A Hermetic Praise Prayer from Book V of the Corpus Hermeticum

What with my recent Christmas haul (including a good number of books I got for myself), I’ve been going through and rereading my Corpus Hermeticum again.  There’s nothing quite like it for those of a Hermetic practice—as the core texts of our religious and spiritual approach, it’s the equivalent of a Bible for us—but something caught my eye when I was going through my copy recently.  In book V, Hermēs Trismegistos dedicates a particular discourse to his son Tat, and opens up with the following (according to the Copenhaver translation):

This discourse I shall also deliver to you in full, O Tat, lest you go uninitiated in the mysteries of the god who is greater than any name.
You must understand how something that seems invisible to the multitude will become entirely visible to you. Actually, if it were (not) invisible, it would not (always) be. Everything seen has been begotten because at some point it came to be seen. But the invisible always is, and, because it always is, it does not need to come to be seen. Also, while remaining invisible because it always is, it makes all other things visible. The very entity that makes visibility does not make itself visible; what (begets) is not itself begotten; what presents images of everything (is not) present to the imagination. For there is imagination only of things begotten. Coming to be is nothing but imagination.

Clearly, the one who alone is unbegotten is also unimagined and invisible, but in presenting images of all things he is seen through all of them and in all of them; he is seen especially by those whom he wished to see him. You then, Tat, my child, pray pray first to the lord, the father, the only, who is not one but from whom the one comes; ask him the grace to enable you to understand so great a god, to permit even one ray of his to illuminate your thinking. …

The rest of book V is basically Hermēs going on to Tat about all the ways God (the One, the Father, the Creator, the Good, etc.) is visible, though God itself is invisible.  Such a series of praises isn’t foreign or unusual in the Corpus Hermeticum or other Hermetic texts, but what struck me is that so much of the book is itself written as if it were a prayer, as if Hermēs was telling Tat not only to pray but also what to pray.  Between rhetorical questions about the creation and creating of God and points where Hermēs himself goes on about how and why even he might pray, book V is basically a prayer unto itself, a praisegiving for Tat to make to God, the God who is invisible and also entirely visible.

This notion of turning the bulk of book V into a prayer struck me as something that might be useful, perhaps for my own practice and perhaps for others.  After all, actual examples of pure classical Hermetic practice that stand out to the mind as being distinctly Hermetic aren’t all that easy to come by, and the Corpus Hermeticum doesn’t have that many prayers; while there are a few true prayers embedded within Hermetic texts (like the Prayer of Hermēs Trismegistos from book I, the Initiatory Hymn of Silence from book XIII, the Prayer of Thanksgiving from the Asclepius, and the Hymn to the Eighth and the Ninth from the Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth), there aren’t a lot of other “true” prayers that we might associate with the practices of the Corpus Hermeticum.  But book V gives us basically a sermon, a prayer unto itself that we might be able to use, and that’s what caught my attention.

After a bit of reworking the original text to make it flow a bit better as a prayer to be recited, plus a bit of extra backup from other books in the Corpus Hermeticum, I ended up with the following, what I’m calling (at least for the nonce) the “Praise of the Invisible and Visible God”, a prayer of praise and adoration to God in the Hermetic sense, a highly panenthiestic prayer that recognizes that God is both transcendent of creation while being immanent within it, and that even though God itself is invisible and unable to be seen by the eyes, all that exists (and all that doesn’t!) is a part of and testament to God.

It is to you that I pray,
o Lord, o Father, o Only and Single, o One Alone,
you from whom the One itself comes.
Grant me, o God, your understanding and the understanding of you.
Grant me even but a single ray of illumination to shine forth in my mind,
all for the sake of understanding you.
Unbegotten, unimagined, and invisible are you,
and you are in every begetting, in every image, in every vision,
by all, though all, in all, to all!
You, o God, are generous, not grudging with your bounty.
You, o God, are seen by those whom you wish to see you.
You, o God, are seen throughout the entirety of the cosmos.

All that is in Heaven bows and submits themselves to the Sun,
greater than Earth and Sea, greatest of all the gods in Heaven,
yet allows smaller stars than him to circle above him and around him
all according to your order and design for itself and all else,
for the Sun itself bows and submits itself to you
in reverence, in deference, in awe, in fear.
It is you, o God, who keeps the order of the passage of the Sun and Moon and Stars.
It is you, o God, who rules over the Bear that turns all of Heaven around the Pole.
It is you, o God, who set the boundary to the sea and who set the Earth in its place.
It is you, o God, you who are the maker and master of all this and all else.

Order is made by you, o God, by place and number and measure,
and without you, neither place nor number nor measure could be preserved.
You order all the cosmos, everything within it, and everything without it.
All things created with place and number and measure
are ruled by you in the order you have given it;
all things uncreated without place or number or measure
are ruled by you in the order you have not given it.
You have created the order of the cosmos,
you have created the cosmos of order:
the firmness of earth and the fluidity of sea,
the streaming of rivers and the flowing of air,
the piercing of fire and the coursing of stars,
all sped round about the celestial pole.
This is the Unmoving being moved, the Unmanifest being made manifest;
to see all this poised between Earth and Heaven,
this is your holy vision of beauty and joy!

It is you, o God, who made the beautiful form of humanity,
made in the womb of mortals, made in the image of immortality.
Who else could trace the line around the eyes?
Who else could pierce the holes for nostrils and ears?
Who else could open up the mouth?
Who else could stretch out and fasten together the sinews?
Who else could make channels for the veins of blood?
Who else could strengthen and harden the bones?
Who else could cover the flesh with skin drawn taught?
Who else could part the fingers for each hand?
Who else could flatten and widen the soles of the feet?
Who else could bore holes for the passages of the body?
Who else could stretch out the spleen?
Who else could make the heart into the shape of a temple?
Who else could join and fix the ribs together?
Who else could hollow out the lungs?
Who else could make spacious the belly for nourishment?
Who else could set the honorable parts of the body to be visible and praised?
Who else could hide away the unseemly parts of the body for private discretion?

All that is in Heaven and all that is on Earth,
all placed, all numbered, all measured,
all beautiful and yet all different:
what father, what mother, what crafter, what artist could have made all this?
So many different skills upon a single substance,
so many different labors within a single work!
God, the God unmanifest beyond manifestation,
who created all creation by his own will,
whose greatness is beyond any name,
whose work alone is to create all creation!

All things are within you, o God,
creating all that is in Heaven and all that is on Earth,
in the skies and in the seas, in the depths and in the heights,
in every part of the cosmos you have created!
There is nothing in the cosmos that you are not,
but you are all things in the cosmos and all things outside it.
Utterly unmanifest, you can be perceived by the mind,
yet most manifest, you can be perceived by the eyes.
O God invisible, o God entirely visible!
O God of no body, o God of all bodies!
O God of no names, o God of all names!
O Father of all!

How even shall I praise you, o God?
To those who act on your behalf? With those who act according to your purpose?
For whomever I turn to, I turn to you; should I turn within, still I turn to you!
For I and all others are within you and part of you,
and you are all that is, being praised from within yourself to yourself.

Where even shall I look to praise you, o God?
To the East or the West? To the North or the South?
Above or below? Within or without?
There is no direction, no place, no space, no being apart from you.

What even shall I bring to praise you, o God?
What could I give that you do not already have?
What sacrifice could I make that is not already yours?
All is within you, and all comes from you.
You give everything, and you take nothing.
You have all, and there is nothing that you do not have.

When even shall I praise you, o God?
In what time or season, what day or hour could we find you?
You cannot be found in any time, for you are within and beyond all time.
You are eternal, immortal, unbegotten,
who neither can nor ever could have come to be,
who always is, who always was, who always will be.

What even shall I hymn as praise to you, o God?
For what you have made? For what you have not made?
For what you have revealed? For what you have hidden?
You are everything, o God:
all that is and all that is not, all that is revealed and all that is hidden,
all that has come to be and all that has not come to be.

Why even shall I praise you, o God?
For that which is a part of me? For that which makes me what I am?
For that which is apart and separate from myself?
You are whatever I am and all that I am,
you are whatever I make and all that I make,
you are whatever I say and all that I say,
I and all else that is or is not.

You are that which understands,
you are that which is understood,
you are the Creator who creates,
you are the God who acts,
you are the Good who are the cause of all.

For the finest part of matter is air,
and the finest part of air is soul,
and the finest part of soul is reason,
and the finest part of reason is mind,
and the finest part of mind is God.

While there are definitely other praises to God in the Corpus Hermeticum, which can and should probably also be repurposed as prayers much like the above, the above from Book V is probably one of the longest and most notable that comes to my mind.  Although simply reading book V itself would suffice for meditation and contemplation (and this is something all Hermeticists should periodically do with such the Hermetic texts), I feel like making it slightly more poetic is beneficial for routine religious practice for fellow Hermeticists, as well.  If I like it once I take another look at this in a few days, I’ll go ahead and add it to the Prayers pages.

Chaplet of Saint Jehudiel the Archangel

And another one!  To go along with the already-known and commonly-used chaplets for MichaelGabriel, and Raphael, I wrote up a chaplet for Jehudiel, sometimes known as Raguel, the archangel of praise or glory of God.  While he presides over the praise, thanksgiving, and glorification of God, he also presides over the realm of labor, work, and toil.  As the angel watching over all those who work, Jehudiel helps us in our day-to-day lives in carrying out our tasks, jobs, and errands, no matter what they may be.  This is because there’s a strong tie between working and glorifying God: by doing our work down here, we do our Work Up There.  The two are essentially the same, since our lives are our own Great Work, and by doing what we need to do properly and timely, we live in line with our True Will, which is to carry out the will of God, which is the highest manner of glorifying God.  After all, to live in accordance with God is to respect, honor, and glorify the plan of God.  Thus, Jehudiel helps us figure out what it is we need to be doing as well as helping us to get things done.  This is especially true for those who are rulers, such as kings or presidents, since their work affects countless people; further, as Fr. Rufus Opus has waxed so much on since getting on his Jupiter kick several years ago, to be king of your own sphere is part and parcel of the Great Work itself.

As Jehudiel is the praise of God, I went through one of the densest collections of prayers and hymns to God in the Bible: the Psalms.  Although a number of these are lamentations or calls for retribution against Israel’s enemies, given the context in which they were written (and I can’t blame them for that, either), many of them are full of pure, honest praise in the glory and service of God.  Psalm 150, the last psalm of the canonical Judeo-Christian scripture, is a short and sweet hymn praising God, and one of the few instances in Scripture where “Hallelujah” (Praise the Lord) is used.  I used this six-verse hymn as a basis for the chaplet of Jehudiel, since I thought the connection in praise was fitting for the angel.  While many other prayers and hymns are used throughout Christianity to praise God (Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Magnificat, Alleluia, Prayer of Azariah, inter multa alia), I wanted to keep this short; after all, if Jehudiel is the angel presiding over work, he’s also the angel of timeliness and getting shit done effectively and timely.  Without sacrificing temporal quantity for spiritual quality, I wanted to keep this chaplet simple and short.

The chaplet beads consist of a lead chain of three beads attached to (you guessed it) a cross or general representation of angels, since I don’t know of any Jehudiel medallions easily obtainable, though you’re free to use one if you can find or make one.  The lead chain is attached to a ring of six sets of three beads each.

Initial prayers done on the medal/cross:

Saint Jehudiel the Archangel, angel of praise to God, pray for us, that in every act, in every job, in every work, and in every labor we may constantly carry out the will of the Lord gladly and in praise for all He has given us.  Amen.

On each of three lead beads, pray the Ave Maria in honor of Mary, Queen of Heaven and of Angels.

On the first bead of each set of three on the ring, pray:

  1. Hallelujah!  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise Him in the firmament of His power.  Hallelujah!
  2. Hallelujah!  Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His abundant greatness.  Hallelujah!
  3. Hallelujah!  Praise Him with the blast of the horn; praise Him with the psaltery and harp.  Hallelujah!
  4. Hallelujah!  Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and the pipe.  Hallelujah!
  5. Hallelujah!  Praise Him with loud-sounding cymbals; praise Him with clanging cymbals.  Hallelujah!
  6. Hallelujah!  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Hallelujah!

On the second bead of each set, pray the Pater Noster; on the third, pray the Gloria Patri.

Concluding prayer:

O merciful Archangel, Saint Jehudiel dispenser of God’s eternal and abundant mercy, because of our sinfulness, we do not deserve God’s forgiveness.  Yet, He continually grants us forbearance freely and lovingly.  Help us in our determination to overcome our sinful habits and be truly sorry for them.  Bring each one of us to true conversion of heart, that we may experience the joy of reconciliation which it brings, without which neither we as individuals, nor the whole world can know true peace.  You who continually intercedes for us, aid us in our work, labor, and toil, that we may continually praise God in this world as the angels praise God in Heaven, that all we do may be right in intent and right in method, that the will of the Lord be done and not our own lest it be in accordance with His.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.