By John Snead
Ceremonial magick has a long and rich history and can be a wonderful tool for pagans to learn. A number of excellent books such as Donald Michael Kraig's Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts: Llewellyn, 1991 provide excellent introductions to this field of study and practice. There is only one problem with most Western ceremonial magick - it has been heavily influenced by Christianity. The names of biblical angels, and Hebrew names for the Christian god are used in almost every ritual. I'm not Christian - saying the Hebrew names of the Christian god does not feel like a natural part of ritual magick for me. Also, since I do not worship these beings, using their names in ritual seems rather disrespectful. Looking to the older rituals found in the Hermetic Corpus, which often involve Greco-Egyptian deities is one answer. Another, which I will discuss here, is trying to understand the ritual so that you can modify it into a more comfortable form. One of the best Golden Dawn rituals for regular practice is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. This ritual is a wonderful way of banishing all negative influences from your life. It can, and often should be done several times a week, daily if possible. In looking at the ritual it seemed to me to be based on balancing yourself with respect to the four elements. When drawing pentacles at the four quarters I have replaced the names Hebrew names of god with the four elements. This change brings the ritual in line with standard Wiccan practice and focuses one what I see as the basic nature of the ritual. Later, when calling upon the angels of the four quarters I have replaced the angels with four deities associated with the appropriate element. This part of the ritual involves calling upon the strength of a being associated with each of the appropriate directions. Instead of angels I have used deities, for me at least, feels like a change which keeps the initial intent of the ritual. I have used Celtic deities, but you can use any deities who are associated with the appropriate elements. The Wiccan Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP)
6) Move your left foot out to your left and visualize another beautiful blue pentacle around you, outlining your body. Intone: FOR AROUND ME FLAMES THE PENTAGRAM
7) Visualize a six rayed solar disk within you, where your heart is. Intone: AND WITHIN ME SHINES THE SIX-RAYED STAR
2) Bring finger/dagger and the light down your body, until your hand is at your groin, and the finger/dagger is pointing to the ground and intone: TO EARTH Visualize a pillar of light running down your body, and down into the earth.
3) Bring the blade you your right shoulder, the light goes from the center of your body out to the right, past your right shoulder, extending out into the universe. Focus on this light and intone: ALL
4) Move the blade horizontally to your left shoulder, the light now extends to the left, unto infinity. Focus on this light and intone: IS YOURS
5) Clasp your hands as if praying, dagger point up. Visualize within your chest, at the point covered by your hands a golden glow. Intone: FOREVER
Stand there and feel how you energy has been cleansed and renewed. The Pagan Middle Pillar Ritual The Middle Pillar Ritual is another Golden Dawn Ritual that is commonly performed after the LBRP, to enhance both personal vitality and spiritual sensitivity. This ritual also involves the chanting of angel names. However, when looked at in detail, it also appeared to be essentially another elementally-based ritual. Here is the version I created and use. (When you intone the words, feel the appropriate part of your body vibrate too.)Stand with your feet slightly apart, with your arms close at your sides.
I) Focus your attention just above the top of your head. Visualize a sphere of brilliant white light floating there. This is the divine, your link to your higher self. As your realize this the ball should increase in brightness. Intone: SPIRIT 3 or 4 times and feel the sphere pulse with energy.
II) Now visualize a slender beam of light descending through the center of your head, and stopping at the nape of your neck. Here the beam widens into a ball of light, smaller than the one above, with the beam of light connecting the two. Realize this is the link between consciousness, and your higher self, and the ball should increase in brightness. Intone: AIR 3 or 4 times and feel the sphere pulse with energy. Visualize wind or air as you intone this word..
III) Keeping the above, cause a beam of light to descend from the ball of light at your neck, go down into your torso, and light up the solar plexus in the form of a sphere. Understand this represents your consciousness, and the ball should increase in brightness. Intone: FIRE 3 or 4 times. Visualize a bright hot fire as you intone this word.
IV) In the same manner, see the ball of light descend into the area of your genitals and form a sphere. Here, regard yourself as the master of your "lower" self, your emotions and feelings. Intone: WATER 3 or 4 times and feel the sphere pulse with energy. Visualize a lake or other large body of water as you intone this word.
V) Again the light should descend, here to form a sphere which covers both the ground and your feet. This is your grounding and your connection to the earth. Intone: EARTH 3 OR 4 times and feel the sphere pulse with energy. Visualize a deep cave or a large mountain as you intone this word.
VI) At this point there should be large spheres of light above your head, at your throat, solar plexus, groin, and feet. A single beam of light should connect all of these spheres
VII) Start at the top and go down, vibrating Spirit, Air, Fire, Water, Earth, as you pulse energy through each sphere in turn and through the beam/pillar connecting them. Repeat this step two or three times until the spheres and the pillar both feel solid and secure.
VIII) Stay in this state as long as you desire, then take a deep breath, and as you exhale visualize the images fading and becoming invisible. They are still there, but they cannot be seen now.
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