Rituals, invocations and sacred space
"There is a single main definition of the object of all magickal Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm. The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel; or, in the language of the Mysticism, Union with God." -Aleister Crowley
Setting sacred space and a great deal of ritual actions are ways to attune yourself on a greater reality than daily life.
A sacred oak, being the centre of the (ruines of the) ancient oracle of Zeus in Dodoni, Greece.
The universe consists of gigantic and complex patterns of energy in which all amplitudes and frequencies are represented. One meaning of the word Tantra is weaving! We are electro-magnetic beings, force-fields, both sending and receiving signals through thought, communication, body-language and action. Thus we constantly influence the energy-patterns in and around us. This is how we create our physical reality, since matter simply is a slowed down form of energy. If we spend time in a certain group of people, we connect our frequency with that group-energy. If we wish to understand someone's needs, we can try to tune in on that person to find out. If you feel very uncomfortable in the surroundings of a person or a place, you can be sure that your energy-pattern differs too much from the other(s) to meet on a deeper level.
A basic rule is that a positive attitude, thoughts and feelings of love, kindness, acceptance, patience, forgiveness, beauty, joy, etc. raise your frequency. Negative emotions like fear, anger, guilt, hatred, jealousy and self-pity lower your frequency, what results in feelings of discomfort and disease. The higher your frequencies the more you feel connected with the universe; the lower your frequencies the more you feel separated from an inner source of happiness, calmness, faith and strength.
The best way to raise your frequency - or your spiritual level - is to involve your heart in your thoughts and actions; this means accepting yourself and others as welcome children of the universe, and taking responsibility for your actions. The more we feel connected with our soul-self or God/Goddess, the greater our belief, open mindedness and inner knowing that we are Masters of the Universe capable of making the impossible come true. And the more we can focus on just one thing, instead of being torn between numerous thoughts ("what shall I cook tonight, wear tomorrow, how do I look, I should do this, how can I avoid that, what do they think of me" etc).
So if we choose to perform magick, in order to get a clear mind, inner calmness, a strong belief in our possibilities and a firm connection with the God/Goddess/Al-That-Is we try to reach a high energy-vibration.
The first thing to do is setting sacred space.
Make room inside or outside the house where you can be by yourself or only be together with others who join in your magick (so close the door, put the phone off the hook, make sure the children don't come in, etc).
Ofcourse a place in nature, near a rock, a stream or lake, or under an old tree would be ideal to feel a strong connection with the forces of nature. But in this crowded world it is quite difficult to find such a place and be there alone.
Therefore you might consider to create yourself a private corner in your house, a small table, a bookshelf, whatever, some place where it feels good to do your magick. Most probably at the same time this will become your meditation place. As Joseph Campbell states:
"Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again."
Decorate your sacred space the way you want it. You can make a small altar or keep it quite simple: maybe with just a collection of spiritual books, tarot cards and a candle. If you choose to make an altar you can use for instance a small table with a beautiful cloth over it, and place some of the following items on it:
pictures or statues of the gods and goddesses of any religion(s) you feel connected to
an incense-burner or burner for essential oils
crystals and gemstones
offerings you wish to make, like fruits, things you bake, art you make
whatever ritual tools that appeal to you, like a ritual sword, ritual knife
ritual musical instruments, like a tibetan bowl, shamanic drum, didgeridoo
symbols, like a pentacle, yin/yang, pyramid
your divination tools like tarot cards or runes
and anything else that has a special meaning to you, like your favourite teddy bear, things you find in nature (pieces of wood, shells) or the chain your deceased grandmother gave you
You might wish to decorate the wall with a mandala, a picture of dolphins, a rainbow, beautiful nature scenery, celestial globes, an inspirational text or a symbol. Maybe you even want to add a cd-player for meditation music.
If your sacred space is in a nature scenery it is practical to keep it simple; stick to a cloth to sit on, some candles, incense and maybe a ritual tool.
This physical sacred space is set up to enhance a mental and spiritual sacred space: room inside to align yourself with your true self, your inner life that speaks to you through your intuition and/or an inner guiding voice. We definitely want to hear the right voices, so before we start any ritual or any magickal act we invoke white spirits, Archangels, Gods or Goddesses, deceased family members you feel are helping you, or Universal Light, to help you to perform magick for the wellbeing and evolution of yourself and others, and for the healing of Mother Earth. State that only spirits who try to help you and guide you on your spiritual path are welcome here, and that all other beings must go away.
You can speak this invocation out loud or say it in your mind, and if you wish to use different words, please do so.
This invocation is also the starting point of an uplifted consciousness: open to the revelation of greater truths and temporary closed for the usual distractions. Now we are working on this and nothing else!
Rituals are a second way of easing into a higher state of consciousness.
Rituals are formed by several pre-determined actions of the magician; they can include certain gestures, actions, chants, recitations or invocations, visualizations, meditations, etc. You can use already existing rituals or make your own ones. You can always stick to the same rituals or choose to change them from time to time, according to your needs and ideas. You can use a lot of ritualism and symbolism in your magickal practice, or keep it at a mimimum, that's up to you.
I realize this is confusing.
To start with: do we really need rituals?
I think it is good to realize that rituals have two functions:
- to alter your state of conciousness towards meditativeness and humbleness towards the Creative Force, and the understanding that you are a co-creator which capability should be used with respect and responsibility
- to ensure that all magickal actions take place and that they take place in the right sequence.
For the second reason we do need rituals and we will use them quite naturally.
For the first reason I think we do not really need them, what means that you can keep them to the minimum of ensuring the right order of magickal actions, if…you are able to tune in spontaneously into that higher state of consciousness. If that is difficult (and some days it will turn out to be more difficult than other days) rituals will be very helpful to raise your vibration.
What really counts is the meaning a certain ritual has to you; if you understand and agree with the symbolism it contains, it will be a powerful ritual. If it are solely actions without inner meaning to you, the ritual will be absolutely powerless.
And that implies that it can be a very good thing to make your own rituals, since they contain the symbols, actions and tools that speak to you most. If you are doing magick with a partner - like in sex-magick - it can be really nice and joyful to make and agree both to your own rituals. Making your own rituals requires knowledge of the things you wish to use in the rituals, like the meaning of certain symbols, the properties of used crystals, tarot cards and colors, the qualities of incense or essential oils, etc. It may be more difficult than working with fixed rituals, but it is more creative and may be more fulfilling. Try whatever works for you!
Mandala of Avalokiteshvara
And to make it even more difficult: do you really need an altar with all that 'stuff 'on it? It is just like meditation: if you manage to make your life one big meditation (what means being present and non-judging in every moment, feeling connected with the Divine) you don't need meditation. If you can switch off the daily confusion in an instant and tune into a higher vibration whenever you decide to, you don't need an altar or sacred space, because then your daily life has become one big sacred space. For all the people who need more effort to interconnect their daily life with their sacred life I can recommend some sort of altar. An altar is a place of worshipping the god-form(s) you feel attracted to. In honoring the god(s)/goddess(es) we honor the divinity inside, experiencing that we are part of an infinite universe.
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