Solstice: Egyptian Tarot Atet VII

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the eighteenth path of Cancer is Atet VII. The Moon, the Lunar Flame, is the ruler of Cancer the Crab or Scarab. The Atet or sun boat of Ra is here depicted in the centre of the Tarot design.

Egyptian Tarot Atet VIIThe motion of Ra defines the expanse of the sky, the reach of heaven. Thus the invisible Sun of Spirit is concealed or clothed in light. The barque or sun boat of Ra is also therefore the marker of time. If the sun boat should be stopped in its tracks, as is told in the legends of Isis, time would cease.

The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally named ‘The Chariot’, is Child of the Powers of the Waters: Lord of the Triumph of Light. This is best explained through the Qabalistic title of the eighteenth path, Intelligence of the House of Influence. Cheth, the letter of the path, means ‘a wall or enclosure’. The enclosure of cheth is the sun boat itself. It is also the radiance of spirit called the Khu (or khu-t) in ancient Egyptian sacred texts.

The eighteenth path of Cancer the Crab or Scarab is the intelligence linking the Understanding of Binah, the throne of Saturn, with Geburah, the Energy of Mars. From the interior of Binah, runes of knowledge flow forth via the Abyss that marks a separation between the spiritual realm and that of the individual human domain and its faculties of perception. The primordial (non-verbal) language communicates the means of return to Nuit or absolute being, consciousness and bliss. The power or intelligence of the eighteenth path is experienced as light that flows like water from the innermost depths. The Sun is said to enter the house of his mother at the solstice. He is thus at his height, or depth from the point of view of the southern hemisphere of the globe. The Atet or sun boat of Ra is the original type of the solar chariot, which later became the triumphant vessel of kings and warriors. The Holy Grail or Cup of Binah is reflected across the Abyss in the magnificent sphere of Gedulah or Jupiter, which attains exaltation in the sign of Cancer.

The Sun is said to enter the house of his mother at the solstice. He is thus at his height (from the point of view of the northern hemisphere). The Atet or sun boat of Ra is the original type of the solar chariot, which during the Age of Kali Yuga became seen as the triumphant vessel of kings and warriors. The Holy Grail or Cup of Binah is reflected across the Abyss in the magnificent sphere of Gedulah or Jupiter, which attains exaltation in the sign of Cancer.

The hieroglyphic name Atet is shown at the top of the Tarot picture. The name is pronounced an-djet, with the soft ‘n’ sounded as in ‘sing’.[1] The hieroglyph for andj is frequently depicted as the shuttle of Neïth, the House of the Net.[2] Thus she is the sky-weaver who spins the threads of light defining heaven and earth, manifesting the worlds that receive life from Ra, the supreme principle.

Ra travels on the Atet Boat of Millions of Years when he is visible in the heavens. His companions include Sia (vision, perception) and Hu (will, command), as well as Heka (magick power). During the evening, Ra sets in the west as Atum or otherwise in the form of a ram, and enters the duat or Egyptian underworld. In some legends he is swallowed into the mouth of Nuit, the sky goddess, and thus his journey through the duat is a journey through her body. In the duat, the sun boat is named Sektet. Apep (Apophis), the opposer of the light, appears here as a great serpent. Every night Apep attempts to stop the journey of the sun boat with his hypnotic stare. Set, who accompanies Ra on the sun boat, assists Ra by overcoming the serpent. By morning, the night boat reaches the end of its journey through the underworld and Ra is reborn from the womb of Nuit.

Secrets of the Sun Boat

Much of the labour of the Great Work is to make the frail human personality a suitable vehicle for the influx of cosmic consciousness that would otherwise overwhelm it. The preliminary work is to train the mind and increase the power of concentration—to hold an idea steady in the mind like an unwavering flame. The mental powers are then applied to the building of a chariot, as depicted in the Tarot trump, by which one may ascend. Such a chariot is shown forth in various traditions as a means of passing through a Journey of the Soul by making contact with various gods, angels or devas along the way.

The Atet is the vehicle of will called the resurrection body in Christian esotericism. The Holy Ghost and Holy Grail are cognate terms. The Cup of Babalon or Binah is the receptacle from which the feminine Holy Spirit, Khu or Shekinah, is imbibed, producing divine intoxication—not to be confused with ordinary drunkenness. The symbolism of soma or wine in various rites has nothing to do with any material substance but there are no words in modern languages to describe its real meaning, which amounts to a sum total of all knowledge or the knowledge of Universal Being.

Lord of the Triumph of Light

The magical power of the eighteenth path is the Power of Casting Enchantments. The ancient Egyptian image for Cancer is the scarab beetle, Khephra. When Ra is in the underworld, he visits all of his various forms and thus undergoes the transformations that prepare him for rebirth from the body of Nuit.

Sun Boat of Ra: Khephra Scarab from Egyptian Tarot of ThelemaKhephra, or the sun at media nox, is the supreme totem of enchantment and of all transformations. Khephra is the neter (principle) of Becoming. As self-created, self-born and ever living, Khephra is more than Existence or Being itself. As with all Egyptian Gods, he conceals the supreme principle, changeless, infinite, immutable and so forth. The underworld, or reflected body of Nuit, is the vessel and means of transformation from lower to higher states. At the end of the night, the soul emerges as a radiant Khu or Phoenix—the resurrection bird. It is the accomplishment of the Great Work.


Notes

From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. At, atu, ‘moment of time, minute, hour, culmination of an act’. At-t, ‘bed, couch, bier’ and ata, ‘boat’. Also, ā-t, ‘chamber, house, place, temple’. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Volume I pp. 12–13. The root of the noun is cognate with all senses of the chariot in the various traditions, including the nuptial  place of repose for Shiva and Shakti in the tantrik tradition. From it is derived ‘Atu’, the name of the Tarot trumps. In The Book of Thoth, Chapter III, Crowley poured scorn on the notion that atout, the French word for ‘trump’, might be etymologically derived from Atu, ‘House’. However, the Egyptian language is far more ancient than Latin or Greek!

2. Ā(N)TIT (andjet), Budge I, pp. 128 [ibid]. Note also that andj or antech has the meaning of ‘health, well, sound’. All is well when Ra travels in his sky boat.

© Oliver St. John 2020, Revised 2024

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Karma Yoga and Three Ways of Initiation

There are three ways of initiation corresponding to Jnana Yoga (knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (devotion) and Karma Yoga (action). These are also called the sacerdotal way of the priesthood, the royal way of kings, and the way of the warrior.

Karma Yoga and Three Ways: Artus Scheiner RomanceIn our time, the warrior path presents the greatest difficulties. The warrior path generally involves the Ideal expressed through exoteric religious (or other) dogma. Dogma literally means ‘what seems to be good or true’, ‘what one should think’. The shortcoming is obvious. However, religious dogma has now been replaced by universal belief in scientism. Scientism is far worse than religious dogma, for that at least had a basis in true principles, even if the basis was often lost in practice—a condition made worse in the confusion of modern times. The dogma of conventional science has no basis in any truth whatsoever. It could be said, and not without some justification, that all ways of initiation are closed in the present times—for we have reached the greatest darkness of the Kali Yuga that comes immediately before the final dissolution and regeneration of the world. However, even in times such as ours the way of initiation is open right until the last minute for the few that still have the innate possibilities.

This article is abridged from Nu Hermetica—Initiation and Metaphysical Reality [Ordo Astri books].

The practices are not separate, as though having nothing to do with each other. They overlap and in some ways run concurrently. One path can also support another. The way of Bhakti, ‘devotion’, is akin to Raja Yoga, which is the way of the king or noble, yet it is also the way of the warrior or man of Earth. Karma Yoga is ‘action’, which implies immersion in time and place, names, numbers and principalities—yet that impinges on the way of the Lover, who, unless he is wholly devoted to union with God or divinity, must always be tested by the ordeals configured by the very nature of the outer world.

The three paths, as with the practices, are comparable to the three Gunas in the same tradition: Sattwas, Rajas and Tamas. This is why they are never truly separate in nature, for each one flows seamlessly into the other, and they must all partake of each other’s nature in some way. For this reason the Gunas are sometimes used in alchemical analogies. They also correspond to the Wheel of Force, the 10th Atu of the Tarot, for like the wheel they are never fixed but are a mobile force. While each manifests according to its nature they all partake of the one essence or essential Esoteric Principle.

Thus no person or being consists wholly of one or the other of these three qualities, but one or the other will be the dominant force in them. Even that is not necessarily a permanent or fixed state of affairs, for initiation can change this, and as we have said, one path can act as a support for another. It can be readily seen then that the way of Jnana Yoga suits the Sattwic disposition, while the ways of Bhakti and Karma Yoga suit the Raja disposition. The Tamas disposition, ignorant by its very nature, naturally precludes any possibility of initiation and only allows for exoteric affiliation. René Guénon has said that Tamas nonetheless has a closer relation with Rajas than with Sattwas.[1]

Those who follow the ways of Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga are those who must develop individual qualities. These two paths pertain to the Lesser Mysteries and the psychic sphere of the individuality. Jnana Yoga, which is the path of pure knowledge, exists for those who will leave the corporeal order permanently, and is the way of the Greater Mysteries. Yet Karma and Bhakti can provide a support to the further and full realisation that only Jnana Yoga affords. Indeed, there is no way to the pinnacle without first entering the centre of all, the omphalos at the heart of Tiphereth in our tradition.

It should be noted in respect of the three ways that the Karma Yoga path in its fullest and original sense means that each must accomplish that which accords to its proper nature, called a ‘True Will’. Unfortunately, the conditions now prevailing in the world have made that rare, almost impossible. This owes to the confusion that is now considered to be the normal state of affairs, so that every kind of deviancy is also considered to be normal. In that, it does well to bear in mind that this is so because the whole of our civilisation is deviant, not merely some parts of it or particular kinds of behaviour.

In the West, Bhakti once had its counterpart in the Graal tradition, the chivalry typified by Arthur and his knights, or in some of the ancient orders such as the Knights Templar—though we must exclude from that all modern claimants to that tradition. Karma Yoga has its counterpart with crafts, and in that we would include poetry, music and all the arts, provided these express true principles and are not merely about ‘personal expression’. In the true and also the most technical sense, Karma Yoga is ‘ritual action’, which again, owing to the general conditions of our times, is nowhere to be found in our governmental, social or domestic conventions, unless in the most degraded and meaningless forms imaginable.

The principles hold true in all traditional actions. For example, there was a time not so long ago when at the Beltane cross-quarter of the year, on or around the 1st May, a pole was firmly erected in a field and coloured ribbons were tied to its mast. Young girls, dressed in white and decorated with flowers, would then each hold on to the end of a ribbon and all would go dancing merrily about the pole. One of these would be designated ‘Queen of the May’. The Queen of the May is the ‘one chosen’ to play the part of the Daughter or Bride of the Kingdom, called Malkah or Persephone, and known by many other names in equivalent traditions around the world.

The pole is the vertical axis of the universe and of the Great Yantra. This links heaven with earth, and the spiritual order with the corporeal world. In the axis is the possibility of initiatic transmission, like lightning to the ground. The circle is the circumference of the sphere, of which the interpenetrating axis is the extended point or Esoteric Principle. It is the visible appearance of things or Nature. The maidens are the whole range of possible expressions, as the multitudinous variety of flowers, yet each retaining the purity (white colour) of the Principle itself. The coloured ribbons that connect the maidens with the axis form the rainbow of Setian manifestation, the ‘coat of many colours’ of Joseph.[2] They are the seven rays, of which the seventh is that which is beyond the reach of the sky, or otherwise at the head of the axial column.

It remains to be said  that as ‘ritual action’, various kinds of magical practice such as the making and consecration of talismans are related to Karma Yoga, though these may also, if properly done, act as a support for spiritual realisation. When talismans are made for wholly negative purposes, such as worldly ambition, material gain, persuasion of the will of others, and so forth, then the ‘karma’ of wrath and retribution is automatically evoked. This is something that many now find difficult even to believe, since our world encourages such empty ambitions as a matter of course, and even heaps honours upon those with truly abhorrent or base motives. However, this action of retribution is inevitable. It does not arise from any moral consideration, since morals, by definition, are merely completely arbitrary human conventions. The retribution arises from natural action, which is another meaning of the Sanskrit karma. If the person has invoked either deity or devil, it matters not which, in complete ignorance of the principle or true knowledge underlying the symbol, then that principle will nonetheless be present at the ritual and in the operator, but only in wholly negative form.


Karma Yoga and Three Ways Notes

1. René Guénon, Chapter 18, Initiation and Spiritual Realisation [Sophia Perennis].
2. Genesis 37: 3: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.”

From the book, Nu Hermetica—Initiation and Metaphysical Reality.

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