The Invocations of the Seven Temples

In my quest to further develop and refine my own spiritual practices, especially when it comes to prayers, I often turn to the practices of the great religions and disciplines that have gone before me, even if I myself don’t belong to them.  Not that this is an uncommon thing, whether for myself or for any other number of mages or spiritual people, of course, but there is a level of finesse that has to go along with this to avoid outright appropriation of practices or the misleading of myself into particular theological issues that I would rather happily avoid.  Sometimes it’s a simple matter of just tweaking the words slightly, and sometimes a more challenging matter of closely inspecting the actual theological, cosmological, or philosophical underpinnings that allow the prayer to manifest and blossom into sincere spiritual working.

There are three main influences going on here with these prayers:

  1. The `ad’iyah of the Seven Haykal.
  2. The `ad’iyah of Ṭawaf, the seven circumambulations around the Ka’bah at Hajj.
  3. Names of Allah associated with the seven planetary spheres from the Shams al-Ma`arif and similar resources.

It’s from that first influence, that of the Seven Haykal, that this prayer practice of mine takes its name; haykal (هيكل‎) means “temple” or “sanctuary”, from Hebrew hekhal (היכל‎) meaning “temple”, and originally referred to the main building of the Holy Temple of Solomon, but could also be taken to refer to palaces in other contexts.  In Arabic, the term can also refer to the body or form of something, especially when it comes to the human body; in similar senses, Bahá’í uses this word to refer to the body of the Manifestations (messengers) of God.  For our contexts and purposes, though, we’ll interpret haykal as the seven directions relative to oneself, all of which culminate in creating one grand manifestation of holiness and sanctuary.  Each of the seven “temples”, in this context, has its own separate invocation.

The First Invocation:

O God, you who are the Propitious One! Nothing can happen, o Lord, except according to your Word; all things happen, o Lord, according to your Word. I call on you by your name, by which all the seas and all the lands have been created! I call on you by your name, by which all of the Heavens shake! I call on you by your name, by which all your angels tremble! I call on you by your name, by which the prayers of holier men than me have been accepted and to whom you have given your love and mercy! I call on you by your name, by which your prophets have been purified and ennobled, by which you send your blessings and peace upon them, and by which all those who follow them may learn to follow in their ways to you! Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Generous.

The Second Invocation:

O God, you who are the Forbearing One! It is you, o Lord, who created the Heavens and all within them; it is you, o Lord, who created the Earth and all upon it. I commit endless errors and bear endless faults, but with you are endless blessing and endless relief. Help me, o Lord, that I might bring an end to my error; help me, o Lord, that I might lighten the burden of my faults. You have heard and granted the pleas of your most despised creatures for relief and peace; so too, o Lord, even if I am no better than them, grant my pleas for relief and peace. Bless me, o Lord, with what you give me, and make my heart content with it. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the All-Knowing.

The Third Invocation:

O God, you who are the Vigilant One! Whatever evil hurts us, o Lord, none but you can remove it; whatever good helps us, o Lord, none but you can repel it. I am your servant, utterly dependent on you, fearful for my soul, who takes refuge in you; grant me fortitude in my body and assurance in myself. I am your ward, a poor seeker of succor at your gate; grant me, o Merciful God, entry into your kingdom! Yours is a holy house and an eternal sanctuary, into which those who turn to you might enter for refuge. Save me, o Lord, and take me into your house, that I and all those before me, after me, and with me might be saved from the torments that I risk with every breath and every step. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Holy.

The Fourth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Truthful One! Whatever you bestow, o Lord, none can take away; whatever you take away, o Lord, none can bestow. Lord, guide your people to you, and keep all evil away from those who turn to you. Lord, grant us your blessing on Earth and in Heaven, and save us from the torments we face. Yours is a holy house and an eternal sanctuary, and it is here that I seek to stay and take refuge from the torments that chase me and the torments I bring upon myself. All blessing, relief, and well-being come from you; grant it upon me and all those before me, after me, and with me! Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Exalted.

The Fifth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Powerful One! There is nothing and no one on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, that you do not know; all things that exist and live on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, are known to you. Grant me life, light, and goodness by your mercy; grant me refuge from my torment by your mercy; grant me healing from disease by your mercy; grant me protection from harm by your mercy! By your mercy, unending and eternal, enlarge my bounty and blessings for me, and keep me safe from the evil of corrupt men and corrupting spirits. Lord, I know that my work is meager; multiply it and help me multiply it. Help me so that all that I am, all that I have, and all that I do might be made worthy to you and be accepted as an offering before your Throne. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Almighty.

The Sixth Invocation:

O God, you who are the Reckoning One! There is nothing on Earth or in Heaven, o Lord, that does not depend on you; all things on Earth and in Heaven, o Lord, utterly depends on you. Praise be to you, from this one who gives this prayer to you! Praise be to you, from all those who have ever honored and exalted you! Praise be to you, who has sent forth the angels to teach the prophets! Praise be to you, who has sent forth the prophets to teach all humanity! Lord, I know that my work is meager; multiply it and help me multiply it. Help me that whatever crimes I conceal be forgiven, whatever errors I make be corrected, and whatever flaws I possess be repaired. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the Most Merciful.

The Seventh Invocation:

O God, you who are the Unique One! There is no might nor power except in you, o Lord; all my trust and faith is put in you, o Lord. Owner of well-being, creator of well-being, keeper of well-being, granter of well-being! You who give well-being to me and all your creatures! You, merciful on Earth and in Heaven, compassionate of all who turn to you! Send your peace and blessing upon all those who have gone before me, and send your peace and blessing upon me and all who walk with me, that we might have well-being now and always, that we might give thanks for well-being, and that we might always praise and glorify you and your mercy. Hear me and all my prayers, for you are the All-Aware.

All seven invocations are to be used as one overall prayer done in succession, interspersed by a physical gesture of blowing breath in a particular direction.  Based on the instructions for reciting the Seven Haykals supplication, I follow the following process:

  1. Open up with my customary invocations and prayer to the Divine.
  2. Recite the first invocation.
  3. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, extending your hands forward and extending your breath mentally forward into the distance.
  4. Recite the second invocation.
  5. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands behind your head and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.
  6. Recite the third invocation.
  7. Look upwards, cup your hands together in front of your face, breathe out into them, moving your hands upward and extending your breath mentally above you into the skies.  Return your posture to face forward.
  8. Recite the fourth invocation.
  9. Look downwards, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands downward and extending your breath mentally down into the Earth.  Return your posture to face forward.
  10. Recite the fifth invocation.
  11. Look to your right, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands to your right (extending your left hand across your chest to the right and your right hand out fully) and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.  Return your posture to face forward.
  12. Recite the sixth invocation.
  13. Look to your left, cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, moving your hands to your left (extending your right hand across your chest to the left and your left hand out fully) and extending your breath mentally behind you into the distance.  Return your posture to face forward.
  14. Recite the seventh invocation.
  15. Cup your hands together in front of your face, then breathe out into them, passing your breath over your body from your head down to your feet, filling your own sphere with your breath mentally.
  16. Prostrate, and recite “Amen”.

In the course of this prayer, what I end up doing is filling each of the seven relative directions (the six directions of before, behind, above, below, left, right, and and the seventh direction of within) with holy breath, letting my breath carry my prayers to each of the directions so that each direction I face is a sanctuary of its own, all culminating in myself becoming the final sanctuary.  The overall effect of this prayer practice, I find, is that it relatively quickly, quietly, and simply produces an atmosphere of holiness and peace.  This has a number of benefits, to be sure, but in this light, using this as a way to quickly sanctify an area for spiritual works or to prepare such a space for more profound spiritual works is something I’ve settled on, almost as a framing ritual unto itself, in addition to when I myself feel that I need that extra bit of holy peace.  Even without such a purpose in mind, this prayer practice is a beautiful series of meditations and supplications to the Divine to seek and establish peace, well-being, and holiness in the lives we lead.

Although I based these prayers on those of the original two sets of Islamic supplications noted above, I did shuffle, mix, and reorder them.  There’s a subtle order present in the original invocations, but I decided to use a different order for these, and changed the order and presence of particular bits of prayer accordingly.   The first six invocations can be thought of instead as three pairs, with the first and second prayer sharing a similarity of structure and context, as well as the third and fourth, as well as the fifth and sixth.  This ties into the mirrored effect of the breaths one takes to sanctify that direction; as a result, the seventh and final invocation stands alone, as the Divine Center has no opposite once all the other directions have been taken into account.  Because these are all relative prayers, no direction needs be used as an orientation or anchoring point; you can face East or North or another direction of sacred import for you as you might like or prefer, and if you have such a direction to face then you certainly should, but the practice given above will produce a power of holiness in each of the directions around you anyway.  In this way, the names and attributes of God that are here given, based on the Islamic tradition, are arranged in a way that echoes a planetary structure not unlike that of my Geomancer’s Cross:

  1. Fore: Sun
  2. Rear: Moon
  3. Above: Jupiter
  4. Below: Saturn
  5. Right: Mars
  6. Left: Venus
  7. Center: Mercury

Of course, even with this, this is more of a hint of planetary flavor without being anything too blatant or stiff.  It’s a useful framework, but those who would prefer to use a different arrangement of the planets for the seven directions (e.g. the Calling of the Sevenths from the Heptagram Rite) can simply shuffle the initial and final names and attributes of God accordingly for the seven directions, such that the first one (Moon in East) is given the names “Forbearing One” and “All-Knowing”, the second one (Mercury in North) is given the names “Unique One” and “All-Aware”, and so forth.  However, given that this series of invocations seeks to establish holiness and sanctuary right where one is, I figure a more microcosmic than macrocosmic approach is needed here, hence the Geomancer’s Cross framework for arranging the planets to these ways.

It’s true that my current prayer practices are diverging more from an Abrahamic background and more into a theistic Hermetic one, but there’s so much fantastic and powerful ritual tech in the various Abrahamic traditions, especially those that have mystical or devout expressions of single-pointed holiness that isn’t limited to any one use case, really.  Besides, the beauty in such practices alone attests to their value, as beauty is truth and truth is power—even the Corpus Hermeticum agrees on that.  Although some might find the echoes of Islam and Abrahamism in the above to be still too clear and thus dissuading, I find that the beauty that rings in them is a powerful and clarion bell calling my heart to prayer, and just as the clear tone of a clear bell clears the airs, so too do these seven invocations with holy, intentful breath clear a place for even holier works to ensue.  Give it a shot sometime, dear reader; you might find this is a beautiful practice of power for yourself.

And yes, the prayer is already up in the menu for ease of reference: Prayers → The Invocations of the Seven Temples

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Brief Hiatus, but Have Some Prayers in the Meanwhile « The Digital Ambler

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