Pisces: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Khonsu XVIII

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 29th path of Pisces is Khonsu XVIII. Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, the Sky Traveller.

Pisces: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Khonsu XVIIIThe esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The 29th path of the Tree of Life extends upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s 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 is regarded as the son of Mut and  Amoun, and he is closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The crown of Khonsu is the full disc and crescent of the Moon; it is not a coincidence that the shape formed from this composite glyph is identical to that of the hieroglyphic Eye of the Moon or Left Eye of Ra. The human psyche is reflective as the shade of the Moon; to see Ra with clear or pure perception is to know God and (therefore) to be known by God—the Ever-Becoming.

The Moon has three faces: white (or silver), black and red; she is white at the full, invisible in the dark phase and scarlet at the eclipse. The globed capitals of the pillars and lunar crown of Khonsu are also suggestive of the supernal triad of the Tree of Life, where Kether is the ‘higher moon’.

The figures are skryed through the domed hieroglyphic Gate of the Moon. This is a stylised version of the Egyptian determinative for ‘foundation’. In the lower section is the telesmatic name of Shad Barshama’ath Shartathan, the Spirit of the Spirits of the Moon, as drawn on the Kamea of the Moon. The name adds to 3,321, the sum total of all the squares on the Kamea and can be translated, ‘Elemental Child born from the Oracle of Joy’.[1] If the name is looked at Qabalistically, it yields some fascinating nuances. Barshama’ath can be construed as ‘Spirit of clear-seeing’, viz., clairvoyance.[2] The true meaning of clairvoyance, ‘seeing things clearly’, is to apprehend pure knowledge and is not to be confused with psychism. Barshama’ath also has the meaning ‘pure name’, and Ma’at is the Lion of Truth.[3] Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, is called the Pure Intelligence.

Shartathan denotes Thoth as Chief of Scribes. Thoth, or Tahuti as known to the Egyptians, was originally a god of the Moon, like Khonsu. On the lower arc, the Moon is typically associated with magical mirrors, skrying and clairvoyance. The magick ‘writing’ of Tahuti is that which appears in the clear mirror of perception.

The astroglyphs for Pisces and Jupiter, the ruling planet, are at the lower edge of the card. Qoph, the letter of the path, is to the right. The letter Qoph symbolises the skull, a symbol of the primordial ‘cave’, which resides in the heart of the holy mountain. On the corporeal level, the 18th Tarot card corresponds to Pisces and the Moon as regulator of organic life.

The Moon of Pisces

The Sun’s entry into Pisces near the end of the cold months is a reminder of the darkest hour before the dawn. The springtime is not far away. In the southern hemisphere it is a reminder that the cooler air of autumn will soon drive out the burning heat of a long summer.

Pisces is traditionally ruled by Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus and to the ancient Egyptians as Amoun (or Amen).[4] Khonsu, god of the Moon, was thus ordained as the child of Mut and Amoun at Thebes. Jupiter, Zeus and Amoun were originally gods of the mountain, and of the seas and rains that replenish the earth with new life and growth. Amoun is a mysterious god. He is self-created, and his location, unlike the sky-gods Horus, Hathoor and Nuit, is below the horizon. He is the Hidden God.

The Qabalah throws further light on the association between the Hidden God and the mysteries of Pisces, sign of the Fishes. The 29th path connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The magical power of the path of Pisces is the Twilight of the Place. As the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the twilight is very noticeable. This is especially so with the lengthening of shadows near sunset, before Venus, the first and brightest star of the evening sky, appears in the west. The magical twilight is also the special light of a room prepared for ritual. Candles and the smoke of incense provide ideal conditions for the arising of spectral images. The Magical Mirror is thus the magical weapon of Pisces.

Child of the Sons of the Mighty

The title of the 29th path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the incarnation of all bodies according to the revolution of the Zodiac. The root of the word that is translated ‘corporeal’ (gosham) implies a violent rainstorm or shower—the ‘shower of the life of earth’ that comes through the seed of the Unborn Spirit or Holy Guardian Angel in the ritual called the Bornless. The ‘seed’ is alchemical and refers to the fluidic or formless fire from which all forms receive their essence. The “revolution of the Zodiac” is explained by the operation of Sol and Luna as the governance of Spirit acting upon the Zodiac through the four classical elements of nature. All bodies are composed of these elements. Each creature has a unique astrosome, the symbol of which is the natal horoscope, varying according to the time and place of birth. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are cosmic archetypes. Merely knowing the sign of birth does not reveal a person’s nature. The sign alone symbolises a type, not an individual.

The descent of this path is the incarnation or embodiment of each creature, while the ascent of it implies knowledge of the Occult Intelligences.

The magical powers of the 29th path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions. When the light of the Moon is shed upon the earth (as ego), then the mind is bedazzled by magical glamour. It becomes absorbed in its own reflections, attributing objective reality to that which is no more than fleeting shadows. The shades (spirits, shadows) of the Moon may therefore deceive the foolish and profane. The gift of clairvoyance (‘clear sight’), on the other hand, is bestowed on those who truly desire to seek out the hidden stone of the wise. It should be understood that ‘clairvoyance’ or clear-sightedness as intended here has nothing to do whatsoever with any kind of psychic vision.


Notes

1. All Qabalistic references are from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.
2. ShThM, 740, means ‘to open the eyes; to see clearly’.
3. BR ShMATh, ‘pure name’, also ‘first created’, i.e., to see the whole world as new or freshly born.
4. Most modern astrologers have substituted Neptune as ruler of Pisces. They similarly assign Uranus to Aquarius and Pluto to Scorpio, discarding the traditional rulerships and throwing the whole scheme into disorder.

From the book, Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.
© Oliver St. John 2020

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick, divination and Thelema. The 12 Zodiac trumps can be viewed here. The Tarot is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the Tarot here. More information on our ‘Books’ page may be found here.

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Capricorn: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Set XV

The Capricorn Solstice is depicted here by our Egyptian Tarot of Thelema image of the god Set. The Devil XV is the traditional title of the trump, while the esoteric title is Lord of the Gates of Matter: Child of the Forces of Time. The Egyptian god Set is no devil as such but is the Opener of the Year and Lord of Initiation.

Capricorn Solstice: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Set XVSet is shown here 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. His colour is black, his nemyss and apron of blue-black and indigo. His ornaments, sceptre and ankh are black, gold and grey as according to the Key-Scale colours of the 26th path and the ancient Egyptian title that was afforded Set, ‘the black and gold one’ (Set-Nubti). His peculiar ass-head with truncated ears has caused much bafflement. Some have thought he was modelled on a creature that has long been extinct. Whether this is true or not, Set is certainly among the most ancient of gods. Like Sokar, Lord of the Necropolis, Set is older than even the Pyramids. Perhaps he is older than the vast wilderness of the desert expanse.

Most descriptions of Set focus on the later dynastic periods of Egypt, where he was demonised and known only as the slayer of Osiris. However, Set is the first and only begotten son of Nuit, the goddess of space and stars. His birth is by divine parthenogenesis. No paternal intervention is required for a star to manifest the mother, for Hadit to evoke the appearance of Nuit. To discuss Set-Typhon in terms of Osiris is therefore a diversion from understanding Set’s true nature and function.

Set is the most difficult of gods to ‘pin down’; his very nature forbids it. He is on the other side of wherever we happen to be in terms of consciousness. Thus, the Egyptians tended to think of Set as Mercury, the shapeshifter. In northerly locations, typical Setian totems are corvids—the raven, crow, jackdaw and magpie. The function of Set is dual. Firstly, Set veils the invisible in an infinite variety of forms. Secondly, he destroys the illusion of the appearance of things. Small wonder then, that Set is not only ‘First before the Gods’, but is also the most misunderstood of all gods.

Set’s hieroglyphic name is shown at the top of the Tarot picture. The first two letters are phonetics (‘s’ and ‘t’) while the rectangle provides a further clue to Set’s mysterious origins. The rectangle means ‘stone’. This has agricultural and building connotations, as well as that of the graven image. Some of the earliest Dynastic kings of Egypt were Setians, and were noted for their great feats of architectural magnificence as well as introducing irrigation canals.[1]

Capricorn Solstice: Iset ThroneEsoterically, Set is the layer of the foundation of the universe from ‘before the beginning of things’. The Iset throne of Isis typifies the foundation stone. Set and Isis, though portrayed as enemies in more recent times, are in fact inseparable. Set is the elemental nature of Isis and is, through her identification with Nuit, her only begotten child. The identification is made clear in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, AL I: 22, where Nuit reveals herself as I.S.I.S.

I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof.

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. The time of year marks the first light of the star of awakening consciousness sounded in the depth. In Thelemic terms it is the Khabs (‘star’) in the Khu (‘radiance’). As declared by Aiwass and then the oracular voice of Nuit in AL, I: 8–9,

The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!

Cancer and Capricorn mark the height and depth of the Sun through the year. The equinoxes mark the seasonal crossing points. The four cross-quarters mark the Kerubic signs, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. Commencing from the winter cup of Capricorn and Aquarius, we can follow the course of the Lightning Flash on the Tree of Life through the year. Capricorn and Aquarius, ruled by Saturn, send the current from the supernal Eden to the sphere of Jupiter, ruler of Pisces. The next station is Aries, ruled by Mars, in which is the Sun’s exaltation. Next comes Taurus, ruled by Venus, the lovely star. We then pass across to Mercury, ruler of Gemini. Arriving at the solstice of the summer cup, the Moon and Sun are conjoined and the Holy Hexagram declared, with the Earth as witness. The current then streaks back up the Tree in reverse order until the Capricorn solstice is again reached.

The 26th path of Capricorn connects Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun, with Hod, the sphere of Mercury. The latter is also the abode of Set.[2] The Renewing Intelligence is the renewal and perpetuity of all created forms. Nature provides a useful analogy for the human psyche. Unless the intellect is able to adapt, it atrophies and becomes petrified, ‘turning to stone’. Tales of people being turned to stone are common in myth and legend. It is notable that in Cornish folklore, the origin of the prehistoric megaliths and stone circles that abundantly populate the land is illustrated by stories of the petrification of men, women and giants. For example: the Merry Maidens, the Nine Maidens of Boskednan, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones, and the Hurlers.

The identification of the personal ego with the forms or constructs that appear in Hod increases the limiting or restricting power of Saturn, ruler of Capricorn. According to Liber AL, I: 41,

The word of Sin is Restriction.

It is the desire to become free of material limitations that drives man to seek freedom. It is necessary, though, to understand the principles of nature and their operation in the world before any limits can be transcended. The primary limitation is man himself and his ignorance of natural laws.

Capricorn, Set and the Eye of God

The magical powers of the 26th path are the Witches Sabbath and the Evil Eye. The so-called Witches Sabbath is largely fictional, owing to the paranoid imaginings of medieval clerics, but the symbolism is peculiarly apt.[3] The backwards dance of the revellers, for example, is a recollection of exceedingly antique rites as well as the whole underlying theology of ancient Egypt. Egypt recognised no ‘progress’ or ‘evolution’, the ideal was always to go back to the source, before the beginning of things. This is a spiritual truth known by every yogi and mystic; it is not a symptom of a reactionary disposition among the Egyptians, as superficial commentators have supposed. The naming of the Evil Eye, known as a mark or sign of protection against evil in many countries around the world, mirrors the letter of A’ain, the 26th path, ‘an eye’. Set, as with most important Egyptian deities, is the upholder of the Eye of Ra or of God. In the Tantras, the ‘eye’ is the particular attribute of Shiva, who shares many of the attributes of Set. The letter a’ain has the value of 70, which is the manifestation of Venus (or Nuit) through the power of Saturn (or Hadit).[4]

Saturn is the planetary ruler of Capricorn. Mars, the energy required for renewal, is exalted therein. As with Shiva, the number 3 of Saturn or Binah is fundamental to an intellectual understanding of the god. The number 3 is the geometric foundation of form and likeness. It is the ‘stone’ or Set, the angular sides of the pyramid. It is the cipher of the matrix for all life and existence. It requires a triangular prism to split white light into seven colours, for only the triangle can reduce a phenomenon to its components. Therefore the rainbow spectrum is the sevenfold veil of Set. The number 7 is that of Venus, who doubles as both morning and evening star, and Saturn is the ‘power behind Venus’.

Set is identified with Sirius, the star of Egypt, and as such is the manifestor of the seven stars of Ursa Major. Sirius is the birthplace and home of the gods. It is the star of the ‘one in eight’ as Set-Hadit, manifestor of the seven and revealer of Nuit. Sirius is the sun-behind-the-sun of our solar system, the transcendent regulator of all terrestrial aeons.


Notes

1. Even Seti I, the grandfather of Rameses II in the relatively late Middle to New Kingdom, was named after the great god and ensured the continuance of his cult.
2. If a ‘star’ determinative (seba) is added to the name of Set, the hieroglyphs spell ‘Mercury’, the planet. Thus Set and Mercury, and the qualities of Mercury, are identical. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary Vol. I, pp. 707 A.
3. The fictional origin of witchcraft is explained in ‘The Witches Sabbath and the Curse of Monotheism’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].
4. Qabalistically, 70 = 10 x 7, the manifestation (10) of Venus (7).

From the book, Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.
© Oliver St. John 2020

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick, divination and Thelema. The 12 Zodiac trumps can be viewed here. The Tarot is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the Tarot here. More information on our ‘Books’ page may be found here.

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