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The Magic of the Orphic Hymns

A New Translation for the Modern Mystic

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Recaptures the magical vitality of the original Orphic Hymns

• Presents literary translations of the teletai that restore important esoteric details and correspondences about the being or deity to which each hymn is addressed

• Includes messages inscribed on golden leaves meant to be passports for the dead as well as a reinvention of a lost hymn to Number that preserves the original mystical intent of the teletai

• Explores the obscure origins and the evolution of the Orpheus myth, revealing a profound influence on countercultures throughout Western history

As famous Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino wrote, “No magic is more powerful than that of the Orphic Hymns.” These legendary teletai of Orpheus were not simply “hymns”—they were initiatic poems for meditation and ritual, magical, and ceremonial use, each one addressed to a specific deity, such as Athena or Zeus, or a virtue, such as Love, Justice, and Equality. Yet despite the mystical concepts underlying them, the original hymns were formulaic, creating an obstacle for translators.

Recapturing the magical vitality that inspired mystery cults through the ages, Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac present new versions of the teletai that include important esoteric details and correspondences about the being or deity to which each hymn is addressed. The authors also include a new version of a lost hymn called “Number” and messages that were inscribed on golden leaves meant to be passports for the dead, reinventions that preserve the original magical intent and mysticism of the teletai. Revealing the power of the individual hymns to attune the reader to the sacred presence of the Orphic Mysteries and the higher order of nature, the authors also show how, taken together, the Orphic Hymns are a book of hours or a calendar of life, addressing every event, from birth to death, and walking us through all the experiences of human existence as necessary and holy.

About The Authors

Tamra Lucid is a founding member of the experimental rock band Lucid Nation. She was a writer and editor for Newtopia Magazine and the principal interviewer for the original Reality Sandwich. She has produced documentary films, including Exile Nation: The Plastic People, End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock, and the award-winning Viva Cuba Libre: Rap Is War. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Ronnie Pontiac.

Ronnie Pontiac worked as Manly P. Hall’s research assistant, screener, and designated substitute lecturer for seven years. He is an award-winning documentary producer, and has written for Invisible College Magazine, Newtopia, Metapsychosis, Occult of Personality, and Reality Sandwich. He lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (August 22, 2023)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644117217

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Raves and Reviews

“Tamra and Ronnie have outdone themselves! This book is the most comprehensively intelligent and pleasurably accessible portrait of Orphic mythology now available. Their modern translations of the Orphic hymns yield fresh fruit from an ancient vine. The culmination of their historical and practical research yields a book that testifies to the 21st century: this music is magic, and the magic is real. Anyone interested in the intersections of music, myth, and magic will delight in this work.”

– Matt Marble, author of Buddhist Bubblegum

“This book is a marvel of pagan revivalism. Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac have created a symphonic and learned study of the Orphic mythos encompassing history and meaning; translation of key odes; and reconstructed practice. If you yearn for evidence that the old deities are with us today, look no further than The Magic of the Orphic Hymns.”

– Mitch Horowitz, PEN Award–winning author of Occult America and Uncertain Places

“This fascinating, lively, and erudite exploration of Orphism is a superb entrance point to this treasure trove of lore and knowledge.”

– Richard Smoley, editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and author of A Theo

“Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac have produced a beautifully clear and elegant version of the ancient Orphic hymns, preceded by a meticulously researched mythic, historical, and magical overview of all things Orphic past and present. They are passionate and thorough, their tone contemporary and accessible, creating a wonderful example of what Jeff Kripal calls ‘the gnostic classroom,’ which is rigorously scholarly yet deeply sympathetic to the universal wisdom of the Orphic tradition. A great resource for students and practitioners alike.”

– Angela Voss, editor of Marsilio Ficino (Western Esoteric Masters Series)

“A wonderful book for anyone interested in metaphysics and mythology. Not only a fascinating and easy-to-read history but also an exhaustive work of scholarship—and in the translations of the poems that make up the second half of the book, a mind-blowing work of creativity. A must for any visionary’s library.”

– Tod Davies, author of the History of Arcadia visionary fiction series and editorial director of Exte

“The Orphic hymns are among the most beautiful and effective invocations that have been handed down to us from the ancient Greeks. But, while Taylor’s classic translations are both admirable and eloquent in practice—that is, used ritualistically—they can seem clumsy and, at times, even cumbersome. Pontiac and Lucid’s welcome interpretive renditions have changed all of that. Theirs have quickly become my go-to translations for using the hymns in practical theurgic rites.”

– P. D. Newman author of Theurgy: Theory and Practice

“Ronnie Pontiac and Tamra Lucid, musicians and metaphysicians both, the inheritors of Manly P. Hall’s blessings. Who better to reveal the living magic of the Orphic hymns to a new generation? The Orphic hymns are not spells but poetic and magical evocations aligned with the understanding of pantheism, that all of nature is divinely infused and revealed through its kindred correspondences. Although the book chases the figure of Orpheus through history in a scholarly fashion, the author is not identified, the story is too complex and veiled. The magic is to be encountered in the song, not the singer, so take up the invitation and softly sing to the world outside your window.”

– Naomi Ozaniec, author of Becoming a Garment of Isis

“This book delivers what its title indicates: the translations of the Orphic fragments and hymns are rendered in clear modern English, easy to understand for the contemporary reader. The review and analysis of scholarship on the contested ‘Orphic’ religion is wide ranging and comprehensive. All scholarship is taken into consideration from skeptical classicists to engaged occultists. The book presents a ‘feeling’ of the Orphic tradition and at the same time an analytic and critical overview of ‘Orphism’ from ancient to modern times. From the ancient poets to the modern painters of Orphism; from Plato and Plotinus to Ficino, Thomas Taylor, and E. R. Dodds; from Monteverdi to Philip Glass to modern pop culture—it is an accomplishment. I give my warmest endorsement.”

– Jay Bregman, author of Synesius of Cyrene

“I have often said that history is not a linear line, but instead a complex web. The goal of the historian is to make that web feel linear to the non-specialist. Tamra Lucid and Ronnie Pontiac have done exactly that, producing a stellar work, including passages so gorgeously written, I found myself returning to previous pages for a reread. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, The Magic of the Orphic Hymns is a wild ride through history, ritual, and the mysteries of the human mind and soul. As Lucid and Pontiac took me through the many ages and evolutions of the Orphic Mysteries, I could almost hear the sweet strings of a lute accompanying the many discoveries I made while reading—such is the strength of this timely work. Highly recommended to those who like their history neat, engaging, and filled with a page-turning allure that can only be described as magic.”

– Thomas Hatsis, author of The Witches’ Ointment and Psychedelic Mystery Traditions

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