Ritual: Breaking The Cycle


Last weekend I was at “Gather” which is the unofficial name many folks use for the House Kheperu Open House. It is by far my favourite magickal convention; I literally start planning for the next year on my way home. It’s run by some friends of mine and I help out in some minor ways, and I’ve been attending and teaching there for over a decade. Like any convention there are some awesome folks, and some folks we wish weren’t around, but overall it’s probably my favourite crowd too. Magickal conventions often a niche, which is excellent, but creates a bit of an echo chamber in some ways, Gather though…Gather pulls people from everything. Vajrayana Buddhists, Zen Buddhists, Greek Polytheists, Norse Heathens, Satanists, Kemetic Pagans, Santeros, witches from pre-Gardnerian trads, atheists, neo-Pagans, Jewish Qabalists, O.T.O. and Golden Dawn folks, Christians, even a Catholic priest, and so much more. You have skill ranges from “I read a book on magick, and I’m curious” to “I literally wrote the book on this.” In terms of intelligence there more people with psychology and science degrees than I can shake a wand at. (Not that I believe degrees are the end all be all of intelligence, but these serve as good markers that I find lacking at a lot of other conventions. It’s also the only magickal convention that when people see me compulsively solving Rubik’s Cubes people ask if I have more, so they can do them too) Yet at Gather, everyone meshes, and we hold conversations across these huge divides to a degree I haven’t really seen at other events.

This Gather I ran two rituals, one solo and one with two friends, and I wanted to talk about the latter.

We called the ritual “Breaking the Cycle” and to be honest that title was (if I remember the conversation right) more or less a place holder until we thought of something better, and we never got back to that. Though we do have a new potential title I’ll discuss at the end. The idea was to allow people to release something from their past, embrace or work on something in their present, or move toward something in their future. Yes, that’s a bit vague, but when you’re doing large rituals broader goals that can be personalized are more likely to be useful.

The basic schema is the ritualists embody Past, Present, and Future, and open up a sacred space of wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey allowing us to work with the participants on things at any point in their timeline. In this ritual I was the Past. The sacred space is cast in a triangle, representing Past-Present-Future, rather than more traditional circles using elements/directions. The space casting idea is based upon one that appears in Casting Sacred Space, an excellent book on different methods of opening ritual space.

The style of ritual my friends and I work with in this case is a fairly spontaneous one in terms of speech. There is a lot of embodiment, and letting the force and the spirit or whatever talk through us, so the script I provide is only the loosest of indications of the type of things we might have said.

To perform this ritual you need three ritualists, three cauldrons, three sterno cans (or another source of fire that fits in the cauldrons), flash paper (enough small pieces for everyone, the size of a business card works), and pens.

Everyone has their piece of paper before the ritual begins, and pens are provided in the centre of the space.

Arrange the three cauldrons with the sterno cans lit at the edge of what will be the space, the ritual will be performed inside the triangle formed by the cans, so make sure they’re spaced far enough that all the participants can fit inside the triangle. To start with though all the participants are outside of the triangle, only the ritualists are inside it. Before starting the ritualists are to think of what it is they want to work with, and a single word to represent it, and then write this on their piece of flash paper. The person representing the Future selects something in the present they want to work on, the person who is the Present selects something in the past they want to let go of, and the person who is the Past selects something in the future they want to work toward.

The ritualists meet in the centre of the triangle of cauldrons and sync up their energy. In our shared tradition this is simply just holding hands and running energy in a circle between us, bringing us to a more harmonious state. The ritualists then go and stand at their cauldron, facing out from the triangle. The ritualists take a moment to connect to their Temportal Aspect, to root it in the cauldron, and invoke it into themselves. For me this involved me taking a moment to feel myself moving forward in time, and then throwing my mind down the stream the other way, I mentally linked myself to a past life, not because of any inherent trait of that life, but just to anchor myself into going backwards, to root myself in the Past and going that way.

Past: “Ancient of Days, Forger of Time. I call upon the Past, the Bedrock upon which everything stands. Let the Past move into the Present.” The embodiment of the Past turns to face the centre of the triangle.”

Present: “Life ever-birthing the World, Master of the Dancing Moment. I call upon the Present, the river which flows through all things. Let the Present open into the Future.” The embodiment of the Present turns to face the centre of the triangle.”

Future: “Dreaming Ones, Weaving Ones, Bright Child Unborn. I call upon the Future, the open sky in which all potential rests. Let the Future become the Past.” The embodiment of the Future turns to face the centre of the triangle.”

The three Times pass their traits in the triangle, connecting to the other Times, and creating a triangular flow and space.

Future then approaches Present.

Present: “What do you bring me?”
Future responds. Present takes the flash paper from Future and burns it. Future returns to their corner, and Present approaches Past.

Past: “What do you bring me?”
Present responds. Past takes the flash paper from Present and burns it. Present returns to their corner, and Past approaches Future.

Future: “What do you bring me?”
Past responds. Future takes the flash paper from Past and burns it. Past returns to their corner.

((That part of the ritual is designed to further reinforce the variant flow of time within the space. Up until this point everything has gone from Past to Present to Future, but here it goes from Future to Present to Past to introduce a counter-current into the space.))

Past: “The participants are now to enter the Triangle, through the space between Past and Present.”

The participants walk into the triangle, in single file, and spiral toward the centre of the triangle until everyone is in the space. We assigned someone beforehand to lead everyone in and out of the space, just to make it flow better.

Past leaving the cauldron circles the participants in the centre of the triangle: “I am the Past. Everything you have ever done resides in me. Every action that has made you who you are, I contain. I am the foundation upon which the present and future are built. Come to me to release your pain, your regrets, your patterns of thought. Give to me that which holds you back, that which keeps you in the past, not in your future or present. Through me find freedom from what has been.”

Past returns to their cauldron. Present then circles the participants: “I am the Present. Every moment you experience in me. I am the moment that is eternal. Your past is always behind you, your future is always ahead of you, but I am always here with you, in every moment. Come to me to build who you are, to shape your life and your self. In this moment of eternity I am here, give to me that which you want to embrace and nourish, or that which weighs you down. Through me find power in what is.”

Present returns to their cauldron. Future then circles the participants: “I am the Future. Everything that ever happened to you leads into me. I am what you will become, I can be beautiful and terrifying. Come to me to grow, to change, to become. Give to me your hopes and your dreams and I will bring them to you, let me know what you want and I’ll make it so. Through me find glory in potentials.

Future returns to their cauldron.

Present: “You’ve heard our Voices, now decide. Are you here to let something go, to embrace something, or strive toward something? Distill this idea into a single word and write it on your paper, pour your heart and energy into the paper, and then take it to the Time who rules it.

The participants write down their focus and take it to the Temporal Avatar. Each of us did this in a different way, I’ll describe mine.

The participant approaches the Past which is me. I held out one hand and took their paper from them, and with my other hand I held their hand, and clasped both with my hand holding the paper. Each person got a unique message from me at this point, what follows is made up, but vaguely like the things I said. “I am the Mother, and I am the Grave. As the Past I hold everything that occurred to you. As the Mother I love you, and as the Grave I can take this issue of yours and -“ I light their paper in the cauldron “and I can let this die so you are free.”

Everyone goes up to the appropriate Time and has their focus thrown into the cauldron.

Past: “You have touched your Past”
Present: “Your Present”
Future: “And your Future.”
Past: “Now you can be Free”
Present: “Now you can Grow”
Future: “Now you can Become. *Pause* We now ask that you leave the triangle through the space between Present and Future.”

People are led out of the space through that boundary. The Times uproot their Time from their cauldrons and walk to the centre of the triangle. Joining hands they release the Time from the space and themselves. ((This is fairly easy, the closer these Time traits are to each other the more likely they are to fall apart))

That was the ritual, in some ways very simple, very short, but it was also very potent. We had a few folks in tears, a few that took a bit to come down, but it was really beautiful. It also seems to be very effective. That ritual was performed on Saturday, I came home Monday night and had a job interview on Tuesday, and by Thursday I had started my job. My focus for the future was getting a job. My friend who was the Future is finishing up a highly specialized medical degree, and she loves her placement, unfortunately there are no jobs open at that place…well, there weren’t, as soon as she went back she was told someone just gave their two weeks, and everyone there wanted her to apply for the job. My friend who was the Present has been doing an externship at a place they enjoyed, similar story though, no room for them, but they found out the week they returned that a space would be opening up. Though those two weren’t focusing on jobs directly the opening of the career paths are connected to their focus. Two of the ritual participants also have gotten jobs in the week after the ritual. Of course, not all the results or focuses were job related, people have reported things moving forward in their various arenas.

Due to the amount of people getting jobs right after the ritual though we’re thinking of renaming it from “Breaking the Cycle” to “Do you want a job?”

I wanted to share that for two reasons. First I love Gather and the friends at it, so thought it would be interesting to give people some insight to the type of things that might happen there if you ever decide to check it out. Secondly I want to talk more about what I’m doing on this blog. I share techniques, I talk theory, but I want to post every once and a while with more of an example of “If you followed me around magickally, this is what you would have seen me do this week.” I find I learn just as much knowing what other people are doing, as I do from listening to more theorizing on magickal practices.


Consecrating Elixir


The following is a simplified variation of a Buddhist method for creating consecrated liquid (what I tongue-in-cheek refer to as “magick skull vodka”). Simplified and altered because there is some stuff that can’t be shared (oh, how mysterious) and other things that really only work in a Buddhist context (oh, how pretentious). Since it’s meant to be adapted for you own practice I’ll leave out some specifics to be worked out in your way.

This method is for creating a holy water that is dedicated to a specific figure, and by extension their sphere of influence. I’ll use the word god in this post, just because it’s easier than saying Buddha/Bodhisattva/God/Saint/Angel/Demon/whatever, but don’t think this is actually restricted just to a god. Really you can make this in a single sitting, but ideally it’s something that you will take a month to consecrate.

You will need:
A bowl*
A round mirror
Herbs/spices*** (Powdered)
Thin wooden sticks (Kabob sticks work great)

*Traditionally a skullcup, but I’ll assume most people don’t have a skull cup hanging around (boring). Just use a white bowl, or a bowl of the appropriate colour for the god

**Liquid: Personally I use vodka. There are a lot of reasons that are relevant in Buddhism on why to use alcohol. If you use alcohol it should be something of a high alcoholic content, and low in sugars. It’s going to sit out in a bowl for a month, and high alcoholic percent will keep it sterile, and low sugars will prevent it from spoiling and/or attracting fruit flies and the like. You can use water if it is more appropriate.

***Herbs/spices: Pick something that is appropriate by either herbal/magickal associations or colour. My practice uses chili powder or paprika for that deep red/rust colour.

Here is the stick frame on the skull cup

Here is the stick frame on the skull cup

Take the sticks and tie them into a shape that is appropriate to the god and of an appropriate size to place over the bowl to hold the mirror up. In my practice it’s a chöjung (a hexagram). If there isn’t an appropriate shape you can use I’d either use a triangle or hexagram, to symbolize manifesting the work into our reality, giving it form. Pour your liquid into the bowl, and place the stick frame on top.

With the mirror on top

With the mirror on top, stop judging my tile floor

Now take your mirror and make sure it’s clean. (There is a good Buddhist analogy about clean mirrors, but really this is just for hygiene) Now coat it with a thin layer of oil, just pour it on, tilt the mirror, nudge it with your finger until it’s completely covered. Sprinkle a layer of your spice on top of it, I use a small tea strainer to help shake it on more evenly, cover it thoroughly and then blow off the excess. Inscribe the seal, sigil, mandala, whatever of the god you’re working with onto the spice, so you can somewhat see the mirror through their image. Place this on top of the mirror, and you’re ready to go.

Here is an example I found online of the same set up. This is more ornate and shows all the offerings which I excluded in my picture.

Here is an example I found online of the same set up. This is more ornate and shows all the offerings which I excluded in my picture.

You might have to tweak how you work with the figure, because the Buddhist method has some specifics regarding self and front generation. Every night (or whenever) do your ritual for the god. In the Buddhist ritual I use, first I invoke the person into me, then I evoke them onto the mirror, then we do the ritual of offerings, and whatever is required.

What you should do is find a way that works for you to call whomever you’re working with onto the mirror. Think of it like their throne, or the base for whatever they’d sit/stand on. In a simplified Buddhist approach you can just visualize them sitting on the mirror, recall their appearance and traits, then when you have a good solid mental image of them actually call to the real god and get them to inhabit the visualization. Basically you’re making an energetic/mental receptacle that looks like them, to make it easier for them to be in your space and work with you.

Once they are present work with them how you see fit. Sing their praises, give them offerings, make your requests, negotiate with them, whatever. When you are done, thank them, but don’t dismiss them. You’re not forcing them to stay, but you’re not dismissing them either. You’re welcoming them into your sphere and life. The idea is that every day the energetic form becomes a little bit more solid and powerful. Every day you build on the previous, collecting more and more merit/blessing/energy/whateveryoucallit. Eventually you can build up a pretty powerful presence in the mirror. Every day when you do this, refresh your liquid, usually you just need a splash, you don’t want to lose it all to evaporation.

Traditionally this is done for a lunar month, new moon to new moon, but depending on purpose and practicality you can change that, though if you really want it to have some umph behind it, do it for at least two weeks.

When you’re done and ready to finish the consecration perform the rituals just as you have. Make the visualization, call the god into it, give the offering/praise/requests. Then when you’re done you dissolve everything. The simplest way to do this is to see the figure as made of liquid light, and let it lose cohesion. See the figure melt, the real them and the visualization (because there is no difference at this point) through the mirror into the liquid, purifying and transforming it. Spend some time making sure they’re “blended” well, that the energy you’ve built up over the month is now really in the liquid. Then take a knife, or a flat edge, and scrape the spices into the liquid, to carry that physical component of the blessing, after all your god or whatever has been sitting on that for a month, using it partially as their connection to your space.

Put the consecrated liquid in a bottle, and you’re ready to go. After a day or two you can strain the liquid if you don’t want it to have as much of the spice physically in it. (I do, but it’s a bit of a pain to let the vodka drip through a coffee filter.

There you have it, consecrated liquid to a specific figure, or purpose. While I trust folks out there to be inventive, I’ll probably post about things to do with it in a few days.

Sphere of Self


The Sphere of Self is a ritual from a magickal group I used to be a part of. (You could argue I’m still a part as I never left the Order, it just fizzled out.) This is pretty much the foundational ritual within our system, so while we used rituals and tech from other traditions this was the root ritual that was ours alone. Used on its own, or before meditation or other rituals it served as a zone rite, or a circle, or a banishing, whatever the term you use for such a ritual.

It combines (apparent) dualities and fills the space with their balance, but perhaps more importantly is it balances you between these dualities of matter and spirit, higher and lower, and of inner and outer. Which is why it can be performed on its own, as it works to balance the Selves on these concepts. This is based on the cosmology of the group, and while some of it is heavily routed in our triplicity model and symbols, it is still accessible and workable to others. It was a foundational ritual that “grew” with the practitioner becoming more detailed and complex as the practitioner grew learnt more of the system, and came to see some more of what was going on in the ritual. In writing this for public consumption my challenge was to explain it in a way that makes sense without the grounding in our symbol set, and deciding where on the spectrum of depth/complexity to discuss it. With no intended offence to my readers I weighted it toward the beginner end of the spectrum, falling just short of what would be explained in Second Sphere.

Stand facing the East with your feet shoulder width apart, hands at your sides. Reach down with your mind into the Earth, and draw up, you’re pulling up the energy or notion of physical reality, material existence, and all the chthonic and atavistic forces. Above your head see the endless Sky, the energy of spirit, divine reality, potential, and all the sacred and spiritual forces.

Drawing your hands up and out to the sides, with the energy from below, bring them together above your head, so you’ve traced a circle. The circle you’re drawing is not drawn with the hands, but a few feet out from them, so that the circle begins beneath your feet and extends an equal distance over your head, your heart is the centre of the circles you’ll draw. You can draw with your hands in any position you want, I was taught and prefer to have my pinkie and ring fingers against my palm, with my middle and pointer finger extended with my thumb placed between pointer and middle. As you do so say “From Earth to Sky.” You’re pulling this “lower” energy or concept of matter up, and when it reaches the “higher” sky energy or spirit they connect, and the higher energy flows down the circle you’ve drawn. It’s not about introducing the low to the high, but when they connect you’ve completed a circuit that both forces can flow and mingle on freely.

In the sky where your hands are is now the Sun. The Sun is not just the Sun, but it represents the highest reaches of your Soul, your True Will, your Orbit, your place in the Cosmos, it is your Soul purified. Beneath your feet is the Moon. The Moon likewise is not just the Moon, but it is the “base self,” the lower or mundane aspect of your being, the day-to-day consciousness, current incarnation, and the physical self.

(This section is described in terms of left and right hands, which hand you use to do what doesn’t matter, but it is more clear to explain the motions in terms of left and right hands) Reach into the Sun and then swing your left hand down in front of you, and the right behind you, turning your shoulders to the side (left forward, right back) as necessary to facilitate this movement, this will leave you facing your right. As you’re pulling down the Solar energy say “From Sun to Moon” and when your hands reach the lowest point of the arc you’ve connected the Solar energies, the Higher Self into the Lunar energies or Lower Self, and the Lunar current runs up the circle you’ve drawn. Again it’s a circuit that is formed the energies freely connect and mingle. You don’t stop here though, the right hand swings in front of your body, and the left behind, as your turn your shoulders (left back and right forward) so you are eventually facing your left. Bring your hands up until they are level with your shoulders.

Taking the Solar-Lunar current turn your shoulders (right back left forward) so that you trace a horizontal circle at shoulder height, continue until your left hand is where the right began, and the right is where the left began. Again this will leave you facing your right. As you trace the circle draw the Solar-Lunar current along until it connects with the Earth-Sky current and let them flow along this horizontal circle. As you’re doing this say “And bound by the Endless Horizon.” You are now standing in the centre of three circles drawn on the three axes.

You should be standing with your right arm reaching behind you and your left in front of you, torso turned to face your right. Draw your hands up above your head saying “I forge this Sphere” bring them together touching thumbs and pointer fingers to form and upward pointing triangle, as you bring your hands up untwist your body so you are facing forward again. This triangle gathers the combined energies from the ritual, stabilizing them into a single unit. Realize at this point that what you traced was the skeleton of a Sphere, the three circles spread together, becoming a sphere that contains what you have brought into this space. Bring the triangle down to centre on your third eye saying “of Will” and draw the energy in from the triangle into your third eye, spreading it down your central channel into your navel. Reach your arms out and up, bent at the elbows, to make an upward half circle palms facing in “and Self.” Here you are emulating the sign of the Highest, moving beyond the notions of Lower Self, and Higher Self, into the realm of Godself or Transpersonal Self. Take a moment to reach out with your mind, now that you’ve balanced yourself in the Space Between reach out and find what is Beyond, Above, and Within. Pull this connection, this Non-dual or third triplicity into the space between your hands and into your body.

Bring your arms down to cross over your chest “I am my Self, Always.” As you say Always let the combined energies of the Earth-Sky and Sun-Moon (Higher Self-Lower Self) expand to push the Sphere you’ve created out as far as you need for your ritual space.

There is a simple follow-up half-ritual that is used to expand and strengthen this farther, but I think this is sufficient for now. I’d love to hear people’s experiences with it, or comments/questions (explaining parts of it are hard I know), cause it’s hard to “translate” it out of our symbol set when so much of it is engrained in me.

Planetary Balancing Ritual Set


Our body/mind/spirit is maintained by a delicate and unique balance of forces; too little is just as bad as too much, and one imbalance leads to another. While this is a philosophy I gleaned from the notion of lüng (rlung) in Tibetan Buddhism I find it applies to other forces in our lives.

This philosophy bleeds a lot into my magickal work, which led me to “create” a ritual of Planetary Balancing, which is really just a sequence of existing planetary rituals for a specific end. I just sent this over to a friend who needed it and decided I’d post about it here. Our psyche and our lives are composed of a balancing act of planetary forces, we might not be aware of it all the time, but it’s always at play. The problem is –like the lüng in Tibetan Buddhism– these forces can become unbalanced, too much Saturn, not enough Venus, and this spirals your internal and external world out of control. It may start with one force, but it spreads, too little of one force leaves an “energy surplus” that has to then go elsewhere, then you continue trying to compensate for having too much or too little in certain areas and it just gets worse. It seems everything starts going wrong; your desires/impulses seem off, your focus is wrong, and the world around you just doesn’t want to cooperate, it has the same appearance as bad luck or a curse in many cases. This ritual is relatively easy to perform requiring time and a willingness to wake up early more than anything. It’s nothing star-shattering, but it’s useful.

Now I suppose if you were focused and astute you could simply work on the specific problem force, but I find most of the time if it is getting bad it is best to start fresh. Sometimes when your diet is out of whack and your body isn’t reacting well and it can be tricky to get your diet and body back to normal while your body is still struggling with whatever is wrong. What do you do? You fast, you detox. Eliminate everything, and slowly reintroduce it back into your life. This is the basic idea behind my Planetary Balancing. In regards to the process of the various rituals of the pentagrams and hexagrams I won’t give instructions on them, if you don’t know them, they’re everywhere online and in books.

I personally start this ritual on Saturday. Any day of the week would work, but I find the order of Saturn – Sun – Moon very effective to get things moving, this is related to my personal symbol set of the layers of Self. Dawn brings about the same planetary hour as the force of the day, in this case Day of Saturn, Hour of Saturn. At dawn perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and then the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram for the force of the day. The LBRP helps clear you out internally while the LBRH clears out the force of Saturn (in this case) in your life. The idea is to remove your internal mental/magickal detritus and the planetary detritus from you and your sphere/life. You’re flushing yourself and your world of these forces that may be unbalanced. Repeat this process for the entire week, obviously changing the planetary attribute with the day.

On the following Saturday (or whatever date you started on) wake up well before dawn and perform, in the same order as the week, all seven LBRP/LBRH. I haven’t tested this part to see if it is strictly necessary (which is unlike me I admit), but logistically to me it makes sense. Over the course of the week even though you’ve banished a force parts of it can begin to flow into your life again (nature abhors a vacuum), and the balance/compensation issues appear again. So I feel it is wise to give yourself and your sphere one final banishing of all the planetary forces.

Once dawn has arrived perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram followed by the appropriate Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram. I tested this and feel this is a better combination than two invoking rituals; the focus should be on invoking and reuniting with the planetary forces so the only invocation should be regarding these attributes. Again the LBRP clears out your internal detritus and establishes a baseline, a blank slate, or a vacuum even. Then you invoke the appropriate planetary force and since you are blank there is nothing to interfere with it flowing into you properly, nothing to disturb it or set it out of balance. Repeat this process for the entire week, again obviously changing the planetary attribute with the day.

On the following Saturday (or whenever) wake up for dawn and perform all seven LBRP/LIRH. Same as before, haven’t tried the ritual without it, but it makes logical sense to me. A week, in my experience, isn’t enough to totally unbalance a force, so your Saturn won’t be off-kilter by Sunday, but it is enough that things can warp a little and a little warp down the line can lead to a bigger instability. I think it’s helpful to give the planetary forces one last boost to balance them all out.

So over the course of two weeks you zero-out the planetary influences and slowly reintroduce them into your life, bringing them into balance. Now I’m sure you could achieve all this in less than two weeks, so why do I do it this way? For me at least, it is intense. I can’t say why it’s not like this when I do either LBRP-LBRH or LBRP-LIRH for other purposes, but this hits my life hard. Counter-intuitively the days I banish a planetary force are filled with those influences in positive active ways. I think it is as though my life is “using up” that last little bit of planetary fuel to clear it out. On the other hand the days I invoke a planetary force are filled with all sorts of little annoying mishaps related to the influences, like a series of retrogrades, even though the Sun and Moon don’t have retrogrades. It is as though the forces are kind of “clunky” when restarting from scratch. So you could try shortening it, but I find two weeks is a good processing period and spreads out the highs and lows that accompany this for me.

Flush out all the imbalanced forces introduce them back without the imbalance and instability and your mind and your life tend to reorganize. Personally I don’t do this often, maybe once a year, twice at absolute most, when I feel things are going wrong and there is no reason I can find for it. I perform this and by the end my life is back on track.

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