Summer solstice: the sun in Thelemic ritual

The sun is important to Thelemites. In honor of the summer solstice, here is a survey of some of the ways in which the sun plays a part in Thelemic rituals.

Resh

If you’ve ever gone to a Thelemic event you might have seen the group turn toward the sun and make a declaration. Liber Resh vel Helios gives adorations to be performed four times a day. At sunrise the sun is addressed as Ra, at noon as Ahathoor (Hathor), at sunset as Tum, and at midnight as Kephra.

Gnostic Mass

The Gnostic Mass (Liber XV) mentions the sun several times.

At the beginning of the Mass the congregation recites the Creed together, starting with this sentence:

I believe in one secret and ineffable LORD; and in one Star in the Company of Stars of whose fire we are created, and to which we shall return; and in one Father of Life, Mystery of Mystery, in His name CHAOS, the sole viceregent of the Sun upon the Earth; and in one Air the nourisher of all that breathes.

The Mass specifies that the priest is a “priest of the sun”. The priestess confirms this by calling the priest to rise “In the name of our Lord the Sun”. She places a red and gold robe on him and says, “Be the flame of the Sun thine ambience , O thou PRIEST of the SUN!”

Later the priest stands before the closed veil and makes a declaration that includes the sun:

Thou that art One, our Lord in the Universe the Sun, our Lord in ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mystery, uttermost being whose radiance enlightening the worlds is also the breath that maketh every God even and Death to tremble before Thee…

Later in the Mass the deacon speaks the Collects. The first is addressed to the sun:

Lord visible and sensible of whom this earth is but a frozen spark turning about thee with annual and diurnal motion, source of light, source of life, let thy perpetual radiance hearten us to continual labour and enjoyment; so that as we are constant partakers of thy bounty we may in our particular orbit give out light and life, sustenance and joy to them that revolve about us without diminution of substance or effulgence for ever.

In the Anthem the priest gives a long speech which describes the “centre and secret of the Sun”. This is so important a phrase that it appears in the speech twice.

Thou who art I, beyond all I am,
Who hast no nature and no name,
Who art, when all but Thou are gone,
Thou, centre and secret of the Sun,
Thou, hidden spring of all things known
And unknown, Thou aloof, alone,
Thou, the true fire within the reed
Brooding and breeding, source and seed
Of life, love, liberty, and light,
Thou beyond speech and beyond sight,
Thee I invoke, my faint fresh fire
Kindling as mine intents aspire.
Thee I invoke, abiding one,
Thee, centre and secret of the Sun,
And that most holy mystery
Of which the vehicle am I.
Appear, most awful and most mild,
As it is lawful, in thy child!

Later in the Anthem the women of the congregation say: “Glory to Thee, eternal Sun, Thou One in Three, Thou Three in One!”

During the part of the Mass called the Consecration of the Elements the priest says, “Let this offering be borne upon the waves of Æthyr to our Lord and Father the Sun that travelleth over the Heavens in his name ON.”

During the Mass communion cookies called Cakes of Light are distributed to the congregation. One of the Cakes sits on the paten and is called the Host. When the priest eats the Host during the Consummation of the Elements he says, “In my mouth be the essence of the life of the Sun.”

The female sun

The sun is not only the Lord. Liber Resh addresses the sun at noon as Ahathoor, Hathor. In the Mass the priestess speaks the words of Nuit, “I am the blue lidded daughter of sunset.” In the sixth Collect, The Earth, the deacon says, “Mother of fertility on whose breast lieth water, whose cheek is caressed by air, and in whose heart is the sun’s fire”…

Feast of the Times

Now that we know a bit more about what the sun means to Thelemites, what do we do at summer solstice?

The Gnostic Mass lists the Thelemic holy days, among which are “rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.” Many Thelemites take summer solstice as one of the feasts of the times. There isn’t any particular ritual performed at that time other than Liber Resh. Some groups might celebrate a Gnostic Mass, others create original rituals for the occasion. This is an occasion for us to get together and enjoy each other’s fellowship.

Whatever happens, there should be food. After all it is called a feast!

Happy Solstice everyone!


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