After performing the LBRP in the forest every day for a week and a half, it was odd to start doing it in my sanctum/oratory/study at home. What a contrast in vibes! We live in a non-air-conditioned apartment on the fourth floor (fifth by American reckoning), with slanting walls. That means the windows are open all summer, if it’s not raining. And it’s a really urban neighborhood. Budapest is a very densely built city, and we live downtown. We’re talkin’ traffic noise. To a certain extent, one gets used to it as the normal background. But, as I said, it was a shocking contrast to the way I’d been doing LBRP.

As you’ve guessed by now, I didn’t bother with a ritual robe in the woods, didn’t start using one at home, and I still don’t. As I matter of fact, ritual is the last thing I do before I leave home (after chi-kung, after making the children’s sandwiches, after seeing the kids out the door, after shaving and shower…). So I do LBRP in my office clothes. I sometimes even do it with a tie on!

I’d done the ritual enough times by this point that I had questions regarding some aspects. I dug out the files I’d collected over the years, and researched on the internet.

Various Regardie books helped clarify how one “vibrates” the names of God and the Angels.

Mark Stavish’s supplementary materials on the LBRP were (and still are) very helpful. In his essay “Additional Notes on the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram”, he recommends visualizing the archangels “…as more abstract concepts, and not in their usual anthropomorphic forms.” For instance, “Gabriel is imagined as a column of light blue mist and flashing orange highlights dominating. A cup or chalice of deep blue crystal is seen at its base.” I was much more comfortable with this visualization than with what Rowe had outlined, because it fit more with my philosophical understanding of what an angel is. The mentor of my youth often told me that “as you grow and develop, your concept of what God is also grows and develops.” It now seems to me that one’s concept of what an angel is must also evolve.

You may recall that in my last posting I said the words of power were the most impressive aspect of the ritual when I first started practicing it. With time, the angels have become the high point of the ritual. They have become a palpable presence. At first Michael stood out. I could feel the heat from his flames. Recently Raphael is making a greater impression because of his brightness. He gives off amazing quantities of light. For a while my images stayed pretty close to those recommended by Stavish, but then one day these conical shapes of sentient energy sprouted golden wings. In the beginning they were sort of “modest” wings, like the stylized wings on the Egyptian sun disk, but by now they have grown to enormous golden wings. The angels’ wings nearly touch, so they form a circle around me.

In the same essay, Stavish recommends practicing with the banishing pentagrams for three to six months before moving on and experimenting more with the invoking form. This sounded reasonable to me, so I did it. The most easily discernible effect was a noticeable clear-headedness afterwards. Very Aries says I emerge from the sanctum room with an air about me that nothing could possibly bother me.

At some point the thought arose that I wanted to add something visually stimulating to the space where I practice. Slowly a plan evolved to create images (stations, I call them) of the four triangles of the elements. Those are them in the photograph at the top of this posting (you can see a bigger image if you click on it). In the photo I laid them out together so I could take a picture of them together, which is not how they hang on the wall. The two coins are a two euro coin and an American quarter, so you can figure out the scale. Although they are only colored paper glued to beige card stock, and laminated with adhesive film, it actually took several weeks from conception to completion. Experienced mages among the readers will nod their heads knowingly, but to me this was a lesson in how working with the planetary hours makes you work at a much more deliberate (sometimes nearly glacial) pace. Part of it was that I was in no big hurry, the other was that I decided to do the work during the hour of mercury on Saturdays.

I let the design and the materials percolate in my head until it was settled. Then I went out to a stationery store which is conveniently located on one of the streets I use to walk to work, in the old Jewish quarter of town, a few doors down from a gorgeous old synagogue. Besides the card stock and the laminating plastic (I already had colored paper at home) I bought a nice German-made permanent marker (edding 143 B) with a nice one-by-three millimeter tip for doing the Hebrew lettering. I’ve never been big on consecrating, but I’ve always been big on dedicating. There’s power in acquiring something for a specific purpose, and then never using it for anything else. I decided this marker would never be used for anything but magical purposes (“You make things sacred by the way you use them,” my mentor used to say).

When I finally finished them, and hung them on the walls (actually, the western and the eastern stations are hanging from book shelves) in the four directions, I swear I heard and electrical hum. There’s been discussion on Frater POS’s blog about ways to learn the names in the ritual, and associate them with the directions. He said he’d heard of people putting cards on the walls with the names on them until they finally had them memorized. I never had a problem with memorizing this ritual. My desire was to make the manifestation of the names and the elements more solid and to somehow anchor them into place.

In the middle you can see the dagger I bought about two months back when I got a small windfall. I decided it was time to incorporate that energy into the ritual too.

So, as you can see, although the LBRP stays fairly much the same in many ways, if you work at it, your relationship to it can (perhaps inevitably does) evolve. I have one more specifically LBRP-centered posting to add to this series, before I move on to other subjects.