Bornless Ritual

Bornless Ritual One of the most important God Invocations in ceremonial Magic. The Bornless Ritual is based on Graeco-Egyptian magical writings.

The ritual was published in 1852 as Fragment of a Graeco-Egyptian Work Upon Magic by Charles Wycliffe Goodwin for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. E. A. Wallis Budge included part of it in Egyptian Magic in 1899. Different versions of it have been written and used in rituals.

The original intent of the Bornless Ritual was exorcism. It shows Jewish influence, referring to Moses and the “ceremonies of Israel.” It employs barbarous names to command all spirits of the firmament, ether, and the el ements.

Wycliffe’s translation is as follows; some of the original text is missing:

An address to the god drawn upon the letter.

I call thee, the headless one, that didst create earth and heaven, that didst create night and day, thee the creator of light and darkness. Though art Osoronnophris, whom no man hath seen at any time; though art Iabas, though art Iapos, though has distinguished the just and the unjust, though didst make female and male, though didst produce seeds and fruits, though didst make men to love one another and to hate one another. I am Moses thy prophet, to whom thou didst commit thy mysteries, the ceremonies of Israel; though didst produce the moist and the dry and all manner of food. Listen to me: I am an angel of Phapro Osoronnophris; this is thy true name, handed down to the prophets of Israel. Listen to me, …………. ………………………………………………….. hear me and drive away this spirit.

I call thee the terrible and invisible god residing in the empty wind,……………….. thou headless one, deliver such an one from the spirit that possesses him…………………. ……………………………………………….. strong one, headless one, deliver such an one from the spirit that possesses him ……………………………………………………… deliver such an one……………………………………..

This is the lord of the gods, this is the lord of the world, this is whom the winds fear, this is he who made voice by his commandment, lord of all things, king, ruler, helper, save this soul ………………………………………………………………… angel of God ……… ……………………………………………….. I am the headless spirit, having sight in my feet, strong, the immortal fire; I am the truth; I am he that hateth that ill-deeds should be done in the world; I am he that lighteneth and thundereth; I am he whose sweat is the shower that falleth upon the earth that it may teem: I am he whose mouth ever burneth; I am the begetter and the bringer forth (?); I am the Grace of the World; my name is the heart girt with a serpent. Come forth and follow.—The celebration of the preceding ceremony.—Write the names upon a piece of new paper, and having extended it over your forehead from one temple to the other, address yourself turning toward the north to the six names, saying: Make all spirits subject to me, so that every spirit of heaven and of the air, upon the earth and under the earth, on dry land and in the water, and every spell and scourge of God, may be obedient to me.—And all the spirits shall be obedient to you. . . .

Budge opined that the barbarous names were corruptions of Egyptian words: Osoronnophis was “Answer Unnefer,” the god of the dead, and Paphro was “per-aa,” or “great house,” or “pharaoh.” The Greek version of the manuscript contains more barbarous names than are in the early English translations.

Golden Dawn Usage

The Bornless Ritual (the “headless one” became the “Bornless One”) was adapted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn but was never an official ritual of the order. Probably it appealed to members who were interested in the initiatory aspects of Egyptian magic drawn from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. When Aleister Crowley joined the order in 1898, he shared his London fl at for a time with member Allan Bennett, who most likely introduced Crowley to the ritual. Crowley was immediately taken with it, and it became an integral part of his magical philosophy and practice.

In 1903 Crowley included a version of the Bornless Ritual with more barbarous names, as the Preliminary Invocation to The Goetia—The Lesser Key of King Solomon, an edition of the grimoire that he commissioned and fi nanced. Crowley used the translation of the Goetia done by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, though he denounced MacGregor Mathers in his introduction.

In the 1920s Crowley took the Preliminary Invocation and edited and expanded it into the Liber Samekh, which later appeared in his book Magick in Theory and Practice. Crowley placed a great deal of emphasis on sexual interpretation and on the use of barbarous names of evocat ion. Crowley’s version of the Bornless Ritual invokes the Higher and Divine Genius, or holy guardian angel , and elevates the magician’s consciousness to align it with Truth, Light, and the Resurrection and the Life. By performing the ritual, the magician enters a possession of sorts by the Holy Guardian Angel. The ritual was designed to take place within a Golden Dawn Temple for the Neophyte Grade.

The ritual is intended to deliver an ecstatic experience in which one realizes that he is and always has been the Bornless Spirit. At the end of the ritual, the aspirant realizes he no longer needs to invoke the Bornless Spirit because he is identified with it.

Performing the Bornless Ritual requires a six-month withdrawal from the world. Crowley recommended 11 lunar months in an increasing schedule of devotion that taxes even the most dedicated student:

Let the Adept perform this Ritual aright, perfect in every part thereof, once daily for one moon, then twice, at dawn and dusk, for two moons, next thrice, noon added, for three moons. Afterwards, midnight, making up his course, for four moons four times every day. Then let the eleventh Moon be consecrated wholly to this Work; let him be instant in continual ardor, dismissing all but his sheer needs to eat and sleep.

Israel regardie, who was Crowley’s companion for a time, published the Bornless Ritual in a simple form in his book The Tree of Life and another version in his book The Golden Dawn. Regardie called the Bornless Ritual “the most devastating and the most rewarding experience of the life-time.”

Further Reading:

  • Budge, Wallis. Egyptian Magic. 1899. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, n.d.
  • Regardie, Israel. Ceremonial Magic: A Guide to the Mechanisms of Ritual. London: Aeon Books, 2004.
    ———. The Golden Dawn. 6th ed. St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2003.

Taken from :The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written byRosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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