Sub Rosa Nigra: The Setting of the Wards of Adamant

Excerpted from Mysteria Magica: Fundamental Techniques of High Magick (Vol. V The Magical Philosophy)

Stand in the centre of the piace of working, or as nearly the centre as the arrangement of the chamber will allow.


Facing East, assume the Wand Posture. Vibrate EI
Raise the arms at the sides, vibrate HE BASILEIA
Touch right shoulder with left hand, vibrate KAI HE DUNAMIS
Touch left shoulder with right hand, vibrate KAI HE DOXA
Keeping arms crossed, bow head and vibrate EIS TOUS AIONAS


Advance to the East. Beginning at that point and returning thereto, trace the widdershins circle, encompassing the area of working.


Return to center and face East.
Make the Gesture Cervus: at the first point ATHANATOS, at the second point vibrate SELAE-GENETES.
Face North: make the Gesture, vibrating ISCHUROS at the first point, KURIOS at the second.
Face West: make the Gesture, vibrating ISCHUROS at the first point, PANKRATES at the second.
Face South: make the Gesture, vibrating ATHANATOS and THEOS.


Face East. Assume the Wand Posture then raise the arms to form a Tau. Vibrate:-

Dedicatio Sub Rosa Nigra

Lower the arms to the sides. After a few moments' pause, make the Gesture Ave, then declaim: -


SOL VIVENS, 2nd point
CUSTOS MUNDI, 3rd point
IN CORDE TE FOVEO, 4th point


The purpose of the present ritual is to demarcate and prepare the area in which the magician is to work, with astral and Briatic defenses. The ritual consists of both banishing and invocation: the four Elements having been banished from the Circle in their naturally confused and impure state, the mighty spiritual forces ruling the Elements are invoked into symbolic egregores, to become Guardians of the Circle.

In the text of the Setting of the Wards of Power given above, the Gesture Cervus is indicated. This Gesture is performed as follows:

The Wand Posture is assumed.

Both hands are raised to the brow, so as to frame the center of the forehead in the space formed by conjoining thumb with thumb, forefinger with fore-finger, palms facing forwards. (The two middle fingers will also touch.) This constitutes the first point of the Gesture; while this position is held, the first Word of Power is vibrated.

In one vigorous movement the hands are separated and flung forward, slightly apart and upward: the elbows should be straightened and the fingers slightly spread. The palms are still facing forwards. This position constitutes the second point of the Gesture. The second Word of Power should be forcefully uttered while this movement is being made. The arms are then lowered.

When the student has mastered the physical performance of the rite (that is, vibration, movement and gesture) as detailed in the text, he should proceed to employ the full form of the Setting, incorporating visualization and reflection, as follows. From the beginning, however, he should perform the Calyx fully, as set forth in Paper II.

The Calyx is performed.

The operator advances to the East. He moves widdershins round the place of working, tracing the circle with his outstretched right hand. As he proceeds, he visualizes a shimmering wall of silver mist which he is thus drawing round the limits of the chamber: when he links the circle in the East this silver wall completely encompasses the place of working.

The operator returns to the center. Facing East, he makes the Gesture Cervus; at the completion of the first point he visualizes a pentagram of brilliant light on his brow, framed by his hands. Holding this in mind he vibrates ATHANATOS The pentagram is flung forth with the second point of the Gesture, the operator vibrating SELAE-GENETES: as the pentagram is flung forth it is seen to diffuse as a burst of light into the shimmering mist-wall. The result of this is twofold: the forces of Air are banished from within the circle, and the first Ward is established. *

Remaining on the same spot, but turning to face the North, the operator repeats the Gesture and visualizations, using the names ISCHUROS and KURIOS.

Still at center, the operator turns to face West. He repeats the Gesture and Visualizations, using the names ISCHUROS and PANKRATES.

[* The Gesture by its nature causes diffusion, but does not lessen banishing force within a small area. Magical practice has established that Cervus is fully efficacious to a distance of approximately thirty feet from the operator, and thus in a working area sixty feet in diameter. Beyond this range the full astral reality of its power begins to diminish. The fortification of the circle by the method of the cervus is only possible because the projected force Is diffused thereby a concentrated projection of force would, inevitably, pierce the barrier. The circle alone will contain forces, but will provide no adequate defense.]

Turning to face South, he again repeats the Gesture and visualizations, using the names ATHANATOS and THEOS. The operator now faces East. He assumes the Wand Posture, then raises his arms to form a Tau, palms downwards. He remains thus, at center and facing East, arms raised in the Tau, throughout the fourfold invocation of the Archangelic powers (section xi of the text).

Before him he visualizes a tail and slender form clad in a voluminous and billowing robe of yellow, heightened with traces of violet. While this figure is contemplated, a cool rushing of wind is to be felt as emanating from the East. This wind should be felt inwardly to awaken the hidden aspirations and wordless hopes which have lain dormant in the toils of sloth and habitude: it sings to the inner ear of the potentialities of a life which reaches forth to the spiritual heights. When this image has been formulated and realized, the operator vibrates TO THE EAST SOTER.

To the South he visualizes a lean muscular figure with an appearance of great strength, clad in a robe of brilliant red with changeful sparks of green, and standing amid flames. This figure holds in his right hand a wand of burnished copper. While this figure is contemplated, a sensation of powerful heat is to be felt as emanating from the South It should also be perceived inwardly that the fire from which this heat is generated is the fire of inspiration: there is in its power a kernel of inebriation too, as may be understood by recalling that Dionysus took birth from the all-consuming fire of Zeus. When this image has been formulated and realized, the operator vibrates TO THE SOUTH ALASTOR.

To the West he visualizes a tall and powerful figure standing amid foaming turbulent waters, clad in a robe of blue merging into highlights of orange, and holding in his left hand a silver cup. While this figure is contemplated, the mighty surge of the sea tides is imagined, pouring in successive waves from the West. Inwardly it should be felt that these waves are of the cold and shining waters which purify the intellect in their flood, healing it of unreason's fever and tempering it as steel is tempered. When this image has been formulated and realized, the operator vibrates TO THE WEST ASPHALEIOS.

To the North he visualizes a broad-shouldered, placid figure, robed in indigo which gleams with flashes of pale gold, and standing upon wild grass studded with yellow flowers. In his left hand the figure bears a golden orb, in his right a golden sickle. While this figure is contemplated, a feeling of great peace and stability is to be imagined, for the succession of the seasons wipes out or mitigates past errors: the innocence of the Golden Age ever awaits us in earth's renewal. Elemental Earth itself is the medium of nature 's work, and the instinctual faculties of man find their repose therein. When this image has been formulated and realized, the operator vibrates TO THE NORTH AMYNTOR.

He lowers his arms to his sides; after a pause he makes the Gesture Ave, accomplished as follows:-

The right arm is raised with the elbow flexed, so that the upper arm is held forward in an almost horizontal position, slightly out from the side as necessary, the forearm and hand being raised vertically, the palm forward.*

The Gesture having been dismissed, he declaims the Dedicatio: -


The above names are from the Constelltion of the Worshipped. While vibrating these the operator traces in the air before him with his right hand a circled, equal-armed cross, all lines being visualized in white light as traced; the horizontal line with the first name, the descending vertical line with the second name, the circle-beginning at the top and returning deosil with the third name.

The operator concludes with the five points of the Gesture Arista** and their Latin words, accomplished as follows:-

Commencing from the Wand Posture, raise the arms at the sides, so that the body and the upcurved arms form roughly the shape of the Greek letter Tau, with the upturned palms held almost horizontally though not stiffly so. Establishing the first point of the Gesture, he intones AVE LUX SANCTISSIMA - Hail, most holy Light!
In one smooth movement the hands are brought over to cross upon the breast, right arm over left, fingertips touching collarbones. He intones SOL VIVENS - Living Sun.
In one smooth movement the forearms are fully extended downward and slightly forward from the body (the elbows move only slightly in this change of position), the hands horizontal with palms downward and closed fingertips pointing forward. This position is, in its own right, the Gesture Pronatio.*** He intones CUSTOS MUNDI- Guardian of the World.
In one smooth movement return to position 2, as above, but with left arm over right. He intones IN CORDE TE FOVEO - In my heart I hold thee.
In one smooth movement the arms are opened to a gentle curve just below horizontal, so that they are outward to the sides of, and slightly forward from, the body: the hands following the same line but slightly incurved, very slightly cupped. He intones MEMBRIS CIRCUMAMICTIS GLORIA TUA - My limbs being girt about with thy glory.

[* This Gesture is customarily used by comites ("companions", sing. comes) as a general salutation to the East when passing that station. It is used by all comites who have cause to pass the East but are not at that time involved in a specific ritual action. Comites involved in a specific ritual action, having cause to pa. the East, do not employ the Ave unless it is an ordained part of their action. If a ritual act culminates in the East, at the conclusion thereof the Gesture is employed if convenient. But the Gesture is also to be used as a salutation to the East whenever a reverent acknowledgment of the Place of Light is felt to be appropriate. (When performing Morning or Evening Adoration, the Ave may be made towards Sol.)]

[** No visualizations are employed with Arista.]

[*** The Gesture Pronatio is independently used (according to context) in invoking chthonic forces, or to link the magical purpose with an intended offering.]

When the integration of gestures, vibrations, visualizations and other parts of the Setting has been achieved, the student should accustom himself to performing the Setting of the Wards, and to working within their protection. To this end, he should carry out the Setting very often, and always before his exercise sequence or any other magical work.

One of the effects of the practice is a personal attunement to the equilibrium of the great forces invoked therein. Long familiarity with this ritual will but render it more rewarding; care must be taken, however, that it is always performed attentively and with unabated heed to all its parts.

The circle traced about the place of working (section vi of the text) should encompass the whole area, all necessary equipment having been duly placed beforehand within its limits. This is of vital importance, as no one is to cross the bounds of the circle during the working. No relaxation of this rule should be permitted. If the circle is disturbed in this way, there is a real danger that undesirable influences attracted by the magick may enter through the breach and vitiate the working. A more insidious danger, however, is that the operator who is careless concerning the breaking of his defences will find that he has weakened his own belief in their reality; and such doubts carry their own perils. One's work must be sound, and one must know it to be sound.