Witches’ Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

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).

Non-Solar symbolism

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Establish on your right side the Active Principle — Yang — the Projective Energy of the Universe. A God image, I should think.
  4. Establish on yourleft side thePassive Principle — Yin — the Receiving Energy of the Universe. A Goddess force I feel.
  5. 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.

 

The Pentagrams

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.

The Names

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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]

WICCAN CROSS

 

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.

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

A to Z – A Wiccan Glossary

 
AKASHA: the spiritual ether (or Aether); the omnipresent fifth occult element which embraces the other four-earth, air, fire, and water; and from which they stem. This is the realm of “pattern” or causality, from which the realm the normally thought of “five senses manifests. Some define it is the “other” of the “two worlds” that the witch or magician walks between.

ARADIA: Daughter of the Goddess Diana, and a name for the Goddess used by Italian Witches or Strega, commonly used in many Wiccan traditions today.

ASPECTING: Any advanced magickal activity in which a practitioner manifests a particular aspect of the Goddess or God, in thought, feelings, behavior, appearance, etc.; Often as a direct result of a “Drawing Down”. Often a minor variation of this phenomena occurs with the selection of a “Magical Name”, of Craft Name.

ASPECTS: Forms, facets, or personas of Deity: for example, Brighid, Iseult,Eos, and Kore are all aspects of the Maiden, and the Maiden is an aspect of the Goddess

ATHAME: black handled, double edged dagger. Principally used to cast and dissolve the circle, for which purposes it is interchangeable with the magic sword. A tool of the “Element” of Fire in the Georgian Tradition and some others.

BELTANE: May Eve festival. One of the Ancient Celtic “Fire Festivals.” on this night, the cattle were driven between two bonfires to protect them from disease. Couples wishing for fertility would ” jump the fires” on Beltane night. Also the traditional Sabbath where the rule of the “Wheel of the Year” is returned to the Goddess. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Maiden to Mother.

BOOK OF SHADOWS: Traditionally hand copied book of rituals, recipes, training techniques, guidelines, and other materials deemed important to a Witch or a coven. Each tradition has it’s own standard version of the Book and each Witch’s book will be different as he or she adds to it with time from many different sources. Only another Witch can see your book of shadows. Also, traditionally, it may never leave your hands or possession until death, when it should be destroyed, or (in some traditions) returned to the coven to be disposed of.

BURNING TIMES: a term used by some Witches for the period of persecution in the Middle Ages and later. It is in fact a misnomer in some places, as Witches were only burned in Scotland, and on the continent of Europe. In England and the U.S., they were hanged.

CANDLEMAS: Festival held on Feb. 1. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name). This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year.This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

CARDINAL POINTS: North, South, East, and West, marked in the Georgian Tradition by candles of green, red, yellow, and blue, respectively. The Circle is drawn to connect these four points.

CHALICE: one of the tools of the Witch. Placed on the altar to represent the element of Water.

CHARGE OF THE GODDESS: The Traditional words of the Goddess to her followers, or “hidden children”. Normally declaimed by the HPS at every coven Circle.

CIRCLE: the area in which the magickal worship and spells takes place. Can also be used to designate a particular group of Witches or Pagans such as “Silver Acorn Circle”.

CONE OF POWER: power raised in the circle by the Witches assembled, and sent out into the world to work magick, is usually visualized as being retained and built in the form of a “cone” prior to release.

COVEN: an organized group of Witches, led by a High priestess and/or a High Priest who meet regularly for worship and fellowship. The traditional membership is 13, but in fact most covens number considerably less. 3 is the minimum in the Georgian Tradition. In Middle English, “Covin” a group of confederates; In Old French “Covine” a band or group with a single purpose; Latin “Com”-together, “Venire”-to come or move.

COVENSTEAD: regular meeting place for a coven. Usually the home of the High Priestess or High Priest.

COWAN: a non-Witch. Formerly used in a very derogatory manner. Still used in Masonic Ritual to indicate the non initiate and/or pretender to “real craft”. Not often used today among most Witches.

COYOTE ENERGY: trickster energies. Named for the American Indian Trickster, Coyote, who tricks man into learning what he needs to learn. Applies to one who constantly jokes and clowns. Also applies to the concept of “Holy Fool” in many traditions.

CROSS QUARTER DAYS: The modern name for the Celtic Fire Festivals of Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas.

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Abracadabra- A word from the Jewish mystical tradition of Qabala. Its root is the name of the Gnostic deity Abraxas, meaning “hurt me not”. It is said to possess magickal powers, especially of protection from illness.

Adept- An individual who through serious study and accomplishments is highly prficient in a praticluar magickal way.

Aeromancy- Divination by the stars.

Aisling– Ireland: Dream or Vision. In the many Irish tales having this title, the person who dreams sees a speir-bhean or vision-woman from the Otherworlds, pronounced “ash-leen”.

Aka- The cord between the astral body and the physical body, most likely this concept is derived from the biblical reference to a “silver cord” connected the body and the soul

Akashic Records- Edward Cayce’s concept which states that somewhere there is a universal hall of data about past lives, magic, healing, and spirituality. It does not exist on the physical plane but rather on a more psychic level. Some believe it can be accessed on the astral plane, others feel it can only be accessed through a visualization journey in the mind.

Alba– The Isle of Skye; Scotland

Alchemist- One who practices alchemy.

Alchemy- A form of high magick which stems from the middle ages noted by the attempts of alchemists to make lead turn into gold.

Alexandrian Tradition– A form of Garderian Wiccan practice developed by Alex and Maxine Sanders in Britain in the 1960s.

Alignment- Synchronization of mental and spiritual vibrations with a god, goddess, or astronomical body. Often the complete balance and centering of the chakras is called an alignment.

Altar- A small working area and shrine many pagans maintain, where they perform most of their ritual and spell work.

Amulet- An object charged with personal energies through ritual or meditation often used to ward off a certain force or person.

Aradia-
The Italian goddess Diana’s daughter, said to be the origin of all witches. The book “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches” was written by Leland about Aradia and the practice of witchcraft

Arcana
– The two halves of the tarot deck.The major arcana consists of 22 cards showing dominant occurrences in our lives.The minor arcana consists of 56 suit cards (commonly called the lesser arcana) that assists the major arcana cards,or shows smaller influences in our lives.

Archetype- Symbolic imagery seen in visions, dreams, meditation, and mind quests. Used to interpret the meaning of the vision thereby betting understanding and communicating with the subconscious.

Arthurian Tradition- A Welsh tradition of paganism based on the lore of King Arthur (the “Once and Future King”), Merlin the Magician, and Guinevere.

Asatru- Modern worship of the old Norse gods.

Aspecting- An advanced magical practice which is seen most commonly in a coven as opposed to solitary. The practitioner attempts to manifest an aspect of the Goddess or the God. This is seen in the pagan ritual of Drawing Down the Moon as well as in other pagan religions such as Vodou, where the priest often allows the deity to speak through his or her body.

Asperger- A bundle of fresh herbs either carrying dew or dowsed with spring water, used to sprinkle the water during ritual purification.

Astral– Another dimension of reality.

Astral Plane- A plane parallel to the physical world, traveled through by the astral body during projection.

Astral Projection/Travel
– The proccess of separating your astral body from your physical body to accomplish travel in the astral.

Astrology- The practice of revealing the future by interpreting the arrangement of stars and planets in relation to astrological theory and the zodiac.

Athame– A Wiccan ritual knife. Generally double edged with a black handle, but not always. This knife is seldom used for physical cutting, if at all, and need not be sharp. It is *never* used to draw blood and Wicca do not draw blood or use blood in ritual. Its primary use is as an energy directing device, much like the wand, though with different common uses. compare: Boline, Wand

Attune- To bring different psyches into harmony.

Augury- Divination based on “signs” or omens.
Aura- An energy field which surrounds living beings. An aura is most often visible only to those born with the skill to see it, or those who developed this ability. A visible aura contains various colors and tells about the spiritual and emotional persona of the plant, human, or creature surrounded by it. However, an aura can also be felt, heard, or sensed through other means.

DEOSIL: clockwise, or sunwise. Traditional direction for working “building” magick.

DRAWING DOWN THE MOON: Ritual invocation of the spirit of the Goddess into the body of the High Priestess by the High Priest.

DIVINATION: magical method of exploration or inquiry into a situation via such methods as Tarot cards, runestones, I-Ching, etc.

ELEMENTS: Earth, air, fire, and water, plus spirit, which includes them all. These are regarded as realms or categories of nature (both material and non-material) and are not to be confused with the physicists table of elements, which the modern witch, of course, accepts.

ESBAT: weekly or biweekly meeting of a coven. Traditionally held either on the full moon or the new moon.

FAMILIARS: Either a Witch’s pet animal which has been trained to be a magickal helper, or an artificially created “elemental” which performs the same functions as the animal friend.

FIVEFOLD KISS, FIVEFOLD SALUTE: The Witches’ ritual salute, with kisses; (1) on each foot, (2) on each knee, (3) above the pubic hair, (4) on each breast, and (5) on the lips-really 8 kisses in all. It is only used within the Circle, but the words that go with it are the origin of “Blessed Be.”

GARDNERIANS: Tradition of Witchcraft descended from the teachings of Gerald Gardner

GNOMES: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Earth or is associated with the EARTH Element.

GREAT RITE: The rite which is the main feature of the third degree initiation, and which is also laid down for certain festivals. It is sexual in nature, but may be `actual’ (and private to the couples concerned) or symbolic, as the participants wish.

HALLOWS: name used by some traditions for Samhain, or Halloween

HANDFASTING: Wiccan equivalent of a wedding. It can be made legal if the Priestess and/or Priest are registered as clergy with the local authorities, or it may only be considered binding within the coven.

HIGH PRIEST/ESS: Technically speaking, a Witch who has received the 3rd. degree initiation. More usually, the male and female leaders of a coven.
IMBOLC: Celtic name for Candlemas.
INVOCATION: The ritual “calling-in” of an entity (or energies) higher than human, either for communication with the caller through a medium or by visible manifestation or else to enter into a human body as in the Drawing Down the Moon. In some traditions, a Prayer

LAMMAS: August 1st. Witch Festival. The Old Celtic name for this festival is Lughnassadh. It is the Festival of the First Fruits, and is the first of the 3 harvests. This festival also marks the change of the Threefold Goddess energies from that of Mother to Crone.

PENTACLE: a disc shaped talisman; in particular, the metal disc which represents the earth element among the witch’s working tools.

PENTAGRAM: The five-pointed star. With a single point uppermost, it represents the human being. Inverted, with two points uppermost, it can have Satanist associations; but not necessarily. Some traditions of Wicca use the inverted pentagram to signify an initiate of the second degree.

QUARTERS: The North, East, South, and West parts of a magickal circle or other ritual area. (See also “Watchtowers”)

REDE: rule or law

SABBAT: one of the Eight festivals or high holy days of Wicca.

SALAMANDER: an entity that dwells in the realm of Fire.

SAMHAIN: The festival of remembrance for the dead, held on the eve of Nov. 1st. It is the last of the three harvests. This festival also marks the transition of rulership of the “Wheel of the Year from that of the Goddess to that of the God.

SCRYING: divination, usually using such methods as crystal gazing, or divination via incense smoke, or water as opposed to tarot or other manipulative means.

SPELL: a prayer, or verbal direction of magickal energies toward the accomplishment of some goal.
SUMMONER: The male officer of the coven who corresponds to the Maiden. He is the assistant High Priest

SYLPH: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Air or is associated with the AIR Element.

TRADITIONS: any of the various “sects” of Wicca such as Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Georgian, Seax, etc.

UNDINE: an “entity” or “elemental” that dwells in the plane of Water or is associated with the WATER Element.

WAND: A rod or staff that is prepared so that it may be used for magickal or psychic purposes, usually to project some form of power

WARLOCK: a term coined in the Burning Times . It was used to denote a traitor to the Craft, or one who had betrayed the followers of the Old Religion. It’s origin is Scottish. Because of the negative connotations, it is not used by most Wiccans today.

WATCH TOWERS: Originally from the Enochian branch of Ceremonial Magick, now incorporated into many “Traditions” of Wicca, these are the four elemental “directions” or “quarters” (corresponding to the appropriate points on the compass) called to protect the Circle during its establishment. Each of them have a correspondence between the compass point, an element, and (varying amongst different traditions) color associated with them.

WICCA: the name most modern day Witches use for the Craft. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Wicce, meaning to bend or to shape. This is the root word from which we get wicker.

WIDDERSHINS: counter clock wise. Used for “tearing down” OR BANISHING magick.

WHITE HANDLED KNIFE: the working knife of a Witch. It is used to carve candles, and for fashioning the other tools. Traditionally, it can only be used in a circle.