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Evaluating the LIRP

With all of the emphasis given to the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, its companion invoking form tends often to get overshadowed. Why should this be? And what is the proper use of the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram, anyway?

It turns out, the first question is easier to answer than the second. In contrast to the LBRP, which stands alone as the only ritual traditionally prescribed for students in the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn, the LIRP is quite literally barely a footnote. Regardie says in The Golden Dawn that it should be used “as a form of prayer…in the morning”, but no further attention is given to it.

Historically, there’s a reason for this. As the Adept material on the Pentagram Ritual (again from Regardie) spells out, the “Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is only of use in general and unimportant invocations”—and such trivial invocations seem not to be worthy of mention to the Golden Dawn founders. Conversely, the LBRP “is permitted to the Outer that Neophytes may have protection against opposing forces, and also that they may form some idea of how to attract and to come into communication with spiritual and invisible things”. Even as a lesser ritual, the banishing serves an important function as a rite of protection—to the point that it is the first and last ceremony performed alongside any other working. The LIRP’s aims, however, are much more generic and ill-defined.

Like the LBRP, the LIRP is a generic microcosmic ritual, just in the invoking form rather than the banishing form. In the same way that the LIRH gets used as an invocation when you’re working with the energies of multiple planets, or of the Macrocosm as a whole, the LIRP is used as an invocation of the sum total of the Elemental or Microcosmic world. Unlike the Greater or Supreme Pentagram Rituals, the Lesser Pentagram Ritual does not specify any one force in its invocation, and consequently it is—as Regardie relates—a general rite “to attract and come into communication with spiritual and invisible things”.

In other words, whereas the LBRP magnetically repels spiritual energy on the macrocosmic level, the LIRP magnetically attracts it. This can be a bit of a crap shoot given that you aren’t calling upon or drawing in any specific influences, but it does have its place. The Lesser Banishing Ritual serves to shoo away any astral interlopers, sweep out the dust bunnies, and prepare a clean working space–but it also leaves you in a nice and clean but ultimately empty house. The Lesser Invoking Ritual, on the other hand, is more like sending out a message blast to all the people you know saying they’re welcome to drop on by your house and hang out with you. You might attract some company for the evening, but you don’t really know what energy you’re going to be getting out of the bargain.

Now, this lack of differentiation is what makes the LIRP a lesser ritual rather than a greater or supreme ritual. The “lesser” rituals are general, not differentiated for any specific planet or element. The “greater” rituals specify a unique element or planet in the banishing or invoking. And the “supreme” rituals are like the greater ones, except using the Enochian tablets—which is also why you don’t have a Supreme Hexagram Ritual distinct from the Greater Hexagram Ritual, even though different sources use the two terms interchangeably: the Enochian tablets are terrestrial watchtowers, and so only have appropriate reference with respect to the Pentagram Ritual.

Now that said, the question you may be asking yourself at this point is “what’s the actual use of the LIRP?” And that’s a harder question to answer, because the LIRP was never intended to be used for any sort of operant or practical magic. The LBRP is used to create the protective magic circle, but if you’re invoking any specific forces you’re going to be using the corresponding greater/supreme ritual rather than a lesser ritual.

When I was in the HOGD we never used the LIRP for much of anything, and my Temple emphasized the LBRP exclusively. That doesn’t mean the LIRP has no value, but the value it does have is going to be subtle and it’s not something that necessarily needs to be prescribed for the Neophyte for any particular purpose. Moreover, the conventional wisdom is that you want to spend an extended period of time focusing only on banishing with a given ritual before you start invoking it: if you’re going to make mistakes in the learning process, you want to do that while you’re in this stage of banishing without doing any accompanying invoking. It’s best to mess up when you aren’t actively trying to dismiss a spiritual entity you’ve already called up beforehand!

I’ve heard that in the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn, ovates in training are supposed to shift back and forth between doing the LIRP in the morning and the LBRP at bedtime on the one hand, and performing the LBRP in the morning and the LIRP at bedtime on the other. The rationale behind this is that it allows each person to see how these subtle energetic differences impact them when doing it one way versus the other. This is the kind of experimentation I can fully get behind, and I may incorporate this idea into my own practice in order to obtain a better feel for the different shadings of flavor between the two.

So even though the LIRP is but a literal footnote in the much larger Golden Dawn system, once you’re sufficiently comfortable and practiced with performing the LBRP, I encourage you to experiment with performing the LIRP at different times of day and under different circumstances to get a feel for how it functions and what effects it has for you. After all, it’s only through experimentation that the system thrives and grows.

The “No-BS” LBRH

I’ve put out a video over the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, and I’ve forgotten to post about it until now. Oops! Life comes at you fast.

For those of you who have seen my “No-BS” LBRP video, the video follows the same rubric for the LBRH. I don’t inundate you with a lot of theory or visualization, instead giving you the basic mechanics of the ritual and a demonstration so you can begin performing it on your own.

I hope you find it beneficial! Please feel free to comment and let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything I could better clarify.

And a special thanks to Frater Ziegmund for the animations of the Hexagrams used in the video!

Mistakes Along the Path

Someone recently messaged me on Discord, saying that they had performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram for the first time and were worried about the consequences of messing it up if they accidentally forget an angel name or inadvertently omit the closing Qabalistic Cross. They were feeling anxious about it, and wondering if this was a big issue.

First, let me put you at ease: the answer here is a resounding “no”. A technically incorrect LBRP may be ineffective, but it’s not going to be harmful unless you’re actually trying to banish something where the consequences matter. But when it comes to just learning the ritual, or to your daily practice, the consequences of a botched LBRP are going to be somewhere between minimal and negligible, apart from simply not having the benefit of a successful banishing.

Second, let’s get real for a moment about the Golden Dawn tradition, and about fear of failure within it.

Even those of us who have been doing things so long they’re second nature still botch things from time to time. I’ve been performing the LBRP for 20 years or more and sometimes I still have a brain glitch on rare occasion and trip up on which name I’m supposed to be vibrating in which quarter if I’m just spacing out instead of actually concentrating. (And once you’ve been doing this a long time, maintaining that mindfulness in performance is the long-haul challenge!)

Yet we don’t often talk about failures in the Golden Dawn tradition. Perhaps this is because most of us simply prefer to highlight our successes and gloss over our perceived shortcomings, or perhaps because it’s not something that the corpus of the tradition speaks to it simply hasn’t gotten the attention it’s deserved. Either way, I find that the biggest thing that holds people back when they’re getting started on this Path isn’t difficulty understanding the material or any actual technical shortcomings, but rather fear of making mistakes. The fear of messing it up is a lot bigger barrier for people than actually messing it up.

The fear of making mistakes is something I deeply relate to. Before I make a decision I always want to understand my options, understand the relative merits and drawbacks, and most of all to understand the ramifications and consequences of those different potential choices. I want to have all of the data, understand it, and be able to choose confidently as a result. I’m the kind of person who wants to be able to learn something and dig into it and understand how and why it functions. Then after I figure that out I can start working with it, adapting it, and personalizing it. But when you’re first approaching this stuff and have no idea what the metaphorical levers to tweak even are, it can present a significant barrier to forward motion. And as you can well imagine, my desire for complete information and understanding is nice in theory, but tends not to pan out so well in reality.

Apart from my love of ritual and ceremony (blame it on growing up Episcopalian), one of the things that most appealed to me about the Golden Dawn tradition back when I started journeying down this road was that it lays out a pathway and a structure that supports it. There’s a system, which promises to lead the Neophyte through the wilderness of uncertainty like a beacon in the night (or like the Lamp of the Keryx illuminating the way forward). And one of the jobs of the system is to help the beginner learn the necessary skills in safe contexts.

It can be difficult to put one’s trust in an unfamiliar system, and I don’t advise doing so lightly. But in this case, the way the system was designed addresses exactly these fears. There’s a reason why only the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram was prescribed to the Neophyte, and no practical work was given out until the Adept grades.

Learning things takes time and experience, and gaining that experience inherently involves trying and failing, and committing to getting just a little bit better each time. Practice is the only thing that makes perfect, after all! And as it turns out, this is exactly where you want to mess up your ritual work in the Golden Dawn system. It’s better to make the mistakes when you’re just banishing as a part of your training or daily practice, because most of the time there are no consequences to a botched performance and you can simply try again (or move on and come back to it later). This is far preferable to messing up an important invocation, or even worse, hosing the banishing afterward. The expected training regimen of the Neophyte (and by extension of the Outer Order) omits practical magic other than the LBRP because by the time you get around to using that practical magic as an Adept, you’ve come to understand the system deeply and have come to see why your trust in the system can be well-placed–because you’ve learned enough to know what you’re doing when you perform a ritual action, and don’t have to simply take it on faith.

We don’t talk about fear of failure, because we’re told that “fear is failure”. But let us not forget that the true failure–the one that matters, the one that the Hiereus admonishes the Neophyte not to give over control to–is the fear itself. The real failure isn’t in messing up a ritual performance, in forgetting what names or words to use, or in being hesitant to try something new and unfamiliar. The real failure is in being too afraid to try in the first place. As long as you show up to try, and don’t try to get over your head with invocations before you’ve got a firm command over your banishings, the safety nets built into the system will do their job.

So take heart, you who are just starting out on this journey: your banishings may not be especially powerful or even technically correct to start with, but you aren’t going to rain calamity down on your house as a result. The biggest loss is the one that comes from not trying at all. So if you feel overwhelmed or if you’re too caught up in your head about where to begin, just pick something that seems doable and start practicing. Once you start getting over those initial hurdles and the various pieces of gesture and sound and visualization begin coming together, it’s amazing how quickly you’ll nail down the practice. The biggest part is just getting over that initial hurdle of discomfort and starting somewhere. The rest will come.

The Step of the Neophyte is given by advancing the left foot forward a short distance. It alludes to the decision of the Neophyte to seek the Hidden Wisdom within the Order. It also represents the Will of the Neophyte expressed in its first glimmer of action–as every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you are feeling held back by your indecision and fear of mistakes, try incorporating the Step of the Neophyte into your magical practice and meditations, and see if it helps you. As you step your foot forward, feel yourself as The Fool, walking ahead into the unknown but trusting the universe to carry you toward a safe and nurturing end. (And if you try this method, please let me know!)

Initiation Three Ways

I’m probably in a somewhat unique position among Golden Dawn practitioners in that I’ve experienced the initiatory journey in three different ways. I’ve been treading this Path for the past 20 years, starting as a self-initiate using the then-newly-published Self Initiation into the Golden Dawn Tradition, by Chic and Tabatha Cicero. A few years later, I joined with a magical working group (in other words, a group doing the initiations without an Adept as Hierophant) and started again at Neophyte. Finally, I joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (the Ciceros’ Order) and went through the grades again, ultimately becoming an Adept. The experiences were different in many ways, but in some respects the similarities are even more intriguing.

The self-initiatory path in the Golden Dawn tradition is inherently a weird one, in that it adapts ceremonies with up to seven officers to be performed by the initiatory candidate alone. Doing it by oneself, it can feel awkward and unwieldy and generally less than graceful. But my first real visionary encounter took place during my self-initiation into Neophyte, and I’ve been sold on it as the system for me ever since. Having experienced that Path, you can’t tell me it doesn’t work. And based on the number of self-initiatory practitioners I know, I can surmise that my experience of the efficacy of self-initiation is not unique.

My second experience was with the magical working group. This was a small group of practitioners who were doing the Work and putting each other through the grades, and was affiliated with a community of self-initiatory practitioners of which I was a member. An interstate move brought me right into their backyard, which is still one of the greatest synchronicities of my life. My experience of initiation in a temple setting was profound. The ability to act only as the candidate, to be led and have the energies worked on me rather than having to work them on myself, enabled me to reach a deep trance state during the ceremony and fully absorb the etheric changes that take place within the initiation rituals. And absorb them I did. The grade energies hit me hard, until well after another move saw me land in another state.

Finally, I joined the HOGD and experienced the grades in a fully warranted Temple of the Order, headed by a trained Adept. Again, the initiatory experience was profound, and the way the energies of the grades unfolded in my life has provided me with ample evidence of its efficacy. But this experience wasn’t starkly different from that of my initiation with the working group; nor was it ultimately more effective at changing the course of my life than my self-initiation before that, even though the energy was more deeply impactful in the moment. But ultimately initiation does with a firehose what self-initiation does with a faucet, and my experience from the receiving end is that it doesn’t seem to matter all that much who’s wielding the firehose as long as they know what they’re doing with it.

Further Thoughts on Scrying

I’ve posted before about how spirit communication works for me, but had some additional thoughts I wanted to share about the method of scrying in particular, prompted by some stimulating conversation over on the Hermetic House of Life Discord server.

In a conversation about Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres and the DSIC method of conjuration, discussion came up about the particulars of the scrying medium and whether scrying media other than the prescribed small crystal sphere would be equally effective. My own experience is that the best scrying medium is whatever works for the individual magician, and this varies from person to person. I have great difficulty scrying into a crystal ball, but a black mirror works wonderfully for me.

I didn’t write this post, however, to talk about suitable 7S/DSIC substitutions. Rather, I wanted to share how scrying into the medium actually works for me on a mechanical level, since it seems there’s a great deal of confusion out there about what scrying actually entails and how it can operate for different people.

A common perception seems to be that when scrying into a crystal (for example), the vision will appear and take shape within the crystal, and the magician will observe the vision with their eyes as it unfolds. This may be the way it works for some, but it is not the way it works for me. I find I don’t really see much of anything in the scrying medium itself. The medium is really more of a tool to let my eyes unfocus, or focus beyond the medium–kind of like one of those old Magic Eye posters you had to look at cross-eyed to see the 3D image in. When I see a sort of black vortex in the middle of my vision, I lean into that and make it my (non-)focus, and that leads me into a hypnagogic state. From there I’ll generally close my eyes and the visions will come.

It helps to think of scrying less as a mode of seeing with one’s vision, and more as a hypnotic self-induction into a receptive trance state. The object isn’t to see within the scrying medium itself, so much as it is to create the necessary receptive state in the mind of the scryer. On that note, I think it would be incredibly fascinating to experiment with scrying simply using hypnotic induction directly, rather than a visual scrying medium. I suspect the results would prove very fruitful.

Surviving the Kybalion Movie

So god help us, it was bound to happen sooner or later: that most undeservedly popular of occult texts, The Kybalion, has gotten a movie based on it made.

Well, “based on” is a strong overstatement, as it turns out. I gathered together with friends from the Hermetic House of Life Discord last night to watch this cinematic travesty, and I knew going into it that there was no way I could withstand the experience sober. We decided to make it an MST3K-style viewing with drunkenness and heckling. My sanity could not have survived the experience any other way.

Now, I’ve said plenty about the Kybalion in a variety of places, so my expectations were low going into this. But even if I were stone cold sober I could have watched this movie and still not known what the actual fuck was going on. It presented the most disconnected ramblings about material almost but not entirely unrelated to the subject matter of the Kybalion, interspersed with even more disconnected vaguely psychedelic/shamanic vignettes that appeared to exist only to be vaugely sp00ky for the sake of provocativeness. Much like the Kybalion itself, it was the esoteric equivalent of a Rorshach test, which says nothing especially useful but into which you can read a great deal if you want to.

That said, I had a great time jeering and heckling at the film with friends. It was exactly the experience I wanted and needed in order to stomach this indigo starchild woo dumpster fire without losing sanity points.

Sam Block posted a far more entertaining and ire-filled account of the experience over on The Digital Ambler. I apologize to Sam for suggesting this watch party of existential dread, and thank him for writing the more substantive critique of the Kybalion movie so I don’t have to. Give it a read, it’s well worthwhile!

Guided Middle Pillar Ritual

Greetings, friends! As an interlude before transitioning from my LBRP videos into those covering the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, I’ve recorded a guided performance of the Middle Pillar Ritual. In this video I take you through the exact guided meditation I used to lead others in performing when I was still operating in a Golden Dawn temple. We would generally perform the Middle Pillar Ritual together as a group to raise energy prior to launching into the opening LBRP for ceremony. I invite you to listen and participate along with the video, whether you’re a novice with the Middle Pillar or whether you’re an old hand at it.

Rethinking the Golden Dawn Swastika

One of the things that has consistently nagged at me for a very long time as I have worked within the Golden Dawn tradition is its use of the swastika, or fylfot cross. The symbol has an ancient history long pre-dating its appropriation by the Third Reich, and has even been called the “Hermetic Cross” in addition to its various other names. While I appreciate the history, however, and while I understand and accept it, we in the modern day simply cannot get around the fact that in a post-WWII era world, even the Hindu form of the swastika which the Golden Dawn uses has taken on deeply unfortunate connotations that hold a lot of trauma for a lot of people–especially in the West, where the symbol isn’t an integral part of our cultural heritage. And given that we are at a cultural inflection point where we already have to worry about the Golden Dawn name being sullied by the Greek fascist party of the same name, it seems like the time has never been better to rethink the use of this symbol and the baggage it now carries.

The central problem with rethinking the use of the swastika and potentially replacing it, however, is that the symbolic language of the Golden Dawn is incredibly complex. In order to make any changes, you have to deeply understand all of the various touch points that will be impacted by any such change, and ensure that you aren’t doing violence to the many layers of meaning that depend upon any given symbol.

For reference, here is an illustration of the swastika as it is used in its capacity as admission badge for the grade of Zelator. It is typically represented in the Malkuth colors of citrine, olive, russet, and black.

Golden Dawn Zelator Admission Badge

In order to maintain consistency of meaning with the swastika, it’s essential that the central elements of symbolic meaning be maintained. In this case, the symbol must be in the form of a cross to be consistent with the rest of the Outer Order admission badges, it must preserve the overarching solar meaning behind the swastika, and–perhaps the most challenging requirement–it must be able to contain and represent the four astrological triplicities and their associated elements in balanced fashion while laying these out in their corresponding directional quarters. (It will be noted that while the admission badge is colored in the Malkuth colors according to the Four Winds attribution, the symbols are arrayed within the badge according to the astrological directional scheme in which Fire is in the East, Earth is in the South, etc.).

After returning to these considerations multiple times over the years, I believe I have finally devised a suitable drop-in replacement for the swastika as the admission badge of Zelator and as the lamen of the Dadouchos.

Proposed Replacement for the Admission Badge

Shown above in the Malkuth colors used on the Zelator admission badge, this symbol maintains the form of the cross, the solar attribution, and the layout and ordering of the triplicities and elemental symbols. The coloring of the circle around the cross additionally lends the hint of clockwise motion which is implicit in the original admission badge. While naturally the associated verbiage in the Zelator Ceremony and the associated Knowledge Lecture would need to be adapted accordingly, I have been sitting with and meditating upon the symbol and have been unable thus far to identify any points of potential conflict that would do unintentional violence to the system.

If the Golden Dawn tradition is going to survive and thrive going forward, we need to innovate. We must honor and pay homage to the past, but we need to not be afraid to change how we do things, how we teach, and how we structure things. And that includes making changes to the established ceremony and symbolism when a compelling reason exists to do so. In this case, I think there’s a sufficiently compelling reason.

Feedback is more than welcome! Please comment or email me if you have any thoughts, or if you see a shortcoming that I hadn’t considered. Experimentation is how we learn, and collaboration is how we grow together. The input is always appreciated.

Special thanks to Taylor Bell, who took my concept and transformed it into the polished diagram above. Be sure to check out his Green Lion Podcast!

LBRP Theory – Q&A

As I mentioned in my previous post introducing my LBRP theory video, the content is dense enough that I wanted to break it out into a separate and more digestible post. I’ll largely follow a Q&A format here. If you have any additional questions I don’t cover, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me!

Q: Where did the LBRP originate?

The LBRP was created by the founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and does not appear in the Cypher Manuscript. It was likely created based on several different sources.

While one may be forgiven for thinking that the Qabalistic Cross is simply a portion of the Lord’s Prayer badly translated into Hebrew, this is in fact not the case. While the Qabalistic Cross does bear a structural similarity, the semantic meaning is different in some small but important ways. Most notably, what you’re actually saying here in translation is “thou art the Kingdom and the Power and the Greatness forever, amen”.

This portion of the LBRP likely comes directly from Eliphas Levi, in his chapter on the “Conjuration of the Four” from Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, translated into English by A. E. Waite as Transcendental Magic.  The Conjuration of the Four itself calls upon the four elemental creatures—the salamanders, sylphs, gnomes, and undines—rather than the four Archangels, and does so in all four directions.  By contrast, the invocation of the four Archangels in the LBRP is likely taken from the Hirsch Siddur, a traditional Jewish bedtime prayer, in which the following line occurs:  “In the Name of God, the God of Yisrael: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God.”

Q: What is the purpose of the Sign of the Enterer and the Sign of Silence in the LBRP?

These are the Neophyte grade signs of the Golden Dawn, and have further use in the ritual of the LBRP itself. The Sign of the Enterer, also called the Projecting Sign or the Sign of Horus, functions to project energy outward.  When paired with the divine name appropriate to the quarter, you are infusing and inflaming that pentagram with the divine name. The Sign of Silence which answers it, also called the Sign of Harpocrates, is used to withdraw and contain the current of energy that is expelled by the Sign of the Enterer.  So if for whatever reason after projecting with the Sign of the Enterer you feel fatigued or drained, make the Sign of Silence again and stand in that position to regain your equilibrium before proceeding. Much of the “troubleshooting” involved in the energetic portions of the LBRP focuses on balancing these two signs to ensure that you are not expending or depleting your own energy while performing the ceremony, and correct use of these Signs is key to maintaining that balance.

Q: Why is movement around the circle in the LBRP performed clockwise?

The direction of progression around the circle is clockwise, because movement in a Golden Dawn temple is always performed according to the sun (i.e. clockwise), with only one notable exception. This exception is during the Mystic Reverse Circumambulation, which is designed to release the current of energy built up by the movement of the Kerux and the other officers around the Hall in the Mystic Circumambulation symbolic of the rise of light and the decrease of darkness. Otherwise, as a system which focuses predominately on attaining and cultivating the state of harmony reached in the solar sphere of Tiphereth, motion around the circle will always be clockwise in direction.

Q: What does the phrase “in the column shines the Six-Rayed Star” mean?

This is without a doubt one of the most unwieldy phrases in the entirety of the LBRP. Remember that the LBRP is a microcosmic ritual, and as such the practitioner is standing in the sphere of Malkuth. As a result, Tiphereth is positioned directly above the practitioner’s head, along with the other Sephiroth of the Middle Pillar. This phrase alludes to the six-rayed hexagram of Tiphereth, the sixth Sephirah, and its position above one’s head in the orientation of the action within the ritual as well as representing the sphere of equilibrium to which one is aspiring as one works toward the attainment of the Adeptus Minor grade.

Q: Why are the elements attributed to the quarters they are in the LBRP, rather than following the more common grimoiric directional attributions (which have Fire in the East, Earth in the South, etc.)?

As Alex Sumner has done an excellent job of articulating in a blog post on the subject, the “Four Winds” directional attributions which the Golden Dawn uses for microcosmic rituals such as the LBRP derives ultimately from Ptolemaic astrology, specifically from the Tetrabiblos. This scheme assigns the four winds—Eurus, Notus, Zephyrus, and Boreas—to the cardinal directions we’re familiar with in the ordering of the LBRP.  The more grimoire-standard ordering of Fire in the East, Earth in the South, Air in the West, and Water in the North is preserved in the Golden Dawn’s macrocosmic rituals.

Q: Why are the pentagrams traced clockwise in the LBRP, rather than counterclockwise? Shouldn’t banishing be performed widdershins?

In order to understand why the LBRP’s pentagrams are traced clockwise, you have to gain some understanding of the larger Adept-level Pentagram Ritual within the Golden Dawn tradition. The four elements crowned by Spirit are arrayed around the figure of the Pentagram as follows:

While there is some problematic history here regarding the Pentagrammaton, I will not go into it here: for further information on that front, watch the video, in which I briefly digress into the history of the Pentagrammaton and the ordering of the letters around the Pentagram. Suffice it to say that this diagram did not originate with the Golden Dawn, but represents the key to understanding the Pentagram Ritual.

While we are used to the trope of “invoking = deosil/clockwise” and “banishing = widdershins/counterclockwise” in modern occulture, this isn’t how it’s done in the Pentagram Ritual. Here, it isn’t whether you’re moving clockwise or counterclockwise that determines whether you’re invoking or banishing; it’s whether you’re moving towards or away from the element you’re working with.

In the LBRP, you start and finish with the Earth vertex of the Pentagram. Earth is used here as a substitute or stand-in for a general banishing, as it is the heaviest and densest element. You can see this same logic behind the use of the Saturn Hexagram as a general banishing figure within the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram.

So far, so good. Things get complicated, however, by the fact that the lower “X” of the Pentagram—the paths joining Fire/Air and Water/Earth—are reserved for the element of Spirit or Quintessence, as those two paths connect and unite the active and passive elements respectively. Consequently, these two paths are unavailable for use in drawing an Earth banishing pentagram. In the LBRP, you start at the Earth vertex and move away from it to banish.  Because you can’t use the path of Spirit Passive to do this, however, you use the path between Earth and Spirit instead, tracing the figure the only way you can—which is clockwise.

Now, note however that when you perform the LBRP, you are NOT banishing the element of Earth!  The LBRP is a general banishing ritual that works on the microcosmic level—that is to say, the elemental and terrestrial realm.  Remember that Earth here is just used as a shorthand or signature for the overall operation, and is used as a stand-in because it’s the heaviest and densest element.  But again, it’s not an Earth banishing or even a specifically elemental ritual when you’re talking about the LBRP.

Because of the symbolism of the pentagram and its connection to Gevurah (or Geburah), it may be more accurate to say that the LBRP is a Gevuric ritual than an elemental one, insofar as it operates in the same manner that tracing a protective magic circle on the ground with a sword does in the grimoiric tradition—especially when the LBRP is performed using the Sword of the Hiereus or the Magic Sword of an Adept.

LBRP – Advanced Theory

I’ve posted a video on the theory underpinning the LBRP. This one really plumbs the depths of why exactly every action in the LBRP is done the way it is, and I’ve been looking forward to putting it out since I filmed my first video. I hope you find it informative!

Because this goes into such depth, I won’t be summarizing the contents of the video here–I’ll save that for a series of smaller posts on the subject. In the meantime, though, here’s the outline of the major content I cover:

  • Qabalistic Cross
    • History and origins
    • Reason for the mapping of Gevurah and Chesed to the right and left shoulders
    • Explanation of “in the column shines the Six-Rayed Star”
  • Tracing the Pentagrams
    • Further information on the Sign of the Enterer and Sign of Silence
    • Reason for the clockwise progression around the circle
    • Reason for the scheme of attributing the elements to the four quarters, and why this differs from common grimoiric attributions
    • Reason why the pentagrams are traced clockwise instead of counter-clockwise
    • History behind the Pentagrammaton formula used in the Pentagram Ritual
    • Reason why the Earth Pentagram is used in the LBRP (spoiler alert: the LBRP is not an Earth banishing!)

Special thanks are due to Erik Arneson for filling me in on the history of Johannes Reuchlin and the Pentagrammaton. Check out his website and podcast at Arnemancy!

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