The Rite of the Five Seals is a baptism of Sethian Gnosticsm intended to activate the Christ consciousness of the initiate. I developed this interpretation of the ritual as part of my completion of the first year of a two-year healing craft program taught by Crow Song Healing Arts. You can read about that process here.
Excerpts for this ritual are taken from Trimorphic Protennoia and The Secret Book of John. I edited some of the language from the excerpts, especially in relation to gender. Barbelo, the Aeon that bestows the baptism, refers to itself as both “she” and “he” and uses the pronouns interchangeably. Likewise it refers to the unknown god of Gnosticism as Father, Mother, and Mother-Father. To avoid confusion (as I was performing this in front of twenty people) I changed Barbelo’s pronouns to “they” and the unknown god to “Source” and “Mother-Father” so that the witnesses would be able to follow along easily. Additionally, Abraxas is not mentioned by name in Trimorphic Protennoia. The text where that name appears is missing, but I wanted to keep with the pattern of invoking three cosmic beings for each stage of the baptism so I called to Abraxas.
Altar cloth to establish the boundary of the ritual
A candle with something to light it
Water collected from a natural body of water
A song or dance to consecrate space
Excerpts from Gnostic texts to read
Olive oil infused with raw frankincense and myrrh (optional)
A working altar
Before enacting the Rite of the Five Seals it is important to establish a daily spiritual practice to be the bedrock from which your magic can grow. For myself, this took the shape of regular meditation and journeying; establishing a working altar that I tended to daily; and developing a working relationship with spirit allies and guides, placing biodegradable offerings on the altar to feed them. The shape of this practice will change from person to person. The important part is to have something that can sustain you through the ritual process.
- The first step to any ritual is clarifying why you want to perform it in the first place. What do you hope to achieve? What are you willing to give up? How will you use the blessings that come from enacting the ritual? Use divination to help uncover these answers. You might think you know all the answers, but there might be aspects to it that you aren’t considering. Cast runes, use tarot or oracle cards, read the elements, or any other technique that is culturally specific to you. Once you have your intentions clearly defined, reflect on that emotion as you gather the supplies and let it carry you until the ritual is complete.
- At least a month prior to the ritual make petitions to Barbelo and a natural body of water explaining your desire and intentions to perform the ritual. Listen to your intuition. If it says to not proceed, then go back to the drawing board. If it says the light is green, then continue with the ritual. Make a biodegradable offering to the natural body of water before you collect from it. For example, I gave Puget Sound some dried rowan leaves. Charge the water on your altar for a month.
- If you choose to incorporate the oil, place some raw frankincense and myrrh in a small jar of olive oil. Charge it on your altar for at least a month.
- Meditate daily on your intentions for the ritual until it is time to perform it.
- Place the altar cloth on the ground and arrange the candle, bowl, collected water, and oil (if you’re using it) in front of you. Light the candle.
- Sing a song or perform a dance to consecrate the space. I sang a French folksong about friends drinking wine and eating cervelat to honor my ancestors and invoke a feeling of celebration.
- Say a prayer that states your intention, invites your spirit allies and Barbelo, disinvites any emotion or thoughts not welcome, and proclaims what you will relinquish in exchange for the Rite.
- Invoke Barbelo and the Rite of the Five Seals by reading:
I am First Thought, the thought that is in light.
I am movement that is in the All,
They in whom the All takes its stand,
The firstborn among those who came to be,
They who exists before the All.
They are called by three names, though they dwell alone, since they are complete.
I am invisible within the thought of the invisible one,
Although I am revealed in the immeasurable and the ineffable.
I am incomprehensible, dwelling in the incomprehensible, although I move in every creature.
I am the life of my Insight that
Is within every power and every eternal movement,
And in invisible light,
And within the rulers and angles and demons
And every soul in the Underworld
And in every material soul.
I dwell in those who came to be.
I move in everyone and probe them all.
I walk upright, and those who sleep I awaken.
And I am the sight of those who are asleep,
I am the invisible one within the All.
I counsel those who are hidden,
Since I know everything that exits in the All.
I am numberless beyond everyone.
I am immeasurable, ineffable, yet whenever I wish,
I shall reveal myself through myself.
I am the movement of the All.
I am before all and I am all, since I am in everyone.
I came and delivered.
I gave them some of the water of life
That strips the person of the chaos
In the uttermost darkness in the whole abyss,
Which is corporeal and physical thought.
All these I put on.
I stripped the person of that thought,
And I clothed them in shining light,
The knowledge of the thought of Source.
And I invite you into the exalted, perfect light.
When you enter the light,
You will be glorified by those who give glory,
And those who enthrone will enthrone you.
You will receive robes from those who give robes,
And the baptizers will baptize you,
And you will become exceedingly glorious,
As you were in the beginning, when you were light.
- Poor the collected water into the bowl and continue reading, washing your face after each stanza.
I delivered the person to those who give robes,
Yammon, Elasso, Amenai,
And they clothed them with a robe from the robes of light.
I delivered the person to the baptizers, and they baptized them,
Micheus, Michar, Mnesinous,
And they immersed them in the spring of the water of life.
I delivered the person to those who enthrone,
Bariel, Thoughan, Sabenai,
And they enthroned them from the throne of glory.
I delivered the person to those who glorify,
Ariom, Elien, Phariel,
And they glorified them with the glory of the divine.
Those who rapture raptured,
Kamaliel, Abraxas, Samblo
The servants of the great holy luminaries,
And they took the person into the place of the light of Source.
- Optional choice to anoint yourself in oil. I intended to do so, but didn’t last minute. Follow your intuition and continue reading:
And they received the Five Seals from the light of the Mother-Father Insight, First Thought,
And it was granted to them to partake of the mystery of knowledge,
And they became light in light.[i]
I am the abundance of light.
I am the remembrance of the Fullness
I am the light dwelling in light,
I am the remembrance of Forethought.
I am the Forethought of pure light,
I am the thought of the Virgin Spirit, who raises you to a place of honor.
Arise, remember that you have heard
And trace your root,
Which is I, the compassionate.
Guard yourself against the angels of misery,
The demons of chaos, and all who entrap you,
And beware of deep sleep and the trap in the bowels of the underworld.
I raised and sealed the person in luminous water with Five Seals that death might not prevail over the person from that moment on.[ii]
- End the ceremony by either speaking a closing prayer or an affirmation.
Take time in the following weeks to check in with yourself and take care of your needs. Find ways to ground – eat, have a salt bath, or get out in nature.
[i] Turner, John D., trans. “Three Forms of First Thought.” In The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, edited by Marvin Meyer, 715-35. New York, NY: Harper One, 2008.
[ii] Meyer, Marvin., trans. “The Secret Book of John.” In The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, edited by Marvin Meyer, 103-32. New York, NY: Harper One, 2008.