Everyone learns best by doing. The ritual described below is representative of the rituals worked in modern magic. It should be used as a general pattern indicating the essential elements and sequence of rituals, and will also, I hope, be of some value in awakening a magical perception of the world, which in no small measure consists of just being aware that it is possible to see the world in a new way. Because few people reading this essay will possess a full set of ritual tools, I have designed it so that it does not require any instruments except the flame. It can be worked in any private place where there is half an hour of quiet.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing of neutral colors. Take off your watch, jewelry, shoes, and anything that hinders a free circulation of blood or irritates the skin. It is best if, before beginning, you bathe, or at least wash your hands and face. Remember, you are invoking a spiritual awareness into the temple of your body.
Place a candle on a low table, such as a bedside table, a plant stand, or other support, so that the candle is just below waist level, and light the candle. Take a few minutes to collect your emotions. When you feel inner tranquility, stand facing the south with the candle in front of you. Raise your arms wide and lift up your head in the traditional posture of invocation. Look into infinity and focus your attention upon an imaginary distant star overhead. Speak this cleansing prayer to whatever is your concept of the highest divinity:
Have mercy upon me, O God.
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities
And cleanse me from my sins.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be as white as snow.
Create in me a clean heart,
And renew a right spirit within me.
Thou, who art the Crown
(touch your forehead with your right index finger)
And the Kingdom,
(touch your groin)
(touch your left shoulder)
And the Glory,
(touch your right shoulder)
And the everlasting Law,
(touch your heart center)
(point at the flame)
As you speak this cleansing prayer, visualize a cascade of clear, sparkling water falling upon your head and body and refreshing you while washing away all your cares.
Turn sunwise on your own axis and mentally project from your extended right index finger a blazing circle of white light that hovers in the astral shadow of the place where the ritual is being conducted. Try to picture this circle clearly at the level of your heart, the energy that composes it growing out from your heart center down your right arm and out your fingertip. Be sure to join the end of the circle with the beginning in your mind. If necessary, mentally expand the circle as you project it to include the ritual place.
Speak these words as you project the circle:
From my heart of being I extend this flaming circle of power. Let no evil or discordant influence enter herein nor abide within its boundary.
Once again facing the south, stand with your feet together and your arms spread wide, making a cross with your body. Visualize a massive column of red flame rising from the Earth just beyond the limit of the circle and extending up into infinity. Concentrate upon it and speak these words:
Before me Michael, Lord of Flame, the lion of the south.
Without moving, visualize behind you in the north a similar column of yellow fire. Speak these words:
Behind me Raphael, Lord of Air, the angel of
Visualize in the west a column of blue fire beyond the circle. Speak these words:
On my right hand Gabriel, Lord of Water, the eagle of the west.
Visualize in the east a column of green fire. Speak the words:
On my left hand Uriel, Lord of Earth, the bull of the east.
The four surround me,
(raise your hands slightly above the level of your head)
(lower your hands to the level of your waist)
(bring your palms together in a prayer gesture over your heart)
I am the heart of the four, I am the center of the universe.
Visualize a cross of light radiating from its point of intersection in your heart center. The vertical beam of the cross is red, and runs between your feet and through the top of your head to infinity. The horizontal beam running under your shoulders is blue. The horizontal beam which enters your chest between your clasped palms and exits your back is yellow. Your heart center blazes with a clear white light that fills your entire body as if it were a glass vessel.
Sit upon the floor before the candle and contemplate the flame. Let your breathing be light and regular. Be aware of the turbulence in the air and wait for it to be completely stilled, so that the flame rises straight up in a cone with hardly a flicker. You should be far enough away so that your breath does not disturb it. Try to become tangibly aware of the body and substance of the flame from all angles. Involve yourself with it. Imagine that you are surrounded by it, and that it does not discomfort you in the least. The sensation is like being encased in an upwardly flowing teardrop of sunlight.
Gradually let your breaths grow deeper and longer without forcing them or straining yourself. Remain relaxed. As you inhale fully, hold your breath for five or 10 seconds and focus your awareness solely upon the uppermost point of the flame, where it vanishes into nothingness. Try to focus like a microscope of infinite power ever more finely upon the exact place where the transition between flame and space occurs.
When you release your breath, let your mind once again embrace the entire body of the flame. The next time you inhale, again halt your breath for a few seconds and focus upon the tip of the flame. Try at each stoppage of breath to get ever closer to the elusive vanishing point.