Monday, June 4, 2007

Thelemic Ritual for the Deceased

Recent events prompted me to put together this ritual designed to impart the soul of an individual with the power and impetus to accomplish their will following the death of their physical body. Thelema has a very open attitude toward death that is expressed in the Gnostic Mass, that the experience of the world beyond death corresponds to the individual will rather than any universal process or experience. Some souls may choose to reincarnate, others may choose to be reabsorbed into the infinite, while others may choose to remain at peace, in contemplation, or with their chosen and preferred. About the only dogmatic concept of the afterlife in Thelema is The Book of the Law's complete rejection of a "hell realm" or any sort of "dread hereafter."

Nonetheless, when an individual dies their will may not be purified or developed sufficiently for them to sort out how to proceed once their body no longer functions. This is especially true of someone who is not a spiritual practitioner. The process of death is confusing enough that without some significant practice it may seem less like an opportunity for the expression of will and more like a fearful ordeal. This ritual is designed to strengthen the will of the deceased so that they can not only pass through the confusion of death but traverse the spiritual realms in accordance with their True Will.

This ritual is a work in progress. It could probably be improved by adding in some sort of part for an audience to play so that it could serve a social as well as a magical function. So far, it is designed as a ritual for a single magician casting on behalf of the deceased. I'm also still thinking over the closing - I don't think that the banishing should be repeated so it currently ends with the dedication. I might want to add one more step in there to "seal off" the rite without banishing the energy. Credit is due to Aleister Crowley for the Star Ruby, Star Sapphire, and the selections from the Gnostic Mass, and to Sam Webster, who wrote the Dedication and whose work inspired the Refuge and Awakening sections.

The temple setup is very simple. An altar should be placed in front of the magician, upon which is placed a photograph of the deceased. Other implements and tools may be present as the magician deems appropriate. The ritual should be performed on the first Saturday following the death of the individual for whom the ritual is being performed. The plural forms (we, us, etc.) used in the ritual refer to the magician and the deceased.

  1. The magician begins by joining hands at heart level and stating the Death collect from the Gnostic Mass.

    Term of all that liveth, whose name is inscrutable, be favorable unto us in thine hour. So mote it be.

  2. The magician performs the banishing Star Ruby.
  3. Refuge is taken in Nuit, Hadit, and Heru-Ra-Ha.

    We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star - AUMGN.

    We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring - AUMGN.

    We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our own awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering - AUMGN.

  4. Will is then awakened.

    For pure will, unassuaged of purpose and delivered from the lust of result, is in every way perfect. All is pure and present and has always been so, for existence is pure joy, all the sorrows are but as shadows, they pass and are done, but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves - pure and total presence. So mote it be.

  5. The magician performs the invoking Star Sapphire.
  6. The Greater Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram for Saturn is performed. The godname used should correspond to the spiritual tradition followed by the deceased - Babalon for a Thelemite, YHVH Elohim for a Judeo-Christian, and so forth. Corresponding names from many traditions can be found in Liber 777 and it is not usually difficult to determine the proper godform governing death and the afterlife in most religious traditions.
  7. The magician then performs this slightly modified form of the End collect from the Gnostic Mass upon the photograph.

    Unto (the deceased's name) from whose eyes the veil of life hath fallen, may (he/she) be granted the accomplishment of (his/her) will, whether (he/she) wills absorption in the infinite, or to be with (his/her) chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to attempt the labor and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another, or in any star, or aught else, may (he/she) be granted the accomplishment of (his/her) will, yea, the accomplishment of (his/her) will - AUMGN AUMGN AUGMN. So mote it be.

    The magician then touches the photograph and visualizes energy flowing to the soul of the deceased, strengthening the will and providing a vector of motion in harmony with its individual nature.
  8. The ritual is closed with the Dedication of Merit.

    May the benefit of this act and all acts be dedicated unto the complete liberation and supreme enlightenment of all beings everywhere pervading space and time - so mote it be. May the benefits of practice, ours and others, come to fruition ultimately and immediately and we remain in a state of presence - AH.
So far, the ritual has been performed once and felt quite effective, keeping in mind that any sort of empirical validation is rather difficult to obtain when casting spells for those who have passed on.

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