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object:3.01 - The Principles of Ritual
author class:Aleister Crowley
subject class:Occultism
book class:Liber ABA



The Principles of Ritual
There is a single main definition of the object of all magical
Ritual. It is the uniting of the Microcosm with the Macrocosm.
The Supreme and Complete Ritual is therefore the Invocation of
the Holy Guardian Angel;1 or in the language of Mysticism,
Union with God.2
All other magical Rituals are particular cases of this general
principle, and the only excuse for doing them is that it sometimes
occurs that one particular portion of the microcosm is so weak that
its imperfection of impurity would vitiate the Macrocosm of which
it is the image. For example, God is above sex; and therefore, neither
man nor woman as such can be said to fully understand, much less
to represent, God. It is therefore incumbent on the male magician to
cultivate those female virtues in which he is deficient, and this task
he must of course accomplish without in any way impairing his
virility. It will then be lawful for a magician to invoke Isis, and
identify himself with her; if he fail to do this, his apprehension of
the Universe when he attains samdhi will lack the conception of
maternity. The result will be a metaphysical andby corollary
ethical limitation in the Religion which he founds. Judaism and
Islam are striking examples of this failure.
To take another example, the ascetic life which devotion to
magick so often involves argues a poverty of nature, a narrowness, [12]
a lack of generosity. Nature is infinitely prodigalnot one in a
million seeds ever comes to fruition. Whoso fails to recognize this,
let him invoke Jupiter.3
The danger of ceremonial magick the subtlest and deepest

1. See The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage; and Liber 418, 8th thyr;
Liber Samekh, appendix IV of this book.
2. The difference between these operations is more of theoretical than of practical
3. There are much deeper considerations in which it appearts that Everything
that is, is right. They are set forth in Part IV; we can only summarise them here by
saying that the survival of the fittest is their upshot.



dangeris this: that the Magician will naturally tend to invoke that
partial being which most strongly appeals to him, so that his natural
excess in that direction will be still further exaggerated. Let him,
before beginning his Work, endeavour to map out his own being,
and arrange his invocations in such a way as to redress the
balance.1 This, of course, should have been done in a preliminary
fashion during the preparation of the weapons and furniture of the
To consider in a more particular manner this question of the
Nature of Ritual, we may suppose that he finds himself lacking in
that perception of the value of Life and Death, alike of individuals
and races, which is characteristic of Nature. He has perhaps a
tendency to perceive the first noble truth uttered by Buddha, that
Everything is sorrow. Nature, it seems, is a tragedy. He has
perhaps even experienced the great trance called Sorrow. He
should then consider whether there is not some Deity who
expresses this Cycle, and yet whose nature is joy. He will find what
he requires in the Greek Dionysus or Bacchus, a distortion of whose
Rites forms the Central Mystery of the Christian Religion.
There are three main methods of invoking any Deity.
The First Method consists of devotion to that Deity, and, being
mainly mystical in character, need not be dealt with in this place,
especially as a perfect instruction exists in Liber 175 (See Appendix).2
The Second Method is the straightforward ceremonial
invocation. It is the method which was usually employed in the
Middle Ages. Its advantage is its directness, its disadvantage its
[13] crudity. The Gotia gives clear instruction in this method, and so do
many other Rituals, white and black. We shall presently devote
some space to a clear exposition of this Art.
In the case of Bacchus, however, we may roughly outline the
procedure. We find that the symbolism of Tiphareth expresses the
nature of Bacchus. It is then necessary to construct a ritual of
Tiphareth. Let us open the Book 777; we shall find in line 6 of each
column the various parts of our required apparatus. Having
ordered everything duly, we shall exalt the mind by repeated
prayers or conjurations to the highest conception of the God, until,
in one sense or another of the word, He appears to us and floods

1. The ideal method of doing this is given in Liber 913 (Equinox I (7) [and
Appendix VII, p. 387 of this book]). See also Liber CXI, Aleph.
2. [Appendix VII, p. 363.]



our consciousness with the light of His divinity.
The Third Method is the Dramatic, perhaps the most attractive
of all; certainly so it is to the artists temperament, for it appeals to
his imagination through his sthetic sense.
Its disadvantage lies principally in the difficulty of its performance by a single person. But it has the sanction of the highest
antiquity, and is probably the most useful basis for the foundation
of a religion. It is the method of Catholic Christianity, and consists
in the dramatization of the legend of the God. The Bacch of
Euripides is a magnificent example of such a Ritual; so also, though
in a much less degree, is the Mass. We may also mention many of
the degrees in Freemasonry, particularly the Third. The 5=68 Ritual
published in [Volume I] No. 3 of the Equinox is another example.
In the case of Bacchus, one commemorates firstly his birth of a
mortal mother who has yielded her treasure-house to the Father of
All, of the jealousy and rage afforded by this incarnation, and of the
heavenly protection afforded to the infant. Next should be commemorated the journeying westward upon an ass. Now comes the
great scene of the drama: the gentle, exquisite youth with his
following (chiefly composed of women) seems to threaten the
established order of things, and that Established Order takes steps
to put an end to the upstart. We find Dionysus confronting the
angry King, not with defiance, but with meekness; yet with a subtle
confidence, an underlying laughter. His forehead is wreathed with
vine tendrils. He is an effeminate figure with those broad leaves
clustered upon his brow? But those leaves hide horns. King [14]
Pentheus, representative of respectability,1 is destroyed by his pride.
He goes out into the mountains to attack the women who have
followed Bacchus, the youth whom he has mocked, scourged, and
put in chains, yet who has only smiled; and by those women, in
their divine madness, he is torn to pieces.
It has already seemed impertinent to say so much when Walter
Pater has told the story with such sympathy and insight. We will
not further transgress by dwelling upon the identity of this legend
with the course of Nature, its madness, its prodigality, its
intoxication, its joy, and above all its sublime persistence through

1. There is a much deeper interpretation in which Pentheus is himself The
Dying God. Se my Good Hunting! [in The International, New York, March 1918,
and The Revival of Magick and other essays.] and Dr. J.G. Frazers Golden Bough
[Adonis Attis Osiris, ii. p. 98; Sprits of the Corn and of the Wild, i., pp. 24-5.]



the cycles of Life and Death. The pagan reader must labour to
understand this in Paters Greek Studies, and the Christian reader
will recognise it, incident for incident, in the story of Christ. This
legend is but the dramatization of Spring.
The magician who wishes to invoke Bacchus by this method
must therefore arrange a ceremony in which he takes the part of
Bacchus, undergoes all His trials, and emerges triumphant from
beyond death. He must, however, be warned against mistaking the
symbolism. In this case, for example, the doctrine of individual
immortality has been dragged in, to the destruction of truth. It is
not that utterly worthless part of man, his individual consciousness
as John Smith, which defies death that consciousness which dies
and is reborn in every thought. That which persists (if anything
persist) is his real John Smithness, a quality of which he was
probably never conscious in his life.1
Even that does not persist unchanged. It is always growing. The
Cross is a barren stick, and the petals of the Rose fall and decay; but
[15] in the union of the Cross and the Rose is a constant succession of
new lives.2 Without this union, and without this death of the
individual, the cycle would be broken.
A chapter will be consecrated to removing the practical
difficulties of this method of Invocation.3 It will doubtless have
been noted by the acumen of the reader that in the great essentials
these three methods are one. In each case the Magician identifies
himself with the Deity invokes. To invoke is to call in, just as to evoke
is to call forth or out. This is the essential difference between the two
branches of Magick. In invocation, the macrocosm floods the
consciousness. In evocation, the Magician, having become the
macrocosm, creates a microcosm. You invoke a God into the Circle.
You evoke a spirit into the Triangle. In the first method identity
with the God is attained by love and by surrender, by giving up or
suppressing all irrelevant (and illusionary) parts of yourself. It is
the weeding of a garden.
In the second method identity is attained by paying special
attention to the desired part of yourself: positive, as the first method

1. See The Book of Lies, Liber 333, for several sermons to this effect. Caps , , ,
, F, , , , , in particular. The reincarnation of the Khu or magical Self is
another matter entirely, too abstruse to discuss in this elementary manual.
2. See The Book of Lies, Liber 333, for several sermons to this effect. The whole
theory of Death must be sought in Liber CXI, Aleph.
3. [Cap. XIX, infra.]



is negative. It is the potting-out and watering of a particular flower
in the garden, and the exposure of it to the sun.
In the third, identity is attained by sympathy. It is very difficult
for the ordinary man to lose himself completely in the subject of a
play or of a novel; but for those who can do so, this method is
unquestionably the best.
Observe: each element in the cycle is of equal value. It is wrong
to say triumphantly Mors janua vit,1 unless you add, with equal
triumph, Vita janua mortis.2 To one who understands this chain of
the ons from the point of view alike of the sorrowing Isis and the
triumphant Osiris, not forgetting their link in the destroyer
Apophis, there remains no secret veiled in Nature. He cries the
name of that God which throughout history has been echoed by one
religion to another, the infinite swelling pan I.A.O.!3

1. [Lat., Death [is] the gate of life.]
2. [Lat., Life [is] the gate of death.]
3. This name I.A.O. is qabalistically identical with that of THE BEAST and with His
number 666, so that he who invokes the former invokes also the latter. Also with
AIWAZ and the number 93. See Chapter V.


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