Mishkan ha-Echad

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram Analysis, Part 1

The LRP (Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram), in both its invoking and banishing forms, is the primary ritual employed by Golden Dawn magicians and comprised almost the entirety of traditional Outer Order magic (the rest being left for Portal and Inner Order). It was given to the newly initiated Neophyte 120 years ago, and is probably the most commonly used ritual in the magical community today, utilised by thousands inside and outside the Golden Dawn sphere.

But what exactly does it do?

"It invokes or banishes," is the simple and limited answer, but this only explores one aspect of the ritual; and even if we were to merely explore this, what does it invoke or banish, and how?

First, let us look at the pentagram itself, the signet-star of the ritual. It is a star of five points (penta = five), which is most often depicted as referring to the four elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) and the quintessence, the fifth "element" of Spirit. Spirit is dominant when the pentagram is upright, while matter is dominant if the point of the pentagram is facing down. In this ritual the point is upwards, and thus it refers to the rulership of Spirit over Matter, of the Higher Self over the Lower Self, the Ruach over the Nephesh, and so forth.

Thus, when we draw the pentagram in all four quarters, we affirm to ourselves our goal of raising our consciousness to our Higher Self, of invoking Spirit, and removing the dominion of our soul from the hands of the ego into the hands of our ressurected spiritual Self. Indeed, this is no mere reminder, for the act of drawing it is both a meditation and a practical imprinting of this dynamic symbol in the aura, for as we draw it in all four quarters on a daily basis, we constantly plant the symbol in our Sphere of Sensation, which effectively mirrors what the Heirophant does (implanting symbols, etc. in the aura) in the various initiation ceremonies.

Therefore, the LRP is a form of initiation (or in the case of those who have received their 0=0 it is the gradual unveiling of what occurred in their initiation). What does it initiate? It initiates the raising up of the student to higher levels of consciousness. It initiates the cleansing of the student's Sphere of Sensation, by eliminating excess energy, negative and unproductive astral and emotional "junk", and the impulses and desires of the Lower Self, while invoking the Light, the Higher Self, the Archangels, and, of course, God (who is embodied in this Light). It initiates the transformation of the student into his or her Higher Self, a slow and gradual process, but a vital and necessary one.

But this is but one aspect of the five-pointed star, for it does not only refer to the elements ruled by Spirit, but to Geburah, the fifth Sephirah on the Tree of Life, known in summary as "Severity". This is a martial Sephirah (attributed to Mars), and thus signifies combat. Geburah represents the severe, sometimes "harsh", aspect of God, and therefore it is employed here to impart extra martial force to the ritual, granting it the necessary power and divine authority to banish whatever the magician sees fit (albeit, within reason). The potency of Geburah is not to be used lightly, and is often ignored or barely employed by magicians using the LRP, but it is there should they need it, affording the pentagram a kind of "backup" role as both a shield and sword, all of which lies as an instrinsic quality within the LRP as a whole. This also applies to the invoking form, creating a container for the energy and a barrier from unwanted energy while the invocation takes place.

Geburah is also seen, in certain traditions of the Qabalah, as the root Sephirah of evil. Thus, in order to banish evil (as we might need to do from time to time), it makes sense to employ a geometric figure applicable to this Sephirah. It is also related to the letter Heh, the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which is often employed on an amulet called a Chamsah or Hamsa (see here), detailing a hand (five fingers) and utilised as protection against the "evil eye" and other negative forces. Thus, again the number five is employed for protective purposes, further reinforcing its nature within the LRP.

There are many more aspects to this ritual, however, some of which will be explored in future posts. For now, however, it is wise to consider Crowley's words:

"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."
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