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THE MEANING OF LIFE
To gather experience over countless lifetimes.

We Realize who and what we really are, and come to behave like That.

Ignorance of That and associated bad habits result in mistakes and consequential suffering.

The accumulation of experience eventually brings us to realize that we are not separate from others, which forms habitual devotion to the ultimate welfare of all.
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Posts Tagged ‘Kabbalah’

Part V: Casting Pentagrams

Giving Life Energy to a Symbol

We are about to pay attention to this ocean of attention (life energy) that we live in (the aura of the sun).  We are going to use organs and veins that are part of our make-up that are specifically designed to work with life energy.  We are going to use these to manipulate that life energy to feed a type of being that is alien to most people who have not done this before.

The type of being I’m talking about here is that of a living symbol.  There is a plane of existence (a classification of modes of existence) that pervades our present universe, all around us, right here and right now.  Symbols are living beings in this mode of existence.  They are aware, responsive living creatures of meaning or principle. The life and responsiveness of a symbol involves expressing that meaning.

We are going to give life energy (on our plane of existence) to one of these symbols so it can express itself in our lives, so it can join in our lives.  We are going to offer it a body created of pure life energy (concentrated attention).  With that life energy we are not going to create the being called pentagram, but we are going to create a form or body for it to take part in our ordinary every-day lives.  In creating a living body for the symbol, we are also going to give this new instance of life, an inspired purpose in this life.  We are going to give it a specific purpose or context for expressing its meaning in our lives.

In fact, we are going to create 4 different bodies for the same symbol.  Each will have a different purpose in life so the symbol may express four different Reminders, one in each of 4 different ways we have of experiencing things.  Remember, the pentagram with its 5 points is reminding us that we are Awareness experiencing things, and of how we experience everything.  So far, in this article, we have explored the meanings of three of the five points.  We have explored how two of the points represent ways we experience the tangible world.  One is as a “self” involved in the center of everything like a lord or king, as the cause or purpose of it all (Fire).  The other is as the entirety of Creation that emanates from and mirrors Awareness: the Earth on which we live.  We have not yet explored the other two points of the pentagram expressing the other two ways that we experience everything.   But these four pentagrams that we cast and give life to, will be living reminders of these four ways we have of experiencing, and that we are who or what it is that is doing the experiencing.  The pentagrams will be able to use their special skills and talents, expressed in our lives with the life energy we give them.  They will express themselves in our lives to help us build the habit of Remembering and behaving like who and what we really are, all through our daily lives.

Witch-Fire as Nourishment

As embodiments of the One Pure Consciousness, the Author and Creator of the Universe, beings have many abilities related to creation itself.  One of these abilities is to create life itself.  Since Awareness is the cause of all existence, and directed awareness (attention) nourishes all existence, directed attention is the key to creation, including creating life itself.  (There is more to creating life than directed attention, such as bestowing autonomy, but irrelevant to the current topic.)  Further, since attention nourishes all existence, attention has an expression as life-energy.  As a living being yourself, directing your attention in a certain way allows you to direct life-energy as part of creating and feeding life, and otherwise giving energy to living beings.  This is the case in healing, which is simply the renewal or balancing of life energy.

We call the expression of attention as life energy by different names in different cultures, among them being chi, witch-fire, etheric energy and prana.  Directing this life energy is a practice of directing attention to nourish existence.  Because life energy is the form of attention itself, directing life energy is as easy as directing your attention.

In this part of the Universe, we exist in a field of the attention, the awareness, and the Being of that which we call the Sun.  Another way of saying the same is that we exist within the aura of the Sun.  The Sun’s aura, its field of awareness, its field of attention, is for us an inexhaustible ocean of life-energy.  Our bodies are born in it and of it.  We are constantly breathing it in and out (besides the air we also breathe in and out).  All forms of nourishment that our bodies depend on ultimately come from the Sun, and get their energy from the Sun, as the Sun nourishes the entire food chain.  But the aura of the sun also nourishes us directly.  We have a network of veins and organs throughout our bodies that store, direct, transform and otherwise leverage this life energy to make up the body.  It gives mobility and expression to our bodies, which is Pure Consciousness in a human form.

We are going to use this network of organs and veins by which we direct, transform, and leverage the life energy of the Sun.  We are going to use them to give life energy to a living symbol, so it may also express itself and move among us in our daily lives as constant Reminders of whom and what we really are.

How to See and Work with Etheric Energy

Casting attention as nourishment (casting life energy, etheric energy, witch fire, chi, prana…) is important in all forms of magic, because any act of magic is an act of casting or shifting one’s attention.  But what if you don’t have clairvoyance (psychic sight) by which to see this etheric energy?  Actually, it is not important or necessary to see it to be able to work with it, as long as you have had guidance or training from someone who can see it.

Because casting attention as nourishment is so important, early in traditional training we spend time learning to see and cast this etheric energy.  One starts in a completely dark room, with hands held in front of one’s chest, with palms almost together (about ¼ inch apart).  One breathes slowly and regularly.  With each in breath, one feels that one is soaking in etheric energy from the ocean of that in which we live, feeling it soaking in through a network of “pores” that cover our bodies.  These pores are part of the network of veins and organs that our bodies have for storing, directing and transforming life energy.  We call this breathing technique, “pore breathing.”

So with each in breath, one is soaking up life energy, and one feels it gather in the solar plexus, within our chests, behind the sternum.  Then with each out breath one feels life energy coursing through one’s arms, out through the palms into the small space between them.  Since life energy is a form of attention, by casting our attention on a feeling that this energy is moving, we are directing it to do so.

Doing this for a few minutes, one starts to feel definite warmth between the palms.  As this happens, one slowly and very slightly moves the palms apart, moving the hands as though holding a ball of energy between.  Then, as this ball of energy collects and becomes denser, the warmth clear and definite, one opens the eyes in the complete darkness.  Slowly moving the hands apart about ½ inch, we watch the space between the palms and between the fingers of one hand and those of the other.  Then, one can slowly move the hands further apart, until they’re an inch or two apart, and see tendrils of this whitish etheric energy stretching and expanding as your hands move apart just a little bit.

What one sees here is the Witch Fire, the prana, the etheric energy that one is learning to cast and to nourish the beings and symbols with, when one performs any kind of magic.  Through an act of deliberate imagination, powered by focused attention, one can give it various colors as needed.  For the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we cast this same energy, the form of attention, in a blue color like the color of burning alcohol.  This color transforms the raw energy to carry love and creativity, respect and compassion as nourishment that makes up a living body for a living symbol.

It is important to note here that we are breathing this life energy from the ocean around us, the aura of the Sun, and then casting that through our arms and out our hands like a flamethrower.  The point is that we’re using energy from the ocean around us, and not using the energy that we naturally store in our bodies.  Casting the life energy stored in our bodies reduces the amount stored in our bodies.  Of course, one’s body will slowly and naturally renew this, given time.  However, because one is forcibly casting life energy in a deliberate and direct manner, it can take a lot longer to refill naturally than it takes to cast it out in magical operations.  This can be dangerous, as this store of energy in our bodies is important for healing.  If one should have an accident or undergo surgery, this store of life energy is extremely important.  So always remember to use pore breathing to breath in life energy from around you, and to cast that out through your arms and hands.

Technique for Casting the Pentagrams

So, the script for this ritual has us start facing the East, to cast the first of four pentagrams there.

As described, with a slow and deep in breath, we draw from the ocean of life energy, filling ourselves with it, and concentrating that in our solar plexus.  We cast our right arm forth, holding a ritual daggar or as a traditional witch, an Athamé (a consecrated double-edged blade, purchased only for this purpose, and never cut anything).  Without a ritual dagger, one uses one’s hand, with only the index finger and middle finger extended together.  Then, pointing at the lower-left area of the wall or space before us, we slowly breathe out.  With the out breath, we will that Witch Fire or blue etheric energy to flow from the solar plexus, down our arm which we feel is like an accelerating tube.  It flames out the extended fingers or dagger like a flamethrower.  We cast the fire in a line on the wall or into the space before us, as we slowly move from the lower-left corner to the top-center.  We will this to happen by focusing our attention on the feeling that it is happening.  Imagination allows us to use our focused attention as a motivating force, nourishing an influence on reality, causing what we imagine to happen.

If you are not psychic (like me, I am not psychic) then don’t worry about not being able to see the blue colored flame before you as you draw this line of prana.  Simply know it is there, and picture what it would look like if you could see it: a line of flaming blue, like burning alcohol.

Many people who cannot psychically see etheric energy, or who do not understand the reason for casting this etheric energy, make this movement swift, so they easily see in their “minds eye” a line traced before them.  They see an optical-mental illusion created by the swiftness of their hand. But traditional training shows us how to be more careful, more deliberate, and more respectful in this important act.  The training directs us to move slowly and carefully, with mindfulness of what we are doing and why, as we cast the blue fire carefully in a line before us.

There are important reasons for doing this slowly and carefully.  First, etheric energy or Witch Fire itself moves slowly when cast out of the body like this.  Second, there is a huge difference between seeing the trace of your swiftly moving hand, and actually seeing a glowing line of etheric energy in front of you.  Third, the act should be a loving and respectful motion, rather than a mad dash, because you are creating a living, breathing body for an important being.  You want that body to last as long as possible, and with as much energy as possible, so it can get as actively involved in your life as possible.  A Pentagram has no organs by which to eat or gather energy by itself, on our plane of existence.  You want that body to last at least until your next performance of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, when you will restock that body with more energy.  You want to focus on casting as much raw etheric energy as you can into each line of the pentagram and making it stay as long as possible.  So, according to what our teacher has repeatedly taught us, each line of the pentagram should take at least 3 or 4 seconds.  There is a limit to how slow you should go, and you want to go as slow as possible, without being slower than this limit.  You do not want to run out of breath, going too slowly, or you will not be able to concentrate your attention on the act of casting this blue fire.  Each distraction or break in attention as you are casting a line before you creates a break in that line.  I cannot count the number of times our teacher made us start a line again.  He would do this because he could psychically see the energy lines that we would cast before us.  In these, he would see that we were either moving too fast, not focusing the flow of blue fire, spreading it too thinly, or that our attention wavered to something else while we cast the line.  Our teacher himself, as practiced, accomplished and powerful as he was, never cast a line in a pentagram that took less than 3 seconds.

Seeing this energy requires psychic sight and is not the same as seeing the optical illusion of trails we create by quickly whipping our hand along a path.  If what we’re seeing is truly etheric energy and not an optical illusion of trails, then we should be able to move as slowly as we wish, mindfully pouring a thick and steady flow of energy.  If one is seeing the real thing, one can move as slowly as the exercise just described, and still see that etheric energy all the more obviously, not less obviously.  If one sees it less obviously when moving slowly, then one has undisputable evidence that one was watching the optical illusion of trails.

The instruction of moving as slowly as you can without breaking attention was not instruction just for beginners.  This was emphasized by our teacher as late as 2005, when I and others had been studying for more than 30 years.  This was when our teacher was showing people who have all completed their traditional training, a variation of the Pentagram Ritual to celebrate what we had learned.  Our teacher was watching and correcting the careful, slow, loving, focused concentration of as much blue etheric energy as possible, even for people who have been doing the Pentagram Ritual all their adult lives.  That’s because whether you’re a beginner or an advanced practitioner, when casting a pentagram you’re still trying to build an etheric body with as much life-energy as you can, as a loving, careful, attentive offering.  This offering of blue etheric energy as I have said, is a concentrated offering of the nourishment of all things: attention.  By slowly, carefully offering as much attention as you can, you are providing more of that nourishment, in as attentive and loving a way as you can.

Always remember that attention is the spiritual nourishment of all beings, be they spirits, gods, symbols, or your own family.  This is why we should perform all ritual acts with as much and as long a focus of attention as we can afford.  This is why we should, with every interaction that we care about, pay as much attention or mindfulness as possible.  This is why we should spend as much attention as we can on those who are close to us, as we would with our children.  And as one learns to behave like the Author of the Universe that one is, one will want to spend as much attention as one can on any beings, needs or celebrations that cross one’s path in life.

So, let’s summarize and think about what we’re doing here, in this part of the ritual.  We take five deep breaths, each time soaking up energy by pore breathing.  We exhale five times, each time slowly and attentively casting a line of a body for the living pentagram before us.  We should see each line both before us on the wall or space immediately before us in one sense, and in another sense, in the infinite distance at the edge of the universe.

We are creating a living body for a living symbol.  Like gods, angels, and all kinds of spirits, symbols are already living things whether they have bodies or not.  When we worship gods, we offer them our concentrated attention (the nourishment of all things), and give them the means by which to take part in our experience.  What does this concentrated attention, this nourishment look like?  We could go into more detail on this subject than is fitting for this article, but attention in its most “bodily” form is this etheric energy that we see between our hands in the dark room.  This energy is the same as the aura of the Sun, the ocean of life energy in which we live and from which makes up our own bodies.  When we offer attention, we are making offerings of many types on many levels of interpretation, but in the most tangible way, concentrated attention has the form of blue etheric energy.  How much attention are we paying, how much of an offering we are making if we whip our arms around, so fast that we actually make traces in our minds eye?  Instead, a slow and careful, respectful, loving and mindful build-up of an etheric body, an almost physical body is what we’re trying to do here.  We do it so that, like gods we might pray to and make offerings to, the Pentagram might live in our daily experience.  We do it so the Pentagram can participate in our daily experience as a constant Reminder and Celebration of whom and what we really are.

With this offering of a living body, the Sacred Pentagram is going to be present around us, at the edge of the universe, throughout the day, with the power to share in our lives.  It is going to participate by revealing its incredibly profound message and presence through hints, coincidences and if given enough life energy (concentrated attention, mindfulness) even speaking to us right out of the mouths of people in our daily experience.  This activity of gods and spirits and symbols in our ordinary every-day life needs energy of a type that a god or spirit or symbol might not readily have.  So you want to provide this body with as much life energy as you can, though remember, not your own bodily energy.

But we are not creating the symbol itself.  That is timeless and infinite in its omnipresence.  For example, how could we say we invented the number five?  What we are doing is giving that principle a body by which it can move and express itself.  We have a body with hands, and because of that, we can express our will by directing our hands.  Our hands are not us, but we express ourselves through them.  If we lose a hand to disease or an accident, we are still ourselves, but we can no longer express ourselves through that lost hand.  Likewise, we are offering a Pentagram Being metaphorical hands by which it can express itself in our lives.

Ok, so we’re creating a body, which is a form of life.  And the life we’re creating is not a human, nor animal, nor spirit, but a living symbol.  Again, the details are beyond the scope of this article, but part of creating life involves charging it with an inspired purpose in life.  As human beings, our purpose in life is to realize that we are living embodiments of the One Pure Consciousness, and to learn to behave like That.  Once we have carried out this purpose, we will no longer be merely human, nor any longer embodied in human form unless we arrange to be.  What is the purpose in life of a living, breathing, intelligent and perfectly aware symbol?  Well, it depends on the context in which we find the symbol, as with the context of a word or letter of the alphabet.

In this act of life creation, having finished tracing the shape in a particular way, we are going to give that body an inspired purpose for this life.  We are going to define what it is that this symbol is going to express in our lives.  And, you guessed it, that purpose has to do with realizing who and what we really are and the nature of what our experience really is.  The Pentagram can do this because the Pentagram is a symbol or reminder that involves how we experience everything, and how the Awareness relates to objects of Awareness.  The Pentagram, being what it is and what it symbolizes, has special skills and talents to remind us of these things, and help us celebrate these things in every single experience we might have.

Charging with a Purpose in Life

Now, in this part of the ritual, we are actually casting four pentagrams around us, joined at their hearts by a circle that encloses us.  Remember these are actually in the infinite distance, so the circle includes the entire universe: all possible experience.  Immediately after casting each pentagram, we charge it with a magic word.  Here I’m using the word “charge” in the sense of “appoint: assign a duty, responsibility or obligation to,” and “fill or load to capacity.”   So in charging the living body we are providing for this pentagram, we are also defining its purpose in this life.  The magic words with which we charge the heart of each, are words that define a particular role that each pentagram will play in constantly reminding us.

What’s Next

In the next part of this article, “The Habit of Bahaving Like Who We Really Are,” I will explore the meanings of the four magic words or Names of God, that we charge the Living Pentagrams with.   I will explore how those particular charges help us to understand exactly how we are constantly creating all of our experiences.  I will explore how those Name of God reveal us all to be Supreme Magicians, even if we don’t know it.

With this understanding, we will be in a position to examine meanings of the final two points of the pentagram.  We will see how all four of those points describe the relationship of the topmost point, the One Pure Consciousness, to all experience.  We will then see how the pentagram can be such a skillful reminder of whom and what we really are, and how it so perfectly represents the manner in which Awareness has experience.  While it is beyond the scope of this article, with an understanding of how the pentagram reveals us to be such magicians, we can in turn see other ways the pentagram can help us.  We will see what a difference drawing them in a different direction can be, or charging them with other inspired purposes to provide other specific influences on experience and reality.

We have started casting these four pentagrams in the East.  This is the direction we normally face in all magical workings within the plane of the tangible universe.  This facing is significant, because it gives us a clue to the real meanings, powers and purposes defined by these four magic words or Names of God that we charge the pentagrams with.

Given energy by which to move and act, they can take part in our daily lives through hints, arranged coincidences, and even talking to us through the people around us.  They can express what we charged each one with doing in our lives (charged with the Names of God).

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part IV: The Sacred Pentagram

Summary of What We Are Doing:

Let’s  summarize what it is we are doing, when performing this ritual:

  • Part of realizing who and what we really are involves learning to behave  like That.
  • We can use powerful techniques developed by those who already have the habit of Remembering and acting like That, to shift our attention away from identifying with being a limited human, toward identifying with who and what we really are.
  • We can use repetition (one meaning of “ritual”) of these techniques to build a habit (the most powerful force in the universe) of always Remembering and behaving like That.
  • This particular ritual, called the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, is one such ritual designed by those who already have the sacred habits.  These beings designed it to help us do the same.
  • While there are other interpretations and levels of meaning, we have been exploring the ritual from a perspective that you can relate to from your own personal experience.  Enough practice along these lines will give you the ability to assume that perspective on your own, without the use of ritual.  From there, with enough practice, other levels of meaning will become evident.

So far, we have seen the re-arising of the universe and your place in it as Pure Consciousness.  In the previous phase of this ritual (the Ankh of Light) we established (focused our attention on) the inseparability of Awareness from That which Awareness is aware of.  In this, we placed an emphasis on the Awareness side of that imaginary duality.  As part of that Ankh of Light, we have addressed the first glimmerings of differentiation or classification of Awareness as God in His Glory (Gedulah) and as God Almighty (Geburah).

We have seen in the Standard Preliminaries to ritual, as Pure Consciousness, you exercise your power to create and act as Author of the Universe through the casting forth of your Awareness as attention (the Divine Light).  Attention being the power of Pure Consciousness, and nourishing all existence, is what causes the entire Universe to arise before your Awareness.

How does this One Pure Consciousness emanate an entire universe?  It’s all about focus, or directing attention.  Think of that One Pure Consciousness as wearing a miner’s helmet with a lamp on it.  In the darkened depths of a coal mine, or the midst of the Primordial Void, the surroundings are not empty, something is there.  In the dark void, there is no telling exactly what is there, except to say the One Pure Consciousness is not in any particular place, so it pervades infinity.  At any point in space and time, an infinity of the One Pure Consciousness surrounds itself in all directions, in all possible universes.  But when Consciousness focuses on anything around it, shining forth the Divine Light of attention reveals things out of the darkness like the lamp on a miner’s hat.  Exactly what this reveals depends on re-cognition or association with things seen in the past.  This means that everything we might see is an illusion based on habit (karma).  In the space between thoughts, out of the infinite possible illusions we can call out of the emptiness, out of the infinite quantum possibilities available for our attention, we cast our attention (the nourishment of all existence) upon those possibilities that are familiar, that make sense based on our history, or conform to what we expect.  By focusing attention, and by expectation, something seems to arise out of the darkness.  But we all (every conscious point in space and time) see something different, based on our own past experience, so there is no empirical absolute experience.  What we experience is all an illusion based on past illusory experiences.  This relationship between the past and what arises is extremely important and we will explore this in more detail in the next part of this series.

The miner analogy is profound because, as points of that One Pure Consciousness in an infinite ocean of that same Pure Consciousness, we are the eyes of god: what we see is reality.  By seeing things out of the soup of infinite possibilities, the Author of the Universe creates or defines itself through our “eyes,” based on our experiences.

At this point in our ritual, we have accomplished half of our goal: experiencing who and what we really are.  We are Authors of the Universe, Gods in our own right, and the constant Creators of reality. 

Now we are going to watch exactly how we unconsciously create our realities out of an infinite universe of possibilities.  Then we can start to do so consciously, knowingly and deliberately, behaving like who and what we really are.

Normally, we behave as though we have little power over our environment, our lives, and our destiny, and little power to help ourselves and others who might need help.  Yet in reality we do have ultimate power over those things.  Humanity’s natural attitude to the Earth and the environment shows that we have a hint of this fact, but only a hint.  Our reckless assumption that the Earth and our environment are here for us take advantage of, to capitalize on, and change as we please demonstrates this hint.  But even as individuals, we are all omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent magicians, constantly creating our own limits.  The goal is to always Remember that we are Authors of the Universe and to start behaving like we have this power over our destiny, and power to help ourselves and others.  This change in behavior is a change some of us would like to make habitual, and even automatic.  Then, knowing that a Sacred Universe of our own device surrounds us, if even for an instant, we will be free to do, experience, or be anything we want.  The more times we practice this, becoming habitually aware of our role as Creator, that One Consciousness, the easier it will be for us to always be aware that we are behaving like That.  With this habit, we will be able to make our choices according to that Perspective, instead of making our choices as limited creatures absurdly struggling and fighting for survival, comfort, and amusement.

The Meaning of the Pentagram

At this point our ritual directs us to cast 4 pentagrams.  If you don’t have a copy of the script for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, you can download a PDF copy of the ritual here(TIP: this PDF was formatted to fit on half-sheets of standard paper, so you might want to do these two things when printing:  1) When the Adobe Reader Print dialog appears, turn off “Rotate and Center”, and 2) beside your printer choice on this dialog, click the “properties” button to set the printer on “landscape mode” and not “portrait mode”.  Doing these things will force the document to print on the left half of each sheet of paper.)

Let’s consider why we are going to cast 4 pentagrams. 

We have seen Pure Consciousness reflected throughout the universe as an infinite number of points of light.  Among the types of embodiments of these points, the types of creatures throughout the universe, human beings are members of a unique status.  There are two ways that could describe that unique status.  First, humans are those that, whether they are paying attention to the fact or not, live in, and have bodies on all planes of existence.  Each body is simultaneously present right here, right now.  You have bodies that are physical, astral, symbolic, and abstract.  Unlike other beings, as a human you can work in any worlds and with the beings that inhabit them using these bodies.  This gives you a tiny glimpse of your the potential of whom and what you really are, if you should only pay attention to your true self.  Second: humans have the ability to become self-aware, aware of whom and what they really are as Pure Consciousness, the Authors of the Universe, the “eyes of God” watching itself in every experience.  http://www.ted.com/talks/henry_markram_supercomputing_the_brain_s_secrets.html

Humans actually have the ability to begin in complete ignorance of all this, and through trial and error or through study and practice, transform their behavior before the eyes of all the Mighty Ones.  Humans can transform their behavior, from being members of a pitifully helpless, selfish, self-centered, angry, manipulative and destructive race, into beautiful, compassionate, creative, and loving gods in their own right.  It is for this reason that the host of spirits, angels, archangels, gods and enlightened masters are all in awe of the incredible potential in humanity.  It is why they eagerly await and aid the moment when any individual inches toward that transformation.  They celebrating with overwhelming joy each time someone achieves that incredibly rare transformation, which for us, is a mere shift of behavior born of a mere shift of attention.

What do these two unique qualities in humans have to do with casting 4 pentagrams?  We are going to categorize all the possible quantum universes in which we simultaneously exist for the sake of watching how it all happens.  We are going to surround ourselves with 4 pentagrams, surrounding ourselves with an awareness of all those planes and universes.  As unconscious Authors of the Universe, capable of a godlike transformation by paying attention to what we are always doing, we are going to pay attention to the act of Creation by making a habit of casting these 4 pentagrams. 

To have a look at how experience arises (we create the universe) we are going to classify the characteristics of experience into 4 categories.  We could easily classify them into any other number, but 4 happens to be convenient for our current purposes.  (Later in this article it will become clear why the Ancient Masters, in designing this ritual, chose 4 categories, by which to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That.)  Just as we have seen in this ritual already, the arising of experience as a function of Consciousness Itself, we are now going see how that experience arises in its characteristics, step by step.

But, why pentagrams?  Why not other figures such as points, lines, triangles, rectangles or hexagrams?  Why did the Ancient Masters choose this particular shape of 5 points to show us who and what we are, and how to behave like That?

Remember, this whole ritual is an exercise in recognizing, exploring, and expressing who and what you really are, out of your personal experience, right here, right now.  So we should be able to look into our own immediate experience for an understanding of the Pentagram.

We have established that this next step in the ritual is an examination and celebration of how we create an illusion of Reality.  In consideration of the questions about why pentagrams, that symbol must have something integral to do with experience itself, so casting pentagrams before us is like casting experience before us.

Now, what is experience?  How do we experience?  Through what mechanism do we experience?  These questions must be related to the meaning of the pentagram itself.  There is a hint of the answer in the Sacred Pentagram’s five points.  What is it about the number five that brings to mind the mechanism of experience?  It is said that we have five senses.  Because we think of ourselves and normally identify with being human, as humans, we experience everything through the mechanism of five senses.  We experience all external phenomena through our senses and we experience all internal phenomena through internal versions of them.  Normally, we have no other way to experience things.  Everything that happens in our minds is experienced as either a sight in our mind’s eye or a sound in our thoughts etc.  We describe all feelings in terms of senses.

But wait.  Which exactly are the five senses?  Are taste and smell basically the same, since the total experience of tasting something inextricably also involves smelling it too (through the back of our nasal cavity)?  And since both tasting and smell are really an act of touching molecular structures, does that mean that taste and smell are all really actually the sense of touch?  Furthermore, when we hear things, we are actually touching disturbances in the air with our ear drums.  And when we see, we are actually touching photons or wavicles of electromagnetic energy. 

Since taste, sight, hearing and smell are all types of “touching,” then is it possible to see the structure of a piece of music, or smell a color?  There are people who are not bound to seeing things as limited humans who can do both of these things and more.  Some people also speak of an intangible (not involved in any form of touching) sixth sense, where information comes to them directly, without the use of any kind of touching whether specialized or not, internal or external.

So why do people generally say that we have five senses?  I believe it is a tradition that originates with an ancient association with the pentagram.

Regardless of how many senses there are, how can we classify them in order to understand what we mean by “senses,” sixth sense included?  Remember, this is crucial to our goal, because we are trying to understand the nature of all experience, to follow that back to constructing all experience.

As was the habit of the ancients with the tangible world, we can divide the tangible senses (whether internal or external) into four categories.  The ancients loosely labeled this categorization by four with the names of the elements (Earth, Air, Water and Fire).  We continue this same categorization by assigning the sixth intangible sense as belonging to a fifth category called Spirit.  We have five categories of ways we experience all experiences.  So from the perspective of this point in the ritual, with its five points the Pentagram represents the mechanisms by which Awareness can experience anything, tangible or not.  Since an universe of experience surrounds Awareness, with this meaning, we can say that pentagrams constantly surround Awareness.  This perspective is extremely important because with it, the ritual helps us understand how our minds and the universe around us actually works.

The next step in our ritual directs us (the One Pure Consciousness) to surround ourselves with pentagrams, connected by a circle that runs around us (meaning, a continuum of pentagrams totally surrounding us). 

Casting pentagrams is a ritualistic recognition, expression, or celebration of exactly how we create the illusion of reality.  In this ritual, we do now draw these pentagrams in just whatever random, hap-hazard motion that happens to pop into our minds.  We deliberately draw them in one specific way.  Examining a pentagram, we see that besides having five points, there are two lines intersecting or defining each of these five points.  This means that from any of the five points, you could start drawing in either of two directions, making ten possible directions to start your drawing. 

In the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, we always start from the lower-left point and move toward the top.  Pentagram Arrow2What does this tell us about creating experience and creating the universe?  What should this specific choice and act bring to mind?  Since all acts of ritual are acts of shifting attention, what should we be shifting attention away from, and what should we be shifting attention toward?  It would seem the first two points we use in drawing define a definite starting point that we shift away from, and a definite choice of what state of awareness we move toward.

So, what do the points mean then?  What does it mean to shift attention away from the lower-left point, and move our attention toward the uppermost point?  To understand this, we need to know the meanings and attributions of the points of the pentagram.

As mentioned, the Ancients had a habit of categorizing the tangible universe into four, with another category left to what we cannot describe by reference to the senses.

The key to understanding the meanings of the five points rests in this fifth category, with the nontangible experience.  That which is not part of the tangible universe, and cannot fit into categories for the experienced universe is of course That which itself experiences (Consciousness).  So if we have to pick one of the five points for this exception, that stands separate or outside, or beyond, or removed from and “above” all others, we would naturally pick the topmost point.  Looking at the pentagram, we see that some points are on the right, and some are on the left, while only one point is in the center, between the right or left extremes. Pyramid Pentagram Again, since experiences surround that which experiences, it makes sense to assign that which experiences to the center of the extremes, neither to the left, nor to the right.  So again the topmost point would be our natural choice.  Attributing this uppermost point is significant because in the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, this is the point toward which we are shifting our attention.  This represents a shift of attention toward the One Pure Consciousness itself. 

Attributing Pure Consciousness to that top point in turn dictates the meanings and attributions of all the other points.  That top point radiates two lines downward toward the lowest two points on the pentagram.  One is on our left, and one is on our right.  It’s like these two lower points have a direct line with That which experiences.

On one hand (the right side), everything you experience is itself aware, and shares that same One Consciousness as you do.  That which experiences seems to be present in, and at the center of the experience itself, feeling like you do:  that you are a center around which everything is happening, because you truly are the eyes of the entire Universe.  Everything feels like that because everything you can experience is itself also Aware, and shares the very same Consciousness as you do.  We are all the “I”s of God.  This is the very presence of God in the entire tangible universe.  Everything feels like it’s at the center of it all, and that everything is happening to it, around it, and for it.  This is how God feels, through you and everything else, when She’s venturing out into the Universe that She has created.  This core experience that everything shares is the Divine Spark, the Divine Light and the Eternal Boundless Fire in everyone and everything that exists.

On the other hand (the left side), since everything is Aware and shares that same One Consciousness, when you see anything (and smell, hear, taste or touch anything) you are seeing what that One Consciousness actually looks like.  Your own Awareness (the One Awareness), seems reflected in the experience itself, mirrored in the experience itself, as though anything is what Awareness itself looks like (and smells, sounds, tastes, or feels like).  There can be no Awareness without something to be aware of.  The two arise simultaneously as functions of each other.  As a function of Consciousness itself, Awareness radiates something to be aware of and in doing so, creates an entire universe of experience as an expression of itself, of what Consciousness is.  Where the point on the right side emphasizes Awareness in the center of all Creation, this left point emphasizes all of Creation itself.  It represents what the eyes of the universe sees when it is looking at itself.  While the right point is the same everywhere in everything (that same One Pure Consciousness), the left point presents infinite variety, an entire universe of experiences.  This is the entirety of Creation that emanates from God, the very Earth on which we live, the bountiful infinity of creatures and lands and universes, the Splendor of God and Her Creation.  All of this emanates directly from the One Pure Consciousness as an inevitable expression of what That is, or as the expressions of Awareness Itself: the objects of awareness.

These two lower points on the pentagram, the lower right and the lower left, have direct lines to the topmost point because they are directly related to Awareness itself.  They are how It feels (on the right, Fire), and what It looks like or is looking at (on the left, Earth).  These two points are the lowest points on the pentagram because they are the basis and foundation of the entire tangible universe.  They are also the basis and foundation by which we have knowledge that we Exist, and can say “I Am,” so they are also the basis and foundation of the fact of Awareness Itself (the topmost point).

So casting pentagrams is casting experience itself.  We have seen what three of the five points of the pentagram mean.  We have seen how Awareness Itself (the topmost point) feels (the lower-right), and we have seen what It looks like (lower-left).

While casting a pentagram is the ritual of casting of a Reminder of experience before us, there are 10 ways to start drawing that pentagram.  So we need to understand why this ritual starts at the lower-left, and moves toward the top.  We need to recognize what kind of Reminder of experience it is we’re casting before us, and surrounding ourselves with, because this Reminder seems to be the whole point of the Pentagram Ritual.

So let’s cast our attention on the point of the pentagram from which we start, and what point of the pentagram we shift our attention to, when we cast this Living Reminder.

Awareness is inseparable from, and cannot exist without objects of awareness.  Now think of this for a long moment.  Objects of awareness (the lower two points – self as a thing among things on the right, and our universe of objects on the left) are a necessary aspect of awareness itself (the topmost point).  If the universe is an experience projected by Consciousness itself, an integral aspect of what Consciousness is, then there is no objective reality.  If the objects of experience do not exist outside a reference from Awareness, having no objective reality, then there is nothing that is truly objective, and everything is an illusion created by the act of being aware.  Since the existence of Awareness itself depends on the presence of objects of awareness, which are all illusions having no objective reality, then Awareness itself is also an illusion and has no objective or referential existence either.  This is why, even though its presence is indisputable you can never find a thing called awareness within yourself no matter how much you meditate, no matter how deeply you withdraw your attention to the source of experience, to Awareness Itself.  (There is no top to the pyramid with the all-seeing eye.)  The One Pure Consciousness isn’t really there at all as a thing.  Something is definitely there, and something is definitely happening, but we can never know it or describe it.  It is absolutely unknowable as an objective reality.  As far as objective reality goes, even the One Pure Consciousness, does not really exist.

By starting a pentagram from the lower-left point, shifting our awareness toward the topmost point, we are withdrawing our attention away from objects of awareness, away from our world of experience.  We are shifting toward That which Itself experiences, toward Awareness Itself.  Casting the pentagram (casting all the ways that we can experience) in this particular way is using the senses, all of them, and anything you might experience, as a powerful Reminder of Awareness itself.  This is a reminder of whom and what you really are.   By shifting away from anything that you experience, toward something you cannot experience, something that is unknowable and indescribable, this pentagram is a Reminder that everything you experience is an illusion, ultimately unknowable and indescribable.  In this way, we use the pentagram to perform the ultimate banishing.  We banish everything.  (Hence, the name of this ritual: the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.)  Everything is gone, even if it still appears before your very eyes.  In the presence of the pentagram drawn in this particular way, everything you experience becomes a Reminder of your own true nature as empty of objective reality, ultimately indescribable, illusory.

It’s like saying, “Wherever I may look, I may see only Thee.”  In the presence of this Reminder, this pentagram, you should experience everything as a living, aware, responsive mirror of whom and what you really are: Pure unknowable and indescribable Consciousness, the Author of the entire illusion we call the Universe.  Using the presence of this pentagram, using every experience to turn attention away from That which we experience back upon the Experiencer itself, we are banishing all phenomena by paying attention to its illusory nature.  We leave in our focused attention only Pure Consciousness Itself, without ever leaving phenomenal experience.  Because of the presence of the Sacred Pentagram every experience is our Reminder and our confirmation of whom and what we really are.  Go ahead.  Touch something or someone.  The Pentagram reminds you to ask, “Who’s feeling this?”  That’s proof of who you are.  That’s what the pentagrams are constantly saying to you.  Like the owl who constantly asks, “Who?” the Pentagram can make every experience a tangible Reminder and tangible proof of Awareness Itself.

Think of making this reminder an automatic habit.  Imagine as long as you are aware of anything, no matter what, you will always know you are the Author of it all.  No matter what happens.  No matter what.  No matter.  Naught.

This is one reason so many Wisdom Traditions throughout history have revered the Sacred Pentagram.

In the next article in this series, we will examine the technique of giving the Sacred Pentagram the power to take part in our daily lives.  Always present in our daily lives, it will even have the power to speak to us, helping us Remember and build the habit of behaving like who we really are.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part III: Standard Preliminaries

As detailed in the previous part of this series of articles, for commentary I have divided the procedure for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram into three phases.  The first phase, I am describing as “Standard Preliminaries.”  I am describing the steps in this phase that way because they represent a condensation or simplification of a similar phase in almost every ritual in almost every wisdom tradition on the Earth, both Western and Eastern.  While the steps in this phase are probably not used in other rituals exactly as they are described here, some variation or equivalent steps are probably employed. 

Throughout the following commentary, remember that I am focusing here on how you can use this particular ritual for:

  •          Exploring and getting familiar with whom you really are
  •          Getting accustomed to identifying with That, instead of identifying with being human
  •          Behaving like who you really are, beyond behaving like a human
  •          Expressing your true self, and celebrating that

You should experience the whole ritual as a kind of play or dance, in which you play the part of the real you, the part of Pure Consciousness.  This is the author of all experience and of the illusion of the entire universe.  Even rituals that are different from this one, like spell casting for example, are exercising your status in the universe as author of reality.

Remember that for beginners, this ritual is designed to be practiced as often as possible, at least once each day if possible, to provide the opportunity to build the habit of identifying with Pure Consciousness.  It offers the opportunity to build the habit of expressing oneself as, behaving like, and celebrating the truth of whom you really are.

Always, before you begin your practice, start by quieting your mind.  If you know how to meditate for tranquility, do that.  If you know how to enter what is called an “alpha state,” do that.  If you know a relaxation breathing rhythm or visualization, do that.  Otherwise, simply sit quietly in the dark for a few minutes, and try to free yourself of worldly concerns, for the time you are doing this practice.  You should start in a peaceful, tranquil, relaxed state of mind and body.

Step 1 – Watchers Benediction

(The word Benediction is equivalent to “Blessing.”)

stars_smallThe first step in this progressive shift of consciousness involves becoming aware of and paying attention to two things.  (Recall, as explained before, paying attention is a form of offering, the purest offering, because attention itself is the food of all things.)  First, we pay attention to those beings that have brought the teachings to us, and whose example we endeavor to follow.  This is referring to the Goddess herself, the first and supreme teacher of magic and mystery.  This also refers to all the magi and witches who brought the teaching to you, handed down through the centuries.  More immediately, it refers to your own teacher. (If you do not have one, do not visualize me as I am not a teacher and am only repeating here what I have been taught – see About on this website.  If you do not have a teacher, then visualize a multitude of ancient wise ones, male and female).  Second, we pay attention to the final purpose in our magical operations, called “The Great Work” which involves benefit for oneself and for others through realizing whom we really are, learning to behave like That, and helping others to realize the same.

So we start our mini mystery play in a darkened room.  Turning our attention upwards toward the sky, we pay attention (pay homage) to the awareness of The Watchers who pour their love and help on us.  For an idea of who The Watchers are, see the article on this blog site entitled The Mighty Ones.  We are here focusing on certain beings who have long ago realized who and what we really are.  They have been behaving like That for so long, that they are barely recognizable as human in the ordinary sense of the word.  They do not incarnate out of habit as we do.  If they incarnate at all, they do so out of loving devotion to helping the rest of us understand the nature of Reality, so we don’t take the bad times so seriously.  They don’t necessarily incarnate as a single person like we normally do.  Depending on the needs of the times, and their urge to help, each might incarnate as several people at once, or as animals, shelters or bridges, or as beings that are ethereal, non-terrestrial, and supernatural.  One of the many meanings of their name, “The Watchers” comes from a practice they do each night.  Hovering over the earth, casting their attention (food) down on us with a shower of love and interest, they “watch” us.  They “see” the teeming masses of life gleaming with light.  Here and there, certain among us shine brighter than others, having the wish to help others too.  To these, The Watchers offer particular help and inspiration, to aid in their growth and performance of the Great Work.

(It is suggested that in reciting, a slight pause is made at the end of each line shown here, and a greater pause between paragraphs shown here.  Obviously, use singular or plural, depending on whether you are practicing alone or with someone else.)

The Watchers Benediction

May those
Who are the Great Guides and Guardians of Humanity
Bless every one of us.

(Contemplate a shower of light and love upon the Earth in response to your prayer.)

May they find in us (me)
a willing and pliable instrument
for their sacred purposes.

And may they grant us (me)
the Help and the Benediction
with which,
we (I) will be able to accomplish
All the things that need to be accomplished.

 

 

In our progressive shift of consciousness, we are now no longer thinking about work, or noises around us, or money or anything like that.  We are focused on becoming a Watcher ourselves, and all the fascinating and beautiful things that means.  We are focused on joining a team of powerful and transcendent beings who, by virtue of their identifying with all things, constantly work for the benefit of all creatures.  As one of them, imagine knowing without a shadow of doubt, with evidence in every act of awareness, that you are Pure Consciousness and that everything is an illusion caused by That.  Imagine becoming an invisible extraterrestrial helper of some civilization in a distant galaxy, or even this civilization right here!  Imagine gazing down on the ocean of life, finding not only those brightly shining seekers of Reality, but also those with the mistaken idea that their nightmare is real.  Imagine drifting among these people, unseen or even appearing as an angel, secretly arranging things to help them, heal them, and changing their luck.  (See Invisible Helpers, a link to which is shown at the left of this web page in the box entitled “Books.”)  This imagined life will become less and less your own imagination, and more and more your reality, as you practice identifying with Pure Consciousness, and learning how to act like That.  Because this whole ritual helps you do both of these things, the more you practice this ritual with the right intent, motivation and knowledge, the closer that will come to being your reality. 

(NOTE: the word “extraterrestrial” means “not of the earth” or “beyond the earth.”  It does not necessarily mean “alien.”  There are extraterrestrials all around us, some seen and some unseen, who are not aliens, but who are also not of the world as we normally think of it.  For example, a street bum might be a disguised wise man who has transcended this world, and simply refuses to take part in our society.  As someone who is beyond our world, this street bum might be extraterrestrial, but not an alien.  That being said, the word extraterrestrial of course also applies to aliens in the typical sense of the word.  Some Watchers are from here, and are not aliens, and others are not from here at all.  Still others were originally from other worlds but have chosen to be born here among us for several tens of thousands of years, like interstellar immigrants, working closely with us, as one of us.)

(Further NOTE: It has recently been asked: why are these Watchers not successful in preventing or eliminating wars, hunger, disease and acts of predatory inhumanity?  One answer is this: every one of us is an incredibly powerful magician, whether we know it or not.  We constantly create our reality, based on wisdom, compassion and selflessness, or based on ignorance, greed and anger.  We are, in fact, as powerful as the Mighty Ones themselves, including the Watchers.  While the Watchers may have skillful techniques for being able to reduce the suffering of thousands of people at a time, there are limits to how much more skillfull they can be against several hundred thousand “magicians” who are all involved in fighting a war for example, or supporting a policy in ignorance for another.  So the Watchers are always looking for help to perform the Great Work of enlightening people and reducing their suffering.  By performing this part of the ritual, and the final dedication described later, you are adding your efforts to this end.)

Step 2 – Light Candle

candle_of_art_smallThe next step in this progressive shift of consciousness involves lighting a single candle, called the Candle of Art (or a Kether Lamp if you have one).  Typically the Candle of Art is always a clean, new votive candle in a cleaned red votive glass, as may be bought at any church supply store.  (This should be lovingly cleaned before each practice as part of your deliberate preparation for the practice.  To clean a used candle out of a votive glass, simply put it in a sink under running hot water for a few minutes, allowing the hot water to overflow the sides of the glass.  After a few minutes the candle will pop out easily with a bit of pressure from a dull knife.  While the glass is still hot, a paper towel will easily rub away any remaining wax, leaving the glass as clean as new.)

Beginners of this type of prayer often think of it as a Remembrance of something like the “Big Bang.”  This is not untrue.  But what the practitioner should keep in mind is this: the “Big Bang” is a constant, ever present event that is happening in every quantum (instant or instance of existence).  It happens constantly on subatomic levels, and constantly on macroscopic levels that encompass the entire universe.  It happens constantly in your own awareness when you blink, sneeze, have an orgasm or wake up in the morning.  It happens between every two thoughts.  It happens between every two instances of cognition.   The entire illusion of existence constantly arises out of an ever-present Nothingness that is the Reality behind the illusion.  The illusion of existence is constantly being built and rebuilt with every “Big Bang” that we call a “moment” of experience.  So, with this prayer, we are taking a step further in our progressive shift of awareness, further than the wish to become a Watcher, drawing our attention back to the ever-present endless source of experience and existence itself.

You have to ask yourself: Who or What is it that can possibly be present for the “Big Bang,” since Nothing existed before that?  In fact, this is a question you should always be asking yourself, throughout every ritual, and throughout every moment of existence.  This is the question that we are always eerily reminded of by the owl:  “Who?”  The answer to that question is unspeakable.  Awareness is what That feels like.  It is not a person.  It is not a mind.  It is Nothing you can name, because it is That which names all things.  That is “Who.”  That is the real You.   (See the 4 page essay, Nothingness by Alan Watts, a link to which is offered on the left side of this web page.)

So, standing in the darkness (facing East), with match or lighter in hand, say softly aloud the following prayer,  paying attention to the Nothing before the Beginning, which was not long ago, but is Now and Ever. 

(Your instructions are on the left, and the commentary is on the right.  Words on the left should be softly spoken aloud by you.)

Lighting the Kether Lamp or Candle of Art:

[Contemplate primordial Emptiness]  
“In the beginning…”
“Before the Elohim created the heavens and the Earth”
Remember the “beginning” is the eternal NOW, the present moment that is always at hand.  Remember the word “Elohim” (pronounced el-oh-heem) breaks down into three syllables: El, oh, and him (pronounced heem).  “El” refers to Supreme Deity (the creator of the illusory Universe) and refers to the One Consciousness, with which you are intimately associated, as your own awareness. “Oh” is a singular female suffix.  “Heem” is a plural male suffix.  So “Elohim” includes innate divinity, which is at one time both the male and female, One and Many.  (There is one infinite environment [female], filled with an infinite number of points [male].  When the extents are infinite, each point is at the center [each of us equally aware as though we are the center of the universe]) 
.
“Everything was Formless,
And Darkness was upon the face of the Deep.”
.
This refers to the Nothingness out of which all experience is constantly appearing.  See “Nothingness” by Alan Watts, for an explanation of this.  Click on the link under “Books” on the left of this web page to read his 4-page essay.
.
“And the Ruach Elohim moved upon the face of the Waters and said:
Yehi Aur… let there be Light!”
[Light candle]
“And there was Light.”
.
Ruach Elohim (pronounced roo-agch eloheem) adds to the idea of Elohim already described, the notion of an identity, as in a soul or divine spirit.  (Ruach meaning “breath” and implying life, as in the breath of life, here the “breath” or live spirit of the Elohim.) You experience this as your own sense of being something, your own sense of existing.There is an inherent quality of Consciousness, and that is an urge, pressure, desire, or tendency to experience something, anything.  It’s like a primordial habit, energy or force behind the coming into being of experience itself.  This inherent drive is symbolized as a wind, or more intimately: a breath, the breath of life.You intimately experience these words, “Yehi Aur,” casting your attention forth, at every moment.  You gaze into the emptiness. Since attention is the Divine Light of Consciousness, the act of being aware is an act of casting Divine Light into the Emptiness.  This act of casting light into the emptiness is the “Big Bang” that is happening in every quantum or instance of existence.

This act of casting forth your attention is the original primordial experience that is ever happening on the crest of the wave of the eternally present moment.  Experience has spontaneously arisen out of the emptiness.

.
“And the Elohim saw the light,
That it was good,
And all the morning stars sang together,
And the Children of God shouted for Joy.”
.
“Saw the Light:” That candle, shining into the darkness, causing all visible experience in the previously darkened room to arise, is symbolic of your own awareness that likewise causes experience to arise out of Nothing.  Just looking at that particular candle is an incredibly profound act.  You are looking at your own awareness, shining forth.  You are aware of your own awareness.  This is “Ruach Elohim.””That it was good:” “Good” is a word for “God.”  (Good-Bye means “God Be With Ye.”)  In this special setting, in this ritual act, just as you see the candle, Consciousness becomes aware of its own nature.  Consciousness becomes aware of the fact that it is aware.  This simple state is a blissful experience.  A “good” and joyful experience indeed.”Morning stars sang together…:” With the casting forth of the light of awareness, a billion galaxies of stars (candles) shine forth out the emptiness, in that light.  Every single one of them is that same One Consciousness, each like your own candle, each perfectly aware, reveling in the Cosmic Drama that is Experience.  (Referring back to the Watchers, these are the points of light that they see, gazing down upon the Humanity.) [For more information on this Cosmic Drama, see the essay called Cosmic Drama by Alan Watts.  You can click on the link at the left of this web page under Books, to read this 5-page essay.]
.
[Raise hands with candle to the heavens]

“Holy art Thou, Lord of the Universe!
Holy art Thou, Whom Nature hast not formed!
Holy art Thou, the Vast and Mighty One!
Lord of the Light… and of the Dark.”
 
.
And as one of that infinite number of “Children of God”, you too shout for joy in this adoration.  And whom are you addressing here?  “Who?” That Pure Consciousness that creates Nature but is not created by Nature.  Note that “Dark” here refers to the Nothingness that is still ever present while the illusion of experience seems to play on.

 Having lit this special candle, you are now in a sacred space, devoted to recognizing and celebrating Pure Consciousness.  You are aware of everything around you through the light of this one candle, this One Consciousness.  In our progressive shift of consciousness (our ritual) we have reached a shift to where everything is for you brand-new, newly arisen from an ever present “Big Bang.”  Notice the power of habit, which remains past the end of illusion, and the resulting ever present rebirth.  Everything is still there as you last saw it.  This is the principle of reincarnation in your immediate experience.

Just as all of experience emanates from the one light of the One Consciousness (of which your awareness is an immediate instance), so are all the lights in your sacred space also lit from this one candle.  So if you have both a Kether Lamp, and a Candle of Art, you should now use a small taper to draw the light from the Kether Lamp to the Candle of Art.  When you have both candles, the Kether Lamp represents the One Consciousness and the Candle of Art represents the Ruach Elohim:  the One Consciousness’s sense of existing, of Being.

Step 3 – Light Incense

incense_smallSmell is an interesting sense.  It has the ability to call up long forgotten memories and associations with a vividness like none of the other senses.  Some say it is the last of the senses to fade at death (others say hearing is the last to go).  No one currently knows for sure how we smell, but it is known that through smell we are aware of not only the shapes of molecules, but also of the different atoms that make up those molecules.  Somehow, through smell, we are able to touch and feel atoms and groups of atoms.  Through smell we are touching the building blocks of the physical universe, and identify them and easily associate them with vivid memories and experiences.  The presence of a smell in an environment powerfully taints our experience, coloring it with a particular emphasis.

In the next step in our progressive shift of consciousness, we light a taper from the One Light (our Kether Lamp or Candle of Art lit in the previous step).  We use that to light either self-starting incense charcoal, or stick or cone incense.  If charcoal is lit, then we make an offering of resinous incense (like frankincense) to the fire of Awareness.  Either way, a beautiful smoke rises up, up, always upward, away from the mundane world of objects and concerns, upward toward space, toward the Nothingness that is Consciousness Itself.  As this offering is made your environment starts to smell special.  It is a special smell that is not of food, nor of fuel exhaust, nor of body odor, nor anything in your typical world.  This fills your environment with something special, something sacred. 

Depending on the incense ingredients, the specialness can be focused on different aspects of existence.  In this case, using frankincense, or incense of the four Elements, your environment becomes an overwhelming and enveloping experience that is dedicated to Pure Experience, Pure Consciousness. 

While this should not be an obsession, the practitioner should be ever mindful of the incense, being sure that it does not go out.  There should be some small wisp of smoke rising at all times, throughout the practice.  This mindfulness is one of the ways that one’s attention is kept on the point to the whole practice: to be mindful who and what you really are.  The mindfulness of keeping the incense going is mindfulness of your practice.  It is keeping from straying into other less profound thoughts.

NOTE: when using charcoal and resinous incense, if you are going to keep a wisp of smoke going at all times and there is not open window with a constant draft, it is easy to smoke out your room, to the point of coughing and stinging in the eyes and throat.  This is because a few grains of resin on the charcoal burn only a minute or two, and quickly fill the room.  Therefore, if there is no constant breeze of fresh air, the best idea is to abandon the thought of keeping a wisp of smoke rising, and instead pay attention to the presence of the scent in the room.  At first, put only a tiny amount of incense on the charcoal, enough to fill the room with scent.  Then pay mindfulness to that scent in the room.  During your practice, you will notice the scent beginning to fade.  Only then, put a grain or two more on the charcoal, noticing the smoke rise as a further offering.  In this case, it is the presence of the scent that you are being mindful of keeping up, and not the constant rising of a wisp of smoke.

Think about this current state for a minute.  You have taken the familiar room around you, and you are seeing it in a “different light.”  You are seeing it the Light of the Pure Consciousness, which is what you really are.  You have extended that One Light to a fire (incense or charcoal), and this fire has filled the world (that you are seeing in a different light) with a sacredness, focused on something special.  You have filled the world with a focus on Consciousness.  You did this by lighting a slow-burning fire.  So, when you see the charcoal light up, or the stick incense begin to glow, you should see and feel the whole familiar world is also lighting up, and being burned away and consumed.  But notice that if undisturbed, the burned stick incense is still there, as ashes, after it has burned.  The ash holds exactly the same shape as what was burned.  The charcoal, after the sparkles of fire have run through it is also still there, in the same shape as before.  So you should see the world around you, in this special light has also been burned away, yet appears in the same shape as before.  Though, like the ashes which are a fragile appearance of what was there before, so is the world around you also a fragile illusion.  By lighting the incense, seeing everything in this “special light,” you have burned away the normal world.  While it still appears exactly as before, the smell of the incense is a constant reminder that it is all like ashes, holding a shape, but void of any inherent reality.

The pervasive scent then, is your Consciousness basking in an infinite emptiness, which appears around you like the ashes of burned incense.

So, let’s recap the steps so far.  You have empowered the Watchers to help you, and dedicated your practice to the Great Work.  You have done this in darkness, before you did anything else.  Next, you paid attention to the on-going Moment of Creation, and seen your world arise anew, as it does in every moment.  While the world constantly arises out of habit nearly the same every time, you are aware of it now through the One Light of Consciousness, just as you always are.  But for this practice, you know about it and are thinking that way.  Next, in the step of lighting the incense, you have seen the world as ashes and filled this newly created and familiar world with a special Presence of Consciousness.  It’s like you are basking an infinite ocean of emptiness that seems to have form and is perfectly aware.

This is the state of mind that you are practicing in the hope of never leaving.  This “special light” by which you are seeing things, being aware of the fact that everything is an illusion that seems to have shape, like incense ashes, is a state that you never want to leave.  With enough practice, you will not need these steps to help you think and see this way.  These ritual steps will instead become celebrations or forms of self-expression, like a dance of joy for being who and what you really are.

Step 4 – Ankh of Light

An Egyptian Ankh

An Egyptian Ankh

At this stage, in our progressive shift of consciousness, we have seen the universe arise anew.  The universe has arisen out of Nothing, and being born of Nothing, is still ultimately Nothing.  For the next step: what about you?  What are you in all this?

Like some other rituals in traditional Western Mysticism, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram includes in its progression of shifting consciousness, the performance of another simple, yet profound practice.  It is called by traditional witches “The Ankh of Light”, also known in other Western Mystery traditions as “The Qabalistic Cross.”

With this step, we withdraw our attention from our sacred environment, and turn it on that which is most sacred: the Creator, the Author of the Universe.  We turn our attention on Pure Consciousness itself, and its place in all the illusory Creation.

So, let us go through this next step which is performing the Ankh of Light.  As I did with the lighting of the candle, I’m including here a commentary on the right, with the script on the left.

The Ankh of Light, or Qabalistic Cross:

 

[Contemplate primordial Emptiness]Your hands should be folded at your solar plexus (just below where your bottom ribs meet, on the front of your chest).  This position of the hands is called the “kavach mudra.” .
The hands of the traditional witch or practitioner of Western Mysteries become powerful conduits of life force, prana, witch-fire, or chi (all words for essentially the same thing).  Your solar plexus is a main center of this energy.  By folding your hands at this center, you are conserving and getting ready to direct that energy through your hands as a magical act.  During ritual practice, whenever you are not doing something specific with your hands, this is where they should be.
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Become aware of a globe of brilliance above your head, larger than your head, and resting on, or slightly into the crown of your head. 
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The globe of brilliance is one of 4 specific centers of energy, or psychic organs that you will activate, by paying attention to them (since attention is the food of all things, you will feed them and activate them).  This particular energy center (above the crown of your head) is a psychic organ by which your “individual” consciousness resonates most closely with that of the Universal Consciousness.  (The two are not separate or different, but only seem so.)
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Breathe deeply of pale blue prana (life energy – the aura of the Sun) from the ocean of it around you.  Leaving your left hand at your chest, bring your right hand from the kavach mudra down to your side briefly, then up to the top of your head as you take a deep breath and “vibrate”: “Ah-Teh”
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To “vibrate” a magical word means to intone it slowly, in a low key, drawing out the sound of the word.  It’s a low droning or chanting.  Words of power in any magical language such as Aramaic, Enochian, or Sanskrit, are formulae of vibrations, composed of a specific and powerful sequence of syllables. So as you intone the words of power, you pay attention to each individual syllable, and the vibrating sound of each.  You should hear and feel the vibrations coming not from your throat, but originating deep within your chest, and emanating from the energy center you’re focusing on (the one above your head in this case).  Further, you should feel those vibrations emanating out from the energy center, throughout the Universe, echoing in the depths of space.  Try to hear (in your imagination) the echoes of the sound of each syllable as though the universe were an infinite cave, echoing the sound back and forth throughout.The word “Ateh” has a dual meaning that creates a direct reminder of your relationship with the One Consciousness.  It means at the same time “Thou Art” and “I Am”. These words “I Am” are powerful triggers for the practitioner of high magic.  Just thinking “I Am” brings one’s attention straight back to the core of one’s being, to that core of Awareness that is Pure Consciousness.  Think of it.  The fact that you can say or think “I Am” proves that you are aware.  It proves that you exist right here, right now.   

Thinking “I Am” is a simple and direct expression of Awareness, and knowing that you are aware.  Knowing this is an act of recognition of your true being, of whom and what you really are.  After all, everything seems to exist, and everything shares that exact same quality of existence, not a different quality of existence.  Awareness is what it feels like to exist.  Since everything shares the same quality of existence, everything shares that same feeling, that same Awareness, that very same experience of “I Am.”  In thinking “I Am,” you are aware of being an instance of the Ultimate Deity.  You are aware of your personal relationship with That to whom you refer here with the words “Thou Art.”  (See Be Yourself on this website.)

So, as you vibrate this word, you should be aware at once of:

  •          who you are (as just described),
  •          who you are paying attention to,
  •          the globe of brilliance above your head, and
  •          the vibrations emanating from your diaphragm out through the globe above your head and throughout space. 

All the while, feel that you are a direct manifestation of that One Consciousness, that your awareness is a direct expression of that One Consciousness.  You are making this sound as a proclamation and celebration of Consciousness, filling the universe with this expression.

Practice drawing all of these ideas and experiences into one act of sacred self-recognition and self-expression.  You’ll get better at it each time you practice, until vibrating “Ateh” is all you have to remember, and it all happens together.

Paying attention to this globe of brilliance, and expressing yourself in this way is a direct practice of identifying with Pure Consciousness, with the origin and existence of all things.  You should be absorbed in the experience of Pure Consciousness.

This experience can be extremely blissful.  If you are practicing alone, do not hesitate to stop for a bit, and bask in this experience.  It is among the most Holy of experiences.

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Now move your hand down before your face and on down to your solar plexus as you visualize a pillar of white light, about the thickness of your neck, descending from the globe above your head down through the middle of your body to your feet where another globe, smaller than above your head, forms below your feet.  You are either standing on it or slightly into it, and it is either black with green swirls or a swirling mixture of the four elemental colors: citrine, olive, russet, and black – the colors of the four seasons.  As you bring your hand down to your solar plexus from above your head, visualizing thus, vibrate: “Mal-Kuth” 
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Now, extending the “point” of awareness into two dimensions (a line), you are recognizing that the existence of Awareness implies something to be aware of (even if it is an illusion that you are aware of).  And that objectification of Nothingness, of Pure Consciousness, appears as an infinite universe. The globe at your feet (the metaphorical feet of Pure Consciousness) is called here Malkuth, which means “kingdom” and refers to the entire expanse of the universe of all experience.  The globe above your head is faintly reflected at your feet and objectified as the entire universe itself, with all of its galaxies and worlds.  This universe too is you… it’s how Pure Consciousness expresses and celebrates itself.  It’s how Pure Consciousness hides from itself, to make the illusion seem real.In this exercise, you are focused on your place in the entirety of experience.  You are at one extreme (above your head) the primordial origin of everything, and the center from which everything emanates.  At the other extreme (at your feet) you are also shown forth as all existence and all the ways in which that manifests.  This is part of what it means to know who and what you really are.  (By “you” I am clearly not referring to a human being.  I am referring to the core of your being, that core of Awareness, which is Pure Consciousness.) 

As before, you should vibrate the word of power, feeling each syllable echo throughout the emptiness around you, now proclaiming and celebrating your issuing forth as the universe itself.

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Bring your hand now to your left shoulder, in which forms a blue globe of light (embedded in and around your shoulder), also smaller than the one above your head, the same size as the one under your feet, and vibrate:”Ve-Geh-Doo-Lah”
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“Ve Gedulah” means “And the Glory.”  So far you have said “Thou art (I Am) the Kingdom and the Glory.”Here you are beginning to recognize the patterns within the expanse of Mind that Pure Consciousness creates around itself by virtue of experience.I have said that attention is the Divine Light that causes all things to seem to emerge from the darkness of Emptiness.  Now we’re getting a bit more specific.  You can cast your attention in many different ways.  You can look at something with anger, or love, sadness, understanding, fascination, excitement, boredom… the list is endless. Among the endless “flavors” of attention (food) that we’re capable of, we’re focusing on that of Glory, which includes things such as the splendor and bliss of great beauty and magnificence, love, expansion, birth, growth and compassion.  Continuing the symbolism of attention being Divine Light, here we are seeing that Light as blue in color.  

As before, the word of power is vibrated, filling the universe with the bounding and rebounding sound and light of love and compassion, birth, expansion and growth.  All this (the sound, the light, and the experience) emanates and radiates from the globe of light at your left shoulder.

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Bring your hand to your right
shoulder, as a shaft of white light the same size as the one descending from above your head extends from the blue globe at your left shoulder to the red globe that forms in your right.  Vibrate:”Ve-Geh-Boo-Rah”
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“Ve Geburah” means “And the Power.” Here you recognize a polarity of types of attention (types or colors of Divine Light).  Where at your left shoulder there is blue light, here is red light by contrast.  It represents the type of attention that is complementary to the previous.  Where the blue was compassion, this is severity.  Where the blue was birth, this is the death that makes rebirth and renewal possible.  This is the clearing away of the old to make a place for renewal.  Where the blue might have been attraction, by comparison here we have rejection.Between the blue light at the left shoulder and the red at the right, you have the most fundamental polarity at the root of all classifications or specific ways that you can cast your attention.

So when vibrating this word of power you should feel the universe bounding and rebounding with the red light, the sound and the feelings of severity, contraction, power, and selective intelligence.

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Slowly clasp both hands together, with arms outstretched before you, slightly above shoulder height.  As your arms raise to meet each other, Vibrate:”Leh-Oh-Lam”
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Up to this point you’ve said: “Thou Art (I Am) the Kingdom, the Glory and the Power.”  Now, the words “Le Olam” mean “throughout the ages” suggesting all time, all worlds, all dimensions, and all experiences throughout existence.  While vibrating this word of power you should consider your form of a glowing cross, flaming up brilliantly, filling the universe with that light. So you should feel that you are a glowing cross of white light, with globes of light at all four ends, shining brilliantly.  With the uppermost globe of brilliance larger and brighter than the others, you are in the form an ankh of life.  Archetypal symbols are living entities, and here you are, recognizing yourself as just such a living symbol.   

Ankh sandal strap

Ankh sandal strap

The shape of the ankh is based on an ancient Egyptian sandal strap.  There’s a loop that goes around the ankle and the opposite end attaches to the sandal sole between the toes.  The other ends attach to the sides of the sole at either side of the foot.  Here the ankh, the sandal strap, means “going” or on-going-ness.  It is therefore a symbol of progressing events and experience that we call “life” so some people say the ankh means life.  It represents the continuing experience that creates the illusion of life.  The ankh is therefore a “Stream of Consciousness.” 

What you have paid attention to (fed with your attention) is the fact that you and your experience of life is an endless flow of experience.  You have recognized it extending from Pure Consciousness (I Am) and shown forth as the whole universe (the Kingdom).  You have recognized it as the source of ultimate Glory and Power (and all that those imply).  You have recognized that this applies throughout all time, all worlds and dimensions.  There are no exceptions, and there is Nothing outside this on-going-ness.

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And without breaking from the previous vibration, as you bring your clasped hands to your solar plexus again, vibrate:”Ah-Men”
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With the word “Amen” you draw this whole expression to your heart, drawing it to you as your personal experience, not some philosophical description.  It’s like saying “all this is me, this me right here, right now, right here.”  This is a magical “grounding” of the experience.  You are bringing it from an ideal fantasy, to an immediate reality, as real as everything you are aware of, proved by everything you are aware of, by your simply being aware at all.
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Contemplate your form as a brilliant ankh of light.
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So this is your place in all the illusion of existence.  You (referring to Pure Consciousness, not to you as a human) are this Ankh, this living being that is a cross of light that includes and originates all experiences.  This is one way to focus on, pay attention to, and bask in whom and what you really are.  This is one way to sing forth and celebrate whom and what you really are.

 

So far we have covered, in this Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, four progressive shifts of consciousness on our way to a state that is one of the most profound in Western Mysticism.  I have mentioned that these four progressive shifts of consciousness are found at the beginning of nearly every ritual in wisdom traditions, whether Eastern or Western.  These four progressive shifts of consciousness are:

1.       Paying homage to a traditional lineage (Watchers Benediction)

2.       Declaring and focusing on one’s intention (Watchers Benediction)

3.       Recreating the Universe and purifying that by recognition that it is illusory (Candle and incense.  In more elaborate rituals, this step will include an additional purification by water.)

4.       Establishing the significance of Consciousness in that (Ankh of Light)

Hopefully you can see how these steps, when done with the intention and attitude described here, can acquaint you with who and what you really are, and help you build the habit of thinking of yourself as That. 

Next, in Part IV of this series, we will continue this journey of consciousness, into recognizing a pervasive, more detailed magical universe that is perfectly aware of you, and responsive to your every thought.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part II: Re-Introducing the Pentagram Ritual

For training in typical traditions of Western Mysticism, among the first daily rituals practiced is one called “The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”

Because the trainee is often anxious to get into some “real magic” and views the first exercises as merely “preliminary,” this ritual is often misunderstood and its profundity overlooked.  That is, until the student reaches the end of the training.  At the end of training the often surprising discovery is made that, like the proverbial philosopher’s stone, the most profound ritual practice throughout training happened to be there from the start: that simple “Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”  It is often the only ritual practice used by masters who have completed their training.  Tiny variations on this often overlooked ritual contain all the magical techniques one needs. For example, see the article on this blog site about The Thunderstorm.  The powerful magician conjured the thunderstorm before our very eyes, using nothing other than a small variation of that same Pentagram Ritual we had all learned in the beginning of our training.  For a more important example, consider the rituals designed to bring enlightenment, called “initiations,” which are themselves sometimes elaborations on this same “Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”

I will not go into the variations of this incredibly profound ritual, but I will try to point out some of the inner-work and significance that is often unknown to, or overlooked by practitioners.  It is hoped that this explanation might bring new appreciation for what is often mistaken as merely preparatory, and brashly rushed through as being less important. 

The name of the ritual implies that it is about banishing or “clearing the air” in a sense.  But what does this really mean?  There is a banishing happening here, but banishing of what?  Why?  How?  By what power and authority is this done?  And what is left-over after this banishing is finished?  Rituals lead to new states of being, so what is the significance of the state reached, after this banishing is complete?  Hopefully, by the end of this series of articles, the answers to these questions will be clear.

When one realizes the true meaning and effect of this ritual, one realizes that it should never be rushed through as a “formality.”  It should always be performed slowly, like a meditation, with careful contemplation and respect.  This is because, as I will try to show, it carries, invokes, and asserts the core truth by which the practitioner has any magical power at all.

As explained in Part I of this series of articles, ritual can be a progressive and systematic redirection of one’s state of mind, self-definition and self-identification.  If the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is performed with the correct meaning and emphasis, with appreciation for its effect, no other ritual is necessary from the perspective of spiritual growth.  This particular ritual carries the secrets of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.  At the completion of training, when rituals become unnecessary and even childish in a sense, this “Lesser” Banishing Ritual remains as a celebration and expression of whom and what we really are: the authors of reality.

As explained in Part One, ritual is a progressive shift of one’s state of mind.  We are here concerned with a progression to an extraordinary state of mind where we can become accustomed to, and explore who and what we really are.  We then almost return to the ordinary state again, though not quite the same, having gathered new experience and familiarity with each repetition.  With each repetition, we bring into the ordinary every-day state of mind a greater understanding of our true nature, and build the habit of behaving more like That all the time.

In this series of articles I would like to take you through the progressive shift of your state of mind as you would perform this Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  So, before I move into a commentary on that ritual, let me first give you an account of the “script” for its performance.  It should be noted that this ritual exists in different forms in all wisdom traditions on the Earth.  These steps have been carefully chosen and handed down in some form or another through thousands of years and are by no means arbitrary in their order and composition.  The actual wording used in each step has also been carefully chosen by fully trained masters to match the effect and intent handed down through the millennia.  This is important because the procedure has undergone thousands of years of testing and adjustment, to ensure the greatest benefit and effectiveness.  You can partake of all that experience by adherence to tradition.

Script: The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Setting:

A light snack has been prepared and set aside for consumption after the practice has been finished.

A darkened, if not completely dark room. 

There is a small table or altar in the center of the room.

There is a red class containing an unlit candle hanging overhead in the center of the room (called the Kether Lamp), or a red glass with an unlit candle in the center of the altar (called the Candle of Art). 

On the altar, there is unlit incense. 

The incense should represent the four Elements of alchemy (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), or could be pure frankincense to represent spirit itself.  (Refer to the Magical Alphabet for incense ingredients assigned to the elements.  A beautiful stick incense of this composition was at one time sold in Theosophical bookstores.  Among other ingredients, it had sandalwood for Earth, and camphor for Air.)

The operator is dressed only in a black hooded robe, representing the “conscious nothingness” out of which awareness arises. 

The operator begins Step 1 in darkness, standing before the altar, facing East.

 

Procedure:

Phase I: Standard Preliminaries

Step 1: Recite Watchers Benediction

Step 2: Light candle reciting the appropriate prayer

Step 3: Light incense from the candle, quietly but mindful of the meaning of incense.

Step 4: Perform Ankh of Light (also known as the Qabalistic Cross)

 

Phase II: The Pentagram Ritual Proper

Step 5: Use “witch fire” or “solar energy”  or “chi” to trace out the eternal presence of the four great pentagrams, charging each with an acknowledgment of the purpose and soul that makes them living beings.

Step 6: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Archangels

Step 7: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Elemental Winds

Step 8: Recognize the eternal presence of the four Elemental Guardians

Step 9: Recognize the entire scene

Step 10:  Ponder this completely “banished” state of being

 

Phase III: Magical Activity

Step 11: Perform some act, expressing yourself as the author of reality, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.  (for example: meditate, basking in the original state of Being, or perform the Middle Pillar Exercise – a comment on this exercise will follow this series of articles – or perform some act of magic.)

 

Phase IV: Standard Closing

Step 12: Licence to Depart (necessary only in variations where any intelligence is invoked, during the Magical Activity phase, that was not present before.)

Step 13: Begin the return to ordinary every-day life by performing the Ankh of Light again, with a small difference, recognizing the added experience you take back with you.

Step 14: Douse candle.

Step 15: Dedicate the results of this practice to the Great Work

Step 16: Restoring normal lighting, change into normal clothing.

Step 17: Immediately eat and drink a light snack

 

In the next part of this series of articles, I will begin to describe and explain each of these steps in detail.  I will try to do this with an emphasis on how these steps transform your state of mind, help you practice thinking of yourself as who and what you really are, and help you build the habit of always identifying with and behaving like That.

Mer-Amun MerAmun

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Part I – The Meaning of Ritual

Part of Realizing who and what we really are is learning to behave like That.  This is one of the meanings of “The Great Work.”  Realizing who and what we really are actually compels us to certain behavior.  For example, realizing that everything is an illusion, and that you share the same Consciousness with all other beings throughout space and time, compels you.  An extension of self-preservation compels you to try to relieve the illusion of suffering experienced by anyone or anything else.  This is why we often associate the “wise ones” throughout the ages with healing or heroism, whether medical or magical or mental.  This endless work of helping others is another meaning of “The Great Work.”

From the moment of birth some people are fully aware of whom and what they are, and naturally live and behave like That without giving it any thought.  They do so having Realized this in past lives because this Realization transcends life and death, birth and rebirth.  As the One Consciousness goes on after one’s death, by identifying with That instead of identifying with a dead or dying person, the Realized One does not die when the person dies.  They do not identify with a newborn baby as they reincarnate, but remain firm in their identity with the One Consciousness Itself.  The habit of identifying with that Eternal Consciousness, and not identifying with any one incarnation, past or present dictates their behavior.  We normally incarnate as humans again and again by habit of identifying with being “human.”  When we finally identify with the One Consciousness we break the habit of this mistaken identity and there is no habitual compulsion to rebirth, ever, as anything.  But this same adjustment of identity to the One Consciousness makes us acutely aware of the seeming suffering of others as though it were our own suffering, because we share the same Consciousness.  It is not through a habitual compulsion, but instead from deliberate choice that some Realized beings take rebirth among us.  They choose to do so to help relieve our apparent suffering, never losing sight that it is all an illusion that might seem painfully real to those who suffer.

While some people are born with Realization, most of us obviously are not.  Most of us typically take the illusion of our lives and deaths all too seriously.  Some of us would like to know what these Realized being know, and would like to experience existence the way they do.  Some of us wondering “who am I,” and “why am I here,” would like to experience who and what we really are.  For our benefit, throughout the ages some Realized beings have tried very hard to help us experience this for ourselves.  Some have taken rebirth each time they died, to continue a work of thousands of years, building collections or systems of techniques for realizing who and what we really are.  They have left their mark throughout history, teaching, refining, and evolving these systems.  Traditional Wicca refers to these beings as “The Mighty Dead.”  Another Western Mystery Tradition knows them as the “Ascended Masters.”

Mystical systems are examples of such collections of clever techniques for realizing who and what we really are, and for building the habit of behavior that expresses and celebrates That.  Such collections include deliberate experiences and practices such as initiation and meditation by which one can recognize for oneself this reality.  Besides oral explanations and profound alternate meanings of seemingly ordinary wording, the collections also include examples of Realization and the resulting behavior in the form of myths and legends. 

In addition, these collections include practices that, like mystery plays, allow one to follow a scripted procedure for enacting, exploring, and celebrating the truth about whom and what we really are.  These scripted procedures were designed to be performed again and again, to help create the habit of an attitude and outlook that carries over into our daily lives.  In this manner they can permanently transform our behavior and our perspective to be more than human, to be more like who and what we really are.  They are designed to help us create a permanent habit of identifying not with being “human,” but with the One Consciousness.  They are designed to help us develop the habit of seeing everything as an illusion produced by Consciousness itself.  These repeated scripted procedures are typically called “rituals.” While there are many rituals, designed and scripted for different purposes and reasons I am here referring to certain special rituals.  I am referring to those that have been deliberately crafted to bring us to a realization of who and what we really are, and to help us build the habit of acting like that.

Let’s consider exactly what a ritual is and how it works.  This should provide some insight into why rituals are composed as they are, and in turn how to perform a ritual as intended.  This way, when performing the special rituals, we will know how to use the ritual to practice shifting our identity to the One Consciousness, and make this our habitual perspective.

Consider that within the scope of the One Consciousness there is One Universal Mind.  Consider that, exactly like “your own” mind, this One Mind encompasses many thoughts, ideas, attitudes, habits, dreams, memories and feelings.  You have many thoughts, ideas, etc, and they all share your consciousness, being part of your own mind. The phenomena in your mind do not have separate awareness, they are all in your mind, and they all share your consciousness.  In exactly the same way, you and everything else in the Universe is a thought, idea, etc in this One Universal Mind.  Consider further that everyone and everything shares that same One Consciousness, being the activity and phenomina of the same Mind.  Finally, consider that in the same way that thoughts and ideas in your own mind have no tangible reality, neither does anything in the Universe either.  What goes on in your head is stuff that dreams are made of.   So is everything around you, including the person you think you are.  All of this is a dream or thought or fantasy of the One Consciousness that we share.  You are a dream in the One Mind.  Death is simply waking from that Dream.  Reincarnation is simply the habit of the One Mind thinking of itself, dreaming of itself in a particular way.  You are a recurring habitual dream that you and the One Mind keep having over and over, yet with more experience each time.  You will continue this habit until you gather enough experience to realize that you are the dreamer and not the dream, thus realizing who and what you really are.  Then you’ll start to act like the dreamer, instead of acting like something in the dream.

So, if everything is really a thought or idea, what’s the difference between me and you, and a table?  Everything is thought-stuff, or idea-stuff in the same Mind, with different emphasis, emphasizing different qualities and characteristics.  The incredible diversity in the universe comes from the incredible number of variations of emphasis that are possible. 

“Our own” minds are ideas or “trains of thought” in that same Mind, but with a particular emphasis that includes specific memories, activities and habits.  This particular emphasis produces what we normally think of as “ourselves,” and is no more than a short-lived idea in the grand scheme of the universal dream.

In the following question lies an incredibly powerful secret: If our own mind is no more than a train of thought in The Mind, and our individuality is only a particular emphasis in That Mind, then what else could we emphasize instead?  The answer is boundless.  By shifting to another emphasis, we could experience a different state of being, with different qualities, knowledge, thoughts, capabilities and events.  By shifting to another emphasis we could be anything, do anything, and experience anything we wish.

But here’s the catch and the reason most people don’t do it: if you want to experience anything outside the possibilities of this human that you identify with, you have to stop identifying with this limited human.  You have to be able to shift emphasis such that this limited human is not you, does not really exist.  For some people this is terrifying, like self-annihilation.  It might be terrifying unless, you Realize that you were never actually this limited human being after all, that you were never this dream at all, that you have all this time instead been the One Consciousness, the Dreamer.  If you identify with the Dreamer and not the dream, then you are free to dream anything you like without fear and without limits. 

But understand this incredibly important point: Realizing who and what you are does not make you who and what you are.  You are the Dreamer whether you realize it or not.  You are right now “dreaming-up” your experience, these very words you’re reading.  If you’re finding this personally interesting, you might be right now dreaming, through these dream words, that you could realize that you’re only dreaming.  You might be dreaming that you could wake up.  You might be interested in shifting your emphasis to Realize who and what you really are (the Dreamer).  You might be interested in dreaming a different dream, where you are the Dreamer.

So, how do we carry out this “shift in emphasis” that could give us infinite freedom to be anything, do anything, and experience anything we wish?  How do we learn to dream “awake” and alter what we experience at will?  The Mind changes emphasis simply by shifting attention.  The shift could be to something objective (as with something in your environment), or to something subjective (as with something imagined).  It is the emphasis that defines your experience.  It is the shift of attention that changes your experience.  It is the object of attention that defines exactly what the experience will be. 

Attention is like a flashlight in the dark.  Whatever you shine the flashlight on, out of the darkness, it comes into being in the sense of becoming part of your experience.  In the analogy of the dream and the Dreamer, attention is the Divine Light and the “food” of all things, by which all find seeming existence.    The more attention (food) given, the more “real” it seems.  By shifting our attention, we shape our experience.  When the Universe shifts attention, it also shapes our experience through the same mechanism because there is only One Dreamer: the One Consciousness.

Let me repeat and stress an important point: Attention is the “food” of all things.  This Divine Light (attention) makes the entire Universe and everything in it seem to exist.  It gives “presence” to all things.  It gives life to living things.  Like the lamp behind a movie projector, attention is the power of the Creator, the lifeblood of the dream itself and everything in it.

So, what has all this got to do with ritual?  Ritual is a deliberate scripted procedure for shifting attention.  It is a procedure for shifting attention to a specific experience.  It can be designed to shift our individual attention, and it can be designed to shift the attention of the Universe (actually, the difference is only an illusion that comes from emphasis).  Either way, ritual is a concerted act designed to focus attention to a specific emphasis.  As described before, this different emphasis, the effect of ritual, can produce a different state of being, with different qualities, knowledge, thoughts and events.   This ritualized state of being can be subjective and mind-altering, or it can be objective and reality-altering.

The most direct ritual is as simple as focusing one’s attention on the right object (Assiah), mood, atmosphere (Yetzirah), symbol, archetype (Briah), law, or principle (Atziluth).  If you want this shift of attention to seem as real as your every-day experience, your whole mind and whole of attention must be as focused (engrossed or convinced) as it usually is on the illusion of your every-day experience.  All you have to do is shift and focus your attention.  This is a direct mental ritual.  The key to this mental ritual (simply focusing one’s attention) is recognizing one’s true nature: we are not the mind, we are not attention, we are the Awareness behind all things, the Dreamer not the dream.  While habitually associating with That, and not with this individual, and habitually acting only from that Perspective, total immersion in any chosen state or experience is as easy as simply “looking.”  This is the “highest” form of magic, or in other words, the most subtle and easiest magic, but it is available to you only when you identify with the Dreamer and not the dream.  The Mighty Dead, or Ascended Masters never leave this state of mind unless they choose to.  Their every thought is a powerful direction of Divine Light, a powerful act of magic.  (In the final stages of traditional mystical training, one learns an advanced form of spell casting.  In this technique, the simple act of becoming aware of a need, is at the same time, a powerful act of spell casting to ease that same need.  Clearly this type of automatic spell casting requires a special mind.  It is the Mind of the One Consciousness.)

Most of us have not yet recognized our true nature, or have not developed completely absorbed and habitual identification with Consciousness itself.  For us, focusing attention in an engrossed way can be accomplished with more elaborate rituals than simply thinking of the desired experience.  We can make use of patterns and associations in the makeup of the Universal Mind which is reflected in our own minds.  This means we can make use of powerful “triggers” or “Reminders.”  Clever use of these triggers can create effective ways of focusing our attention on specific experiences.

The Magical Alphabet is a list of symbols, associations and patterns described by the Tree of Life.  It is one description or map of the triggers inherent in the Universe and the Mind it reflects.  In such a map of triggers are directions for guiding all the senses and imagination to specific experiences, objects, moods, atmospheres, symbols, archetypes, laws, and principles.  Where the senses and imagination go, the attention can easily follow.  By deliberately combining such triggers (like combining the letters of an alphabet), the Mind can be led to pay attention to any specific experience.  The more immersed the imagination and senses, the more easily engrossed the attention can be, and the more “real” the experience becomes.  When used skillfully, these triggers can alter our experience, our dream, and ultimately our experience of reality.

So with something like the Magical Alphabet, rituals can be composed that will again and again draw the attention to, and engross one in a specific experience.  Sometimes the target experience is extraordinary.  When the wanted focus of attention is especially unfamiliar, a ritual can be designed to lead from the “normal” state of mind to the desired one in steps or sequential mini-rituals.  First, a mini-ritual is performed that brings a mental state not far from “normal.”  Next another mini-ritual is performed that brings a state a little further away from “normal,” and so on.

As mentioned, this principle applies whether the focus is to be that of the individual mind (subjectively mind-altering) or of the Universal Mind (objective reality-altering).  In the former, it is possible to make something subjectively real, in order to provide direct experience of a state of being (such as being the Dreamer, or the One Consciousness).  Repeat performance, making this ritual a habit, by definition changes one’s “typical” state of being.  In the latter it is possible to make something objectively real, as in producing magical changes in one’s environment.  The comprehensive use of ritual is where both of these techniques are applied, in stages.  In this case, the operator is led to a personal experience, possibly of a state greater than, or other than normally human.  Then the Universal Mind is engaged to empower that state in an externally real sense.  Not only is the operator completely absorbed in the focus of attention, but the seemingly greater Universal Mind is too.  The experience becomes completely real both subjectively and objectively.

So ritual is the act of focusing attention (the “life-blood” of all things), typically through “triggers” that engage the imagination and the senses, according to associations and correspondences inherent in the mind.  For the nose:  there are specific choices of incense.  For the ears: specific words of power, music and prose.  For the eyes:  specific colored symbolic objects and visualizations.  Added sensations can be included for touch (eg. a kiss on the cheek), and for taste (eg. wine)  if wanted.  For the imagination, all of these are combined into a subjective experience that further directs one’s attention.  With the right combination of imaginary and sensual components, an atmosphere is built up.  This can be enhanced by a particular location, as in a cave or cliff-top for example.  The rational mind can be engaged through mechanical or mathematical components such as technical symbols like numeric squares and sigils.  The “habitual” mind can be engaged through long and exact preparation, timing and repetition or practice.  (Engaging the habitual mind is important, because habit is the strongest force in the universe, and the strongest force in our own minds.)  A progression of sensations can be assembled that play out archetypal themes or myths, engaging the mind in the experience of the associated archetype, deity or principle.

So, with the knowledge of certain “triggers,” it is possible to direct one’s attention, one’s experience to anything at all.  What would be the most important experience to have?  What would the most important ritual be for?  Of course, that would be a ritual that helps you and others to escape suffering.  In the jargon of Western Mystery traditions, that would be a ritual that helps you complete The Great Work. 

What is it that gives you the power to alter experience and reality?  Not ritual.  You have this power because you share the same One Consciousness that continually creates the illusion of an entire universe.  You are creating your own reality right now, you just might not notice that you’re doing it.  In fact, without realizing that you are the Dreamer and not the dream, as the perfect magician, you will continue to work your habitual magic of experiencing what you are accustomed to experiencing.  Out of pure habit, fear of change and fear of the unfamiliar, with absolute magical power you will go on as you are and unconsciously influence (or limit) the success of any ritual or magic you might attempt.  You will naturally impose a limitation to that which is familiar.  This habitual self-definition and self-limitation, as it powerfully interferes with any out-of-the-ordinary intentions you might have, is called “the Negative Will.” 

[Applying the Magical Alphabet to the Concept of “Habit”
 Habit is assigned to the sphere of the Moon, the sphere of cyclic rhythm.  This tells us that habit is built of repetition and that habit creates repetition.  This tells us that building and breaking repetition gives power over habits.  The cyclic sphere is Yesod, which means “Foundation.”  So habits are the foundation of the illusion we call reality.  The archetype that embodies this sphere is called Gabriel, which means “Divine Strength”.  So habit is the strongest force in the universe.  Repetition is the most powerful technique in the universe.  (One might think of love as stronger, being a direct expression of Consciousness itself, arising from the act of recognition.  But there is a mystery in the relationship between love and habit that is beyond the scope of this article.  For the moment, suffice it to say that love and habit are equivalent forces, habit arising from pure primordeal love.)  Yesod is called “The Storehouse of Images.”  So habit is memory, and memory is habit. Repetition creates memory, and memory creates repetition.  The magical vision of Yesod is “the Vision of the Machinery of the Universe”.  So when one understands habit, memory and cyclic rhythm as the Foundation for the illusion of the universe, one understands the machinery of the universe, or how the Great Illusionworks.
]

Negative Will is a manifestation of habit.  Being the strongest force in the Universe, habit is what keeps the whole illusion going, keeps it from changing too drastically and too quickly, and makes things seem real.  Habit is not an enemy therefore, but a part of the Dream that makes it convincing.  Without it you would stop your rhythmic breathing as you slept.  You wouldn’t seem to exist.  But if you want to perform the magic of transforming yourself into something other than human, you need to shake the habit of thinking of yourself as human.  For this reason, many rituals engage clever techniques to bypass personal habits, and bypass interference by the Negative Will.

One of the best ways to bypass the Negative Will is to turn your attention to who and what you really are.  Most of us who are not among the Mighty Dead, or Ascended Masters need help doing this.  We need triggers to help us turn our attention this way.  For this reason, the most effective rituals always emphasize the ultimate Perspective: that you are Consciousness manifesting itself by casting the Divine Light of attention, that you are expressing its Will through the act of directing Divine Light.  The ritual will not confuse you by making you think that it is a human being that is directing Divine Light.  The ritual will instead speak of some Ultimate Being doing so.  But the secret is: That Ultimate Being you are talking about when you perform the ritual, that Ultimate being is you.  It is who and what you really are.  All the prayers and salutations, descriptions and reminders about the Ultimate Being are about the real you, about the One Consciousness. The ritual is not talking about someone other than your true self.  So next time you pray to that Ultimate Being, know that you are reminding yourself with the words of that prayer, reminding yourself of things that describe the real you that is not human, but so much more.

So to bypass Negative Will, the first act in a well designed ritual is always a reminder of who and what you are, amid your ordinary every-day life.  An example of this first step is the mini-ritual called the Ankh of Light, often used as the first preparatory exercise in rituals of Western Mystery systems.  The first word in that ritual, “Ateh,” means at once both “I Am” and “Thou Art” (referring to the Ultimate Deity).  Saying this word aloud must be for you an immediate reminder that the sensation of “I Am” is the same as Ultimate Deity.  The rest of the Ankh of Light ritual extends that experience of Ultimate Deity through all experience.  This initial emphasis created by the Ankh of Light asserts that the Ultimate Deity is the real operator of the ritual, who utters the Word of God, not a limited human individual.  It is the Mind of the Ultimate Deity that focuses attention (directs Divine Light) on the desired end, not the limited human individual.  This is what you must have in mind as you perform the rituals, and this is the perspective from which you must act, at first in ritual practice, and then throughout your daily life.

Ritual therefore can be simultaneously both operative, and instructive.  It can be instructive in that it can point out the actual experience of being the One Consciousness, and not merely human.  It can be operative in that it can help you behave, even for a time, like you are not a human being, but behave with the knowledge that you are Consciousness itself. 

As we all know, repetition is the way to direct habit.  Repetitive ritual can direct even this most powerful force in the universe (habit).  It can change not only the environment (which seems solid and objective only because of habit), but also one’s character (another form of habit), and most importantly, who or what one habitually identifies with. 

There is only one difference between you and me, and the Mighty Dead or Ascended Masters: they have a powerful habit of identifying with the One Consciousness (and nothing less), which is also a powerful habit of behaving like That.  All you need to do, to escape suffering and relieve others from suffering, in other words, to complete the Great Work, to join the Mighty Dead, is to build the same habit.  Repeatedly performing the right ritual can help you do this.  Luckily, the Mighty Dead or Ascended Masters have crafted for us many such rituals over thousands of years.

One such ritual is modestly entitled “The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.”  In following parts of this article, we will closely examine in this ritual, its performance, meaning and significance, and the way to perform it to make the most of its clever and beautiful design.

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Mer-Amun MerAmun

Here is a description of a system for associative thinking used in Western mysticism, based on the Tree of Life of the ancient Qabalah or Kabbalah. It is essential in occult training.

Click “The Magical Alphabet” under “Western Mysticism” on the menu above.