Ritus Minor Olympicus ad Pentagrammo Expellendum

The Olympic Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram
which is
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram
Adapted to the Graeco-Roman Tradition
John Opsopaus

© 1995


This Olympic Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram is an adaptation of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to the Graeco-Roman Tradition. Such a “translation” is possible because the LBRP is an enactment in a Qabalistic framework of certain shamanic practices that are nearly universal. Once the underlying shamanic framework has been identified, it’s relatively straight-forward to reexpress the ritual in the terms of another tradition, such as the Graeco-Roman. Although there is no direct evidence that ancient Greeks used anything like the LBRP, it is nevertheless a basic shamanic technique for establishing sacred space around the Cosmic Axis (Eliade, Sham., 184-279), which must have been familiar, in some form, to ecstatic practitioners in ancient Greece and elsewhere. E.A.S. Butterworth has assembled compelling evidence for these practices in his books, The Tree at the Navel of the Earth and Some Traces of the Pre-Olympian World.

The Following fully annotated text makes clear which aspects of the ritual follow from Ancient Tradition, which come from more recent Magical Traditions, and which are a result of my speculation or arbitrary choice; such information is all too often missing from Neopagan reconstructions. The original LBRP can be found in Israel Regardie’s Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic (Vol. III, pp. 68-70, 94-95) and in many other works.

I. The Opening Tau Cross

i. Close thine eyes, and by thy breath fan thou the Fire, which awakeneth the Serpent and the Eagle. Allow thyself to grow beyond all bounds of space, until the Universe is within thee. Be thou as a God; be thou as a Goddess.

Controlled breathing is one kind of askêsis (practice, training; cf. {15} the Yoga practice of tapas) that can generate intense internal heat and awaken the Python (Kundalinî Serpent). The serpent and the eagle are two of the most common spirit guides. (Butterworth, Tree, 77, 88, 134-137, 198; Eliade, Yoga, 106-111; Eliade, Sham., 412-414) On the transformation of the Shaman to the Macranthropos (Giant), see Butterworth (Tree, 178) and Eliade (Yoga, 235-6). The Corpus Hermeticum (XI.20b) says: “If then thou dost not make thyself equal to the God, thou canst not know the God; for by like is like known. Leap thou clear of everything corporeal, and make thyself grow to a magnitude like that magnitude which is beyond measure; rise above all time, and become eternal; then wilt thou know the God.”

ij. Draw thou down the Fire of Heaven into thy Heart, and say:

“From Celestial Fire”
“Ab Igne Caelesti”
“Apo tou Ouraniou Puros”

I suggest the following gestures for the preceding step: Raise your arms into a horizontal, cross position, with palms up (in Celestial Invocation). Bring them together above your head, palm to palm, and then draw the Celestial Fire down to your heart, while saying “From Celestial Fire.”

The words to be spoken by the practitioner are given in English, Latin and Greek.

iij. Guide thou the bright Beam downward, until it stirreth the Subterranean Waters of the Abyss and bringeth Them to life; and while so doing, say thou:

“To Watery Abyss”
“Ad Aquosum Profundum”
“Eis tên Hudroessan Abusson”

Suggested gesture: Keep the palms together and move them down in front of the groin. Then separate the hands and hold them to the sides and slightly forward, with palms down (in Chthonic Invocation).

iv. Direct thou the beam from thy heart through thy left shoulder, until it stretcheth to the Moon, and say:

“By Way of Earth” {16}
“Via Terrena“
“Kat’ Hodon Chthonion”

Suggested gesture: Raise the left hand up to your chest; then extend your arm into horizontal position, with the palm forward.

v. Direct thou the beam from thy heart through thy right shoulder, until it stretcheth to the Sun, and say:

“By Way of Air”
“Via Aeria”
“Kat’ Hodon Aitherion”

Suggested gesture: Raise the right arm to the chest and then into a horizontal position, with forward palm.

The four termini of the cross correspond naturally to the four elements. Their use in this ritual is not anachronistic, since the four elements appear already in the writings of the Greek magician-philosopher Empedocles (c.495-435 BCE). There are also allusions to the four elements in fragments of Heraclutus’ book (DK 22B 31, 76). In the De Gen, & Cor. (Bk. II) of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) we have the canonical doctrine of the Four Elements and the Two Oppositions, which persists in the magical tradition. So the doctrine was established by the fourth century BCE and probably at least as early as the sixth. (See Kirk, Raven & Scofield, Chs VI, X.)

vi. Feel thou the Sacred Tau Cross that blazeth inside thee. Now cross thy arms over thy Heart, and say:

“Abiding always in the Center. So be it!”
“Semper in Medio manens. Esto!” or “Fiat!”
“En Omphalôi aei menôn” (masc.) or “menousa” (fem.) “Estô!”

Suggested gesture: Bring your arms together and cross them over your chest.

vij. As thou makest this gesture the Moon and Sun will stand together above thy head, nor will they move from there. Moon over Sun and Sun over Tau Cross; thou art the Holy Caduceus. Thou hast become the Center of the World, for the Cosmic Axis runneth through thy spine; on thy left hand standeth the Path of the Moon, and on thy right the Pat of the Sun, above thee shineth the Cosmic Pole, below thee lieth the Abyss. {17}

The original form of the Caduceus, Hermes’ wand of shamanic travel, was a Tau Cross supporting a solar disk and a lunar crescent, much like the familiar astrological sign for Mercury. See also John Dee’s description of his “Hieroglyphic Monad,” which places the Caduceus on a twofold symbol of the world (indeed, his diagram is a schematic of the astral configuration accomplished above). Compare also the Ankh. The Tau Cross is Thor’s Hammer, His vehicle of travel (recall how He throws it and hangs on). (Goldsmith, 40-43) At the World’s Navel the Sun and the Moon always stand stationary (Butterwirth, Tree 1, 28-9, 124-7).

viij. Thou standest upon the Sacred Mountain, the World Navel, under which hides the Watery Abyss. At thy back groweth the Tree of Life, which stretcheth over thy head, the Navel Cord, for the Mountain and Tree are the Cosmic Pillar, which supporteth the four Quarters of the heavens. From Calypso’s Cave between the Tree’s roots, which penetrate the Abyss, are the four springs, which flow to the four Quarters of the World, and they run with water, honey, milk and wine. Around the World Tree’s trunk coileth thrice and half again the Serpent. In the Cosmic Tree’s leaves percheth the Eagle of Zeus, guarding the Horn of Amalthea, from which Nectar floweth into the Libation Bowl, the Bountiful Breast, which overfloweth, raining Nectar on the World. Ambrosia floweth up the trunk of the Tree from the Deep. Illumination cometh from Above and Growth cometh from Below. The World Tree is the Tree of Destiny and Its leaves are the Book of Fate, for as they fall, so fall to earth the winged soulds of the folk, ever singing in its foliage.

ix. Divine Helen, Leto’s Daughter, with large breasts, liveth in the Bountiful Cosmic Tree, for she is Its Spirit; and Her Brothers, the Dioskouroi, DOns of Zeus [Dios Kouroi] the All-Shining [Pamphaês], the Heavenly Twins of Leto, command the Sacred Paths on either side. For Castor, who resideth underground, knoweth the Lunar Discipline and controlleth the Way of Descent, and Polydeuces, who liveth above, is Master of the Solar Discipline and controlleth the Way of Ascent.

The iconography is from Butterworth (Tree, water: 1, Clypso & four springs: 8-9,53, eagle & serpent: 11-2, coiled 3 1/2 times: 83, Amalthea: 43, 112, 118, nectar & ambrosia: 11, 43, 79, 111-2, woman of tree: passim, breasts: 1-2, Helen: 19, 25, 58-60, 102-6, Dioskouroi: 58-68, 102-3, All-shining: 60, 72) and Eliade (Sham., navel: 268, pillar: 261-4, mountain: 266-9, tree: 269-74, tree of life & destiny: 271-4, woman of tree: 272, eagle & snake: 273). For a description of a very similar scene, see Nonnos (Dionysiaca XL, 443-573). Other Goddesses, besides Helen, associated with the Middle Pillar include Artemis, Hecate, Cybele, Demeter, Tyche and Athena (Butterworth, Tree 102-107).

Butterworth (Tree, 113-114) argues that the Horn above the Cosmic Tree produces the Sacred Sound, the Om or Aum of Eastern Traditions, which is the mystic nourishment produced continually by the Sun. This sound can be produced by a keras (a goat or ram horn trumpet, Hebrew shofar), representing the Cornucopis or Horn of Amaltheia (the goat who nursed Zeus. Higgins (I.106-8) traces the connection between Sanscrit Om, Greek Omphê (the Voice of God), and Omphalos (the Navel), where oracles were delivered. Further, Donnegan (s.v. omphalos) records that some etymologists connect Omphalos with Ompê (Fruit of the Earth). Thus we have the navel as the place of mystical communion, in both sound and substance. (See also Godwin, Vowels, Ch. 8.)

The Snake entwined around the Middle Pillar (of three) is seen in Babylonian/Assyrian art. The Serpent is a symbol of Life, Sexuality and Sensuality (as anyone will understand who has ever allowed a Snake to explore them); it is associated with both sexes (with males by phallic association, with females by earth/water associations). The Snake also represents Wisdom, Power and Eternity, and was associated with Athena, Aesculapius, Hygeia and Hippocrates. (Black & Green, s.v. snakes; Goldsmith, VI)

The best-known Greek omphalic serpent is Puthôn (Python), a son of Gaia, who lived in a Cave by a Spring or wrapped around a Laurel Tree (N.B.), and was later the Oracular Serpent at Delphi and coiled around the Omphalos there. Celestial Apollo slew, not Puthôn, but Delphunê, a female womb-serpent (delphus womb) also at Delphi. (The Kundalinî Serpent is also female.) (Kerenyi, Gods, 26-28, 135-137)

The image of Three Pillars is common to many cultures, including the Egyptians, Jews, Hindus, Druids, Mayans and Incas. Frequently they are associated with a Triad of Gods, and with a Trio of Qualities such as Wisdom / Strength / Beauty, or Wisdom / Power / Goodness; recall the Three Pillars of the Qabalistic Tree of Life: Might (Geburah or Boaz), Mildness (Shekhinah) and Mercy (Hesed or Yachin). Mycenaean art frequently features Sacred Pillars and Trees, often in threes (see Evans, Myc. Tree & Pillar Cult). (Goldsmith IV, XIX) Parpola (1993) has explored in detail Assyrian origins of the Tree of Life.

The “Black Shaman” and “White Shaman,” which correspond to the Chthonic (Telluric) and Celestial (Uranian) Paths, are known {19} from many cultures; see Eliade (Sham., 184-189) for a discussion. There is in general no implication that the Black Shaman is evil and the White Shaman is good. (However we do have the Myth of Er in Plato's Republic, 614b & seq., wherein we have two Celestial Openings and Two Chasms in the Earth, but the Bad Souls go down to the left and the Good Souls go up to the right.) Recall also Raphael’s School of Athens, where we see Plato, on the observer’s left, pointing to the Heavens and Aristotle, on the observer’s right, indicating the Earth. Although there is no evidence either engaged in ecstatic practices, we still have the distinction between the Celestial and Chthonic Ways. Pairs of figures, with one pointing up and the other pointing down, are found in Egypt as early as the Sixth Dynasty (Butterworth, Tree, 46-47)

For the Dioskouroi and Helen see Butterworth (Tree III, V). The Dioskouroi were represented by the dokona, two pillars connected by two cross-beams (Burkert 213), which could easily symbolize the Two Ways on the Tree of Life. Burkert thinks it may have been used as a Gate of Initiation. Sometimes the Heavenly Twins are Herakles (Black) and Apollo (White).

It is interesting to note that in the ancient tradition there is no fixed association between the two sexes and the Two Ways. For example, we do not find that Celestial Gods associated with Priests and Chthonic Gods with Priestesses; there are numerous exceptions to both. Nor do we find that only women tread the Way of the Earth, or only men the Way of the Air. Often the Two Ways are associated with two males (the Dioskouroi) or two females (Ashtar and Ashtart = Ishtar). Finally there is an absence of association of positive qualities with one Way and negative qualities with the other. This is all in marked contrast to the Qabalistic Tree of Life, with its strong gender associations. Of course, we may choose to consider the Sun's side male and the Moon's side female, but there seems to be little ancient evidence for this in Graeco-Roman antiquity, and it may lead us toward unwarranted gender assumptions.

x. For learn thou this about the Way of Ascent. It is under the jurisdiction of Zeus, the Sky Shaker, who giveth fertilizing rain and nourishing sunlight. He holdeth the Lightning Bolt of Illumination, and His lightnig descendeth from the Sky. The Way of Ascent is to climb Scylla’s Mountain, which riseth into the clouds, nor can its peak ever be seen. Prometheus or Apollo will show thee the Way. Thy Helper in this journey is the Horse Pegasos, but also the Soaring Eagle, Dove and Goose. {20} Then wilt thou break through the Vault of the Heaven, and going through the Celestial Pole thou wilt ascend the Heavens. For this is the Way of Light, the Path of Day, the Sun’s Way, the Path of the Sage.

Like a shaman, Prometheus journeyed to Heaven to retrieve Celestial Fire in a hollow stem, that is, He gained the fiery heat of Kundalinî in the Susumnâ (Central Nadi). For this accomplishment He later suffered by being held to the Pillar of the Cosmic Mountain, which towers over the Abyss, and by being tortured by His guide animal, the Eagle (or Vulture). These are the pains of askêsis (training), for mystics must often subject themselves to suffering; it may also refer to the difficulty of arousing oneself from trance (Butterworth, Traces 137-145; Tree, 98; David-Neel, 141-166). (See Butterworth, Tree, 47-49, 189, 201-207; see below for Prometheus’ redemption.)

xi. And learn thou this about the Way of Descent. It is under the jurisdiction of Poseidon, the Earth Shaker, who giveth fresh water from springs, but also floods and earthquakes. He holdeth the Trident of Ecstasy and His lightning leapeth up from the Earth. The Way of Descent is by the precipice opposite Scylla’s cliff, which is the lower of the two, and from it groweth the Sacred Fig Tree. Climb thou down from this Tree to Charybdis, by which thou wilt be drawn into the Watery Abyss. Circe or Herakles will show thee the Way past the Dog and Gatekeeper. Thy Helper in this journey is the Serpent Python, but also the Raging Lion and Bull. Then wilt thou break through the Vaulr of the Abyss and, going down the Well, thou wilt descend through its levels. For this is the Way fo Darkness, the Path by Night, the Moon’s Way, the Path of the Mage.

The description of Scylla and Charybdis is in Odyssey XII.73-110. The Sacred Fig Tree (ficus religiosa) symbolizes Life, and so it is the Tree of Life, the Cosmic Tree. Its three-lobed leaves symbolize the male and its fruit the female. The Sign of the Fig, which can be seen as representing either the male or female genitalia, is still a common apotropaic (warding) sign around the Mediterranean. Recall also that the Buddha meditates, conducts rituals, and is enlightened beneath the Bodhi Tree (Tree of Knowledge). I need hardly mention the Serpent-entwined Tree of Knowledge by which both Eve and Adam are enlightened (to the displeasure of the ever-jealous Yahweh).

Prometheus is befriended by Black Shamans: Oceanus and His Daughters and Herakles. Herakles is a Black Shaman, as shown by the animal {21} form he adopts: the Lion. We recall also that He replaced Atlas (who is a Black Shaman, like His daughter Calypso, who lives at the Navel of the Sea) in His station at the Axis Mundi (eleventh labor). Herakles’ club is a dead limb from the Tree of Life (like Wotan’s spear), which grows on the cliff over Charybdis, the Way Down. He uses his bow and arrow — common symbols for askêsis — to slay the Eagle that torments Prometheus. Further, when Herakles went to get the Oxen of Geryon (tenth labor), he raised his internal heat by his askêsis (e.g. the tapas of yoga), and then took his bow (Mind) and shot his arrow (Self) at the Sun (Celestial Illumination). During this same Labor he raised the Twin Pillars (N.B.) of Herakles. (Butterworth, Tree, 9-10, 133-134, 201-207)

When he visits the cyclops Prometheus, Odysseus takes the twelve best of his companions, and Butterworth (Traces, 130; Tree, 167, 174-175) observes that a master with twelve disciples is a traditional size for covens and other mystical groups. According to Butterworth, the Kuklôpoi (Cyclopes), who are known as Sons of Poseidon, seem to be like Zen Masters. They see from their brow (the Ajñâ-Chakra) and visit the Underworld. Note that Kuklôops(Cyclops) derives from kukl-ôps = wheel-eyed = chakra-eyed (chakra means wheel); they are Giants (Macranthopoi), like all shamans. Recall that Odysseus visits the Cyclopes after his stop at the Land of the Lotus-Eaters. Odysseus and his comrades are unwilling to put up with the “soul-devouring” discipline of the Polyphemus, so they close his brow-eye with wine, and extinguish his illumination. When Odysseus called himself “Nobody” (Outis) he may have been mocking the Cyclopes practice of uniting their Ego with the World. They made the Keraunos (Thunderbolt), which they later turned over to Zeus; it represents the (originally Chthonic) powers symbolized by the “Blazing Blossom” (the Lotus) and perhaps Lightning issuing from the Earth. The Cyclopes were later the assistants of Hephaistos, the Master of the Fiery Discipline (cf., tapas). (Butterworth, Tree, 130-133, 172-178)

Interestingly, Pausanias (II.xxiv.3-4) describes an ancient wooden statue of Zeus at Argos, said to have been brought from Priam’s Troy, which shows Zeus with a Third Eye in His forehead. Although we normally associate Zeus with the Celestial rather than the Chthonic Path, Butterworth (Tree, 170-171, 177) observes that this figure represents Zeus Chrysaoreus, who rules both the Heavens and the Abyss (and so corresponds to both the Olympic {22} Zeus and Poseidon); this deity is equivalent to the mysterious Chrysaor, who emerged with Pegasus from the severed neck of Medusa, a shamanic figure. (Pausanias suggests that the Three Eyes correspond to the Three Worlds, which we may call Heaven, Earth and Abyss.)

xij. But the Wise know that the Way Up and teh Way Down are the same, for they are both on the Cosmic Pillar, and sometimes our task demandeth that we go up it, and sometimes it demandeth that we go down it. When duty calleth, we travel by day or night as is the need. Ask thou Hermes for guidance, for he frequenteth the Navel.

Heraclitus days (DK 22B 60), “The way up and down are one and the same.” At one time the two approaches where in conflict, but they were later reconciled by the Olympian Movement (Butterworth, Tree, 130). It is interesting that the Bull, Lion and eagle were all associated with the Serpent Power (Butterworth, Tree, 152-153), which recalls the Four Sacred Animals (Bull, Lion, Eagle, Man) of the later esoteric tradition. Perhaps originally the Four Sacred Animals were the Chthonic Bull and Lion, and the Celestial Eagle and Winged Horse.

Shaman staffs, such as Hermes’ caduceus, often have a cross bar. The staff probably symbolizes the Tree of Life, and the crossbar its branches (Butterworth, Traces, 150). Hermes is, of course, the Psychopompos, the Spirit Guide, and is found in the vicinity of both Calypso’s and Circe’s caves at the Navel (Butterworth, Tree, 118). He visits with equal ease the Heavens and Hades.

Orphic grave tablets tell the “Child of Earth and Heaven” that to the left and right are both a cypress-tree and a well. On the supplicant’s left is a white-cypress, associated with day and the Sun; to the right, a dark cypress, associated with the Moon. (Butterworth, Tree, 215-216)

The order of the Tau Cross is: Fiery Pillar (top-bottom, center), Moon (left), Sun (right), back to center. Similarly, in meditating on the triangle in the pericarp of the Sahasrara Chakra, the Yogi begins with the Fire Bindu in the center, follows the Line of Fire to the Moon Bindu (left), follows the Line of the Moon to the Sun Bindu (right), and follows the line of the Sun back to the Fire Bindu (Avalon 490-491). See Butterworth (Tree, pp. 175, 215-223, pll. xxix-xxxi). {23}

There is a problem telling the orientation of right and left. Butterworth (Tree, 216-7) claims that when you look at the Tree, the Moon Path is on the right and the Sun Path is on the left, but that taking the Tree within you puts the Moon Path on the left and the Sun Path on the right. This agrees with the orientation of Hatha Yoga, which is described from the yogi’s viewpoint and puts the Ida-nâdî (Moon Channel) on the Left and the Pingâlâ-nâdî (Sun Channel) on the Right. (Actually the Sun and Moon Channels spiral around Sushumnâ — the Spine — but the Moon Channel terminates at the left nostril and the Sun Channel at the right. Kundalinî Yoga may have been known in western Asia as early as the Second or even Third Millennium BCE; Butterworth, Tree, 166-167, 192) Butterworth also defends this orientation with artifacts, but admits that in some cases it’s not obvious what is the front and what is the back.

There are similar problems with Qabalah depending on whether the Tree is faced externally or visualized internally. Regardie (III.1) says that to the observer, the Pillar of Mercy is on the right and the Pillar of Strength on the left, but that when you internalize the Tree, your right side becomes Strength and your left Mercy. On the other hand, Poncé (137-141) argues that the Tree is properly applied to the Primal Man facing away from the observer, so that on the left is the Pillar of Strength (Dark, Passive) and on the right the Pillar of Mercy (Light, Active).

In the foregoing I have placed left and right so that the system of correspondences is consistent with Yoga as interpreted by Butterworth and with the Qabalah as interpreted by Poncé. This is also consistent with Jung’s studies, which put the Sun, corresponding to the conscious mind, on the right, and the moon, corresponding to the unconcsious, on the left (Jung, P&A, 127, 163, 171, 186). So in the Tau Cross the Moon/Earth Path is on the practitioner’s left and the Sun/Air Path is on the right. In this way the order of the Tau Cross (Heaven, Abyss, Moon/L, Sun/R) agrees with the triangle in the pericarp of the Sahasrara-chakra (Fire Bindu, Moon Bindu, Sun Bindu). Fortunately, this orientation also preserves the order of the Qabalistic Cross in the Golden Dawn tradition (Kether, Malkuth, Gedulah/L, Geburah/R), since it’s from the perspective of an observer facing an altar (Regardie III.94); though Regardie (III.2), inconsistently, and other sources gives Geburah/R, Gedulah/L, and still others have Gedulah/R, Geburah/L. {24}

Finally, this orientation agrees with a Greek tradition that distinguished Left and Right Gods; the Left Gods are the Di Inferi (Lower Gods) and the Right Gods are the Di Superi (Upper Gods), though apparently the Romans followed the Etruscans in reversing the associations (Weinstock 1946). In any case, I don’t consider the issue settled, and readers should conduct their own experiements; all the correspondences stay the same, just switch “left” and “right.”

II. Pentagrams of the Quarters

xiij. This is the way thou wilt draw the Shining Pentagrams that wardeth each Quarter. The first ray goeth fro the lower left to the top, and each ray continueth from the last. And as thou makest each ray, sing a letter of the name of the Pentagram.

xiv(a). In Greek the Pentagram hath the name HUGIEIA (UGIEIA), which meaneth Soundness or Wholeness, so sing thou the sounds:

“Huuuuuuu, Gggggggg, Iiiiiiih, Aaaaaaay, Aaaaaaah.”

xiv(b). In Latin the Pentagram hath the name SALUS, which meaneth Soundness or Welfare, so sing thou the sounds:

“Ssssssss, Aaaaaaah, Llllllll, Uuuuuuuu, Ssssssss.”

xiv(c). Though in English we label the Pentagram WHOLE or SOUND, its spoken name is WHOLENESS, so sing thou the sounds:

“Hooooooo, Llllllll, Nnnnnnnn, Eeeeeeeh, Ssssssss.”

The Pentagram and Hexagram were both used for protection in ancient Greece (V cent. BCE). The Pentagram appears in the earliest writing of Mesopotamia (precuneiform pictographic writing), c. 3000 BCE, as the Sumerian sign UB. Its meaning in the cuneiform period (by 2600 BCE) seems to be a Heavenly Quarter and also the four Directions (forward, backward, left, right); the fifth direction was “above.” The four directions corresponded to the planets Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn, with Venus the Queen of Heaven above. See De Vogel (App. A) and Black & Green (s.v. Star).

Pythagoras may have become acquainted with the Pentagram during his sojourns in Egypt and Babylon (perhaps 554-533 BCE); {25} in any case the Pythagorean Brothers used it as a sign of recognition (Iambl., Vita Pyth. XXXIII). They called the Pentagram “Hugieia,” which is usually translated “Health,” but has more the sense of Soundness or Wholeness, and was still used with this meaning in aracelsus’ time (c.1493-1541). In fact Bonner (p. 177) notes that Hugieia is a fairly common inscription on amulets. The Pythagoreans also used "Be sound/whole!" (Hugiaine) as their greeting (Scholia in Aristoph., Nubes 609; Lucian, Pro lapsu 5; LSJ, s.vv. hugiainô, hugieia).

The Pythagoreans apparently labeled the points or angles of the Pentagram with the Greek letters UGIEIA. Allman (p. 26) shows them on the points arranged counterclockwise from the top thus: U, G, I, EI, A. The fact that UGIEIA has six letters is an inconvenience, and Allman observes that the Pythagoreans wrote upsilon, gamma, iota, theta, alpha at the points, perhaps because an adjacent epsilon and iota look something like a theta. Chasles (1875, p. 478-479) likewise lists these five letters, quoting Alstedius (Encyc. univ., 1620) and Kircher (Arithmologia, 1665). Agrippa’s De occulta philosophia (Lib. III, cap. xxxi; see also Agrippa/Tyson, 564-5) shows an inverted pentagram labeled in the angles clockwise from the top. The fourth letter looks something like ‘q’; its appearance is consistent with a common medieval abbraviation for EI. Hall (p. 100 and Biedermann (p. 263) reproduce a figure from Vincenzo Cartari’s Le Imagini degli Dei degli Antichi (Venezia 1609, Padova 1626, etc.), which shows a Pythagorean signet ring bearing an upright pentagram labeled with both Hugieia and Slua. The Greek letters in UGEIA (a late, 2nd cent. BCE, spelling of Hugieia) are clockwise in the points, beginning witht he upper-left arm. The Roman letters SLAUS are clockwise in the angles, beginning witht he lower-left angle.

The singing of the sounds, especially the vowel sounds, creates compact entities in the Spectral Realm. The longer they are continued, the denser (more compact) their Spectra. Their Power is collocated in the Spectral Realm with that of all similar sounds, no matter when they were made, or where. Thus connections and causal relations are established across Space and Time. This is a consequence of the Mathematics of Harmony (Fourier Analysis).

I’ve kept the usual Earth Banishing Pentagram (lower-left to top) for this “Lesser” ritual, though I know of no ancient warrant for the usual association of the Five Elements with the points of the Pentagram. However, the letters Hugieia suggest and arrangement {26} that respects the ancient opposition of the elements (water opposed to fire, earth opposed to air): (H)Udôr = water, Gaia = earth, Idea = idea or form (spirit), Heilé = the sun's heat or warmth (fire), Aêr = air. In this case, it makes sense to start lettering at the lower-left so that I = spirit is in the uppermost point.

xv. Now go thou to the East and make the Pentagram. As thou callest:

“Jupiter” or “Zeus”

hurl thou His Thunderbolt through the center of the Pentagram, and see it fly away to Infinity.

Zeus’s Keraunos (Thunderbolt) is a complex symbol, nearly identical in shape to the Tibetan dorje (Hindu ) thunderbolt. The round center represents the World Navel. The radiate branches at each end represent the two halves of the World Tree, the upper Branches growing from the Earth up to the four quarters of the Heavens, and the lower Roots growing from the Earth down to the four quarters of the Abyss. Thus it represents the power of the Twofold Path for Growth and Illumination. The center (cf. the Lotus or Bindu) represents the Earthly potential for Growth out of the Void, while the ends represent the power of Celestial and Chthonic Lightning, both illuminating and destructive. The reconciliation of the Celestial and Chthonic Paths was achieved in the 9th cent. BCE by the Olympian Movement (Butterworth, Tree, 130-133), and the Lightning + Flower combination is thereafter common in Greek art. See Butterworth (Tree, 205, 224-225) on the Keraunos as an “efflorescence of flame.” As such it is an androgynous symbol (like the Caduceus), for the Flame (or Jewel) is masculine and the Water (or Lotus) is feminine (Goldsmith 8-9). The Keraunos was made for Zeus by the Kuklôpoi (Cyclopes), Underworld Masters of Fire, who are Giants who see from their brows (cf. the “third eye” or Ajñâ-Chakra). (See Butterworth, Tree, VI, IX; Goldsmith 100-105, 175.)

Iona / Hêra might also be appropriate for the East (She is not an Earth Goddess), in which case you should throw Her Cuckoo-bearing Sceptre, which represents the Celestial Spirit nesting on the top of the World Tree. (Zeus first came to Hera in the form of a Cuckoo.) {27}

xvi. Now with thy Staff forge the Fiery Ring, drawing if from the center of the Eastern Pentagram and stretching it to the South, where thou wilt make another Pentagram, but call:

“Vesta” or “Hestia”
“Vesta” [pronounced “WES-ta”

and throw thou Her Burning Circle.

Hestia’s Burning Circle represents the Protection of the hearth Fire or Camp Fire. The Eternal Fire of Hestia / Vesta represents Eternal Life (Oxf. Cl. Dict., s.v. Hestia).

xvij. Then to the West:

“Neptune” or “Poseidon”
“Neptune” [pronounced “Nep-TU-neh”]

Hurl thou His Trident.

Poseidon’s Trident represents the Cosmic Tree, as shown by the crossbar below its prongs (Butterworth, Traces, 150), which in turn represent the Tree’ three roots: the Sun, Moon, and Fire Channels (Pingalâ, Ida-Nâdî, Susumnâ) in which Prâna moves (Butterworth, Tree, X).

xviij. Then to the North:

“Ceres” or “Demeter”
“Ceres” [pron. “KE-res”]

Throw thou Her Torch.

This is the Torch by which Demeter tried to find Persephone; it illuminated Her odyssey, during which She rode in a chariot conducted by winged serpents.

Pluto / Haidê would also be appropriate for the North, in which case his helmet of Invisibility should be projected through the Pentagram. Hades’ name may mean “the Unseen”: “(H)Aidê” < “a + ideês” (LSJ s.v. Haidês). {28}

xix. Then draw thou the Fiery Ring back to its beginning, so it burneth on every side.

The foregoing invokes Deities of the First Olympian Generation: Jupiter, Vesta, Neptune, and Ceres are all children of Saturn and Ops, as are Pluto and Juno.

When projecting the four weapons through the Pentagrams, it’s helpful to make an appropriate gesture: as though throwing a dart for Zeus’s Keraunos, a frisbee for Hestia’s Burning Ring, a javelin for Poseidon’s Trident, and a knife for Demeter’s Torch.

III. Wards of the Quarters

xx. Now raise again thy arms so thou art the Sacred Tau and then will the Fiery Ring expand above and below until thou art surrounded by the Glowing Sphere. Focusing thine attention before thee(Eastward), say:

“Before, Apollo”
“Ante, Apollo”
“Prosthen, Apollon”

Apollo will appear before thee in all His glory, Bow in hand facing thee. Then will He turn His back to watch the Eastern Quarter.

Mercurie [pronounced Mer-CU-ri-eh] / Hermê, with His Caduceus, would also be appropriate for the East.

xxi. West: Focusing thine attention behind thee, say:

“Behind, Diana/Artemis”
“Post, Diana”
“Opisthen, Artemis”

Artemis will appear with Her Bow. Then will She turn away to watch the West.

Apollo and Artemis, the “Shining Twins” form a complementary pair for the Wards of the East and West.

Venus / Aphroditê, arising from the waves and holding Her Zona (Girdle), would also be appropriate for the West.

xxij. South: Focusing thine attention to thy right, say: {29}

“On the right, Minerva/Athena”
“Dextra, Minerva” [pronounced “Mi-NER-wa”]
“Epidexia, Athêna.”

Athena will appear with Her Aegis and Spear, and turn to watch the South.

Mars / Ares (with Shield and Sword) or Volcane [pronounced Wol-KAH-neh] / Hêphaiste (with Hammer and Tongs) would also be appropriate for the South; Mars was also an Italic vegetation God, and so might be evoked in the North.

xxiij. North: Focusing thine attention to thy left, say:

“On the left, Bacchus/Dionysos”
“Sinistra, Bacche”
“Ep’ aristera, Dionuse”

Dionysus will appear with His Thyrsus, and then turn to watch the North.

In addition to being a vegetation God, Dionysos is associated with the Nether Reagions, which are in the North. Also, Dionysos was born from Zeus’s thigh, much like Athena, the War of the South (who was born from Zeus’s thigh or brow).

Pan, with His Pipes, would also be apprioriate for the North. Pan may seem an unlikely Ward, but when Athens honored Him and asked Him to help defend then from the Persians, He did so (Herodt. VI.105.2-3).

xiv. In thy mind, thank all the Wards of the Quarters for Their protection.

The foregoing invokes Deities of the Second Olympian Generation: Apollo, Mercury, Diana, Venus (according to the Iliad), Minerva, Mars, Vulcan, and Bacchus are all offspringof Jupiter and/or Juno. Pan is a son of Mercury. For Wards, I’ve tried to select Deities that are protectors. On the other hand, I see no reason to limit oneself to a fixed set of Wards; there are many Gods and Goddesses that might be invoked in particular circumstances; also I would expect the practitioners to call upon any Gods with whom they have a special relationship. (Note that the Gods should be called in the vocative case in Greek or Latin.)

The Gods suggested above correspond approximatesly to teh archangels usually invoked in teh LBRP. East: Raphael (air, {30} eagle), who presides over human spirit (cf. Apollo, Hermes). West: Gabriel (water, man), who presides over Paradise & cherubim (cf. Aphrodite, Artemis). South: Michael (fire, lion), who is militant, and presides over human virtue (cf. Athena, Mars). North: Uriel (earth, calf), who presides over clamor and terror (cf. Pan, Dionysos). See also Spence (Enc. Occult., s.v. Angels), and Barrett (Magus, IV.i.112, ii.135).

IV. The Macrocosm in the Microcosm

xxv. Spread thy feet apart and assume thou the form of the Sacred Pentagram, and when it flameth around thee, say:

“For around flameth the Pentagram.”
“Nam circa flagrat Pentagrammon.”
“Peri men gar phlegei to Pentagrammon.”

xxvi. When the Sacred Hexagram shineth within thee, say:

“And within shineth the Six-rayed Star.”
“Atque inta lucet Stella Sexradiata.”
“Entos de lampei ho Hexaktinôtos Astêr.”

Traditionally the Hexagram symbolizes the Unity of Opposites and the Balance of the Four Elements. The four elements result from the opposition of activity (Fire, Forma, Sulphur, Spiritus) and receptivity (Water, Materia, Quicksilver, Anima). In alchemical terms, it is the fluid fire) water makes fire nonburning, and so air-like) and fiery fluid (fire makes water stable, and so earth-like). In other words, the Celestial Fire stabilizes (draws up) the Watery Abyss to yield the Way of the Earth, and the Watery Abyss tames (draws down) the Celestial Fire to yield the Way of the Air. The Hexagram shining within the body (Salt) signifies the perfect union of spirit (Sulphur) and soul (Mercury), which is the “Living Gol,” the goal of spiritual alchemy. That is, the celestial and chthonic worlds meet in the mundane world. (See Burckhardt, pp. 74-75.)

xxvij. The Pentagram signifieth the Microcosm, and the Hexagram signifieth the Macrocosm. Thus the Macrocosm shineth within the illuminated Microcosm.

V. The Closing Tau Cross

xxviij. Repeat thou the Tau Cross as it was at the beginning. {31}

The following alternative gestures incorporate the relation of the elements embodied in the Hexagram: As you recite the text of the Tau Cross, (1) begin with arms crossed, right over left, on your chest; (2) raise your right arm to the Celestial Fire, (3) lower your left arm to the Watery Abyss, (4) let the fire draw up the water to yield earth, by moving your left arm up to your chest and out to the left, the Way of Earth; (5) let the water draw down the fire to yield air, by moving your right arm down to your chest and out to your right, the Way of Air; (6) cross your arms over your chest, indicating the reconciliation, union and balance of the Oppositions (Bivium), Worlds (Trivium) and Elemental Quarters (Quadrivium). Alchemy calls these divisions the Two Seeds, the Three Principles and the Four Elements; its goal is their unification, the One Fruit, the Tincture of Living Gold (from a 1766 Nuremburg MS).

xxix. Thou hast made for thyself a Sacred Space at the World’s Navel. Ascending on thy right is the Light Path and descending on thy left is the Dark Path, but remember thou that the Wise One knoweth that the Way Up and the Way Down are the same and that together they make the one Path of Wisdom. So must it be.


Agrippa, Cornelius. (1533). De Occulta Philosophia, Libri Tres. (ed. V. Perrone Compagni). Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1992.

Agrippa, Cornelius. (1993). Three Books of Occult Philosophy written by Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim. (transl. James Freake, ed. Donald Tyson). St. Paul: Llewellyn.

Allman, George Johnston. (1889). Greek Geometry From Thales to Euclid. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co.

Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe). (1964). The Serpent Power, being the Sat-Cakra-Nirûpana and Pâdukâ-Pancakâ, 7th ed. Madras: Ganesh & Co., reprinted by Dover, 1976.

Barrett, Francis. (1801). The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer; being a Complete System of Occult Philosophy. London: Lackington, Allen, & Co.

Biedermann, Hans. (1992). Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them (transl. James Hulbert). New York: Facts on File.

Black, Jeremy, and Green, Anthony. (1992). Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary. Austin: University of Texas Press. {32}

Bonner, Campbell. (1950). Studies in Magical Amulets, Chiefly Graeco-Egyptian. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Burckhardt, Titus. (1967). Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul, tr. William Stoddart. Baltimore: Penguin.

Burkert, Walter. (1985). Greek Religion, tr. John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Butterworth, E. A. S. (1966). Some Traces of the Pre-Olympian World in Greek Literature and Myth. Berlin: Walter de Gruyer.

Butterworth, E. A. S. (1970). The Tree at the Navel of the Earth. Berlin: Walter de Gruyer.

Chasles, Par M. (1875). Aperçu Historique sur l'Origine et Développment des Méthodes en Géométrie, 2nd ed. Paris: Gauthier-Villars.

Dee, John. (1564). Monas Hieroglyphica. Antwerp. Translation: The Hieroglyphic Monad, Edmonds: Sure Fire Press, 1986.

De Vogel, C. J. (1966). Pythagoras and Early Pythagoreanism: An Interpretation of Neglected Evidence on the Philosopher Pythagoras. Assen: Van Gorcum & Co.

Donnegan, James. (1831). A New Greek and English Lexicon. London: J. F. Dove.

Dubner, Fr. (1842). Scholia Graeca in Aristophanem. Parisiis: Editore Ambrosio Firmin Didot.

Eliade, Mircea. (1964). Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Bollingen Series LXXVI. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Eliade, Mircea. (1969). Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, 2nd ed. Bollingen Series LVI. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Godwin, Joscelyn. (1991). The Mystery of the Seven Vowels: In Theory and Practice. Grand Rapids: Phanes.

Goldsmith, Elisabeth. (1929). Ancient Pagan Symbols. New York: G. P. Putnams.

Hall, Manly P. (1988). The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy. Los Angeles: Philosophical Research Society.

Higgens, Godfrey. (1836). Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil fo the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions (2 vols). Repreinted, Kila: Kessinger.

Jung. C. G. (1968). Psychology and Alchemy, 2nd ed., transl. R. F. C. Hull, Coll. Works vol. 12. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kerényi, Carl. (1951). The Gods of the Greeks. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Kirk, G. S., Raven, J. E., & Schofield, M. (1983). The Presocratic Philosophers: A Critical History with a Selection of Texts, 2nd. ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parpola, Simo. (1993). The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 52, 3 (July 1993), 161-208.

Poncé, Charles. (1973). Kabbalah: An Introduction and Illumination for the World Today. Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House.

Weinstock, Stefan. (1946). Martianus Capella and the Cosmic System of the Etruscans. Journal of Roman Studies 36, 101-129.


Cited by

The Pythagorean Pentacle at Biblioteca Arcana

Notes to the Olympic Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram at Biblioteca Arcana (as an updated version of this article)