what is the lesser banishing pentagram?

The idea to write about this came to me when I was reading through a number of books about preparing for magickal rituals or spells, or doing protection or spiritual work. The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram comes up frequently in occult circles, but I think it can be misunderstood in both performance and purpose.

The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (or LBRP) comes from the Order of the Golden Dawn and is a ceremonial magick ritual. It can be done as a stand alone ritual, simply as a protection ritual, but is probably more often considered a preliminary ritual to other magickal or spiritual work.

Its one of those things that many witches or magicians were taught as a newbie if they went through some sort of formal training is one of the esoteric schools of magick.

But, its also something used by many practitioners and spiritualists who are self-trained or maybe just didn’t learn it during some form of formal magickal instruction.

The Purpose of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP)

The LBRP is used to create a field or space around you or in your working space (or in a space in general, if you are cleansing or banishing there) in which you first banish any impure elemental energies, lingering energies not of your own, or unwanted energy of any kind.

It involves visualization, gestures, and powerful spoken words to perform the clearing, banishing, and preparation.

The basic structure of the invocation part of the LBRP comes from an old Jewish prayer:

“In the Name of God, the God of Yisrael: may Michael be at my right hand, Gabriel at my left, Uriel before me, Raphael behind me, and above my head, the presence of God.”

-Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in The Hirsch Siddur [Feldheim Publishing, 1969]

In effect, the LBRP is seen as a measure of protection for a person or space before performing any tasks that may leave them open to influence from external forces, benevolent or otherwise.

Is the LBRP Always Based on a Judeo-Christian Foundation?

The original ritual definitely was based on this religious foundation, despite being used by many individuals who do not consider themselves Judeo-Christian believers or do not subscribe to a Judeo-Christian belief system.

There have been, however, a number of adaptations made of the LBRP for folks who prefer not to use a monotheistic invocation, for those who prefer to use a LHP version, or for those who do not want to use a deity-centered version at all.

If you’re interested in that, here are some I suggest checking out:

  • you can find a really nice elemental summoning version in Mat Auryn’s book Psychic Witch; this is a really fabulous book for all kinds of reasons, let alone the version of this ritual it contains
  • you can find one geared more for LHP/Luciferian/Satanism here
  • here’s an interesting interpretation using Roman deities
  • here is a Wiccan interpretation

Once you read the actual ritual, you can see how elements can be adapted for probably any magickal path one might choose to follow, and still maintain the meaning, symbolism, and effect.

What Do You Need to Perform the LBRP?

You technically do not need anything other than yourself and your visualization skills to perform the LBRP. There are, however, many interpretations or guides for this ritual that use tools such as athames, wands, crystals, and other common magicakal items.

More ceremonial schools of training or thought tend to use at the least a robe and sword/dagger/athame/wand. You may also need an altar at which to perform this, if you are taught to do this.

The LBRP Ritual

The LBRP consists of several main components:

  1. Start with the Qabalistic Cross. The Qabalistic Cross forms a very energetic and symbolic astral cross on or in the body of the magician. The points represent points on the Tree of Life. At each point of the cross, the magician visualizes a bright white light from within themselves that connects them to the divine, while intoning syllables or words (Hebrew) that create specific vibrations, making a strong connection between their energy and that of the astral plane. The following words are intoned at each p0int, respectively: Atah (at the forehead), Malkuth (at the breastbone), Ve Geburah (at the right shoulder), Ve Gedulah (at the left shoulder). Then the arms are crossed over the chest and the magician intones: Le Olam, Amen.
  2. Construct the Pentagrams. This either banishes or invokes the four elements. An earth pentagram to banish or an invoking pentagram to invoke is symbolically drawn in the air at each point starting in the east (E, S, W, N)  and a name of God is intoned and vibrated at each of those points (Yod He Vod He, Adonai, Eheieh and Agla, respectively). The pentagram should be envisioned as a glowing or burning bright light as it is drawn, and the names said with emotion and strong intent.
  3. The four points are now connected with a circle of bright white light that is drawn around the perimeter.
  4. Invoke the Archangels. The magician stands at each of the 4 cardinal points and visualizes the 4 archangels Raphael (“before me”), Gabriel (“behind me”), Michael (“on my right”), and Uriel (“on my left”) present, calling upon them to take up those protective placements.

The circle that is constructed is now visualized to expand into a sphere, surrounding the magician or the space completely, like a bubble.

This ritual essentially places you as the center of the universe with divine light channeling through you.

Once you are finished with whatever work you are doing, you release the circle by performing the pentagrams again at each cardinal point and performing the Qabalistic Cross at the end.

The one thing that really needs to be stressed here is that this must be done with feeling and emotion. If you simply go through the motions, it means nothing and will do nothing for you.

I would recommend practicing it a few times before you actually plan to use it for real, so that you can get used to the names (whichever ones you choose to use) and the feeling of energy drawing, as well as the creation of the circle.

it’s finally ok to be a witch

Throughout history, the witch was often a symbol for a woman who lives by her own terms, and embraces or embodies the traits, thoughts, or behaviors that the rest of the social group or society want to embrace, but do not, for fear of stepping outside the normative established culture.

Witches were often very independent women. Witches were women who marched to their own beat. Witches were women who didn’t need men to run their lives. They made their own way.

And they were a threat to a heavily patriarchal society systematically created, built, implemented, and maintained by organized religions, all of which promoted the concept of the one (male) god.

No more divine feminine for you guys. And while we’re at it, let’s burn anyone who disagrees.

Estimates of the number of (mostly) women (but some men and children) who were persecuted and murdered during the witch hunts of history across the world put the total number of deaths between 100,000 and 1 million people.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the UK even formally and officially de-criminalized witchcraft.

But despite these advances in religious freedoms in the Western world, there are still many societies where the practice of witchcraft remains outlawed. And what constitutes witchcraft can vary widely from place to place.

In the United States, there has been a resurgence of interest and embrace of the Old Ways since the 1940s, with everything from Wicca, to Paganism, to Satanism, to Druidry and beyond finding its way back into the milieu of belief systems and personal practices.

With this explosion of self-expression through religious or spiritual beliefs, we now find ourselves in an era where its totally okay to be a witch (at least, that’s what you want to believe). Some friends of mine that live in certain parts of the US still experience social ostracism, harassment, and even threats for openly practicing their religious beliefs that do not jive with the majority Christian system that persists here.

If you fall into that category, just know that you’re not alone. The beautiful thing ab0ut the Internet these days is that where we lack physical community and fellowship, we can find loads of it virtually.

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