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FOI Online Liturgy
Sphinx, Goddess Myths and Mysteries
By: Olivia Robertson

Printable PDF File



Invocation: I invoke the aid of the Goddess Nemesis, worshipped as Fate in Attica, foster-mother of Helen of Sparta, Mistress even of the Gods. How may we obey the Divine Decrees of reward and retribution when we lack wisdom? We fight over what is good and what is evil. Veiled Nemesis, have pity on our blindness!

Oracle: Look within yourself and you will find the Divine Law of Goodness written in your soul. No one may escape Fate, whether he be god or human, animal or tree.

This earth is a careful game created by the deities. Each creature learns through the experiences of joy and pain; love and hate; life and death. Evolving animals and plants discover where to grow, what to eat, how to survive. All nature follows the path of love which reproduces itself through desire. Strength is developed for defence against predators. It is not always the mighty that exist the longest! Powerful reptiles perished through immobility inflicted by heavy armour, while lively little mammals learnt to evade capture through swiftness. This skill at survival leads to wisdom, which is not restricted to philosophers! The migration of birds over the oceans is directed by necessity and the lesson is well learnt. No human state is as organised as an ant-hill.

Animals, plants and even rocks cooperate with the Deities Who are guardians and gardeners of this planet. Earth's creatures sense the invisible presence of spirits who guide their progress to more beautiful manifestation. Humanity in its early struggles had empathy with us, the Titans and the Olympians. But now overspecialisation in intellect and analysis has eroded psychic vision and telepathy. The only ethical resource left to the materialist is conscience, not always heeded.

The time has come when We Deities reveal ourselves not only to simple shepherds and young girls, but to thousands. We did not do this before because we did not wish to be worshipped. It is difficult to have an intelligent conversation with someone prostrated, head on the ground, their behind in the air! True, there is a hierarchy of evolving beings, but all from God to mouse are equal in essence: all born of the Divine Matrix. You ask for guidance as to the difference between good and evil. The practice is simple. When you ask in your mind - listen! Be still. The answer lies in the beauty, goodness and truth that is all around you, unnoticed.

Receive the blessings of the Olympians who love each one of you.

Priest Hierophant: Companions who seek the light of truth and beauty, let us seek to unravel the mystery of the three Goddesses and the golden apple.

Priestess Hierophant: (raises wand) I invoke the Goddess Hera. "I sing of Golden-throned Hera Whom Rhea bore. Queen of the immortal She, surpassing all in beauty. Hers is the majestic peacock-eyed robe of the night sky, She is Sister and Wife of loud-thundering Zeus, the Mighty One."

Priest Hierophant: (raises staff) I invoke the Goddess Pallas Athena. "I sing of Pallas Athena, the Glorious Goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart. Arrayed in arms of flashing gold, She rules the day with the sun-rayed serpents of the Gorgon. At night She knows all things through the eyes of Her owl of Wisdom."

Priest Hierophant:  (raises staff) I invoke the Goddess Aphrodite! "Muse, tell of the deeds of Golden Aphrodite, Cyprian, who stirs up sweet passions in the Gods and subdues the tribes of mortal men, and birds that fly in the air and all the many creatures that the dry land rears, and all that are in these: all these love the deeds of the rich-crowned Cytherea."

"There is one Divinity that draws these three Goddesses into harmony. The quality of Beauty pervades Power, Wisdom and Love through the harmony of the spheres. Through the arts of music and painting, sacred geometry and drama we may glimpse this hidden loveliness whose imprint is truth."

1st Priest: The Roman Priest of Isis, Lucius Apuleius, describes such beauty manifest in Psyche: "The beauty of the maiden Psyche was beyond all human speech.”

“Every day thousands came to gaze upon her. People made long pilgrimages over land and sea to witness the greatest wonder of the age. Victims were offered in honour and rose garlands presented to her by adoring crowds of supplicants."

Priest Hierophant: You could be speaking of Helen of Troy! Let us witness the Mystery Drama of the Luck of Troy that we may uncover its meaning.

Gong sounds.


Maidens: (anoint each brow with water) May you see with the eye of vision.

Enter Homer in olive-leaf chaplet and white robe. He is on stage all the time.

Homer: Muses, open our eyes that we may witness the initiation of the Golden Apple performed by the sacred Goddesses themselves!

Enter Hera, Pallas Athena and Aphrodite wearing gold masks.

Hera: Summon the neophyte for his ordeal!

Enter Hermes, in gold mask leading Paris.

Hermes: I present the Shepherd Paris, son of King Priam of Troy. (to Paris) Your trial is to choose between the service of these three Goddesses. In token of your decision you will present this golden apple.

He hands Paris the golden apple.

Hera: Young Prince. I offer you power! Choose my path and you shall supplant great Hector instead of tending sheep!

Pallas Athena: Long have you pondered on the ways of the Gods and men, lonely youth, as you played on your shepherd's pipe. Follow my school of wisdom and you will become a renowned Philosopher with many followers.

Aphrodite: (laughing) To be a tyrant or a pedant - what a life! Handsome Paris, I offer you love! The most beautiful woman in the wide earth shall be your prize.

Paris: I can live without a kingdom or philosophy: my sheep-dog does very well without either. But I cannot live without love.

Presents apple to Aphrodite.

Hermes: Paris, beware! Each path has its reward but also its temptation. The fate of your family and Troy itself depends upon your actions.

Paris: (laughing) I am sure of myself.

 All exeunt.  


Homer: We find ourselves by a smooth-flowing river in Sparta. Queen Leda, wife of King Tyndareus, is bathing.

Enter Leda:What a majestic swan is gracing our small river! Never have I seen so beautiful a creature, doubled in reflection.

Enter Zeus (in gold chaplet and mask and white cloak): Charming Leda, your own reflection is as lovely! Know that I am Olympian Zeus that was disguised as a swan, and all for your pleasure. I call you to celestial Love!

Leda: (enraptured) My heart is glowing as if ignited by a shaft of gold. Glorious God, you have come to me in many disguises in my dreams, but all of them amorous. You are indeed Father of Gods and Men.

Zeus: (smiling) And of Goddesses! Leda, from our divine coupling shall be born the most beautiful woman in Hellas. Long has she been invoked in dreams by the race of men.

Leda: So shall our beloved daughter bring love and happiness.

Zeus: Quite the reverse. Nemesis decrees that perfect Beauty draws forth adoration from men and women - but never satisfies. Beauty is of the sea and is salty to drink. It is as unattainable as moonlight and a distant star.

Leda: Is this not cruelty and not divine favour then, to inflict mortals with such unattainable perfection?

Zeus: Men have become obsessed with a hunger to enslave not only land and beasts but women. Helen shall be both reward and retribution. She shall awaken a thirst for divinity. Through her both Troy and Mycenae shall be destroyed. But later the Greeks shall create works of imperishable beauty that will illuminate the soul.

Leda: Nemesis must be obeyed.

She leaves enfolded in Zeus' cloak. 


Homer: Helen was born to Leda within a crystal of light brought by Nemesis. She grew to be so beautiful that all the heroes of Greece aspired to marry her. She chose the richest king, Menelaus, and reigned as Queen of Sparta. But each hero cherished the icon of Helen in their secret dreams. But Aphrodite inspired Paris to seize Helen and carry her in his ship to Troy. Enraged, the heroes of Greece assembled by the sea at Aulis, each from his own kingdom.

Enter Heroes.

Menelaus: My companions, heroes of Hellas, my wife has been raped and stolen from me. I pray you help me to rescue her!

Agamemnon: As your brother and High King, I shall lead the host across the sea in our assembled ships. We shall burn Troy, punish its inhabitants and carry home our prize, the Queen of Sparta.

Heroes: Death to Paris! Death to Priam and all his kin! Death to the Trojans. We shall lay waste all Ilium. Let us sail.


Homer: But their ships were becalmed. The heroes were impatient. Queen Clytemnestra is pleading with her husband, Agamemnon.

Enter Clyemnestra and Agamemnon.

Clyemnestra: My husband, I beg you, do not kill our young daughter. Remember how she used to delight you, singing so sweetly. Spare Iphigenia!

Agamemnon: Your entreaties are useless. The Priest Kalchas has been given the command by the Goddess Artemis, who causes this lack of wind for our ships. Because I killed her golden hind in the chase, Artemis demands the sacrifice of our virgin daughter. Only when Iphigenia dies can we set sail.

Clyemnestra: Is it indeed so? Why should our innocent daughter be sacrificed for the sake of my adulterous sister Helen? Agamemnon, I shall be avenged.



Homer: The siege of Troy by the Greeks lasted ten years. Many a hero died on both sides and finally Paris himself was slain. But still the armies were inspired by the sight of white-armed Helen when she appeared standing on the walls of the city, pointing out various heroes to the Trojans. After ten years, King Odysseus of the Isle of Ithaca disguised himself as a beggar and stole into Troy.

Enter Helen of Troy and handmaiden.

Helen: There is a beggar selling ribbons and such trifles in the marketplace. Bring him to me!

Handmaiden: Madam, surely not a ragged beggar with tawdry gew-gaws?

Helen: It may amuse me in this besieged prison. Do so.

Exit handmaiden, returns with beggar. Helen gestures for her to leave.

Helen: (in soft voice) Odysseus, I recognise you! Son of a thief, are you turned thief yourself? (laughs) Where did you get those awful ribbons? (Throws ribbons in beggars’ tray on floor.)

Odysseus: I have come to rescue you.

Helen: You risk death by torture at which the Trojans are expert.

Odysseus: I come to find if you are true Spartan or have a Trojan heart. If a loyal Trojan, the Greeks will set sail for home. Helen, is it by your will you are here? Or were you truly carried off by force?

Helen: (bursts into tears) By my will? To be raped by a crude shepherd? To be forced into marriage by his family who hate me? Oh Odysseus, you would surely pity me if you knew my fate. For long years have I endured the spite of Hecuba, the cruelty of her family and above all, abuse at the hands of her son Astyanax. I vow to be avenged. But I still have a test of your good faith. The Goddess Pallas Athena appeared to me and commanded me to remove her Palladion from the temple of Troy. The Trojans are no longer worthy to hold it.

Odysseus: To steal the luck of Troy on which the safety of the city depends?

Helen: This sacred icon is so much reverenced that it is only unveiled at the holiest of ceremonies. None but the Prophetess Theano may touch it on pain of death.

Odysseus: How may I steal it?

Helen: Theano is in my secret sisterhood. She will aid you. I will give you not only the secret passwords and the key to the Palladion Sanctuary, but a map of Troy itself! We both will face a terrible death if we are caught. Come with me to my inner sanctum.

Odysseus: Helen, help me, and I vow I shall avenge you for all you have suffered.


Homer: So with a deep connivance of gold-haired Helen, Odysseus stole the Palladion. And the Trojans were unmanned with terror at its loss. With the aid of Helen's map, Odysseus executed the stratagem of the wood horse and the Greeks penetrated the city. Troy was sacked and the Royal Family were either slaughtered or enslaved. When its inhabitants were slaughtered, Troy was burnt to the ground.

Enter Hermes: Odysseus kept his vow and slew both Queen Hecuba and her son Astyanax. For these sins the Gods condemned him to wander from island to island in his ship, lost both on the sea and in his mind. Helen, meanwhile was brought with all honour by Menelaus to Sparta, where she reigned once more as Queen. But there was one Trojan Refugee that we Gods rescued. This is Aeneus, son of Anchises and grandson of King Priam. He approaches, aiding the steps of his aging father.

Enter Aeneus and Anchises.

Aeneus: How have we sinned against the Gods, that our house and city should be totally destroyed?

Hermes: Behold Divine Aphrodite, who brings your answer.

Enter Aphrodite (holding gold casket):The men of Troy paid the price for the rape of Helen, and their families with them. But you, Aeneus, are spared for a purpose. (gives him casket)  Take this sacred Palladion, icon of the Great goddess. Aeneus, you are greater than you know. You are my son, born of love for your father! If you follow my directions, you will found a mighty empire in a far-off land which will one day conquer Greece. And from your compatriot, Junius Brutus, shall spring another empire in far-off Britain. The Gods do not totally destroy. From death springs new life.



Enter 3 women; a president, a professor and an actress.

President: You insist that I tackle ecological problems, and I myself would gladly introduce the necessary legislation. But our voters are not deeply concerned.

Professor: I find the same. My students give lip service to the saving of the environment but they lack the will to act. There is inertia of the mind.

Actress: My audiences are only involved with their emotions.

President: Why is everything so grey and lifeless? What is wrong?

Enter Journalist: I can tell you. People are starved of beauty. Science threatens but cannot save us. Come out-of-doors and look at the sky! The dawning sun is gilding the clouds and above is a pale new moon and one solitary star. Look upwards! I am the God Hermes, Messenger from the stars. Know yourselves as Goddesses. We shall create the world anew.

 Exeunt. Gong. End of play.

 Priest Hierophant: Companions. Let us be aware of beauty which is always here but is too often ignored.


Reports are shared. Rays of colour are sent forth. Thanks are given to the Deities.

End of Rite.

Sources: Hesiod: "Hymns "and "The Little Iliad", Heinemann and Harvard."The Iliad", Homer, Penguin. "A Handbook of Greek Mythology", H. J. Rose, Methuen. "The Golden Ass". Apuleius, trans. Robert Graves.

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