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Magick 101 # 6.3.1: Understanding the Formulation of the Pentagrams

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on October 10, 2011 | Comments (5)

This is part of a continuing series of posts that form a Magick 101 class. I hope you’re enjoying them. Previously, I have shared a great deal on preparations. Most recently I’ve been going deeply into the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, beginning with why it still matters and then going into the first section of the ritual, The Kabalistic Cross HERE, HERE,  and HERE.

The next part of the ritual is called the Formulation of the Pentagrams. It is here that you actually form your dual-purpose magickal circle. Due to the name, most people are familiar with the concept that this is a banishing ritual, clearing your area of unwanted magickal influences and keeping them out. But it also has another purpose. It forms a boundary to keep your energies contained within until you’re ready to let them out. By moving around the circle (fancy name: circumambulation), you generate energy forming what the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn referred to as a “vortex of energy.” While to build up energy requires several circumambulations, you begin to learn the technique within this ritual.

When I first began doing ceremonial magick work, some Pagans pointed to the magickal circle as being a difference between Pagans and ceremonial magicians: CMs used the circle to keep unwanted energies out, Pagans used the circle to keep desired energies in. The truth, in my opinion, is that the magick circle does both, no matter the system you use.

This part of the ritual has three aspects: forming the pentagrams, charging the pentagrams, and circumambulating the circle. In this post I’m going to be discussing just the first aspect.

Forming the Pentagrams

Over the years, I’ve seen people draw the pentagrams in a variety of ways. I’ve seen large ones and small ones. I’ve seen them drawn in different ways (according to a group’s elemental associations) and I’ve seen them made in a circled form. All of the variation is due to a combination of egotism on the part of group leaders (“We have the real, secret knowledge!”) or what I call, “the  telephone sales problem.”

Telephone Sales
Yes, I’ve worked doing telephones sales. It’s very challenging and you have to be willing to hear “NO!” dozens of times or more just to make a sale. Have you ever wondered how it works? Here’s what happens:

When you’re hired, you’re given a script to read. A first, it’s uncomfortable and hard to make sound natural. I’ll bet you’ve heard people on the phone who aren’t talking to you, but are reading something. After a few days or a week or two, you become familiar with the script and your sales increase.

But something isn’t right. The words aren’t really you. So you change a few words in the script and your sales increase. You change a few more and your sales continue to increase. You keep doing this until your sales start to fall.

After a few weeks of this, your manager comes over and listens as you make your calls. After a few times the manager will have one thing to say: “Read the script.” You return to the original script and your sales go up.

So this is what can happen with magick. Small alterations may improve your results. Continued small alterations may eventually have the opposite effect. Further, just because a change works for you doesn’t mean it will work for others. If you try to do what works for someone else, you may not have success.

So what I’m presenting here is the magickal equivalent of the original script. Of course you can try other versions—you don’t need my approval or the approval of anyone else. But if it’s not working, come back to the original script. It has worked for hundreds of thousands of people.

Banishing or Invoking Pentagrams?
Some people advise performing the LBRP twice daily. In the morning you should do the invoking form while in the evening you should do the banishing form. The difference is in the direction you draw the pentagram. The banishing form begins at the lower left and moves to the center top while the invoking form begins at the top and moves to the lower left. Each has its own energies.

The people who advise this invoking/morning, banishing/evening program can point to Regardie’s book, The Golden Dawn, and claim, “it says to do it that way in the text.”

Uh, not exactly.

What the book says is this:

As a form of prayer the invoking ritual should be used in the morning [and] the banishing in the evening.”
[Emphasis added.]

So if you’re looking to perform this rite as a prayer, and not as a powerful ritual, you can use this rite that way. Indeed, I’ve seen this ritual performed to perfunctorily and with such a total lack of energy and enthusiasm that it is presented as nothing more than a prayer.

In these lessons, however, I’m trying to share the way to make this a powerful magickal ritual that will prepare you to perform any other magickal rite. So for this purpose I suggest just using it in the banishing format.

Drawing the Pentagram

If you have the dagger described previously, you should continue using it for this part of the ritual. Otherwise, you can use your extended index finger, your extended index and middle fingers, your entire hand held flat, etc. To draw the Banishing Earth Pentagram, begin just outside of your left hip and draw a straight line above your head. From there draw a straight line outside of your right hip. Then go to just past your left shoulder, across to just outside the right shoulder, and end exactly where you began.

Try to get this as exact as possible. Make your lines straight and with power. You can draw on the walls a pentagram or the points of a pentagram and trace them. You can also mark just the start/finish point by your left hip. There are many ways to get this as precise as possible and feel free to use any system you like to achieve your goal.

Why Banishing Earth?

Each of the magickal elements has an associated banishing and invoking form of the Pentagram. Each of the elements is also associated with a direction, so some people perform this ritual by using the form of the pentagram associated with the element of the quarter where you are standing or facing while forming the pentagram. That seems logical.

But the purpose of the ritual is to banish unwanted energies from the Earth plane: our physical plane. So I would suggest sticking with just the Earth pentagram.

The Color of the Pentagrams
As you draw the pentagrams you should visualize them as a bright blue color. They should be the blue of a gas flame:

The color blue for the pentagrams
Original photo by Arria Belli

Some people visualize the bright blue flame of the pentagram as if it were coming out of the end of their blade or fingers. Others visualize the blue pentagrams as already being there and all you have to do is trace them.

While you await the next post on this subject, you may wish to practice drawing the pentagrams that you’re going to use.

Except as noted, illustrations are from my original artwork made for the 3rd edition of Modern Magick, now in its second printing. You can see the rest of the original artwork and designs on my website, HERE.

Reader Comments

Written By Mike AG
on October 11th, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

I have been practicing this ritual daily but I still really struggle to visualize the pentagrams in blue, I can maybe hold a blue line immediately after I trace it but it disappears quickly are there any exercises I can do to improve my visualizations of objects outside my mind (like the pentagram)

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on October 11th, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

There are exercises to improve concentration and visualization in the new edition of Modern Magick.

Written By John Phipps
on October 14th, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

Hi Don

I realise that I am commenting on this rather late in the day but I felt it might be appropriate to draw attention to the colours of the pentagrams.

They vary according to the element. You are almost certainly familiar with Poke Runyon (I have never met Poke but I listen to his radio blog regularly) and in one of his presentations he asserted that the colour (which in Poke’s opinion is imposed by the way, not sensed or detected) should be the appropriate elemental colour – which in this case would be a bright neon green as associated with earth.

Blue apparently is the colour most often experienced during etheric projection – I myself have experienced this and can say that in my experience that would seem to be the case.

So I tend to go along with the green idea when I do this ritual.

This is just a thought – I don’t know what you think of its merits but at least it does lend consistency to the idea that air would be yellow, fire red and water blue – with spirit a brilliant white.



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