Basic Daily Practices of Mathesis

Since my self-initiation with Hermes, I’ve adopted something of a daily ritual practice that generally works with the forces I’ve been describing here.  It’s nothing too in-depth and nothing too difficult, but it does tie in a lot of both mathetic and grammatomantic practice (which is really what I was aiming for this whole time).  None of this is stuff that’s relegated to initiates of mathesis, either, and really anyone who’s interested can tap into this emerging current by engaging in a similar practice; ideally, I’d have anyone interested before initiation do a daily mathetic practice for some time well before I’d even consider initiating them to help them get adjusted to the forces and symbols of mathesis.  Still, a lot of this practice is stuff I’ve gone over before or at least mentioned, so it’s good to tie it all together into a coherent and cohesive practice.  Plus, it’s good for me to at least try out different things to do to see what works and what doesn’t, so that when I get around to teaching others this or writing a book or something, I can be more authoritative in what can help an initiate or seeker (or, to use my hypothetical school’s terms, the gnostai or hypognostai).

Now, I do a lot of ritual and magical work each day, so it’s interesting to see what exactly is mathetic in nature and what’s not; general awareness meditation, for instance, definitely helps with mathesis but itself isn’t mathetic, as is my routine energy work, but I don’t want to bring either of those into this discussion.  When it comes to mathetic practice, I do something like this each day, along with a rough minimum estimate of the time I spend on each and when:

  1. Invocation of the Tetractys and Tetractean meditation (15 minutes first thing in the morning)
  2. Meditation on the letter of the lunar date (15+ minutes in the morning)
  3. Daily grammatomantic divination (5 minutes in the morning)
  4. Offering to the god of the lunar date (optional, 5+ minutes preferably in the morning)
  5. Invocation of Hermes for sleep and dreams (5 minutes just before going to bed)
  6. Recollection of the day’s activities (5+ minutes when going to sleep)

So, let’s walk through each act of the day and when it’s done.

1.  Invocation of the Tetractys and Tetractean meditation.
This is something I was doing during my 10-day period of self-initiation, and Hermes has instructed me to maintain this practice.  Every day, usually in the early mornings, I pray the Invocation of the Tetractys and meditate on the Tetractys itself.  In doing this, I keep my practice focused on the overall symbolism, structure, and current of mathesis as it revolves around the Tetractys and the power of the numbers One through Ten, or the Monad through the Decad.  As I mentioned before, the Invocation itself is a specific prayer I’ve adapted from Pythagorean practice:

Bless us, divine Number, you who enform gods and men!  O holy, holy Tetractys, you who contain the root and the source of all eternal and eternally flowing creation! For the divine Number begins with the profound, pure Monad until it comes to the holy Tetrad, then it begets the mother of all, the all-comprising, all-bounding, first-born, never-swerving, never-tiring, holy Decad, the keyholder of all!

As for the whole process of invocation and meditation, the process goes like this:

  1. Brief breath awareness meditation to slow the breath and calm the mind.
  2. Invocation of the Tetractys.
  3. Clap ten times slowly, counting from one to ten as I clap.
  4. Perform the Tetractys visualization meditation.
  5. Brief breath awareness meditation to slow the breath and calm the mind.

2.  Meditation on the letter of the lunar date.
Like the ancient Greeks and most people before the widespread adoption of the Gregorian calendar, many people used the passage of the Moon around the Earth to time their months (and some people, like the Jews, Hindus, Chinese, and Muslims, still do this).  A lunar month has either 29 or 30 days, and each day of the lunar month can be ascribed its own Greek letter for divinatory and ritual purposes.  I described such a lunisolar grammatomantic calendar before,  and I’ve found it to be a tremendous help in my ritual practice generally and mathetically since I’ve developed it.  In a similar fashion to the symbols of the Mayan 20-day cycle calendar, every day of the lunar month can be given an overall “feeling” based on its associated Greek letter.  I meditate on the letter of the day, both in terms of phonological and symbolic nature of the letter.  The process I generally use is pretty straightforward and is a form of scrying or contemplation, though one could definitely experiment with using astral travel and trancework to do the same.  The meditation is similar to the Tetractean meditation, though since this usually comes right after the Tetractean visualization meditation, I’m already usually pretty calm and focused enough to jump right into the meditation.  But, if not, I start the whole process over:

  1. Brief breath awareness meditation to slow the breath and calm the mind.
  2. Intonation of the name of the letter, seeing the form of the letter clearly in my mind as a standalone image.
  3. Various pronunciation techniques of the sound letter, feeling how the letter feels in my mouth and lungs, how the air passes through my mouth and nose, how the letter sounds when paired with other letters (vowels and consonants together), etc.
  4. Another intonation of the name of the letter, seeing the form of the letter clearly in my mind, but this time emblazoned on a veil.
  5. Contemplation of the symbolism of the letter by walking through the veil into the “world” of the letter, noting what images, scenes, powers, and spirits are associated with the letter.  Once this is done, I walk out from the world taking the same path I took to get to where I was and pass through the veil once more.
  6. Another intonation of the name of the letter, seeing the form of the letter clearly in my mind as a standalone image, but this time “breathing in” the letter to harmonize my sphere with it.
  7. Brief breath awareness meditation to slow the breath and calm the mind.

3.  Daily grammatomantic divination.
Yes, of course, grammatomancy.  People who follow me on Twitter or my page on Facebook know that, whenever possible, I make a Daily Grammatomancy post, where I do a random daily divination using grammatomancy.  Specifically, I invoke Apollo and Hermes, the gods of divination, and ask the query:  “For myself and for all who come in contact with my words, on this day, on this very day, how best should we mortals live our lives in accordance with the divine will of the immortal gods?”  The query is phrased so that it’s as general as possible as a kind of newspaper horoscope-esque forecast for my readers and subscribers, but it works, and people have commented before that the advice I give through the daily grammatomantic divination has hit the nail on the head, more often than not.  My descriptions are, of necessity, shorter on Twitter than on Facebook, but (here’s a secret) I tend to customize the Twitter forecast based on my overall intuition while my Facebook post is more generalized but also more generally in-depth; as a bonus for those who follow my page on Facebook, I also talk about the lunar date letter.  By doing this, I understand what’s expected of me in the world, and how to respond to the different forces that the world presents me with every day.  If the lunar date letter meditation helps me understand what’s going on in the world around me based on the lunar date, then the daily grammatomantic divination helps me understand how best I’m to respond to it and act with those forces.  And, if you’re unaware of the divination method of grammatomancy, then you should totally buy my ebook on the subject from my Etsy, because a lot of mathesis is built up on the occult symbolism of the letters and I’ve already written at length about it in there.  Besides, while my Daily Grammatomancy posts can help, doing a daily divination with this system can help you specifically instead of being part of my general audience (awesome though you are).

4.  Offering to the god of the lunar date.
Based on the letter of the lunar date, I’ve also developed a method to arrange my offering rituals and worship of the Greek gods as well as a bevy of other spirits based on the lunar calendar; I’ve written about my lunar grammatomantic ritual calendar before, too, though I’ve refined the associations of each letter/day with the gods much since then.  The idea is that, as part of the symbolism of each letter in grammatomancy, we can ascribe a particular god or a set of gods to each letter based on their stoicheia (elemental/planetary/zodiacal force).  So, for example, if the day is ruled by Gamma, and we know that Gamma is associated with Taurus and Taurus with Aphrodite, then Aphrodite should be honored on the day of Gamma.  Now, I don’t make offerings to all the gods, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt; lighting a simple tealight and an invocation to honor the god of the day would probably be a good practice generally.  However, I do work closely with several gods, including Hermes (duh), Aphrodite, and Hephaistos, and it’s on the days ascribed to them that I break out the incense and wine and make a good offering to them, including praying their associated Orphic and (short) Homeric hymns, and generally spending time with them and asking for their blessing or doing work with them specifically.  In general, it’s best to do offerings to the gods in the morning at sunrise, though some gods prefer other times like midnight or noon, and generally my schedule isn’t flexible enough to allow for that, so I make offerings at some point in the day of the god.  As for the purpose of this practice, although not required, it’s good to get in good with all the gods above and below and develop good relationships with them.  Piety is a virtue for its own sake, and by living in accordance with the gods (as indicated by the lunar grammatomantic date and daily grammatomantic divination) and honoring the gods, we become closer to them, earn their blessing, and generally live better lives by and because of them.

5.  Invocation of Hermes for sleep and dreams.
This is another thing Hermes has instructed me to do, but unlike the rest of the daily activities, this is to be done just before retiring to bed for the night.  Just before bed, I go before Hermes’ shrine and invoke his darker, nighttime aspects of Hypnophoros and Oneirodōtēs, Sleep-bringer and Dream-giver, since these are jobs that are ascribed to him and, specifically, his caduceus.  Dream work, eventually, is going to be more important for me, which kinda sucks since my dream skills (recall, lucid dreaming, etc.) are shit.  However, I have noticed in the past that by going before him before sleep (and getting a decent amount of sleep, mind you, at least six hours) greatly increases the chance of vivid and remembered dreams.  To that end, Hermes has instructed me to approach him every night before going to bed as a way to formally close the day.  I take this time to touch base with Hermes, get out any urgent matters from my heart and mind to him, and perhaps ask for a specific omen in my dreams if he’s feeling gracious enough to grant me one.  As I rise the next day, I spend a few moments before doing anything else reviewing my dreams, whatever I can remember.  One can pray the Orphic Hymn to Terrestrial Mercury (Hermes Chthonios), which I usually do, but I also fine-tune my prayer with the following:

Hail, Hermēs Hypnophoros, you who bring sleep to weary eyes!
As I lie down, Hermēs, close my eyes with your wand and send me sweet sleep,
that I may rest tonight for a new day tomorrow, for this day is done.
Give me deep sleep, Hermēs, that my body may be rested and healed from this day’s work!
Help me preserve myself in darkness by ever walking in waking light, even in sleep, even in rest, even in healing.

Hail, Hermēs Oneirodōtēs, you who send dreams upon those who sleep!
As I sleep tonight, Hermēs, open my mind with your wand and send me dreams,
dreams that I remember, dreams that I know to be dreams as messages of the gods.
Give me true dreams for Truth, Hermēs; do not give me lies for lies, nor lies for truth, nor truth for lies, but truth for truth!
Help me come to understand the truth, reality, and power of the world, of the cosmos, of the universe, and of the gods.

Hail, Hermēs Nyktios! Hail, Hermēs Hypnophoros! Hail, Hermēs Oneirodōtēs! Hail, Hermēs Diaktoros!

6.  Recollection of the day’s activities.
Once I lie down in bed, I do something I picked up from John Michael Greer’s Learning Ritual Magic, but which was also done in a similar way by the old Pythagoreans themselves as well as other philosophers.  What I do is I walk through each event and action of the day, starting with going to bed and going backwards to the beginning of the day.  That way, I go from the most recent to the most distant memories of the day, walking them over and chewing on them to review my actions, whether I did things I was supposed to do, didn’t do things I was supposed to do, did things I wasn’t supposed to do, or didn’t do things I wasn’t supposed to do.  The same goes for things said or not said, thought or not thought, and the like.  Not only does this help out one’s memory skills, but it also plants the seed in the mind at a vulnerable time (drifting off to sleep) to improve one’s physical and mental actions in the future.  Generally, I tend to fall asleep well before I get to the beginning of the day, but according to JMG, the mind will keep going on its own; I don’t know about that, since I sometimes get distracted on tangential thoughts when I get to the threshold of sleep, but maybe that’s true.  If, however, your memory is so good that you get to the beginning of the day after everything else and you haven’t gotten to sleep yet, then return again to your dreams of the previous night (since, after all, they were things that happened, too!) and keep going from there to the previous day’s events, and so forth, until you get to sleep.

Now, this is just how my daily mathesis practice is shaping up to be; there’s nothing to say that I won’t add stuff to it in the future as I get deeper into this current, especially as I start working with the sphairai and odoi of the Tetractys.  For instance, it was also a habit of the Pythagoreans to take daily walks in the morning, and while I’d love to do that, I live out in the country where there are no sidewalks nor parks, just roads and fields in which I’d probably arouse suspicion by walking around in at 5 a.m. from the farmers; to substitute this, I might just do some light aerobic exercise, tai chi, yoga, or aikido katas to get the blood flowing and to wake up the body and mind.  Other magical practices often include a daily banishing ritual or energy work exercise, and I do plan on writing a mathetic version of both, but those are a little advanced while all the above is basic enough for anyone to pick up and start applying immediately.  Once I get to more magical and theurgical practices of mathesis, I’ll probably exchange the daily offering of the gods for something a little more personal and profound, perhaps expanding the daily meditation of the letter with a brief pathworking exercise, and so forth.  We’ll cross that bridge once we get there.

Search Term Shoot Back, March 2014

I get a lot of hits on my blog from across the realm of the Internet, many of which are from links on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS readers.  To you guys who follow me: thank you!  You give me many happies.  However, I also get a huge number of new visitors daily to my blog from people who search around the Internet for various search terms.  As part of a monthly project, here are some short replies to some of the search terms people have used to arrive here at the Digital Ambler.  This focuses on some search terms that caught my eye during the month of March 2014.  This month was particularly awesome with two things in mind: for one, the recent Hermes/Mercury conference, for which the writeups are as complete as I can make them without putting up voice recordings; for two, I crossed the big threshold of 200,000 hits this month!  Thank you all so much, dear readers, for serving my plans for world domination sticking with me and all my antics and adventures.

“symbol with dot for north node : symbol without dot-?” — I’m not aware of any symbol for the North Node, also known as the Head of the Dragon or Caput Draconis, that involves a dot.  Rather, the symbol for the North Node looks much like the symbol for the sign of Leo (♌) but with both “tails” curved into loops (☊).  Similarly, the South Node, a.k.a. Tail of the Dragon or Cauda Draconis, is the same symbol but reversed (☋).  There are the related geomantic figures for these signs, too, but there’s no such thing as a geomantic figure “without dot[s]”.  So, I’m really not sure what the querent here is trying to look for, but it’s certainly not one of these astrological/astronomical symbols.

“ben franklin potato advocate” — …this is true, he was in fact an advocate and lover of potatoes, and potatoes weren’t really popular in the early history of the United States until he started hawking them.  They also make fantastic liquors with them, which is another thing Mr. Franklin would approve of.

“a prayer for charing crystal and mirror” — Being that crystals are usually made of non-combustible minerals, and mirrors are made from non-combustible class and metal, I find it difficult to char these things with fire.  It’s possible to crack them apart or shatter them with heat, or get them dirty from soot, but charing isn’t something that can be done.  Charging, however, can be more easily done by praying intentfully, calling on the powers you prefer to enter into or deign to consecrate, bless, and charge it for a particular end.  There’s no one particular prayer for this, so just say what you want and do it forcefully.

“clear blue digital pregnancy test book symbol” — Er…I understand that the Digital Ambler talks about symbols and books rather often, but this is an unfortunate confluence of search terms that yielded a result most inappropriate for the query.  Still, Yahoo! Answers has something better for you.  Admittedly, I’m not one to ask about pregnancy tests, since I’m neither female nor predisposed or inclined to children.

“what do six candles represent on altar” — Depends on the candles and the altar.  Catholic altars are often seen having six candles, though this is a custom that came about only a few hundred years ago; before that, they were reserved only for high holy rituals, with two candles being common for a low Mass or none at all on the altar.  Beyond that, whatever associations go with the number 6, I suppose, indicate the purpose.  Some people use six candles for a solar ritual.  There’s really no way to answer this question; it’s like “what does the sound does the mean”, where it depends on the specific sound and in what language.  Try again, querent.

“need to summon good ghost or spirit free pliz” — Yes, it can be absolutely free!  But I won’t do it for you, because that’s like having someone trying to eat for you.  You need to do the work yourself, buddy.  There are so many resources, on this blog and on many other sites like those on the right hand side of my blog, that are available for free that will get you a running start.  Don’t be lazy, and don’t try to outsource your own spiritual work.  Our “*-as-a-service” world is not great for individual development.  And even if you absolutely need to have someone else do the work for you, why would you expect it to be done as a free service?  Lawyers get paid for their expertise, as do doctors and therapists.  After putting in all the time, effort, money, and resources into their studies and Work, it’s only fair to recompense a magician for their services to you.  You can’t get something for nothing, you know.

“words to summon a demon” — Behold, I have here a most secret conjuration preserved from the ancestors of my ancestors, which I will reveal to you to know now, that you may summon the demons of magnificent and terrible power:

Yo, NN., get your flaming ass over here!  I’m serious, I’m for real, I’m dead serious!  Quit your shit and come on!  Y’all’re gonna piss me off if you don’t show your lazy ass before me, and I don’t want any of your crazy shit tryna scare me.  If you don’t show up right here right now, I’m pressin’ charges on your ass and my lawyer is gonna sue you to a hell deeper than you ever been to before.  Do you know who I am?  I’m motherfucking NN., and I own this shit and I own you.  Now come on, I’m not just forcing you for shits and giggles here.  In fact, let me give you something to hold you over for a bit.  But, really, come on.  I need you here; don’t lemme down, now. <cough> …forever and ever, world without end.  Amen.

After this, snap four times in the form of a cross, roll your neck, and put a 7-11 taquito in a fire and pour out a Four Loko as an offering to the demon.

“geomantic gods of earth”, “geomantic gods”, etc. — Geomancy isn’t a religion, nor is it even a major part of spiritual practices; it’s just a form of divination, and arose in an Islamic culture and propagated through other Abrahamic cultures and traditions before finally arriving to our libraries in our modern pluralistic world.  In that sense, I suppose the god of geomancy would be God, as in that of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and about whom many geomancers of the past (Robert Fludd, Agrippa, al-Zanati, etc.) have written as the ultimate source and original cause of enabling us to use this divinatory method.  As far as angels go, we might claim that Gabriel is important to geomancy, being as he is the angel of messengers and heralds generally as well as the one who mythically gave the knowledge of geomancy to (depending on the myth) Adam, Hermes Trismegistus, Enoch, or Idris.  Hermes Trismegistus, in his form as the thrice-great Thoth-Hermes, might be considered from this as a god of geomancy, inasmuch as he’s god of any and all occult sciences, divinatory methods, astrology, conjuration, worship, sacrifice, fate, time, language, and the like.  Beyond that, if you’re looking at things with a more neopagan mindset, any deity of the earth (and especially of the desert sands) or of “low” divination (as opposed to prophetic divination or astrology) would be fitting, but that’s very tradition-specific and vague.

“can i activate seals of solomon by praying and lighting candles only” — Actually, that’s really about it, though you’d need to swap candles for incense.  The Key of Solomon describes how to go about consecrating the pentacles (book I, chapter 8), where you go into a ritual chamber and pray several psalms and a certain prayer over the pentacles.  The ritual says you need to have incense burning and to have a special circle drawn on to contain the censer for incense.  After that, you suffumigate the talismans in the incense and you’re done.  I’d have a candle burning, anyway, and incense is something I find necessary in rituals, but that’s really just about it.  The heavy lifting of consecrating the pentacles comes from their construction and proper inscription of the right names and signs in the right places; what comes afterward is just a blessing, and even then, that almost seems to be a minor point to me.  Most Solomonic magic, anyway, takes the forms of prayers and invocations, so you’re already basically there.

“how to invoke angels on saturn” — I’d assume the same processes we use on Earth would work reasonably well on Saturn, as well, though there is the issue of figuring out planetary days and hours on the planet.  More important would be the issues of actually getting to Saturn and, once there, figuring out a place to land on a planet that has no solid surface; those are questions that beyond my expertise to answer.

“geomanctic symbols + younger futhark”, “futhark + geomantic symbols”, etc. — Apparently there’s some interest in linking together the geomantic figures with the runes of the futhark (elder, younger, Anglo-Saxon futhorc, whatever).  I don’t really see a need or a purpose for this besides the ever-dominating Western penchant for completion and connection; there’s no 1-to-1 mapping between the 16 figures and 24 runes of the elder futhark, though there might be such a connection with the 16 runes of the younger futhark, but as far as I’m aware the younger futhark are nearly never used in divination.  Geomancy and runic divination, further, come from radically different traditions, cultures, and time periods, and really have little in common (unless you want to use a very late interpretation of runic divination to be assigned to the planets and signs of astrology).  Just because two sets of symbols have the same count doesn’t mean there are clean mappings or relationships between them; I might claim that certain types of African diasporic religions have 12 gods, but just because there are also 12 Olympian gods in Hellenic paganism doesn’t mean that they’re the same or that there are clean connections between the two.  (I realize that this kinda leads me to thumb my nose at people like Agrippa, Crowley, and Skinner who are known for their correspondence tables, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that one can take these things only so far without them breaking down miserably.)

“how do you manifest with orgone energy” — You manifest things, and then orgone energy exists.  One doesn’t really manifest anything with orgone energy except…I guess, more orgone energy.  It’s like using the qi/chi/ki in the body to make food appear; it can be effected by means of the body to go out and buy or harvest supplies that can then be processed into food, but qi/chi/ki cannot itself make food.  Likewise, orgone energy doesn’t itself manifest desires; it’s the animating force behind other systems that enables them to work so as to manifest a desire or will.  You can use orgone energy to maintain health and activity, which you can then direct to manifest, but you can’t be so direct with orgone energy alone.  However, you can use orgone energy (being, as it is, an ambient resource of magical power) in other magical rituals to focus and charge talismans (like my Mercury election experiment), intents, desires, and the like; again, however, this isn’t using orgone directly as much as it is empowering other things to work directly.

“sigil to sigil symbol to symbol magic to magic planetary to planetary occult to occult astrology to astrology” — You’re so thorough!  I’m sure you found exactly what you needed.

“the finger ring of solomon” — There’s lots of information known about the ring of Solomon on the internet, largely due to resources like the Lemegeton and John Dee’s Enochiana works (cf. the PELE ring).  Still, the way this query was phrased leads me to believe that the good King Solomon may have other types of rings he may have used.  In that case, I want dibs on the design for and production of the cockring of Solomon.

“summon spirits without ritual” — This is a moot point; summoning is a ritual.  It’s like saying “eating food without nutrition” or “sleeping without closing eyes”.  Of course, my idea of ritual is pretty far-reaching, but then, there’s no reason for it to not be so broad.

Proper Ritual Terminology

Recently, someone asked me about the differences between invoking, evoking, summoning, banishing, and all that jazz.  As a ceremonial magician, there’s a lot of different ritual I use depending on the need that can fall under different categories, each with a different label.  Then again, much of the ritual is fluid enough to defy categories or change between them with the use of a few different words.  So, let me clarify my stance (and only mine, I dunno how much others may agree with me on this) on the difference between the following words: invocation, evocation, conjuration, summoning, exorcism, banishment.  After all, I seem to be doing so well with clarifying my use of particular words, so why not?

Let me clarify first that much of the distinction drawn between these words is strictly a modern thing.  Traditional sources and grimoires from the medieval and Renaissance eras made no distinction between invoking and evoking, and used these terms interchangeably with conjuring and exorcising.  Because humanity likes to bin and classify everything endlessly, drawing the thickest lines between the smallest groups, and because we’ve inherited a knack for classification from our Platonic and Aristotelian philosophical forefathers, we insist on making these distinctions known.  In my practice, I tend to stick to the broadest, most applicable words used, mostly because these categories are strictly artificial and not always replicable in magical practice.  Ultimately, when working with the spirits, shit either gets done or it doesn’t.  This isn’t engineering where we can always follow the same procedures to obtain the same results, because magic doesn’t work like that, more often than not.

First, let’s talk about the high-level word “conjuration“.  It comes from Latin, literally meaning “swearing together”.  In a conjuration, one makes a pact, agreement, or oath with one or more spirits (or other brand of non-physical entity, that kind of classification can be talked about in a later post).  The oath taken can be just a simple request or a trade of services (you do/give X for me, I do/give Y for you), or something more complicated such as appearing physically in the name of some higher power.  In this sense, “conjuration” is the most general term to be used for any work with spirits.  A similar term is “adjuration“, or “swearing to”, often used to force a spirit to accomplish or do something.  This is a little more forceful and heavy-handed, and is often used in some of the more traditional Catholic or Solomonic rituals to really bind a spirit to the magician’s will.

Similar to conjuration, the word “exorcism” also means “binding by oath”.  It comes from Greek through Latin, originally meaning “to cause to swear”.  Even as late as the Renaissance period, this word was used in the same way as “conjuration” to refer to any ritual where one works with a spirit under some oath, pact, or agreement.  However, as most of these rituals were historically done to get rid of spirits, “exorcism” eventually picked up the meaning of “conjuration so as to banish”.  Since a lot of ritual texts from the Renaissance use “exorcism” and “conjuration” interchangeably, I also consider “exorcism” to be a very high-level broad term though with connotations or implications of getting rid of something.

Speaking of, let’s talk about what “banishment” is.  This is probably the most agreed-upon term of the bunch, and is also the only one of the bunch that has a Germanic origin instead of a Greek or Latin one.  “Banishment” is getting rid of spirits or other entities or energies, depending on your view of magic and models thereof.  Whether this is from one’s own personal sphere or internal world, or from one’s external surroundings and a given place, “banishment” gets rid of, clears out, and bars the entry of spirits into a particular area.  Simple enough, I think, though some people would align “exorcism” to be a kind of banishment; in these cases, “banishing” refers to cleansing one’s sphere and inner world, while “exorcism” is clean an external area or person.  This is certainly a modern meaning of the words, but are fairly interchangeable.

On the other hand, we have the words “summoning“, “invocation“, and “evocation” to refer to rituals that introduce or call up spirits in a particular area.  Of them, “summoning” is the broadest, and refers to calling on any spirit for a particular need; we summon them, they’re present, and then stuff gets done either with or without a charge or pact that would be signified with “conjuration”.  After that, we have “invocation” and “evocation” as two different kinds of summoning, or as synonyms for it.  Going by etymology, the former means “call in” while the latter means “call out”.  Still, more than any other set of terms, these were never seen as different in traditional texts.  I can’t stress this enough: any distinction that might be drawn between them is (as far as I’m aware) purely a modern thing.  Even if it’s a useful distinction for some people to make in theory, it’s ultimately not that big a deal or a difference in practice.

The difference lies in the use of the prefix “in-” versus “e(x)-“.  Some people might distinguish the difference in “invoke” versus “evoke”, especially in non-magical contexts, as a “calling upon a higher power for aid” versus a “calling forth or summoning”.  In magical settings, one might invoke a god for aid but evoke a spirit for a conjuration, perhaps invoking a god to swear by.  Alternatively, one might invoke a power to buff one’s sphere out or imbue oneself with the blessings of a particular spirit, but would evoke a spirit to accomplish things external to one’s sphere and body.  However, this isn’t always the case; the Roman notion of evocation was to call on the gods of an enemy city to abandon them and come to the side of the Romans for aid, which would normally fall under the notion of invoking enemy gods.  Similarly, the old myths have various instances of people invoking the gods for aid and then having the gods appear next to them or otherwise manifest for their external aid, which would often be considered evocation.  Depending on what one expects and one’s magical background, the same ritual might work to produce internal results, external results, or some combination of the two.  As a rule of thumb, one pulls power through an invocation and pulls out spirits through evocation, but this is still a very rough rule that has a lot of exceptions.

Like I mentioned, magical ritual can produce a wide variety of results; there is no laboratory setting or control group to measure effects against, and different people may perceive different effects resulting from the same act.  The old authors and magicians didn’t see much of a difference between many of the terms, and used yet others that we’ve largely forgotten or don’t like anymore (such as “karcist” from Fr.MC’s “Crossed Keys”, or to a lesser extent “exorcist” from any number of old grimoires that have a particularly strong Christian bent).  There are two primary ways of working with spirits: having them come to you in some way or having them leave you in some way.  The specific ritual in question might accomplish either of these aims in any number of ways, depending on tradition or philosophy, but that’s pretty much it.  These categories of ritual simply don’t hold up for any but the most rigidly defined and limited of magical practices, and don’t accomplish much on their own.  I feel like this is a debate for people who study magic more than practice it, anyway.

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.

ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
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!
ΑΡΒΑΘΙΑΩ ΡΕΙΒΕΤ ΑΘΕΛΕΒΕΡΣΗΘ ΑΡΑ ΒΛΑΘΑ ΑΛΒΕΥ ΕΒΕΝΦΧΙ ΧΙΤΑΣΓΟΗ ΙΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
[Rubric]

I call upon thee with an empty spirit, oh awesome and invisible god!
ΑΡΟΓΟΓΟΡΟΒΡΑΩ ΣΟΧΟΥ ΜΟΔΟΡΙΩ ΦΑΛΑΡΧΑΩ ΟΟΟ
[Rubric]

Holy Headless One, hear me!
ΡΥΒΡΙΑΩ ΜΑΡΙ ΩΔΑΜ ΒΑΑΒΝΑΒΑΩΘ ΑΣΣ ΑΔΩΝΑΙ ΑΦΝΙΑΩ ΙΘΟΛΗΘ ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ ΑΗΩΩΥ
[Rubric]
ΜΑΒΑΡΡΑΙΩ ΙΟΗΛ ΚΟΘΑ ΑΘΟΡΗΒΑΛΩ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ
[Rubric]

ΑΩΘ ΑΒΡΑΩΘ ΒΑΣΥΜ ΙΣΑΚ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ ΙΑΩ
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!
ΙΕΟΥ ΠΥΡ ΙΟΥ ΠΥΡ ΙΑΩΤ ΙΑΗΩ ΙΟΟΥ ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ ΣΑΒΡΙΑΜ ΟΟ ΥΥ ΕΥ ΟΟ ΥΥ ΑΔΩΝΑΙΕ
Εδε, εδε, αγγελος του Θεου!
ΑΝΛΑΛΑ ΛΑΙ ΓΑΙΑ ΑΠΑ ΔΙΑΧΑΝΝΑ ΧΟΡΥΝ

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!
“HEART GIRT WITH A SERPENT” is my name!

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.

ΙΑΩ ΣΑΒΑΩΘ

* 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.