Gemini: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Shenut VI

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 17th path of Gemini is Shenut VI. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of Gemini. The Twins of Gemini are here portrayed as ancient Egyptian sacred dancers, expressing the mobility and fluidity of Azoth, the Hermetic Light in dual expression.

Gemini: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Shenut VIThe esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally called ‘The Lovers’, is Children of the Voice: Oracle of the Mighty Gods. The ‘voice’ is the oracle of Understanding and Wisdom. On the Tree of Life, these are Binah and Chokmah. The primary cosmic duality is personified in pairs such as Babalon and the Beast, Sophia and Logos, Eve and the Serpent.

In the centre of the Tarot picture are two Egyptian dancing girls, based on the tomb painting of Nebamun Osama. The hieroglyphic name Shenut, goddess of dual manifestation, is at the top of the Tarot picture. Related terms are shni-t, ‘spell’, ‘curse’, and shnem, ‘to unite with’.[1] When the hieroglyphic determinative of a bird alighting is used, as shown here in the lower half of the Tarot picture, the word means ‘dancers’, or a company of dancers and musicians.

The goddess Shenut was revered in the swampy Delta region of Lower Egypt. Over time, she became indistinguishable from Isis, Hathoor and other feminine deities. In the Delta, Shenut was identified with the acacia or Tree of Life from which the gods are sprung. The ancient Egyptian name of the acacia tree, shent, also has the meaning of ‘thicket’ or ‘bush’.[2] Thus the word of dual manifestation issues from the sacred bush or pudenda of the goddess. The word shent also has the meaning of ‘a seal’ or ‘impression’. The children of the word-vibration, the Oracle of the Mighty Gods, form impressions in the Astral Light by the power of magical utterance.

As ChNT, the value of the name is 67, equal to the letter zain of the 17th path of Gemini, ‘a sword’, spelled in full (ZIN).[3] ChNT has the meaning of ‘magic’, ‘spells or incantations’. The root of the word is khen, ‘to dance’, which is etymologically related to kheni, ‘love songs’, ‘to flutter’, ‘to alight (as a bird)’. The ancient Egyptians associated dancing with birds and sky, all that is ‘high’, ‘above’. Thus Shenut is a goddess of the sky and space. The act of dancing is to describe space, to define it, both geometrically and through movement, giving birth to form and the visible appearance of things.

A further related term is khnem-t, ‘friend’, ‘companion’, also ‘mistress’.[4] Gemini, the Twins, is the Zodiac sign of friends, lovers and companions. To utter a word, a word must be heard. The duality of the 17th path of Gemini is expressed as Sol and Luna in alchemical terms. The Tarot trump images this forth as the dancing Twins of Gemini, called kheter in ancient Egyptian, a word that also has the meaning ‘friends’, ‘marriage’ and ‘union’.[5] The word is identical in sound to that of Kether, the first emanation, for there is no ‘singular intelligence’ in reality, only the principle of union. Esoteric Thelema declares that duality is no longer to be thought of as evil, for the polar twins each contain the germ of their complementary opposite. As declared by Nuit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 29,

For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.

Gemini, Zain and Set

The word kheter has the Qabalistic value of 217 (ChTR), equal to ChRT, ‘magick; engraving or impression’. The ‘twins’ or magical children of Shenut are thus affirmed as the weavers of magick between the worlds, the dancers or serpents of the Caduceus of Hermes-Thoth. The number 217 is also that of the god Set, whom the ancient Egyptians identified with Mercury.

“Through the ages, the god Set, who was identified with Mercury, became increasingly demonised in Egypt; his more positive attributes were gradually transferred to Thoth, whose totem animal is the Ibis. Thoth is the male counterpart of Maat. Together, Thoth and Maat oversee the transmission of the divine Word or True Will.”[6]

Zain, the letter of the 17th path, symbolises the sword of discrimination, which is both divisive and unifying. The name of Set is related to Sept, ‘seven’, the value of the letter. The primary division is that between man and his Holy Guardian Angel. The Mercurial power is to utter the divine Word, the Oracle of the Mighty Gods. When such a word is received, the “chance of union” is realised.

Set is the ‘cutter’, the divider into two. As the only begotten child of Nuit, he causes her appearance. AVRI, also 217, provides a key to the magical means, for it signifies ‘fiery; shining or lustrous; of light’. DBVRH (Deborah), 217, is the honey bee, the principle of vibration and the shakti medium of vibration in the depths. Honey is the food of the gods, or the nectar of immortality, and the honey bee is the symbol for the dissemination of knowledge. Sirius or AVRK (227), the ‘home of the gods’, is the light substance or honeyed emanation of Set-Hadit. Thus Set is the magical means of transmutation.

The division referred to in AL, I: 29,  primarily takes place on the 12th path from Kether to Binah, corresponding to Mercury and the Magician of the Tarot. Set appears on this path as the Egyptian Ass, typifying the practitioner of magical arts. Below the Abyss, the Magi are Black Brothers, believing in a unitarian intelligence, Monad or singular selfhood.

On the 17th path of Gemini, the division is reconciled in the harmony of Tiphereth. The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian is thus central in the Great Work, for the principle of union here implies a mystic marriage of soul and God. Theos (feminine theia) is the root of the True Will summed up in the word Thelema.

 As Children of the Voice, the Dancers of Shenut echo the love-play of Nuit and Hadit. The 17th path of Gemini issues from Binah, the supernal Eden and Matrix, to reify in Tiphereth, the full beauty and radiant glory of the Sun. Thus, the oracle or transmission is fleshed by the divine word or utterance from the Throne of Isis. The Eye of Ra the Sun, otherwise Horus, is intimately associated with the goddess Hathoor, who appeared in the previous trump for Taurus, and who is the sovereign of music, song and dancing.

On the way of return, the 17th path crosses the abysmal threshold of human reason to find its root in the depth, silence and mystery of Binah, sphere of Understanding.

In the Sepher Yetzirah, the 17th path is called the Intelligence of Sensation or the Disposing Intelligence. It is also called the Foundation of Tiphereth in the plane of the Supernals—since its root is in Binah and its termination in the centre of the Ruach intelligence. The 17th path of Gemini is the seventh from Aleph. The letter zain (or zayin) is the sword separating the subtle non-material matrix into twin streams of time and space that pour forth from the Abyss. The sacred dance or Shenut expresses the resolution of reason through the union of love under will. It is the creation of the world and its magical recreation through the Great Work.

The magical power of the 17th path of Gemini is the Power of being in two or more places at one time, and of Prophecy.


Notes

1. E. A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary Vol 2, pp. 745, 747. Budge transliterated the word as ‘Khenit’ (see Vol 1, pp. 549). In later times, the ‘k’, pronounced much like the Aramaic cheth, was superseded by the phonetic ‘sh’. The letter is symbolised by a rolled and tied scroll, indicative of ‘secret things’ or ‘mysteries’, or otherwise, as shown here, as the shen knot of eternity (see Vol 1, pp. 525).
2. Vol 1, pp. 748 [ibid].
3. Khenit = ChNT; see note 1.
4. Vol 1, pp. 551 [ibid].
5. Vol 1, pp. 520 [ibid].
6. The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga, ‘Zain’, Glossary.

Qabalistic notes are adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, comment on the 17th path.
© Oliver St. John 2019

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Taurus: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hathoor V

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 16th path of Taurus is Hathoor V. Venus, the Egyptian Hathoor, is the ruler of Taurus, while the Moon, the Lunar Flame, is exalted therein.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hathoor VThe name of Hathoor, as given in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, is derived from Het-Hor, literally, ‘House of Horus’.[1] The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally called ‘The Hierophant’, is Magus of the Eternal.

In the centre of the Tarot picture is Hathoor, seated on a cubical throne, for Taurus is the Foundation of the Earth. The throne is of moon-white or silver, for the Moon is exalted in Taurus and is the fructification of earth and all her creatures. The throne is placed between two pillars of silver and gold. Lotus flowers surmount the tetrahedronal capitals. Hathoor is crowned with the solar disk and lunar cow horns. She bears the lotus wand in her right hand, symbol of the perfume of immortality, and in her left she bears the Rosy Cross of Life and Love. She is naked but for a translucent garment worn on the lower half of her body and legs. Her ornaments are a collar and armbands of deep red and indigo, which is nature’s fourth primary colour.[2] Thus she is the Scarlet Woman of the Book of the Law, and the soul of the world. She is Venus, the goddess of Love under will, and the ruling star of Taurus, the Bull of Earth.

The Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Het-Hor is at the top of the Tarot picture. It is the simplest and most elegant expression of Hathoor’s name, the ‘house’ with the Horus falcon within. On either side are the symbols of Hathoor, her mirror and her sistrum rattle. The nature of the Moon, as with the human psyche, is cathodic, reflective. The world is the mirror of the soul; Venus appears to us as a star in the morning or evening by virtue of the fact that she reflects the rays of the sun, as does the Moon and other planets. The sistrum rattle is the emblem of music and dance, and is at the same time the sharp call to attention, to ‘wake up’!

Word of Hathoor

As Magus of the Eternal, Hathoor is the will to love. As stated in the oracle of Nuit, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 57,

Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will.

The Word of Hathoor is the phallic image, the solar power of Horus, her sun-star, born by divine parthenogenesis. Thus by esoteric will, Nuit is manifested upon the earth, clothed in form. The word is thus veiled in flesh. In older depictions of the Tarot trump, the Hierophant or Magus of the Eternal is shown as a pope or mysterious patriarch, or otherwise masked. When man seizes the power of the phallic image for himself, he evokes the false crown of the Abyss. He is thus enslaved by that power and it matters not whether the slave calls his master Satan, God, Religion, Fate or Science.

The goddess of truth and beauty will reveal nothing and mean nothing to those who do not seek her only, and with a pure heart. Thus she looks serenely and steadily straight back at the observer of the Tarot picture. As declared in Liber AL, I: 60,

But to love me is better than all things: if under the night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom.

The astroglyphs for the Sun and Taurus are shown on the border at the top of the card. On the lower edge of the card are the astroglyphs for Venus, the ruling planet of Taurus, and the Moon, who achieves her exaltation therein. Vav, the letter of the 16th path, is to the right of the title.

The ‘V’ is the letter-shape and number ‘5’ of the pentagram. The pentagram is expressive of the phi ratio or Golden Mean, symbol of the foundation of all creation. The Golden Mean is used in sacred architecture and forms part of the Egyptian hieroglyph for the ‘throne’. The planet Venus was anciently associated with the pentagram. Her conjunctions with the sun, as viewed from the earth, form two pentagrams, aright and averse. The apple, a Venusian symbol, is cognate with the Garden of Eden, which is the Tree of Eternity, and Hathoor the indwelling soul. When the ‘five’ is added to the ‘six’ of the phallic image, the vav, the result is 11, the number of Magick and of Knowledge, and of all those who follow Nuit, as according to Liber AL, I: 60,

My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us.

The 16th path of Vav connects Sophia or Chokmah, the sphere of the Zodiac, with Chesed the magnificent or glorious sphere of Jupiter.[3] The path is called the Triumphant or Eternal Intelligence, since it is the way of return to the Garden of Eden. The descent of the path is aptly figured in the letter vav, where the creative seed or essential fire is carried downwards towards manifestation. The letter’s name means ‘a nail’ or ‘pin’; it is the power of fixing an image in consciousness, an act of will on the level of pure mind. The power of imagining is an attribute of Venus, the Egyptian Hathoor. The lunar nature of this path is to reflect the dark radiance pouring forth from the Ain Soph into the pool of cosmic memory in Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter.

The magical power of the 16th path is traditionally the Secret of Physical Strength. The secret bears no relation to athleticism, for it is the knowledge of that which animates all things that live and move and have their being—it is no less than the secret of life itself. The power may thus be construed as the Vitality of the Ka. It is Hathoor’s Word, the Serpent Hadit, who gives this life.


Notes

1. According to Liber AL, III: 38, the Song of the Stele, “I have made a secret door into the House of Ra and Tum, of Khephra and of Ahathoor”. This is a rare variant spelling of Hathoor’s name; we have adopted the spelling more commonly found in the works of the Golden Dawn and Crowley, based on transliteration from Coptic.

2. See ‘Ultraviolet Light of Set-Typhon’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs, for an explanation of the ‘miraculous intervention’ of indigo, when considered as a primary colour.

3. Qabalistic references are adapted from The Flaming sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2019

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Magical Philosophy of Thelema

In the year 1904 while in Cairo, Egypt, Aleister and Rose Crowley unwittingly earthed the magical transmission or prophetic utterance named Liber AL vel Legis, the (Egyptian) Book of the Law.

Book of the Law: Stele of Revealing, Bulaq Museuem CairoThe contents of the Book of the Law are rooted in the Egyptian Gnostic Tradition. More particularly, the book reveals the Great Work of the Egyptian priests of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, Initiates who vow to become Ma-Kheru—one whose ‘word is made perfect in Maat’.

The Great Work of the initiatic cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu is the magical transmutation of the soul and the knowledge of the spiritual and natural law governing the operation. The formula of the opus is recorded on the funeral stone of one such Initiate, called the Stele of Revealing, of which the Book of the Law, Liber AL, is a theurgical activation.

Thelema is frequently described as a ‘magical system’ but it is no such thing in reality. Neither is it any kind of religion, though it has some affinities with Gnosticism. The magick of Thelema is a transmission. The function of a Thelemic magical Order is to transmit a particular stream of consciousness—which we term as the 93 Current—by which men and women can obtain Gnosis, direct revelation. The purpose of such revelation is to become free from imprisonment in the artificial construct that is commonly thought to be reality. Such an aim cannot, ipso facto, be fulfilled through any social or political agenda. As declared in Liber AL, I: 11,

These are fools that men adore; both their Gods and their men are fools.

The Book of the Law was dictated to Aleister Crowley through the cosmic mediation of Ouarda the Seer (born Rose Edith Kelly). This required the agency of a praeterhuman intelligence, named Aiwass in the book.[1] It is the aim of magick to obtain direct contact with the inner planes. The diagram called the Tree of Life best explains the term, ‘inner planes’. The material or objective world of things and objects is called Malkuth the Kingdom, and is placed as the tenth emanation at the foot of the Tree. The greater part of the universe is therefore invisible to the ordinary human senses and reason.

The Greek word Thelema (Θελημα) is the ‘word of the Law’ as stated in Liber AL, I: 39. It is not a law of scriptures, decrees or any exoteric doctrine or body of religious teachings. According to Liber AL, III: 49,

I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.

The fourfold word is Do what thou wilt. The Law of Thelema is wholly a spiritual and natural one, not a human one. Some but not all human beings have this secret nature within them, and of those, some are destined to discover it. There is nothing new about Thelema; it is not limited by time. The word Thelema means, ‘will’—not the personal will that imagines it has deterministic power but the impersonal will-force that is personified as Hadit. A comparative and perhaps better-known deity is Shiva in the Tantrik tradition, the supreme creator and destroyer of the universe.

Thelema, ‘will’, and Agape, ‘love’, both add to 93 by Greek Qabalah, expressive of the 93 Current. As the word Thelema is Qabalistically identical to Agape—spiritual love, not romantic or erotic love—the 93 Current expresses the spiritual intelligence of the universe going forth. Consciousness exists everywhere in the universe, though it is not of the universe that we perceive, and can never be known for it is the Knower, otherwise termed Hadit. As declared by the Serpent of Knowledge, Hadit, in Liber AL, II: 3–4,

In the sphere I [Hadit] am everywhere the centre, as she [Nuit], the circumference, is nowhere found. Yet she shall be known and I never.

As consciousness is everywhere, it is not limited to the earth and the human species that has infected the planet with an artificial construct it likes to think of as ‘intelligence’. Wild birds and creatures are sentient, in contradiction to the prevailing scientism that has formed its doctrines around the need to preserve and continue the artificial hell in which Adam and Eve are imprisoned until they come to know the true state of affairs.

Book of the Law: Thelemic Cosmology

All cosmologies are misleading. The best sense of the word ‘cosmology’ is the literal one, from the Greek: ‘a conversation about the universe’. However, that is not the meaning of the term as it is commonly understood. Metaphysics is also misleading, because the academic understanding of that word is only ‘about the matter’, the physics, which paved the way for scientism. The ancients had an entirely different way of thinking that cannot be grasped by dogmatic reasoning, whether that is slanted towards scientism, religion or religious theology. As it is succinctly put in Liber AL, II: 32,

Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite and unknown; and all their words are skew-wise.

Ancient metaphysics, aeons before the term was coined, was based on detailed observation of nature, no different from the Thelemic love under will. Originally, there was only one Tree of Life that was also a Tree of Knowledge. To assist the restoration of the Tree of Life, we can happily forget the old word of Moses and instead invoke AShRH, the ‘woman’, as deity name in Kether. From the fragrance or Shakti emanations of Nuit-Babalon comes forth the tree from which the gods are sprung. As a cognate study, Ishtar is the happy goddess of the three worlds, heaven, earth and the underworld. The same three worlds are depicted on the obverse of the Stele of Revealing.

The gods of the Book of the Law are interchangeable, as are all Egyptian gods or neters (‘principles’). They can be different things on different planes—as is the Holy Guardian Angel, another metaphor. There is a Thelemic Trinity implied in the structure of Liber AL, and also in the Stele of Revealing, the only fragment we have of the original Theban Thelemic cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu. There is also a trinity of sorts in the title of the book’s manuscript, ‘L’, as 30. The primal trinity is the Qabalistic Binah, the root of all form, the cosmic Matrix or womb. The Sethian Gnosis, among the books ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, asserts a trinity of spirit or fragrance, light and dark. The light and dark had no moral implications of good or evil, for the Gnosis precedes, by vast ages of time, all dualistic theologies. The fragrance, or spirit-intelligence, permeates the light and dark equally; it knows them; thus the cosmic womb or Matrix is formed.


Notes

1. The Egyptian name Aiwass means, ‘He who was ordained in Thebes’.
Abridged from ‘Romance of the Magical Orders’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2019

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