By W. E. Butler
There are certain basic laws which underlie
the whole art of Ritual, and I want to give you some idea of
these laws, for Ritual performed without any knowledge of them
tends to be a hit-and-miss business at the best.
of all, let us see what the word "Ritual" means. According
to the dictionary, it is "a formal practice or custom".
This tells us very little, so we must supplement it by a further
definition. A "Rite" is a certain sequence of operations
linked together by a common object or idea. So, in theological
matters we speak of the "Roman Rite" or the "Anglican
Rite" when we are referring to the Holy Communion Services
of these Churches.
But the "Rite" may be very simple
and austere, or it may be very ornate and colourful depending
upon how the various operations of the Rite are carried out.
These various operations are the "ceremonial" employed
- lights, incense, vestments, processions, invocations etc.,
used in performing the Rite. So the Roman Rite (as it used to
be) is an example of a Rite using very ornate ceremonial, whilst
the Communion Service of the Baptists is an example of the same
Rite performed with the minimum of ceremonial.
Now, both Ritual (the acting out of a common
idea) and Ceremonial (the way in which the idea is acted out),
are arts which have to be learnt, if they are to be really effective,
and it is here that so many modern amateur magicians fall down.
They have very little idea as to how to approach the working
of a Rite, and even less knowledge of the ceremonial to be used.
Usually, they copy the ceremonial given in one or other of the
various magical Grimoires and blindly repeat the many mistakes
and blinds to be found in such instructions. Sometimes it so
happens that the experimenter possesses certain potentialities
which may unexpectedly show themselves during the performance
of such ceremonies, but because they are not understood by their
possessor, the result is sometimes drastic. Another person,
performing the same ceremony - again without knowledge - may
experience nothing, being protected by their own lack of magical
This being the case, it is easy to see why
the Custodians of the Mysteries are not keen to instruct ignorant
and foolish "dabblers" in the Magical Art. Do you
blame them? Remember, the consequences of such unwise instruction
would fall upon those who thus allowed the "fools to rush
in". I have seen a good deal of magical ceremonial in my
time, and have taken part in it - in both the East and the West
- and because of this, I am very wary of the majority of our
modern magicians, "whose name is legion, for they are many".
The trouble is that when, through foolish dabbling, they burn
their fingers, I am usually the one to whom they come running
for help and, although I usually try to do what I can to help
them, this occult First Aid is not my work in this incarnation.
Now I have said all this just to prepare the
ground for our serious study of ritual working. In this first
paper, I want to deal with what I believe to be the most important
aspect of any ritual working, but one which is very often entirely
overlooked. This is what is known as the "Magical Intention",
and upon this one factor, the whole of the magical ceremony
Again, what do we mean by the word "intention"?
The definition given is "design, purpose or deliberate
aim". Here the word "deliberate" helps us. It
indicates that the "intention" must be clear, definite
and purposeful mental action. "Woolly" vague thoughts
are of no value here. The intention must be clearly clothed
in the right mental forms, and the form thus produced must be
energised by the Will. It is this use of the will which transfers
a vague wish to do something into a strong intention to do it.
So we have these two aspects of our Magical
Intention, and as you will see, they conform to the Qabalistic
idea of the Complementarities - Form and Force. But there is
another aspect of our Intention, and that is our magical involvement
in it. For we must always remember that, although we employ
words, objects, gestures, and other outward things, yet the
true magical rite takes place within our own personalities.
It is for this reason that we assert in a definite form of words
that we invoke or evoke in accordance with our intention, and
that we are ready to take upon ourselves the responsibility
for so temporarily disturbing the balance of forces of the universe.
Always, we must acknowledge such responsibility and show ourselves
willing to bear the consequences of our use of the Magical Art.
Note that Balanced construction of the Banishing
Ritual of the Lesser Pentagram. If we intelligently use this
Ritual, then we shall have dealt with all three aspects of Magical
Intention in one of its forms at least. Or the Rosicrucian Banishing
Rite may be used and here again all three aspects of Intention
will be dealt with.
This preliminary Intention to perform our Magical
Work in accordance with the Divine will is, of course, of the
greatest value. There are those who say that such a ritual is
unnecessary, and a vague and sentimental aspiration to the Source
of all is sufficient. For them it may be - though my experience
of these people suggests otherwise.
There is an esoteric teaching that the highest
is mirrored in the lowest, and the Supreme Will is mirrored
in the dense physical Body of Malkuth in Assiah. So, therefore
we will now consider this physical body and consider what can
be done to make of it were perfect channel for the expression
of the Will aspect of the Eternal. For, as we have been speaking
of the Will behind our Intention, it will be helpful to our
ritual work if we try to make our physical body reinforce our
will. Here we are not talking about any ascetic practices, neither,
at the moment of any Yoga-like exercises. Instead we are going
to consider body poise and the ancient language of Mime. He
will also, study some of the psychological implications of Mime
for this ancient language speaks from our inner selves to bring
us to a knowledge of ourselves. Also, and this is very important,
it reveals to others through their own inner understanding of
it, what we are ourselves, even though we have tried to project
Have you ever taken time off to listen to your
body talking? It does talk, in several ways, and one of these
is the language of Mime. Not just the conscious assumption of
certain attitudes and movements, but the subconscious presentation
of these. So before we proceed to the exercises of conscious
Mime we will consider the expressions of subconscious Mime.
And first of all let us consider the physical body as a whole.
Sit in a comfortable chair, or lie flat on
a comfortable bed, and just regard your body. If your mind wanders
away, gently bring it back. Your intention at the moment is
to observe your body and its sensations. Having got into a comfortable
position, do not make any voluntary move. Have a watch or clock
where you can see it without having to move in any way. You
are going to perform this "exercise of self-regard"
for say, ten minutes. You will find that you may begin to itch
in some place or other. Do not scratch or move, but simply regard
this itch as dispassionately as you are doing your whole body.
Then you may feel the body muscles slackening off at some place
in the body. Don't take any action - just rest and continue
to observe the rise and fall of nervous tension. You will find
that as you do this exercise every day, there becomes evident
a definite relaxation and lowering of nervous tension. You can
start it as soon as you have finished reading this paper, and
the exercise may be done wherever you may be and at any time.
Nor is it necessary to do it only once each day. You can do
it at any time, whenever you have a chance. As your proficiency
increases, you may start to watch your sensations when doing
such things as bathing, washing, dressing, etc. Here the exercise
which I have described in one of my books as "thinking
boot-lace" can be very useful.
Now let me deal with the rationale of this
exercise, for simply to do it, though helpful, would not be
as helpful if you did it with a knowledge of how it works. What
is our definition of "Magic"? "Magic is the Art
of effecting changes in consciousness at will."
If you will draw a small circle on a sheet
of paper with a pair of compasses, you can consider this as
a symbol of your waking conscious mind. Now, around that small
circle draw a much larger circle. (If the small circle is one
inch across, let the larger circle be three inches across.)
Make this larger circle a dotted one, not a single line. This
larger circle represents your personal Unconscious and it is
shown dotted to indicate that it is not impervious, but that
influences from the Collective Unconscious can pass through
it and affect it.
As soon as you comrnence any definite occult
training, as you all have done, you have begun to enlarge the
area of your conscious mind - to make that little circle bigger.
Sensations of which you were ignorant will begin to infill your
consciousness, and to enlarge it. And this exercise of listening
to the body talking will enable these inner sensations to rise
up and express themselves in the sensations which you are observing
as you do your exercises. To this extent, therefore, you are
in this exercise effecting changes in consciousness at will.
And this, as you will remember, is our definition of Magic.
So this is a truly magical exercise and, as I personally can
vouch it does produce results.
At the moment, however, you cannot understand
the language - you cannot know what the Unconscious is trying
to tell you but, as you go on with the exercise, there will
slowly develop an intuitive knowledge of what is being told
you. For the personal Unconscious (or subconscious, if you prefer
the term) will build up for you a workable alphabet through
which the meaning of these sensations will be understood by
your conscious mind.
One final warning before we close this Instruction.
It is most important that there should always be a definite
beginning and a definite ending to any psychic or occult work.
This is to prevent any tendency to personality-splitting - a
tendency which may be latent within anyone. So a "Key-Word"
or "Opening Symbol" should be used.
You must make a solemn undertaking with
your inner self that, unless you use the Opening Symbol, you
will always remain in your ordinary waking state of mind. Only
when you use the Symbol with intention will you become open
on the Inner Planes. (You will note that the question of "intention"
again arises.) You must keep your agreement with you inner self
scrupulously, and never break it. Which means that you must
not, under any circumstances, do any esoteric work - even of
a minor kind - without using the Opening Symbol or Key-Word.
You can use any Symbol or Word which seems best to you but,
once you have chosen it, you must not alter it until you are
ready to take another major step in your work. It helps if the
Opening Symbol is visual, but also contains the Word. You can,
of course, whisper the word to yourself, or even repeat it mentally.
The Key Word may, of course, be a sentence of several words
- or a built up word from the initial letters of a sentence.
Here is such a Key-Word. The sentence from which is built is
levavi oculos meos which means "I will lift up my eyes",
and the Word is LOM. The Opening Symbol in this case could be
a Chalice of silver which you would hold up above your head
as though filling it from a downpouring stream. This is only
a suggestion but I found it very useful when I was working as
Officer of the West in the Lodge of the Mysteries.