“Penty” – Photo taken by Michelle Jones UK
Anyone getting into magic has to learn how to banish, it’s one of the required skills to keep your magic effective as well as your mind and body healthy. This is why it’s one of the first rituals that you will learn. It’s a beautifully crafted ritual that is incredibly easy to learn, but it takes sustained practice to master and provides a basic structure and framework to understand how all rituals are put together. The LBRP has so many facets that one article was never going to exhaust it’s value, so if you haven’t read Fr OTD’s piece, you can find it here and I strongly suggest you read that article first. This article is going to build on it, give you some additional context to help develop your own approach and provide a deeper understanding of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram’s (LBRP) purpose.
So pull up a chair and grab a herbal tea (or stiff drink) of your choice and let’s unpack a bit more of what we’re doing and why. I’ll also throw in some of my thoughts about how to get the most out of the LBRP so consider this a little sister piece to the excellent start made by the Ostentatiously Titled Dude himself. Let’s start with a bit of history.
Perhaps the first thing to consider is that the LBRP creates a magic circle. We use our finger, knife or wand to literally draw a line around us, usually at shoulder height. This is actually a really old idea in terms of ceremonial magic and the symbol of the campfire is usually credited with giving this idea it’s potency, the circle of light that protects. This principle and use in magic can be seen in a variety of cultures for thousands of years. In Jake Stratton Kent’s Geosophia Vol. 2 [Scarlet Imprint, 2010], we get some interesting titbits about this history like the Asyrian document that describes the use of a circle drawn with lime and flour adorned with winged statues. Of perhaps more interest is the quote from Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft, first published in 1544 Here we read that it was not uncommon for practitioners to use an ‘imaginary circle’ which JSK notes is reminiscent of the LBRP technique. So whilst we know that the LBRP itself is a creation of the practitioners who developed the Golden Dawn approach, it’s not without precedent and comes from a tried and tested lineage.
JSK also makes the same reference in the section on ritual structure in his latest book The Sworn and Secret Grimoire (Hadean Press, 2021). It’s here that we learn more about the use of the technique to ‘consecrate’ a circle. This is important and perhaps a better frame for the role of the ritual that I want to draw your attention to, namely, that this is about purifying a space ready to invite angels to. Of course, other views are available and JSK compares and contrasts Dr. Stephen Skinner’s approach, but something they both agree on is that the term ‘banishing’ isn’t a traditional term. Is it just me that would love to see JSK vs. Skinner in an epic rap battle? Alas, I digress.
The point here is that whilst the ritual ‘banishes’ that’s not the actual purpose, the purpose is to purify in the same way that we consecrate tools, exorcise the candles or incense and perform benedictions where necessary. For more on this (and despite the bashing that Crowley is getting at the moment) we’d do well to note that in Chapter 13 of Magick in Theory and Practice, Crowley calls the chapter ‘Of the banishings and purifications’.
So why do we LBRP? Well to return to the original article, Fr OTD has given us a very clear and straightforward answer:
Removing the profane.
So whilst this may seem obvious at first there’s actually quite a bit to unpack here. First of all, what exactly are we getting rid of? In the most direct sense we’re removing any energy, spirits or influences from the space we want to work in. We’re also removing the profane from ourselves and as well as removing things, we’re also doing something else by default. We are creating a sacred space or my preferred description, a liminal space. This is a location outside of the ‘normal’ rules of cause and effect. It is a space where we can reprogramme reality, usually via the assistance of invisible entities.
Think about it like this, you are requesting the presence of the Archangels to protect you, the space you are creating is a temple and should be cleansed and purified for that purpose. In many ways I like to think of banishing as like giving the table a wipe before you eat. It is about getting rid of stuff, but what’s more important than that is that you are creating a purified and welcoming space for those you invite. So ask yourself, if you’re inviting guests into the space you create, how can you make it as inviting as possible? Angels, as is well known, are a bit snobby in a way that personally I relate to. Think about bad dining experiences and then think about the space you’re inviting them to. This is why we settle the mind and literally clean the space before ritual. My personal routine is to switch off all devices and make sure everything is tidy and then vacuum the floor. I also take my shoes off, see Exodus 3:12 for more details. Here’s some other thoughts about etiquette.
Being something of a traditionalist I always try to start with the shout of Hekas, Hekas, Este Bebeloi. It’s a common courtesy to the invisible that there’s going to be a private party and if you hang around it’s at your own risk. I like this as I only have limited space and have several altars including my ancestral altar, an orphic space as well as my working altar for daily practice and planned operations. I think it’s a bit rude to be banishing when you’ve invited certain guests to stay, without giving them a fair warning first. I also like to think of my house as welcoming for spirits and I occasionally have visitors drop by unannounced, but if I’m doing something that I want to focus on then it’s invite only.
The last thing I want to touch on now is something that I picked up from Damien Echols, who truth be told I have mixed feelings about but who I always get something out of listening to. Yeah, much like Jimi Hendrix I’m a big believer in listening to everyone and seeing what you can steal, ahem, incorporate into your practice. Let’s talk breathing.
So when I was first learning the LBRP, I would do it ‘book in hand’ and be pleased to just get through it without making a mistake. Then after learning it by heart I could focus more on the visualisations required. But then it’s quite easy to get a bit complacent about it, just saying the words and doing the gestures. To get it to the next level, we need to think about how we manage our breath and breathing throughout the ritual.
Breathing and it’s manipulation is fundamental to altered states of consciousness and so a foundation of magic. It is both conscious and unconscious. We can control it but we don’t stop when we focus on other things. It is the interface of consciousness so large that I can see across the universe, past the limitations imposed by the archon Saturn past matter until I can sense the inefable light of the source. To me this is like looking at the sun on a bright day and when I sense it my hand goes up and I draw that light to my forehead. At each stage I think about how I want to breathe in or out. As I breathe in the light of my tiphareth centre (solar plexus) shines as brightly as the source. I breathe out as I draw the pentagrams and the energy leaves my fingers and forms blue lines in the air. I breathe in and then time my breath out as I form the sign of the enterer and use that breath to vibrate the names of power.
I use breathing not only to focus on how I manipulate energy and power during the ritual but also to pace myself and not rush through. It’s our natural metronome and another tool in mastering the art.
So the next time you set out to do your banishing, especially if it’s the LBRP, think about the process as a purification and an act to make your space sacred. Think about the space that you’re inviting these angelic forces into. And finally think about how our breath, the most fundamental aspect of our being, can help supercharge your approach.