Angels of Sacred Dance, Love and Whoredom

The four female spirits or angels of sacred dance and love are Na’amah, Lilith, Eisheth Zenunim and Agrat Bat Mahlat. In very ancient times they played the part of dancers, lovers and pythonesses or oracular priestesses. When state monotheism became the only lawful means of spiritual communion, the four magical dancers between the worlds were demonised.

Angels of Sacred Dance: Queen of the NightAccording to the Zohar, after Cain killed his brother Abel, Adam was separated from Eve for 130 years.[1] Lilith and Na’amah visited Adam and bore his demonic children, called the Plagues of Mankind. In the Zohar, the abode of the Venusian female spirits of sacred dance is in hell, and they are the four consorts of the Archdemon Samael.

Even Samael has an ambiguous nature in scriptures, for in some of the old books he has the status of Archangel, while in others he is the Prince of Hell or of the Qliphoth. The name of the Archdemon Samael has the meaning of ‘North’, or ‘Left-hand’, an indication that Samael and his four consorts were originally associated with a very ancient (viz., pre-religious) tradition.

Elements of the pre-religious spiritual disciplines have survived into relatively modern times. For example, in the Tantrik tradition of the East as Shiva and Shakti, and in Egypt as Set-Hadit and Nuit, not to mention the oracular Wadjet, Neïth, Seshet, Sekhet and countless others. ‘Sinister’ is derived from the Latin sinistrum, meaning ‘left’. Tantrik cults centred around the sacred feminine are viewed as ‘Left-hand path’, and are considered evil or antisocial, especially since some of the methods prohibit the use of sex for procreation. This is a reversal of what has been considered acceptable since biblical times. Social conventions reinforced over long ages of prohibition, religious taboo and state bribery only legitimise sexual activity, for example, as a means of begetting children.

In modern secular societies, sexual congress without the intention of producing progeny is acceptable so long as it is for recreational amusement. In that case it is fenced around with medical precautions that cancel, or otherwise render as evil and abortive, the reification of the psychosexual force. The ‘demonic’ slur is thus ironic, since sexual congress without the specialised forbidden knowledge results in evil or unbalanced astral forms or psychic aggregates. The ‘astral’ or subtle realm coincides with the plane of elemental air, Qabalistic Yetzirah or Sanskrit vayu. Elementars and other denizens of the inferior subtle regions are able to inhabit the vacuous recesses of the human mind, feeding off the vital fluids. The physical consequence of this ignorance of ancient doctrine includes the whole range of mental disorders, speech and cognitive dysfunction in human beings.

Angels of Sacred Dance: Notes

This article forms the introduction to the chapter of the same title in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs, Revised Second Edition.

The photograph of Ishtar (known as Lilith) is of the Burney Relief, British Museum.

1. The Zohar, one of the key Qabalistic source texts, was first published in Spain in the thirteenth century. Its origin is disputed; the publisher, Moses de León, claimed the Zohar to have been composed in the second century AD by the rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who hid in a cave for thirteen years to escape Roman persecution. He studied the Torah and was inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. Scholars in modern times have produced evidence to show that the author, or at least compositor of the work, was the publisher himself, which would date the Zohar as no earlier than 1270 AD.

© Oliver St. John 2018, 2024

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Pisces: Egyptian Tarot Khonsu XVIII

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the twenty-ninth path of Pisces is Khonsu XVIII. Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, the Sky Traveller.

Pisces: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Khonsu XVIIIThe esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The twenty-ninth path of the Tree of Life extends upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s hieroglyphic name is at the top of the picture. The hawk-headed god of the Moon is at the centre, going forth between two pillars. He bears the priestly was sceptre in his right hand and the Ankh of Life in his left.

Khonsu is regarded as the son of Mut and  Amoun, and he is closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The crown of Khonsu is the full disc and crescent of the Moon; it is not a coincidence that the shape formed from this composite glyph is identical to that of the hieroglyphic Eye of the Moon or Left Eye of Ra. The human psyche is reflective as the shade of the Moon; to see Ra with clear or pure perception is to know God and (therefore) to be known by God.

The Moon has three faces: white (or silver), black and red; she is white at the full, invisible in the dark phase and scarlet at the eclipse. The globed capitals of the pillars and lunar crown of Khonsu are also suggestive of the supernal triad of the Tree of Life, where Kether is the ‘higher moon’.

The figures are skryed through the domed hieroglyphic Gate of the Moon. This is a stylised version of the Egyptian determinative for ‘foundation’. In the lower section is the telesmatic name of Shad Barshama’ath Shartathan, the Spirit of the Spirits of the Moon, as drawn on the Kamea of the Moon. The name adds to 3,321, the sum total of all the squares on the Kamea and can be translated, ‘Elemental Child born from the Oracle of Joy’. If the name is looked at Qabalistically, it yields some fascinating nuances. Barshama’ath can be construed as ‘Spirit of clear-seeing’.[1] To ‘see things clearly’ is to know directly and is not to be confused with the visual or imaginative faculties. Barshama’ath also has the meaning ‘pure name’, and Ma’at is the Lion of Truth.[2] Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, is called the Pure Intelligence.

Shartathan denotes Thoth as Chief of Scribes. Thoth, or Tahuti as known to the Egyptians, was originally a god of the Moon, like Khonsu. On the lower arc, the Moon is typically associated with magical mirrors, skrying and clairvoyance. The magick ‘writing’ of Tahuti is that which appears in the clear mirror of the Seer or Witness, which has nothing to do with ‘visions’ as that is usually understood.

The astroglyphs for Pisces and Jupiter, the ruling planet, are at the lower edge of the card. Qoph, the letter of the path, is to the right. The letter Qoph symbolises the skull, a symbol of the primordial ‘cave’, which resides in the heart of the holy mountain. On the corporeal level, Atu XVIII corresponds to Pisces and the Moon as regulator of organic life.

The Moon of Pisces

The Sun’s entry into Pisces near the end of the cold months is a reminder of the darkest hour before the dawn. The springtime is not far away. In the southern hemisphere it is a reminder that the cooler air of autumn will soon drive out the burning heat of a long summer.

Pisces is traditionally ruled by Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus and to the ancient Egyptians as Amoun (or Amen).[3] Khonsu, god of the Moon, was thus ordained as the child of Mut and Amoun at Thebes. Jupiter, Zeus and Amoun were originally gods of the mountain, and of the seas and rains that replenish the earth with new life and growth. Amoun is a mysterious god. He is self-created, and his location, unlike the sky-gods Horus, Hathoor and Nuit, is below the horizon. He is the Hidden God.

The Qabalah throws further light on the association between the Hidden God and the mysteries of Pisces, sign of the Fishes. The twenty-ninth path connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The symbolic weapons of the path of Pisces are the Twilight of the Place, and the Magical Mirror. As the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the twilight is very noticeable. This is especially so with the lengthening of shadows near sunset, before Venus, the first and brightest star of the evening sky, appears in the west. The magical twilight is also the special light of a room prepared for ritual. Candles and the smoke of incense provide ideal conditions for the arising of spectral images.

Child of the Sons of the Mighty

The title of the twenty-ninth path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the incarnation of all bodies according to the revolution of the Zodiac. The root of the word that is translated ‘corporeal’ (gosham) implies a violent rainstorm or shower—the ‘shower of the life of earth’ that comes through the seed of the Unborn Spirit or Holy Guardian Angel in the ritual called the Bornless. The ‘seed’ is alchemical and refers to the fluidic or formless fire from which all forms receive their essence. The “revolution of the Zodiac” is explained by the operation of Sol and Luna as the governance of Spirit acting upon the Zodiac through the four classical elements of nature. All bodies are composed of these elements. Each creature retains impressions of the cosmic environment, the symbol of which is the natal horoscope, varying according to the time and place of birth. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are cosmic archetypes. Merely knowing the sign of birth does not reveal a person’s nature. The sign alone symbolises a type, not an individual.

The descent of this path is the incarnation or embodiment of each creature, while the ascent of it implies knowledge of the Occult Intelligences, which bears a relation with the manas or ‘inward sense’ of the Hindi doctrines, for it is the principle of mind itself, which forms objects formed from the five senses.

The magical powers of the twenty-ninth path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions. When the light of the Moon is shed upon the earth, as the conditioned view of the ego, then the mind is bedazzled by glamours or enchantments. It becomes absorbed in its own reflections, attributing reality or True Self to that which is no more than fleeting shadows. The shades (spirits, shadows) of the Moon may therefore deceive the foolish and indeed, all men are deceived by such phantoms, mistaking them for reality, unless they are prepared to practice concentration and meditation for a long time. The gift of clairvoyance in the etymological sense of the word (‘clear sight’) is bestowed on those who truly desire to seek out the truth. It should be understood that ‘clairvoyance’ or clear-sightedness as intended here has nothing to do whatsoever with any kind of psychic vision.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. ShThM, 740, means ‘to open the eyes; to see clearly’.

2. BR ShMATh, ‘pure name’, also ‘first created’, i.e., to see the whole world as new or freshly born.

3. Most modern astrologers have substituted Neptune as ruler of Pisces. They similarly assign Uranus to Aquarius and Pluto to Scorpio, discarding the traditional rulerships and throwing the whole scheme into disorder.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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