The Practice of Sending Peace

A little over a year ago, I mused a bit on the nature of peace, especially in the context of it being a blessing from God.  Between why it wasn’t listed as part of the ten mercies of God from CH XIII and the etymology of “peace” in Indo-European languages versus those of Semitic languages, I wrestled with how to place it in my own practice and how it relates to the other mercies or notions of blessings we have in various strains of Hermetic and (especially) Abrahamic practices:

In this light, peace is both the means to blessing and a blessing unto itself, but it’s not like other blessings like prosperity or health.  Sure, prosperity resolves poverty, health resolves illness, and the like, and all those things lead to peace, but only when all problems are resolved can total, complete, and full peace be obtained.  Thus, to wish for such peace upon someone is to inherently wish for the resolution of all their problems in every way.  At the same time, the presence of a smaller, incomplete peace in one way helps bring about other smaller peaces in other ways: if you’re sick and poor, having health can help you resolve being poor faster, just as being prosperous can help you regain health faster.  Every little bit of peace we get helps bring about more peace, and the blessing of peace itself is all encompassing of everything else we do.  In praying for a small peace for ourselves, we bring about bigger peace for ourselves; in praying for peace for ourselves, we bring about peace for others; in praying for peace for the world, we bring about peace for ourselves.  Peace is, in many ways, the origin as well as the result of all other blessings.  In this, it precedes and fulfills everything else we do and work for and pray for, every other kind of well-being, every other kind of problem resolution, every other kind of abating of torment, whether for ourselves or for others.

Thinking more on this since then, I’ve come to the realization that I consider peace—true, divine peace as the highest blessing from God—to be much akin to the Hellenic philosophical notion of eudaimonia.  Although that word literally means “happiness” or “welfare”, more literally “good-spiritedness” and more metaphorically “blessedness”, it was largely considered by many of the ancient Greek philosophers to be one of the outcomes of living life properly and well.  Socrates agreed with pretty much everyone else in his time that all human beings strove for eudaimonia, but unlike (most of?) the rest, he argued that virtue (aretē) was both necessary and sufficient for attaining it.  The Stoics claimed that it was living “a good flow of life” in agreement with Nature; the Epicureans advocated a maximizing of pleasure through virtue such that the eudaimonious life was the most pleasurable one because virtue brings pleasure; the Aristotelians argued that virtue was necessary but alone insufficient for eudaimonia, achievable along with virtue through both rational activity as well as good such as friends, wealth, power, and the like.  In all cases, however, eudaimonia is something that all humans strive for; although the philosophers disagreed on the proper way of achieving it, they all agreed that it was something that could be achieved, and those who managed to do so were held as sages in their own right.  To me, then, this classical notion of eudaimonia rings so strongly of my notion of peace that I’d venture to say that I’m converging onto the same thing, just from a different (and not necessarily virtue-based) perspective.

In my post from last year, I mentioned that there’s a particular prayer I end my daily prayer routine with.  It’s not so much an “offering”, but more of a litany of sorts, a series of requests for the blessing of peace upon…well, anyone and everyone, really.  It’s that prayer, the “Sending of Peace”, that I’d like to share with you all today.  This prayer is loosely based on the Ṣalawāt salutation phrases used for the prophets, angels, and saints conventional to Islam (e.g. “peace be upon him”) as well as those used in the daily Islamic prayers.  It’s not meant to replace them, of course, and it’s not even that general of a prayer to begin with; it’s a prayer specifically to pray for the peace (and eudaimonia) of all the people, spirits, and divine entities in your life and in your world, including yourself.  And it really is to pray for the peace of all entities in the cosmos; although I don’t have a lot of practices along these lines, this is one of the closest I’ve come up with to the general “dedication of merit to all sentient beings” or similar blessing (like my favorite, the Cullamangalacakkavāla Paritta) common to some Buddhist practices, and it’s one I like using for a similar purpose.  Although I give my general rubric below, it can be easily extended or modified to suit one’s own practice as best as one might need it.

I should also note that this a prayer I didn’t include in either my recent Preces Castri or Preces Templi ebooks.  I originally developed it as part of my “geomantic-theurgic Hermetic” practice with heavy Islamic influence (as noted above), but I decided to hold off on putting out so I could make it more public in its own way.  It didn’t seem to really fit with either my Luxoric or Papetic approaches to prayer, and really kinda belongs to both in its own ways.  It was written to be extensible and customizable, but more than that, I figured that this is something I think should just be put out there.  I hesitated last year on sharing it, but I figured now’s as good a time as any.  After all, in the Western Christian liturgical calendar, we’re now in Advent and Christmas will be upon us soon, as well as the New Year in general, so maybe this is a good time to start praying for peace in the world and for ourselves more.  To that end, I hope you can find it at least somewhat useful, dear reader; give it a whirl and see if it adds anything to your practice.

The prayer process is broken down into several sections: an initial invocation of the divine, praying for the blessing of peace upon different entities or groups of entities or people, and finally upon oneself.  Each step is accompanied with a particular gesture or pose and simple visualization to further focus and refine the prayer.  We’ll take it step by step below.

The Glorification of God

To invoke and venerate God.  A pretty standard, short thing unto itself, not uncommon as far as a lot of the Luxoric/Abrahamic stuff I do.

Praised, exalted, glorified, and blessed be God,
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
Master of the Seen and the Unseen,
King of all that is, was, will be, and may be!

This should be said while gazing (or otherwise directed to) at a shrine lamp, holy fire, or other devotional focus used to represent the divine presence of God (crucifix, qiblah, whatever), ideally with hands in an orans position or other conventional pose.  If you wish to augment this with a visualization or imagination, visualize this focus swelling with a pure, holy light, radiating pure peace and clarity.

Upon the Agathodaimōn

To pray for the peace of one’s own tutelary divinity.

Peace be upon my Agathodaimōn, my neverborn friend and guardian, who leads me in all my ways in all my days.

If an icon or image of the agathodaimōn is present, this should be said while gazing at it.  Otherwise, it may be directed to the same direction as the “Glorification of God”.  Again, hands in an orans or other offering pose.  Visualize or imagine a “ray” or “beam” of pure light radiating and flowing from the focus of divinity towards your agathodaimōn, covering and filling them with peaceful light.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon him” (or whatever gender you assign to your agathodaimōn).

Instead of saying “Agathodaimōn” here, you might also say “(holy) guardian angel”, “Perfect Nature”, or another similar term depending on your approach to this entity.  If you know the name of this entity, you might also say it before their role, viz. “Peace be upon NN., my Agathodaimōn…”.

Upon the Powers

To pray for the peace of the various powers and spirits of the cosmos.

Peace be upon all the spirits of this place.
Peace be upon all the spirits of this hour and this day.
Peace be upon all the spirits of every hour and every day.
Peace be upon all the spirits of the cosmos in all their works and all their ways.
Peace be upon all the powers of sky, of sea, of land, of light, of darkness.
Peace be upon all the heavenly powers who fulfill the will of God.
Peace be upon all the earthly powers who complete the work of God.

Face straight ahead and unfocus your gaze, or (if desired) face any direction you might feel appropriate to the specific set of entities being prayed for (e.g. “heavenly powers” looking up rotating the gaze from right to left, “earthly powers” looking down panning the gaze from left to right, etc.). Again, hands in an orans or other offering pose.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each group of entities.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon them all” after each invocation.

If you wish to pray for the peace of any specific named powers as opposed to general groups of powers, you might do so here now after the above; see below for “Upon the Named Angels” for guidance on an approach to this.

Upon the Myriad Angels

To pray for peace of all the innumerable angels.  This section, along with the following, is more geared towards those who recognize the presence and role of angels in a largely Abrahamic context, so it may be skipped if one does not work with or recognize angels apart or away from other powers.

Peace be upon all the blessed archangels who stand before the Throne.
Peace be upon all the elder angels who preside over the precessional way.
Peace be upon all the glorious angels who praise God in every sphere.

This should be said while gazing upwards, higher and higher for each line, from a somewhat inclined pose for “blessed archangels” (or otherwise at the same direction as the “Glorification of God”) all the way to directly upwards for “glorious angels”.  Again, hands in an orans or other offering pose.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each group of angels.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon them all” after each invocation.

Upon the Named Angels

To pray for peace of any angel whose name is known and wishes to be specifically prayed for.  This section, like the one above, is more geared towards those who recognize the presence and role of angels in a largely Abrahamic context, so it may be skipped if one does not work with or recognize angels apart or away from other powers. 

Peace be upon Gabriel, the Holy Archangel, Teacher of the Mysteries.
Peace be upon Uriel, the Holy Archangel, Keeper of the Mysteries.
Peace be upon Michael, the Holy Archangel, Defender of the Mysteries.
Peace be upon Raphael, the Holy Archangel, Healer of the Mysteries.

Peace be upon Jehudiel, the Blessed Archangel, Praise of the Throne.
Peace be upon Barachiel, the Blessed Archangel, Blessing of the Throne.
Peace be upon Sealtiel, the Blessed Archangel, Prayer of the Throne.
Peace be upon Jerachmiel, the Blessed Archangel, Mercy of the Throne.

Peace be upon Samael, the Glorious Angel, Venom of the Heavens.
Peace be upon Sachiel, the Glorious Angel, Righteousness of the Heavens.
Peace be upon Anael, the Glorious Angel, Grace of the Heavens.
Peace be upon Cassiel, the Glorious Angel, Prudence of the Heavens.

Peace be upon Abadiel, the Tailless Watcher, Eternal Destroyer of all that ever was.
Peace be upon Azaliel, the Headless Watcher, Timeless Deserter of all that is to be.
Peace be upon Azrael, the Help of God, messenger of Death and receiver of souls.

If images of these angels are present, each blessing should be said directed to each image as appropriate.  Otherwise, they may be said directed to a general inclined direction, or to the same direction as the “Glorification of God”.  Again, hands in an orans or other offering pose.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each angel.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon him” (or whatever gender you assign to each individual angel) after each invocation.

Unlike the preceding section, this section is for specific angels with individual names, roles, or functions that one might recognize.  This can consist of any number, from as few as one to as many as you might like; as an example, I gave here above a set of the angels I recognize as part of my own Abrahamic/Luxoric work.  The first block of names are the four big archangels everyone recognizes, the second block for the other archangels from the Orthodox tradition (including Jerachmiel, the eighth archangel, more common in some Russian or occult communities), the third block for the planetary angels who do not overlap with the other archangels, and the last block for three other angels I hold as part of my own unique practice.  You can kinda see a theme in how I divvied up the different groups, too, based on how I phrased each set of invocations.  Note how each address to an angel is tripartite: name, station or title, and function or role.

Upon the Dead

To pray for the peace of the dead who have gone before us.

Peace be upon all the prophets who reveal to us the mysteries once revealed to them.
Peace be upon all my blessed dead of my family, my bone, my flesh, and my name.
Peace be upon all my blessed dead of my faith, my works, my practices, and my traditions.
Peace be upon all the blessed dead of the mighty and the meek, whose names we all remember and whose names we have all forgotten,  whose presence lives on with us still.

If images of the prophets or the general dead are present, these should be said facing them as appropriate.  Otherwise, the head should be downturned, with the gaze fixed upon the ground.  The hands should be lowered and out to the sides, palms facing the ground.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each group of the dead.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon them all” after each invocation.

As with before for the named angels, if you wish to pray for the blessing of any specific named prophets or other dead, feel free to do so immediately after the general invocation for the group most appropriate to that dead (e.g. for one’s deceased grandmother immediately after “all my blessed dead of my family”, but before “all my blessed dead of my faith”).  The prophets are meant for any religious leader, teacher, or founder one wishes to specifically honor as one’s gateway to divinity, the “blessed dead of the mighty and the meek” for culture heroes and the forgotten/lost dead together, and the “blessed dead of my family” and the “blessed dead of my faith” being fairly straightforward.

Upon the Living

To pray for the peace of the living who are still with us.

Peace be upon all the great family of the blood I have of my body.
Peace be upon all the great family of the water I share of my soul.
Peace be upon all my kind teachers who teach me and all those who taught them.
Peace be upon all those who have helped me and all those whom I am to help.

If images of the living family, godfamily, teachers, or other notable people are present, these should be said facing them as appropriate.  Otherwise, the head should be fixed more-or-less straight ahead, with the gaze unfocused.  The hands should be held close to the chest in front of it, with the palms upturned.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each group of people.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon them all” after each invocation.

As with before for the named angels and the dead, if you wish to pray for the blessing of any specific named living people, feel free to do so immediately after the general invocation for the group most appropriate to that living person.  The “great family of the blood I have of my body” is for one’s blood-related kin, the “great family of the water I share of my soul” being for godfamily or one’s spiritual community, the “kind teachers who teach me and all those who taught them” being for living lineage-holders who initiated you into your current place and position as well as for all teachers who enabled you to get you to where you are today, and “all those who have helped me and all those whom I am to help” being for exactly whom it says.

Upon the Companions

To pray for the peace of the living who are still with us.  This is more specific than the preceding section, and is more geared towards communal prayer when one is praying alongside others, or when one is involved in a spiritual community of like-minded people.  This notion is extended not just to those in one’s immediate presence, but to all people in the world (and, by extension, all creatures in the cosmos).

Peace be upon all those who study the mysteries.
Peace be upon all those who seek the truth.
Peace be upon all those who sustain their people.
Peace be upon all those who live in the world.

For “all those who study the mysteries”, turn the head to the left and look over your left shoulder.  For “all those who seek the truth”, turn the head to the right and look over your right shoulder.  For “all those who sustain their people”, face straight ahead and look downwards.  For “all those who live in the world”, look straight ahead.  The hands should be out to the sides with the palms upturned.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity towards each group of people around you, and then into the whole world beyond you.  Silently or mentally recite “May God send his peace upon us all” after each invocation.

Given the nature of this section, naming specific people is not so recommended here unlike the previous several sections; they’re meant for all those who surround you in the Work in one sense or another.  “Those who study the mysteries” can be thought of to include all those who work with you in the same way and manner as you do, “those who seek the truth” to include all those who do not work with you or like you but for the same ends, “those who sustain their people” being all those who work for the betterment and sustenance of humanity, and “all those who live in the world” being for exactly whom it says.

Upon Oneself

To pray for the peace of yourself in your own life.

Let there be peace and peace and peace and peace,
and may God send his peace upon me!
Glory be to God, from whom there is no higher blessing than peace.

As with the “Glorification of God”: face whatever focus you use for representing the divine presence of God, returning the hands to the usual orans pose or whatever conventional pose you use for prayer to God.  Visualize a ray of light radiating from the focus of divinity directly towards, around, and into you, uniting you in peaceful light with all the cosmos and with the Divine itself.

After this final part, the “Sending of Peace” as a whole is complete.  Say “amēn” or another phrase of closing and sealing to end the prayer, according to your custom.  If desired, follow up with any other supplications for peace or similar blessings, like the “Prosperity for All” prayer by Śrı̄ Vēthāthiri Mahaṛṣi or my own variant I gave in the post from last year, or any other closing prayers you might find appropriate to your own practice.

In sharing this prayer, I hope you can make use of it, and that you might join me in praying for peace for yourself, for all those in your life, and for the whole world.  In praying for it, may we also find it, and work towards it for all.

Michaelmas Present: Litany of the Holy Archangels

One of the reasons why the second half of September is always so chaotic for me is that, not only is it in the few weeks leading up to my birthday both in flesh and in Santería, but it’s also a cluster of feast days: Our Lady of Mercy and the Days of the Cyprians and the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus are definitely important, but today is yet another feast day I hold dear to my heart: Michaelmas, more properly called the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and All Angels.  Today is the day when we especially revere and honor the bodiless and immaterial Hosts of Heaven, with Saint Michael the Archangel, their divine commander and our divine protector, at the helm and forefront of both God’s armies and our own hearts.  And, of course, to honor the other archangels: Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Sealtiel, Jehudiel, and Barachiel (or whichever set of seven archangels you prefer to use).

I’d also like to share a new(ish) page with you all: a new prayer, the Litany of the Holy Archangels.  This is, for once, not something I wrote, nor could I have written something so beautiful.  Rather, it’s a prayer I’ve been using for years now, courteously and generously shared with me by good colleague and friend Michael Lux of Nigromantic Matters.  Originally written for Johannite Christian spiritual practice, Michael has generously let me share the prayer on my own website for all to use and refer to.  I find it incredibly devout, and can be used in both solitary practice as well as in a community.  I had intended on sharing this page more publicly earlier in the year when I was going to propose a new project and craft for myself, but said project never got off the ground due to logistical issues, so I never really announced the page.  However, today’s a perfect day for just that, so I hope you enjoy and find it a useful blessing in your own practices and prayers!

With that, I hope you all have a blessed end of September, with all the Angels, Archangels, Principalities, Virtues, Powers, Dominions, Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim, and the seven commanders of all the hosts of Heaven blessing you and guiding you every moment of every day!

Blessed Angels, watch over us at all times during this perilous life.
Holy Archangels, be our guides on the way to Heaven.
Heavenly Principalities, govern us in soul and body.
Celestial Virtues, preserve us against the wiles of demons.
Mighty Powers, give us strength and courage in the battle of life.
Powerful Dominions, obtain for us domination over the rebellion of our flesh.
Sacred Thrones, grant us peace with God and Man.
Brilliant Cherubim, illuminate our minds with heavenly Knowledge.
Burning Seraphim, enkindle in our hearts the fire of Charity.

Seven angels around my head, guide us safely where we’re led.
Michael, defend us from all our foes; Raphael, heal us from all our woes.
Gabriel, give us peace on wings; Uriel, release us our attachments to worldly things.
Jehudiel, fill our mouths with praise to God; Sealtiel, open our hearts to prayer of God.
Barachiel, bless us in all our ways; Guardians, guide us through all our days.

Amen.

Litany of Saint Cyprian, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus

As you might be aware, dear reader, today is the Feast of Saint Cyprian of Antioch.  As you also might be aware, I’m having a party later tonight in his honor, and besides getting a bunch of my friends and colleagues together to drink and have a good time, I also plan on honoring the good saint by having people who may not work with him a starting point for asking for his blessings by having a large public altar set up to him where people can write petitions out and the like.  Towards the end of the party (or, simply put, around midnight, depending on how late people want to stay and drink), I’ll lead a communal prayer for all of us to ask for the good saint’s blessings in our lives and formally give him all our petitions by burning them with a bit of his oil and some rum.  (Gotta have at least some flair for the dramatic in my parties, after all.)

Thinking about what I might do for the communal prayer, however, led me to inspect some of the prayers and rituals to Saint Cyprian that I’ve been collecting.  My Chaplet of Saint Cyprian of Antioch is nice, though the repetitions of the Glory Be and the like might not be to everyone’s taste.  However, I realize that the structure and wording of my chaplet is very similar to other Catholic prayers, notably the litany.  A litany is a series of successive supplications made to a saint or holy figure, and I’ve used several for the angels and archangels before in my work (especially the Litany of the Holy Archangels by Rev. Dn. Michael Strojan).  In that light, I rethought the use of my chaplet and decided to rewrite it and format it as a Catholic-style litany, complete with the usual prayers at the beginning and an oremus (“let us pray”) at the end.  However, I also decided to add on a bit to the prayer, since today is also technically the feast day of two other saints who are closely associated with Saint Cyprian of Antioch:

  • Saint Justina, the Christian girl whom Cyprian tried to get to fall in love with Aglaias.  She stood steadfast in the face of all of Cyprian’s magic, however, and warded off every attack from him, all his demons, and the Devil himself by making the sign of the Cross and through constant prayer and fasting.  Once she got word of Cyprian’s conversion, she rejoiced and made many charitable gifts across Antioch (which really needed it after Cyprian kinda blew it up), and eventually became a friend to Cyprian in Christ.  Once Cyprian became priest, he made her a deaconess; once he became bishop, he elevated her to an abbess in charge of a convent.  They were both tortured together, however, and eventually executed together by beheading.  Many Orthodox icons of Saint Cyprian also feature Saint Justina.
  • Saint Theocistus was a Roman, sometimes known as a soldier, who was present at the execution of Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina.  He saw how these two saints were being tortured even though they were innocent, and despite all the measures the Romans used against them, nothing actually hurt them save the beheading themselves by the grace of God.  At the beheading of the saints, Theocistus had a change of heart and proclaimed his faith in Christ, kissing the feet of the body of Cyprian.  However, he did this in the presence of the officials who had just executed Cyprian and Justina, and so also was condemned and executed on the spot for his conversion.

Saint Theocistus, of course, is a relatively minor figure compared to Saint Justina, and she’s a relatively minor figure compared to Saint Cyprian, and since Saint Cyprian isn’t really considered by the Catholic Church to be a saint anymore, none of these three make their rosters.  However, the Orthodox Church still venerates them all, and gives them all the same feast day (though they use October 2 instead of September 26).  I figured it was fitting to write a litany for Saint Cyprian that also included sections for Saint Justina and Saint Theocistus, so following the usual format of the litany, here’s what I wrote.  Yes, it’s basically a standard Christian prayer, so if you’re not on good terms with Christianity, you may not find it worthwhile, but then again, you probably wouldn’t be working with a Christian saint anyway.

First, before the litany proper, it’s usual to make a common supplication to God.  The litany is usually led by a priest; his parts are said in upright typeface, while the parts of the congregation are in italics.  When doing the litany alone, however, one prays all parts.  The beginning supplication:

God, come to my assistance.  Lord, make speed to save us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

The litany proper:

Lord, have mercy on us.  Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.  Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.  Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.  Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.  Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Saint Cyprian, born to pagan parents, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, dedicated to the god Apollo as a child, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught sorcery in Olympos, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught illusion in Argos, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught witchcraft in Tauropolis, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught necromancy in Sparta, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught enchantment in Memphis, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, taught astrology in Chaldaea, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, master of all the occult arts, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, magus residing in Antioch, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, approached by Aglaias to seduce Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, unleashing demons of lust upon Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, unleashing demons of deception upon Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, unleashing the Devil himself upon Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, wringing disaster on Antioch against Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, casting deadly illness upon Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, all magic defeated by the prayers of Justina, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, seeing Truth and rebuking the Devil and his snares, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, burning his books in sacrifice to God, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, confessing repentantly for his sins before all Antioch, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, baptized in the name of the Blessed Trinity, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, made priest within a year by his zeal for holiness, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, made bishop to lead all to divine virtue, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, condemned to death by the Romans, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, beheaded and departed into Heaven, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, entering into the communion of the holy saints, pray for us.
Saint Cyprian, preserving us from all evil arts and acts, pray for us.

Saint Justina, virtuous maiden, pray for us.
Saint Justina, chased after by the world, pray for us.
Saint Justina, pursued by demons, pray for us.
Saint Justina, defending herself by the sign of the Holy Cross, pray for us.
Saint Justina, celebrating at the conversion of Cyprian, pray for us.
Saint Justina, gracious friend to Cyprian, pray for us.
Saint Justina, made abbess by Cyprian, pray for us.
Saint Justina, slandered by the Romans with Cyprian, pray for us.
Saint Justina, becoming a martyr in Christ with Cyprian, pray for us.

Saint Theocistus, soldier of the Romans, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, turning his heart to Christ, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, witnessing the execution of Cyprian and Justina, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, kissing the corpse of the martyrs Cyprian and Justina, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, declaring his faith in Jesus Christ because of Cyprian and Justina, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, executed for his forsaking of the world, pray for us.
Saint Theocistus, ennobled for his conversion to God, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.  Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.  Christ, graciously hear us.

Pray for us, Saint Cyprian, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
O God, who sent the Holy Spirit to preserve Saint Cyprian from darkness even while he dwelt within its midst, grant in your mercy that you enlighten us and inspire us.  May that the life and martyrdom of Saint Cyprian teach us to abandon wickedness, heal us to be free of sin, and bless us through Jesus Christ + to walk in the light of truth.  By the intercession of Saint Cyprian, Saint Justina, and Saint Theocistus, lead us to a true conversion of heart that we may use both our hands and all our power in service and sacrifice to Your Presence, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

May you all have a blessed Feast of Saint Cyprian, and may he with his saintly companions smile upon you and intercede for you in all your prayers!  Hail, holy Saint Cyprian of Antioch: mage, mystic, and martyr ; sorcerer, sage, and saint; theurge, thaumaturge, and theophoros!  Together with Saint Justina and Saint Theocistus, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Litany of How the World Sucks

I’ve recently been hooked on an artist called Janelle Monáe.  You may have heard of her: she’s a fantastic singer and dancer currently working on a four-part series of albums about her android character, Cindi Mayweather, being persecuted and then leading the androids of Metropolis to freedom.  It’s a pretty neat sci-fi theme, but is certainly rooted in real-world problems in black and other marginalized communities.  Anyway, one of her more fantastic music videos is the short film “Many Moons”.  It stars Cindi Mayweather as the prototype of the Alpha Platinum 9000 line of androids, auctioned off at a high-stakes high-class gathering of some of the bigger names in the Metropolitan community.  At 3:39, though, things go awry in her “programming”, and she sees what living in the world can really be like.

The fast-paced lyrics for this part of the song:

Civil rights, civil war
Hood rat, crack whore
Carefree, nightclub
Closet drunk, bathtub
Outcast, weirdo
Stepchild, freak show
Black girl, bad hair
Broad nose, cold stare

Tap shoes, Broadway
Tuxedo, holiday
Creative block, love song
Stupid words, erased song
Gun shots, orange house
Dead man walking with a dirty mouth
Spoiled milk, stale bread
Welfare, bubonic plague

Record deal, light bulb
Keep-back kid, now corporate thug
Breast cancer, common cold
HIV, lost hope
Overweight, self esteem
Misfit, broken dream
Fish tank, small bowl
Closed minded, dark hold

Cybergirl, droid control
Get away now they trying to steal your soul
Microphone, one stage
Tomboy, outrage
Street fight, bloody war
Instigators, third floor
Promiscuous child, broken heart
STD, quarantine

Heroin needle, coke head
Final chapter, death bed
Plastic sweat, metal skin
Metallic tears, mannequin
Carefree, night club
Closet drunk, bathtub
White House, Jim Crow
Dirty lies, my regards

In no time, in each line, Janelle Monáe describes whole scenes of day-to-day life for people in all walks of life, from the blissful and high-brow to the most vulgar and depraved.  Bringing up plights of the poor, the sick, the misguided, and the trapped, she drives home what is driving Cindi Mayweather onto freeing people from their own plights and leading them to a better world.  More often than not, it’s their own trappings that keep them trapped (“you’re free, but in your mind your freedom’s in a bind”), their own upbringing causing vicious cycles passed down onto the next generation, and the one after that, ad infinitum.

This is the crucial part of the song, I think, that really answers one of the central questions of the whole Archandroid project: why is she doing this?  Because the world sucks.  The world hurts, the world is unfair, and most importantly, the world is our creation.  The world is not the same as the Earth (the material realm we live in) or the Cosmos (the sum of all experiences, all places, all thoughts, all of which consist in the All).  The world, quoth Margaret Case in the comic series “Promethea”, is “our systems, our politics, our economies, our ideas of the world…it’s our flags and our banknotes and our border wars”.  The world is how we’ve decided to make use of the places we work in and the resources and people we work with.  And, frankly, we’re not doing a very good job of it.  When companies put profit of their CEOs before well-being of their clients, when countries fight in other countries instead of helping them build, when institutions degrade human beings based on superficial attributes like color or creed or orientation, when people fight or struggle against each other for anything but the common and shared good of themselves, we’re doing it wrong.  It leads to starvation, discrimination, murder, sorrow, grief, and despair.

We need to remember humanity, both that of ourselves and the others around us.  We need to remember that, no matter how much we may dislike someone, they have a mother who gave birth to them, dreams and aspirations that lead them, fears and worries that tie them down.  We need to remember our race, heritage, and value, and we need to reclaim these things.  That’s the entire goal, according to Plotinus, because once we do that we remember who we are, and we remember to work with each other instead of against each other.  Once we awaken to what the world outside our little bubbles can be like, once we get our freedom out of the bind we’ve put it in, only then can we really be free to start working in and on the world, making ours better, and thereby making the shared world we all have better.

I’m adopting that set of lyrics above as a personal litany, a reminder that the world is not perfect and this shows how.  This is a display of the symptoms, not the causes; it’s up to me to figure out what causes underlie why the world sucks and how I can fix the ones I can tackle.  That’s not just my job: that’s the role of any magician.  Hell, that’s the role of any human being.  This is our Job.

Get to Work.