Crisis of the Modern World Revisited

Five years ago we wrote an article inspired by the René Guénon 1927 essay, Crisis of the Modern World. Two years ago the article was further edited for publication in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.[1]

René Guenon Revisited 2020: Soul Prepared for ResurrectionEven two years ago (2018), it was impossible to forecast the extent of the somnambulism that has swept over the world. The René Guénon essay is a work of unparalleled prophetic genius. It is best studied and carefully considered in full.

This, from Chapter One, ‘The Dark Age’, is of vital significance to the path of Esoteric Thelema:

“Since that time [6000 years ago], the truths which were formerly within reach of all have become more and more hidden and inaccessible; those who possess them grow fewer and fewer, and although the treasure of ‘non-human’ (that is, supra-human) wisdom that was prior to all the ages can never be lost, it nevertheless becomes enveloped in more and more impenetrable veils, which hide it from men’s sight and make it extremely difficult to discover. This is why we find everywhere, under various symbols, the same theme of something that has been lost—at least to all appearances and as far as the outer world is concerned—and that those who aspire to true knowledge must rediscover; but it is also said that what is thus hidden will become visible again at the end of the cycle, which, because of the continuity binding all things together, will coincide with the beginning of a new cycle.”

—René Guénon

We give below Guénon’s concluding two pages, which were addressed directly to Initiates, and to those on the knowledge path.

VINCIT OMNIA VERITAS

Truth triumphs over all

A warning must be addressed to those who, because of their capacity for a higher understanding, if not because of the degree of knowledge to which they have actually attained, seem destined to become elements of a possible elite. There is no doubt that the force of modernism, which is truly diabolic in every sense of the word, strives by every means in its power to prevent these elements, today isolated and scattered, from achieving the cohesion that is necessary if they are to exert any real influence on the general mentality. It is therefore for those who have already more or less completely become aware of the end toward which their efforts should be directed to stand firm against whatever difficulties may arise in their path and threaten to turn them aside. Those who have not yet reached the point beyond which an infallible guidance makes it henceforth impossible to stray from the true path always remain in danger of the most serious deviations; they need to display the utmost prudence; we would even say that prudence should be carried to the point of distrust, for the adversary, who up to this point has not yet been definitively overcome, can assume the most varied, and at times the most unexpected, disguises.

“It can happen that those who think they have escaped from modern materialism fall prey to things that, while seemingly opposed to it, are really of the same order; and, in view of the turn of mind of modern Westerners, a special warning needs to be uttered against the attraction that more or less extraordinary phenomena may hold for them; it is this attraction that is to a large extent responsible for all the errors of neo-spiritualism, and it is to be foreseen that the dangers it represents will grow even worse, for the forces of darkness, which keep alive the present confusion, find in it one of their most potent instruments.”

It is even probable that we are not very far from the time referred to by the prophecy of the Gospel to which we have already alluded elsewhere: ‘For false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall show signs and wonders to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.’

The elect (‘the chosen’) are the elite in the fullness of its meaning, according to the sense in which we have invariably used the word: those who, by virtue of the inner realisation they have achieved, can no longer be seduced; but this is not the case with those who, as yet, possess only the possibilities of knowledge, and who are therefore, properly speaking, only the ‘called’; and this is why the Gospels say that “many are called, but few are chosen”.

“We are entering upon a period when it will be extremely difficult to separate the grain from the chaff and carry out effectively what theologians call the ‘discerning of spirits’, both because of the general confusion manifesting itself in intensified and ever more varied forms, and also because of the want of true knowledge on the part of those whose normal function should be to guide the rest, but who today only too often are no more than blind guides.”

We shall see whether the subtleties of dialectic are of any avail in such circumstances, and whether any philosophy, even were it the best possible, can have the strength to prevent the ‘infernal powers’ from being let loose; this also is an illusion against which some people need to guard, for it is too often supposed, in ignorance of what pure intellectuality really is, that a merely philosophical knowledge, which even in the best of cases is a bare shadow of true knowledge, can put everything to rights and turn the contemporary mentality away from its deviation; in the same way, there are those who think they can find in modern science itself a means of raising themselves to the higher truths, whereas this science is in fact founded on the negation of those truths. All these illusions are so many influences leading people astray, and by their means many who sincerely desire to react against the modern outlook are reduced to impotence, since, having failed to find the essential principles without which all action is in vain, they have been swept into blind alleys from which there is no escape.

Those who will succeed in overcoming all these obstacles, and triumphing over the hostility of an environment opposed to all spirituality, will doubtless be few in number; but let it be said once more that it is not numbers that count, for we are here in a domain whose laws are quite different from those of matter.

“There is therefore no cause for despair, and, even were there no hope of achieving any visible result before the modern world collapses under some catastrophe, this would still be no valid reason for not undertaking a work whose scope extends far beyond the present time.”

Those who might be tempted to give way to despair should realise that nothing accomplished in this order can ever be lost, that confusion, error, and darkness can win the day only in appearance and in a purely ephemeral way, that all partial and transitory disequilibriums must perforce contribute toward the greater equilibrium of the whole, and that nothing can ultimately prevail against the power of truth; their motto should be the one formerly used by certain initiatic organisations of the West: Vincit Omnia Veritas.

René Guénon, Crisis of the Modern World.[2]

Guénon and the Great Work

In 1927, Guénon and a handful of others still clung to the hope, though they did not put much store in it, that esotericism could exert an influence on “the general mentality”. We now know that hypnotic techniques, misinformation and other means of coercion as applied through today’s global information networks have confused and subjugated the masses to a degree that was never before possible. Nonetheless, Guénon adhered to the first principle of the Great Work, that it must involve service to others. How is this possible now? How can we triumph, as Guénon puts it, “over the hostility of an environment opposed to all spirituality”? We must go forward with unfailing conviction, knowing that Vincit Omnia Veritas declares spiritual reality, not temporal illusion. The oracle of Isis, given in ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’, tells us that Isis continues to pray for the soul in darkness.[3] If the soul should open to truth and hear her, then salvation is accomplished in that hour. The soul is thus prepared for resurrection.

I am the woman who gives light in darkness. I have come to lighten the darkness. I have lightened the darkness and overthrown the destroyers. Thrice times, the darkness is made light! I have prayed for all those who as yet dwell in darkness, who have hidden their faces, who have fallen and who weep. If they should only look upon me, then at last they shall know me! Then I shall raise them up. For I am the woman of whom the profane know not. I cannot speak for those who will not hear me.

We are all doomed to die as soon as we are born on this earth. Only love triumphs over all, even death. Isolationism is the absence of love. When love is entirely absent, death ensues for mind, body and soul. As for the ailments that afflict the soul, of which scientism knows nothing, these can be cured in an instant, by a word. There is nothing that can be done, though, to save those who will not hear it.


Notes

1. Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The 2015 article can be read here at Tantrika Arts.
2. The italics are ours. The spelling has been standardised (‘English UK’) and some unnecessary single quotation marks removed to restore the immediacy of the 1927 text for the modern reader.
3. See ‘Spell 80’,  Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [ibid].

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Fire: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema The Aeon XX

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 31st path of Fire and Spirit is The Aeon XX. The path also corresponds to the outer planet Pluto. The traditional title of the trump is ‘Judgement’, viz., the Last Judgement when souls are called to the resurrection.

Fire: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema The Aeon XXThe esoteric title of this Tarot trump is Spirit of the Primal Fire. The spirit-fire is that which animates all living beings. It is the seed of the resurrection body. The mysteries of transmutation are summed up in the alchemical phrase, Igni Natura Renovata Integra, ‘Nature is wholly restored to perfection through fire’.

The geometric solid symbol of the 31st path is the tetrahedronal pyramid, which conveys admission. Shin is the letter of the 31st path and is formed from three flames joined at the base. Shin literally means ‘tooth’, but the significance is of spirit-fire or that which endures—bone, substance, eternity and immortal life. The ancient Egyptian source of the word is shen, the ring of eternity and the ‘round’, which is shown here being carried through the air by Horus in the form of a falcon.[1] The shen ring consists of the upper section or circle of the Ankh of Life, bound to a horizontal beam. It denotes eternity, the liberated spirit as opposed to life in the flesh.

At the top of the picture, to the left, are the Egyptian hieroglyphs for the Eternal (heh). The knotted flax is thought to be a wick for a lamp. The wick burns and gives forth a flame of light without perishing. It is fed on pure oil, which is the perfection of life. When the twin serpents of the Shakti Power cease to oppose and are woven together thus, the life force sustains an immortal existence. The appearance of things no longer deludes the soul. Nuit and Hadit are shown in the abstract solar glyph between the knots of eternity as circle and point.[2]

Horus carries the shen ring over a symbolic representation of the step pyramid of Djoser at the Saqqara Necropolis outside of Memphis, Egypt. Necropolis (Greek) means ‘city of the dead’, but this is really a misnomer as the Egyptians saw it as a place of eternal life. The Egyptian name is therefore heh, ‘Eternity’, identical in sound and meaning to the woven flax hieroglyph but spelled in such a way as to indicate a specific earth location.[3]

The base of the four-sided, seven-stepped pyramid is a trapezium or trapezoid. The parallel but unequal sides are indicative of the fourth dimension or non-Euclidian space-time. Beneath the desert of Saqqara is a labyrinth. Very large granite vessels are situated there in cells only big enough to fit them. It is unknown as to how these large and heavy objects could be placed in such a manner below ground.

What we do know is that the vessels, shaped somewhat like a sarcophagus or ark, were never designed to house a mummy. The insides of the sealed boxes are polished to mirror-like perfection. The function of these vessels appears to be cathodic, if we consider the accuracy and smoothness of their cutting, and their alignments in the underground labyrinth. According to some, they are subtle repositories of arcane knowledge predating the Ice Age and built to endure a catastrophe.[4]

Aeon, the title of the trump, means ‘Eternity’. The term does not necessarily refer to a period of terrestrial time as is commonly supposed. It is derived from Greek philosophy and conveys the meaning of circles outside of time. The number 20 links The Aeon with Fortune X (Kaph), or the Kalachakra Wheel.

Pluto, a further symbol of primal fire, is the outermost planet of the solar system, symbolising Deep Mind. Pluto can designate Kether and Malkuth, the Alpha and Omega—for the end is with the Beginning. Pluto may symbolise revolution or upheaval, an upward surging current of irresistible force that sweeps away the old and ushers in a new state of affairs. On the old Tarot decks the dead were shown rising up out of their tombs, summoned by a blast from the trumpet of the Angel Israfel.[5]

The death of the old signifies awakening to a new life, which is here the life of eternity. The background of our Tarot picture indicates the desert and sky of Saqqara turned upside down, or at a 90-degree angle. Horus, Lord of the Aeon, bears the key to eternity and flies across the liminal threshold of the worlds.

Spirit of the Primal Fire

The 31st path of Shin connects Hod, the sphere of Mercury, with Malkuth, the sphere of action and elements (or visible universe). The title of the path is the Perpetual Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the motions of the Sun and Moon as governing the revolutions of the Zodiac through the elemental principles. This path connects Malkuth with the left hand pillar of Form by which spiritual knowledge manifests and is fully realised. From the point of view of ordinary human consciousness, the fruits of such knowledge come to pass as future events. This is why the Tarot trump was formerly called Judgement, depicting the dead arising from their tombs in response to the vibration of the Angel of Judgement on the day of be-with-us. In reality, the call to truth is eternally present. It is the seed of each moment in time—hence the perpetuity inherent in the title.

The “revolutions of the Zodiac” refer to the turning of the double-sided wheel of time. One side faces time while the other faces outside of time. From the perspective of the mortal flesh, time seems to pass by so that we experience a present that is moving forwards, with a past that is behind and a future that is in front. From the perspective of eternity, on the other side of the wheel, there is no past or future. There is nowhere to go—eternity encompasses everywhere at once. Time in the earthbound sense simply ceases to exist.

The magical powers of the 31st path are those of Evocation and Pyromancy.


Notes

1. For an explanation of the multiple perspective drawing of the falcon, based on ancient Egyptian art, see Lucie Lamy, Egyptian Mysteries pp. 18 [Thames and Hudson 1981].

2. For an explanation of Nuit and Hadit as circle and point, see ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, pp. 9–12, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. An abridged version can be read online here at Ordo Astri.

3. The Egyptian name for the Necropolis or Eternal Place is spelled with three mounds or hills and the circle-cross determinative. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, pp. 507 b.

4. The vessels were cut from solid granite and are upward of 70 tons.

5. Some sources have the Angel of the Last Judgement as Gabriel. The Angel is also associated with Raphael, Uriel and various others.

© Oliver St. John 2020

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick, divination and Thelema. The Tarot is a work in progress. The 12 Zodiac trumps can be viewed here.

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Ritual Magick—Initiation of the Star and Snake

Ritual Magick: A living initiatory tradition embodies a continuous unfolding and development. The need to prepare and publish this book owes to a new and vital current that has broken into pieces the philosophical basis of our predecessors.

Ritual Magick—Initiation of the Star and Snake Cover-ArtThe rituals and methods have been thoroughly revised in that light. Kether is the uniting principle. There is no unitary intelligence as such. The ‘one’ that is adored by monotheists and self-determinists alike is the false crown of the Abyss. It has produced the nightmare of self-isolation.

There are differing interpretations of what is meant by the term ‘initiation’. The mundane aspect of initiation implies induction into a particular group with its corresponding egregore. Some suppose that initiation is only conferred through participation in a ceremony with others that have been similarly initiated. We have a more specialised view of initiation. We see it—and indeed practice it—as a continuous unfolding through reification of the work done. This has more to do with Gnosis than group bonding.

Inevitably the subtitle of the book, Initiation of the Star and Snake, will lead some to imagine they can ‘work the system’ alone and thereby achieve self-initiation. The term ‘self-initiation’ is an oxymoron. The Law of Thelema is a law of love and (therefore) a law of relationship. This does not mean, however, that initiation is only made possible through attending rites and ceremonies conducted by officers. Our method is through personal work done and the keeping of the diary Record. It involves self-discipline, study, prolonged effort and single-minded determination. There is no secret formula that will convey initiation to those unworthy to receive it. The mysterious operation of the Serpent Power is a good deal subtler than that.[1]

Ritual Magick: Initiation of the Star and Snake

Here is the ritual and ceremonial basis underlying the threefold structure of an Esoteric Thelemic Order comprising the Golden Dawn, Rosy Cross and Silver Star. Lucid explanatory texts, plus hundreds of graphic illustrations and diagrams accompany the rituals and methods.

The grade system is worked from Malkuth to Kether, following the paths of the Serpent of Wisdom. The Order of the Golden Dawn comprises the first four degrees. The Golden Dawn thesis concerns the equilibration of the four elements of the natural soul. The Order of the Rosy Cross comprises the fifth, sixth and seventh degrees. The work of the Rose and Cross is to unite the equilibrated soul to her opposite, the antithesis or Holy Guardian Angel. The Order of the Silver Star comprises the 8th, 9th and 10th degrees, summed up as the spiritual fruit or synthesis of the soul’s union with her Holy Guardian Angel.

Subjects include the Circle of the Place, Mudras or ‘signs of the grades’, Ritual of the Gates of Babalon, the Golden Mean, formulation of the Magical Name, Opening and Closing the Temple, Star and Snake Tantra-yoga, the (revised) Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram, Rising on the Planes, Skrying and Clairvoyance, Consecration of Talismans, the Thelemic Mass of Hormaku, Ritual for Psychic Self-defence, the Holy Guardian Angel, Ritual of the Rosy Cross, Consecration of the Magical Sword, Goetic Evocation, the Ceremony of the Watchtowers and Enochian Magick.


Notes

1. From the author’s Preface to the First Edition (October 2019).

Ritual Magick—Initiation of the Star and Snake (view and order here).
Format: Trade paperback; perfect binding (6” x 9”); 304 pages in total.

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