Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Thoughts on the Star Ruby

As I continue compiling and commenting on the various rituals here on Augoeides, I realized that I never have done a commentary on the Star Ruby. For the longest time I have been linking to other versions of the basic ritual forms online, but it has been pointed out to me that some of these pages are confusing and in cases contradictory. Also, they sometimes just disappear and have to be tracked down through the Internet archives. As such, I've decided that having my own versions here is probably for the best.

Aleister Crowley published the original version of the Star Ruby in The Book of Lies, and in his commentary on described it as "a new and more elaborate version of the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram." The Star Ruby, therefore, performs a similar function to the banishing form of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. This is an important point to take note of, given that some commenters claim that the Star Ruby is an invoking pentagram ritual or a combined banishing/invoking pentagram ritual. It is not. Crowley specifically describes it as a banishing pentagram ritual.

This is also important in the context of my operant model of magick, in which rituals are opened by combining a general banishing pentagram ritual with a general invoking hexagram ritual. Looking at the Star Ruby, a banishing ritual, and the Star Sapphire, and invoking ritual, it is pretty clear that whether or not he thought about it same way that I do, Crowley hit upon the same basic structure. In fact, no invoking form is given for the Star Ruby and no banishing form is given for the Star Sapphire, which implies that he used these ritual pretty much the same way that I use them.

The basic operant ritual structure uses the operant field - that is, a banishing pentagram ritual and an invoking hexagram ritual - almost exclusively. The other combinations have specialized functions, but for the most part the operant field is the way to go. According to the practical experiments that I have done, this method is far more effective than any of the other sequences taught by the various Golden Dawn orders - at least for me. I don't feel like I'm at the point where I can say that the method will always work best for everyone. However, I invite every magician out there to try it and see for themselves.


One of the most challenging aspects of the Star Ruby is that it is written in Greek. Greek is a tonal language that native English speakers usually have trouble with, so I expect that most practitioners (myself included) do not necessarily have the best pronunciation of the words. Worse in some respects, the ritual was published in the Greek alphabet, which most of us are not that familiar with aside from being able to pick out individual letters. The English transliteration that I am using here is from Sabazius' article on the ritual here.

1. Facing East, in the centre, draw deep deep deep thy breath closing thy mouth with thy right forefinger prest against thy lower lip. Then dashing down the hand with a great sweep back and out, expelling forcibly thy breath, cry APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS [“Away, every evil spirit”].

This is a simple "banishing by fiat" which I discuss elsewhere with respect to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. It is a useful practice because one of the general principles in the Western magical system is that you should always banish before invoking. With the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagam, I suggest adding something of this nature such as "Balasti! Ompehda!" from The Book of the Law, or "Hekas, Hekas, Este Bebeloi" from the Golden Dawn system proper. This way you don't need to do the full Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram prior to the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram, such as when you are practicing the invoking form when you wake up and the banishing form before going to sleep.

It's not clear why this would be necessary for a banishing ritual, unless it is intended to act as a banishing by fiat before the invocatory Qabalistic Cross. This might have been Crowley's intention. It becomes more useful if we are going to speculate on how we would go about creating an invoking form, as I will address towards the end of this article.

[II. The Cross Qabalistic]

With the same forefinger touch thy forehead, and say SOI [“Thine”], thy member, and say Ô PhALLE [“O Phallus”], thy right shoulder, and say ISChUROS [“the mighty”], thy left shoulder, and say EUChARISTOS [“the beneficient”]; then clasp thine hands, locking the fingers, and cry IAÔ.

You can see that this pretty closely mirrors the Qabalistic Cross found in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. "SOI" and "Ateh" basically have the same meaning, and "ISChUROS" and "EUChARISTOS" are titles pertaining to Geburah and Chesed, just like "ve-Geburah" and "ve-Gedulah." "Ô PhALLE" has been the source of some controversy, since if you're too literal about it you can read it as "penis." And in fact, there are a couple of particularly confused individuals I have encountered on the Internet who insist that the "Ô PhALLE" means that women cannot perform this ritual (!).

As you can probably guess by the exclamation point there, I think that supposition is utterly ridiculous. First, the penis in men and clitoris in women are the same organ expressed in different ways due to sex hormones. Second, Crowley explicitly wrote that the term referred to the "immortal principle" of a man or a woman, so even though Crowley was likely writing from his owb male perspective, he did not intend the ritual to be restricted to one gender. Note that when describing the Elevenfold Seal in Liber V vel Reguli, Crowley equates "the base of the phallus" to the muladhara chackra, which is the source of the "secret force" or kundalini.

IAO is the Gnostic form of the Tetragrammaton and also alludes to the formula of LVX. LVX corresponds to Tiphareth, which in turn corresponds to the heart center where your hands are clasped. Using an explicit name of power here is another difference from the Golden Dawn Qabalistic Cross. In Crowley's system, the three sephira Chesed, Geburah, and Tiphareth together map to the anahata chackra, or heart center. So much of the effect of the Qabalistic Cross is to open and activate this energetic center once the divine light has been grounded in the muladhara.

[III. ]

Advance to the East. Imagine strongly a Pentagram, aright, in thy forehead. Drawing the hands to the eyes, fling it forth, making the sign of Horus and roar ThÊRION. Retire thine hand in the sign of Hoor-paar-Kraat.

This motion sounds complicated at first, but it is quite elegant once you get it down. You do not do any tracing in the Star Ruby. You start by visualizing the pentagram forming on your forehead as you breathe in the air that will be expelled when you utter the name. As you do this, your hands should be placed to either side of the head, open and facing slightly inward, with the thumbs just below the level of the eyes and held so as to concentrate energy at the forehead. This pentagram is "aright," that is, one point up, rather than the "averse" two-point-up version found in Liber V vel Reguli.

Once you have inhaled fully, you expel the air in your lungs as you utter the name in the prescribed manner. The Sign of Horus is the Sign of the Enterer - you push both hands forward until your arms are pointing straight ahead of you as you take a step forward, generally with the left foot. The visualization I like to use is that of pushing the pentagram forward from my forehead with my hands by the two upper side points. Crowley does not specify color, but given the name of the ritual it seems logical to visualize the pentagrams in ruby (red). When my arms reach full extension the pentagram keeps moving forward past them as if thrown until it arrives at the proper cardinal point.

I utter the name as I am making the Sign of the Enterer and visualizing the pentagram flung forth, so all three of these components go together. They represent the union of body (the sign), speech (the name), and mind (the visualization). This makes learning the ritual a little more difficult than the LRP, as a greater degree of coordination and therefore practice is required before you will likely get it down. Once you do, though, it's quite effective. After that, the Sign of Hoo-paar-kraat is the Sign of Silence. You retract the left foot, bring your forefinger to your lips, and stand still for just a moment. As I see it, the Sign of the Enterer propels the pentagram forward until it goes where it needs to be, and the Sign of Silence "holds" it there.

The same sequence is repeated for the other four quarters, moving widdershins (counter-clockwise). In the Star Ruby, the banishing orientation of the ritual is not indicated by the direction in which the pentagrams are traced (because they are not traced), but rather by counter-clockwise motion around the temple.

Go round to the North and repeat; but say NUIT.
Go round to the West and repeat; but whisper BABALON.
Go round to the South and repeat; but bellow HADIT.

The different ways in which the names are spoken has to do with the natures of the different godforms. Note that in Liber V vel Regulu, Therion in the east is attributed to Taurus and Nuit in the north is attributed to Aquarius. So from a strict elemental standpoint, the quadrants for Earth and Air are flipped relative to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. So Therion and Babalon correspond to Earth and Water, and Nuit and Hadit correspond to Air and Fire. This arrangement appears to be specific to Crowley, as I have not found it anywhere else in the Western tradition.

[IV. ]

Completing the circle widdershins, retire to the centre and raise thy voice in the Paian, with these words IÔ PAN, with the signs of N.O.X.

Once you have placed the pentagram for Hadit in the south, you continue around until you arrive back at the center. This can be as simple as a turn if you are rotating in place, or it can look more like a spiral that completes the circle in the east and then continues around and inward if you are moving around an altar and/or to each quarter in turn. As with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, you have to complete the circle so if you are standing in the south do not just walk right back to the center without passing the east.

The Io Pan(s) and Signs of N.O.X. are performed differently by different practitioners. I like to give the five signs in order and say "IO PAN" with each one. The most common order that I see for this is Puella, Puer, Vir, Mulier, Mater Triumphans. But the order is not given here so to some extent this is left for the student to work out. I spent a while experimenting with the explicit order given in the Star Sapphire here - Puer, Vir, Puella, Mulier - and then finally Mater Triumphans, but it does seem that a different arrangement makes sense for this ritual as opposed to that one.

Other practitioners only vibrate the "IO PAN" once, and stretch it out so that they can give all five signs as they vibrate. This seems to be an equally viable way to perform the ritual, so if that feels more correct or natural to you by all means go with that rather than imitating how I do it. I would also be interested in hearing any other ways that you have found work well, since I may not have thought of all the possibilities and I certainly have not experimented with all of them.

[V. ]

Extend the arms in the form of a Tau and say low but clear:
PRO MOU YUNGES [“Before me the Iynges,”]
OPISÔ MOU TELETARChAI [“Behind me the Teletarches,”]
EPI DEXIA SUNOChEIS [“on my right hand the Synoches,”]
EPARISTERA DAIMONES [“on my left hand the Daemones,”]
PhLEGEI GAR PERI MOU hO ASTÊR TÔN PENTE [“for about me flames the Star of Five,”]
KAI EN TÊI STÊLÊI hO ASTÊR TÔN hEX hESTÊKE. [“and in the Pillar stands the Star of Six.”]

The first action and the last two lines are clearly adapted directly from the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. But instead of archangels, here we find whole classes of spiritual entities at the four quarters. Sabazius writes:

The Iynges (singular “Iynx”), Synoches, Teletarches and Daemones are divine principles from the Second Order of the emanationist hierarchy of late Neoplatonism, based on the Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster. Their position in the Neoplatonist hierarchy is intermediate between the “intelligible” world, or world of ideation, and the “sensible” world, or world of perception. Their functions are, respectively, as “initiators,” “maintainers,” “perfectors,” and “executors” of the Divine Creative Impulse which originates in the intelligible world and ultimately manifests in the sensible world. Further information on them may be found in the published editions of the Chaldean Oracles edited by W. Wynn Westcott and G.R.S. Mead, and in the works of Proclus, Damascius, Michael Psellus, George Gemistos Plethon, and other late Neoplatonist philosophers.

So the Iyunges initiate, the Teketarches maintain, the Synoches perfect, and the Daemones execute. Note that the word Daemone or Daemon is the original etymology of the modern "demon," but in the Greek cosmology this word was a general term for "spirit" rather than "evil spirit." You see the latter up above in the first step, where "evil spirits" is indicated by "kakodaimonos." Kako is a prefix meaning "evil." Likewise, "good spirits" can be indicated by "agathodaimonos," as "agatho" is the corresponding prefix meaning "good." But here we just see "daimonos," which includes both good and evil spirits.

These four classes can also be mapped to the four Qabalistic worlds by function. Iyunges = Atziluth, Synoches = Briah, Synoches = Yetzirah, and Daemones = Assiah. So in effect, they represent all entities active in all four worlds and together comprise a full manifestation of any magical intent.

[VI. ]
Repeat the Cross Qabalistic, as above [II], and end as thou didst begin [i.e., as in I].

I have run across at least one practitioner who repeats the "Apo Pantos Kakodaimonos" and then does the Qabalistic Cross. Most Thelemites, though, myself included, do the Qabalistic Cross here and follow it with the "Apo Pantos Kakodaimonos." I also have run into practitioners who entirely omit the "Apo Pantos Kakodaimonos" at the end and just close with the Qabalistic Cross, on the grounds that opening with a banishing by fiat makes more sense than closing with one after you have done your full banishing ritual. Neither of those variations seem to be ineffective. I will grant that banishing by fiat after a full banishing seems more unnecessary than doing it at the beginning, but I also like keeping it there for the sake of symmetry.

If you are using the operant field method and opening with the Star Ruby, you should be sure to keep your forms consistent when you close. So you would either close with the full Star Ruby to disconnect yourself from the form you have created, or with just this version of the Qabalistic Cross if you want the effects of the ritual to persist. You can, however, follow that Qabalistic Cross with the banishing by fiat without negatively impacting your ritual. Evil in Thelema is not an absolute cosmic force - rather, a Thelemic "kakodaemon" would be any spiritual influence that is out of harmony with your will.

Presumably, if your operation is in harmony with your will, such a banishing by fiat is not going to banish it. If it does, the most logical conclusion is that something about it was out of harmony with your will. Note also that like the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, the Star Ruby is essentially a microcosmic ritual and mostly works on your sphere of sensation, not anything that you have conjured and sent out into the world.

As I alluded to in discussing how the banishing component of this ritual is set by the counter-clockwise rotation, an invoking form would be pretty much the same ritual but performed clockwise. So you would start with Therion in the east, then Hadit in the south, then Babalon in the west, then Nuit in the north, and finally complete the circle and return to the center. We know from looking at the structure of the invoking Liber V vel Reguli that the names stay in the same quarters and do not move. This modification would be useful if you want to do something like and invoking Star Ruby in the morning and a banishing Star Ruby before sleep, as some practitioners do with the LRP.

When I first learned this ritual more than twenty years ago, I was told that the difference between the two was that the LRP is kind of like a wall or a ward, and the Star Ruby was more like a "bug zapper." I'm not sure how well that analogy holds up, but it is true that the Star Ruby is a more "aggressive" sort of banishing ritual than the LRP is. Instead of just clearing and purifying your sphere of sensation it also seems to push it outward into the space around you, so that for example you can (kind of) clear out a space of limited size using it better than you can with the LRP. A hexagram ritual is still better for that, though.

This ritual corresponds to the Star Sapphire, which I analyze here. These two rituals go together just as the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram do, and should be used together for opening an operant field.

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