Getting to know your Holy Guardian Angel – The Bornless Rite/Liber Samekh

Earlier I wrote that whilst attaining the knowledge and conversation of my Holy Guardian Angel is certainly interesting to me, the 'classic' approach of the Abramelin working isn't really for me.  Fortunately I discovered the Bornless Rite.

I first came across the Bornless Ritual in a book on the Goetia written by Lon Milo Duquette.  It was strongly suggested that one should use a powerful ritual like the Bornless Rite before dicking around with such potentially nasty, disruptive and chaotic energies as the Goetia.  This seemed like sound advice, but it also gave the Bornless Rite a certain mystique – if it was powerful enough to allow you to safely traffic with extremely powerful and unpleasant spirits, it must have something going for it.

I eventually tried the ritual as a result of a Tarot reading – when asked "What's the best way for me to proceed in my magickal development?" and given a list of options, the spread was very clear on the fact that the Bornless Rite would produce the fastest and most interesting journey (the outcome card being The Chariot comparing favourably with some pretty dull cards for other techniques I might practice).  I eventually gave it a go and found… well, it was all terribly exciting.

The Bornless Rite takes about half an hour to perform start to finish, and it involves a certain amount of visualisation, statements of intent, and a whole lot of resonating 'barbarous names' (i.e. words which don't mean anything but which help you focus or meditate on the energy you are trying to evoke).  If you want to read Crowley's text about how to go about the rite you can read it here.  However, as with most text by Crowley it isn't always as clear as it might be.

Performing it the first time I wasn't terribly competent – there's a lot going on, a lot to remember, and frankly barbarous names are a pain in the backside.  Just exactly how are you supposed to pronounce AR-O-GO-GO-RU-ABRAO without feeling slightly self conscious?  But it rapidly became apparent there was something to this – if the goal of a magickal ritual is to shift the consciousness of the magickian, then this worked a treat.  By the end of it I felt like I was buzzing with energy, and I did, indeed, feel a certain 'divine authority' had come upon me.  Cool, I thought, this is something to do again.

The history of the Bornless rite is pretty interesting.  First of all, the title seems to be a mistranslation – it should be the Headless Rite.  But that sounds a lot less cool.  There's an argument to suggest it means head as in the beginning or start, therefore headless means without beginning, and Bornless might be a reasonable parallel for that concept.  However, I'm not getting stuck into the translation business.

The rite itself has a long history – it appears to be based on a Græco-Egyptian rite of exorcism which was only translated into English in 1852.  There are a couple of theories as to where it comes from originally, some say from the Leyden Papyrus but most commonly it is said to be from The Greek Magical Papyri.  It would appear that this papyrus was originally a single huge scroll, buried in a tomb in Thebes, probably in first or second century, but was stolen, cut up into sections, and sold to various collectors before eventually being pieced back together again.  The barbarous names within the ritual suggest connections with early Greek Gnostics and probably back to Egypt before that.

So originally a rite of exorcism, but one that involved the exorcist taking on divine authority in order to be able to boss around any spirits who were out of line.  Crowley, apparently in a moment of inspiration, decided that the ritual formed an ideal template for attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.  He edited and adjusted the ritual accordingly (and changed some of the barbarous names to have more direct meaning within his own magickal understanding) and recommended it as a daily practice for those intent on developing magickally.

Which, oddly enough, is what I've ended up doing.  After my first experiment it was some time before I went back to it and made it part of a regular practice.  I used it about four or five times a week for about 4 months before the Magickian's Cycle kicked in, I had a crisis, and I stopped.  Then I started up again with a dedicated daily practice six months ago.  The posts on this blog give some idea of what's happening this time.

Crowley's instructions for magickal development are pretty easy – just two words: Invoke often.  He meant, of course, invoke your Holy Guardian Angel often.  The Bornless Rite is a half hour ritual dedicated to that specific purpose.  But does it work?  Do you get anywhere?  What would it be like to have Knowledge and Conversation of ones Holy Guardian Angel?  I'll got on to that next…

For further reading: a deep discussion about Liber Samekh and it's differences to the original ritual can be found in this article by Alex Summer; and Frater Barrabbas has some interesting notes on its history and application in this article.

6 Responses to "Getting to know your Holy Guardian Angel – The Bornless Rite/Liber Samekh"

  1. John Grebenczenko says:

    This the first article on this rite that is not BS. One question do you have to be in the circle to perform the rite. Do you have to know the Name Of Your Angel or will it be given to you after the rite. Can't get a straight answer from anyone. Please reply thank you John.

  2. Warlock says:

    I'm not *exactly* sure what you mean by 'in the circle' – my own approach to doing the rite is to banish before the ritual (generally with the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram), and often used a period of meditation to prepare as well. The purpose of the Banishing ritual was really to get myself into the right mental space, as well as to 'clear out' the local area energetically. I think that's a good approach, but I don't think one has to be prescriptive about the way one achieves that.

    I really don't think you need to know the name of your Angel to begin this rite. I've certainly not got any idea about it. I see the purpose of this rite as to start actively building your relationship, to start forming a link between the two of you (and to start transforming yourself into the kind of person who *can* gain 'Knowledge and Conversation') so I'd say at the outset the expectation is that you'll know very little about your angel.

    Personally, I found it useful to create a sigil to focus on and visualise during the rite. I gained this by just sitting, thinking about my HGA, and doodling… it didn't come in a moment of 'revelation', but after a few pages of doodling and sketching I found that certain images or ideas kept recurring, and just felt 'right' to me. I assembled them into a single image and then tried variations on that until I felt happy. Occasionally I returned to it and tried variations again to see if I could come up with a 'better' version, and occasionally I would do so.

    An interesting variation on this is that Alan Chapman performed a piece of magick, the intent of which was to receive the sigil of his HGA. The magick was successful, and the Sigil came to him in a dream. You might try something like that.

    Good luck with the quest… I wish you great success.

  3. Ahel says:

    I wanted to try this ritual, i already feel the presence of my HGA but i wanted to see the face of my HGA. I can only feel its presence whenever i talk to my HGA and my prayers are instantly answered. I want to learn more how to really see my HGA.

  4. Guy In The Comments says:

    I think you forgot to link us to the next essay:

    "But does it work? Do you get anywhere? What would it be like to have Knowledge and Conversation of ones Holy Guardian Angel? I'll got on to that next…"

    So? 🙂

  5. Somehow, Crowley revised the exorcism rite of the Bornless One to fit his own means of contacting certain spirits. This ritual has a lot to do with invoking your Higher Self-Consciousness, and nothing else. It contain a lot of Enochian in conjunction with Greek and Egyptian 'barbarous names'. I find this ritual to work very well if using vibration. If you are meddling with any other occult book, such as the Necronomicon or The Goetia, I recommend reciting the prayer TWICE before proceeding. It will protect you from the negative energies being absorbed into your subconscious.

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