Monday, October 26, 2009

Concepts About the Magical Mass

I thought that it would be useful to take the introduction of my article on the Magical Mass part two and present as an article to your consideration. The magical mass is an integral part of the ritual magic that I work, and it is also a basic staple of the magic of the Order.

The magical mass is an integral part of the ritual lore of the Order. Even the degree structure simulates that of the Catholic Church and there is a mixing of the concepts of magician and priest. The mass is used to generate magical power and produces a field or atmosphere of spiritual influences, functioning as the power base for advanced magical workings. Certainly, elemental and talismanic workings do not need such a base, but evocation does require it, so the initiate of this Order is expected to master this ritual. From the third degree onward, magical workings require some kind of magical mass and also the performance of some kind of benediction. Yet the initiate needs to understand how the magical mass works and why it is necessary.

The magical mass is a complex ritual that has many components and is derived from the pre-Vatican II mass liturgy, which is known as the Tridentine Mass. I cannot assume that the reader of this article is knowledgeable of this rite, since it was completely replaced with a new mass liturgy in the late 1960's through the authority of Pope Paul VI. Therefore, this article will serve as a heuristic device to instruct initiates in the structure of the original mass and how it has been expropriated into specialized mass rites for use in magical workings. We will fully examine all of the parts of the original Tridentine Mass and explain about the nature of the magical qualities of those sections (if any) and why they are important (or not) to a magical mass. The purpose of this exploration is to show that certain sections of the original mass are important to the performance of a magical mass and can’t be omitted without destroying the function of the ritual itself.

This is the second article about the magical mass and it contains a lot more detail about the structure of that rite than the previous one. In the first article we examined the topic of the magical mass along with the phenomenon of cultural expropriation, how the ritual of the mass was extracted into the communion rites of Wicca and Neopaganism. We also examined the proponents of using the mass in a ritual magical context, as opposed to a purely liturgical one. In this article we will continue with our analysis of these rites, and focus on four basic topics. These topics are:
  • Introduction and basic components of the magical mass
  • Uses of the magical mass - the specific function in ritual magical workings
  • An analysis of the Catholic Mass and its basic structure
  • An analysis of the various magical masses used in the Order.
The emphasis of this article will be on the various magical mass rites that are used in the Order of the Gnostic Star, since these rites serve both a liturgical and a magical function. A liturgical function is where the mass is performed in a strictly religious setting and a magical function is where a mass is performed to energize and sacralize an environment and/or tools for a specific magical operation. So the mass rites in the Order serve to propagate a spiritual theme that is neopagan and also reminiscent of some ancient forms of Gnosticism and Hermeticism, which is the bulwark of our magical heritage and organization.

In the Order, the mass is performed specifically to generate sacraments that are used to charge the magic circle and to vitalize the rites of magical evocation, using the sacraments instead of a bloody sacrifice.  More advanced workings require the use of the magical mass to establish the spiritual purity and powers associated with their more lofty objectives. The magician functions as both magical practitioner and ordained priest in order to perform these advanced rites, and the initiatory grades of the Order reflect this requirement.

I would like to reiterate and discuss the basic components of the magical mass as taken from the previous article (the Magical Mass part one). There are seven basic components, and they are:

1. Devotions and offerings to the Godhead - preparations for communion
2. Invocation of the Godhead - creation of an Image or Imago
3. Assumption of the Godhead - priest/ess assumes a trance and becomes the Eidolon
4. Blessing of the Drink and Food via the breath and/or other tool or mechanism
5. Offering the Sacraments and their veneration
6. Communion
7. Thanksgiving

Devotion, prayers and verbal offerings set the spiritual tone of the mass and they identify the pantheon of spiritual entities that the mass is targeting. The offerings can be physical, often representing a sanctification of the ritual area through burning incense and aspurging with lustral water. Other offerings can be made, including the setting of food and drink to be consumed exclusively by the spirits, the arraying of flowers and bouquets and even the deploying and arranging of statues and figurines. All of these practices represent the devotional nature of enticing and drawing the spiritual entities of the pantheon into the domain of the temple or grove.

The performance of meditations, prayers, contemplation, rosaries or prayer-bead-counting, adoration, the saying of psalms of praise and glorification are also used to establish the religious base for the performance of the mass. In addition, the celebrant, assistants, and even the congregation should have performed some kind of personal ablutions to cleanse themselves both externally and internally. Those who perform or even attend the mass are in a highly rarefied mental state, prepared to experience spiritual phenomena on the highest level possible. The magical mass is not conducted like a typical Sunday service in a church, with a bored and half-present congregation and performed by an indifferent clergy. A magical mass is conducted by initiated magicians for a specific magical effect, and so its relevance is acute and most profound

Specific godhead invocations of various types typify a magical mass. These invocations are not just the typical exhortations to the gods of the targeted pantheon. They are magical invocations, and may include magical words of power and statements of profound spiritual insight. These invocations are meant to magically summon the spirits of the pantheon in a tangible manner that a non-magical mass would never attempt.

The first major deviation in a magical mass from one that is not magical is that the assumption of the Deity is neither assumed nor implied, but is, in fact, performed in a deliberate manner, so that the priest and celebrant briefly becomes imbued with the spiritual powers and authorities of the godhead associated with the targeted pantheon. This stage is critical to a magical mass, so it is always deliberate and never just merely assumed. In some cases, the assistants and the congregants may treat the celebrant as if he or she were the physical embodiment of the god, becoming a kind of eidolon of the Deity (such as with the Grail High Priestess in the High Solemn Mass of the Grail).

The blessing of food and drink, which are to be consumed by the congregation and also used in the magical working, is done by the celebrant acting as the eidolon or physical representative of the godhead. All actions that are so performed are considered sacred magical acts. In this manner, the process of transubstantiation is made possible since it is an operation of the godhead and not one of mortal humanity. The celebrant uses the hands and the breath to bless and transform the bread and wine into elements of the godhead. The act of transubstantiation causes the host or bread fragments and the chalice of wine to become the analogue of the flesh and blood of the godhead - a living sacrifice of the Deity for the benefit of humanity. Blessings are made through these sacraments, since they are living artifacts of the godhead and imbued with great spiritual power; they emanate a spiritual force associated with the Deity. The operation of transubstantiation and the use of the sacraments to project the power of the godhead are truly magical processes and represent the core actions of the magical mass.

As analogues of the physical substances of the godhead, the sacraments are venerated and worshiped as if they were the godhead itself. This further verifies their potent connection with the Deity, in whose name these substances were transformed. The magician celebrant glorifies these substances, and in addition to partaking of them and dispensing them to the assistants and congregants, they are also used to empower the magic circle, sacralizing it in a manner that makes it of one substance with the godhead, a veritable exemplar of the Deity. Thus the magic circle becomes the body and spirit of that godhead. All actions that are performed within it are now imbued with the authorities and powers vested in that Deity, giving them greater relevance and spiritual force.

In addition, magical tools, such as the transmutar wand, sigils and characters drawn on parchment are exposed to both the consecrated bread and wine so as to consecrate them as well. A small amount of wine and a fragment of host are placed in a small container, and this is put in the triangle of evocation. It is used as the means of manifesting the summoned spirit. The sacralizing of the magic circle is performed in the magical rite of benediction, which is an ancillary ritual that is used to project the powers of the host into the eight points of the power octagon.

Communion is where the sacraments are given as sacred food and drink, to be consumed by all partakers as a special method of spiritual and magical fortification. The communion operation also acts as a mechanism where a powerful alignment is forged between the godhead and the recipients, so that the Deity has achieved a potent union with all those who have drunk and eaten of its symbolic blood and flesh.  As previously stated, communion is also where the sacraments can be used to charge tools, bless talismans, sigils and magical characters, and even feed the magically activated statues of the deities of the magician’s personal pantheon.

When communion is completed, then the magician as priest performs the proper ablutions on the mass utensils, such as the chalice and patten, and follows this up with a series of thanksgiving prayers. After receiving the blessing and sacrament of the godhead and spirits of the pantheon, it is important to thank them for their gifts, to glorify the alignment between them and the partakers, which has now been tangibly renewed and fortified.

The basic mass structure above contains only the most essential elements, and we will see that all of the magical masses employed in the Order use a more elaborate ritual pattern than what is presented above, and this includes the abbreviated mass used by the third degree initiate (Acolyte) for the purpose of magical invocation and evocation.

The chalice and the paten are the basic tools used for the saying of a magical mass. The chalice is usually made of a precious metal, such as silver or gold, although ceramic or glass can also be used. The chalice is typically a foot or more in height, and is used exclusively for the mass. It is often consecrated and blessed before use, although using it exclusively for the mass will naturally consecrate and bless it. The paten is a disk or plate made of the same material as the chalice, and is usually around three to six inches in diameter.

In addition, the magician priest can make use of another tool, and that is called a pyx. A pyx is a container used to carry hosts that are already consecrated, and is typically a round metallic box with a hinged cover. The pyx is usually made from precious metals or has gold plating on the inside. Consecrated hosts should be handled with care, as if they were an activated fragment of the godhead itself (which from a magician’s standpoint, they are). They should be kept in either a pyx, a ciborium (a chalice with a tight fitting cover), enclosed in metallic foil (such as gold, silver, brass or even aluminum), or in a monstrance.

A monstrance is a device that displays an enclosed host through a window (for devotion and veneration), but can be held or stood upon the altar. The design of this device is described as an elaborate golden sun-burst with a crystal core mounted on a stand and topped by a cross, but simpler versions consist of just a windowed container with a simple stand. If it is used, the monstrance holds a consecrated host and acts as an elaborate lens, used to project the powers of the host throughout the temple environment. It is not required to be used in our magical lore, since the host is not kept whole. It is rather broken up into eight pieces and these are distributed to the four watchtowers and four angles of the magick circle.

Other items that are used in the magical mass are fully described in the greater article on the magical mass, but these represent the basic tools that one should collect and reserve for the saying of a magical mass. The magician uses the same strict rules that an ordained priest uses in the care and deliberations given to the performance of this rite.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. Certainly, elemental and talismanic workings do not need such a base, but evocation does require it, so the initiate of this Order is expected to master this ritual.

    Interesting, though I have to say it doesn't match my experience. I do effective evocations all the time without using any sort of Mass structure. However, I can see where adding that component could potentially increase the power of the rite.

  2. Yes - but you don't use the rituals of the order to perform evocation. Use of the sacraments of the mass are built into this system of ritual magick and help to "quicken" the manifestation. There are other ways of doing this, of course!