Ἑλληνικὴ Μαγικὴ Τελετή
Magicus Ritus Graecus
The following is a general framework for a Neopagan Hellenic Magical Rite (Greek: magikê teletê, Latin: ritus magicus) derived from ancient sources. The general structure derives from the Neoclassical Sacrifice: General Celebratory Ritual Outline, which contains full annotation of its sources; only the specifically magical aspects are annotated in the following. The purpose here is to set out Hellenic practice, not to discourage or disparage deviation from this norm. Also, this document is limited to the structure of the ritual and does not cover the principles of spell construction.
The entire ritual should be memorized; it is not effective to read during a magical operation. (Memory is part of the basic training of a Magos [see magos]; there are also spells for memory improvement [e.g. PGM I.232-47, II.16-21, 40-2].)
Cleanliness is crucial; bathing in running water is best. You and your assistants (Grk. sunergoí, Lat. adiutores) should dress in clean garments, typically an ungirded white linen robe or toga (Grk. himátion); avoid wool and leather, which are ritually impure. Your hair should be unbound except for a white woolen band or a wreath (especially of a plant dear to the God, such as laurel or olive). Participants may be barefoot and anointed. (All this is typical. Specific operations may require you to be skyclad, to wear a black garland, to be girded with palm fibers from a male date palm, etc.) The Hellenic Magos occasionally uses a magic wand (Grk. ho magikòs rhábdos, Lat. magica virga) or may hold a virgula divina (divine sprig, e.g. of laurel or olive; Grk. thallós), amulet or fillet, as needed by the working [wand]. Sometimes preparatory sexual abstinence (for 24 hours., 3 days, or 7 days) is appropriate (to build libido), as well as either dietary restrictions (no meat, uncooked food, or wine) or fasting. Before the operation you should prepare any amulets, phylacteries, substances, etc. that you will need. [preparation]
In general, your attitude should be one of good cheer (eúphrôn), trust and self-respect, not humility or fear; think of a Homeric hero seeking aid from a superior. However, it is foolish to attempt to compel a Divinity.
Magic is best performed at liminal times and places, that is, on the cusp of change, neither here nor there, neither now nor then. For example, places include crossroads, roofs, hearths, boundaries, thresholds, the shores of bodies of water, as well as consecrated sanctuaries. Times include the new moon, full moon, dawn, dusk, midnight, moonrise, the solstices and equinoxes. These general considerations aside, the specifics of a working and astrological considerations may dictate the particular time and place. [liminal]
The altar (Grk., bômós, Lat. ara) may be a wooden, brick or stone table, pillar, heap of stones, a stack of sod cut for the occasion, or anything else that can accomodate the equipment, the sacred fire (see The Fire, below), and perhaps an image of the God to be invoked. The altar may be portable or permanent, but it is most convenient if it is at least waist-high. An indoor altar should be covered with a clean linen cloth. [altar]
The sanctuary (Grk., témenos, Lat. templum) is often defined by a wall, although that is not necessary; indeed it may be defined just for the working by the Circumambulation. Also you may define a temporary sanctuary by unfolding a sufficiently large white linen cloth.[cloth] If the sanctuary is permanent, it is usually entered from the east. An indoor sanctuary should be swept clean, especially by a besom (ritual broom, especially made of laurel). [sanctuary]
A permanent altar may have a large built-in hearth in which wood (e.g. grapevine, laurel, juniper) or charcoal can be burned. On the other hand, one or more candles or oil lamps (filled with olive oil, never red in color) can suffice for an altar fire, unless other substances are to be burned, in which case a brazier will be required. The fire is lit before the start of the working. [fire]
Fill a portable lustral bowl (khernibeíon) with pure (preferably spring) water for purification. (Ordinary tap water can be purified by the addition of a little previously consecrated water, salt or natron.) The lustral water should be discarded (as impure) after the working. [water]
Incense may be burned on the altar fire or in a censer. Censers may be lit before the operation is begun, but additional incense is normally burned during the working. The most commonly used incenses are frankincense, myrrh, styrax and kyphi. Incense is most commonly prepared by grinding the ingredients and combining them into small pellets (pítura), although uncut incense may be burned. Sulphur may be burned for purification. [incense]
Magical workings usually call for libations of (unmixed) wine, honey, milk, water or oil, and food offerings such as fruits, vegetables, bread, cakes and broth (most often in units of seven). Solid food offerings may be burned on the altar fire or brazier; otherwise they are put in an offering dish for later dedication. Liquid offerings may be poured on the ground, the altar fire (for flammable liquids), or into an offering dish. [offerings]
Ancient magic differed from ordinary religious ritual in that spells were silent or murmered (Lat. susurrus magicus, Grk. ho magikòs psithurismós), as opposed to ordinary prayers, which were normally spoken out loud. There seem to be two reasons for this. First, spells are often concerned with private matters, for which even ordinary prayers might be silent or murmured. Second, magic often inverts ordinary practice as a way heightening consciousness (hence the use of archaic words, foreign languages and pantheons, inverted rituals, etc.).[verbal performance] On the other hand, audible incantations can help to entrain your assistants with your intentions.
For greatest effectiveness, certain spells or parts of spells (vowel chants, etc.) — the spells proper (Grk. epôdaí, Lat. carmina) — must be sung or recited sonorously, if circumstances permit. In any case, all ritual actions should be accompanied by appropriate verbal formulas, in the mind (by attentive imagination) if not out loud. [verbal performance]
Normally you enter the sanctuary from the right and approach the altar from the east. Carry the Khernibeion (bowl of lustral water) to the right around the altar three times, which delimits the sacred from the profane. (If you have assistants, they follow you to the sanctuary, but proceed directly to the altar, so that you encircle them with the altar.) [circumambulation]
While circumambulating you may recite an invocation such as this [pronunciation]:
I circle round creating sacred space,More briefly you may say:
invoking from the Heavens holy grace.
I call the Gods to guard this solemn rite,
and ward this hallowed ground with walls of light.
Let sky above and earth below unite,
a bond established by Olympic might.
Let fear and discord leave without a trace,
and peace prevail within this holy place.
Let word be deed by this decree.
As it is said, so must it be!
Ἔργον ὁ λόγος γενέσθω τῷδε μύθῳ.
Ἅτε λεγόμενον τοῦτο ἤδη ἔστω.
Érgon ho lógos genésthô tôde múthô.
Háte legómenon toûto êdê éstô! (Grk.)
Sit verbum factum hoc decreto.
Ut dictum est, sic statim fiat! (Lat.)
I circle round [the altar].
Περιέρχομαι [τὸν βωμόν].
Periérkhomai [ton bômón]. (Grk.)
[Aram] circumeo. (Lat.)
Begone, whatever is unholy!
Ἑκὰς, ὤ ἑκὰς, ἔστε βέβηλοι.
Hekàs, ô hekàs, éste bébêloi! (Grk.)
Procul, o procul, este profani! (Lat.)
Take a burning brand from the sacred altar fire and thrust it into the lustral water (Grk. khérnips, Lat. aqua lustralis); this consecrates the water, making it húdôr theíon (Grk., holy water) or aqua igne sacra inflammata (Lat., water inflamed by sacred fire). You may say something like the following during this consecration:
Cool Water from the Earth below,
Bright Fire from the Air above,
Opposed, give birth to all we know,
United now in perfect Love.
By Harmony thus unified,
May all our Arts be purified.
For purification (Grk. khérnibes, Lat. lustratio) dip your hands in the lustral water; your assistants purify themselves the same way. Everyone's hands are dried on a white linen cloth. Sprinkle lustral water over the altar, the offerings, the sacred area around the altar, and all the participants. While doing so, you may say:
Be purified!For this purification you may use your right hand, an aspergillum (Grk. perirrantêrion), a sprig (especially of laurel or olive), or the firebrand. [lustration]
If others are present, call for silence:
Sacred silence!Then begin to offer incense; you may make libations of wine (or other liquids as appropriate to the Deity) and burn food offerings, such as cakes and broth, at this time.
Euphêmeíte! (Grk.: Speak no evil! Quiet!)
Favete linguis! (Lat.: Hold your tongues!)
While continuing these offerings, recite the prayer of invocation. You may also stretch out to the God your hands holding any wand, virgula or other instrument you may be using. The typical prayer has three parts (invocatio, narratio, preces), but they may be treated flexibly: the last two may be inverted, and all three may be repeated more than once.[prayer]
I offer Thee this spice, O (name),The following may be repeated ad lib. with offerings to attract the Divinity:
(names and epithets)
Attend my prayer and come Thou here to me,
(names and epithets)
Hail, my Lady/Lord, (and) hear Thy epithets:
(names and epithets)
Or by whatever name is Thy delight,
Approach and come Thou to this sacred rite.
Hear me!To all of these may be added the God's name (in the vocative case).
Klûthi mou! (Grk.)
Exaudi me! (Lat.)
Come to me!
Elthé moi! (Grk.)
Adveni me! (Lat.)
Hither, Blessed One!
Deûro Mákar! (Grk.)
Huc, Beate/a! (Lat.: masc./fem.)
I know Thee and I know Thy secret names:The formulas of invocation ("Come to me!" etc.) may be used here also.
I've said Thy symbols, signs and secret key,
which Thou, O Master/Mistress, hath divulged to me,
(your magical name), born of (mother's name).
If ever I've fulfilled the vows I've made,
Then hear me now and grant to me Thine aid.
Accomplish now this deed, and as I praySince the Gods are wiser than we are, it is often advisable to add an “escape clause” such as this:
Give heed to me, and to these words I say:
Or if this may not be, then what is best.The petition may be finished by:
Now! Now! Quickly! Quickly!
Νῦν νῦν, ἤδη ἤδη.
Nûn! Nûn! Êdê! Êdê (Grk.)
Nunc! Nunc! Iam! Iam! (Lat.)
Libations of wine or oil may be poured on the altar fire, and it is considered very auspicious if the fire flares up, for it is a sign of the God's presence. Libations may be accompanied with cries of:
Be kind! Be Thou propitious!
Propitius/a esto! (Lat.: masc./fem.)
When you perceive the God's arrival, begin the working proper (prâxis). It may involve additional operations (e.g., consecration of tools or amulets, healing, divination) which can be conducted now that the cooperation of the God has been secured. This may include sonorous incantations (Grk. epôdaí, Lat. carmina), chanting or singing of secret names and magic words (Grk. magikoì lógoi, Lat. voces magicae), as well as libations and other offerings. You may repeat the “Now! Now!” formulas after any petitions.
When the operation is complete, you (and your assistants) may make additional thanks offerings of incense, wine, etc.; with them you may say:
Spondê! (Grk., spon-DAY)
Libatio! (Lat., lee-BAH-tih-o)
The thanks offerings may accompany or be followed by a release such as this:[release]
Depart, O Master/Mistress, to Thy Realm,The formulas
To Thine own Palace, to Thy Throne.
Restore the Order of this World.
Be gracious and protect me, Lord/Lady.
We thank Thee for Thy presence. Go in Joy!
Depart, my Lord/Lady! Hence! Farewell!may be repeated until the God is perceived to have departed. It is appropriate to “blow a kiss” to the departing Deity: kiss your palm and then stretch out your arm.
Ἄπαγε, ὤ Κύριε [Κυρία]. Ἑκάς. Χαῖρε.
Ápage, O Kúrie/Kuría! Hekás! Khaíre! (Grk.)
Apage, O Domine/Domina! Procul! Vale! (Lat.)
If you have assistants, declare the formal end of the working by saying:
The Rites are done.
Τελεταί εἰσι τέλειαι.
Teletaí eisi téleiai. (Grk., The rites are complete.)
Ilicet. (Lat., You may go; it is done.)
You and your assistants step backward out of the sacred circle (which opens it), turn around to the right, and leave without looking back. If your assistants are unfamiliar with the practice, you may say something like:
Step backward through the sacred circle, turnThe working will be most efficacious if you and your assistants have no converse with one another or with other people before retiring for the night (or at least no sooner than removing your ritual robes). [closing]
toward your right and do not look behind.
Depart and keep your silence till we're gone.
Return to Biblioteca Arcana page
Send comments about this page