On True Praying (also, a thank you!)

After my recent post about why simplicity in prayer is not only a good thing but the only real thing there is in praying, one of my oldest friends commented on my Facebook page about how it inspired her that she can pray in her own way and still be heard in her prayers.  She was worried that if she didn’t use anything obviously deep or meaningful or profound that was written centuries or millennia ago that she wasn’t doing it right, but the words of Hermes Trismegistus helped calm her worries and reminded her of the right path of prayer.  That’s an important realization that I know I’ve had to have multiple times, and I know many others are being reminded of it, some for the first time, some for the eleventy-first.

Prayer is, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity”, and ultimately comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *prek meaning “to ask, request, or entreat”.  Throughout countless millennia, ever since humanity has been aware of the presence of divinity in our world or in any other, prayer has been the central vehicle for communion with the divine, with or without sacrifice.  It is this unique act that we, as humans, are capable of in a way unlike any other living entity on Earth that allows us to seek communication and communion with higher entities than us through the use of our own higher faculties.  Heck, even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (part IV, section 1) defines prayer as “the vital and personal relationship with the living and true God”, and that it is “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”.  When all other things are taken out of the equation, all religious action we undertake all boils down to a single essence: prayer.

Due to its importance in all religious work we undertake, humanity has been compiling and transmitting their knowledge of prayers to any number of divinities and entities from one generation to the next, whether by word of mouth or by the written word.  In my own work, I use prayers that have been in use for literal centuries or millennia, either in its original language or in a faithful translation into my own, from such varied sources as the PGM, exoteric and esoteric early Judaism, Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions, Hermetic wisdom texts, Hellenic religious cults, and even some of my own original writings; you can see a small selection of what I have written down in my personal prayerbook over in the Prayers section of pages.  I sing songs passed down to me through multiple generations of slaves and migrants in languages I can scarce understand, and I recite scriptures from lineages and faiths that are literally in my ancestral and living blood.  All these prayers serve to open doors both in my mind and in the world around me, and I would be much poorer off if I had no knowledge of them.

It goes without saying that there is power in all these ancient prayers that come from before my time.  After being recited time and again by thousands or millions of people across countless cultures, lands, and eras, the combined faith and spiritual force that has been put into many of these prayers is overwhelming.  Even those that I’ve written have been used regularly, sometimes even daily, for years, and hold great importance and power even for myself and others.  Of course, the ones I’ve written barely hold a candle to those that have been passed down from one generation to the next of priests, magicians, and other religious people, especially those prayers that have been composed by sages and mystics far wiser and holier than I am, and those who actually knew what they were doing.

Using these prayers that both look and feel Powerfully Old has value for its own sake.  In many cases, such prayers were devised for a purpose, the wording exactly and precisely chosen to cause certain effects in ourselves and the world around us because of what they seek, express, and ask for.  In such cases, these “purposeful” prayers are indistinguishable from spells or conjurations; indeed, many spells and conjurations I use are identical in form, structure, and diction to what you might find used in the Roman Ritual or in a modern church service.  Simply by reciting these prayers with a true need and a sincere heart, even just once and that quietly, can produce powerful and wondrous effects in your life, and it helps to have an index of them handy just in case for a variety of services or needs; this is one of the reason why I maintain and carry with me everywhere my own enchiridion, my own handbook of prayers and rituals, just in case I need something specific for a particular purpose.

Even still, all that being said, reciting prayers that have been recorded and presented to you isn’t all there is to prayer.  After a certain point, the same prayers recited over and over, even if it starts out meaningful, can sometimes become meaningless, soulless, and empty; some people, after settling into a routine for the sake of routine, end up praying the same empty words as a routine.  This drains the efficacy and power of prayer, because all you’re doing is saying the words for the sake of saying the words because you’re used to saying them.  Other people like to keep “enhancing” their prayers by introducing longer and more elaborate phrases, in an attempt to keep the air flowing and trying to reclaim some of that initial wonder through more of the same, but this often misses the entire point of prayer.  This is pointless; as Jesus said in Matthew 6 (despite the context-appropriate disdain for “pagans”), “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words; do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. 

You don’t need to keep saying the same things over and over louder and louder to be heard.  Words alone are not the only part of the vehicle of prayer, no matter how old those words are, who said them first, or how many you use.  If your heart isn’t in the prayer, you’re just giving a soliloquy to be heard by yourself and nobody and nothing else; if you pray without heart, you’re not praying. 

In the end, all true prayer comes from the heart.  It’s that personal divine spark that sets off the holy fire that enflames us in prayer, within which we can become consumed and by which we can become refined into a holier state of being.  All these recorded prayers that we have at our disposal are meant to gather up the flames of the heart into a holy bonfire that reaches to Heaven and illumines our entire world; that’s why we have them, and why we use them.  We recite these old prayers with the intent that our hearts become a spiritual muscle, becoming stronger with each use, and which we use to elevate ourselves and our minds to the Divine; to recite them by rote without actually using the spiritual muscle of our heart is nothing more than going through the motions, which at best does nothing to make us stronger than we already are, and at worst leads us into the atrophy of despair, depression, and faithlessness.

So what are we to do, if the practice of reciting prayers eventually breaks down?  Simple: we don’t let it break down in the first place, because the intent of prayer should be fresh, pure, and strong each and every time you even reach for your cheatsheet or enchiridion of prayers.  Each word you say should be as if you’re saying it for the first time, each divine thought should be like fresh, clean, unused water splashed across your face and body.  Prayer is a vehicle, but our hearts and souls provide the fuel that keeps it going to our ultimate destination.  However, after a time, you’ll find that the vehicles you’re used to aren’t critical to the process; the fuel you provide through your heart and soul in prayer is the real power in the whole process that will eventually get you to where you need to be by virtue of themselves.  This fuel will self-ignite, and not only propel you further in your Work, but ends up consuming your entire self as fuel for the flames.  This is what I mean by “enflaming yourself in prayer”, and this is the true means of prayer, whether or not you recite something written down thousands of years ago or said anew for the very first time.  In the end, the two are indistinguishable.

The door to true communion with the Divine can only be opened by true, personal, intimate, private prayer, and the key to that door never looks the same twice.  The notion of spontaneous prayer here is key: it’s what simply comes out through the mouth from the heart, and is in many cases the seed from which all recorded prayers are grown. It is a genuine, in-the-moment expression of prayer that is not dictated by any rule or rhyme, but which simply happens.  It may be guided by frameworks of prayer instilled in the head through routine and habit, but it is intimately, completely personal how it comes out and becomes expressed.  If the old prayers handed down from time immemorial are elaborate carvings and breathtaking works of art made by the great masters of wordsmithing of ages past, this spontaneous prayer said in the moment is like a cluster of wildflowers bursting through the earth on the first morning of spring to bask in the Sun: it might look small and delicate, but it is a raw, unstoppable force of nature in its own right, and beautiful in its own pristine, unrestrained way.

Heck, at a certain point, even spoken or thought words stop being useful, and the real prayer starts becoming the rarefied, ideal thoughts behind any possible words of prayer that only the heart can wordlessly utter.  This is the idea behind the Hymns of Silence, which I describe as the highest kind of prayer humans can make.  These are the hymns and songs of prayer that even the angels sing unto God in praise, admiration, and gratitude, and which lie behind any and all prayer we can earnestly make.  Strip down true prayer to its core, and what you have are the Hymns of Silence: wordless, unspeakable, ineffable Love and Thanks for the Creator.

Of course, getting to the stage where knowing what the Hymns of Silence are, what they “sound” like, and how to “sing” them takes effort, just as any muscle requires training and time to develop.  I got a kickstart on that process through my planetary conjurations that culminated in the conjuration of the angel of the fixed stars, where even the usual physical tools and implements of magic stop being of use to us in a true astral realm.  However, whether you ascend through conjuration of the spheres or by climbing the ladder of prayer from Down Here to Up There, the result is the same: an outpouring from the heart of true communion with the Divine.  This is the real goal of true prayer, through which any desire can be effected, any hope expressed, any wish granted, any request made to the Divine.

Even for me, especially after being out of a prayer or spiritual routine for so long, recalling the ability to sing the Hymns of Silence and make true prayer is difficult.  Like I said, it’s like a muscle, and that muscle needs to constantly be used and strengthened in order to be of any use.  Still, I use the means at my disposal to open those doors again.  For myself in my own practice?  My own prayer routine looks like this:

  1. Wake up in the morning, and wash my face and hands in cold water (if I don’t take a full shower at this point).  Basically, a simplified form of ablution with khernips or other lustral water, and reminiscent of the process of wuḍū` for Muslims.
  2. Light a simple candle and recite a blessing over it.  I typically use the Trithemian Rite consecration of fire from this, but you can say whatever you like to consecrate the fire for the sake of holiness and divine presence and protection.
  3. Meditate for at least 10 minutes, if only to quiet the mind.
  4. Recite the Prayer of Hermes Trismegistus.
  5. Recite the Prayer of the Itinerant.
  6. Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.
  7. Recite a personal Prayer of the Geomancer.
  8. At this point, my heart and mind are focused and empowered enough to say a spontaneous prayer, which can take any form: gratitude for the days I’ve been given, hope for the day I’m about to face, seeking help to power me through my fears, or whatever else rises from the flame of my heart in prayer.

Eventually, the flame of my heart takes over, and begins burning of its own accord without being ignited by spoken prayers; this flame rises to my mind and sets off a conflagration of looking upwards to Heaven and simply Being in Prayer; this is the beginning to the Hymns of Silence, which (if I have enough time to spend) can go on indefinitely until the flame weakens and I begin to look back down to Earth and myself.  I know it sounds corny or mysterious, but I don’t have a much better way of describing how it feels.  It’s almost a trance state, uplifting in the same automatic way that the heat from a fire sends purified white ash upwards through convection.

Over time, these muscles of the heart become stronger, and it becomes easier to start the fire of prayer, going from a rousing, raging, holy blaze into a still, silent, sacred Light.  I’m working on that process day by day, and I hope to keep working on it to get even farther than I ever was, even when I was in a regular dedicated routine.  Like in anything else, dedication and resilience make for the best guides in the Work, and it helps make prayer truly effective like it does anything and everything else.


Also, dear reader, you may have noticed that there’ve been more changes to this website recently.  Thanks to all your generous support through donations, purchasing my ebooks and materia magica, and obtaining my divination and consultation services, I was finally able to secure the funds for a professional WordPress account!  Not only does this mean I finally got a proper domain name for the blog (https://digitalambler.com/, but you don’t need to update your bookmarks to use it!), but I got an even nicer site layout, all those invasive ads are gone, and a few other cosmetic tweaks have been made throughout the site to make it easier to read and navigate.  One of the really nice things is that it’s allowed me to revamp my Services page to actually look and feel useful, too, so if you’re interested in commissioning me for divination, consultation, ritual work, or other needs, go on over and take a look!

Plus, with the recent blog redesign, I consolidated and changed some of the Occult and Prayer resources through the top menu.  In addition, I also added a whole new page on the Headless Rite, which is more fully fleshed out and offers a full Greek original text, as well as a whole section of prayers from the Corpus Hermeticum, condensed from other posts around this blog for ease of reference.  Putting these out is a pleasure of mine, since I hope to make these resources more easily accessible for all who visit my blog.

Of course, keeping this website as functional and clean as it is (to say nothing of keeping my projects active to continue providing new and awesome content for my readers) will continue to take money, so please help continue supporting the Digital Ambler!  You can do this through any number of ways: checking out my Etsy store for my ebooks and materia magica, checking out my Services page for my divination and ritual comissions, or just buying me a coffee through Ko-fi!  Also, don’t forget my 20% off sale on all my divination services through Etsy through the end of January 2018!  All your support will help me keep my website beautiful, awesome, and helpful to myself, you, and the occult community as a whole!

Do you have any suggestions for improving or augmenting my services, supply of goods, crafts, or ideas for posts?  Is there anything glaringly awful about this website you’d love for me to fix, or anything you’d wish me to include for reference and ease of access?  Do you just want to send me a note of encouragement to keep up the Work, or want to say how my own Work has helped you in yours?  Feel free to send me an email through the Contact page and let me know!

With all my heart, thank you!

On the Simplicity of Divine Prayer

Trying to get back into a routine is rough when you’ve been out of it for so long.  Between the job changes, house moves, seclusionary period of religious vows, and then a glut of partying and celebration at the end of 2017, I’m sure some of my readers can sympathize.  None of that excuses me, of course, from what I should be doing, but a trial’s a trial, after all.

One morning this week was the first in a long time I’ve made myself sit down, meditate, and recite some prayers.  Not many, given my lengthier commute than what I had back a few years ago, and given that I need to reconfigure my sleep schedule to allow for more awake time in the morning before work.  But, yanno, it was enough for this morning.  Admittedly, the prayers take some getting used to again, reciting them with the same focus, the same intent, the same clarity I recall I once had.  But then, any skill left unused for too long dulls faster than an overused knife, so it’ll just take practice and repetition and applying myself.  After a few days, I started to get that…silent Ring, that echo of the Hymns of Silence, back into my words.  So even if it doesn’t take too long to sharpen myself, it still takes time.

Briefly, I considered maybe if I wasn’t doing enough, if I wasn’t incorporating enough elements to give myself that proper atmosphere.  You know of what I speak, dear reader: that misty-shadowy-monochrome-occult,  evidently-powerful, clearly-mystical aesthetic that we all idealize and fetishize in our Work.  That perfectly-framed instagrammable/snapchattable/sharable #nofilter dark-room bones-and-herbs-strewn-about #tradcraft altar look that often sticks in our minds as both breathtaking and inspirational.  So, while in the middle of a prayer, holding my book in one hand, I reached for the incense with the other—

I stopped myself.  No, incense was not what I needed.  What I needed was prayer, and that alone.

A few weeks ago, while trying to find an appropriate time for a feast day of Hermes Trismegistus, I recalled a specific astrological alignment used for…something Hermetic.  After scouring through the Corpus Hermeticum and other Hermetic texts, I eventually stumbled upon what I was looking for in the Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth, but there was another bit of text that, although unrelated to what I was looking for, stuck out to me and reminded me of the simplicity called for in spiritual works, especially that of prayer.

From the Asclepius (chapter XLI; Copenhaver translation, p92):

As they left the sanctuary, they began praying to God and turning to the south (for when someone wants to entreat God at sunset, he should direct his gaze to that quarter, and likewise at sunrise towards the direction they call East), and they were already saying their prayer when in a hushed voice Asclepius asked: “Tat, do you think we should suggest that your father tell them to add frankincense and spices as we pray to God?”

When Trismegistus heard him, he was disturbed and said: “A bad omen, Asclepius, very bad.  To burn incense and such stuff when you entreat God smacks of sacrilege.  For he wants nothing who is himself all things or in whom all things are.  Rather, let us worship him by giving thanks, for God finds mortal gratitude to be the best incense.”

Let me unpack this by means of a parallel lesson I learned back in high school.  Say you’re the subject of a king, and the king is coming to your village to pay a visit and hold court.  All the local lords and nobles are coming, and all the subjects (high- or lowborn) are expected to present something to the king.  What they present are not gifts; gifts, after all, are seen as a kind of favorable charity, but how could a subject give a gift to his king?  The king already has a right to whatever his subjects own; a gift implies the bestowing of something that the receiver does not already have.  No, it is absurd for a subject to give his king a gift; what the subject offers is tribute.  Tribute is something given (yet not a gift) as well as an act of expressing admiration, gratitude, and respect to someone.  A craftsman giving a delicately crafted timepiece, a farmer giving the best of his year’s fruit, a herdsman giving the fattest of his personal flock, an artist giving a fully-decorated manuscript are all things that can be considered tribute in this context; these are acts or offerings of their own labor, their own work, their own hands with which they express thanks to their king, who enables them to do everything.

Of course, you can’t just offer any old thing as tribute.  No, it should be the finest example of what can you can produce, the most rarefied exemplar of skill and labor, and that which is suited to the tastes and needs of the king receiving tribute, as well as exemplifying the natural ownership of the king over his domain.  In other words, proper tribute shows our respect to those above us that we are grateful for their support, patronage, guidance, and protection in the means that they themselves strive to attain.

In this case, Hermes Trismegistus is suggesting that prayers of gratitude are tribute to God, and anything else is simply extra and, moreover, sullying the pure act of prayer.  After all, God is both transcendent and immanent of the world we live in; God already contains all things, all incenses and oils and blood-offerings and flowers.  Why should we bother with these things then?  Hermes would claim that to offer incense in prayer to God would be like offering fish to the ocean, or like giving a king a tributary offering of cattle, including all the shit and piss and vomit they make.  It’s not that these things are unhelpful or without use to us, but they are of little worth to a king, and are so beneath him as to be offensive.  Hermes says that there is nothing physical we could offer to God, because everything physical is already part and parcel to him.

If we shouldn’t offer physical things to God, then what should we offer?  Hermes says simply: “let us worship him by giving thanks, for God finds mortal gratitude to be the best incense”.  Just as subjects to a king offer tribute to express their gratitude towards and to show their abilities fostered by their protecting lord, we offer prayer of gratitude with our intellect and own internal divinity to show God, who gave humanity its intelligible nature by means of the Logos, our respect and thanks to him.  We recognize our place and nature in the world, a unique intersection between the purely physical universe and the purely spiritual cosmos, and we remember our divine origins in God’s own being; we express thanks and gratitude, not to appease or placate God’s wrath, but to grow closer to him and his domain so as to rise above mere matter.

That’s another reason why Hermes abhors the use of incense in prayer to God.  If we’re to ascend above this mortal coil so as to retake our divine essence and birthright, then why should we let those very same mortal, physical, doomed things continue to hold us down?  As Hermes and Poemander say in the very first book of the Corpus Hermeticum (book I, chapters 20—21; Salaman translation, pp21—22):

[Poemander] continued, “If you have remembered, tell me, why are those who are in death, worthy of death?

[Hermes] replied, “Because the grim darkness is the first origin of one’s own body, from which darkness arose the watery nature, from which darkness the body is formed in the sensory world of which death drinks.”

“You have observed correctly”, he said.  “But why does he who has remembered himself go to the Father, as the Word of God says?”

I replied, “Because the Father of all is constituted out of light and life, whence Man has been begotten.”

Poimandres then said, “The truth is: light and life is God and Father, whence Man is begotten.  If, therefore, you realize yourself as being from life and light, and that you have been made out of them, you will return to life.”

Death and ignorance of the divine are intrinsic to physical existence and physical things, and of the things that are not physical, the opposite is true.  Thus, to mix physical things in acts meant to focus on that which is purely divested of them (i.e. matters of God) introduces a measure of death and ignorance into them.  Thus, not only is it sufficient to simply pray to God, but anything more taints such a pure act.

So, no.  I didn’t need to light incense to pray.  I never have, and I never will.  Such prayer to God, performed with the full intent of prayer, is a complete and sufficient act unto itself that no addition could ever make more or better than my present, attentive, intentive, and intelligible Speech saying the divine Words.

Now, I will qualify this: there are times when incenses, oils, tools, and other physical materia matter for spiritual works or sacrifices to the gods, but note the context of difference here.  With offerings to the theoi, for instance, it is proper to offer wine, olive oil, incense, and burnt offerings; they find these things pleasing, and to an extent they are either part of this world or part of the cosmos close to us where these things are useful and appreciated.  Magical ceremonies involving the planets, them being physical-spiritual forces in our world, make use of colors and metals and incenses and herbs and whatnot to make their presence stronger here on Earth.  But when we talk about prayer to God, who is completely above all and encapsulates all within himself?  It’s a different set of rules and contexts, where there is nothing physical to do or appreciated, and the inclusion of physical things only acts as a distraction and delay.  In a sense, it’s highly parallel to what the Buddha taught about meditation: you don’t need incenses or bells or Lululemon pants or overpriced crystals or ridiculously over-engineered sitting cushions.  All you need is meditation, nothing more; nothing else will help you meditate than simply meditating.  In the same vein, Hermes Trismegistus teaches in the Asclepius that nothing else will help with praying to God than simply praying to God.

And, to finish that off, what was the prayer that Hermes Trismegistus offered after his rebuke to Asclepius?  This, which serves as an example of the type of intellectual reflection and deep gratitude Hermes Trismegistus propounded:

We thank you, supreme and most high God, by whose grace alone we have attained the light of your knowledge; holy Name that must be honored, the one Name by which our ancestral faith blesses God alone, we thank you who deign to grant to all a father’s fidelity, reverence, and love, along with any power that is sweeter, by giving us the gift of consciousness, reason, and understanding:
consciousness, that we may know you;
reason, by which we may seek you in our dim suppositions;
knowledge, by which we may rejoice in knowing you.

And we who are saved by your power do indeed rejoice because you have shown yourself to us wholly.  We rejoice that you have deigned to make us gods for eternity even while we depend on the body.  For this is mankind’s only means of giving thanks: knowledge of your majesty.

We have known you, the vast light perceived only by reason.
We have understood you, true life of life, the womb pregnant with all coming-to-be.
We have known you, who persist eternally by conceiving all coming-to-be in its perfect fullness.

Worshiping with this entire prayer the good of your goodness, we ask only this: that you wish us to persist in the love of your knowledge and that we never be cut off from such a life as this.

With such hopes and such prayers, let us now turn to putting it to practice with dedication.

Prayer for the New Year

It always makes me chuckle when I inadvertently stumble across something useful in the course of unrelated research.  Like, I’ll be looking for one thing, and even though I find something (maybe at best) tangentially related and ultimately unhelpful to my original goal, there’ll be something that just kinda screams “HEY, LOOK AT ME, I’M RIGHT HERE, LOOK AT ME”.

Lion GIF

One such thing happened recently, as you might be able to tell.  When I was thinking of ideas for geomantic holy days not too long ago, I was stuck on trying to come up with a feast day for Hermes Trismegistus.  Although I eventually settled on April 4 of the Gregorian calendar (which happily borrows the feast day of St. Isidore of Seville), I was briefly considering using an Egyptian calendar to calculate a celebration of Thoth, the Egyptian form of the god.  The idea didn’t quite work out, but I did learn a fun amount about the Coptic calendar, which is a direct descendant of the calendar used since ancient Egyptian times (even with fundamentally the same names!).

One thing about the Coptic calendar is that its New Year doesn’t match up with the European one.  Rather, it starts on 1 Thout, which historically coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius and marked the beginning of the flood season on the Nile, but after the Julian calendar reforms, has slightly drifted away day by day over the many long years.  Nowadays, the Coptic New Year starts around September 11ish (and every century or three, the date will advance by a day or so).  Because of its connection with the beginning of the flood season, the Egyptian name for the New Year was originally Ni-Yarouou, or the “Feast of the Rivers”, but over time, this was confused with the name for the unrelated Persian New Year Nowruz (which happens at the spring equinox in their calendar).  As a result, the modern Coptic name for the New Year is Nayrouz.

In the course of trying to learn more about what’s done religiously according to certain dates of the Coptic and Egyptian calendars (which share more than a few festival dates, much like how the Europeans preserved old pagan festivals in the Christian calendar), I came across a discussion of the Feast of Nayrouz, which also included a prayer that stuck out to me and begged for meditation and use.  Given that our own calendar is coming to a close for 2017 and the New Year of 2018 is starting in a few days, I decided to adapt this prayer for something of a more general, Western use.

O God, grant us to celebrate the Feast of the New Year that we may ask for a blessed year for all humanity, and that every man and woman has the experience of Your marvelous day.  Thus will all enjoy the brightness of Your glory every day in the New Year.  Allow me, O God, to celebrate the Feast of the New Year; let me experience this joyful faith and the truth of everlasting unity with You.  Let me celebrate the feast of the martyrs as I am able, that I may testify for Your truth.  Change my life to be full of joy with You, even in the moments of my repentance.

Wondrous is the Son who paid the price of my passage to Your divine bosom!  I see You, my beloved Lord, coming to me; you have chosen me to share in Your glory; you offered Yourself as a joyful sacrifice of love.  Come quickly, o Lord!  Our hearts are enflamed with Your love; our hearts ask for nothing and no one except You.  Grant me to become an icon of You with a blessed heart full of love to all humanity, that I may become a font of joy to everyone.

Wondrous is the Holy Spirit who renews me into a heavenly bride, carrying me as if with the wings of a dove that Heaven may celebrate my wedding!  Your dwelling in me, o Holy Spirit, renews my nature; you transform my dark tomb into a holy sanctuary, you convert my darkness into exceeding brightness!  Grant me with all my brethren to fly and be with You in Heaven!

You see me, my Lord, rejoicing in You, and You become delighted in me.  The heavenly angels see me coming to You, and they welcome me.  They receive me with exceeding joy to join them in praising You.  The sinners see me full of joy, and they become filled with hope.  They see me rejoicing, and they join me in my continuous repentance.  The prophets and the apostles and all the martyrs see me, and they praise You for letting me accompany them in Your kingdom!

What a wonderful thing, that You delight in me, and all Your creation in Heaven and on Earth!  But the Devil runs away before me as he sees Your divine joy enlightening me and shining upon my face!  Glory to You, the source of joy and victory.

Grant, O Lord, that I may celebrate this and every new day of this and every new year all my life, that I may proclaim Your joyful renewal of us and the world, and that I may always be joined with You in Your tremendous love that I see You anticipating with longing for me.

Amen.

I would suggest reciting this prayer at sunset on New Year’s Eve (with sunset marking the start of the new day in most Abrahamic traditions) or at sunrise on New Year’s Day (as more Western magicians might reckon the start of the day), perhaps in front of a lit candle and crucifix facing the east, the direction from which the Sun rises and from which the Son shall come to us once more.  Besides that, however, I would also consider there to be potential in combining this prayer with a ceremony such as the Blessing of the Vessel (another Coptic ritual, but more in the vein of PGM magic) as a more magical means of bringing down the blessing of newness and freshness into a renewed water of life, to be used in refreshing the body and soul.

No matter how you use this prayer, or whether you do at all, I hope you all have a wonderful end to this year and a splendid start of the next!  Don’t forget to clean your house and put on some new clothes, too!

Propitiation Ritual of Saturn

Many of my friends take note of particular astrological phenomena, whether they’re just for the “planetary weather” effects the stars have on our lives, or for their more in-depth and particular motions for elections and magical workings.  Mercury retrograde is probably the most common, especially to mock for its (perhaps overblown) infamy in pop culture, but there are many other motions people take note of.  One of which is Saturn’s transition into the sign of Capricorn, one of its two domiciles, where Saturn is particularly strong.  Saturn takes just under 2.5 years to transit through a sign of the Zodiac, so the last time Saturn was in Capricorn was around the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This is particularly important for people whose natal Saturn is in Capricorn, as it signals their Saturn return, a rough time in one’s life that was the literal astrological definition of “mid-life crisis”.  To prepare for my own, I erected and worked a personal shrine to Saturn, and wrote a post about it back last year as Saturn came up on its own position in my own natal chart in late Sagittarius.  For that shrine and its works, I came up with a set of altar tools pulling from the Western astrological tradition as well as some things borrowed from the Vedic tradition for his counterpart in that system, Lord Śani.  Granted, I didn’t work with it as much as I anticipated due to everything else going on in my life, but I do feel like it helped stabilize those Saturnine energies into a useful focal point in my physical domain.

Given that Saturn is moving into Capricorn, and the fact that the Sun just moved into this sign through the passage of the winter solstice, I think it’s time to bring something out of my own playbook to the table, yes?  To help those who are interested in forming a stable, beneficial relationship with this great, powerful planet, here’s the basic ritual I use at my Saturn shrine to call upon the god and seek his blessing in my life.

First, let’s talk about the prime piece, the focal point of my Saturn shrine, an altarpiece I call the Platform of Saturn.  Essentially, it’s nothing more than a planetary hexagram, much as we might find in Western qabbalistic or Golden Dawn-type systems, except that instead of the Sun being the center of the hexagram, we place Saturn in the middle instead, and we put the Sun in Saturn’s position.  In this way, Saturn becomes the focus of the piece, with the other planets balancing and reinforcing Saturn’s power as the spiritual “center” of the shrine.  I went a bit extra with my design for the Platform of Saturn by writing the six-lettered name of the Greek god ΚΡΟΝΟΣ between the points of the hexagram, as well as inscribing the magical characters for the planets (taken from the Magical Calendar) around or inside the hexagram.  Plus, when I made the thing, I also put the six-lettered name of God Elohim (אלוהים) at the points of the hexagram on the bevel, using the more angular Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew script instead of the more modern square script.  On the underside of the Platform, I also inscribed the three-by-three planetary square of Saturn surrounded by the Tetragrammaton, the divine name of the Saturnine sephirah Binah; nothing special, but since the piece of wood I used for the Platform has a plate-like recess on the underside, I also use it to cover the old lead Saturn talisman I made back in 2011, further deploying even more power to the altarpiece as a sort of celestial foundation.

 

The use of this Platform is to act as a base for setting lights and lamps to the planets: six small candles for the non-Saturn planets, and a larger candle (or, in my case, oil lamp) for Saturn.

For this ritual, you will need:

  • Six white tealights, or other small candles/amps in the appropriate planetary color
  • A clean oil lamp with fresh wick
  • A small amount of sesame oil with three drops of myrrh oil
  • Clean room-temperature water, preferably from a well or other underground source
  • Myrrh resin
  • A dry mixture of rock salt and two of your choice of the following:
    • Black gram (Vigna mungo, commonly sold as “black lentils”)
    • Black rice
    • Black mustard seeds
    • Black sesame seeds
    • Other plants, bark, resins, or organic material associated with Saturn, but most preferably cultivated grains
  • Optionally, prayer beads for chanting
  • Incense holder, offering glasses, charcoal, source of fire, etc.

In the minutes leading up to an hour of Saturn on a day of Saturn, arrange the six smaller lights in a hexagram around the large central lamp, putting each candle on top of its particular planetary glyph following the pattern of the Platform of Saturn.  Get your incense ready, and once you make sure your offering glasses are clean, fill one with water and the other with a few spoonfuls of the dry offering mixture.  Fill the lamp with the oil.  (Alternatively, instead of using a lamp, you could use a large candle, either white if the other smaller candles are white, or jet black.)  Set the incense to the right of the candles, and the water with dry offering to the left of the candles, either in a horizontal line or an equilateral triangle.

At the start of the hour of Saturn, begin the preliminary invocation to the other six planets.  Light each candle in turn according to the design of the Platform:

  1. I light this candle and offer its light to the Moon, Lady of the First Heaven, who sings with a pure, sweet voice into our world: Α

  2. I light this candle and offer its light to Mercury, Ruler of the Second Heaven, who sings with a pure, sharp voice into our world: ΕΕ

  3. I light this candle and offer its light to Venus, Lady of the Third Heaven, who sings with a pure, lovely voice into our world: ΗΗΗ

  4. I light this candle and offer its light to the Sun, Lord of the Fourth Heaven, who sings with a pure, holy voice into our world: ΙΙΙΙ

  5. I light this candle and offer its light to Mars, Lord of the Fifth Heaven, who sings with a pure, strong voice into our world: ΟΟΟΟΟ

  6. I light this candle and offer its light to Jupiter, Lord of the Sixth Heaven, who sings with a pure, royal voice into our world: ΥΥΥΥΥΥ

If desired, energetically link the six smaller lights to the central lamp of Saturn at this point, so that all the lights are dependent upon and reflect the ultimate light of Saturn.

Light the myrrh incense and the lamp of Saturn.  Invoke the planetary presence of Saturn according to a prayer of your choosing; for this, you might use the Orphic Hymn of Saturn, or an invocation from a grimoire such as the Heptameron, the Hygromanteia, or the Picatrix (as I used in my Saturn talisman creation).  Recite this prayer at least once, preferably three times.

Dedicate the light of the lamp to Saturn:

I light this lamp and offer its light to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, dark voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this light shines upon this place, so too, Lord Saturn, shine your light upon us, gently and kindly enlightening us, illuminating our paths, and keeping us safe from all harm!

Dedicate the incense to Saturn (putting more on at this point if necessary)

I burn this incense and offer its smoke to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, silent voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this incense rises up and fills up this place with its sweet heavenly smoke, so too, Lord Saturn, fill our spheres, souls, and spirits with your blessing, essence, divinity, and presence!

Dedicate the water offering to Saturn:

I pour out this water and offer its power to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, profound voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this water is poured out for your refreshment and enjoyment, so too pour over us your blessing, cleansing us from all pollution, cleansing our ways of all obstacles, cleansing our senses from all obstructions, and cleansing our hearts from all wickedness!

Dedicate the dry offering to Saturn:

I set out this grain and offer its strength to Saturn, Lord of the Seventh Heaven, who sings with a pure, heavy voice into our world: ΩΩΩΩΩΩΩ

Grant as this grain and salt are set out for your nourishment and satisfaction, so too strengthen us inwardly and outwardly, in our bodies, souls, spirits, and minds, and protect us from all harm while giving us space to grow without undue burden!

At this point, continue the worship and exaltation of Saturn however you choose.  This is the point where I would first begin a chant for Saturn using a set of prayer beads; in my case, I chanted the Sanskrit mantra for the planet of Saturn 108 times on a mala made from black volcanic rock soaked in a magical Saturn oil.  Such chants, if desired, could be any of the following:

  • AUṂ PRAṂ PRĪṂ PRAUṂ SAḤ ŚANAIŚCARĀYA NAMAḤ
  • AUṂ SHAṂ ŚANAIŚCARA NAMAḤ
  • ΙΩ ΦΑΙΝΩΝ ΙΩ ΚΡΟΝΕ ΙΩ ΙΩ ΙΩ
  • IAVE SATURNE MAXIME NITIDE SEVERE

After chanting an appropriate number of times (33, 81, 108, 27000 etc.), continue praying, communing, or meditating with the presence of Saturn thus called.  Once finished, thank Saturn however you will; if this is a once-off ritual, give him a polite and trusting farewell, but otherwise, if this is part of a shrine installation, there’s no strict need for that.

At the end of the planetary hour, put out the lamp of Saturn, and let the other candles burn out on their own.  Once the hour is over, be sure to clean off physically and spiritually, or do some light solar work to balance out and brighten your personal sphere so as to not get too burdened with the heavy weight of Saturn.  This isn’t to banish its energies, but to balance them out so as to be able to better incorporate them as human beings.

Compared to the Western tradition of planetary invocations, Hinduism has a rich body of prayers, chants, and texts to appreciate.  Veneration and worship of the planets as gods in their own rights is alive and well in Hinduism, and many temples have a section just for the Navagraha, the nine planetary gods (seven planets, plus the North Node and South Node as planets of their own).  There are plenty of ways to make offerings in the Hindu system, which is where I got the inspiration for some of the dry offerings and the use of sesame oil.  Still, some of the prayers are positively splendid (when they don’t need to be chanted 23,000 times over), and one of my personal favorites is a prayer to Lord Śani for protection and blessing of one’s body.  In a sense, it’s a Saturnine version of the Lorica of Saint Patrick, and thus, I call it the Vedic Shield of Shani:

I bow down to the slow-moving Śani, whose complexion is dark blue like the ointment of nilañjana. The elder brother of Lord Death, he is born from the Sun and his wife Chāyā.

O god of night-blue skin dressed in night-blue silk, who wears a crown, who rides the vulture, who gives misfortunes, who wields the bow, who has four hands and is the son of the Sun, be pleased with me always and happily grant me your blessing!

Let the son of the Sun protect my head!
Let the darling son of Chāyā protect my eyes!
Let the strong brother of Yama protect my ears!
Let the child of Sūrya protect my nose!
Let the bright god always protect my face!
Let he with a pleasant voice protect my own!
Let the great-armed god protect my arms!
Let my shoulders be protected by Śani!
Let my hands be protected by he who does good!
Let the brother of Yama protect my chest!
Let he who is dark protect my belly!
Let my stomach be protected by the lord of all planets!
Let the slow-mover protect my hips!
Let he who makes all ends protect my thighs!
Let the sibling to Yama protect my knees!
Let my legs be protected by him who goes slow!
Let all my organs be protected by him who wears the cloak of darkness!
Let all my body be protected by the darling son of the Sun God!

AUṂ PRAṂ PRĪṂ PRAUṂ SAḤ ŚANAIŚCARĀYA NAMAḤ

With that, I hope that you have a happy time Saturning, no matter whether you’re coming up on your first Saturn return or are looking forward to the blessed release of your fourth!