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The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Updated on November 20, 2018

The Stone of the Wise

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) is one of the chief rituals of the Western Magick Tradition. It is the foundation of any Great Magickal Work. It can be used as a form of prayer or meditation, as an exercise in concentration, and it clears and consecrates an area in preparation for a more advanced magickal work or operation. The Ritual provides the opportunity for the Magician to create a magickal environment. It grounds the Magician and establishes a protective circle of operation. If done regularly, the Magician will develop his or her powers of visualization and concentration by drawing the Pentagrams and invoking the archangelic guardians.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is the most complete ritual ever devised for preparing the place for magical work. The ritual as described here is used as a general means of opening and closing any ritual, meditation or exercise, banishing inimical influences, invoking helpful spiritual reinforcement to the circle, and strengthening the aura.

"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."

- Aleister Crowley: Palace of the World

The History of The Ritual

In the Golden Dawn Tradition, the Pentagram Ritual was taught to the Neophyte immediately after his initiation in order that he might “form some idea of how to attract and come into communication with spiritual and invisible things.” It is recommended that this be the first ritual a Magician attempt, possibly as a daily exercise, and should be thoroughly understood and mastered before proceeding to more advanced Magicks.

The history of the Ritual is somewhat obscure. No other operations like it devolve from antiquity, although some form must necessarily have been used for banishing. The modern accepted version of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram first saw print in the works of Aleister Crowley, and was later popularized in the works of Israel Regardie, having been developed in the late 19th century by The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. According to Regardie, Eliphas Levi makes the first reference to the Pentagram Ritual in Transcendental Magic:

"The sign of the Cross adopted by the Christians does not exclusively belong to them. It is also Kabbalistic and represents the oppositions and tetradic equilibrium of the Elements. There were originally two methods of making it (the Cross); one reserved for the priests and initiates, the other set apart for the neophytes and profane. Thus, for example, the initiate, raising his hand to his forehead said: 'Thine is', then brought his hand to his breast, saying: 'the Kingdom', then, transferred his hand to the left shoulder saying: 'Justice', and finally, to the right shoulder, saying: 'and Mercy'. Then, joining his hands together, added: 'through the generating age'. TIBI SUNT MALCHUT ET GEBURAH ET CHESED PER AEONAS - a sign of the cross which is absolutely and splendidly Kabbalistic, and which the profanations of the Gnosis have entirely lost to the official and militant church. The sign made in this manner should precede and terminate the Conjuration of the Four".

Even casual examination will reveal similarities to the Qabalistic Cross section of the LBRP. It is not surprising that Levi's work is the first place that Regardie finds reference to the Ritual since, according to LEGENDA DES FRERES AINES DE LA ROSE CROIX, Levi was the 52nd Imperator of the Rose Croix, succeeding Lord Bulwar Lytton, 51st Imperator, author of ZANONI, and succeeded by W. Wynn Westcott, 53rd Imperator of the Rose Croix, Supreme Magus of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, and one of the founding Heads of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The Nature of The Pentagram

The Pentagram is a commonly misunderstood symbol. The Pentagram with a single point upward is the microcosm, or “little universe,” of which the elemental world forms the foundation, ruled by the Spirit. It represents man with his arms and legs extended, adoring his Creator. It is a powerful symbol, also representing the dominion of the Spirit over the four elements, and consequently of reason over matter. It is a five-pointed star, which is also a symbol of Mars, attributed to Geburah or "Severity" by the Qabalists, the fifth emanation upon the Tree of Life. It is therefore a symbol of energy, war, strife, and conquest. It might also be borne in mind that the "five" is a symbol of the hand or womb of the Goddess filled with creative fire, the feminine power that manifests the Will. The five points are representative of the Spirit (top point), Air (upper left point), Water (upper right point), Earth (lower left point), and Fire (lower right point).

With the single point downwards, the Pentagram represents the Head of a Goat, or a Demon’s Head, the abasement of reason beneath the blind forces of matter, the elevation of anarchy above order, and of conflicting forces driven by chance above God. It is a symbol that any serious magician should avoid. As Regardie said in The Golden Dawn:

“For if thou shouldst write it with the two points upward, it is an evil symbol, affirming the empire of matter over that Divine Spirit which should govern it. See that thou doest it not.”

The Structure of The Ritual

The Qabalistic Cross (Steps 1-5)

With the Qabalistic Cross, you begin by aspiring to the highest concept you can imagine, by the vibration of ATEH. This is then affirmed on Earth with MALKUTH, and in the balance of forces that rule the universe, GEBURAH and GEDULAH. It is then affirmed in Eternity as LE-OLAM AMEN. You have, with the Qabalistic Cross, placed yourself at the center of the Universe, having first brought the divine presence into your heart, mind and body.

Inscribing the Pentagrams (Steps 6-10)

Next you go on to cleanse the four quarters of the Universe with pentagrams of Earth, affirming Man as the mirror of the Divine Image and with the ability to control the elements through spirit, the topmost point. The deity names are sent thundering through to the Ends of the Universe and back again. Your Magical Universe is then defined by the marking of the circle of light, another reminder of Spirit, and of Kether the Godhead, the Crown of the Tree of Life.

The drawing of the four pentagrams automatically invokes spirit, the fifth point, and so raises the microcosmic consciousness to the level of the macrocosm, having completely sealed the circle against the Outer Darkness, the World of unbalanced forces.

Invoking the Archangels of the Four Quarters (Step 11)

The Qabalistic Cross (Repeated) (Step 12)

Repeating the Qabalistic Cross

Completion (Step 13)

This step may or may not be included, it’s really a matter of preference. If used, stomping of the foot is indicative of completion, or the closing of the ritual.

Inscribing The Pentagrams

For the LBRP, only the Banishing Pentagram of Earth is used (more on the differences between Invoking and Banishing Pentagrams appears in a later section). The Pentagrams should be drawn in the air with the Magickal Weapon (see below) held in the right hand, and visualized in Blue (according to Regardie) or Fiery Red (according to Crowley). The color is your choice, but be sure to be consistent. Bring the outstretched right arm over and down to the left side, to a point in front of the body corresponding to just about the middle of the thigh. Move the arm and hand straight upwards to a point directly above the head as far as the arm will reach. Descend straight down towards the right side of the body, coming to the point in front of the right thigh that would correspond to the same point on the left side of the Pentagram. These movements will have traced a large inverted "V", about 2-3 feet high. Move the outstretched arm over towards the left to slightly above the left shoulder, as far to the left as your arm will go. Then, trace it horizontally, straight across to a point just above the right shoulder and as far as the arm went to the left, but no further, trace the line to the right. Bring the arm and hand straight down, diagonally, to connect back to where you started from. It is critically important that all lines are connected and that there are no breaks in the lines, both as drawn by the Magickal Weapon and in the visualization. After a pentagram is completed, the Magickal Weapon is to be pointed at the center of the pentagram and moved in an arc (visualized in blue) to what will be the center of the next pentagram. Upon completion of the fourth pentagram, the magician draws a final arc connecting the center of the fourth pentagram with that of the first, thereby completing the circle.

The Magickal Weapon

Initially, the index finger of the Magician’s right hand should be used to create the Pentagrams. Upon mastery of the ritual, a Wand or Dagger (a ritual dagger can also be known as an athame) may be constructed by the Magician for use in ritual work, and consecrated using the appropriate ritual.

The Meanings of The Names

The Devine names are taken from traditional qabalistic sources, and transliterated from the original Hebrew; IVHV, the Tetragrammaton (four letter name of God); ADNI, often translated as "Lord," used as a synonym for the Holy Guardian Angel; AHIH, "I Am." AGLA is an acronym of "Ateh Gibor Le-Olahm Adonai" (Thou art mighty forever my Lord). These names govern their respective Archangels; Raphael (God has healed); Gabriel (God is my strength); Michael (who is as God); and Auriel (light of God). These Archangels, in turn, then rule a host of Angels and lesser spiritual entities of the Elements.

The Vibration of The Names

The vibration of the god-names "charges" or "enlivens" the Pentagrams in the air. This is difficult to describe, but easy to recognize. There is a feeling of presence in one of these charged warding images, though not necessarily a feeling of true externality or separate intelligence. Aleister Crowley gives a detailed description of this “vibration” in Liber O, Part III, but (as is often the case with Crowley) its descriptions are rather obscure and can leave the Magician in some rather uncomfortable (and odd-looking) positions, if one can actually keep their balance.

Initially, it is not important that the Magician master the vibration of the names, as this can be a daunting task when coupled with mastery of the Ritual itself. It is recommend that the names be spoken forcefully until such time that the Magician is comfortable with the ritual, and then the vibrations may be incorporated.

1. Stand upright. Blow all the air out of your lungs. Hold your arms straight out at your sides.

2a. Close your eyes and inhale nasally, imagining that the breath is the name. The exact nature of this imagination differs from person to person. Thus, you imagine yourself inhaling the name into your lungs.

2b. As you inhale, sweep your forearms smoothly and deliberately up so that your fists rest on your temples.

3. Imagine the breath moving down through your torso slowly, and through your pelvis, your legs, and finally to the soles of your feet. (Don't do this so slowly that you are hurting for air when the name reaches your feet!)

4a. The instant the inhaled vibrational name hits the soles of your feet, imagine it rushing back up and out.

4b. Simultaneously, throw yourself forward, thrusting your left foot forward about twelve inches (or thirty centimeters) and catching yourself on it. Your hands shoot forward, together, like a diver. You bend forward at the waist so that your torso winds up parallel to the floor.

4c. The air in your lungs should be blown out through your nose at the same time, but imagine the name shooting out straight ahead.

5. Finally, withdraw into a standing position, left arm hanging at your side, right forefinger on lips, left foot pointing ninety degrees out from the body.

Steps 3-4 are known as the Sign of the Enterer, or of Horus. This symbolizes powerful active energy. The Enterer should be something of a "rush". The vibrational name is projected outwards into more tangible manifestation -- in this case, in the pentagrams of the LBR, which are charged by the force of the projected god-names.

Step 5 is called the Sign of Silence, or of Harpocrates. This Egyptian god was mistakenly believed (at the turn of the century) to pertain to silence, because his finger or thumb was touching his lips. This gesture is now believed to be a symbol of childhood; this correction appears in the World card of Crowley's "Book of Thoth" Tarot deck. Harpocrates was the god of the Sun at dawn, and so symbolizes wonder, beauty, potential, growth. So, step 5 may be done in this academically corrected light instead. However, the "hush" gesture of the Golden Dawn Sign of Silence is adequate for the modern occultist, even if deprived of A Divine Identification. It is a common gesture, at least in the European culture, meaning silence. Silence perhaps balances the ultra-active Sign of the Enterer better than does the more scholarly positive/active "Sign of Harpocrates the Rising Sun", and silence is surely no alien concept to mystics.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of The Pentagram

Take the Magickal Weapon in the right hand. Face East.

1. Touch thy forehead and say ATEH (thou art)

2. Touch thy breast and say MALKUTH (the Kingdom)

3. Touch thy right shoulder and say VE-GEBURAH (and the Power)

4. Touch thy left shoulder and say VE-GEDULAH (and the Glory)

5. Clasp thy hands before thee (with Magickal Weapon pointing up) and say LE-OLAM, AMEN (for ever)

6. Still facing East, make the pentagram in the air vibrating the name YOD HE VAU HE (YAHD HEY VAU HEY)

7. Turn to the South, make the Pentagram and vibrate the name ADONAI (AH-DOH-NEYE)

8. Turn to the West, make the Pentagram and vibrate the name AHIH (EH-YEH)

9. Turn to the North, make the Pentagram and vibrate the name AGLA (AH-GAH-LAH)

10. Return to the East and complete your circle by bringing the dagger point to the centre of the first Pentagram.

11. Stand with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and say (vibrating the names):

BEFORE ME RAPHAEL (RAH-PHYE-EHL)

BEHIND ME GABRIEL (GAH-BREE-EHL)

AT MY RIGHT HAND MICHAEL (MEE-CHYE-EHL)

AT MY LEFT HAND AURIEL (AWE-REE-EHL)

FOR ABOUT ME FLAMES THE PENTAGRAM

AND IN THE COLUMN STANDS THE SIX-RAYED STAR

12. Again make the Qabalistic Cross (Steps 1-5) as directed above.

13. Stamp your right foot to complete the operation.

Aleister Crowley's Thelemic Variation

Crowley believed that a praeter human intelligence called Aiwass (which dictated to him Liber AL vel Legis, or The Book of the Law) was in fact his Holy Guardian Angel. He eventually acknowledged AIWASS in the Quabalistic Cross portion of the Pentagram Rituals as follows:

Touching the forehead say ATEH

Touching the heart say AIWASS

Touching the genitals say MALKUTH

Touching the right shoulder say VE-GEBURAH

Touching the left shoulder say VE-GEDULAH

Clasping the hand upon the breast say LE-OLAHM, AMEN

Scheuler's Enochian Variation

Gerald and Betty Scheuler published some rather popular texts on Enochian Magick. Enochian Magic: A Practical Manual and An Advanced Guide to Enochian Magick take the rather overburdened Golden Dawn version of Enochian and make it even more burdensome, without clarifying or offering much in the way of explanation. While their works are widely discredited, and generally thought of as "hacks", for the sake of completeness, their Enochian version of the Pentagram ritual is presented as follows:

Step 1: Stand. Touch your forehead and say, "ZAH" (zod-ah).

Step 2: Touch your left breast and say, "ONDOH" (oh-doh).

Step 3: Touch your right shoulder and say, "MIH" (mee-heh).

Step 4: Touch your left shoulder and say, "BUZD" (boo-zod-deh).

Step 5: Touch both hands together on your right breast and say, "PAID" (pah-ee-deh).

Step 6: Turn to the East, trace a yellow Penta-gram of Air before you and say, "EXARP" (etz-ar-peh).

Step 7: Turn to the South, trace a red Penta-gram of Fire before you and say, "BITOM" (bee-toh-meh).

Step 8: Turn to the West, trace a blue Pentagram of Water before you and say, "HKOMA" (heh-koh-mah).

Step 9: Turn to the North, trace a black Pentagram of Earth before you and say, "NANTA" (nah-en-tah).

Step 10: Face the North, extend your arms outward to form a cross and say:

Before me, IKZHIKAL (ee-keh-zeh-hee-kal).

Behind me, EDLPRNAA (eh-del-par-nah-ah).

On my right, BATAIVAH (bah-tah-ee-vah).

On my left, RAAGIOSL (rah-ah-gee-oh-sel).

Behold, the four flaming pentagram And I alone in the midst.

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