Frater FILIVS TERRÆ et CÆLVM SIDEREVM
MESARTIM STUDY GROUP
The Orphic Hymns may be incorporated into one’s personal magical practice, recited in prayer, and employed in the composition of group rituals. Though the hymns are dedicated to a diverse array of subjects – deities, the elements, justice, sleep, health and even natural phenomena, such as the winds, clouds and the ocean – the planetary and stellar hymns are particularly useful. These may be used in ritualism relating to their corresponding weekday (the Moon to Monday, Mars to Tuesday, Mercury to Wednesday, Jupiter to Thursday, Venus to Friday, Saturn to Saturday and the Sun to Sunday) or planetary hour (see Agrippa’s table of planetary hours below). The planetary hymns may also be utilized in a qabalistic context by incorporating them into sephirothic work, as each planet (and the sphere of the fixed stars) has a corresponding sephirah (the Moon to Yesod, Mercury to Hod, Venus to Netzach, the Sun to Tiphareth, Mars to Geburah, Jupiter to Chesed, Saturn to Binah and the sphere of the fixed stars to Chokmah).
The Orphic Hymns were a series of pre-classical poems, ostensibly composed by the mythic hero Orpheus, and were used in his Mysteries and funerary rites. According to Taylor, the foremost translator of the Hymns into English, the Hymns were written by several authors pseudepigraphically writing under the name Orpheus. [Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 11-12] These were used in the processes of natural magic to focus and direct the subtle planetary influences corresponding to each day. As we read in Yates, the body of Orphic literature included “Sun hymns, or Jupiter hymns, or Venus Hymns attuned to those planets, and this, being re-enforced by the invocation of their names and powers, was a way of drawing down their influences.” [Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge, London, 1964, p. 78]
The following excerpts are taken from Thomas Taylor’s 1792 translation of the Hymns. [Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792] Invocative practices such as this are performed in a conscious effort to hermetically draw upon the subtle influence of the planetary bodies governing certain days and hours-of-the-day. This is in keeping with a central magical principle identified by the eminent Scottish anthropologist and folklorist, J.G. Frazer (1854-1941), which he categorized as the Law of Similarity, a component of his greater theory on sympathetic magic. The other component of Frazer’s system, the Law of Contagion, may be seen as the magical mechanism underlying operations such as amulet and talisman production. These objects, being consecrated and ritualistically exposed to subtle stellar and planetary forces, were considered to have retained the cosmic powers through their exposure – a contagion resulting in a magical “battery” of sorts.
If we analyze the principles of thought on which magic is based, they will probably be found to resolve themselves into two: first, that like produces like, or that an effect resembles its cause; and, second, that things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. The former principle may be called the Law of Similarity, the latter the Law of Contact or Contagion. From the first of these principles, namely the Law of Similarity, the magician infers that he can produce any effect he desires merely by imitating it: from the second he infers that whatever he does to a material object will affect equally the person with whom the object was once in contact, whether it formed part of his body or not.
[Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion, MacMillan & Co., 1894, III:1]
Another ancient source detailing the mechanics of this concept may be found in the work of Posidonius of Apameia (135-51 BCE). Though it was predicated on a very ancient concept, the theory of cosmic sympathy (Greek: συμπάθεια, sumpatheia) was first documented by this Greek Stoic philosopher, geographer and astronomer. In his physics, the terrestrial and celestial spheres were interconnected and reciprocally influential – the actions of one had a causal effect on the other – thus underpinning their sympathetic relationship. [Luz, Cosmic Sympathy: The Teachings of Posidonius, Berkeley Hills Books, 2004] Posidonius also extended his theory into the domains of meteorology and divination – concepts which he had extrapolated from Aristotelean physics. This is an early version of an idea which had resurfaced in both Neoplatonism and Hermeticism a century or two later, and again in medieval qabalistic thought and in the Renaissance astrology of the Florentine Neoplatonists, wherein the macrocosm was reflected in the microcosm and vice versa. This sympathetic relationship is, in fact, the very principle which differentiates the disciplines of astrology from astronomy, alchemy from chemistry, and speculative from operative Masonry. Astrology and astronomy both observe, measure and chronicle the movement of celestial bodies – but, in astrology, there is the accompanying belief that these cycles have an effect on man, his disposition and fate. Alchemy and chemistry both study the combinations and transformations of substances and elements – but, in alchemy, there is the accompanying belief that these operations in the external macrocosm have a transformational effect in the alchemist’s internal microcosm. Speculative and operative Masonry both utilize the working tools, the hierarchical degrees and the vernacular of stonemasonry – but in speculative Masonry, there is the accompanying belief that, through the philosophical application of these tools, degrees and vernacular, the Mason is himself hermetically transformed.
The planetary and stellar Orphic Hymns in their sephirothic order, from Yesod to Chokmah, are as follows:
To the Moon
HEAR, Goddess queen, diffusing silver light, Bull-horn’d and wand’ring thro’ the gloom of Night. With stars surrounded, and with circuit wide Night’s torch extending, thro’ the heav’ns you ride: Female and Male with borrow’d rays you shine, And now full-orb’d, now tending to decline. Mother of ages, fruit-producing Moon, Whose amber orb makes Night’s reflected noon: Lover of horses, splendid, queen of Night, All-seeing pow’r bedeck’d with starry light. Lover of vigilance, the foe of strife, In peace rejoicing, and a prudent life: Fair lamp of Night, its ornament and friend, Who giv’st to Nature’s works their destin’d end. Queen of the stars, all-wife Diana hail! Deck’d with a graceful robe and shining veil; Come, blessed Goddess, prudent, starry, bright, Come moony-lamp with chaste and splendid light, Shine on these sacred rites with prosp’rous rays, And pleas’d accept thy suppliant’s mystic praise.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 124-126]
HERMES, draw near, and to my pray’r incline, Angel of Jove, and Maia’s son divine; Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, With heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger, of various skill, Whose pow’rful arts could watchful Argus kill: With winged feet, ‘tis thine thro’ air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse: Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine: With pow’r endu’d all language to explain, Of care the loos’ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Corucian, blessed, profitable God; Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, And in necessities to mortals kind: Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, Give graceful speech, and me memory’s increase.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 152-153]
HEAV’NLY, illustrious, laughter-loving queen, Sea-born, night-loving, of an awful mien; Crafty, from whom necessity first came, Producing, nightly, all-connecting dame: ‘Tis thine the world with harmony to join, For all things spring from thee, O pow’r divine. The triple Fates are rul’d by thy decree, And all productions yield alike to thee: Whate’er the heav’ns, encircling all contain, Earth fruit-producing, and the stormy main, Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod, Awful attendant of the brumal God: Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight, Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight; Source of persuasion, secret, fav’ring queen, Illustrious born, apparent and unseen: Spousal, lupercal, and to men inclin’d, Prolific, most-desir’d, life-giving., kind: Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, ‘tis thine, Mortals in necessary bands to join; And ev’ry tribe of savage monsters dire In magic chains to bind, thro’ mad desire. Come, Cyprus-born, and to my pray’r incline, Whether exalted in the heav’ns you shine, Or pleas’d in Syria’s temple to preside, Or o’er th’ Egyptian plains thy car to guide, Fashion’d of gold; and near its sacred flood, Fertile and fam’d to fix thy blest abode; Or if rejoicing in the azure shores, Near where the sea with foaming billows roars, The circling choirs of mortals, thy delight, Or beauteous nymphs, with eyes cerulean bright, Pleas’d by the dusty banks renown’d of old, To drive thy rapid, two-yok’d car of gold; Or if in Cyprus with thy mother fair, Where married females praise thee ev’ry year, And beauteous virgins in the chorus join, Adonis pure to sing and thee divine; Come, all-attractive to my pray’r inclin’d, For thee, I call, with holy, reverent mind.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 185-187]
To the Sun
HEAR golden Titan, whose eternal eye With broad survey, illumines all the sky. Self-born, unwearied in diffusing light, And to all eyes the mirrour of delight: Lord of the seasons, with thy fiery car. And leaping coursers, beaming light from far: With thy right hand the source of morning light, And with thy left the father of the night. Agile and vig’rous, venerable Sun, Fiery and bright around the heav’ns you run. Foe to the wicked, but the good man’s guide, O’er all his steps propitious you preside: With various founding, golden lyre, ‘tis mine To fill the world with harmony divine. Father of ages, guide of prosp’rous deeds, The world’s commander, borne by lucid steeds, Immortal Jove, all-searching, bearing light, Source of existence, pure and fiery bright Bearer of fruit, almighty lord of years, Agil and warm, whom ev’ry pow’r reveres. Great eye of Nature and the starry skies, Doom’d with immortal flames to set and rise Dispensing justice, lover of the stream, The world’s great despot, and o’er all supreme. Faithful defender, and the eye of right, Of steeds the ruler, and of life the light: With founding whip four fiery steeds you guide, When in the car of day you glorious ride. Propitious on these mystic labours shine, And bless thy suppliants with a life divine.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 122-123]
Magnanimous, unconquer’d, boistrous Mars, In darts rejoicing, and in bloody wars. Fierce and untam’d, whose mighty pow’r can make The strongest walls from their foundations shake: Mortal destroying king, defil’d with gore, Pleas’d with war’s dreadful and tumultuous roar: Thee, human blood, and swords, and spears delight, And the dire ruin of mad savage fight. Stay, furious contests, and avenging strife, Whose works with woe, embitter human life; To lovely Venus, and to Bacchus yield, To Ceres give the weapons of the field; Encourage peace, to gentle works inclin’d, And give abundance, with benignant mind.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 196-197]
O Jove much-honor’d, Jove supremely great, To thee our holy rites we consecrate, Our pray’rs and expiations, king divine, For all things round thy head exalted shine. The earth is thine, and mountains swelling high, The sea profound, and all within the sky. Saturnian king, descending from above, Magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Jove; All-parent, principle and end of all, Whose pow’r almighty, shakes this earthly ball; Ev’n Nature trembles at thy mighty nod, Loud-sounding, arm’d with light’ning, thund’ring God. Source of abundance, purifying king, O various-form’d from whom all natures spring; Propitious hear my pray’r, give blameless health, With peace divine, and necessary wealth.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 139-140]
ETHERIAL father, mighty Titan, hear, 1 Great fire of Gods and men, whom all revere: Endu’d with various council, pure and strong, To whom perfection and decrease belong. Consum’d by thee all forms that hourly die, By thee restor’d, their former place supply; The world immense in everlasting chains, Strong and ineffable thy pow’r contains Father of vast eternity, divine, O mighty Saturn, various speech is thine: Blossom of earth and of the starry skies, Husband of Rhea, and Prometheus wife. Obstetric Nature, venerable root, From which the various forms of being shoot; No parts peculiar can thy pow’r enclose, Diffus’d thro’ all, from which the world arose, O, best of beings, of a subtle mind, Propitious hear to holy pray’rs inclin’d; The sacred rites benevolent attend, And grant a blameless life, a blessed end.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 136-137]
To the Stars
WITH holy voice I call the stars on high, Pure sacred lights and genii of the sky. Celestial stars, the progeny of Night, In whirling circles beaming far your light, Refulgent rays around the heav’ns ye throw, Eternal fires, the source of all below. With flames significant of Fate ye shine, And aptly rule for men a path divine. In seven bright zones ye run with wand’ring flames, And heaven and earth compose your lucid frames: With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright. Forever shining thro’ the veil of Night. Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fires! Propitious shine on all my just desires; These sacred rites regard with conscious rays, And end our works devoted to your praise.
[Taylor (trans.), The Hymns of Orpheus, London: White & Son, 1792, pp. 121-122]
Agrippa’s Table of Planetary Hours
[Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, 1531, Book II, Chapter 34]
Jaime Paul Lamb is a consulting astrologer and taroist living in Phoenix, AZ. He is a member of the American Federation of Astrologers (AFA) and is certified in Hellenistic Astrology through Chris Brennan’s premier course on the subject. Lamb is the author of Myth, Magick & Masonry: Occult Perspectives in Freemasonry (The Laudable Pursuit, 2018), Approaching the Middle Chamber: The Seven Liberal Arts in Freemasonry and the Western Esoteric Tradition (The Laudable Pursuit, 2020) and The Archetypal Temple (Tria Prima, 2021). For more information, visit: www.jaimepaullamb.com.
Lamb is the Instructor for the Institute for Hermetic Studies course, Classical Astrology and the Western Esoteric Traditions. For more information click on the link below.
Jaime is awesome and he makes really cool music! Mark is awesome and I guess I’ll just have to have him as some Gregorian on a future album (the IHS Singers, right Mark?); Finally, I’ve recently been burning through these prayers – almost every day in Aquarius was spent in first hour propitiating (I’m almost sure Dr. Lisiewski would adamantly charge against using a same hour as day (according to his Kabbalistic Cycles, which I have to hand – that’s… that’s a system… is what I can say)… as it is; Thank you for sharing these. I’ve recently stopped doing them for reasons I’ll share in private sometime – I’m sure I’ll start them up again soon.