Headless Rite

(Update 12/31/2017: Interested in more about this ritual?  Check out my more polished, fleshed-out writeup over on this page!)

I mentioned before that I’m getting into the regular practice of performing the Headless Rite (Bornless Rite, Liber Samekh, etc.) as part of my Work.  Per my genius’ instructions, I try to do this every night followed by a meditation session before my final prayers and sleep for the night.  Of course, I’m procrastinating right now by typing this up instead of actually doing it, but hey, I’m still just trying to get back on the ball from New Year’s.  Whine whine moan moan I’m a big baby, etc.

Now, the version of the HR that I perform is one that I based off reading the versions given in the PGM, Jason Miller’s “The Sorcerer’s Secrets”, Liber Samekh, and other sources here and there.  Stephen Flowers’ “Hermetic Magic” also provides a copy, along with a bit of extra materia that I myself use: a pendant inscribed with a special symbol (see below) from the PGM and HM, along with the barbarous words “ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ” on the reverse.  This is based on the original PGM injunction to use a new strip of papyrus as a headband inscribed with the same, but I wanted something a little more permanent.

I asked Michael, the angel of the Sun, what he thought of the symbol, since I couldn’t find any information on it in any other resource or dictionary of symbols (gotta love those voces magicae and their crazy symbols); plus, since the HR has traditionally been marked as a Solar ritual, I figured he’d have some answers.  He said it was a powerful defensive-offensive symbol, combining the images of a shield and inner power bursting through any oncoming force.  Helpful, given that the original intent of the HR was to act as an exorcism, and powering through them might be a risky endeavor.  Crowley adapted it, so I hear, to be something like an exorcism of the self, cleaning out the body and mind and spirit and soul to make room for the HGA.

At any rate, below is my version of the HR.  I use Greek letters to represent the barbarous words, and I prefer the classical Greek pronunciation instead of the modern one, but either works, depending on your level of comfort with how you like alien sounds coming out of your face.  Whenever the text “[Rubric]” appears, it means to repeat a given statement of intent, like “Deliver N. from this demon that plagues him!” for using the HR as an exorcism, or “Deliver to me my HGA, deliver to me my Supernatural Assistant, deliver to me the spirit N. who is tasked with guiding and leading me through this and all lives!” for attaining K&CHGA.  The standard rubric from Liber Samekh works well for either situation, I’m guessing.

Knowing the rubric I want, I put on my pendant and perform my invocation.  The PGM says to face north, the direction of the immortal Northern Stars, but modern sources say to face east, the direction of the rising Sun.  Either works, much like where you perform it (physical or astral), depending on your background and inclinations.

Thee I invoke, the Headless One.
Thee, who created earth and the heavens.
Thee, who created night and day.
Thee, who created darkness and light.
Thou art OSORONNŌPHRIS*, whom no man hath ever seen.
Thou art IABAS!
Thou art IAPŌS!
Thou hast distinguished between the just and the unjust.
Thou hast made the female and the male.
Thou has revealed the seed and the fruit.
Thou hast made men to love each other and hate each other.
I am thy prophet to whom thou hast transmitted thy mysteries, the whole quintessence of Mageia.

Hear me!  I am the messenger of OSORONNŌPHRIS!
This is thy true name handed down to the prophets!

I call upon thee with an empty spirit, oh awesome and invisible god!

Holy Headless One, hear me!

He is the lord of the gods!
He is the lord of the world!
He is the one whom the winds fear!
He is the one who made all things by the command of his voice!
Lord, King, Master, Helper, empower my soul!
Εδε, εδε, αγγελος του Θεου!

At this point in the invocation, center yourself, and picture yourself existing in all moments and in all places, transcendent of and immanent throughout the whole Cosmos.

I am the Headless One with sight in the feet!
I am the mighty one who possesseth the immortal fire!
I am the Truth that hateth that evil is wrought in the world!
I am the one who maketh the lightning flash and the thunder roll!
I am the one whose sweat is the heavy rain that falls upon the earth that it might be fertile!
I am the one whose mouth is utterly aflame!
I am the one who begetteth and destroyeth!
I am the Grace of the World!

Come and follow, that every spirit, whether heavenly or ethereal, upon the earth or under the earth, on dry land or in the water, of whirling air or rushing fire, and every spell and scourge of God may be obedient unto me.


* Osoronnōphris: a Greek rendition of the Egyptian phrase “Osiris made beautiful/perfected”.  Iabas and Iapōs are supposedly Samaritan versions of the name of the divine name Iaō.  Together, these three names might be different epithets or aspects of the Deity, or another set of terms for the Father/Son/Paraclete trinity prevalent in Hermetic and Christian theology.

30 responses

  1. Me too – I’ve been slacking on my performance for the Bornless Rite. I am just hoping I haven’t pissed her off since I was specifically instructed to get that started, lol.

    • What part? The barbarous words of invocation are just that, barbarous words. Consider them an angelic or divine language, or various godnames used to empower or invoke during rituals; the Greek/Demotic Magical Papyri, the Sefer Ha Razim, curse tablets, and hundreds of other styles of ritual use these kinds of words. They’re rather common, but their meaning is obscured; Crowley tried to use gematria to figure out their meaning, and Stephen Flowers uses stoicheia (linking the letters of the alphabet to planets, signs, and elements) to do the same, but they’re best taken at face value until their meaning is “revealed”, shall we say.

      • So… would it not make more sense just to read literature, where the meaning is revealed in the text. It all seems a little cobbled together from so many diverse strands of ancient and quasi-ancient sources. I don’t quite see how Greek can be considered a ‘barbaric’ language.

        • Don’t get me wrong, I do read literature of various kinds, and in a lot of cases it’s not just suggested but necessary, but this isn’t like that. There’s knowledge that can be learned through teaching either from a text or a person, and there’s knowledge that must be learned through experience and cannot be taught or transmitted; knowledge and conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel is one of the latter things, where you can’t simply read about it from a text and hope to understand it. Consider it like getting to heaven in Christianity: this is something written about and described as well as how to attain it, but you can’t attain it simply by reading about it. You have to actually do the work and experience spiritual death and rebirth, and often literal death, to grok what Christ was actually talking about. Ditto for enlightenment in Buddhism or moksha in Hinduism; you can read everything about any of these things, but you’ll never fully comprehend what they are until you experience them.

          You’re right in that this stuff is “cobbled together from so many diverse strands” and traditions; Hermeticism has always been an eclectic thing, and back in the day rubbing shoulders with all sorts of traditions (Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Roman, Christian, Gnostic, etc.). Spells where you find invocations of Apollo using barbarous words that look awfully like names of God from Jewish prayers, for example, are a dime a dozen in the PGM. As Crowley said, though, “let success be thy proof”: if something works, it works, so by all means, use it. I have pagan friends taking the same courses I am that use Christ-focused rituals, and people like Jason Miller mix Tibetan, Greek, and Caribbean magics flawlessly to attain their results. No single tradition can lay claim to something as infinite as truth, after all, since there’s always one more way to phrase, visualize, or meditate on something.

          The barbarous words aren’t Greek, by the way, or in any other human language, but are only written in the Greek script in this case (like much of the PGM). Like I said, you can consider them an angelic or divine language or something like speaking in tongues.

          • Some of them are arcane deity names; the ones that are vowel-strings are chants from the Egyptian Temples, or imitations of them, which invoke the planetary intelligences.

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  7. hello i wanted to know was there a simple ritual to celebrate hermes in may or march? to have him connect with me? i heard he doesnt have a problems with alternative life style. hoping to connect thank u david

    • Celebrating Hermes can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it; there’s no wrong way to do it, so long as you do it respectfully. i like to light four tealights, some frankincense and cinnamon incense, and offer a bit of red wine mixed with Greek olive oil to the god, as well as singing some of his hymns (either the Homeric Hymn or Orphic Hymn, or both), combined with my own personal prayers celebrating, thanking, and honoring him.

      The two big festivals to Hermes I can think of are the Hermaia (Greek) and the Mercuralia (Roman). The Greek festival changes its date based on the lunar calendar cycle, but this year was held on March 5. The Roman festival has a fixed-ish calendar date, always occurring in May, and I celebrate it on May 15. Those are good yearly dates to work with him, but you don’t need to wait until May to start a relationship with him! I recommend on a Wednesday at dawn that you make an offering and prayer to him, inviting him into your life and asking for his blessings, guidance, and protection to aid you that you can honor him as the great god he is. Continue this for four days total (so once on Wednesday morning, then on Thursday morning, then on Friday morning, then on Saturday morning); spend some time in prayer just communing with him, getting used to his presence, and the like, and feel free to ask him questions about how he would like offerings from you, what kind of things he likes, what he can help you with, his history and presence in the world, and that kind of stuff. From then on, perform at least one ritual a month to honor him, or more if you have the time and if he likes it that way; I recommend one offering a week done on Wednesdays (the day of Mercury).

      Very few gods have problems with “alternative lifestyles”, especially the Greek ones where it wasn’t even a question of “what’s alternative”. So long as you honor the spirits, they tend to not care and will help you out regardless of the things you do in life, so long as it’s not inimical to their presence.

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  10. The best description of what this rite may mean for practice and it’s effects on the psyche of a psychonaut / modern shaman is Don Webb’s book, the 7 Faces of Darkness. From my personal subjective experience with this ritual The Rite of Akephalos and it’s Barbarous names are of a Sethian/ Typhonian nature. I performed this Rite for 18 months, and had intense but positive long lasting results and changes in my psyche.

    • I read as much from JSK’s booklet, but I’m unconvinced. That wasn’t my experience with the ritual after having done it every day for a year, nor having done it occasionally afterward. Add to it, the text itself aligns more with classical descriptions and epithets of Thoth from “pure” Egyptian stuff (not the syncretized form of Hermes, mind you).

      • I can see your subjective perspective on Thoth. But many of the barbarous beej or seed words used are of a Typhonian nature. Author and owner of mandrake press Mogg Morgan also stresses this in two of his books. I’m not disagreeing with you, as all individuals experience rituals subjectively. All I am saying is that in my personal opinion, the rite is of a highly Sethian nature. Of course Carl Jung’s great cosmic archetype ABRASAX is mentioned in the Rite, which to me is Thothian in nature as a Cosmic equalizing force. So I see your subjective point as well. If you have not read Webb’s book I recommend it, for a different perspective on the rite. As well as Morgan Morgan’s The Bull of Ombos and Tankhem.

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  13. Hello Polyphanes,

    I was wondering about the beneficial sign. I only have the Betz PGM and it has two dots instead of the backwards “C” shape. I’m curious where the version you use comes from. Have you found any noticeable difference between the two?

    • I originally got the C version from Stephen Flowers, though I can see why he would have originally gotten it from a : version. I haven’t found any notable difference, though I usually combine the two, using both a C and a : (with the dots positioned between the straight and curved arms of the symbol).

  14. I can get the meaning of facing North (i.e., the Pole), as I have an epinoia about the Poles being the portals for the Daimon of the Hour which sets the spiritual tone for Right Now. I have also tried it starting out by facing Orion (sky map on the wizard phone, yo). I went back to facing East for now, but we will see….

    What’s your take on “sight in the feet”? I have a vague, woolly understanding of it, but I have not clarified it.

    I apologize for dragging you back into this …. wait, no I don’t ;-)

    • At this point in my practice, I generally just face east; north is useful, but I’m not beholden to it.

      As for “sight in the feet”, I pair this (meaningfully) with the Headless One being, well, headless. Specifically, the two are alongside each other: “I am the Headless One with sight in the feet”.

      “Headless One”: Despite everything else, I think the use of Mathers’ and Crowley’s “Bornless” as a synonym for Headless makes a healthy amount of sense. The Headless One has no beginning, no spatial-temporal “head”; he has always existed, but not in a way that is temporal. The Headless One is truly eternal, not just sempiternal; he exists outside of time and space in a way that nothing in this world has or can.


      “Sight in the feet”: where are your feet? Where you stand. Where do you stand? Here and now. Without a head, the Headless One would be limited to observing things only in the transcendent realms outside time and space, but he’s not devoid of sense organs; rather, they’re in his feet. Though he is outside time and space, he stands in it in one and only one place, perceiving the here and now, the precious Moment in which he is present.

      To use a linguistic metaphor, being Headless is to having sight in the feet that the Spanish verb “ser” is to the verb “estar”.

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