Star and the Rosy Cross

The Rosy Cross, emblem of sacrifice and love freely given, is the heart of the Order of the Star, whose members aspire to the Will and Love that is Thelema. The Order is for those who “follow the love of Nu in the star-light heaven” (Liber AL, II: 21).

Rosy Cross: The Rose gives honey to the bees

The Golden Dawn or Invisible Sun of Spirit is for the “servants of the Star and the Snake” (II: 21), which is the manifestation of Nuit and Hadit, and of the Great Work.

Let my servants be few and secret: they shall rule the many and the known.

Liber AL vel Legis, I: 10, conveys the esoteric doctrine of Thelema. Nuit and Hadit are absolute principles, whereas the Star and Snake manifest all possibilities as events in time and space. Thus, those who serve the Star and Snake express their will to manifest the law of Thelema, which is the law of love. Love and Will is the dual expression of Thelema, figured as Babalon and the Beast, a dynamic form of the Rosy Cross.

Rosy Cross and Heart of Aiwass

To find the Gnosis in the clear light we must first love and then understand the magical mythology of the words and spells, the hieroglyphs of the stars. From the Cross of Gold then blooms the Red Rose of love and life. The path of knowledge is by no means a path of purely intellectual attainment, for it requires the immersion of the whole self in the matter of the Great Work. The Holy Guardian Angel will not work the alchemy of transformation on the soul unless that task first be accomplished, which is itself of the nature of sacrifice, as symbolised by the Rosy Cross.

Order of the Star: Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Shemsu en Khabs

The Egyptian name of the Order of the Star initiated by Aiwass is Shemsu en Khabs, which has the value of 527.[1] The number 527 is the sum of the three ‘lights’ of the Caduceus, Aub, Aur and Aud added to Spirit-Fire.[2] The name is thus an expression of the Hermetic Light. The number 527 is also the sum of Wisdom (ChKMH), Truth (AMTh) and Love (AHBH). When the corresponding sephiroth Chokmah, Binah and Tiphereth are added together, the result is 11, the number of magical transmutation. As declared by Nuit, in Liber AL, I: 60,

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

The number 527 is that of ZMH ZMH OZH RChM OZIAH, the five words that the Master of Pistis Sophia saw written in the robe given him after his transfiguration. The words can be translated, ‘Thought! Imagination! The sacrament of love and truth’. The sacrament is Thelema, for OZIAH has the value of 93, Will (Θελημα) and Love (Αγαπη).[3] RChM is a name of the Egyptian vulture, the emblem of Isis. The vulture (Neophron percnopterus) uses twigs as a tool to weave her nest. She is the zoötype of the weaver and of weaving—in this case, the weaving of the robe or magical Khu of the Master.

Egyptian Shen Ring of EternityThe vulture is the original type of the Tarot Fool, numbered Zero, placed on the 11th path of the Tree of Life. The vulture, protector of Egypt, carries the shen ring of eternal truth, a symbol of both zero as circle of All, and Libra, the attribution of Maat and the 8th Tarot trump Justice or Adjustment.

The Master explains the meaning of the five words he saw hidden in the woven garment thus:

O Mystery, which is without in the world, for whose sake the universe hath arisen, this is the total outgoing and the total ascent, which hath emanated all emanations and all that is.

The Greek name of the book, Pistis Sophia, is equal to 1,581. When this number is divided by 3, its lowest factor, the result is 527. The five words are therefore the three parts of the sum total of the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus, which is that of ancient Egypt. The number 527 is also that of the Pleiades or ‘Doves’. The name of the stellar complex in the constellation of Taurus also means, ‘wonderful’, and ‘miraculous’. The small, sparkling cluster of seven stars was anciently associated with Venus as the evening star, which is depicted in the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot as the 17th Atu The Star (of Nuit). Earlier Tarot decks, such as the French Tarot de Marseille, depict a very large bright star amidst seven smaller stars. This is indicative of the evening star in the constellation of Taurus—and so life, love, strength, beauty, aspiration and inspiration.

Rosy Cross and Heart of Ouarda the Seer

When 527 is divided by its factor 17, the result is 31, AL, a number and title of the Book of the Law. Ouarda the Seer, the magical name of Rose Edith Kelly, the medium for the transmission of the book, has the value of 576, or 527 added to the 49 petals of the Rosy Cross.[4] Rose Edith Kelly, whom Crowley abandoned in Cairo and subsequently wrote off as a magical ‘failure’, was nonetheless the seer that, in Crowley’s words, “put me in touch with Aiwass”.[5] Rose made the ultimate sacrifice to the Great Work, that of her whole self, out of love. Aiwass, the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat, is the revealer of the timeless wisdom of Thelema, and of the secrets of the priest-kings and princes of the cult of Set in Upper Egypt. Set or Saturn, as the ‘manifester of the seven’ and destroyer through identity, is the power behind Venus.

Rose Kelly thereby opened a door in space, the starry window of imagining, that enabled Aiwass, the Setian prince-priest, to transmit the word of the law to those that would come after the ‘beast’ Crowley. As was written in Liber AL, II: 76,

Thou knowest not; nor shalt though know ever. There cometh one to follow thee: he shall expound it.[6]

The integers of the number 527 convey, ‘Wisdom (2) borne forth by the star (5) of Venus (7)’. Venus is Lucifer, the ‘light-bringer’. As morning star, she is the dawn herald—precurser of the Golden Dawn. As evening star, she is the Occult Light, the twilight envoy of dreams and nocturnal imagining, and the naked splendour of Nuit.

There is a ready comparison to be made between the journey of ascent described in the Gnostic Pistis Sophia and the ascending of the Enochian magical system of Thirty Aethyrs. There are Thirty Aeons in the Valentinian Gnosis, and the original title of the Book of the Law was Liber L or Liber XXX.[7] The first pair of Aeons in the Valentinian Gnostic schema that must be encountered and mastered by the Initiate are ‘Love’ and ‘Will’ respectively, which are summed up as Thelema, the word of the Law.[8]

The Enochian word KROODZI adds to 527, and has the meaning of ‘beginning of things’ or ‘first image’. This refers to the Beast or Chaos as the manifester of Babalon or Cosmos, a notion central to the initiatory system of Thirty Aeons. The ‘first image’ is the power of imagining, ZMH. The word ZMH (zummah) is used in a technical sense as the kind of thought or meditation that follows a symbol back to its source with the infinite. It is the inner level of understanding the mysteries, where the outer level is symbolic or allegorical.

OZH RChM, the ‘powerful matrix’, is Binah or Babalon as cosmic creatrix, and Chokmah or the Beast as the cosmic will-force or utterance. The pair is the primal duality from which all emanations or manifestations on lower planes issue forth. When the primal duality is resolved then naught remains—the spaciousness of Nuit, in whom is the containment of all possibilities, all imagining.

Rosy Cross and the Serpent of Wisdom

The initials of Shemsu en Khabs form the word ShNCh, ‘of the eternal’, which has the value of 358 and is a metathesis of NChSh (nahesh), the Serpent of Wisdom. The number 358 is that of MShICh (messiah), the ‘anointed one’, which anciently refers to a consecrated priest or priestess of the mysteries. Babalon and the Beast, Eve (Sophia) and the Serpent are one. The symbolism of the snake goddess Asherah or Tanith was corrupted in biblical scriptures to portray the Serpent as evil and Eve, the woman, as prone to sin and therefore deserving of eternal punishment at the hand of the vengeful biblical deity (IHVH). Gnostics regard Jehovah or Yahweh as an evil demiurge, and the love of Sophia and the Holy Spirit as the means of liberation.

Jesus and Magdalene, Babalon and the Beast, the Moon and the Sun, Isis and Horus, the Rose and the Cross, are simultaneously human, cosmic and supercosmic figures that teach the art of magick to those who love wisdom. The eternal abode of Nuit is a seamless garment or Khu.[9] It is an ark of love and a beacon of light to the servants of the Star and Snake, as declared in Liber AL, II: 21.

Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength and Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star and the Snake.


1. ShMSV N ChABS = 527.
2. Aub + Aur + Aud = 227. The Aub is the Astral Light, symbolised by two serpents, solar and lunar. The light of Aur is the channel for the spirit-fire, 300, that transforms Astral Light into Aud or ‘fragrance’, 11, the Starlight of Nuit. This is the key to the transmutation of the elements in the ritual called the Mass of Hormaku.
3. OZIAH is ‘truth’ (IAH) and ‘strength’ (OZ). OZH RChM can be construed, ‘powerful matrix’. RChM is the root of ‘womb’ and ‘love’ in the divine or impersonal sense (Agape).
4. Ουαρδα = 576 by Greek number values. The rose of 49 petals various symbolises Venus (7 x 7) as the principle of love, sacrifice and resurrection to new life. The sum of the sephiroth below the Abyss is 49, thus there are ‘50 Gates of Babalon’ the Initiatrix.
5. Quotation from The Law is for all. As evidenced by the list given in the aforesaid book, Rose was the first of at least half a dozen ‘scarlet women’ that Crowley subsequently wrote off as having failed him in some way. The tall, dark man with ‘hooded eyes’ and a ‘cruel mouth’ that appeared to Crowley in Cairo was certainly not Aiwass—whose identity was never known or guessed at by Crowley.
6. The riddle of the numbers and letters in the same verse adds to 419, according to the cypher key of AL, III: 47. The number 419 is that of teth the serpent spelled in full, the letter of the 19th path of Leo the Lion.
7. The number 30 is that of ‘L’, as lamed or lamda. The corresponding 22nd path on the Tree of Life is imaged forth by Maat, the Egyptian goddess of the scales. The Book of the Law is thus the Book of Maat, ‘Truth and Justice’—the expression of cosmic and natural law.
8. The Valentinian Gnosis (2nd century CE) is attributed to the learned Egyptian theologian Valentinus. According to the account of Epiphaneus, Valentinus was born in the Nile Delta and educated at Alexandria. It is probable he was there influenced by the Christian philosopher Basilides. The Basilidian sect included three grades or degrees,  Material, Intellectual and Spiritual. Its aspirants were sworn to keep silence for a period of five years. The pillars of the temple were male and female figures.
9. The holograph MS of Liber AL, I: 26, informs us thus: “Thou knowest! And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality.”

© Oliver St. John 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

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Lineage of the Magi

Faith in ‘lineage’ or Apostolic Succession has cast a shadow over organised occult communities for centuries.

Lineage of the Magi: Marseille Tarot Devil XVAuthenticity, validation and legitimisation are essential to the world of law, business, government, politics, publishing and finances. Legitimisation conveys certain rights and privileges. It conveys authority. The ‘real’, the authentic, is a signature of trust, so that, for example, a person may be guided in their investments. When such validation is transferred to the realm of the esoteric, then the whole subject becomes somewhat less than transparent.

For example, the Apostolic Succession of Bishops is fundamental to the Roman Catholic doctrine. An unbroken line of patriarchs can be traced, according to the Vatican, back to the apostles of Jesus Christ. This conveys sacramental authority. According to the Epistle of Clement, the apostles appointed bishops as successors and directed the bishops to appoint successors. Since the Church has for centuries been divided into factions, many of these refuse to acknowledge the validity of the others. Legitimacy then exists within each exclusive group, while it is denied to all others. The arguments have continued for millennia, and will continue to perpetuity.

The causal chain quickly breaks apart when it serves to yoke an esoteric principle. Thus in some of the older Tarot decks, the 15th Atu depicts the polar twins, Adam and Eve, bound to the altar of the Devil of material and temporal power. The chain only holds Adam and Eve while they remain enthralled by the power of the wealthy governors of the world and their armies of obedient priests, bureaucrats and militia. Looked at another way, the Devil is simply the human ego, where identity is the primary concern.

This situation is by no means exclusive to the Roman Church. Magical Orders have followed the phantom of Apostolic Succession even to the present day. Each magical ‘brand’ makes capital of the trust invested by the faithful, while denouncing the others as charlatans. And so the lurching dance of the official apostles of verified truth surges ever onward, all about the altar of the Devil of World Illusion, spurred on by the trumpets and drums of the slaves that serve mammon.

Faith in ‘lineage’ or Apostolic Succession has cast a shadow over organised occult communities for centuries. To seek external validation or legitimisation is magical failure. As declared in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 5,

Behold! the rituals of the old time are black.

Cloud Upon the Sanctuary

The Order of A∴ A∴ or Astrum Argenteum is the term coined by Aleister Crowley for his continuation of the Rosicrucian system of degrees based on the Hermetic Tree of Life. That system was the legacy of the Golden Dawn of SL MacGregor and Moina Mathers, founded in the late 19th century. In the first number of The Equinox Journal, Crowley presented ‘One Star in Sight’. This was his rewritten version of an earlier work by German philosopher Karl von Eckartshousen, The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary. The work was originally one of Christian mysticism, expressing the inner spiritual tradition of the West in allegorical terms.

Lineage of the Magi: Vault of Christian Rosenkreutz

The use of such allegory already existed in the Rosicrucian tradition, for example, Fama Fraternitatis (1614). The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary refers to a mysterious Elect, which has existed since the beginning of time. Its vision of a future theocracy, embracing the world, contains echoes of systems of governance that have already existed historically but are swathed in the mist of legend—as for example, that of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

While the terms used are allegorical—indeed, extremely romantic—it has always been the work of esotericism to make contact with what are called ‘inner plane intelligences’. Some, such as Crowley, have even sought to prove Their existence, though all such attempts must end in failure. The stone of the wise is not a material substance and cannot be proved by the means of rational scientism, though it may be known. Karl von Eckartshousen resigned from the Bavarian Order of Illuminati when he learned of their insistence that enlightenment could only be obtained through rationalism. Crowley, on the other hand, in rewriting Eckartshousen’s work to suit his own designs, and to assume leadership of the Golden Dawn, declared ‘Scientific Illuminism’ as the true path.

The passing of the torch or beacon of light from one person to another, veiled in secrecy and silence, was not meant to refer to Apostolic Succession after the manner of Roman Catholic bishops. Such a succession or ‘lineage’ nonetheless holds considerable power for those who believe in it. Consequently there will always be those who claim it, so as to wield power and authority over others. Lineage then becomes, as with any much sought after commodity, a contentious subject. Argument sometimes leads to litigation, though more often than not the protagonists give vent to their rage through vilification and slander—much in the way that tomb robbers may argue and fight over the booty.

The question of authentication by lineage will nonetheless continue to hold a power of allurement, or ‘magical glamour’. The idea is intensely magnetic; its charge comes not from history or facts, but from romance and allegory, which has always been the language of the mysteries. The analogous mode of thought is a means of approaching truth that cannot be explained or described in rational terms without veiling that truth. The veil then becomes, as it were, a false Graal or object of the quest for knowledge and wisdom. Men and women may spend their whole lives pursuing such an object, for it is made luminous in the silver rays of hope; it is exalted in the golden halo of imagining. No sooner is it grasped than it becomes a handful of dry leaves that turns to dust, to be blown in the wind.

Lineage and the Blood of Saints

The mystery of blood and lineage, or Apostolic Succession, is best explained through an examination of the 15th and 24th paths on the Hermetic Tree of Life. These correspond to the Tarot trumps The Star XVII (Aquarius) and Death XIII (Scorpio). The placing of the Star of Nuit, Aquarius, on the 15th path is to end the ages old confusion between the blood of material generation and the pure essence that is the substance of spiritual regeneration.

Lineage of Magi: Star XVII and Death XIII Thoth TarotThe 15th path of the Star of Aquarius is the intelligence linking Chokmah (Wisdom) with Tiphereth (Beauty) on the Tree of Life.  The path is called The Constituting Intelligence, of which it is said, “The essence of creative force arises in pure darkness”.[1] The ‘pure darkness’ is the thread of the infinite Ain Soph, the formless, limitless space that is the numinous source of all. The power of manifesting or begetting by division is the power of Nuit, the Goddess of the Stars. Thus, in the Tarot trump of the path, a woman, naked as truth herself, pours forth the waters of life from two vases. In Liber AL vel Legis, I: 59, Nuit declares,

My incense is of resinous woods and gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.

Incense and fragrance are ancient metaphors for pure spirit or essence—that ‘creative force that arises in pure darkness’. The ‘darkness’ is more than merely an absence of light. There were two trees in the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life or visible light, and the Tree of Death, Night or Nuit—the invisible light or pure essence. ‘Blood’ is the self-replicating power or energy that moves through all incarnated creatures. Nuit asserts, however, that her creative essence is not of blood—for her function is not to perpetuate life forms on the physical plane. For this reason it was necessary to counterchange the Tarot trumps on the 15th and 28th paths of the Hermetic Tree as according to the cryptic instruction of Liber AL vel Legis, I: 57.

All these old letters of my Book are aright; but Tzaddi is not the Star.

Lineage of the Magi: Aquarius Glyph

By the change to the order of trumps, the starry 15th path or ‘window of imagining’ corresponds to Aquarius and Nuit, our Lady of the Stars. Aries, previously assigned to the 15th path, is the sign of the fire of blood, the blood of the Lamb in Christian mysticism. Aquarius, on the other hand, is the sign of the Waters of Space typified by the Egyptian hieroglyph of two streams of water or radiation. Nuit is the Egyptian goddess concerned with the occult or hidden side of nature. Her mysteries are those of sex and generation—not the generation of physical progeny, but that of the magical ‘child’ that is the true son or Sun-Star of Nuit.

The root of the Hebrew word for ‘resemblance’ or ‘imagination’ (DMINVI) means, ‘blood’. It is the self-replicating formula of all created beings personified by the ancient Egyptian god Besz. The Imaginative Intelligence of the 24th path of Scorpio works from the centre of the self in Tiphereth towards the desire plane of Netzach in order to bring about new modes of expression, vehicles for the self. On the way of return to Nuit, such vehicles are transcended and broken down—thus the full title of the Tarot trump associated with the 24th path is Child of the Great Transformers: Lord of the Gates of Death. The activity of this path comes about through the power of projecting mental images or thought-forms. The self-replicating formula is related to the creation of a magical ‘child’. This takes place through emergence, the process by which a network of interactions between individuals becomes an entity in itself. Such a complex, adaptive system transmits a particular current, vibration or wave pattern. Thus, spiritual regeneration, the occult formation of a magical Khu as opposed to an egregore sustained by a blood line, is well illustrated by the principle of wave patterns in physics—or the astrological glyph of Aquarius, the ancient Egyptian determinative for Nuit or ‘heaven’.

The proper role and function of a magical Order is to serve others in the Great Work. The role of the members of such an organisation is to assist men and women with their initiation. The service, if freely given, does not require external validation from patriarchs or peers. True initiation cannot be given, bestowed or conferred by any man or woman to any other. What can be passed on, given or validated in that way is worthless in spiritual terms. In fact, it is worse than that, for it conveys self-importance and, ultimately, betrayal for the soul—a bitter cup indeed. Investment of power in lineage is therefore a misdirection of the will and a wasting of the energy of the self.

If we can free our minds from the archaic limitations of the rituals of ‘blood’ we may find that in the path of the Imaginative Intelligence, in the emergence of the Khabs and Khu, is hidden the stone of the wise and elixir of life. The stone or jewel is not a remedy for the inevitable afflictions of the mortal life. It is far more than that. It is the opening of the way that leads to ultimate transcendence of the earth-bound limitations of time and death.


1. See the entry for number 15, The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2018
This is an extract from the essay that forms part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

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Maat: Daughter of the Lords of Truth

There is a special relation between Leo and Libra-Maat, through the esoteric title of the Tarot trump Adjustment VIII, the Daughter of the Lords of Truth.

Sekhet and Maat: Leo and LibraThe Tarot and path correspondences of the Tree of Life are most ingenious. Leo and Libra revolve about Virgo, while Aquarius and Aries revolve about Pisces. The original type of lamed, the letter ‘L’ of the Law of Thelema and 22nd path of Libra or Maat, was the ancient Egyptian ‘sickle’ hieroglyph. According to Golden Dawn Isis-Urania founder member, Wynn Westcott,

“VIII Justice [corresponds to] Lamed and Libra, and Strength [to] Teth and Leo—which causeth a transposition for these are cognate symbols. But at one time the sword of Justice was the Egyptian knife symbol of the sickle of Leo whilst the Scales meant the Sun having quitted the balance point of highest declaration. So the female and the lion gave the idea of Venus, Lady of Libra repressing the Fire of Vulcan (Saturn in Libra) exalted. But earliest was the lion goddess to Leo and Ma to Libra with her scales, and this is better. Also Libra was given to Horus at one time.”[1]

The Golden Dawn changed the order of trumps to fit on the Tree of Life. La Force or Fortitude was usually numbered 11 and Justice 8. MacGregor Mathers and Westcott elected to swap the numbers round so the order of paths and letters and signs is the same as the order of trumps. Leo then corresponds with teth the serpent, the letter of path 19, and Libra to lamed and path 22. What Westcott was driving at in his lecture was the interchangeable relation between the Lion (ma’a) and the Woman with the Sword (ma’at). This is comparable with mutual reception in astrology, where the attributes are held in common through ‘dignity’. If we place the Scales of Maat on the Tree of Life then inevitably the beam will fall across the 19th path. Maat has a natural affinity with Gedulah, and Sekhet with Geburah: THE LION OF TRUTH. Furthermore, the esoteric title of the Lion of the 19th path is Daughter of the Flaming Sword.

The next step in the perfection of the Tarot came a few years later in Cairo, 1904, when Aiwass, conveying the oracle of Nuit (Liber AL, I: 57), tells Aleister and Rose Crowley that,

All those old letters of my Book are aright; but Tzaddi is not the Star.

This greatly perplexed Aleister Crowley. It took him years to work out that the idea is to counterchange the positions of the Star and the Emperor. Presumably he got to this by meditating on the earlier counterchange of Justice and Fortitude by Mathers and Westcott. He next found that we can show the perfection of the arrangement with the diagram, ‘Double Loop of the Zodiac’.[2] He thought to revert the numbering of the Tarot to that which it had always been, Justice VIII and Fortitude XI. Otherwise he would have needed to number the Star as IV and the Emperor as XVII, which disrupts the integrity of the Tarot sequence. So the numbers of the Tarot, the ‘Book T’, are unchanged; only the locations of the two cards change on the paths.[3]

Maat and the Lion of Truth: Double Loop of the ZodiacIt happens, though Crowley never mentioned it, that this method of placement reconciles the Tropical Zodiac with the Sidereal Zodiac. By Alexandrian astrology, Aries is the sign of the spring equinox and Libra that of the autumn equinox.[4] This is so natural and right that it cannot be argued against sensibly. In the present precessional epoch, by Sidereal reckoning, the Sun aligns with Aquarius on 21st March, and with Leo on 21st September. So there, with our Tarot and Tree of Life schema, we have the perfect reconciliation—and the magical images, the Woman and Beast both in time and outside of time.

The original title given to the Cairo transmission, the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, was Liber L. By Qabalistic values, the letter ‘L’ corresponds to Libra and the Scales of Maat, ‘truth’, having the value of 30. The letter lamed is derived from the Egyptian ‘sickle’ or ‘scythe’.[5] It is literally ‘the Measure’ of Maat. The sickle hieroglyph means of ‘truth, justified, true vision, true-speaking and true-seer’.[6] It also spells LION. Mau or Sekhmet is the principle of love in the most powerful or dynamic aspect, the love of truth. Thus Sekhet (power) and Maat (truth) are inseparable to our way of thinking. The Book of the Law, which is the Book of L, might be better named, the Book of the Seer (Soror Ouarda, Rose Edith Kelly).

Sickle Maat Leo and Libra

Venus rules Libra, Saturn is exalted therein. The path of the Lion connects Jupiter (Maat) and Mars (Sekhet). Sekhet and Maat, Fortitude and Justice, are cognate symbols. The sickle hieroglyph is identical to the astrological glyph for Saturn, save for the tau cross-bar. Saturn is the ‘power behind Venus’, as Set-Hadit (the stellar Sirius) is the manifester of the seven stars of Ursa Major: Love is the law, love under will. Lamed is the sickle of Saturn and Sekhet, and as we know, this means both ‘true-speaker’ and ‘true-seer’. To speak truth and to see the truth through the eye of beholding are one and the same. The sickle has a dual function. Firstly, it is needed to clear the field for ploughing the furrow in which we seek the flint or jewel of Maat. It is the Opener of the Ways. Secondly it is needed to reap the harvest, which is analogous with the emergence or ‘second birth’ of a justified soul.

Scales of Maat: Knowledge and Power

The twin pillars of Maat are sometimes named, ‘Knowledge and Power’.[7] It is also quite common to hear it said that ‘knowledge is power’, and that the whole purpose of the magical arts is to gain knowledge and thereby increase power. This rests on the assumption that power is something that can be acquired, purchased, gained or lost—as though it were a thing in itself.

There is much made of the term ‘empowerment’ in New Age literature and academic (or psychological) occultism. Yet, with all this careless use of jargon, one seldom if ever finds anyone taking the trouble to define the term, to say what they mean when they use the word, ‘power’. The first definition in the Oxford Dictionary is, ‘the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way’. Very well then; so if we understand power as ‘the ability or capacity to do something’, then what is the source of such an ability or capacity? The emphasis with this common definition is on the verb ‘to do’; it is all about doing and acting. Yet all such doing, moving, going about the place, is merely the observed effect, the appearance. The exoteric concept of power then owes to causal determinism, where one thing or event is caused by another that preceded it, and so on for perpetuity. If we seek for the cause, the Will, we find that we know nothing whatsoever about it. All we know is effect or appearance, and we mistakenly judge this to be a cause. This whole idea of power then collapses in upon itself, revealing nothing. The solution is really quite simple. In Liber AL, II: 3–4, Hadit (Will) declares his nature:

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

To use a geometric analogy, the circle of all possibility (Nuit) is determined by the hypothetical point (Hadit). If we move the point, the curvature changes. Yet the point only exists by virtue of the circle. Neither comes first or second; every event is simultaneous and spontaneous. The ‘Will’ is esoteric. The ‘Effect’ is exoteric.  Hadit will not be known because he is the Knower, consciousness itself, which causes things to appear. Rational thought stops short, reaching its ring-pass-not at causal determinism.

What then is true power? For example, do politicians really possess a thing called ‘power’? They may produce acts of governance, and those acts may be enforced by the power of the State via the police and military forces. But if politicians seemingly have the power to command forces, from whence does that power originate? In the case of the politician, it depends entirely on the bargains, the deals they have made with others behind closed doors. It depends on the confidence of their financial backers. Warfare, the inevitable consequence of financial greed and lust for power, may depend on the weather, as evidenced by the 1588 defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Blind forces move modern economic systems, which is called a ‘market economy’. That power owes much to the chance element of the roulette wheel. The gamblers feel powerful on winning, powerless when losing, especially if losing all, in which case they may be seen sky-diving from an apartment window twenty floors above the ground. What then is the real meaning of such power?

There is only one true power in the universe. That power is the power of attention, observance. Every creature on earth but one exercises that power continually and with utmost precision, not being deluded for one moment into thinking that it can be won, lost, acquired, given or received. The one creature that alone confuses power and will is the human creature. The isolating doctrine of scientism and psychological determinism has ensnared the modern esoteric movement and thwarted its true purpose. Initiation, direct knowledge, is the remedy for the ill. The foundation of true initiation is not in learning what to think, but how to think differently—through the mode of analogous thought, which is the method of communication used by the ancient mystery schools.


1. Westcott, ‘Tarot Lecture, Part 4’, The Complete Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts, Translated and Edited by Darcy Küntz [Holmes Publishing Group, Washington, 1996]. The transcript is in note form and we have taken the liberty here of inserting parantheses and punctuation marks to clarify the meaning.
2. See Crowley, The Book of Thoth pp. 9–10, ‘The Double Loop in the Zodiac’.

© Oliver St John 2018
This essay appears in the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
Sickle-Maat-Lion hieroglyph and ‘Double Loop of the Zodiac’ drawn by Oliver St. John.
Drawings of Sekhet and Maat by Jeff Dahl.

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