Six Supplications for Marking the Lunar Month

As I periodically remind people on my blog, I’ve occasionally put out a few PDF-based ebooks for people to purchase and peruse for in-depth studies or practical guides to a handful of topics.  Of those, two of the ones I’m most pleased about are a pair of prayer books, Preces Castri and Preces Templi.  Both are intended for a devout, practicing Hermeticist to use, but both come from radically different perspectives: Preces Castri contains more Abrahamic (Jewish, Christian, Islamic, etc.) prayers and styles of devotion, while Preces Templi is more pagan and polytheistic (specifically Hellenistic Egyptian).  Once upon a time, I defined these two approaches to Hermetic devotion and practice as “Luxoric” and “Papetic”, respectively, after two different languages’ names for the Egyptian city of Thebes, Arabic al-`Uqṣur (“Luxor”, literally “the castles”) and Coptic Pape (from earlier Egyptian p’ jp.t, literally “the adyton”).  Although I’ve experimented with both approaches, over time, I’ve drifted more and more to the Papetic side of things, and remain comfortably Greco-Egyptian polytheistic in my Hermetic stuff while yet engaging in a monist (but not monotheist!) mysticism to the God of Hermēs Trismegistos.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve left all the stuff in my Preces Castri ebook behind to collect dust as some sort of failed experiment.  Even if I base the majority of my work in the Papetic stuff, there’s still a few Luxoric tricks I keep up my sleeve and periodically pull out; to that end, I still make use of some of the stuff in my Preces Castri prayerbook that didn’t make it into my Preces Templi one.  One of those is a set of six prayers I like to use as supplications and contemplations to mark six different times across the span of a lunar month—specifically the synodic lunar month, i.e. the 29.5-day-long month based on the relative positions of the Sun and Moon from the perspective of us on earth.  After the all-important daily cycle of sunrise and sunset, the next most-apparent physical marker of the passage of time is the phase changes of the Moon, and it’s a common practice the whole world ’round to mark different events as the Moon changes from phase to phase in her monthly cycle.  Depending on one’s specific cultural tradition of marking the lunar month, different such events or different numbers of them might be marked: some only mark the full moon, some mark the new moon and full moon both, some mark quarters of the month, some mark thirds of the month, and so on.

In general, while I love me a good lunar cycle (and why not? the Moon is as important to us as the Sun is in most cases!), most of my practice is oriented towards the Sun and its cycles and divisions of time.  As a result, I often make such lunar cycle practices in my own work secondary to that of the Sun, and even though I’d love to do more along those lines, it’s a hassle to keep up both solar zodiacal/decanal cycle stuff up simultaneously with a lunar phase cycle without them matching cleanly.  Still, I try to make an effort in marking things like this regularly, and to that end, I came up with a series of six nine-line prayers which act as a cross between a contemplation of the Moon and its changes and a supplication both to the Moon and to God seeking succor, aid, and guidance, all themed based on the cyclical changes at play.  As a practical matter, I would rather do several small things that add up cumulatively rather than do one or two big things all at once, so I figured marking six different periods across a synodic lunar month would be a good halfway point for me in such a practice:

  1. Last sighting of the Moon: the day when the last sliver of the Moon is visible before vanishing immediately prior to conjunction
  2. Unseen Conjunction of the Moon and Sun: the conjunction of Sun and Moon together, the “dark moon” when it is not visible (or “new moon” in modern astronomical contexts)
  3. First Sighting of the Moon: the traditional understanding of “new moon”, the day when the first sliver of the Moon is visible immediately following conjunction
  4. Waxing of the Moon in Light: marking when the Moon has truly undergone a transition from being only minorly illuminated to being majorly illuminated
  5. Full Opposition of the Moon and Sun: the opposition of Sun and Moon, the full moon when it is at maximum illumination
  6. Waning of the Moon in Light: marking when the Moon has truly undergone a transition from being majorly illuminated to being only minorly illuminated

For the dates for the Waxing or Waning of the Moon in Light, I give two possible timings, depending on how you divide up a lunar month.  For a lot of people nowadays who rely on a primarily four-fold (7-day) division of the lunar month (like most Babylonian-derived calendars as well as plenty of modern folk in general), marking these points would make the most sense at the first (waxing) and third (waning) quarter phase points, which are respectively about one week after and one week before conjunction.  However, for those who use a three-fold division, where one uses ten-day decamera instead of seven-day weeks (like in traditional Greek or Egyptian systems), one would instead mark this at the ten-day mark after or before the conjunction (which happens to be about five or so days in either direction from opposition).  Either approach is appropriate, so long as you’re consistent in how you handle it.

With that, let me show you what how these six supplications actually go!

Supplication of the Last Sighting
To be recited at the last sighting of the Moon before conjunction with the Sun, in the early morning before sunrise.

The Moon leaves the domain of Night to enter the domain of Day,
taking bright refuge under the beams of the Sun,
leaving the nighttime sky empty all of light, full only with stars.
So too do I take refuge and place my faith in the One,
the Holy, the Maker, the Father, the First, and the Good,
from whom all things come, to whom all things return.
In this unseen Light which chases away all darkness
do I embark anew on this my Way, do I rededicate myself anew to the Way,
and flee the world of darkness to enter the world of Light.

Supplication of the Unseen Conjunction
To be recited at the conjunction of the Moon with the Sun, or at the sunrise or sunset immediately prior to it.

The Moon joins herself to the Sun, rising as he rises, setting as he sets,
unable to be seen by any mortal eye of flesh cast upwards,
for the brightness of the beams of the Sun overwhelm all vision.
dazzling the eyes with light and causes them to shut.
Let the eyes of my body look where they will if not the light of the Sun,
and let the eyes of my mind look only to the Light of the Good,
that holy Light that illumines all things truly and clearly,
full of all immortality, all peace, all knowledge, all goodness.
Let there always be for me true illumination of God.

Supplication of the First Sighting
To be recited at the first sighting of the Moon after conjunction with the Sun, in the evening after sunset.

The Moon frees herself from the beams and the arms of the Sun
and enters once more into her own domain of Night.
The Moon begins a new cycle, a new trek, born fresh, born clean,
bringing all of the world into fresh life with her.
O holy month, o holy day, o holy time; grant me holiness!
Let this be for me a time of freshness, newness, life, and growth,
together with peace and victory and progress on the Way,
for as the Moon begins a new month for her and for us all,
so too may I set my mind to the Way anew, lit by the new light of the Moon.

Supplication of the Waxing in Light
To be recited either when the Moon reaches the Waxing Quarter phase, or alternatively on the tenth day of the synodic lunar month.

The Moon, in her course of the heavens, grows in light,
and reflects more and more of the Sun unto the Earth.
Light increases, power increases, presence increases;
let this be a time of increase of all that is Good in the world.
Let victory, success, wealth, safety, luck, happiness, strength,
glory, long life, beauty, fortune, and peace grow and fill my life.
May every blessing increase in my life and in the world,
may every grace and mercy of God fall upon me and the world,
and sustain us all as we proceed on the Way.

Supplication of the Full Opposition
To be recited at the opposition of the Moon with the Sun, or in the evening after sunset on the night immediately prior to it, most preferably at midnight.

The Moon rises as the Sun sets, and sets as the Sun rises.
The Moon reigns over the Night as the Sun reigns over the Day,
having reached her fullness, her perfection, her glory beyond glory.
Balance is attained, and Light fully fills the darkness deep!
Let this light guide my steps in the darkness that I might not stumble;
let this Light guide my heart in the cosmos that I might not wander.
Darkness, however dark, cannot resist but be filled by the Light.
Let this be my power and strength, my hope and my guide.
Perfection is shown to me now; let me always strive for perfection in God.

Supplication of the Waning in Light
To be recited either when the Moon reaches the Waning Quarter phase, or alternatively on the twentieth day of the synodic lunar month.

The Moon, in her course of the heavens, recedes from light,
and reflects less and less of the Sun unto the Earth
as the cosmos sends forth and receives back the blessing of Light.
Moonlight is replaced by starlight as the Moon returns to the Sun;
let all that binds, hinders, and obstructs me be lessened!
Every suffering, disease, danger, hate, sorrow, adversity, misfortune,
and every malefic influence from within and beyond me vanish
as the light of the Moon recedes from the eyes of those on Earth.
Let my soul be freed and made light in the Light on the Way.

My usual approach to implementing this simple: at my main shrine, I have a pair of candleholders, one that I use to mark solar cycle events (Sun ingress a new zodiac sign or a new decan) and one that I use to mark lunar cycle events (like the six synodic events listed above).  After I do my usual prayers and practices for a given day, I’ll light my lunar event candle, offer some incense, offer an invocation to and blessing of the Moon, then recite a given supplication above according to the particular event of the day.  After reciting it, I’ll spend some time in contemplation and meditation of the thing recited, internally or silently adding on whatever further prayers or requests I might have or dwelling on certain images raised during the course of the supplication.  It’s not a lot and nothing particularly fancy, but it’s something to keep up a regular cycle of remarking and remembering the passage of the Moon around the Earth.

And there you have it!  A set of six simple, short, and neat prayers to recite and contemplate across the span of a lunar month.  I hope you might find these supplications useful, dear reader; if you give them a whirl, let me know how they work for you or how else you might implement them beyond how I do myself!  Likewise, if you’re interested in other gems like this of prayers or supplications, consider getting a copy of my Preces Castri and Preces Templi ebooks for yourself; you might be pleasantly surprised by how much else there is in there!

The Twenty-Eight Faces of Mēnē

The devil of every author hit me the other day when I released my ebook on the Grammatēmerologion, the lunisolar calendar system I developed for associating the days of the lunar months to the letters of the Greek alphabet for my Mathesis work.  Every author can sympathize: within hours of my having made the damn thing public, I found something that would have been an excellent addition to incorporate into the text.  Damn shame, that.  Ah well, live and learn; besides, after actually thinking about it, I couldn’t find a way to incorporate that information neatly into the text anyway.  I’ll write about it here instead, for those who are interested.

To give some backstory, I’d like everyone to know that I first came across grammatomancy—the Greek alphabet oracle that assigns each of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet to an oracular statement of advice or wisdom—from the Biblioteca Arcana, a treasure trove of pagan, occult, and theurgic resources in a Hellenic current as maintained by Apollonius Sophistes, better known as John Opsopaus.  I took the information from his site, reworked it a bit, expanded on it, and that’s how I got to my current form of grammatomancy, which kickstarted my whole Mathesis thing.  Well, Opsopaus put out a book last year, The Oracles of Apollo: Practical Ancient Greek Divination for Today, which I encourage many of my readers interested in Hellenic and Greek system of occult works to check out.  In that book, he lists a set of image-symbols to link to each of the Greek letters, as well as an ancient source for where he got them, such that the image of the ox is given to Alpha, the vulture to Bēta, and so forth.  Excitedly, I dashed off to check out the source, which of course is the Greek Magical Papyri.  What I found immediately brought to mind my beloved Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios ritual from PGM IV.1596—1715, except as a lunar parallel to that, with equally as little information in the PGM itself and with equally as much potential for expansion.

PGM VII.756—794, simply titled “Prayer”, is like the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios in that all we have is the spoken text to be used for the ritual without any instructions or directions to use it.  The prayer consists of a reasonably short invocation to the moon goddess Mēnē (MHNH) under the power of the great divinity known throughout the PGM and many other magical texts for the past two thousand-some years, Iaō (ΙΑΩ).  However, again like the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios, we get some special good insights into how we might think of or perceive the Moon as a sacred entity with many faces, forms, or approaches.  It’s not as complete as the Hēlios rite in that we don’t get names or specific blessings, but instead we get a set of 28 sacred images and 14 sacred sounds.

Below is my rendition of the prayer text, with minor edits to formatting and spelling:

I call upon you who have all forms and many names, double-horned goddess MHNH, whose form no one knows except him who made the entire world, ΙΑΩ, the one who shaped you into the twenty-eight shapes of the world so that they might complete every figure and distribute breath to every animal and plant, that it might flourish, you who grow from obscurity into light and leave light for darkness.

And the first companion of your name is silence,
the second a popping sound,
the third groaning,
the fourth hissing,
the fifth a cry of joy,
the sixth moaning,
the seventh barking,
the eighth bellowing,
the ninth neighing,
the tenth a musical sound,
the eleventh a sounding wind,
the twelfth a wind-creating sound,
the thirteenth a coercive sound,
the fourteenth a coercive emanation from perfection.

Ox, vulture, bull, beetle, falcon, crab, dog,
wolf, serpent, horse, she-goat, asp, ibex, he-goat,
baboon, cat, lion, leopard, fieldmouse, deer, multiform,
virgin, torch, lightning, garland, a herald’s wand, child, key.

I have said your signs and symbols of your name so that you might hear me, because I pray to you, mistress of the whole world!
Hear me, the stable one, the mighty one,

The final block of barbarous words, transcribed into Roman script:


The ritual is then concluded with that wonderfully vague direction so common in the PGM: “add the usual”.

One of the things Opsopaus describes about the ritual is that it gives 27 symbols of the Moon, which can be likened to the 27 main days of the lunar month (between the Noumenia and the Hene kai Nea, the first and last days of the month, just on either side of the New Moon itself).  To get 27 symbols instead of the 28 listed above (as in Betz), Opsopaus combines the symbols “multiform” and “virgin” into “multiform virgin”, which is to say the image of Hekate with three faces.  This is a reasonable leap to make; after all, the final set of symbols after that of the deer are all classically associated with Hekate, especially in the PGM.  Still, this is in disagreement with the Betz translation, which clearly distinguishes “multiform” and “virgin” as separate.  Additionally, by bringing the number of symbols down to 27, Opsopaus gets all seven Hekatē-related symbols together in the same seven-day week of the Moon.

However, I disagree with such a combining of “multiform” and “virgin” into a single symbol of “multiform virgin”.  Betz gives 28 symbols, and the prayer explicitly says in the introductory part “the twenty-eight shapes of the world so that they might complete every figure and distribute breath to every animal and plant”.  Plus, though Hekate is often reckoned as being a maiden-virgin, there are stories and myths where she gives birth to Kirke and Medea.  If we’re talking about multiple forms here, then, it makes more sense to me to consider “multiform” (i.e. triple-faced) and “virginal” as two separate faces of the Moon.  Even then, however, with 28 symbols, I couldn’t find a way to link them all to the letters of the Greek alphabet, which has either 24 letters (omitting the obsolete letters Digamma, Qoppa, and Sampi) or 27 (including the obsolete letters).  Given that 28 seems to be the more solid number to go on for this ritual, I’m hesitant to actually associate these symbols to the Greek letters, and would instead consider it its own separate symbol set; this is why I decided against trying to go back and include this information in my Grammatēmerologion text, and instead write about it here as its own separate thing.

So much for the 28 symbols given in the ritual; what of the fourteen “signs”, the sounds that the ritual gives?  Moreover, why fourteen?  I’d liken each of these to the stages of the Moon in terms of her brightness or lack thereof, such that on the first fourteen days of the lunar month (from New to Full), we’d associate that fullness of the Moon with that particular sign, and on the second set of fourteen days, the signs would be given in reverse order.  In other words, if we were to plot them out, we’d get a table like the following:

Day Sign Symbol
1 Silence Ox
2 Popping Vulture
3 Groaning Bull
4 Hissing Beetle
5 Cry of Joy Falcon
6 Moaning Crab
7 Barking Dog
8 Bellowing Wolf
9 Neighing Serpent
10 Musical Horse
11 Sounding wind She-goat
12 Wind-creating Asp
13 Coercive Goat
14 Coercive emanation from perfection He-goat
15 Coercive emanation from perfection Baboon
16 Coercive Cat
17 Wind-creating Lion
18 Sounding wind Leopard
19 Musical Fieldmouse
20 Neighing Deer
21 Bellowing Multiform
22 Barking Virgin
23 Moaning Torch
24 Cry of Joy Lightning
25 Hissing Garland
26 Groaning Herald’s wand
27 Popping Child
28 Silence Key

It’s tempting to think that the symbols are associated with the signs in some way, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  It’s equally tempting, at least for me, to shift some of the symbols around to match up with their signs, at least in the first 14-day period, such that e.g. horse matches up with neighing, or garland with “cry of joy” (in terms of a wedding garland or other celebratory crown).  Perhaps the orders of the signs and symbols could be experimented and toyed around with, and see if the order actually matters as given or if we could swap some of them around.  There might also be correspondences that could arise from mapping the two symbols together based on their shared sign, but I’m unsure about that; that could be slightly bigger a leap than I currently realize.

So, that’s the prayer and some beginning information on the contents thereof.  I have plans on expanding it into a full, multiply-repeated ritual a la the Twelve Faces of Hēlios ritual, perhaps one that actually spans a lunar month, building up the symbols day by day and actually using the signs in the ritual as a means of focusing concentration and power…even though some of them don’t seem like actual sounds one could make, except as soundless spiritual vibrations that would cause spiritual effects.

In the meantime, what I would recommend (and what I plan on trying out for my own first attempt) is to perform the ritual on the last day of the lunar month before or on the New Moon, the Greek Henē kai Nea also known as Hekatē’s Deipnon, between sunset and sunrise, probably at solar midnight when the Moon is directly underfoot.  Face the North, and light three white candles; if you’re using an altar, these would be arranged in an upwards-pointing triangle towards the North, but if you’re not using an altar, you could use three candles put together in the same configuration on the ground before you or three candles arranged in a triangle around you in a large-enough “circle” to stand in and move about.  With the usual offerings you’d bring to a ritual of the Moon or to a Deipnon of Hekatē, arrange and make use of them as usual: food offerings, libations of dark wine, incenses, and so forth.  Recite the ritual as given above, making the associated sounds physically and/or spiritually (when appropriate) after their enumeration, and visualizing a circle of the symbols around you as you recite each symbol, starting from the North and going clockwise from there.  After the recitation of the barbarous names, give your charge to the Moon goddess Mēnē, and recite the barbarous names once more.  Conclude the ritual with your thanks, then leave the candles to burn out on their own.

A variant of this ritual that springs to mind immediately is, instead of doing the ritual on the New Moon, perform the ritual at the Full Moon instead, outside where you can see the Full Moon, when the Moon is highest in the sky.  Face the Moon, and arrange the candles in a downwards-pointing triangle instead of an upwards-pointing one.  Use the same process as above, perhaps beginning or concluding with my normal Full Moon invocation from the PGM.

Now to get the time and supplies and purpose arranged for such a ritual experiment, then getting a more elaborate system built up.  The next New Moon is just over two weeks away, after all.