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 is a symbol of 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 transmutation 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.

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Scorpio: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Sokar XIII

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 24th path of Scorpio is Sokar XIII. Mars is the ruler of the sign of Scorpio; Uranus is also given here as Lord of the Kerubic signs. The esoteric title of the trump is Child of the Great Transformers: Lord of the Gates of Death.

Scorpio: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Sokar XIIISokar is here depicted as a hawk-headed god, with black nemmys and white apron. He bears the was or Set-headed sceptre and the Ankh of Life. He is standing upon the hennu boat of the sun’s journey through the night and the underworld. The boat is shaped like a sledge with runners and was never intended to sail on water. It was built to be carried, and was said by some to be steered by the dead. The navigation took place among the stars, for the hennu boat is an astral vessel. The higher end of the sledge is fashioned in the shape of the head of an oryx, a species of desert antelope and the original type of the unicorn.[1] The hennu boat was in the charge of the high priest of Memphis called Ur-kherp-hem, ‘Great One of the Hammer’. The title is a reference to Ptah the cosmic creator god, with whom Sokar was identified.[2]

In the Tarot picture the boat’s runners rest upon an ark, which in turn rests upon the pure white mound of Sokar. Depictions of Sokar in the hennu boat sometimes show his hawk’s head only, while his body is covered in a white, luminous shroud. On the day of the festival of Sokar, the high priest raised up an ark or small wooden shrine at the moment of sunrise and placed it on the hennu boat. The shrine and hennu boat was then pulled along across the sands in a circular procession about the temple of the god, mirroring the revolution of the sun, planets or other celestial bodies.[3]

The fiction writer Algernon Blackwood was able to convey some profound insights into the soul of Egypt, and of the vast expanse of the desert wilderness. In ‘Sand’, his writing was inspired by his experiences of the desert near Cairo.

Through this sand which was the wreck of countless geological ages, rushed life that was terrific and uplifting, too huge to include melancholy, too deep to betray itself in movement. Here was the stillness of eternity. Behind the spread grey masque of apparent death lay stores of accumulated life, ready to break forth at any point. In the Desert he felt himself absolutely royal.

And this contrast of Life, veiling itself in Death, was a contradiction that somehow intoxicated. The Desert exhilaration never left him. He was never alone. A companionship of millions went with him, and he felt the Desert close, as stars are close to one another, or grains of sand.

Power of Scorpio: Will and Word of Sokar

Sokar’s name is spelled in hieroglyphs at the top of the Tarot picture. It means ‘pure word’, or ‘word of power’. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 39,

The word of the Law is Θελημα.

Sokar is sometimes shown adorned with the two plumes of Ma’at surmounting a solar crown. The plumes emphasise the word of Thelema, the True Will. The first hieroglyph of Sokar’s name is the sekhem wand or sceptre of power. The centre of the wand is a stylised form of the horned beast, usually a bull, indicative of the Ka. The Ka is a vital reserve of strength required for the transformation of the soul into the eternally living Khu, the fabled phoenix bird, which in turn reflects the radiance of the ‘star’ or Khabs.

Sokar is called the ‘great god, who came into being in the beginning, he who resteth upon the darkness’. As such he was ancient even when the Pyramids were built, as are his rites. He is also ‘Lord of the gates of the tomb’ as the opener of the sealed entrances to the labyrinthine Necropolis. Sokar is and has always been Lord of the Saqqara Necropolis near Memphis and Giza. In predynastic times, a labyrinth was dug out of the desert sands beneath the Saqqara complex. Finely fashioned, highly polished granite arks weighing upwards of 50 tons were placed in cavities there. The arks or vessels are cathodic, for they are polished like glass on the inside. There are no historical records of the builders of these impossible artefacts but they are thought by some to be the ‘old ones’ or ‘elders’ referred to in sacred texts, or their descendants.

The Great Old Ones is a term used in scriptures referring to an elder race that pre-existed that of the human, indistinguishable from gods. They are referred to in the book of Genesis as Nephilim or ‘giants’, the ‘men of renown’. Between Memphis and the Saqqara Necropolis was once a sacred acacia tree. One of the Egyptian names for Memphis is Ankh-Tawy, ‘Life of the Two Lands’. Thus the Tree of Eternity spreads its roots and branches between the worlds of the living and the dead. However, we should not be too hasty in drawing conclusions as to which world is that of the living and which is that of the dead.

Scorpio and the 24th Path

The 24th path of Scorpio connects Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun, with Netzach, the sphere of Venus. The letter usually ascribed to the path is Nun, ‘a fish’. We here give the original and much older placement, called nahesh, ‘a snake’, for the three emblems of Scorpio are the Eagle, Snake and Scorpion. Mars is the principle of energy and power, the fire of death that transforms matter and is needed for life. The Sun enters Scorpio in the month of October, which according to the alchemists is the only time when iron can be turned into gold. The 24th path is called the Imaginative Intelligence, or Intelligence of Resemblance, which is to bring about new modes of expression, vehicles for the self. On the way of return, such vehicles are transcended and broken down—thus the full title of the Tarot trump is Child of the Great Transformers: Lord of the Gates of Death. Sokar is first and foremost the Lord of Death and Resurrection, and the immortal principle.

The magical power of the 24th path is that of Necromancy. The rites of tombs, caves and labyrinths have proved to be remarkably enduring if we consider that the cult of Sokar reaches back to predynastic times. Many world traditions include the use of rituals, perfumes and unguents and sometimes skulls or bones to traffic with ancestral spirits. To the ancient Egyptians, the spirits of the dead were always present in the underworld, if not among the living. The word ‘mantic’ is derived from the Greek mantikos, ‘prophecy, divination’. The real secret of the dead is the secret of life itself, declared by Hadit the Serpent of Knowledge in AL, II: 6,

I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.


Notes

1. The hieroglyphic determinative for ‘oryx’ is frequently mistaken for that of a goat. The Egyptian name is ma’au hetch, denoting the bright white colour of the Arabian species of oryx and the straightness (ma’at) of its horn. The Aramaic re’em is translated in the King James Bible as ‘unicorn’. The same word was translated into Greek as monokeros (μονοκερως) in the Septuagint. In Psalm 22: 21, the word karen, meaning ‘horn’, is written in the singular form. A legend has it that Noah strapped the long, sharp horns of the oryx to the Ark so the animals inside could breathe. The transposition of the tale of Noah’s Ark from that of the exceedingly ancient hennu boat is fairly obvious.

2. Memphis was the location of the temple of Ptah in Lower Egypt, called by the Egyptians, Ankh Tawy, ‘Life of the Two Lands’.

3. Budge, Gods of the Egyptians Vol. I, pp. 504–505.

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.

More on the Mystery of Sokar can be read at Tantrika Books here.

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Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
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Libra: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Maat VIII

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 22nd path of Libra is Maat VIII. Venus, the Glittering Splendour, is the ruler of the sign and Saturn is exalted therein.

Libra Equinox: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Maat VIIIMaat is here depicted as a young woman clothed in green and blue, the colours of the key scale of the 22nd path. She has little in the way of ornamentation and is crowned with the ostrich plume, which declares ‘Truth’, her name. She bears the ankh of life and lotus sceptre. She stands between the two pillars of dual manifestation, or Form and Force. In ceremonial magick these are also called Knowledge and Wisdom. They are shown here as silver and gold, indicative of the Moon and Sun as the governance of spirit acting upon the Zodiac through the four classical elements of nature. Lotuses surmount the tetrahedronal caps of the pillars to show that all life pours forth from the power of dual manifestation.

The hieroglyphic name of Maat is shown at the top of the Tarot picture. The first letter is the sickle ma’a, ‘truth’. The letter lamed of the 22nd path was originally the Egyptian sickle or Lion of Truth. The two trumps for Leo and Libra are therefore counterchanged on the Tree, as are the trumps for Aries and Aquarius.[1] The straight edge hieroglyph confirms that Maat is the ‘Straight One’. The phonetic ‘t’ and goddess determinative complete the name.

The Neteru, which we call ‘gods’, are the personification of impersonal principles. Maat is the embodiment of truth and justice, natural law, balance or equilibrium. Hence Justice is the traditional title of the 8th Tarot Atu, while Daughter of the Lords of Truth: Ruler of the Balance is the esoteric title. Maat is the goddess of the scales of the balance. She is the mistress of creation and destruction and the balance of light and darkness. She is the regulator of the stars and the seasons, the ‘times’. She is immutable cosmic law and the law of nature. Maat is the cosmic principle declared in the sevenfold spell of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 57:

Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will.

Thus Saturn is the (Shakti) power behind Venus, the principle of love or union.

The Rituals of Maat

The Sun enters Libra at the autumnal equinox and balance of the year, when days and nights are equal in length. It is the gate of winter. In the southern hemisphere of the globe this is reversed and the vernal equinox heralds the gate of summer. At the ceremony of the equinox, the officers sound four threefold knocks, twelve in all, as they declare in turn,

Black and White!
Day and Night!
North and South!
East and West!
The Equinox of the Gods is here![2]

All ritual magick comes under the auspices of Maat. Everything in a temple must be balanced and harmonious. Likewise, the mind itself is set straight, purified by study, the essential discipline of the path of knowledge. In Maat all things are made equal and harmonious. According to a papyrus dating from the Middle Kingdom, she declares,

I have given bread to the hungry and clothed the naked.
I was a husband to the widow and father to the orphan.[3]

Everything concerned with Maat is double and so it is with all of nature. There is no ‘one-alone’ in truth. The power of Egyptian magical spells is in the words. To know they are true, and to speak them truly, is the perfection of Maat. As the daughter of Ra, Maat makes order from chaos by overcoming her counterpart Isfet, literally ‘unbalance’. She thus makes it possible for Ra to come forth from the primordial mound. Maat presides over the Hall of Neophytes or Hall of Dual Manifestation. In the ritual of the initiation of a Neophyte it is declared of the pillars,

Knowledge and Wisdom, their two-fold Might,
Rolling asunder Darkness and Night.[4]

Maat is the absolute rule of cosmic law, as was clearly set forth in the Pyramid Texts dated to more than 4000 years ago.[5] At a later time, all goddesses were paired with male gods. Maat is most often paired with Tahuti, known by the Greeks as Hermes-Thoth and to the Romans as Mercury. Notably, the 22nd path of Libra on the Tree of Life mirrors the 20th path of Virgo ruled by Mercury. The addition of the paths gives 42, the number of the Assessors in the Hall of Maat. Tahuti himself is frequently described as the ‘One who reveals Maat’ or the ‘One who loves Maat’. To love Maat, to perform true actions and to speak true words, is to receive Maat. A word must be heard ere it can be uttered.

The Oracle of Maat

Behold! I am the Eye of my father, Ra. I am the one in whom the word is accomplished. I am the Bride of Tahuti and the Measure of the Universe. I am truth, and the feather is my symbol. To pass my door, you must justify every part of your soul, and you must visit the beautiful fields of the grasshoppers. You shall bathe in the pool where the Sailors of Ra in his sun-boat bathe. Purify yourself in my name, and come before me as Horus Triumphant. For I stand upon one side of Ra in the ark of the heavens and Tahuti stands upon the other. And unless you have found the flint that is hidden in my furrow, then you shall not pass my gates. But if you know all these things, and if you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra, and if you are pure—then Tahuti shall call your name! And you shall be known in the palace of the starry ones, and shall live forever and forever.[6]

The ancient Egyptians loved puns, the play on words. In the Oracle, Maat says, “If you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra, and if you are pure—then Tahuti shall call your name”. One of the epithets of Maat is ‘The Me’, the Measure of all things. The heart is the place of the measure, the ‘me’ that is Maat. Another epithet of Maat is ‘Pure One’. The role of Maat at the Weighing of the Heart ceremony is a key one, as is her role in initiation. In the underworld, the hearts of the dead are weighed against her single Feather in the Hall of Double Truth. The crocodile goddess Ammit devours an evil heart and the soul cannot leave the underworld.

The 22nd Path of Maat

The 22nd path of the Tree of Life connects Geburah, the sphere of Mars, with Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun. The 22nd path is called the Faithful Intelligence, and it is said that this path increases the spiritual powers. Furthermore, it is said, “all dwellers on earth are under its shadow”.[7] The 22nd path conveys the spiritual strength and power to realise every thought, word and deed as the expression of the Holy Guardian Angel. In one sense, it is the correct and discriminating use of the creative imagination to act in and upon the material world.

The Adept does not confuse the personal will, prone as it is to conditions and modifications, with the cosmic or True Will, which is perfectly free from all conditions since it is the creator of all conditions. The Great Work is not accomplished by the human personality of the Adept but is accomplished by the Holy Guardian Angel working through the Adept.

The magical powers of the 22nd path are Works of Justice and Equilibrium. The ‘working’ implies action, for manifestation is continuous. The yogi or yogini maintains constant vigil. The stilling of thought does not render the person unconscious; it is quite the reverse for it is the chatter of the mind that closes the doors of heaven and admits ‘one’ through the gate of hell.


Notes

1. See the essay, ‘Daughter of the Lords of Truth’, Babalon Unveiled—Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The article may also be read online here.
2. From ‘Ritual for Sun entering Libra’, Ritual Magick—Initition of the Star and Snake [Ordo Astri].
3. James P. Allen, pp. 116, Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs.
4. From ‘Liber 930’, The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation [Ordo Astri].
5. The Pyramid Texts of Unas are currently dated to around 2375–2345. Their source is thought to be far more ancient even than that.
6. From Ritual Magick [ibid].
7. Sepher Yetzirah. For commentaries on these ancient texts on the 32 paths, see 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: Thelemic Magical Collegium