February 24, 2014

Prayers for the Starry Bull

The Trials of Daily Practice

Sannion is starting up an Orphic Bacchic tradition called the thiasos of the Starry Bull. I approve of this. I’m not going to join, because I seriously suck at following other people’s rules for religion, but I approve on general principles. Sannion and I clearly have some similar ideas and experiences of mysteries of Dionysos (not just cuz I think so; he was kind enough to link to my piece on divine madness, and to say, “That right there is exactly what the Bacchic Orphic mysteries are about.”), and I’m very glad to know that other people have similar understandings, but also I just generally approve of more established culti (even ones I personally think are ridiculous).

One of the things he’s requiring of anyone wishing to join this tradition — the price of admission, he calls it — is that they maintain a daily practice that honors particular figure or group of figures for each day of the week. I started playing with prayers along the lines of my own spinning prayers, and here’s what I’ve got, which any of the thiasos of the Starry Bull are welcome to use. Or anybody else, for that matter.

First, a single prayer for the set:

The throng that follows the Starry Bull
Above the earth or below
The throng that knows the Starry Bull
As sister, as lover, as friend
The throng that loves the Starry Bull
Pray admit me to your number

Then, for each day of the week, a specific deity or groups of figures is honored:

Monday – Persephone
Tuesday – Ariadne
Wednesday – Hermes
Thursday – The Heroes
Friday – The Heroines
Saturday – Nymphs and Satyrs
Sunday – Dionysos

I pray to Persephone
The Iron Queen of Erebos
Who welcomes and transforms the reveler
I [take action] for Persephone of the Starry Bull

I pray to Ariadne
Who guides the way to the Starry Bull,
And returns from under the earth
I [take action] for Ariadne of the Starry Bull

I pray to Hermes
Of the staff and the fleet feet
Who guides us down and sets our feet on the path
I [take action] for Hermes of the Starry Bull

I pray to the Heroes
Those who have walked these paths before
And feast forever at our Lord’s side
I [take action] for the Heroes of the Starry Bull

I pray to the Heroines
Who have sorrowed before us
And will rejoice beside us when we follow them
I [take action] for the Heroines of the Starry Bull

I pray to the Nymphs and Satyrs
His eternal companions
Those who dance with him above and below
I [take action] for the Nymph and Satyrs of the Starry Bull

I pray to Dionysos
Who liberates and saves us
Who offers an eternal feast to those who know the Mystery
I [take action] for Dionysos, who is the Starry Bull

Personally, if I decide to follow this pattern (it appeals to me somewhat, I admit), I will be adding Hekate, and praying to her alongside Persephone. I do not think that Hekate should be left out of the Orphic cultus, as she, too, leads the souls of the dead, and she keeps the gates below, and yet she, too, dances the Bacchic rites with the dead there.


I pray to Hekate
Who brings the dead to the feast
Who dances in revels lit by her torches
I [take action] for Hekate of the Starry Bull

Now I, of course, mean to recite this while spinning, and my wind-on refrain will be The Starry Bull runs on and on, the rushing ram runs on, and so where I’ve marked a prayer with [take action], I shall say spin, and suit deed to word. But I’m sure the actual members of the thiasos mostly don’t spin, and even if they do, may not wish to spin as a form of prayer. So I suggest lighting incense — either a single type for all of them, or a different one for each — or pouring a libation, or drumming, or whatever else seems good to them, merely inserting the correct words into the prayer while they take they action.

ETA: Sannion apparently liked my prayers, and even added Hekate to his thiasos' pantheon, although he specifies that she be honored alongside Hermes rather than Persephone (which makes sense, given that their roles in these mysteries are matched). He also added Aphrodite, to be honored with Ariadne on Tuesday. Therefor:

I pray to Aphrodite
She who brings together what is separate
Who inspires the action of the night
I [take action] for Aphrodite of the Starry Bull

Yes, the third line is specifically about sex. Yes, the Greeks actually used "action" that way, as one of the titles of Aphrodite is Praxis, which is literally action, but contextually refers to sex. So. Go get some action, in the name of Aphrodite.