Vampire Ritual Book, © by Michelle Belanger, , at sacred-texts.com. Material can be reproduced for personal use on an individual basis in private spellbooks, books of shadows, and the like. Reproduction for distribution in any media or format is not allowed. To reprint material that appears in this book in a book, magazine, or website, please contact the author at the official House Kheperu website. For more information, consult www.kheperu.org
When we perform rituals and ceremonies, we are building sacred space. This is a realm which exists within yet apart from our ordinary reality that allows us to come into contact with the extraordinary. In sacred space, our sensitivities are heightened. Our thoughts and feelings are in an elevated state. Building sacred space may seem like something esoteric, but it is not difficult at all. Since the energies we harness for magick and ritual are within and throughout all things, in a sense sacred space is all around us. We only need to learn how to harness it.
Sacred space is really just a frame of mind. You can build it wherever and whenever you please. Once you get used to it, you can carry a little of it inside of you at all times, so that even in the midst of the most mundane environment, you can find a stillpoint and be at peace with yourself. Once you understand that sacred space is where you choose to make it, and that you can carry it within, you can perform ritual any time and anywhere even on your way to work, riding the subway.
Some rituals call for a little more pomp and ceremony, however. Rituals held with large groups to honor important days or events can benefit from a more theatrical approach. Its important to understand that the pomp and ceremony is not required to create sacred space what really build ritual space is energy and the Will to direct it. So long as your Will is focused, you can erect an inner temple with no outward actions and without resorting to any tools. But tools and ritual actions are not only helpful in achieving focus. They add an aesthetic level to ritual as well. They especially help to focus the attention of a large group, catching everyone up in the beauty and potency of the ceremony. Chants and ritual actions help us achieve the focus necessary to reach this state of mind. To this end, try starting and ending your rituals with the framework listed below. This will help you establish the ritual area as something that exists outside of ordinary reality where the higher goals of ritual can be approached.
Caste Roles in Ritual
The set of ritual actions used below to build sacred space build upon the Kheprian concept of castes. Too often members of the vampire community encounter the word caste and assume that it is only related to a social hierarchy. However, in the Kheprian system, castes are more about energy and a persons preferential role in working with energy. The first caste that enters Kheprian ritual space is the Warrior Caste. The Warriors clear the space of any pre-existing energy, breaking down any metaphysical barriers that might exist, chasing away unwanted spiritual entities, and then standing guard at the quarters. The Concubines more widely known as the Counselor Caste then enter. Their role is the generation of energy, building up raw material, connecting people and things, and facilitating flow. Once this caste has infused the blank slate created by the Warriors with energetic potential, the Priests enter. The Priest caste harness and direct energy, and in ritual they take the raw potential provided by the Counselors and shape it into the actual spiritual temple. Each Priest becomes a pillar in that temple, holding the shape of the structure throughout the ritual. The Warriors continue to guard the perimeter and serve as a firm foundation throughout the ritual, and the Counselors weave connections between everyone present, making sure energy flows and builds properly throughout the ritual.
The framework below is based on these notions. You do not have to recognize specific castes within your own system to use this, however. The castes are just formalizations of three fundamental relations to energy. Everyone falls into one of these three roles: grounding/stabilizing, connecting/building, and harnessing/directing. In truth, anyone even members of the Kheprian castes can perform any of these three functions. The distinction comes about because most people have one method that comes more naturally to them, and that feels more right to perform during ritual. When approaching this ritual system within your own group, talk among yourselves and decide what roles feel right to you. Its perfectly acceptable to feel as if you fit into more than one, but consider what energetic archetype best fits how your view yourself magickally. Once youve assigned roles (and remember that you can switch them in later rites if you want to) then you can start building space through the set of steps outlined below.
Sebastian has suggested that in the Sanguinarium ritual system, the castes should be associated with the old guild system that existed on the Sanguinarium site from 1998 onward. These guilds are described in the Vampyre Almanac, and while their correlation to the castes is hardly perfect, they establish a division of concepts and duties within the Sanguinarium system. By Sebastians suggestion, the Mradu, once the guild for sanguine scholars, should be used to designate Warriors. Ramkht, the guild of vampyre artists, become Priests. There was no immediate corollary to the Concubine caste, so Lady Eden of the Court of Lightning Bay developed a term, Kitra, meaning knot, for this caste.
Erecting the Temple
The ritual space should be large enough to accommodate everyone in a loose circle. Within the circle, there should be a small table with a candle, incense, and any other ritual tools that might be required during the rite (dont forget matches!). This should not be located at the center of the circle but rather off to one side, typically near the head of the circle. For some traditions, this will be North, while others prefer East. The direction of the head is a matter of individual preference and group symbolism. In the Kheprian tradition, the head of the circle is magnetic North, because thats the way energy prefers to flow.
Part I: The Warriors enter the ritual space. All carry daggers that have been ritually consecrated. They walk counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the ritual space, using their blades to symbolically cut the energy and clear it. This cutting should be reinforced with an actual energetic sweep of the space. The person designated as the head Warrior leads this activity, and when he feels that the space has been cleared, he steps to the center and thrusts the tip of his blade into the floor, grounding the energy through the blade.
The Warriors take up points around the circle. Ideally, there should be at least four Warriors, and they should stand at the four quarters. If there are less than four, elect two to act as Watchtowers, standing at North and South. If there are more than four, elect four Watchtowers and allow the others to arrange themselves so there is balance in the circle when the other castes enter. As the Watchtowers take their positions, they turn to face outward from the circle, holding up their blades. Starting with the lead Warrior, who should stand at the head of the circle (for some this is North, for others, East) each Warrior, counter-clockwise around the circle faces outward, takes a fighting stance, and says:
The Warrior makes a symbolic cut in the air and then sheaths his blade, turning back to face the inside of the circle. As each Warrior finishes, they stand at attention, waiting for the next two steps in the ritual set-up.
Part II: The Counselors enter next. They pass through the outer perimeter established by the Warriors. Like the Warriors, the Counselors move counter-clockwise around the circle, using the Warriors to define the outermost edge. As they move, the Counselors begin to sway and dance, raising energy with their sinuous movements. They may play musical instruments or they may move to music that is already playing softly in the background. The lead Counselor lights a candle on the altar and lights incense from this. The lead Counselor gestures into the smoke, wafting the incense up across neck and throat. Each Counselor moves to the altar and does the same, always moving in rhythm to their dance. They Counselors join hands together at the center of the circle, cycling energy between themselves, building this energy internally, then pushing it out to fill the circle. Some groups may want to express the building of this energy in a more sensual manner than simply holding hands, instead having the Counselors touch and caress one another, celebrating life and love as they raise the energy of the circle. When the Counselors deem that they have raised enough energy, they extend their hands into the center of their inner circle, cupping their hands upward to hold a collective ball of energy. They infuse this with all of the positive emotions generated through their interactions and their dance, and the lead Counselor guides this also toward the energy that is the focus of the ritual The lead Counselor says:
The lead Counselor guides everyone into raising the collected energy above them in the center of the circle, then releasing it outward. All the Counselors stand with their arms raised for a moment, letting the energy wash over them. Then they step backward and take their places in the circle, moving evenly between the Warriors to maintain balance in the circle.
Part III: The Priests enter last, moving through the Warriors and Counselors to the inside part of the circle. The lead Priest heads the procession as the Priests walk slowly around the interior of the circle, moving counter-clockwise. After they have made one pass around the circle, inspecting the work of the Warriors and Counselors, the Priests move to the center. They hold their hands out to their sides, palms up to grab and harness the energy. Each Priest should envision a temple. This can be a temple that takes whatever form seems appropriate in that moment, or it can be a temple that was agreed upon by all the Priests previously. As the Priests harness and shape the energy, they should close their eyes and focus on this temple, seeing themselves each as a pillar holding the entire structure up. When the lead Priest feels that the energy has begun to take on a solid form, he or she speaks the following:
Alternately, all the Priests can speak together, intoning as one voice the creation of the temple. As the words are spoken, the Priests open their eyes and raise their hands slowly up at their sides, palms up, guiding the energy into its final form. The temple should not merely be shaped as a circle but should actually be a complete sphere of energy, surrounding the entire gathering on all sides as well as above and below. When the lead Priest feels that the temple has been erected, he nods to the others and they begin to step away from the center of the circle, taking places among the Warriors and Counselors. They maintain their hold on the structure of the temple as they move, slowly releasing it to stand on its own. During the course of the ritual, the Priests must keep that sense of being a pillar in the backs of their minds, harnessing the energy and giving it structure, just as the Counselors must maintain that sense of connection, weaving energy between everyone in the circle, and cycling and heightening it within themselves. The Warriors continue to stand guard against any outside influences threatening the space of the temple, while at the same time maintaining a firm foundation so the energy raised and directed also stays grounded and does not overwhelm any in the rite.
Open any ritual or ceremony with this set of actions. The framework is suitable for consecrating sacred space for Cabals and other gatherings as well. If the wording of any of the declarations seems clumsy or inappropriate for your particular group, play with them a little until you find a formula that works best for you. The idea here is to get your energy and the energy of everyone with you focused on building a place where you can all reach higher into your Selves than ordinary reality allows. Different symbols speak to each of us more strongly, so add what you feel is lacking to make the wording speak to you.
Focusing Group Consciousness
Once you have declared the sacred space, another crucial thing you should attend to before starting the ritual is get everyone in tune. A ritual will work best if youve focused the consciousness of the group on the experience at hand. One way that we do this in Kheprian rituals is simply by standing in a circle and joining hands. We observe a moment of silence where everyone thinks about the ritual and the connection we all share. We pass energy among us around the circle, usually taking with our left hands and giving with our rights. The particular direction doesnt really matter. Counter-clockwise is what works for us, but the important thing is that everyone knows what direction things are supposed to be moving in before the sharing starts. If you havent coordinated this ahead of time, some people will pull one way, some will pull the other, and the energy of the circle will get really crazy really fast.
In addition to sharing our energy so everyone balances and gets in tune, we recite the Kheprian Charge. This is a short declaration of who we are, what we believe, and how those beliefs connect us. A charge like this further serves to focus the consciousness of the group by stressing the group identity. When youre coming together to do a community ritual, youre doing it because there are important things you share as a community. These beliefs and ideals define you as a group, and going over them in a ritualized fashion really helps achieve focus and a sense of interconnectedness.
As an example, here is the Kheprian Charge:
Endlessly we die and are reborn,
changed yet unchanging through the years.
We move from lifetime to lifetime,
taking up bodies as garments.
Ours is a journey toward understanding,
and our charge is knowledge and wisdom.
We are the catalysts, and as we Awaken to our Selves,
we serve to Awaken the very world.
Wiccans usually recite the Charge of the Goddess to focus group consciousness at the start of a rite. Each group, by definition, will have a different belief system that defines it as a distinct community. Therefore, the Charge or opening prayer for each group will have to be customized for the beliefs of that group. This Charge, or opening prayer, does not have to be recited by everybody. In Wiccan ceremonies, as referenced above, the Charge of the Goddess is usually recited by the officiating priestess. Whether this opening prayer is recited by one person or by the group as a whole will really depend on the structure of your particular group. Some groups may not feel comfortable opening with a Charge or prayer. For some, a moment of silence where everyone shares energy and gets the group in tune is enough. A few of the more primal groups, like the Court of the Barrens in New York, prefer to focus conscious through a group howl, with each member throwing his or her head back, digging deep into their primal selves, and howling wordlessly with the power of that primal side. Each group has something different that appeals to them, and each group should feel free to experiment until that special something is found.
After group consciousness has been focused, you can move on to the body of the ritual, where the actual purpose of the rite is expressed and all of the ritual actions pertinent to that purpose are carried out within the sacred space.
Unmaking the Temple
At the conclusion of a ritual, the sacred space that has been erected in the form of a spiritual temple should be taken down. As the temple is taken down, it is important to acknowledge that the temple itself is a state of mind, something that is not dependent upon a particular time or place, but instead is carried in each of us at all times. In this sense, sacred space is entirely portable, and can be carried with the practitioners from place to place, being set up and invoked when it is needed. Never forget this, and never fail to bring back a little of the sacred reality into your ordinary lives.
The leading Priest decides when the rite is concluded. He should indicate the close of the rite to the participants in a formal manner. As an example, he can say:
All other Priests answer, It lives within. The lead Priest nods to the Warrior closest to the doorway or traditional exit of the circle. Typically, this is directly opposite the head of the circle. This Warrior, sometimes known as Guardian of the Gate, then takes his blade and symbolically cuts a door into the space of the temple. He holds this door open, and the Priests file out.
The lead Counselor moves to the center of the circle and says:
The Counselors raise their hands, palms up, as the lead Counselor speaks. As the words are finished, all lower their heads and hold their hands over their hearts. They respond, We honor these bonds. They pull some of the connections that have been established within the circle closer, holding the ties of the circle deep within their hearts. Like the Priests, they then file out past the Guardian of the Gate.
The Warriors are the last ones standing in the circle. The lead Warrior steps toward the altar. He take his blade back out, passing it through the flame of the candle. Then he snuffs the candle and says:
As he says, In Honor and Blood, the lead Warrior drops to the ground and plants the point of his blade in the floor, grounding out the remaining energies. As he does this, all other Warriors respond with, In Honor and Blood, and do the same. When all the energy is cleared from the space, the file out past the Guardian of the Gate. The Guardian is the last to leave.
Note on Special Roles
The castes lend themselves to a number of specialized roles within ritual space. In the closing of the temple, the most notable of these is the Warrior position of Guardian of the Gate. This role is particularly important when a ritual requires passage in and out of the circle once sacred space has been established. The Guardian of the Gate is the creator and keeper of the energetic door that allows individuals to pass into and out of the sacred space. An additional function of this Guardian is to cleanse the energy of anyone passing into the circle. In traditional Wiccan and neo-Pagan rituals, this is often done with smudging, using the smoke of an herb like sage to symbolically burn away impurities and cleanse the energy around an individual. Rather than sage, the main method the Guardian of the Gate employs is simply reaching out with his own energy and clearing or wiping away any impurities from the person about to enter. This can be done symbolically by cutting an outline around the person with the Warriors consecrated blade. Additional methods can be used if the group so desires, but the important aspect is the energetic cleansing.
In addition to the Guardian of the Gate, there are of course leading roles within each caste. These guide the other members of their caste through their actions and typically deliver the speaking parts involved with setting up and taking down the temple. The person leading the body of the ritual, sometimes referred to as the High Priest, is almost always taken from the Priest caste but may not necessarily be the lead Priest who helped set up the ritual space.
Among the Counselors, there are two specialized roles within in ritual. The first is Herald. This is someone designated to pass between the inside and outside of the circle, leading new people in past the Guardian of the Gate when the ritual calls for such an entrance. While the Guardian of the Gate maintains the separation between sacred space and the outside world, the Herald is someone who occupies a middle ground, belonging to neither and thus free to move between both. Because this role involves establishing a connection between things outside the circle and things inside the circle, this position is ideal for someone who resonates with the energetic workings of the Counselor caste.
The second specialized Counselor role is ritual assistant. The ritual assistant stands near the High Priest, playing a supportive role to that position. The ritual assistant fulfills two main functions. First, the ritual assistant helps the High Priest handle any items needed in the ritual, handing things off or taking them away to free up the High Priests own hands. Additionally, the ritual assistant acts as energetic support for the High Priest, ensuring that a direct connection of energy is flowing from those gathered to the High Priest to facilitate the magick of the rite. In my own Kheprian system, the ritual assistant is traditionally a Counselor, although this is also a position ideal for another member of the Priest caste.