What are banishing, grounding, invoking, evoking and sacred space?
when, why and how would I use them?
What is the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, and why and how can it benefit me?
Read on for my fully unqualified answers, and please let me know where I can improve them.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!
I am writing this for a friend. It is going up in the most timely manner possible and has not had the usual time for percolation, editing, etc. Please accept my humble apologies for any bad grammar, spelling or thinking you find. Corrections to all of those gratefully accepted and appreciated.
This work is very basic. As such, it takes a lifetime or more to master. I can think of at least a dozen people more qualified than me to speak on this, so what I am sharing is not gospel, but merely my thoughts from a few decades of being a dilettante who has had the privilege of working around Masters.
My goals are:
- To introduce the theory of banishing, invoking, evoking, grounding and sacred space,
- to give some practical thoughts on each,
- And To examine the LRP in that light
On Banishing, Invoking, Evoking and Sacred Space:
To banish simply means to put space between yourself and that which you are banishing. It does not make that thing cease to exist, nor does it stop that thing from having power over you. Rather, it removes or minimizes it’s direct influence for a while. Think of sending your kid to Grampa’s house. He’s out of your hair for a while, but he’s still your kid, and you still have to deal with him, but you can get a little time to yourself to think and get some work done. This is banishing.
Why would you banish? If the presence of a specific thing is problematic. If they are “incorrect” or “out of balance” by exerting too much influence on you, you would banish them. An exorcism is a banishing as much as the Star Ruby or Lesser or Greater banishing rituals.
When would you banish? I tend to banish after doing any solmonic work, and after all invocations. Unless requested by others, I do not do it at the beginning of work except at the request of others. I almost always ground after banishing, which removes much of the effect of a banishing if that thing you were trying to banish was already in a right relation to you, but further serves to allow to retreat anything still hanging around.
How would you banish? This can vary a lot depending on the circumstances. A license to depart is a reasonably preface to a banishing, but when push comes to shove, I find the Star Ruby to be a wonderful ritual, although these days I am more inclined to direct command. “You, spirit which is causing this effect, be gone and do not return until I command!”
Invocation is bringing a thing into your Self. When we invoke the presence of God, or of a spirt, we are not asking them to join us in the room, but to enter our minds, hearts, and occasionally bodies.
Once invoked, I’ve found there’s never really the same clean separation one had before an invocation, so think carefully on what you’re invoking before you do so. Just as you can never make yourself a virgin again, so you can never change the effects of invoking, now matter how fervently you banish. If you are a good magician and know how to ground and banish well, the effects can be minimized; It may only be a very strong memory, but I would think of it as similar to taking hallucinogenic drugs. Nothing’s ever quite the same afterwards. Do not be afraid to do the work, but approach it with respect and caution.
Why would you invoke? To take on the aspects of that which you invoke. A warrior might invoke Mars, or might invoke the spirit of his teacher (living or Dead) A poet or writer Thoth, or a lover Jupiter or Aphrodite.
When would you invoke? Invocation is generally the greatest point within a ritual. It is the point at which the work is achieved, and everything after that is cleaning up. I used to (and should begin again!) invoke a new spirit every solstice and equinox. I would invoke the season itself, and more fully experience it by virtue of being, in small part that very thing. I would and have invoked the most high God to reign within my breast. In my younger days, I have certainly invoked odd spirits to sit inside me and speak through me, and I don’t think I suffered any permanent harm, but I don’t know how useful this is. It probably makes my visions easier today because my soul has been pried open, however crudly. It is worthy to invoke the divine daily, and just as grounding, this will help strengthen your connection to the Source. The Mass of the Phoenix, The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, and Liber Resh vel Helios are all wonderful invocations appropriate for daily use. Beyond that, inovcation is a tool to take on specific aspects of specific gods, spirts, egregores, concepts. Examinations of the book of the dead, the bornless ritual, and the LRP are great starting points for the construction of your own ritual work.
Evocation is to call something to expression outside of yourself. When the Solmonic magician calls the spirit into the triangle, or when we summon an individual (through non ceremonial means, like, calling them on the phone and asking them over) we are essentially evoking. To evoke a thing makes it’s representation present in your conscious mind, but only to the degree that a person you are speaking to is consciously represented in your mind. The key is that there is a separation between you and the spirit, often (but not always) magically delineated. (the circle and triangle are examples of barriers put between a magician and an evoked spirit)
Why would I evoke? Generally to gain knowledge. Evocation is amongst the most popular magic, in part because it is so flashy. I will not pretend my ego doesn’t get a rush each time I become aware that something I summoned has appeared. It shouldn’t be so, and I’m sure once I become the illustrious great hermit who lives alone in the woods and shits himself, my ego will be dissolved, but for now, I don’t lie about it. When you evoke a spirit you can ask it questions, learn about it’s world, learn about your world, and have real dialog for answering questions that basic oracles were not sufficient for. One might evoke goetic spirits to get your physical needs for your temple, or an enochian spirit to find out about upcoming wars. One might evoke a dead relative to inquire into ones own past, or an elemental spirit to come to better understand your relation to that element.
When would I evoke? Evocation is, at times, a substitute for invocation as the primary reason. (eg, in goetia, you invoke the most high God, and then evoke a spirit to have it run errands for you by way of your association with God.) If the purpose of your ritual is to gain information from or command a spirit, it would be the central point of the ritual. Evocation is also used, however, in the building of the temple. In the LRP, you evoke the cardinal angels to stand guard at the 4 corners. Evoking guardsmen or elements as part of your temple setup is a wise idea.
What is Grounding? To ground in electrical terms, is to provide “a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the Earth.” When we ground, magically, we are resetting our own internal levels. We’re letting the excess return to earth, and ensuring we are balanced. Sometimes this discharge can be quite significant, if we are significantly out of balance. You can tell this is happening because you will find yourself “shocked” by the process of grounding. When this happens it almost always startles us enough to break our ground. If that happens, I suggest going at it again, until grounding doesn’t provide any significant change. Then you will know you’ve hit a point of ground, and are good to continue.
Why would I ground? To achieve balance. Many people say it makes them feel “light” because they’ve let go of everything. This speaks to how much they are actively holding because all grounding does is return us to center. Try it. If it feels like a weight came off, we are holding on to too much. If it feels like gravity just got very real, and we feel too much coming at us, perhaps we were avoiding something we needed to examine. Either way, ground early, ground often. Do NOT ground in the middle of an ecstatic rite or a building of energy, such as working up to the Abramelin or similar K&C rituals or vision quests. Those work in part because you are unbalanced, you have set yourself in motion and are flying forward at mach 1, quite apart from the stillness which grounding provides.
How would I ground? At present, I do so through Qi Gong rituals, specifically ocean and belt breathing. Quasi-ceremonially I find sweeping works very well for me. Others prefer walking. For the ceremonially minded, the middle pillar ritual and LRP both do the job.
Before I move on to sacred spaces, I want to talk a little more about banishing and grounding. Many people argue that banishing should be done constantly. I knew people who did lesser banishing rituals (or the star ruby, or what have you) daily for years. People coming up from Donald Michael Kraig and other similar authors often get the idea that the LRP is a banishing ritual, and then are told to do the lrp daily, and consequently, by treating it as such, end up performing a (sub optimal) ritual BANISHING EARTH daily for years. These people also never seem to recognize that worldly wealth, stability, and the inner calm they often began magic to find just flies away from them.
There are a few reasons people might advise banishing often, and I disagree with all of them:
1.) They may believe that banishing simply removes “evil spirits” and hence, you must banish often to keep the ghoolies away. This is ridiculous. As mentioned above, banishing is never permanent (as so many bad movies reveal 😉 ) and the whole idea of evil does not make sense in alignment to Will. People will say something is “not aligned with my Will” instead of using the hick idea of “evil” but these same people will readily agree that they are not themselves fully aware of their own Will, so the idea that they can know what is against it doesn’t stand up, and hence, the term boils down to the same idea. “I tell the boogie man to go away” I simply don’t buy it.
2.) They may believe that banishing “makes space” for sacred energy. There are some valid arguments to be had here, but in practice, I’ve found just as much success pulling down the sacred directly, as opposed to when I’ve cleared out a space for it. If what you are pulling down is so etherial that you don’t think it has the power to bump things out of it’s way, then by all means, banish first, but if you believe you’re working with a great power, and it can not simply, effectively and fully manifest without banishing, then I doubt it is quite as powerful as it may want you to believe. (this is true of most spirits that actively seek out humans)
3.) They may use banishing as a “test”. This is by far the most dangerous of these, and sadly the most common. They will think that they banished everything, then invited one spirit to [ev|in]vocation, and felt that because they banished, there was no need to test the spirit. I am good at banishing. I have others who can attest to this. But when you banish, and then you do work, you are not inherently safe. you WILL be aware of things other than your target, and they very much CAN and WILL work to influence you. Never let your guard down, and never, ever believe that because you banished, you can trust everything that makes it into your circle. As soon as you allow yourself this type of belief, you have failed that truest banishing, the control of your own mind, which is, after all, the sphere where all the real magic works, of which our physical signs are merely mnemonics, tools to help us establish that only true magical temple, that which exists within our minds, hearts and Selves.
4.) This is the only one I agree with, but only because they’re wrong. Some people advise banishing daily, because they think that banishing is grounding. They think it’s important to allow yourself to return to center and to allow heaven and earth to pass through you in completion of their work. They’re right, you should, but that’s not banishing.
In conclusion, I do not believe one should banish often, and you certainly shouldn’t do so on an elemental level, which is what the pentagram rituals are. You require all things in balance for the Great Work, and routinely banishing an element can not help but create imbalance.
Those notes aside,
Sacred Space is literally “set aside” it is a space which you have dedicated to the Great Work, and which exists for a given purpose. It need not be physical. As a matter of fact, some of the most effective sacred space is space in time. When the old woman sets aside 15 minutes of her day to pray to God, and repeats this for years, consecrating and reconsecrating her time, I promise you that space, wherever it is physically, that she occupies while completing this daily dedication is exponentially more holy and more effective than the most ornate temples guarded by the most elaborate circles, triangles, columns, spirits or aught else. Work makes the space.
These basics established, lets look at the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram:
What is the first thing we do?
In the qabalistic cross, we are aligning ourselves on the tree of life. “the forehead, God the father, the chest, Earth, the right hand severity and the left mercy. Unto the ends of the earth, it is!” Paraphrased to make a point. We are pulling ourselves just a hair up from malkuth, our earthly, physical realm, and positioning ourselves between Yesod and tipareth, directly between Hod and Netzah. We are above the kingdom, and looking up directly at God. To him be the foundation of strength and mercy, or severity and mildness.
After taking our rightful spiritual place for this work, we then start doing our circles. We move in a deosol direction, which is my first proof that this is an invoking rather than banishing ritual. One could argue that that’s to build a circle to keep those things out, and I might have bought it if the entire rest of the structure of the ritual wasn’t building towards an invocation. Either way, from my experience, it is more advantageous to move widershins when banishing. Do both, see what you prefer.
While making our deosol invoking circle, we fling out pentagrams in the cardinal directions. Most people fling out a banishing of earth. I can only imagine that this is done as earth is considered the opposite of spirit, so we are removing ourselves from the affairs of the earth. This is why it is considered a banishing ritual, and this reason only. This logic does not stand up when you realize that it is a pentagram of the 5 elements, none of which has a direct opposite, and of which spirit is the uppermost point, or the center of the cross, so banishing anything other than all of the elements shy of spirit would be unprofitable. Try for yourself and record and examine your results.
The pentagram is what I most often change. I almost always make it invoking and I am almost always invoking a certain element. If I am doing HGA work, I will invoke spirit, but even for traveling on the planes, I tend to prefer to invoke the appropriate element. These completely changes any banishing effect it may have, and often makes the ritual work much better, which is my second proof that the LRP is not a banishing ritual.
What do we do immediately after that? We send God names in the 4 directions. Why would we do this? Like so much ritual, we may never know *the* concrete and “correct” answer. We can speculate though; We are filling the temple with Gods name. We are establishing all around us, to the 4 corners, the presence of God. Why would we do this? Is this a necessary part of a banishing? or is it the lead up to an invocation?
Once we’ve made our pentagrams and invoked the name of God, we set up our pillars. We do this by evoking the cardinal angels at the cardinal directions. This serves a few purposes. Primarily, when we artificially prioritized elements, we did create an unequal space, like increasing the pressure inside a vessel to greater than that outside. It will want to equalize, and we set a perimeter to keep that distinct concentration or absence of a thing long enough to get the work done. That space we made sacred with the name of God,
What happens next is counter-intuitive. It sounds like we are declaring where we are, but that is decidedly NOT what we are doing. We are invoking! “For about me flame the pentagrams, and in the center shines the 6 rayed star!”, “in the center” is vital. You have pulled down the God of Heaven, and up the prince of hell. You have brought fire and water, body and spirt into alignment, to meet in the center. Who is he who is surrounded by the name of God, and guarded on all sides by the greatest angels? Who contains within himself the macrocosm which is the 6 rayed star? That is, of course, God, which we have just declared to be within us.
From here, we repeat the cross, but it now has a greater significance. Unto us, in so much as we have achieved union with Thelema, our own divine Will, (or if you prefer, Gods divine Will for us, the meanings are identical, it’s only the perspective that varies) We have aligned our own Will with the Will of the most high God, the logos through which he manifests, your own Holy Guardian Angle, a messenger of this truth, or your higher Self, pick your term. Unto us be all the powers of the universe, rulership over our bodies and physical realms, and the glory of our mind and consciousness.
At this point, we are in a sacred space. We have dedicated it to the work of the Lord, and brought the same into our own consciousness, or more properly, brought our consciousness into God’s presence, that we might sense the very being-ness which is our birthright, and to which we shall eventually return. From here we can do work as confidently as if we had just finished the bornless ritual with command and power, perfectly from memory.
…And that, I believe, is a beautiful ritual of invocation of the most high, and one worthy of regular practice. But I wouldn’t go there if I was actually trying to banish something.
This is, as expected, 5 times longer than it should be and only covers half of what I’d like in 1/16th the depth it merits. Either way, I hope this has covered my thoughts on the LRP, banishing, and those related activities which magicians require.
I’d love to hear your feedback, and for my more experienced magical friends (that’s most people) corrections are always appreciated.
Love is the Law,
Love under Will!