FOI Online Liturgy
Fortuna, Creation through the Goddess
By: Olivia Robertson
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1. Riddle of the Sphinx
ORACLE OF THEMIS
INVOCATION: Goddess of Wisdom, Mother of the Fates, Bringer of Justice and Peace, help us to create our own future!
ORACLE: Those who declare they seek Wisdom do so often for its own sake. In their hearts they crave for love, success and happiness. But none of these gifts can be theirs without wisdom.
I cannot give you wisdom. This can only come from your own selves, when you have the honesty to learn from your past errors. You cannot transform your future and so acquire eternal reality, without facing your own fallibility. Even the Fates have a Mother. There is always a greater Deity whispering in the ear of a mighty God!
Listen. It is easier to wait for an Oracle with stilled mind than it is to listen to those around you. It is hardest of all to listen when you are criticised. But too often your friends harm you by always agreeing with you: it is your enemies who can bring you the greatest benefit by their censure.
Wisdom comes not only from listening but through seeing. Apparitions of the Deities do not come to those who only look at the tips of their noses, and never gaze with interest at others outside themselves! Watch a child at play and you may see a prophet. Every young girl can be the Sphinx. Three old women sitting knitting over a cheap oil-stove may be the Fates.
It is not enough to receive wisdom. It is necessary to act upon it, and this is the real test for my book-loving students! For such philosophical souls, it is easier to meditate on justice than to defend a neighbour: more pleasant to believe in peace, rather than to intervene in a conflict in order to resolve it.
I whisper in the ear of Zeus: I do not shout at him! Follow my example. You will better bring your own perception of truth and goodness to others when you listen to their own ideas. Arrogance, whether spiritual or intellectual, blinds you to the concealed Goddess or God disguised in some ordinary form. I can speak to You through a cleaning woman, a dog or even someone you dislike. If you follow my advice you will create a transformed future without enemies, folly or misfortune. I am Fortuna. By using symbols I create the future. Learn to make your fortune by reading your own palm!
PRIESTESSES WEAR SILVER TIARAS AND HOLD WANDS: PRIESTS WEAR GOLD HEADDRESSES AND HOLD STAFFS. WOMEN PRACTITIONERS WEAR FLOWER CHAPLETS, MEN, LAUREL WREATHS. OMNES WEAR CLASSICAL GREEK WHITE ROBES WITH GOLD PECTORALS. ON WHITE AND GOLD ALTAR ARE SIX LIGHTED CANDLES, BURNING INCENSE, A BOWL OF WATER, AN ANKH AND A SCROLL. MUSIC MAY BE PLAYED THROUGHOUT. PROCESSION TO ALTAR.
PRIEST HIEROPHANT: Fellow Practitioners who would learn the art of Creation, let us invoke the divine Source of all Creation, the Goddess Themis.
PRIESTESS HIEROPHANT: (OFFERS INCENSE) I offer incense to Thee, the Titanic Themis, Spouse of Zeus. Thou art Mother of the Seasons, Peace, Order and Justice. Thy Daughters are the Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. It was Thou Who first gave Oracles at Delphi, and there instructed Deucalion how to re-people the earth after the great flood. Aid us likewise to create our own destiny!
PR. H: (OFFERS INCENSE) I offer incense to Thee, the Almighty Father, Zeus, Who ever listens to the whispered words of Themis.
“First did the Fates in Their golden chariot bring heavenly Themis, wise in counsel, by a gleaming pathway from the springs of the ocean to the sacred stair of Olympus, there to be Primal Bride of the Saviour Zeus. And She bore Him the Hours with golden fillet and with gleaming fruit - the Hours that are ever true.”
Help us to make a pathway to heavenly Olympus!
1st PRIEST: The Magi have given us a hidden key to the Art of Creation, humble playing cards! Let us turn to their origin, the Tarot. Who will be Apprentice for this first step?
APPRENTICE: I am willing to try.
1st PRIESTESS: (HANDS HIM CARD II OF THE MARSEILLE TAROT DECK.) Tell us what you see!
APP: I see a crude drawing garishly coloured of a middle-aged mediaeval woman reading a book. She wears a triple crown and a blue cloak over a red gown tied at the breast by crossed yellow ribbons. On the right ribbon is the symbol of the Throne of Isis. Behind the woman are the folds of a piece of cloth like wings. The number II is above her and below I read: “La Papesse”.
1st PRIESTESS: What do you make of this?
APP: She represents the Veiled Goddess robed with the elements. The crossed ribbons indicate balance. The triple crown refers to her sovereignty over the three worlds, hell, earth and heaven. She is the Goddess of Wisdom in disguise, reading the Sybilline Book.
1st PRIEST: Why do we start at number two?
APP: We began at number one by invoking Themis. Number two is the First Division of Creation.
PRS. H: We accept you as an apprentice. We now present for your elucidation our play, Oedipus versus the Sphinx.
OEDIPUS VERSUS THE SPHINX
ACTORS WEAR MODERN DRESS. ENTER PHILOSOPHER.
PHILOSOPHER: Know that the ancient Greeks were regarded by all men, as well as by themselves, as the wisest of mankind. And especially were the Thebans of this opinion. Indeed, they declared themselves superior to the Deities in wit and wisdom, for the Deities, they said, had been invented by themselves! So the Gods decided to teach them the truth. Hera Queen of Olympus sent them the Sphinx, daughter of Echidna and Typhon. She was a woman to the waist, a lion below and had the wings of an eagle. Having learnt a riddle from the Muses, the Sphinx couched herself upon Mount Phicium, and propounded the riddle to the Thebans! As it had a hundred answers she could always refuse to accept one of them. So she devoured the Theban philosophers one by one. And so she still does, in more countries than ancient Attica. Behold her latest victim, a Professor of Physics in modern Russia.
ENTER PROFESSOR IN WHITE COAT MAKING NOTES FOLLOWED BY TECHNICIAN.
PROFESSOR: Take these notes on our nuclear plant to the laboratory!
TECHNICIAN: At once, Professor. (EXIT TECH.) Enter young girl wearing lion mask.
GIRL: Father, I'm the Sphinx! You're Oedipus! You must answer the riddle.
PROF: (SMILING) Your Halloween get-up? Hardly authentic. Oh well. I'm rather busy, but ask me your riddle.
GIRL: Oh, it's the same old one we always ask: "What has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?"
PROF: I suppose you want an up-date. Well, the answer remains the same: Man. Man evolves through animal form on to our more advanced expression. The third leg must be a measuring rod.
GIRL: (MOCK GRIEF ) You have conquered me! You have destroyed Nature. (Exit limping, head bowed.)
ENTER WOMAN HYSTERICAL.
WOMAN: I can't face people anymore! They take it out on me because I am your wife. They say it's your fault there is this fall-out with children dying of leukemia!
PROF: Ignorant nonsense! We work within adequate safety levels. Do calm yourself if you don't want another nervous break-down!
EXIT WOMAN WILDLY. WARNING SIRENS.
TECH: (ENTERING DISTRAUGHT) There's a blow-out in the reactor! Contamination is spreading.
PROF: (CALMLY) It will be contained. As usual we must stop news of this getting out - there would be a panic.
TECH. RUSHES OUT. ENTER CLEANING WOMAN, SOBBING.
CLEANING WOMAN: Oh sir, it's terrible! Your poor wife has hanged herself! (EXIT CLEANING WOMAN.)
PROF: (IN DESPAIR) My life and my work are destroyed. How could I have been so blind? I shall kill myself.
RE-ENTER GIRL, UNMASKED IN HEAD SCARF.
GIRL: Father, I am your daughter Antigone. Don't kill yourself. I can bring you vision. Come with me and together we shall create a better planet.
EXEUNT. End of Play.
PR. H: (TO APP.) What do you make of that?
APP: An encapsuled classic! The moral is pretty obvious. Scientists should collaborate with environmentalists.
PRS. H: Your answer will suffice, but it comes from your mind, not your inner self. In order truly to solve the riddle, you need to make a spiritual journey to the constellation of Virgo.
1st PRIEST: Virgo was known variously to the Ancients as Fortuna, Isis and Demeter. As Astraea, Goddess of Justice, Daughter of Themis, She holds the scales of Libra. Are you willing to face Her in whatever form?
APP: I will try.
2nd PRIESTESS: (ANOINTS EACH BROW) May you receive inner vision.
THE WINDOW OF THE VEILED GODDESS
3rd PRIEST: Let us be seated. We shut our eyes and still our minds. We see before us in the distance a hill crowned with a beautiful Temple surrounded by myriads of stars. We mount the hill by a winding path. *** We are climbing up to the Temple of the Zodiac. It is twelve-sided and pearl coloured with long windows that glow with many coloured lights *** we are approaching a Gateway in the south-west guarded by two bronze statues of Sphinxes - man and woman to the waist, lions below, their wings reaching the roof. On the left of the Gateway is a spring from which a stream flows into the Temple through a conduit.
3rd PRIESTESS: Let us enter the Temple, mounting seven white marble steps. *** What glorious colours are within, like rainbows! In the centre is a white altar on which burns a perpetual flame reflected in a crystal sphere. Round the altar are gold statues of a winged bull and lion, an eagle and an angel. What is delightful is that the stream from the left of the entrance flows round the whole Temple in an alabaster channel, until it flows away on the right of the entrance by a conduit.
3rd PRIEST: We look at the twelve stained-glass windows. They have rounded arches above which are enamelled the signs of the Zodiac. Three white steps lead up to them, arched over the stream. We particularly examine the windows on either side of the doorway. On the left, where the stream flows away, is a window marked "Leo", the fifth sign. The stained-glass depicts a naked woman surrounded by a Hawk, a Lioness, a Cow and a Winged God. On the window on the right, where the stream enters, is a picture of a woman veiled from head to foot, holding an Ankh in her right hand, a scroll in her left. Over the window is the sixth sign of Virgo, formed by two folded wings and the knot of Isis. Over the doorway is a bas-relief of a Sphinx, her lion's body facing the Leo window, her woman's face turned towards the window of Virgo. Her wings sweep downwards on either side of the entrance, forming two feathery curtains. She faces the window of Leo, her twin constellation, the Egyptian Androsphinx.
THE ISLES OF THE BLEST
2nd PRIESTESS: Let us be seated facing the entrance. But what is this? Suddenly a powerful wind rushes through the Temple pushing open the Window of Virgo. Through it we see eight blazing stars shining through nebulae. Within this astral sphere of Virgo are the Isles of the Blest where we learn how to weave the future from the past, by using the present.
2nd PRIEST: He that knoweth the future learns that after death it is the lawless spirits that suffer punishment, and their sins committed are judged by Zeus, One who passeth sentence stern and inevitable; while the good rejoice in the presence of the honoured Gods. Those who have been thrice courageous in keeping their souls pure from all deeds of wrong, pass by the highway of Zeus, unto the Tower of Cronus, where the ocean breezes blow around the Isles of the Blest, and flowers of gold are blazing, some on the shore from radiant trees, while others the water fostereth; and with chaplets thereof they entwine their hands to create crowns.
2nd PRIESTESS: (TO APP) Leave by this Window of Virgo to the Isles of the Blest. We shall follow.
2nd PRIESTESS: (TO APP) What have you learnt?
APP: I have learnt to cast away the knowledge that has served its purpose. I now need to have direct experience of whatever comes my way.
2nd PRIESTESS: This is good - you realise you know very little!
HEAVEN OF THE SINGING SIBYL
1st PRIEST: It is now necessary for you to enter the Spiritual Sphere of the Singing Sibyl! We accompany you as you approach two rosy white stars that form Spica, Lucida of Virgo. *** These stars, known as The Singing Sibyl, contain Olympus of the stars. (TO APP.) It is only there that you may hear the Oracle written on the Sybilline scroll.
1st PRIESTESS: "O golden Pytho that are famed for thine oracles, we beseech thee, by Olympian Zeus, with the Graces and Aphrodite, to welcome our friend at this sacred season, as prophet of the tuneful Pleiades. For, beside the water of Castalia, with its outlet of brass, there is the sound of music and dance. Obey thy dear heart, friend, even as a child obeyeth his kind mother, and come to the Grove of Prophecy, the home of garlands and banquets, where, beside the shadowy form of Gaea, the maidens of Delphi full often beat the ground with nimble step, while they sing of the Son of Leto.”
1st PRIEST: Enter this shining Spiritual Realm, where you will meet the Sybil - who is the Sphinx. *** But beware! Do not in pride challenge her by asking for her riddle. Instead pray that she will sing her Oracle for you.
1st PRIEST: Let us return to the Temple. (TO APP) Did you receive the Oracle?
APP: I did, and from listening to her song, I found that only a still mind can receive wisdom. The Sphinx has taught me what to create, how to create and how to do it for good.
1st PRIESTESS: The Window of Virgo is blown shut by a breeze. We leave the Temple through the Gateway, and pass the two Sphinxes. *** We descend the hill by the path, this time accompanied by the tumbling stream that flows from the right of the Gateway. *** We return to our own earthly Temple.
APPRENTICE IF DEEMED SUCCESSFUL IS PRESENTED WITH ANKH AND SCROLL. REPORTS. RAYS OF LIGHT FROM VIRGO ARE SENT FORTH. GIVE THANKS.
Sources: "The Odes of Pindar" , trans. Sandys. "Appollodorus, The Library", Vols. I and II, trans. Frazer, both Heinemann, Harvard. "The Temples of Greece", Parts I and II, Durdin-Robertson, Cesara. "Star Names", Allen, Dover. Phillips' Star Map. Marseille Tarot Deck, B.P. Grimauld, 1740, Paris.
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