Chapter XIX

Of Dramatic Rituals.

The Wheel turns to those effectual methods of invocation employed in the ancient Mysteries and by certain secret bodies of initiates to-day. The object of them is almost invariably[1] the invocation of a God, that God conceived in a more or less material and personal fashion. These Rituals are therefore well suited for such persons as are capable of understanding the spirit of Magick as opposed to the letter. One of the great advantages of them is that a large number of persons may take part, so that there is consequently more force available; but it is important that they should all be initiates of the same mysteries, bound by the same oaths, and filled with the same aspirations. They should be associated only for this one purpose.

Such a company being prepared, the story of the God should be dramatised by a well-skilled poet accustomed to this form of composition. Lengthy speeches and invocations should be avoided, but action should be very full. Such ceremonies should be carefully rehearsed; but in rehearsals care should be taken to omit the climax, which should be studied by the principal character in private. The play should be so arranged that this climax depends on him alone. By this means one prevents the ceremony from becoming mechanical or hackneyed, and the element of surprise. assists the lesser characters to get out of themselves at the supreme moment. Following the climax there should always be an unrehearsed ceremony, an impromptu. The most satisfactory form of this is the dance. In such ceremonies appropriate libations may be freely used.

The Rite of Luna (Equinox I. VI) is a good example of this use. Here the climax is the music of the goddess, the assistants remaining in silent ecstasy.

In the rite of Jupiter the impromptu is the dance, in that of Saturn long periods of silence.

It will be noticed that in these Rites poetry and music were largely employed — mostly published pieces by well-known authors and composers. It would be better[2] to write and compose specially for the ceremony.[3]

1The word is unwarrantably universal. It would not be impracticable to adopt this method to such operations as Talismanic Magick. For example, one might consecrate and charge a Pantacle by the communication by AIWAZ to the Scribe of The Book of the Law, the Magician representing the Angel, the Pantacle being the Book, and the person on whom the Pantacle is intended to act taking the part of the Scribe.

2Perhaps! One can think of certain Awful Consequences". "But, after all, they wouldn't seem so to the authors!" "But — pity the poor Gods!" "Bother the Gods!"

3A body of skilled Magicians accustomed to work in concert may be competent to conduct impromptu Orgia. To cite an actual instance in recent times; the blood of a Christian being required for some purpose, a young cock was procured and baptized into the Roman Catholic Church by a man[4] who, being the son of an ordained Priest, was magically an incarnation of the Being of that Priest, and was therefore congenitally possessed of the powers thereto appurtenant. The cock, "Peter Paul," was consequently a baptized Christian for all magical purposes. Order was then taken to imprison the bird; which done, the Magicians assuming respectively the characters of Herod, Herodias, Salome, and the Executioner, acted out the scene of the dance and the beheading, on the lines of Oscar Wilde's drama, "Peter Paul" being cast for the part of John the Baptist. This ceremony was devised and done on the spur of the moment, and its spontaneity and simplicity were presumably potent factors in its success.

On the point of theology, I doubt whether Dom Gorenflot sucessfully avoided eating meat in Lent by baptizing the pullet a carp. For as the sacrament — by its intention, despite its defects of form — could not fail of efficacy, the pullet must have become a Christian, and therefore a human being. Carp was therefore only its baptized name — cf. Polycarp — and Dom Gorenflot ate human flesh in Lent, so that, for all he became a bishop, he is damned.

4Cecil Maitland, the lover of Mary Butts, the novelist. In the summer of 1921, they performed with others this ceremony at the Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu, Sicily. See The Great Beast.

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