There is no more misunderstood Golden Dawn ritual than the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram. This is partly because it is so good that it has been hijacked by many non-GD groups which have applied it to their symbolism. So persuasive have these modern efforts been, that someone told me that I was not classical Golden Dawn because I did not accept them! However their efforts, such as the overlaying of elemental attributions, have led to a lot of confusion and lead to lots of different questions by users who seek to ‘improve’ the ritual by re-aligning attributions that do not exist, aligning them to the quarters or inserting colours.

In the case of this ritual, ignorance is bliss and too much knowledge can cause you to miss a lot of of what it is trying to do.

When the LBRP was written the GD didn’t have a Portal or and Inner Order. Candidates after they were given their 0=0 initiation were given the LBRP as more or less their only practical exercise in magic. There were no visualisation instructions, no elemental attributions, the Divine names were given as a formula and that was it.

In the time that the ritual was given out, there were few books in English that could explain the pentagram. It was a classic ‘magical sign’ that was drawn in four directions by the operator. Also the mindset of the order, and the people who went through it, was you did what you were told.

Now let us look at the grade work of the 0=0. The Divine names were not explained. The candidate does not find out what some of them mean until the 1=10. Only the very stupid would NOT realise that the angels were Archangels, but the impact of what a six-rayed star being between the columns would have passed most by. As for colour, the GD was extremely protective of the use of colour in the Outer order and it is extremely likely that the whole operation was monochromatic. It was only in the inner order, when this was developed, that colour became particularly important. Some of this material was leaked out into the outer order. For example we find that in the later Whare Ra temple 0=0s were given black cards with the divine name and the pentagram in colour to stare at to add their visualisation of the ritual.

So if the 0=0 was largely ignorant of anything to do with the pentagram, and did not know what they were doing what effect could the 0=0 have?

The outer order is a preparation for the inner work. The actually grade work would give the person considerable ritual experience, but this was not something that they could take home and practise. By giving people a minor ritual and telling them to do it daily or before any meditation work, you were training people in ritual movement, vibration and visualisation. You were also subconsciously repeating the work of the outer order in the microcosm of the candidate on a daily basis. The message of the pentagram, as defined by Paul Foster-Case was ‘I declare the dominion of spirit over the elemental nature’. This becomes the work of the outer order until the person becomes the completed pentagram. If you look at the symbolism of the ritual, you have a candidate standing in the centre of the universe, between two pillars with his or her higher self within the heart centre flanked by four archangels and on all sides a symbol of the dominion of spirit. This is sending a powerful message to the unconscious mind that they are a channel for their spiritual selves. This is exactly the message that the candidate is given through the 0=0 ceremony, the realisation of what it means is also glimpsed in the 2-9 when the candidate sees the completed pentagram in the East.

In other words what we are seeing with the LBRP is not a clearing exercise, or even an elemental balancing rite but a re-enforcement of the rest of the grade work of the outer order.

By the time that the candidate has reached the portal they will have added more information about what the divine names mean and in portal they will get the chance to crown that elemental balancing work with spirit. Then the LBRP of the pentagram will carry them through the portal with new energy. However, despite what goes on in modern groups, just because a candidate has seen supreme rituals of the pentagram performed in the Portal, it does not mean that they will have learnt the elemental attributions. In the original GD this was the work of the 5=6. However from a practical point of view it was not needed. When the candidate reached the 5=6 they were given the Rose Cross ritual which performed all the tasks that were assigned to the LBRP.

Modern derivations

The idea that the LBRP of the pentagram was mainly used as an exorcism tool, clearing space, or purifying the candidate seems to have arrived later.

The first reference to a pentagram being used in an exocism is in Flying Roll XXXIV where Brodie Innes uses a pentagram to deal with an earth elemental which was bringing sickness to his wife. However on examination of the case Innes does not perform a LBRP at all and instead invokes the elemental to give it form before blasting it. Innes was also an adept at that point and well capable of using the full versions of the pentagrams Another case is recorded in Dion Fortune’s Psychic Self-Defence where she draws a pentagram between her and an astral creature and vibrates a divine name. Again nothing like the LBRP, although it shows similarities. Later in her book she gives a watered down version of the LBRP as a tool for exorcism but strips it of a lot of its GD symbolism.

Much of the alchemical and exorcism characteristics of the LBRP seem to have come from Crowley. While it is possible that he got these from Bennett or Mathers it is also likely he got them from his own meditation.

However Crowley’s use of the LBRP forced him to make some changes to the function of the Rose Cross Ritual. It is from him (and later fortune) that we get the idea that pentagrams light you up on the astral, whereas the Rose Cross Ritual keeps you nicely incognito.

By the time Israel Regardie appeared on the scene these attributions were being adopted at least outside the existing GD.

My take on it

What ever the LBRP started out like, it has become something more. And besides the Golden Dawn tradition is growing. However while I do adopt the ideas below, I am opposed to the LBRP developing in an elemental direction as I think this is confusing for those in the outer order and also does not sit well with the rest of the GD symbolism.

1.The LBRP creates an energy matrix within which matter is spiritualised. This spiritualisation of the area prevents lower astral beings which cause most of the problems for people from entering. 2. This spiritualisation of space also has an effect on the operator. This, coupled with the symbols being drawn, serve to re-enforce the GD outer ritual.

3. The ritual makes a statement that ‘I am a spiritual being in charge of the elements? The Rose Cross does the work of the LBRP on the level of Assiah.

4. The effect of the LBRP is to create a royal blue sphere of energy with a golden hexagram in the middle. The pentagrams can be blue or red – blue is prefered to avoid too much association with Geborah.

5. The angels work like batteries to the energy of the sphere, they are not elemental as such, but represent divine forces in action at the edge of the operator’s aura.

6. The LBRP clears physical space before a working and aligns a person to the GD current. It is impossible to use it properly unless you are initiated into the GD system.

7. When projected onto space, the spiritualisation effect is equal to the ability of the operator to project energy.