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 trump 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.[1] 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’.[2] 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, her identity was merged with 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. Shenet (shent), the ancient Egyptian name of the acacia tree, also indicates the fruit of the tree and its products or essences. Thus the word of dual manifestation issues from the sacred heart and tongue of the goddess. The word shent also means ‘a seal’ or ‘impression’. The children of the word-vibration, Oracle of the Mighty Gods, convey the primal utterance through means of non-physical vibration.

The value of the name Shenut (ChNT) 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 geometrically. Through movement, birth is given 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 dancing twins, 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; the polar twins each contain the germ of their complementary opposite. As declared by Nuit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, 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. Set was increasingly demonised over long ages of time; his more positive attributes were gradually transferred to Thoth, whose totem animal is the Ibis. Thoth is the male counterpart of Ma’at. Together, Thoth and Ma’at oversee the transmission of the divine Word or True Will.

The Dancers of Shenut are the Oracle of the Mighty Gods, echoing 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.

The 17th path is called the Intelligence of Sensation or the Disposing Intelligence in the Sepher Yetzirah. 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 the twin stream of time and space that pours 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.

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.

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. The drawing is based on the tomb painting of Nebamun Osama.
2. 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).
3. Khenit = ChNT.
4. Vol 1, pp. 551 [ibid].
5. Vol 1, pp. 520 [ibid].

Qabalistic notes are adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, comment on the 17th path.

From the book, Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.
© Oliver St. John 2020

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick, divination and Thelema. The 12 Zodiac trumps can be viewed here. The Tarot is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the Tarot here. More information on our ‘Books’ page may be found here.

Books by Oliver St. John
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to Home): Thelemic Magical Collegium
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)

Our Lady BABALON

From time to time it has come to our notice that some people have very strange ideas concerning who or what our Lady Babalon is, or what she symbolises.

Blake: BABALONBabalon, as divine personification and Shakti, to whom is the power of ‘reversing time’ in the assimilation and reabsorption of all illusions of self, is integral to initiatic transmission and gnosis. Yet it is very common nowadays to find ‘devotees’ of Babalon that are only devoted to a kind of advertising agency notion of the ‘modern woman’. This involves a kind of sexualised ideal of women that is a contradiction in itself, a dissociated idea of the self that could only come about in the confusion that owes to the spiritual vacuum of the present times. It persists in the ambiguous realm of fantasy—which also happens to be the realm used for selling products. Sadly, the licentious trading on the name of Babalon typifies the total inversion of all spiritual knowledge. It denies any possibility of gnosis or initiation while pretending to sell ‘liberation’ through the cynical commercial exploitation of completely ordinary human weakness and delusion.

Our Lady Babalon has vastly ancient origins. Her name derives from a corruption of the Egyptian per-hapi-en-aunnu, ‘Nile Temple of Aunnu’. The Nile Temple, dedicated to Hathoor the goddess of the sky and the divine pillar or initiatic axis, refers to the nome centre of the place named by the Greeks as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Hathoor is notable for giving birth to Horus without any need for a father, which is indicative of a pure metaphysical understanding of reality beyond the cosmological level, identical to the Advaitan knowledge path or Non Dual gnosis.

The name Hathoor, Egyptian Het-hor, means literally ‘House of Horus’. Hathoor, or Babalon, is thus cognate with Nuit as personification of the supreme principle. As ‘clothed with the sun’, she is both the manifest and unmanifest principle. The relatively modern spelling of her name was derived from the Enochian Keys. By regular Qabalistic values the name ‘Babalon’ adds to 156, which is the number of the Zodiac as a unified principle (12 x 13). It is also the number of squares in each of the Enochian Watchtower Tablets. From that we can ascertain that while the absolute principle is not altered by any conditions of manifestation, Babalon, in her manifest aspect, is the ruler of the cosmological sphere. As we know that Horus in his earliest form as Set-Mentu is the Legislator or Lord of the Cosmic Cycle, we can understand how it is not really possible to separate Horus from Hathoor in the same way that Hadit is not separate from Nuit, for these are dual aspects of the supreme principle.

From the corporeal and human point of view, Our Lady Babalon is the type of the human soul, especially when named the ‘Scarlet Woman’ in the Book of the Law. As such, the soul suffers the burden of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, which resides in the human heart. Some insights may be gleaned from a name of the Garden of Eden (ODN KBVD), which also has the value of 156. According to our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, the Scarlet Woman or soul is warned that the gates of paradise will be closed if she is herself closed to the word of the Holy Guardian Angel. The “compassion and tenderness” mentioned in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 43, has negative implications for the soul. The sympathy or feeling that the soul has is very closely associated with her bodily emotions and mentality. Such ‘feeling’ thus easily becomes a mask for pride and egotism. While there is nothing wrong with love and kindness when it springs freely from the heart, the human mind has an immense capacity for deception. We must also discern a difference here between the ‘heart’ as an analogy for spiritual intelligence and the conventional meaning of the word as merely emotion, instinct or sentiment.

Scorpio, ruled by fiery Mars, the energy or ‘blood’ of life, is sometimes understood as a correspondence of Babalon as the ‘Scarlet Woman’ referred to in the Book of the Law. It is worthwhile looking at a further correspondence of the number 156, KMVTz (Kemotz). Our Flaming Sword gives this as the Ruling Angel of the 1st Decanate of Scorpio. The name suggests ‘essence of darkness’, which seems rather abstruse until we consider that darkness or blackness can symbolise the unmanifest or primordial state, which is identical with the supreme principal. In its inferior aspect, darkness is simply the darkness of ignorance, so we are at once confronted with the dual nature of symbolism. Both aspects apply to the Scarlet Woman or human soul, for she must choose, as according to the Book of the Law, I: 57:

There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!

The dove is the symbol of the Deliverance, also the avatar that ascends and descends the axis or world tree as an intermediary. It is inseparable from the symbolism of the Holy Graal. The serpent itself has a dual aspect, superior and inferior. Here it is played against the bird of heaven, as the Adversary or tendency towards evil that is in man. To a certain extent then, the soul must undergo trials in the underworld or infernal realm that has its equation with ‘ordinary life’, before reaching the centre of the labyrinth. Once the centre is reached—if it is reached and not denied—it becomes possible for the soul’s initiatory death and resurrection or ascent.


Notes on our Lady Babalon

This article further develops themes explored in our books Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs and Nu Hermetica—Initiation and Metaphysical Reality.

© Oliver St. John 2021

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)
Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Esoteric Collegium