A Microcosm of the Esoteric Revival: The Histories of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram

Graham John Wheeler


This article examines the sources that underlie the best known of all the rituals that have emerged from the modern esoteric revival: the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP), which was formulated in the late-Victorian period by the creators of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. A close study reveals that the sources of the LBRP are extraordinarily varied; and, in some cases, extremely old. This eclecticism shows how religious rituals and other “invented traditions” tend to be assembled from a bricolage of pre-existing materials, part familiar and part mysterious. The Golden Dawn’s eclecticism also served the practical function of bridging the gap between the Christian and pagan interests/allegiances within its membership. Moreover, the construction of the LBRP provides an example of how older, more fluid traditions of esoteric knowledge came to be codified and standardised by the Golden Dawn in the context of the modern occult revival.


esotericism; occult revival; religious ritual; ritual; ritual magic

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