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] 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. 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 shape of Qoph emphasises the back of the head where the spinal column joins with the medulla oblongata. It is here that the most ancient memories are stored, including those vital for biological functions. Thus, 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.

All books available by Oliver St. John
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to home): Thelemic Magical Collegium
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Sagittarius: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Neith XIV

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 25th path of Sagittarius is Neïth XIV. Jupiter, the Sapphire Star, is the ruler of Sagittarius. Neptune is also figured as governor of the mutable signs.

Sagittarius: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Neïth XIVNeïth is depicted here as a young woman clothed in deep blue, with yellow ornaments and trim. She bears a green ankh of life in her left hand and priestly was sceptre or phoenix wand in her right hand. She wears a fillet armed with a serpent. The hieroglyphic name of Neïth is shown at the top right of the Tarot picture. The first letter is net, the ‘shuttle’ determinative. Next comes the hieroglyph for the ‘sky’, identical to that of Nuit. The name is completed with the phonetic ‘t’.[1]

Behind Neïth stands a composite symbol formed from the djed pillar, the shuttle, which spells her name (net), and the Arrow of Sagittarius. The Egyptian djed pillar is the origin of the letter samekh, which defines the 25th path of Sagittarius. The djed bears comparison with the spinal column, especially when that is taken as the subtle channel for spirit-fire in the occult anatomy. It thus signifies spiritual strength and endurance. It is also a type of alchemical retort for the transformation of iron, the dross of experience, into gold, the invisible radiance of spirit.

Neïth was one of the earliest creatrix deities, the weaver of the web of the worlds and the light of the world. She was originally the personification of the waters of the primordial nun, the abyss from which all life issues forth, and which existed even before the birth of Gods such as Ra.[2] As goddess of the crossed arrows, Neïth is the guardian of the Abyss and of all crossroads or thresholds of initiation. The ‘x’ symbol is the primal signature for any place or location. It marks the formless substance or radiance from which all life is created and manifested.[3]

Sagittarius and the House of the Net

The foremost shrine of Neïth was called the ‘House of the Net’ (Net-Het) at Sàis in the Delta. It was here that a great annual festival was held in honour of Neïth and Isis. The festival resembled the rites of Candlemas or Imbolc, the crossquarter of the year between the winter solstice and spring equinox where cakes are made and eaten in honour of the Goddess. Lanterns are kept alight all night and carried in processions coinciding with the full Moon.

According to Herodotus, curious rites were performed in Sàis near a row of ancient monoliths. A small shrine was hollowed out below the ground and covered with an ornately carved stone slab. The walls of the shrine were also decorated with fantastic carving. From the account given by Herodotus it is certain that the shrine was used for night-long vigils for the purpose of initiation. No one would be allowed to enter or leave until the morning, by which time the person thus prepared would have encountered their Daemon, or perhaps even Neïth.[4]

Neïth was called the ‘House of the Net’ from earliest times. The root of the name ‘Net’ is phonetically identical to the name for any god or natural principle, neter, and is thought to refer to spinning or weaving. As Binah, Neïth is the matrix for the word or Logos. The Net has a dual meaning. On the one hand it is composed of the subtle threads of the matrix of existence. Knowledge of the space-marks, as named in Liber AL, I: 52, opens the ways to the pathways of light that lead out of and beyond the underworld.

If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!

We are warned here concerning the misguided philosophical notion of ‘one’, for it leads to belief in an Isolate Intelligence or supreme separate self. Those who believe in this ‘one supreme’ become ensnared in an evil net or web of self-confinement. Such souls have chosen unwisely. They are unable to hear the words of Isis. Unless a word is heard, as demonstrated in the legends of Ra and Isis, the soul cannot resurrect. Self-identification leads the soul to become detained in the underworld until dispersion ensues. Whereas the soul gains substance in the dissolution of ego, she faces annihilation if the ego should finally baulk the appointed rôle of the ass that carries the ark. The sacrifice is made willingly or not at all.

Neïth and the Path of Sagittarius

‘Temperance’ is the conventional name of the 14th Tarot Atu; Daughter of the Reconcilers: Bringer-forth of Life is the esoteric title. The magical power of the 25th path is that of Transmutations.[5] The Tarot of Marseille depicts an Angel pouring liquid between blue and red vases. It is not difficult to conclude the art of alchemy is portrayed there—Sagittarius is after all the mutable fire sign of the Zodiac. Neptune or Shiva, principle of the dissolution of aeons, is the governor of the mutable signs.

The 25th path of Sagittarius connects the sphere of the Moon or natural psyche with that of the Sun, the centre of the mind’s intelligence. The silver of the Moon and gold of the Sun are here fused into the stone of the wise or philosophic egg. These terms are metaphors for the ‘substance’ of the immortal principle. Fools will always attempt to apprehend the immortal stone—similarly, a child might seek to capture sunshine in a bottle. While the child may be rewarded with a faery song, the real fool will get nothing in return for the immortal soul that he has traded away in return for worldly acquisition.

The 25th path crosses the veil called Paroketh, marking the division between the world of appearances and the formless world of spirit, which is completely invisible to the profane. As such, the 25th path is called the Intelligence of Probation or Trial. The mind’s intelligence (Ruach) has its foundation in Yesod, the natural soul or body. It is only by trial and experience that the harmony and beauty of Tiphereth can be fixed as a permanent reflection in Yesod. The proving of the Great Work is not the kind of ‘proving’ that might convince the sceptic but is the proving of the very soul. To be a foundation for beauty, the psyche must undergo the purification of study, the organisation of the thoughts. Likewise, the body must submit to the beneficent astringent of the rituals and practice.

The operation of the Great Work can only proceed if the aspirant practices detachment, indifference to phenomena, and refuses to self-identify with the actions of the personality and events that seem to be taking place around. The ‘indifference’ is not to be thought of as lack of attention. In fact, the level of observation is intensified through meditation practice. As the spinner of the worlds, Neïth also fires the Arrow of Truth that spells dissolution of ego—a process that must begin no sooner than a foot is placed on the path. For that reason the Intelligence of Probation is often likened to a Dark Night of the Soul.


Notes

1. The name ‘Neïth’ may be pronounced approximately as nyet.
2. The term ‘abyss’ is often incorrectly identified with ‘chaos’ in the sense of confusion, disorder, which is in itself a profane misunderstanding of the original meaning of ‘chaos’. The primordial nun is the depth.
3. The formless ‘light’ or radiance that clothes Neïth is the particular attribute of the Priestess of the Silver Star of Atu II. The 13th path is a continuation of the 25th, and so the same ideas are resumed on a higher arc. By comparison, the 32nd path at the base of the Tree, Great One of the Night of Time, is usually imaged in the Tarot by the Goddess as visible nature.
4. The comment by the ancient Greek traveller Herodotus proves that psychology was not the invention of Freud, for he drily dismisses the vigils conducted in honour of Neïth as mere fantasy: “Herein everyone encounters the shadows of his own affections and fantasies in the night season, which the Egyptians call Mysteries.” The commentator on such rites is thus equipped only to reveal his own initiation, or the lack of it.
5. Qabalistic notes on Sagittarius and the 25th path are adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

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.

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