The Rite of Mars by Sor. H.P., 2000

Officers

Brother Sol in Aries. White Robe, Gold Sun Mask.

Brother Mars (Jacques de Molay). Templar tabard over a white robe, Sword.

Soror Scorpio (first Saladin, then Sophia). Green aba over Arab female garb (harem pants, gauzy top); turban & veil.

Brother Aries. Templar tabard over a violet robe.

Brother Capricornus (William Imbert). Black robe; Templar tabard first, red hooded cloak later on.

Two guards of Probationers. Half armed as Crusaders, half as Saracens; all with black clothes underneath so they can be stagehands too.

Hoods for Aries, Scorpio, Capricornus, and all Probationers.

A little historical info which may shed light on what's to come ...

The stage is initially set with a sort of chapel-like altar to stage right.
Ideally there is some back-lit quasi-stained-glass affair behind the altar, to give it more of a chapelly look.

The Passion & Martyrdom
of St. Jaques de Molay
otherwise known as

The Rite of Mars

The cast enters in procession,
Crusader Probationers in right column,
Saracen Probationers in left column, all hooded & bearing lit tapers (in holders),
followed by Aries and Capricornus side by side,
followed by Scorpio (to the left) and Mars (to the right).
Mars is heard reciting the Twelvefold Affirmation from 963 (v.o.).
[Music: Dead Can Dance, The Host of Seraphim]

The Saracen Probationers and Scorpio peel off, exiting stage left after leaving their candles on the altar;
Mars takes his place, kneeling before the altar, and the
Crusader Probationers kneel behind him, tapers still lit.

Act One

Bro. Capricornus

Brother, what is the time?

Bro. Aries

It is an hour before dawn.

Bro.Capricornus

Then our vigil is almost over.

Bro. Aries

Aye, soon our Grandmaster will lead us to the Holy Land.

Bro.Capricornus

To free it from the Saracens.

Bro. Aries

— to everlasting glory!

Bro.Capricornus

— to face Saladin, and his armies.

Bro. Aries

— to fame, and the wealth of the Orient!

Bro.Capricornus

— maybe, to death.

Bro. Aries

Aye, but heaven is surely the lot of those who fall in the righteous cause.

Bro. Mars

It is time.

All march round five times deosil procession headed by Aries, and Capricornus;
one Probationer carries Mars' helmet.
[Music: Qntal, Palestinalied]

Meanwhile, the Saracen Probationers shift the stage set — chapel scenery off, desert scenery on, and then step offstage to take off hoods and put on saracen robes.

All pause, all draw swords except Mars.

Scorpio and the Saracens enter from stage left.

Bro.Capricornus

advances and kneels to Mars

See where the foe is approaching mark how they roar and condemn, clashing their weapons together, shouting that God is with them. They've overwhelmed all before them, laughed at the grief of the good, trampled the Cross with their horses, watered the desert with blood! You are the Master who brought us halfway to hell's own front door, gave us a sword and a vision, gave us an oath and a war, forged us all into a weapon, drew us in Jesus's name — will we taste blood ere you sheathe us, or will we perish for shame?

Bro. Aries

(taunts Saladin)

Run while you can, godless paynim, back to your rock in the sand, uncouth, stone-worshipping heathens!

Sor. Scorpio

What brings you Franks to our land to fight and be slaughtered like cattle? Leave in your wallowing brigs, filthy, uncircumcised devils, infidel eaters of pigs!

Bro. Aries

Recites (Matthew 10)

32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

34. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Sor. Scorpio

Quotes (The Qu'ran)

004.074
Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward.

004.076
Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. Lo! the devil's strategy is ever weak.

002.190
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.

002.191
And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.

Mars

starts up and recites (Psalm 79):

1. O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

2. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

3. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them.

4. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

5. How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

6. Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

7. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place.

10. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed.

11. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die;

12. And render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord.

Bro. Aries

Take up your sword now, Master!

Bro. Mars

May Victory crown your arms!

Probationers

Let us join battle! Deus vult! Allahu akbar! We conquer!

[Music: Wench, Wasteland]

(While they fight, Mars & Scorpio fire off competing holy book quotations)
At some point, the quotes begin to sound alike; at one point, they might both quote from AL;
Capricornus gets more alarmed the more Mars' words start to sound like Scorpio's, vocably worrying about heresy...)

Eventually, the Saracens are defeated...

Capricornus

Recites (Colossians I:12-17).

12. Give thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Mars

Stamps once, raises his sword.

[1]. Silence!

A pause.

There is no God — but God!

Aries and all Probationers dance a war dance.
Capricornus hangs back, suspiciously.
[Music: Wench, Jewel]

Mars

Facing audience.

Come, for the palace of hope has weak foundations. Bring wine, for life is built on the wind.

I am the slave of his spiritual power, he who under this dark blue wheel is untainted by attachment.

What can I tell you but the good news I heard from the invisible world last night when I sat, drunk and ruined, in the tavern:

"Oh royal falcon of keen vision, perched in the tree of Heaven, your nest is not this corner filled with suffering.

They whistle to recall you to the battlements of heaven. I don't understand what has ensnared you here."

I give you some advice; learn it, and in practice remember it, for it comes from my Master of the Way:

"Do not seek an honest vow from the fickle world, for this crone is the bride of a thousand men."

Don't fret about the world, and don't forget my advice, for I recall this maxim of love from a fellow traveller:

"Consent to what has been given, and loosen the knot of your brow, because the door of free will is closed to you and me."

The rose's smile bears no trace of loyalty or kept promises. Cry, lover-nightingale, this is the place for it. [Hafiz]

Lights down; all exit; scene change.

[Entr'act Music: Peter Gabriel, Before Night Falls]

Act Two

Stage is set as a Bedouin camp;
a big open-canopied tent under which are pillows & rugs; a fire downstage.
Stage left is a closed tent.
The entire cast is lounging about on the pillows.

Bro. Aries

Hail to Thee that sailest heavenwards! Hail to Thee in whose eye is a Flame of Fire! Hail, Lord of the Destroying Army!

Mars

Hail, brethren.

Bro. Aries

Hail to thee, worthiest of adversaries! Behold, we are merciful, as our Lord hath taught us. Hail to thee, honor-bright warrior!

Sor. Scorpio

Hail, Frankish men!

Bro. Aries

Let us rejoice in our victory!

He leads Probationers in the triumphal dance which becomes slow and voluptuous; it should go from Western-feeling to more Eastern-feeling.
On Aries' prompting, Capricornus grudgingly joins in,
at which point the Probationers move out into the audience and get
everyone moving (if possible; it'll help to have shills in the audience).
[Music: Dead Can Dance, Mother Tongue]

A pause.

Bro. Aries

...to seal his triumph

[1-4444].

Bro.Capricornus

[4444-1].

Almost all lights out. One blue or dark purple spot.

[Music: Peter Gabriel, The Feeling Begins]

Sor. Scorpio

The man of God is drunken without wine; The man of God is full without meat. The man of God is distraught and bewildered, The man of God has no food or sleep. The man of God is a king 'neath a dervish-cloak, The man of God is a treasure in a ruin. The man of God is not of air and earth, The man of God is not of fire and water. The man of God is a boundless sea, The man of God rains pearls without a cloud. The man of God is made wise by the Truth; The man of God is not book-learned. The man of God is beyond infidelity and religion, To the man of God, right and wrong are alike. The man of God has ridden away from Not-being, The man of God is gloriously attended. [Rumi]

Scorpio hands Mars a gold plaque shaped like a heraldic rose, and leads him across stage into the closed tent while speaking...

(Rose poem...)

This poem does not exist in any copy of this rite I have access to.

A pause.

Bro.Capricornus has been continuing to dance, completely self-absorbed this whole time, in increasing volume & red light, until at the end he tears down the curtain and finds
Mars and Scorpio, their weapons and armor laid aside; it's now clear that Scorpio is The Sophia — Mars is in her arms.

Mars

Recites (The Song of Solomon, IV)

1. Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead. 2. Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them. 3. Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. 4. Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 5. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. 6. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 7. Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. 8. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.

Scorpio

(From the same chapter, v. 16)

Awake, O north wind: and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

Bro.Capricornus

Heresy! Blasphemy!

He exits, shouting imprecations the whole time; lights down.
[Entr'act Music: Wench, Sidonia]

Act Three

Half the stage is the courtroom with the stereotypical tall judge's bench;
the other half is a prison, with a high window. Lights down on the courtroom half.

Bro A and Sor S creep onstage from opposite sides, dressed as ordinary Templars, and act as a sort of Greek chorus to Mars' offstage torture.
[Music: Enigma, Camera Obscura]

Aries

Alas, for woe, my brother knight, All ended is our noble fight — Our good Grandmaster, woe his plight! For he is ta'en. Our only recourse now is flight, Ere we be slain!

Scorpio

Now break, my heart, and let me die, To see him tortured, hear his cry, Is more than I can bear, and I Do fear he may Surrender to this agony And us betray.

Aries

But nay! But see! Although he bleed, And all his flesh be torn indeed, His will's a fortress yet. Now heed! He will not break, But he will hold his knightly creed E'en to the stake.

Scorpio

Almost I wish he would give in, Admit of heresy and sin, His trial to end. That he can bear such bitter pain In truth, I neither can explain Nor comprehend.

Mars, in chains, his robe bloodstained, is flung into the prison by two Probationers.

Scorpio and Aries look in at the window.

Scorpio

Let mine eyes rain blood to see this sight, Our Grandmaster all with scars bedight And his soul so dim that was so bright. Look I must, of grieving in despite — He will surely burn after tonight.

Aries

Out on them, the murd'rous crew, say I; Vengeance for his blood thus spent I cry, Who'll with me shout, "Nekam, Adonai!" From our Temple's gold, forge weaponry? Then rise with me and smite! Then let us fly!

Mars

Brethren in arms, this is not defeat, but victory! For though I be brought low, never to me, nor to Our Lady was the glory. For always is the true God hidden — look there!

White light on behind a scrim that looked like just a wall of the prison;
Sol in Aries is revealed enthroned there.
Mars goes toward him and recites:
[Music: Enigma, Smell of Desire]

Unity uttermost showed, I adore the might of thy breath, Supreme and terrible God Who makest the Gods and death To tremble before thee: — I, I adore thee! [Crowley]

He kneels.

Once more, Love is pouring down my ceiling and my walls. Once more, the lion of Love is revealing its deadly claws and my deer-like heart is thirsting for blood. Once more, it's the night of the full moon, it is time for madness. All my immense knowledge cannot help me now. Once more, Love has created another revolt in my body, and yet a new flame was placed in my heart. The Beloved, awakened, has rubbed my sleep away. Insomnia took my patience. Rain washed away my intellect. The Lover made me lose my profession. What good is my work anyway? Look at my Lover's hair, see those luminous strands, they are all in there, one strand at a time. Once more, rise, rise, rise, resurrection time is here. O Beloved, bathe me in the essence of a hundred resurrections! As a garden burns in a hundred shades of orange in the fall, a Lover's heart shrivels for a sense of the Beloved's touch. Now the face of that charred garden is my field of flowers. The garden of the world is burnt, but the garden of the heart is resurrected. The secret of that garden may be burnt, but the secret of the heart is resurrected. The time of ecstasy has come, oh my prisoned body. The garb of health has arrived, oh my frail heart. [Rumi]

At altar.

He is in me, and I in Him! Mine is the crystal radiance That filleth aether to the brim Wherein all stars and suns may dance. I am the beautiful and glad, Rejoicing in the golden day. I am the spirit silken-clad That fareth on the fiery way. I have escaped from him, whose eyes Are closed at eventide, and wise To drag thee to the House of Wrong: — I am armed! I am armed! I am strong! I am strong! I make my way: opposing horns Of secret foemen push their lust In vain: my song their fury scorns; They sink, they grovel in the dust. [Crowley]

He kneels to Sol.

Happy, yea, happy! happy is he That hath looked forth upon the Bier That goeth to the House of Rest! His heart is lit with melody; Peace in his house is master of fear; holy Name is in the West When the sun sinks, and royal rays Of moonrise flash across the day's. [Crowley]

He rises and faces outward.

When my bier moves on the day of death, Think not my heart is in this world. Do not weep for me and cry "Woe, woe!" You will fall in the devil's snare: that is woe. When you see my hearse, cry not "Parted, parted!" Union and meeting are mine in that hour. If you commit me to the grave, say not "Farewell, farewell!" For the grave is a curtain hiding the communion of Paradise. After beholding descent, consider resurrection; Why should setting be injurious to the sun and moon? To you it seems a setting, but it is a rising; Though the tomb seems a prison, it is the release of the soul. Shut your mouth on this side and open it beyond, For in placeless air will be your triumphal song. [Rumi]

He turns and falls toward Sol; the light dims.

The same Probationers as before come to drag him across stage to the courtroom;
Scorpio and Aries hide.
Lights down on prison side, up on courtroom side.

Bro C is now the Inquisitor, with red hood; four
Probationers are fellow judges, two either side of him.
[Music for the trial: Enigma, Endless Quest]

Capricornus

Jacques deMolay, for your unwise words you have been scourged, as the wheat is threshed to separate it from the chaff. You have committed great error, but even now, as you have done great service in Our Cause, we would wash you clean and replace your white robe, restoring you to all former glories. All can be forgiven if you but renounce the ways of the heathen. Will you renounce your error, will you take up again the robe of holiness? Will you renounce the Whore of Babylon and take up the Crusade once again? Did you not say, along with the Christ, that you had come "not to bring peace, but a sword?"

Mars

What is to be done, O Moslems? for I do not recognize myself. I am neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Magian, nor Moslem. I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea; I am not of Nature's mint, nor of the circling heavens. I am not of earth, nor of water, nor of air, nor of fire; I am not of the empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity. I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell; I am not of Adam, nor of Eve, nor of Eden and Rizwan. My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless; 'Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved. I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one; One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call. He is the first, He is the last, He is the outward, He is the inward; I know none other except "O He!" and "O He who is." I am intoxicated with Love's cup, the two worlds have passed out of my ken; I have no business save carouse and revelry. [Rumi]

Capricornus

You mock this court, and make light of your sins. You have betrayed Us to Them and for that there is no forgiveness. You have forsaken the Sheep for the Goats, you have sold Israel again into slavery amongst the Egyptians.

Do you have anything to say before your sentence is pronounced?

Mars

"Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu."
(AL III:44)

Capricornus

"Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
(Matthew 25:41)

The same two Probationers drag Mars offstage; lights down.

[Entr'act Music: Qntal, Sanctus]

Act Four

The scenery is a burnt stake, standing in the middle of the stage, with ashes scattered around it.

Aries, Scorpio, Sol, and a few Probationers enter singly, cloaked, from scattered directions, furtively. All but Sol shrink back on seeing others, as though uncertain of the others' identity. The next dlgue begins as though the two are secret agents passing code phrases.

[Music: Qntal, Herbst]

Bro. Aries

What is the time?

Sor. Scorpio

It lacks an hour of dawn.

Bro. Aries

What is the place?

Sor. Scorpio

It is the Île des Javiaux, where the Grandmaster departed this world in flames.

Bro. Aries

Then our vigil is just begun.

Sor. Scorpio

Aye, but joy is surely the lot of those who watch and wait.

They embrace as brothers. Meanwhile, the others have started hunting through the ashes.

Bro. Aries

I've come to gather ashes here That I might have rememberance Of our Grandmaster, him so dear Unto us all ere this ill chance.

Sor. Scorpio

I, too. But look here, in the pyre Rose petals uncorrupt and fair — In all that holocaust of fire, How were these tender things so spared?

Sol

Discovers and shows the rose plaque that was given to Mars earlier

My brethren, see! The sign of light, The message come out of the east Its hope and blessing to indite Among the greatest, and the least. It is the Master's legacy — His voice that calls the brethren yet To struggle, and to ecstasy, Reminding, that we not forget The secret which he left to us. Rejoice, therefore! for he is one With his Beloved, glorious In brighter light than any sun. His foes indeed have worked a wrong, But grieve not, for they did not win — His passion burned his heart up, long Ere earthly fires touched his skin.

[Music: Peter Gabriel, Bread and Wine]

Bro. Aries

[1-4444]. The battle is indeed fought.

Sol

[333-333]. The victory is indeed won.

Bro. Aries

Brethren, the Sun is arisen. Let us depart in joy.

Sor. Scorpio

Let us depart in love.

Sol

Let us depart in peace.

The officers leave the Temple.

Mars (v.o.)

A beauty that all night long teaches love-tricks to Venus and the moon, Whose two eyes, by their witchery, seal up the two eyes of heaven. Look to your hearts! I, whate'er betide, O Moslems, am so mingled with him that no heart is mingled with me. I was born of his love at the first, I gave him my heart at the last; When the fruit springs from the bough, on that bough it hangs. The tip of his curl is saying, "Ho! betake you to rope-dancing." The cheek of his candle is saying, "Where is a moth, that it may burn?" For the sake of dancing on that rope, O heart, make haste, become a hoop; Cast yourself on the flame, when his candle is lit. You will never more endure without the flame, when you have known the rapture of burning; If the water of life should come to you, it would not stir you from the flame. [Rumi]

[Music: Qntal, Por Mau Tens]


Crowley quotes are copyright © O.T.O.; play dialgue and otherwise uncredited poetry are ©2000 L. A. Hussey. Hafiz translation is by Elizabeth T. Gray, from The Green Sea of Heaven; Rumi translations are by Paul Halsall, from The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, except for "Once more..." which is by Shahram Shiva, from Hush Don't Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi.

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