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The Scarlet Letter
Volume II, Number 1 | August 1994
Column: Smoking Dog Project
Hair of the Dog
Ritual Conversion: Devotional, Ceremonial, and Dramatic
By Fr. Pnesomauma

On Saturday the 28th of May, the Smoking Dog Project brought its first dramatic ritual activity to fruition with a series of nine "Regulifts." These were an application and elaboration of material that I had received from the magicians of Kollegium 93 Camp in 1992 e.v. The ritual was based on the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast, available in Liber V vel Reguli (published in Gems from the Equinox, as well as the appendices to Magick in Theory and Practice).

The text of Liber V makes it clear that the published version is itself a devotional adaptation of a ceremonial ritual, "for the daily use of the Magician of whatever grade." In fact, the original ceremonial version was published in The Magical Link, vol. 6, no. 2. The next step that resulted in the technology of the Regulift was to make that devotional ritual dramatic, so that is was enacted by a small team for and through a subject. The actions of the ritual were divided among three operators, who performed them on the subject.

Since the stated purpose of the Ritual of the Mark of the Beast is "to invoke the energies of the Aeon of Horus," the effect of the dramatic ritual would be to align the energies of the subject with the 93 Current—a sort of Thelemic magickal tune-up. All accounts seem to indicate that this goal is served amply by the ritual as currently developed, but some other benefits emerge as well.

The 'lift makes a great instructional tool on a non-rational, experiential level for the subject. The Ritual of the Mark of the Beast is a big, complicated piece of work. I and others have found learning the devotional form relatively simple after being subjected to the dramatic version.

The ritual is also an education for the operators. Fa. Sharash, Fr. H.S. and I learned the ritual so that we could rotate roles and each perform all of the parts. That led to a more thorough and objective understanding of the mechanics of the devotional ritual than any of us had had previously. We also gained valuable perspective on the processes involved with dramatic ritual, relevant to future work as officers for initiations in the Order.

Other transformations among the three types of ritual are certainly possible; the magical literature is full of them.

It is pretty clear from the account of the Evocation of Bartzabel given in Equinox IX that Crowley still considered that ritual to be ceremonial in nature. But from the perspective of Fr. O.V., who served as the "material basis" for the evocation, the ritual was decidedly dramatic.

The reverse case, of dramatic to ceremonial conversions, is the most well-exercised and amply demonstrated type of ritual adaptation, as given in the Z2 documents of the Golden Dawn. These papers apply the structure and mechanics of the Golden Dawn Neophyte initiation to a wide variety of thaumaturgic and theurgic ceremonial work. Analogous operations could certainly be performed with O.T.O. degree materials, which should of course remain under the seals of those degrees.

Dramatic rituals were frequently converted to devotional work in Crowley's practice. For example, in the magical record John St. John (Equinox I, special supplement) we find the effort "to construct from DCLXXI a perfect ritual of self-initiation, so as to avoid the constant difficulties of various God-forms." DCLXXI is Liber Pyramidos, the ritual for the initiation of a Neophyte in the A.'.A.'. The devotional character of this "self-initiation" is further emphasized, as Crowley writes,

Then let that ritual be a constant and perfect link between Us... so that at all times I may be perfect in Thy Knowledge and Conversation, 0 mine Holy Guardian Angel! to whom I have aspired these ten years past.

Crowley's work in pursuit of that Knowledge and Conversation also furnishes an admirable example of conversion from ceremonial to devotional ritual. Liber Samekh is Crowley's devotional adaptation of the Bornless One, an old gnostic invocation that the Golden Dawn had relegated to ceremonial use.

With the variety of conversions available, the applications of the existing canon of Thelemic ritual are profoundly expanded. In the context of an order such as O.T.O., where magicians can work together on dramatic ritual, this momentarily exhausted Dog exhorts any and all to work at adaptations from the devotional and ceremonial to the dramatic.

Where there's smoke...

NOTE: The full script of "Liber V 1/2 vel Regulift" is available to interested parties. Please write the Smoking Dog Project c/o The Scarlet Letter, and enclose a dollar to cover costs.

[Or view it online]

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