There are four main rituals for the Thelemite in the practice of ceremonial magick: Resh, the Star Ruby, Reguli, and the Thelemic Middle Pillar (TMP). All are given to the Probationer except the last, which is given to the Neophyte. They deal with the current of the New Aeon and so are elevated from mere empty rites which are observed but no longer contain any sort of gnosis. Resh is performed four times a day, and the others at least twice a day (at sunrise and sunset). The focus of this commentary will be to offer an interpretation of symbolism and an analysis of some of the results of the rituals, albeit mostly from my own personal perspective and experience.
I must also note here that although the New Aeon has not arrived, it is still possible to tune into its impending, latent vibrations. These rituals are meant to combat the masochism of the christist Old Aeon of Pisces/Jesus (cf. The Hanged Man Atu), and the belief that one must suffer and shed blood unnecessarily, engage in human and animal sacrifice, need a hero to ‘save’ them (especially if they are a woman), or that suffering makes one a better person.
The temple acts as a sacred space in which the magickian expresses his will within the circle of the Infinite; cf. Liber AL chII v7: I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.
It should also be kept physically clean, if cleanliness is indeed next to godliness, and must also have a window (for Resh). Everything in it therefore must reflect his conscious awareness and aspiration beyond the mundane or profane, as he is an aspiring microcosm being a small reflection of the macrocosm (the Universe); for this reason nothing must be touched by anyone besides him. It helps a lot to acquire a separate space with an altar – and formulate the temple in the astral in the event one cannot be present in the physical one – along with all the appropriate tools to use. These tools act as mnemonic devices: a wand (fire), a dagger (air and Mercury), a scourge, dagger, chain, Abramelin oil (fire, consecration, anointing), bell, incense (air), colors (i.e. the robe and silk covering the weapons), pantacle, etc. The weapons and the other aspects listed (colors, incense, etc.) enliven all of the senses, with the rituals opening the sixth sense known as the “psychic” sense, third eye, or clairvoyance (“clear sight”). Liber 777 is a wonderful book for looking up the attributions. I have also found Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs to be very useful in finding out the elementary and planetary attributions of many other plant herbs and tree incenses. cf. Liber AL chI v59: My incense is of resinous woods & gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity. According to Liber ABA (Book Four) Part 2: Magick, the Wand, Cup, Sword and Pantacle represent his Will, Understanding, Reason, and lower parts of his being, respectively; these can also be connected to the 4 Powers of the Sphinx. And the scourge (torture), dagger (wound), and chain (binding) respectively represent the 3 alchemical principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. Since magick is “The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will,” then the weapons represent the laws of nature with the Altar representing their embodiment (cf. Liber ABA), and hence, the aspiration involves the magickian’s conscious awareness and volition (Will) in causality. Oil is also very important in terms of motivation; “It is the pure light translated into terms of desire. It is not the Will of the
Magician, the desire of the lower to reach the higher; but it is that spark of the higher in the Magician
which wishes to unite the lower with itself.” But also per the following:
“Man, the indwelling Spirit, has at his present stage of development four vehicles through which he functions: the dense body, the vital body, the desire body, and the mind. Although these bodies are closely interrelated and are affected by each other, it is helpful to the student in understanding thoroughly their functions and possibilities to study each one separately and intensively. To facilitate such study, Max Heindel’s material concerning the desire body has been collected and published in this one convenient volume.
The desire body of man is his vehicle of feelings, desires, wishes, and emotions. It is responsible for all his actions, reveling in unrestrained motion. If unbridled it makes the body do all the unnecessary and undignified
things which are so detrimental to soul growth. However, that temper which is such a great menace when it takes control, may be as effective for service under proper guidance. Hence the temper of the desire body must be
controlled but not by any means killed.
The Western Wisdom Teachings therefore emphasize the transmuting of the lower desires into higher ones through service motivated by devotion to high ideals. This generates the Emotional Soul, essential nourishment for the evolving spirit.”
— Foreword of The Desire Body, by Max Heindel
Statuettes are another aspect of the temple furnishings and are placed in each of the four corners which represent the directions and are attributed to the four elements. The aspirant represents the microcosm and Spirit (the head of the pentagram) and the uniter of the four elements (also reflected within himself, which can be viewed in their natal chart, and showing which are abundant and which are lacking). Statuettes are even better visuals to use for assumption of the god-forms, as opposed to mere pictures (although, drawing them in full color and/or looking up all the color attributions are a good idea). Pantheons of other cultures tend to look an awful lot like the ordinary humans that thought them up; after all, man created God. For this reason, common statuettes for Thelemites are of the Egyptian pantheon because it is one pantheon which emphasizes animal aspects along with the divine (earth and sky) in the god/dess archetypes. As the axiom of Hermes states: As above, so below.
In the circle, the aspirant stands in the center reminiscent of the glyph of Sol as well as Hadit; Liber AL chIII v3: In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found. She being the embrace of space which encompasses matter or the physical body, the physical body’s mass also taking up space in incarnate existence and the process of age taking up time. The 4 walls of the room of the temple, even the confines of the body, are as a house (Beth) of the spirit. Beth is attributed to the Juggler or Magus Atu, and Mercury. The aspirant faces the East, the land of resurrection, and so is standing in the West, the land of death; the delving into the subconscious and the transformation that ensues, and the subsequent indwelling of Spirit in previously ‘dead’ or inert matter.
The rituals, when performed daily, become almost-automatic habits; that is, the aspirant overcomes the inertia to procrastinate by sheer force of will. These practices act upon the astral body and what we might call the soul or self. To use the language of alchemy, the application of low heat as a pressure upon the alchemical “ovum” (egg) of the herb will produce life and bring out the inner essence. Much like how sand in an oyster eventually produces a pearl. And the rituals will be embedded in the aspirant’s subconscious that certain gestures may arise, for example, in dreams, which is also (among other reasons) why dream analysis comes as part of the territory. The daily practices also include banishing (the Sign of Silence) when seeing an Abrahamic place of worship, and saying Will before meals (cf. Liber ABA). Other effects may include seeing a ‘mist,’ though I have always been able to see the ether and the mist was a later development; or mimicking other gestures/actions from the rituals unconsciously or automatically (i.e. the ‘stalking’ from Reguli, similar to the stalking of energy taught by Castaneda).
As Marcelo Motta wrote, the rituals may for a long time not produce any results, and the aspirant will be disappointed and feel discouraged to the point of giving up. This is an enormous challenge, and I understand it, since I have gone through it myself. It is of no use to try to argue this point and close oneself off to the potential instead of continuing. “When people begin to argue about things instead of doing them, they become absolutely impossible.” (Aleister Crowley) Per the Gnostic view, we seek a direct experience with the divine in ourselves and this is realization as opposed to judgment, dogma, and reason (or rationalization). Many people in our consumerist culture of convenience have an “ejaculatory” attitude, that is, they want immediate results (“lust of result” per Liber AL) and are self-absorbed in navel-gazing and masturbatory ego-boosting. Per Liber ABA (Book Four) Part 2: Magick:
“Every one knows the force of habit. Every one knows that if you keep on acting in a particular way, that
action becomes easier, and at last absolutely natural.
All religions have devised practices for this purpose. If you keep on praying with your lips long enough,
you will one day find yourself praying in your heart.”
A sense of patience and devotion for late-blooming results is of the utmost importance, because the amount of time and energy put into the rituals will eventually show in the momentum acquired; momentum which is necessary to overcome years of patriarchal conditioning and the forgetful monotony of day-to-day living.
Liber AL chII v35: Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy & beauty!
The purpose of the rituals is to aid in the development of consciousness – known by various names throughout the history of religions and their myths as immortality, the Philosopher’s Stone, The Holy Grail, union with God, Nirvana, etc. – which is strengthened and deepened by consistency of practice. As long as the aspirant continues to perform them it is guaranteed he or she will get results and not simply from a purely intellectual level which comes from analysis without practice or experience. It is a little like the saying,”I believe in everything, nothing is sacred/I believe in nothing, everything is sacred.” On a practical level, to be doing a ritual as much as it is commented upon is necessary, and encouraging towards other aspirants who will see comments on things that have already been tried and true. Religion isn’t what one professes, but what one does. It is the purpose of the Western Mystery Tradition to make that goal in the Great Work a possibility in this life and not to shun this world; the rituals, to shed light on unconscious elements which will come to the surface of conscious awareness and living.
http://www.naderlibrary.com/cult.magickwotears.5.htm (chapter XXIII)