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 Libra-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.
The dual Sekhet-Maat illustration is from The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema, created and drawn by Oliver St. John. Sickle-Maat-Lion hieroglyph and ‘Double Loop of the Zodiac’ drawn by Oliver St. John.

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Gemini: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Shenut VI

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 17th path of Gemini is Shenut VI. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of Gemini. The Twins of Gemini are here portrayed as ancient Egyptian sacred dancers, expressing the mobility and fluidity of Azoth, the Hermetic Light in dual expression.

Gemini: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Shenut VIThe esoteric title of the 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.[1] 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’.[2] 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 goddess Shenut was revered in the swampy Delta region of Lower Egypt. Over time, her identity was merged with Isis, Hathoor and other feminine deities. In the Delta, Shenut was identified with the acacia or Tree of Life from which the gods are sprung. Shenet (shent), the ancient Egyptian name of the acacia tree, also indicates the fruit of the tree and its products or essences. Thus the word of dual manifestation issues from the sacred heart and tongue of the goddess. The word shent also means ‘a seal’ or ‘impression’. The children of the word-vibration, Oracle of the Mighty Gods, convey the primal utterance through means of non-physical vibration.

The value of the name Shenut (ChNT) is 67, equal to the letter zain of the 17th path of Gemini, ‘a sword’, spelled in full (ZIN).[3] ChNT has the meaning of ‘magic’, ‘spells or incantations’. The root of the word is khen, ‘to dance’, which is etymologically related to kheni, ‘love songs’, ‘to flutter’, ‘to alight (as a bird)’. The ancient Egyptians associated dancing with birds and sky, all that is ‘high’, ‘above’. Thus Shenut is a goddess of the sky and space. The act of dancing is to describe space, to define it geometrically. Through movement, birth is given to form and the visible appearance of things. A further related term is khnem-t, ‘friend’, ‘companion’, also ‘mistress’.[4]

Gemini, the Twins, is the Zodiac sign of friends, lovers and companions. To utter a word, a word must be heard. The duality of the 17th path of Gemini is expressed as Sol and Luna in alchemical terms. The Tarot trump images this forth as dancing twins, called kheter in ancient Egyptian, a word that also has the meaning ‘friends’, ‘marriage’ and ‘union’.[5] The word is identical in sound to that of Kether, the first emanation, for there is no ‘singular intelligence’ in reality, only the principle of union. Esoteric Thelema declares that duality is no longer to be thought of as evil; the polar twins each contain the germ of their complementary opposite. As declared by Nuit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 29,

For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.

Gemini, Zain and Set

The word kheter has the Qabalistic value of 217 (ChTR), equal to ChRT, ‘magick; engraving or impression’. The twins or magical children of Shenut are thus affirmed as the weavers of magick between the worlds, the dancers or serpents of the Caduceus of Hermes-Thoth.

The number 217 is also that of the god Set, whom the ancient Egyptians identified with Mercury. Set was increasingly demonised over long ages of time; his more positive attributes were gradually transferred to Thoth, whose totem animal is the Ibis. Thoth is the male counterpart of Ma’at. Together, Thoth and Ma’at oversee the transmission of the divine Word or True Will.

The Dancers of Shenut are the Oracle of the Mighty Gods, echoing the love-play of Nuit and Hadit. The 17th path of Gemini issues from Binah, the supernal Eden and Matrix, to reify in Tiphereth, the full beauty and radiant glory of the Sun. Thus, the oracle or transmission is fleshed by the divine word or utterance from the Throne of Isis. The Eye of Ra the Sun, otherwise Horus, is intimately associated with the goddess Hathoor, who appeared in the previous trump for Taurus, and who is the sovereign of music, song and dancing.

The 17th path is called the Intelligence of Sensation or the Disposing Intelligence in the Sepher Yetzirah. It is also called the Foundation of Tiphereth in the plane of the Supernals—since its root is in Binah and its termination in the centre of the Ruach intelligence. The 17th path of Gemini is the seventh from Aleph. The letter zain (or zayin) is the sword separating the subtle non-material matrix into the twin stream of time and space that pours forth from the Abyss. The sacred dance or Shenut expresses the resolution of reason through the union of love under will. It is the creation of the world and its magical recreation through the Great Work.

On the way of return, the 17th path crosses the abysmal threshold of human reason to find its root in the depth, silence and mystery of Binah, sphere of Understanding.

The magical power of the 17th path of Gemini is the Power of being in two or more places at one time, and of Prophecy.


Notes

1. The drawing is based on the tomb painting of Nebamun Osama.
2. E. A. Wallis Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary Vol 2, pp. 745, 747. Budge transliterated the word as ‘Khenit’ (see Vol 1, pp. 549). In later times, the ‘k’, pronounced much like the Aramaic cheth, was superseded by the phonetic ‘sh’. The letter is symbolised by a rolled and tied scroll, indicative of ‘secret things’ or ‘mysteries’, or otherwise, as shown here, as the shen knot of eternity (see Vol 1, pp. 525).
3. Khenit = ChNT.
4. Vol 1, pp. 551 [ibid].
5. Vol 1, pp. 520 [ibid].

Qabalistic notes are adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, comment on the 17th path.

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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