The Star of Egypt

The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, AL: II: 72, rails against causal determinism and warns of the consequences of the conceptual misalignment of the life force, mistaking the phenomenal projections of ego for ‘truth’.

Causal Determinism: Nebhet (Nephthys) upholding the Star of EgyptThere is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.

George Gheverghese Joseph has produced a radical revision of the globally accepted Eurocentric view of history in his book, The Crest of the Peacock.[1] Joseph is not concerned with religion or esotericism; his subject is the history of mathematics. Yet with mathematics came science, astronomy, agriculture, irrigation, architecture, spiritual philosophy, fine arts, working with metals, yoga and theurgy. The notion that all learning has its source among the classical Greeks and Romans is a myth. The source is Egypt.

The facts have been suppressed down the ages, wittingly or no, through deep-seated prejudice. A canine corpus has been produced, and is served up every day in schools and universities. It has become part of our language; it is in the very terms that we use. The cunning fictional narrative insists on a pristine lineage, a fountain of knowledge that springs not from Africa, the ‘dark’ continent, but to the saintly hallowed halls of an ‘Indo-European’ heritage. The Indo-European myth, which includes ancient Greece as part of the European continent, has no more historical credibility than the kingdom of Shambala. Yet to this day, and in the face of growing evidence to refute it, academics will fight tooth and nail to defend what is by now the deeply embedded supremacist appropriation of knowledge.

In times of great antiquity the knowledge of Egypt travelled first to Mesopotamia, which was the purest stream as it was closest to the source. Much later, the Greeks took it out of Egypt—though Egypt was by then already in decline and much had been forgotten. We may suppose that those who had progressed further than the Outer Court kept their esoteric knowledge to themselves, having sworn oaths of strictest secrecy. Pythagoras, for example, did not write down what he knew. In short, the external framework of the mysteries was rationalised, reduced and from there promulgated to the world through war and conquest. It was the birth of causal determinism, that which is now the universally adopted homocentric philosophy.

Causal Determinism: Dogs of Reason

We cannot separate the lectern from the pulpit. The building of churches and temples, for example, has always incorporated the best that science and architecture could produce. Theology and mathematics go hand in hand; the notion of a ‘first cause’, whether this is seen as God, man or pure chance, owes to causal determinism. There is no word for ‘religion’ in ancient languages; the concept did not exist. Religion was invented by aristocrats and governors to reinforce national identity and facilitate taxation of the population to meet the growing cost of the large-scale expansion of armies, armaments and warfare. After three thousand years, the reign of the dogs of Reason has reached its apotheosis.

The rejection of the plain facts about the Egyptian heritage—what could have been, and still can be, our heritage—was reinforced through sheer cultural prejudice, old-fashioned xenophobia on behalf of the ‘learned gentlemen’ of Europe. By this, we do not mean to exclude Britain and America.[2] The unacceptable truth about the fake historical timeline created by historians down the ages is that Africa was excluded because its people are darker skinned than say, the Indians. The lighter the skin tone, the whiter the words. During the Cairo transmission of 1904, when Crowley did not like the neologism, ‘unfragmentary’, he added a note to the holograph manuscript of the Book of the Law to “write this in whiter words”.[3] Crowley continued to portray Thelema in ‘white words’, applying the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and the psychology of Freud to create his personalised, idiosyncratic view of the mysteries.

As Egypt is part of Africa, it was completely unacceptable to historians, Egyptologists and the rest, that Egypt could have had a civilisation far more intelligently organised than ours, and which had spiritual and scientific knowledge that makes our civilisation look utterly primitive by comparison. Consequently, Egyptologists and historians have always focussed on the later Dynastic period of Egyptian history, when the real knowledge was already being fast forgotten, and the rituals had descended into the nonsense of mummification of the dead, animal sacrifices and so on. This satisfied the learned gentlemen that the Egyptians could not possibly be a threat to our self-esteem, not to mention our—again, faked up—idea of ‘progress’ and ‘evolution’.

In very ancient times, India received the knowledge from Mesopotamia, close to the source. Later, the Hindus succumbed to the rational Greek influence, and it is from there that we obtain the asceticism that has tainted all religions. Ascetic renunciation, along with mathematics and science, came to India, China and Arabia via Greek classicism. The consequence is a war against nature and woman or Eve, and the assertion of the male principle and rational scientism as superior to all else. All attempts at unification—theological ‘oneness’—end in painful division.

Some of the Tantrik schools, especially the Vamacharya, retained elements of the earlier Mesopotamian version of the Egyptian mysteries.[4] Yet most of the Tantrik schools, whether Left or Right-hand path, and even the Dualists, eventually accepted the argument of the Non-Dualists and asserted the Absolute as ‘Sole Self Alone’ or ‘One God Supreme’. The Non-Dualists won the argument because it is a rational one, based on numbers. Yet numbers only obtain below the Abyss, the threshold of human reason. It is possible that some of the Vamacharya sects knew this, but they did not write anything down. They could not write it down because some of their Outer Court practices were violently disapproved and commonly thought to be completely disgusting and insane. When the Vamacharya gurus did write or teach anything, they used what is called in the Sanskrit of Hindu scholars, the ‘twilight language’.

Both Crowley and later Grant and the postmodern Left-hand path schools of thought assumed the Outer Court practices of the Vamacharya cults, the preliminaries, to be methods of ‘high initiation’. Consequently, the so-called advanced practices adopted by Crowley, for example, were only used by real Vamacharya cults to test and prepare the veriest beginners.

If we persist in thinking we can understand the ancient Egyptian legacy as filtered through the minds of Western philosophers, Egyptologists and egocentric occultists, we have no hope of understanding what Thelema is really all about. Egypt will not come to us. We must first visit Egypt in our hearts and minds. Then she will come to us. Only then can we break the shackles of causal determinism.[5] At the last we may come to know Nuit, not through the veils of abstract conception such as ‘emptiness’ or ‘one’, ‘spaciousness’ or ‘ground of all’, but as Nuit truly is.


Notes

1. The Crest of the Peacock, George Gheverghese Joseph. Of particular interest is his historical map, ‘A non-Eurocentric historical timeline of Mathematics’ (pp. 45).

2. Modern America was founded by European apostates, who sailed there in ships looking for a ‘promised land’. They found what they were looking for, but there happened to be an indigenous, nomadic people already inhabiting the place. The fictional fabric of the ‘American Dream’ veiled the resultant genocide. The cover-up was achieved with remarkable success for the myth is told and retold in a countless variety of ways on a daily basis. Belief is self-perpetuating for its function is to gratify the concealed wish-desire.

3. The note is written in parantheses in the holograph MS of Liber L vel Legis or Liber XXX as it was originally titled, pp. 6. The changed words are in verse I: 26, which was originally, “And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality.” Crowley changed the last six words to “the omnipresence of my body”, substituting the bland Roman ‘all’ (omni) for the seamless garment of the Khu or spirit-body.

4. Vamacharya means literally, ‘Left-hand path’.

5. Esoteric Thelema is explained in ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. This includes a concise guide to the influence of causal determinism, and the remedy for the ill.

© Oliver St. John 2019. The illustration of Nebhet (or Nephthys) and the Star of Egypt is a detail from the Esoteric Tarot of Thelema trump Isis IX.

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Liber 364 Spells from Egyptian Papyri

The practical use of these spells or magical invocations is more or less identical to that of the better-known Graeco Egyptian papyrus called the ‘Bornless Ritual’. That use is defined poetically as the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’. This work is also to prepare us for the ultimate crossing or passing through the duat, which is the overcoming of physical death in the miracle of the soul’s resurrection and transcendence.

Weighing of the Heart from Papyrus of Ani

In our desire to understand the wisdom of Egypt, we tend to draw Egypt into the sphere of our modern mentality. But our effort will bear no fruit unless we pierce that sphere and try to draw nearer to Egypt.[1]

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is more correctly ‘The Book of Coming Forth into Light’. According to Bika Reed, ‘The Book of the Dead Man’ was a name coined by tomb robbers.[2] Egyptologists have used the term ever since, for reasons best known to themselves. They are entirely unable to translate Egyptian sacred texts meaningfully but will not admit the fact, or if they do, they will deny that anyone else can do it either. Most commonly, they will say the confusion in their literal word-by-word translations is the fault of the ‘primitive’ ancient Egyptians, who did not know what they were doing. They assume that the language of hieroglyphics could only be used to convey simple ideas. On the contrary, the ancient Egyptian language includes poetry and prose. The meaning may be construed literally, when that is required, or metaphorically.

This article is abridged from the introduction to ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’, from the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

There are three levels of the mysteries.

1. The literal or simple sense, where concrete meaning is applied to the symbol.
2. The allegorical or symbolic sense, which requires study and learning to master.
3. The gnostic sense, which requires prolonged meditation. The symbol is followed back to its source with all other symbols, through reversal of the consciousness current. Analogous thought is a means of approaching direct knowledge.

Spells for Eternity

The E.A. Wallis Budge translation, famously The Egyptian Book of the Dead or Papyrus of Ani (1895), was first published seven years after the British Museum acquired the 18th Dynasty papyrus that makes up a large part of the text.[3] Early Egyptologists assumed the name ‘Ani’ to be that of an ecclesiastical dignitary of the priesthood of Aunnu (Heliopolis) that produced the funerary papyrus. The name actually means ‘anyone’—it is clearly in the plural form! The idea, as with any oath or magical spell, is to insert our own name in the place of ‘N’ if we are going to use it for sacred or magical purposes. The great usefulness of the Budge presentation is that it is threefold. The top line is a transliteration into English with some phonetic keys. The middle line is a beautiful copy of the hieroglyphic text. The lower line renders Budge’s attempt to make some sense of it all through word-by-word translation. This has enabled our prose translation and commentary on three selected spells. The difficulty in translation becomes apparent when we consider there are countless ways to spell one word in Egyptian; even the same spelling of a word may convey as many shades of meaning.

It may seem strange that some short sentences in the papyrus often have long explanations in the commentary. However, those ‘short sentences’ relate to definite mythological themes and yield sense only through them. To appreciate the development of the argument and therefore the depth of its conclusion, one must understand how these mythological themes relate to the papyrus. It is through such long explanations that we arrive at a consistent interpretation; they therefore prove themselves necessary.[4]

Bika Reed, in producing the only initiated translation of a complete Egyptian sacred text to date, has shed a great deal of light on what has previously been a very dark area. She has opened the ways for us. Her method is to take the literal Egyptological rendition and compare it side by side with all the variations of meaning given in the hieroglyphic dictionary. By applying her knowledge of the hieroglyphics and deep understanding of the mythological basis—without which, nothing can be achieved as these are profoundly sacred texts—Reed was able to produce the first meaningful translation of Egyptian prose. The text cannot be interpreted on a word by word or even a line-by-line basis. It is only when the context of the whole is taken into consideration that a small light begins to glow in the night of obscurity—a light that grows in intensity if the person is receptive to the initiatic ancient Egyptian current. Conditions being suitable, previously unknown faculties are awakened in the mind of the translator.

Spells 80, 78 and 84 Translated

We began this present work with the spell numbered 80 by Budge, ‘Making the transformation into the God who giveth Light in the Darkness’. It later transpired that Spell 80 was the correct place to begin such a work—which seems obvious now but it certainly was not when we made the first draft some fifteen years ago, not as a linguistic exercise but for practical use. We agree with Bika Reed that such texts had more than one use, and that originally at least—for they were edited and recopied over thousands of years—their use was initiatic. The Papyrus of Ani was produced, according to Budge, during the second half of the 18th Dynasty, a relatively late time in the long history of the ancient Egyptian civilisation.[5] Scribes and others entitled to full funeral rites would believe in the power of magical words and spells to secure a passage in the afterlife. Thus the papyrus was treated much in the way of a talisman. The use of such texts as initiatory devices involves memorising the words and images. Thus in speaking forth the words, the appropriate images are at the same time invoked. With much practice, the visualisation technique is not required as such, for the words automatically summon the images and the powers associated with them.

Spells of the Papyrus of Ani

By the time the Papyrus of Ani was created, the popular cult of Osiris had become dominant over all of Egypt; the far more ancient Setian gnosis was preserved through secret orders of priests such as the cult of Mentu at Thebes, from whence the Stele of Revealing. The gnosis is preserved throughout the texts of the Papyrus of Ani, however, as with the Pyramid Texts. Most persons wished only to continue a dreaming life in the underworld. This was achieved through familial offerings and observances made to the Ka double at the mastaba tomb. This life in the underworld was seen as being much like the life lived on earth, though in an idealised form, consisting of rest, pleasure and recreation. Indeed, the underworld, Yetzirah, is a kind of mirror reflection or image of the terrestrial life, Assiah. In the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 49, the duality is likened to Osiris and Isis who are “not of me” (i.e., Nuit-Hadit), existing in symbiotic relationship.

Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor-Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.

The spelling of the name of Horus, ‘Hoor’, occurs in this passage uniquely. Hoor has the numerical value of 217, equal to Set (Σηθ). This is the “secret name and splendour” of Horus in the form of Mentu or Set, the Lord of Initiation. Aiwass, the intelligence that communicated the Book of the Law, would have it known that he was revealing a secret doctrine known only to a few—and not the doctrine of the Osirians. Set and Horus are a dual form of Nuit’s only begotten child—for she requires no paternal intervention to manifest her star or ‘son’. Hadit is Nuit’s power of manifestation or self-realisation. The key to this secret doctrine becomes clear if we consider the nature of Set, whose number is 217.

Set … embodies the principles of dividing, cleaving, breaking, slaying and reversing. Set is the means of ingress and egress between the worlds, and of passing backwards and forwards between time and eternity. Set is the ‘slayer of the real’ who breaks the circle of infinity to beget creation. Conversely, Set moves through creation as the destroyer perpetually annihilating the forms he created out of chaos. His dwelling place is the desert, the burning and transforming expanse of the Abyss in which knowledge and the contents of mind turn to dust. Set is the double; he is always where consciousness, embodied by his twin brother Horus, is not. Thus he drives consciousness forwards—which may mean backwards, depending on one’s point of view![6]

At Thebes in Upper Egypt, the dual form of Horus and Set was personified in one figure as Mentu. The principal cult of Thebes was that of Amoun, Mut and Khonsu—known as the Theban triad. The local deity Mentu, who appeared as a warrior god in the form of Horus, or as a lunar god, hawk-headed, at other times the serpent Apep, continued to be honoured. The ancient Egyptians never adopted monotheism save for the brief twenty-year reign of the profane ruler Akhenaten, who forcibly imposed his belief on them.

The Osirians hoped to cheat the second death by the ineffable power of words and spells, the sacred rites. By that time this included animal sacrifices, expensive unguents, professional mourners and two or more officiating priests to perform the opening of the mouth ceremony at the door of the tomb. The ‘second death’, or dispersion of the astral body following physical death, could then be averted and the Ka of the deceased live on as Osiris, coming and going as he pleased. His domain, though, like that of Osiris, was strictly limited to the underworld. If the offerings of flowers, cakes, meat and beer were discontinued, the Ka became an astral vampire.

Egyptian Spells: Bennu bird drawn by Jeff-Dahl

Initiates, however, learn the secret power of rectification or VITRIOL.[7] They have overcome, while in their life on earth, the state of thraldom where the magnetic power of the underworld moves them in any given direction. The power is thereby made subject to the True Will (Thelema). It is the Holy Guardian Angel, not the person, who works the magick of transmutation on the soul whereby the twin serpents of kundalini are woven into the eternal starlight of Nuit.[8]

The three spells we have translated, Spell 80, 78 and 84, are all located, mythically speaking at least, in the North of Egypt. The North was the region of the watery lakes and canals of the Delta. The Delta uniquely symbolises the place of birth of all things from the primordial abyss. At the same time it symbolises the second birth of Horus, as all-transcendent spiritualised soul, and his flight to the immeasurable regions. The spells are concerned with the ultimate resurrection of the soul to an immortal life in ‘heaven’ or eternity.


Notes

1. Rebel in the Soul, Bika Reed, pp. 89. The author’s initiated translation and commentary on the Berlin Papyrus 3024, assisted by Lucy Lamy [Inner Traditions International, 1978].
2. Pp. 89 [ibid].
3. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, E.A. Wallis Budge.
4. Rebel in the Soul, pp. 105 [ibid].
5. 1500–1400 BCE.
6. See The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, Volume One [Ordo Astri].
7. Visitae Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum.
8. Kundalini is a Sanskrit term for the dual operation of the life force that carries consciousness. It is also a name of the divine feminine power or Shakti. According to the Tantras, when Kundalini sleeps she weaves the dream of world appearance. When she awakens the illusion is destroyed and Reality obtains.

© Oliver St. John 2018
Bennu Bird and Egyptian Wings drawings by Jeff Dahl
Hall of Judgement from Book of the Dead, courtesy of British Museum

This article is abridged from the introduction to ‘Liber 364 vel Lux Occulta’ from the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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Nephthys Goddess of Night

The name of Nephthys is derived from the ancient Egyptian root neb, meaning ‘mistress’, and hwt, ‘temple enclosure’. Thus she is the Lady of the House, the archetypal temple priestess. She is the principle (neter) of eternal life in transition. Her powers of protection are thus given to the sun barque of Ra upon entry to the Duat at dusk or twilight, at the commencement of the journey through night.

Nephthys, as drawn by Jeff Dahl

Egyptian Goddess Nephthys as drawn by Jeff Dahl

The words and spells of Nephthys are vital for passing safely through the gate of night to the underworld, for demons tremble in fear at her utterance. At dawn, Ra is greeted by Isis. It is said in the Pyramid Text Utterance 222, line 210,

Ascend and descend; descend with Nephthys, sink into darkness with the Night-bark. Ascend and descend; ascend with Isis, rise with the Day-bark.[1]

Qabalistically, Nephthys is referred to Geburah or Mars, the 5th sephira of the Hermetic Tree of Life, and is the counterpart to Isis, who is placed in Gedulah or Jupiter. The pair embodies the Pillar of Force (Isis) and the Pillar of Form (Nephthys). The sisters are the inner power of the Sun and the Moon. They are the personification of the waxing and waning Moon on each side of the Tree.

Nephthys, as the waning Moon, symbolises the dissolution of the mind-ego complex and its identity with the personality. This is necessary before the word of the Holy Guardian Angel in Tiphereth can be received. In our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, the main entry for Nephthys, ‘Lady of the Temple’ (neb-hwt), can be found under the number 71 (NBTI).[2] Thus Crowley said, of the number 71,

A number of Binah. The image of nothingness and silence which is a fulfilment of the aspiration.

Nephthys and the Arrow of Truth

A further correspondence of Nephthys is the 25th path of Sagittarius, which links the Moon (Yesod) with the Sun (Tiphereth). We mark the entry of the Sun into each Zodiac sign with the ‘Rituals of Nuit and Ra’, as given in the book, Ritual Magick.[3] The invocation to Nephthys (Nebtys) is as follows.

O Nebtys, sister of Isis and sister-wife of Set, Lady of the House, who protected the child Horus with thy arrow and who gave birth to Anubis! Thee, thee, we invoke! Thou who art goddess of the Unseen: thee, thee do we invoke!

Thine arrow, Nebtys, is the Light of Truth. The plumes are of Maat and of Amoun, while the shaft is the phallus of Amoun the Concealed One; the barb of thine arrow is the star in the innermost Heart of Mystery.

In silence and in depth and in darkness unspeakable do we approach the road of truth. The Arrow of Truth is a waning moon for it is directed towards the mansion of the Sun, from whence it draws reflected light. O thou star that shines amidst eternity’s night! Thou art the dissolution of all.

Come thou forth, I say, come thou forth! Hear us Nebtys, and come thou forth! Beautiful child that came forth from Nuit, we invoke thee and we adore thee!

Therefore thou cometh forth to us, that we may rejoice in thy rapture of silence, from thine own abode in a palace of stars!


Notes

1. Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, RO Faulkner [Oxford University Press 1969].
2. Entry for the number 71, The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].
3. Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019

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