Gnostic Banishing Ritual of the Four Luminaries

In the last post on Kimetikos, I mentioned a home-brewed “Gnostic Banishing Ritual” included in the practice. Thinking about it, I figure, why not share it as a post, because it’ll give me the chance to get something down I’ve been thinking about regarding “alternative spirituality” (yech).

I’ve never been very impressed by “thee-” and “thou-” laden church talk, and its influence on translations of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century.  It seems as how that’s how folks used to talk, which is well and good if you’re performing one of Shakespeare’s plays, but for purposes of ritual and prayer, doesn’t do anything more than increase the silliness factor– not to mention the inaccessibility of the work in question. Take, for example, this randomly chosen selection from G.R.S. Mead’s translation of the Pistis Sophia:

And Jesus answered and said unto Mary: “Finely indeed dost thou question concerning all with precision and certainty. But hearken, Mary, that I may speak with thee about the consummation of the æon and the ascension of the universe. It will not yet take place; but I have said unto you: ‘If I lead you into the region of the inheritances of those who shall receive the mystery of the Light, |189. then will the Treasury of the Light, the region of the emanations, count for you as a speck of dust only and as the light of the sun by day.’

Jargon aside, what the good god gravy is that supposed to mean? That’s such a stodgy translation, it’d be impenetrable even if you didn’t know what the “inheritances of those who shall… BLAH” meant.

To me, prayer and ritual and scripture are far more effective if they’re offered informally. For a while, I spent some time drafting up vernacular versions of apocryphal scripture (currently collected here), because none of the translations that are out there really do the trick for me. For example, take this passage from Ron Cameron’s translation of the Secret Book of James:

“Behold, I shall depart from you. I am going and I do not desire to remain with you any longer – just as you yourselves have not desired. Now, then, follow me quickly. Therefore I say to you, for your sake I have descended. You are the beloved; you are those who will become a cause of life for many. Beseech the Father. Implore God often, and he will give to you. Blessed is the one who has seen you with him when he is proclaimed among the angels and glorified among the saints. Yours is life! Rejoice and be glad as children of God. Keep his will in order that you may be saved. Take reproof from me and save yourselves. I intercede on your behalf with the Father, and he will forgive you much.”

Me, I think it sounds better like this:

“Okay, I’m going to leave. I’m going because I don’t want to stick around here anymore, just like you all. So, follow me, as soon as you can! I’ve come down here for you. You are the beloved, and you are going to save so many people. Pray to the Father. Pray to him often, and he’ll give you what you ask. The people who see you with the Father when the angels and Aeons and Saints are the lucky ones! You get to live! Be happy and celebrate that you’re God’s children! Follow his Way so that you’ll be saved. Listen to what I’m telling you, and save yourselves. I’m speaking to the Father for you, and he’ll forgive you.”

I have a few folk versions of Gnostic texts on that site I linked to, where I try and come up with some ‘plain language’ versions of the scriptures, sometimes more effectively than others.

I was once spoken down to by a self-professed “priest” because he thought my folk version of the Gospel of Thomas sounded too much… and I quote… “like something you’d read off of the back of a pickup truck.”

Well listen, where spiritual things are concerned, I am pro-pickup-truck. I don’t think you need bells and whistles and hand-crafted “magical tools” and expensive robes and whatnot. I think a ritual act– like Kimetikos– will be just as effective for you if you do it in your bedroom in your street clothes. Just like you can call up a breeze by whistling (it’s true– try it!), so you can pray to Sophia by saying, “Hey, Sophie, stick around and keep an eye on us, will you?” It’s the Intent, not the Trappings.

This isn’t to say you can’t use the tools and dress the part if it helps you. It’s to say some approaches work better for some people than others. The approach that works best for me is the no-frills, non-stodgy, direct and dirty one, but you might prefer the Full Ritual Monty. That’s fine, too. But for me, I need the DIY, relatively comprehensible version– not dumbed down, by any stretch (yay intellectualism!), but approachable. Hoodoo, not “High Magickckckckc.” There can be some rough language, and some cursing, and “thee” and “thou” won’t do the trick, since you can replace both of them with “you.” Clarity of information, see?

Don’t have a ritual knife? Use a butter knife, or a pointy stick, or imagine one. Don’t have an aspergillum? Use your fingers, or take a gulp and spit. Don’t have a “magical lamp” to hang? Use a bare lightbulb or an open window. Trying to use a text for spiritual reasons and it’s really unwieldy? Rewrite it.

Remember, this is all information we’re dealing with here, and there needs to be a free flow of it between you and the fractal patterns of the World of Forms and beyond. If something is getting in your way, finding a workaround is totally a good idea. So, here’s the quick-and-dirty Gnostic Banishing Ritual, which I whipped up under these same principles.  You don’t need any “things” to perform it, you just do it.

This is a ritual that employs the Aeons known as the Luminaries, most commonly referred to as Armozel, Oriel, Daveithai and Eleleth, or variations on those names.  The Four Luminaries are essentially Gnostic Archangels, so we do have the framework for a pretty powerful ritual banishment.

Why a pentagram in a Gnostic banishing ritual? Sure, the use of the pentagram as a symbol was common to the era, but attribution of the elements to the points of the symbol wasn’t carried to its logical extremes until the 18th-19th Century Occultist movement. It seems to me that none of these symbolic values of the glyph would really fit within the context of Gnostic thought as a banishing sign. However, we might consider it useful in its context as a symbol of wholeness, and assign Gnostic names for the divine to each point. Because hey, why not? So let’s toss one into the ritual.

In my opinion, a more proper rubric for banishment within Gnostic circles would be the Sign of the Cross projected outwards. Of course, in Christian tradition, the simple sign of the cross over the self is one of the most potent banishing rituals possible; if one wishes to forgo the pomp and circumstance, we have no doubt that “In Nomine Patris, et fillii, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen,” or even, “Hey, True God, please cast out negative Archonic junk and help me have a good time with this. Amen,” will work just fine.

Nonetheless, the following banishing ritual should prove quite efficacious for the Gnostic practitioner who wishes to perform a regular banishing ritual along the lines of the more well-known Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Sources include various Gnostic texts and the Greek Magical Papyrus. Alterations based on personal preference are always welcome and encouraged.


1. Centering Ritual

Stand facing East, and with your right hand, make a Tau cross on your forehead. Whisper the word “SIGE” (pron: SEE-gay).

Beginning with your forehead, make a pentagram over your body with your right hand in the following order, speaking the following names at each point:

Forehead: IAO (EE-AH-OH)
Right of Heart: BARBELO (BAR-BEY-LOH)
Left of Heart: SOPHIA (SOH-FEE-YAH)

Say: In Silence I’m Sealed by this Sign.

2. Banishing to the Quarters

Facing East, make the sign of the cross beginning at the top point– top-down-left-right, visualizing it as a yellow cross of light thrusting forward, expanding infinitely in all directions.


Facing North, make the sign of the cross beginning at the right-hand point– right-left-top-down, visualizing it as a red cross of light thrusting forward, expanding infinitely in all directions.


Facing West, make the sign of the cross beginning at the bottom point– bottom-top-left-right, visualizing it as a blue cross of light thrusting forward, expanding infinitely in all directions.


Facing South, make the sign of the cross beginning at the left-hand point– left-right-top-bottom, visualizing it as a green cross of light thrusting forward, expanding infinitely in all directions.


3. Invokation of the Ministers of the Luminaries (see Gosp. Egypt.)

Return to the East, hands crossed on your chest. Visualize a brilliant white light above your head.
Above me, CHRISTOS.
Visualize a soft, comforting blue light below your feet.
Below me, SOPHIA.
Visualize a glowing orange figure in front of you, facing outwards.
In front of me, GAMALIEL.
Visualize a glowing indigo figure behind you, facing outwards.
Behind me, SAMLO.
Visualize a glowing violet figure on your left, facing outwards.
To my left, GABRIEL.
Visualize a shadowy black figure on your right, facing outwards.
To my right, ABRASAX.
Uncross your arms.

4. Centering Ritual to Close

Say: In Silence I’m Sealed by this Sign.

Forehead: IAO (EE-AH-OH)
Right of Heart: BARBELO (BAR-BEY-LOH)
Left of Heart: SOPHIA (SOH-FEE-YAH)

Stand facing East, and with your right hand, make a Tau cross on your forehead. Whisper the word “SIGE” (pron: SEE-gay).



Filed under Gnostic Philosophy, This Way

4 responses to “Gnostic Banishing Ritual of the Four Luminaries

  1. Savitri Ananda

    Very interesting ritual–thank you for sharing it with us. I plan on trying it rather than the LBRP sometime soon. I also enjoyed your commentary on the use of tools.

  2. This is slightly ancillary, but is there any more modern translation of the Pistis Sophia that you’d recommend?

  3. Jeremy Puma

    Unfortunately, there are only a few English translations out there, and most are by kooks. Mead is *okay*, as long as you’re aware of his agenda. The best one is probably the Violet MacDermot translation:

    I honestly can’t say as how I’d recommend it to the casual reader; it’s a beast of a book, extremely difficult.

  4. Yeah, I was kinda thinking that only McDermot’s version seemed reasonably non-goofy. I got the Kindle sample of it, which consisted of the Introduction (so many of their samples peter out before the actual text), which didn’t impress me much; but maybe I’ll give it a shot. I’ve read many beastly books, so I’m not overly concerned about that!

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