Almost all modern authors strongly recommend the use of Banishing Rituals prior to engaging in any magickal ritual. The word “banishing” in this concept is something of a misnomer since the purpose of this technique is to center the magician within a sacred space, banishing negative influences being a secondary effect of a banishing ritual.
Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley) writes:
“The first task of the magician in every ceremony is therefore to render his circle absolutely impregnable…If you leave even a single spirit within the circle, the effect of the conjuration will be entirely absorbed by it.”
Now that’s certainly definite enough. And a wonderful declamatory statement it is!
Crowley’s banishing rituals include The Star Ruby (Liber XXV) and The Star Sapphire (Liber XXXVI), although he assumes that his readers have an understanding of the most famous banishing ritual, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). One of the clearest descriptions of this can be found in Donald Michael Kraig’s “Modern Magick.” The LBRP and its derivatives involve invoking godforms or angels at the corners of the compass as protective agents.
Chaos Magicians, such as Peter Carroll, Phil Hine and Stephen Mace, also strongly suggest the use of banishing rituals, although their centering techniques are somewhat simpler. Phil Hine suggests that banishing rituals are necessary because they allow entry into altered states of consciousness, they dispel psychic debris, and the act to order the universe symbolically, allowing the magician to stand at the axis mundi. Peter Carroll writes that a well cosntructed banishing ritual enables the magician to:
“resist obsession if problems are encountered with dream experiences or with sigils becoming conscious.”
By the latter Carroll clearly is referring to the inadvertent creation of servitors through sigil techniques. It also has the advantage of having a basis in Spare’s theory of magick and the transformation of obsessional energy into organic energy.
Carroll, Hine and Mace all suggest magicians develop a glowing magickal barrier around them when engaged in ritual. Carroll and the IOT used the Gnostic Pentagram Ritual(GPR), a deconstruction of the LBRP, in magickal work.
Curiously I have not been able to discover if Austin Osman Spare used banishing rituals. The omission of such from his “Book of Pleasure” may quite likely be deliberate since he was certainly aware of them. I would suggest that Spare may have considered banishing rituals contrary to the free flow of magickal symbolism from the Deep Mind to the magician’s psyche, that is to say an artifact that may not be useful. But Spare’s magick, to this day, remains more radical, more controversial, and more audacious than most practiced by modern magicians.
Is banishing actually necessary? I do it in an abbreviated form, singing the vowels (Eeh-Aye-Aah-Oh-Uuh-Uuh-Oh-Aah-Aye Eeh) in a scale down and up while following, generally, the chakras with hand movements. I do it because I feel better after I do. Other magicians I know don’t banish at all, while others won’t leave their house without doing an LBRP. My banishing ritual takes a few seconds, can be done with groups, and is a deconstruction of the GPR. I also tend to use drumming, incense, and the strange sound of a Nepali tiger thigh flute to set the scene and move myself into an altered, magickal state of consciousness. I also use the LBRP, but almost never for private ritual. In public rituals, especially before audiences who may never have seen Ceremonial Magick before, the LBRP has a comforting, a soothing effect. After all, it does contain the end of the Lord’s Prayer and it does call the Archangels. I don’t usually disturb such people with the fact that Demons are sometimes classified as Angels by another name.
But if the aim of banishing is to create a sacred space and center the magician then perhaps this can be done just with a hand gesture, with a slight shift in consciousness, or perhaps a declaration like Jean Luc Picard’s “Make It So”!
Modern magickal writers, to my mind, seem terribly concerned over the sanity and well being of new or neophyte magicians. I’m not sure if this is motivated by fear of litigation, higher primate hierarchical motives, or genuine concern that new magicians will actually go crazy.
My suggestion is try it both ways. Do rituals without banishing and do rituals with banishing. Then do what you prefer. After all, if you get infected by some strange denizen of the Deep Mind because you didn’t bother to banish, you could always ask one of us to exorcise it. There’s always a hearty welcome at my house for demonic entities! I like them. I like to make them work for me, and I like to eat them. They always have a choice, and demon heart is a lot tastier than angel heart!
Free Belief and Vacuity
A technique explored by AO Spare and discussed at length by Stephen Mace but strangely absent from many other discussions of Chaos Magickal techniques is the state of mind called Free Belief by Mace, and generally referred to by Spare as the Neither-Neither principle.
“When the mind is nonplused capability to attempt the impossible becomes known.”
Spare’s magickal approach is reductionist. He wrote:
“Magic, the reduction of properties to simplicity, making them transmutable to utilize them afresh by direction, without capitalization, bearing fruit many times.”
Spare believed that acts of magick were most likely to succeed when the mind had attained a state in which duality had been extinguished through a process in which dualistic notions were systematically eliminated by counterpoising them against each other. He called this the Neither-Neither principle. Students of Yogic techniques will recognize this as the Neti-Neti meditation, a meditation in which the seeker questions his or her self-identity by discounting all that he or she is not. For example:
I am not my name.
I am not my body.
I am not my genetic structure.
I am not my mind
Mace gives a simple method for applying Spare’s technique:
“To apply this principle to conjuring, wait until you are absolutely positive something is true, then search for its opposite. When you find it, oppose it to your ‘truth” and let them annihilate one another as well they may. Any residue you should oppose to its opposite until your truth has been dismembered and the passion behind it converted into undirected energy-free belief.”
FireClown explains this in another way. According to his theory on the formation of entities, obsession naturally creates thought forms which soon achieve a form of independence and turn into demons. Now demons, and semi-detached parts of the magician’s psyche in general, do not wish to be re-assimilated, or destroyed. Consequently they will seek energy from any source in the magician’s psyche, but primarily from long running maladaptive sub-programs such as resentment towards one’s parents, one’s spouse, or ex-spouse, feelings of inferiority, or whatever tape loops are recurrent in the magician’s psyche. The generation of free belief presents the magician with a source of psychic energy, originating in obsession, that allows the actualization of magickal intentions. Without generating free belief the energy the magician summons is eaten by demons and used by them for their own self-perpetuation. Consequently the magickal act fails.
“When by the wish to believe-it is of necessity incompatible with an existing belief and is not realized through the inhibition of the organic belief-the negation of the wish, faith moves no mountains, not till it has removed itself.”
Or, if wishes were horses beggars would ride. Mere wishing is rarely sufficient if obsessional energy is at play. Simple spells, such as those used to get a table at a crowded restaurant, can succeed because of their simplicity, and because obsessional energy has not created demonic entities.
The bar against success in magick is the contradictory opinions the magician holds of his or her capacity to succeed. Spare suggests that this very process can be used by the magician to create a state of mind in which magick will work. Correct use of the Neither- Neither principle brings about the state Spare calls Vacuity, which is, as T.S.Eliot suggests, is
“A state of complete simplicity
Costing not less than everything.”
To return to servitors, then, once the servitor has been developed, and a banishing ritual performed, the magician must achieve a state of vacuity, a state in which free belief exists. One way to achieve this is the Neither-Neither. As Mace writes:
“By applying the Neither-Neither we can gut the meaningless convictions that obsess us every day and use the power released to cause the changes we desire.”
Peter Carroll calls this state of vacuity Gnosis. He wrote
“Methods of achieving gnosis can be divided into two types. In the inhibitory mode, the mind is progressively silenced until only a single object of concentration remains. In the excitatory mode, the mind is raised to a very high pitch of excitement while concentration on the objective is maintained. Strong stimulation eventually elicits a reflex inhibition and paralyzes all but the most central function-the object of concentration. Thus strong inhibition and strong excitation end up creating the same effect-the one-pointed consciousness, or gnosis.”
The Neither-Neither technique is primarily inhibitory, although, through the artificial manipulation of emotional states attached to obsessive energy there is no reason why the method could not produce an excitatory effect.
Achieving this state ensures that the servitor can be charged. Not achieving this state runs the risk that the care the magician has put into developing the servitor will come to nothing because the energy developed will end up feeding the magician’s unbound and perhaps unknown demons.
To continue with the example of the Psycho Zippy servitor I am creating to facilitate payments through U.P.S. and the Postal Service, I can create free belief by choosing a recurring tape from my own psyche. I know, for example, I still resent my father for sending me away to school in England. I believe he did it because he was jealous of my mother’s affection for me. I can counterpoint this belief by reminding myself that sending me to boarding school was not only very expensive for him but that he believed he was affording me an education that he had been denied due to the poverty of his parents. On the other hand I truly hated the institutionalized cruelty of English boarding school. I can counterpoint this with the fact that when I was old enough to enumerate the problems with the type of school to which he had sent me he removed me at once and placed in a school that was actually enlightened. I can continue in this way counterpoising one belief with a contrary argument until finally I am left with nothing to which the obsessive resentment can attach. At this point I am ready to charge the servitor. I have moved myself to a calm and one-pointed state of mind that is nevertheless suffused with psychic energy.
The Actual Launch
To recapitulate: I have created a sacred space by means of a banishing ritual. I have created the appropriate energy to charge the servitor by using the method of Free Belief. I am in a state of vacuity. At this point I can bring the image of Psycho Zippy to my mind and create it as a living form. I can visualize it racing, wraithlike, through the information systems of UPS and the US Postal Service. I can visualize it making the hands of postal workers touching my mail move just a bit faster, see it increasing their concentration and visual acuity, revving up their hand-eye-body coordination for the apparently arduous task of getting my checks back to me on time. I can then dispatch the servitor into the aether with a stern admonition to do my will or suffer the consequence of psychic dissolution.
In actual fact I did none of these things. Instead I hosted a ritual, an invocation of Baron Samedi, and before the invocation, but after the banishing, had the participants gaze at my rendering of Psycho Zippy. I then gave this rendering to a friend who was off to a Fire Performance Art that evening, but was unable to stay for the invocation. She had the rendering burned with a flame-thrower while a large group of onlookers chanted “Zippy, Zippy, Zippy.”
A few days later I turned my rendering of Zippy into labels which I have since placed in every package I ship. Zippy has, by and large, worked very well since then, and I would estimate that the speed of return payments has increased by about 30 per cent.
Zippy is a servitor with a material base, the laser printed image of him that sits on my alter and is reproduced on my labels. Although it is by no means necessary for servitors to have material bases, in this case, it seemed appropriate. Phil Hine in his User’s Guide gives as examples of material bases:
“rings, bottles, crystals, or a small metal figurine”
In a way Zippy can be termed a fetish servitor. I believe the image I have drawn of him to have magickal power, thus fulfilling the definition of fetish.
To give you another example of a fetish servitor, FireClown, who was having difficulty during job interviews, developed a bear servitor, which he created with a material base made out of wood. It looked something like a wood carved zuni bear. FireClown wore this amulet within his shirt during job interviews. He visualized the bear as a large, somewhat comical, somewhat threatening, form dancing behind him as he sat before his interviewers. He reported that his prospective employers became quite confused during the interviews, ceasing to pay attention to him, and frequently glancing behind him. His interviews were concluded rapidly and cordially and he shortly found himself employed.
Phil Hine also suggests that time is a factor to be considered in servitor design and creation, and suggests that the life cycle or periodicity of a servitor be included in its creation. I have not found this to be the case in my own work, but then this may just be because I tend to create servitors for perennial needs and use sigils or godforms for ad hoc situations where I must respond rapidly to a crisis or momentary desire.
Hine suggests a technique that my local Chaos group -the TAZ, New Orleans node of the Z(cluster)-has used successfully. He calls it “The Airburst Exercise.” In this technique for launching spells, including group sigils and servitors the participants in the ritual first develop an altered state of consciousness through whatever means they choose – chanting, breathing, group groping…whatever. They then visualize energy flowing to and from each other and finally crystallizing in a sphere within their circle. They visualize the sigil or servitor within the sphere. This sphere is then launched into the aether (perhaps after a countdown).
The TAZ, New Orleans group, in 1993, decided to celebrate Mardi Gras into perpetuity by launching a chaos satellite, which they named the Zerbat. This satellite was sent into geosynchronous orbit 30 miles above the spire of St. Louis Cathedral shortly before Mardi Gras of that year. The group visualized the satellite as a chaosphere with a top hat, smoking a cigar. On Mardi Gras Day since then members have distributed Reichian orgone collectors throughout the French Quarter, and, at 6 pm discharged these collectors to the Zerbat satellite through a group ritual performed in Jackson Square. The orgones are visualized as a stream of energy containing the revelry of Fat Tuesday in the Vieux Carre. The Zerbat send these streams of orgiastic energy to other satellites launched around the world by other groups. The energy is then received by magicians using satellite receivers (either images of such, old hubcaps, metal bowls or, for the brave, their computers) who use the orgones for their own magickal works. The Zerbat is, of course, a group servitor and was launched using a variation of Hine’s Airburst Exercise.
Other Methods to Launch Servitors
Stephen Mace, in his “Stealing the Fire from Heaven”, refers to another form of servitor, known as “The Magickal Child”. This is a technique described at length by Crowley (and forms the central theme of his turgid work of fiction “Moonchild”) in which a couple of magicians have intercourse to produce
“an astral being whose power is devoted to carrying out the purpose of the participants. It is empowered by the white heat of orgasm and embodied in the ‘elixer’ generated by intercourse. The participants must give this child a name in advance and also agree on its astral appearance, for it must fill their imaginations throughout the rite, until climax sets it in their mingled fluids.”
Mace continues with the usual thelemic caveat:
“Any loss of concentration upon it or independent thinking during copulation can be deadly, for then their child will be monster. The two participants must therefore agree on the symbolism they will use, making this formula much more relevant to traditional magick, where common imagery is easy to come by.”
I can’t help but ask what, in these days of protected sex, one must actually do to “mingle fluids”, but perhaps we shouldn’t go there. It does occur to me that this ritual is not too far removed from normal intercourse between would be parents anxious to conceive. Mace states that this is a heterosexual ritual, but I can see no reason why it would not be quite as effective, and, in the long run, probably a great deal less stressful to society as a whole, if it were not a same sex rite. After all, if the heterosexual couple does not use protection and a child is the issue of the ritual, the result might be an actual monstrous child, rather than a servitor. Oh, the puzzles entrenched in thelemic logic!
Possibly safer for all concerned by far is the ritual described by Mace that Austin Osman Spare used to create servitors, which he and Mace call, creating some confusion, “elementals”.
Mace describes a technique he asserts that Spare used called “The Earthenware Virgin.” This is a clay vessel with an opening that fits snugly around the sorcerer’s erect penis and into which he masturbates. At the bottom of the vessel is a sigil incorporating the attributes of the servitor. Needless to say this is a technique for male magicians, although I am certain that inventive female magicians could develop effective variations. On orgasm the magician charges the sigil and then buries it, doing the whole operation during the quarter moon (ask Mrs. Patterson why!)
“When the moon passes full, the wizard digs up this clay womb, replenishes the sperm and -‘while repeating suitable incantations’- pours it out as a libation on the ground. Then he reburies the urn.”
Sounds pretty raunchy to me, rather like a pornographic Clark Ashton Smith story. Does the sorcerer clean the vessel before ejaculating into it a second time, or does the grit add an ascetic tinge to the operation?
In any event Mace states
“Spare cautions that though this technique never fails, it is dangerous, and so he leaves much to be guessed.”
Rather too much in my opinion. What if the sorcerer gets the dimensions a little wrong? What if the sorcerer has been using Viagra? Will he get stuck? Then what? Never mind. Back to Mace:
“…one may suppose that the urn acts as a clay womb in which the wizard breeds a familiar spirit. Such help can be as risky as it is effective, however, for if the wizard is in any way unable to control himself, he will have an even harder time managing a semi-independent power such as this. He must always keep the initiative over it, never allow it any scope for independent action, and always maintain a strict separation between its form and his own. He must never invite it into himself.”
Mace underlines “never.”
This curious tendency among magicians from all traditions to warn of the dangers of magickal operations may be no more than stagecraft (“Kids, don’t try this at home!”), or perhaps it is more of the strange conservatism that magicians sometimes manifest. Mace’s comments seem, from my perspective, to be quite contradictory. If the semi-independent power is not completely autonomous how may one maintain “a strict separation?” I’m afraid I’m puzzled.
The Care and Feeding of Servitors
Servitors feed from the obsessional energies of the magician that created them. In some cases, vampiric servitors, for example, the servitor may be charged with feeding from the energies of the individual or entity that is its target, but even here, the magician that created it both launches it and controls it with his or her own obsessional energies. A book-finding servitor, for example, can rest dormant until the magician’s desire for a certain book sends it on its way.
Servitors that do not perform according to the magician’s desire need discipline. This can consist merely of a warning. On the other hand a servitor that consistently fails in its duties obviously needs to be recalled. Chaos magick is, after all, results oriented magick. Servitors can be dissipated by destroying their material base, by visualizing their dissolution, or by any other means the magician finds effective.
Servitors may be domiciled on the magician’s alter. I tend to return mine to a number of crystals strewn about my alter, or to some other material base there residing. Since servitors are semi-independent most authors caution against allowing them to exist in an uncontrolled form, since, at least in theory, they will continue to subsist off the life energies of the magician, which may, over a period of time, debilitate the sorcerer. Jaq. D. Hawkins, in her book, “Spirits of the Earth” has the following, fairly typical admonition about thought-form elementals (her name for servitors):
“these artificial entities have survival instincts. Once a thought form is created, it will generally continue to take spiritual energy from its creator until it is dissipated or reabsorbed, which is something which should be kept in mind when deciding to do this in the first place. The energy to sustain a single thought form may go unnoticed, but sending streams of thought forms off to do one’s bidding could sap one’s energy to depletion and lead to illness. It is always prudent to have a plan in place to reabsorb the entity, and therefore one’s own energy, once the purpose is accomplished.”
Again, the validity of this admonition has more to do with the magickal model to which the magician subscribes rather than natural law. Certainly magicians using the Spirit Model, the Energy Model, and even the Psychological Model to an extent, might agree. Magicians using the Information Model, in which the servitor is essentially self-replicating code programming energy, might disagree, since this Model does not require the magician to use his or her own life force, except perhaps to launch the servitor. Readers of this essay are advised to determine which paradigm, or which combination of paradigms they are using in a particular operation, and act accordingly in determining whether to reabsorb or dissipate the servitor.
Binding Demons, Elementals, and Other Entities
As stated above, this essay is primarily concerned with creating semi-independent entities out of the mind of the magician. However, it is possible to use the vast variety of independent entities that populate the Spirit Model as servitors. As indicated earlier, these entities tend to be less manageable for a variety of reasons. They are products of the group consciousness of Planet Earth, tend to be more self-willed (and consequently require more energy to be controlled) and are often contaminated by conflicting instructions placed upon them by prior sorcerers. However they may be used, particularly if the magician has a personal bond with the entity, through memory, propinquity, or a recognition of psychological characteristics within the magician that the entity in question also possesses. Some of these entities, however, are really godforms, or extrusions of such, and need to be handled in a quite different manner, but that’s a topic for another essay. I would encourage magicians wishing to use these entities to use lesser demons, minor elementals.
I do not intend to go into detail on the methods the magician can use to evoke and control these entities. The annals of magick are already full of extremely detailed instructions.
However, the question posed earlier, whether one can use a bound demon’s energy to reinforce personality elements that the magician wants to strengthen, should be answered.
Traditional ceremonial magicians, of course, habitually do this, summoning, for example, a demon of lust and charging it with the task of causing an object of his or her amorous attentions to fall in love with the sorcerer. In this case, from the viewpoint of the theory of servitor dynamics outlined in this essay, the magician has bound the demon of his own lust and converted it into a type of glamour attractive to the object of his infatuation.
The question was asked, however, by someone who wanted to use a personality defect as the energy source for a personality asset. To give an example, resentment towards one’s parents, if fed frequently enough (and isn’t it usually) creates demonic energy that can crystallize into a thought form. Can this demon can be bound and its energy then used to charge a servitor whose function is to increase the personality asset of, say, self-confidence? The process this would occur would be whereby, every time the magician feels resentment towards his or her parents, the energy from this resentment is directed towards the servitor whose task is to increase the magician’s self-confidence. The answer is that the energy from the resentment must be clarified, or filtered, as it were, before it can be of use to the character enhancing servitor. An effective method for doing this would be the Free Belief technique outlined above. Thus the energy would not be contaminated by the emotional charge of resentment, but be pure psychic material, suitable for feeding a servitor.
A final word about the therapeutic techniques of psychodynamic theory would be useful here since the above technique would be more properly classified as the use of servitors as a form of magickal psychotherapy.
Please direct comments, criticisms, rants, hurt feelings, or simple donations of love and cash to email@example.com VIA PAYPAL