Monday, May 19, 2008

And now for something completely different: the sources of inspiration for Wiccan ritual in Golden Dawn and Thelema ritual

A lot of similar things have been written about this. The following is just my interpretation of how basic ritual structure in Wicca derives from the Pentagram rituals of the Golden Dawn and Crowley.

The first thing to be observed is that the casting of the circle and the calling of the quarters derives very heavily from the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. The idea that it's just a banishing rite is mistaken since the elements are invoked after they've been banished in order to restore balance to the area. Because of this it's the basic rite that ceremonial magicians do before a working, it essentially casts as circle, or can. But the presence of the Goddess and God, who are usually invoked in Wiccan ritual in order to be present can be derived from the LBRP as well.

The last part of the LBRP involves the visualization of a "Descending tongue of grace" and an "Ascending tongue of prayer", downward and upward pointing triangles, within the body of the person doing the rite, meeting in the middle. The descending flame is masculine while the ascending flame is feminine. Their union takes place in the area associated with the Sun on the Tree of Life diagram of the Kabbalah. It sort of crowns the work with the elements. The masculine flame going downward has its base on the two lower supernal sephiroth and ends on the sephiroth just above Malkuth, associated with the moon and the feminine. The ascending tongue of prayer has its base on the two sephiroth directly above Yesod, the sephiroth that the descending flame ends at, and has its top on the first sephiroth of Kether, the symbol of masculine creation. In Crowley's modification of the Kabbalistic cross the first gesture, at the head, is identified with Hadit, the point of conscious creative light infinitely small and contracted, while the second gesture, which touches the genitals, is identified with Nuit, the goddess of infinite space. The two forces meet at the sphere of Tiphareth, representing the crown and conquering child as well as the sun, with 'child' being something identified as a hermaphrodite or at least as either sex.

In the enacting of the ritual the power of the sun, of the new produced crowned and conquering child, unites the magician to the rest of the universe outside of the microcosm, which is where the energies of the elements as opposed to the planetary energies reside. The male and female basic powers could easily be called 'God' and 'Goddess', only in this scenario the God is the god of the sky and the Goddess is the Goddess of the earth, bringing forth the illuminating sun through their union.

So in the ritual of the Pentagram we have the four elements called and then the masculine or god force and the female or goddess force invoked. The only problem is that there's no equivalent of a sun god or crowned child connecting stars and earth in Wicca. Instead, throughout the wheel of the year the masculine and feminine forces interact, impregnating the Goddess, but the being the the Goddess gives birth to is a new version of the God who impregnated her and who has since died and gone to the underworld.

Crowley resolved this conflict by making an entire self sufficient cycle of positive and negative, of ascent from the underworld, height at noon, descent at sundown, and lowest point at the middle of the night, for Horus, the crowned and conquering child, that although interacting with Hadit and Nuit doesn't subsume them.

In the Great Rite of Wicca at Beltaine the impregnation of the Goddess by the God is done to create new life on the earth that will manifest through the harvest several months later that will in turn sustain the community. So in a way you could possibly say that the idea of a middle term and a concrete product from the creation of the middle term could be the life given to the earth generated from the interaction of the two deities, and that in less Wheel of the Year linked rituals the product of the symbolic Great Rite is the power of the humans that work with it and their goals and desires.

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