Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Candlelight Prayer Service

Novena CandlesThis service is based on the Hoodoo tradition of setting lights.  While it has nothing in particular to do with Gnosticism, setting lights for prayer is a common religious practice, and one that Gnostics can do as well.

In the African American magio-religious system of Hoodoo (or Rootwork) there is a long tradition of lighting colored candles for specific needs, and praying psalms over them.  For centuries, Rootworkers have ascribed to each of the 150 Psalms of David certain esoteric value, largely influenced by Kabbalistic interpretations of scripture from traditional grimoire magic. For both esoteric and poetic reasons, the most preferred English translation of the Psalms for this sort of work comes from the King James Version of the Bible, but any translation one finds appealing will work – I use the Douay-Rheims translation successfully myself. 

What follows is a traditional method of setting lights, and is designed for a group, but can be prayed alone with some small modifications.  It is appropriate for most any need one can imagine. For help in choosing the most appropriate psalm for a particular situation, refer to the short list of psalms given after the text of the ritual.  For more extensive information on the use of each psalm, consult Anna Riva’s book Powers of the Psalms, or Godrey Selig’s book Secrets of the Psalms.  These are both available for sale at a reasonable price, but with a little effort, free PDFs can be found online (though you’ll have to do that research on your own!).

The altar should be laid out according to the diagram below.  This ritual uses three altar candles at the back of the altar, representing God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  In the middle are Angelic day candles, which will be explained further down.  At the front are the specific colored novena candles for the work, along with a Bible (or psalter), holy water, and incense.  There should be enough novena candles for each person present, including the leader.  If necessary, each person may use a white candle, but the leader’s candle should be of an appropriate color for the intent of the work (see below).  If one prefers, a 3-tiered altar may be used, with the altar candles at the top, angelic day candles in the middle tier, and the tools for the work proper at the bottom.

Altar

Opening Ritual

The leader approaches the altar with palms of both hands together, and thumbs against the heart.  This is the default posture for this ritual, unless performing some other action.  The leader genuflects or bows; then rises, and makes the Sign of the Cross, saying:

In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The leader dips his/her fingers in the holy water and makes the make the Sign of the Cross again, and reciting Psalm 51:10-12 with the antiphon, remembering to return to the default posture.

Ant. Asperge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence,
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation,
And strengthen me with a perfect spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Ant.  Asperge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

***

1.  Leader lights Altar Candle #1 saying:

Blessed be God the Father, Who by His almighty power and love hast emanated us, making all mankind in the Divine image and likeness.

2.  Leader lights Altar Candle #2 saying:

Blessed be God the Son, Christ our Lord, incarnation of God’s love, Who came forth from the Father to show us the path that leadeth to the Kingdom, and life everlasting amongst the saints.

3.  Leader lights Altar Candle #3 saying:

Blessed be God the Spirit, sent to us by the grace of the Father, as promised by the Christ, sanctifying us, and Who shall continue to sanctify all of God’s children.

4.  Leader lights the appropriate Angelic Candle for the day from the flame of the Holy Spirit candle, and prays the following (refer to the table of angelic rulers which follows the prayer):

Blessed be God’s holy Archangel _________, who through the will of the Father can aid us in our lives.  For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:11).  Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire (Psalm 104:4).

 

Day

 

Angelic Ruler

Candle Color

Sunday

Michael

Yellow

Monday

Gabriel

Purple

Tuesday

Raphael

Red

Wednesday

Uriel

Orange

Thursday

Sealtiel

Blue

Friday

Jehudiel

Green

Saturday

Barachiel

Black

5.  Leader bows and recites the Glory Be.

6.  Leader lights some incense, which can be any appropriate scent for the purpose of the ritual.  As this is done and the smoke rises, the leader chants:

Blessed be God the Eternal, now and forever.

7.  Leader picks up the bowl of holy water, and sprinkles every corner of the room in a clockwise direction.  Then the leader sprinkles some of the holy water to the right of the altar, the left of the altar, and finally in front of the altar.  Psalm 91 is then recited, traditionally used for protection from all kinds of dangers:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunters,
and from the sharp sword.
He shall cover thee with his feathers,
and under his wings shalt thou trust:
his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night;
nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side,
and ten thousand at thy right hand;
but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt behold with thine eyes:
and thou shalt see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord,
which is thy refuge,
even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee,
neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

For he hath given his angels charge over thee,
to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands,
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Thou shalt tread upon the asp and the basilisk:
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me,
therefore will I deliver him:

I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and glorify him.

With long life will I satisfy him,
and shew him my salvation.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

8.  More incense is placed in the thurible, to meditate for a few moments upon the purpose of the ritual.  Then the leader takes up the bowl of holy water.  Walking in a clockwise direction, the leader makes the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of each person present, giving the following benediction (this is omitted if the ritual is performed by only one person):

May this Holy Water cleanse thee in mind, body and spirit, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, that God may judge thee worthy to receive His blessings.

When finished, the Holy Water is returned to the altar.

9.  The leader will now hand each person present one seven-day novena candle, leaving one for the altar.  The candles given to the people present may be white, if this is easier, but the candle on the altar should be colored appropriately for the work of the ritual (see below).  After everyone has their candle, the leader will then pour a few drops of an appropriate anointing oil on top of each of the novena candles, asking each person to rub the oil in a clockwise direction while concentrating on their prayer.

10.  As the people are concentrating on their prayer, the leader will turn to the altar and recite Psalm 21, traditionally prayed to bring spiritual blessings:

The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord;
and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
Thou hast given him his heart’s desire,
and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.

For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness:
thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.
He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him,
even length of days for ever and ever.

His glory is great in thy salvation:
honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him.
For thou hast made him most blessed for ever:
thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.

For the king trusteth in the Lord,
and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.
Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies:
thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.

Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger:
the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath,
and the fire shall devour them.
Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth,
and their seed from among the children of men.

For they intended evil against thee:
they imagined a mischievous device,
which they are not able to perform.
Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back,
when thou shalt make ready
thine arrows upon thy strings
against the face of them.

Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength:
so will we sing and praise thy power.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

11.  The leader will then light the appropriately colored candle from the already burning Angelic Candle, symbolizing the purpose for the candlelight service.  Each person will then, one at a time, approach the altar and light their seven day candle using a taper from the flame of the colored candle.  The seven day novena candles are placed in a semi-circle around the main colored candle, which is placed in the center of the altar.

12.  Once all present have lit their candles and returned to their places, the leader will kneel in front of the altar and all begin to chant the Psalm appropriate for the candlelight service (see below).  This may be done as a responsory, or in unison.  The Psalm is chanted in this manner 3 times, followed by the Glory Be.

13.  Before extinguishing the candles (which should be done in reverse order), the leader places some more incense on the burner and all recite Psalm 150, a prayer to express gratefulness for God’s blessings.

Praise ye the Lord in his holy places:
praise ye him in the firmament of his power.
Praise ye him for his mighty acts:
praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.
Praise him with sound of trumpet:
praise him with psaltery and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and choir:
praise him with strings and organs.
Praise him on high sounding cymbals:
praise him on cymbals of joy:
let every spirit praise the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.  Alleluia!

14. The Angelic Candle is extinguished with a prayer of thanks to the angel for his assistance.  Before extinguishing the altar candles, the leader says the following prayer:

As the Father knows me, so may I know the Father, through Christ our Lord: the door to the Kingdom of the Father. Show Thou me the way.

The leader kneels and bows his/her head, then rises and extinguishes the altar candles in reverse order of lighting them.

15.  This brings the candlelight service to an end.  All who participated in the service must daily recite the psalm for seven days.  The colored candle should be allowed to burn for one hour.  The other novena candles may be given to the people present, to take home and use in their daily recitation of the psalm.  The colored candle is relit each day by the leader while the psalm is recited for seven days, and allowed to burn for one hour.  On the last day, all novena candles may be allowed to burn themselves out.

***

Candle Colors

The colored novena candle should be a color appropriate for the focus of the ritual.  A general list follows, but you may find a color more specific to your need:

White – spiritual blessings, purity, healing, rest, truth
Blue – peace, harmony, joy, kindly intentions, healing
Green – money, prosperity, business, a good job, good crops, cooperation, fertility
Yellow – devotion, prayer, money, cheerfulness, attraction, confidence, charm
Red – love, affection, passion, bodily vigor
Pink – attraction, romance, love, morality, friendship
Purple – mastery, power, ambition, strengthens willpower
Orange – opening the way, prophetic dreams, encouragement, concentration, adaptability
Brown – court cases, neutrality
Black – repulsion, sorrow, freedom from evil

***

Psalms

The following is a short list of psalms by purpose.  For a more extensive explanation of the esoteric value of the Psalms, consult Anna Riva’s Powers of the Psalms or Godfrey Selig’s Secrets of the Psalms.

For greater spiritual awareness – Psalm 99
For blessings when moving to a new home – Psalm 61
For all yours undertakings to be fortunate – Psalm 65
For good luck in all you do – Psalm 57
To change an unhappy situation into a happy one – Psalm 16
For your daily needs and to protect from harm – Psalm 77
To rid yourself of negative influences – Psalm 19
To release deep seated hate from the heart – Psalm 137
For defense against enemies and rivals – Psalms 3, 59, 70
For illness or bad health – Psalms 23, 35, 38
For thanksgiving after recovery from illness – Psalm 30
To bring peace or blessings to the home – Psalms 1, 128
For spiritual support in stress or affliction – Psalms 3, 25, 54
For harmony between people or groups – Psalm 133
To petition for material needs – Psalm 41
For slander – Psalms 38, 39
To receive grace, love and mercy – Psalm 32
To be respected and loved by others – Psalm 47
To protect against unjust slander – Psalm 36
To protect from idle gossip – Psalm 36
Protection from a persistent enemy – Psalm 109
To be freed from harmful or evil habits – Psalm 69
To reconcile with an enemy – Psalm 16
To overcome an enemy in a just manner – Psalm 70
To have more friends – Psalm 111
To keep the love of friends and acquire more friends – Psalm 133
To bring peace and harmony between families – Psalm 98
To do good and void evil – Psalm 87
To cast out evil influences from another – Psalm 29
For someone in prison to be released early – Psalm 26
To be safe from robberies or danger – Psalm 50
For safety when traveling alone at night – Psalm 122
For a safe ending in your travels – Psalm 34
To be accepted, liked a respected by all – Psalm 47
To removed negative influences around you – Psalm 10
To win a lawsuit by an unjust or vengeful person – Psalm 35
For a favorable verdict when appearing before a judge – Psalm 20
To receive justice and a favorable hearing from a lawsuit – Psalm 119:89-96
For anyone who drinks too much – Psalm 87
If the law is taking measures to punish you – Psalm 35
For reconciliation between spouses or partners – Psalms 45, 46
For possession by an evil spirit – Psalm 66
For revenge against secret enemies – Psalm 53-55
To make your home lucky – Psalm 61
To receive Holy Blessings – Psalm 62

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Christ is our Foundation, and our Chief Cornerstone

Bridal ChamberThis blog is primarily focused on devotional practices, but since it’s been practically dead for several months, I thought it would also be beneficial to use it as a way of collecting my thoughts on various Gnostic topics.  With that in mind, I hope to spend more of my time focused on essay writing.  At present, I’d like to address an issue I’ve found on Facebook more and more lately.  I see so many memes and posts criticizing Christian beliefs, and often they’re difficult for me to respond to because on the one hand, I’m not terribly comfortable with Christianity; but on the other hand, I identify as one.

I see people criticize the Christian God, laughing that an all-knowing god would create the world, create human beings, place a Tree of Knowledge in the garden where they live and tell them not to eat from it – knowing full well that that’s exactly what they’ll do.  And then what does he do?  He punishes them for it!  And thousands of years later, he sends his only son (who happens to be God Himself) to be killed, so that He (God) can finally forgive people of their sins.

I also have friends who tease me about believing in a “magical sky fairy.”

Both of these things trouble me, because I don’t believe in them.  “Magical sky fairy” doesn’t really work for a Christian Gnostic, because God is not just out there, like He is for mainstream Christians.  He didn’t create the world ex nihilo, and He’s not just sitting up in the sky looking down on us, waiting for judgment day.

Gnosticism, while Christian, diverged from its brethren in the early centuries of the common era.  So while mainstream Christians have had 2,000 years to develop their dogma(s), Gnosticism died out.  True, Gnostic thought was carried like a lamp through the centuries, often in secret.  But we haven’t had the luxury of an unbroken chain of succession (and I don’t mean Apostolic Succession), as the exoteric Church has.  Our teachings and mythos seem foreign, because we haven’t had centuries to perpetuate these things to the point that they became “mainstream.”

When I speak of God, I mean something quite different from what a Catholic or an Evangelical would mean.  When I speak of God, I mean the ineffable, invisible God, who is the Source of All – and we are but emanations of that Source.  The Great Invisible God dwells within us, and without us.  Unlike pantheists, who say that the Divine exists within the whole Universe; we, Gnostics, would say that the Universe exists within the Divine.

In the beginning was the Source:  the One:  the All:  Spirit:  Life:  Light.  He contained within Himself all potentialities – including light and darkness, good and evil.  He wished to understand Himself; and this, His first thought, poured forth from Him and became manifest as the Aeon Barbelo:  Forethought.

At this point, there finally existed an observer and an observee.  God could look upon Himself, through His First Thought.

By the cooperation of Forethought, he brought forth other emanations (aeons) – pouring forth aspects of Himself, through the mediation of His Consort, the Divine Mother.  He brought forth Foreknowledge, Indestructibility, Eternal Life, Truth.  Together with Barbelo, He brought forth the Alone-Begotton Son, the Christos:  a perfect reflection of His Divine Light.  He brought forth Luminaries to rule over their regions, containing within themselves three aeons.  And the last emanation He brought forth was Wisdom (Sophia).

Up until now, I’ve been writing in the past tense – but this is due to the limitations of language.  We have no eternal tense in English, and these things are Eternal Truths that have no beginning or end.  But it’s at this point that we begin to enter upon the creation of time.  Sophia, in Her longing to know Her Source, brought forth a child on her own: Ialdabaoth.  He is the moment time began.

Ialdabaoth, the demiurge, created archons to serve him, modeled on the divine realm above.  He had no knowledge of the aeons that preceded him, but his is creation is a reflection of the Divine Fullness from whence he sprang.  And then he created a physical world, and a man who was a reflection of the Divine Man, the Son of the Invisible God.

It was Ialdabaoth who created a tree of knowledge, telling the man (Adam) and his wife (Eve) not to eat from it.  He said, “I am god, and there is none other beside me!”

Sophia, whose power was trapped in the demiurge’s creation, begged the light to have mercy on these people, and save them from the control of the demiurge.  And then the Feminine Spiritual Principal entered a serpent, who instructed the man and woman to eat of the tree of knowledge, that they might know their divine origins in the True God.  Eating of this tree was not the first sin, but the first act of redemption!

As far as Christ is concerned, there was never a need for anyone to die in order for God to save us.  God could have easily corrected the situation from the very beginning, rescuing us from the demiurge.  But we’re all sparks of His Divine Light, and this world we live in is but another emanation in the eternal process of God knowing Himself.  Every experience we have here on earth is His experience, for He is All.

The aeons of God poured their power upon the Christos and sent Him to earth to save us – no, to wake us up!  To help us remember!  It was the fear of the demiurge and his archons, manifest in all the human institutions we create for ourselves, that caused the Christ to die.  Truth frightens them, as it often frightens us.  The sacrifice of Christ was not death on a cross, but the Divine entering the limitations of matter for our sakes – so that we too can remember that we are Divine.

God does not exist “out there.”  He is at the core of our being, if we only remember.

Christ is our salvation, and our chief cornerstone!

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