Virgo: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IX

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 20th path of Virgo is Isis IX. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of the sign of Virgo and is exalted therein.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IXThe trump depicts the twin sisters Iset and Nebhet (Isis and Nephthys) giving life to the inert soul, suspended in the watery abyss called Aukert, neither truly alive nor truly dead.[1] By dual manifestation the spiritual powers of the soul create the star or Khabs in the Khu. The twin sisters are placed in the Garden of Eden, which was at one time manifested on the earth as the gardens surrounding the Temple of Neïth in the Delta region, the House of the Lady of Sàis.

The image at the same time depicts the legend of Isis as recorded by Herodotus, when she raised Horus to life after he was poisoned by Set in the form of a scorpion. The card thus depicts the three magical powers of the 20th path, Parthenogenesis, Invisibility and Initiation. These were reflected in the Staff, Cloak and Lamp of the Hermit in the traditional Tarot designs.

The twin sisters Isis and Nephthys are depicted in the centre of the Tarot picture. We know them from their Greek names but the Egyptians knew them as Iset and Nebhet. Their names literally mean ‘Throne’ and ‘Lady of the House’. The hieroglyphs for these form the crowns of the goddesses. They both wear a white fillet, tied at the back, and from the front the erect cobra serpent protrudes over their brows. The uraeus is the royal emblem and symbol of the Occult Force or Kundalini, the power of divinity and of life.

Isis and Nephthys mirror each other here, so while Isis salutes with her right hand, Nephthys salutes with her left. In the other hand each bears the Ankh of Life. The Golden Dawn scheme is resumed in this image, where Isis forms a waxing lunar crescent on the right hand side of the Tree of Life and Nephthys forms a waning lunar crescent on the left hand side. Together they are the forces of manifestation and life, symbolised as the dual serpents entwined about the Caduceus staff of Mercury or Tahuti, the word-bird and Logos.

Isis and the Garden of Eden

Between Isis and Nephthys is the hieroglyph for ‘Garden of the North’, the Delta region. The same was used in descriptions of the Temple of Neïth at Sàis (Egyptian Sait), which was originally surrounded by sumptuous gardens and waterways, and among these the royal bee hives. The honey of the bee is the food of immortality. The bee symbol is inseparable from that of the honeyed fields of Sekhet A’aret, the gardens of paradise or Eden known by the Greeks as the Fields of Eleusis.

Beneath the feet of the twin sisters is the region of the underworld called Aukert, where the soul is neither truly dead nor alive, suspended in a watery abyss. The star born from the divine power of imagining is the awakening to life that is the gift of Isis and Nephthys. The star is composed of superimposed upright and averse pentagrams forming a flower of ten petals in all. The sum of the star plus the point in the centre makes eleven, the number of initiation and of all those who follow Nuit.

The traditional title of this Tarot card is the Hermit, typifying the sage that wanders alone through desolate, abandoned places in search of the truth, or of God. The legends of Isis include her hiding in the Delta swamps to give birth to the divine child Horus. While she is out searching for food, Set assumes the form of a scorpion and stings Horus to death. Her sister Nephthys then cries out to heaven and stops the sun boat of Ra in its tracks. The momentary cessation of time enables Tahuti to whisper in the ear of Isis the spell (‘moment of time’) that will resurrect Horus to immortal life. The tale has multiple levels of meaning; the soul must be receptive to wisdom, a word must be heard. In the same story Isis commands seven scorpions to bow down their heads that she may pass. They are obedient to her command, because she is Isis—they belong to her. The moral is that the practitioner must be obedient to the path. The Setian Ass or human ego must be willingly sacrificed to the Great Work, otherwise initiation, resurrection to new life, is impossible. The account given by Herodotus ends with the exhortation, “And these words are true and a million times true”, as indeed they are. A true word must be heard ere it can be uttered. Thus the esoteric title of the Tarot trump for Virgo is Prophet of the Eternal: Magus of the Voice of Power, for there is close affinity between Isis and Tahuti (or Thoth).

Egyptological descriptions of Isis focus on the Middle and Late Kingdom mysteries, especially after the Greeks and then the Romans included among them followers of the cult of Isis. By that time Isis was wedded with Osiris, the Lord of the Dead, and with her twin sister was seen as the type of the funerary mourner, whose vocalised ululuations led the soul of the dead along the processional route. The tale of Isis giving birth to Horus noted above dates from the same time, for originally Horus was the child of Hathoor. The same sources give the 5th and 6th Dynasties as the time of the first known reference to Isis, or Iset as she is properly known. She is named in the Pyramid Texts, and we know that these in all probability originate from a time far more ancient even than the 5th Dynasty. Her name, ‘Throne’, gives arise to some amusing scholarly speculation. We do not need to go into that here, for the explanation is quite simply that Isis is the Foundation of the Universe, the ‘Throne in the Beginning’. Our translation of Spell 78 from the Book of Coming Forth includes this.[2]

Open thou the ways, that I may return through the wheels of thy spinning, that have established the throne of my becoming; that was my seat before my beginning!

The Iset ‘throne’ hieroglyph nearly always depicts a rectangular or square insert on the base of the seat. This declares the phi ratio or ‘Golden Mean’, the foundation of the visible universe that is also descriptive of geometric forms such as the pentagram and spiral. Ancient architecture frequently incorporates the Golden Mean in its proportions. Qabalistically, Binah (‘Understanding’) is the completion of the supernal triad, the geometric foundation of form, and is often personified as Isis. The corresponding name in the world of Yetzirah (‘Foundation’) is Aralim, ‘Thrones’, the Foundation of Understanding. As Isis is also the principle of love, we are reminded that there is no understanding without love, and that love and wisdom are therefore inseparable terms. The literal meaning of philosophy is ‘love of wisdom’—would that it was the norm and not the exception!

Nebhet, the sister of Iset, also wears her name for her crown, ‘Lady of the House’. This is formed from the neb, a bowl or basket, placed upon the het symbol for ‘house’, a rectangular enclosure. The house, temple, shrine or abode thus rests on the foundations of the universe, expressed through the proportions of the phi ratio. It is then the ‘House of God’, the chakra, star or flower that is the abode for the indwelling Soul of the Eternal.

The position of the 20th path of Virgo on the Tree of Life extends from the azure sphere of Jupiter to the golden blaze of Tiphereth. Jupiter is the natural sephira for both Isis and Ma’at, the law of love under will. In Tiphereth, the Magnificent Fountains flow forth to irrigate the radiant gardens of Eden.

The 20th path of Virgo is called the Intelligence of Will. The yod, bindu, flame or seed-star that is the letter of the 20th path is, in the absolute sense, Hadit, the giver of Life, the animator of all things that live and move and have their being. Hadit is Mercury in the highest, or most simple, abstract form. Mercury is the planetary ruler of the astrological sign of Virgo, and Virgo is unique in the Zodiac in that Mercury rules her sign and is also exalted therein. The Intelligence of Will is the stream of light or intelligence forming the innermost structures of mind or intellect in man. It is called thus “because it forms all patterns, and to know this Intelligence is to know the whole reality of the Primordial Wisdom.” The knowledge of the spiritual Will constitutes the full realisation of the cosmic purpose or meaning in all things. On this path arises the possibility of knowing and doing the True Will, as it is termed in the cults of Thelema.[3]

The letter yod of this path is the feminine essence—the “creative force that arises in pure darkness” of the 15th path— that carries the ‘seed’ or bindu along the matrix to form the Khu, spirit or Holy Ghost. The descent of this path brings the recollection of cosmic memory into the full knowledge and realisation of Tiphereth, while the ascent of the path is to immerse one’s own life’s blood or energy into the cup of the Holy Graal. All solitary creatures are traditionally assigned to this path, yet the Initiate of the path must illumine the path for others.

The mystic number of the path is 210, an indication of the mystery of NOX or Night, otherwise personified as Lilith or Lilah. The trinity of the number is summed up in the staff, lamp and cloak of the hermit traditionally assigned to this path. The staff is the energy, the Occult Force, which must be applied with strict vigilance and economy of means towards the Great Work. The lamp is a metaphor for the Occult Light, which the Initiate necessarily veils from the world. The cloak of invisibility is the silent means of transmission of the secret Word of the True Will. Hence, the magical powers of the 20th path include Invisibility, Parthenogenesis and Initiation. The zodiacal sign of Virgo is naturally associated with Isis as the virgin mother. In very ancient times, before the cult of Osiris held sway, Nuit and Hathoor gave birth to a divine child by parthenogenesis, which is to say, without paternal intervention. The child is the sun-star and Hadit or Set is the ‘child’ and mysterious power that manifests the star, which is the appearance of Nuit-Isis.


Notes

1. The ‘watery abyss’, Aukert, is the region of the unawakened dead. The same is also depicted as a lake of fire. Bika Reed has compared this with the alchemical symbolism of the bath or vessel that is heated by a furnace. “The flood of man’s despair has drowned him. The heat of his own rebellion has destroyed him. Fish feed on him in shallow water.” See Rebel in the Soul—a sacred text of ancient Egypt, Bika Reed, pp. 119 [Inner Traditions International, 1978].

2. Pp. 136–145, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The Book of Coming Forth into Light is called by Egyptologists the ‘Book of the Dead’, a name that was originally afforded it by tomb robbers.

3. A commentary on the wisdom texts of the Sepher Yetzirah is provided in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2019

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to Home): Thelemic Magical Collegium

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick and Thelema. Thelema sprang from an ancient Egyptian source; more precisely, the source work, the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, veils the initiatory secrets of the Theban cult of Set-Typhon or Mentu.

Thelema Atu Hrumachis IVMentu, or Ra-Mentu, is depicted on our Tarot for Aries, Hrumachis IV. Mentu appears on the front side of the Stele of Revealing, which was activated in the Cairo working of 1904 by Rose Edith Kelly and Aleister Crowley. The Esoteric Thelema conveyed by Aiwass, the communicant of the book, owes nothing to the rationalist humanism of Crowley and his modern day apologists.[1]

The traditional key-scale correspondences of the Tree of Life are continued in our new Tarot designs so that the deck is suitable for practical magick, meditation and divination. The primary aim of the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is to assist in returning Thelema and the Book of the Law to its lawful custodians.

Egyptian Tarot Deck

All these images may be viewed at full size by clicking on the picture. The first Tarot card to be created was that which symbolises the Capricorn Solstice and the 26th path, traditionally called ‘The Devil XV’. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu is titled Set XV and depicts the Egyptian god Set, ‘First before the Gods’.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Set XVThis card is a prototype and will be redrawn before it is finalised for publication. Set is here depicted as God of the South, wielding the was sceptre of priestly authority in his left hand and the Ankh of Life in his right hand.

The esoteric title of the Tarot key is Lord of the Gates of Matter: Child of the Forces of Time. The Thelemic year begins for us, not on the 20th March each year, but on the winter solstice, when the Sun crosses the zero degrees mark of Capricorn. The 26th path of Capricorn is the Renewing Intelligence, and the time of year marks the first light of the Khabs in the Khu, sounded in the depth. Cancer and Capricorn mark the height and depth of the Sun. The equinoxes mark the cardinal crossing. The four cross-quarters mark the Kerubic signs, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. The full description of Set XV may be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Nuit XVIIWe next created the card for the Sun entering Aquarius, traditionally called ‘The Star XVII’. Our Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu depicts Nuit, goddess of the stars, and first oracle of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. The key-scale colour and other correspondences are of the 15th path of Aquarius (or 28th path in Crowley’s tables, which were not corrected).

The hieroglyphs of Nuit’s name are shown at the top of the card. At the centre is Nuit bending over the Star Pentactys.[1] In the lower section of the image is the Lion of Truth, Ma’a, Nuit’s power in the underworld and opposite sign of the Zodiac, Leo. According to the instruction of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15, to the Scarlet Woman, Nuit-Babalon, “is all power given”. There is a complete description of Nuit XVII here.

Pisces: Thelema Atu Khonsu XVIIIOur Tarot card for the Sun entering Pisces is called Khonsu XVIII. The traditional title of the card is ‘The Moon XVII’. This card, as with that of Set XV, is a prototype and will be redrawn before the deck is published. Khonsu is the Egyptian god of the Moon, the ‘Sky-Rider’, and also happens to form part of the name of the scribe and priest to whom the Stele of Revealing belongs, Ankh-af-na-khonsu. The esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The key-scale correspondences for Khonsu XVIII are of the 29th path of the Tree of Life, extending upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s Egyptian hieroglyphic name is at the top of the picture. The hawk-headed god of the Moon is at the centre, going forth between two pillars. He bears the priestly was sceptre in his right hand and the Ankh of Life in his left. Khonsu was regarded as the son of Mut and  Amoun, and was closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The full description of Khonsu XVIII may be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Tarot Atu Hrumachis IVThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 28th path of Aries is Hrumachis IV. Hrumachis, the Egyptian Sphinx, has various names, including Hormaku, Horakhty and Ra Hoor Khuit. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally called ‘The Emperor’, is Sun of the Morning: Chief among the Mighty. The Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Hor-em-akhet, from which the Greek form Hrumachis is derived, is at the top of the Tarot picture. In the centre is Ra-Mentu or Ra Hoor Khuit, based on the Stele of Revealing. As Hrumachis, Horus is fully raised to the sky or heaven. The Sun and Serpent crown affirm his identity with both Ra and Typhon-Apophis. He wears the leopard spots, emblematic of the ‘space-marks’ or stars, and the gift of divine prophecy. His nemmys is night-blue, the colour of the body of Nuit, which encompasses the whole horizon. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hrumachis IV is described in detail here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hathoor VThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the Sun entering Taurus is quite naturally Hathoor V. The traditional title of the Atu is the ‘The Hierophant’ or ‘Pope’. Hathoor is the Way-shower or revealer of Adam to himself. She is crowned by the lunar horns and weilds the lotus wand or sceptre of the creation of life. The name of Hathoor, as given in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, is derived from Het-Hor, literally, ‘House of Horus’. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Magus of the Eternal.

In the centre of the Tarot picture is Hathoor, seated on a cubical throne, for Taurus is the Foundation of the Earth. The throne is of moon-white or silver, for the Moon is exalted in Taurus and is the fructification of earth and all her creatures. The throne is placed between two pillars of silver and gold. Lotus flowers surmount the tetrahedronal capitals. Hathoor is crowned with the solar disk and lunar cow horns. She bears the lotus wand in her right hand, symbol of the perfume of immortality, and in her left she bears the Rosy Cross of Life and Love. The complete description of Hathoor V may be read here.

Gemini: Thelema Atu Shenut VIThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema for Gemini, the Twins or Lovers, is Shenut VI. Shenut is the goddess of dual manifestation. We depict here a pair of ancient Egyptian sacred dancing girls, making the gesture, ‘As above and so below’. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Children of the Voice: Oracle of the Mighty Gods. The ‘voice’ is the oracle of Understanding and Wisdom. On the Tree of Life, these are Binah and Chokmah. The primary cosmic duality is personified in pairs such as Babalon and the Beast, Sophia and Logos, Eve and the Serpent.

In the centre of the Tarot picture are two Egyptian dancing girls, based on the tomb painting of Nebamun Osama. The hieroglyphic name Shenut, goddess of dual manifestation, is at the top of the Tarot picture. Related terms are shni-t, ‘spell’, ‘curse’, and shnem, ‘to unite with’. When the hieroglyphic determinative of a bird alighting is used, as shown here in the lower half of the Tarot picture, the word means ‘dancers’, or a company of dancers and musicians. The full description of Shenut VI may be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atet VII: Sun Boat of RaThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema for the Sun entering Cancer at the Solstice is Atet VII. This card, traditionally named ‘The Chariot VII’, is the original type of the solar chariot, the sun boat of Ra. The motion of Ra defines the expanse of the sky, the reach of heaven. Thus the invisible Sun of Spirit is concealed or clothed in light. The barque or sun boat of Ra is also therefore the marker of time. If the sun boat should be stopped in its tracks, as is told in the legends of Isis, time would cease.

The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Child of the Powers of the Waters: Lord of the Triumph of Light. This is best explained through the Qabalistic title of the 18th path, Intelligence of the House of Influence. Cheth, the letter of the path, means ‘a wall or enclosure’. The enclosure of cheth is the sun boat itself. It is also the magical spirit-body called the Khu (or khu-t) in ancient Egyptian sacred texts including the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. In cosmic aspect, the Khu is the company of heaven referred to in Liber AL, I: 1–4.

Had! The manifestation of Nuit. The unveiling of the company of heaven. Every man and every woman is a star. Every number is infinite; there is no difference.

The full description of Atet VII can be read here.

Sekhet Atu XIThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 19th path of Leo is Sekhet XI. The Sun, the Solar Light, is the ruler of the sign of the Lion. Sekhet, the Egyptian lioness goddess of heat and fire, is depicted in the centre of the Tarot design. She is crowned by the solar disk from which projects the cosmic cobra serpent, the animating spirit and energy of the Occult Force or Kundalini. In her right hand she wields the ankh of eternal life and in her left the lotus sceptre. The lotus, as a symbol, combines the four classical elements. She has her roots in the fertile mud, floats upon the surface of the waters and grows upward through the air, opening her flower to the solar light or fire.

Sekhet wears a red dress trimmed with white, for she is the original type of the ‘woman of blood’, the Scarlet Woman as described in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15.

The full description of Sekhet XI can be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IXThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 20th path of Virgo is Isis IX. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of the sign of Virgo and is exalted therein. The trump depicts the twin sisters Iset and Nebhet (Isis and Nephthys) giving life to the inert soul, suspended in the watery abyss called Aukert, neither truly alive nor truly dead. By dual manifestation the spiritual powers of the soul create the star or Khabs in the Khu. The twin sisters are placed in the Garden of Eden, which was at one time manifested on the earth as the gardens surrounding the Temple of Neïth in the Delta region, the House of the Lady of Sàis.

The image at the same time depicts the legend of Isis as recorded by Herodotus, when she raised Horus to life after he was poisoned by Set in the form of a scorpion. The card thus depicts the three magical powers of the 20th path, Parthenogenesis, Invisibility and Initiation. These were reflected in the Staff, Cloak and Lamp of the Hermit in the traditional Tarot designs.

The full description of Isis IX can be read here.

Live updating: The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is a work in progress. As each card is created or modified, it will be added to this post.


Notes

1. Esoteric Thelema is set forth, with many applications both practical and philosophical, in the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2019

Visit Ordo Astri (or return to) Home
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal

Maat: Daughter of the Lords of Truth

The Daughter of the Lords of Truth is the esoteric title of the Tarot trump Justice VIII. The Tarot and path correspondences of the Tree of Life are ingenious. There is a special relation between Leo and Libra-Maat. Leo and Libra revolve about Virgo, while Aquarius and Aries revolve about Pisces.

Sekhet and Maat: Leo and LibraThe 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 declination. 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 these 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 ‘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.


Notes

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.

Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to home): Thelemic Magical Collegium