As I was working through the thought-form de-posession ritual, I gave more thought to the dirty-teacup metaphor, and why it is that some people actually experience physical manifestations that genuinely make it look like deities are cruel and sometimes arbitrary. I realized that I had encountered something similar during my years as a Ceremonial Magician, working through various elemental and planetary grades.
As a preface, I want to clarify the elements and planetary forces are not intelligences or personalities but rather blind forces that one must wield, or else enlist the help of a deity to gain control over.
When you are initiated into an elemental grade, or a planetary one, you experience an influx of that force, which can manifest as some truly awful stuff happening to you. A Theoricus, for example (in the grade of Air), might experience travel issues, communication problems, issues with planning, or become more scatter-brained.
This isn’t the element of Air ‘fucking with you,’ in the sense Air intentionally choosing to harm you. This is afflicted Air. There are a number of ideas about how this happens, but the dominant one is that the influx pools together with whatever happens to be in the Airy part of your personality and surrounds you in a pig-pen style dirt cloud of your own issues and hang-ups related to the element in question.
The Air isn’t a mean power messing with you at all. It is a tool for helping you work through your issues and to become a better person. In order for it to do this, you need to know how to use that tool and to do some clean-up. If you leave the Air current mixed with your own afflicted Air energies, the stuff builds up around you and putrefies. Part of this, of course, is your unconscious mind running amok with powerful energies, like an exuberant child with an AK-47, and wreaking absolute havoc, but another huge part of it is the negative attitudes that we inherently have about ourselves, the world, magic and religion.
Leave yourself in that sort of state and much worse things can happen. Careers have been destroyed, friendships ended, and cars wrecked. It’s a good thing there was someone there to tell us that this wasn’t the desired outcome, and that there was something that we could do about it.
When we interact with deities, we feel the influx. Energy pours into you even without you necessarily trying to pull it in. You wouldn’t even need to assume that the deities were actively sending the energy. Deities are radiant by nature. People can wind up with energies gifted to them by deities that they aren’t certain what to do with, and can experience similar negative side-effects to initiates whose initiator arranged for a ‘current’ to gift them elemental energies.
The greater your hang-ups with respect to what the deity stands for, and the more you engage in interactions that are deity-driven (i.e., letting the deity approach you and hang around, rather than actively calling them), the more likely you are to enter a state where your inner issues passively dribble out and create outer (mundane, physical) issues. That pile of energy is not the deity, of course, but if you start to imagine that it is, it will color your belief system and all future interactions with the deity.
Now, Ceremonial Magicians have an answer for this: invoke the force in question to dilute the bilge, then get rid of the excess energies. In other words, invoke the energy that seems to be giving you the most trouble, wallow in those energies a bit, and then banish the energies.
Deities are different than initiatory currents, and their energies are different than elemental energies. For a few reasons, I don’t advocate banishing after this work.
1. If a person is washing away their own energies with the energies of the god, there will eventually be nothing of the person’s original power left. However ugly, the every part of you is you, and processed properly, can be holy.
2. Everything which is yours is sacred to you, even as every symbol of a deity is sacred to the deity. Part of your spiritual work is figuring out how it fits in and can be used for the good. Throwing it out is non-ideal.
It is for that reason that I am suggesting that, rather than banishing, a person gather the excess energies and use them to charge salt, which will then be blessed and re-consumed over a period of time, along with a proper quantity of food and drink. This lets you more gradually acclimate and process the work you have done.
Invocation: Should We Use Pentagrams or Hexagrams To Boost The Signal?
Pentagrams were certainly used by ancient Geek Mystics. Both Pythagoras and Aristotle used them to diagrammatically describe the relationships between the elements, Pherecydes of Syros, we infer, used them as an emblem of the five seeds of Chronos, from which the Cosmos sprouted forth.
Still, there is nothing to suggest that they were understood as a portal to a force by the ancient Greeks in the same way that they are by modern Witches and Magicians. With all due respect to Eliphas Levi, I do not agree with the idea that there is some universal occult doctrine which applies to all traditions.
Pentagrams are not Un-Greek, and the argument for them being an invocational tool isn’t any weaker for this ancient tradition than for any other. Yet, if our intent is to use them to invoke deities, their direct association with a specific goddess, Hugieia, might muddle the waters.
If ever we wanted to do elemental work within a Hellenic context, I might be inclined to give them a shot, taking care to balance the pentagram’s association in this tradition with Hugieia, even as the Golden Dawn took care to balance its associations with Mars in their own tradition. For this work, however, a Pentagram is probably not the best answer.
Hexagrams can also be used for invocation, and, appealingly, there are lots of different Hexagrams to choose from, each of which can be drawn in a variety of ways. While the fact that there is no established tradition for their use in Greek Mysticism should not be troubling, the concern is that, in absence of any special meaning within the Hellenic tradition, the mind will gravitate toward the more popular Thelemic or Hermetic interpretations, which will be distinctly non-helpful in this work.
Empowered Invocation, Broken Down.
We need to think more carefully about what is actually happening, on a metaphysical level, during an these empowered invitation rituals. In my opinion, an empowered invocation consists of the following:
1. Focusing the mind on the intended entity or power
2. Making space for the energy to be
3. An initial outlay of energy, to make contact
4. An invitation
In an Invoking Ritual, such as the Golden Dawn uses, steps One, Two and Three are done simultaneously, with the drawing of the pentagrams (or hexagrams) around the space, and the vibrations which go into activating them. The space becomes demarcated as a Fire space, or a Water space, or a Jupiter space. The force is then invited, either implicitly, explicitly, or both, depending on the ritual.
That said, there is no reason that they need to be done simultaneously.
The first thing I might do would be to hallow the space with khernips, and then go on to the following steps (with Hermes as our example deity):
Getting focused — Since we’re not looking at the gods as the sum of their parts, or a slice of an archetype, but rather as sacred personalities, it’s good to get focused on the exact deity we’re trying to connect to by thinking about their important relationships, especially positive ones with other humans.
To Hermes I call,
Helpful God, Savior of Odysseus
Psychopomp who answered the tears of Laodameia
Wedding guest of Kadmos
Inventive God, who created the lyre of Orpheus
Who taught the art of story telling to Aesop
To you I shall consecrate this space, that none but you and I may enter herein.
Making Space — We have already stated our intention that the space about to be marked out will be off-limits to any intelligence except for the caster or casters, and the deity being called. Now, we will mark out the space. It does not really matter whether you do this with your hands, a bowl of water or a staff. It seems like a poor idea to use a dagger. Indeed, any such implement, were it to even be included in a ritual, would have been buried in a bowl of barley until it was used for the sacrifice.
As you mark the space with the staff or bowl of khernips:
“I cast this circle round about
Hermes, in, all others, out.”
Imagine, as you walk, creating a black line of flame that broadens into a sphere of black flame around your space. Leave a bright white circle at the top, and, when you are done casting the circle, trace the letters of the deity’s name over it.
An Initial Outlay of Energy, or, opening conduits. — Breath and voice help to build energy. The names of the deity help to consecrate that energy to the deity. Chanting the names is good, singing is better. Movement is also good.
Not so much because of the air of supplication as because it allows for a person to comfortably tilt their main energy centers upward, I recommend this posture, in lieu of painting pentagrams in the air.
The number of directions you salute can vary. It should depend on how many aspects you wish to focus on. I would recommend between three and seven, and I would recommend beginning by drawing a geometric shape with a corresponding number of points onto the floor, and having markers at those points, such as altars, or even just ordinary stones. This will help you to keep track of where you laid down the energies.
For this ritual, I am doing four aspects, and four cardinal directions. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that I am doing this ritual because I am having issues with Hermes in his aspect as trickster and thief. One can go theoi.com to get epithets and their translations, to be assembled as follows:
In the East: (kneel with your arms crossed over your chest, then cast your arms up and out as you call) “O Hermes, favorable god, come!”(Chanting:) “Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (Standing:) “Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. Show to me your aspects.”
In the South: (kneel with your arms crossed over your chest, then cast your arms up and out as you call) “O Hermes, favorable god, come! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (Standing:) “Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. Show to me your aspects.”
In the West: (kneel with your arms crossed over your chest, then cast your arms up and out as you call) “O Hermes, favorable god, come! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (Standing:) “Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. Show to me your aspects.”
In the North: (kneel with your arms crossed over your chest, then cast your arms up and out as you call) “O Hermes, favorable god, come! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (Standing:) “Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. Show to me your aspects.”
An Invitation — Really, it should be made clear why you are calling these aspects of Hermes in particular.
“Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. O Hermes, come to me! The gifts of the gods are good, even if we do not understand them. The wisdom of the gods is good, even if we do not understand it. Come to me and show me the good that is in you. Bring the goodness of your aspects to me.”
Here, more chants or songs may be sung. Once the energy is properly thick in the room, libations should be made according to one’s custom.
A Meditation — Right now, what you really need to do is to soak in the energies you just invoked. Breathe deeply and steadily for at least fifteen minutes. Note your feelings as they arise, and breathe them out into the space, or into your dish of salt.
A Thank You — When you are done meditating, thank the deity, and make closing libations according to your custom.
“Hermes, thief, prince of thieves, wily and cunning, deceptive. I thank you for revealing your aspects to me, whether the wisdom has already come, or whether more will come in dreams. Io Hermes!”
Saluting the Aspects — Salute the aspects in reverse order to close the conduits you have opened.
In the East: (kneeling and with arms outstretched) “O Hermes, favorable god, be with me!”(Chanting:) “Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (cross your arms over your chest) “Io Hermes.”
In the North: (kneeling and with arms outstretched) “O Hermes, favorable god, be with me! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (cross your arms over your chest) “Io Hermes.”
In the West: (kneeling and with arms outstretched) “O Hermes, favorable god, be with me! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (cross your arms over your chest) “Io Hermes.”
In the South: (kneeling and with arms outstretched) “O Hermes, favorable god, be with me! (Chanting:) Io Pheletes! Io Arkhos Pheleteon! Io Mechaniotes! Io Klepsiphron!” (cross your arms over your chest) “Io Hermes.”
Clean Up — Before taking down your boundary, take a moment to visualize the energies in the space. Breath the energies in, and then blow them into a dish of salt. You may find it helpful to touch the salt with two fingers while doing so. When you are done, consecrate the salt.
(Touching the salt) “Creature of Earth, I bless and consecrate you in the name of Hermes, for the purpose of attuning to that deity in a way that is sweet and not bitter, favorable and not unfavorable, beneficial and not harmful. Let it ever be so.”
It should go without saying that the salt is full of the commingling of your personal energies with those of the deity, and that you should, under no circumstances, feed the salt or any food treated with the salt to any other person.
Take Down — Walk around the space in the opposite manner from the way you cast it. Imagine the black flame being gathered into a thin line of black fire, and the black fire being gathered into your staff or bowl.