Misleading, broken and bizarre.
From an elemental standpoint, rather than purely a hermetic ceremonial view, I consider the GBR to be broken with regard to the drawing of the pentagrams. I’m not the first magick user to think so. Perhaps it is a test! Perhaps all true adepts must fix the rite aright!
To affirm, I only mean to share my thoughts about drawing the pentagrams, I don’t mean to disrespect or refute the hermetic meanings or ceremonial validity of the GBR. The LBR only uses one type of pentagram (traditional banishing of Earth) and so I prefer the GBR which respects each Element. But I don’t like the unbalanced nature of the drawings.
First, find a pentagram and let’s agree that Spirit is at 12 o’clock, Air is at around 10 o’clock, Water is at around 2 o’clock, Earth is at around 7 o’clock and Fire is at around 5 o’clock.
Second, let’s agree that the direction of banishing (away from the Element you wish to ‘close’ or banish) is obviously equally towards another element, ostensibly invoking that element. But let us not dwell on invocation at this time, so as to retain focus.
(For the sake of my sanity, I’m not going to discuss ‘Spirit Active’ or ‘Spirit Passive’.)
AIR: Starting from Air (10 o’clock) we draw the pentagram moving towards Water. This is a kind of clockwise movement as we draw the pentagram in the air, with sides of about a yard / metre.
(This is all well and good; we’re drawing away from Air; we could have gone to Fire, but we went to Water with the first line. Fine)
FIRE: Starting from Fire (5 o’clock) we draw the first line towards Spirit. As we complete the pentagram, this is a kind of anti-clockwise movement.
(This is all fine; we’re drawing away from Fire; we could have gone to Air, but we went to Spirit with the first line.)
WATER: Starting from Water (2 o’clock) we draw the first line towards Air. This is kind of an anti-clockwise movement as we complete the pentagram.
(This is so wrong; we’re drawing away from Water of course, but we’re heading towards Air with our first line - for balance, we really should (I believe) head towards Earth, to make use of the whole pentagram shape. If we do not, as in the original Greater Ritual of the Pentagram and traditional banishing, then we neglect an entire side of the pentagram, and make use of the Air-Water side twice. The pentagrams are unbalanced, top heavy, with an underside that is neglected.)
EARTH: Starting from Earth (7 o’clock) we draw the first line towards Spirit. As we complete the Earth banishing pentagram, we move in a kind of clockwise movement.
(This is all well and good; we’re drawing away from Earth; we could have gone to Water, but we went to Spirit with the first line.)
Further to my concerns about the overuse of the Air-Water line and the neglect of the Water-Earth line, we can see that to banish both Fire and Earth the GBR instructs us to draw towards Spirit. There’s no spiral of use, which is what I recommend.
Briefly, here is my recommendation for a balanced, spiral-natured anti-clockwise Elemental Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
(The following only mentions the first line draw; obviously the whole pentagram is to be drawn, and now in a pleasing spiral and anti-clockwise manner.)
AIR to FIRE
FIRE to SPIRIT
WATER to AIR
EARTH to WATER
The equal but different clockwise banishing would possibly still be valid (because you’re drawing away from the element) but I prefer to keep clockwise for invocation.
If you get paper and coloured pens and draw out the traditional elemental banishing directions and then draw out my recommendation you’ll see how jarring the original is, how overused the top AIr-Water line is and how neglected the Water-Earth line is. In my recommendation you’ll see that each connecting line is used in sequence, creating a balanced spiral force.
I do not claim to have invented this balanced spiral Elemental Banishing Ritual of the Pentacle, although I worked it out on paper and in practice myself; I’m certain I have read books where the author has either complained about the original GBR or explained its imbalances away with some medieval guff.
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