Banishing is the act of cleaning the ritual space (i.e. mind) from unwanted influence. Generally this refers to metaphysical forces, but I’d like to add that sounds, people and surroundings can be just as much of a distraction than spirits or emotions. In ritual magick it’s a good habit to start with a basic banishing and finish in the same way. A circle is a common tool for this, but it can just as well be spell words, mental images or meditation.
Why is banishing important? I’m sure you, dear reader, have noticed your mind is teeming with thoughts and emotions rushing uncontrollably through your mind. If you have tried out meditation you’ll already know that attempting to silence these will only make you more aware of them. Rituals prefer a calm state, where the focus is solely on what wants to be done. Rituals work best when you push mundane thoughts, fears and hopes out of your mind and let the ritual go it’s natural course, without you questioning or doubting the result. Banishing is a good way to prepare your mind for this.
As already discussed in hypnosis, it’s very important to exit the trance state with special care, making sure you or the person you are working with return back to normal consciousness. In ritual settings banishing is performed for the same purpose. However entertaining it may feel at the time, summoning a demon and then not sending it properly away isn’t going to make your life easier in the long run. Insufficient security measures like these are the exact reason why many magicians lose touch of reality, end up depressed or feel they’re not controlling their rituals at all. It’s very important to keep ritual and reality apart – our mind isn’t naturally good at making a distinction between the two.
Not all magicians do formal banishings and I know not all think they’re a necessary part of magical work. While this might be true for some people, I strongly recommend knowing how to make a successful banishing nonetheless. I started my studies without them and have realized later I would have benefited from the practice many times. These days I use banishing as a quick way to calm my mind as well as clearing the space of unwanted influence when I feel the need of it.
Not all banishing rituals are directed at clearing your mind or ritual space completely. Often you see descriptions of banishings for demons, emotions, people with a bad influence in your life and so on. They are all based on the same idea of pushing away, destroying or distancing yourself from the thing you want to get rid of. This naturally means that if you want to banish something that’s in any way tied to the physical level, remember to remove yourself from the presence of what’s bothering you before attempting to banish it.
Sometimes it’s not possible to free ourself from influences completely. Meditation as well as repeating banishings often will however help you to emotionally distance yourself from whatever is bothering you. In the end the key to controlling your surrounding is a calm mind, not the magical means you achieve it with.
Some examples on banishing
Please note that I’m not quoting any specific source in these, but basing the examples on my knowledge of ritual work and psychology in general. For formal banishing, look into whatever magical tradition you follow or, if you lack one, Aleister Crowley’s writings or Hermeticism.
The banishing circle
The circle is very common and can be imagined as well as drawn or marked with candles or other tools. Draw a circle where you can move freely but that is small enough to feel completely under your mental control (you may have to experiment for a while to get what I mean here). When the circle is set you can imagine a wall or a shock wave pushing out unwanted thoughts, energies and emotions of the circle. Give yourself a while to breath calmly while making sure you truly feel in power of the circle and it’s surroundings. If you feel uncertain about your result, break the circle and start again. I don’t recommend leaving the circle until you are done, since crossing the line will likely break the banishing.
Advanced variation: The same circle can also be used the other way around, to separate forces from the outside and calling them inside, thus making a kind of opposite banishing. I’ve found this a good way to gain some control of various summonings, since it takes less effort to control a small area than an entire room. While I don’t recommend beginners to invite spirits into their circle, gathering and focusing energies works just as well.
A banishing incantation
I don’t use incantations myself, but this will include all keywords (hypn.: suggestions) you need. I’m going to mark the keywords to the reader is able to adapt the incantation for their own magical work.
By the power in me
I banish thee
Unwanted forces and spirits —
By my command
Leave me alone
Until I welcome you again
The purpose is to assert your absolute control over the area and clear out only the powers that you don’t want to invite during your work. Feel free to borrow the incantation like it is or add in whatever deities or spirits you usually work with. Keywords like blessed, safe, clean, and so on will be helpful in defining what you are looking for. As you can notice I added a very important clause in the end: until. I know people who have made such strong banishings that when they want to be in contact with something they banished earlier it won’t come back to them anymore. This is a thing that might not come to one’s mind in a given situation, which is why I recommend adding it to whatever incantation you use. Incantations naturally work best combined with visual tools, but I’m sure it will also function alone.
If someone decides to use this, please tell me how it turned out. I’m very interested in getting feedback to be able to improve my techniques.
The banishing cube
This is a fully mental exercise, but can be strengthened by candles or other magical symbols. The banishing cube is meant to sit in place in a room or house until removed, if removed at all. It’s meant to be used indoors for rooms of houses to clear them for magical use.
Imagine a seal: a form of your choice about the size of your hand. If you use runes or sigils, one of these can come in handy. Simply a circle or pentagram will also do the job. The image doesn’t need to be very detailed, the main thing is that it has a tangible power in your mind. Place the seal in the upper or lower corner of the space. Then mentally draw a straight line to a corner next to it and place another seal in the corner you come to. Go on like this for the chosen wall, forming a square. (Example: bottom right, top right, top left, top right and back to bottom right where the square is finished.) Now draw a line from the seal you stopped on to the adjacent wall and draw a square again. Imagine that for each seal opposite each other a line will draw itself, combining the squares into a cube.
Removal: Imagine yourself taking hold of a seal and removing it from its place. Then remove the seal next to it, going on like this until the cube has been reduced first to a square, then removed completely. If you imagined pushing something out the last time, it will benefit you to imagine the forces will flow back into the space left by the cube for every seal you remove. This exercise can also work as a kind of ritual to open up your room or house to spiritual forces if you feel like someone or something that closed them out before.
The non-metaphorical way
If you are in a dark place, bring in as much light as you can, like putting the lights on or lighting a candle. Straighten your back back and take a deep breath, slowly letting the air out of your lungs. Think of nothing in particular, simply letting the feeling of your own body fill your mind. Imagine the realness of the reality around you and you as part of it. If you close your eyes, open them after a short while and look at the place around you. Take in what you see, naming them according to what they are (a chair is just a chair, a window just a window). Remind yourself you are safe and normal and in total control of yourself.
If you have anyone close to you you can talk to, pick up a conversation with them about whatever mundane comes to your mind.
A very classical example of a banishing ritual and some commentary related to it.
The psychological explanation to how banishing (distancing) works and how to use it to gain better control of your life. I highly recommend reading this.