Monday, 8 October 2012

The Breastplate of Thelema



Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law
   
In the Western mystery tradition there is often a practice of setting space, through rituals of ‘banishing’ or of circle casting. Many of these rituals, such as the Star Ruby, and Lesser Banishing of the Pentagram also have a cosmological element.  But how does this setting of space relate to the individual who fills this space.  In many banishings there is an implicit or explicit centre, such as the casting of the caim in traditional witchcraft, when the stang is placed at the centre of the circle as the bile or world tree.
The term casting a caim comes from Celtic Christianity in which Celtic Christians created space with a circle at which they formed the centre. The physical casting of a circle and the reciting of the caim was also a gesture of protection. An example of a Caim verse is as follows:

Circle Me Lord
Keep protection near
And danger afar

Circle me Lord
Keep hope within
And doubt without

Circle me Lord
Keep light near
and Darkness afar

Circle me lord
Keep peace within
Keep Evil Without

May you be a bright flame before me,
May you be a guiding star above me,
May you be a smooth path below me,
And a loving Guide behind me,
Today, tonight and forever.

I used to speak a variation of this when I worked and lived with children with intellectual disabilities, and these words were spoken in a circle before bed. To consciously stop and use such an affirmation is quite something in strengthening a sense of centre. The term caim means enclosing or encasing.
Another such affirmation is found in the lorica of St. Patrick. Lorica is a latin word meaning breastplate (as in armour). A rendering of the breastplate is as follows:

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

The above caim affirms space through the Christian God, and St. Patrick’s lorica describes a truly Celtic Christianity, in which both the Gods and the land are acknowledged. In many ways the lorica is also reminiscent of something else, being the song of Amergin.

I am a wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am the roar of the sea,
I am a bull of seven battles,
I am a hawk on the cliff,
I am a teardrop of sunlight,
I am a gentle herb,
I am a boar enraged,
I am a salmon in a pool,
I am a lake in a plain,
I am the vigour of man
I am the meaning of poetry,
I am a spear on the attack (pouring forth combat),
I am the god who fires your mind.

Who lights the mountain's stony places?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who tells the place where the sun will set?
Who calls the cattle from the Sea King’s house?
On whom do the cattle of the Sea King smile?

Which troop, which god takes a knife through gangrene?
Penalties in a spear - enchantments of wind?

Aspects of this song of Amergin can also be found in the Wesh Taleisin materials.
In a postmodern, and mostly post Christian age words calling upon God and deity as the ultimate directing forces seem almost empty. I do not arise in the strength of God, but in my own strength. Nietzsche has declared that God is dead and Sartre has pointed to the fact that in an age when old meanings are dead, that we must create meaning. I believe in myself, in my self-determinism and in the law of Thelema as recognising these. Within the Irish Order Of Thelema there has been an attempt to address the need for a new expression of these old caims and loricas, appropriate to the time and outlook of the age we live in, while still drawing on and respecting these innovations as naturally evolving out of streams of historical practice. The Order has thus devised a breastplate of thelema.

The Breastplate of Thelema

I Arise today in a mighty Strength!
In the refuge of Nuit!
By the light of Hadit
With the strength, force, vigour of Ra Hoor Khuit!

I Arise today
Through the rite of Cath, to Freedom in Discipline!
Through the rite of Fis, to purity of purpose!
Through the rite of Blath, to prosperity in growth!
Through the rite of Seis, to the ordered harmony of one with all!
Through the rite of Mide, to secret source of the sacred Flame!

I Arise today, individual and eternal!
In the balance of elements, in the harmony of spheres.
In the Strength of the New Law, and love under will.
I Arise today in Light, in Life, in Love, in Liberty!

I Arise today through the strength of Heaven,
The Light of Sun, Brilliance of Moon,
Speed of Lightening, Splendour of Fire,
Swiftness of Wind, Depth of Sea
Stability of Earth, Firmness of Rock

I Arise today against Bonds of Ignorance!
Against falsehood and restriction!
Against Fear and weakness, inaction and apathy!
I Arise today against interference or interruption!
Against deceits of Slave Gods!
Against Unjust Law of Old time past!
Against every superstitious and tyrannical Power
that may oppose the Welfare of the Human Race!

I Arise today
With my own strength to pilot me
my own might to uphold me
my own wisdom to guide me
my own eyes to look before me
my own ears to hear for me
my own word manifest within me
my own path before me
Unto the fulfillment of will!

The Light of Hadit within me,
The Blue and Gold of Nuit around me
The Red Flame of Ra Hoor before me
True Brethren on all sides of me
True courage within me
Sacred ground beneath me
One star above me
Harmony on my right
Battle on my left
Prosperity before me
Knowledge behind me
Power in height
Power in breadth
Power in Depth

Thelema in the Heart of everyone who thinks of me
In the mouth of everyone who speaks of me
In the eye of everyone who sees me
In the ear of everyone who hears me

I Arise today in a mighty Strength!
In the refuge of Nuit!
By the light of Hadit
With the strength, force, vigour of Ra Hoor Khuit!

This is a very special piece for me as it makes reference to both the Gods (Gods of the self as Nuit, Hadit and Ra Hoor Khuit) and to the land through the provincial qualities of the island. This affirmation through the powers of the provinces also charts the journey of the initiate of the elemental cycle within the Order. It also makes reference to ‘arising against’ tyrannical and limiting forces, as a flip side to having freedom is opposing forces that will thwart that right.
I hope the evolution towards this modern lorica, which by all means can be used as a fortifying affirmation, has been of some interest to my readers. One thing which leads me to write this was a comment in a book I recently read about the obsession with banishing to the extent that it almost cancels out invocatory work with fortifying forces. Perhaps, like the caims and loricas of old, such a piece could serve to protect and fortify, invoking the energies of the aeon and the island.
I finish with a recitation of the Breastplate



Love is the law, love under will

1 comment:

  1. This breastplate can be found on the Irish Order of Thelema website - www.irishorderofthelema.com

    NOTE: Not from my pen, but personally very important

    ReplyDelete