Monday, March 26, 2018

Microcosmic Versus Macrocosmic Rituals

This article was prompted by a question posed with regard to the operant field method of working with ceremonial forms. One of the points I make is that the pentagram is the symbol of the microcosm and represents the elements, and the hexagram is the symbol of the macrocosm and represents the planets. Other occult authors will tell you that the elements are most closely related to the material world and the planets are more closely related to the astral realms. What I'll say there is that in a sense both of these are true. You just have to pay attention to the context.

First off, the hexagram is not just the symbol of the planets. It is the symbol of the macrocosm in general. In the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, you're not doing planetary work at all. The hexagrams you are working with there are the hexagrams of the elements. So an elemental pentagram represents the microcosmic form of the element, and an elemental hexagram represents its macrocosmic form. Some groups teach this idea that you can do a "lesser hexagram of a planet" by attributing the points on the elemental hexagrams to specific planets, but to my way of thinking that makes no sense at all.

Second, I keep saying this, but it's really important. There is no "hierarchy" between "lesser" and "greater" rituals. They are entirely different kinds of rituals. Same with "supreme" rituals. Beginning students get confused by this all the time, and the only reason I still use the old Golden Dawn terminology there is that it's so widely used that if I don't, nobody knows what I'm talking about. These rituals are actually used like this:

Lesser Rituals are general. They are used to set up your working space and the scope of your operation.

Greater Rituals are specific. Once your working space and scope are set up, you use them to tune your space to a specific magical force. Greater Pentagram rituals are for elements, and Greater Hexagram rituals are used for planets and zodiacal signs. Some groups teach that you should use the pentagram with signs instead, and what might be going on there is that you get the microcosmic aspect of a sign (like personality traits) with the pentagram of the ruling element and the macrocosmic aspect of a sign (its magical power) with the hexagram of the ruling element. Generally, though, I work with the macrocosm exclusively on the grounds that the microcosm is contained within it.

A "Supreme Pentagram" - that is, a Greater Pentagram where you invoke each element at its appropriate quarter - is actually just a "Greater Pentagram" for the sephira Malkuth, which is composed of all four elements in a balanced configuration. You can do this in two ways, the far more common "winds" arrangement (microcosmic) and the "zodiac" (macrocosmic) arrangement used in the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram.

In other words, there's no real progression here from "lesser" to "greater" unless you are talking about the order in which they are used. It certainly has nothing to do with importance - if anything, the "lesser" rituals are foundational and in that sense more important to master.

With the Operant Field, you combine a microcosmic banishing with a macrocosmic invocation. This creates a space in which thoughts and physical reality more closely converge. I rarely use the other three variants, as the microcosm is contained within the macrocosm and I prefer to work with everything as a unified whole. The others, though, have specific applications.

The Banishing Field (banishing microcosmic/banishing macrocosmic) is the "full shutdown." If you have a spell that you think may have gone awry, this is one way to deal with it. You also can use it for things like clearing a house of spirits - though if you just rely on the forms for that without calling a spirit of your own and/or setting up a permanent ward they could come back.

The Invoking Field (invoking microcosm/invoking macrocosm) basically raises energy across both realms. It is not as effective for casting new operations, but it is very effective at fueling existing ones.

The Centering Field (invoking microcosm/banishing macrocosm) can be used for operations in which you want to work on developing your own psyche free from the influence of external forces. It can be useful for meditation, deconditioning work, and so forth.

Now where the elements are closer to the material world and the planets are closer to the astral realms is on the Tree of Life viewed from an "objective" (if their is such a thing) or third-party perspective. There you will find that Assiah, the physical world, corresponds the sephira Malkuth, which is the elemental realm. Planets, on the other hand, mostly map onto Yetzirah, the formative world. This is "one world up" from the material world, and it or at the very least the lower sephiroth of it are often thought of as the astral.

But this has little bearing on you as a magician when you conjure these forces. It is the scope that you set for your operation, and not the placement of those forces on the Tree, which determine how they work. If you're opening an operant field, you are automatically calling the macrocosmic aspect of whatever greater ritual you use, whether it's a pentagram or a hexagram. If you just use a lesser pentagram to open your space, on the other hand, you're just working microcosmically. In practice that's a lot like a centering field, except it does no work with external influences.

So here are some examples of what I'm talking about. As the "standard" microcosmic ritual is the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the "standard" macrocosmic ritual is the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, these are the rituals shown in these sequences. You can also use the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire or some other similar combination. Note that regardless of the lesser rituals you open with, the greater rituals are always done the same. The "preliminary invocation," in which you identify yourself with the divine, goes between the opening ritual or rituals and the greater ritual. One way to do this is with the Middle Pillar Ritual, which I show here, but there are a number of other alternatives.

Invoking a Macrocosmic Element: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GIRP - Element
Banishing a Macrocosmic Element: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GBRP - Element
Invoking a Microcosmic Element: LIRP, MP, GIRP - Element
Banishing a Microcosmic Element: LIRP, MP, GBRP - Element

Invoking a Macrocosmic Planet: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GIRH - Planet
Banishing a Macrocosmic Planet: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GBRH - Planet
Invoking a Microcosmic Planet: LIRP, MP, GIRH - Planet
Banishing a Microcosmic Planet: LIRP, MP, GBRH - Planet

Invoking a Macrocosmic Sign: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GIRH - Sign or GIRP - Sign
Banishing a Macrocosmic Sign: LBRP, LIRH, MP, GBRH - Sign or GBRP - Sign
Invoking a Microcosmic Sign: LIRP, MP, GIRH - Sign or GIRP - Sign
Banishing a Microcosmic Sign: LIRP, MP, GBRH - Sign or GBRP - Sign

Some notes: Since you should always banish before you invoke, for the combinations that open with the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram, you should do some sort of "banishing by fiat" before you begin. This is already built into the Star Ruby - the initial "APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS." With the LRP, I like to add "Balasti! Ompehda!" from The Book of the Law to approximate this step. If you are opening with the LBRP, it is not necessary - but it can be a good habit to get into.

I include the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram for zodiac signs only because other orders teach it that way and that may be how you have learned it. If you're starting out, I highly recommend going with the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram instead, as the zodiac is even more "out there" in the macrocosm than the planets are.

You hardly ever will want to banish an element, planet, or sign. They can be used in a protective fashion, but they're clumsy and only effective on their own up to a point. Let's say you want to neutralize the effects of Saturn and Mars, because you think you may have been cursed. You can banish both planets every day, but you have to keep it up for it to keep working and you won't be able to access any of the positive attributes of those planets during that time.

A more effective method is to conjure up the angel, and possibly the intelligence and spirit, of those planets and call on them to neutralize all attacks within their sphere of influence for some period of time. Or, you can bind the operation into a permanent talisman that will keep working for you without you having to repeat your work every day.

So hopefully that alleviates a bit of the confusion around the operant method. As always, if you have more questions, feel free to ask.

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Alex Scaraoschi said...

Great article! This really helps beginners as well as more advanced practitioners!

*proud* Quoting from my book on the lesser and greater rituals, for dum-dums like me:

"The role of the greater rituals is to tune the base field created by the Operant Field to the specific elemental, planetary, or zodiacal force you want to work with. You can view all of this as such. Your personal sphere or microcosm is like your kitchen. The macrocosmos is like an all out diner. When you perform the Operant Field, you practically close your kitchen, but instead of going out to the diner, you’re bringing it to your home. By doing so, you now have access to all of its goodies at once. You can now take a bite out of everything from the menu, or you can order a particular dish. The use of the greater rituals is similar to you ordering that particular dish, which you will end up being served. "

Alex Scaraoschi said...

I think i might have asked you this some time ago Scott, but just in case:

So Crowley has added the angels of the zodiacal houses in column CXLII, but he attributes them to the signs, not the ruling planets. Their sigils would still have to be made using the planetary kamea of the ruling planet of each sign, but this kinda shows that Crowley attributes the houses to the signs, not to the planets. But the planets do rule the signs after all, so i guess using the planetary angel for the appropriate house can apply. Crowley has also added the angels of the decans in columns CXLVI, CXLVII, CXLVIII, and they're still attributed to the signs.

Don't know what the question is though LOL. I think i was only trying to point them out to you.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yes, that is what you do. With zodiacal angels, you draw the sigil on the kamea of the ruling planet whether the angel is attributed to the full sign, decan, half-decan, or degree.

Gilgamesh said...

I have two questions.
1. If I want to do conduct a magical working to improve some aspect of my consciousness in order to achieve some very psychologically demanding goal, would it be better to use the Invoking Field or the Centering Field beforehand?
2. After I'm done with the working (invocation of a God to adjust my consciousness/microcosm) do I just end right there or should I close with a banishing? From what I understand, the LBRP would terminate any microcosmic effects I would seek to achieve through the working, so that would seem counter-productive.

Scott Stenwick said...

1. That would potentially be a good application for the invoking or centering field, yes.
2. With an operation like that, you would not close with a banishing but rather with the Qabalistic Cross on its own. That seals in the energy of the working without banishing anything from your sphere of consciousness.

Gilgamesh said...

Thanks for the answer. I have another question:
If I were to practise a specific operation of the sort that I described on a daily basis for several weeks/months (Invoking/Centering Field -> invocation of xyz -> Qabalistic Cross) would it be best to abstain completely from the LBRP during this period of time or would it be appropriate to use it before each operation (before activating the appropriate field)? Would abstaining from banishing yield a "compounding" effect in terms of magical results or would it make no difference? Are there any risks associated with not banishing at all for an extended period of time?

Scott Stenwick said...

No, you can do the LBRP during that period. You just do not use it to conclude your ritual. You can use it at the beginning if you want, just not at the end.

There aren't necessarily risks associated with not banishing for an extended period of time. I mean, that's how non-magicians live their entire lives.