The Golden Dawn’s Pentagram Ritual

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Golden Dawn’sPentagram Ritual is an excellent practice-piece for developing proficiency in these three essential skills. Its physical and verbal elements are simple and easily memorized, enabling the student to give most of his attention to the visualizations and the feelings attending them.

But for all its simplicity, it is capable of producing profound effects on the consciousness of the magician. Performing it is also of long-term benefit; it purifies and strengthens the magician’s magickal body, and increases his general sensitivity toevents in the magickal universe.

Oddly, the most frequently referenced descriptions of the Pentagram Ritual make almost no mention of its imagery and feeling components. Perhaps in the Golden Dawn and Crowley’s A.A., these were expected to be the subject of verbal instruction, or were simply assumed to be too obvious to mention.

Regardless, it was the absence of such descriptions that prompted a student to request the elaborated version of the ritual that follows.

The Pentagram is a symbol whose power is partly innate, and partly a matter of the magician’s intent. Its natural tendency (in the astral light) is to attract a dynamic, active mix of the elemental forces; in contrast, the equalarmed cross attracts the same forces but tends to keep them fixed and distinct from each other. But when the Pentagram is used to invoke a specificelement, the element is determined largely by the magician’s habitual methods of usage and his intent of the moment. There are several methods of encoding the desired element in the way the Pentagram is drawn; all of these are more or less arbitrary, and depend on consistent use and practice to be effective.

In modern magickal systems, it is custoMary to associate the elements with the points of the Pentagram as shown in Figure 1. This set of associations derives from the Golden Dawn, and was intended to reflect the positions of the Elemental Tablets within the “Revised” Great Table of the Enochian magickal system. Had they chosen to use the original version of the Great Table (as would seem more appropriate, from more recent research) a substantially different set of associations would result: Earth would be at the upper right point, Water at the lower right, and Fire at the lower left.

Since the Golden Dawn associations have come into general usage, it seems convenient to stay with them. The method of drawing invoking and banishing Pentagrams is also arbitrary, and in this case, the Golden Dawn used a method that is cumbersome, difficult to remember, and contains an undesirable dualism. To replace it, I recommend the method used by the Aurum Solis, which is simple and self-consistent.

To draw an invoking Pentagram, draw clockwise from the point associated with the desired element;to draw a banishing Pentagram, draw counterclockwise from the same point.

In the Golden Dawn version of the ritual, the magician is instructed to draw a pentagram of Earth in every quarter. The theory behind this was that the element of Earth serves as container or receptacle for the other three elements.

This idea seems to derive from an old interpretation in which Fire, Water, and Air were the true elements, and Earth merely something on which they acted. I feel it more appropriate to use the pentagram of Spirit.
Spirit contains all the other elements within itself on an equal basis, and facilitates the transformations between them that make possible activity and life in the manifest world; it is more truly “generic”.

Benjamin Rowe -Copyright 1999