Theistic Satanism: Home > Rituals, etc. > Standard ritual > Beginning and end
Banishing rituals, grounding, and other beginning/end-of-ritual markers
by Diane Vera
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.
At both the beginning and the end of a ritual, most ritual magick users would say it's essential to do something to clear the room of unwanted energies and to aid the practitioner in mental gear-shifting from a mundane headspace to a ritual headspace and vice versa.
To that end, ceremonial magick users commonly do a banishing ritual. The best-known banishing ritual is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP), obviously inappropriate for theistic Satanists because of the God-names and angel names it uses. Some have written Satanic variants of the LBRP. Examples include:
- Stephen Bleach's Banishing Rite of the Dark Lord (in his Basic Satanic Rites and Exercises)
- Left Hand Path Banishing by Dead Jellyfish on Chaosmagic.com
Another, much simpler banishing ritual, with a very different format, is the one in Geifodd's Standard Rite to the Prince of Darkness.
In Chaos magick, laughter is commonly used as part of banishing, especially the banishing at the end of a ritual. For examples, see Banishings on Chaosmagic.com.
For those who wish to create their own variant of the LBRP, some more information about the LBRP itself can be found in Tim Maroney's 1984 article On the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Also, a Wicca-oriented variant of the LBRP can be found in the Witches' Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram by Paul Hume.
If you perform a variant of the LBRP, you'll first need to decide which infernal names or words/phrases to associate with each of the four compass directions (West, South, East, and North) and with each of the four relative directions ("before me," "behind me," "on my left," and "on my right") and with each of the five points of the Qabalistic Cross (up, down, left, right, and center). You'll need to decide what words you'll use to induce the climactic pulse of energy (which does the actual banishing, clearing the space) just before the concluding Quabalistic Cross or equivalent. I would suggest doing your own research to determine which names, words, or phrases are most appropriate, given your own personal perspectives on Satanism. (For starters, see Infernal names, directional correspondences, etc..) Don't just do someone else's Satanic banishing ritual without any idea of what the names, words, and phrases actually mean.
You'll also need to decide such things as which compass direction to start and end with and whether to turn clockwise or counterclockwise. (In the original LBRP, one starts facing east and turns clockwise. In most though not all Satanist or "Left Hand Path" variants, one starts facing west and turns counterclockwise.)
I recommend varying the main compass direction (at which one begins and ends), depending on the focus of the ritual. I recommend that the main compass direction be determined by which of the four elements your ritual will be emphasizing. (For example, a ritual focussed on improving your material situation would emphasize the element of Earth, for which is is appropriate to begin and end facing north.)
In any case, a banishing ritual - especially one as elaborate as the LBRP - needs to be practiced by itself many times before it can become useful as part of a larger ritual. If, for example, you would like to go ahead and perform my Self-initiation rite without any prior ritual experience, then a banishing ritual would likely be more of a distraction than a help, serving only to make the entire ritual more complicated.
So, until such time as you become well-practiced at a banishing ritual, you'll need some simpler way to begin and end any other rituals you may decide to perform. For example, in Anton LaVey's standard ritual in the Satanic Bible, the beginning and end are marked just by ringing a bell.
Many ceremonial magick (CM) users would say that your first foray into ritual should be a banishing ritual, to be practiced daily for several months. Many would say that you shouldn't do any other rituals at all until after you've mastered your banishing ritual. Personally, I don't feel that it's necessary to have mastered a banishing ritual before performing a simple devotional ritual or my self-initiation ritual or something similar.
However, the vast majority of the saner and more intelligent theistic Satanists would agree that it definitely is a good idea to wait with performing any really heavy-duty magick rituals until after you've mastered not only a banishing ritual but also other ceremonial magick basics such as well. By "heavy duty" rituals, I mean rituals involving things like evocation, channeling, or other deep trance work. Too many people have driven themselves insane by jumping straight into the deep end of the pool without adequate preparation.
Not everyone agrees about the necessity of banishing rituals, even with serious magick. The folks at OFS Demonolatry, for whom I have a great deal of respect, have no use for banishing rituals, which they regard as inherently disrespectful to the Demons, no matter what names are used. However, they do have their own systematic approach. Unlike some of the newer and nuttier groups, they don't encourage novices to jump straight into the deep end of the pool.
I should also mention that it's not necessary to get heavily into ceremonial magick at all in order to be a theistic Satanist. Many prefer simpler techniques such as LaVey's, and still others are not into magic(k) at all but prefer simple devotional rituals.
Also, before doing ANY ritual at all including my self-initiation ritual or even a banishing ritual, it's a good idea to spend some time studying both Satanism (in its many varieties) and other forms of occultism, plus whatever ancient history seems to you to be relevant, plus - and most importantly - some psychology, including hypnotism, because ritual magick does involve quite a bit of self-hypnosis.
So then, assuming you've studied enough to have some idea what you are doing, suppose you now want to perform my suggested Self-initiation rite or something similar without yet having mastered a banishing ritual. Or suppose you've decided not to get into ceremonial magic(k) at all but just want to do simple devotional rituals, starting with my self-initiation rite or something similar. What are your options for beginning and ending the ritual?
As I mentioned earlier, one alternative is to ring a bell. The bell should be large enough to have a solemn-sounding tone.
If you don't have a suitable bell, another good nonverbal opening and closing would be to relax and listen to some appropriate short pieces of music, preferably instrumental. At the beginning, listen to something awe-inspiring and mysterious-sounding to put yourself in a suitable frame of mind for the ritual. At the end, listen to a very brief solemn piece and then, after blowing out the candle and turning on the lights, listen to an enjoyable but more mundane-sounding piece, to help put yourself back in a more mundane frame of mind.
It's also a good idea to eat after a ritual.
If you do decide to get into serious ritual magick, nearly all experienced occultists would agree that another important preliminary technique, besides banishing, is grounding, whose purpose is to soak up earth energies and at the same time discharge unwanted energies - or, at the end of a ritual, to discharge the energy that was raised during the ritual. One popular method of grounding is to relax and visualize yourself as a tree with roots sinking down into the ground, drawing up energy from the ground and at the same time discharging energy. Or, if you prefer not to visualize yourself as a tree, another method is to visualize yourself as having a long tail extending down from the base of your spine into the ground. Another method involves being outdoors and literally touching the ground, visualizing the energy exchange.
Below are websites with information about grounding:
Grounding is a common practice among Pagan Witches as well as among ceremonial magic(k)ians. Many ritual magick users do banishings at both the beginning and end of a ritual and also a grounding at the end. Some do grounding at the beginning as well.
Personally, at this point I'm inclined to recommend a banishing at the betinning of the ritual but not at the end, to avoid disrespect to the spirits one has called. Instead of a banishing at the end, I would recommend just a round of thanks and farewells to the spirits (as in my recommended standard ritual closing), followed by a grounding (to drain off any remaining excess energy).