Tag Archives: Meditation

Light and Dark

Last night, I celebrated the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified at my apartment and gave Eucharist to a brother in Gnosis. What struck me during the service, in light of recent happenings, were the words spoken during the introductory rites where we declare ourselves united as one sacred communion where, together with the Most High, we raise a temple of living stones from the myriad with which we have been blessed, bothe light and dark.

It may seem odd for many to consider the blessings of the negative things in our lives. Often, we don’t want to acknowledge them and more often we deny them even when they’re standing right under our noses. Yet, the more we push them away, the more sinister they become — yet they can be transformed.

In 2001 I was living in Dresden, Germany; the site of one of the most devastating events of the 20th Century. While I was there, I would frequently pass construction being done on the Frauenkirche which was utterly destroyed during the Allied Firebombings, which you can read about in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”.

The Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, was built between 1726 and 1743 — beginning in the year that Sir Isaac Newton published his thesis on gravity and ending with the year in which Louis-Claude de Saint-Martin was born. The period of the Enlightenment represented the largely free and unchecked progress of humanity however, this progress and spirit of emancipation would similarly carry many darks events: the Battle of Nations, the Napoleanic Wars, the French Revolution and the start of the Industrial Age.

The Church stood as a symbol of beauty and pride for the people of Dresden who, like us, marveled at the beauty of their amazing city and didn’t address the darker elements of their society. Of these darker elements would be the slow and gradual rise of nationalistic pride and antisemitism; culminating in the events which would mark the rise of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party.

In 1945, two centuries after the beginning of construction of this great edifice, the Allied Forces dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city over the course of two days during which the entire city and a quarter of a million people were killed. After the end of the war, Dresden became the center of the East German Republic and all religious edifices that were destroyed lay fallow, including the Frauenkirche.

In 1989, after the reunification of Germany, a 14-member group of enthusiasts headed by Ludwig Güttler, a noted Dresden musician, formed a Citizens’ Initiative that would lead to rebuilding this symbol of the people of Dresden. This initiative would not only lead to the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche, but also the Great Synagogue of Dresden which was likewise destroyed. The foundation stone of the Frauenkirche was laid in 1994, the crypt was completed in 1996 and the inner cupola in 2000.

Sadly, I never got to see the completion and opening of the cathedral but what struck me as I walked past it regularly was how the architects incorporated the original stones – now blackened from years of acid rain as well as the original incendiary bombings in 1945 – on top of new, beautiful pink limestone.

Years later, reflecting on this, I’m led to wonder how we can come to terms with our own dark stones in the midst of our light. It’s not easy and I don’t have any answers, but when reflecting on this building, which incorporates a history of reason gone awry and turned violent alongside communal efforts out of love, I think we owe it to ourselves to consider the delicate balance and impact all our actions and words have not only for how they will impact others and ourselves now, but how they will survive us and influence others in the future.

320px-FraunkircheSouth


Musings on Angels, Daemons and Working With One’s Personal Pantheon

In Chapter twenty six of the Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the great expositor of esoteric wisdom, Henry Cornelius Agrippa, provides us with one of the most complete modern variations of the ancient concept of tutelary spirits, which he divides as the Angel, the Genius and Evil Daemon:

“Drawing [the name] from the disposition of the heaven; as for example, any Celestiall Harmonie being proposed to thee for the making an image or ring, or any other work to be done under a certain constellation; if thou will finde out the spirit that is the ruler of that work… [casting] forth letters in their number and order from the degree of the ascendent, according to the succession of signes through each degree by filling the whole circle of the heaven: then those letters which fall into the places of the Stars the aid whereof thou wouldest use, being according to the number, and powers of those Stars, marked without into number, and order, make the name of a good spirit: but if thou shalt do so from the beginning of a degree falling against the progresse of the signes, the resulting spirit shall be evil.”

Further, he elaborates on the nature of such spirits as they relate to the individual:

“Every man hath a threefold good Demon, as a proper keeper, or preserver, the one whereof is holy, another of the nativity, and the other of profession. The holy Demon is one, according to the Doctrine of the Egyptians, assigned to the rationall soul, not from the Stars or Planets, but from a supernaturall cause, from God himself, the president of Demons, being universall, above nature: This doth direct the life of the soul, & doth alwaies put good thoughts into the minde, being alwaies active in illuminating us, although we do not alwaies take notice of it; but when we are purified, and live peaceably, then it is perceived by us, then it doth as it were speak with us, and communicates its voyce [voice] to us, being before silent, and studyeth daily to bring us to a sacred perfection.”

This concept of a Three-Fold Divinity is common in nearly every Semitic and Indo-European culturea, similarly popping up in some East Asian and African religious traditions as well. For the purposes of this, I’m merely going to treat the Indo-European perspective of the Abrahamic religious tradition through the lens of the Neoplatonism which would have been familiar to Agrippa in his writing.

According to Neoplatonic philosophy, spiritual beings exist heirarchically in two prinicpal forms, a tetrad comprising the unitive intelligible forms of divinity; and a triad, composed of intelligible forms that may be classified as hypercosmic, liberated and encosmic. The Tetradic hierarchy is mostly cosmic, from a a modern Western Esoteric perspective, one might not do wrong by examining much of the material on the mysteries of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) or, from a Gnostic perspective, the Simonian mysteries of the Father, Mother, Son and Daughter as a Tetradic expression of the Trinity. The function of the triadic hierarchies is to facilitate illumination and purification toward Godhead, or in classical Neoplatonic terms, the Pre-essential Demiurgos which is not to be confused with the Demiurge as commonly depicted in Gnostic legend.

From this vantage point, it seems clear that Agrippa’s Genius and Evil Daemon function somewhat as two aspects of the individual’s personal spiritual ‘pantheon’, with the Guardian Angel at the apex of the hierarchy. This is a particularly important consideration as it removes the otherwise gross consideration of having a little angel and a little devil vying for control over a person’s life in a much unsophisticated, dualistic manner that I’m fairly certain Agrippa had not intended. The Genius and Evil Daemon, then, may be seen as enforcers of the Holy Guardian Angel prior to the mystical or theurgical illumination in which the magician or mystic attains knowledge and conversation with the latter and, finally, acheive henosis with the Pre-essential Demiurgos – i.e. Godhead.

The third, or fourth, entity in Agrippa’s schema of personal daimonology is the Daimon of Profession. From a surface reading, it may seem that this particular entity may complete a tetradic heirarchy, I doubt that this was necessarily implied as it does not seem to function in any distinct way other than influencing one’s personal profession which, at the time was more or less fixed according to class (e.g. a son inheriting the father’s business; the daughter, becoming wife and moving up or down social rank through marriage) which we understand now is neither conducive to the concept of Free Will nor theurgic ascent. For this reason, I view it as a changeable entity separate from the triadic heirarchy.

To begin working with the Genius and Evil Daemon, Agrippa conveniently lays out a system of arriving at their natural names through an advanced system of Hebrew gematria and astrological calculation, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, Book 3, xxvi:

“There are also the Arabians, and many others, and some Hebrews, who finde out the name of a Genius by the places of the five Hylegians, and making projection alwayes from the beginning of Aries, and the letters being found out according to
the order of Hylegians with the Astrologers, being reduced into a known order, and being joyned together, make the name of a good Genius: but they draw the name of an evil Genius from the opposite Hylegian places, projection being made from the last degree of Pisces against the order of signs.”

While one may easily calculate this by hand, there are fortunately many avenues of arriving at this presently; personally, I would suggest finding a person such as the contemporary occult writer Frater Rufus Opus who does so for a small fee and from whom one may obtain much informative literature; the second is through computational means such as those provided by Frater Acher in his blog, “My Occult Circle“. The methodology of Frater Rufus Opus is will be well suited to anyone with a vested interest in Agrippan and Trithemean methods of magical practice and I highly recommend them for those inclined toward that angle. My own personal method, drawing much on my own experiences working more in line with Graeco-Egyptian magic are outlined below.

On a convenient day, preferably making first contact on your own birthday but any Sunday seems to work, arise early at the first hour of the sun and purify the temple space with water and incense. In a symbolic alphabet such as the celestial alphabet or having transliterated the name into a known alphabet be it Greek, Latin or Coptic, draw the name of the Genius at the back of the altar in consecrated oil. Having composed an invocation beforehand; call to that spirit and make an offering of frankincense. Toward the front of the altar, in the same manner, write the name of the Evil Daemon in consecrated oil, make an offering of myrrh and recite a similar invocation. In the center of the altar, light a large pillar candle in offering to your Holy Guardian Angel to mediate between these two forces.

The above ceremony can be done on any day, according to one’s inclinations, to facilitate conversation with these lesser daimones and to indicate to the mediating Holy Guardian Angel one’s intentions toward attaining Knowledge and Conversation, which is not a pre-requisite to this practice and, in fact, I would suggest holding off on until one has a more thorough understanding of the supporting and persecuting forces in their lives.

It should be important to note, that one may choose at some point to only work with the Good Genius or the Evil Daemon on a particular day. This is highly encouraged. From the Good Genius, one may obtain a clearer picture of their own progress along the path of their practice and from the Evil Daemon, obtain a record of their pitfalls from which they are able to rise above, make amends where possible, and move closer up the theurgic ascent. As a note, I absolutely reject the concept of subjugating or otherwise eliminating the Evil Daemon on the basis that I find reconciliation between opposing dynamic forces to be more beneficial and symbolic of uniting relative and ultimate truths of one’s nature and thus Macro and Microcosms, than dividing everything grossly and unscrupulously.

Until one attains to Knowledge and Conversation with their Holy Guardian Angel, there is ample opportunity to explore their own spiritual hierarchy through conversing with the more immediate daimonic forces. I strongly suggest this beneficial practice of obtaining and working with these spirits to be to the ultimate benefit of the aspirant to K&CHGA and significantly more confidence increasing than the current modality of pass and fail with the HGA working alone. To those who may have found benefit with this brief essay, I look forward to hearing your results and if there are any questions, please feel free to comment below.

PlatonicDaimon

Platonic Daimon from the Neoplatonic Tarot by Jeffrey Kupperman


The Way of the Heart and the Way of the Cup

Handed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain of succession, the prayer of the heart as a spiritual discipline was fixed in writing by the eleventh century Byzantine, hesychast monk Symeon the New Theologian who taught that humanity could and should directly experience theoria, or direct contemplation of the experience of Godhead. In the Orthodox tradition, the preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the mental faculties. Without this it is impossible for man’s selfish love to be transformed into selfless love and unceasing prayer, as praised by the Apostle Paul who exhorts us in Thessalonians to, “Pray without ceasing.”

Though never achieving much currency in the West, the way of the heart as an esoteric discipline would become a central principal in the writings of the French philosopher, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin who, in his Theosophic Correspondences shares with us, “The inward or centre is the principle of everything; so long as this centre is not open, the greatest external wonders may seduce without advancing us; and, if I may venture to say so, it is our inward which ought to be the true thermometer, the true touchstone, of what passes without. If our heart is in God, if it is really become divine, by love, faith, and ardent prayer, no illusion can surprise us.” In Saint-Martin’s teachings, through similar meditation on God, one may undergo a spiritual process of reintegration with the Divine.

The way of the heart, in both hesychast and esoteric doctrines, is ultimately a form of theurgy. For Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus, the goal is henosis, or unity with God; in the Orthodox East, it is theosis, or the absorption into a divine way of life. I would posit, similarly, that in the esoteric doctrine of the West and the principals of the teachings of Saint-Martin, the achievement of reintegration is a form of spiritual and evangelical salvation of the soul at home with the universal Mind which, after its descent into the innermost core of being, must spread outward in all directions in a like manner as Christ, having experienced at a pivotal point in time descended into Hades and, upon ascent, drew them likewise out of the depths and later, again, spread outward in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost imbuing the Apostles with the same knowledge of doing the same.

Although penitential in tonality, the way of the heart does not contradict Iamblichean principals of theurgy, but indeed does “[enlarge] very greatly our soul’s receptivity to the gods… and accustoms [our] eyes to the brightness of divine light, and gradually brings to perfection the capacity of our faculties for contact with the gods.” (De Mysteriis 5.26.18-40) Similarly, Saint Martin writes: “I think they would do better to call it the sentiment of the presence of intermediate agents doing the will of God. I believe we always perceive this reaction of the Virtues whenever we seek the Verb, not outside of us, but within, looking with intelligence at the temple in which He dwells.” My personal preference for keeping Saint-Martin’s usage of the ‘Verb’ adequately presents the activity of the divine as opposed to the rather abstract and now poorly understood Word, or Logos.

It occurred to me recently that this process is a form of eternal liturgy resulting in the fractio of our limited selves into the chalice representing the fullness of both our hearts and minds. Joining together these two species into one sacrament and consuming it, we experience joy of heaven on earth and partake of the ecstatic ‘Verb’ or action of Godhead. Far from the melancholy, the way of the heart teaches us to live in accordance with our intellect in the very real here and now instead of trying to escape to some indeterminate eschatological future. This bliss and this ecstasy, open to all, brings us not only contemplatively closer to Godhead, but is a challenge and affirmation of our own divinity and active co-participation in the Creation of a redeemed Humanity.

Sacred Heart doves Chalice


A Vigil Rite in Times of Disaster

Following the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings I, like many people around the world, was filled with a sudden sadness and loss of words (and thoughts!) about the immensity of the event. Words do not adequately lend themselves to these types of situations and, after reading all sorts of news articles on the events and reading increasingly sophistic writings about it on Facebook, I grew more sad and a little bit jaded about this event like many who are exposed on a constant level to the horrors that surround us. Each of us comes to terms with these things in different ways: some through song, some through talking and writing, others through crying, and others – such as myself – through prayer.

In the days immediately following the event, I wrote the following brief service based on my own religious tradition. It is not an official AJC ceremony by any means – I’m the only one whose prayed it before –  but I present it that it may be used, and modified, by those in my community or who are otherwise genuinely interested and wanting to contribute prayerfully in the wake of this most recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

______________________________________________________________

The Signum

 

Celebrant:          O Heavenly King, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who are present everywhere, emanating from the supreme source and filling all things, Treasury of Endless Good and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, cleanse us from every stain, and heal our infirmities, O Good one.

Celebrant:          Holy are You, O Creator of the Universe. Holy are You, O God, Whose Will is perfected by its own Powers. Holy are You, O God, who desires to be known and are known by your own.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

 Celebrant:          Holy are You, who by the Eternal Word did make all to be as it is. Holy are you, who made Nature to have an image. Holy are you, who are uncreated in Image.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

Celebrant:          Holy are you, more powerful than All Power. Holy are you, transcending all preeminence. Holy are you, better than all praise.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

 Celebrant:          Holy God, One in Three and Three in One, have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Celebrant:          God, come to my assistance.

All:                         Lord, make haste to help me.

 All bow

Celebrant:          Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All rise

All:                         As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be unto the Æons of Æons. Amen.

Optional, invocation of the holy archangels may take place here:

Invocation of the Archangels

 

Celebrant:          Hail Raphael, Ruler of Air, Divine Physician. As the breath of the Divine moves over the face of the Deep, so do we call upon you to move over the sanctuary of our being, giving voice to our prayer and strength to our journey.

All:                         Lord of Wind and Storm, we invoke thee!

 

Celebrant:          Hail Michael, Ruler of Fire, Divine Guardian. As our spiritual ancestors travelled through the darkness by a pillar of fire, so do we call upon you as pilgrims to light our path through the wilderness of ignorance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

All:                         Lord of Flame and Prince of the Seraphim, we invoke thee!

Celebrant:          Hail Gabriel, Ruler of Water, Divine Messenger. As the Incarnation of the Logos was foretold to our Mother by your                 presence, so do we call upon you that we may truly know ourselves as children of the Divine Beloved.

All:                         Lady of Stream and Ocean, we invoke thee!

Celebrant:          Hail Uriel, Ruler of Earth, Divine Companion. As you stand guarding the gates of paradise, so do we call upon you to lead us at our last through the portal of that undiscovered territory, from which no traveller returns.

All:                         Lady of Stone and Vale, we invoke thee!

Invitatory Prayer

Celebrant:          We gather together and are one of purpose as fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, who love the good land God has given us; who cherish the freedoms we enjoy, and who lament our innocence lost. With anger we come, and with sorrow;

with confusion and concern. O Lord, look with the eyes of your love upon our confusion and distress, grant that our vision may be made clear and that we not falter in loving one another as you had taught.

All:                         Amen.

Psalm 37, An Exhortation to Patience and Trust

Reader:               Do not fret because of the wicked;

do not be envious of wrongdoers,

for they will soon fade like the grass,

and wither like the green herb.

 

All:                         Trust in the Lord, and do good;

so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him, and he will act.

He will make your vindication shine like the light,

and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

 

Reader:                                Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;

do not fret over those who prosper in their way,

over those who carry out evil devices.

 

All:                         Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.

Do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For the wicked shall be cut off,

but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

 

Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;

though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.

But the meek shall inherit the land,

and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

 

Reader                 The wicked plot against the righteous,

and gnash their teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,

for he sees that their day is coming.

 

All:                         The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows

to bring down the poor and needy,

to kill those who walk uprightly;

their sword shall enter their own heart,

and their bows shall be broken.

 

Better is a little that the righteous person has

than the abundance of many wicked.

For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,

but the Lord upholds the righteous.

 

Reader:                                The Lord knows the days of the blameless,

and their heritage will abide forever;

they are not put to shame in evil times,

in the days of famine they have abundance.

 

All:                         But the wicked perish,

and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;

they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

 

The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,

but the righteous are generous and keep giving;

for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,

but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

 

Reader:                                Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

for the Lord holds us by the hand.

 

All:                         I have been young, and now am old,

yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken

or their children begging bread.

They are ever giving liberally and lending,

and their children become a blessing.

 

Depart from evil, and do good;

so you shall abide forever.

For the Lord loves justice;

he will not forsake his faithful ones.

 

Reader:                                The righteous shall be kept safe forever,

but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

The righteous shall inherit the land,

and live in it forever.

 

All:                         The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,

and their tongues speak justice.

The law of their God is in their hearts;

their steps do not slip.

 

The wicked watch for the righteous,

and seek to kill them.

The Lord will not abandon them to their power,

or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.

 

Reader:                                Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,

and he will exalt you to inherit the land;

you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

 

All:                         I have seen the wicked oppressing,

and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.

Again I passed by, and they were no more;

though I sought them, they could not be found.

 

Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,

for there is posterity for the peaceable.

But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;

the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.

 

Reader:                                The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;

He is their refuge in the time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and rescues them;

he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,

because they take refuge in him.

 

Standing Prayers

 

All stand.

Celebrant:          Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

All:                         Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee. O Heavenly Queen, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth,

Who is everywhere present and permeates all things, the Treasury of all good things and the Giver of life: Come, and abide in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Pure One.

Celebrant:          Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us.

All:                         Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us.

Celebrant:          All Holy, All Mighty, Everlasting Trinity, have mercy on us; cleanse us from our sins, pardon all our iniquities, visit and heal us from our infirmities for Your Name’s sake.

All:                         Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.

Christi eleison, Christi eleison, Christi eleison.

Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.

Celebrant:           Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All:                          As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, forever and ever. Amen.

The Lucernarium

The Celebrant pour oil in the lamp and seven members of the community come forth and place a single tear of frankincense into the oil. If alone or with less people, the tears may be divided up accordingly.

Celebrant:           O Logos who dwells on high, we praise the glory of Your majesty Whose light is the light of the luminaries, Who sends forth light from heaven over all the world of humankind

Through You we have the sun to light the day and moon and stars to light the night-time. Through you we have the Lamp to drive back shadow. You are light laudable, holy and primal light. From You does darkness and evil flee.

O Christos, send forth Your healing light into our hearts. Restore us to the glory of the Fullness within and without. Comfort our minds, bodies and spirits, and wipe away every tear from our eyes. Blessed is the Name of Your holy glory and to You we sing a hymn of praise and glory. To the Fullness, to the Word and to Wisdom.

The Celebrant or youngest person present comes forth to light the candle.

Celebrant:          As you illumine this lamp, O Lord

All:                         So illumine our dark places

Celebrant:          The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does                 not overcome it.

O Gracious Light (Phos hilaron)

All:                         O gracious Light,

pure brightness of the ever-living Father in heaven,

O Lord, the Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,

and our eyes behold the vesper light,

we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,

O Son of God, O Giver of life,

and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Amen.

All:                         We give thanks unto you, O Light, in whom darkness dwells not.

The Universal Prayer

Celebrant:          Having set this vigil light, let us pray to receive and foster the Divine Light which enlightens the world, that within all of us the Sacred Flame may grow ever stronger and we all grow in love and understanding.

Silence or brief meditation as members come up to light their own candles from the lucernarium.

All:                         Amen.

 

Reader:                For our reigning Sovereign Pontiff __________, and presiding Bishop __________, and all bishops of the Apostolic Johannite Church, bishops in amity, and leaders of faith throughout the world, we pray to the Lord.

Or,

For the leaders of our respective communities of faith, wherein we find our connection to the Sacred Flame, especially __________…

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                For our President __________, our Governor __________,  and all members of local and regional government and all who give their lives in tireless service to the common good, may they be guided by the Sacred Flame and create the foundations for a holy society, free from tyranny and oppression.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                For those who give their lives in service to the poor, the needy, the marginalized and imprisoned as well as those in need and from want, suffering ostracism and imprisonment; may they all be preserved bodily, mentally and spiritually.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                For our church and faith communities throughout the world; especially __________,  our (mission, narthex, parish, etc.), that they be beacons of light in the sea of existence and guide people to You, in the myriad of ways you provide.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                For our friends and family and all those suffering illness, especially __________, may you renew them bodily, mentally, and spiritually that they may remain with us presently and in future joy.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                For those who have left this world and have gone onward to that other shore from which no one returns, especially __________,  may they be rightly guided by the lights you have set for them and may they be uplifted and encouraged by our prayers.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Reader:                                For our own personal needs at this time…

 

All may state their petitions out loud or silently at this time.

 

All:         Lord, hear our prayer.

 

Celebrant:          O Lord, You make all things new. As these prayers are lifted up toward you, renew the world and all those for whom we have prayed that they may abide forever under the providence of your divine light. May all those, especially the victims of [name or location of tragedy] find speedy healing and protection under your wings and may the wings of Holy Wisdom brush gently at our hearts, removing from us the defilements of anger, hatred and confusion.

Closing

Celebrant:          The Lord be with you.

All:                         And also with you.

Celebrant:          The Lord bless us, and bring us to wholeness, compassion and understanding. The Lord enlighten our minds, comfort our hearts and sustain our bodies. May all those in suffering soon find healing, comfort and aid and may we all do what is meet and right in our ways as members of your body, O Lord, to commit ourselves to repair of the world.

All:                         Amen.

Optional, dismissal of the archangels.

 Dismissal of the Archangels

 

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Raphael, Archangel of the Air, Healer and Guardian of Wind and Tempest. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine airy realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Michael, the Defender, Lord of Fire and Prince of the Legions of Heaven. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine fiery realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

 

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Gabriel, Lady of Water, Heavenly Herald, who didst bring glad tidings to Our Blessed Mother. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine watery realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Uriel, Dark Lady of Earth, who bringest all at last unto the Nether Shore, Companion of all who offer up their lives in the defense of others. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine earthy realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.


Good Friday

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.
– Paulo Coelho

bellini-agony-garden-NG726-fm

ILLE mi par esse deo uidetur, ille, si fas est, superare diuos,qui sedens aduersus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te.
-Catullus, Carmina 51

scourging

“This is what is signified by the words Ana l-haqq, “I am God.” People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the slave of God”; and Ana l-haqq, “I am God” is an expression of great humility. The man who says Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the servant of God” affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says Ana l-haqq, “I am God” has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says “I am God”, that is, “I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God’s.” This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.”
– Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, commentary on Mansur Al-Hallaj

Crowning-with-Thorns-lowf

“So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”
-Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prynn

carrying the cross

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
– Charles Algernon Swinburne

dali_corpushypercubus1954

Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum.

– IOHANNES XIX: xxx


This Little Light of Mine

As I’m sure we’re all well aware, the season of Advent is quickly approaching. Last weekend, we experienced the feast day of one of my personal favorite saints, Saint Martin of Tours, whose feast in many ways represents the culmination of the octave of All Saints and All Souls day. From the late 4th Century to the Middle Ages, a period of fasting beginning on the day after St. Martin’s Day, November 11. This fast period lasted 40 days, and was, therefore, called “Quadragesima Sancti Martini”, which means in Latin “the forty days of St. Martin.” As times and history would have it, this period of fasting would later develop into the four Sundays of Advent familiar to many in the Western Churches.

Personally, around Saint Martin’s feast day, I start mentally preparing myself for the Christmas season and coming up with personal meditations and reflections as we begin to approach the darkest half of the year which, paradoxically, is also the time of year where the light of the Sun is symbolically reborn and begins to grow and wax once again. For anyone whose read Frazer or Joseph Campbell or has familiarity with contemporary neo-Paganism, the symbolism of the Christ Child being born around Winter Solstice and bringing light into the world is not a terribly novel idea, but it’s that mythic cycle that we can use to help ourselves to illuminate the depths of our own spiritual experiences in a cyclical way.

Last year I experienced a particularly deep and profound spiritual Advent season by intentionally participating in a local parish’s celebration of the season and also deepening my friendship with many at Hagia Sophia community as well as my own relationship with members of my community in the Apostolic Johannite Church. During this period, I thought about and sketched out some notes for a more family or individual based Advent celebration for members of the greater Gnostic community to follow at home since many lack regular access to churches and temples. Inspired by the idea of the Four Luminaries of the Secret Book of John as guardians of the macrocosmic Christ Consciousness, I put together this ritual that can be performed individually or as a small group for people wanting to participate meaningfully in the Advent Season.

Maybe my presentation here is a little premature, but it is my hope that those who wish to participate with me in this might also be inspired by the meditations I will be writing about this season using the readings suggested.

Emmanuel, icon written by Betsy Porter
egg tempera, shell gold, and gold leaf on shaped panel, 9.5 x 12.5 inches, 2007
photograph by Richard Anderson

Advent Wreath Service

The family or group gathers around the wreath (which is not yet lit).

Leader:

The One has brought forth the One, then One, and these Three are but One: the + Father, +the Word and +the Thought.

Lord, open my lips.

People:            And my mouth shall proclaim Your praise.

Leader:           O God, make speed to save me.

People:            O Lord, make haste to help me.

Leader:           Glory be to God, whose grace and mercy be upon us forever.

All                       Amen.

A member of the community comes to the altar or wherever the Advent wreath is placed and gives the Leader a candle or other source of fire.

Leader

I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes.

Leader:

“For from the light, which is the Christ, and the indestructibility, through the gift of the Spirit the four lights appeared from the divine Self-Begotten. He expected that they might attend him. And the three are Will, Thought, and Life. And the four powers are Understanding, Grace, Perception, and Prudence.

On the appropriate Sunday, the candles are lit and the following names are intoned as the candles are lit.

First Sunday

And grace belongs to the light-aeon Armozel, which is the first angel. And there are three other aeons with this aeon: Grace, Truth, and Form.

Second Sunday

And the second light is Oriel, who has been placed over the second aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: conception, perception, and memory.

Third Sunday

And the third light is Daveithai, who has been placed over the third aeon. And there are three other aeons with him: understanding, love, and idea.

Fourth Sunday

And the fourth aeon was placed over the fourth light Eleleth. And there are three other aeons with him: Perfection, Peace, and Wisdom.

After each reading, the Leader concludes with the following from the Apocryphon of John.

Leader

These are the lights which attend the divine Self-Begotten, and these are the twelve aeons which attend the son of the mighty one, the Self-Begotten, the Christ, through the will and the gift of the invisible Spirit. And the twelve aeons belong to the son of the Self-Begotten. And all things were established by the will of the Holy Spirit through the Self-Begotten Christ.”

Phos Hilaron (said together)

O gracious Light, pure brightness of the ever-living Father in heaven, O Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O Son of God, O Giver of life, and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Scripture Reading

After the reading

Reader: The Word of the Lord

All: Thanks be to God

The Peace

Leader: The peace of the Lord be with you

All: And also with you

All may exchange the peace

Leader: The Lord be with you

All: And also with you

Leader:  Let us pray

The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer of Witness

Leader

O Lord our God, let us never be removed from the Gnosis which is our innermost nature. Fill us with strength and with the grace which you have bestowed upon us to that we may carry the light to those in ignorance, to our brothers and sisters, daughters and sons. Therefore I believe and I bear witness. I go to Life and to light.

All                   Amen.

Final Blessing

Leader:          The Lord bless us and keep us.

All                   Amen.

Leader           The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us.

All                      Amen.

Leader            The Lord lift up his countenance upon us and give us peace. ALL                     Amen.

Leader:           Let us bless the Lord.

People:            Thanks be to God.

Put out the candle or candles

Here are suggested readings for the weeks of Advent. Alternately, one could use the vesper readings from June Singer’s A Gnostic Book of Hours.

First Week

Sunday Matthew 25:1-13

Monday Isaiah 1:16-18

Tuesday Isaiah 60:1-3

Wednesday Psalm 43: 3-5

Thursday Isaiah 58:6-9

Friday 1 John 2:8-11

Saturday 1 John 3:1-2

 

Second Week

Sunday Isaiah 40:1-5

Monday Revelation 1:7-8

Tuesday Matthew 22:41-45

Wednesday Hosea 11:3-4

Thursday Psalm 130

Friday Micah 6:6-8

Saturday Jeremiah 14:8-9

 

Third Week

Sunday Isaiah 9:6-7

Monday Isaiah 7:10-14

Tuesday Isaiah 11:1-6

Wednesday Isaiah 40:10-11

Thursday Isaiah 52:7

Friday Jeremiah 33:14-16

Saturday Malachi 3:1-2

 

Fourth Week

Sunday John 3:16-21

Monday Luke 1:1-25

Tuesday Luke 1:26-38

Wednesday Luke 1:39-56

Thursday Luke 1:57-66

Friday Luke 1:67-80

Dec. 24 Matthew 1:18-25


Lenten Journey

For many of us who grew up in mainline Christian churches, perhaps the most familiar association with the Lenten season is the aspect of “giving up” something for the symbolic forty days leading from Ash Wednesday to the feast of Pascha, or Easter, as a symbolic spiritual discipline or asceticism. In and of itself there is nothing intrinsically wrong with giving up something for Lent, especially if it is something that is normally a hindrance to one’s usual spiritual practice but, from a pneumatic perspective, it misses the point entirely.

As Father Samuel Osborne+ of Ecclesia Gnostica noted in his Ash Wednesday homily, “Chocolate must be a particularly grave hindrance to spirituality if so many people try to give it up year after year.” Having observed this phenomenon myself for many years, I’m frequently in awe at all the things people are willing to give up for Lent under the impression that it will assist them in their journey closer to God all the while forgetting to pray, read scripture, and perform small acts of charity when possible. The journey we undertake during the Lenten season must be one of intentional imitatio Christi – an imitation of Christ.

During Lent, we seek to foster the Sacred Flame within us that was sparked during Adventide and fan it into a “holy and formless Fire shining flashingly through the depths of the Universe[1]” in time for Pentecost. In order to make that fire shine accordingly, we take Lent as an opportunity to arrange our interior life optimally in order to receive that Holy Spirit in much the same way as having appropriate kindling wood, coals, and protection from external elements is essential toward building a fire when in the wilderness.

Everything about Lent is a deserted wilderness, the wilderness in which John the Forerunner recalls the words of Isaiah, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD[2]”; and which Jesus went into for forty days before beginning his public, earthly ministry. In a similar fashion, we must journey into the spiritual wilderness and rely entirely on the Christ within, the Sacred Flame, to preserve us from the hostilities of our more base concerns and darker cognitions that assail us on a regular basis in the forms of addictions, negative self-talk, depression, mental distractions, and everything else that prevent us from being in constant, conscious communion with God.

More esoterically, we can view Lent as a kind of philosophical month – much like that discussed in alchemical treatises – the period of time it takes to refine raw matter into its fullest potentiality. Appropriately, we begin with Ash Wednesday as calcinatio; the First Sunday of Lent as dissolutio; the Second Sunday as separatio, during which we recognize the Christ without and the Christ within and our perpetual yearning toward God; the Third Sunday as conjunctio, when we understand the inseparability between our perceptions of separateness from God; the Fourth Sunday as fermentationem; Palm Sunday as distillatio, during which our experience comes to “a head”; and, finally, Pascha as coagulation – complete identification with the Christ.

Regardless of how one would like to interpret the Lenten journey, the primary importance is that some change – no matter how small – take place and help us grow in our experience (γνῶσις) of the Sacred Flame. Although Lent is the liturgical recognition of this process, it is something that can be taken up at any point of the year or at any point in one’s life. The process of transformation is as unique to each person as their relationship is to Christ and there is no litmus test of success or failure. As the Lenten season continues, it is my simple prayer that we all change and grow in our connection to the Sacred Flame.


[1] Psell., 14; Pletho, 25. Z

[2] John 1:23


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