities in business, sports and politics.
He stresses that Kabbalah is a spiritual wisdom, not a religious one, and some claim that this could explain why uptake is mushrooming.
It is a practical system of ideas and insights designed to help individuals gain more from life that can sit alongside any religious faith, or alongside none.
Students of Kabbalah learn to harness their full potential through various classes that over time, teaching them to feel more in control, realise the best version of themselves and reach a broader understanding of how life, business and relationships work, according to the website.