The Invocation and Prayer:
Here I will talk about a prayer to the gnomes I use before every work, be it mundane, magical or craft. Let’s read it first:
“I come to you, oh wonderful and ineffable geniuses!
With blind faith and humble heart I entrust myself to your mercy.
Guide my steps and actions ‘til the moment of my death.
And when my mission is over, collect my spirit and bring it
to the place that the Maker reserved for me in his inscrutable design.
Lend your help and transmit my petitions to the celestial/infernal spirits,
without altering any words or intentions.
Look at the purity of my feelings, of my beliefs, of my prudence, of the trust I put in you.
Appreciate all the qualities that I have and do not linger on my defects,
may they not be an obstacle to your cooperation.
As a sign of gratitude I promise to work constantly to perfect myself from all impurity,
to make myself worthy of the divine grace that God grants to his chosen ones,
and to offer thanks with all my heart, during all the time of my pilgrimage on this planet,
for every favor that I receive from you.
So mote it be.”
This prayer has been extracted from “El Libro de San Cipriano: tesoro del hechicero”. This book is part of the mostly iberian and portuguese Book of Saint Cyprian tradition. I’ve translated and synthesized it to English.
Why operating a synthesis? While experimenting with this prayer, I found the need to make it more compelling, quicker, and direct. I didn’t alter the core meaning of the prayer, I just did my own version, respecting and valuing this tradition.
The idea of praying before crafting is a tradition that goes back at least to graeco-egyptian alchemy. But the first clear indication comes from the middle ages.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, civilization took a big hit. It took many centuries to rebuild it as it was before. This had a big impact on crafts. There wasn’t the same quality and diversity of work like before, and in this decline, much knowledge was lost.
There is a book called Mappae Clavicula, dated around the IX century, which managed to salvage part of the spiritual tradition of crafts. It is a quite obscure catalog of craft recipes of different kinds, mostly related to metalworking: casting procedures, imitation and coloring of metals, gold making, glass recipes, stone setting, all along magical and folk references.
There is strong evidence that this collection is derived from one work by Zosimos of Panopolis, called τά χειρόκμητα (“Hand-made things”). In this case it would be an unicum, since it would be the only alchemical work that survived during early middle ages, before the reintroduction of alchemy through Arab and Syrian manuscripts in the XII-XIII century. In one of the manuscript version the index survived and one of the chapters, which is sadly lost, is titled:
“Prayer to be said every time you make the above preparations, or when you cast, so that a good product will result”
Reasons To Pray for Work
Praying will set the right focused mindset, clear useless clutter and help focus your intent on what you’re doing while asking for all the possible help from the Cosmos.
In alchemy the operations are so subtle and sensible that the presence and mood of the operator can influence, in a positive or negative way, the outcome of the work. That’s why it’s necessary that the spirit of the alchemist is in harmony with the self and the environment: to not disturb the process.
In other crafts, prayers and magical devices were used to ensure success in those phases where you have no control on the outcome. This is true especially for those professions that deal with fire since in the oven, furnace or crucible you don’t know what’s happening, and sometimes things go unexpectedly wrong: metal breaks, breads don’t leaven, ceramics shatter or explode. So through prayer you reduce these episodes by being more focused and ensuring that invisible forces deal with the rest.
A few words about Gnomes
Now I won’t make the whole explanation of who are the gnomes, which I will do in another article I’m actually preparing. I will just do a brief account, useful for the prayer. The first to talk about them in the esoteric context is Paracelsus in his Liber de Nymphis. He says that the Gnomes are the elemental spirits of Earth: dwellers of caves, mountain and tunnels, miners and crafters of metal and stone, guardians of treasures. This profile resembles the autokhtonos (sprung from the land) of many cultures, such as dwarfs, pygmies, goblins, fairies, etc.
In the Cyprian tradition, gnomes have a wider role. They are invisible spirits dwelling everywhere, from the insides of your body to your surrounding, responsible for physical and mental phenomena. They are still guardians of treasure, but intended in a more allegorical way: discovering treasure is a spiritual act of knowing the self, resembling the act symbolized by the VITRIOL motto (Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem). The cave is the shadow part of the self and the treasure is the learning, the experience that helps you grow and mature.
This is the reason I call this prayer “Alchemical”: if you’ll use it for devotional work, you will see that it sparks in you, if you don’t have it already, the desire to perfect yourself, to reach the goals that you have set up.
If we sum the information we see how the gnomes are here basically “Swiss-army knife” spirits with multiple functions:
- Bricks of reality (Atoms)
- Guide humans from birth to death
- Act as psychopomps. Bring spirit to the afterlife
- Transmit petitions to celestial and infernal spirits
- Agents of change in reality and consciousness
- Help in achieving perfection
- Cause emotions, thinking, intuitions
- Remove impurities
- Give favors
Gnomes and Science
The Book mention that gnomes are similar to Atoms. This open an analogy from the world of science that I think helps understand them. As we have seen, Gnomes are very active spirits, they have lot of “work” to do. And I found useful to use the definition of Work in the field of Physics:
“Work is the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force along a displacement.”
So we could say the Gnomes are both the impulse that connects matter through the links formed by electrons, and the one who, through synapses and neurons, connect the brain.
But how do you gain the favor of these tiny perpetual workers of reality? A way to appeal to a laborer is an offer to ease its job. One of which is, as seen both in the prayer and in the Book of St. Cyprian, to bring nature to perfection. This offer is already present in the prayer, in the form of the statement about becoming purer and perfect.
The gnomes are craftsmen of matter and mind, of the macrocosm and microcosm. And since you’re part of reality, by perfecting yourself you’re helping them in their job, making it easier. Then it’s absolutely important that you put your sincere belief, humbleness and intent in this statement.
Variations on the Prayer for Work
This prayer is a complete invocation on it’s own (though bordering on evocation) since it contains a petition, an offering and a request.
Here you first make a petition to the gnomes as intermediaries who, like crossroad spirits, will open communication.
Then you have an implicit pact in the offering of commitment for self perfection.
And in the end it implies that gnomes makes you favors, thus opening the possibilities that you can ask them for various things.
Due to all these possibilities, and recalling the fact that they are still earth elementals per paracelsian thought, I’d say that, similarly to what some practitioners propose for the Stele of Jeu in the PGM, it’s possible to change the main request, that is to “Transmit the petition”, with a more flexible formula: “Lend your help and… [insert request]”
- “…remove every impurity from this place.”
- “…support me in finding a job.”
- “…bring me the person I love.”
I don’t claim a deep relationship with spirits. I’m neither a psychic nor an oracle and have always been a supporter of the motto “the Gods help those who help themselves”, but I want to share some tips, out of my experience with this prayer and with the spirits behind it.
First, gather a moment of extreme Presence to yourself. Focus on the prayer and the work you are going to do.
But, unlike the norm, do not just focus on yourself. Focus on the Self and the World. Remember clearly that all your efforts do not just help you reach your achievements, they also advance the common goal of humanity.
Every stone you lay lies on the labors and the sweat of countless ancestors who made it possible for you to be where you are, and they will be among the foundation of future stones. All the ideas and inspiration you will produce and put into practice won’t be just part of your personal Gnosis, but will also be Knowledge, which is the collective Gnosis of Humanity.
Every craftsmen in mythology work for others. Be generous, be humble, be stout in your heart and when you’re ready, start with the prayer. And if you’re not ready, if you’re in need and want to be ready, don’t worry: get your hands dirty, work, pray with a strong voice, and you will muster the needed strength. Gnomes are spirits of cooperation, they’re your comrades, and they know that a fragile link weakens all the chain, so they will help you in the time of need.
Hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to share it among those you feel could be interested in this.
And if you opt to use this in your practice, feel free to ask questions or post about your experience!
As the metal, so the body.
Special thanks to my friend Ricardo Meyer for helping me translate and understand the prayer from Spanish.