Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No.5. Vol. 1, Autumnal Equinox 2003
There are few subjects that are more misunderstood in the Western Ceremonial systems of magick than that of the vibratory formula. What is this Vibratory Formula, and how does it work? When do you use this formula in ritual work? How do you know if you are doing it correctly? What is this thing called the Great Voice? Do I shout out the name? These are some of the questions that are asked about the vibratory formula by every beginning student in ceremonial magick, as well as, the other traditions that use it. So how does a person whom is interested in doing practical magical work in the Golden Dawn System, or any of the systems that make use of this powerful tool answer those questions that arise from reading books on the Golden Dawn System and get on with actually doing practical work involving the Vibratory Formula.
These are the questions that this article will answer, along with recognizing when and where to use the Formula, and how to properly use the Vibratory Formula in daily ritual work. Hopefully, when all is said and done, anyone whom wishes to perform any ritual work within the Golden Dawn System of magick, or any other ceremonial magick system will have this much needed tool to properly vibrate the Divine Names during ritual work. The Golden Dawn System will be used in this article, but the techniques can be used by nearly any system within the Western Mystery Tradition.
The Vibratory Formulae
In nearly every book on ceremonial magick, as well as in a couple of the primary works in Wicca, the vibratory formulae are mentioned. That's correct, formulae. There are really more that just one way to use this potent tool. There are at least three different way to use the art of vibrating the proper words of power. As a rule, the Vibratory Formula can be defined as flows:
Vibratory Formula: A method by which divine names and words are intoned forcefully and with authority in a "vibration." Properly performed, the vibration should be felt throughout the entire body and imagined to be vibrated throughout the universe.
The above definition is a good one and pretty much the standard one that you will find in trying to learn just what the Vibratory Formula is, but it does not really explain how it is used in detail. In Regardie's seminal book, The Golden Dawn, he mentions it when discussing doing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). This is probably the first place that the new student in ceremonial magick encounters the mention of the vibratory formula or vibration in general, but Regardie neglects to instruct the student just how to use this very powerful tool of the magician's art. What follows is an example of how Regardie explains how to vibrate the Divine Names.
In vibrating the Divine Names, the Operator should first of all rise as high as possible towards the idea of the Divine White Brilliance in KETHER - keeping the mind raised to the plane of the loftiest aspiration. Unless this is done, it is dangerous to vibrate only with the astral forces, because the vibration attracts a certain force to the operator, and the nature of the force attracted rests largely on the condition of mind in which the operator is.
Now after reading the above passage by Regardie, how many of us have been more confused by just exactly what it is that we need to do to vibrate the Divine Name. I know that I was when I first read this particular section and others within The Golden Dawn concerning the Vibratory Formula. Regardie even mentions several times that the student should read his other book, The Middle Pillar, to get a better understanding of how to vibrate the Divine Names and how the Vibratory Formula works. So, since I still had questions on just how to perform the Vibratory Formula, off to Regardie's The Middle Pillar I went in search of answers. Unfortunately, this only raised the same questions again and added a couple of new ones.
The name having been inhaled into the lungs by means of an inspiration, it should be silently and powerfully vibrated, the entire attention being concentrated upon this to the exclusion of all else. While in the lungs, the white light of the Kether ought to be felt descending upon the name, consecrating it to the service of the higher self. Then the name should be visualized, whilst the breath is retained, as descending from the lungs via the Middle Pillar to the feet. Here it should be again vibrated very powerfully. When the entire Tree of Life within is pulsating sympathetically to this vibration, the name rises rapidly once more to the lungs where once more it is subjected to a silent vibration.
This goes description helps, but still brings up some questions. Looking at another of the early writers on this subject we get the following:
The Vibration of the God-names. As a further means of identifying the human consciousness with that pure portion of it which man calls by the name of some God, let him act thus:
Well, by now you should be thoroughly confused. Many of us were about to give up in disgust at this point, as so many students have in the past, after trying to understand the material as it is presented. There must be some secret to this technique that Regardie is not sharing with those of us that sincerely want to learn and do not have the benefit of a lodge or temple that can help us. Is there a secret technique for learning to do the Vibratory Formula correctly? Crowley does give us a clue in the above selection from Magick in Theory and Practice as to how the student should feel after "correctly" doing the "Vibration." Both Crowley and Regardie explain how to perform and use this basic tool that all Ceremonial magicians, and any other tradition can use, but they are both vague in their descriptions. In this case, I feel that both must have felt that a knowledgeable practioner and student would read their material with a certain amount of hands on training in a lodge or temple.
Again, nearly at the point of putting down studying practical ceremonial magick, a revelation came. It was Donald Michael Kraig's book, Modern Magick. Kraig had lain out many of the principals of ceremonial magick in a very easy to understand format, this included a detailed description of exactly how to utilize the Vibratory Formulae and what they were.
There are two methods of vibrating words, commonly known as the two vibratory formulae. The first is an internal (invocatory) formula. In this formula you cause a certain part of your body (actually part of your astral body) to vibrate. This is exemplified in the Kabalistic Cross part of the LBRP. Let's just look at the word AH-TAH. What you should do here is fully inhale until there isn't room for one more drop of air. Then use the entire exhalation to vibrate the word. Thus, the word is elongated: AAAAHHHHHHH-TAAAAAAAHHHH. I should be vibrated loudly in an almost chant-like tone of voice. The pitch is usually higher than the normal pitch of your voice. It is almost shouted. Most importantly, you should feel it vibrate or resonate within your head. Likewise, MAHL-KOOT should be felt in the groin, VIH-G'BOO-RAH in the right shoulder, etc.
Now we are given some clue as to just how we need to perform the Internal Vibratory Formula, and told how it is supposed to sound. All of us are familiar with the sound of chanting, so now we have a major clue as to what we are to sound like while performing the Vibratory Formula especially during the Kabbalistic Cross. This explained in part the Vibratory Formulae, now what about the External Vibratory Formula.
The second vibratory method is the external (evocatory) formula. With this formula the intent is to excite the atmosphere (actually the so-called astral plane) around you. This exemplified in the Formulation of the Pentagrams part of the LBRP. The method is quite similar to the invocatory formula. You inhale fully, and as you exhale, you loudly vibrate the appropriate words, in this case, God names. Here the God names are stretched out as: AAAAAAAHHHH-GLAAAAAHHH. You should use the entire exhalation in sounding the God name or words when doing the evocatory vibratory formula. The big difference between the two formulae is that in the evocatory formula you should sense that the entire universe in front of you is resonating in harmony with your vibration. Your entire body and the entire universe should be experienced as vibrating to your call.
Now these instructions are much better to follow and written so that anyone can understand them. Here there is no real mystery as to how to perform the Vibratory Formula, and any student can benefit from this instruction. Now, what about those other ideas that Regardie talked about, the spelling out of the words in flame and empowering those flaming letters, or spelling out the word according to a particular method within your body? Well these are other methods of doing the above that are and were taught to aspiring students in the magickal lodges and temples, the only thing that really matters is that those variations are very good methods to do the Vibratory Formula, but that all that any student really needs is the basics that are given in the methods described by Kraig. Certainly if you wanted to use those methods that Regardie describes and they are comfortable for you, then do them, but I would suggest that every magician should try them only after mastering the basic method from Kraig.
By now there should be some basic grasp of what the Vibratory Formula are and how to use them in basic ritual work. There is an exercise that will help both the beginner, as well as, the experienced magician with the Vibratory Formula.
To begin working with vibration, it's often useful to practice with a simple vowel tone like "ah" or "oh". Draw in a deep breath and chant the sound, stretching it out until you run out of breath. As you make the sound, try changing the shape of your mouth and the quality of the tone. You're seeking a way of shaping the sound that will set up a buzzing or tingling feeling in your throat and chest, or elsewhere in your body. The effect may be light at first, so it's wisest not to worry if you feel little. Vibration is used constantly in the rituals of the Golden Dawn magic, so you'll have plenty of opportunity to develop the skill.
How to Use the
Vibratory Formulae Practically
An important factor, both in magical working and in the establishing the magical personality, is the finding and development of the magical voice. This is a particular way of "speaking with power": the actual tone of voice will certainly vary from person to person and may also vary from occasion to occasion, but the principles which govern its production, once learned and sufficiently practiced, are not likely to be lost.
To start with, let's look at the most basic ritual that all Ceremonial Magicians learn, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). In the LBRP, we learn that there are several parts that we use the Vibratory Formulae. These parts are the Kabbalistic Cross, the Formation of the Pentagrams, and the Evocation of the Archangels. Now let us look at each of the parts of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram to see where and how we use these formulae.Kabbalistic Cross
In the Kabbalistic Cross we bring the Divine Light down into our bodies and vibrate the appropriate words at the appropriate location as we bring the Light down. These words are: Atah, at the forehead, Malkuth, at the heart/solar plexus, Ve-Geburah, at the right shoulder, Ve-Gedulah, at the left shoulder, and Le-Olam and Amen at the heart. So just how we do this? Of course while visualizing the Divine light as it descends into our body, we vibrate the names in a chant-like voice, which causes the areas of our throat and head, or the specific areas that correspond to the words to tingle or vibrate when we say the words. In other words, when you touch your forehead and vibrate Atah, we should feel either the tingling in our head and throat, or in our head, but more towards the forehead. The same is true when we say Malkuth, but instead of out throat and head, we should feel it in our heart/solar plexis, and so on with each of the points of the Kabbalistic Cross. Here we use the Vibratory Formula that allows us to sound like a chant rather than the forceful Formula used in the next section.
In this part of the LBRP, we use the more chant like Internal Vibratory Formula. The next part of the LBRP is the Formation of the Pentagrams and the vibration of the Divine Names in the Pentagrams.Formation of the Pentagrams
In the Formation of the Pentagrams we learn to draw the Pentagrams in the Quarters and to vibrate the appropriate Divine Name at each of the Quarter, so charging the Pentagrams there. Also, for the first time we see that the Divine Names are usually written in the description of how to do the LBRP in either all capital letters or all capital bold letters, as in YHVH or YHVH. I want to discuss this situation that we see in many books and rituals. When we see in any evocation a Divine or Angelic name written in this manner, it is a clue to us, the magician that this where we use the Vibratory Formula. Simply put, we vibrate that name at that particular spot where the Name occurs in the evocation.
So while we are performing the Formation of the Pentagrams, the Divine Name used at each quarter is vibrated to charge the protective pentagram at that quarter. Starting in the East, we vibrate (YHVH), circumambulate to the South, vibrate (ADNI), circumambulate to the West, vibrate (AHIH), then to the North, and vibrate (AGLA). From the North we complete the Circle by returning to the East.
In this section of the LBRP we use the more forceful version of the Formulae, the External Vibratory Formula. This Formula is normally used to vibrate the Divine or Angelic Names. Now we will look at the Evocation of the Archangels, the last section of the LBRP that uses the Vibratory Formula.Evocation of the Archangels
The next part of the LBRP that uses the Vibratory Formula is the Evocation of the Archangels. In the Evocation we are facing East from the West of the Altar and standing in the Cross Position. In this part of the LBRP, we do not move and simply visualize the four Archangels standing in their respective quarters facing us as we perform the evocation.
Before me, RAPHAEL
This is just one of the many versions of the Evocation of the Archangels that is used throughout the Hermetic community. The important thing here is the Archangel Names, which are vibrated at the point in the evocation that they occur. In vibrating these Names, the magician helps to balance the forces that are guarding the Quarters in the LBRP. I would like to point out, that in the instance of BEFORE ME FLAMES THE PENTAGRAM -BEHIND ME SHIMES THE SIX-RAYED STAR, even though it is in all capital letters, it should not be vibrated, but rather spoken a bit more forcefully. This is an exception to the rule above in figuring out what needs to be vibrated in an evocation, that and the statement is not made up of either Divine or Angelic Names.
In this section of the LBRP, we return to using the Internal Vibratory Formula that gives us a more chant like quality to our vibrations. Here is a difference to the fact that instead of using the External Vibratory Formula, the Internal Formula is used to vibrate the Angelic Names of the Archangels. Again, this is the exception to the rule. This Formula will be used with the closing used in the LBRP, the Kabbalistic Cross. This closing is the same as the opening of the LBRP and is used to link the two together.
The techniques discussed earlier in this article can be used in even other more advanced rituals than the LBRP, LIRP, or the BRH. The use of the vibratory formulae so far has been in a basic format for the magician, now we look to a more advanced degree that the formulae are used. The consecration of the working tools of the magician uses the same basic layout as regards the use of the vibratory formulae. Let us look at a couple examples of the consecration of the working tools of the magician. The first example of the consecration of a tool will be in the manner of the Golden Dawn. In the following example I will be looking at the charging of the Sword in the Consecration of the Magic Sword.
O Mighty Power who governeth Geburah, Thou strong and terrible Divine ELOHIM GIBOR, I beseech Thee to bestow upon this Magic Sword Power and Might to slay the evil and weakness I may encounter. In the Fiery Sphere of MADIM, may it be wielded and tempered to unswerving strength and fidelity. May Thy Great Archangel KAMAEL bestow upon me courage wherewith to uses it aright and may The Powerful Angels of the Order of SERAPHIM scorch with their flames the feebleness of purpose which would hinder my search for the True Light.
In the above part of the Consecration Ritual of the Magic Sword, the same words or ideals are vibrated through the vibratory formula. In this case, the Divine Name ELOHIM GIBOR, the sphere of MADIM, the name of the Archangel KAMAEL (sometimes spelled Camiel, Camiul, Chamuel, Kemuel, or Khamael), and the Angelic Host SERAPHIM. These are the things that the beginning magician learns to vibrate in the basic rituals of the LBRP, LIRP, and BRH.
The next example of a consecration is also for the consecration of the magic sword, but his one is in the form used in Wicca. Look at the use of divine names within the following ritual. As the ritual is written, the divine names are not written in all capital letters or bold, so the practioner does not know if the words are to be vibrated or not. In any event, the formula of the ritual is the same as from ceremonial magick, and the divine names could certainly be vibrated perhaps lending a certain amount of extra power to the charging of the tool.
I conjure the, O Sword [Athame], by these Names, Abrahach, Abrach, Abracadabra, that thou servest me for a strength and defense in all magical operations against all mine enemies, visible and invisible. I conjure thee anew by the Holy Name Aradia and the Holy Name Cernunnos; I conjure thee, O Sword [Athame], that thou servest me for a protection in all adversities; so aid me now.
The use of the vibratory formulae can be continued in further advanced magickal workings such as in the creation of talismans. The use of the vibratory formula in the creation of talismans for use in magickal workings can give the benefit of charging the talisman with the proper energies desired by the magician. The following example of charging a talisman with the appropriate Divine, Archangelic, and Angelic names vibrated at the places noted shows how the vibratory formulae is to be used in a ritual other than the various banishing and invoking rituals.
"I conjure and command thee, (name of spirit), thou who art Ruler of the element (or) Intelligence of the planet (or) Spirits of the celestial sphere of (name of element, planet or celestial sphere), in and b the Great Name (Name of God), and in and by the mighty archangel (name), and in and by the angel (or) angelic host (name), that thou wilt direct thy power into this creature of talismans, and give it such strength as it may require to fulfill this purpose "
In the above example, if the magician where charging a talisman with the energies of Mercury, then the magician would vibrate the names TAPHTHARTHARATH (name of spirit), ELOHIM TZABAOTH (Name of God), RAPHAEL (archangel name), and BENI ELOHIM (angelic host), and would forcefully say MERCURY (name of planet).
Further uses of the vibratory formulae can be to vibrate the various Divine or Holy name found on the Enochian Tablets of the Enochian system of magick developed by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the 16th century. The Enochian names can be a bit tricky to pronounce and often give the beginning magician a difficult time. That is why I am mentioning them here. The use of Enochian in any ritual is most definitely an advanced for of ritual magick and should be undertaken only by the advanced magician. That being said though, the various Enochian Names that come up in ritual work are vibrated just like the Hebrew Divine Names, the only difference would be the pronunciation of the word.
The Vibratory Formulae, while shrouded in mystery over the last century has caused many aspiring magicians no lack of headaches in trying to decipher the manner in which this very important tool of the ceremonial magician is used. The practice of not fully explaining the Formulae in various books on ceremonial magick has helped lead to a decline, in my opinion, in people seeking to learn ceremonial magick. The Vibratory Formulae are the most basic of the tools that magicians need to help them begin in the Great Work and is something that should be mastered by every aspiring magician.
If the LBRP is the base upon which all other ceremonial ritual rests, then the element of the Vibratory Formulae which is within the LBRP should be better explained to the student, otherwise we students lack the ability to work magick within our ourselves or the Universe. I sincerely hope that this paper goes a long way in explaining the Vibratory Formulae and how it is used within our daily ritual work.
This tool, though used most often by ceremonial magicians, has great benefit for any tradition of magick that employs it. Whether the magician is a ceremonial practioner or Wiccan, the use of the various vibratory formulae in daily ritual work can help the magician to be closer to the Divine essence, to reach that state which all magicians seek, the reunification with the Higher Self. Like anything that is worthwhile it requires perseverance to reach that illusive goal. As Regardie was fond of saying, "Practice, practice, practice." This is the only way to get comfortable with the vibratory formulae in daily ritual work.
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 In some cases or variations of the LBRP, the vibration would be felt in the groin or even in the feet. It depends completely on the style of the LBRP that the magician uses and prefers. In any event, any of these areas are the "correct" location for the vibration of Malkuth to be felt. - the Author.
 The major difference between the different versions is in the wording. Most of this wording change is in the final statement of the Evocation, BEFORE ME FLAMES THE PENTAGRAM - BEHIND ME SHINES THE SIX-RAYED STAR. This statement can be, FOR ABOUT ME FLAME THE PENTAGRAMS, AND UPON ME SHINES THE SIX-RAYED STAR; FOR ABOUT ME FLAMES THE PENTAGRAM, AND IN THE COLUMN SHINES THE SIX-RAYED STAR; AND WITHIN ME SHINES THE SIX-RAYED STAR; or any number of other variations. They are all correct for the groups or persons that use the different wordings. - the Author.