Wiccan Rede * Autumn 1981 by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki
…and that is to start with something simple. In all the many years I have been teaching occult science, Ritual without a doubt, continues to be the most overemphasized and, at the same time, the most misused part of that science. Starry-eyed amateurs loaded with incense, candles, robes and a dog-eared copy of Dennis Wheatly, regularly hare off into the nearest wood fondly imagining that they are going to hit the ritual jackpot. Sometimes they do… but not in the way they had been hoping for when they started out.
The main trouble stems from the fact that most people think the reading of a few books, a month of TM training (good in itself but not the training needed for this kind of work) and a robe are all they need. They could not be more wrong. It amounts to setting up as a brain surgeon having read ones way through a copy of the Home Doctor… in most cases it will be every bit as dangerous. I have had more years than I am prepared to admit (even magicians can be bashful) in dealing with ritual in all its forms and different Traditions, and there are STILL some that I would think about very carefully before I attempted them, and a few that I would not consider at any cost. Simply because I am aware of the risks involved.
Ritual places enormous pressure on the person(s) performing it, both on the mental and spiritual levels, to say nothing of the physical. One has to be fairly fit to keep up the pace. Blood pressure can rise considerably during some rituals. So all this means that unless you are prepared to go slowly and work up to the performing of the bigger rites, and unless you train and learn to balance the forces within yourself, then you can come unstuck in any number of ways, none of which are particularly pleasant. But…. Since there isn’t a hope in hell of this kind of message getting through to the main body of enthusiasts, I have come to the conclusion that it might be better to provide a few rituals of the sort that even a comparative new-comer could perform without coming to too much harm. Even if they did it back to front. A not infrequent occurrence. You would be surprised to learn how many people try to open a Temple with a closing pentagram. Some years ago my husband and I went to see a film entitled: “The Devil’s Rain”, billed as being more frightening than the “Exorcist”!! We spent our time practically rolling in the aisles as the star of the film solemnly made all the ritual gestures either upside down or back to front!
Full scale rituals do need a consecrated Temple, equipment, and a lot of know how. But the rituals I’m going to give you in this set of rites are all designed to bring about the maximum effect even with the minimum of experience. They are arranged to provide a solo ritual, a twosome, and a full group, ending with a ritual that can be used by one, two, three, or four people. They will follow the four main Traditions, all of which can be use by anyone even if they are not of the race from which the rituals originated.
The most important part of any ritual is its INTENTION. It is simply no use at all getting everything together and THEN deciding what you are going to do with it all. For the first of these rituals we will make it something that always needs attention (and seldom gets it): self-improvement. This is a solo ritual and it is just about as disaster proof as you can get.
One of the best things to encourage in oneself is organisation. It encompasses a lot of things, all of which will be useful in future occult training. The Tradition is Qabalistic, based on the Tree of Life, with which many of you will already be familiar. First we need to work out where we will be working on the Tree. Chesed is the seat of organisation with its emphasis on building, teaching etc. Its worlds are deep violet, deep blue, deep purple and blue flecked with yellow. These four worlds are all part of the ritual intention; they stand for the primal desire, i.e. your need for organisation, the imprint of this desire on the mental level, its imprint on the creative astral level and its attainment on the physical level. Among the many symbols of Chesed is the pyramid, and it is this symbol that we will use in the ritual itself. The God name of the Chesedic sphere is “EL”.
Now we need a list of equipment needed for the ritual itself. This is as follows: four lots of inexpensive crepe paper in violet, blue and purple, plus a small packet of the gummed circular pieces used in offices for colour coding and a small picture of a King on a Throne. If you can draw one this is best, for all magical equipment should be made by your hand. If you cannot draw well enough then the Emperor card from a Tarot pack will suffice. If you don’t have any then the King of Hearts from an ordinary pack of cards will do at a pinch. If you do use the Tarot card please remember it is only used as a means of focussing on the image of a King, you can forget for a moment the usual implications of the card. You will also need a sheet of stiff card in a deep shade of blue, a small photo of yourself, an ordinary nightlight such as used in a child’s bedroom, four blue candles and holders, a clean sheet and a new white handkerchief. Not a very expensive outlay.
To start, cut out a square of the deep violet paper about 18 inches (45 cm) square. Now make a smaller square in the deep blue, a smaller one still in the deep purple, and finally quite a small one in blue and dot it with the yellow gummed specks to make the blue flecked with yellow of Chesed in Assiah. Exact colours are not all that important, colour is a very personal thing and what is violet to one may not be violet to another, so go for what you personally think of as representing these colours. Now lay the four squares on top of one another so that a border of each colour is plainly visible all round. In the centre of the smallest square pin the picture of the throned King, and on top of that the photo of yourself. Now take the stiff card and cut out four triangles each with a base of 6 inches (15 cm), a depth of 4 inches (10 cm), and a side length of 5,75 inches (14,5 cm). Tape them together with sellotape and glue the whole pyramid onto the base of the same blue card.
Now you can start to plan for the ritual itself. Privacy is a most, so send the family out to the cinema, or just make sure they know you are NOT available for anything, and take the phone off the hook. If you have no special room for your use, the bedroom will do. Work on a growing moon phase until you have gained the experience and strength to cope with the adverse effects of a waning lunar influence. Lay the clean sheet on the floor, you will need at least a six foot square (1m80), if possible a little more. This sheet will represent your Temple, and over it you will erect the astral temple that will be the real sanctuary as far as the working is concerned. This is all you need apart from your own creative imagination. Place a small table in the centre of your Temple making sure that you can circle round it without having to step off the sheet or knocking anything off the table. Find the compass points and lightly mark them on the sheet with chalk. You will be working East to West and it is important to be correct in this. (Students living and working in Australia please not the special instructions at the end of the ritual).
Now place your Chesed ‘banner’ on the Eastern wall facing you, making sure that you can see it clearly. Cover the table top with the white handkerchief, in the middle of the altar in a holder or small saucer place the nightlight. This, when lit, symbolises the Light of the World without which no ritual is to be conducted in a Temple of any kind. At each corner of the altar place one of the blue candles in a holder, lastly the blue pyramid: your temple and altar are now ready for use. The most effective rituals are simple, direct to the point and not over long. A rite loaded with hour long invocations, and overmuch dramatic embellishment speak more to the ego than the Inner Planes, and owe more to a Hollywood musical than a magician of any standing. There are some that by their very nature need to be more elaborate than thee one we have here devised, but even these rarely last more than an hour and a half. Extended beyond that to any greater degree and a student unused to the forces generated during ritual will wilt and the good of the whole will be lost.
Cleanliness is important, so have a bath before starting your ritual, sprinkling the water with salt. Pay attention to the cleansing of the nails, something often neglected in preparation for a ceremony. Clean underwear, white if possible. What to wear over them is no problem, if you have clean nightwear in the appropriate colour, in this case blue, then use that. If you haven’t then anything you think might be comfortable and fitting. You will not get blasted by the powers that be for not having the right ‘gear’. Too much can be made of all the robes etc., it is the approach in the mind that matters. In a last resort just the clean underwear will suffice. You can have the most costly and elaborate of costumes and everything to go with them…and still make a hash of the whole thing. Intention is the prime requisite.
Place a chair inside the ‘Temple’ facing the wall on which you have pinned the Chesed banner. Light the central Light on the Altar, then light the candles from that centre light. Now you are ready to open your Temple. Moving clockwise circle the altar three times, feeling as you do so that you are tailing a line of light behind you. Start from the East and work too the South, West and North, then back to the East. Having made the three rounds face the East and raise the right hand. Extend the first two fingers in the manner of a priest blessing the congregation and make the Qabalistic Cross. Touch the forehead saying ÁTEH’, bring the fingers down to the solar plexus saying ‘MALKUTH’, touch the right shoulder ‘VE’GEBURAH’ the left shoulder ‘VE GEDULAH’, bring the two hands together and say ‘LA OLAHM Amen’. With the same hand extend towards the East and trace in the air before you a circle with an equal-armed cross in its centre saying: ÍN THE NAME OF ADONAI I OPEN THE EAST’, keeping the fingers pointing outwards move to the South and repeat the circle and the cross saying ÍN THE NAME OF ADONAI I OPEN THE SOUTH’, go to the West and again repeat the gesture and say ÍN THE NAME OF ADONAI I OPEN THE WEST’, lastly the North repeating the sign and the words opening the North. Now back to facing the East stand with your feet together, arms outstretched and say ‘IN THE NAME OF THE LIGHT OF THEWORLD AND UNDER THE GOD NAME OF EL I DECLARE THIS TEMPLE OPEN, THE INTENTION OF THE RITUAL TO BE THE AWAKENING WITHIN MY INNER BEING OF THE QUALITY OF ORGANISATION, ONE OF THE ATTRIBUTED OF CHESED’.
Taking care to move clockwise, go to your chair which will be facing the East on the far side of the altar and take up the God Form meditation position. Inner excitement may have tensed you up a little so relax the body and start the rhythmic breathing to a four-two-four pattern. Now, fix your attention on the banner on the wall, concentrate on it, this is important. Pick out each colour in turn until you come to the photo in the very middle of the banner. Now return to the first section of colour and start again. At the same time start to repeat your Christian name over and over as you do so. Keep looking at the colours and the pictures in rotation working from the violet to the innermost picture of yourself. Start to think of the deep violet colour as being the Atziluthic power of Chesed, the focus of the spiritual aspect of the Sephira, pouring down into the deep blue of the mental Briatic level on to the deep purple of the creative Yetziratic plane and into the flecked blue and yellow of the Sphere in Assiah. Feel all this power pouring down first into the ‘King’ and then finally into the picture of you, the recipient of the whole cascade of Cheseddic power. This small picture is becoming a symbol of your own inner Kingship, filled with the organising power and purpose of the fourth Sphere of the Tree of Life. Keep following this line of thought, repeating your name until the colours start to ‘flash’ and merge into one another. The power of the four worlds is now pouring down into that picture.
Still keeping this pattern of thought, rise and move round to the East turning to face the Altar. Standing with your arms outstretched close your eyes, head up and slightly tilted back you are ready for the next phase. Keeping the image of the now power-filled picture in your minds eye, exert your will and ‘pull’ that image down off the wall towards your heart centre. Use your imagination, and really ‘see’ it coming off the wall and down through the spinal column into the heart sphere. From there let the charged image change into a glowing blue flame that gradually fills the whole body. Start to repeat your name again, equating it with the blue radiance that is now awakening the inherent Chesedic qualities you have invoked for within your body and mind. Now pick up the pyramid and beaming from the heart centre, fill the symbol with the radiance glowing within you. Fill it right up, then with the imagination seal the four sides and the base with the sigil you used to open the temple. Replace it on the Altar. Take the Altar Light and lift it to the eye level saying; ‘Thus do I lift my heart, my mind and my soul to the Light. Let Thy will and mine be as one”. Replace the light and turn to the East , repeat the Qabalistic Cross as in the beginning of the ritual. Then moving from the East to the South and round repeat the tracing of the light sigils closing the quarters with the words: ‘IN THE NAME OF ADONAI I CLOSE etc.’. Back at the East face the Altar and give then spaced knocks on it saying: ‘IN THE NAME OF THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD I DECLARE THIS TEMPLE CLOSED AND THE RITE ENDED’. Walk in a reverse, anti-clockwise, direction three times rewinding the circle of light laid down at the beginning. Put out the blue candles and finally the centre light. Your ritual is complete.
I have simplified this ceremony right down, not even using the Archangelic Forms and Names, because you work under the names of GOD and the Light you are quite safe. Once you have completed the ritual do have something to eat and drink, even if it is only a biscuit. This helps to close down the psychic centres which must not be left open.. Before you sleep write down your impressions of the ceremony and any thoughts that come to you concerning it. You may of course adapt this to fit any and all of the other spheres of the Tree. To get the full effect of this ritual it should be performed once a week from the new moon to the full, better still on the first quarter of each month for a full tide, i.e. three months. Don’t expect results overnight, it takes time to change things. Remember it has to grow from the inner levels to the outer, expect to find your inner life getting organised first.
Those of you working in Australia should note some differences that are important. In your country the magnetism of the Earth flows in a different direction, so when you make the opening circles you will have to go ANTI-CLOCKWISE to open and CLOCKWISE to close. Instead of working from East to South, West and North, you will have to work East to North to West, to South. Thus you will follow the Earth current and the path of the Sun in your part of the world.
As you see, you can work a ritual without expensive equipment or a special room. These things are nice to have, but not essential. To be able to work ceremonial magic with little or nothing in the way of aids is the mark of a well-trained and highly efficient magician.