INSTRUCTIONS ON
THE RITUAL OF
THE SPHINX

Issued by the
Thelemic Order
of the Golden Dawn

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

The Ritual of the Sphinx is a Magical Rite of Consecration. Consecration is the active dedication of a thing to a single purpose. The Ritual of the Sphinx is specifically designed to dedicate the Magician unto the Great Work of doing his/her True Will, to unite him/her with his/her Holy Guardian Angel, which Holy Angel is represented by the Sphinx. The Sphinx is a universal symbol of the Holy Guardian Angel; it can be applied by all to represent their True Self, to invoke in their consciousness the dynamic realization of their essential nature, to go forth and do their True Will and accomplish the Great Work.

The Ritual of the Sphinx is a Supreme Rite of Self-Initiation containing fundamental magical formulae by which the Magician can consecrate his/her elemental vehicles to the Supreme Operation of the Great Work. These elemental vehicles are the five senses, that is, sight, taste, smell, touch, and hearing; and these five senses are called in Magical Philosophy the five Elements of Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit. In this Magick Ritual the Magician activates the four lesser Elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth, and then are these Elements concentrated and synthesized in the greater Element of Spirit, also called Aethyr.

The four lesser Elements correspond with the Four Powers of the Sphinx and with the Four Glories of the Law of Thelema. The Four Powers of the Sphinx are "to Know, to Dare, to Will, and to Keep Silent." The greater Element of Spirit corresponds with the fifth Power of the Sphinx called "to Go." To go is the true function of a god; it is the act of doing one’s True Will, like a star flaming forth on its own self-determined orbit, free to fulfill its cosmic destiny in the celestial scheme of the Infinite Universe. The five Elements and Powers of the Sphinx are linked with the five points of the Pentagram, which is the Sign of the Magician who has transcended the elements by the proper application of the Powers of the Sphinx and who is therefore able to direct the elements according to the essential scheme of his/her True Will, and who is thus united with his/her True Self.

The Pentagram and Sphinx both symbolize the Supreme Attainment in Magick, that is, the Great Work of attaining the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, which lofty attainment is made possible by way of doing one’s True Will, for the True Will is the True Self in action. By observing the course of the True Will we can see into the core of our own natures, perceiving the sublime essence of our own Inner Angel. Action is the fundamental means by which to attain the knowledge of the True Self, for action is experience and experience is knowledge.

To attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel can only be achieved by action which is, in its most glorious sense, a true sacrament of love, a uniting of the self with the Universe; it is a mighty ritual and invocation of the Inner Self; it is a vehicle of expression for that True Self. To act is to see; to see is to know; and to know is to be. Action is one meaning of the word "Tantra." Tantra is divine knowledge in action; it is the act of the divine in manifestation. "Tantra" also connotes "ritual" and "method". Tantra is the method, ritual and act of the Divine in manifestation. The Ritual of the Sphinx is indeed a Tantric Rite. Its magical formulae are Tantric in various subtle ways, as well as being profoundly Thelemic. The Law of Thelema is the Law of Action! The Ritual of the Sphinx is a Magick Rite by which the True Self is realized by way of the True Will which is the True Self in Action.

In the Ritual of the Sphinx fire is used for sight, wine (or water if you are under twenty-one years of age) is used for taste, incense is used for smell, oil is used for touch, and the bell is used for hearing. In this way all of the elements are activated and balanced. By activating an element you initiate a subtle current that vitalizes its corresponding power of the Sphinx within you and thus you can experience its corresponding Glory. If you activate Fire you will vitalize and nourish the power to Dare and you will experience Light; if you activate Water you will vitalize and nourish the power to Keep Silent and you will experience Love; if you activate Air you will vitalize and nourish the power to Know and you will experience Liberty; if you activate Earth you will vitalize and nourish the power to Will and you will experience Life. These are all then harmonized in Spirit for the lofty attainment of the supreme power to Go.

The Ritual of the Sphinx is most applicable to the Zelator, but we should not limit it to his/her use alone; all may partake of its holy Magick; it can be used by the Neophyte, Zelator and Adepts as a daily Rite of Consecration. For within this Royal Ritual is contained certain magical formulae which are essential to the beginner as well as to the more advanced. It is a Ritual that can be employed in the magical scheme of the self-initiation of all, as a practical method of dedicating the soul, mind and body to the Great Work. Even the more advanced Adepts of Magick are in need of always invoking the highest by way of magical consecration; it is, in fact, an eternal operation of infinite importance, a perpetual sacrament and a constant means of uniting the mind of the Magician to the One Idea of his/her True Self and its True Will.

This royal ritual incorporates Thelemic principles in its application to assist the Magician in his/her essential progress to go forth and do his/her True Will and to unite with his/her True Self. Its first proclamation is the Law of Thelema and it ends with a further proclamation concerning the nature of that Law. It contains magical formulae that can directly inspire the Magician to do his/her True Will, to express the dynamic current of his/her own True Self. This is the obligation of the Zelator. S/he is bound by Oath to do his/her True Will, and this very act of limitation is his/her magical means to freedom, to be and to express his/her True Self. The force of limitation is Saturn; but this force is also the source of freedom when we are able to use limitation instead of being used by it.

To take an Oath is a binding of the Will to a self-determined course of action; it is a limiting of one’s concentration so that one may attain the object of one’s Magick Oath. Just as a writer must concentrate his/her mind on writing without intruding thoughts regarding other matters, so must the Magician bind him/herself to a single course of action, and the only sensible course of action for him/her to obligate him/herself to is the course of his/her True Will, to realize his/her True Self, since the Magician is a follower of the Path of the Universe, conforming with Her Laws on all planes; and the True Will of the Magician is the Universal Will, and the True Self of the Magician is the Universe itself. In the Ritual of the Sphinx the Magician takes an Oath to exercise the Four Powers of the Sphinx, that is, to Know, to Dare, to Will and to Keep Silent, so that s/he may attain the lofty power to Go, to do his/her True Will and to realize his/her True Self. All else contributes to this dynamic course of action, cultivating Light, Life, Love and Liberty. The Oath is the Word and the Will; it is our vehicle of creative power and our magick link to freedom.

As stated before, the Sphinx represents the Supreme Attainment in Magick, that is, the accomplishment of the Great Work. Now the Sphinx is a combination of Lion and Woman. The Lion is the Masculine Principle or the Sun; the Woman is the Feminine Principle or the Moon. To unite the Sun and Moon is the accomplishment of the Great Work, thus the Sigil of the Sphinx used in this Magick Ritual is the Sigil of the Sun and Moon Conjoined, and the Sign of the Sphinx used in this Magick Ritual is the Sign of the Sun and Moon Conjoined. This sacramental union of the Sun and Moon cannot take course without the essential activation and synthesis of the magical elements. By activating and synthesizing the magical elements of Nature, the Forces of the Sun and Moon are harmonized and nourished with love, cultivating their sublime union. Therefore in the Ritual of the Sphinx do we activate and synthesize the magical elements before we make the Sigil and Sign of the Sun and Moon Conjoined. We must first consecrate our vehicles of sense before we can attain the Union of the Sun and Moon. This same union is symbolized by the Hexagram, which is a symbol of fire and water united. But it is further a symbol of WoMan and God(dess) united, or of the microcosm and macrocosm. In this sense, the Moon is the human self or WoMan (microcosm) and the Sun is the Holy Guardian Angel or True Self (macrocosm). To unite the Sun and Moon is the attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. In this Royal Ritual of the Sphinx the Magician consecrates his/her vehicles of sense to that grand attainment of spiritual illumination. This magical operation is the same that we find used in Tantric Yoga, which also consecrates the five senses to the Deity of one’s worship. It is actually an operation that is used in various ways in various systems of spiritual illumination. It is an operation that is most essential to the Great Work; we cannot realize our True Self if our senses are bound to the material world; they must become the vehicles of the True Self, applied to the realization of that Inner Self and used in the act of doing one’s True Will. The senses must be dedicated to the Great Work if we are to attain its lofty splendors; and this dedication must not be partial, but whole.

The senses are the instruments which we must use in the operation of the Great Work; they are the creative vehicles of our personal expression in the world which need to be consecrated to the True Self by way of action which is ritual. The senses are not evil; on the contrary, the senses are most holy when dedicated to the grand performance of the Great Work. When WoMan conforms his/her elemental vehicles to the Divine Operation of Cosmic Evolution, s/he then reunites all his/her elements and attains a new species of consciousness that is above and beyond mere earthly existence. The senses are divine; they are the creative vehicles of the True Self, its means to experience and to know itself. All material forces are divine products of a spiritual power, and these material forces are all created for a spiritual necessity. We are here in our bodies for an essential work of spiritual significance; our bodies are fit vehicles for a task of supreme importance. Without our bodies and their senses we could not fulfill our True Will. Now, in this very moment, our body and our senses are made manifest for us to accomplish a great task of individual and collective significance. The body is the Chariot of the Mind and the link between the soul and the Universe. Therefore neglect not your body with its holy senses, for these are your instruments by which to do your True Will, to accomplish your Great Work.

There is much talk in Buddhism and Hinduism of the necessity to eliminate desire for the realization of Truth, for the salvation of the soul. Desire has been defined as the fruit of the senses and as the cause of all suffering and ignorance. Freedom from the desires has been a principal theme of many men and women seeking the religious life. They would cut themselves off from the world of the senses by desiring nothing in the hope of spiritual perfection. But these things are, in proper measure of understanding, purely null. We need not overcome the senses by avoiding them, by becoming begging monks or floating yogis. If we would simply take a little time to think, to use our little brains, it will become very apparent how silly this whole scheme is of becoming pure by avoiding the desires of the elemental senses.

Let no WoMan feel obligated to the unessential task of giving up his/her material way of life, with its multitude of desires, for the attainment of the Great Work. All that is needed is for you to cultivate control over your senses, to acknowledge that you are beyond them and that you have the power to regulate them. The senses are your instruments, perfect tools that you can use to accomplish the Great Work. Try not to be identified with the desires of your senses, but stand outside of them as an observer, a witness; then take control of them, refine them, and balance them, and so shall you consecrate your elemental vehicles, dedicating your physical self to your spiritual Self.

If a WoMan can witness something, it means that s/he is beyond that thing, for awareness is transcendence. We are always witnessing our senses in the form of desires, usually becoming identified with them. We take into account no measure of the Self that is beyond the senses and desires, but instead we become what our senses tell us. When this course of action takes place, then ignorance prevails and sorrow is due. But if we go within and acknowledge our True Self beyond our senses and desires, and become a witness rather than an animal, then do we transcend our senses and gain the power to control them, that is, direct them in the proper manner to the proper spiritual object.

When we stand above the senses we obtain control over the elements, so that they become forces in our command. This means that we can, according to the direction of our True Will, transmute them into veritable mediums of perfect expression on earth for the manifestation of our True Self. The Magick Pentagram represents the Lordship of the Self over the elemental senses. The top point of the Pentagram represents the True Self (Spirit), whereas the other four points represent its material vehicles. The True Self must stand above its material vehicles to direct them according to the dynamic current of its True Will. The Pentagram and Sphinx both represent this magical operation.

This can all be summed up in the Hindu concept of stepping out of an ever-turning wheel. The wheel is the senses with their innumerable desires, and only by stepping out of the wheel can we transcend and direct it. What is outside of the wheel is the True Self, represented by the Sphinx on top of the Wheel of Atu 10 of Tarot. The True Self is the source of that which is the producer of the elements, therefore is it necessary to be the True Self to stand above them and to direct them. Yet to step out of the wheel does not mean that we have to give up our senses with all their delicious desires. It is all a matter of what we are identifying with, our True Self or our desires. We are not our desires, but they are a part of our personality, which is the divine expression of our soul.

To be identified with our True Self, beyond the personality and its desires, is to transcend the wheel and realize who we really are. We then become non-attached to the senses and we achieve the sublime experience of the spiritual Self. When this is the case, we can then freely indulge in all the desires that we so will, according to our true natures. Our senses will then be perfect mediums of expression for the creative liberty of the soul and nothing can do us wrong. Think not evil of the senses, but rather your misuse of them; for they are your divine instruments by which you will accomplish the Great Work.

But know that in essence you are not your body and senses. This is a simple truth based upon the fact that you are witnessing their activities as an observer. Anything you are witnessing is just an object of perception cast upon the screen of your mind. All things that you perceive are thoughts of your mind, and you are just as much beyond your thoughts as you are beyond your body and senses. All thought is derived from sense perceptions, and indeed you stand above them all. They are your manifestations and not your True Self, which is, in essence, beyond all thought.

Think of your True Self as the head of your body which regulates the movements of your arms and legs. You control your body; it is your animal to train and transcend. Once you know this, and you are certain of its truth, you then purify your mind of its dross rubbish, and you are then able to consecrate your senses to the performance of the Great Work. In the Ritual of the Sphinx we use the senses to transcend the senses; we do not avoid them in our holy Magick. Your body, which is your greatest gift, is the Laboratory wherein to perform your Great Work. It is the Temple of your god; it is the home of your Universe. Therefore worship it and make it a fit vehicle for you to go forth and achieve the victory of your True Will!

The Magician should commit to memory the Ritual of the Sphinx prior to its performance. It is a simple process to do so, for it is a very short ritual; and it can be performed within a period of 30 minutes or less. Before performing the ritual, the Magician should duly banish by way of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or by way of the Ritual of the Star Ruby (Liber XXV). The symbols of the senses, that is fire, wine (or water), incense, oil and the bell, should be positioned in their appropriate places on the Altar, that is, fire in the South, wine (or water) in the West, incense in the East, oil in the North, and the bell in the Center of it all. The Magician should be robed as s/he deems fit for this Holy Rite of Consecration, and s/he should have at his/her command a Magick Wand to draw the Sigil of the Sphinx at the appointed time. Drawing a symbol of Sol surmounting a Lunar Crescent makes the Sigil of the Sphinx. The Sign of the Sphinx is made by forming a Circle of Sol around the head with the arms, with hands crossed above the head forming a Crescent of Luna.

Love is the law, love under will.

Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn

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