The Cannibal Hymn

“The most powerful force in the Universe is nostalgia.”

-Peter T. Struck (1)

Are we in an age of contraction?  Certainly there are warring agendas at work, unsleeping, insidious; insisting on drawing the perimeters around who we are and what we are, where we come from and where we are going. Shots ring out. The shooting never stops.  Language is a battlefield- maybe always has been.

From world politics to interpersonal relationships and even the interior world of Self, the spirit is besieged.  Hammering voices, encroachment of Moloch, Arhiman, Bureaucrat, bounding our dark forests, driving in the fence posts of identity, stringing sharp wire to hemm in our boundless urges.  Slicing our time and attention into pastures and fields – what was wild and lush is tamed and monetized.

In the deep and writhing chaos of life, there will always be someone selling shallow certainties. Offering binary choices in place of multitudinous simultaneity:

“This is human. This is animal.”

“This is a man. This is a woman.”

“This is natural. This is artificial.”

“Useful. Wasteful.”

“Native. Invasive.”

“Ally. Enemy.”

“Good. Evil.”

A long story ends, unravels, ceases to please. Voices rise in a clamour; insistent. Demanding attention. Demanding authority. To author- to set the stage and place the players. To describe reality again, or simply to hold that last page forever, yoke one’s animus to a frozen familiarity, an inclination for the previous tale.


It’s been a busy season – I’ve worn some tread off the tires travelling up and down Hwy 55 and across the country lanes of Illinois, finding old graveyards and quiet fields to walk, selling zines in Chicago and visiting St. Louis for work and play.  I have been grateful for this extended visit with family and old friends, grateful to be reminded of the ease I felt in youth, the opportunities to create art and music unselfconsciously, in a liminal community of peers where these things are done not as calculated moves in a career trajectory but for the love of exploration. As a departed comrade once exclaimed, “We want to do strange things and we don’t know why!”

Tomorrow my family pod and I are setting off for Portland again. I hope I can retain this energy and bring it with me to new hills, new nights, new friends. If you want to set something up with me, the answer is yes! I’m ready to sing. Every day might be our last – especially in America, this trash island of the mind. Let’s live well.

-Jason Triefenbach, HFHR



Gathered: Lighter, incense, shaker, bells, harmonica, Jackal, small bottles, shovel, water, Corn, tarot, paint, mirror, candles.

>Lights candles, 1st cone incense. Sings first stanza while shaking rattle or ringing bells:

“The sky pours forth 

The stars darken

The vaults of heaven stagger

The bones of the earth-gods tremble

The Pleiades are still

When they see the Pharaoh animated

As a god who lives on his fathers

And feeds on his mothers”


The so-called Cannibal Hymn is a particularly intense ritual passage within the Pyramid Texts, a grouping of ancient Egyptian mystical instructions pertaining to funerary rites and other initiatory processes. It describes the gods themselves being eaten by the pharaoh in a macabre feast of sympathetic magic intended to imbue the ruler with immortality and the ability to maintain stability within his reign.  


>Places jackal in hole, sings second stanza:

“He is the Lord of Wisdom, 

whose mother knows not his name

His glory is in the sky, 

His glory is in the horizon

Whence Atum his father begat him 

Pharaoh was mightier than he”

>Pours water from 1st small bottle


I first read about the Cannibal Hymn in Gordon White’s Star.Ships, near the end of the book, delivered within a rhythmic staccato burst of short interpretive segments in which  he cites various supporting examples of his central thesis examination of Pangeaic star lore, ancestor worship, and the developments of temple religion through prehistoric and ancient times.

The bit he quotes in that volume struck me enough to find the hymn in its entirety and research further, and even adapt it’s verses slightly for ease of singing/ chanting.

The narrative unfolds in a multi part structure that announces the eminence and lineage of the pharaoh’s godly power, the conquering of the gods and their families; their butchering, preparation, and consumption.


>Pours water from 2nd small bottle. Lights 2nd incense. Plays harmonica a short while.

“Spirits of rulership about him  

His attributes Under his feet

His gods upon him, 

His uraei crown his head 

Guiding serpent on his brow 

Even that which sees the soul, 

Efficient for burning”


The heroic protagonist, engaged in brutal acts, subjugates and consumes, absorbing the power and majesty of the elder gods.  He is assisted by entities who are listed in the hymn and perform the different stages of meal prep. 

In first reading this, I recognized variations on the elements of invocation magic:  

-identification with divinity through the simple act of declaration

-calls to cardinal directions (in this case upwards to the sky and out to the horizon)

-assistance from sympathetic entities who are listed by name

-an offering or act of sacrifice

-and an announcement of the powers that have been conferred.


>Pours water from 3rd bottle. Rings bell. Sings with high voice:

“He is the Bull of the Sky, 

who shatters at will

Who lives on the essence 

Of every god, 

Who eats their entrails, 

Even those who come 

with their bodies 

full of magic, 

from the Island of Fire. 

He is well equipped, 

And assembles his spirits”


I had recently undertaken a magickal retirement, working near daily for two months with another initiatic rite, The Headless One. There were other components to the retirement as well, which I will get to in a bit. 

The Headless One, also called The Bornless Rite, The Preliminary Invocation of the Goetia, or Liber Samekh, is a ritual derived from the Greek Magical Papyri, a collection of spells dating from 2nd century BCE to 5th C Common Era. The Papyri resurfaced in the mid 1800s in an Egyptian antiques market and were eventually translated and published, bringing the approx 300 spells, prayers, and invocations to the attention of the wider occult community. 

In the ancient world, the Headless One was used for exorcisms.  But in modern times, it was adapted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and subsequently by Aleister Crowley for the purposes of the aforementioned magical initiation. My own version, mainly sutured from a few different sources, begins:

Thee I invoke, the Headless One, thee that didst create the earth and the heavens, thee that didst create the night and the day, thee that didst create the darkness and the light. Thou art Osorronophris, whom none have ever seen. Thou art Iabas, thou art Iapos, thou hast distinguished between the just and the unjust. Thou didst make the female and the male and those who step beyond. Thou didst produce the seed and the fruit. Thou didst form humans to love one another and to hate one another. I am thy prophet, unto whom thou dost commit thy mysteries, the whole essence of magia.”


>Plants corn. Lights more incense. Sings:

“He appears as this Great One 

Lord of divine helpers

He sits with his back 

To the pillars of the earth

It is He who judges

With him whose name is hidden

In this day of slaying the Oldest One.”

>Pours jugs of water where corn is planted and into hole.


For adapting of the Cannibal Hymn, I took a cue from The Headless One rite and altered the final stanzas to a first- person voice, identifying with the divine and raising internally the power to attain further magickal goals.

As explained by The Digital Ambler, “as the [Headless] ritual approaches its culmination, the magician switches from simply invoking Akephalos to speaking as Akephalos, becoming a divine entity themselves.“(2)

And contemporary magician Jack Grayle, speaking on Episode 74 of the Glitch Bottle podcast, says on the general subject of invocation, “When you look at Greco Egyptian magic… there’s a technique called the God Face where in the midst of the ritual one of the compulsive strategies is to identify yourself with something that has purchase, leverage, traction with the deity you’re calling.” (3)


>Draws a tarot card for each of the next spirits. Sings in louder gutteral voice:

“He-who-seizes-by-the-Hair, lassoes them for Me.

Lifted-Head Serpent keeps guard over them,

He-over-the-red is he who binds.

Khonsu the Moon slaughters the lords, cuts their throats for ME, and pulls delicacies from their bellies.

Wine-press god butchers and cooks for Me in his evening pots”


Now let’s return for a moment to my prior retirement this Spring.  Through February and March of this year I worked on purifications, meditating every morning and performing short visualisations and sometimes movements, calling upon spirits and angels of the four directions, and gradually turning up the intensity of these and other practices.  I also abstained from alcohol and cannabis, cut down substantially on sex and eating meat, stayed off electronic platforms almost completely, and whenever possible kept myself out of political discourse and social situations.  None of these were moral considerations but rather a process of disengaging from the physical sphere- focusing on the ineffable.  Orienting myself toward the spirits. As the weeks progressed I added more meditations and invocations, performing the Headless One twice a day, then three times, then four times, and so on. By the end of March I was spending all of my free time meditating, reading books exclusively on angelic magic, singing Psalms and other short mantras, and pulling tarot cards.  This was all taking place at my home in Portland.  Then in early April I travelled to the Midwest, continuing my activities on the road and in hotel rooms. Arriving in Illinois, I brought the whole process to a head in a three day nature retreat during which I cut off all human contact, consumed only water and tea, and spent the days and nights completely focused on ritual between 7 am and 1 am; breaking only for short walks in the woods and to sleep.  Near the end of this three day period I did indeed break down my typical day-to-day consciousness and make contact with the entity I had been seeking.

And I do feel different since then.  At first it was hard to pinpoint exactly how I was different, and I did not have an overwhelming vision of light or thunder or winged eyeballs, etc.  I feel as though something descended into me or grew out of me, and has been gestating since.  And is just beginning to wake up.

I recount all this here for the sake of anyone wanting to try one of these processes or something similar – try to make contact with non- corporeal intelligences.  Discounting beginner’s luck which does seem to be a very real thing in these type of activities, it is rarely a “one and done” scenario. I performed the Headless One ritual hundreds of times over a 2 and a half month period.  I set aside my aversion to Christiality to read fucking Psalms and call on archangels! And I feel like my process was really too lenient, too rushed.  The legendary Abramelin Working, which I cribbed from for my own retirement, takes 18 months and requires a level of asceticism unheard of in the contemporary West.   So… yes. Some people may light a candle, mumble for a few minutes, and immediately trance out in pulsing arpeggios of ghosts and gods and alien greys.  But those people are far from the norm and are often lying, embellishing, or mistaking their own inner thought babble for discrete communication from without.  

A video collaboration with ChizmoTV and Foveal Media, which centred around the Cannibal Hymn, will soon be available in VHS format as a sort of psychoactive talismanic yantra. The Cannibal Hymn is, in that iteration, mirrored by the video technology’s feedback loops and tendency to ‘cannibalize’ itself through copious layers of analog overdubbing, which results in a gorgeous degradation of the root imagery and allows for solo meditative experiences by the viewer.  

My advice is to pick a system or a ritual and just go with it.  Suspend the need to ask WHY it works or HOW it works- just surrender yourself to the process and keep going until you feel the undeniable truth of contact. There’s nothing wrong with simply reading books on magic, collecting books on magic- but if you want to actually do magic then you have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty.


>Smears gold paint on lips.  Holds mirror aloft, kissing the face and leaving golden lip prints. Positions mirror near candles, facing the Jackal. Sings:

“I Am He who eats their magic and swallows their spirits .

Their heroes are my morning meal,

their Men and Women are my mid day meal,

Their children are my supper

Their old ones are my fuel

I have encircled the Two Heavens, revolved around the Two Lands.

I am Great Power, the Power over the Powers.

I am the Hawk of Hawks, the Great One.”

>Pours 4th small bottle into hole. Sings:

“I am a god older than the eldest. The multitudes make offerings for Me

Orion, the father of the gods, certifies me

He crowns me as Lord of the Horizon.

I have sundered the dorsal column and seized the hearts of the gods,

I have eaten the Red One, I have swallowed the Green One.

I feed on the lungs of the wise.

My pleasure is to live on hearts, 

and pull their magic into my belly.

My dignity shall be unending, 

for I have swallowed the wisdom of every god.

From eternity to eternity

I have come to you, dressed in the skin of the Mighty!”



  1. Peter Struck, “Greek and Roman Mythology” tele-course, University of Pennsylvania.

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