This article is Part One of a series. Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, and Part Four can be found here.
Years ago I posted a series of planetary operations designed to produce various practical effects. As the way I work magick has changed over the years, those rituals are similar to, but not identical with, how I would work the same operations today. So I was thinking at first that I might put together a series for "Magick Mondays" that would revisit the planetary work.
But then it occurred to me that one of things I have never posted here is a series of elemental operations constructed along the same lines as the planetary ones. The basic symbol set of the Western Magical Tradition consists of the elements, planets, and signs of the zodiac, and realistically an effective magician should be familiar with how to work with all of them. So the idea is to post a basic conjuration ritual for each of the classical elements as my "Magick Monday" posts for the next few weeks.
It should be obvious that the classical elements do not refer to "the elements" as applied in chemistry. Alchemists are sometimes ridiculed by modern chemists for having only four or five elements when we know today that there are over a hundred. But the classical elements refer not to the atomic composition of matter, but rather to the state of that matter.
So, for example, water in its liquid form is represented by elemental Water, but ice is represented by elemental Earth. Earth corresponds to solid, Water to liquid, Air to gas, Fire to plasma, and Spirit to energy. As another example, lava may be composed of molten rock, but as long as it is flowing it corresponds to Water. It then transitions back to Earth when it hardens.
In addition to equating Spirit with energy in general, you can also think of "Active Spirit" as energy in its pure form and "Passive Spirit" as matter in its pure form, with the ratio between the two represented by the famous physics formula E=MC^2. The other elements, then, could be thought of as mixtures of matter and energy in various proportions that manifest as the other four states.
Therefore, the classical elements are not necessarily quite as archaic as some scientists will lead you to believe. The issue is more one of terminology than of symbolism. It is true that the magical system has less to do with the composition of particular materials than the modern system of chemistry aside from particular metals and stones, but the states of matter represented by the classical elements are the same as those in modern chemistry.
According to the ancient Greek system, each element arises from the interaction of the Powers, which many modern magicians do not work with or even know about. The four powers are Warm/Cool and Moist/Dry. The Warm power separates things, while the Cool power merges them together. The Moist power breaks down structure, while the Dry power reinforces it.
I will not be going into a full discourse on the Powers and how they relate to the elements, but if you would like to delve deeper into the symbolism I recommend that you check out The Ancient Greek Esoteric Doctrine of the Elements by John Opsopaus. The links from that main page will allow you to explore these aspects of the classical elements, along with a lot of other related symbolism.
Earth is the most dense of the traditional 5 elements. According to Liber 777 the powers associated with Earth are Alchemy, Geomancy, Making of Pantacles, and Travels on the Astral Plane. Earth receives the influence of the other four elements, and in some ways acts as an amalgam of the elements as a whole. Earth corresponds to the Cool power mixed with Dry power, so it binds things together and reinforces their structure.
The symbol of the elements is the pentagram, which is also the symbol of the microcosm. However, depending upon the type of magical field you open for your operation, the elements may be invoked within the microcosmic realm, the macrocosmic realm, or both. The Pentagram of Earth is traced the same direction as the "Lesser Pentagram" used in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, but the latter is visualized in the color of burning flames (as per Liber O) while the former is visualized in either black or green.
I have become convinced over the years that the "Lesser Pentagram" is not the same as the "Earth Pentagram" on account of the difference in color. There is a precedent for this in the Golden Dawn arrangement of the elemental pentagrams, as Invoking Water and Banishing Air differ only by color and godname. The converse is also true. In the LRP, you trace the same direction as Earth, but you use a set of four godnames and visualize the figure in a different color.
The practical upshot of this is that I have heard from a few magicians over the years that you will supposedly have money problems if you do the LBRP daily, because you're banishing Earth. However, so long as you are visualizing your pentagrams in the color of burning flames that is not the case. I could see issues along those lines, though, if you decide to change the ritual by visualizing your pentagrams in black or green. Once you do that, you actually might be banishing Earth.
Another related point is that there are multiple systems for tracing elemental pentagrams. The one that I use is the Golden Dawn version, and the alternate version is that used by the Aurum Solis and described in the Magical Philosophy series by Melita Denning and Osbourne Philips. On the surface, the AS method is more logical and consistent with the planetary hexagrams. However, in my experience it simply does not work as well. Still, if you do use that system and get good results with it, you can substitute the AS version for the GD version that I use here.
The Elemental King of Earth is named Ghob and the elemental spirits native to his domain are called Gnomes, though when you encounter them they don't necessarily look like Tolkien's hobbits. The godname corresponding to Earth is ADNI (Adonai), and the elemental prayer that precedes the conjuration is from Eliphas Levi, with a few small modifications made over the years by our magical working group to better reflect some aspects of "New Aeon" principles. The originals can be found online, and you can substitute those for the ones used here if you prefer them.
To create the sigil for Ghob, you trace his name onto the Kamea of the Moon. This is because the Moon rules the elements as the Sun rules the planets. At one point Aaron Leitch proposed using a 10 x 10 "Malkuth Kamea" that he drew up for the elements, but this is a completely new idea that is alien to the original tradition. So your sigil should consist of the character of the Moon from Agrippa that stands in for the Kamea with the sigil for Ghob superimposed over it.
To create the sigil for Ghob, first transliterate the name to Hebrew. You wind up with Gimel, Heh, Ayin, and Beth. The numerations for these letters are 3, 5, 70, and 2. Because the numbers on the 9 x 9 lunar square go to 81, there is no need to change any of these values. The sigil traced onto the lunar Kamea looks like this:
There are different traditions out there with respect to beginning and ending sigils. The method I use is derived from my understanding of John Dee's Monas Hieroglyphica. Dee explains in the text that the circle and the straight line are essentially the building blocks of reality. The circle refers to undifferentiated potential while the straight line refers to particular manifestations.
So for practical manifestation work, in which the flow of mezla is being called from the top of the Tree of Life to the bottom, I start with a circle (unmanifest potential) and end with a straight line (specific manifestation). For mystical work, in which I am calling upon a spirit to aid in my ascent up the Tree, I start with a straight line and end with a circle.
This sigil, then, should be traced over the character of the Moon exactly as it appears on the Kamea, as the character represents the entire square taken as a whole. The final figure then, should look something like this:
Ideally, the sigil should be rendered in colors from all four scales from Liber 777. These are:
King (Atziluth): Citrine, Russet, Olive, and Black (quartered); or Green.
Queen (Briah): Amber
Emperor (Yetzirah, Prince): Dark Brown
Empress (Assiah, Princess): Black and Yellow
The colors for the sigil are not absolutely necessary, but using them will allow your manifestation to more completely manifest on all four of the Qabalistic worlds, each of which corresponds to one of the color scales. There is no set method for doing this, and the magician is expected to use his or her own insight in coloring the sigil and character.
Incense, if used, should be storax or any other dull, heavy odor. If you wish to employ a particular magical weapon, the appropriate one would be the pantacle. The substance associated with Earth is Salt. The corresponding plants are Oak, Ivy, and Cereals (grains). These may be employed as offerings to the King, or in the case of Oak, as a proper material for constructing a talisman if one is to be created as part of the operation.
The full ritual is performed as follows:
0. The Temple
There are a number of different ways to arrange the temple for an operation such as this. What we do is place an altar in the center with the banishing dagger and invoking wand. Also on the altar is a containment structure such as the Sigillum Dei Aemeth or the Trithemian Table of Art. The diagram depicting the character and sigil should be placed within this structure. A small container of some sort for offerings may also be placed on the Table of Art.
If you employ scrying in your work, an appropriate device such as a crystal or mirror should also be placed in the containment structure. If you are using incense for such an operation, the traditional method is to place the incense burner between the scryer and the mirror or crystal. Otherwise, it may be placed anywhere in the space. Some scryers like to place a taper candle on either side of the device, and while I can't say that method does anything at all for me, a number of others report good results with it.
Elemental operations do not make use of planetary hours in any meaningful sense, as the planets and elements do not precisely correspond to each other. However, you can improve your results by employing simple electional timing. This is especially relevant to elemental operations, as the elements all share a strong affinity for the Moon.
Light incense, if used. Open the magical field using the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, or the Field Ritual. The usual field for practical work is the operant field, with banishing pentagrams and invoking hexagrams.
2. Preliminary Invocation
Raise energy using the Middle Pillar, Elevenfold Seal (the "First Gesture" from Liber V vel Reguli), or some other appropriate ritual method as you may know how to do.
Make the Sign of Apophis and Typhon, raising both arms and holding them straight with an angle between them of 60 degrees, and proclaim, very strongly:
Thee I invoke, who art Universe!
Thee I invoke, who art in Nature formed!
Thee I invoke, the vast and the mighty!
Source of Darkness, Source of Light.
Then make the Sign of Silence, by standing straight with one arm at your side and placing your thumb or forefinger to your lips.
3. Tuning the Space
Perform the Greater Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram for Earth. To each quarter in turn, beginning in the east and turning clockwise, perform the following actions:
- Trace the Invoking Pentagram of Passive Spirit in deep purple while vibrating AGLA.
- Make the Sign of Rending the Veil, as if parting a heavy curtain in front of you with both hands.
- Trace the Invoking Pentagram of Earth in green or black while vibrating ADNI (Adonai)
- Make the Sign of Earth, by taking a step forward and raising the right hand at and angle of 45 degrees to your body and dropping the left hand behind you at the same angle pointing downwards.
King invisible, who taking the earth as a support, didst furrow the abysses to fill them with Thine omnipotence; Thou whose name doth shake the vaults of the world, Thou who causest the seven metals to flow through the veins of the rock, monarch of the seven lights, rewarder of the subterranean toilers, lead us unto the desirable air, and to the realm of splendor.
We watch and we work unremittingly, we seek and we hope, by the twelve stones of the Holy City, by the hidden talismans, by the pole of lodestone, which passes through the center of the world! Expand our hearts, detach and elevate our minds, enlarge our entire being! O stability and motion! O day clothed with night! O darkness veiled by light! O master who never keepest back the wages of Thy laborers!
O silver whiteness! O golden splendor! O crown of living and melodious diamonds! Thou who wearest the heaven on Thy finger like a sapphire ring, Thou who concealest under the earth, in the stone kingdom, the marvelous seed of stars. Live, reign, be the eternal dispenser of the wealth which we all share! AMEN.
The space should now be tuned for the conjuration.
4. The Conjuration
O thou mighty King GHOB, ruler of ARETZ, by the name of the True and Living God ADONAI, I call upon you and ask that you along with the elemental spirits of your domain manifest themselves unto me, for I am a true worshiper of the highest. Let them come forth in a friendly and peaceful manner that I may partake of the wisdom and the pure essence of Earth, and that they may attend to my behest. AMEN.
At this point, vibrate the name GHOB repeatedly until the presence of the King and the spirits of elemental Earth is perceived within the Table of Art. Various methods may be used to accomplish this, from simply waiting until a presence makes itself known to scrying for an image in a crystal or dark mirror. If this is being performed as a group ritual, with everyone chanting the name together, it is helpful for the officiant or scryer to have a bell chime that can be rung once he or she perceives a presence in whatever manner. At the bell chime, the chant stops.
5. The Charge
My instructions for the charge are simple and straightforward, just as you can find in my published books. Make use of an Injunction, which is what you want the King and/or spirits of the element to do, and a Limitation, which is what you do not want them to do. The Limitation helps you avoid "Monkey's Paw" situations in which your Injunction may manifest, but in an undesirable way. As I mentioned above, Liber 777 catalogues the powers attributed to the element of Earth as the powers associated with Earth are Alchemy, Geomancy, Making of Pantacles, and Travels on the Astral Plane. For best results, your charge should fall within those areas. Otherwise, you may be asking for something outside the Earthly sphere of influence, and that could cause the ritual to fail.
At this point you may also make offerings to the King by placing them in a small container set on the Table of Art. After the King has had a chance to partake of the offerings, be sure to dispose of them. Alcohol may be allowed to evaporate on its own, and natural substances may be scattered outdoors. Do not attempt to reuse an offering - generally speaking, spirits do not take kindly to that. Also, You should get some sort of assent from the King before you proceed to the License to Depart, or an explanation of his objection. When the charge lies outside the King's sphere of influence, often he will be willing to direct you to another spirit that would be more suitable to conjure in order to better accomplish your intent.
6. The License to Depart
King GHOB and the elemental spirits of Thy domain, because thou hast-diligently answered unto my demands, and hast been very ready and willing to come at my call, I do hereby license thee to depart unto thy proper place, without causing harm or danger unto man or beast. I charge thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly with the blessings of the great god ADONAI, and that peace be ever continued between us. So mote it be!
The ritual may be closed with either a final banishing pentagram ritual or with the Qabalistic Cross performed on its own. These should match the rituals used in the opening, so for example if you opened with a Star Ruby you should repeat it or perform the corresponding version of the Qabalistic Cross.
Generally speaking, if you want to release your intent out into the world to accomplish some task external to yourself, you should close with a banishing pentagram ritual. This is similar to the chaos magick idea of releasing a sigil once it has been created and empowered.
On the other hand, if you also want the effect of the ritual to linger within your sphere of awareness, whether or not the intent is also external, you should close with the Qabalistic Cross. This stabilizes the operation, but does not detach it from your sphere of awareness.