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Ronnie Pontiac

Sacred Nature, Eros and Environment: Songs of Orpheus Series III – Semele to Number

sectitle-features

Dionysus_SarcophagusWe begin with the mother of Dionysus scorched by the glory of her divine lover.  Next we hear the tragic story of how humanity came to be.  Followed by a celebration of erotic ecstasy with Aphrodite, Pan, Eros and then as Plotinus suggests we should in his masterpiece “On the Beautiful” we ascend to contemplate the beauties of Justice, Equality, and Number.

Series III examines some of the darkest mysteries, answering troubling questions about human nature.  Why do so many of us instinctively enjoy cruelty?  Why does individual greed so often overthrow the public good? They also reveal a very different perspective on nature than that of monotheism.

Today many think of nature as inert matter, a repository of resources to be exploited, and consequences to be avoided, but in these hymns nature is a gift, and a fully conscious collaborator in every moment of existence.  The harvest involves the work of many gods, and lesser benevolent beings, who make certain the cosmos stays orderly, that the optimal amount of sunshine and rain nourishes the crops. Among the crops being nourished are the human souls that the hymns seek to ripen.

Nature and spirituality far from the dry abstractions of post-industrial monotheism in the hymns become erotic in their celebration of life.  The thyrsus of Dionysos, a fennel stalk with a pinecone tip, with ivy vine twined around it, is unmistakably phallic.  Historians still can’t be sure what the liknon was, a sacred object, carried and shown in a basket or cradle, but more than one ancient writer suggested the liknon was a carving meant to depict the sacred penis of Dionysos.  Considering the importance of a similar dismembered member in the ancient Egyptian mysteries of Osiris, perhaps aspects of the Orphic mysteries really did come from the shores of the Nile.

The beauty, harmony and wisdom of nature are celebrated in these hymns.  The soul inhabits a living world, where nature is conscious, and the gods intervene through nature, not only in extraordinary circumstances like Zeus striking someone with a thunderbolt, but in the every day reliability, splendor and complexity of every passing instant.

As is often the case in cultures where nature receives reverent attention female deities hold important cosmic offices.  For example, whereas today macho Jehovah and severe Allah fiercely dispense justice, for the writers of these hymns, and for the ancient Greeks in general (as well as the ancient Egyptians) smiting the nefarious was woman’s work, as it still is in India where Durga and Kali punish the wicked.  For the ancient Greeks the Furies were female, as were Nemesis, and Dike, the Goddess of Justice.

As the hymns turn from addressing natural phenomenon like the sun and the clouds to the abstract considerations of Equality, Law and Number a deep faith in the coherence of nature is revealed.  Nature is ultimately harmonious because the principles that underlie it together create harmony, and all derive their existence from the unity that Plotinus described as the good, the true and the beautiful.

MY TITANIC INSINUATION

titans-defy-zeusModern scholarship has deconstructed the story of human origins once thought to be at the center of Orphic myth.  Scholars from Linforth to Edmond have exposed the prejudices and projections of generations of historians who mistakenly found themselves in their subjects.  For example, Protestant academics eager to criticize Catholicism concocted the fantasy of an organized Orphic Church that rebelled against the ritual bound primitivism of Homeric Greek religion, and which competed for centuries with Christianity in the Mediterranean, though there was no evidence for it.

Yet, the myth of the Titan attack on Dionysus, in its horror somehow sublime, is a profound metaphor for the angst of incarnation, and a seminal response to the questions: what is the meaning of life and what is the origin of evil?  So, I’ve chosen to ignore the scholarship I respect and in this poetic rendering I’ve including the cannibalistic origin of man.  That is one of the luxuries of not approaching this as a strict translation, but rather as poetry to be enjoyed by today’s readers or ritualists.  Those who compare my translation to the Athanassakis and Wolkow scholarly edition will find that I’ve been generally strict in following the Greek, but flights of fancy have been interpolated here and there, to explain obscure references, and to add color to what are sometimes mere lists of deity’s honorary names with formulaic exclamations.

Therefore in Series III we find the time-honored tale of the envious and malicious Titans who use toys and a mirror to lure baby Dionysus from the throne of Zeus into the dark where he is torn apart and made into a stew.  Their horrific crime discovered they perish in the flames of a thunderbolt hurled by Zeus.  The heart of Dionysos survives and Zeus uses his mighty thigh as an artificial womb held together with golden pins from which the reborn Dionysos emerges.  But from the ashes scorched by sacred lightning, from the melted flesh of cannibals and victim the human race is born.  We are creatures of “earth and starry heaven.”

The Titan in us makes us cruel, jealous, greedy, angry.  But our inheritance from Dionysos makes us immortals if we can purify ourselves of our titanic heritage.  The experiences of reincarnation allow each soul to ripen.  The titan within does penance, becomes civilized, or refined out is shed like old snakeskin as each soul achieves its birthright of immortality.

Is the story an allegory of incarnation?  Dionysos, according to the Neoplatonic interpretation represents any human soul.  The Titans are forces of fate, the gravity of existence, cause and effect.  The toys are the orbiting planets and the mirror the uncanny fascination of matter, the reflective and reflexive quality of matter and experience that lures immortals.  The soul is torn apart, attention divided as cells divide, to grow and govern our organs, limbs, and functions.  Upon our deaths we emerge free again.  Other souls forget and so fall into the weary circle of necessity, incarnating until they become wise enough to remember.

A NOTE ON EARLY CHRISTIANITY

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Crucifixion with inscription “Orpheo Bakki”

Though Christianity makes no direct appearance in the Hymns of Orpheus, the mélange of Attic, Anatolian, and Egyptian deities points to an all but forgotten aspect of ancient spirituality.  In a world where Muslim terrorists murder bystanders and fundamentalist Christians scheme for Armageddon, where many evangelical Protestants still consider the Catholic Church the Antichrist, it’s seldom remembered that the majority of our ancestors from the early days of monotheism were polytheists.  The ancient Greeks were delighted to recognize their god Hermes in the Egyptian god Thoth.  The Romans happily found Jove in Zeus the god of conquered Greece.  Basic similarities seemed to confirm the impression that the same deity was being viewed by different cultures. “Of many names” is a common phrase in these hymns, which mention places in Greece, the Near East and Egypt.

In the early days of Christianity many Christians could be found who understood Jesus as another in a tradition of great teachers that included Orpheus. Orpheus, Jesus, and Hermes, and many other gods, shared now characteristically Christian honorifics such as “the good shepherd.” Among many Gnostic Christians attending the rites of pagan goddesses was not considered a sin.  They understood different spiritual paths as varied vantage points on a mystery many cultures have attempted to describe.  Eventually literalists took over the growing community.  Not surprisingly the church that originated in Rome displayed many tendencies of the Romans, absorbing or eliminating the competition.

IMAGINING THE HYMNS IN THEIR ORIGINAL CONTEXT

The_Derveni_PapyrusThomas Taylor thought the Orphic Hymns were the liturgy of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the most respected mystery school of ancient Greece.  Modern histories point out that Orpheus, or people related to him were said to have found many mystery cults, but there is no evidence to place the hymns as we have them in that hallowed place.

What then is the modern scholarly view of the environment in which the hymns would have been performed?  The best guess seems to be that the hymns were composed for a symposium.  As Vernal wrote of similar movements in the 4th century: “We know little about the religious calibre of all those groups of orgeones, thiasotai, eranistai etc. As they often have the nature of a dining and drinking-club the members’ social interests may have outrivaled religious zeal… [They] differ from the established cult types in that they were entered by free choice, that at least some of them are marked by ecstatic behaviour and that they recruited their clientèle predominantly among women. The most revolutionary and least debatable novelty was that the adherents did not make a secret of their exclusive affection for one god. This was probably the main reason why they were suspected as a potential threat to the religious stability and the nomoi [laws] of the polis [city]. Suspicion and hostility provoked stigmatization, which of course may have had a distorting effect on the scanty evidence we have. It is beyond doubt, however, that stigmatization in its turn provoked repression and indeed led to the prosecution of (at least) three ‘priestesses’, two of whom were executed. According to our (late) sources, the accusations included: ‘assembling thiasoi’, ‘making love potions’, ‘mocking the mysteries’, ‘initiating in rites of foreign gods’, ‘dealing in drugs and charms’, ‘impiety’. Introducing foreign cults and the suspicion of practicing magic are, throughout antiquity, two sides of one medal and at Athens might provoke an asebeia [sacrilege] process of which there were several in the 4th c. Most notorious is the one against Socrates on accusations not unrelated to the ones just mentioned.”

Burkert and Edmond’s groundbreaking work on the Orphics provides a glimpse of what might have been a loose knit order of itinerant spiritual specialists.  At worst outright frauds pretending to be pious, at best miracle workers called in when all else failed.  In his brilliant essay “Extra-Ordinary People: Mystai and Magoi, Magicians and Orphics in the Derveni Papyrus” Edmond carefully examines the famous papyrus and its context, concluding: “From his own perspective, then, the Derveni author is an Orphic but not a magician, a specialist in teletai for the mystai but not one of the magoi.”

What were the magoi?  Edmond continues: “…the Platonic Alcibiades 1 (122a) uses the term mageia to refer to the special worship of the gods taught by the wisest man in Persia to the King’s heir, so that he may have the best connection to the gods, just as he has the best of everything else.”  Apuleius in his self-defense defines the magus as “supremely holy” and “taught by the gods.”  He included Pythagoras, Empedokles and Orpheus in his list of examples.  Sophocles calls the prophet Teiresias a magus, a tragic one, berated and disbelieved though he tells the truth.  Aristophanes on the other hand treats them as clowns who pretend to be pious so they can hustle suckers.  They certainly don’t seem to have enjoyed any of the powers attributed to the most infamous witches of ancient Greece, who could draw down the moon to steal its blood, and reverse the course of rivers.  The alleged Orphic who authored the papyrus did not consider himself a magus.

What then was a mystai?  The word is related to our word mystic, and perhaps the difference between our concept of the magus as a sort of wizard manipulating unseen natural and unnatural powers, and our idea of the mystic as an introverted seeker encountering spiritual states, sheds some light, however misleading, on the difference.  Strictly speaking the word means “initiate.”  The author of the papyrus viewed himself as a specialist in teaching the teletai, the rites that ripen souls, to the initiated.  In contrast he describes a magus using milk, honey, and many small cakes to remove obstacles put on people by vengeful spirits.  Yet the use of milk and honey, characteristically but not exclusively Orphic, raises the possibility that the magus and mystai may have represented different kinds of Orphic activities or specializations.

We are left only with guesses.  The hymns could be the work of a lone writer hoping to capture vanishing splendor, or a scholar preserving an obscure liturgy.  They could have been a popular all night recitation at drinking parties.  For example, some scholars have suggested that the hymns are ordered to facilitate a successful all nighter.  The heaviest drinking, one suspects, and the greatest risk of erotic distractions, occurred during the following series of hymns, about 2/3 of the way through the cycle.

Semele

semeleMother of joyous Dionysos,
shining haired daughter
of Kadmos old man of the east
father of the city of Thebes
who brought the alphabet to Greece,

Zeus loved you so
he granted you any wish.
You asked to see his splendor.

In great pain you died
by the fiery thunderbolt
of the immortal’s unveiled glory.

Every third year, Persephone
honors you, allowing you
to attend the sacred rites,
for every mortal reenacts
your agony for your son:
the sacred ritual
of the holy mysteries.

traditional: storax
suggested: ashes of flowers

Dionysus in Fox Skin

Exekias_Dionysos_Staatliche_Antikensammlungen_2044_n2

Son of the thunderbolt,
master of everything,
you have many names,
face of the bull,
bloody swords delight you.

Joining in the revelry of the howling
frenzy of your sacred Maenads,
the raving ones, you roar
on Olympos.

Most wrathful immortal
armed with your scepter
of fennel, pine and ivy,
all the gods and men
inhabiting earth honor you.

Leaping ecstasy
of immortality
give much joy to all.

traditional: none
suggested: fennel, pine and/or ivy

Dionysos in the Cradle

dionysys cradle

Born in the mountains
of faraway oNysa
where pine and cinnamon
perfume the breeze,
joy of flowers,
you are their power to bloom.

Nursling of Maenads and Muses,
Aphrodite’s fairest petal,
she too watched over you.

You compel the nymphs
to quiver in dance
in the frenzy of your grace
making the forests feel your feet.

Wise Zeus guided you
by the immortals.
to noble Persephone
who raised you to be adored
Looking into your eyes,
even gods know awe.

With kind heart
accept our sacrifice.

traditional: none
suggested: pine

Dionysos Twined Round the Pillar

pillar_0000.jpgc59c3bd7-12b0-49f0-90fc-d1767564cf43Large You give grape seeds
power to break dirt.
You ripen to bleed
on the wine press.

When thunderbolts blaze
and gales rage,
when mountains quake,
twine your vines
around our pillars.

Mighty Dionysos,
make our house strong
as you did for Kadmos
who brought writing
from Phoenicia to Thebes.

With joyous heart
bless this revel.

traditional: none
suggested: grapes or wine

Sabazios

sabaziusIllustrious father,
son of Kronos,
in your sewn up thigh
you hid baby Dionysos
so he could grow whole
and go to Mount Tmolos
at the side of Hipta
of the fair cheeks,
his wet nurse,
the soul of the universe.

Great king of the near east,
hear us
with heartfelt kindness
help us.

traditional: none
suggested: milk

Lakkhos

Spirit of Demeter
as a youthful male,
hold high the twin torches,
lead these holy mysteries.

With your winnowing fan
separate husk from seed.
Son of Zeus and Demeter,
lead our procession of clashing cymbals,
hear the thunder of our drums
made from hide of the sacred bull,
join our cries of joy.

traditional: none
suggested: seeds

Zagreus

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Son of Zeus and Persephone,
your father set you on his throne,
his thunderbolts in your hands.

But the Titans distracted you
with toys and mirrors
drawing you down to death.

When they attacked you changed forms
many times until you became the bull
they stabbed and devoured.

Immortal who died
to be born again,
protect us.

traditional: none
suggested: salt

Hipta

FemaleStatuetteSamarra6000BCE

Nursemaid of Dionysos,
mother of secret rites
choruses sing
by crackling fires,

you saw the Titans
butcher Zagreus.
They boiled then
roasted him.

Zeus blasted them
with thunderbolts.
From the bloody ashes
humans were born.

When we hunger for revenge,
when we measure envy,
serve chaos, and surrender to frenzy
of blood-drenched bronze

sweet wet-nurse who
witnessed our birth,
protect us.

traditional: none
suggested: milk

Dionysos the Liberator

liberator Bacchos of the wine,
treasured seed of many names,
spirit who saves us,
holy son of Zeus,
secretly born of two mothers.

Plump giver of countless joys,
and of good fruit,
you break earth
and grow to fill the wine press
with healing for our pain.

Holy flower,
hating sorrow,
you bring joy to mortals.

Beautiful-haired savior,
spirit of celebration,
your pine-cone tipped
ivy-wound fennel stalk
inspires ecstasy.

Sweet to all who see your light,
hear us, ripener of grapes.

traditional: none
suggested: grapes or wine

The Nymphs

nymphs Daughters of Ocean,
dwellers in the dark
damp caverns of Earth,
as secret as the paths you take,
nurse-maids of Bacchos,

haunters of meadows,
natural and playful,
golden bees nurturing our fruit,

you love winding roads
and deep grottos.
Quick, agile, dewy,
in freshwater springs
we almost see you.

You love to wander,
dancing with Pan
through remote valleys
thick with flowers,

clear voices humming,
as you glide down rocks
on the mountainside.

Girls of the fields,
of freshwater gush,
sweet smelling as
virgin forest.

White cloaks streaming,
fresh as a breeze,
protectors of goat herds,
pastures and fruit,
wild animals adore you.

Tender, yet delighted by cold,
you feed us all
and help us grow.
Spirits of the trees,
playing in water
in joy of spring,
healers, you walk
with Bacchos and The Mother.

Give us grace
with joyful heart
pour pure rain
on our thirsty grain.

traditional: aromatic herbs
suggested: water

To the God of the Feast Every Two Years

909b Bull-horned immortal,
Bacchos, God of Mt. Nysa,
friend of many names,
lead our procession of torches
through the night,
dance in celebration
the frenzy that gives serenity.

Son of two mothers,
in your fawn skin
you explore the wilderness
of moonlit mountains.

Apollo of the golden spear,
newborn in a cradle of grapes,
resilient as ivy,
many maenads follow you.

Joyous you bind us all together,
hear us and bless us.

traditional: aromatic herbs
suggested: ivy or grapes

To the God of the Yearly Feast

cropped-dionysiac-mystery-frieze-second-style-wall-paintings-in-room-5-of-the-villa-of-the-mysteries-pompeii-italy-ca-60e2809350-bce

Wake,
sleeper in Persephone’s hall,
time slumbers with you
as winter freezes all.

Wake
for the sacred feast.

Wake
the wild haired nymphs sleeping at your feet.

They will dance and sing,
frenzied by the ecstasy of life.

Wake,
Dionysos who gave us the vine.

Accept this milk and incense.
With joy give abundant fruit
sacred and perfectly ripe.

traditional: any incense except frankincense, and also a libation of milk.
suggested: see above

Silenos

Sileno_(Museo_del_Louvre)

Second father of Bacchos,
greatest of the elder satyrs,
honored by immortals
and by mortals at the feast
every second year.

Leader of the pastoral procession
of sleepless celebration
bring the ivy crowned nymphs
of freshwater springs,
fountains and streams,
bring the howlers, the satyrs
half-man half-goat spirits
of the wilderness and fields,
and all celebrants,
mortal and immortal.

Reveal the sacred
by torchlight sing and shout
the holy litany until tranquility
transforms our ceremony.

traditional: powdered frankincense
suggested: green grass

Aphrodite

botticelli-venus Aphrodite of the heavenly smile,
many hymns praise you.
Born from the sea foam,
goddess of creation,
you love all celebrations,
you bring lovers together at night.

Scheming mother of Necessity,
you hold the world together.
You create us all,
everything in the sky,
everything on the fruitful land,
everything in the ocean deep.

Wise friend of Bacchos,
lover of festivities,
fresh as a bride
mother of Eros,
goddess Persuasion,
whose joy is love’s bed,
mysterious giver of grace,
beautiful-haired daughter
of a great father,
bridal feast companion
of the immortals,
beloved lover,
followed by fawning wolves,
giver of birth and life.

Your love charms
harness mortals with madness.
You release the uncontrolled passions
of every race of beasts.

You are beautiful necessity
even in the frenzy of the shark.
Delicate as sea foam of Cyprus,
fragrant as Syrian oils,

bright as golden chariots
on Egyptian plains
by the sandy bank
of the turquoise Nile,

a choir of the loveliest Nymphs
sings a hymn to your beauty.

Goddess of Cyprus
are you on Mt. Olympus?

Are you riding your swan drawn chariot
over the waves of the sea,
joining the creatures of the deep
in their dancing circles?

Are you at the beach
where your dark faced nymphs
frolic with light feet in the sand?

Are you in Cyprus where they cherish you,
where lovely virgins and chaste brides
praise you all year long,
as they sing of immortal Adonis?

Hear these sacred words,
beautiful goddess,
and notice pious souls.

traditional: none
water: a dish of salt water and a bit of foamy soap

Adonis

Aphrodite_Adonis_Louvre_MNB2109

Hear us, god of many names!
In the solitude filled with song,
many-shaped friend and nurturer,
both male and female in one
forever fresh bloom.

Adonis, you vanish
we who love you weep
until spring when horns
begin to grow on young animals.

Your thriving mane of hair,
is what we all desire,
joyful hunter, beautiful one,
sweet blossom,
son of Aphrodite and Eros
born on the bed
of Persephone.

Deep in muddy Tartaros
you dwell then on Olympus
your body blossoms.
Doomed to set,
you rise in glory.
Laughter follows tears.

For you the women of Athens
planted seeds in broken pots
then left the sprouts to die
on the roof in the sun
as they mourned your death
in what they called your gardens.

Blessed one, bring us
the fruit of the earth.

traditional: aromatic herbs
suggested: sprouts in the sun

Hermes Guide of Souls

K11.7Hermes

On the road of no return
everyone must take,
by the river of weeping
you guide mortal souls
to the gloomy underworld.

Hermes, son of Dionysos
of the celebration dance
and of Aphrodite
of the fluttering eyelashes,
goddess worshiped
in the oldest city of Cyprus,

you haunt the house of Persephone,
guide from horizon to horizon
of doomed mortals you bring
to their fated harbor,

with your sacred wand
you charm souls with sleep
and wake them again.

Persephone gave you
the great responsibility
in all the underworld
of leading the way.

Bless our works,
end them well.

traditional: storax
suggested: salt water

Love

Eros

Holy and pure Eros,
winged archer running
on a path of light,
playing with immortals
and mortals alike.

Inventive, androgynous
master of everything,
of celestial light,
of ocean and earth,
the creatures of the roaring waves
and all that dwell in the underworld,
of all the creative winds
that carry seeds of grass
and grain for the goddess
who nourishes mortals.

You alone control
every course.
Bring us pure thoughts
and banish vile urges.

traditional: aromatic herbs
suggested: flowers

The Fates

William_Blake,_Hecate_or_the_Three_Fates

In the shadow
of the deepest cave
warm darkness breaks ice
freeing a fountain that streams
through barren rock.
It travels far
to feed the lake
you sit beside,
daughters of Black Night.

You have power over all.
Elated men, who forget
they are born to decay,
ride the fatal plain
with opinion for a guide
while you keep secret
the limits of hope
in dark purple
inaccessible,
beyond Justice,
anxious faith
ancient law,
or the measureless
power of order.

Fate alone watches
every life, the other
immortals of Olympus
don’t notice us
except for Zeus
whose perfect sight
also knows all things
for all time.

Kindly hear us,
Klotho who spins the thread.
Lakhesis who measures it.
Atropos who cuts.
Relentless, invincible
necessity you give all
and take all.
Give gently,
and protect us from pain.

traditional: aromatic herbs
suggested: thread or ice on ashes

The Graces

08_Primavera_The_Graces_Detail_jpg Glorious daughters
of Zeus and Eunomia
giver of order to the Seasons:

Aglaia, grace of splendor,
Thalia, loveliness of celebration
and joyous Euphrosyne,
beautiful, wise, pure
mothers of happiness
blooming everywhere
you take many forms
adored by mortals.

We pray to each of you
whose faces enchant
like gorgeous flowers,
ever gentle bring us
blessings of beauty,
health and wealth.

traditional: storax
suggested: your own ideal of beauty

Nemesis

Alfred_Rethel_002Great goddess,
your all seeing eye
watches every race.

Immortal we revere,
you alone rejoice in justice.

You see our thoughts
rolling without rest
and you change them.

Mortals everywhere
groan under the burden
of your judgment.

Arrogant, reckless souls
find no escape.
You see everything,
you hear all,
you judge everyone.

Sublime goddess
you are justice for men,
help us, give us noble minds,
end vile thoughts,
fickle, conceited and corrupt.

traditional: none
suggested: sage

Justice

N20.1AdikiaPiercing eye of Zeus,
you see everything.

You crush the wicked
with righteous vengeance
which the lawless receive
by the truth of correspondence.

When men wish for
more than what is fair,
when false opinions
prevail in dishonest verdicts,
you intervene, enemy of the unjust,
to the just you are gentle.

Notice our noble thoughts,
and with gentle hands guide us
to our fated day.

traditional: frankincense
suggested: cinammon

Equality

equality

Ideal of justice to mortals,
blessed and adored,
blissfully honored by all,
bold and lofty,
pure of thought,
you reward decency.

Your conscience unbreakable
breaks all who refuse to submit,
the greedy who upset
the balance of your scales.

We love to celebrate you,
charm of joyous peace,
as we strive for stable lives.

The unjust disgust you,
but you love the just,
in you the wisdom of virtue
reaches its most noble end.

Hear us, goddess
of the balance and cornucopia,
shatter the wicked,
so mortals who eat
the fruits of the fields
and every living being
nurtured by divine mother earth
may follow the noble path
to true balance.

traditional: frankincense
suggested: feather

Law

Proc_65824_DSC_0056_jpg

Sacred ruler of mortals
and immortals, order
that arranges the stars,
you give earth and ocean
their proper places.

Your rule steadies
nature’s balance.
Celestial traveler
you bring laws from above,
your roar banishes
the malice of envy.

Law, loyal friend to virtuous thoughts,
gives a good end to mortal life,
guiding the course of every breathing thing.

Primordial wisdom
you keep the peace in every home
that respects you
but for the lawless
you have only harsh revenge.

Give wealth,
mighty unity adored by all,
with tender heart
let us remember you.

traditional: none
suggested: frankincense

Number

200px-Tetractys

You describe
and define all things.
You are the beautiful order
of our universe,
the grammar of logic.

You are ratio,
rank, proportion,
perspective.

By your power
matter divides,
and multiplies,

the One becomes many,
the many become One.

Teach us secrets
of music and measure,
and the architecture of harmony.

traditional: none
suggested: frankincense

********************************************************************

Editor’s Note: Also read Series I and Series II of the Sacred Songs of Orpheus

Next month: Sacred Songs of Orpheus #4: Ares to Death will complete the series.

For a complete list of sources see Sacred Songs of Orpheus Part 1

For this series I found especially useful:

R.G. Edmonds III, Extra-ordinary People: Mystai and Magoi, Magicians and Orphics in the Derveni Papyrus, CPh 103 (2008)

Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology
Vernel, H.S.
Brill, 2011

Article Written By Ronnie Pontiac

Newtopia staff writer RONNIE PONTIAC is a founding member and primary guitarist of Lucid Nation, executive producer of the documentaries Rap is War, Exile Nation, and the award winning animated short Cohen on the Bridge.  He associate produced The Gits documentary, and was art editor, then poet in residence for Newtopia Magazine in its former incarnation . He’s a published author of works on obscure topics such as ancient Greek religion and the history of alchemy. Follow him on Twitter @AmerMysteries.

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