Continued from Part I…

Writing Prayers:

So, when it comes to writing a prayer as a Pagan, particularly if it is going to be used for a group, or shared with the intent that others might find it useful, the first place to start is with the intent.  And since I’ve already been playing with paint for this post…

…that was so much easier then trying to write that in a way that made sense!!  Although, it leaves some things out before the “get writing” stage (I ran out of room, lol).

In addition to the intent of the prayer, which determines the type of prayer to use, and the deity that it will be directed at, the next thing to consider is the theme.  A prayer with an overall image or overarching metaphor to project can be quite powerful.  Similarly to spell crafting, this is where knowing correspondences can come in handy (for example, water makes for a good imagery for prayers dealing with emotion or earth for growth, etc).  It can also be beneficial to know what deities might be most appropriate to direct it to (while water might have an association with childbirth, Poseidon isn’t necessarily the best deity to direct that particular prayer to), although being a devotee of a particular deity might override whether or not something is their specialty.  Another thing to keep in mind while writing the prayer is choosing the right sort of language for your audience (the link is to a Christian blog which shares some good advice).

Prayer Structures:

This layout, in the Christian tradition is called the “collect form” prayer, and is the basic structure for petitioning and thanksgiving prayers:

  1. Invocation–the naming of the god(s) we are asking to come to our aid, etc, and the invitation for them to hear our prayer
  2. Relative Clause–the recognition of their titles/traits and they ways in which they are important
  3. Petition/Thanksgiving–the request for assistance, blessing, etc OR  statements of adoration and thanksgiving
  4. Statement of Purpose–I’d call this one “the trade-off”, if I were in charge of the naming conventions…but its basically your promise/commitment of worship or homage to the god(s)
  5. Conclusion–the closing statement (Amen equivalents–blessed be, etc)
If you look at a historical Pagan prayer, it even follows the same lay out, though (if you checked out the link and read the Christian examples) there is a different emphasis in many ancient Pagan prayers than there is in modern Christian ones.  As an example, I’ve included the Orphic hymn to Athena, which has a quite lengthy relative clause, compared to the petitionary section, and there isn’t all that much of the so-called statement of purpose (probably deemed unnecessary because all of the relative clause buttering up…and the offering of incense).

To Athena, with an incense of aromatic herbs.
Pallas, you only-begotten One, born of mighty Zeus, awesome you are, and divine:
Goddess so blessed, lifting high the turmoil of the fray,
Mighty One unspeakable yet so well spoken of!
Great-named One at home in a vault of stone,
Caught up in haughty hills and wandering the shaded mountain’s ridge,
You who put a dance in the heart and glory in embattlements,
You can put the sting of mania into a mortal soul!
Athletic Maiden with a heart sublime,
Slayer of the Gorgon, fugitive of the bridal bed,
Mother of Art in all your abundance, catalyst of progress!
You bring folly to the corrupt and a sense of purpose to the pure!
Indeed, you are male and female in one,
Patron of war and wisdom,
You are fluid of form, a dragon,
Infused with inspiration of the Gods!
Rightly-honored One, who brought Phlegran giants down to defeat,
You driver of steeds, Tritogeneia, save us from evil, bearing Victory in your arms!
Day and night, eternally, in even the loneliest hours,
Hear my prayer, and grant us an abundant peace, fulfillment, good health.
Make prosperous the hour, gray-eyed One, inventor of Art,
The object of the people’s ceaseless prayers–
My Queen!

to be continued…