Monday, November 12, 2012

Qabalistic Ritual Construction

While Augoeides has only been around since 2006, I've had an esoteric web site of some sort online since the late 1990's. Many of the items were simply links to rituals I liked and so forth, but a few were original articles on various magical subjects. I've gotten a few questions via e-mail recently regarding the use of Aleister Crowley's Liber 777 for the construction of rituals such as the various planetary rites I have posted on this blog. My old site was the home of the following article, and I'm reposting it here because the only way to link to it prior to now was to dig into the Internet Archives. Building rituals using Liber 777 is not nearly as complex as it seems at first when you pick up the book and flip through the tables. It is my hope that this article will lay out the process in more explicit detail and dispel some of that confusion.


Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777 provides a system of correspondences for the construction of magical rituals. It is based on the Tree of Life as found in Hermetic Qabalah, a synthetic system that originated in the Renaissance period and which combines the Jewish mysticism of the period with Christian and alchemical ideas and symbolism. Crowley’s correspondences probably began as a list assembled by Alan Bennett for use with the Golden Dawn system of magick, but Crowley expanded the tables so that they include more associations and are in harmony with the philosophy and principles of Thelema.

I. The Tree of Life – The Spheres

To understand the use of Liber 777 it is necessary to understand the Tree of Life and its structure. Hermetic Qabalah proposes that undifferentiated spirit transitions into concrete matter in 10 distinct steps. These phases of existence are called Sephiroth, or Spheres. These Spheres are as follows:
  1. Kether, meaning "Crown." Attributed to the primum mobile, that is, the undifferentiated space-time continuum itself. This is the closest sphere to pure, undifferentiated divine energy, and since its number is unity, at this level no division can exist. At the level of Kether, all things simple are, and they are all the same thing. On the human body, Kether is attributed to the Sahasrara or crown chackra. Crowley also attributes this sphere to the planet Pluto, but I attribute it to the planet Neptune.
  2. Chockmah, meaning "Wisdom." Attributed to the sphere of the zodiac, and thus the combined attributions of all twelve zodiac signs. At Chockmah, the concept of duality comes into being. At this level all statements are true only to the extent that their contraries are also true. It is at this level of consciousness that the Magus utters the logos, or word, that transforms the universe, which is the culmination of the Great Work. On the human body, Chockmah is attributed to the Ajna chackra, the "third eye," found in the center of the forehead. This sphere represents archetypal celestial (yang/expansive/active/electric) energy. Crowley also attributes this sphere to the planet Neptune, but I attribute it to the planet Uranus.
  3. Binah, meaning "Understanding." Attributed to the planet Saturn. At the level of Binah, time begins to exist. Also, the synthesis of two opposites to create a third principle is now possible at this level. Binah is the level of consciousness at which the “trance of sorrow” discussed extensively in Buddhist systems is perceived. In Thelema, since all things above the abyss are true only to the extent that their opposites are also true, Binah also includes the Vision of Joy. On the human body, Binah represents the Vishudda, or throat chackra. This sphere represents archetypal chthonic (yin / compressive / passive / magnetic) energy.
These three spheres are called the supernals and represent the potential or ideal world. Nothing above them exists in any meaningful material sense, and energy at this level has not yet begun the process of manifestation. This region of the spiritual world is similar to Plato’s world of ideal forms. A division called the Abyss separates the potential and actual worlds. Forms must cross the Abyss in order to move from a potential state to an actual state, and in order to achieve union with the cosmos, the mystic or magician must also cross it in the opposite direction, moving from actual to potential.

The gateway to the Abyss is a "false sphere" called Daath, meaning "knowledge," which is essentially a projection of the three supernals into the formative world below the Abyss. It represents the danger of treating knowledge as an end in and of itself, eschewing the experience of gnosis that imparts true enlightenment. Crowley attributes Daath to the planet Uranus, but I attribute it to the planet Pluto. I also attribute the asteroid belt and planetoids to the Abyss itself.
  1. Chesed or Gedulah, meaning "Mercy." Attributed to the planet Jupiter. At the level of Chesed, what began as ideal potential has now begun the process of formation. Here three-dimensional space and matter both exist. Chesed also represents Love in the higher sense, as in "Love is law, love under will." On the human body, Chesed represents the left shoulder, and also the Anahata, or heart chackra.
  2. Geburah, meaning "Power" or "Strength." Attributed to the planet Mars. At the level of Geburah, motion exists, and thus it is now possible for matter to exist in both time and space. Motion also implies the existence of energy. Geburah represents Will, in the sense of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." On the human body, Geburah represents the right shoulder, and also the Anahata, or heart chackra, along with Chesed.
  3. Tiphareth, meaning "Beauty." Attributed to the Sun. At the level of Tiphareth, matter acquires consciousness. Tiphareth represents the ego, or conscious mind, and will on a personal and egocentric level. On the human body it represents the Anahata, or heart chackra, along with Chesed and Geburah. This sphere is also related to spirit, which binds the four elements together.
  4. Netzach, meaning "Victory." Attributed to the planet Venus. It is attributed to passionate emotions, such as love on a personal and egocentric level, and also intuition and inspiration. On the human body, it represents the left hip and the Manipura, or solar plexus chackra. This sphere is also related to the element of fire.
  5. Hod, meaning "Splendor." Attributed to the planet Mercury. Hod represents knowledge, the intellect, and anything related to information or communication. On the human body it attributed to the right hip and also the Svadhisthana chackra, or umbilicus. Crowley attributes Hod to the element of water, but I usually attribute it to the element of air.
  6. Yesod, meaning "Foundation." Attributed to the Moon. Yesod is the foundation of the body of light, and represents the unconscious mind, and also the emotional self. On the human body, it is attributed to the Muladhara, or root chackra. Crowley attributes Yesod to the element of air, but I usually attribute it to the element of water.
  7. Malkuth, meaning "Kingdom." Attributed to the four elements. Malkuth represents the physical world in its entirety, and thus the four ancient elements. It is also attributed to the planet Earth. All solid, material things exist in Malkuth. On the human body, it is attributed to the Muladhara, or root chackra, along with Yesod. It is also especially related to the element of earth, which contains the other three elements within itself.
The Tree of Life is structured as follows. Each sphere is numbered, and the numbers correspond to those above. Also shown are the 22 paths, which I will discuss in the next section. The location of Daath is shown by the outlined circle halfway between Kether (1) and Tiphareth (6) on the middle pillar.
Since the spheres represent states of being or "places," for the most part a magical ritual performed to invoke the essence of a sphere will lead to a mystical vision in harmony with the nature of the sphere invoked. The nature of these visions can be found on the table of magical powers that follows the section on the paths.

II. The Tree of Life – The Paths

Connecting the Spheres on the Tree of Life are 22 paths, each attributed to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. They are numbered from 11 to 32, like the Spheres are numbered from 1 to 10 and the Infinite, beyond the Tree, is numbered as 0. This set of numbers from 0 to 32 is called the Key Scale, and it forms the basis of working with the tables that make up Liber 777.
  1. Aleph, meaning "Ox." This path is attributed to Atu 0, The Fool, in the Tarot and to the element of air. In gematria, its value is 1.
  2. Beth, meaning "House." This path is attributed to Atu I, The Magus, in the Tarot and to the planet Mercury. In gematria, its value is 2.
  3. Gimel, meaning "Camel." This path is attributed to Atu II, The Priestess,in the Tarot and to the Moon. In gematria, its value is 3.
  4. Daleth, meaning "Door." This path is attributed to Atu III, The Empress, in the Tarot and to the planet Venus. In gematria, its value is 4.
  5. Heh, meaning "Window." This path is attributed to either Atu IV, The Emperor, or Atu XVII, The Star, in the Tarot, and to either the sign Aries or the sign Aquarius in the zodiac. In gematria, its value is 5.
  6. Vav, meaning "Nail." This path is attributed to Atu V, The Hierophant, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Taurus. In gematria, its value is 6.
  7. Zain, meaning "Sword." This path is attributed to Atu VI, The Lovers, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Gemini. In gematria, its value is 7.
  8. Cheth, meaning "Fence." This path is attributed to Atu VII, The Chariot, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Cancer. In gematria, its value is 8.
  9. Teth, meaning "Serpent." This path is attributed to Atu XI, Lust or Strength, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Leo. In gematria, its value is 9.
  10. Yod, meaning "Hand." This path is attributed to Atu IX, The Hermit, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Virgo. In gematria, its value is 10.
  11. Kaph, meaning "Palm." This path is attributed to Atu X, Fortune, in the Tarot and to the planet Jupiter. In gematria, its value is 20.
  12. Lamed, meaning "Ox-goad." This path is attributed to Atu VIII, Adjustment or Justice, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Libra. In gematria, its value is 30.
  13. Mem, meaning "Water." This path is attributed to Atu XII, The Hanged Man, in the Tarot and to the element of water. In gematria, its value is 40.
  14. Nun, meaning "Fish." This path is attributed to Atu XIII, Death, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Scorpio. In gematria, its value is 50.
  15. Samekh, meaning "Prop." This path is attributed to Atu XIV, Art or Temperance, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Sagittarius. In gematria, its value is 60.
  16. Ayin, meaning "Eye." This path is attributed to Atu XV, The Devil, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Capricorn. In gematria, its value is 70.
  17. Pe, meaning "Mouth." This path is attributed to Atu XVI, The Tower, in the Tarot and to the planet Mars. In gematria, its value is 80.
  18. Tzaddi, meaning "Fish-hook." This path is attributed to either Atu XVII, The Star, or Atu IV, The Emperor, in the Tarot, and to either the sign Aquarius or the sign Aries in the zodiac. In gematria, its value is 90.
  19. Qoph, meaning "Back of Head." This path is attributed to Atu XVIII, The Moon, in the Tarot and to the zodiac sign Pisces. In gematria, its value is 100.
  20. Resh, meaning "Head." This path is attributed to Atu XIX, The Sun, in the Tarot and to the Sun. In gematria, its value is 200.
  21. Shin, meaning "Tooth." This path is attributed to Atu XX, Aeon or The Last Judgment, in the Tarot and to the elements of fire and spirit. In gematria, its value is 300.
  22. Tau, meaning "Cross." This path is attributed to Atu XXI, The Universe or The World, and to the planet Saturn and the element of earth. In gematria, its value is 400.
Paths 31 and 32 have dual natures, as you can see by their descriptions. These are notated in 777 as 31 and 31bis, and 32 and 32bis. 31 is the element of fire, and 31bis is the element of spirit. 32 is the planet Saturn, and 32bis is the element of earth. In the following tables they will be notated as 31 and 31B, and 32 and 32B.

While the spheres represent states of being, the paths represent channels along which energy can flow from one state to another. For example, for energy to flow from Yesod to Malkuth, it must cross the path of Tau, which is symbolized by The Universe in the Tarot and attributed to Saturn and earth. The various magical powers of western mysticism are related to this movement of energy, and thus the paths represent powers and effects of various natures.

III. Magical Powers and Ritual Intent

The key scale can be used to catalog various mystical visions and magical effects that may be achieved by invoking the energies of each path and sphere. Once the intent of a ritual is known, this table is essentially the starting point for ritual construction. By matching the intent of the ritual to a power or vision on this table, a key scale value can be obtained that will determine what magical components are in harmony with the desired outcome. For example, if the power or vision that is the intent of the ritual is key scale 21, consulting the other tables in Liber 777 will yield colors, lineal figures, incense, magical weapons, and so forth that also correspond to key scale 21. Using as many of these aspects as possible will enhance the effectiveness of the ritual.

Mystical Visions

  1. The Supreme Attainment, Vision of No Difference.
  2. Union with God.
  3. The Vision of God face to face, the Vision of Antinomies.
  4. The Vision of Sorrow, and of Wonder.
  5. The Vision of Love.
  6. The Vision of Power.
  7. The Vision of the Harmony of Things, the Mysteries of the Crucifixion, and the Beautific Vision.
  8. The Vision of Beauty Triumphant.
  9. The Vision of Splendor, as found in Ezekiel.
  10. The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe.
  11. The Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel or of Adonai.

Magical Powers and Operations

  1. Divination.
  2. Miracles of Healing, the Gift of Tongues, Knowledge of Sciences.
  3. The White Tincture, Clairvoyance, Divination by Dreams.
  4. Love-philtres.
  5. The Power of Consecrating Things.
  6. The Secret of Physical Strength.
  7. The Power of being in two or more places at the same time, and of Prophecy.
  8. The Power of Casting Enchantments.
  9. The Power of Training Wild Beasts.
  10. Invisibility, Parthenogenesis, Initiation.
  11. Power of Acquiring Political and other Ascendancy.
  12. Works of Justice and Equilibrium.
  13. The Great Work, Talismans, Crystal-gazing.
  14. Necromancy.
  15. Transmutations, and the Vision of the Universal Peacock.
  16. The Witches’ Sabbath so-called, the Evil Eye.
  17. Works of Wrath and Vengeance.
  18. Astrology.
  19. Bewitchments, Casting Illusions.
  20. The Red Tincture, the Power of Acquiring Wealth.
  21. Evocation, Pyromancy.
  22. B. Invisibility, Transformations, Vision of the Genius.
  23. Works of Malediction and Death, Travels on the Astral Plane.
  24. B. Alchemy, Geomancy, the Making of Pantacles.
It is not my goal here to reproduce all of Liber 777 in its entirety, but once you have determined the key scale for your ritual, you should be able to use any of the existing published versions to assemble a collection of harmonious components.

IV. Ritual Construction – Crowley’s Example

Crowley gives only one example in his writings concerning the construction of rituals using 777, which is found in the first section of Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae, first published in The Equinox. It concerns the construction of a ritual designed to obtain knowledge of an obscure science, which is key scale 12. Key scale twelve is Beth, attributed to Atu I, The Magus, in the Tarot and to the planet Mercury. Here is the example, quoted in its entirety:
  1. The student must first obtain a thorough knowledge of "Book 777", especially of the columns printed elsewhere in this Book. When these are committed to memory, he will begin to understand the nature of these correspondences. (See Illustrations in "The Temple of Solomon the King" in Equinox No. 2. Cross references are given.)
  2. If we take an example, the use of the tables will become clear. Let us suppose that you wish to obtain knowledge of some obscure science. In column XLV to the Reference to the First Edition, line 12, you will find "Knowledge of Sciences." By now looking up line 12 in the other columns, you will find that the Planet corresponding is Mercury, its number eight, its lineal figures the octagon and octagram. The God who rules that planet Thoth, or in Hebrew symbolism Tetragrammaton Adonai and Elohim Tzabaoth, its Archangel Raphael, its choir of Angels Beni Elohim, its Intelligence Tiriel, its Spirit Taphtatharath, its colours Orange (for Mercury is the Sphere of the Sephira Hod, 8) Yellow, Purple, Grey and Indigo rayed with Violet; its Magical Weapon the Wand or Caduceus, its Perfumes Mastic and others, its sacred plants Vervain and others, its jewel the Opal or Agate; its sacred animal the Snake, etc., etc.
  3. You would then prepare your Place of Working accordingly. In an orange circle you would draw an eight-pointed star of yellow, at whose points you would place eight lamps. The Sigil of the Spirit (which is to be found in Cornelius Agrippa and other books) you would draw in the four colours with such other devices as your experience may suggest.
  4. And so on. We cannot here enter at length into all the necessary preparations; and the student will find them fully set forth in the proper books, of which the "Goetia" is perhaps the best example.
  5. These rituals need not be slavishly imitated; on the contrary, the student should do nothing the object of which he does not understand; also, if he have any capacity whatever, he will find his own crude rituals more effective than the highly polished ones of other people. The general purpose of all this preparation is as follows:
  6. Since the student is a man surrounded by material objects, if it be his wish to master one particular idea, he must make every material object about him directly suggest that idea. Thus, in the ritual quoted, if his glance fall upon the lights, their number suggests Mercury; he smells the perfumes, and again Mercury is brought to his mind. In other words the whole magical apparatus and ritual is a complex system of mnemonics. (The importance of these lies principally in the fact that particular sets of images that the student may meet in his wanderings correspond to particular lineal figures, divine names, etc. and are controlled by them. As to the possibility of producing results external to the mind of the seer (objective in the ordinary common sense acceptation of the term) we are here silent.)
Crowley is relatively clear on how this example works except for his use and choice of colors, which are given but not completely explained. In Crowley’s system, which was adapted from the Golden Dawn, there are four scales of color: King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. The symbolism of these color schemes is also based on Qabalistic correspondences included in Liber 777. Crowley attributes the court cards of the Tarot as follows, which relates back to the four color scales:

Kings or Knights Chockmah (2)
Queens Binah (3)
Princes Tiphareth (6)
Princesses Malkuth (10)

Taken individually, the color scales also correspond to YHVH of the Tetragrammaton and to the elements:

King Yod Fire
Queen Heh Water
Prince Vav Air
Princess Heh Final Earth

The color scales also correspond to the four worlds of Qabalistic mysticism, and here is where we can derive some clues as to their usage. The four worlds are:

Atziluth King or Knight Archetypal World Kether (1) and Chockmah (2)
Briah Queen Creative World Binah (3)
Yetzirah Prince or Emperor Formative World Chesed (4) through Yesod (9)
Assiah Princess or Empress Material World Malkuth (10)

In the example, Crowley uses the Queen scale color corresponding to the sphere of Mercury, Hod, for the circle itself. The circle is a place or state, and as such should be made in the color of one of the spheres. For planets, this is the most straightforward. The Queen scale is used because the circle itself represents the passive or receptive principle. Thus, a ritual for attaining political ascendancy (Jupiter) would use a blue circle (Chesed – sphere 4), a ritual for obtaining vengeance (Mars) would use a red circle (Geburah – sphere 5) and so forth. For elemental rituals, the circle should be made in citrine, olive, russet, and black (Malkuth – sphere 10). For Zodiacal rituals, you could either use gray (Chockmah – sphere 2) or the color associated with the planet that rules the sign. The more traditional arrangement of planetary rulership is the most widely agreed upon for this sort of work, since attributing the outer planets to the spheres is a matter of some conjecture among ritualists.

Whereas the circle represents the passive or receptive principle, the lineal figure traced within it represents the active or expansive principle and as such is usually drawn in the color corresponding to the King scale. In Thelemic terminology, the circle is Nuit, the lineal figure is Hadit, and their union in the ritual proper is Ra Hoor Khuit. Incidentally, this is also why it is especially appropriate to begin a ritual action with the Sign of the Enterer (Horus) and end it with the Sign of Silence (Harpocrates), as with the pentagrams in the Star Ruby ritual.

In making the sigil of the spirit, all four colors are used because they correspond to the YHVH formula, which is the template for creation of any sort. All spirits in the magical universe exist in all four worlds, though humans are more closely connected to the material world than are most disembodied entities. The spirit still needs a path into the material world if it is to manifest at all. Here is the table of colors from Liber 777.

Key    King or Knight (Yod) Queen (Heh) Emperor or Prince (Vav) Empress or Princess (Heh Final)
1 Brilliance White brilliance White brilliance White, flecked gold
2 Pure soft blue Grey Blue pearl grey, like mother-of-pearl White, flecked red, blue, and yellow
3 Crimson Black Dark brown Grey, flecked pink
4 Deep violet Blue Deep purple Deep azure, flecked yellow
5 Orange Scarlet red Bright scarlet Red, flecked black
6 Clear pink rose Yellow (Gold) Rich salmon Gold Amber
7 Amber Emerald Bright yellow green Olive, flecked gold
8 Violet purple Orange Red russet Yellowish brown, flecked white
9 Indigo Violet Very dark purple Citrine, flecked azure
10 Yellow Citrine, olive, russet, black As Queen, flecked with gold Black rayed with yellow
11 Pale bright yellow Sky blue Blue emerald green Emerald, flecked gold
12 Yellow Purple Grey Indigo, rayed violet
13 Blue Silver Cold pale blue Silver, rayed sky blue
14 Emerald Green Sky blue Early spring green Bright rose or cerise, rayed pale green
15 Violet Sky blue Bluish mauve White, tinged purple
16 Red orange Deep indigo Deep warm olive Rich brown
17 Orange Pale mauve New yellow leather Reddish grey inclined to mauve
18 Amber Maroon Rich bright russet Dark greenish brown
19 Yellow, greenish Deep purple Grey Reddish amber
20 Green, yellowish Slate gray Green grey Plum color
21 Violet Blue Rich purple Bright blue, rayed yellow
22 Emerald Green Blue Deep blue green Pale green
23 Deep blue Sea green Deep olive green White, flecked purple, like mother-of-pearl
24 Green blue Dull brown Very dark brown Livid indigo brown, like black beetle
25 Blue Yellow Green Dark vivid blue
26 Indigo Black Blue black Cold dark gray, approaching black
27 Scarlet Red Venetian Red Bright red, rayed azure or emerald
28 Scarlet Red Brilliant flame Glowing red
29 Crimson (UV) Buff, flecked silver-white Light translucent pinkish brown Stone color
30 Orange Gold yellow Rich amber Amber, rayed red
31 Glowing orange Vermillion Scarlet, flecked gold Vermillion, flecked crimson and emerald
32 Indigo Black Blue black Black, rayed blue
32b Citrine, olive, russet, black Amber Dark brown Black, flecked yellow
31b White merging into gray Deep purple, nearly black 7 prismatic colors, violet outside White, red, yellow, blue, black (the latter outside)

V. Ritual Performance

Once you have set up the temple and made the sigil of the spirit, you are ready to begin the ritual. The two principle ritual forms are invocation and evocation. An invocation refers to calling the spirit into yourself, such as would likely be the case with Crowley’s sample ritual. The most efficient way to gain understanding of an obscure science is to call Mercury into yourself in order to unite with a force that already possesses that understanding. For enhancing your own abilities in any way, this is usually the most efficient course of action, and in fact Crowley considered evocation to be more like a starting point from which the student would eventually move on to invocation. However, evocation has some specific advantages for certain situations.

Much operant magick – that is, magick directed at producing change in the external, physical world – is best done using evocation. This is because when working operant magick you often do not want the effect centered on yourself, but rather on some other person, place, or thing. You also usually use evocation to create most servitors or telesma – independent constructed spirits that can act autonomously and follow programming of one sort or another. Any magical effect you create using invocation runs off your own body’s magical field, and as such you can only do so much at any one time when you are creating effects with invocation. A powerful magician can generally manage to keep some number of effects going simultaneously, but each of them will to some degree weaken the others. This can be worked around by using what I call anchors – physical objects associated with a particular magical vibration that can power a magical effect from the universe itself. Talismans are one example of a magical device of this sort, and generally you get better results if anchors are charged using evocation.

Also, when using evocation, the magical energy is called into an external space instead of through your own body. While this is not usually a problem, some kinds of energy (such as that of Mars or Saturn) can be harmful if great care is not taken when invoking them. A spell to obtain vengeance (Mars), for example, is best cast by evoking the energy into a space in which you have placed something linked to the target of the spell. This bypasses the Wiccan “threefold law of return,” which is really nothing moral at all but instead sloppy casting. Many Wiccan groups don’t teach evocations, and if you target an effect on someone else that is centered on you, it is likely that you will experience something similar to whatever you intended for your target. Whether you should use magick in this way is a matter of personal ethics, not fear of retaliation. Most Thelemites like myself avoid using this kind of magick if any other options are available. It is a matter of Thelemic ethics that every person has the right to do their will unless they interfere with the will of another individual, and obviously targeting someone against their will with a spell of any kind (even if you are trying to help them!) is a violation of this principle.

If you are performing an invocation, setting up the circle and making the sigil of the spirit is all the temple preparation you need. You hold the sigil of the spirit or wear it somewhere on your person and begin the ritual work. For evocation, your preparation is a bit more elaborate. You will need a triangle, which should be black. This symbolism is related to sphere 3, Binah, which is attributed to the planet Saturn. Saturn in this context symbolizes boundaries and limitations, which is appropriate for containing a summoned entity. You also need a material basis if you wish to see any kind of manifestation. Crowley recommended placing an incense burner in the triangle and lighting incense appropriate to the attribution of the spirit (also found in 777, by key scale), so that the smoke could be used in this way. You can also place a person in the triangle and evoke a spirit into them, which is sometimes done for group workings. In this case, the person is the material basis for the spirit. I have also personally used crystals, candles, and talismans. The triangle is placed outside the circle, which is a very important point. If the triangle is inside the circle, the spirit will not be contained and you are essentially performing an invocation. Another structure that I have used for this purpose is the Holy Table described in John Dee’s Enochian work, which functions very differently, but that is the subject of another article.

Once you have the temple set up in the appropriate manner, you begin with the rituals of the pentagram and hexagram. The “standard” rituals for this are the Lesser Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram, which originated with the Golden Dawn system of magick and were first published by Crowley in The Equinox. Crowley also wrote the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, which were first published in The Book of Lies. The Star Ruby was later revised from the original form, though the Star Sapphire remained essentially unchanged throughout Crowley’s life. The Star Ruby is Crowley’s pentagram ritual and the Star Sapphire is his hexagram ritual. For the purposes of this article I will be using the Golden Dawn rituals as examples, though Crowley’s rituals are very effective. Each ritual has two forms – banishing and invoking. The banishing form is used to dismiss spiritual forces, while the invoking form is used to call upon them. The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram also separates the magician from the qlippothic (or demonic) parts of the universe – in the Thelemic worldview, forces that impede the purification of will. It is this second function that makes the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram specifically suited for daily practice leading to the pursuit of the Great Work.

For the most part, just about every magical ritual also begins with the banishing form of the pentagram ritual. It purifies the will and dismisses thoughts and influences that are not in harmony with the desired end. It is followed by the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, which may be performed in either the banishing or invoking form depending on the nature of the ritual. Following the banishing form of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram with the banishing form of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram clears a space completely of all spiritual and magical influences, both microcosmic and macrocosmic. This is most appropriate for rituals conducted for the purpose of communication with a specific entity, in which you want the channels of communication to be as open and unimpeded as possible. Following the banishing form of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram with the invoking form of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram creates what I call an operant field – a space in which the microcosm and macrocosm are conjoined in such a way that magick can affect the exterior world. For any kind of operant ritual, the invoking form of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram should be used.

The Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram is usually followed by either the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram or the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram, generally in the invoking form. The banishing form could be used to expel or diminish a particular influence, though, such as in the case of a ritual designed to banish the energy of Saturn to speed something up. The banishing form is also used at the end of the ritual if the effects of that ritual are not intended to persist. The Greater Ritual of the Pentagram is used for rituals involving the elements. The Greater Ritual of the Hexagram is used for rituals involving planets or zodiac signs. The color used for the pentagrams or hexagrams should be taken from the key scale, and you should use the scale of color that corresponds to the Qabalistic world in which you are working. Usually you use the King scale, which propagates down the tree of life from the archetypal world. You trace the pentagrams or hexagrams in this color, and trace the symbol of the influence you are working with in the center of the lineal figure in a flashing (complementary) color.

These rituals are then followed by a general invocation or conjuration followed by a more specific one tailored to the spirit or force summoned. An example of a general conjuration would be the First Conjuration of the Goetia, or the First and Second Angelic Keys from the Enochian system. Usually, the specific conjuration will work best if the magician who will be performing it writes it specifically for the ritual in question.

UPDATE: Donald Michael Kraig has commented on this article over on his blog, and notes that there's a lot more to performing a ritual than putting the pieces together as outlined here. He is of course correct. This article was written to address a particular problem, that of magicians who have trouble understanding how to assemble all the pieces for a rite from Crowley's Liber 777. For those of you looking for more information on what some of those additional points of performance might be, I direct you to a number of other articles here on Augoeides that address this very subject.

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. This is a transcript of a presentation given by a friend and I at Twin Cities Pagan Pride in 2010. It goes over many of the finer points of performing this basic ritual.

The Operant Field. This article gives more detail on the way in which I use the Lesser Pentagram and Hexagram rituals. My method differs from that taught by the various Golden Dawn orders, who I am told use the LBRP-LBRH combination followed by the Opening by Watchtower as shown here, whereas I use the LBRP-LIRH combination plus a preliminary invocation to do the same thing.

Wrapping Up the Hexagram Controversy. My Operant Field Model is not without its critics, including Don Kraig himself. To be fair to Don, his book is the most widely read treatment of the Lesser rituals and for that reason it is the most logical source to reference as a counterpoint to my own perspective. This article addresses some of the criticisms of the method and provides some further explanation as to why I find it as effective as I do.

Planetary Magick. This is a transcript of a presentation I gave at Paganicon in 2011. It provides an overview of how to perform rituals such as the Mercury invocation Crowley describes in the example from Liber O.

Finally, I invite you to peruse the various Rituals posted on this site. They include full scripts along with stage directions and so forth for invoking all seven of the ancient planets (Moon through Saturn). They provide examples of fully assembled rites that can be employed for both magical and mystical purposes.

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