Performing the “Headless Rite” with the Members of Studio Arcanis


This is an invitation I’ve made to the advanced practitioners on Studio Arcanis, which is a magical forum I help moderate.  I include the information here in case my friends, clients, and the readers who follow this blog wish to also participate.  I will not be including the “sigil of binding” on my website here.  For that, you’re going to have to become a member of the Studio Arcanis community (which is easy—you can just register and post an introduction—and it would be fun if you let me know or mentioned in your intro that you were directed to SA from my website). 

But there is nothing to prevent you from also performing this very powerful, sometimes dangerous, ritual on your own.  Keep in mind that  SA is a group of advanced magical practitioners.  This means I do not provide these prefatory comments in my invitation there.  But if you’re interested in doing this working, please note the following.

The Headless (or “Bornless”) Rite Can Be Dangerous

By way of warning, I will excerpt a passage from White’s Chaos Protocols where he talks about the implications of this ritual:

In conversation with the author Jake Stratton-Kent, the world’s foremost authority on Goetia, he suggested that the rite is designed to associate its performer with a very large and powerful spirit that has the requisite authority over lesser spirits. It orients the magician in a higher position relative to an ambivalent spirit world. There is much to recommend this interpretation, especially when one reads of Osiris as king of the spirits of the Land of the Dead in the Pyramid texts. Also, Moses is the typological “law giver.” His word— and thus the magician’s word— is the word of God.

If any of this sounds too much like bullying spirits, I recommend taking the ayahuasca/ shamanism route mentioned at the top of this chapter instead. It may serve to re-frame your opinion away from cartoon fairies at the bottom of an Edwardian garden more toward the intense and occasionally unpleasant realities of extradimensional contact. The spirit world is certainly holy, but that does not mean it is nice. Shamanism, for instance, is better described as “wrangling and trading” with the spirit world than anything we might consider worship. Besides, these bombastic phrases are more for the magician’s benefit than the spirit’s. We announce ourselves loudly and then we make friends.

The secondary reason for suggesting this rite as a means to triggering initiation is that it is largely interoperable with whatever your resting belief system happens to be. All too often when reading a magic book, the author seems hell-bent on converting you to his or her belief system. I have no such inclination. The Headless Rite deals with spirits and the spirit world. These concepts are for all intents and purposes universal. You do not need to swap out any of your gods or festivals to work it. You could take yourself off to mass or a sabbat or Diwali immediately afterwards.

Perform once and then see what happens over the ensuing couple of days. Then perform several more times, randomly and/ or as needed. The rite may trigger initiation, but it is not an initiation rite. Like an old friend, you can return to it whenever you feel like it. . . . The sensation is difficult to describe; it is almost as if you have dropped a depth charge into the ocean of the spirit world. Some things get cleared away, some things get shaken loose and some things come swimming.

(White, Gordon. The Chaos Protocols: Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality

My own experience with this work has been difficult, to say the least.  However, as I note below, one of the long-term effects has been that the outcomes of my workings have become more successful more often.  That is priceless and worth the bumpy ride, in my opinion.  Still, if you want to participate in this, please do so with a modicum of sanity and deliberation.  Read about the ritual (which you should always do in any case) and take the performance of it very seriously. 

With respect to research before the work, I recommend you get a good copy of the PGM.  Betz’ 1992 translation is just fine.  For context (and to broaden your sense of how this magic can be construed by working practitioners), I would also recommend Dr. Flowers’ Hermetic Magic (which I reference below), Gordon White’s text, and that you find some scholarly resources for context. 

Key searches should center on terms like Greek magic, Hermetic magic, Western Esotericism, Western Mystery Tradition, classical magic, and “Hermes” as a magical symbol.  A solid invocation to Thoth (or, really, Hermes) before entering a university research library would be ideal.  Don’t rely only on the internet.  Get your hands on physical books and do some old-fashioned university-level research.  There is an immense amount of magic in that process as well.

Below, I include the complete text of my invitation post.  Clearly, if you are not a member of Studio Arcanis, I am not asking for your results.  But I want you to have a good overview of what this group project entails nonetheless.  I hope you will benefit in some way from this information.

Re: the Headless Rite, first some perspective.

The last time I performed it was on 23 October 2017 in Paris. I adapted Gordon White’s version given in his Chaos Protocols, rewriting his invocation of the four demonic kings to correspond with information on them in Poke Runyon’s Book of Solomon’s Magick, including their sigils. The immediate outcome was interesting but not altogether pleasant.

Now over 9 months have passed. In that time, I’ve performed 121 magical workings for myself and for others. Of these, there was one direct failure and four outcomes that could not be verified. My results timeline, in most cases, runs to 3 months at the longest, which is admittedly an arbitrary limit, but imposing a timeline for your workings is a great way to stay sane and avoid lust of result. I mention these numbers not to toot my own horn but to point out that, because I keep track, I can say that the success rate of my operative work increased noticeably after performing the Headless Rite.

So I’m thinking about another performance of this. This time, I’m going to use the version given in Dr. Stephen Flowers’ Hermetic Magic on page 182, “The Stele of Jeu the Hieroglyphist or the Rite of the Headless One” (PGM V.96-172, 350 C.E.). It’s simpler and I will not be invoking the four demon kings. However, I will be using the “General Magical Invocation” (PGM V.459-189, 350 C.E.), given on page 196 as a frame ritual.

The Invitation

The members of Studio Arcanis are also invited to perform a version of The Headless Rite, whether they prefer Liber Samekh, Gordon’s version, Dr. Flowers’ version, or some other. The performance does not have to be synchronous. I will include a sigil in this thread at some point, maybe this evening, that will bind all workings of this together to accomplish three things: (1) amplified power in the outcomes for all participating magi; (2) benefits accruing to Studio Arcanis itself as a magical entity (if you know what I’m talking about here, you need not ask / if you don’t know, don’t ask); and (3) a greater sense of community here. I firmly believe (along with a few of the old timers from EM), that this forum has potential not only as a knowledge resource, but also a powerful magical engine. So I’d like to see a bit more collaboration. Instead of complaining about it, I’ve decided to step up. 

There are only three working rules I ask the participants to observe:

1. No whining. If “shit jumps off” in your life as a result of performing this ritual, don’t blame me or SA. Blame your unresolved baggage, daddy, or karma. Suburban housewitch phobias about “threefold return” and “blowback” have no place in an advanced forum. If stupidity were painful, mentioning this would be largely unnecessary. Unfortunately, it needs to be said.

2. Report your results. Look at how I have written this post. First, I give background on what I did, where, and why I performed the rite. Then I talk about the praxis I intend to use. Then I speculate about the outcomes / theories. If you use that model, you will be offering at least something to others here from your hard work.

3. Try to keep the UPG to a minimum. Obviously, you’re going to have to report your subjective impressions as well as the objective steps you took to do this work. But if Ronald Reagan shows up in a gold Cadillac to take you to Aleister Crowley’s Enochian rumpus room in the fifth level of Baator or whatever, maybe ask whether that is going to be of any use to your colleagues here. Similarly, if you scare yourself silly in the process of doing this, try not to foam at the mouth too much on these forums. The bottom line is providing value to the community.

I want this to be a useful experience, but any kind of “initiatory magic” takes an investment of time, focus, and consideration. If you want to be part of this, please feel welcome. 


I discuss my earlier experience of the Headless Rite in these threads:
↑ I’m pretty hard on the ritual in these comments, but I do believe the benefits outweigh (and, at least for me, have outweighed) the costs.

Download an excellent template from the original rite in the PGM from The Scribbler here:

Initiation, Magical Teachers, and Personal Accountability

I’ve written before about the revised Rosicrucian Code of Life and how appealing those ideals can be, especially this passage: “Never cause anyone to believe that members of the Order are sages who are in full possession of the Truth. To those who may ask, present yourself as a philosophical person who is seeking Wisdom. Never pretend you are a Rose-Croix, but say you are a perfecting Rosicrucian.” 

I’ve also noted Paul Foster Case’s idea that to be a “Rosicrucian” is to accept a way of relating ethically to the world; it is not primarily an outer affiliation with a mystical order.  It is an inner state of being and consciousness.  This makes it tantamount to a philosophical, initiatory decision on a personal level, which is where all magic begins and ultimately ends.  There are many esoteric groups in the world, several of which currently bear the label, “rosicrucian,” but there is only one Self.  There is only one workshop in which the individual can dedicate and rededicate him- or herself to the Great Work.

With this in mind, I believe that if we are seeking magical initiation (i.e. “a way to begin”), our first and most reliable teacher is our “holy daimon” or “holy guardian angel”—the part of us that exists beyond the vagaries of form and time.  Attaining the “knowledge and conversation” of this teacher can become a spiritual quest in itself or it can amount to a surprisingly quiet revelation: that we are not “in full possession of the Truth,” but that we are always “perfecting” towards a more complete realization of it.  And part of us, the part that is god, is already there, unfolding its mystery for us as we progress.

In The Secrets of High Magick, Francis Melville notes that “One of the most significant experiences on this path is known as the ‘Attainment of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.’  This is a transformational encounter with your inner master, higher self, or guardian angel—the Inner Divinity within all things.”  As far as concise definitions for the K & C of the HGA are concerned, this one is good because it ends on the idea that divinity cannot be partitioned or objectified.  It is “within all things,” including you and me. 

Perhaps this is the what Trithemius refers to when he asks, “Is it not true that all things flow from one thing, from the goodness of the One, and that whatever is joined to Unity cannot be diverse, but rather fructifies by means of the simplicity and adaptability of the One?”  According to this, magic, both low and high, would be just as much an articulation of the one thing as anything else under the sun.  As most translations of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes put it, “What is above is like what is below, and what is below is like that which is above. To make the miracle of the one thing.”  Realizing this “miracle” on the deepest level is why were are here.

It is also the reason we cannot offer our initiation for another.  In other words, if we are magical teachers (as we most surely are), all we can do is open a space for the student to experience initiation.  In the neophyte ritual of the Golden Dawn, the Hierophant accepts the individual into the Order by saying, “Child of Earth, long hast thou dwelt in darkness. Quit the night and seek the day.”  Note the emphasis on personal volition in this language.  This is not a Marvel Comics Dr. Strange initiation where the master knocks you upside the head and grants you cosmic perception (as fun as that would be).  It’s an act of accepting accountability for one’s own development.

In this sense, teachers are wonderful but they are primarily facilitators.  We don’t have to wait for someone’s permission to accept this magical burden or this personal quest.  We can do it right where we are, right now.  It is completely up to us.  The thing we’re all looking for waits at the top of the mountain.  Many paths go up and they all terminate at the same point, the same existential realization, the same knowledge and conversation of and with the Self.  This is true no matter whether we are saying a simple child’s prayer, working a bit of hoodoo, performing a lodge ritual to attain a deeper level of gnosis, or rising on the planes.  The mountain remains.  And if we keep at it, we ascend.

Magical Targeting and Resistance

This is a sequel to an earlier post, “On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective.”  In that post, I talked about my vision (based on The Kybalion’s Hermetic “Principle of Mentalism) of how a curse can take root in the energy field (the aura) of a target:

[A] curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

Since I wrote this, two different readers have asked me the same question: if the target has to accept the curse vibration, why can’t a target just decide not to accept?  After all, nobody wants to be cursed, right?

My first response to this question is to refer the reader back to the quoted paragraphs above.  In my view, there has to be “acceptance” of the curse vibration in the target, but I’m suggesting that there is more to the mind than just our conscious everyday awareness.  When a curse is effective, such acceptance takes place on a very deep level. 

I believe we have many levels of “self.”  But, for the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that we at least have something called an “unconscious,” aka an “inner child” or “deep self.”  These terms are not perfectly synonymous, but they all point to an inner dimension in us which is alive and aware but which operates according to different rules than our everyday, responsible, rational minds.

Everything that seems true and authentic without us being fully able to explain why (“I have a good feeling about this”) resonates with this deep self.  Gut reactions, hunches, psychic experiences, déjà vu, all kinds of things that seem mysterious to our daily conscious awareness originate in this deep self (which I also believe is the location of magical link or energetic connection point to everything else in existence, but that is material for a different post).

The deep self doesn’t function as a responsible citizen of the world; it’s not socially acceptable.  It runs on urges, fear, lust, the Pleasure Principle.  It loves and hates.  And sometimes it passes judgement on the Self as a whole without the person even being aware of it.  We might be able to consciously rationalize why we did a certain thing, but the deep self may still feel a lot of self-blame, guilt, and shame about it.  Such self-judgement is how one accepts the vibration of a curse.  In some way, a person has already decided that they should be punished.  The curse vibration shows up at the edge of the aura and says, “Hello, I’m the essence of this punishment.”  And the deep self answers, “Come in.  I’ve been expecting you.”

Resistance comes when the deep self hasn’t passed this judgment.  The curse vibration shows up and the deep self answers, “I don’t deserve this punishment!”  Then a struggle ensues with the curse trying to convince the deep self to let it in and the deep self refusing.  This is what happens when an innocent is cursed.  Some of the curse effects will take place in a minor way because the curse is saying “You deserve to be punished!” and eventually the innocent deep self will ask, “Why?” which will let a little bit of the curse in past the outer barrier of the aura.  But if the deep self is truly convinced of its innocence, the majority of the curse will not get through.  There will be no acceptance of that vibration.

There is a way around this, however.  The aura can only withstand so much before it is overwhelmed.  Think of it this way: if you tie someone up in a basement and scream something in that person’s face every day for a long time, what you scream will eventually become the person’s reality.  In mundane life, this is called “brainwashing” and it is sadly real.  But it takes a long time to break a person’s resistance down to the point at which they accept an alternate vision of themselves and the world, maybe years.  It takes far less time with magic.

This is a darker application of what we call “duration work”—magic worked over a consistent period of time.  This is also why some practitioners, especially hoodoo workers and ATR professional sorcerers employed to curse and cross others, claim no one has ever resisted one of their workings.  It is simply because they set up long-term curses that they maintain every day.  So no matter what a person truly believes about themselves on a deep level, whether they feel they deserve the punishment or not, they will eventually let it in.*  You can only say “no” so many times before you say “yes.”

This works even when a person is so innocent that he or she doesn’t even understand the situation.  Consider what “innocence” actually is: it’s a combination of ignorance and sincerity.  When a person is sincere, she is not lying or pretending or otherwise being false.  When she is ignorant, she lacks experience and doesn’t possess the knowledge that comes from having taken part.  Both of these qualities can be altered through violent brainwashing (i.e. convincing someone that they’re actually a blameworthy imposter—actually very similar to “gaslighting”) and, on a magical level, keeping up a vibratory assault on a person’s aura over time.  When no becomes yes, even an innocent person will then say, “I deserve to be punished.”

Is this evil?  In many cases, it is certainly that.  But nothing is absolute.  Sometimes, even an innocent person will deserve to be targeted with hostile magic.  Consider the situation where a sociopathic teen is mocking and tormenting a disabled classmate on a regular basis (something I saw first-hand years ago when I was a high school teacher).  The bully has a messed-up home life and enjoys taking out his frustration by releasing it on a defenceless target.  This is abhorrent to most people, but this kid doesn’t understand how much suffering he’s causing.  All he can see is his own pain and how much better it feels to be the torturer instead of the tortured.

In this case, the bully is “innocent.”  He is ignorant of the significance of his actions and sincere in the sense that he doesn’t really know what’s going on.  He doesn’t have the knowledge and experience of choosing to be a bully; he’s just an snarling little animal striking out.  And this innocence might protect him the way it often protects children from magical creatures and harmful workings.  But let’s also say that the bullying is not stopping and the disabled kid is in now danger of taking his own life; none of the parents want to be involved; and the school is so poorly run that no one will do anything.  But something must be done.  In this situation, baneful magic (note: not lethal magic, but potent enough to stop someone from continuing a course of action) is indicated.  Even though the bully is relatively innocent, he needs strong medicine.

Obviously, the above example comes from my real-life observations.  I will add that I did use magic to solve the situation and protect the disabled student.  And it worked.  But it caused a lot of distress to the bully, which was appropriate and not pretty.  This is to say that nothing is open-and-shut, black-and-white.  There are no absolutes, only shades of gray.  It’s up to us to determine the highest good based on our subjective conditioning, values, and life experiences. 

So it’s good to know how to overwhelm magical resistance in others.  Although, this knowledge can be dangerous in the hands of an unethical person and it is not a license to go cursing others with impunity.  I don’t believe in new-age concepts of karma and Law of Return, but I do believe that what goes around comes around because what we do defines our character.  And character is destiny.


* A crafty sorcerer will also include elements that drain a person’s inner resistance to make the resistance collapse more quickly.

On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective

Unjustified curses are never as powerful as when they are justified.  This is because in order for a curse to work, the object of the curse has to resonate in sympathy with the curse on some level, usually subconsciously.  But when that person truly believes they do not deserve the curse, they will resist its vibration and the effect will usually be much weaker.

It works like this: the person performing the curse creates that vibration in her subjective universe as in any magical working (which I have at times referred to as “raising energy and putting it into a container”).  The vibration is sent through the Magical Link into the objective universe, where it waits at the periphery of the target’s aura, looking for a way to affect his subjective universe—the sum of all of his inner selves.  As with any type of magic done to influence another, the curse will vibrate in a certain way and attempt to cause a corresponding vibration in the target.

The third Hermetic Principle—that of “Vibration”—given in The Kybalion notes that:

All manifestation of thought, emotion, reason, will or desire, or any mental state or condition, are accompanied by vibrations, a portion of which are thrown off and which tend to affect the minds of other persons by “induction.” This is the principle which produces the phenomena of “telepathy”; mental influence, and other forms of the action and power of mind over mind, with which the general public is rapidly becoming acquainted, owing to the wide dissemination of occult knowledge by the various schools, cults and teachers along these lines at this time.  Every thought, emotion or mental state has its corresponding rate and mode of vibration. And by an effort of the will of the person, or of other persons, these mental states may be reproduced, just as a musical tone may be reproduced by causing an instrument to vibrate at a certain rate.  (http://www.sacred–

In this way, a curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

When the target has a damaged aura—i.e. a personality defect, a mental illness, a negative attachment, or an inner weakness—a curse will try to use that as a way to influence the target’s vibration, working through the place in his aura where it is harder for him to resist.  Magical workings (and curses are not exceptions to this) have a kind of intelligence to them—a guidance system that has caused some magicians to conclude that workings bring spirits to bear (whether the spirits are created, as with servitors and egregores  or simply attached to the work).

If a target has an unusually strong, resistant aura, a curse can be held at bay for a long time, sometimes even for decades, depending on the longevity of the curse and that of the target.  In the end, however, most curses will have to be dealt with somehow as only the weakest “blow over” on their own.  Legitimate curses (i.e. those not formed inadvertently through the psychic capacity of someone feeling extreme anger or hatred for another) can be complex works of magic with many contingencies and resources involved.  Like all magic, cursing is an art and should be taken seriously by those who feel they have been cursed.

The best way I know to deal with a curse is to have a competent spiritual worker cleanse and protect you.  Using our Hermetic model, this would amount to a magician, sorcerer, conjure doctor, shaman, priest, or other practitioner performing work that raises your vibration above that of the curse, causing you to radiate a beneficial energy and heal yourself.  Just as someone can be influenced to vibrate negatively, he can be influenced in the opposite.

For those who know what they’re doing spiritually (and / or who many not want to pay someone else), here are some texts on magical protection: Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune, Protection and Reversal Magick by Jason Miller, Magickal Protection by Damon Brand, The Witch’s Shield by Christopher Penczack, and Practical Protection Magick by Ellen Dugan   I am a bit skeptical of the last two texts on this list, but everyone has a different experience with magical books and you might find any of these helpful.