On the Blessing of Peace

While I don’t like to talk about the specifics of it too much except with people I trust, I do and maintain a regular daily prayer routine.  More than just a daily ritual routine (including meditation, energy work, and the like), I use a particular format that I use where I say several prayers in a particular order and format every day, accompanied with particular ritual gestures or offerings or the like.  (At least, on days when I actually get my ass down to my temple room and do my work, but that’s becoming easier and easier as of late, thank God and the gods.)  The penultimate prayer is one I use as a general…I don’t know if “offering” is the proper word to describe it, but I suppose a blessing upon all the powers, all my ancestors, all those in my life (whether living, dead, or otherwise).  Specifically, it’s a sort of litany-blessing of peace, where I pray for the peace of God to be upon whoever.  And the final line of that prayer is this:

Glory be to God, from whom there is no higher blessing than peace.

I finish this “Sending of Peace” prayer up with a variant of the “Prosperity for All” prayer by Śrı̄ Vēthāthiri Mahaṛṣi.  My own variant (“Prayer for the Peace of the World”) goes like this:

May the whole world know and enjoy
good health, long life, prosperity, happiness, and peace.
Peace in the body, peace in the soul, peace in the spirit, and peace in the mind!
O God of peace, let there be peace and peace and peace and peace!
Let your divine peace reign supreme over the whole world,
that there might be peace forever and ever
at all times, on all days, in all places, in every heart, for everyone, everywhere.
Amen.

Silently, I finish it up with the same “Glory be to God…” line from above, again reminding myself (and, through the prayer, the whole world) that “there is no higher blessing than peace”.

Originally, these prayers didn’t include this line; I wrote my “Sending of Peace” prayer without it, and I never included it in the “Prayer for the Peace of the World” originally, even after I adapted Śrī Vēthāthiri Mahaṛṣi’s prayer; the statement just kinda…started falling out of my mouth, as it were, and it ended up becoming part of these prayers in my prayer routine.   Which is fine, honestly: I think that it’s a beautiful way to close out these prayers of peace, but thinking of it…why would I even say this, or think this, or feel this?  I mean, it does feel right, but why?  Like, what with my Hermetic stuff, you’d think that the ten (or seven) rational powers of God would be blessings unto themselves—which they are—culminating with life, light, and goodness, and peace is nowhere to be found in that list.  So why would peace be the highest possible blessing?

Let’s back up a bit, and consider the origin of the word “peace”.  Etymologically:

mid-12c., “freedom from civil disorder,” from Anglo-French pes, Old French pais “peace, reconciliation, silence, permission” (11c., Modern French paix), from Latin pacem (nominative pax) “compact, agreement, treaty of peace, tranquility, absence of war” (source of Provençal patz, Spanish paz, Italian pace), from PIE root *pag- “to fasten” (which is the source also of Latin pacisci “to covenant or agree;” see pact), on the notion of “a binding together” by treaty or agreement.

It replaced Old English frið, also sibb, which also meant “happiness.” Modern spelling is 1500s, reflecting vowel shift. Sense in peace of mind is from c. 1200. Used in various greetings from c. 1300, from Biblical Latin pax, Greek eirēnē, which were used by translators to render Hebrew shalom, properly “safety, welfare, prosperity.”

Other words derived from this same Proto-Indo-European root *pag- include: pact, propagate, pole (as in a stake or post), pale (in the old sense of a fence of pointed stakes used for marking boundaries), pagan (in the sense of someone being from the rural districts marked off by boundaries), page (a small sheet of paper, originally fastened to something else, but also a young man of a lower social order preparing to be a knight, from the same rural-indicative origin as pagan above), peasant (someone from the rural countryside), fang (in an Old English sense of prey, booty, spoils, “things taken or seized”), and even travail (to work or to toil through suffering, from an original Latin tripalis, an instrument of torture with three stakes).

In all these words derived from the root *pag-, there’s this notion of things being held together by sticking them into or onto something else, or things marked off because of something held together in common.  Peace, then, might seem a bit weird, but consider the etymology above: it’s closely related to the Latin for “to [make a covenant]”; peace, then, is the state of people who have entered into a covenant with each other, binding them and holding them fast together.  And this meaning isn’t just in Latin, either; the Greek name for peace (and the name of a goddess, too!), Εἰρήνη Eirēne, comes from the Greek verb εἵρω eirō, “to fasten together, esp. in rows or by string”.

This is all well and good, but let’s be honest: this emphasis on peace in my prayers (pace Śrī Vēthāthiri Mahaṛṣi) is definitely coming from an Abrhamic and Semitic influence: consider how Muslims constantly pray for “peace and blessings upon the prophet Muḥammad and his family”, how the standard Hebrew greeting for someone is shalom `alekhem and Arabic as-salāmu `alaykum, both meaning “peace be with you” (with the return greeting, “[and] upon you be peace”, being `alekhem shalom and wa-`alaykum as-salām, respectively).  The Sh-L-M triliteral root is abuntant in many Semitic languages, and unlike the Indo-European origins of the word “peace” that indicate things being bound together, the Sh-L-M root for these Semitic words for “peace” indicate something that is whole, complete, accepted, safe, intact, unharmed.  (And, just as Eirēne is the name of a Greek god, this Semitic root provides the name of an ancient Canaanite god, Shalim, the god of dusk and the Evening Star, after whom Jerusalem itself was named, the connection here being that evening and dusk was the completion and wholeness of the day.)

For us Indo-European (especially Germanic and Anglophone speakers), the closest etymological correspondence to the Sh-L-M trilteral root would be the Proto-Indo-European root *kailo- (“whole, uninjured, something of good omen”), which has given us such words as: whole, hale, health, holy, hallow.  Though this does kinda have overlap with the Sh-L-M root, it also overlaps with the Semitic Q-D-Sh triliteral root, which indicates something sacred, holy, pure, or clean (e.g. Hebrew qodesh “holiness” and miqdash “temple”, Arabic al-Quds “The Holy One” and al-Ard al-Muqaddasa “the Land of Holies” referring to Jerusalem and all its shrines).  This root is especially important when reciting a berakhah in Judaism, those endless blessings said when performing a mitzvah or enjoying something, when many of them begin: “blessed are you, o Lord our God, King of the World, who has sanctified us with his commandments…” (barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha`olam, asher qid’shanu b’mitzvotav…).  So there’s this notion here that links holiness and sanctification through the Jewish commandments of the Torah (which, by the by, is also called the Covenant, Hebrew brit, also meaning “alliance”).

We end up with this fourfold root here that ties this all together: Proto-Indo-European *pag- (fasten, bind) and *kailo- (whole, holy) and Semitic Sh-L-M (peace, accepted) and Q-D-Sh (holy, pure).  It’s between the confluence of these four things that we can get an idea of what the notion of peace really means from a spiritual standpoint: peace is an agreement and alliance between parties, one that ensures the well-being and health of all such parties, and one whose nature is sacrosanct and inviolable.  Sure, peace is the absence of violence and war, sure, but from the perspective of our work with Divinity, peace is both holiness and wholeness, being both healthy and hallowed.  Peace is the completion and fulfillment of all the other blessings, and the foundation for them all, and the obligations we enter into so as to have peace are those we enter into with Divinity, which then provides us with the peace we seek as we seek for others to have it as well by entering into peace with them.

Consider the twelve tormentors and ten powers according to the Corpus Hermeticum from the post I wrote earlier this summer.  Peace isn’t in the list of the powers (knowledge of God, joy, self-control, steadfastness, justice, generosity, truth, good, life, light) that resolve the tormentors, whether twelve in CH XIII (ignorance, grief, intemperance, lust, injustice, greed, deceit, envy, treachery, anger, recklessness, malice) or seven in CH I (increase and decrease, evil machination, covetous deceit, domineering arrogance, unholy daring and rash audacity, evil striving after wealth, ensnaring falsehood), but…what if peace is above the rest, a sort of meta-blessing that provides for all other blessings to develop, abide, and spread out?  I mean, consider the Semitic greeting of “peace be on you”: if you have peace, then you don’t have problems, because peace is the absence or the resolution of problems.  If you have peace in the body, then you don’t have physical problems of illness or injury; if you have peace in the soul, then you don’t have emotional distress; if you have peace in the spirit, you don’t have nagging worries or disturbed thoughts; if you have peace in the mind, then you don’t have confusion of divinity or spiritual blockages.  And, hell, what do we say about people who have passed away from a rough life into death?  “May they rest in peace.”

If you have problems, then you don’t have peace; if you have peace, you don’t have problems.  I mean, consider that so much in this world is violence, war, combat, and conflict: conflict between your cells and invasive cells produces illness, conflict between your person and other people produces fighting, conflict between your desires and the desires of another causes emotional distress, and the like.  This world is generated through violence, it’s true, but it’s our job to resolve that violence to find and produce peace, the resolution of problems, violence, and conflict, whether on a small scale of cells or a large scale of civilizations, whether on a small scale of emotions or a large scale of divinity.  To hope, wish, pray, and work for peace is to resolve the problems we face in the world whatever they might be or however they might come about.  We can consider this in terms of the Hermetic tormentors and powers: to pacify (literally “to make peaceful”) the tormentor of ignorance is to bring about the power of knowledge of God, and to have knowledge of God eliminates the torment of ignorance, which brings about peace; to pacify lust is to bring about steadfastness, and to have steadfastness eliminates lust, which brings about peace; and so on for all the tormentors and powers.

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.

So pray for peace: peace for yourself, peace for your ancestors, peace for your family, peace for your community, peace for your teachers, peace for your students.  Pray for peace: peace for those whom you love, peace for those whom you know, peace for those whom you don’t know, peace for those whom you despise.  Pray for peace: peace for everyone in this world, peace for everyone in other worlds, peace for everyone who has ever lived, peace for everyone who has ever died, peace for those who live eternally and never die.  Pray for peace: peace of body, peace of soul, peace of spirit, peace of mind.  Pray for peace, that there might be peace in every way for everyone.  Pray for peace so that there can be peace—and, having prayed for it, work to bring it about, becoming peace for others and obtaining peace for yourself.  That is the pact we make when we pray for peace: make peace and become peace to have peace.

Glory be to God, from whom there is no higher blessing than peace.

Cleansing, Defending, and Blessing a House

A group of friends living together near me were going through some tough times recently, and I offered to help cleanse and bless their house, just to get rid of any lingering bad stuff and keep it out while inviting more and more good things in.  It’s a small thing I can do, and I offered since it was the least I could do for them.  I’ve only ever done this piecemeal on my own place, touching up the apartment as needed, so getting to work on someone else’s place was a new experience for me.

Being the engineer that I am, I decided to come up with a plan of attack, dividing up this working into four different stages: preparation, cleansing, defense, and blessing.  Preparation covers getting the supplies, making sure both myself, my friends, and their house are ready for the project, etc.  Cleansing involves getting rid of anything stuck in the house, any negative entity or force that’s causing any kind of harm to the tenants or property.  Defense involves setting up protections, shields, and wards to keep out any further negativity, letting in only positive or neutral things that help instead of harm.  Blessing helps make the house a home, and involves benedictions upon the place, using luck-, peace-, or prosperity-bringing oils and incenses, and the like.  I let my friends know in advance what I was going to do and got their permission for doing so, because being ethical rocks and so does having informed clients.

The supplies I needed were:

  • Holy water
  • Cleansing water (Uncrossing oil, Banish and Cleanse oil, Van Van oil, 7-11 Holy oil, lemon ammonia, Florida water, holy water)
  • Blessing water (peace water, holy water, rose water, Florida water, and champagne)
  • Fiery Wall of Protection oil
  • Abramelin Oil, or another suitable anointing oil
  • Cotton swabs
  • Banishing incense (dragon’s blood, star anise, crushed red pepper, and black peppercorns)
  • Blessing incense (frankincense, copal, cinnamon, and Power powder)
  • Blessed candles, one for each room of the house (I used white tealights anointed with 7-11 Holy oil and consecrated according to the Key of Solomon, book II, chapter 12), plus a few extra for thanksgiving and prosperity work
  • Large steel nails, one per corner of the property (iron railroad spikes are perfect for this)
  • Instrument of Will (wand, staff, sword, dagger, athame, &c.)
  • Instrument of Protection (amulet, Solomonic ring, &c.)
  • Offerings (large candles, sweet incenses, flowers, simple cakes, &c.)

Once I gathered all the supplies, I prepared myself by cleansing myself and doing a thorough banishing and cleansing including a hyssop bath and meditation, making sure I wasn’t going to track in any more filth into their place.  I also conjured the angel Kammael to charge up my instrument of Will and nails to act as defensive wards.  Before I arrived, I asked my friends to clean the house with the usual things: sweep, vacuum, dust, etc.  I went over to their house on a Sunday in an hour of the Sun during a waxing moon; the first words out of my mouth upon entering were “pax huic domui”, or “peace upon this house” (Luke 10:5).  I offered each of the tenants a bit of holy water to sprinkle themselves with and cleanse themselves as they saw best; since the household was largely Catholic, I suggested the usual Asperges Me that I use myself.  With everyone clean, I donned my Solomonic ring, said a few prayers for guidance and protection, and started my work.

I had a brief chat with the genius of the house (I didn’t do a formal conjuration for this, just reached out and had a quick discussion), letting him know what was up and what I was about to do.  I asked for permission for performing my work, and he gave me his permission to continue.  I also asked the genius for an image of what the house looked like to him, to compare with my own feelings of the place as well as what it’d result in once I did my working, and also asked about any problem areas that needed special attention.  With this information, the first thing was to demarcate the area of working, so I took my instrument of Will (my new ritual sword) and walked around the boundaries of the property clockwise, sealing off the area for the working.  Until I finished, I asked nobody to leave the boundaries of the property or to let anyone in.

To cleanse the house, I opened up every window and door in the house (good thing the weather was good for this, neither too hot nor too cold, not a terrible amount of pollen or dust or noise).  Although not necessary, I find it helpful to have a fresh breeze blow through the house, getting rid of some of the more natural pests naturally and literally as well as symbollically “airing out” the place.  I lit a candle in every room of the house and consecrated the flames, so that the light could shine throughout the entire place; these candles were left to burn completely, and the remaining tins were disposed of respectfully.  The light from the candles was to illuminate the place and bring the light of the Ain Soph Aur down into the house, as well as to watch over and empower all the rest of the working.

I went to the entrance of the house facing inside and gave a general license to depart for all the spirits that had taken residence up in the place (the genius was specifically excepted).  I went through each room and waved around a thurible of banishing incense in each room, repeating the Greek phrase “ΑΠΩ ΑΠΩ ΠΑΝΤΟΣ ΚΑΚΟΔΑΙΜΟΝΕΣ” as I did so.  I did the bottom level first, the top level second, and the ground level last, going from the back of the house to the front.  After reciting Psalm 6, I went over the house again by spraying the cleansing water, repeating the Latin phrase “ABI ABI OMNI PROFANI”.   The incense was used to smoke out any blatantly negative or harmful spirits, and the cleansing water was sprayed around to wipe up and out any harmful residue, malice, and other astrally icky junk that had built up around the place.  I then went around the house clockwise flinging holy water around the place (not the cleansing solution), repeating “BEGONE, BEGONE ALL EVIL SPIRITS”.  With this done, the house was cleansed to my satisfaction, and all the windows and doors were shut to begin building up the fortifications.

To defend the house, I returned to the front of the house and recited the Prayer to St. Michael, which I use before anointing things with Fiery Wall of Protection oil.  Again, bottom to top and back to front, I went through and dabbed the oil on every window and door in the house. I wanted to do a five-spot pattern (one on each corner, one on the center/handle) on every window and door, but the house was bigger than I anticipated and had a lot of windows; I used a single spot on every window, and a five-spot on the front and back doors as well as all the bedroom doors.  The anointing of every entry-point into the house with this oil forms a tight shield through which nothing harmful can even approach, much less break through.  Although I used my own fingers for my own house, I used cotton swabs this time for the oil so as to keep it from dripping or making a mess; besides, some people are sensitive to the oil, and it may burn their skin.  I then dabbed Abramelin oil on the front and back doors, charging them to let in only that which helps and keep out that which harms.  After this, I went to the four corners of the property clockwise and drove a large steel nail into each corner, calling on the angel Kammael of Mars for defense against all evil, harmful, malicious, wicked, or negative spirits, entities, bodies, or forms.  These serve as wards, and I dabbed each with Fiery Wall of Protection oil after I drove them into the ground and charged them to defend the property.

With the cleansing and defending done, the only thing left was to bless the house and make it livable again.  I returned to the front of the house and gave a benediction of the place, then went through the house and fumigated it with blessing incense while repeating the Trisagion, along with spritzing the blessing water through the house while repeating “blessed be, clean be, safe be, happy be, prosperous be”.  I also used a quick prosperity spell used from the Bible (light three candles and repeat Zechariah 8:12 three times over the candles) as an extra step.  I went to the “hearth” of the house (the kitchen) and made offerings to the goddess Hestia (to watch over and nurture the home), the god Zeus Ktesios (to defend the boundaries and walls of the home), and the genius of the house (to manage and coordinate the homeliness of the house), thanking them and asking for their help in protecting the home and keeping it hale, whole, and happy.  I returned to the front of the house, released the spirits back to their places if they were helpful and not harmful in any way, and offered a few prayers of thanksgiving and exaltation at the end.  I then went outside and untraced the circle I made with my instrument of Will, going counterclockwise this time, and let the house stand on its own again.  I finished the whole thing by making a few thanksgiving prayers to the Almighty, then enjoyed the rest of my day.  The only tenant of the household who was out during all this came back just as I untraced the circle, which was extremely fortuitous timing.

Not including the preparation, the working took about an hour and a half to walk through every room of the place multiple times (candle, banish, cleanse, anoint, bless), circumambulate the house four times (once to circle it, once to asperge it, once to nail in the spikes, and once to uncircle it), and perform offerings and prayers.   Not only is everything negative removed from the place, it’s kept entirely shut out.  The incenses, offerings, oils, and waters I used helped to brighten the house and make it inviting for peace, luck, prosperity, safety, and fortune.  Just like a place needs to be cleaned every so often, it’ll eventually need to be cleansed again; however, with all this work done at once and so powerfully, minor touchups will be all that’s needed anytime soon, and that I can take care of covertly or teach them how to do really easily.  So long as they don’t go deliberately trying to fuck shit up in their own place, the house will take care of itself and they’ll be fine.

Why am I sharing this?  Besides the fact that my blog is essentially a more fun version of my increasingly-neglected magical journal, I figured I’d share my methodology and experiences.  This is also a good chance to get feedback and opinions from other practitioners to see how they would do something like this.  This was a pretty heavy-duty working for a normal household; in all fairness and honesty, most people do not and never will need these levels of protection and blessing.  Most people are content with getting by on their own with no special help from higher or lower worlds, and most people don’t do anything to piss off spirits, magicians, or other powerful entities.  I’m not saying that most people don’t have hardships or fall on hard times, or don’t attract the attention of demons or nagas or the like, or couldn’t use a bit of magic to help out.  That, in fact, was the point: having the ability, means, and skill to do magic, I damn near feel obligated to use it for the benefit of those who need it, and in the process help make my friends’ lives and the world a little bit better and brighter.