Invoking and Banishing by the Third Gate - The Gates of the Elements - The Practice of Druid Magic

The Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth - John Michael Greer 2008

Invoking and Banishing by the Third Gate
The Gates of the Elements
The Practice of Druid Magic

Image This is the third invocation and banishing, and it follows the same pattern as the first two. While it is learned after the work with the Gate of Water, for reasons of balance, it is usually done between air and water, so that you can turn clockwise from east to south to west in the course of the ritual.

Fire in the Druid tradition represents unity and every force and factor that makes diverse things become one. As the third element, it balances air and water, inspiration from without and growth from within, by teaching us that no barrier separates the world outside us from the world inside us. In the unawakened self, it is passion; in the awakened self, it is intentionality. Its symbol is the triangle pointing up, representing the upward movement of flame.

To invoke and banish by fire, turn to the south. With the first two fingers of your right hand trace a triangle with one point up, as shown in the figure, starting at the top point and tracing clockwise. Visualize it in red flame, and then fill it with transparent red flame. Then say words like these: “By the white stag in the light of summer, and in the great name Sul, I invoke the fire, its gods, its spirits, and its powers. May I receive the blessings of fire this day.” Sul is the ancient British goddess of the hot springs at Bath, a goddess of the Sun and also of the fires beneath the earth; her name is pronounced “SUUL,” with the Welsh u. If you prefer to work with Irish divinities, Brigid (pronounced “BREEJ”), the goddess of smiths, poets, and healers, is a good choice for this element. Christian Druids invoke Saint Michael the archangel in this quarter.

Once you have finished the invocation, pause for a time, and concentrate on fire. Imagine the hottest day you can remember in the land where you live, and imagine an old dry log catching fire in front of you beneath the hot noonday Sun. Feel the heat from the Sun, the ground, and the flames, and smell the dry air and the tang of wood smoke. As you picture this, feel the powers and blessings of fire flowing into you through your solar plexus. Imagine your body filled with the red light of fire, and feel yourself become so full of flaming energy that nothing could stand against you.

Then say, “I thank the fire for its gifts,” and trace the symbol counterclockwise, again from the top of the triangle. Say words like these: “And with the help of the powers of fire, I banish from within me and around me all unbalanced manifestations of fire. I banish them far away from me.” Concentrate on the idea that all unbalanced factors in your life are caught up in the flames and burned away until not even the finest ash remains. Take as much time as you need on this visualization.

For the next two or three weeks, include this section in your daily practice: perform the Elemental Cross, then invoke and banish by air, then invoke and banish by fire, then invoke and banish by water, then perform the Circulation of Light. Practice it until you have this phase of the ritual by heart, and can feel fire respond to the ritual. During the time you spend doing this, pay attention to any of the symbols of the Gate of Fire that show up in other aspects of your life. You can also work with the realm of fire by using the following methods.

Receptive Working

Like wind and water, fire forms a reservoir of nwyfre for the Druid mage. In ancient times, according to old legends, Druids would build bonfires of specially chosen magical woods and use the flames to work their magic. In a world where forests need to be preserved and expanded, not sacrificed to human needs, this form of magical working can rarely be justified, but there are other ways to get the same effect.

To make a safe, effective, and ecologically sound magical fire, get a fireproof bowl or small cauldron, preferably of metal. Put it on a heatproof surface in a place where flames and heat can rise for several feet without putting anything at risk. Pour a teaspoon of salt into the bottom of the cauldron. Pour in half a cup or so of pure grain alcohol, or any other alcohol that is at least 150 proof (75 percent alcohol). Light the alcohol with a match, and then sit where you can gaze into the flames. Watch the flames, keeping your attention on them and your mind as clear as possible, until the fire goes out. Allow the energy of the fire to shine into you, and see where it takes you and what unity it brings to you.

Like water, fire absorbs and transforms nwyfre, and you can use it for purification. Set up a magical fire in a place that needs to be purified, light it, and allow the flames to clear away unwanted energies. If you have anything in yourself that needs to be purified or transformed, offer it up to the fire mentally, and gaze into the flames until the fire goes out.

Active Working

The same magical fire can be used in an active way to charge yourself with an intention. Prepare the magical fire as before. As you light the alcohol, say your intention aloud, and then sit where you can gaze into the flames. You can imagine the flames turning an appropriate color as you watch them, but it works as well to simply look into the flames and allow the intention to radiate through its light. Continue gazing into the flames until the last of the fire goes out.

If you want to use this method to strengthen your body's health and vitality, for example, you might choose to state your intention with the phrase “vital force.” Prepare the fire bowl, and say aloud the words you chose as you light the alcohol. Sit and gaze into the flames, and be aware of vital force flowing into you in the firelight, until the flames go out.