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Thursday, 24 January 2013

In Defence of the Lesser Invoking Pentagram

I have had a few comments about the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram use being overstated.  It has been something I have been saying for ages.  Below is an article published in the Hermetic Virtues Magazine Volume 2, Issue 3.


The lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram is considered the most important ritual of the Golden Dawn, in that it has been borrowed by almost every magical order in the last 120 years. Along with its chum, the cabbalistic cross, it is performed before every ritual. But have we made a mistake? What if it is NOT the lesser banishing ritual that is the most important, but the INVOKING one?



When we look at the Golden Dawn, we assume that the original adepts got it all right and that the things we know and love about the Golden Dawn were there in the first place. Yet study of Golden Dawn history and texts has revealed the original Golden Dawn was nowhere near as complete as later developments. Things that are happening in modern Golden Dawn orders are a lot more magical and interesting than anything Westcott and Mathers dreamed up but since the lines between the past Golden Dawn orders are cut, we often miss something important from the past that is staring directly in our face.

In my previous papers on the Lesser Banishing Ritual, I was looking at its use in terms of the Sphere of Sensation and the 0=0 ritual. I had come to the conclusion that the LBRP was a microcosmic re-enactment of the 0=0, which, if performed daily, would instill that important initiation's symbols into the Sphere of Sensation. However, there was a flaw in this idea and that was the concept of banishing. Why would you need to banish all the time? True, the 0=0 ritual is about a four-fold purification and consecration but there is also the connection with the divine forces that is the opposite of a banishing.

The breakthrough came when I was talking with a very experienced magician who is not connected with the Golden Dawn tradition. She flippantly said that one of the problems she had with the GD tradition was that it was "banishing, banishing, banishing all the time. If you keep doing that you will have nothing left!" She believed that the Golden Dawn was told to do an LBRP before every ritual (which the modern Golden Dawn does). But was this true?

For years I had known that the Golden Dawn had an invoking ritual of the pentagram, but had never actually used it. So I wanted to find out what the original GD used – an invoking pentagram? – and I went back to the original instructions and knowledge papers to find out.

Surprisingly, the rituals of the pentagram papers for the outer order were consistent since the beginning to the closure of Whare Ra but what I saw when I read them was something I didn't expect. For years, like many people, I had assumed that I knew the banishing ritual of the pentagram, so didn't actually read the paper other than to check that I was saying the same words as everyone else in the order. Looking at it with fresh eyes, it revealed some things I didn't know. Firstly, the ritual described is called the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram – not the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Secondly, the knowledge paper does not describe the banishing ritual at all.

"Make in the air towards the East the invoking(1) PENTAGRAM as shown, bringing the point of the dagger to the centre of the pentagram…."

The banishing ritual gets an aside in the last paragraph of the paper; "For Banishing use the same Ritual, but reversing the direction of the lines of the Pentagram."

The first thing that crossed my mind was that the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram was considered much less important than its invoking cousin and is simply a footnote. This is the complete opposite of received wisdom.

The next thing that was clear is that the invoking pentagram was different from the method that the modern GD teaches to do the banishing pentagram. In the modern GD, the divine name is projected into the pentagram using the sign of the enterer at the point that the name is vibrated. This is not described in the knowledge paper,where the divine names are placed in the invoking pentagram with a dagger. The implication is that a banishing ritual of the pentagram would be carried out the same way. So where did the idea of a projection sign with the pentagram come about?

In a second paper for neophytes, The Uses of the Pentagram Ritual, the projection sign is mentioned. The neophyte is instructed to imagine an image of an obsession and project it "out of your aura (sic) with the saluting sign of a neophyte and when it is about three feet away, prevent its return with the sign of silence." The lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram is then performed to dissolve it.

This a minor point, but it certainly indicates that modern GD groups do their Lesser Pentagrams a slightly different way from the original order. This is fine, as the reasons used, i.e. the outwards projection of energy using the divine names, are valid and are an enhancement of the original idea.

Another GD paper suggests that a neophyte should use the banishing ritual at night and the invoking one in the morning. I assume that was because the banishing ritual would enable you to sleep better!

However, it is also clear that, other than the reference to getting rid of obsessions, the banishing ritual is not any more important than the invoking one. Indeed, when the paper talks about using the lesser ritual of the pentagram to enhance visualisation skills, it is talking about the invoking and not the banishing.

Call ye Aszbel for the delivery of fine Pizza 
Let us look at the other witness. Now, while I still think Aleister Crowley is the most over-rated magician since Paul Daniels, he is a valid historical resource about what he was taught about the 'LBP'. His take on the ritual, which says that the little ritual is the key to everything magical, appears in Magic without Tears but fails insofar as it is not clear whether it is to the banishing or to the invoking that he refers. The fact that he refers to the rite by its traditional name of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram probably means that he is referring to the invoking pentagram rather than the banishing.

The only other reference we have to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is in inner order documents, where it points out that they work because they are have similarities to the Earth pentagrams of the inner order (They are not Earth pentagrams because they are not opened by spirit or have the sign of an Ox in them.)

"This lesser ritual of the pentagram is only of use in general and unimportant invocations. Its use is permitted to the outer order that neophytes may have protection against opposing forces and might have some idea how to attract and come into communication with spiritual and invisible things."

So now we have some idea of how the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is supposed to be used by those in the outer order and how it is just as important to use the invoking pentagram as it is the banishing one.

The banishing is designed to protect by repelling the sphere of sensation from lower astral nasties and connecting the person to their higher self. It can be used to remove those parts of your personality, such as habits, that you do not want.

However, the invoking ritual is just as important to this process. The invoking allows you to bring things into your life that you want and brings about your connection with spiritual forces. In other words, the banishing ritual of the pentagram is the purification and consecration aspects of the 0=0 ceremony, while the invoking ritual mirrors those aspects of the 0=0 which draw your higher self to you.

In the 0=0 ceremony, the candidate starts with their sphere of sensation so black that it is impossible to see the four pillars of their sphere of sensation. During the four-fold purification process the aura is cleared. However, the candidate is also exposed to spiritual forces represented by the visible and invisible godforms. The danger, then, of just doing lesser banishing pentagrams is that you would not be drawing these forces to you.

Recently a person who came into contact with a temple I know said that he had been performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of Pentagram every day for 15 years and had felt it had not got him anywhere. It was suggested by the head of a temple that he try the invoking pentagram instead and suddenly everything changed for him. He started making the spiritual and material progress he craved.

So it is clear that the obsession with the banishing pentagram needs to be tempered by the same amount of use as the invoking one. In fact, as a spiritual practice, they should be used at least on a 50/50 ratio with the emphasis being on the invoking.

Angelic guardians are all very well, provided that you
Do not blink!
The question, then, becomes how this can be done when we are trained to perform a banishing ritual as a form of protection before all our workings, including meditation. Well, the answer lies in what the LRP actually does. The GD material implies that both the invoking and the banishing provide protection, by virtue of the divine names, the angels and the pentagrams and the fact that the six rayed star is placed in your aura.

When you are drawing your spiritually-empowered pentagrams and calling up your angelic guardians, you are saying that you are human and manifest the elements of Spirit, Fire, Air, Water and Earth. You are asserting the dominance of spirit over the elemental nature. You are binding this statement into a magic circle, powered by the divine energy of your higher self. This is most of the protection you need. This divine force spiritualises the room so that anything that does not operate on that frequency cannot get in. All you need to do is to tune your sphere to either throwing things away or drawing things towards you.

The banishing protects you from internal and external harm when you need it. If you are being attacked by the denizens of hell, you would use the banishing ritual to get rid of them. If you aren’t, you don’t need it. The likelihood of the forces of darkness being interested in the first magics of a 0=0 is incredibly low, although it is possible that your own shadow might cause them a few headaches, so you might end up using a banishing more often than you think.

If you want to attract an angel, you would use the invoking one before your working. So if you were doing your general daily meditation, you would perform the invoking pentagram ritual because you would want to gain information. However, if you were meditating on your own shortcomings, you would do a banishing, because you would want to get rid of something inside you. If you were doing a middle pillar exercise, it would be an invoking pentagram because you would want to draw the powers of those divine names to you.

Besides drawing other forces to you, the Invoking Pentagram has a direct effect on the person performing it. Rather than becoming 'guardians' and 'protectors', the Angels and divine names work differently when you perform an invoking pentagram. What you are doing is drawing their energies into your sphere of sensation. Over a period of time this would have a tremendous positive effect on the person's spiritual life.

If you are actually on the moon, do you banish or invoke?
While there is something to be said for the GD's morning and afternoon alternating invoking and banishing rituals, it my opinion it would be better to do one ritual in the morning independent of any other rituals or meditations you might perform. This ritual would be guided by the phase of the moon. So you would do a banishing on a waning moon and an invoking on a waxing moon. You could then divide your magical programme into things you want to get rid of, in the waning moon, and things you want in your life in the waxing moon.

It also begs another question. Before each working, the temples of the modern orders of the Golden Dawn perform a Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to protect the working. Since we have seen that the working would be protected by either the invoking or the banishing, it might be time to re-think this idea. It might be that the invoking is more appropriate.

Our modern orders have in many ways moved forward but perhaps it is time that the Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram was restored to its former glory and becomes the subject for more experimentation.

(1) Emphasis is mine.


25 comments:

  1. I like this a lot. I did the LBRP for four or five years running, and felt like all it did was separate me from people and from my work. It worked on me at a time when nearly everything was being taken away.

    So I stopped. And gradually things have filtered back in. But not fast, by any means.

    So I think I'm going to try LIRP for a while, and see what happens.

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  2. Very enlightening post. Was not aware of this, namely that the original Order didn't put any more emphasis on the Banishing LRP as it did on Invoking LRP.
    Just curious, the papers you looked at - were they all Whare Ra, or were some British SM or even AO?

    Also, when you say: "When you are drawing your spiritually-empowered pentagrams and calling up your angelic guardians, you are saying that you are human and manifest the elements of Spirit, Fire, Air, Water and Earth."
    - surely that wouldn't be the case if the LRP is essentially non-elemental in nature (unlike the GIRP/GBRP and the SIRP / SBRP, which are elemental)?

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  3. The papers were from the AO, GD and SM and no if you are not told the points of the pentagram you just know that the pentagram generally means four elements plus spirit.

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    1. Thanks. The thing is too, even in the banishing form there is still invoking - but of course that is the invoking of the Archangels by visualizing their presence and calling their names. And also the six-rayed star is also invoked. Essentially we invoke positive energy to banish negative energy. Banishing and Invoking appear to bear a Yin-Yang relationship to each other in that sense- as inter-dependent complements.

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  4. Great Article. Explained very succinctly. :)

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  5. Hi - great post, Nick.

    I will admit I have probably been too quick to focus on the LBRP in the past with my students. I guess it comes from many of them coming initially with a bit of baggage from various reasons. Over the years as I have helped students, I have had to say "invoke as well as banish". People tend to get too banishment focused for sure and invoking is needed for all sorts of reasons.

    Thanks...will look into this a bit more. Also, did you see how this post earned you being called (sarcastically) a "Golden Dawn guru" by one of the past bigger players? :) Have fun

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  6. I love the content -- how do I join an actual, physical chapter of the GD, assuming they exist? Not interested in an online program but would love to join a lodge, etc. Many thanks for any guidance.

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  7. Hi Druff yes they exist but you have to be very careful which one you pick because they are a mixed quality. Some of them have been formed by people who have picked up a copy of Regardie and dont really add much to it. Others are quite good and work really hard. It is just a matter of searching and asking the right questions.

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  8. The whole idea of balance is stressed heavily in the Golden Dawn, and was done so since the beginning. We see this in the Neophyte Ceremony (and the Elemental Grades as well) and we clearly see it in the teachings. The LRP being the ritual primarily given out in all the original Orders. As Nick points out, these papers are essentially the same in the original Orders (what you read in Regardie's "The Golden Dawn" in the First Knowledge Lecture concerning the LRP (which is from the SM) is primarily the same as what was handed out at Isis-Urania.

    The Two Contending Forces and one that Reconciles them. Banishing and Invoking are the contending forces in the life of the beginning magician (and the advanced magician as well), the Reconciling Force between these two is the Spiritual Nature which helps balance and elevate the practitioner to the Higher Aspirations of their Soul.

    @Druff - Nick's advice is very good in regards to being careful which group you choose to work with based on the quality of their teachings. Always, Always, research in depth any organization that you have a mind to join. Those that claim to be the holders of the only truth and the one true way are those groups that should be dealt with in caution.

    Ask questions about the group(s). Find out all that you can before you commit yourself to any organization.

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  9. Great text.

    I was wandering should one do 4 LPR (invoking each element separately) or the ritual should be done using the proper elemental invoking form of the pentagram associated to the side of the word and combining them into one ritual? Or should one just use the invoking Ritual of Earth?

    Any guidance you can give me is greatly appreciated.

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  10. The Lesser ritual is not elemental (http://nickfarrell.eu/nick-farrell-banishing-ritual-of-the-pentagram.html) it is directional, so you just do four pentagrams. The Supreme Ritual is, and that involves the use of active and passive spirit pentagrams to control the elemental force at the four directions.

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    1. Have been doing banishing rituals, would like to start invoking, Right now the moon is waning do I still only do the the banishing ritual and wait until the moon is waxing... or can I start with invoking and when my ritual is complete close it with the banishing exercise..and .Is this the Standard for everyday???

      Your help is greating appreciated :)

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  11. No you just do the invoking instead of the banishing... unless a demon is coming at your throat... then the banishing is more appropriate. I cant see how the moon thing was ever a good idea.

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  12. So invoking ritual....only for Day, then in the evening should I close it with a banishing ritual to keep the energies at bay?

    Again many thanks

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  13. No dont be frightened of Archangels and divine names... calling on them does not unbalance the world... in fact the world needs more light. Basically what i am saying is that the GD used the invoking ritual all the time and only the banishing when they were in strange space and needed to clear it before hand or if something nasty was coming for them. Getting people out of the "must banish" mindset is a little tricky.

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  14. Thank you....need to join this group...:)

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  15. Thank you for this article Nick.

    I have been practicing the LBRP, LBHR, MP, LBRP succession daily for several months. When I first began to do the LBRP, there were immediate and noticeable changes in my life. Not huge, but noticeable. Several situations that had been frozen for quite some time all of a sudden all began some movement. It trailed off rather quickly, but things seem more balanced to me. I especially feel more balanced and quiet of spirit.

    My question is, how can I work this information into my daily practice? Should I simply replace banishing with invoking?

    Unfortunately I need to remain anonymous for posting here.

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    1. I would... Generally I only do the banishing when I want something to go away, which is not that often.

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  16. Also, in researching the LBRP to gain some more knowledge on the ritual, I cam across this link - http://hermetic.com/osiris/nbrp.htm

    The author describes the piece as "In this essay I will identify these inconsistencies or “blinds” and correct them to formulate a logical, perfected version of the LBRP"

    If you have the time, could you view this article and comment? I'd like to know if the points are valid and should be considered, or if they are wrong, and why they are wrong. At first glance, this looks to be heavily influenced by Crowley, but I am not sufficiently versed to know if this is the case or not.

    Thank you.

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    1. I don't wish to be hyper critical but I don't like it at all. Some of the things which "need to be corrected" should not be there in the first place. They reflect a misunderstanding of what the pentagram is about. Secondly it appears to be an attempt to make the LRP more compatible with the author's thelemic beliefs. " It would make much more sense (especially in light of the New Aeon) for the magician to identify himself with that light considering that he is establishing himself (not God) as the center of the Universe in this ritual." Yeah because you want to make yourself the centre of the universe and not god don't you?" "Amen is exchanged for IAO, a solar formula of resurrection associated with Tiphareth" Amen is a divine name of Kether and it closes the energy loop of the cross by returning it to its source.
      ". While the original version instructs the magician to touch the breast when saying Malkuth, modern magicians often touch the groin at this point in the ritual. The latter method makes more sense, as it fully extends the cross of light over the whole body. Also, while the groin is given to the sephira Yesod, it is much closer to the feet where Malkuth resides. The crossbars of the cross of light are visualized as extending into infinity" If a modern magician is touching their groin at this point they have it wrong. Touching the lower breast sets up a resonance to Malkuth in the same way that touching the forehead sets up a resonance with the crown centre. Touching the breast creates a flow straight down to Malktuth while the groin opens up yesod and makes the astral forces your malkuth.
      The article says we should be doing our banishing circles anti-clockwise in fact that does not fit into the 0=0 (which the LRP is based on). The banishing is to do with the consecration and purification aspects of the 0=0 while the invoking is to do with the invocation of the higher self. All these things are done while the temple is going clockwise. You only use the anti-clockwise circumambulation to shut down. Going anti-clockwise would drive the circle closer to the earth or the Qlippoth depending how good you are.
      The article makes the classic assumption that the pentacles are elemental and then says these are wrong. He assumes that you are banishing the element, when you clearly are not.
      "Four four-letter Hebrew god names are used as words of power to charge the pentagrams: YHVH in the East, ADNI in the South, AHIH in the West, and AGLA in the North. Yet three of the four god-names are clearly associated with the element in the opposite quarter in which they is vibrated. This confusion of the god-names is the fourth blind of the LBRP." If the pentacles are not elemental (which they are not) then there is nothing wrong with distributing the names of god in this fashion.
      He claims that YHVH does not work well with the other names in the circle and suggests Eloah instead because this is the password of the 3=8. While that is a silly reason to change it, he does not change the other names to their more elemental passwords.
      Generally I find that when people say that something is "blinded" they are wrong. There is sometimes a typo, or the original writer intended it to be that way. The paper, although interesting, suggests that the writer has not seen the LRP in the context of the Golden Dawn teaching and structure, but rather through the eyes of something like OTO. In my view if the LRP is done this way it would create a self-obsessed person who sees their ego at the centre of the universe and who stoops down to the darkly splendid void to banish. This pentagram might work and do some good within an OTO or AA context but it would not within a GD working.

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  17. Wow, thank you for the insight. I had the idea that if the written LBRP had that much wrong with it, folks would have exposed the issues with it long ago.

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  18. Thank you for your post; it has blown the portion of my mind dedicated to the LRP and made me reconsider my daily practice.

    I re-read Crowley's "Notes on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram" and the only dis-balance towards banishing I could see was a recommendation to do the banishing ritual two or three times a day to keep the aura in good condition. I suppose this could lead to some students doing lots of banishing and not bothering with invoking (because that would mean even more rituals per day). Nowhere does he say not to do the invoking. Even his praise of the ritual says "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." So when he talks about the ritual, he means both invoking and banishing. Even in Liber Aleph verse 16, it is "Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram, and of the Assumption of the Form of Hoor-pa-Kraat." Again, no emphasis on banishing.

    This has been an important lesson in questioning one's assumptions and reading more carefully. It's easy to see what's there, but harder to see what's not there (i.e. the word "banishing").

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  19. So i have been practicing the LIRP for about 2 weeks now. And i have noticed that it is important that you should balance both of the rituals. Because over extensive use of said rituals gave me negative effects and sensations. The LBRP made me feel very cut off from reality. But made me feel like a living GOD!
    The LIRP made me feel much more ''balanced'' in reality but made me feel utterly lazy and bored out of my mind for some reason. Plus my emotions didn't flow that well into my heart chakra. BUT! I DID enjoy the sensations first time i practiced with it simple because it was a bit different.
    To be honest, i just casted my Lesser BANISHING ritual of the pentagram 10 minutes ago. And i'm already starting to feel the amazing god like feelings the ritual gives. Along with the unconditional love and happiness i cannot describe.
    As i stated above though, i believe that balance should be kept between rituals. Whatever you practice that is. So energy can transmute and change within your body.

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  20. I would look at why telling things to fuck off makes you feel godlike and receiving unconditional love and invoking forms higher than you makes you feel balanced lazy and bored. I am not hassling you, just pointing out that the different power has different effects on the ego and you need to look at this carefully as part of any magical experiment.

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    1. Hey, i'm back again. And after a month or so of repeated use of the LIRP i have noticed how incredibly fast i progressed. And the speed of thought at which i process things...But for some reason the LBRP just soothes me and calms me down when the LIRP just aggravates me nowadays. It could be psychic disturbances and a necessary banishing was needed. But i certainly noticed the difference between the two rituals. I beat the whole ''laziness'' feeling and i overcame many obstacles with the LIRP by repeated use, even my empathy increased and my intuition became much deeper and vast.

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