Yes. I know. This is the first time I’ve made 3 continuous posts without a 6 month gap between them. You must be so proud.
Before we get to today’s article, I have an announcement to make. This Full Moon, I’m releasing an E-grimoire, which will be the first of hopefully many on specific topics. It’s going to contain a lot of theoretical, and practical information along with diagrams. More on that later, but look forward to it. If you’re reading this after June 2020, chances are it’s already out. Check the ‘Books’ tab on the top bar.
On this blog I have two types of visitors. The first are people who are curious about the Occult or just starting out, and come by to read about my experiences with summoning demons, explanations of the pentagram or simple spells. Then there’s those who are experienced Occultists, who can put up with me rambling on and on about specific Sephiroth and Gematria values, and understand every word perfectly. At the very least, anyone who reads this blog has made the choice to learn about and hopefully practice the true magick of the Light, free of superstition, danger and shallow spiritual thrills.
What I’m writing about today may attract people who are so new to the Occult they don’t even know it’s the Occult. To them I say, keep an open mind as you read, and don’t stress about not understanding some things.
I know this because the Bornless Invocation was my first foray into the Occult. While I had some exposure to new age stuff before, it was with this ritual that I was exposed to names like Crowley, Mathers, the Golden Dawn etc. Until then, I only thought of spirituality in the hippie sense. I couldn’t even grasp the depth of what I’d stumbled on.
It’s a bit strange thinking back on it. How something that has become an integral part of my life came to me when I was bored and randomly typed “how to summon demons” into Google. Fate perhaps, or just luck.
Today I’m going to go over a brief history of this ritual, and then tell you the most efficient way to perform it, at least according to me.
A lot of information on it online is from dabblers and armchair occultists, because few real practitioners of Magick actually use it in ritual practice. But I’m one of them, so let me give a clear guide to it, without the nonsense.
What is the Bornless Ritual
I’m guessing most people, if not all, came to know of this ritual from the Ars Goetia, which is the first part of The Lesser Key of Solomon. If you google it, you’ll find a lot of websites that basically copy paste the same ‘definition’, calling it the ‘prliminary invocation of the Goetia’. While that’s technically true, it gives off the wrong impression.
This is the most commonly encountered version of the ritual:
“Thee I invoke, the Bornless one.
Thee, that didst create the Earth and the Heavens:
Thee, that didst create the Night and the day.
Thee, that didst create the darkness and the Light.
Thou art Osorronophris: Whom no man hath seen at any time.
Thou art Iabos:
Thou art Iapos:
Thou hast distinguished between the just and the Unjust.
Thou didst make the female and the Male.
Thou didst produce the Seed and the Fruit.
Thou didst form Men to love one another, and to hate one another.
I am Ank F N Khonsu Thy Prophet, unto Whom Thou didst commit Thy Mysteries, the Ceremonies of Khem:
Thou didst produce the moist and the dry, and that which nourisheth all created Life.
Hear Thou Me, for I am the Angel of Apophrasz Osorronophris: this is Thy True Name, handed down to the Prophets of Khem.
Hear Me: Ar: Thiao: Reibet: Atheleberseth: A: Blatha: Abeu: Eben: Phi: Chitasoe: Ib: Thiao.
Hear Me, and make all Spirits subject unto Me: so that every Spirit of the Firmament and of the Ether: upon the Earth and under the Earth: on dry Land and in the Water: of Whirling Air, and of rushing Fire: and every Spell and Scourge of God may be obedient unto Me.
I invoke Thee, the Terrible and Invisible God: Who dwellest in the Void Place of the Spirit: Arogogorobrao: Sochou: Modorio: Phalarchao: Ooo: Ape, The Bornless One: Hear Me!
Hear Me: Roubriao: Mariodam: Balbnabaoth: Assalonai: Aphniao: I: Tholeth: Abrasax: Qeoou: Ischur, Mighty and Bornless One! Hear Me!
I invoke Thee: Ma: Barraio: Ioel: Kotha: Athorebalo: Abraoth: Hear Me!
Hear me! Aoth: Aboth: Basum: Isak: Sabaoth: Iao:
This is the Lord of the Gods:
This is the Lord of the Universe:
This is He Whom the Winds fear.
This is He, Who having made Voice by His Commandment, is Lord of All Things; King, Ruler, and Helper. Hear Me!
Hear Me: Ieou: Pur: Iou: Pur: Iaot: Iaeo: Ioou: Abrasax: Sabriam: Oo: Uu: Ede: Edu: Angelos tou theou: Lai: Gaia: Apa: Diachanna: Chorun.
I am He! the Bornless Spirit! having sight in the Feet: Strong, and the Immortal Fire!
I am He! the Truth!
I am He! Who hate that evil should be wrought in the World!
I am He, that lightningeth and thundereth.
I am He, from whom is the Shower of the Life of Earth:
I am He, whose mouth flameth:
I am He, the Begetter and Manifester unto the Light:
I am He, the Grace of the World:
“The Heart Girt with a Serpent” is My Name!
Come Thou forth, and follow Me: and make all Spirits subject unto Me so that every Spirit of the Firmament, and of the Ether: upon the Earth and under the Earth: on dry land, or in the Water: of whirling Air or of rushing Fire: and every Spell and Scourge of God, may be obedient unto me!
Iao: Sabao: Such are the Words!”
First things first though. The Lesser Key of Solomon is a famous medieval grimoire of unknown origin, claiming to have been written by King Solomon himself, but that’s probably not true. It was very common for medieval authors of grimoires to remain anonymous, and attribute their books to legendary figures like Solomon, Moses or Christ. This was partly to protect their identity, but also to separate themselves from their work. Most magicians even today write under a pseudonym (including me), so that people can focus on the information instead of the person.
The book has five parts, although most people only know about the first, the Ars Goetia. This is a list of 72 ‘demons’ who allegedly helped King Solomon (a Biblical figure who was a great King of Israel) build his Temple at Jerusalem. The book gives their seals, descriptions and various rituals to summon them. The book was compiled in the 17th century, although it is based on many older texts, such as the works of Johanne Weyer, Henry Cornellius Agrippa and Eliphas Levi.
And that’s what the book was for centuries. However, in 1904, a man named Samuel Lidell Mathers translated this work, along with several others. Mathers is an important figure within the Occult, one of the founding members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (i’m sorry for so many long names right off the bat, but the quicker we get them out of the way the better. Many of you will already be familiar with these).
Mathers was the first to translate and publish this manuscript, and it was edited by his then friend and fellow Golden Dawn member, and the well known occultist who rose to infamy: Aleister Crowley. At the very beginning of the book, Crowley decided to add a rather peculiar ritual: The Bornless Invocation.
Now, understand that this ritual was not part of the original manuscript. In fact, i’m sure the original medieval authors of the Lesser Key wouldn’t even have known about this ritual. But, it was not created by Crowley either. The Bornless Invocation was originally in Greek, although if you look at its contents, you’ll see it actually has Egyptian origin.
It was most likely created by Gnostics, a mystery cult in era of the Roman Empire which would go on to become Christianity. Many Gnostics would have been Greek, and were heavily inspired and influenced by the Egyptian and Jewish mysticism making its way into Europe. That would explain why, despite being Greco-Egyptian, it appears to have Abrahamic language that we see in Judaism and Christianity, and why it places an emphasis on Osiris, whose myths and symbolism served as a basis for the Gnostics to create their own symbolism and tradition. Also, for the sake of clarity, i’m referring to the early Gnostics of the Roman Empire, who were basically proto-Christians, not the Cathars who were around almost 800 years later.
It’s also worth mentioning, that in this version by Crowley, he added “I am Ank F N Khonsu Thy Prophet, unto Whom Thou didst commit Thy Mysteries, the Ceremonies of Khem“. Khem is the ancient name of Egypt, and Ankh F N Khnosu was a magickal motto used by Crowley.
In the older, Abrahamic versions, it is written as “I am Moshe Thy Prophet, unto Whom Thou didst commit Thy Mysteries, the Ceremonies of Ishrael“. Here, Moshe is the Hebrew name of Moses, and Ishrael is the fabled Holy Land of the Biblical Jews (not to be confused with the modern nation state of Israel. There is much overlap, but they’re not exactly the same thing)
The Gnostics probably used Jewish symbolism, but Crowley saw fit to make it Egyptian, based on its origin. As it should be obvious, this translation was made to be practical to ceremonial magick, and not necessarily accurate. Many linguists and historians have translated the ritual in various, more accurate ways since then, although none have the same flair as the GD version.
The dialect you see here is late Middle English, or at least, what people in the Victorian era (such as Mathers) thought Middle English was like. Hence why many words have suffixes, such as the term “flameth” instead of flames. Pre-classical English used to be language with almost as much beauty and intricacy as Sanskrit, Latin or Hebrew. This is the dialect used in many English versions of the Bible.
The reason Crowley chose to include this ritual in the Goetia, is because it calls upon the authority of the Most High. The term ‘Bornless One’ means that which is eternal, which has no beginning. In fact, a more accurate translation of the name would be “Headless One”. To us modern people, that name sounds scary. But to the Gnostics (and possibly ancient Egyptians), it meant something more profound. Having no ‘head’, means having no ‘Ego’. That which is ultimate and self realised.
The original prayer calls on Egyptian God Osiris (Asar). In the modern version, we see the term ‘Osorronophris’, which is a Greek distortion of ‘Asar un-Nefer’, meaning Osiris the Beautiful.
The Golden Dawn worked very heavily with Egyptian gods, so it’s clear to see why they would choose this ritual. It appealed to their highly Egyptian sensibilities and style of magick, while still retaining the Kabbalistic/ Gnostic imagery they were familiar with. Within the GD tradition, Osiris is often considered the highest God. Modern media presents him as some sort of underworld Deity. But when you realise that the ancient Egyptians believed the afterlife was under the Earth, not up in the Sky, this has much more significance.
Osiris was also the God of fertility (and Egypt was a largely agricultural society). The annual flooding of the Nile marked the Egyptian New Year, and it was linked to the rebirth of Osiris. But the most important thing for us, is that the Pharaoh was said to be the living manifestation of Osiris on Earth. Thus, he commanded authority over the entire Empire.
That’s what the Bornless Ritual is: authority. When you stand within the magick circle, and summon angels or demons, you do so with that authority. The performance of this ritual is the the proclamation of that authority, that has been granted unto you by the Divine (however you choose to think of it). Put bluntly: it is an Invocation of God, and in the magick circle, you are the God of the circle.
Structure of the Ritual
There are various versions of the ritual. However, for the practical 21st century magickian, this version is the most powerful and correct, as well as efficient. I present to you, the Bornless ritual:
The Invocation of the Bornless One
Thee I Invoke, the Bornless One!
Thee that didst create, the Earth and the Heavens!
Thee that didst create, the Darkness and the Light!
Thou art Asar-un-Nefer, whom no man hath seen at any time!
Thou hast distinguished between the Just and the Unjust!
Thou didst make the Female and the Male!
Thou didst produce the Seed and the Fruit!
Thou didst form us to love one another, and to hate one another!
Thou didst produce the moist and the dry,
and that which nourisheth all created life!
I Invoke Thee, the Mighty and Ineffable God,
Who dwelleth in the Void place of the Spirit.
I am He! The Bornless Spirit!
Having sight in the feet: strong, and the Immortal Fire!
I am He, the Truth!
I am He, who hates that evil should be wrought in the world!
I am He that bringeth the Lightning and Thunder!
I am He, who showereth life upon the Earth!
I am He, whose mouth ever flameth!
I am He, the begetter and manifester unto the Light!
I am He, the Grace of the World!
The Heart Girt of the Serpent in my name!
Hear Me, and make all Spirits subject unto me,
So that every Spirit of the Firmament and of the Ether,
Upon the Earth or under the Earth,
On dry land and in water, if whirling air and of rushing fire,
And every spell and scourge of God,
May be Obedient unto Me. Amen!
It is this version used by the OTA, a group founded by Mason and prominent ceremonial magician, Poke Caroll Runyon. The OTA omits the “barbarous names” and has no repetitions, and I agree with that. More on it later.
Also, I should mention, I changed “terrible and invisible God” to “mighty and ineffable God”. The words used in the original and OTA version are really bad, because most people have a negative association with the words “terrible” and “invisible”. Western ceremonial magicians frequently fail at separating their innate guilt and fear from this most sacred and beautiful art of Magick. It is up to you, but I suggest using my words. And for what it’s worth, the original Greek translates to something like “I call upon you, awe-some and hidden God..”
When reading the ritual, you may notice that it has two distinctive parts. The first, appears to be a ‘prayer’. It involves several lines praising the Divine, and describing it in various ways. You will notice that it reconciles all duality, always using both sides of every aspect. The Divine is the source of ALL things.
The second is seemingly abrupt. Suddenly, the praises stop and we are met with a string of “I Am” statements. This ends with both a proclamation and a plea, simultaneously asking for and granting ourselves authority over the Cosmos.
The third part, which is removed here, are strings and strings of random words. These are the famous ‘barbarous names’, and they usually are what makes the ritual much longer than is presented here. You can see them in the original version I have provided at the beginning.
“…Hear Me: Ar: Thiao: Reibet: Atheleberseth:………etc.”
Usually, the whole thing is repeated multiple times, with these barbarous names dividing each part. Many of these were probably Greek distortions of Egyptian terms, and many were probably Greek originally, and yet who knows how many more have been added by the Golden Dawn. It should be noted that both of them further distorted several names, although to be honest no one at the time knew as much about these things. Over the years many others have tried to ‘correct’ these names. For anyone interested, here is an online journal which gives the origin and meaning of all of them, as well as the entire ritual.
How to Perform the Ritual
First of, let’s start with the barbarous names, and why modern magicians omit them. Some people might think it just seems like a bunch of mindless, meaningless nonsense. Ironically, those people would be correct.
You see, the mind has two halves. There’s the critical, conscious part, and the subconscious, intuitive part. Successful magick relies heavily on the subconscious mind, since the magician must have absolute faith when he performs his magick. Any doubts, limiting beliefs, and harmful perspectives can hinder the work. If you’re doing a ritual, and all the while thinking about how it’s all stupid and fake, or worried about whether you’re doing it right, or trying to think about the logic of it…well, the ritual would fail.
The way Crowley put it: by forcing you to recite these odd, strange and senseless words, you would push away the doubt. In his words “by enthusiastically invoking something we know not to exist, we are refuting the conscious mind!” (not the exact words, but close enough).
I wouldn’t quite put it that way though. A better way to think is that you’re keeping the conscious mind occupied. By giving it a fairly complex task to perform and keep track of, you’re keeping it from hindering with the ritual.
But, this is actually not a great way of doing so (and in case you’re wondering, the evocation methods that the Golden Dawn finally ended up using did not use the Bornless Invocation, nor any orations from the Ars Goetia). The barbarous names are a bit tedious. You can use them if you want, but a much better way to keep the mind busy is by adding complexity to the ritual. It is for this reason that many Occult rituals have such intricacy. I wouldn’t doubt Crowley and Mathers, as they were very powerful magicians, but I personally find the barbarous names clumsy. Poke Runyon, an equally powerful mage, seems to think so too.
Okay, so now let’s focus on the other two parts. An Invocation consists of two parts: praise and identification. In the first, obviously, we praise the Spiritual force being invoked. You may have noticed this in religious ceremonies, where the Deity in question is called by his many epithets. You may have heard Hindu prayers, where the gods in question is clearly defined using all sorts of traits, such as appearance, powers, clothing and other things. You may have heard Christian hymns where Christ or God are praised through the various roles they play in people’s lives.
The purpose of this is simply: to help us visualise the Spiritual force. If you look at most Occult Invocations, they always begin with such a prayer. This helps the magickian clearly formulate and understand what s/he is communing with, like an ‘image’ of the force. In the Bornless Ritual, we are trying to call on the Divine itself, which is why all the traits seem contradictory, since the Divine is the source of ALL things.
The second part is what religions usually leave out: identification. This is the actual “Invocation” or ‘calling in’ of the Spiritual force. Religion always uses the first part, because it wants you to feel the Gods, without identifying with them. I mean, if most religious worshipers were to identify with their Gods, they they would have no need for religious dogma. They would no longer need the religion to be a middle man between them and their God. And, to the credit of religion, invoking deities requires a well balanced individual who has done spiritual groundwork. Most people cannot just invoke a Deity without preparation. But since the Bornless Invocation calls on the Divine itself, it has few dangers, and anyone can perform it (because the Divine is in all things, whether we like it or not).
Thus, during the first part of the operation, the magus must fill himself with faith and devotion. I normally kneel when I do this part, and speak the words as if in prayer. It’s not just about repeating the words, but understanding their implication. If you believe in and pray to God, this should be done with the same fervour.
Then, the identification. At first, you were calling upon the Divine. Now, the Divine has been invoked and entered the practitioner, and s/he has to assume that mindset and framework. This is where I suddenly stand up straight and proclaim the “I Am” statements in a loud and resonant voice, believing each of them completely. In this short sequence, you have to completely identify with the Divine, and assume the persona of the Master of the Temple. Ideally, having a strong Will and Self Esteem helps. If not, then that can be built up. Doubt and fear have no place, because you’re going to be calling upon forces that will place a great strain on you, as well as those who will test you at every turn.
Personally, I also recommend people who are struggling with self esteem or confidence issues to recite the Bornless Invocation every morning like a prayer, since recognizing oneself as Divine is a crucial aspect of any occult practice. On the other hand, if you’re already really confident and can do this easily, you should be careful using this invocation because it may inflate the Ego, which is one the biggest dangers in magick.
Repetition is not needed, though you may recite it three times if you want, with identification happening in the final half of the 3rd repetition. A lot of the extra bits from the original are unneeded in serious occult practice, although being familiar with the text helps.
I’ve run out of complicated things to say, so I’m going to link two videos here. The first is an old recording of Israel Regardie reading out the Bornless Ritual, as originally intended by Crowley and Mathers. Regardie was the man responsible to publishing most of the teachings of the Golden Dawn, along with Crowley and Dion Fortune, who were both his peers within the Order. Here he is using the Egyptian version by Crowley.
The second is a video of Poke Runyon performing it within the OTA. This is the version I have used, more or less, and here you can actually see the rite in action during a live ritual. Here, the barbarous words and references to Egypt or Israel are omitted, with no repetitions. (I’ve timestamped the moment where it begins. It’s up to you if you want to watch the rest of the video, which is about an hour long and deals with OTA methods of Evocation. If you’re using mobile, the timestamp may not work. Skip to 55:40)
I like the flair with which the OTA do the rituals, but I dislike their flat tone and spoken pronunciations. This is understandable as it’s simply a minor invocation to the OTA, and much more attention is given to the rituals preceding and following it. While their rituals are no doubt powerful, and while they take great care in creating their temples, props and sigils, I really don’t like the plain English and somewhat dull non-musical recitations, or the spooky woo aesthetic. In fact, it’s all a bit cringey (no offence to any OTA practitioners 🙂 )
I think in terms of the actual words, Regardie says it with more fervor. Notice how he even pronounces all the classical English words correctly. While I always felt the Golden Dawn made everything over complicated and inaccessible, they did understand the sublime beauty of the whole process and didn’t try to replace that with cheesy looking props and spoken English orations. At the very least they made the effort to learn the Hebrew, Enochian, Latin, Greek and Egyptian orations and correctly pronounce them. But it WAS inaccessible. Most ordinary people don’t have time to learn 6 different languages, or procure lion skin belts, or make golden lamps burning olive oil impregnated with snake fat. The OTA has greatly simplified the whole process and made it so anyone, with discipline and commitment, can enter into the Temple of the Mysteries. Personally, I would combine the fervour and force of the GD performance, with the simplicity and flair and the OTA.
That’s all for today. I hope this helped you gain a better understanding of the Bornless Invocation, and various theoritcal and practical aspects of High magick.
I hope you look forward to the release of my first E-Grimoire this Sunday. Be sure to follow this blog for more content. You can also follow me on Instagram @WhiteRavenMagus. Thanks for reading.
Until next time.