21 June 2011

A Pentagram Ritual

I wonder whether whoever it was that wrote the original version of the Golden Dawn's 'Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram' realised just how big an impact it would have on western occultism? Practically every occult tradition, from Hermetic societies to Wicca, has its own version of it, and it is the foundation for most ritual work, being used to prepare the space at the beginning of rituals and to clear lingering forces at the end. Most sources also advocate its use as a daily practise, just to keep your mind tuned to the magickal universe.

What follows is a very basic outline for a Ritual of the Pentagram. Like many writers on Chaos Magick, I do believe it is best to devise one's own ritual, so that it is truly personal. The ritual is comprised of two basic elements: the act of tracing a pentagram towards each of the cardinal points, and the invocation of associated forces (usually associated with the four elements).

As simple as this ritual is, there is a lot of room for modification in the details, and at the very least the words ought to have personal significance.

  1. Turn to the east. Take a few deep breaths. You could imagine a fire inside you, and maybe make a small gesture signifying the beginning of the ritual, such as clapping your hands thrice.
  2. Trace a circle about you with the Pointy Thing or your finger, going anticlockwise and returning to the east, visualising it as a fiery ring. (This step is optional. As an alternative, you could picture a circle being formed as you turn to each cardinal point in the steps below.)
  3. Trace a pentagram in the air with the Pointy Thing or finger. Say a word of power which is in some way appropriate for the direction east, and/or the associated element of air. Visualise the entity associated with the word standing in front of you, if applicable.
  4. Turn to the north, trace another pentagram, saying a word of power appropriate for north and/or the element earth.
  5. Turn to the west, trace another pentagram, saying a word of power appropriate for west and/or the element water.
  6. Turn to the south, trace another pentagram, saying a word of power appropriate for south and/or the element fire.
  7. Turn back to the east. You could say another word or phrase affirming the nature of the universe.
  8. Stand still, taking deep breaths, strongly visualising the pentagrams and associated forces. This is possibly the most difficult step. It would be easy to just jump to more lines of invocation, but being quiet requires real work.

The 'four corners of the world' are subjective, of course. While east is the traditional focus in rituals, your 'east' could be any direction that feels most natural to you, whether due to the space you're working in or other personal inclinations.

The same goes for the direction of motion and the order the cardinal points are dealt with. The question of clockwise vs. anticlockwise motion is, really, arbitrary, and a matter of taste. Most traditional rituals actually progress in clockwise order, but I have my own reasoning for favouring anticlockwise motion.

Here is a sample of a ritual based on this format I have used on occasion. It is by no means the first I have devised, nor will it be the last (in fact I've already modified it since I originally wrote this post).
  1. Turn to the east.
  2. Trace a pentagram in the air with the Pointy Thing, and say: 'Eris!' 
  3. Turn to the north, trace pentagram, say: 'Nyx!'
  4. Turn to the west, trace pentagram, say: 'Mania!'
  5. Turn to the south, trace pentagram, say: 'Typhon!'
  6. Return to the east and say: 'Chaos!'
The names chosen are at once arbitrary and laden with personal meaning beyond the classical Greek concepts. Eris of course refers to Discordianism, a reminder not to ignore the humorous side of spirituality. Nyx is the personification of the night, in all it's beauty and emotion. Mania is another name for Delirium of the Endless. Besides the (obviously attractive) meaning of the name itself, she represents a link to all popular culture in general. Typhon is the 'father of all monsters', and thus represents all the spirits, demons, Great Old Ones and what not that function as the source of energy in rituals. Lastly, Chaos, in this context, I take to be almost a synonym for the multiverse itself, the unseen, unpredictable patterns that determine every action and reaction.

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