ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
magical templeSeveral previous entries here have covered the basic practices of ceremonial magic in a form reworked for those who follow polytheist faiths. We've discussed the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, which is the most basic ritual working in Golden Dawn-style ceremonial magic, and the Middle Pillar exercise, which is the basic GD method of spiritual development and inner alchemy. I've heard from a number of people who've been practicing those regularly since then. That being the case, it's time to move on to the next piece of the system: the rituals for opening and closing a temple. 

Please note that a magical temple in this sense isn't a building set aside for magical work. I wish I had one of those, but that's kind of hard to afford on a writer's income! A magical temple is a space temporarily set aside for magical practice. It can be any convenient place. Before the temple is opened and after it's closed, the space can be used for any other purpose. (For example, I use my study as a temple space; the rest of the time, it's where I write.) It needs to be large enough that you can set up an altar in the center and then walk around it without bumping into anything. The altar can be any flat surface at more or less waist height at least 18 inches square -- a folding tray works very well. You can cover it with the altar cloth of your choice, or leave it bare. 

You'll also need two pieces of hardware to go on the altar. One of them is something in which you can burn incense; the other is something to hold a small amount of water. These can be as ornate or as simple as you like. I practiced for years with a simple pottery wineglass and a plain wooden incense burner. Put the altar in the middle of the space, with the four sides square to the four points of the compass -- if you have any question where east is, get a magnetic compass and find out. When you stand at the west side of the altar and face east, the vessel of water is on the left side of the altar and the incense burner is on the right. 

Once you're set up, you're ready to begin. As with the other polytheist ceremonial magic rituals I've posted here, the marker (PATRON) in the text should be replaced by the name of your own patron deity.  Here are the rituals:  

Opening the Temple

First, stand at the west side of the altar, facing east. Raise your right hand, palm forward, to salute the divine powers you will summon during the ritual, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I prepare to open this temple.”

Second, perform the complete Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram to call magical energies into the space.

Third, standing at the west of the altar, facing east, pick up the vessel of water in both hands and raise it up. Say: “Let this temple and all within it be purified with water.” Go to the east, dip the fingers of one hand into the water, and flick droplets of water three times to the east. Go around to the south, and do the same thing; repeat the same action in the west and the north. Return to the east, face east, lift up the vessel of water in both hands, and say: “The temple is purified.” Then go back to the west of the altar and return the vessel of water to its place.

Fourth, standing at the west of the altar facing east, pick up the incense—if you are burning stick incense, just the stick is fine; if you are using cone or loose incense, lift up the burner in both hands.  Say, “Let this temple and all within it be consecrated by fire.” Go to the east and with one hand, wave smoke from the incense three times to the east. Go around to the south, and do the same thing; repeat the same action in the west and the north. Return to the east, face east, lift up the incense in both hands, and say: “The temple is consecrated.” Then go back to the west of the altar and return the incense to its place.

Fifth, starting from the west of the altar, walk clockwise in a circle around the altar, passing the east four times. Each time you pass the east, bow your head in respect. This is the ancient and very widespread Pagan rite of circumambulation, still practiced in many polytheist societies around the world. As you walk, imagine your movements creating a whirlpool of energy that draws in magical power from the far reaches of the universe to your magical temple. When you have passed the east four times, circle back to the west of the altar and face east.

Sixth, spread your arms wide and say, “(PATRON), my patron god(dess), I ask you to bless and consecrate this temple of high magic, and aid me with your power in all the work I perform herein.” Pause for a time, and concentrate on sensing your patron deity’s presence and power surrounding you.

Seventh, still standing at the west of the altar facing east, raise your right hand again, palm forward, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I proclaim this temple duly open.” This completes the ritual.

Closing the Temple: 

First, standing at the west of the altar, facing east, pick up the vessel of water in both hands and raise it up. Say: “Let this temple and all within it be purified with water.” Repeat the process of purifying the temple with water, exactly as you did in the third step of the opening ritual. Then go back to the west of the altar and return the vessel of water to its place.

Second, standing at the west of the altar facing east, pick up the incense and say, “Let this temple and all within it be consecrated by fire.” Repeat the process of consecrating the temple with fire, exactly as you did in the fourth step of the opening riutal. Then go back to the west of the altar and return the incense to its place.

Third, starting from the west of the altar, walk counterclockwise in a circle around the altar, passing the east four times. Each time you pass the east, bow your head in respect. As you walk, imagine your movements dispersing the whirlpool of energy you created earlier and sending the intention of your working out into the universe to accomplish your will. When you have passed the east four times, circle back to the west of the altar and face east.

Fourth, spread your arms wide and say, “ In the name of (PATRON), I set free any spirits who may have been imprisoned by this ceremony. Depart unto your rightful habitations in peace, and peace be between us.” Pause for a moment, and then perform the complete Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. 

Fifth, standing at the west of the altar facing east, raise your right hand again, palm forward, and say, “In the name of (PATRON), and in the presence of all the gods and goddesses, I proclaim this temple duly closed.” This completes the ritual.

*************************
Okay, now you've got the rituals; what do you do with them? 

First of all, of course, you practice them until you can do the complete opening and closing ritual from memory, just as you did with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the Middle Pillar exercise. (If you haven't practiced those two rituals enough to do them from memory, go back and work on them until you can do that, before you get to work in this ritual.) 

Once you've got the opening and closing rituals by heart and can do them with intention, the fun begins. The opening ritual establishes a space in which you can do serious magical practice, and the closing ritual disperses any unused energies and makes the space safe for other purposes. They're the two slices of bread on which you build your magical sandwich. The filling? That's up to you. It can be spellwork, it can be spiritual exercises, it can be active imagination aka scrying in the spirit vision aka Pathworking, it can be whatever kind of magical working you happen to want to get up to. Doing the work in an open temple gives you a safe, cleansed, magically empowered space for any work you want to do, and closing the temple afterwards settles things down afterwards. 

There are other ritual elements that get plugged into the ritual structure we're developing here, and we'll get into those as we proceed. For now, try doing this at least once a week; if you don't have anything else to do between the opening and the closing, try doing the Middle Pillar exercise in the space between the opening and the closing. 

Have fun, and we'll go further in due time. 
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Yggdrasil As promised, here's a version of the Middle Pillar exercise reworked for Heathen practice. Our working title for this is the Central Axis exercise, as it works with the central axis or Pillar of Mist in the Heathen Tree of Life, midway between the Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Frost. Here's how it goes: 

1. Perform the complete Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, beginning and ending with the Hammer-Sign.

2. Imagine a ray of light descending from infinite space to form a sphere of light just above your head, around eight inches in diameter. This sphere is white and contains the rune Ansuz in gold. When you have formulated it clearly in your imagination, vibrate ODIN three times. (The practice of vibration is explained in the discussion of the Heathen Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram linked above.)

3. Bring the ray of light to your throat, and form another sphere. This one is violet and contains the rune Perthro in silver. When you have formulated it, vibrate FREYA three times.

4. Bring the ray of light to your heart, and form another sphere. This one is golden and contains the rune Sowulo in black.  BALDR is vibrated here three times.

5. Bring the ray of light to your genital center, and form a fourth sphere.  This one is blue and contans the rune Mannar in red. If you're male, vibrate HEIMDALL here three times. If you're female, the name to vibrate three times is SKADI.* 

6. Bring the ray of light to your feet, and form a fifth center. This one is black and contains the rune Bierkan in green.  The name vibrated here, three times, is IDUN.

7. Return the attention to the center at the top of the head. Bring a current of white light a few inches wide down the left side of the head and neck,  the left shoulder and arm, and the left hip and leg, down to the center at the feet, and then back up the right leg and hip, the right arm and shoulder, and the right side of the neck and head, back to the center at the head.  Repeat this a total of three times; if possible, synchronize with the breath, so that the energy flows down with the outbreath and up with the inbreath, but it is more important to visualize the whole course than to make it happen within a single breath.

8. In the same way, bring a current of white light from the center above the head, down the midline of the front of the body to the center at the feet, and then back up the midline of the back of the body to the center above the head. Repeat a total of three times.

9. Breathing out, send a ray of white light down the midline of your body from the sphere above your head to the one beneath your feet. (This is done just once.) Then breathe in, and draw a current of energy up the Middle Pillar of the body from that center to the center above the head; breathing out, allow it to spray like a fountain out and over the whole body, cleansing the entire aura, pooling at the feet and being drawn back up the Middle Pillar with the next inbreath. Do these latter two steps—the rising current on an inbreath and the fountain on an outbreath—a total of three times.

Tenth, perform the Hammer-Sign (as described in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram). This completes the exercise. 

This is the fundamental practice of Golden Dawn magic and should be done daily if at all possible. It establishes and energizes five centers in the subtle body, cleanses the aura, and opens the way to further magical practices. 

*Students of mine have found repeatedly that it's important, if you're working a Middle Pillar-type exercise and invoking Pagan gods and goddesses, it's important that the name you vibrate at your genital center should be of a deity of your own physical gender, to avoid odd and unpleasant energy effects. If you happen to be intersexed or transgender, you may need to experiment to figure out which name to use.
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
The Celtic Golden Dawn coverAs mentioned earlier, the folks at Llewellyn have obligingly given me a set of discount codes for my backlist, one per month, 20% off if you order it directly from the Llewellyn website. For the month of July, the book on sale is The Celtic Golden Dawn, arguably my most innovative magical textbook -- a complete system of magic that uses classic Golden Dawn technique but the gods, powers, and symbolism of the Druid Revival traditions. You can order a copy here; enter the discount code JMG0718 at checkout for the 20% off. 

While you're waiting for it to arrive, if you've got questions about the book, why, I'm the one to ask. ;-)
ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
DonnerSeveral of my Heathen readers have inquired recently about a project that's been under way for a while -- the development of a system of Golden Dawn magic, parallel to the one I published in my book The Celtic Golden Dawn, but invoking Norse Heathen gods and goddesses and deriving all its symbolism and structure from the Norse tradition.  My co-conspirator Sven Eriksen and I have been working away at it for a while now, and here's the first publicly available result: a version of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram suitable for Heathens. 

************
The Hammer Sign

This replaces the Cabalistic Cross of the Hermetic version of the LBRP. It's done as f
ollows: 

1. Stand facing east, hands at sides, and form hands into fists. Imagine yourself expanding upward and outward, until you experience yourself standing upon the Earth as though it were a sphere a foot across below your feet.

2. Sweep your hands up and out to your sides in twin arcs, and bring them together above your head, turning your hands as you go, so that the heels of your palms meet. This is best done quickly, with some "snap," and the hands should come together with noticeable force. As they meet, say the words, “Hallow me...”

3. Draw the joined fists down to heart level, imagining a beam of light descending from infinite space above you to your heart, and through it to the Earth below your feet. Say the word, “...hammer...”

4. Snap the arms out to the sides, hands still held in fists, until your arms stand straight out from your body with the palms of the fists turned up. Your body thus forms the image of Thor's hammer, and you visualize yourself transformed into Mjolnir, a hammer the color of lightning, a mighty weapon ready for the hand of a god. Say the words: “...in the High One’s name.”  Then vibrate the word of power WOD.

Practice this several times, so you can do it from memory, before going on to the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. 


The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram

1. Perform the Hammer-Sign in the center of the space, facing east.

2. Go to the eastern quarter of the space, and trace a pentagram with the first two fingers of your right hand, beginning with the top point, and tracing counterclockwise to banish. (This is for the banishing ritual; you'd trace clockwise to summon.) Visualize the pentagram drawn in a line of light. Point to the center of the pentagram and vibrate the name THOR.

Trace a circle around to the south, draw the pentagram in the same way, point to the center, and vibrate the name SAGA.

Repeat to the west, trace the pentagram, and vibrate the name RIGR.

Repeat to the north, trace the pentagram, and vibrate the name IDUN.

Trace the line back around to the east, completing the circle.

 3. Return to the center and face east. Say: “Before me the Spear Gungnir; behind me the Gjallar-Horn; to my right hand the Sword Sumarbrandr; to my left hand the Ring Draupnir. For about me stand the five point stars, and upon me shines the Aesir’s light.”

4. Repeat the Hammer-Sign. This completes the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. 

Three notes: 

a) Sága is a goddess mentioned in both the Elder and Younger Eddas, and Rigr is another name for Heimdall.

b) You can also do a somewhat less complex form of the words in step 3: "Before me Gungnir, behind me Gjallar, to my right hand Sumarbrandr, to my left hand Draupnir," and so on. 

c) Yes, I
 know the Old Norse didn't practice this kind of ceremonial magic. If you're minded to take offense at the thought that some of today's Heathen's might want to give this a try, I want you to imagine a bold Viking raider striding down the gangplank from his long ship onto his native soil, with a big sack of loot over his shoulder. Do you think that even once, in all the history of the Viking age, it ever happened that the people on shore told him, "No, you can't bring that here!  That's Frankish gold, not Norse"? 

No, I didn't think so either. The same principle applies here: I offer you plunder. It's yours for the taking, if you're strong enough to carry it off.

ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
Over the years that I've studied and taught occultism, I've heard from a lot of people who are interested in practicing ceremonial magic but don't find the Jewish or Christian religious context of most ceremonial magic appealing. My book The Celtic Golden Dawn was written in part to set out a system of ceremonial magic for people like me who find the Druid Revival traditions to their taste, but of course there are a lot of people out there who go in different directions. The other day, after a lot of brooding and some questions on the blog along these lines, I got to work, drafted a ritual, and field-tested it to work out the bugs. 

To use this ritual you'll need five divine names. One of them is the name of the god or goddess with whom you have a personal relationship. The other are four names taken from the pantheon you worship, each of which has four letters. (Think ZEUS, ISIS, etc.) It's best to have two gods and two goddesses; other than that, and the requirement that each name have four and only four letters, it's up to you.* **

* If you use a sacred alphabet, such as the runes or Ogham, it's four runes or four Ogham fews, whether or not that amounts to four English letters. 

** In the ritual below, the names of the deities will be given as PATRON, GODDESS 1, GOD 1, GODDESS 2, and GOD 2.

Got it? Here's the ritual. 

1. Stand facing east. Raise your hands from your sides in an arc until your palms join above your head, fingers pointing up. Draw your joined hands down to your forehead, visualizing light descending from infinite space to a point above your head, and say, "In the name of..."

Draw your joined hands down to your heart, visualize a ray of light descending from above your head to the center of the earth, and vibrate the name (PATRON). (Vibration? That's the mode of chanting that produces a buzzing or tingling sensation in your body.)

Now separate your hands, and touch your right shoulder with the fingertips of your left hand and your left shoulder with the fingertips of your right hand, the hands crossing at the wrist. Say:"...my patron god(dess)..."

Now raise the elbows straight up and bring your hands up, out, and down in a circular motion, bringing them back together palm to palm in front of your lower abdomen or groin (depending on your body's proportions). Visualize your fingertips tracing a circle of light. As you do this say: "..I place myself within the circle of Her (or His) presence..."

Now bring the joined hands up to your heart again, fingertips pointing upwards. Visualize the shaft of light descending from infinite space to the center of the earth, the circle of light you drew with your hands, and your heart shining like a sun. Say: "...and protection."

This rite is called the Circle of Presence, and replaces the Qabalistic Cross. 

2. Go to the eastern quarter of the space, and trace a pentagram with the first two fingers of your right hand, beginning with the top point, and tracing counterclockwise to banish. (This is for the banishing ritual; you'd trace clockwise to summon.) Visualize the pentagram drawn in a line of light. Point to the center of the pentagram and vibrate the name (GODDESS 1).

Trace a circle around to the south, draw the pentagram in the same way, point to the center, and vibrate the name (GOD 1).

Repeat to the west, trace the pentagram, and vibrate the name (GODDESS 2).

Repeat to the north, trace the pentagram, and vibrate the name (GOD 2).

Trace the line back around to the east and return to the center.

 3. Say: “Before me the powers of Air; behind me the powers of Water; to my right hand the powers of Fire; to my left hand, the powers of Earth. For about me stand the pentagrams, and upon me shines the blessing of (PATRON).” Visualize the elements in the four directions when you say these words.

4. Repeat the Circle of Presence. This completes the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. 

Notes: 

1. Yes, you can have the gods in east and west and the goddesses in north and south if you wish. It works best to have the gods facing each other and the goddesses facing each other, for the sake of balance. 

2. Yes, you can reference some kind of elemental symbols in the four quarters in part 3 if your tradition has them, e.g., the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan, or the four sacred animals we use in Druidry. If not, just use the elements as given. 

3. Yes, I know, the Hermetic GD version of the pentagram ritual traces the pentagram differently. We've done it this way in the Hermetic GD for some years now with excellent results; give it a try and see how you like it. 

4. Why four and only four letters? I have no idea, but it reliably works better that way. 


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ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)John Michael Greer

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