Aeschylus’ Aid In Appealing for Justice

For reasons which I will not delve into here, I have had appeals to justice on my mind.  I could, of course, go the Curse Tablet route—the tablets found at Bath were almost exclusively appeals for justice(1)—but the only good site for deposition nearby that I’m aware of is the Quaker graveyard by the school, and I’m not sure that I want to go down that road just yet: appealing to the dead could get me something much closer to revenge than to justice.

Which leaves me needing to compose a spell of some other sort.  A prayer, a statement of intent, an image, perhaps a sigil or three.  And poetry.  Poetry is always good for magic.  But for those of us, like myself, to whom poetry does not come naturally, it is often useful to seek inspiration in the poetry of others, or even to outright plagiarize.

By coincidence, I have been reading Aeschylus’ Orestia(2).  And I have to say: if you are seeking justice or revenge, The Libation Bearers is a good place to go looking for poetry on the subjects of justice and revenge:

There has been wrong done.  I ask for right. / Here me, Earth.  Hear me grandeurs of Darkness

–Aeschylus Libation Bearers, 398-9

Tell me that’s not the good shit.

Almighty Destinies, by the will / of Zeus let these things / be done, in the turning of Justice / … The spirit of Right / cries out aloud and extracts atonement / due: … Who acts, shall endure.  So speaks the voice of age-old wisdom.

–Ibid, 306-8, 310-14

Yeah.  That’s the good shit.  And if you’re in more a mood for bloody vengeance than fair justice, just add back in the lines I’ve omitted.

My plan is to take these lines, and maybe a few like them, and write them on one side of a page as a prayer.  On the obverse will be images of the persons involved (the internet is handy that way), along with sigils pointed at having my appeal heard fairly.  The end result will be the sort of thing I can leave on my altar with a spell candle while the issue is in play, then torch or bury upon resolution.

One more for the road:

O gods, be just in what you bring to pass.

Hear then, you blessed ones under the ground, / and answer these prayers with strength on our side.

–Ibid. 462, 476-7


1—Magic of Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome.  Which I have returned to the library and therefore cannot cite properly.

2—Aescylus I.  Ed. David Grene, Trans Richmond Lattimore.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1953).

EDIT: Because I cannot be trusted to talk and type at the same time, I originally attributed these passages to the Eumenides rather than the Libation Bearers.  That was incorrect.

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3 Comments

Filed under art, witchcraft

3 responses to “Aeschylus’ Aid In Appealing for Justice

  1. As alternatives for curse tablet deposit sites, try places of pollution or waste (dumps, polluted rivers, biohazardous areas). Old sources also mention still lakes, caves, grottoes, deep wells, and other subterranean locations as good choices. As for revenge and justice, what else is compensation and reconciliation but a tipping of the scales in another direction? So long as it’s not overkill and it’s deserved, revenge is very much a kind of justice (just as the Erinyes were trying to properly avenge the matricide of Clytemnestra, but went overkill since Orestes was properly bound to do it by Apollo).

    Good selections from Aeschylus! I like these. There are specific candles you could use for justice; I found a few at a local Hispanic grocer. They’re blue, and to be anointed with High John the Conquerer oil or similar.

    • At least according to the research I’ve done so far, the contaminated sites would only be appropriate if I were looking to drop a whammy on someone, not just appeal to order and justice, and the still lakes, grottoes, &c. were all sacred sites of one kind or another. And, you know, I’m sure that there are some around here somewhere. I’m just new in town and don’t know where to look.

      There’s a couple HIspanic grocers around here (one of the few signs of civilization here in Sunrise), and I’ll be sure to check them for that. Thanks for the tip.

      • Yeah, you’re right. A “polluted” tablet would only be left at a polluted location. It’s straight sympathy. At least insofar as I understand. A hearty petition to the Furies, however, ought to also work. They were petitioned during criminal trials, and thus retain the ability to mete out justice. I would petition Hecate first for protection, though. The Dirae make me nervous as Hell.

        Your prayer works, too. I would petition Zeus as the Orphic “Soter” (vs. The Daimon itself), to act as the overseer of the desire for justice. Maybe Persephone as Praxadike, too. I would not use the restless dead. They just bring too many damn complications if you don’t want scorched earth scenarios.

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