An Introduction to Banishing
by Phil Hine
If I had a £1 for every person I've met over the years who's said,
"oh I don't bother with banishing rituals" - and then wondered why
they started to have problems with their magic - I'd probably
have, er..well enough money for a meal in a decent London
restaurant. A Banishing Ritual is one of the first practical
exercises that you should learn in magic (in my view, anyway), and
by doing so, you can save yourself a lot of trouble later on.
Banishing is also known as Centering, which in many respects, is a
more accurate term for the exercise.
So what is a Banishing Ritual? Essentially, Banishing has three
aims. The first is that it 'warms you up' as a preparation for
doing further ritual, meditation, or whatever, enabling you to put
aside 'everyday thoughts' - "what's on TV later", etc. It allows
you to take on the role of 'magician' (I'll go into this later
on), and to place yourself in the 'centre' of your magical
universe - the axis mundi. Secondly, Banishing sets up the space
you are working in as 'sacred', so that the loft, bedroom,
basement or wherever you are becomes, temporarily, a 'temple'
space. Thirdly, a Banishing 'clears' the atmosphere of the area
that you're working in of 'psychic debris' - I'm not entirely
happy with this description, so I'll try and expand on that later
Most Banishing rituals have three
to focus awareness on the BodyMind.
which demarcates the main zones, gates, quarters or dimensions of
the chosen magical universe - at which you are the centre.
identification with a chosen source of inspiration - merging the
macrocosm (total psychocosm) with the microcosm (self).
There follows an example Banishing ritual that I will explain in
terms of the above. It was developed for use in a group known as
'The Circle of Stars' which was active in Leeds a few years ago.
facing East1 and stand, arms by your sides, head tilted slightly
upwards, breathing slowly and regularly. Clear your mind of
thoughts. Reach upwards with your right hand breathing in, and
bring it down the centreline of your body whilst breathing out,
visualising a beam of white light passing down through your body,
from above your head to below your feet.
Next, turn your head to the left and point with your left hand,
then turn to your right and stretch your right arm out, forming a
2 - breathe in, hold, and breathe out, visualising a ray of white
light running across your body, from left to right. Then, whilst
breathing in, bring your arms across your body and fold them
across your chest. Breathe out, and visualise a cross of white
light expanding outwards from your chest, along the two axes you
have made. Feel yourself to be supercharged with energy, yet at
the same time, calm and ready.
This completes the first stage of the Banishing, and is known in
some magical systems as 'The Cross of Light'.
3. With your right hand, draw a Pentagram in the air before you.
Begin at the apex and draw down to the left-hand point, then
across to the right, across to the left, down to the lower right,
and back up to the apex. Visualise the Pentagram glowing with
energy. Then point your right hand into its centre and slowly
intone the letters I-A-O3 - drawing out each letter and
visualising the pentagram glowing brightly with more energy as you
do so. Turn and repeat this for South, West, and North.
3. Facing East, raise your arms and say:
"About me flare five-pointed stars,
Above my head, the Infinite Stars
Within my breast there flames a Star
Every Man, and every woman is a Star
Behold, A Circle of Stars."4
example, the first section of the Banishing focuses attention on
your BodyMind, the second makes the space demarcation - marking
out the four quarters, and the third is the 'union' with the
infinite - 'as above, so below' if you will. After the third
section, you are ready to begin your exercise, other ritual work,
etc. If you were doing the Banishing as an exercise in itself,
repeat the first section, and then after a pause - clap your hands
together as a sign of ending the exercise. To close using this
Banishing, do the rest of your work and then run through Sections
1 - 3 again.
Do it with Style!
As with all kinds of magic, it's not so much what you do, it's how
you do it. A little dash of theatricality does help a lot. For
example, when using a Banishing to open a working, I let a tone of
awe and anticipation creep into my voice. I try and create, using
voice, gesture, and posture, an atmosphere of expectation and
tension. Similarly, when using a Banishing to close a working, I
try to project an air of finality, satisfaction, and success. My
spoken words are less strident and commanding, and much gentler in
intonation. This is certainly useful in group workings, but also
useful in solo work - since the feedback that you give yourself
also contributes to the atmosphere that you create. As Granny
Weatherwax says - "it's Headology that counts".
I said at the beginning that I wasn't happy with this, so here
goes. A Banishing can be a magical equivalent to tidying up (which
you should do before working anyway). Since most of us are not
fortunate enough to have a room which can be used solely for
magical work, we have to use areas which are used for day-to-day
living as well. This creates an atmosphere which you can pick up
through unconscious cues, which it is well to 'Banish' before
starting focused magical work - or it might well disturb you.
Similarly, after a working, you need to dispel the particular
atmosphere that you've created, or you might well find that it
'clashes' with the everyday atmosphere that you associate with the
room. On this point, it can be useful to Banish a room if there's
been a particularly bad argument in it (the tension lingers), if
you or someone else have been pouring out emotions all over it, or
if you feel 'tired' within it. This sort of effect is covered by
the term 'Psychic Debris'.
Your chosen Banishing can be done as a daily practice - on
awakening, and before retiring. It should be used to open and
close any magical activity. In time, you will find that the ritual
can be done almost on 'autopilot', and the associated feelings
arise without conscious effort. It should be taken as an
encouraging sign if you start having dreams about Banishing. I've
often, during a nightmare, resorted to Banishing whatever-it-is
that's bothering me, and nine times out of ten it does work. An
interesting note, on Banishings & dreams is that, despite the fact
that over the years I've used many different forms of banishing
exercise, when in dreams, I always seem to use the Golden Dawn
Lesser Pentagram ritual - probably because that was the very first
one that I was taught.
The basic Banishing ritual that I have given above combines
gesture, breath control, visualisation, energising, colours,
symbols, and invocation. These are all essential elements to
ritual magic that practice in, will stand you in good stead later
on. Different Paths have different approaches to Banishing. As a
Wiccan Neophyte, I was taught a method of 'Casting the Circle'
which, on average, took a good 10-15 minutes. This is an excellent
way of setting up a sacred space for a few hours' worth of ritual.
It combined not only the elements given above, but also
circumbulation (in a manner that suggested 'rising on the
planes'), elemental invocations, altar consecration, establishing
a sacred space using salt & water, incense & fire (candle). As a
beginner I found this useful because it helped me build up my
ability to visualise slowly (not everybody is good at
visualisation automatically) and it had a strong emotional power
to it, which is also important. In the circle, I felt 'safe',
guarded, and ready for further magick - which all helps you gain
the confidence you need. We did use the Lesser Banishing as well -
but more for 'shorter' workings. But whether a Banishing is
elaborate or minimalist, is up to you. The important thing is to
know why you're doing it (and some people don't get told the whys
in magic - just to do it), and that once you have the basic
elements, you can add to them as you like. It is important that
the symbols, images etc. are meaningful to you. Each time that you
do a Banishing, you are balancing the different aspects of
yourself & your psychocosm into a more dynamic whole. The
underlying structure of the exercise remains similar whether you
are working Wicca, Qabalah, Tantra, Thelema, or even Chaos.
The Magical Personality
Why do people take on magical names? Possibly to impress their
friends, but more often because they wish to create a distinct
magical persona which they can slip into when doing their magical
stuff. This is why the magical scene is littered with Merlins,
Morganas, Taniths, Circes, Taleisins, etc - all names of wizardly
folk. The 'magical personality' is what you become when you put
your robe on, light candles & incense, and start fiddling with
causal reality. The basic distinction is that 'you' as your normal
personality might have all kinds of doubts about this magic
business, and enjoy long conversations about archetypes and
such-like, but your 'magical' self, if nothing else, is 110% sure
(fingers crossed) that what you're doing is effective, and is
going to work, even if it takes you all night! If you've ever
played 'Dungeons & Dragons', you should know what I mean. A D&D
game is a few bits of cardboard, coffee cups, lead figures, lots
of dice, and scattered sheets of notes. Yet you take on your
character to such an extent that when he/she/it is killed, it can
be quite a shock. In magic, all the preparation - and here the
Banishing is one of the most important bits - gets you 'into role'
as the (hopefully) powerful and confident magician. And when you
finish off your working, the second banishing stops you going down
the pub and still acting as though you rule the Universe. Okay,
well you might, but not everyone will appreciate this.
It must be said, I've never felt entirely happy doing the standard
forms of Banishing outdoors. I think that this is in part due to
the different sense of space that I have when working in some wild
spot. I find that this is particularly true if the place I am
working at is a Power Spot. Power Spots may be natural areas, or
places where other magicians have worked at in the past.
I think that outdoors working is something that you have to get a
feel for by intuition, and that the 'rules' of indoor ritual don't
always apply. Perhaps someone else would like to take this point
Finally, as you read your way through the multitude of occult
how-to books available, you'll find lots of different Banishing
ritual formats. Remember, there's no one right way to do it, just
the way that works for you.
working indoors, I often designate 'East' as the wall with a
window in it.
Cross has a lot of magical information attached to it - go look it
letters I.A.O signify the 'magical' formula of growth (Isis),
destruction (Apophis) and Rebirth (Osiris).
rubric is quite 'Thelemic' in style - we chose it for its 'poetic'
Hine is the author of Condensed Chaos, Prime Chaos, Permutations,
Oven Ready Chaos, Aspects of Evocation, Group Explorations in Ego
Magick and several other books and essays. His web-pages at
http://www.a5e.com"offers a large collection of various
information well worth reading down to every letter. Contact Phil
[email protected] or BM Coyote, London WC1N 3XX.
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