Sagittarius: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Neïth 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’.

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. 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.[1]

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.[2]

Neïth herself was called the ‘House of the Net’ from the 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

The traditional name of the 14th Tarot Atu is ‘Temperance’, while the esoteric title is Daughter of the Reconcilers: the Bringer-forth of Life. Hence, the magical power of the 25th path of Sagittarius is the Power of Transmutations.[3] 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 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

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Qabalistic notes on Sagittarius and the 25th path are adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2019

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Unicorn of the Stars

The Practicus of the Golden Dawn has the eponymous title, Monokeros de Astris, ‘Unicorn of the Stars’. This is best explained through the name of the Titan, Astris (Αστρις), which means, ‘Starry One’. Astris was born from a marriage of the Sun and the ocean (Moon or sea-foam), alchemical types of fire and water.[1] The Practicus degree corresponds to Hod (Mercury), the Water Temple that receives the fiery solar influence from Netzach (Venus).[2]

Unicorn of the Stars: Sokar BoatAccording to our tradition, a symbol may have a host of related meanings. We do not seek to make concrete definition from that which can only be conveyed through symbol and analogy, for that renders the symbol lifeless and inert. The concretisation of all knowledge, rendering it exoteric and dead, is shown forth in the tale of Osiris, where he is tricked by Set to lie in a coffin. As soon as he does so, the followers of Set promptly nail shut the lid and seal it with molten lead. The situation can only be rescued through Isis giving birth to the magical ‘child’, Horus or Hoor-paar-kraat.[3]

Unicorn: Esoteric Key

The unicorn’s horn points straight upward to heaven, and is spiralic. The Arabian white oryx is the original type of the fabled unicorn. The higher end of the hennu boat of Sokar, the hawk-headed Lord of Resurrection, is fashioned in the shape of the head of an oryx. The unicorn’s singular horn is not descriptive of the beast, which has two, but is an esoteric assignment for the upward concentration of mind, as in yoga. The unicorn symbolises the circumpolar revolution of the ‘seven’ around the ‘eighth’ or Pole Star, which marks the visible axis of the universe and the height of the visible heavens. The oryx digs a bed out of the desert sand with its hooves, to keep cool. This explains the attribution of the one horn, for the shifting sands of desert dunes have always symbolised the Abyss that lurks on the upper limit of human reason. The penetrating horn of mind (reason) must be made concave, so to speak, on the abysmal threshold that closes in upon the limits of human reason.

Over time, the Flower of Fire (or Mind) is cultivated as the ‘fruits’ of the flower are rejected in favour of pure receptivity to the intelligence from beyond.[4] The ‘flame’ hieroglyph has both a physical and a metaphysical level of interpretation. It carries all the meanings of a fire, flame or luminosity, and that of a ‘flame of flames’. The latter is esoteric, and comparable to the yoga trance of atmadarshana in the Eastern Tantras.[5] In AL, II: 27, the oracular voicing of Set in Serpent-form conveys a warning:

There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.

The ‘dogs of Reason’ is a word for those who cling to the threshold and exalt the reasoning faculty above all else, either for personal gain or power or simply because they are ignorant of the true state of affairs. In so doing, they deny the possibility of the Flower of Fire, or its ‘child’ born in Silence, called Hoor-paar-kraat, symbol of the incommunicable mystery and true initiation. Veritably, the threshold to the post-abysmal Mind of Minds is fiercely guarded and barred.

The role of guardians or ‘watchers’ such as Anubis, and other Setian creatures including the crocodile and jackal, is complex. These are guardians of the gates, ferociously attacking or even devouring those who would enter. At the same time, they symbolise the drawing forth of the bolt, which is the means by which the gates are opened.[6] The action of the bolt symbolises both ‘opening’ and the image-making phallic power withdrawn or inverted, which is a reversal of the usual flow of consciousness.[7]

The two doors of heaven are not opened by any mortal man but, for example, it was the office of Ankh-af-na-khonsu to literally ‘open the doors to the sky’. He performed the ritual of opening the doors to the roof of the temple at certain times of the year, so the image of the goddess, taken from the subterranean vault below, could observe Sirius rising. As declared in AL, III: 37,

For me unveils the veilèd sky, the self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu whose words are truth.

Sirius (Σθις), the Star of Egypt and of the Order, symbolises both Isis (or Hathoor) and her ‘son’ or magical child, born of the ascent of consciousness arising from the depth.


Notes

1. Monokeros de Astris adds to 2,175 or 29 x 75, ‘Moon (or child) of Nuit’.
2. The Initiate of Hod also has first to traverse the fiery paths of Shin (31) and Resh (30) before entering Hod, the Water Temple. Hod is thus seen in every way as a sphere of transmutation. Although Hod also symbolises the concrete mind, it is not the goal of Initiates to become detained by the limits of ordinary reason.
3. The tales of Isis and Osiris, as recounted by Plutarch.
4. ‘Flower of Mind’ or ‘Flower of Fire’ is a Gnostic term. It is not mind or intellect in the ordinary sense, but may be likened to an essence drawn up. See G.R.S. Mead, The Chaldean Oracles.
5. It is impossible for Egyptologists to construe ancient Egyptian sacred texts, as they cannot admit to the existence or even the possibility of an esoteric level of interpretation. They are thus dogged by the limitation of their exaltation of the reasoning faculty above all else, for they then produce nonsensical ‘translations’ of the texts, and say it is nonsense because the ancient Egyptians were themselves confused and irrational!
6. See John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky, pp. 149–157 (on Spell 316).
7. Phallus (Greek φαλλος) literally means, ‘image’ or ‘image-making’.

This article is from Nu Hermetica, Unicorn of the Stars, a work in progress.
The hennu boat with oryx illustration is a detail from the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.

© Oliver St. John, 2020

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Aspiration or Materialism

Aspiration was effectively abolished many centuries ago. Those who seek initiation, even those whose desire is genuine, must relearn what aspiration means. That will not be easy for them to do. According to Liber AL, III: 43,

Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known.

Aspiration or Materialism: Sebek Egyptian Crocodile GodThe weeding out of “old sweetnesses” is not done overnight. In magick you have to be careful what you ask for because you might get it. When Zeus appeared to Olympia, she was burnt to a cinder. Zeus had to appear; it was her wish. We may, for example, confuse aspiration through unknowing acceptance of materialism, which is the dominant force in the world today. Materialism prefers to substitute ‘personal development’ for spiritual aspiration, because that places the focus on the satisfaction of base needs and desires. Personal development is a subversive notion, especially when it is thought to be cognate with spiritual aspiration. If we think we can find a True Will through personal development, we are making that will-force subject to all the complex layers of false reason that fragment the truth, dividing it into unrelated figures of latent wish-desire.

The ancient Egyptians had a harsh and very fast way of dealing with those seeking personal development in relation to a mystery temple. First of all, the person was stripped naked, splashed with holy water and fumigated with perfumes. Then they were directed to a small door that opened into a courtyard surrounded by high walls. In the centre of the courtyard was a shrine in an enclosure built of stone, with an open doorway. They were told that in the shrine they would learn how to realise all their goals, fulfil their every wish and desire. The shrine was surrounded by a circular lake. On the other side was a large and very hungry crocodile. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, II: 32,

Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite and unknown; and all their words are skew-wise.

It is also declared in AL, I: 57,

Love is the law, love under will.

There is no love in self-isolating fragmentation, which is the end result of skewed reason. Without love there can be no truth—for the Monad or Self-Alone-God is a projection of ego. The Monad is such a persuasive notion that even the Advaitans proclaimed it and unknowingly paved the way for the invasion of the East by Western materialism. By that time, the Western world was conditioned by centuries of humanism.[1] Humanism, essentially atheist, places the self before all else, automatically excluding the possibility of anything beyond it. Aspiration is strictly limited to personal goals.

Aspiration and Will

The matter of personal development raises the whole question of the will. Psychologists have assumed that there must be an unconscious will. When the person thinks and acts against that will, then neurosis comes about. That is the theory. The problem is we then assume that we (or other people) are unconscious of the will, which Crowley termed the True Will. This is a presumptuous and very broad generalisation. We can take neurosis as particular to the human species, but does it arise from unconsciousness of the will? Is it not more the case that from birth we learn to work out reasonable but lying strategies about everything, because that is the way of the (human) world? Through the double-thinking power of the reason we learn that truth is adaptable according to circumstances, that it is ‘all relative’[2]. This notion has long existed but Descartes is known for putting it forward as a ‘truth’ in itself. This is a convenient truth for anyone whose primary wish is to dominate the will of others through power of reasoning. Reason does not require intellect or even thought, in any real sense. ‘Facts’ are selected and arranged to support the argument, however ignorant. Those who wish to control the minds and bodies of others do not want them to think, they want them to believe and obey.

Crowley accepted the notion of the relativity of truth (when it suited him to do so), and maintained that the True Will is ultimately a force of Chaos, which he called the ‘Beast’—and with which he self-identified. As a force of Chaos, it is unknowing of any truth.[3] It is all about impulse, action, doing. This is modified, in his scheme of things, by Babalon, Understanding (or Binah), but in his way and in spite of what he said to the contrary, he made Babalon (as woman) subservient to his idea of Will-Chaos. This notion is false; it comes from a condition of mind that owes to the threshold of the Abyss, where no truth is known, only relativity. No one is unconscious of the will-force. Instead, we have learned to divide and fragment it, in ever deepening layers of complexity. This complexity, this relativism, ultimately tends towards chaos and madness. We see this in the present world picture.

It is necessary then to seek truth above all else, and to seek that truth as wholly outside of and beyond the person, the self. Aspiration cannot, at the outset at least, be regarded separately from idealism. The ideal of the Order is, and always has been, selfless service given to others—without any hope or thought of reward. While that will not protect anyone from their own ignorance, it might at least discourage those whose aims are entirely self-serving. Aspiration is placed outside of and beyond the person.

Students and candidates for initiation are called ‘aspirants’. We must define our terms. What is aspiration? A modern dictionary is not much use here as the first definition will be something like ‘ambition of achieving something’, which is the materialist explanation of the word. Ambition throws the whole matter straight back on to the self, the perceived needs and desires of the person—the person who, in the present context, is not initiated. The Latin root, aspirare, suits our purpose much better, for it means to breathe. This may refer to both inhalation and exhalation, so we first must examine what kind of air we breathe.

Aspiration: Ra the Sun God (Egyptian Tarot Thelema)The ‘breath of Ra’ is not only the air that sustains life but is also light that forms and sustains the intellect. The intellect, in the real sense, is far more than reason, common to all. The air we breathe can therefore include language. Language shapes thought, and thought shapes the world we live in.[4] The very language used by materialists is corrupt, for it rests on the assumption that there is nothing beyond the material. Such information, which is no more than hypnosis through repetition of a single idea, carries an insidious message—a message wholly opposed to the work of initiation and what might be termed as ‘initiated thought’. That is to say, thought that might lead to initiation, or in other ways assist it.

Personal development is now applied by corporations in the work place, for the so-called ‘wellbeing’ of employees. That ought to give us a clue that there might be something wrong with both personal development and wellbeing—and yet these terms are also used in the Western world in relation to spiritual matters such as yoga. Yoga means ‘union’; placed in the traditional context, the word means ‘union with God’. If yoga is about the ambitions of the person, then what is there to unite with?

The present generations were born into the darkest of dark ages. They have been hypnotised from the day they were born. Materialism is the air they breathe, food they eat, and water they drink. They indoctrinate others without even knowing it. The very thoughts they have, which they imagine to be their own, are the death-dealing weapons of the force of that which Guénon termed anti-initiation.[5] They are the product of a wordless aeon, which means that generations are now born that have no logos, no mind in any real sense of the word.[6] Our so-called education systems suppress all independence of thought or expression, and yet they pretend to develop the individual. These systems are perpetuated because they are a reliable form of brainwashing, rigorously applied to every young person and continued through to so-called higher education. The sole aim is to produce efficient units of productivity. None of these systems encourage thought in any real sense. Humanities, which were once called liberal sciences, are taught with a rational humanistic bias, hence the name given. Nothing is considered to be of value unless it is seen to be of benefit to man. Everything of value is thus seen to be that which is the product of man. Man is therefore isolated from everything that could teach him to reach beyond himself, to aspire.

We are all born into generations that have a collective mind-set. We must first liberate ourselves from that mind-set before we can think and act independently of our generation’s influence. Most recently we have seen the emergence of a mind-set that will pretend to see both sides of any argument, switch from one side to the other depending on what company is kept, and in the end will deny the possibility of any truth existing at all. The sum product of this is sometimes called a ‘social revolution’, although the primary concern is individualism. Individualism means that everyone must conform to a lowest common denominator, formed by the base needs and desires of the majority. All true individuality is suppressed.[7]

It is a tragedy that the world we live in today discourages contemplation, even ruthlessly suppresses it. The machine-world of humans does not require that people think, only that they do as they are told, as obedient slaves. The most frequent complaint from our students is that they simply do not have enough time. And yet time is not a commodity, it is not even a thing in itself! What they really mean is that they are the slaves of a machine that controls every aspect of what they vainly think of as their ‘life’, from the moment they are born to the moment they die.

We sometimes hear of persons having a ‘career field’ in the realm of the occult. Such a person is either completely insane or is out to take money from fools. Most often, it is the latter case although there is ground for counting that as insanity too, only it happens to be a kind of insanity that is considered to be quite normal in the world today. That world has now reached the apotheosis of personal development, it is called isolationism. When we refer to the realm of the occult, we mean the Great Work—otherwise we are talking about ordinary hypnotism, the work of advertising agencies, media barons, governments and corporations.[8] That kind of ‘black magic’ is a perfectly ordinary thing in this final phase of the age of Kali Yuga.[9] If aspiration is to gratify the needs and wishes of the person, then it is a force of anti-initiation dressed up as something spiritual or holy. It is the worst kind of fraud. There is then, a pressing and urgent need for a Great Work. There is no real meaning in anything else.


Notes

1. Advaita means ‘Not Two’, Non-Dualism. As a rational philosophy its argument is a numerical one. As a polemic against the apparent dualism of the polymorphic gods of previous times, which philosophers no longer understood, Advaita affirms the ‘One’, the Monad. The ‘One’ is the false crown of the Abyss, put in Qabalistic terms—it is a rational supposition. Advaita is then not different from monotheism.
2. ‘Double-think’ was a term coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984, based on the world situation of 1948. The novel has been misunderstood and misrepresented ever since. It was not a dystopian fantasy but a disguised factual narrative based on Orwell’s experience of working for the BBC propaganda department. In the novel, he called this the Ministry of Truth, because the department’s sole purpose was to disseminate misinformation. ‘Truth’ changed on a daily basis. That situation has not changed, in fact it has got worse, for it is greatly facilitated by new technologies.
3. Chaos is derived from the Greek for ‘vast chasm, void’ (καος). We use the word here in the conventional sense that Crowley intended. The conventional useage, and that used in physics, is a modern corruption, however. Originally, chaos did not mean ‘random or disorganised force’ and was the name of a god (Egyptian neter, ‘principle’).
4. Schopenhauer proposed that thought shapes reality (The World as Will and Representation, 1818). It does not, but it cannot be argued that thought shapes the human world. See ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled.
5. René Guénon, Crisis of the Modern World.
6. The ‘wordless aeon’ is a term coined by Kenneth Grant, and used extensively in his Typhonian Trilogies to describe the spiritual vacuum of the modern age.
7. We refer here in particular to the generation born when Pluto was in the sign of Libra, from about 1971 to 1984.
8. The Great Work is to restore the earth to her true place among the stars.
9. Kali Yuga is the Dark Age, and the end of a great cosmic cycle on earth.

Related articles: Crisis of the Modern World Revisited

© Oliver St. John 2020

Visit Ordo Astri (or return to) Home
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