Aries Equinox: Egyptian Tarot Hrumachis IV

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the twenty-eighth path of Aries is here named Hrumachis IV. Hrumachis is best known as the Egyptian Sphinx and has various names that include Hu, Hormaku, or Hor-em-akhet. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Son of the Morning: Chief among the Mighty.[1]

Egyptian Tarot Hrumachis IVThe Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Hor-em-akhet, from which the Greek Hrumachis is derived, is at the top of the Tarot picture. In the centre is Ra-Mentu.[2] As Hrumachis, Horus is fully raised to the sky or heaven. The Sun and Serpent crown affirm his identity with both Ra and Typhon-Apophis. His nemmys is night-blue, the colour of the body of Nuit, which encompasses the whole horizon. He wears the leopard spots, emblematic of the ‘space-marks’ or stars and the gift of divine prophecy.

The ten stars on the platform of the throne symbolise the sephiroth in Malkuth of Assiah. The twenty-two stars grouped around the rectangular symbol of the Golden Mean (phi ratio) on the throne, the Foundation of the Universe, are the twenty-two scales of the Serpent of Wisdom. The god bears the Set-headed was sceptre of sacerdotal ordinance and authority in his left hand, while with his right hand he sends forth temporal power.

The hieroglyph in the lower section of the picture depicts the akhet lion or Sphinx, who gazes eternally at the equinoctial point on the horizon. The horizon is akha, or ‘sun in the horizon’. This has various meanings, which include ‘moment in time’, ‘appearance’ and ‘ordination’.

The astroglyphs for Aries and the Sun are shown on the border at the top of the card, for the Sun achieves his exaltation in Aries at the vernal equinox. On the lower edge of the card is the astroglyph for Mars, the ruling planet. Next to that is the symbol of alchemical Sulphur.[3] Tzaddi, the letter of the twenty-eighth path of Aries, is to the right of the title.

The word of sacerdotal power and authority—and so spiritual Governance—is uttered at Thebes (Waset), the Place of Ordinance in the South. The sonic vibration is sent forth upon the light-flowing stream of the Nile until it is received by the priests of Heliopolis (Aunnu) in the North. There, in the holy city dedicated to the mysteries of the Phoenix, Hathoor gives birth to Horus by divine parthenogenesis, that is to say, without the intervention of a father. Likewise, Nuit gives birth to Set, her star of manifestation—As above, so below. Horus ascends to the sky or heaven as an immortal Khu. Likewise, the soul achieves resurrection by the power of utterance.[4]

The mysteries of Hrumachis, the enigmatic Sphinx, are further revealed in the hieroglyphic name: Hor-em-akhet, ‘Horus in the horizon’. The variant form, Horakhty, is literally, ‘Ra who is Horus of the two Horizons’. The akhet, or aker, is a gateway or door. The double lion-gate of the sun’s ingress and egress to and from the underworld (spring and autumn equinoxes) refers to Horus as the metaphysical principle of the horizon itself. It is a particular part of the sky—for example, where the sun rises at the equinox—and an equivalent portion of the Egyptian underworld. The name of Horus as ‘horizon’ or ‘dweller in the horizon’ relates to the circle as does his eye. The horizon symbolises the primordial boundary or limit. It is also the means, in the human domain, by which we define the shape and meaning of the sensible universe. The horizon also designates the boundary or crossing, the way of passing all liminal thresholds.

Hrumachis was often depicted as a lion with the head of a woman as with the Sphinx of the Giza plateau. At other times the neter took the form of a hawk or ram—especially when linked to the god Khephra, the rising or emerging sun at dawn.

Hrumachis is sometimes called HU, ‘authority’ or ‘will’ in the Egyptian hieroglyphic texts. In some passages of the Book of Coming Forth into Light, Ra is said to divide himself into two parts, HU, Will, and SIA, Mind (Greek Nous).[5] These are Chokmah and Binah of the Qabalah. Kings of Egypt were ‘Sons of Ra’ (Horus) from at least the 2nd Dynasty onwards.

Hrumachis: Lord of the Equinox

The Sun’s entry into the sign of Aries signifies the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. The full Moon after the equinox is in Libra, marking the first of the two balances of the year. The Sun’s entry into the sign of Aries signifies the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. The full Moon following the equinox is in Libra, marking the first of the two balances of the year, the aker lion ‘gateways of light’ leading into and out of manifestation as referred to earlier. The head of the Sphinx of Egypt points towards the vernal equinox on the horizon while her tail marks the ‘fall’ or autumnal equinox. Thus, Hrumachis is Lord of all Aeons in time and space and that which is beyond them all.

Hrumachis: Holy King

The twenty-eighth path of Tzaddi connects Netzach, the sphere of Venus, with Yesod, the sphere of the Moon. The title of the path is the Active Intelligence, and it is called thus ‘for thence is created the spirit of every creature of the supreme orb, and the activity, that is to say, the motion, to which they are subject’.[6] The letter Tzaddi (fish hook) of this path is that of the holy king, specifically the fisher-king found in the lore of many traditions. This path is represented fairly by what is usually thought to be a ‘crook and flail’ carried by Egyptian kings; in fact, the ‘crook’ is more likely to be an early form of needle for weaving, while the ‘flail’ is an instrument for threshing grain. Thus we have weaving and gathering on the one hand, and separation and purgation on the other, these being comparable to the dual and complementary principles of Peace and Justice.

The magical power of the twenty-eighth path is that of the Power of Consecrating Things, which owes to the fire of Aries.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Son of the Morning, Chief among the Mighty. Lucifer the ‘light-bringer’ or Dawn Herald is frequently confused with Satan. Lucifer is generally thought to be the ‘son of the morning’ referred to in the book of Isaiah, 14: 12, which is a title of Venus as the Morning Star. The title of the 4th Tarot Atu is incorrectly given in Crowley’s ‘acquired’ work, Liber 777, as Sun of the Morning. The title refers to Venus, not the Sun. Chief Among the Mighty refers to the original Golden Dawn placement of the trump on the fifteenth path from Chokmah to Tiphereth. Curiously, Son of the Morning adumbrates the change of placement to the twenty-eighth path of Tzaddi recommended in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 57. The path has its source in Venus or Netzach, the seventh sephira or emanation.

2. This image is based on a replica of the Stele of Revealing, the funeral stone of the Theban priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu.

3. This is one of three Tarot trumps corresponding to the principles of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury: Isis-Urania, Hrumachis and The Priestess.

4. The transformation of the soul into a living Khu, the mysterious personification of Horus the divine hawk, and his relation with the Sphinx is revealed in our translation of Egyptian papyrus Spell 78. The translation and commentary is given in, ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

5. The Book of Coming forth into Light is the more accurate name of the book falsely named the ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead’ by tomb robbers and Egyptologists.

6. See Thirty-two paths of Wisdom (Ordo Astri) for a complete description of all paths of the Tree of Life.

© Oliver St. John 2020, revised 2024

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