Pisces: Egyptian Tarot Khonsu XVIII

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the twenty-ninth path of Pisces is Khonsu XVIII. Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, the Sky Traveller.

Egyptian Tarot Khonsu XVIIIThe esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The twenty-ninth 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 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’. If the name is looked at Qabalistically, it yields some fascinating nuances. Barshama’ath can be construed as ‘Spirit of clear-seeing’.[1] To ‘see things clearly’ is to know directly and is not to be confused with the visual or imaginative faculties. Barshama’ath also has the meaning ‘pure name’, and Ma’at is the Lion of Truth.[2] 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 the Seer or Witness, which has nothing to do with ‘visions’ as that is usually understood.

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, Atu XVIII 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).[3] 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 twenty-ninth path connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The symbolic weapons of the path of Pisces are the Twilight of the Place, and the Magical Mirror. 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.

Child of the Sons of the Mighty

The title of the twenty-ninth 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 retains impressions of the cosmic environment, 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, which bears a relation with the manas or ‘inward sense’ of the Hindi doctrines, for it is the principle of mind itself, which forms objects formed from the five senses.

The magical powers of the twenty-ninth path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions. When the light of the Moon is shed upon the earth, as the conditioned view of the ego, then the mind is bedazzled by glamours or enchantments. It becomes absorbed in its own reflections, attributing reality or True Self to that which is no more than fleeting shadows. The shades (spirits, shadows) of the Moon may therefore deceive the foolish and indeed, all men are deceived by such phantoms, mistaking them for reality, unless they are prepared to practice concentration and meditation for a long time. The gift of clairvoyance in the etymological sense of the word (‘clear sight’) is bestowed on those who truly desire to seek out the truth. It should be understood that ‘clairvoyance’ or clear-sightedness as intended here has nothing to do whatsoever with any kind of psychic vision.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. ShThM, 740, means ‘to open the eyes; to see clearly’.

2. BR ShMATh, ‘pure name’, also ‘first created’, i.e., to see the whole world as new or freshly born.

3. 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.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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Aquarius: Egyptian Tarot Nuit XVII

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the fifteenth path of Aquarius is Nuit XVII. The esoteric title is Daughter of the Firmament: Dweller between the Waters.

Egyptian Tarot Nuit XVIINuit is depicted here as bending over the Star Pentactys, a pyramid of fifteen stars.[1] In the lower section of the image is the ma’a Lion of Truth, Nuit’s power in the underworld typified by Leo, the opposite sign of the Zodiac to Aquarius.

The hieroglyphs of Nuit’s name are shown at the top of the card. The ‘pot’ determinative (nu) shows the nature of Nuit as the principle of containment in the cosmic sense, a body of stars. The hieroglyph for ‘sky’ or ‘space’ is symbolised by the heavens above. Space is analogous with the infinite, but is not in itself infinite; that is to say it is not measureless or eternal but is indefinite on the human scale. It is also important to understand that space is not, as some schools of thought have imagined, ‘nothingness’, void, emptiness or mere absence.[2]

Depicted on the lower left border of the card are the symbols of Saturn, the astrological ruler of Aquarius, and Uranus, infernal ruler of the Kerubic signs. Saturn is the principle of limitation and form while Uranus symbolises the breaking apart or overturning of order and tradition in the name of false ideals. To the right is Hé, ‘a window’, the letter of the path. The shape of the letter is that of a nomad’s tent, as with beth. The tent is shown from the side, with the aperture drawn open at the top for viewing. The letter Hé of Aquarius has the value of five. The window of ‘five’ is the star of man, the root of the five senses through which we perceive an appearance of Nuit as visible nature.

Nuit is esoterically associated with Sirius or Sothis, her star of manifestation. To be clear, Sirius is here a symbol and analogy for the supreme principle, the ‘unmoved mover’, by which things appear to come into existence by Its presence—and not by any action on the part of the principle, which does not act. Nothing in nature is separate, having its own cause as though self-contained. Our planet system and Zodiac is part of a vastly greater star system. Sopdet, the Egyptian name for Sirius, the ‘sun-behind-the-sun’, is also the name of the goddess that gives birth to the star of Venus. It has the literal meaning, ‘triangle’.[3] During the time of the solar conjunction or occultation of Sirius, the legend of Isis has it that she hides herself in the swamps of the northern Delta (‘triangle’) region to give birth to Horus. Originally, Set (as ‘seven’) was the only begotten son of Nuit. The pairing of Isis with Osiris was a relatively modern version of the legends of Isis that was better suited to the disposition of ancient Greek and Roman men than the original stellar myth—by ‘myth’ we refer to oral tradition, not something imagined.

Sirius TriangulationSirius forms a group of stars with Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) and Procyon, called the ‘winter triangle’. This embraces much of the constellation of Monoceros, ‘Unicorn’. Four other stars, Pollux, Capella, Aldebaron and Rigel (left foot of Orion) form the ‘winter hexagon’. This establishes a geometric relationship between Sirius and Orion, which symbolises the heavenly Sah or Holy Spirit. Thus the Nephilim, sons of the Ancient Ones, are sometimes called the Children of Orion, identifying them with the primordial.[4] The geometry of the triangulation of Sirius with the hexagon, or hexagram by extension, automatically declares the Cube of Space, as can be seen by the diagram above.[5] This configuration involves seven stars in all, thus proportionately mirroring the seven bright stars of Ursa Major, the ‘axle of the universe’, rotating while always pointing to the Pole. That is in fact the esoteric meaning of aleph, which corresponds to the eleventh path and Tarot trump The Seer 0. Aleph is not, as has long been supposed, the ox that ploughs the field but is the ox that turns about the wheel or swastika of the stars.

Nuit: Daughter of the Firmament

The fifteenth path of Hé connects Chokmah, the sphere of the Zodiac, with Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun. The path is called the Constituting Intelligence. It is called thus ‘because it constitutes the substance of creations in pure darkness’ (Westcott). Waite added that it is the same darkness mentioned in the book of Job 38: 9, ‘the cloud and the envelope thereof’. This cloud of ‘thick darkness’ mentioned in the book of Job is the covering of the sea, or the firmament, and is that which contains or holds it. It is therefore fitting that the Egyptian goddess of the night sky, Nuit, should be referred to the fifteenth path. There is also a certain correspondence with the Sanskrit prakriti or ‘substance’, from which the five envelopes or sheaths of being are produced. Each envelope is a covering or hiding of Atma, the Real. The five also relate to the ‘star’ of Nuit, which has five rays and forms the jivatma or creature soul, Tiphereth as the centre of the ego.

Chokmah is the chakra of the Zodiac, as separate and distinct from the fixed stars, which are the domain of Kether and the North Pole of the universe. The Zodiac is the belt or girdle of Venus, the planetary symbol of Nuit in her manifestation as visible nature. Tiphereth, at the further end of this path, is the recipient for the spiritual influence or starry mezla that is transmitted from Chokmah.

The magical power of the fifteenth path is that of Astrology, as Aquarius is the sign of the heavens. This should not be confused with popular notions of astrology. Astrological ‘influence’ of the stars or planets does not mean that the stars as such actually cause events or behaviour. Nothing exists in complete isolation from all else. Every phenomenon is part of a continuum involving all possibilities. The starry heavens are a mirror of the perceptions and for all of life, as above so below. The psyche is reflective, and so are the planets—both literally (they reflect the light of the sun) and metaphorically, as symbols, celestial writing or hieroglyphs.


From the forthcoming book and Tarot deck.

1. The Pentactys extends the baseline four of the Pythagorean Tetractys by one, to five. It is the geometric symbol of Nuit and her company of heaven. By extension the letter and path of Nuit is ∑ (1–5) = 15. There are altogether 75 Nuit radiations of the Star (5 x 15). The pyramid and star together form the hieroglyph for Sirius, star of Set and the Isis (Aset) Foundation of Egypt.

2. Space is filled by the fifth element akasha, which permeates it. The refutation of heterodox schools of thought is given in Siddhāntabindu of Srimat Madhusūdana Sarasvati [University of Mysore 1981].

3. The heliacal rising of the binary star Sirius is constantly relative to the solar year, thus establishing the strong relation between terrestrial earth and Sirius. The rising of Sirius presently occurs on the 19th July, as measured from Cairo. In antiquity, the rising took place immediately prior to the summer solstice and heralded the onset of the Nile inundation. As viewed from England at the present time, the conjunction of Sirius with the Sun is for 70 days from July 3rd to August 11th.

4. The Nephilim are first mentioned in the book of Genesis, 6: 4. In the book of Numbers, 13, their descendants are called the ‘sons of Anak’. See Nu Hermetica, ‘The Nephalim and Sons of Anak’.

5. The triangle, hexagram and square spell ‘Occult Light’, Aur Muphala, 364, which is a name of Kether as ‘moonflower’. The days in a lunar year are 364, which is also a number of Set, the ‘breaker of the circle (of the year)’.

© Oliver St. John 2020 (revised 2024)

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