“A true magician always knows the exact meaning of every word and action of a ritual.”
– Donald Michael Kraig
I’m thinking about my classes and how I will start off. I hit upon the idea that I should just go up, no talk no introduction, and perform an LBRP(1). Give people something to catch their attention. I’ve got a big sword (hehe) that I use and it should be mildly impressive. Then I start thinking how the purists will react. My LBRP is not standard.
I’m not talking I put a little extra inflection here or change a step or two. It’s recognizable, but wholly different in some places from the GD/Crowley version. No, I’m not really afraid that I will alienate the magick harpies of Indianapolis. If they can’t handle the fact someone does something differently they’re not going to get anything out of my class anyway. I do believe, however, I should be prepared to explain myself.
I believe I fly in the middle of a spectrum. I refuse to follow something outright without justification. I see way too many magicians taking at face value the rituals given to them. Even worse, they don’t know what the rituals mean when they perform them. I’m reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie Gandhi.
When I was a boy I used to sing a song in that temple: “A true disciple knows another’s woes as his own. He bows to all and despises none . . . Earthly possessions hold him not.” Like all boys I said the words, not thinking of what they meant or how they might be influencing me.
Of all people a magician should understand the things we do, the words we say, especially those we repeat on a constant basis, effect us deeply. They stick in our subconscious and change who we are and who we can be. Some people would say that’s the whole point of ritual. So when I see someone perform a working totally oblivious of the symbolism involved I wonder why they work magick in the first place.
On the flip side, many magical practices remain unchanged for decades, some would say centuries, because they work. Magi throughout the ages have performed them over and over with results. Once again, a magician of all people should understand that something used repeatedly over time implants itself in the collective unconscious, the very fabric of the universe. Tapping into this holds power. That’s why I recognized the need and usefulness of a banishing ritual.
When I first knew I wanted to perform the LBRP, I first did my research. It surprised me how many sources didn’t even bother to translate the meaning of the words. My biggest stumbling point came during the vibrations of the names of God. I don’t have a problem recognizing the concept of God as a universal force, not the Judeo-Christian old man on the mountain who will spank you if you get out of line. I’ve got no problem with the tetragrammaton(2). In fact, I find it a rather elegant expression. I do however, have a problem with Adonai.
Adonai translates to Lord, or even Lord of Lords, or Master. The whole reason I kicked my Christianity to the curb was because I refused to conceptualize divinity as some medieval potentate. I know about a hundred Thelamites are jumping up and down now saying, “But it has other meanings. It’s all how you interrupt it.” Maybe. But you’re a fool if you believe that it was not written with the intention of bowing and scraping to a Lord. Sorry, I refuse to call upon any deity as master.
Speaking of deities, I’ve got nothing against angels, I use one as my guardian, but I changed the rest. I feel much more secure being looked after by pagan deities than by the host.
So find out what you’re doing. Hit the books, or the net. If part of a ritual doesn’t hold true for you, have a good reason why, and change it. Know your magick.
(1) Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. If you don’t know what that is, you should come to my class.
(2) The Hebrew use of the four letters YHWH to represent the name of God.