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The Middle Pillar: Part 1—Why It Matters

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on October 12, 2012 | Comments (7)

Over a year ago I started an eight-part series on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or LBRP. To the best of my knowledge it’s still the most complete explanation of the ritual available on the web, although I do imagine some people may have put more of a focus on different sections. You can find my original posts here:

  1. Why the LBRP Matters
  2. Secrets of the Kabalistic Cross
  3. More Secrets of the Kabalistic Cross
  4. Sounds of the Kabalistic Cross
  5. Understanding the Formulation of the Pentagrams
  6. The Names that Charge the Pentagrams
  7. The Formulation of the Pentagrams and
  8. The Evocation of the Archangels

If you want to learn this ritual, or if you want to add some insights on this ritual that you might not currently have, I would suggest studying these posts in order, or looking at the instructions in my book, Modern Magick. There are many other books that will give you a basic understanding of how to perform the ritual, but these posts, and my book, go much deeper into the processes and concepts behind the ritual than I’ve seen elsewhere.

Many people have come up with variations of the LBRP—I describe several of them in my book. But most often those changes focus on details of the ritual rather than its underlying structure. That is, they try to adapt it to the uniqueness of their particular spiritual system without changing its structural essence as a banishing ritual. Sometimes the changes are the result of a very superficial understanding of the ritual. I’m in favor of magick and rituals evolving as is necessary for the times, but I don’t agree with the concept of changing a ritual simply to change it.

Necessities of Magick

In the first of the eight posts linked above, I wrote that there are three necessities to being effective with magick:

  • The ability to generate or raise magickal energy
  • The ability to manipulate the magickal energy
  • The knowledge of what to do with it once you can raise or generate it and manipulate it

It is here where the LBRP can be so effective if you are aware of the power of this ritual:

So the three necessities are the abilities to raise and direct energy combined with the knowledge of what to do with it. The LBRP teaches all of these skills.

But there is a bit more to it than this (as if you hadn’t guessed that already!). Regular practice of the LBRP is sort of like practicing a musical instrument.

The Piano and Organ of Magick
(Please Forget the Accordion!)

Before I started kindergarten, my parents started me on piano lessons. Once a week my mother drove me over to Mrs. Marshall’s house. She was much older than my mother and her small house had a funny smell to it, a smell I now equate with moldy cloth. Mrs. Marshall had two pianos in the living room where she taught. I was not allowed to play on the baby grand because my wrists still rested on the wood in front of the keys and she didn’t want me ruining the  finish. Instead, she gave lessons on a smaller upright piano. It was still a step up from the upright piano we had at home.

I primarily practiced scales and arpeggios, along with some very simple songs. On one of the songs I had to lift one hand over the other. My mother liked that. But it was mostly scales, arpeggios, scales, arpeggios, scales, arpeggios. After I had learned the one octave scales and arpeggios to Mrs. Marshall’s satisfaction, I moved on to two octave scales and arpeggios. I continued until my father died when I was 6.

A few years later my brother started studying piano again, and I talked my mother into letting me have more lessons, too. That didn’t last long, but I did learn…more scales. When I was 12, I was picked out of my school as having special musical aptitude and received free lessons on (cringe!) accordion. It turned out to be part of a scam to bilk parents out of thousands of dollars selling accordions. Luckily, my mother figured it out. Our accordion class actually learned a few songs on accordion, but mostly we learned…scales.

A few years later I decided to learn to play organ. I took group lessons and private lessons. I started to really get into classical and Baroque music. And besides the pieces I learned, I also practiced more scales. In college I learned music theory, which involved scales. At community college I learned Jazz theory…and more scales.

Scales. Arpeggios. Chords and chord inversions (different ways to play the same chords). These are the building blocks for learning to play music. You learn fingering—how to effectively move from note to note. You learn how to play softly (pianissimo) and loudly (fortissimo).

Practicing scales and arpeggios gives you the tools you need to play music. Classical musicians, no matter how experienced they are, still practice them frequently. Many musicians, including popular musicians and rock stars, will warm up before playing by practicing scales and arpeggios.

Whether you are playing a simple song such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” the astounding, ever-building “Little Fugue in G Minor” by Bach, or a complex contemporary piece such as Berio’s “Sequenza IV,” scales and arpeggios form the bedrock of the skills of the musician. The main theme of Mozart’s “Moonlight Sonata” is a simple arpeggio. Bach’s fugues often run scales. But eventually, musicians find real power in taking those skills and applying them to other tasks.

Transcription of the first four bars of Beethoven’s  Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor,
the “Moonlight” sonata, Op. 27, No. 2. Transcription by Craig Stuart Sapp.
Note repeated arpeggios for the right hand in upper staff.


In learning and regular practice of the LBRP, you’re learning and developing those bedrock skills, the scales, arpeggios, and chords of magick. The ritual is the “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” of magick. It’s still used, all over the world, thousands of times every day. As a simple piece of music it is appropriate, evocative, and effective. A step up from that is Brahms’ simple but elegant “Lullaby” (Opus 49, Number 4. Actual name: Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht). A powerful and breathtaking step up from there is musically simple yet somewhat complex for the musician. It is the mystic story told in La Cathédral Engloutie (“The Sunken Cathedral”) by Claude Debussy.

La Cathédrale Engloutie

Click on the name above to hear “La Cathédral Engloutie.”
Composed by Claude Debussy. Performed by Ivan Ilic.
(Encolded as m4a)

So what is the next “step up” in magick from the bedrock skills of the LBRP? What is the magickal “Sunken Cathedral” compared to the magickal scales, arpeggios, and chords of the LBRP? It’s The Middle Pillar Ritual. You can learn more about it in Modern Magick, or get an in-depth study of it in the classic book, The Middle Pillar by Israel Regardie with comments, additions, and new material by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero. I’ll be adding more about this important ritual in future posts. My next post will be on What It Does.

Reader Comments

Written By Vinncent
on October 12th, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

Have you considered the idea that “psychic energy” is not the “building block” of occultism, but rather simply another subjective construct which can be used in order to frame and form will?

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on October 12th, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

Thanks for your question, Vincent.

Yes, I absolutely have considered it. For more information on that theory I suggest people look in books by Patrick Dunn, who writes on postmodern magick, such as the book Magic, Power, Language, Symbol.

It’s a perfectly usable paradigm for understanding how magick works, just as the classical view of raising/generating, manipulation and direction of magickal energy is a perfectly usable paradigm for working magick.

It’s not that one is right and the other wrong. They’re two different approaches and people using either or both have been very successful. That’s one of the reasons I refer to his books in the latest edition of Modern Magick.

Written By Vinncent
on October 13th, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

Thanks for the link… that looks like something that would be up my alley.

Written By Jah
on October 16th, 2012 @ 7:42 am

Is there any reason to practice the LBRP with the other elements? Instead of the earth pentagram, fire, water or air?

I have Googled this and not really found anything on this? Or is this one of those questions that I need to discover myself? Give it a try and see what happens?

Thank you for posting those 8 links. Those are most helpful!

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on October 16th, 2012 @ 8:55 am

I have seen some people who banish different elements, one at each of the quarters (north for Earth, west for Water, etc.). I think the reason why some people may do this, and why you may be proposing this, is that there may be the idea that the ritual banishes the elements. This is incorrect.

The purpose of the ritual is to banish unwanted influences, entities, and energies from the protected area on the physical or Earth Plane. Therefore, for the purpose of this ritual, you only need to work with the Earth element.

If you have a reason to actually banish all of the Elemental energies from your area, there is a ritual for that. It is called the Supreme Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. In actual practice, this ritual is barely used as, in most instances, it is unneeded. It is more common to use the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram as part of the Watchtower (Opening or Closing) Ritual. I wrote in Modern Magick,

As you can guess, it can become the Supreme Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram by using the banishing forms of the pentagrams instead of the invoking ones.

That being said, and as I also wrote in Modern Magick: “In Sane Occultism, Dion Fortune wrote that there is no room for authority in occultism. I fully agree. I contend that magick is an experimental science…Try it out. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Your variation may not be the same as anyone else’s, but if it works for you, that is the variation you should use. As it says in Crowley’s Book of the Law, ‘Let success be your proof.'”

So give it a try. You can find the directions for making the banishing pentagrams for each element on the internet or in many books, including Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and my Modern Magick. Keep a record of the effects and how it works. Share your results here.

Written By jah
on October 19th, 2012 @ 7:59 am

Donald, Thank you for you response! I will give it a try.

BTW, Modern Magick is like a text book for me. In another year I will probably need a new one. I am afraid it will fall apart!

Again, Thank you.

Written By Marcus
on December 24th, 2013 @ 12:30 am

I am very new to magick, and a solitary practitioner. I have really enjoyed reading this blog, and Modern Magick is definitely my new favorite book. Being new though, perhaps I am making some critical miscalculations. I am quite confused about how the LBRP ends. If I understand some of the basics correctly we are creating what could be called a magick circle, a sphere that cuts us off from the world and makes where we stand a holy spot. When done right we spend a deal of energy and focus creating this sphere around us. I have yet to read anything though that talks about how to handle this magick circle at the end of the ritual. Do we just walk away from the site? What about the Archangels that we called? Do we just start ignoring them the moment the ritual is over? The ritual certainly seems important to me as a tool, but am I missing something larger that it is meant to be a part of? I do not want to be practicing it incorrectly and I certainly would not want to call the Archangels and then offend them by not following through properly.

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