The Orphic Hymns + Fixed Star Hack
In Greek mythology, Orpheus (Ὀρφεύς) was a poet, singer, and prophet who played music so beautifully that it charmed the full spectrum of existence, from the lowliest rock to the highest of Gods. His instrument was the first ever Lyre, crafted from a tortoise shell by young Mercury and gifted to Orpheus by the Sun God Apollo.
He is best known for traveling into the underworld to rescue his newly deceased bride, playing his Lyre for King Hades and Queen Persephone, who too were charmed. They agreed to release Mrs. Orpheus, named Eurydice, under the condition that he walk ahead of her without looking back. When the star crossed couple were on the brink of arrival in the land of the living, Orpheus couldn’t help but to see if his love was still with him, and as he did, she was swallowed back into the land of the dead, never to return.
Upon Orpheus’ own death, Jupiter cast his famed instrument into the sky, becoming the constellation Lyra. Its primary star is the bright and benefic Vega, which bestows mysterious and artistic talents, the ability to enchant, and the power to cast divine spells. But more on that in an eventual Vega series 😉
Orpheus was the patron namesake of Orphism, though the figure of Persephone and Dionysus were also important, each having their own relationships to the underworld and resurrection.
There are some parallels between the Orphic cosmology and Buddhism, in that Orphism saw humans as divine, yet shackled to a grievous cycle of death and rebirth that could be transcended with the right knowledge, development, and spiritual processes. The goal of a practitioner of the Orphic Mysteries was to navigate the death realms consciously and well, and ultimately, to break from the earthly cycle of reincarnation.
The Orphic Hymns are a set of 87 short poetic prayers written in the late Hellenistic or early Roman era, each one dedicated to a different figure in the ancient Western mythological canon. Agrippa was the first person to point out the fact that the Hymns could be used in planetary magic, making for the first Orphic Hack.
They have proven an exceptionally convenient, open source tool for the practicing magician or remedial devotee, even to this day, where they appear to be having a moment. A crowd funding project was recently funded for a modern reconstruction of the Hymns, and myself and many others have begun using and referring to the hymns more on social media.
Every Sphere + Sundry order comes with basic instructions, suggested times of working for the most potent results, and a prayer. Often the prayer is an Orphic Hymn, because they are copyright free, but more importantly, because they have been employed by humanity for hundreds of years.
The Powers that Be have been addressed by them for so long, that the petitions will be easily recognizable and empowered by the echoes of all who have prayed before. They are a resurrected thread of magical continuity — a current flowing directly to the ears of the Gods.
As I was putting together the instructions for the Regulus and Algol series, I was feeling irked that there wasn’t an Orphic Hymn that could be used to address them outside conflation with a mythically related figure.
I wondered if I should write an original prayer, a la Austin Coppock’s contribution to The Celestial Art, “A Feast of Starlight”, where he provides a structure for such a thing, or whether to use the Hymn to Helios (the Sun) or even Apollo for Regulus. Unsatisfied with either option, the Hymn to Astron (the stars) pulled my focus, and another Orphic Hack was born.
The Hymn to Astron can be used to address any fixed star, if you replace the first instance of “the stars” with the name of the star you would like to petition. For Regulus, it would become:
With holy voice I call
the Stars Regulus on high, pure sacred light and genii of the sky.
Celestial star, the progeny of Night, in whirling circles beaming far your light,
Refulgent rays around the heav’ns ye throw, eternal fires, the source of all below.
With flames significant of Fate ye shine, and aptly rule for men a path divine.
In seven bright zones ye run with wand’ring flames,
and heaven and earth compose your lucid frames:
With course unwearied, pure and fiery bright forever shining thro’ the veil of Night.
Hail twinkling, joyful, ever wakeful fire! Propitious shine on all my just desires;
These sacred rites regard with conscious rays, and end our works devoted to your praise.
The prayer acknowledges the nature of stars, and asks for their blessing. While the features of Regulus are not directly mentioned, Regulus is always just Regulus-ing, so you don’t really have to. That being said, you could follow the Orphic Hymn with your own after prayer, should you have a specific request in mind.