By Frater Achad Osher 583
This paper is adapted from series of lessons distributed in our branch of the A.’.A.’.
titled The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley, Understanding the New Aeon
through the teachings of the Great Beast.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. –AL I:40
Before you attempt this ritual it’s important to note that Crowley has plainly stated a piece of profound wisdom, often overlooked and misunderstood by the novice. I believe the following comment should be memorized. “Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.” (1) Just as this ritual effects external manifestations it also effects an individual’s internal currents. As Above, So Below. If a person never works any other form of magick, nor attempts to venture into the depths of the astral waters, they would still be richly rewarded if they only did the requirements of The Magickal Diary, Liber Resh vel Helios and The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. The latter two rituals in particular help balance and purify an individual’s internal waters. They lay a foundation whereby gross matter and astral sludge is slowly transformed into a clear spring, allowing an individual to aspire toward greater spiritual heights from which they may perceive their Star and True Will. It is said that without the proper Knowledge of these rituals one’s magickal journey can be an incredibly difficult and lengthy ordeal, or even an impossible one.
In your research you may discover that there are many variations of the Banishing Ritual. These usually reflect the spiritual proclivities of individuals or certain groups. Yet of all of these, I’d suggest that beginners learn The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. It’s origin is somewhat obscure. Traditionally the ritual is credited as being the work of Eliphas Levi although no copies of his ritual survives and there is only a brief reference to such in one of his books. The earliest recorded version of the ritual is found in the magical writings of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Aleister Crowley learned this ritual while a Neophyte in that fraternity around 1898 and, historically, he was the first person to actually publish a version of what he learned. This occurred in 1901 when he published a rendition of the ritual in an interesting poem entitled “The Palace of the World.” It appeared in a collection of his poetry entitled The Soul of Osiris.
We’re not concerned with breaking down this poem verse by verse at this point, we just wanted to mention its history. Still, people would be richly rewarded if they were to at least read it.
Four years after he published this poem, Crowley released the first of three volumes called The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley. Herein he included The Soul of Osiris but under a different title, calling it The Temple of The Holy Ghost. Besides the name change, there are new poems added and some old ones taken out. Crowley also added footnotes describing each section of “The Palace of the World.” In the footnote attached to the title of the poem Crowley writes that it “Describes the spiritual aspect of the ‘Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram,’ which we append, with explanation.” (2) He then gives his version of The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram which is where the ritual was first published. A few years later he would incorporate the ritual in one of his manuscripts entitled Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae which appeared in The Equinox Vol. I No. 2 in 1909. It is also found in his opus Magick in Theory & Practice. If one is interested you might want to compare Crowley’s version to the original Golden Dawn ritual, the latter being published by Israel Regardie in his monumental book entitled The Golden Dawn. There are slight differences. In recent years The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram has appeared in virtually every serious book on magick. At this point I’d like to give you the ritual as it appeared in The Collected Works.
The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
(i.) Touching the forehead, say Ateh (Unto Thee).
(ii.) Touching the breast, say Malkuth (The Kingdom).
(iii.) Touching the right shoulder, say ve-Geburah (and the Power).
(iv.) Touching the left shoulder, say ve-Gedulah (and the Glory).
(v.) Clasping the hands upon the breast, say le-Olahm, Amen
(to the Ages, Amen.).
(vi.) Turning to the East, make a pentagram with the proper
weapon. Say Yod He Vau He.
(vii.) Turning to the South, the same, but say Adonai.
(viii.) Turning to the West, the same, but say Ahih.
(ix.) Turning to the North, the same, but say Agla.
(x.) Extending the arms in the form of a cross, say–
(xi.) Before me Raphael,
(xii.) Behind me Gabriel,
(xiii.) On my right hand Michael,
(xiv.) On my left hand Auriel,
(xv.) for about me flames the Pentagram,
(xvi.) and in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.
(xvii.-xxi.) Repeat (i.) to (v.), the “Qabalistic Cross.”
Crowley did some simple revisions to this ritual regarding sections ii and iii. However it was never published during his lifetime, being only distributed amongst OTO Initiates. In these revisions, after one touches the forehead saying Ateh, Crowley would have you “(ii) Touching the breast saying Aiwass” and then while “(iii) Touching the Genitals say Malkuth (The Kingdom).” The rest of the ritual was renumbered and remains basically the same. The general belief behind this change is to have individuals link their solar heart center of Tiphereth to the Thelemic current by acknowledging Aiwass as “a symbol of your own Holy Guardian Angel.” (3) It also moves Malkuth away from your heart center to a more appropriate location, although some believe this is still wrong. The genital area is far more Yesod-Sphere 9 than Malkuth Sphere-10 on the Tree of Life. Instead of touching the genitals I feel you should point toward your feet, thereby referring to the place where both you and the earth unite.
I can understand the logic of Crowley’s changes but I do not necessarily agree with them. In fact, Grady McMurtry and I argued about this on several occasions. When I was Lodge Master back in Connecticut in the late 70s, I never taught this aspect of the Banishing Ritual even though Grady felt it was mandatory. The first time he told me this I reminded him that he hadn’t sent me a copy of the ritual yet nor fully explained it. He apologized and immediately sent one in the mail. When it arrived and I saw the notes and changes, I still could not bring myself to do it. Thus, Grady and I still argued. I always believed if any name needs to be vibrated when touching the chest it should be that of your own Holy Guardian Angel or a term reflecting your aspiration toward such, even if your angel is presently unknown. It’s a personal thing with me. I simply did not like using the name of another person’s Guardian Angel, even if it was only a symbolic gesture. However, if you’re looking for something to represent the 93 Current for your heart center then Aiwass is definitely it, as long as you realize that he is not your Holy Guardian Angel. Remember, Crowley has stated in no uncertain terms that “Aiwaz is none other than mine own Holy Guardian Angel, to whose Knowledge and Conversation I have attained, so that I have exclusive access to him.” (4)
To appreciate the Pentagram Ritual you must learn the symbolism behind each stage but, before this can be done, we must acknowledge that the ritual deals primarily with Self rather than universal forces, although it does have an effect on the latter. This becomes apparent by the symbolism found in the ritual itself. Let us examine the first section known as The Qabalistic Cross. You should be facing East when this part of the ritual is being performed. Then slowly “Touching the forehead,” preferably with your thumb between the index and middle fingers, you vibrate “Ateh” which means ‘Unto Thee.’ This represents Kether, the first sphere on the Tree of Life, as well as those forces directly above the head. It properly refers to the Crown chakra and not the Anja chakra, or Third Eye, as some people would have you think. The Anja rules the second sphere of Chokmah. This argument stems from a misunderstanding of facts. The Crown chakra is located on top of the skull while the Anja lies between the brows, both seemingly near the forehead. However, the key is found with the term “Ateh” or Thou Art. Qabalistically this refers to an aspect of Kether, not Chokmah, and fulfills the top of the Middle Pillar on which this section of the ritual works. This is obvious since the next stage has you inappropriately touching the genitals while vibrating “Malkuth.” This is a Hebrew word for the Kingdom which is represented by the tenth sphere on the Tree at the bottom of the Middle Pillar. Thus you are uniting one (Kether) with ten (Malkuth). As mentioned earlier, the genital area is more Yesod. You should actually be pointing toward your feet when vibrating Malkuth to signify ‘Earth.’
In the second part of the Qabalistic Cross you are told to touch your right shoulder and vibrate “ve-Geburah.” This means ‘the Power’ and refers to the fifth sphere of Geburah, or Mars, which is found on the Left-Hand Pillar. You then touch the left and vibrate “ve-Gedulah” which means ‘and the Glory.’ This represents the fourth sphere of Chesed, or Jupiter, and is located on the Right-Hand Pillar. Although rarely mentioned, the touching of both right and left shoulder should be done with opposite hands. This forms your arms in a Cross over the chest and has your left arm affirming God’s right and your right arm affirming his left. By utilizing these four spheres, an individual forms their astral body into a huge Cross. Some people close their eyes at this point, although it is not mandatory. You then imagine your body being filled with a bright light while slowly placing your palms together, touching your thumbs upon your chest, vibrating “le-Olahm, Amen” which means ‘to the Ages, Amen’ or more accurately ‘forever, Amen.’ This draws the entire current to the center of the Cross which is your Heart Chakra. However, if you’re holding a dagger this might be abit difficult. The Golden Dawn version is better to do when using a dagger. Here you simply clasp your hands together with the dagger pulling it closely before your chest, saying “le-Olahm.” You then unclasp your hands and slowly point the dagger straight out in front of you, saying “Amen.” This is immediately followed by the drawing of the pentagram since the dagger is conveniently outstretched before you.
Earlier we mentioned that Eliphas Levi is presumed to be the author of this ritual because he mentioned it in one of his books. In Transcendental Magic, translated and published by Arthur Edward Waite in 1896, Levi cryptically writes that, “the initiate said raising his hand to his forehead, ‘For thine’, then added ‘is’ and continuing as he brought down his hand to his breasts, ‘the Kingdom’, then to the left shoulder, ‘the Justice’, afterwards to the right shoulder, ‘and the Mercy’; then clasping his hands, he added ‘Tibi sunt Malkuth et Geburah et Chesed per aeonas’—a sign of the Cross which is absolutely and magnificently Kabalistic, which the profanation of Gnosticism have lost completely to the official militant church. The Sign, made after this manner should precede and terminate the Conjuration of the Four.” (5) A slightly different rendition or translation from Levi’s French manuscript is as follows, “Thus for example, the initiate, raising his hand to his brow, said: ‘Thine is’, then brought his hand to his breast, ‘the Kingdom’, then transferred his hand to the left shoulder, ‘the Power’, finally to the right shoulder, ‘and the Glory’; then, joining his hands, he added ‘Tibi sunt Malkuth et Geburah et Chesed per aeonas’—a sign of the Cross which is absolutely and splendidly Qabalistic, and which the profanation of the Gnosis has completely lost to the Official Church Militant. The sign made in this manner should precede and conclude the conjuration of the Four.” (6) Either, or, they both imply the same thing with only a slight variation to the wording. In other words, Levi is definitely referring to the Qabalistic Cross which we have just discussed. At this point the question may never be answered whether or not Levi ever wrote a full Ritual of the Pentagram, or did the Adepts running the Golden Dawn simply elaborate his paragraph into something far more, as some believe.
When drawing the appropriate pentagram in the air it should be visualized as a flaming astral object. Magicians know whichever point of the pentagram you begin with determines whether you’re using a fire, earth, air, water or spiritual force. For the novice the pentagram should always be drawn with one point upward. When a pentagram is drawn in this fashion it represents the authority of your Divine Spirit over all elemental or mundane things. If it is drawn with two points upward some believe it represents one’s belief in matter as being more important than, and ruling over, the Divine Spirit. However, this view of the inverted pentagram is very simplistic and borders on being simply an Old Aeonic concept of good & evil. Yes, the inverted image of the pentagram is often depicted as being the ears and horns of the Sabbath Goat, or Satan, and refers to the tarot card of The Devil, but what have we learned in previous Epistles regarding this symbol? The true symbolism of both pentagrams becomes obvious when looking at the attributes to each point of the pentagram. The top, or single point, always represents the spirit. Which direction it points only logically represents ruler ship either over the four elemental qualities of matter or below them. Still, there is a Greater Mystery which can not be fully told in this article as to why both pentagrams are correct, upright and inverted. Remember, we have previously stated that below sometimes refers to within. Therefore, if spirit lays within it implies godhood accepted on this plane, rather than wishful aspirations. I need say no more. An astute mind can figure it out.
When drawing an upright pentagram, the bottom left point is always attributed to Earth and the bottom right to Fire. The attributes of the two central points of the arm are, left to Air and right to Water. This four-fold structure is identical to the breakdown of each Enochian Watchtower when divided into four quarters. In the case of the Watchtowers, the fifth quality of Spirit is attributed to the Grand Cross which not only dissects but also unites the four quarters. It is believed that every single line drawn on a Watchtower is an aspect of the spirit as it unfolds itself like a spider’s web. Once you have memorized the attributes of each point of the pentagram, it is important to remember that you should always banish away from and invoke toward the force which you’re working with. If you do not understand, these pentagrams are carefully drawn out for the novice in Crowley’s Liber O vel Manus et Sagittae.
With the pentagram firmly in your imagination, you assume the god-form of the Enterer which represents SPEECH. This is done by stepping forward with the right foot while extending both arms outward, with head slightly lowered or, as Grady McMurtry often joked, “Just like Superman!” While moving into this position you vibrate the Holy Name “Yod-He-Vau-He” as you imagine the pentagram glowing in strength as if being charged by the magickal name. You also imagine unwanted forces locked within the Magickal Circle as being forced outward through the image. Upon finishing the vibrating you return to a standing position in the god-form of Harporcrates, or SILENCE, with left hand to your side and either your right hand clutched with index finger extended to your lips, or your thumb touching your lips with the fingers being closed as if sucking.
Although not mentioned in the ritual, you should then slowly point your right hand toward the ground and draw an imaginary line of flames toward the South, where you should stop. This is affirming your circle and some believe it astrally activates it. The next three stages are repetitive. Facing the South, do the same as you did in the East by drawing the Banishing Pentagram of Earth but this time vibrating “Adonai.” Again point your right hand toward the ground and slowly draw an imaginary line of flame to the West. Here you do the same as before but vibrate “Ahih” and, finally turning to the North, you make another pentagram and vibrate “Agla.” To complete this stage of the ritual you must turn, pointing your right hand toward the ground and slowly draw an imaginary line of flame back to the East. Not only does this close the circle but it brings you to the proper position for the next stage of the rite, facing East where you began.
The four words which are vibrated toward the quarters need a brief explanation of their meaning. For YHVH some authorities will have you vibrate the name of God as Jehovah (pronounced YE-HO-VAH) instead of the individual Hebrew letters, Yod He Vau He. Although ‘seemingly’ correct, ask yourself with which interpretation of these letters you feel most comfortable. It is no secret that these four letters have numerous meanings. Just because they happen to be the four letters of the name Jehovah does not necessarily imply a connection any more than the word John has to a toilet. I’d suggest vibrating each letter separately. This represents the magickal formula of Fire/Earth/Air/Water as well as every attribute associated with these elemental qualities rather than the God Jehovah. Either, or, it’s up to you to decide. Regarding the word ADONAI, this is simply a Hebrew word meaning ‘The Lord.’ AHIH is Hebrew for ‘I Am,’ and is pronounced as E-HE-YE. As for the word AGLA, pronounced A-GI-LE-A, it is not really a word but the first four Hebrew letters of the phrase, ‘Ateh Gibor Le-Olahm Adonai.’ Crowley gives a rather lengthy translation of this phrase as being, “To Thee by the Power unto the Ages, O my Lord.” It sounds good. However, more modern sources correctly translate it as ‘Thou art Mighty Forever, O Lord.’
With the next stage of the ritual you extend your arms straight out at either side to form a Cross while imagining your body as a glowing astral image. You then say, “Before me Raphael, Behind me Gabriel, On my right hand Michael, On my left hand Auriel, for about me flames the Pentagram, and in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.” At this point utter confusion may occur, especially if you’ve read Aleister Crowley’s Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram where he states that “You are suppose to be standing at the intersection of the paths of Samech and Pe. You are facing Tiphereth (the sun), thus on your right hand is Netzach (Venus), on your left hand Hod (Mercury), and behind you Yesod (the Moon).” (7) The average person, untrained in magick, may not realize the apparent contradiction so I will attempt to explain the obvious. First, there are no problems with the direction of Tiphereth and Yesod. However, when Crowley states that on your “right hand is Netzach, on your left hand Hod” there is a major discrepancy. The archangel whom you’ve previously acknowledged on your right hand is Michael but he is not the archangel of Netzach, he rules Hod. It is Auriel who rules Netzach. In other words, why do you acknowledge Michael and Auriel standing on your right and left in the ritual when, according to Crowley, the spheres they rule are on the opposite side where he claims you are standing?
Knowing that you’re probably confused, it is important that we examine the ritual more carefully. We began with the Qabalistic Cross to strengthen ourselves internally by acknowledging ourselves as the center of our universe. We then drew pentagrams and a circle which cleansed our area and defined our space on this plane. Logic dictates that if Tiphereth is before us in the East and represents air then behind us is Yesod which is the watery aspect of the West. Our right side is automatically pointing toward the South and our left is pointing North. It’s all very simple so far, even when you say, “On my right hand Michael, On my left hand Auriel.” Yes, Michael is an archangel of Fire and at this point he should be on your right, or South. This means that Auriel, the archangel of Earth, must be on your left side, North, which, in fact, you’re acknowledging that he is. The confusion comes when you realize that Crowley claims an individual is standing at the intersection of Phe and Samech, facing Tiphereth with Hod to one’s left and Netzach toward on the right. We admit that all the elemental and archangel attributes to the four quarters are correct and seemingly have no flaw in relationship to this plane. It’s only when the ritual is related to the spheres on the Tree of Life that befuddlement comes into play. Or does it?
The basic question is whether Crowley is referring to an internal or external Tree of Life where one is standing. To understand this you must know that some of the attributes on the macrocosmic Tree of Life are reversed when compared to the microcosmic Tree of Life in yourself. We’re not quite mirror images of each other. The “Above” attributes are always depicted on the backside of an image of a huge man Qabalistically equated with Adam Kadmon, or the universal Adam. In fact, most Qabalistic books draw their charts using this particular image of the Tree. After all, you can not look at the face of God. It is only natural that if you were looking at the backside of Adam Kadmon his left arm would be where the Left-Hand Pillar of the Tree is depicted and his right arm the Right-Hand Pillar.
The microcosmic Tree of Life depicted within yourself is slightly different. This Tree is always drawn on the frontal image of a man, referring to yourself, and because of this it is obvious that some attributes become reversed. For instance the Middle Pillar remains the same but the left and right pillars reverse sides. You acknowledge this microcosmic structure during The Qabalistic Cross by touching your right shoulder to vibrate ve-Geburah and touching your left to vibrate ve-Gedulah. This states that Geburah-5 and Hod-8 are on your right, while Chesed-4 and Netzach-7 are on your left. True understanding of how the ritual works comes into play with the following piece of knowledge. While the internal affirmations of the Qabalistic Cross are being acknowledged, the magician is symbolically standing at the intersection of Phe and Samech on the macrocosmic Tree of Life. In other words, the magician is mentally working above Malkuth, between Tiphereth-6, Yesod-9, Hod-8 and Netzach-7, to summon the forces of the archangels ruling these spheres down to the plane of Earth where he or she stands. Once they have been drawn down to Malkuth the archangels assume the correct elemental directions of this plane. It is not as complicated as it may seem.
To give you an idea of the flavor behind Crowley’s poem “The Palace of the World” and its relationship to the ritual, he puts the affirmation “Before me Raphael” very poetically as “Before me dwells the Holy One, Anointed Beauty’s King.” Beauty is the title of Tiphereth. The other three verses are equally powerful and one might even suggest using them instead of the traditional sayings if it were not for the ritual version flowing so beautifully. After affirming that Raphael is before you, you then proclaim, “Behind me Gabriel.” This is the archangel of Yesod, or the Moon, which is naturally behind you if you were facing Tiphereth. In the poem the reference is a bit more lengthy, stating, “Behind me, mightier than the Sun, To whom the cherubs sing, A strong archangel, known of none, Comes crowned and conquering.” Instead of saying, “On my right hand, Michael” Crowley’s poem has, “An angel stands on my right hand, With strength of ocean’s wrath.” As a footnote to this line Crowley writes “Michael, lord of Hod, an Emanation of a watery nature.” The ritual then has you acknowledging Auriel, although the poem states, “Upon my left hand the fiery brand, Charioted fires smites forth.” As a footnote to this line Crowley writes, “Auriel, archangel of Netzach, to which Fire is attributed.”
The wording of this section of the ritual, or any part, should not be taken lightly and, because of such, there is a part which I believe is blatantly wrong and should be corrected. This is the use of the name Auriel in the Golden Dawn version of the ritual, as reported by Aleister Crowley. I’ve chosen to use it up to this point rather than creating confusion too soon. According to Qabalistic lore, Auriel is one of the 72 angels who rules part of the zodiac (8) and he is not, I repeat not, an archangel as are Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The appropriate archangel of earth is Uriel. For instance, the correct names of the archangels who communicated with Enoch are listed in The Book of Enoch as, “Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel.” (9) John Dee also refers to them as “Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, or Uriel.” (10) Additionally there is an ancient orthodox Hebrew night prayer which contains a similar reference. At the end of the prayer an individual is supposed to say, “In the name of the Lord God of Israel, may Michael be at my right hand, and Gabriel at my left, before me Uriel; behind me Raphael; and above my head the divine presence.” (11) It can only be speculated whether or not the original creator of the Pentagram Ritual knew of this prayer, although the ritual does seem to have similar wording. As for the use of the name Auriel, some believe the Golden Dawn was simply confused in an attempt to use a similar angelic name of Ariel whom John Dee claims “is a conglomerate of Anael and Uriel.” (12)
Other scholars have pointed out more discrepancies. For instance, in The Magus (13) Uriel is mentioned as an angel ruling over only one of the four quarters of our planet, that of the South. Furthermore, according to The Magus, this direction, and not the traditional north, is attributed to the element of earth. Uriel’s immediate angelic subordinate, who is the actual ‘ruler of the element of earth’ is Ariel. This same book gives the rulership of each quarter to different archangels than the accepted norm, although the rulership between angel and element is correct. For example, in the East is Fire ruled by Michael, the West is Air ruled by Raphael, the North is water ruled by Gabriel and, as I just pointed out, the South is Earth ruled by Uriel. The bottom line is this, angelic research is a bitch of contradiction and will lead a person down a path of befuddlement. Regardless of when or how the original confusion occurred regarding the name Auriel, I would suggest that one uses the correct name of Uriel when performing the Pentagram Ritual.
There is a Greater Mystery which can only be grasped if you clearly understood the union of opposites and the fourfold directions just mentioned. Qabalah tells us that when Chokmah and Binah unite a Hidden Door (Daleth-4) is opened which allows an influence to descend upon Tiphereth and then to manifest through it while riding the elemental tides. Once it begins to descend it approaches the magician who, when beginning the performance of The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, is facing East toward Tiphereth or the Sun. It begins the final completion of an individual’s transformation and now we can begin to understand why Crowley wrote: “Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.”
The path which is most crucial at this stage is known as Art, or Alchemy. It is the final ON as taught in Seventh Degree OTO. In Epistle No.7 of The Magickal Essence of Aleister Crowley, Understanding the New Aeon through the teachings of the Great Beast, which is titled An Open Letter on obtaining the Knowledge we stated, “There are other Mysteries too Divine to be openly discussed in this particular Epistle but I will tell you this, Crowley has stated that the Minerval Word of ON works within The Devil card and is fulfilled in its final alchemical stage when an individual enters the Hermetic Triad as a Seventh Degree whose Word is also ON. This final stage is depicted by the Thoth card of Art which is attributed to the Hebrew letter Samech-60 and is ruled by Sagittarius. Why these two particular cards refer to these two OTO Degree Words might be difficult to understand. However, Crowley plainly gives this knowledge before the eyes of the profane in Liber 777 Col.CLXXXVII on “Magical Formulae” but without clear indication as to how these attributes relate to the magical formula of ON. This is the path which an influence, or entity, like one’s Holy Guardian Angel, uses to manifest once it has been drawn through the Sun. This is critical to realize.
To reflect upon this further one needs only to realize that after acknowledging the four archangels you loudly proclaim, “for about me flames the Pentagram, and in the Column stands the six-rayed Star.” Besides the obvious, that the blending of ‘five’ and ‘six’ equals ‘eleven’ and is a reference to the Great Work. The six-rayed Star refers to the fact that if the ritual is performed correctly a Holy Hexagram automatically appears. This symbol in itself also portrays the union of opposites. Crowley has noted that you “are thus standing in a Column which is protected by your microcosmic invocation. The consequent result, being macrocosmic response, is that without any effort on your part the hexagram or six-fold star appears both above and below you.” (14) In other words the column refers not only to your microcosmic spinal column which is the primary energy channel between your chakras but also the macrocosm of the central pillar on the Tree of Life. In the center of both columns is Tiphereth, the sixth sphere. This solar attribute is further expressed at the very end of the ritual when you clasp your hands upon your chest vibrating “le-Olahm, Amen.” On a microcosmic level what you’ve acknowledged is that your central Star, or Sun, exists as portrayed by the Holy Hexagram which is a symbol of ABRAHADABRA 418. Also, the elemental forces which stream forth within its rays can be effected by yourself and can effect your spiritual transformation at the same time. The illusions which bind humanity have no hold on you. You are in complete control of those forces depicted in The Devil trump of the tarot. The waters which once ran muddy and stagnant can now become clear around your tiny island. Burn into your mind these verses from Chapter Three of The Book of the Law, “Choose ye an island!” “Fortify it!” Those words, as well as the following which Crowley wrote, I’d like to repeat one last time because they should echo in your mind whenever you perform a Pentagram Ritual. “Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.”
Further study reveals there are numerous slight variations and theories behind the subtleties portrayed in the Pentagram Ritual. Many are correct and portray the personal proclivities of individuals who understand the ritual and have fine tuned it to suit their beliefs. This is perfectly all right, yet to do this successfully you must know not only the symbolism behind the ritual but also the magickal mechanism which makes it work. This ritual, like the variations, may seem complicated but if one were to understand the principle they could virtually forget the lengthy and almost verbose rite and do something far simpler. In fact, Crowley has stated that The Book of The Law contains all the Supreme Formulas and therefore this rite “may now advantageously be replaced by (a single verse and that being) ‘pure will unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect’ (CCXX I:44) to banish.” (15) As simple as this sounds it is far more complicated to use than doing the full Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Crowley has also rewritten The Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram into a totally different format which he claims “is the best to use.” (16) This appeared in Liber 333, The Book of Lies, Chapter 25 and is titled “The Star Ruby.” It is also found in Magick In Theory & Practice. I am not going into all the theory behind this ritual or its symbolism. I personally feel the elemental formulas regarding the Pentagram Ritual which I’ve already discussed is best for the beginner.
Anyway, after all has been said and done, you might wonder how you will know if what you’re doing is correct. Israel Regardie said it best when he wrote, “There should be a clear sense, unmistakable in its manifestation, as of cleanliness, even holiness and sanctity, as though the whole being were gently but thoroughly purged, and that every impure and unclean element had been dispersed and annihilated.” (17) Crowley further adds that, “a sign that the student is performing this correctly (is) when a single Vibration entirely exhausts his physical strength. It should cause him to grow hot all over or to perspire violently, and it should so weaken him that he will find it difficult to remain standing. Yet he shall remain standing and because he’s practice the ritual he will continue with the next stage.” (18) Yes, it is no secret that performing this ritual effects both the individual and his surroundings. I can attest that the atmosphere definitely changes and is noticeable by everyone, especially in Temples where the ritual is continually performed. There are only a few things I’d like to end this chapter with. The first is to remind the student to invoke often and then to quote Crowley, who equally warns his students, “Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram.” (19) Finally, I’d like to include one of Crowley’s poems which I hope will give further inspiration.
THE PENTAGRAM (20)
In the years of the Primal Course, in the dawn of terrestrial birth,
Man mastered the mammoth and horse, and Man was the Lord of the Earth.
He made him an hollow skin from the heart of an holy tree,
He compassed the earth therein, and Man was the Lord of the Sea.
He controlled the vigour of steam, he harnessed the lightning for hire;
He drove the celestial team; and Man was the Lord of the Fire.
Deep-mouthed from their thrones deep-seated, the choirs of the aeons declare
The last of the demons defeated, for Man is the Lord of the Air.
Arise, O Man, in thy strength! the kingdom is thine to inherit,
Till the high gods witness at length that Man is the Lord of his spirit.
Love is the law, love under will. –AL I:57
1. Aleister Crowley, “The Temple of the Holy Ghost, The Palace of the World,” The Collected Works, Volume 1, 1909, p. 204.
2. Crowley, The Collected Works, Vol. 1, p. 204.
3. Soror Meral, In the Continuum Vol. 1 No. 1 (CA.: The College of Thelema, 1973), p. 2.
4. Aleister Crowley, The Equinox of the Gods (London: Privately printed OTO, 1936), p. 127.
5. Eliphas Levi, Transcendental Magic, trans. Arthur Edward Waite (NY: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1974) p. 234.
6. Francis King, Astral Projection (New York: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1975), p. 23.
7. Soror Meral, p. 6.
8. Dagobert Runes, The Wisdom of the Kabbalah (NY: Philosophical Library, 1957).
9. The Book of Enoch, trans. R.H.Charles (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1912), Chapter IX, Verse 1, p. 20.
10. John Dee, The Private Diary of John Dee, ed. James Orchard Halliwell (London: The Camden Society, 1842), p. 22.
11. Daily Prayer Book, Ha-Siddur Ha-Shalem, trans. Philip Birnbaum. (NY: Hebrew Publishing Company, no date), p. 852.
12. Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, Including The Fallen Angels (NY: The Free Press, 1967), p. 54.
13. Francis Barrett, The Magus (NY: University Books, New Hyde Park, 1967) p. 112.
14. Soror Meral, p. 6.
15. Aleister Crowley, Magick In Theory & Practice (New Jersey, Castle Press, 1965) p. 107.
16. Ibid., p. 104.
17. Israel Regardie, The Tree of Life (NY: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1969) p. 167.
18. Crowley, Magick In Theory & Practice, p. 379.
19. Aleister Crowley, Liber Aleph (San Francisco: Level Press, 1972) p. 16.
20. Aleister Crowley, The Winged Beetle (London: Privately Printed, 1910), p. 149.
POSTED ON OUR BLOG
Sunday, November 21st, 2010 – 6:06 am Frater L.M., a Practicus in our lineage, wrote a very interesting observation a few weeks ago and I thought I might share it knowing that others can easily benefit from what he has written.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
In An Open Epistle on the Lesser Ritual Of The Pentagram, Fra. Achad Osher 583 explains that the LBRP is performed while standing in the intersection of the paths of Pe and Samech (between Hod and Netzach in the Tree of Life). You are facing Tiphereth and behind you is Yesod. Your physical body is on Malkuth, of course, and it is facing the East. To understand this positioning in the Tree of life opens the door to a flood of understanding, which is bound to increase the efficacy of this ritual.
The epistle got me thinking about the names vibrated during the ritual, for example. After performing the Qabalistic Cross, you face East and vibrate “YHVH” (Yod-He-Vav-He). In the Tree, you would at this point be facing Tiphereth. Then, facing Netzach you vibrate “ADONAI.” Facing Yesod, you say: “AHIH;” and to Hod: “AGLA.”
Now, none of these names correspond to the actual divine names attributed to these spheres. IHVH is in Chokmah (second sephira), not in Tiphareth (some tables put it there, though, in the Briatic, but it’s attributed to Chokmah in Liber LVIII). Adonai corresponds to Malkuth (the kingdom or the tenth sephira), and not to Netzach as we place Him in the LBRP. AHIH (pronounced eheie) corresponds to Kether (first, “Crown”). Why are we vibrating this name when facing Yesod? And finally, AGLA is a notaricon of a phrase: Ateh Gibor Le-Olam Adonai (or “You are mighty forever, Lord”). What does it have to do with Hod?
Let’s look at what happens in Netzach first. When we face South, we are looking at Netzach (7th sephira) if we are doing the LBRP. We call into this sphere Adonai, as if we are moving Adonai from Malkuth into Netzach for the purpose of this operation. We would be moving Him through the path of Qoph, whose element is water. The spiritual currents in the Tree run downwards on the left side, upwards on the right, and both ways in the middle pillar. It makes sense, then, for Adonai to travel up from Malkuth to Netzach.
Then, when we face Yesod we call Eheieh (AHIH) down from Kether. This name signifies “existence.” He would travel through the middle pillar. On Hod we would be placing through the AGLA that might and power from Geburah. It makes sense that this Power would descend through the left column in a downward fashion.
Now, YHVH is the Tetragrammaton. It is the four letters which spell the sacred name of God. The Old Testament warns against pronouncing this name in vain, but the esoteric import of this warning is not due to any mundane disrespect, but because to pronounce this name properly is to make “heaven and earth to tremble, for it is the name which rusheth through the universe.” (Liber LVIII). Crowley explains in this document that the Tetragrammaton contains all the sephiroth (except for Kether, but even this one is pointed to with the upper part of the first letter, Yod, as it’s written in Hebrew). The Tetragrammaton contains the four worlds, the four parts of the soul, and the four elements of creation. It also represents the father, mother, son and daugher. As such, IHVI can be seen as encompassing Chokmah (Father), Binah (Mother), Tiphereth (Son), and Malkuth (Daughter). All together they form the Adam Kadmon. Therefore, when we face Tiphereth at the beginning of the LBRP, we acknowledge it as the center of our universe by placing the seed of the entire body (IHVH) in its heart. Here, the heart, is where the King (the Son or the Sun) resides. Above Him is the Crown (Kether) and below is the Queen (in its dual role of Earth, the Daughter, and the Moon or the reflection of the Sun upon the lower waters of creation). The King, of course, is the creation of the Father (Chokmah) and the Mother (Binah) who when conjoined give birth to the Son (Sun).
The Tetragrammaton (from the Latin: “four letters”) has three more manifestations, according the the Qabalah: ADNI, AHIH, and AGLA. Therefore, all these emanations of the name of God are here placed, further unifying the sacred body which contains the divine Star. We bring in the different aspects of the Tetragrammaton during the ritual to create around us the universe, to unify its opposites, and to accomplish the Great Work. After the names have been vibrated, we stand in this path, the “lower abyss,” facing the heart of Adam Kadmon and in it’s capacity of standing as a representative of the totality. To our right, Adonai as a representative of Malkuth who is the daughter, the bride. Behind me is the vibration of creation, the breath of existence, unifying here the highest with the lowest. To my left the Power from Geburah. In these last two moves I place effectively the feminine to my right and the masculine to my left.
In addition to the ways in which Fr. AO583 points out the way in which LBRP unifies the opposites, my intent here was to point out another way in which this alchemical unification happens, by moving the names of God through the appropriate pathways so that they stand around us creating the sacred body of God for a moment around us and within us.
Love is the law, love under will.
In Light, Love, Life, and Liberty,
Copyright (C) Cornelius 2006