Ancient Hymns and Poetry for the Dead

Orphic Hymn 7. To the Stars
Incense: Aromatic Herbs

I call forth the sacred light of the heavenly stars,
and with devotional prayers I summon the holy demons.
Heavenly stars, dear children of dark Night,
On circles you march and whirl about ,
O brilliant and fiery begetters of all.
Fate; everyone’s fate,
you reveal and you determine the divine path for mortals,
As, wandering in midair you gaze upon the seven luminous orbits.
In heaven and on earth ever indestructible on your blazing trail,
You shine upon night’s cloak of darkness.
Coruscating, gleaming, kindly and nocturnal,
visit the learned contents of this rite,
Finishing a noble race for works of glory.

Orphic Hymn 21. To the Clouds
Incense: Myrrh

Airy clouds that nourish fruits and rove the sky,
You give rain as you are driven everywhere by the wind.
Filled with blazing thunder and water,
you resound with awesome crashes
In the air-filled vault of heaven
when you are repelled by the onrush of raging winds.
To you I pray, you whose dewy cloaks are blown by fair breezes,
Send fruit-nourishing rains to mother earth.

Orphic Hymn 37. To the Titans
Incense: Frankincense

Titans, glorious children of Ouranos and Gaia, forebears of our fathers,
Who dwell down below in Tartarean homes in the earth’s bowels.
From you stem all toiling mortals,
the creatures of the sea and of the land,
The birds, and all generations of this world come from you,
And upon you I call to banish harsh anger,
If some earthly ancestor of mine stormed your homes.

Orphic Hymn 85. To Sleep
Incense: Opium Poppy

Sleep, you are lord of all the blessed gods and mortal men,
And of every living creature the broad earth nurtures,
For you alone are master of all and you visit all,
Binding their bodies with fetters unforged.
You free us of cares, and, offering sweet respite from toil,
You grant holy solace to our every sorrow.
You save souls by easing them into the thought of death,
Since to Death and Oblivion you are a true brother.
But, O blessed one, I beseech you to come, sweet-tempered,
And kindly save the initiates that they may serve the gods.

Orphic Hymn 86. To Dream
Incense: Aromatic Herbs

I call upon you, blessed, long-winged and baneful dream,
Messenger of things to come, greatest prophet to mortals.
In the quiet of sweet sleep you come silently, and, speaking to the soul,
You rouse men’s minds and in their sleep you whisper to them
The will of the blessed ones.
Silent you come to show the future to silent souls,
That walk the noble path of piety to the gods,
So that always good wins the race to people’s minds,
And leads their lives to pleasures enjoyed before evil arrives,
And to respite from suffering…………………………….
The end to which the pious come is always sweeter,
But to the impious never does a dreamy phantom,
a prophet of evil deeds,
Reveal future necessity, so that they find deliverance from pain to come.
But, blessed one, I beg you to show me the behests of the gods,
And in all things bring me close to the straight path.
Do not show me evil signs which conduce monstrous deeds.

Orphic Hymn 87. To Death
Incense: Powdered Frankincense

Hear me you who steers the course of all mortals,
And gives holy time to all ahead of whom you lie.
Your sleep tears the soul free from the body’s hold,
When you undo nature’s tenacious bonds,
Bringing long and eternal slumber to the living.
Common to all, you are unjust to some,
When you bring a swift end to youthful life at its peak.
In you alone is the verdict common to all executed,
For to prayers and entreaties you alone are deaf.
But, O blessed one, with sacrifices and pious vows,
I beg you to grant long life,
that old age might be a noble prize among men.