A Preparatory Regimen for Gnostic Mass Officers
In an earlier article, I have discussed conditions for eucharistic magick. As mentioned in that essay, those conditions (i.e. chastity, fasting, and continual aspiration) apply across the board to the operators in any eucharist, including the Mass of the Phoenix and my own Short Eucharist. In the Gnostic Mass, they are pertinent to both the officers and the communicants in the congregation. Since writing that piece, however, I have come to consider that E.G.C. clergy who serve as principal officers in our central sacrament can benefit from a more particular regimen of preparation, based on the principles already discussed, and manifesting certain key methods and formulae of our tradition. There are five components to this regimen.
I. (shin) Daily Stations of the Sun
Thelemites who observe the ritual of Liber Resh (or some suitable substitute) often have periods of increased or diminished rigor in that practice, even--or especially--when we engage in it over many years or decades. But even when we are in a period of laxity, we should be especially punctilious and punctual with those adorations in the twenty-four hours prior to serving as an officer in the Gnostic Mass. We should not scruple to interrupt sleep or other activities for this purpose.
For those clergy who have not opted to include the daily stations of the sun among their routine disciplines, it is also useful to make it a special observance during the immediate period of preparation for serving in the Mass. (And may they come through this experience to realize its more general value!)
II. (heh final) Fasting
The observance of the Stations of the Sun can help to define the period of fasting prior to serving as a Mass officer. To be specific, a minimal fast should have begun before the last of the four solar adorations observed before the Mass itself. I think of this as a "quarter-Resh fast." A "half-Resh fast" carried out through the span of two adorations, or "three-quarter Resh fast" through three, would be more a more rigorous alternative.
Also, we can be sensitive to the use of various sorts of fasting that do not go so far as full abstinence from food. Some of these are helpfully inventoried in the 18th Illumination of Dame Anna Kingsford's Clothed with the Sun. An incremented example constructed on this basis might go as follows:
III. (vau) Holy Meditation
In point 5 of Liber CC, the adorant is instructed to "compose Thyself to holy meditation." Many Thelemites working Liber Resh omit this part of the ritual in practice, and if included, it is open to considerably varying interpretations. For the final Station of the Sun before serving as a Gnostic Mass officer, I would especially encourage reflection on a passage from the Holy Books of Thelema, after the manner of lectio divina. Read slowly, with both mind and voice engaged, open to associations at the personal and the general level. Be attentive to the promptings of your individual genius, and allow these to take intelligible form. Finally, permit the words of the book to be swallowed in the silence of your innermost being.
IV. (heh initial) Bathing
Helena and Tau Apiryon observe: "Vestments of all officers should be donned ceremonially before the Mass, after ceremonial ablutions. All officers took a bath and meditated for a time before commencing the Gnostic Mass at Agapé Lodge." In the Mathers/Crowley edition of the Goetia, a Latin "conjuratioun" is prescribed for use "atte ye bathes of art":
Asperges me, domine, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.The text is in fact Psalms 51:9 from the Vulgate Bible (which is 51:7 in the KJV and most English Bibles). Given that the "hocus-pocus" language of Liber XV is Greek rather than Latin, clergy preparing for Mass may prefer to use the Greek version from the Septuagint:
ραντιεις με κυριε υσσωπω και καθαρισθησομαι πλυνεις με και υπερ χιονα λευκανθησομαιThe words domine and κυριε are actually not present in the biblical versions, being the added "Lord" of direct address for invocatory use. In the form given by Crowley in Chapter XIV of Magick in Theory and Practice, the word "Therion" is substituted for domine, and he remarks the connection of this conjuration with the mysteries of the VII° O.T.O. He also recommends replacing it wholesale with CCXX I:44:
For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.
V. (yod) Prayer
Some sort of deliberate, practiced prayer (in addition to any spontaneous adorations and petitions) should be undertaken by a Mass officer after ceremonial ablutions and prior to the Mass proper. I have provided some of my own prayers for this purpose here. But the best prayers will be carefully composed and refined by clergy for their own use, and I have not presumed to offer an exemplar for use by priestesses. I would be especially interested in any such that working priestesses might elect to share.
Vigorous Food & Divine Madness