The Ordeal of Psalm 119

In the Bible, Psalm 119 is notable for being the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible, longer than some books in both the Old and New Testament.  For this and many other reasons, including the fact that it is split into 22 verses, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, it has become a staple in many Judeo-Christian liturgical rites or ceremonies, as well as Bible-based magic, such as that used in rootworking and hoodoo.  As part of a magical act, Psalm 119 is often used in sections and individual verses, but given its all-encompassing nature through its reference to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, I devised this ritual to produce a truly universal, cosmological blessing and empowerment upon one’s own life.  This ritual was first published in this 2014 post.

First, a word of warning.  As originally envisioned, this ritual was intended to be a comprehensive blessing and empowerment of the person who undertakes it, but my experience has taught me that this ritual does far more than just that.  Through its individual verses or through the text as a whole, Psalm 119 can be used for blessing someone in any number of ways, and this ritual does indeed bring forth blessings, empowerment, and spiritual growth.  However, it does so in the face of adversity, in spite of adversity, and because of adversity in one’s life, whether that adversity comes externally from obstacles and enemies or internally from one’s own fears, vices, and trauma.  This ritual, both in its being carried out and in its effects after its completion, will force you to confront the wickedness in your life so as to overcome it.  You will be thrown into a crucible, and by faith and determination, you will be refined by the affliction that you call upon yourself.  It is a harsh and unforgiving process, but to those who are willing and capable of taking on this ordeal, it is a true blessing to do it.  After having fully read the directions, prayers, and verses to be used, if you are at all unwilling or unable to take on this ordeal, or if you have any doubts that you can fully carry out the following ritual to its end, do not perform this ritual.

This ritual takes place across the duration of thirty days, ideally aligned with the day of the New Moon and proceeding through the last day of the lunar month that begins just afterward:

  • Day 0 (New Moon, 1 day): preparation of supplies and altar
  • Days 1 through 3 (3 days): initial prayers
  • Days 4 through 25 (22 days): Psalm prayers
  • Days 26 through 28 (3 days): final prayers
  • Day 29 (Dark Moon, 1 day): thanksgiving and cleanup

During this time, it is encouraged to avoid vices of all kinds, including but not limited to intoxication, sexual activity, violence, and unjust or wicked speech.  Rather, it is best to enter a mentality of religious retreat from the world, avoiding unnecessary contact with others, purifying oneself physically and spiritually, and reading the Word of God studiously and judiciously.  Once the ritual process begins, it should not be stopped for any reason, as daily action will need to be taken; if you cannot ensure that you can carry out each day’s tasks, hold off on the ritual until such a time as when you know with absolute certainty that you can fulfill it.

For this ritual, you will need the following supplies:

  • A large circular dish, either of white metal, white stone, or white ceramic
  • Holy water
  • Holy oil
  • Nine small white candles, ideally tealights in their metal tins
  • Four seven-day candles, either all white or all having seven colors
  • A recent picture of yourself printed on plain paper
  • A paper printout of Psalm 119
  • A Bible
  • A glass jar or vial with airtight lid
  • Olive oil
  • Three grains each of frankincense and myrrh resin
  • Three small fragments each of cinnamon and sandalwood
  • The four King cards from a traditional Tarot deck and the World card, not to be used for any other purpose again after this ritual

On Day 0, at any point after sunrise on the day of the New Moon, prepare your representation of yourself.  With the holy water, clean off the surface to be used for the altar and the dish to be used for the ritual; additionally, take a bath using the holy water to purify yourself.  On the back of the picture of yourself, write out your full birth name, followed by “son/daughter/child of” followed by the name of your mother, and your birthday with your exact time of birth, if known.  Take the printout of Psalm 119 and burn it to ash.  Dress the four seven-day candles with the holy oil.  Set the World card on the center of the altar, put the cleaned dish directly on top of the World card, put the representation of yourself down in the center of the dish with the face up, make a complete circle clockwise around the representation of yourself using the Psalm ash starting from the East, and set the four 7-day candles around the dish on the altar aligned to the four cardinal directions.  Set one of the King cards under each of the four 7-day candles, with the King of Wands under the eastern candle for the archangel Michael, the King of Coins under the southern candle for Uriel, the King of Swords under the western candle for Raphael, and the King of Cups under the northern candle for Gabriel.

Set one of the small white candles on top of the representation of yourself and light it, letting it burn down completely but taking care to not damage the representation, praying from the heart that the ritual to be used with them be purified and blessed with the grace and power of God for your blessing, empowerment, strength, and any other desires you may have for this ritual.  Once the white candle has burned out later that day, save the remains of it for the final step of disposal later.

On Day 1, at sunrise, light the candle aligned towards the East.  With this, you begin the first three days of the ritual.  At sunrise on each of these three days, recite the Our Father once and the Glory Be three times.  Recite a Heptameron-inspired prayer to commence the work:

O God, mighty and merciful!
O God, great, excellent, and honored through endless ages!
O God, powerful, strong, and without beginning!
O God, wise, illustrious, just, and divinely loving!

I ask you, most holy Father, that I should complete and completely realize my work, labor, and petition, You who live and reign, world without end.  Bless me in all times, in all days, in all places, in all ways.  Let boundless bounty and blessing come to me from the four corners of the world.  Help me, o Lord, in my life that I may come to be girded by the strength and aid of the world, subject only to You.  Amen.

On Day 4, the main process of the ritual begins.  On the sunrise of Day 4, recite the Preces prayer over the altar:

O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
O God, make speed to save me.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

After the Preces, pray the first verse of Psalm 119 corresponding to the Hebrew letter Aleph, reading directly from a hardcopy of the Bible.  After praying this verse, meditate on the meaning and content of the verse just recited, closing with a silent prayer for the blessing of the world to infuse your life, empower you, strengthen you, illumine you, and assist you in all undertakings.  Use this process for each of these 22 days, reciting the Preces and each of the verses of Psalm 119 in turn.  Thus, on Day 5, recite Preces and the second verse of Psalm 119 (Beth); on Day 6, the Preces followed by the third verse (Gimel); and so on until Day 25, reciting the Preces and the 22nd verse (Tav).

Below are the 22 verses from Psalm 119 along with the day number of the ritual each is to be used, the Hebrew letter to which it corresponds, and the specific verse numbers from the Bible.  These verses are translated according to the New International Version translation of the Bible; however, if you prefer another translation, such as the King James Version, use that instead.

Day 4, Aleph (א), verses 1 through 8:

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

Day 5, Beth (ב), verses 9 through 16:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Day 6, Gimel (ג), verses 17 through 24:

Be good to your servant while I live, that I may obey your word.
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.
My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.
You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed, those who stray from your commands.
Remove from me their scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.
Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Day 7, Daleth (ד), verses 25 through 32:

I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, Lord; do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.

Day 8, Heh (ה), verses 33 through 40:

Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.
Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!  In your righteousness preserve my life.

Day 9, Vav (ו), verses 41 through 48:

May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law, for ever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.

Day 10, Zayin (ז), verses 49 through 56:

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law.
I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.
This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.

Day 11, Cheth (ח), verses 57 through 64:

You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, Lord; teach me your decrees.

Day 12, Teth (ט), verses 65 through 72:

Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

Day 13, Yod (י), verses 73 through 80:

Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.
May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.
May those who fear you turn to me, those who understand your statutes.
May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame.

Day 14, Kaph (כ), verses 81 through 88:

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, “When will you comfort me?”
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.
How long must your servant wait?  When will you punish my persecutors?
The arrogant dig pits to trap me, contrary to your law.
All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
They almost wiped me from the earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

Day 15, Lamed (ל), verses 89 through 96:

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours; I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless.

Day 16, Mem (מ), verses 97 through 104:

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

Day 17, Nun (נ), verses 105 through 112:

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.

Day 18, Samekh (ס), verses 113 through 120:

I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.
You reject all who stray from your decrees, for their delusions come to nothing.
All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross; therefore I love your statutes.
My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws.

Day 19, `Ayin (ע), verses 121 through 128:

I have done what is righteous and just; do not leave me to my oppressors.
Ensure your servant’s well-being; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation, looking for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees.
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
It is time for you to act, Lord; your law is being broken.
Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path.

Day 20, Peh (פ), verses 129 through 136:

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression, that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant and teach me your decrees.
Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed.

Day 21, Tzadi (צ), verses 137 through 144:

You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous; give me understanding that I may live.

Day 22, Qoph (ק), verses 145 through 152:

I call with all my heart; answer me, Lord, and I will obey your decrees.
I call out to you; save me and I will keep your statutes.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, Lord, according to your laws.
Those who devise wicked schemes are near, but they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, Lord, and all your commands are true.
Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

Day 23, Resh (ר), verses 153 through 160:

Look on my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.
Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws.
Many are the foes who persecute me, but I have not turned from your statutes.
I look on the faithless with loathing, for they do not obey your word.
See how I love your precepts; preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

Day 24, Shin (ש), verses 161 through 168:

Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word.
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
I hate and detest falsehood but I love your law.
Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.
I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands.
I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

Day 25, Tav (ת), verses 169 through 176:

May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, Lord, and your law gives me delight.
Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.

Eventually, the 7-day candle lit on the first day will burn out; on the sunrise following its having burnt out, light the next candle going in a clockwise direction (so, in order, East, South, West, and North).  The first three candles should have burned out by Day 25, with more than half of the fourth and final candle having been consumed.  Ideally, the second candle in the South should be lit on Day 8, the third candle in the West on Day 15, and the fourth candle in the North on Day 22.  If they burn longer than expected, set alight the next candle on the expected day using the flame from the old candle, but do not light any candle ahead of its proper time.

On Day 26, begin the process of closing the ritual for the final three days.  The process is the similar to the first three days: on sunrise of each of these three days, recite the Our Father once and the Glory Be three times.  Then, recite verse Matthew 7:7-8 from the Bible:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

On Day 29, the day before the New Moon, all the candles should have burnt out entirely; if not, postpone this step until the last candle is burnt out.  This is the final day of the ritual when all the other work has been done.  At sunrise, take your picture and burn it to an ash, then collect the rest of the ash from the Psalm 119 printout and mix it together.  If any wax or soot residue remains from the four seven-day candles, take a small scraping from each and mix it with the ash.  After having cleaned out your airtight container with holy water and letting it dry, put the mixed ash in with the grains of frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and sandalwood, fill the container with olive oil, and mix thoroughly.  Set the vial of ash-oil where the representation of yourself used to sit on the dish, and set one white candle on top of the vial, three white candles close around the vial on the dish itself, and one candle each on top of the four King cards where the 7-day candles were.  Light these candles and make an offering of praise in thanksgiving to God and his angels for their help, blessing, protection, and guidance in your life (such as with this simple thanksgiving ritual).  Asperge the oil with holy water and pray over the oil that it may assist you henceforth in all your undertakings, both those you desire and those you ought to desire, in the things you do and the things you ought to do, that you may always receive the blessing and strength and courage of the Lord in all your life.  Let these eight candles burn down completely.  Once they have burned out, the ritual is complete and finished.  Clean off the altar area and the dish with holy water, and dispose of all other remains from the ritual, preferably at a crossroads through which you travel often.

The oil mixed with the ash is to be kept safe as a special and private anointing oil for yourself.  It is intrinsically tied to you and your life, and not to be used by others or on the tools of others, only on you and only for your works.  Anoint yourself with this oil (perhaps using Psalm 23 or my own prayer of anointing) before any working or operation, even for mundane things like going to an interview or in any instance where you need the extra courage, determination, and faith to succeed physically, worldly, or spiritually.  It can also be a good practice to anoint yourself with this oil upon rising in the morning, reciting a similar prayer in the hopes of continuous spiritual growth.  This oil is a blessing and tool for you and you alone, in addition to having received the blessings from praying Psalm 119 itself.  Do not let others handle or use this oil under any circumstances, and it is best if it kept hidden in a private, secret place.

With the Tarot cards, set the four Kings in the upper corners of the four quarters of your home as angelic guides and guardians, putting each card up in its proper direction as best as your home’s layout can allow.  If desired, once the King cards have been set up in the corners of the home, anoint these cards with holy oil, and light a candle before each at least once a year, such as on the anniversary of having completed this ritual.  Keep the World card with the oil, setting the container for the oil on top of the World card when not in use.

The direction of the candles being organized with the order of their being lit is meant to follow the path of the Sun in the Northern hemisphere, where the Sun is in the southern skies in the daytime.  If you perform this ritual in the Southern hemisphere, make the ash ring around the representation of yourself and light the candles in a counterclockwise direction (so East, North, West, and South), but keep the positions of the King cards the same under the candles.