USING THE PENTAGRAM RITUALS WITHOUT THE ABRAHAMIC FRAMEWORK?
Today, while browsing on one of the few Facebook Groups dedicated to esotericism I am still a member of (I know, I am a glutton for punishment, after all), a question that captured my interest popped up. Mainly because it’s one of these most frequently asked questions that invariably get many different answers:
I would like to try the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, but I have some resistance to the judeo-christian references. I have not yet read the text of the ritual, but I guess it uses the names of the angels (Michael, Raphael,…) and the names of God (Adonaï,…), etc. On the other hand, I am very much into neo-platonism (Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus), and I’m wondering to what extent I could adapt the text of the LBRP with names of Greek gods, daimones, and spirits… with which I’m much more comfortable. However, I fear that it would create some kind of monstrous hybrid and inconsistent/incoherent blob.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is the problem with resistance and feeling comfortable about the magical practices we will incorporate into our routines. While it’s undeniable that, as humans, we always tend to gravitate first towards what we like (or what we think we like), one of the fundamental lessons of pursuing magical knowledge is that diving into new experiences can be incredibly rewarding. When you take that leap of faith and step outside your comfort zone, you open yourself up to a world of possibilities.
Trying something new can help you grow as an individual and discover hidden talents you never knew you had. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself, push your limits, and overcome obstacles. Don’t let fear hold you back, even if you have reservations or doubts. Embrace the unknown and the chance to learn and evolve — which is what completing the Great Work really means.
All I’ve said so far seems to be echoed in the most common type of answer I usually see given to the question above:
If you want to do it, don’t change it. Its elements are designed in particular ways for a reason. Changes to that generally miss those reasons, and so they don’t result in a ritual that does the same thing.
The LBRP is very specific for the reason that it is part of a specific (Golden Dawn and descendent matters) current.
These answers are usually given by folks who are steeped in devotional styles of magic and are convinced that everything we can achieve comes via the intercession of spirits. In this case, the Rituals of the Pentagram work only because we call upon the Archangels and their powers to fuel the ritual per se.
While I am also one of those convinced that spirits exist as an actual ontological entity outside of ourselves, i.e. they aren’t just part of our heads because we don’t know how big our head actually is (famous quote by Lon Milo DuQuette I am pretty sure many don’t get), the rituals of the Pentagram focus way more on the alchemical refinement of the Hermetic Elements rather than calling up a bunch of sky daddies to do our work for us.
This is precisely what Crowley meant when he famously said that those who understand this ritual possess the Philosopher’s Stone. Properly understood, the Ritual of the Pentagram is about creating a spiritual Athanor at the centre of your being and becoming able first to recognise and refine the Elements to synthesise the Quintessence. Unlocking the Spirit, it’s where the real fun beings.
I have no love for John Michael Greer and his pathetic brand of eco-fascism hidden in the garb of ceremonial magic and renaissance-faire Druidry, and yet he remains an essential voice in the Golden Dawn reconstructionist movements thanks to the work he’s done before losing himself in Boomer Town.
In conclusion: magick, with the k or without, is about studying first and then experimenting. When folks tell you it’s impossible to do something or that you shouldn’t get rid of Christianity because it influenced the last 2000 years of history, remember that they mostly do so because they carved a market for themselves, selling you books and courses on those topics.
So nod, smile, and proceed to experiment as you will after a thorough study of the source material and a proper understanding of the ritual you’re attempting. Success be thy proof.