Balance Point: Review of The Orphic Hymns

Review of

The Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Occult Practitioner

by Patrick Dunn

The Orphic Hymns: A New Translation for the Occult Practitioner is essentially two books rolled into one. It is both a scholarly translation of all 87 Orphic Hymns as well a guide to incorporating them into modern magickal practice and meditation.


Patrick Dunn is a poet, linguist, Pagan, and a university English professor with a PhD in modern literature and language. Translation is an art rather than a science, and Dunn strives to capture the spirit of the hymns while maintaining accuracy. The hymns are presented with the original Greek on one page, and with the translation and notes on the facing page. An explanation of what the hymns actually are, an ancient Greek pronunciation guide and a glossary ensure that the book is self-contained.


Dunn points out that the hymns were originally used in religious devotion and to that end provides a simple sacrifice, in keeping with ancient Greek practices, using incense, bread and wine or juice to be performed by a solitary practitioner. Most of the hymns recommend a specific scent, and he offers helpful advice on acquiring the correct one.


Dunn, who has practiced magic since childhood, recognizes that most of the hymns have a clearly defined practical purpose. He provides a handy list of these purposes and the appropriate hymn(s) to be used. Given our lack of knowledge regarding the practice of magick in ancient Greece, Dunn draws on contemporary modalities, such as American folk magic, to fill in the gaps. He substitutes for a lamella using a sheet of paper and outlines a Hoodoo candle magick ritual. Ceremonial magicians will enjoy his opening rite and Qabalistic correspondences, all heavily drawing on the hymns. His contemplation practice is a profound way to connect with the hymns on a deep level.


Dunn’s goal is to have readers share his love of the hymns by working with them in a practical sense in whatever way resonates with them. The practice suggestions he provides are indeed a wonderful way to begin the journey.


Tony Mierzwicki

Author of Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today.


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