Unicorn of the Stars

The Practicus of the Golden Dawn has the eponymous title, Monokeros de Astris, ‘Unicorn of the Stars’. This is best explained through the name of the Titan, Astris (Αστρις), which means, ‘Starry One’. Astris was born from a marriage of the Sun and the ocean (Moon or sea-foam), alchemical types of fire and water.[1] The Practicus degree corresponds to Hod (Mercury), the Water Temple that receives the fiery solar influence from Netzach (Venus).[2]

Unicorn of the Stars: Sokar BoatAccording to our tradition, a symbol may have a host of related meanings. We do not seek to make concrete definition from that which can only be conveyed through symbol and analogy, for that renders the symbol lifeless and inert. The concretisation of all knowledge, rendering it exoteric and dead, is shown forth in the tale of Osiris, where he is tricked by Set to lie in a coffin. As soon as he does so, the followers of Set promptly nail shut the lid and seal it with molten lead. The situation can only be rescued through Isis giving birth to the magical ‘child’, Horus or Hoor-paar-kraat.[3]

Unicorn: Esoteric Key

The unicorn’s horn points straight upward to heaven, and is spiralic. The Arabian white oryx is the original type of the fabled unicorn. The higher end of the hennu boat of Sokar, the hawk-headed Lord of Resurrection, is fashioned in the shape of the head of an oryx. The unicorn’s singular horn is not descriptive of the beast, which has two, but is an esoteric assignment for the upward concentration of mind, as in yoga. The unicorn symbolises the circumpolar revolution of the ‘seven’ around the ‘eighth’ or Pole Star, which marks the visible axis of the universe and the height of the visible heavens. The oryx digs a bed out of the desert sand with its hooves, to keep cool. This explains the attribution of the one horn, for the shifting sands of desert dunes have always symbolised the Abyss that lurks on the upper limit of human reason. The penetrating horn of mind (reason) must be made concave, so to speak, on the abysmal threshold that closes in upon the limits of human reason.

Over time, the Flower of Fire (or Mind) is cultivated as the ‘fruits’ of the flower are rejected in favour of pure receptivity to the intelligence from beyond.[4] The ‘flame’ hieroglyph has both a physical and a metaphysical level of interpretation. It carries all the meanings of a fire, flame or luminosity, and that of a ‘flame of flames’. The latter is esoteric, and comparable to the yoga trance of atmadarshana in the Eastern Tantras.[5] In AL, II: 27, the oracular voicing of Set in Serpent-form conveys a warning:

There 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.

The ‘dogs of Reason’ is a word for those who cling to the threshold and exalt the reasoning faculty above all else, either for personal gain or power or simply because they are ignorant of the true state of affairs. In so doing, they deny the possibility of the Flower of Fire, or its ‘child’ born in Silence, called Hoor-paar-kraat, symbol of the incommunicable mystery and true initiation. Veritably, the threshold to the post-abysmal Mind of Minds is fiercely guarded and barred.

The role of guardians or ‘watchers’ such as Anubis, and other Setian creatures including the crocodile and jackal, is complex. These are guardians of the gates, ferociously attacking or even devouring those who would enter. At the same time, they symbolise the drawing forth of the bolt, which is the means by which the gates are opened.[6] The action of the bolt symbolises both ‘opening’ and the image-making phallic power withdrawn or inverted, which is a reversal of the usual flow of consciousness.[7]

The two doors of heaven are not opened by any mortal man but, for example, it was the office of Ankh-af-na-khonsu to literally ‘open the doors to the sky’. He performed the ritual of opening the doors to the roof of the temple at certain times of the year, so the image of the goddess, taken from the subterranean vault below, could observe Sirius rising. As declared in AL, III: 37,

For me unveils the veilèd sky, the self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu whose words are truth.

Sirius (Σθις), the Star of Egypt and of the Order, symbolises both Isis (or Hathoor) and her ‘son’ or magical child, born of the ascent of consciousness arising from the depth.


1. Monokeros de Astris adds to 2,175 or 29 x 75, ‘Moon (or child) of Nuit’.
2. The Initiate of Hod also has first to traverse the fiery paths of Shin (31) and Resh (30) before entering Hod, the Water Temple. Hod is thus seen in every way as a sphere of transmutation. Although Hod also symbolises the concrete mind, it is not the goal of Initiates to become detained by the limits of ordinary reason.
3. The tales of Isis and Osiris, as recounted by Plutarch.
4. ‘Flower of Mind’ or ‘Flower of Fire’ is a Gnostic term. It is not mind or intellect in the ordinary sense, but may be likened to an essence drawn up. See G.R.S. Mead, The Chaldean Oracles.
5. It is impossible for Egyptologists to construe ancient Egyptian sacred texts, as they cannot admit to the existence or even the possibility of an esoteric level of interpretation. They are thus dogged by the limitation of their exaltation of the reasoning faculty above all else, for they then produce nonsensical ‘translations’ of the texts, and say it is nonsense because the ancient Egyptians were themselves confused and irrational!
6. See John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky, pp. 149–157 (on Spell 316).
7. Phallus (Greek φαλλος) literally means, ‘image’ or ‘image-making’.

This article is from Nu Hermetica, Unicorn of the Stars, a work in progress.
The hennu boat with oryx illustration is a detail from the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.

© Oliver St. John, 2020

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Hexagram Ritual: Stella Sophia

The Ritual of Stella Sophia utilises the Unicursal Hexagram. It is an adaptation of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, as suitable for practitioners of Esoteric Thelema. It can be incorporated into the daily practice, used as a ‘stand-alone’ ritual or as an additional component to existing rituals of the Order.

Ritual 718 Stella Sophia: Unicursal Hexagram0. Formulate the Cube of Space, sonorously chanting, IAO SABAO.[1]

1. Make the (invoking) Unicursal Hexagram to the North in violet-purple. Bring the point of the wand to the centre and vibrate: HT KA PTH!

2. Turning (or proceeding) widdershins, make the (invoking) Unicursal Hexagram to the East in violet-purple. Bring the point of the wand to the centre and vibrate: HT KA PTH!

3. Turning (or proceeding) widdershins, make the (invoking) Unicursal Hexagram to the South in violet-purple. Bring the point of the wand to the centre and vibrate: HT KA PTH!

4. Turning (or proceeding) widdershins, make the (invoking) Unicursal Hexagram to the West in violet-purple. Bring the point of the wand to the centre and vibrate: HT KA PTH!

5. In the centre facing North, make the mudra of Avenging Horus, and then make the mudra of the Pharaoh in the House of Gold. Say,

Bathe me in thy starlight rays,
For I, who tread the sacred path, unburden my soul,
Open the ways!

Make the mudra of the Lord of the Stars and say,

Unto Nuit, my heart’s desire,
Let fly thine arrow,
Pour forth thy consecrating fire!

6. Clasp your hands together at your breast and concentrate the invoked force in the Tiphereth. Say,

Igne Natura Renovatur Integra.[2]

Go forth into any of the three worlds, as you are able.

Unicursal Hexagram: Stella Sophia

This ritual is for Wisdom and Understanding. It is exclusively reserved for those who ardently desire to know truth. All else should beware! While the performance of any ritual does not in itself convey knowledge, it is by words and images that all powers are invoked and reinvoked.[3]

The Ritual of Stella Sophia generally invokes the forces of the Macrocosm. It is therefore best done following the Order’s Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, Gates of Babalon or Ritual of Aiwass—in which case it is not necessary to perform the Cube of Space, as that has already been done.[4]

Unicursal Hexagram with attributionsThe Unicursal Hexagram has sometimes been confused with the planetary hexagrams of the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram. The Unicursal Hexagram denotes the Moon and Sun as the governance of Spirit acting upon the Zodiac through the four classical elements of nature.[5] As such, it is a fitting geometric means by which to adore Nuit. The ritual also tends to nullify all malefic planetary configurations.

HT KA PTH is pronounced hwt ka ptah. It is an Egyptian name for the land of Khem. It is sent forth powerfully here to the four directions about the magical circle. Thus, “I have made a secret door, into the house of Ra and Tum, of Khephra and Ahathoor”.[6] HT KA PTH means, ‘House of the Ka of Ptah’, and refers to the cult centre known as Memphis.[7] Inebu Hedj (‘White Walls’), as the Egyptians knew it, was the first nome of Egypt. The modern name is derived from the Greek rendition, Aιγυπτoς (Egyptos). The Greek name of Memphis is derived from the Egyptian Men-nefar, meaning ‘Beautiful Forever’. Other names of Memphis include Djed Sut, ‘Eternal Abodes’, and Ankh Tawy, ‘Life of the Two Lands’. The hieroglyphs for Djed Sut are graphically descriptive.

Memphis Djed Sut Hieroglyphs

HT KA PTAH has the value of 128 and can be found in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth under that number.[8] All the entries there are cognate with the intention of the ritual. The number 128 is expressed by 27 (or 2 to the power of 7), ‘Wisdom manifested by Sepet or Set’. Sepet is figured in Djed Sut, the Egyptian name of Memphis. The pyramid also refers to Sirius, the star of Egypt and of the Order. According to AL, I: 28,

None, breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two.

HT KA PTAH is vibrated four times in the ritual, giving a value of 512 in all. The number 512 is the product of 8 x 8 x 8 and was revered by the Gnostics as indicative of the Master or Way-shower. It is also a cipher for Hermes Trismegistus or Thrice Greatest Hermes. In this way, a secret door into the ‘house’, the Temple of Egyptian Mind, is formed. Nuit will open the door for those so chosen.

The three worlds mentioned at the close are heaven, earth and the underworld (Egyptian duät). All three are dangerous for the non-initiate. Initiates are tested according to their means. Heaven is guarded by the Lord of Initiation. He exacts a severe penalty on those who would ‘take heaven by storm’. The underworld is guarded by the Hound of Hell. He will allow souls to enter but will not let them escape. The terrestrial world is no less perilous. We can recollect the words of Aiwass conveyed in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL I: 31 and II: 21,

For these fools of men and their woes care not thou at all! They feel little; what is, is balanced by weak joys; but ye are my chosen ones.

… this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world.

Igne Natura Renovatur Integra—the joy of the world! To be unconcerned with those who have fallen does not imply indifference to the world, for we are called to be participants in her restoration. Those who love life, love liberty, and are prepared to do battle against the enemies of truth. To love truth and seek her ever means living dangerously. It is better to hate the evil that would deny truth, for evil would persuade us to betray her.


1. The Cube of Space is a series of ritual gestures made at the start and finish of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Gates of Babalon. The other mudras are given in the grade curriculum of the Order, Ritual Magick—Initiation of the Star and Snake. The three mudras given in point 5 are those of the Adeptus, which replace the old ‘signs of LVX’, and the mistaken Osirian formula of INRI used by the historical Order of the Golden Dawn, and also given in Crowley’s general instructions on magick.
2. ‘All of Nature is Renewed and Perfected through Fire’.
3. A person that habitually adopts the attitude symbolised by the Seven of Swords of Tarot may succeed in a self-undoing they had not bargained for, for example.
4. The Ritual of Aiwass is taught to members in the first degree (1 = 10).
5. The disposition of the four elements on this star is identical to that of the pentagram, and the Terrestrial Watchtowers of the Enochian system. For example, begin from the point of fire to invoke the zodiacal triplicity of Aries, Leo and Sagittarius in the 12-lettered name OIP TEAA PDOKE.
6. Liber AL, III: 38.
7. Aiwass, who delivered to us the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, was the high priest of Memphis, or Djed Sut, at a time when it was the principle administrative centre of Egypt.
8. The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, in two volumes [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2020

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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.


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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