The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is the most complete ritual ever devised for preparing the place for magical work. The ritual is used as a general means of opening and closing any ritual, meditation or exercise, banishing pernicious influences, evoking helpful spiritual reinforcement to the circle and strengthening the aura.
Now one thing needs to be made clear about the pentagram itself. It is a five-pointed star, and as such, it is not only a symbol of Man dominating and controlling the elements, but it is a symbol of Mars, attributed to Geburah or “Severity”, the fifth emanation upon the Kabalistic Tree of Life. It is therefore a symbol of energy, war, strife and conquest. It might also be borne in mind that the “five” is a symbol of the hand or womb of the Goddess filled with creative fire, the feminine power that manifests the Will. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is far more than merely a means of “getting rid” of things.
“Those who regard this ritual as a mere device to invoke or banish spirits, are unworthy to possess it. Properly understood, it is the Medicine of Metals and the Stone of the Wise.” (Samuel Weiser, “Notes on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram”, Magick in Theory & Practice (1997), at 692.)
In all the details of the ritual, one must be careful not to lose sight of the Big Picture. The ritual, properly performed and with repeated and persistent practice, constructs a complete symbol in the aura or Sphere of Sensation of the practitioner. The idea of using a symbol of the Great Work in this manner is an exceedingly ancient one. In the East there is the holy mountain called Meru, which has its counterpart in Abiegnus of the Rosicrucian, or Western Mysteries. The building of the Temple. In times of remote antiquity, the names of cities and gods were interchangeable terms.
First of all, the practitioner must cleanse oneself of everything and anything that is not essential to the Great Work in hand. Next, integrating familiarity with the sacred scriptures (at source) through meditation, the practitioner cultivates a fiery aspiration and acceptance of the Path. All powers of the mind and imagination focus towards the construction of a suitable symbol of the Universe. The practitioner imagines standing in asana position at the center of that symbol. Once the distractions of body and mind are overcome, with concentration perfected through use of the sacred symbol, a miracle manifests within the properly constructed symbol as the prana circulates in the subtle body with the physical breath in the physical body. Various energy centers, rooms, chakras or sephiroth are activated in accordance to instruction. When the practitioner’s aspiration leads to That which is Above and Beyond, then an infinitely subtle transference of energy begins to take place.
It is worthwhile quoting once more from Crowley’s notes on the ritual, concerning this matter of the aura or Sphere of Sensation:
“Every man has a natural fortress within himself, the Soul impregnable. Besides this central citadel, man has also outworks, the Aura. This Aura is sensitive, and must be sensitive. Unless responsive to impressions, the Aura would cease to be a medium of communication from the non-Ego to the Ego. This Aura should be bright and resilient even in the case of the ordinary man. In the case of the Adept it is also radiant. In ill-health this Aura becomes weakened. It will be seen flabby, torn at the edges, cloudy, dull. It may even come near to destruction. It is the one duty of every person to see that his Aura is in good condition.” (Samuel Weiser, “Notes on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram”, Magick in Theory & Practice (1997), at 690.)
It is not only that the mind of the practitioner becomes sensitized to dimensions that were not previously apparent, but that the energy of the universe itself, by degrees, becomes realized as the basis of the self. However, this is also a very dangerous point in the spiritual journey of the aspirant. All too often, this realization is taken to be a sign of Mastery, when in fact it is only the beginning.
The regular use of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram may at the very least provide a means of beginning this work of “building the Temple”. The careful placing of symbols in the aura may not only help to calm the mind and free oneself of unwanted influences, it may all the while transform the astral-etheric structure latent in the subtle body of the practitioner into a matrix of the Divine Image. We must at all costs avoid that same territory becoming a chaos of symbols and thought-forms that together do not add up to anything but confusion.
While on this subject, it is worth mentioning that there are very good reasons for choosing geometric forms, such as the pentagram. Geometry expresses, as do numbers, which are the basis of the Kaballah, spiritual ideas in their purest, simplest form. To argue against these expressions of simple beauty and truth is dishonesty. It is for precisely this reason that the pentagram, the “wizard’s foot” of old, was chosen as a means of obtaining supremacy over lying, deceitful spirits.
When you perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, you begin by aspiring to the highest concept you can imagine, by the vibration of Atah, “To Thou, Essence.” This is then affirmed on Earth with Malkuth, and in the balance of forces that rule the universe, Geburah and Gedulah. It is then affirmed in Eternity as Lay Olahm, Amen – “To the Ages of Ages, so be it.”
You have, with the Kaballistic Cross, placed yourself at the center of the Universe, having first brought the divine presence into your heart, mind and body. Thereafter, you go on to cleanse the four quarters of the Universe with pentagrams of fire, affirming Man as the mirror of the Divine Image and with the ability to control the elements through spirit, the topmost point. The deity names are sent thundering through to the Ends of the Universe and back again. Your Magical Universe is then defined by the marking of the circle of light, another reminder of Spirit, and of Kether, the Godhead, the Crown of the Tree of Life.
The drawing of the four pentagrams automatically invokes spirit, the fifth point, and so raises the microcosmic consciousness to the level of the macrocosm, having completely sealed the circle against the Outer Darkness, the World of unbalanced forces called Qliphoth. This Hebrew word means literally, “Shells”. (Those who court the favors of Venus should do well to remember that she is often depicted as riding upon one!)
Malkuth is shown divided into four sections of color on the Tree diagram: citrine yellow, russet brown, olive green and black, in the colors of the Queen Scale. (The four scales of colour are a Kabalistic idea, and pertain to the Four Worlds: Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah and Assiah.) They have much relevance to the Tarot and other practical workings. The black part, representing the Dead End of Matter, the point of maximum inertia in the Universe, abuts onto the World of Shells, the husks or discarded astral remnants that souls departing the earth plane have left. This world is also inhabited by many other undesirable waste products of the Universe, including thought forms of a very low order.
Entering into a full discussion of the nature of the Astral Plane is beyond the scope of this essay. However, many “spirits” contacted by psychics and mediums, ouija board dabblers and ghost-hunting enthusiasts, are not, in fact, human souls. “Channeling” used to be called Mediumism and Spiritualism, or Spiritism. The Hermetic Art does not condemn these practices in themselves, but it insists that one know exactly what one is doing and why one is doing it.
Now, with the power of the pentagram and the Ineffable Name, you have sealed yourself off from the outer world, the profane world of ignorance and darkness, from the false and the unseemly. By this act you have called into operation the macrocosm, as the Greater Voice responding to the Lesser. Therefore, above you and below you, as if you stood in a vertical column, appears the six-rayed star of the cosmos, the hexagram of two interlaced triangles.
If you were to count all of the points of the pentagrams and hexagrams, you would have thirty-two, the total number of the Sephiroth plus the twenty-two paths of the Tree of Life. You stand in a Palace built for the Indwelling Glory, the Shekinah, the Soul of God. Light, spelled in Roman numerals as LVX, adds up to sixty-five, and so does the Divine Name of Malkuth Adonai (ADNI). Six is the macrocosm, the Divine Being, and five is the number of man in the Lower World. The union of these two is the object of the Great Work.
Thus, by cleansing and banishing your sphere, you leave a vacuum of sorts inside. This is not a good thing to do, for in nature anything left empty does not stay empty for long! So you continue, and by the clockwise direction of your movement you evoke the Archangels, guardians drawn from the Briatic World of Creation. Correspondingly, a spiritual brightness appears in the aura as the four elements are brought into perfect balance.
Your position at the center constitutes spirit. By adding from Above and Below to the four elemental directions in space, the six of the macrocosm is once more confirmed. Lastly, you repeat again the Kabalistic Cross which places the flame of the Eternal in your heart, the center of the Magical Universe.
This procedure, when well practiced, can be completed perfectly well in all of two minutes of your time!
As the Tetragrammaton is the name of Deity in four letters, Pentagrammaton is the name expressed in five letters.
Y.H.V.H. plus Shin (Spirit of the Primal Fire = 300, you may wish to check further correspondences) is written Y.H.Sh.V.H., Yeheshuah, which is why “Jesus”, or Yeheshuah, was the Son of Man and the Son of God in the Bible.
In Kaballah, Y.H.Sh.V.H. is the representation of the Holy Spirit of Man informing the four elements of Nature. Man is the Initiator of the Elemental Kingdom. The elements of the soul, the Nephesch, are redeemed by the Spiritual Fire, which is the formula of the recreation of the Divine World on earth, the Kingdom.
This rite is best performed daily to gain maximum benefits, most of which must be experienced to be quantified. Use this ritual to banish elemental energies and unwanted influences, before and after a larger magical working, and to balance your personal sphere (as well as your moods). Use your athame or other dagger, or the index finger of your dominant hand. Some sources cite that the wand may be used instead.
There are practitioners who complain that the LBRP and other rituals are too Christian in flavor. However, the point is not to identify with the imagery or the connotations of the names of God, because they are merely tools, albeit magical tools. Hence, it is unwise to take usage of such tools too personally.