Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

“Neglect not the Performance of the Ritual of the Pentagram”

            --Aleister Crowley, Liber Aleph

In a footnote attached to his poem “The Palace of the World,” Aleister Crowley writes of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, “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.”
These are no idle words: the LBRP – as it is affectionately called – is nothing less than a symbolic representation of the Great Work, a representation of the path to accomplish that Work, and a practical means of setting oneself on the path that the ritual represents (generating a state of mind conducive to the Work).

The emphasis, of course, has to be on the phrase “properly understood” above. Clearly, the improper understanding of the ritual is that it is “a mere device to invoke or banish spirits.”
Remember, Crowley writes in the introduction to Magick in Theory and Practice – his most well-known work on the subject of magick:

The sincere student will discover, behind the symbolic technicalities of this book [i.e. behind the symbols of ritual magick], a practical method of making himself a Magician. The processes described will enable him to discriminate between what he actually is, and what he has fondly imagined himself to be.

In doing so, Crowley identifies the practice of magick with the heart of Thelema, distinguishing between the True Self and the false thoughts of the mind. And it is the “symbolic technicalities” of ceremonial magick that conceal a “practical method” that enable “discriminat[ion]” between the True Self and false.
That being the case, it behooves us to study some of these “symbolic technicalities” with an eye on attempting to discern this “practical method” and how it works.

The LBRP makes a perfect test case for examining whether ceremonial magick conceals such practical methods behind its symbolic technicalities. After all, the LBRP is among the first – if not the first – formal ritual practice engaged in by most students.
And just a note: it should go without saying that what I’m about to present is my personal take on this particular ritual. Obviously, different practitioners will have slightly different ways to perform the ritual, different visualizations, and different attributions. Readers are advised to experiment with this ritual and come up with their own ways of working.

With that caveat out of the way, it is my intention in this post to turn my attention to the LBRP and examine the way it symbolizes and enacts the Great Work. Indeed, the Great Work is nothing more than the LBRP writ large.

The text of the LBRP is deceptively simple:

(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."

The Qabalistic Cross

This part of the ritual – which can function as a mini-ritual on its own – is fully described in an excellent essay by Erwin Hessle (which you can read here)
To his essay, I can only add a few points. The first point is to emphasize one of Erwin’s: before the rite begins, you are to imagine yourself growing to towering proportions until the earth is a tiny ball beneath your feet.

In performing this ritual, I always carry this “expansion” to extremes, imagining myself expanding past the reaches of the stars until the Milky Way galaxy was a dot beneath my feet.
Don’t rush this part of the ritual: try to really imagine the sense of scale, and let the sheers sizes involved overwhelm you. If you’ve ever seen the video "The Power of Ten" – popular in American high school science classes – you might recall it as a means of jump-starting your imagination here.

The point is to completely leave behind your normal consciousness, your normal concerns, and generate a feeling of Indifference comparable to that of the universe: you are expanding into the Body of Nuit.
The drawing of the cross itself is very straightforward, with the words “vibrated” and thereby directed at the appropriate body part. Note that the right shoulder is touched first when Geburah is intoned – you are thus identifying yourself with the Tree of Life: the Tree is superimposed over your body and you are “one” with the Tree and with the universe (and thus with “God” – heavy scare quotes around this term: as we will see, the “God Names” of this ritual refer to the True Self of the practitioner, not to some separate being).

Note also that some versions of the QC have you point to your feet when you intone “Malkuth.” Others have you touch your chest. In both cases, you imagine the light descend to your feet. Touching your chest, however, affirms a connection between Tipareth and Malkuth. Try it both ways and see what you like.
Just before the final phrase, the “bars” of this cross are imagined extending out into the universe in each direction, uniting the individual with the infinite possibilities of Nuit and placing the individual at the center of the universe.

You should attempt to really *feel* the immensity of this, which should dwarf even the sensation of “expansion.” You are now one with the universe, one with the blueprint of the universe (the Tree), expanding beyond the universe into infinity: the physical universe really is dust under your feet, and you have moved completely outside of the normal way of looking at the world.
You are now ready to draw the pentagrams.

The Pentagrams

The five points of a pentagram represent the four elements and the fifth element, “quintessence” or “spirit.” The four elements are attributed to the four cardinal directions (East = air, South = fire, West = water, North = earth). Quintessence is attributed to the center of the circle.
Each element signifies a different aspect of an individual.

Fire signifies will, the preferences of an individual that prompt one’s movements through space. Water signifies love, the uniting of the individual with a willed object (also known as experience).
Fire and Water are two sides of a coin: love needs will to give it direction, and we can only define will in terms of the objects towards which it inclines.

The union of fire and water produces air and earth:
Air represents the mind (and the intellect and the reason), whose job it is to interpret will and love. Earth represents the physical world upon which the other elements operate: it is the job of the mind to figure out how best to manifest fire and water upon earth.

In another sense, these elements can represent the path of initiation: the individual begins as earth (attributed to Malkuth) and unites with his or her HGA (attributed to air, Tipareth and the surrounding sephiroth). The HGA carries the individual to the Throne of the Mother (attributed to water in its highest sense, Binah). At long last, the “eld of the father” – fire in its highest sense, Chokmah – is awakened and withdraws the whole process into annihilation and/or begins the process over again by begetting a new air and earth.

[Note: this latter scheme of the elements, from earth to air to water to fire, is the order used in (one interpretation of) The Star Ruby, a ritual that will be covered in a separate article]
As it is, in our usual, “uninitiated” state, the elements are unbalanced: air does not properly interpret the other elements and leads us astray. Our perception of love and will, as they manifest in us, is flawed. Thus, the next step of the LBRP represents cleansing, purifying, and balancing these elements so that Spirit (which signifies the True Self) may inform fire and water and that air may assist them in manifesting through earth.

In each “quarter” of the circle, a banishing earth pentagram is drawn. Why an earth pentagram? There are various answers given to this question, but perhaps the simplest way to think of it is that Malkuth contains all four elements of the physical world, and since Malkuth is the only Sephira attributed to earth, the banishing earth pentagram functions as a kind of “generic banishing pentagram” this far down on the Tree.
In other words, we are not banishing the element of earth in particular, but banishing all of the “lower” imbalances of each element at the quarters.

Still in an “expanded” state, you advance to the East and there draw a banishing earth pentagram in the air, imagining it in bright blue flame (think of the color of a Bunsen burner). [A banishing earth pentagram starts from the bottom left point and proceeds up. Begin at the left hip, and move your finger to a point above your head. Then down to the right hip up until a little left of the left shoulder, across until just past the right shoulder, and then back down to the exact spot you began from. Practice this independently from the ritual for a while and try to really get the hang of the physical motions and the visualization: really take your time with it, especially at first.] Try to get a sense of the scale here: you’ve imagined yourself at a size that dwarfs galaxies, so think of how vast the distance your finger is traveling as bright blue flame springs from it.
By the way, you will find drawing a perfect pentagram in the air to be more than a little challenging, at least at first. It’s difficult for many people to draw a straight line on a piece of paper without aid, so your chances of drawing five large perfectly straight lines in the air at exactly the right angles are pretty slim. Try your hardest to draw the pentagrams as perfectly as you can and definitely make sure you end at the exact point where you began. At the same time, don’t beat yourself up over this if you can’t quite get it. Nothing bad’s going to happen to you if you. Demons aren’t going to “invade your circle,” and you’re not going to have “leaks in your aura” or any nonsense like that. These things happen in books, not in real life.

Anyway, it’s the visualizations that are really important. So even if you can’t draw the pentagrams absolutely perfectly, make sure that your imagination “snaps” them into proper shape before you charge them.
The visualization of drawing these pentagrams should be done so vividly that if another person were watching you, he or she should almost be able to see the pentagrams as well. Of course, no one else can, but that’s how vividly you should imagine them.

It is helpful to “feel” the flame burning away any impurities in that element.
In this way, you “banish” each of the four directions and the element associated with each.

This stage of the operation represents the removal of factors preventing the True Self from working its will in the world.

Charging with Divine Names
You first proceed to the East and draw a banishing pentagram of earth, feeling the flame burn away obstacles to a clear perception of reality. Distracting thoughts vanish.

Visualize the letters YHVH in front of you in blue light and inhale them. Actually see and feel the letters enter your body, travel all the way down, and hit your feet. The second the name hits your feet, feel them fly back up through your body and throw yourself forward into the sign of the enterer and feel and “see” the name come rushing out of your as you vibrate it. See and feel the name shake the entire Eastern quarter of the universe.
At last, retire into the sign of silence, beholding the pentagram guarding the East. Imagine the vibration of the divine name hitting the end of the universe, rebounding back, and descending upon you: hear the name vibrated back by the universe, roaring on your imaginative sense of hearing. Yod-heh-vav-heh.

[Note: Alternately, one may omit the signs and simply point at the center of the pentagram while vibrating. Try it both ways and see which works best]

These letters, which can be studied in full in Magick in Theory and Practice, represent the balance of the four elements.
YHVH sums to 26 via gematria, which represents unity (13) extended into duality (x2), a perfect description of the function of YHVH (i.e. Kether splits into Chokmah (Yod) and Binah (Heh), and these two produce two more: the middle six sephiroth (Vav) and Malkuth (Heh-final). See Magick in Theory and Practice and The Book of Thoth for an in-depth explanation of the cyclical conception of YHVH, where the cycle is repeated, from the bottom up, as a representation of initiation (i.e. earth to air to water to fire, starting the whole cycle again, as explained above).

YHVH, in short, is a summary of the whole universe, a representation of creation and initiation (leading to the “destruction” of that created universe). It is appropriate that it is intoned when the magician banishes obstacles to clear perception, for it is clear perception that enables full comprehension of the universe.
Next, stab the center of the pentagram with your finger and imagine a wall of white light moving with your finger to the South (you’re going to be drawing a “bubble” of white light around you, so this move represents drawing one quarter of it).

There in the South, repeat the process of drawing a banishing pentagram. After banishing the East and obtaining a purified mind, you now look through (and “banish”) those mental distractions that specifically veil the True Will from you.
Repeat the process of “charging” the pentagram, this time with the name Adonai (“Lord,” in Hebrew, though I have been told that it’s actually gender-neutral and could refer to either a male or female ruler). This is the word that signifies the Holy Guardian Angel (i.e. the True Self), whose dynamic aspect is the True Will (Fire).

The word can be studied in depth in Liber LXV, and it sums to 65. This number is the inversion of Nuit’s number, 56, implying that the True Self is a reflection of the cosmos, of which it is an inseparable part. It is also the number of pages of the manuscript of The Book of the Law.
The number hints at the union of the microcosm (5) and the macrocosm (6) that is the goal of this ritual, and the sum of those two numbers, 11, is the number of magical power (the execution of the True Will).

Next, you carry the white light around to the West and repeat the process. Having purified the perception and having perceived the True Will, the individual next directs that Will towards its proper objects, banishing any distractions from this task, any false objects that present themselves as temptations away from the objects of the Will.
The word at this quarter is Eheieh (Eh-heh-yeh). This is Hebrew for “I am.” It is appropriate to vibrate it in the West, for what “I am” can only be defined in terms of what I experience, those objects with which I unite myself (i.e. the experiences I undergo, ideally directed by the True Will)

Eheieh sums to 21, the number of “The Universe” in the tarot, the full extension of Zero (The Fool) into manifestation. Through our acts of will and our experience, we declare “I am,” and we build up our universe.
Finally, the process is repeated in the North, with the word being AGLA (Ah-gah-lah), a Notarikon (acronym, essentially) for “Ateh Gibor Le-oh-lam Adonai” (“Thou art mighty forever, Adonai”). The North represents the path of the individual through the world that is created by his True Will, and here the magician banishes obstacles to it.

[Note: Some practitioners vibrate the entire sentence, rather than the abbreviation AGLA. Try it both ways and see what you like best.]

The North is also the quarter of darkness where the sun never touches – the quarter representing the material world – and the magician affirms that his True Self is great and is ever with him, even in the darkest quarter of the world where it can appear that matter is cut off from an animating Spirit.
“There is a splendour in my name hidden and glorious, as the sun of midnight is ever the son.”

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me”
Aspirants are advised to study the Ace of Disks, the unity of Sol and Terra in the Thelemic system. There is no such thing as spirituality divided from the material world, and there is no such thing as materiality divided from the spiritual. All acts are sacraments, and everything that one does is a manifestation of the True Will.

There is no part of me that is not of the gods, and there is no part of the gods that is not part of me.
AGLA sums to 35, which, among other meanings, reduces to 8 (3+5), the number attributed to Hadit and the force that “saves” the physical world (or, rather, the perception of the physical world as dead or cut off from spirit). 8=Cheth=418, and it is attributed to the Chariot in the Tarot. This Chariot signifies the “path” of the individual driven by his True Will. Remember also that 418 is the Four (elements) reduced to One by the power of Eight. All dissolves into the Unity of the True Will.

“The Perfect and the Perfect are one Perfect and not two; nay, are none!”

The entire sentence sums to 858, the pentagram surrounded by the power of 8.

Invocation of the Archangels

Now, return to the center of the circle, which represents Spirit (the True Self, of which the True Will is the dynamic aspect) and call on the archangels, vibrating each name slowly and feeling / “seeing” the angel appear in the quarter. Remember, you’re still in an “expanded” state here, so the angels will be similarly huge, dwarfing galaxies.
The purpose of this stage of the ritual is to build the elements back up again, to invoke the power of these aspects of the self. Having driven away obstacles to these aspects of Self, you now invoke them and bring them into your cleansed perception.

Raphael should be imagined with golden robes, holding a wand (the caduceus). A strong breeze blows behind him, moving through you and filling you with his power, and you should imagine the vast expanse of the sky.
Gabriel should be imagined with blue robes, holding a cup. Waves crash behind him, and you should strive to feel them soaking you, filling you with his power. Imagine the vast expanse of the oceans.

Michael should be imagined with red robes, holding a sword. Flames flash around him, and you should strive to feel their heat and feel them harmlessly pass through you, filling you only with his power. Imagine the heat from the sun, its power and force: imagine how it spreads everywhere on a hot summer day (if you’re from a warm-enough climate, of course).
Uriel should be imagined with green or brown robes, holding a disk. Mountains appear behind him, as well as fertile ground teeming with life. Imagine the solid earthiness of it, how the ground would feel to touch, filling you with the power of its stability and permanence: imagine the vastness of mountains, the growing plant life emerging from the soil.

Now you imagine a pentagram around your body (with its top point at your head, its outer points at your arms and legs). Behold the pentagrams surrounding you, one for each of the five elements, each with five points: “For about me flames the pentagram.” 5x5=25, the extension of the power of the pentagram. Be sure to *see* all of these pentagrams and these guardians clearly, in as much detail as possible.
“And within the column shines the six-rayed star.” Imagine now a hexagram shining in your chest. Whether you imagine a “traditional” hexagram or a unicursal hexagram is a matter of preference. The interlocking triangles represent the union of the physical and the spiritual, and the points represent the macrocosm (the six classical planets). Placing the hexagram (6) within the pentagram (5) affirms that 5=6, that the individual is an inseparable part of the cosmos, that the True Self springs from the very universe, from Nuit. This is also exactly what is conveyed by the word Abrahadabra (5 A’s and 6 consenants), which also sums to 418 (the four reduced to one by the eight), and whose attributions can be studied in Liber Aleph, Chapter 87, which reveals the attributions of the letters and allegories to sex magick.

Note also that adding a hexagram (6) brings the number of points on pentagrams and hexagrams in the ritual to 31, the number of both AL and LA. These words can be studied in Liber Reguli, among other places.
Conclude the ritual by repeating the Qabalistic cross, affirming yourself to be the Tree of Life and God once more. Be sure to see all of the imaginative things you’ve drawn and summoned glowing with flashing light as you do all of this. Imagine the four guardians drawing their strength from that pentagram-hexagram in the middle of the circle – that 5=6 which *is* you – for you are their God, and they are but aspects of You. (The “El” at the end of each of their names means “God,” and each archangel classically represents a different aspect of God).

Most practitioners leave the circle there and just imagine it fading away. I personally like to “pull up” the circle (imagine the light being sucked back into my Self and nourishing it). These are just personal touches. Experiment with different methods and see what you like best.
Conclude by imagining yourself shrinking back down to normal size, and give the sign of silence.

Repeated performances will keep the lessons taught by the ritual in the back of your mind, and you will find your daily thoughts drifting back to it. You will in particular find yourself frequently recalling the expanded state of consciousness, from whose perspective the “problems” of your life are less than the blip on the radar of the universe and only misunderstood and mislabeled as problems.
Indeed, this ritual affirms the individual as the center of the universe, emerging out of the force of the cosmos and possessing four great Powers whose execution is the essence of magick. As the ritual dramatizes, the Work of the initiate is to clear away the distorting influences of the mind so that he may perceive the True Will and guide it toward its proper objects, thereby producing a path through the physical world in which he “takes his pleasure on the earth among the legions of the living,” to use a phrase from the Stele of Revealing.

I hope it is perfectly obvious from these comments that the LBRP doesn’t do anything commonly understood as “supernatural.” It doesn’t call up or banish any actual spirits, it doesn’t ghostbust a room, and it can’t cause anything to physically happen. Its effects are entirely psychological and entirely confined to the individual, but these effects are awe-some indeed.
Foolish are they who speak of this ritual “lighting up the astral” or “attracting spirits” or any other comments that make it seem as if one is embarking on the plot of a poorly-written RPG by making a few gestures and intoning a bunch of unusual words.

No, properly understood, this ritual is the Great Work, the inner transformation that will yield real practical changes in the individual’s life. The Work that will open the floodgates of the True Will and give the initiate almost unlimited “magical powers” whereby he may take his pleasure on the earth.
This ritual is the first step, the path itself, and the goal.
It is a prime example of the “symbolic technicalities” of magick that Crowley says conceal a method of “making [onself] a Magician,” of discriminating between the True Self and that which one fondly imagines oneself to be.

This ritual is fundamental to the magical path, and anyone who dismisses it as being “for beginners” or who is overeager to move on to the “advanced stuff” doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
In the early stages of practice – and even at much later stages – frequent use of this ritual should be made.

"And every Man stood Fourfold, each Four Faces had. One to the West
One toward the East One to the South One to the North, the Horses Fourfold
And the dim Chaos brightened beneath, above, around! Eyed as the Peacock
According to the Human Nerves of Sensation, the Four Rivers of the Water of Life."
--William Blake, Jersusalem


  1. Very instructive from a Thelemic perspective, thank you. Is there a reason why you have switched the traditional correspondence of: 'air/ swords', and 'fire/ wands(caduceus)'?

    Also, can you shed light on Crowley's comment to the ritual: (paraphrase)"under normal circumstances the supreme being will not appear for so slight a cause"

    One more point. I read recently, forget where but on what I considered good authority, that it has been discovered that the sign of Harpocrates, formerly considered the sign of silence (finger or thumb to lips) is actually the sign of childhood or innocence. It's apparently been proved that the Egyptian statues of Harpocrates depict this idea (ie. sucking of the finger or thumb). Quite interesting, I thought. Whichever you decide to use in the ritual, still works! "Unless ye be as little children..." and all that...

  2. "Very instructive from a Thelemic perspective, thank you. Is there a reason why you have switched the traditional correspondence of: 'air/ swords', and 'fire/ wands(caduceus)'?"

    Well, I didn’t switch it. I was using the standard images of the archangels (Raphael holds a wand and Michael holds a sword).

    Now you’re right that in ceremonial magick the sword that the magician uses represents intellect/air and the east and the wand that the magician uses represents fire/will and the south (the tarot cards follow this attribution as well). But the archangels are not carrying *those* weapons.

    Raphael holds the caduceus – not the traditional wand used by a ceremonial magician – because it represents his mercurial nature as the archangel of the East (air). Similarly, Michael holds not the sword of ceremonial magick but the flaming sword that guards Eden from mortals (this “sword” is sometimes represented as zig-zagging up the Tree of Life).

    There's a ton of Qabalistic material on this kind of stuff, and you could easily spend your whole life mastering all of the little bits of Qabalistic symbolism and why they're part of different rituals. Luckily, figuring that stuff out has practically nothing to do with actual attainment.

    In actuality, it doesn’t matter what visualizations you use. Feel free to switch the weapons you “see” in their hands. It doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference ultimately.

    “Also, can you shed light on Crowley's comment to the ritual: (paraphrase)"under normal circumstances the supreme being will not appear for so slight a cause"”

    Here’s the exact quote, from Crowley’s “Notes on the Ritual of the Pentagram”: “visualize clearly and cleanly the forces invoked, with the exception of the Divine Being, who will not appear, in the ordinary course of events, for such slight cause.”

    Literally, he’s saying that you should visualize the “forces” of this ritual clearly, but that you do not need to “visualize” the Divine Being (i.e. God), who normally won’t appear just because you did the LBRP. The clause “in the ordinary course of events” implies that God *might* appear under some circumstances, but that it would be out of the control of the magician. God’s not going to appear just because you “visualized” him or invoked him.

    Now, the literal meaning of those words is, of course, absolutely batty, not the least because there is no God. But what other meaning could Crowley have in mind? What if we read “Divine Being” as not a literal “God” but as the True Self of the magician?

    At least it now makes sense: there’s no need to “visualize” the True Self. It will appear, when it appears, of its own accord and doesn’t need to be invoked. Visualizing some specific thing as the true self is actually counter-productive to the process. The work of banishing is clearing away the rubbish, preparing the temple so that the Spirit may indwell it, of Spirit’s own accord.

    “Whichever you decide to use in the ritual, still works! "Unless ye be as little children..." and all that...”

    Yes, Harpocrates is perfect Innocence, and that’s exactly what one is signifying by the finger to the mouth, the near-universal “Shhh!” sign, telling the conscious mind to “shut up”: for it is only by silencing the conscious mind that Innocence can be obtained.

  3. A question for you that's been rolling around in my old bean for a while - involving freemasonry, atheism and 'god'. Now, as we all probably know, one of the only requisites for acceptance into the Craft is belief in a '
    creator or supreme being of some kind, often referred to as the 'great architect'. I wonder why? Is freemasonry fundamentally theistic would you say? And while I can see that if it was just required to believe in 'god' one could stretch the interpretation of that term to include 'all that is' or 'nature' or whatever, but 'creator' or 'supreme being' cannot be stretched like the term 'god'.

    Having re-read crowley's comment about the divine being and the lbrp, seen it in a different light - one should clearly visualise all the forces invoked EXCEPT the divine being. Because there isn't one? Or maybe because if the ritual is performed correctly one 'becomes' the divine being oneself?

  4. "Is freemasonry fundamentally theistic would you say?"

    I really don't know enough about it to say for sure. Since one has to admit belief in a supreme being in order to join, the easy answer is "yes," but you know these spiffy old "orders," often containing higher-degree teachings that contradict teachings given to the lower grades.

    There's probably some good scholarship on the freemasons from a purely sociological, historical viewpoint that might explain the demand for professing theism. I'll bet there are also scholarly examinations of their rituals (textual analysis, close readings, etc.) that might shed some light on these questions for you.

    " 'creator' or 'supreme being' cannot be stretched like the term 'god'."

    I don't know. One could just as easily say, "I am the supreme being of my universe" or "I am technically the creator of the universe since my mind divides up the flux of matter into "things" that I perceived and interact with."

    Recall "The Visions and the Voice," where Crowley is admitted into a circle of atheists who use the password "There is no god," with an emphasis on the first word. That is to say, God isn't "out *there*": God, insofar as there is a God, is right here, inside of humanity. God is the True Self of each person.

    Hence, "There is no god but man," and the OTO motto "Deus est homo."

    If someone really wants to join the freemasons, he could make these sorts of stretches, but why would someone want to? To pal around with a bunch of old white guys who put on bad amateur theater? To feel like he's part of a super secret organization that runs the world? (Cue "The Stonecutters Song" from the Simpsons Episode "Homer the Great":

    This is just personal preference talking here, but I'd rather just read about their rituals and call it a day. I have no desire to be blindfolded and led around to be taught "mysteries" and "secrets" that are openly published and available to anyone with an internet connection.

    "one should clearly visualise all the forces invoked EXCEPT the divine being. Because there isn't one?"

    Well, yeah, there's not. But the literal reading of Crowley's words suggests that there is. That's why I offered the reading of "Divine Being" as "True Self."

    1. Obviously, that's supposed to be "The Vision and the Voice," above.

  5. Haha, thanks Los, ageeing with you! Far better to read about it all, you never know what you could be getting involved with those dudes! Have you read 'Morals and Dogma'? I think it's a great read, it's a huge tome and I'm still plugging away at it, in-between dozens of other books! By the way, to make it clear, I was not inferring that I want to join the Masons. Lord, or should I say, "True Self" forbid! But the Masons certainly aren't all white by any means. Yes lodges are generally divided on racial lines, but there are lots of black lodges, and many prominent blacks are members, err Louis Armstrong was for example, many others, especially show biz types it seems. There are also very powerful Jewish freemasonic lodges. And Islamic ones, I hear. We get a lot of WASP bashing these days, George Carlin loved doing that.. Curiously I never heard him do a routine on Zionist bankers or media moguls who are clearly just as guilty for promoting 'the American way'... Might have jeopardized his lucrative TV career!

  6. ps. I haven't looked at the "Vision and the Voice" as yet. Will do one day I'm sure, add it to the pile! I'm such a naff reader, I'm sure I need to be more focused there.. but then again why? The way I read is the way I read, unfocused, lazy, but I still unearth enough bits to keep my mind ticking over... And it's not like you can ever read everything, although some people seem to manage it!

  7. You missed the point. This ritual is identical to the hexagram ritual with regards to allegory meaning it is sex magick.

    The pentagrams = the control of the neuro-somatic currents over the 4 beneath it:

    1) The oral biosurvival circuit
    2) The emotional–territorial circuit
    3) The neurosemantic–dexterity circuit
    4) The socio-sexual circuit

    The god names and visualizations are used to keep the mind from having stray thoughts while you are 'performing' aka having sex with a partner or masturbating alone.

    This is sex magick dude, as is literally every ritual Crowley said was important. By your level of understanding I'm sure you'd also say that the Abramelin working has to do with praying bahaha.