On first glance, the ritual looks something like a “Thelemicized” version of the Supreme (aka Greater) Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram. On deeper inspection, this ritual is an enactment of Thelemic cosmology that functions by dramatizing the LAShTAL formula. It thus expands and deepens the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram as the Star Ruby does the LBRP.
The ritual is a symbolic means of saturating one’s consciousness in a “Thelemic” view of the world, as summarized in the word LAShTAL. It thus indeed “invoke[s] the Energies of the Aeon of Horus” in the truest sense of those words. No supernatural energies are stirred by this ritual: as in the LBRP and Star Ruby, the mechanism and effects are purely psychological. As Crowley put it in Magick in Theory and Practice, “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 what follows I examine the performance and function of Liber V by reading it against the essay Crowley appended to it.
You should consider reading my articles on the LBRP and the Star Ruby as preliminaries to this article.
If you intend to perform Liber V, I recommend a solid grounding in the standard pentagram rituals first and some significant experience with invoking.
Read on for more.
Before examining Liber V in depth, we should say a few words about invocation. What does it mean to “invoke” a force? What does it mean, specifically, to invoke the “Energies of the Aeon of Horus”?
Over at the Temple of Thelema Forums, Jim Eshelman has employed a useful metaphor for invocation that I’m going to blatantly steal (and then develop). Invoking is like tuning a radio: the rituals “tune” the practitioner into certain “frequencies.” Banishing essentially “resets” the dial to zero: one begins by banishing in order to establish a neutral state of mind, and then one invokes to “tune” the mind to a particular frequency, and then one concludes the rite by banishing again so that the practitioner doesn’t go wandering around “tuned in” to those frequencies in day-to-day life.
But what exactly does that metaphor mean? What does it mean to be “tuned in” and what are these “frequencies”? In order to explain what invoking entails, I’m going to use a common experiences as a concrete example.
Have you ever decided to buy a car and then selected one you liked and started researching it? (Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably been in a situation where you start learning a lot about a particular new thing, so you can kind of relate to what I’m going to say here) What tends to happen is somewhat remarkable: you start seeing that model of car everywhere. You see it every day on the road. You see it in every single parking lot. You see it in TV shows, you hear about it in conversations that strangers are having in front of you when you’re waiting on a line, you start seeing and hearing dozens of little things indirectly related to it all over the place. And you start to wonder what the hell is happening. Have you summoned multiple references to this car into your life just by studying it?
The answer, of course, is no. That car has always been common. You’re just noticing it now, where you used to not notice it at all. The reason that you’re noticing it now is that you’re “tuned in” to the “frequency” of that particular kind of car. You’re viewing reality through a new lens. We might even say, in a sense – to put it in a kind of flowery way – you’ve performed a very minor “invocation” of this particular car.
When you “invoke” an element or a planet, you’re doing something similar. You’re impressing on your mind the idea that you’re going to start paying attention to things associated with the invoked force. For example, invoking earth tends to make one more aware of the physical world and the body. Invoking water tends to make one more aware of the emotions, etc.
Standard magical practice is to invoke a force associated with a goal that one has and then build up a large amount of energy (say, by means of the middle pillar ritual). You get yourself worked up into a state where you’re focused on the goal and in tune with the means of achieving it, and then you use your imagination to (pretend to) “imbue” a talisman with the “energy.” [While you’re doing it, you deliberately try to forget that this is make believe, and you throw yourself into the performance as much as possible, just like an actor does when on stage] Then you perform a banishing to “detune” yourself from the forces and go back to your normal consciousness, but you carry the talisman with you as a reminder of that state when you were hopped up on energy and convincing yourself that you were a powerful magician causing the result you want to come to pass.
[Please note: this process does indeed work, but it is entirely useless without a “magical link.” Making a talisman to get you good grades won’t work unless you study. A talisman to get a job won’t work unless you go out and look for one, etc. And if you’re going to object that a person might as well just look for a job without bothering with the silly make believe rituals, then sure, I agree with you in principle. But remember that these rituals are symbolic representations of the process of discovering and carrying out the Will. Preparing the ritual and considering the “force” necessary to achieve the goal might help you with planning for the regular, mundane actions that actually will lead to the goal. Also, getting oneself “pumped” for achieving a goal and then carrying around a reminder of that “pumped up” state can be inspiring to a lot of people and might actually assist them in achieving the goal by making them more confident or removing some of their worries. But it is true that, for the most part, thinking that ceremonies like this will literally do anything more than be a cool piece of performance art is awfully silly. Performing these rituals is mostly just for fun.]
The elements and the planets represent parts of the universe and the magician’s being. Insofar as the pentagram represents Spirit (the True Self) ruling over the “elements,” it is a potent symbol of the Great Work. A useful way to employ the pentagram rituals is to use them to invoke a particular element and then “work” with it (meditate on it, study passages in the Holy Books related to it, pay attention to it during everyday life, make talismans to focus on goals in one’s everyday life associated with that element, etc.). It is traditional to banish after these workings or experiments.
It might be useful to use the LBRP every day for a period of no less than three months (and ideally at least six months) before moving on to the LIRP (same exact ritual with the exception of employing a generic invoking pentagram at the quarters [start from the top and go down to the left hip]). See how the LIRP makes you feel in contrast, and then banish to close. [Some sources recommend invoking at the beginning of the day and banishing at the close of the day; other sources recommend the exact opposite (banish in the morning and invoke in the evening); still others recommend to invoke and then banish always as part of the same ceremony. Feel free to experiment and do whatever you like]
After another few months of working these “generic” rituals, you might move on to working with each element in turn (earth, air, water, fire), spending several weeks or months with each.
The idea here is to get the “feeling” of each element, to build up each in your mind and “anchor” in your mind the pentagram ritual associated with each one. This will be important for Liber V.
After a good deal of familiarity with each element (and it might take you a year or two to work all the way through the elements…there’s no reason to rush this), you’ll be ready for the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram (sometimes called the “Greater Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram”). This ritual works – you guessed it – exactly like all the other pentagram rituals, except that at each quarter you draw an invoking pentagram of spirit (active for air and fire, passive for earth and water) before drawing the invoking pentagram of the element assigned to each quarter. The god-names are changed around a little too, and some versions add words from the Enochian tablets or additional signs “drawn” onto the pentagrams.
The SIRP invokes all of the elements in balance around you so that they may be ruled by Spirit. The whole thing is a metaphor for KCHGA, and in fact you will note that Crowley’s Liber Samekh (the ritual he used to obtain KCHGA) is basically an elaborated version of the SIRP. If you’ve ever seen a Wiccan circle casting, it’s a similar idea: you go to each of the quarters and invoke each element, one at a time.
I would recommend practicing the SIRP for some time – or at least getting the standard pentagram rituals firmly impressed on your mind – before moving on to Reguli. The reason is that Reguli turns the standard pentagram rituals on their head, but that won’t mean very much to you if you’re not familiar with the standard rituals.
Ideally, one would not be practicing Reguli until one has had a great deal of familiarity with using the standard pentagram rituals to invoke the four elements. You’re free to just jump right into Reguli – it’s not going to bite or anything – but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you anchor the traditional rituals into your psyche.
The LAShTAL Forumla
Liber V vel Reguli must be understood in terms of the LAShTAL formula, which is handily explained in the essay that Crowley appends to the ritual.
The ideas contained in the LAShTAL formula are a large part of what you will be “invoking” with Reguli (over and beyond the four elements), so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with it.
LAShTAL is the combination of three words: LA, ShT, and AL. Each of those words sums to 31, which makes the whole word equal 93, which associates it with Thelema and Agape (Will and Love, the two key words of Thelema).
LA means “Not,” and is composed of Lamed (30) and Aleph (1). Those letters signify the motion of 2 (L = the balance of Adjustment, attributed to Lamed) into 0 (A = the pregnant void of the Fool, attributed to Aleph). To understand the full significance of this point, you must study the 0=2 formula. [See here, among other places]
AL means “All” or “God,” and is composed of the same two letters arranged the other way. Zero becomes two.
ShT differs from LA and AL in that it is not a state: it is the movement between the two states of LA and AL. It represents the Force and Fire of Ra Hoor Khuit, the combination of spirit (Shin, fire) and flesh (Teth, the phallus, lust).
We might associated LA and AL with Nuit and Hadit, respectively. And like those deities, neither LA nor AL actually exist, per se. Nuit and Hadit are possibilities, the grounds for experience, and LA and AL represent the poles of possibility. The universe is not, in fact, nothingness, nor is it a static fixture of things. It exists between these states, constantly in flux as “things” (as defined by our perceptual faculties) come in and out of existence.
LAShTAL summarizes this process. It symbolizes the flux of existence, the marriage of matter and motion, of spirit and matter, of absolutely nothing and absolutely everything (to produce something).
The whole word, then, dramatizes how Not (LA) transforms (ShT) into All (AL). As a palindrome, it also suggests the symmetry of existence and the endless recurrence. Nothing (L) becomes something (A) which undergoes experience (ShT) to become a new something (A) which eventually withdraws back into nothing (L) to begin the process over. There is no fixed stopping point.
See Crowley’s description of the “pagan” version of the Tetragrammaton in the Book of Thoth, which describes a similar kind of circular pattern: the Father and Mother produce a Son and Daughter. The Son sets the Daughter on the throne of the Mother, awakening the Father to begin the process anew. This is a metaphor for the motion of the universe, and for the path of initiation.
We might elucidate the meaning of LAShTAL by contrasting it with VIAOV and NOX, covered in my essay on the Star Ruby. VIAOV is the sign of the initiated person – Pan made fully human, the individual realizing each event as the fulfillment of the True Will: the word dramatizes the True Self (V) clothing itself in the illusion of individuality so that it may grow from a seed (I) to an innocent person (A) to an enlightened person (O, the devil), comprehending the balanced elements of existence (I and O) equilibrated by the pentagram (A, much as Tipareth balances the points of the Qabalistic Cross). Such a person also understands that at the end of the process, the True Self (V) remains the same, having merely gained the knowledge of experience by undergoing the process. In this manner, the individual at Tipareth opens himself or herself to nonexistence, the destruction of the (false) self: I (the self) becomes O (zero) by means of realization (A or AH!). But the O also conceals NOX, the process of the next attainment, dying (N) even to the true self to realize a fuller zero (O) that is yet one with the flesh (X, or the phallus). [NOX=210=2 reduced to unity and then to nothing]. LAShTAL is the next level up, beyond VIAOV and beyond NOX: we might say that LAShTAL dramatizes ideas that are similar to those depicted in the VIAOV formula, but seen through a more impersonal lens. We begin not with something that the individual (mis)takes for the True Self (V) but with complete Nothingness (L or LA), we move into experience – not just the individual’s experience, but all experience and flux, as Nothingness moves toward but never reaches a state of static equilibrium, AL. The individual is but a tiny part of this entire process.
In other words, VIAOV dramatizes the individual realizing himself as a part of the cosmos. NOX symbolizes the individual dissolving back into the cosmos. LAShTAL symbolizes the very cosmos itself, the flux of existence of which the individual is part.
It is worth considering that 777 places IAO at Tipareth and LAShTAL in the negative veils of the Tree of Life. We might additionally attribute NOX to the sephiroth between Tipareth and Binah, in accordance with the NOX signs. These formulae are thus all attributed to the middle pillar, which – as I discussed in this essay can be seen as representing different perspectives on the universe. If these formulae seem to share many similarities, it may be because they are dramatizing the same thing as seen through different lenses.
[Note: 777 attributes IAO to Tipareth but VIAOV to Chokmah. There is a topic here for readers to meditate on]
According to a post by Bill Heidrick reproduced on Lashtal.com, Lashtal is a “spelling variation on a term from regular Jewish religious practice, not even limited to Kabbalah.”
Heidrick goes on to explain,
La-stal is a qualifier for an action that is considered holy in itself, not done for merit or ulterior purpose. In other words: "For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect." -- AL I,44.
I don't know why Crowley used this particular spelling, but I conjecture that he either tried to reproduce the word phonetically or wanted to design a variant with letters arranged in a symbolic pattern. Although the spelling is decidedly different from Jewish usage, the sound is close enough and the meaning is obviously the same. Crowley attributes LASTAL to zero on the Key Scale of Liber 777 Revised. It is also characterized as the formula of the Abyss, as indeed it is -- to pass the Abyss, one must be as a babe, without attachment, taking every impression as a direct communication of the divine with the soul. Choronzon is the opposite in Crowley's usage, the tendency to attach mundane or personal meaning to such impressions.
As Heidrick puts it here, LAShTAL is the formula of the method of crossing the abyss by refusing to discriminate between any things – that is, refusing to see one thing as “better” than another – by refusing to impose any higher meaning onto any impression.
This idea resonates with Crowley’s statement of the function of the LAShTAL formula in his essay in Liber Reguli: the word “declares that all somethings are equally shadows of Nothing, and justifies Nothing in its futile folly of pretending that something is stable, by making us aware of a method of Magick through the practice of which we may partake in the pleasure of the process.”
After all, “all acts must be equal…existence asserts the right to exist…the orgies of Bacchus and Pan are no less sacramental than the Masses of Jesus…the scars of syphilis are sacred and worthy of honour as much as the wounds of the martyrs of Mary.”
Given these facts, “evil” is not an actual thing that “exists.” No thing is in itself “evil,” but it is only perceived this way by a defect in our perception: “ the existence of "Evil" is fatal to philosophy so long as it is supposed to be independent of conditions; and to accustom the mind to "make no difference" between any two ideas as such is to emancipate it from the thralldom of terror.”
Indeed, Crowley tells us that “evil” is in fact “a mere term expressing some relation of haphazard hostility between forces equally self-justified.” In other word, everything that is must be and is justified in being what it is. We call things “evil” only to express hostility between two of these equally self-justified things.
Crowley’s essay establishes LAShTAL as the word that makes us “aware of a method of Magick” through which “we may partake in the pleasure of the process” of the flux of existence (Nothing becoming Something). This method is detailed in AL I:22: “Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing & any other thing”
We might sum up the above discussion by saying that while VIAOV symbolizes discovering the True Will, NOX symbolizes the dissolving of the True Self through working that Will, and LAShTAL symbolizes the realization of the flux of existence, permitting one to enjoy the participation of the illusion of “self” in the illusion of “things,” “taking my pleasure on earth among the living” without artificial prejudice.
The Ritual Structure
The structure of Liber V follows that of the standard pentagram rituals: drawing a cross, drawing and charging the pentagrams, calling the guardians, and repeating the cross.
The ritual instructs the magician to take the direction of Boleskine – Crowley’s house in Scotland – as “East” for the ritual. The idea of “facing Boleskine” when doing this ritual is reminiscent of the idea that Muslims face Mecca when reading their prayers, and it is based around the (rather stupid) idea that there is some “magical current” that emanates from Crowley’s house.
Personally, I’ve always found the idea of facing Boleskine to be pretty silly. I just use the regular ol’ East. At times, I have practiced this ritual by using the current location of the sun as “East” (the idea being that the sun is the “true Boleskine,” the true (symbolic) source of the Thelemic “current,” as much as I find the term “current” to be ridiculous in this context).
The bottom line: face whichever direction you like.
The Hierophantic Cross
The ritual opens with the magician drawing the hierophantic cross over his or her body. This cross includes not just the middle pillar and path 19, but also paths 14 and 27.
Begin by knocking (or, alternatively, ringing the bell) eleven times (in a set of 1-3-3-3-1). If you have a physical altar, you can wrap your knuckles against it. If not, wrap them against your thigh.
This series of knocks adds up to eleven, the number of magick (and the Lust tarot card). By flanking the set with two ones, the magician affirms that eleven is the scope of the ritual, and within magick itself exists the three (the triads of the Tree of Life).
Then place your thumb between your index and third fingers. The thumb is the finger attributed to the element of Spirit and is associated with magical powers (there was once a rule in the Roman Catholic Church that a man without a thumb could not be ordained priest…I guess lacking a thumb interferes with the hocus pocus, eh?).
With your thumb between your index and third fingers, draw a circle around your head and vibrate “Nuit.” This is the negative veils on the Tree of Life (LA), also associated with the Sahashara Chakra on the body. Draw a line down to your Muladhara Chakra and vibrate “Hadit” (AL). Retrace the line to your chest (Anahata) and vibrate “Ra Hoor Khuit” (ShT).
Then trace the paths:
Touch the forehead, mouth, and larynx. Vibrate “Aiwass.” Then draw a line corresponding to the line from Sephirah 3 to 2 (path of the Empress). You associate this path with the Ajna and Vishuddha Chakras (Forehead and throat) and with the mouth, since Aiwass is the messenger of the New Aeon). On the Tree of Life, this would correspond with the Supernal Triad.
Touch the center of the breast and the solar plexus (Anahata and Manipura) and vibrate “Therion.” Then draw across the breast a line from Sephirah 4 to 5 (path of Lust). On the Tree of Life, this is the Actual Triad.
Touch the genitals and the perenium (Svadistthana and Muladhara) and vibrate “Babalon.” Draw the line from 8 to 7 (path of the Tower). On the Tree of Life, this is the Individual Triad.
Notice that you draw the paths from the form sephirah to the motion sephirah of each triad on the Tree of Life. You’re not just drawing the Tree of Life in your aura: you’re pushing the energy in the direction of manifestation.
Notice also that the paths you trace are attributed to Empress + Lust + Tower = Daleth + Teth + Peh = 4 + 9 + 80 = 93.
Between the poles of LAShTAL (the vertical component) are the energies of the paths of the Tree of Life (the horizontal component) that give rise to experience.
You then clasp your hands and vibrate the following: LAShTAL! THELEMA! FIAOF! AGAPE! AUMGN!
Each of these words sums to 93. Each of them is complicated enough to deserve its own essay. Their order suggests a progression down the Tree of Life: LAShTAL declares the flux of the cosmos, THELEMA is the appearance of the cosmic Will (at Chokmah), FIAOF declares the individual’s True Self as a part of the cosmos and an echo of the cosmic Will (at Tipareth), AGAPE is the mode by which the Self fulfills the Will (destroying the illusion of separateness) (the directing of Will towards it goal by means of the lower Sephiroth), and AUMGN seals the entire process with a variant of “Amen” that affirms the four elements in harmony (A, birth symbolized by the opening of the mouth; U, the joy of experience, oooooh; M, the silence of death and returning to the tomb/womb; GN, the silent gnosis underlying the entire process. The letters depict the progression of the sun from dawn to noon to sunset to midnight, affirming that the sun is always shining – an eternal Amen, an eternal Yes – beneath this apparent process).
These words together sum to 465: Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel (65) expressed through the 4 (elements, worlds). We might say that this is the AUMGN process expressed through the four words that precede it.
The magician then strikes the battery again, this time in a set of 3-5-3. The pentagram (5) is contained in 33, the number of Baphomet (a symbol of the union of opposites). We might also say that the True Self buried beneath the elements in Tipareth is suspended between two symmetrical triads on the Tree of Life (the Supernal and Individual triads).
Probably the most well-known feature of this ritual is the fact that the pentagrams are drawn inverted (“averse”).
There are at least three reasons that have been proposed for this feature:
One of the most common suggestions, popularized by Lon Duquette in his book The Magick of Thelema, is that Crowley intends the magician to be symbolically standing upside down at the location of the sun (with Aquarius in the North and Taurus in the East).
Another possibility is that the ritual exists to break all the rules of the Old Aeon. And since Old Aeon Orders were apprehensive about the averse pentagram (and widdershins motion), Crowley built the whole ritual around the actions that they were taught *not* to do in rituals. This idea is an extension of the first: in the New Aeon, everything is turned on its head, and the old rules no longer apply. The magician is not a terrestrial being, bound by the old “rules” of working, but is a “star in space.” Up and Down are matters of convenience, not absolute standards (just as the New Aeon has overturned ideas of absolute values).
A third possibility is that the averse pentagram is intended to valorize physical reality. The upright pentagram traditionally symbolizes the control of Spirit over the physical world. The averse pentagram is sometimes considered “evil” because it symbolically exalts the physical world over the spiritual. In Thelemic terms, of course, there is no “evil”: the upright pentagram represents the True Self in control over the elements, and the averse pentagram emphasizes that the elements spring from Spirit, that the True Self underlies the elements. The upright and averse pentagram are, to a Thelemite, merely different ways of conceptualizing the relationship between Spirit and the four elements. And since this ritual invokes all of the elements in the process of affirming a formula of "partake[ing] in the pleasure of the process" of manifestation, it seems fitting to use the form of the pentagram that affirms physicality, confirming that the physical world is not sundered from the spirit but that acts in the physical world are spiritual acts.
This is an important lesson: There is no spiritual act aside from physical acts. The enjoyment of physical reality is the ultimate spiritual sacrament. In fact, there are no other spiritual sacraments. The word “spiritual,” in any other context, is absolute bullshit.
Even the most high flung “spiritual” trances are generated by your physical brain, and there is no trance that is any more “spiritual” than a night of hanging out with your friends, an afternoon of watching videos on YouTube, or an evening of passionate lovemaking.
This idea really does turn the Old Aeon on its head. The old way of conceiving of religion and spirituality was that it was sundered from your everyday existence. That’s why religions have sacred spaces and sacraments (sacra-ment, to make sacred): to demarcate their spaces and practices from the secular world, to draw a line and say, “In here is where the spiritual stuff happens.”
The New Aeon sweeps all of this aside. The “circle” that you draw in this ritual is the very bounds of the universe itself. The pentagrams you draw affirm that Spirit underlies all of physical reality. The “powers” you invoke to guard the circle are the fundamental forces of reality, the potential (LA, AL) and the actual (ShT) that comprise the flux of Becoming.
This ritual seeks to make you aware of this process and to help you enjoy it, to “take [your] pleasure on the earth among the legions of the living.”
Proceed widdershins to the North, where you draw an averse invoking pentagram of Air, point to the center, and vibrate “Nuit.” Visualize the Star tarot card. Feel the rushing air around you, the rapid yet clear motion of thoughts.
[Note: I prefer red pentagrams on a blue background, much as in the Star Ruby. Experiment and see what colors you like]
“I am Omniscient, for naught exists for me unless I know it.”
You are invoking the power of the mind, the clear knowledge of the universe. You might hear the slow, clear sweeping motion of air, and you might imagine that you have brought into the circle a new energy that feels clear and crisp.
Notice that the widdershins motion means that you are moving “with the sun” (the direction that the sun *actually* moves in from the perspective of the earth).
Give the sign of Puella. The virgin eager for contact with man. A pure mind ripe to know experience.
Proceed widdershins to the South, where you draw an averse invoking pentagram of Fire and vibrate “Hadit.” Visualize the winged disk from The Aeon tarot card. Feel the roaring flames around you, the power of your True Will, which flashes like a flaming sword in your hand.
“I am Omnipotent, for naught occurs save by Necessity, my soul's expression through my Will to be, to do, to suffer the symbols of itself.”
You are invoking the power of your Will, the motion of your star through the universe that you are learning to see with increasing clarity.
Give the sign of Puer. The boy preparing to ravish the girl, to create experience through his Will and thus impregnate her.
Proceed widdershins to the East, where you draw an averse invoking pentagram of Earth and vibrate “Therion.” Visualize the Beast from the Lust tarot card. Feel the solid ground beneath your feet, the bountiful earth yielding a harvest that stretches so far your imaginative vision cannot take it all in.
This is the bounty of the physical world.
“I am Omnipresent, for naught exists where I am not, who fashioned Space as a condition of my consciousness of myself, who am the centre of all, and my circumference the frame of mine own fancy.”
You are invoking the path that the motion of your Will produces, the direction that your star takes through the material universe, enjoying its fruits. You might get a delicious taste in your mouth as you perform this invocation.
Give the sign of Vir. The boy has transformed into a Man, whose passionate union with the girl – and with reality itself – makes her into a woman.
Proceed widdershins to the West, where you draw an averse invoking pentagram of Water and vibrate “Babalon.” Visualize Babalon from the Lust tarot card. Feel the waves breaking around you, spraying you with mist. The ocean is so vast and so deep that you are a speck, a drop, a single pearl.
You are invoking the objects (within that material universe that you just affirmed) toward which your Will impels you.
The universe is thus complete.
“I am the All, for all that exists for me is a necessary expression in thought of some tendency of my nature, and all my thoughts are only the letters of my Name.
“I am the One, for all that I am is not the absolute All, and all my all is mine and not another's; mine, who conceive of others like myself in essence and truth, yet unlike in expression and illusion.
“I am the None, for all that I am is the imperfect image of the perfect; each partial phantom must perish in the clasp of its counterpart, each form fulfil itself by finding its equated opposite, and satisfying its need to be the Absolute by the attainment of annihilation.”
Give the sign of Mulier. The woman rejoicing in the fullness of satisfaction. The universe is a symphony of pleasure. All experience is a sacrament, a manifestation of Nothingness in flux.
The instructions at this point tell the magician to “break into the dance,” spiraling widdershins and spinning at each quarter until you arrive at the center of the circle. You could omit this part if you want and just circumambulate, especially if you don’t have the space for a full spiral dance, but this is a fascinating addition to a pentagram ritual: the magician dances through the elements invoked, affirming a joy and beauty to the enjoyment of them.
It’s important to stress that this ritual is as much about the body as it is about the mind or the “spirit.” The invocations of the elements are grounded in the body with the NOX signs. They’re affirmed with a spiraling dance. You should lose yourself in a spirit of wild abandon as you twirl through the elements of existence. Strive to feel the force in each quarter, and feel it intensify as you spin.
Return to the center and face East. Trace the Mark of the Beast in the air before you and vibrate “Aiwass."
Draw the Invoking Hexagram of the Beast (the unicursal hexagram starting from the top and moving down to the right for the first move). This invokes the Sun (True Self, HGA).
Lower your hand and strike the earth (you are bringing the energies “down” into practical manifestation)
Give the sign of Mater Triumphans (as if nursing a child). Vibrate “Thelema.” The lovemaking of Nuit and Hadit, expressed through the elements and their avatars Therion and Babalon, have issued forth into you. The “child” you hold is the thing you call your Self, and its dynamic aspect is Thelema.
Begin the spiral dance again, this time moving deosil and spinning widdershins. Every time you pass the West, you bow, point in the appropriate direction and invoke the guardians.
Calling the Guardians
The “guardians” in this ritual are not angelic beings but the constitutive forces of reality itself: LA, ShT, and AL.
During the spiral dance, the magician invokes the powers of LA in the North and West (the traditional “feminine” quarters) and invokes the powers of AL in the East and South (the traditional “masculine” quarters).
Departing from standard pentagram rituals, the areas above and below the magician (within the “bubble” of imaginary light created by the ritual) are attributed to ShT.
In my experience, these “guardians” do not take specific shape or form. They are “felt” as abstractions more than they are “seen.” If you’d like, you might visualize the Hebrew letters (or use the technique of building angelic shapes out of the letters in your imagination). It’s less important what you visualize than what you feel.
The magician declares “Within me the powers!” affirming that all of these forces are within the self. Remember that the circle is the “aura” of the magician, the universe itself as it appears to the magician’s subjective impressions. The magician is standing at the center of the cosmos, in the middle of the LAShTAL formula. The individual emerges out of this formula, and indeed there is no individual: there is only the formula.
“For about me flames my father’s face, the star of force and fire!”
Aside from being a very nice-sounding line (try speaking it aloud), these words affirm that the pentagrams are emblems of “force and fire” (RHK) and are images of “my father’s face” (The Devil, Ayin, O – see the discussion of VIAOV above). It is worth reading up on Baphomet, and comprehending how this symbol sums up the balancing of opposites.
To the extent that the Devil is the O of VIAOV, concluding the ritual with this statement re-orients the individual in the formula of personal attainment, from which he or she may go forth to work the True Will.
It’s been suggested that the F’s in the sentence are really vav’s, which equal 6 in Hebrew. So “flames my father’s face” would be 666. And the whole sentence, with 6 F’s would be 6x6=36.
The Hierophantic Cross
Repeat the Hierophantic Cross to close the ritual. Note that you will have to knock eleven times twice again, bringing the total number of knocks in this ritual to 44, a number of magical power (11) expressed through the 4 elements, a number of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, and the number of the Mass of the Phoenix (a ritual of communion, wherein the magician affirms to “take [his or her] pleasure on the earth among the legions of the living”)
Many years ago, Liber V vel Reguli was part of my daily practice. I usually employed it as a daily invocation, sometimes using it as a prelude to Samekh.
The ritual never gave me any problems. It was, for all intents and purposes, a more potent and “Thelemicized” Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram. Like its brother from another order, Liber Reguli is useful for daily consecration of the self, as part of the process of purifying the individual and awaiting the “indwelling of the Spirit” (see Erwin Hessle's Fundamentals of Thelemic Practice on the final, passive stage of Thelemic practice). Banishings and consecrations symbolize the preparation of the individual, and the mental states that they induce can be useful for carrying out the practices that they represent: becoming aware of the thoughts and mental overlays upon reality, perceiving reality more clearly, becoming more aware of the world outside of one’s head (the world of the four elements and the constituent forces of existence), and conceptualizing the world in broader ways (seeing from the perspective of the cosmos, from the perspective of a “New Aeon” in which the individual participates simultaneously in the All, None, One, and Two.
It was only after I had outgrown the practice of these rituals that I came across the odd opinion that Reguli is “dangerous” in some unspecified way.
A similar experience is reported by “Xnoubis,” the operator of the old Thelemic discussion board BeastBay. He describes how he too performed the ritual daily with no problem, but
many Thelemites have come to the opinion that performing Reguli every day is not a good idea.
The more I practiced Reguli, the more integrated I felt with parts of myself that had previously gone unnoticed. Overall, I found the experience to be settling and calming.
It wasn't until I moved to California that I heard the accepted wisdom: "What a work of mischief, to get Second Degrees performing Reguli every day!" In my adopted homeland, it seemed that most magicians who worked with Reguli, er, regularly, found it to be rapidly and profoundly disruptive.
These widespread fears of the ritual are echoed by Jim Eshelman, who has demonstrated an almost pathological aversion to discussing the ritual on his forums, and who claims that he suspects Reguli is a “trap” of sorts that Crowley created: “I mostly think this was the ritual he meant when he said he had planted in his writings a trap for the unwary to weed out the foolish”
Other discussions online includes a post by Michael Staley, who implies that performing Reguli caused a car to explode nearby him:
During the last few weeks of practise, I found that violence was following me around, manifesting in people around me though never touching me personally. Towards the end of this period, one evening I was walking across the road, and heard a muffled explosion. I remember thinking at the time "Ah, the IRA bombing campaign has started early this year", then saw that a car in front of me had burst into flames from under its engine bonnet. At the same time, there was a sudden and strong sensation in my solar plexus, and I knew with absolute certainty that this event was connected with my daily working.
In reading these accounts – and the idea that a ritual could “cause” something bad to occur – I’m reminded of the sort of faulty thinking about causality suggested in the writings of other occultists. One such comment that sticks out in my memory was made by Wiccan priestess Starhawk in her seminal text The Spiral Dance. She recounts that when she began to practice magick, her life started to fall apart and she ended up packing up and moving. The way she presents this makes it sound not only as if magick caused her life to fall apart but as if magick normally does this: “the ritual began a process of change and transformation, working in the way magic often does: by making everything fall apart.”
Even at the time I first read this – which was easily fifteen or sixteen years ago now – I could spot the fallacy: she was assuming that the causality went in one direction, when it could equally be in the other direction: perhaps starting to practice magick doesn’t cause a person’s life to fall apart; perhaps a person wants to start to practice magick because there are problems in his or her life, the sorts of problems that might cause things to fall apart at any time.
It could, of course, also be a simple coincidence.
Staley’s mistake seems to be of the same kind. Violence is a part of the world, and there’s no reason to think that practicing a ritual will make the world more violent. But there’s every reason to think that practicing a ritual might make one start to take greater notice of violence and conflict, especially if one is *expecting* it to.
For what it’s worth, I’ve never had the ritual make me more aware of violence and conflict: instead, my experience is similar to Xnoubis’: I’ve found it to be powerful, moving, profound, and peaceful in a passionate way. It awakens the appetites and makes one hungry for experience, for the thrill of living.
I would encourage students not to be afraid of performing this ritual. You can rest assured that waving your hands around, chanting a bunch of funny words, and doing a dance in the privacy of your attic will not cause anything bad to happen to you. The worst that will happen is that you might feel kind of silly if anyone ever sees you do it.