The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (or LBRP) is a ceremonial magic ritual devised and used by the original order of the Golden Dawn that has become a mainstay in modern occultism. This ritual is considered by many to be a basic preliminary to any other magical work, so much that it was the only ritual, beside initiation rituals, taught to members of the Golden Dawn before they advanced to the Inner Order.
Description and structure
The ritual is highly dynamic, using gesture, visualization and the pronunciation of certain words of power, combining prayer and invocation as well as clearing and preparing a space for further magical or meditative work. The ritual is perceived as banishing any "chaotic" and "impure" forms of the elements from the magician's circle tracing the Pentagrams in the air and by the power of certain Divine names followed by an invocation of the spiritual forces ruling the elements to fortify and guard the circle.
The principal components of the Qabalistic Cross and the LBRP are drawn from the works of French occultist Eliphas Levi. The text originated as a traditional Jewish prayer said before sleeping, as documented by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in The Hirsch Siddur [Feldheim Publishing, 1969], which reads as follows:
In the Name of God, the God of Yisrael: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God.
Although some orders suggest that magical equipment is needed to perform the LBRP, the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn did not use any. However a modern approach might include the following:
- An altar in the center of the ritual space, upon which are placed instruments representing the four Classical elements
- A ceremonial robe (e.g. a tau robe) or other suitable ritual garb worn by the magician
- A ritual dagger or sword (e.g. an "athame"), or a wand, used to gesture to the points of the Qabalistic Cross, and to draw the pentagrams and the magic circle connecting them.
The Golden Dawn LBRP consists of three main parts, in this order:
- Qabalistic Cross, sometimes repeated at the end of the LBRP. This is meant to construct an astral cross in the body of the magician, with points corresponding to Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. While constructing this cross, the magician vibrates Hebrew words from the last few lines of the Lord's Prayer (Thine is the kingdom, etc.).
- Formulation of the Pentagrams, in which a banishing earth pentagram (for the Banishing Ritual) or an invoking pentagram (for the Invoking Ritual) is drawn in the air at each of the four cardinal points and an associated name of God is vibrated (YHVH, ADNI, AHIH and AGLA for East, South, West and North respectively). This segment of the ritual is meant to banish or invoke the four elements (Air, Fire, Water and Earth respectively). The four pentagrams are connected by a circle, also drawn in the air.
- Invocation of the Archangels, during which the magician declares the Archangels Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel (or Auriel) to be present, while visualizing them at the four cardinal points.
Some traditions, in order to distance themselves from the Judeo-Christian content of the ritual, replace the Qabalistic Cross, names of God and archangels with suitable substitutes; using, for example, the chakra system instead of the Tree of Life, mantras instead of God names, etc. Magicians practising Thelemic magick will often intone the name Aiwass at the heart while performing the Qabalistic cross, as reinforcing their commitment to the presiding intelligence of Liber AL.