Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
Part of the Magick in Theory & Practice series.
The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (sometimes shortened to the "LBRP") is a fundamental ritual of ceremonial and Thelemic magick. It was originally taught by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn as a banishing ritual.
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From Liber O:
(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 (that of Earth)
with the proper weapon (usually the Wand). Say (i.e. vibrate) I H V H.
(vii) Turning to the South, the same, but say A D N I.
(viii) Turning to the West, the same, but say A H I H.
(ix) Turning to the North, the same, but say A G L A.
(Pronounce: Yeh-ho-vah, Ad-oh-nye, Eh-hee-eh, Ahg-lah).
(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."
- * Refer to study guide.
In certain texts after the publication of Liber O, the word "Aiwass" and a touch to the breast or solar plexus is added to the Qabalistic Cross. "Aiwass" being the name of Aliester Crowley's HGA (Holy Guardian Angel or Higher Self). Some folks substitute the name of their own HGA, or, choose to remain silent when touching or passing over this point.
There are visualizations individuals have added which are not written in Liber O.
- One is to visualize the pentagrams in flames of blue.
- Another is to visualize the Angels by specific color robes and carrying the balance (Lamed) and sword (Aleph).
- Another is a visualization which begins prior to the QBL but which continues through the end of the QBL portion of the ritual:
- Prior to the QBL, a visualization of becoming larger, and so large in fact that the earth becomes a basketball sized ball beneath ones feet.
- At which point one reaches to the star Sirius (or a preferred star), and draws the light from the star into the crown of ones head when saying 'Ateh'.
- And further draws that light down through the center of ones body to the earth below ones feet when saying 'Malkuth'.
- And across ones body from Geburah to Gedulah, creating a cross of light.
- Then focusing on the ball of light where the lines cross at ones heart center during 'le-Olahm'.
- And that one remains large during the ritual. Only to return to ones normal sized body when one performs the QBL at the end of the ritual.
- Rumor has it, the large size is to ward off any unwelcome astral guests by sheer intimidation. To also help launch ones self into ones astral body. And to assist with taking 'God-Form' (See Assumption of God-Form) (http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Assumption_of_Godforms)
- One God-Form to assume might be Harpocrates. See Commentary/Opinion below.
- The normal size QBL at the end is to integrate whatever occurred in the ritual back into ones self.
- Think of this as Alice in Wonderland getting bigger and smaller.
Crowley writes in his Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram:
- Every man has a natural fortress within himself, the Soul impregnable. ...Besides this central citadel, man also has outerworks, the Aura. ...It is the duty of every person to see that his Aura is in good condition. There are two main methods for doing this. The first is by a performance two or three times daily of the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Its main point is to establish in the Astral four Pentagrams, one in each quarter, and two Hexagrams, one above, the other below, thus enclosing the Magician, as it were, in a consecrated box. It also places in his Aura the Divine Names invoked.
Crowley considered the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to be fundamental to the student of magick:
- Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram and of the Assumption of the Form of Hoor-pa-Kraat. (Liber Aleph, De cultus)
- 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 Palace of the World)
Crowley suggests this is not a ritual just for banishing. But also invoking.
- Invoke Often. (Citation Needed)
Commentary on the QBL
The QBL, or Qabalistic Cross, is a ritual in and of itself which begins and ends the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
The QBL orients you to the elements within the body. And since the Pentagram Ritual is traced with the Right hand, it tells you that you are working on and with the Astral (Fire).
The placement of Malkuth tells you where the energy and/or effects of the ritual is either stored or manifests.
The QBL has all 5 elements within it, as it starts with spirit (Ateh).
Commentary on the Quarters
Note that the quarters are Not called directions, but are aligned to the directions during the ritual, and therefore are something different than merely a direction, but to have an association with the directions.
The directions are that of the 4 winds. Eurus, Notus, Zephyrus, and Boreas. Which have an association to the 4 bodies: Mental, Astral, Etheric and Physical. Note that Liber Resh also utilizes the directions of the 4 winds.
Commentary on Elements
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is associated with the elements. Malkuth is said to contain the four elements of the manifest universe. The subtle form of the elements correspond to the 4 rivers of Gan Eden (Garden of Eden) which stem from the river Naher in Da'ath, (Notes on Eden & Da'ath) (http://www.digital-brilliance.com/contributed/nok/q1.txt) and travel down the tree in a zig-zag pattern. (Citation needed. There is a diagram either in Liber Aba or 777 which illustrates this.) In changing the subtle, we change the dense, since the dense emanates from the subtle - "As above, so below."(Notes on Emanation Theory - a better citation is needed) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanationism)
Note: There are 4 elemental pentagrams drawn, not 5. Although the 5th is used in the Greater Pentagram Ritual. With the Lesser Pentagram Ritual, some individuals take the 5th element, the spirit, to be in the center, and referenced by the taking of the Godform of Harpocrates - associated with Kether.
Commentary on the Divine Names
Observation: All of the divine Hebrew names intoned in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram are composed of four letters.
YHVH: Yod-He-Vav-He, a 4 letter name of God (and therefore, a Divine Name). Yod~Fire, He~Water, Vav~Air, He~Earth. These can represent each of the 4 Kabbalistic Worlds in the explicit Tree of Life, or: Yod~Chokmah; He~Binah; Vav~Chesed, Giborah, Tipareth, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod; He (final) ~Malkuth of a composite tree. Which have a correspondence to Yod~Kings; He~Queens; Vav~Princes; He (final)~Princesses of the court cards of the Tarot. Note: There are other correspondences: Configurations of YHV form the planets. Permutations of YHVH form the Zodiac. (See 777. See Sepher Yetzirah) Note: YHVH is considered the microprosopus or Lesser Countenance of God, as the Tree of Life pertains to Adam.
ADNI: Adonai, meaning "lord," is the name vibrated into the pentagram traced in the south. The Divine Name Adonai is often said in place of YHVH, the latter of which is considered too holy to pronounce. Note: Some associate Adonai with the divine name of Malkuth = Adonai ha-Aretz. Others associate it with Binah. Note: There is a teaching about the 4 swords of Adonai. Note: YHVH and ADNI interlaced is IAHDVNHI.
AHIH: The name of Eheieh is vibrated after the western pentagram is drawn. Eheieh, meaning " I am," is the divine name of Kether. AHIH is the Ace or Aces of the Court Cards. And also the macroprosopus, or Adam of the Tree of Life. Note that when conjoined with YHVH, we have not only a complete tree (Kether [AHIH] + Chokmah through Malkuth [YHVH]), and a complete set of court cards (Aces [AHIH] + Kings through Princesses [YHVH]), but also a conjoining of the macro and microprosopus (AHIH interlaced with YHVH = AHIHVH). Note: The Gematria of the Divine names and of the combinations is interesting to work out.
AGLA: After the northern pentagram is drawn, the word Agla is vibrated. This is not really a word but rather a notariqon which uses the first letter of each word in a sentence to form a single word. In this case the sentence from which Agla is formed is Atah Gebur Le-Olam Adonai. This means, "Thou art great forever, my Lord," which is a powerful invocation said to have saved Lot and his family from the destruction occurring in Sodom and Gomorrah. Also Dr. John Dee Sir Edward Kelley used a symbol for AGLA which is of special note. Notice also that AGLA is used in the Greater Pentagram for the Spirit of the Passives. AGLA is also known as the power of ADNI, and the Gematria of each and of the combination is of note.
Commentary on the Arch-Angels
In the case of the LBRP the four Archangels called are in direct relation to the directions of East, West, South & North (777).
The Archangels are used in a different part of the ritual than the QBL, and of the drawing of the pentagrams and intoning of the Divine names.
You know they are Archangels since their names end in Aleph-Lamed. Therefore, carrying the sword and balance, respectively.
There is an association of the Arch Angels and also the 4 Rivers with Briah, as there is the Divine Names with Atziluth, the 4-Winds and the Kerub with Yetzirah, and the 4 Vessels or Bodies with Assiah.
There is a correspondence of Raphael with Tipareth, Uriel with Netzach (See note 15 from Crowley's "Palace of the World"), Michael with Hod, and Gabriel with Yesod. Which fits with "standing at the intersection of Samekh and Pe" - as per the Notes on the Pentagram in the back of Liber Aba. Note that when one is dealing with the Microcosm, they are said to "back into the tree" - as per Dion Fortune in her book the Mystical Qabalah.
There is also a thought of the correspondence of the Archangels to the types of light: AUR (solar), AUD (active), AUB (astral), AUTH? (latent heat). Uriel is specifically corresponded to Vrihl, or Odic/Magical Force.
It could be felt that the Arch-Angels bring into your astral body the astral versions of your own personal magical weapons. So that they may be at your disposal on the astral. And are otherwise in the care and protection of the Arch-Angels whom you have also called into your astral body to guard each quarter.
Opinion on Usage
According to Crowley's notes (above), the purpose of the LBRP is to protect the Aura, placing one in a box or body (Astral Body = Light Body = Body of Light). Being at the intersection of Samekh and Pe also denotes this is taking place in the Astral since Hod and Netzach are on the Astral Plane. (Note: Yesod is on the Etheric Plane, Malkuth on the Physical Plane, Tipareth on the Mental Plane.) The QBL orienting you to fire being on your right shoulder and the ritual being drawn with the right hand also emphasizes this is an astral ritual. (See A. E. Powell for extensive writing of the 4 bodies.) The 4 blue flaming pentagrams some say is an equilibration of Chesed (4) and Giborah (5). Which, when drawing an equilateral pentagram on the Tree of Life, points to the intersection of Samekh and Pe, ruled by Mars (Giborah) and Sagittarius [ruled by Jupiter]).
One interpretation of the 4 Quarters is the 4 bodies: Mental, Astral, Etheric, and Physical. The LBRP protecting and cleansing/clearing the bodies, whereas Liber Resh vitalizing and rejuvenating the bodies, bringing in the Solar Winds represented by the Tarot Princes of the 4 Kabbalistic Worlds (center of the 4 explicit trees), brought in through the Solar Plexus (fire of the etheric body, or Heart which is the fire [Leo] of the physical body) to be stored in your cup or grail (yesod) (Mars/Sacral Chakra of the etheric body, or Genitals [Scorpio] of the physical body). Note: The physical body is denoted by Zodiac and are represented by the Princesses in Malkuth. Whereas the etheric body is denoted by the Chakras and represented by Yesod (where Yesod is corresponded to he etheric plane). [Think of these planes on the body as the layers of the Russian dolls which are one inside the other, the central spirit being in the middle, the spirit being undivided since it is an entity (AHIH= "I am") and not a vessel.]
The Union of 5=6: How 3 points on the Tree of Life formulate a Unicursal Hexagram.
Configuration: The 3 points are each the center of 3 crosses upon which 4 pentagrams are drawn which, in turn, reveal 2 hexagrams. When the 2 hexagrams are merged, they become either side of a single Unicursal Hexagram. The center of which is the flower upon the heart. And it is in this heart that Man and God are united.
Pentagrams = 5 is the number of Geburah
Hexagrams = 6 is the number of Tipareth
5 + 6 = 11: 11 Paths on the Tree (not counting the Sephiroth), 11 a number of magic, 11 a number of Nuit, and 11 a Thelemic Number. Note: Adam's Eve came from his Rib, or the middle path of the tree of Adam Kadmon, namely Libra... which is the scales of balance. Also, see the Golden Dawn System of Initiation 5 = 6.
Point Locations -
2. Point Of Teth and Gimel: QBR
1. Point of Dalet and Gimel: Divine Names [Yod/fire]
3. Point of Samehk and Pe: Arch-Angels [Heh/water]
2. Point of Teth and Gimel: For about me flame the pentagrams, and within the column shines the six rayed star [Vav/air]
2. Point of Teth and Gimel: QBR
Point Descriptions -
Note: In the following point descriptions, as defined in the QBL, the pillar of mercy is always on your left, and the pillar of severity always on your right. Therefore, Binah, Geborah and Hod are on the right. And Chokmah, Chesed, and Nezach on the left.
Point of Dalet and Gimel: From the supernals, facing down the tree with Kether to your back, binah on your right, and chokmah on your left you utter the divine names. YHVH (Tipareth) is in front of you. ADNI (Binah) is to your right. AHIH (Kether) is behind you. AGLA (Chokmah) is on your left. The Divine names are Vibrated. This is Da'ath. Or, the Throat which with the firey word of God vibrates the Names.
Point of Samehk and Pe: From the lower part of the tree, facing up the tree as if the tree is reversed or upside down, with Yesod to your back, Tipareth in front, Hod on your right, and Netzach on your left. The Angels are Called. Or, the point between the hips where lies the graal.
Point of Teth and Gimel: This creates a cross from Kether to Yesod, and Chesed to Geburah. 5=6 and the pentagrams and hexagrams are realized. Also, the center of the QBL, where ones HGA is considered.
- The upwards pentagram of Yod/Astral Body has its point in Kether.
- The upwards pentagram of Vau/Mental Body has its point in Da'ath.
- The downwards pentagram of He/Etheric Body has its point at Samekh and Pe.
- The downwards pentagram of He-Final/Physical Body has its point at Yesod.
When these 4 pentagrams are drawn on the Tree of Life, they reveal 2 hexagrams. (Draw them and know!)
When one folds these two hexagrams together, they become either side of a Unicursal Hexagram. The flower in the middle is Tipareth at the heart.
The Folding -
At both points, Dalet & Gimel as well as Samekh and Pe, you are facing Tipareth. This is a clue! (Work out the folding of the pentagrams and hexagrams on top of each other with pencil to paper as best you can. Use some imagination to visualize.)
Another way of looking at this... is as a form of the magical formulae.
- (Liber Aba: Magic in Theory and Practice - The Formulae of the Elemental Weapons.) (http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/aba/chap2.htm) Starting with the '3rd Method' "This consists of a real identification of the magician and the god..."
- Whereupon God speaks to the magician (from Dalet and Gimel), and the Magician speaks to God (Samekh and Pe), and the two become one (Teth and Gimel).
- Uniting Man and the Divine in the Heart.
- Which is, the Union Theory of the LBRP.
- Greater Ritual of the Pentagram
- Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram
- Greater Ritual of the Hexagram
- Rituals of Thelema
- Assumption of Godforms
Links of interest
- Liber O (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/libero.html)
- The Palace of the World. (http://www.hermetic.com/sabazius/palace_world.htm)
- Crowley, Aleister. (1997). Magick: Book 4. 2nd ed. "Liber O." York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- ___. (1997). Magick: Book 4. 2nd ed. "Notes on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram." York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- ___. (1974). Collected Works of Aleister Crowley. "The Palace of the World." Chicago, IL : Yoga Publication Society.
- ___. (1991). Liber Aleph vel CXI : the Book of Wisdom or Folly. York Beach, Me. : S. Weiser.
- Frater Chanokh. The Stone of the Wise: A Study of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.
- The Middle Pillar. 3rd ed. by Israel Regardie Llewellyn Publications
- 777 And Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley York Beach ME. : Weiser, LLC