The Neo-Orphic Hymns
In early April of 2013, I composed my own set of Orphic Hymns, along the model of Thomas Taylor’s verse translations of the Orphic Hymns to the planetary deities. I planned on doing seven, to the planets — his are here: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This page contains all seven of mine, although there are links back to the original blog post about each.
This started when I memorized the seven relevant hymns of the seven days of the week from Thomas Taylor’s translations. Saying one of them each day helped me get my head in order as a designer, and helped me become more effective at thinking in the seven categories of the Hermetic philosophy. But, I thought, what if I were to write my own set of seven? And so I did.
For some practical work, try this: read the hymn of the day at dawn, noon or sundown, for three weeks. These poems are magical: they’re intended to create deep structural change in the lives of the people who use them. And they will cause that change if you let them.
I. For the Moon
(Monday — incense of jasmine)
Hail, night’s goddess, enrobed in silver gown,
Bull-horned and wandering from phase to phase.
You borrow light but claim your own renown
And lay a firm foundation with your rays!
At first you crown your brother in his dusk,
Then swell each evening til your splendor shows,
To rise alone as heaven’s greatest pearl.
Yet, by days, you shrink, ’til broken tusk
You reveal at the arrival of dawn;
Last, in deep darkness your banners you furl.
Female and male, you govern month and week,
By laws no simple calculation finds,
And yet to every dedicant you speak,
revealing, year by year, your grand designs.
Through tidal change, and dreams, you greatly grow
In power — veiled in cloud and crowned with stars.
Thus every drop of water knows your Name.
In all your mansions you rule ebb and flow,
Desperate laughter and pregnancy’s tears,
And every increase and decline of fame.
Mother of Ages, mirror of the Sun,
Treasure-house of humanity’s dreaming,
Friend to vigil-keepers and owls of night,
All-seeing eye, across the skies you run,
Sending light, in all directions streaming,
Opposing strife, and upholding the right.
Lover of horses, enforcer of tides:
Attend our oblations, accept our praise
And reunite in us what Time divides
With benediction of your mystic rays!
(Wednesday — incense of lavender)
Hermes, approach, and sweet communion lend,
Lord of intellect, most keenly applied:
Increase of prudence and memory lend;
Make my knowledge and talents deified.
For you are like the “flying squads” of old—
Joining memory and foresight as one,
And harnessing reason enyoked with will.
With such tricks, you defeated Argus bold,
And wooed sacred cows away from the Sun.
Son of Maia, with wingéd feet you fly —
Observing markets and studying games;
Thou source of gain, by means both fair and sly;
Lover of all peoples, shaper of names —
physicians call your wisdom to their wards;
Bankers grow rich by your interested gaze;
While politicians speak sweet oration
When you assist them. Happy sing the bards
And alchemists, also, explain your praise—
For you put words to imagination.
Knowledge and intellect, like twining snakes
Circled ’round the staff of the well-trained mind,
Combined, speak wisdom in human phrases;
And thus, the quicksilver power awakes:
The skillful use of symbols men defined—
Inventor of tongues, we sing your praises!
Angel of Jove and pyschopomp of peace,
Bringer of celestial arts to earth,
Bless your converts with intellect’s increase,
Graceful speech, and true knowledge of our worth.
III. For Venus
(Friday — incense of roses)
Venus, illustrious queen of heaven
Lady of love and radiant beauty:
Crafty, artful, necessity’s mother,
Whose jewels with words of love are graven,
To whom pleasures’ acts are happy duty,
At whose banquets we feed one another:
You join all life in harmony divine,
And even savage powers bend the knee
And pour rich libations of hearty wine
In praise of your renowned divinity.
All forms of desire, beneath your eye,
Flourish and prosper like laughing ladies
Dancing as sea-foam curls around their toes.
Tears of parting lovers, an infant’s cry
For mother, food the happy cook readies —
These are love’s emblems, as everyone knows;
And whether at home or in foreign lands,
In candlelit bedrooms or public shrines,
Both married and lonely raise praying hands
In praise or your grace and grand designs.
For nowhere on Earth can be found a clan
That does not hope for solemn connection;,
Though rarely do you dole out love by plan,
And neither, quite, by random selection,
That union of hearts and minds and kisses.
Venus draw near, and to my prayer incline:
Send honest love, and familial prize,
Nature’s fertility, and such blisses.
Thus exalted as heaven’s queen you shine,
And in the temples of all lovers’ eyes.
IV. For the Sun
(Sunday — incense of frankincense)
Great golden titan, lord of light and heat,
agile and vital, our great king, the Sun—
only from your warmth, does our life stay sweet,
and when you bless our work, it’s well-begun.
When your golden chariot mounts the sky
at break of day with four stallions of flame
you fill the world with harmony divine!
Not even the darkest cloud can deny
that it is day, and worthy of your name!
Yet lend an ear, and to my prayer incline
For all of earth and sky receive your light
and you rule each season in its turn.
The wicked fear you, but you guide the kind,
for all things bend toward justice in your sight.
Throughout all ages you are doomed to burn
ripening both grape and creative mind,
rising and setting in your ordered way—
father of night and the sower of stars,
teach us to quit the night and seek the day:
for you bring an ending to baseless fears.
Come, valiant Sun, and to my prayer take heed:
awake your noble influence in me!
For nothing lives or does that does not need
your glorious golden divinity:
Bright source of all existence, lord of noon,
whose golden lyre holds the melody
that joins as one the music of the spheres,
Phoebus almighty, brother of the Moon,
help me to play with the great harmony,
that psalm eternal which gladdens all ears!
V. For Mars
(Tuesday — incense of dragon’s blood or basil)
Hear, valiant Mars, and doff thy red-plumed helm,
Sheath your swordfor now, and lay down your spear,
For lately do your actions overwhelm
So many, and still more are ruled by fear.
Yet justice bound with mercy make the law,
And chaos must be sheathed upon the hip,
As armor must be laid aside at times —
For man’s love of war oft becomes a flaw
When militant hands claim too strong a grip
Upon our spirits: See violence’s crimes
Of wrath with stern and unforgiving eye,
But bend our hearts to love justice and truth,
To honor bravery — AND the infant’s cry —
To dread making soldiers from gentle youth.
Yet give us knowledge to know when to fight,
And hearten us with courage as we need.
Give us good allies in thhe wars to come,
And help us be supplied with weapons bright.
Yet help us care for those who ache and bleed,
And grant peace without grudge when war is done.
Mars, you are lord of the field of battle,
And every conflict stirs you with delight.
Yet temper wrath, as smith works metal,
Nor arm us with the lie that might makes right.
You used to revel in revenge and rage,
And gleefully enjoyed men’s screams of pain,
The sack of cities, and blood in the dust.
Boisterous Mars, grow wiser in your age,
And from the war-god’s prideful boast refrain:
Give us courage — but let our weapons rust.
VI. For Jupiter
(Thursday — incense of cedar)
O Jove enthroned in lightning and in cloud,
And ruling over heaven, earth and sea;
Imperial, magnanimous, and proud,
Fountain of abundance, and fatherly:
Give ear to your disciple and attend,
For every mountain and each court of law,
And any place where lightning touches down
Becomes a realm that your decree can bend
To fulfill your aim, sure and without flaw—
Thus in majesty you wear heaven’s crown.
Yet loving kindness spills forth from your hand:
Your magnanimity respects no bounds,
And though Earth trembles at your mighty nod,
All kinds of heroes join your royal band —
That hidden chivalry whose grace astounds,
When they act for you, great Jovial god.
Your fatherly kindness extends to all,
And our first being finds its source in you —
You offer a feast, and we heed that call,
To take up life abundantly, anew.
These sacred rites of purity and health,
O thundering Jove, in mercy take part:
Grant to me an increase of needful wealth,
Yet lead me to act with generous heart.
Forge me as a link in the golden chain
By which heaven’s mercies descend to earth,
And all of life’s diversities expand:
Swans, bulls, and eagles, even Danae’s rain,
Or fecund grapes of Bacchus in his mirth —
All born of the lightning of your command.
VII. For Saturn
(Saturday — incense of myrrh)
Ethereal Titan, Time’s own father,
Ancient of Days, through eternities vast:
carry our spirits, as light as feather,
joining our present with future and past.
You govern all perfection and decline—
the seed in furrow, and the harvest scythe,
life’s final stages, and the gaping grave.
With trudging step, you walk the outmost line
of seven heavens, where abysses writhe
and tremble — fear stalks the steps of the brave
who venture to walk in your silent hall,
and only ghosts dance in your groaning tomb.
For everything that lives, must have its fall;
nothing last forever which leaves the womb.
Yet all that dies must in due course renew
what now begins, and moves toward completion.
Each generation in turn goes to dust,
as heat from the fire goes up the flue,
and fuel becomes ashen dissolution.
Even iron stoves crack and turn to rust.
Always in like manner does Time beat down
every growing and every shrinking thing;
forgotten solitude follows renown,
like cables unraveled to tangled string.
Rhea’s husband and Prometheus wise,
who binds obstetric nature in his chains:
propitious hear these prayers at sacred rites,
Lord Saturn, make our blameless lives the prize,
and come, peaceful death — reuse our remains,
as fuel for future lives, and future lights.