The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the seventeenth 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.
The 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 Sophia and Logos, Eve and the Serpent.
In the centre of the Tarot picture are two Egyptian dancing girls. 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’. 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 seventeenth path of Gemini, ‘a sword’, spelled in full (ZIN). 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’.
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 seventeenth 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’. The word is identical in sound to that of Kether, the first emanation. The polar twins each contain the germ of their complementary opposite and are united by the principle that transcends them both
Notes on Gemini and Shenut
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.
Adapted from the book, Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.
© Oliver St. John 2020 (Revised 2023)
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