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!

Praise of the Seven Ladies

Over the years, some parts of my practice have become staples that I maintain in one form or another regardless of what else I might be doing, but much else I’ve done has been experimental where I try something new or attempt worship or work with some new spirit or spirits.  Looking back, with some frequency, some of those experiments are successful enough to make such practices become staples, but more often than not, they don’t.  I’m not one to go out of my way to try to establish some “grand unifying practice” where I have to get everything to match up and agree with each other in every possible regard from the get-go, but sometimes things just stick out too much in one sense or another where they just can’t find a proper foothold in the rest of my spiritual life, or where I already have enough going on in other ways that I can’t really accommodate a new practice for long in tandem with everything else.  It’s unfortunate, given how excited I can get about some of these experiments and ventures at times, but it is what it is.

One of the things I’ve always wanted to experiment with and dig into more is venerating the northern stars, not just Polaris but the seven stars of Ursa Minor and the seven stars of Ursa Maior more generally.  I’ve gone into some depth regarding these before from a PGM standpoint (my Pole Lords and Northern Stars post series from October 2018, part 1, part 2, part 3), but there’s honestly just so much with northern star veneration in so many cultures that it’s honestly astounding.  Some of the richest and most fascinating stuff I’ve seen along these lines is how a variety of East Asian cultures and religions developed and incorporated such veneration practices into Taoism, Buddhism, and other indigenous traditions.  Once I picked up on a few threads there, this sent me on a round or four of binge-researching to see what I might find (in English, at any rate).  A few of the neater things I came across were:

There’s plenty more along these lines, but I think these three resources give a good start to those who are interested further.  This is definitely one of the fields I’d like to experiment with more, since I’ve already done a few things for the northern stars even in my own practice from time to time.  I’d love to do more, but it’s sometimes difficult to get it all to correlate in my own practice without just leaving it sorta…hanging there, untethered to much else that I do.

That said, it’s easier to find things related to the stars of Ursa Maior (the Big Dipper) in contexts like this than it is for the stars of Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper), which is somewhat annoying.  Even still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t PGM versions of this situation, too; there are plenty of bear charms or other bear-related spells in the PGM (e.g. PGM IV.1257—1322, PGM IV.1323—1330, PGM IV.1331—1389, PGM VII.686—702).  As I mentioned in my Pole Lords and Northern Stars post series I mentioned above, we also see a fascinating deification of the stars of Ursa Maior and the stars of Ursa Minor, too, in the famous Mithras Liturgy of PGM IV.475—829, where there are “seven virgins…dressed in linen garments with the faces of asps[;] they are called the Fates of Heaven and wield golden wands” for Ursa Maior and “seven gods who have the faces of black bulls, in linen loincloths, and in possession of seven golden diadems[;] they are the so-called Pole Lords of Heaven” for Ursa Minor, each of which having their own name.  It may not be a whole lot in the PGM to develop a full or complete practice of veneration of the northern stars, but there’s certainly enough to consider and get started with.

To that end, I decided to take a somewhat eclectic, syncretic approach to devising my own lengthier invocation of the stars of Ursa Maior.  By picking at a combo of Taoist star lore, Buddhist correspondences and veneration, and some of the stuff from the PGM (specifically PGM IV.475—829), I put together the following prayer, “Praise of the Seven Ladies”, which invokes and salutes the seven stars of Ursa Maior using their names from the Mithras Liturgy for their aid and succor in our lives.  It’s definitely a hybrid spiritual approach (one might even reasonably call it a mutt of prayers) to these entities as a cluster of deities in their own right, but by grafting on influences from several traditions, it’s something experimental that I hope might one day be useful, at least to get a foothold of my own with more advanced or in-depth northern star veneration practices.

Without further ado, my “Praise of the Seven Ladies”:

I give honor to the sanctity of ΧΡΕΨΕΝΘΑΗΣ!
First amongst the blessed nobles, first among the bright seven,
leading your entourage in the twisted twistings of Fate,
penetrating the most sublime wisdom and light of the mind!
Be kind to me and protect me, o heaven-ruling goddess!
Keep your anger far from me, o insatiable eye of Heaven,
and turn all my enemies’ anger back upon themselves!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΜΕΝΕΣΧΕΗΣ!
Second among the blessed nobles, second among the bright seven,
the gate by which all powers and spirits flow free as you will,
whose voice flashes and shines as jewels with power and sublimity!
Be kind to me and protect me, o pole-ruling goddess!
Grant me your medicine, o stable wall of Heaven,
and let the poisons and plagues of my enemies flood their own homes!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΜΕΧΡΑΝ!
Third among the blessed nobles, third among the bright seven,
the commander and director of light from your blessed abode,
surpassing all glory and beauty to shine light upon the whole cosmos!
Be kind to me and protect me, o highest goddess!
Keep me happy and safe from all disaster, o strong support of Heaven,
and let whatever disasters other plan for me befall those who plan them!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΑΡΑΜΑΧΗΣ!
Fourth among the blessed nobles, fourth among the bright seven,
the supreme balance and assistant between those before and behind,
granter of supreme bliss, bestower of holiest wisdom!
Be kind to me and protect me, o beautiful-shining goddess!
Let me remain whole for the whole of my life, o firm foundation of Heaven,
and turn the blades of my enemies away to cut only themselves!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΕΧΟΜΜΙΗ!
Fifth among the blessed nobles, fifth among the bright seven,
the measure of the cosmos who views all things from your tower,
who breaks obstacles through intelligence, wisdom, and the purest of virtue!
Be kind to me and protect me, o incorruptible goddess!
May I always remain strong with you at my side, o whip and club of Heaven,
but may those who seek to weaken me instead be weakened themselves!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΤΙΧΝΟΝΔΑΗΣ!
Sixth among the blessed nobles, sixth among the bright seven,
the opener of power, of opportunity, of crisis in all things,
who delights in justice, in law, in righteousness in all things!
Be kind to me and protect me, o all-illuminating goddess!
May I live long and free without danger, o modest covering of Heaven,
but may those who seek to endanger me instead be surrounded by danger!

I give honor to the sanctity of ΕΡΟΥ ΡΟΜΒΡΙΗΣ!
Seventh among the blessed nobles, seventh among the bright seven,
the enforcer who ensures our compliance with Necessity,
supreme in the subtleties of health and wholeness from profundity!
Be kind to me and protect me, o goddess holding all things together as one!
May I be kept ordered and right on my way, o leader of the cries of Heaven,
but may those who march against me be broken and defeated!

Hail, o queens of mortals and of gods, o heavenly rulers!
Hail to you, o seven Fates of Heaven, o noble and good virgins!
Hail to you, ΧΡΕΨΕΝΘΑΗΣ!
Hail to you, ΜΕΝΕΣΧΕΗΣ!
Hail to you, ΜΕΧΡΑΝ!
Hail to you, ΑΡΑΜΑΧΗΣ!
Hail to you, ΕΧΟΜΜΙΗ!
Hail to you, ΤΙΧΝΟΝΔΑΗΣ!
Hail to you, ΕΡΟΥ ΡΟΜΒΡΙΗΣ!
For you are the most holy guardians of the four pillars,
the sacred ones and companions of ΜΙΝΙΜΙΡΡΟΦΟΡ,
who rules over the heavens, the stars, and the whole world,
greatest goddess, ruling heaven, reigning over the pole of the stars,
highest, shining beautifully, incorruptible,
all-illuminating bond of the whole cosmos,
who turn all things with a strong hand,
who are appointed to raise and lower all things!
Be kind to me, protect me, and grant me your blessing,
o mistress of water, o founder of earth, o ruler of wind, o lightener of fire!

If you have a veneration practice to the northern stars of your own, feel free to talk about it in the comments!  I’d love to hear from you, your experiences and your background and your practices, and the like.  If you’d like to give the above prayer a whirl, feel free, and let me know how it works for you!

Four Names, Four Visions of the Sun

Yeah, yeah, I know I’ve been quiet here lately over the past few months.  I’m shaking myself out of it, as this past winter has been a bit more stressful than others on several fronts, but all told, I’ve been making do and getting by.  I haven’t come through completely unscathed, and as it happens, some aspects of my spiritual practice has suffered as a result.  It can be hard to rely on motivation alone when you have plenty else to deal with or worry about, but what matters more than motivation to do something is discipline to keep doing it.  Motivation might be what gets you excited about something, but discipline is what keeps you engaged with it even when you’ve lost all motivation.  (Which isn’t to say I’m particularly disciplined, either, of course.)

Even on my worst days, I still make time to do at least a little bit of routine spiritual observances, mostly in the form of saluting my orisha and also offering a salutation to the Sun; on days when I make it to my temple room, this takes care of my pre-temple stuff I get around to.  Ideally, every morning when I wake up, my ideal routine is to get out of bed, brush my teeth, and wash my face.  Being initiated to orisha, I then praise my orí (my head-spirit or destiny) to pray for a good day and a good life, and then I salute my orisha (at least Elegba and Ogún, the latter of whom I’m specifically initiated to).  After saying hello to the rest of the spirits and shrines around the house generally (and closing or opening windows/blinds as necessary to prepare for the day’s weather), I then salute the Sun.  In the colder time of the year, I’ll just do it from an eastern-facing window in the house, but when it’s pleasant enough to do so outside, I’ll head out and stand in the yard to do it instead.  (It’s super nice that I’m able to work from home perpetually now, given both the ongoing pandemic as well as my work’s office being moved to an inconvenient place, but in the Before Times, I’d salute the Sun once I got to my train station’s parking lot.)

The specific prayer I use to salute the Sun ended up developing organically over the course of a few weeks.  As I’d get to the train station parking lot in the mornings, I started just saying off-the-cuff supplications and simple praises, but over time, they settled down into a regular formula that I didn’t have to memorize for it to be repeatable and recitable easily.  Of course, me being me and wanting to make sure all things I do can be expanded in a fancy way if necessary, I ended up polishing and refining my daily organic salutation to the Sun and reworked it slightly into something I’ve fancifully titled the “Grand Supplication to the Sun”.  The prayer as a whole (even in its original organic form) relies on some subtle references to the Prayer to the Sun of Emperor Julian, Orphic prayers and ritual documents, and a few PGM references, but all told it comes together fairly nicely.  I’ve included the prayer as part of my Preces Templi ebook, but I’ll share it here, too:

Hail to you, Lord Hēlios, Lord of the All!
O Spirit of the Cosmos, Power of the Cosmos, Light of the Cosmos,
o celestial Fire, Craftsman of creation, greatest of the gods in Heaven,
o far-reaching, wide-whirling, encircling the heavens forever turning,
o Father of Sky, o Father of Sea, o Father of Earth,
o all-maker, all-shining, all-radiant with golden glory!
Be kind to us, be gracious to us, be propitious to us all!

Shine upon us, your children, the children of starry Heaven and fertile Earth,
o you whose light enables us to see that which is good and true,
o you whose light is forever unconquerable,
o you whose light binds Heaven and Earth together,
o you whose light reaches even unto the deepest reaches of the abyss!

Bless us, your children, the children of starry Heaven and fertile Earth:
grant us your Spirit that we might live,
your Power that we might work,
your Light that we might see,
and your Fire to fuel and temper the flames of want and will in our own hearts!

Hail to you, Hēlios, this and every day of all creation!

The last few words written in Greek script can be transliterated instead as:


While the bulk of the prayer is just spoken normally in whatever prayer-voice one might find conventional, and while I often end up abbreviating the whole thing to a slightly more condensed version, the last barbarous bit is something I always set aside a moment to intone and sing:

The stuff in English and that last few lines in Greek are all pretty bog standard praises for the Sun, I’d claim; there’s very little to mention there beyond the usual stuff to point out, how we rely on the Sun for all things in life, how the Sun is among the most holy things in the cosmos, how the Sun is essentially a demiurge of our world, and the like.  I mean, Hermēs Trismegistos himself notes how the Sun is something he himself worships in the Stobaean Fragments (SH 2A.14):

Tat: “What then, father, would one call true?”

Hermēs: “Only the sun, which is beyond all other things unchanging, remaining in itself, we would call truth. Accordingly, he alone is entrusted with crafting everything in the world, with ruling and making everything. I indeed venerate him and worship his truth. I recognize him as Craftsman subordinate to the One and Primal (Deity).”

The Sun is also particularly praised and discussed in CH V, CH XVI, and CH XVIII, and I suppose it should come as little surprise to anyone when you consider the Greco-Egyptian roots of Hermeticism.  Sun-worship is something common the whole world round, but it was especially taken to a huge degree in Egypt, as evidenced not only by the survivals of it in Hermetic texts but replete throughout ancient Egyptian religious documents and slightly-less-ancient (Greco-)Egyptian magical documents.  And it’s from that sort of magical documents, in the form of a few entries from the PGM, that I came up with the barbarous bits at the end of my invocations from, which I’d like to break down in this post.

First, there’s those final three lines of “KHAIRE HĒLIE PANTOKRATOR”, “PSOI PHNOUTHI NINTHĒR”, and “I I I I I I”.  The first is just Greek for “Hail, Sun All-Ruler”; the last is just six intonations of the letter Iōta, the vowel I associate with the Sun itself in a number commonly given in a lot of modern magical practices to the Sun.  The middle line is Egyptian transliterated into Greek from PGM IV.1596—1715 (the Consecration of the Twelve Faces of Hēlios), which would be the equivalent to “Pshai, the god of gods”; Shai in this case is the ancient Egyptian deity (or divine personification) of fate, later syncretized with Agathos Daimōn, which PGM IV.1596 renders equivalent to the Sun (“come to me, you who rise from the four winds, joyous Agathos Daimōn, for whom heaven has become the processional way”).

For the preceding four lines, each of which contains the “ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ …” formula itself.  That comes from PGM XII.351—364, a ritual to create a ring for success and victory, but which also includes the OUPHŌR ritual, which is a sort of diminished/diminutive opening of the mouth ceremony.  It’s a fascinating thing, but towards the end of the ritual, there’s a series of statements that all have “ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ …” followed by a divine name or two.  The footnotes in the Betz version of the PGM say that “ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ …” corresponds to Egyptian i iꜣw “o hail”.  Following this, this would mean that “ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ …” is a formula to invoke or salute something.  I’ve used it as a sort of Greco-Egyptian parallel to a more Greek ΙΩ or Latin AVE (or even a parallel to the Buddhist Sanskrit namo) in chants or formulaic greetings to gods in prayers or offerings.  Although I can’t personally attest to the linguistic basis of Egyptian i iꜣw becoming Greekified ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ or to i iꜣw actually meaning “o hail”, I’ve gotten good mileage out of it in practice.

That leaves us with the four barbarous names ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ, ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ, ΣΕΜΕΣΕΙΛΑΜ, and ΜΑΡΜΑΡΑΥΩΘ.  What of these?

  • ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ: This name appears chiefly throughout PGM XIII as a divine name, but is actually explained in PGM XIII.343—646 as signifying “the flame and radiance of the [solar] disk”, specifically in the context of an invocation to Hēlios as an epithet of his, and also appears in the variant spelling ΕΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ in PGM XIII.1—343 as some sort of power of Hēlios.
  • ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ: I don’t think I really need to say much about this name, mostly because there’s already so much research about it in general.  Whether conceived of merely as a divine word of power or as a divinity unto itself, ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ (sometimes ΑΒΡΑΞΑΣ “ABRAKSAS”) appears throughout so much magical and religious literature of the Hellenistic Egypt period (both pre- and post-Roman) and on so many magical talismans that so-called Abrasax stones are a common-enough phenomenon to deserve their own field of study.  What suffices for our needs here is that ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ is a common-enough divine name used in a number of solar contexts, which is appropriate since one of the most famous things about this name is that its numerological value is 365, the whole number of days in a solar year.
  • ΣΕΜΕΣΕΙΛΑΜ: The Mithras Liturgy of PGM IV.475—829 gives an interesting (albeit incomplete) list of barbarous names with their “translations” or meanings, like ΑΖΑΙ being “beautiful light” or ΕΛΟΥΡΕ being “fire-delighter” or ΦΝΟΥΗΝΙΟΧ being “fire-body”.  In such a list, we see the word ΣΕΜΕΣΕΙΛΑΜ being given the meaning of “light-maker” with an alternative meaning of “encloser”.  That said, this is a name (sometimes in the form ΣΕΜΕΣΙΛΑΜ) that occurs with tolerable abundance in the PGM.  The most straightforward derivation of this word is from Hebrew or a related Semitic language, specifically from the phrase שמש עולם šemeš `olam “eternal Sun”, “hidden Sun”, or perhaps even “Sun of the world”.
  • ΜΑΡΜΑΡΑΥΩΘ: This is a word that we find in PGM IV.930—1114, which I’ve discussed before as the Conjuration of Light Under Darkness, overall a lamp divination ritual to produce a divine vision of a god.  This name occurs as a “mystic symbol” in a solar hymn.  In her amazing Magical Hymns from Roman Egypt, Ljuba Bortolani offers an explanation as “lord of lights” (if taken from Aramaic מר מאורות m’r m’r’wt) or as “lord of lords” (if taken from Syriac מרא דמרותא mr’ dmrwt’), either way “certainly a name with solar associations”.  This name also appears in a number of other gnostic texts, magical items, and the like, sometimes appearing as a name of the a god of the first or second heaven, sometimes appearing as a name of one of the decans.  Some have noted a similarity to the Greek word μαρμαίω “to shine/sparkle/gleam” and an appearance of the word ΜΑΡΜΑΡΑΥΓΗ (MARMARAUGĒ) in PGM XIII.1—343 (the Eighth Book of Moses).

(If this sort of discussion seems familiar, dear reader, it should.  I once discussed this same thing some years back in another post from April 2020, same invocation and all albeit in a slightly earlier form.  I had the nagging suspicion that I had written about this before, and I only realized that I actually had when I was already more than halfway through writing this post.  Oh well!  Consider this an update, then, and an expansion of what I had said before.)

When I recite this last bit of my daily solar salutation, I don’t just intone or sing these names, but I engage in a bit of light visualization to accompany them, as well.  Consider what I’m doing: in the morning, I’m standing facing the sunrise (or at least the rising Sun), basking in its light and praising it for its light.  As I get to each of the lines in the last barbarous bit, I close my eyes (if not already closed due to standing in the sunlight) and visualize the following:

  1. ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ ΑΧΕΒΥΚΡΩΜ: I see the solar disc (in the form of the modern astrological glyph for it ☉ or the Egyptian hieroglyph for it 𓇳, the dotted circle), and imagine a single ray of pure sunlight descending from the Sun and connecting it to me.
  2. ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ: The ray of Akhebukrōm that connects me to the Sun swings wide in a vast arc, connecting to itself to complete a cosmic circle, the orbit of the Earth around the Sun that takes 365 days (the enumeration of the name ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ) to complete.
  3. ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ ΣΕΜΕΣΕΙΛΑΜ: The circle of Abrasaks expands and grows to an immense, infinite sphere, not just becoming a circle of the solar system but a circle of the endless and unbounded cosmos itself, with all the cosmos itself becoming its center.  This is very same sphere described in statement #2 of the Book of the 24 Philosophers: “God is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”.
  4. ΗΙ ΙΕΟΥ ΜΑΡΜΑΡΑΥΩΘ: Within the sphere of Semeseilam becomes filled with a pure light; just as the ray of Akhebukrōm connected me (and the Earth) to the solar disc itself, the light of Marmarauōth joins all thing indiscriminately together, linking finitude to infinity, boundary with center, into the purest divine Light of God itself.
  5. ΧΑΙΡΕ ΗΛΙΕ ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡ / ΨΟΙ ΦΝΟΥΘΙ ΝΙΝΘΗΡ / Ι Ι Ι Ι Ι Ι:  Dwelling in such light that the Sun gives to me, to the Earth, and to all the cosmos from the very divine Source of all Light itself, I let myself be permeated with such light that I become dissolved within it, joining my own praise of the Sun to the cosmic praise sung constantly and silently itself, letting my praise become identical with the light itself that reaches, covers, surrounds, supports, ands fills all things.

In a way, this sort of progressive visualization proceeds along geometric notions: we start from the single point (0D) of the Sun, extending forth into a line (1D) of sunlight, curving upon itself into a circle (2D), and expanding upon itself infinitely into a sphere (3D), only then being filled with itself so that all of existence in space is permeated with Light.  We see something similar in the “light-bringing spell” and “light-retaining spell” of PGM IV.930—1114, the Conjuration of Light Under Darkness: “let there be light, breadth, depth, Length, height, brightness, and let him who is inside shine through…” and “I conjure you, holy light, holy brightness, breadth, depth, length, height, brightness, by the holy names I which I have spoken and am now going to speak…”.  All in all, it’s a simple sort of contemplation, but it’s one that I find helps orient me each day when I do it, and gives me a sort of “dimensionality” or vision when I contemplate these four names of the Sun themselves.  In a sense, it’s not unlike the four names of the guardians of the Sun, except instead of reflecting four “faces” of entities for different directions or temporal nodes of the Sun, this is something higher and more about the manner and means of the Sun’s power itself reaching us and the whole of the cosmos itself.

Every year, when the seasons turn and winter begins to give way to spring, I always struggle a bit.  In addition to finding the transition from cold weather to warm weather more physically troublesome than the other way around, although I revere the sunlight as an ever-present abiding of divinity with us, I’m more of a nocturnal person myself, and the lengthening of the daytime at the expense of the nighttime has a tendency to sour my mood.  Then again, there’s always something special, something holy, something gladdening about dawn and daybreak, whether it happens at 7am or 4am.  Although it might be facile and hackneyed nowadays to say that “it’s always darkest before dawn”, there’s a truth in it, too: the Sun will continue rise in the East, just as it always has and just as it always will.  No matter how dark or difficult things get, there is always something for us all to rely on or turn to to remind us that we, too, can get up and continue along our path just as the Sun does itself.

All Siblings, Orphans We

As I’ve encouraged others to do so before, I have a little ancestor shrine of my own.  Because of my training and experience as a spiritist (specifically in the Afro-Cuban and heavily Congo-flavored brand of espiritismo rather than the “scientific spiritism” of Alan Kardec proper), I maintain what I call a bóveda, literally a “vault” (as in either the vault of a church or the vault of a tomb—either sense is appropriate), which is a table covered in a white tablecloth, a number of glasses of water (one larger than the rest at the center), a candle, and photos of my ancestors or images and trinkets for my spirit guides and other assisting spirits of the dead in my life.  I keep it clean, I refill the glasses every so often with filtered water, I clean the glasses once a month (or once a season if I get lazy), I buy fresh flowers for it every time I go to the grocery store, and the like.  Every morning when I wrap up my usual daily prayers over at my Hermetic shrine and after I do anything else in my temple room for the morning, I’ll always greet my bóveda and salute all the spirits of the dead in my life, familial or otherwise, and offer a short prayer for our communal and universal ascension, enlightenment, and empowerment.

The opening and closing of this short little daily chat (more like a check-in, I suppose) I have with them is basically a small back-and-forth.  To open up:

Me: “May the peace, mercy, blessing, grace, light and power of God be with you all.”
Them: “And with you.”
Us: “Amen.”

And to close:

Me: “May the peace, mercy, blessing, grace, light and power of God be with us all.”
Them: “Forever and ever.”
Me: “World without end.”
Us: “Amen.”

It’s a simple way for my dead and I to pray together.  After all, while much of my other practice has me offering prayers to a deity or enshrined spirit, with the dead at my bóveda, it’s a little different; it’s less me praying to them, and more us praying together.  To that end, while some of the prayers I recite are just me reciting it for their benefit, other prayers are ones where there’s a sort of cycle and flow between me and them, as if we’re reciting things in unison or alternating lines of a prayer.

In addition to my daily and monthly/seasonal stuff I do with them, I’ll also sit down once a week (usually Sunday or Monday evenings) and have an actual “liturgy” with them, so to speak, where I’ll light several candles, give them incense, and recite a litany of prayers while also having a good in-depth conversation about whatever it is I need to know or whatever it is I need them to know, to do work, to plan ahead, and the like.  It’s here that I’ll expand on the prayers that get recited, some of which are just me reciting them and taking the lead on the prayers, but there are also points at which I’ll let them pray, which can take one of two forms.  Sometimes it’s just sitting at the bóveda and listening to them in silent contemplation, but other times it’ll be a specific spirit who stands up and leads a prayer which I’ll tune in more closely and verbalize physically, following their lead.  Not only do I find this a good way to practice “mediumship-lite” or “mini-channeling” skills, but it also helps me bring myself closer into attunement and intimacy with these spirits while also facilitating the prayers they themselves wish to have said in the exact ways they say them.

It was one such prayer that one of my dead recited a few days ago, and the language and sentiments expressed were…well, it’s not something I would come up with or which I’d contemplate, but it moved me to a few tears.  While I can’t get the language right after the fact (think of how difficult it is to capture the beauty of an extemporaneous, ejaculatory prayer made on the spot fright from the heart after you’ve said it), I would like to capture some of what was said to share with others.

O God, look upon us, your children,
as all human creatures are your children, and so are we—
but, behold! siblings of each other as we are,
we are but orphans, lost in this world,
huddled around a single candle in a darkened church
shivering from cold, holding onto each other for warmth.
And yet, in this dark and cold church, even should none else gaze upon us,
we huddle around this single flame and draw the warmth of life from it,
we hold onto each other and draw the hope for life from one another.

Yea, though we are but orphans, we are yet your children,
and this whole world is still your church,
and even should we march out of this place—and we shall, and we will, according to your design—
still we would yet find you, and be found by you.
Even should none else look upon us, we implore you—and you do, and you will, according to your mercy—
to look with favor upon us, to offer us succor of the heart and the soul,
that we might always have nourishment for ourselves, sharing it with each other.
O God, look upon us, your children, all siblings we,
and though orphaned in the world, that we may return to you as our home.

Prayers like this don’t go on for particularly long; between my other obligations and stamina for long durations of channeling, my spirits have the good sense and grace to make their prayers punctually and sharply and then yield the time back to me so we can move on with what we need to do.  Even if something like this were to go on longer, I’m not sure how much I’d be able to meaningfully keep up with, much less recount after the fact.  And yet, parts of this prayer, the imagery involved in it—I mean, while I can’t really prove it, I claim that this is evidence that this isn’t stuff coming from me, but from them.  And they, in their many years of both life and death, have plenty of experience to draw on, not only from older liturgical and prayer traditions but also from their own lives and scenes that they beheld or, indeed, lived through.

And here, in this prayer that one of my spirits recited (one of my spirit guides, I should note, not one of my ancestors), we see this beautiful but heart-breaking notion: this world is hard, and all we have at the end of the day is each other and God.  Sure, to borrow a line from George R. R. Martin, “the night is long and full of terrors”, but so is the day.  The same plant that might offer fruit might also offer thorns; the same animal that might give milk and fur might also give hooves and horns.  This world is, for better or worse, a world apart from us, and despite whatever we might do to make it more hospitable to us, it is under no obligation to do so.  On top of that, there are always other people in the world who wouldn’t treat us as kindly as we might treat them, who wouldn’t help us as we might try to help them.  The world is hard, and it’s easy to become lost, to feel lost, to feel forsaken, as if the suffering we go through is all that we have to look forward to.

And that’s just not true, because no matter how hard things might be, there are people looking out for us—each other—and even if we might feel lost in this world, we still have Divinity to orient ourselves by and to head towards.  Even if a single candleflame can only give off but so much heat, it helps us all the same, does it not?  It reminds us that, even in the darkness, there can still be light, and even in the cold, there can still be warmth.  And it’s not like this is something limited to “this dark and cold church”; after all, such a church is still part of the wider world, and such a church is also a symbol for the whole world.  Whether we leave the cold, dark church of our inward despair to rejoin with the warm, bright world of the comfort and ease that others can provide us, or whether we leave the cold, dark world of humanity to rejoin in the warm, bright heaven of God, either way, we must always remind ourselves to keep on, to not give up our light and our life, to hold onto each other as we hold onto hope itself.  After all, no matter how alone we might feel in the world, so long as we have each other and God, then we’ve got all we need to get by.  “No man is an island”, after all, and it’s not like Divinity is closed off to anyone, either.

I had originally planned to put out this post on Monday or Tuesday, but life got in the way and I ended up putting this off a few days longer than I wanted.  Because I said that I wanted to share the prayer that my spirit guide shared with me, they said that it’d be okay, so long as I did so; I hadn’t yet (before now), and they kept reminding me.  If I had gotten this out sooner, I might have recalled more of the language used or the meaning that it held in that moment, but I hope that this suffices for at least a few of us who might benefit from such a thing.  I don’t share this as some sort of formal prayer to recite or implement as part of a prayer routine, but rather, as a prayer and contemplation for all to remind us that—as the days get shorter and nights get longer, as the temperatures drop and the clouds come for those of us in the northern hemisphere—there’s never truly darkness if we hold onto even the barest glimmer of Light.