Ritual magic

From Occult Encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A re-creation of a magic ritual to summon a deity in the film "Cult of Cthulhu"

Ritual magic (also called ceremonial magic, high magic or learned magic) encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic. The works included are characterized by ceremony and numerous requisite accessories to aid the practitioner. Popularized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it draws on such schools of philosophical and occult thought as Hermetic Qabalah, Enochian magic, Thelema, and the magic of various grimoires. Ritual magic is major element in Hermeticism and occultism.


The term magick is an Early Modern English spelling for magic, used in works such as the 1651 translation of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, or Of Magick. Aleister Crowley chose the spelling to differentiate his practices and rituals from stage magic (which may be more appropriately termed "illusion") and the term has since been re-popularised by those who have adopted elements of his teachings.

Crowley defined Magick as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will."

Components of ritual magic

A grimoire is a textbook of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination, and how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, deities, and demons. The only contents found in a grimoire would be information on spells, rituals, the preparation of magical tools, and lists of ingredients and their magical correspondences. In this manner, while all books on magic could be thought of as grimoires, not all magical books should be thought of as grimoires.

A magical formula or 'word of power' is a word that is believed to have specific supernatural effects. They are words whose meaning illustrates principles and degrees of understanding that are often difficult to relay using other forms of speech or writing. It is a concise means to communicate very abstract information through the medium of a word or phrase.

The practice of ceremonial magic often requires tools made or consecrated specifically for this use, called magical weapons, which are required for a particular ritual or series of rituals. They may be a symbolic representation of psychological elements of the magician or of metaphysical concepts. Aleister Crowley lists the tools required as a magic circle drawn on the ground and inscribed with the names of god, an altar, a wand, cup, sword, and pentacle, to represent his true will, his understanding, his reason, and the lower parts of his being respectively.

In magical rituals involving the invocation of deities, a vocal technique called vibration is commonly used. In general ritual practice, vibration can also refer to a technique of saying a god-name or a magical formula in a long, drawn-out fashion (i.e. with a full, deep breath) that employs the nasal passages, such that the sound feels and sounds "vibrated'. This is very similar to techniques used in ritual evocation as practiced by ancient Egyptians and in Judaism.