An Original Rite


1 Introduction

This is an attempt at composing a simple, general-purpose ritual that blends all the major traditions I follow. To avoid privileging some one of them (by using Greek names of the gods, for instance, or Mesopotamian ones), I have used only English words for the god’s names. To perform the rite, you need virtually nothing but your own body and the text of the hymn.

2 Hymn with instructions

Wash your hands and say this hymn while facing the Sun, the Moon, both, or images of them. Do not change the wording of the first paragraph, which is spoken in the voice of the poet rather than the worshipper.

“I have put into English the most effusive praises,
But I have not found a word that does justice.
No mortal woman can write an adequate hymn,
But she can invoke fair Memory’s daughters!

“So, begin from the one in whose keep are beginnings,
And extend to all gods of Heaven and Earth.
Omit only that of which words cannot tell,
But none of the things which the maker has made,
The one who has placed shining stars over Earth,
And who sowed marble seas under Heaven’s concave.
All the world prays to him, and we pray to the world,
To the Fire, to the Air, to the Water and Earth.

“Let us turn to the brightest lights in the world,
Whether one of them shines, or the other, or both,
And let music resound for the Mother-of-Gods,
And wine flow forth for the twice-born Wine.
Oh, raise a lament for the Youth Cut Down,
But spread fragrant perfumes for his Lady above.
Incense shall burn for the Lord and the Scribe,
For the August Old Man and the Lord of the Blind.”

During the hymn, raise your hands towards the stars at “Let us turn”;
clap your hands while saying “And let music resound for the Mother-of-Gods”;
make a flowing gesture (or give an actual libation of wine from a clean vessel) at “And wine flow forth”;
throw your hands up dramatically (or do some gesture indicative of mourning) at “Oh, raise a lament”;
spread out your hands (or spray actual perfume) at “But spread fragrant perfumes”;
wriggle your fingers like flames (or burn actual incense in a censer, or an incense stick) at “Incense shall burn”.
If you cannot make any of these gestures, they can be replaced with equivalents.

Immediately after the hymn, add your prayers.

3 Notes on the hymn

Memory’s daughters: the Muses, the daughters of Memory (Mnemosyne).
The one in whose keep are beginnings: Hestia, Janus, or Zeus.
Gods of Heaven and Earth: heavenly gods and chthonic gods.
That of which words cannot tell: according to Heraïscus and Asclepiades, the first principle, the Unknown Darkness, is worshipped only in silence.
The maker: the DemiurgeZeus, Marduk, Kmēf, Iahō, or whoever.
To the Fire, to the Air, to the Water and Earth.
The brightest lights in the world:
Sun and Moon, quoting from Vergil, Georgics 1.5.
Twice-born Wine:
Wine is a poetic name for Dionysus, who was born twice (by Semele and by Zeus); there was also a god Tirāthu, ‘New Wine’, worshipped at Ugarit.
The Youth Cut Down: the meaning of Dumuzi (=Adonis), according to an ancient commentary; similarly, Attis is called “Ear of Grain Cut While Still Green” in an ancient hymn.
Lady: Bēlet or Balthī, a title of planet Venus in Akkadian or Aramaic.
Lord: Bēl, a title of planet Jupiter in Akkadian and Aramaic.
Scribe: Kātib, a title of planet Mercury in Arabic, based on Mesopotamian or Egyptian tradition (or both).
August Old Man: a title of planet Saturn at Ḥarrān.
Lord of the Blind: a title of planet Mars at Ḥarrān.