Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Master Pattern of Ritual Magick

This was a chapter that was pulled and omitted from the book “Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick - Foundation,” which I had felt should be re-edited and used for a separate article. This section was called the “Master Pattern of Ritual Magick”, which are the seven integral parts of a basic magickal working. The Master Pattern consists of a progression that begins with the self and ends with the projection of magickal power and the acquisition of insight through divination. I have written a more simplistic version of this methodology and included it in the book, “Disciple’s Guide to Ritual Magick,” but I thought that it would be a good idea to make this more concise version available for occultists to read and consider.

Analysis of the Master Pattern

I have always believed that what was needed in the teaching and mastering of ritual magick is a simple and concise method for determining what is really critical for the practice of a basic magickal working. I wanted to boil down the more elaborate and complex ritual systems that I typically use to something that nearly anyone could grasp, especially someone who is seeking to learn more complex ritual methods and integrate them into their repertoire. What I wanted was a kind of master pattern that could be used by anyone to produce an effective ritual working.

So one day while I was sitting alone in a theater, bored out of my skull, waiting for a movie to be shown, I decided to do some useful pondering. I gave myself an assignment, which was to come up with a simple list of steps used to perform a ritual working. I wanted to come up with a list containing only those steps that I felt were absolutely essential. I checked this list repeatedly in my mind and asked the same question of each item, “Do I need this step or could I chuck it?” So I omitted anything that I thought was extraneous or distracting. This is how I came up with these seven steps, which I am presenting here as my master pattern. It started out as an exercise to quell my boredom, but it really did produce something useful and important. They’re important because they can be used to build any practical ritual magickal working. These seven steps also introduce one to a modular methodology in performing rituals, since some of the steps can be re-arranged or condensed to form different kinds of ritual workings. The steps can also be repeated in a slightly different manner for a completely different working.

OK, I have now presented how and why I came to derive this so-called master pattern of ritual magick. Yet what could I have possibly put together that hasn’t been discussed to death by many other writers or teachers? Perhaps my intense ennuis made me think that I had an “eureka” sort of moment. Maybe the master pattern is just more occult hyperbole. However, since I have worked magick solidly for many years, maybe I might actually know what I am talking about. To come up with this pattern, I wiped my internal slate clean of any opinions or prejudices and asked the question to myself as if I were a new student asking an adept practitioner how to put together a ritual working. So let’s proceed to discuss this pattern and see if it actually works.

Let me begin by looking at this problem as I did in that theater many years ago. The master pattern of a ritual working begins with the very first step that I call“Self Preparation” and progresses outwardly in ever increasing waves of worldly significance. Self preparation represents all of the things that have to do with the magickal operator, from the internal mind, emotions, perceptions, to the body and its purification, as well as magickal apparel and adornment. Self preparation is the foundation for the working of any magick. If it is not properly established, then all that follows will be adversely affected. From this foundation, the magician progresses outwardly at precise intervals, thereby establishing sacred space, generating magickal power (empowerment), establishing spiritual alignment, charging the magickal link, exteriorizing the power and acquiring insights as determined by divination, both before and after the magick is performed. The last category allows the magician to become aware of the symbolic world where consciousness has its origins, and to understand the inner workings of the World of Spirit, realizing its effect on the mundane world. These seven steps can be quickly listed for a more detailed consideration later in this article.

1. Self Preparation
2. Sacred Space
3. Empowerment
4. Alignment
5. Symbolic Link
6. Exteriorization
7. Divination

As you can see by the way that this progression is arrayed, the magician begins the work inwardly passing through the microcosm of the Self, then outwardly to affect and impact the macrocosm, which is the greater spiritual and material world around one. While some may dispute the importance, precedence or the naming convention that I have determined for this pattern, most ritual magicians in the Western tradition use some variation of this method, thus proceeding from the inner mind and the body to the outer world in order to project magick into the material plane. This pattern is an expanding and evolving spiral, representing the basic qualities of any magick that would influence the material plane.

Of the seven steps, the most important one is the creation of the magickal link. The magickal link is where the magician represents the objective of the magick in some symbolic form, often using a personally derived sigil, which is drawn on a piece of parchment paper or even etched on a metal disk. A sigil is really a shorthand reduction of the objective for working magick formulated into a graphic design, where the various parts or segments are integrated into a holistic figure.

The magician can use other mechanisms for the link as well, such as a mantra repeatedly intoned, or what is called a material or gross link, which is a medicine bag, herb cache, or even a poppet (fithfath). The purpose of the symbolic link is to translate the magician’s desire into a symbolic analogue, allowing it to impact and resonate what I call the super-symbolic reality, which is the source for the impetus of all things that materialize into actions and objects. We will discuss more about this and in greater detail later on.

These seven steps represent a simplified discipline of ritual magick. They can be kept in a rudimentary form or can become quite elaborate. There is often more than one execution for each step, representing that these steps are ideally sequential categories of required ritual actions. In some cases, more than one execution will be used, such as in the category of empowerment, or others, such as the generating sacred space, which has only one ritual to use, depending on the type of space that needs to be sacralized. Applying this methodology to the practice of ritual magick allows for the deployment of a modular system of ritual magick, where independent rituals residing in these seven categories can be repeatedly reused to perform many different magickal workings. There are many possible variations within this pattern, yet the seven steps must be present in some form, in whatever order or sequence.

The master pattern is a guide to understanding what the requirements are for formulating a magickal working and how the rituals contained within it must be assembled. The linear progression of this pattern represents the type of ritual working that resonates magickal energy to a climax, thereby successfully projecting its field of magickal power into the material plane. This type of magick make exclusive use of the energy theory of magick in its most simplistic form. It is not a system of theurgy, psychodrama or initiatory transformation. It does not use or recognize spirits, other than one’s own godhead and spiritual hierarchy. It is a magickal system of acquisition that seeks to make things happen or be realized in the material plane - so it works with magickal energies or powers.

Certainly there are many other types of ritual patterns for other types of workings, all these other variations will be explained in subsequent articles and books. For now, we will focus on a simple exposition of the energy theory of magick using the master pattern.
Self Preparation

Because the success of a ritual is contingent upon the perceptions and sensitivity of the practitioner, the primary focus of all magickal training begins with mind control. Without the ability to concentrate, meditate or deliberately assume various altered states of consciousness, all efforts to perform ritual magick are doomed to failure. The discipline of magick begins with self-mastery, and this entails developing the abilities of self-control, self-awareness and self-direction. The petty ego is tempered with a realization of the spiritual nature of one's being and the daily attempts to bring this realization to bear upon the magician’s mind and body.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Bodily purification (self-love): magickal baths, yogic stretching exercises, massage, anointing with oil, self fascination trance (using a mirror), and self generated enthusiasm.

Assuming the Magickal persona: the image of one’s self as a magician, the magical persona, the magician's mask, the magical double or godhead eidolon. This minor assumption is usually accomplished through the donning magickal apparel and adorning the self with jewelry, makeup, wearing a mask, etc.

Meditation: assumption of altered states of consciousness, concentration, mental direction and internal awareness. Includes the methodologies of asana, prana-yama, mantra, mandala yoga, as well as concentration and contemplation. The magician uses the regiment of a daily meditation session to build and maintain a high degree of mental control, and performs a special meditation session prior to working magick. Specific exercises include centering, ascending and descending the chakras (planes), grounding, and opening and closing the self.

Trance: self hypnosis in preparation for deep meditation, skrying or astral projection (if required).

Sacred Space

The next sphere that the magician must act upon is the place in which the ritual is to be conducted. This place may be inside a room or outdoors; however, the magician performs certain ritual actions to ensure that this space is perceived as sacred. The magician defines the sphere of ritual operations so that all actions within it become symbolic and spiritually significant. The abstract plane of symbols is superimposed upon a prepared environment so that it is transformed by association into a spiritual domain, where the symbols and correspondences of magick become an experiential reality. Thus there is a need for tools, furnishings, structures and symbolic landmarks to assist the continual occurrence of esthetic stimulation and the effective communication of the process of ritual performance.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Temple Consecration Ritual: The magician uses the sacraments of lustral water, incense, and candlelight to purify the magickal space of the temple. The magician also deploys a defined magick circle and activated circle points (Watchtowers and Angles) to energize and empower the temple, which are joined together to form geometric prismatic energy structures.

Grove Consecration Ritual: The magician uses the sacraments of wine, oil, milk, rose water and incense to make offerings to the sacred space of the outdoor grove. The magician also acknowledges the ritual structures of the circle, the four Wards, the circle Pentagram, and the internal gateway, which is used to open the natural world to the empowered and sacred World of the Spirit.

Magickal Topology: The magician uses the myths and legends of sacred places, power zones and symbolic associative realities to either harness their powers or to enter into the field of their sacred and empowering environment.

Magickal Implements: The magician uses ritual tools, furnishings, landmarks, metaphysical instruments, symbolic constructs and Yantras (magickal illustrations and designs) to manipulate magickal powers and set the basic magickal field of force within one’s environment.


The most mentioned but least understood concept in magick is magickal power. I should briefly define this concept within a narrow framework so that misconceptions may be eliminated. The operational definition of magickal power is anything that profoundly alters one's mental state or perception within an occult or spiritual context. Power is a metaphor representing a magickal effect. A magickal experience is therefore said to be powerful when it has a high degree of significance and meaningfulness to the magician.

In addition, I would further define magickal power as a form of deliberate self-induced ecstasy. From a symbolic perspective, ecstasy within a magickal context is the experience that occurs when one undergoes the union of opposites, whether enacted within the self (symbolically) or without (physically). This kind of magical power produces a catharsis or spiritual transformation, but in lesser degrees, confers exalted states of consciousness. One could say that every successful magical working should transform the operator to some degree if it is to be considered efficacious. There is a basic relationship stated in this process, that the greater the over-all effect, the more intense the transformation and the greater the purported magickal power. Methods of generating power vary; however, they always involve the joining of symbolic opposites in whatever form they are presented.

Magickal power is the expression and intensification (resonance) of movement, and is qualified by the Four Elements (invoking pentagram), vectoring (deosil, widdershins) and gender (masculine, feminine, neutral).

The following techniques are included under this category:

Symbolic Expression and Movement: Movement is the most basic representation of magickal power. Ritual movement is expressed through circumambulation, whirling in place, simple dance choreography, the assumption of mudras or symbolic  gestures, and the drawing of symbolic geometric forms (Pentagrams, Crosses, Spirals, etc.), all of which represent the symbolic joining of the archetypal female and masculine components. Resonance or intensification is used to increase the experience of power.

Great Rite: The physical joining of the symbolic male and female is accomplished either through the actual sex act or symbolized through physical surrogates (wand and cup, salt and water, wine and bread, the four Elements as sacraments, etc.). One can also use forms of masturbation (rites of solitude).

Masculine Power:  These are ritual techniques such as the cone of power, the Pyramid of Power, the Stang, and the poteau-mitan or magickal pylon (all phallic images). The resonance of the  ejaculative or climactic ritual structure is representative of this pattern, and the product is a bolt of energy that is later released upon the target.

Feminine Power:  The ritual techniques of the vortex, which is a container or envelope of power, and the Threshold Gateway trigon, which is a passageway to another dimension, all represent yonic images, and therefore symbolize the feminine power. Simple and complex vortex structures use four and eight-position ritual patterns, producing the resonance of absorption or the causal-wave energy field when their circle positions are joined in fusion.


Alignment is an important step or category in the system of magick that I personally work, yet others might consider this a digression. Typically, alignment represents the magician’s relationship to the Deity in some personalized form. The importance of spiritual alignment is that it introduces into the ritual a sacred presence - a guiding and empowering spiritual being directly connected to the magician. It’s my opinion that the spiritual component of a ritual is a necessity, for without it the ritual becomes merely a selfish exercise in self mastery and personal empowerment.

Magickal power is defined within the context of the domain of Spirit, and it can’t exist without some aspect of the Deity being engaged, whether or not one is actively conscious of this fact. The authority and power of some God/dess or defined spiritual being is usually incorporated into most magical workings, even simple ones that are merely seeking to make some material objective realized.

In the practice of ritual magick (as I define it), the magician must not only define the image and characteristics of the Deity, but must also actively summon and identify with it. It is best if the magician personifies the Deity, giving it a human countenance and a personality to assist in the process of identification and union. In my humble opinion, there is no greater arrogance or foolishness than to practice magick without some kind of representation of the Deity. My reasons for stating this is that without such a supernatural connection, the magician has no extra-dimensional supernatural guidance, assistance and is therefore, spiritually accountable to no one.

Deity gives ethical guidance to the magician and intercedes when adversity emerges or the magick goes terribly awry. A magickal initiate is protected by the Godhead and kept from being harmed through the power of an active spiritual alignment. The agnostic or atheistic magician has no such protection or governor for one’s actions, so he or she eventually realizes terrible ethical failures and is seductively drawn into the corrupting descent of self into mono-mania.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Assumption of the Deity: The magician assumes the identity and image of the Deity, transforming the self so that it becomes conscious of the divinity within. The ritual of the Drawing Down the Moon and Drawing Down the Sun are variations of this technique. (These variations are both used in the Assumption of the Grail Spirit ritual.) Highest forms are the Bornless One invocation rite.

Communion:  The symbolic union of Deity and humanity though the agency of symbolic surrogates (the archetypal male and female of the Great Rite) represents the creation of the actual physical substances of sacramentation. The communion rite of sacrifice is enacted either symbolically or physically, with the blood (wine) and the flesh (bread) being consumed by the practitioners. This rite, still used as a part of the Mass liturgy for some denominations of Christianity, is performed specifically for the magickal empowerment of the individual.

Invocation:  The Deity is summoned, enticed or even implored to appear for the sake of the magician. Invocation performed in this manner is defined as the calling or summoning of the Deity within one's self through guided meditations and visualizations, or through heartfelt attracting, drawing down and the opening of one's self (heart) for union. This type of invocation is not to be confused with the process of invoking or evoking a spirit into manifestation (theurgy or goetia), since it relies exclusively on devotion and the adoration of the Godhead. (Forms of demonalotry would be excluded, of course.)

Devotion: Prayers, public offerings (sacrifices), orisons, dances, spiritual service, celebrations, sacralization of place and time. Celebration of the Solar and Lunar Mysteries. These are done to intensify the connection between the magician and the personal Godhead.

Symbolic Link (Empowering the Intention)

As stated previously, the most important component in a magical operation is the fashioning of the magickal link. Aleister Crowley was the first writer to discuss this concept (see the book Magick, ch. XIV), yet a ritual cannot succeed without its presence. The magickal link functions as the symbolic representative of the intention for which the ritual is being performed. The symbolic intention is capable of easily accessing the abstract world of ideas when it is empowered. This magickal world is the macrocosmic dimension that must be penetrated by the magician in order for it to impact the narrow field of individual consciousness. If the ritual objective is not properly translated into a symbolic format, then the magickal process will end without generating any further meaning or significance beyond the narcissistic and temporary exaltation of the self. Without the active operation of a magickal link, a ritual ceases to be magickal and becomes instead a form of ceremonial celebration. An analysis of the constituents of this magickal link will help to define it.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Sigil Magick:  The various methods of establishing a symbolic link consisting of either words or pictures representing one's purpose or desire is the technique of  sigil magick. The sigil is a condensed symbol or picture of the original desire and imbued with all the emotional  intensity and significance that is associated with that desire. The sigil is charged and then projected through ritual exteriorization into the archetypal plane where it becomes part of the domain of ideas beyond conscious control.

Ritual Formulas:  The points of a ritual structure (watchtowers, angles, etc.), when imbued with numerological and word associations, is brought together through a unified expression that consists of a formula word or phrase produced by the joining of these word or number associations. This form of word-number association is the basis for the Qabbalistic systems of Notariqon (acronym manipulation), Gematria (numerology), and Temurah (reduction of names into sigils). One early example of this methodology is found in  the Analysis of the Key-word (LUX-INRI) in the rituals of the Golden Dawn. (See the Ritual of the Rose Cross, in Israel Regardies' book, The Golden Dawn, volume 4.)

Organic (Gross) Link:  The use of physical objects such as a fith-fath (a poppet or voodoo-doll), a picture, photograph, herb-cachet, organic substances such as herbal or mineral philters, clothes or possessions belonging to the target, fresh blood, semen, menstruum, saliva, urine, excrement, hair, nail parings, etc., are examples of the organic magickal link. The use of a physical object allows for a potent associative link that easily penetrates into the magician's unconscious mind.

Note: In the magickal workings that I perform, I make use of sigils and ritual formulas, but typically avoid using a gross link. This is just my preference.


The technique that causes the power in a magical ritual to be outwardly expressed, making it a real phenomenon to the magician, is known as exteriorization. This technique is the easiest to understand and is never omitted from a ritual working. When the target or objective of a ritual lies beyond the boundaries of the self, then some form of exteriorization is required.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Trance of Willing:  The magician uses the processes of trance and visualization to impress upon the symbolic plane the desired outcome. The visualization must be reduced to a condensed format (the magickal link) and allowed to seep into one's unconsciousness through the deepening of the trance state.

Climactic Expression:  The magician uses movement to reach a crescendo of effect and then immediately ceases that movement. This is also called the whiplash effect. Some variations include the sword dance (as famously illustrated in Crowley's book Moon Child), a chanting-round and ecstatic dance culminating in ecstatic release.

Pranayama Release:  The magician uses a breathing technique known as the Lotus 7-breath, inhaling a potent perfume (essence of lotus) at least seven times, then combining hyperventilation with a breath bandha (holding in the breath) and a final dramatic and explosive exhalation.


The magician uses the prior six categories to formulate a ritual working that projects the powers of the phenomena of magick.  This category assists one in understanding the effects and implications of that ritual working. The dual processes of magick ritual and divination assist the magician in following the proper and most efficient path to personal growth and ultimate enlightenment. The process of insight reveals the symbolic domain of the macrocosmic world that assists the magician to focus the purpose and objective of his/her magickal workings. While there are many methods of divination, the following list should assist the magician in understanding the area of specialty for each.

The following techniques are included under this category:

Astrology:  Knowledge of the timing of celestial events.

Tarot/I-Ching:  Knowledge of the symbolic plane as it applies to the choices influencing the individual. Cards are shuffled and drawn randomly, coins are tossed randomly.

Runes/Geomancy: Knowledge of the variable patterns of existence. Includes other techniques, such as palmistry, bone throwing, tea leaf analysis, bird  flying formations, etc.

Pendulum/Dowsing Rod: Knowledge of the magickal effects of  chaos or chance. Includes all moving-pointer type techniques, such as the Ouija board, dice throwing or coin tossing, the Magick 8-ball, etc.

Skrying/Astral Projection: Knowledge through visualized clairvoyance. These divination techniques incorporate the methods of the mediation of the symbolic and physical planes of being. Ancient forms of the above were fire gazing and water gazing.

Conclusion and Recap

So we have now covered all seven steps of the master pattern. I would expect that the astute student would want to know how to put it all together. While I have no problem sharing the structure of the pattern of this simple ritual working, the actual rituals and how they are used are covered in the second book of the Mastering the Art of Ritual Magick series, which is called the Grimoire. Here is the pattern of a simple magickal working.  There are seven phases because the empowerment step is split into two distinct rituals.

1. Self preparation - magickal bath, purification, meditation and contemplation - this would include crafting a sigil for the work
2. Temple consecration
3. Empowerment phase 1 - erect a Vortex (qualify power with widdershins vector and feminine gender)
4. Alignment - Godhead assumption
5. Empowerment phase 2 - erect a Pyramid of Power (qualify power with Element, deosil vector and masculine gender)
6. Charge sigil and use to imprint power field
7. Exteriorize power field - spiral circumambulation and induced ecstasy

In addition, one would perform divination both prior to the working, to define and objective in a greater refinement, and then afterward, to determine the overall outcome.

Frater Barrabbas

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