Although it’s wonderful to have access to one’s tools, altars, talismans, oils, gear, and garb, sometimes a magician is simply caught unprepared, unaware, or unavailable from his home base. Casting or performing rituals on the spot might be difficult for some, especially if they don’t have a means to set up a sacred space or are caught up in matters to a point where they’re not prepared physically or spiritually for ritual. Some people might not have the ability to remember all those Names of Power without a book, and others might rely too much on altar weapons to not be able to make do without.
As it so happens, there are a few things I’ve pulled together that work as an all-around preparatory ritual for a magician who needs to get ready in a jiffy. I call it the “Quick, Dirty, and Short” Ritual, or Q.D.Sh. for short. (Those of you who know your Semitic linguistics will recognize this as being the triliteral root for the word “holy” or “sanctified” in Hebrew, Arabic, and other Semitic languages.) The Q.D.Sh. Ritual is easily adaptable and requires little preparation or memorization beforehand. I personally like to use this when I’m doing an impromptu evocation, or if I’m out in the field trying to get something done with magic or ritual that can’t wait for getting back home to my altar. The Q.D.Sh. ritual consists of four steps: circle, breathe, banish, tune.
1. Circle. The circle is important for both protection from external energies, isolation from the world, and containment of internal energies. It’s been used in various ways by different traditions since well before antique times, and we’ll use it here as well. You want to be able to separate yourself from normal space and time in order to do your working, whether this is to keep you isolated from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or the star storms and cosmic hurricanes of the astral realm.
This step is simple: using the index finger of your dominant hand, make a circle clockwise on the ground around you, large enough for you to stand or work in as you need. So long as you have a physical circle drawn out around you, you’re good to go. As you draw the circle out, you should consider consecrating the ground itself so that you make a proper sanctified holy space that has the added benefit of shielding. Casting the circle while using the Trithemian phrase of
In the name of the blessed Trinity, I consecrate this piece of ground for our defense, so that no evil spirit may have power to break these bounds prescribed here, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
works well. This or another Trinitarian formula works if you’re Christian; if not, you might invoke the God and Goddess, the four guardians of the watchtowers, or your patron deity instead to aid you in strengthening the circle. I prefer a variation on a Trinitarian formula that goes to my Hermetic roots:
In the name of the Nous, this circle is consecrated for our defense.
By the power of the Logos, this circle is defended for our perfection.
For the sake of the Sophia, this circle is perfected for our work.
ΙΑΩ ΑΩΙ ΩΙΑ ΑΙΩ ΙΩΑ ΩΑΙ
It doesn’t generally matter what direction you start the circle in, but it might be nice if it’s aligned with some focus or direction if you can manage it. The direction in which you start the circle will be referred to as the anchor direction from here on. Try to face the anchor direction after each step, unless otherwise directed.
2. Breathe. Now that you’ve got the circle set up, you’re safe from the outside world and can begin building up yourself for the purposes of the ritual. So breathe and relax. Really. Take several deep breaths (e.g. fourfold breaths, vase breaths) to calm your body, settle your soul, clean your spirit, and clear your mind. While doing this, you might incorporate prayers, mantras, or statements of intent into your breathing to focus or center yourself and be completely present before proceeding. I like to breathe with the Trisagion, but you might try something else. Use your breath wisely here, both to prepare yourself and your working area.
3. Banish. For this, I use the AL-KT Banishing Ritual devised by Frater Osiris. He devised it as a simple banishing ritual for workings that didn’t align or match up well with the LBRP or other kinds of Qabbalistic practices. The banishing ritual involves only two words of power, AL (“ahl” or “ehl”) and KT (“kuht” or “ket”), which Fr. Osiris explains as magical formulae that represent the “generation of divine force” and “the manifestation of a protective circle in which to perform further magical work”, respectively. To perform this ritual, do the following:
- Face the anchor direction. Step back one pace so you’re just behind the center of the circle.
- Visualize a ring of light hovering at around heart level at the boundaries of the circle you cast. This is a protective circle of light, so a color reflective of that is suggested. White is always appropriate.
- Let a point on the ring in the anchor direction glow exceptionally bright. Grab it with your dominant hand in a fist.
- Pull in that point to the center of the circle. As you do so, visualize the point of light glowing brighter and brighter as you intone AL more and more forcefully.
- Once the point of light reaches the center of the circle, slam your fist down on the center of the ground, exclaiming KT loudly and powerfully. As the point of light and your fist strike the ground, see a ripple of energy from the force emanate from the center outwards, cleansing out the energies from yourself and the circle while strengthening the circle’s boundary.
In addition to banishing and blasting out the energies in the circle, the energy of the AL-KT ritual reinforces the boundaries of the circle, helping to form a more solid shield around the working area. A twofer! Fr. Osiris has noted that “the wave of force released by KT often extends past the perimeter of the circle and may help to cleanse the area around the working as well as within the circle”. It’s a banishing ritual I pull out when I’m pressed for time, since it’s fast and it works, and most people won’t bat an eye anymore at someone doing martial arts-like motions in a field anymore. This is good to have on hand in general, but I’ve incorporated it into the Q.D.Sh. ritual for completion.
4. Tune. This is adapted from the Heptagram Ritual as proposed in the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM XIII.820-835). In short, it uses the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet (alpha, epsilon, eta, iota, omicron, upsilon, and omega) to relate and tune oneself to the powers of the seven planets (Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) so as to attract the attention and worthiness of the deities, but can be used more generally as well. It associates a direction and gesture with each vowel and planet, so this might look a little silly if you’re not used to such things. I’ve also included five more gestures and letters which are associated with the five elements (psi for aether, theta for Earth, xi for Water, phi for Air, and chi for Fire). This helps sync one’s sphere with the four elements and seven planets, which is recommended as a kind of mini-alignment ritual to help get one balanced and prepared for any work to come. The steps for this ritual are as follows:
- Face the anchor direction. Close your eyes. Let your hands rest at your sides.
- Make three deep breaths, each time making repeated Ψ sounds (like making popping sounds, “pss pss pss pss pss pss”) with your whole breath.
- Extend both your arms out and downward. Inhale and exclaim Θ (like you’re spitting out a “tah” sound) with your whole breath.
- Raise your left hand and keep your right hand lowered. Inhale and exclaim Ξ (like you’re hissing out “kssss”) with your whole breath.
- Raise both your right and left hands. Inhale and exclaim Φ (like you’re gently breathing out a “pah” sound) with your whole breath.
- Lower your left hand and keep the right hand upheld. Inhale and exclaim Χ (like you’re coughing out a “kah” sound) with your whole breath.
- Open your eyes. Face east, if you can; otherwise, continue facing the anchor direction.
- Stretch out both your arms to the left. Inhale and intone Α (“ah”) for one beat. This could be a heartbeat, a second, or whatever, but note the length.
- Face north, or turn 90° to the left. Put out your right fist, lowering your left hand. Inhale and intone Ε (“eh”) for two beats.
- Face west, or turn 90° to the left. Extend both your arms, palms outward. Inhale and intone Η (“ey”) for three beats.
- Face south, or turn 90° to the left. Place both your hands on your belly. Inhale and intone Ι (“ee”) for four beats.
- Face downward. Bend down and touch your toes. Inhale and intone Ο (“ohh”) for five beats.
- Look up towards the middle distance and relax your eyes. Put your right hand over your heart, lowering your left hand. Inhale and intone Υ (“oo” or German “ü”) for six beats.
- Look up towards the sky. Put both your hands on top of your head. Inhale and intone Ω (“awwh”) for seven beats.
With this done, you’re clean, ready, and attuned to the forces you need to handle. You can finish up with any words of power, prayers, or other preparatory work you may feel like doing. Once you get the hang of it, all this takes maybe five minutes to do; like I said, it’s quick, dirty, and short, but most importantly, it works. It’s not as thorough as one might like and may not be suitable for serious or intense rituals, but if you’re pressed for time and materia, stranded, or in an urgent situation, this is a good process to follow.
If you really want to be semper paratus, there are a few things I’d suggest you keep in a handbag or briefcase in case you need them. They’re not necessary, given the ritual outline above, but they do help in making sure you’re good to go in all situations and help the efficacy of the Q.D.Sh. and subsequent rituals. Altogether, they might be another pound or two of weight and don’t take up too much space.
- holy water (a small ointment jar or plastic container) to cleanse the self and area in and outside the working area
- amulet consecrated for defense and power (Solomonic ring, clay pentacle, pendant anointed with protection oil, black Isis band, etc.) for protection from harmful or malignant spirits or energies
- source of fire (tealight, emergency candle, Zippo lighter, etc.) to illuminate the area physically and spiritually
- pen and paper (they don’t have to be consecrated or cleansed, but it might be nice) for notetaking and impromptu talismans or sigils
You’re free to include other things such as an instrument of Will (a variation on the wand or dagger, depending on your background), but the dominant hand’s index finger works fine for this; holy oil for anointing can be useful, but holy water and a blessing will pass when pressed; salt or natron for warding and banishing, but that’s what drawing the circle and holy water are for. The above things I suggest above are what I consider slighty more helpful than other materia if you’re going to take along anything at all. However, the Q.D.Sh. ritual is intended to suffice for these things when you’re normally separated from your gear, so the above is not essential or necessary unless you strictly determine them to be.