Witches’ Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram
by Paul Hume
The following text was an addendum to some Wiccan friends of mine written in 1986. It followed a fairly standard instruction in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, with which they were not familiar. We were feeling out some linking techniques leading to a proposed joint ritual involving several Wiccans and two ceremonial qabalists (one Thelemite — ie. myself, and another). While events conspired to torpedo this project, some interesting ideas came along on both sides. The goal was a set of brief rituals meaningful to both traditions which we could practice individually, thus building up a group current prior to the date of the proposed rite (Samhain of that year). Herewith my notes on “The Wiccan Pentagram” ritual which evolved during this project. My primary source of God Forms was Paul Huson’s “Mastering Witchcraft” which was my main source of information on Wicca at the time (I’ve done considerable study elsewhere since).
A ritual can be modified in many ways, to refit it for a different set of symbols, for example. I have taken the liberty of doing some research into alternate symbols for the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram since I know that you work a lunar-feminine current (Wicca) whereas I use more solar-masculine symbols in my current (Thelemite). The Qabalistic Cross This might be used as is, though you could use the English if you don’t feel that the Hebrew is relevant. I am sure you recognize the words as being similar to the end of the Lord’s Prayer in the King James Version: ‘Unto thee, the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever! Amen.’ I would point out that this formula was around a long time before Christ, much less the translators of the Standard Revised Version of the Bible. If you dislike such a specifically Christian form, it may be replaced with the words KETHER (KEH-THER), MALKUTH, GEBURAH, GEDULAH (or Crown, Kingdom, Power, Mercy), the spheres of occult energy that you are invoking with the Q-Cross. The mental images remain the same. You could even avoid these Hebrew symbols entirely, using Names and formulae more suitable to raising the Cone of Power, which is what you are doing here in Wiccan terms. See the ‘Wiccan Cross,’ below.
The principle is:
- Invoke strongly the presence of the Supreme Creative Principle as you conceive it (or in your case, Her) to be. Your Name for the Goddess as Creatrix would be most suitable.
- Draw down power from this Godhead and project it through your body into the Earth. Invoke strongly the Supreme symbol of Creation in your Tradition: maybe the God — as Son of the Goddess and Lord of the Trees, and as John Barleycorn, the ever-born and dying One.
- Establish on your right side the Active Principle — Yang — the Projective Energy of the Universe. A God image, I should think.
- Establish on yourleft side thePassive Principle — Yin — the Receiving Energy of the Universe. A Goddess force I feel.
- Strongly visualize yourself at the center of these axes between the Infinities. This centers you at the middle of the Sacred Space to be created — the still point at the center of the universe.
Again, the pentagram should be used. This symbol is universal to many, many systems of magick, including Wicca, as you know. The five-pointed star has supreme power over the Elements: Spirit, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. It drives off negative influences and attracts positive ones. It is an essential part of the rite and there is no symbol that can take its place as effectively.
I prefer using the Hebrew God-Names as is. In this connection they express formulae that govern the Elements and are no more religious than E=MC squared. However, there are equivalent Wiccan God-Names, which I describe in the next section, as substitutes for the Archangels. The use of the same Names to activate the stars and to invoke the Elemental force is quite in keeping with the Wiccan tradition, which does not use the same hierarchical system of God-Name, Archangel, Angel, Ruler, Spirit, etc. that Qabalism does.
The Archangelic Invocation
Instead of the Hebrew Archangels I described, you could use Wiccan Deities to invoke the ‘pure’ form of the Elements.
AIR-EAST: The Air image in Wicca seems to be masculine and relates to Herne, the Black Man, the messenger of the Gods, or the Sky Gods: Odin, or Lugh as the rising Sun God. The God can be imagined as riding through the night sky, at the head of the Wild Hunt, or rising above the branches of the world-ash. Instead of the Sword given to Raphael, the God might carry a staff, spear or wand, which is attributed to Air in most Wiccan traditions.
FIRE-SOUTH: The Fire image is definitely masculine and relates to the Horned God: Cernunnos, Lucifer, call Him what you will. He stands in the hot light of the noonday sun, radiating fiery energy. He would bear an Athame or sword, which is the weapon of Fire in most Wiccan styles.
WATER-WEST: The Water image is the Maiden, the mistress of the Moon and the Tides: Aradia, Artemis, Venus rising from the waves. Her image is lit by the silver light of the moon, upon a tranquil reach of water or the foaming sea. She might hold the chalice, symbol of water (alternatively, the cauldron might be envisioned).
EARTH-NORTH: The Goddess in Her aspect as Earth Mother is here: Hertha, Habondia, Demeter. She stands beneath the golden, life-giving sun surrounded by the fruits of the Earth. Before her, a platter flows with good things of the Earth, for the disk/shield/platter is the pentacle, magick instrument of Earth. These are only bare sketches of the magickal images that a witch might use to replace the Qabalistic images of the traditional pentagram ritual. I offer them for what they are worth.
A few points to note:
- The phases of the sun used in the Archangelic images (East:Dawn; South:Noon; West:Sunset; North:Midnight) are not the same, nor are they as important to Wicca. Instead, the poles of day and night are established: Night for the East-West axis and Day for the North-South axis.
- The male-female poles are established with the masculine images (Herne and Cernunnos) attributed to the active Elements (Air and Fire) and the feminine images (Aradia and Habondia) to the passive Elements (Water and Earth). Note that one figure of each gender stands in light, and one in darkness. This male-female/positive-negative/active-passive polarity is central to virtually all systems of magick, eg. the yin/yang symbol in oriental systems. I may be betraying solar-phallic tendencies by these assignments, and you may want to use different attributions: The Maiden can be Air and the Mother switch to Water, with the Hunter moving into Earth, for example. Heck, the dual God Forms should perhaps be invoked in each quarter. eg. Venus/Adonis imagery in East or South, Hertha/Herne in West, etc.
The Star Of David
The last line of the Invocation refers to a ‘six-rayed star’ and the mental work calls for imagining a Star of David. This is not a specifically Jewish symbol in this context. The six-pointed star, or hexagram, is the Qabalistic symbol par excellence of initiation and spiritual illumination. The upward-pointing triangle represents the aspiration of the magician to the Gods, and the downward-pointing triangle represents the divine power, flowing down to the world. These meet at the moment of magick and the interlaced triangles forming the hexagram symbolize the power of this meeting. Should you prefer not to use the Star of David, you can replace the mental image with any symbol showing the meeting of your soul and the power of the Goddess. This can even be a private symbol, one that is meaningful only to you. Alternatively, you can just envision the sphere of white light from the Q-Cross, as a symbol of divine power. Replace the words about the ‘six-rayed star’ with some descriptive form: ‘the seal of the Goddess,’ or ‘the sign of my Awakening,’ or simply ‘the light Divine.’
Wiccan Pentagram ritual
Rubric [This is a form of the rite incorporating the changes in symbolism discussed above]
Face East. Touch forehead. Say IO EVOE HERTHA (‘Blessed be Hertha,’ or other Name by which you worship the Goddess as Creatrix) Touch solar plexus or genitals. Say IO EVOE CERNUNNOS (‘Blessed be Cernunnos,’ or other name by which you worship the Horned God as the Earth) Touch right shoulder. Say EKO EKO AZARAK (‘Hail, hail force of fire’) Touch left shoulder. Say EKO EKO AMELAK (‘Hail, hail to the glory’) Extend arms in form of a cross. Say IO EVOE (‘Blessed be.’) Clasp hands upon breast and say ‘So mote it be.’
CIRCLE OF PROTECTION
Trace pentagram in East. Say HERNE. Trace circle of protection until facing South. Trace pentagram in South. Say CERNUNNOS. Trace circle of protection until facing West. Trace pentagram in West. Say ARADIA. Trace circle of protection until facing North. Trace pentagram in North. Say HABONDIA. Finish tracing circle, closing it in the East.
INVOCATION OF THE GREAT GODS
Return to center of circle and face East. Extend arms in form of a cross. Chant: Before me HERNE The Huntsman Behind me ARADIA The Maiden On my right hand CERNUNNOS, the Horned God On my left hand HABONDIA, the Great Mother About me flame the pentagrams And above me shines the light of the Goddess.
Repeat the Wiccan Cross. Rather than performing this in the rather measured cadences of Qabalistic Ritual, a form of dancing and chanting more pleasing to the God-forms of Wicca might profitably be devised.