Stemming from Judaism, the esoteric and mystical religious school of thought known as Kabbalah has existed for centuries. Only in the past 10 years or so has it pricked popular consciousness, however, with celebrity dabblers in the United States including Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and Britney Spears. Other American Kabbalah practitioners have been introducing Hong Kong to its methods.

In March, some 70 Hongkongers signed up to listen to Moshe Rosenberg, from the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles. An eight-hour introductory course was offered over four days in June and, in mid-November, Eliyahu and Debbie Jian, a teaching couple from Florida, are to move here. A site for a permanent Kabbalah Centre in Hong Kong is expected to be secured soon.

Today, a four-day "Kabbalah 1" course begins at 4.30pm at the Prince Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, with "Kabbalah 2" starting next Sunday at the same venue. Sean Coxall, a Hong Kong-based executive director at LF Sourcing and the city's "proactive ambassador" for Kabbalah, confirms there are places still available for both sets of workshops.

So what, exactly, is Kabbalah? Certainly it is more of a philosophy, with optional ceremonial aspects, than a full-blown religion or belief system, but some claim its roots stretch back 4,500 years, predating Judaism. Its basic texts - which include commentaries on the Torah - are contained in its holy book, the Zohar, which first appeared in Spain in the 13th century. Once the sole preserve of senior Jewish scholars, the book's influence has spread through Judaism and other faiths over the past century or so.

Coxall, whose teenage daughter, Amy, was killed in a go-kart accident in 2010, says that, as he grieved, he read up on various religions. Having been a Christian, he turned first towards Buddhism before discovering Kabbalah.

"Kabbalah really fits into busy life; it encourages you to change yourself, not your life. It helped me with my loss and answered many of my questions.

"Its ways of thinking offer a lot to people who have darkness or are spiritually lost - and [also] happy people."

So far, he adds, the breakdown of interested parties in Hong Kong has been a 50:50 split between Chinese and Westerners.

Discover more at the Kabbalah Centre Hong Kong's Facebook page, or e-mail