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 white 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, in rainbow hues. 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 for 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 old 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. All the Tarot cards can be viewed as they are being created 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. Likewise, 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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Sapphire Stone of Esoteric Thelema

The sapphire or ‘blue hour’ is a phase that occurs during the twilight of dusk or dawn. The sun’s orb is partially but significantly immersed in the underworld, below the horizon. The sky then takes on a deeper shade of blue than in daytime—as blue as a sapphire.

Sirius the Sapphire StarThe sun now sets on the Thelema of Crowley and his followers. New Age thought is swallowed by long shadows; its disciples scuttle into their pits, to dig themselves in for a long night that will never end. The bright sapphire star of Esoteric Thelema rises on the ascendant, awakening the children of earth to eternal wisdom.

We here examine and dispose of some of the most commonplace beliefs to be found within the cults of Thelema today, as well as in the wider streams of psychology, the occult, the pretended spirituality of the New Age movement and associated therapeutic and other industries. The sapphire stone has universal applications. One of these is the dispelling of the myth of causal determinism. Causal determinism is the root of the error in the age-old rationalist influence on Eastern and Western philosophy, both scientific and spiritual.[1]

The Wisdom Sapphire

Sapphire 1. ‘All is Illusion.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern traditions.

This notion automatically tends towards nihilism, and so to death as finality. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, III: 2, rescues us from such peril, for “all is not aught”. That is to say, ‘all is not to be construed as nothing’. Also, in Liber AL, II: 9, “there is that which remains”. The ‘that’ which remains is not at all ‘nothing’. All appearance is the Form of the Formless. The Formless, or absence of sense-objects, is not a ‘nothing’. God, or the absolute, is both Form and Formlessness, and furthermore, is beyond these.[2]

Sapphire 2. ‘In the beginning, or at the root of all, is nothing or nothingness. The nothing concentrates to form one (Kether), which is the source of all things.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding of Qabalah.

The relation of Da’ath to the supernal triad explains how the Tree of Life is a simultaneous ‘effect’ or appearance, evoked by Will (or Hadit). There is a concise description of the true nature and function of Da’ath in Aleister Crowley’s The Equinox series.

“It is important to explain the Position of Daath or Knowledge upon the Tree. It is called the Child of Chokmah and Binah, but it hath no Place. But it is really the Apex of a Pyramid of which the three first Numbers form the Base.”[3]

Sapphire 3. ‘The Qliphoth is a key to higher or more advanced initiation.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding the works of Kenneth Grant.

Grant used the term ‘Qliphoth’ in both the particular sense, as relating to demons, as defined by their name, character or signature, and in the universal sense, as all thing that appear whatsoever (Malkuth). Grant developed the idea that all Qliphoth, ‘evil shells of matter’, are masks of emptiness or absence.

The evocation of demons or spirits is ordinary magical practice that is best done within the strict parameters of ceremonial working. The Goetic spirits, for example, were conceived through the dualistic framework of monotheistic religion. It is necessary to understand the theology of sin and redemption before undertaking such operations—unless it is the aim of the magician to become enslaved by blind forces. Such spirits do not convey knowledge of spiritual matters. The ‘Tunnels of Set’ were an invention of Grant, a work of evocation that he carried out over many years (Typhonian Trilogies). Entering these tunnels, as Grant defined them, is to enter a dream world, more or less nightmarish, that Grant conjured with the help of an obscure writing by Aleister Crowley on the Tarot trumps and their paths, Liber 231. The ‘real’ Tunnels of Set are pathways between the stars, ultimately leading beyond the stars. These were symbolised in Egyptian hieroglyphics; they adorn the interior of certain pyramids and tombs. They lead out of the underworld, not into it. The tunnels of Kenneth Grant lead into the underworld of his creation, and provide no means of escape thereby.

Sapphire 4. ‘The Qabalah is primarily useful in producing magical formulae. A magical formula may be a key to more advanced levels of initiation.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding the works of Aleister Crowley.

Example: a formula means ‘form; shape or mould’. The arithmetical 2 + 2 = 4 can be a formula if we apply it thus: 2 + 2 = 4; 4 + 4 = 8; 8 + 8 = 16 … Whenever we add a number to the value of itself, the result is always twice that first number. The first number is always half of the result of the addition. Such a reliable formula, however simple or complex, can have practical uses. It is not, however, a key to anything esoteric such as ‘initiation’ or ‘will’.

Sapphire 5. ‘My aim is to do my True Will. Your aim is to do your True Will. It is possible that I could assist you to do your True Will. It is possible I could hinder or obstruct you from doing your True Will.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding the Law of Thelema. The notion is also propagated through the reductionism of Aleister Crowley, in his writings on the subject. Crowley wrote an instruction called Liber OZ, in which he put forward the absurd notion that other people might hinder or obstruct a person’s True Will, or their ‘right’ to do their True Will.

Thelema and Agape, Will and Love, are equal and cognate terms. The True Will is not a thing that can be acquired or possessed. No one can take away your True Will. No one can obstruct or hinder it.

(i) Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. This is not the same as, ‘Do what you will shall be the whole of the Law’. ‘Do what you will’ expresses the causal determinism of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.[4] The Will is esoteric. The ‘Effect’ (or appearance) is exoteric. Thus we have it in Liber AL, II: 4:

Yet she [Nuit] shall be known and I [Hadit] never.

It is not possible to know one’s (personal) True Will, for as soon as it is known, it is no longer Will but effect or appearance. The Will is esoteric, for it is the consciousness principle itself, otherwise Hadit.

(ii) Love is the law, love under will. Would we say, “It is my aim to do my True Love”? ‘Love’ may be a verb, the verb ‘to love’, but we do not think of doing love. We can ‘make love’, but that describes an action of sensual pleasure; we know (innately) that love cannot really be made or created. Love simply is. Consciousness is. Will is. Hadit, the esoteric point, determines the exoteric (‘known’) circumference or circle. Yet the existence of Hadit owes entirely to the circle. The two principles are simultaneous.

(iii) It is foolish therefore to think in the following terms:

“I am working in a job that I really hate. Therefore I cannot be doing my True Will.” Or otherwise, “The works of Franz Schubert carried his unique signature; he was (therefore) doing his True Will.”

The True Will is not about vocation or jobs of work; it is not about the production of forms, such as with works of art, however beautiful. To imagine that it is means suffering a considerable burden—a burden that is completely unnecessary for it is the phantom product of error. The Will is esoteric. The ‘effect’ is exoteric. The job of work that one does, the works of art that one produces, the words that we speak or write, all actions that we perform whatsoever, are ‘the known’, that is, the ‘effect’, which is exoteric. Such are “not of me” or Hadit (Liber AL, I: 49).

Sapphire 6. ‘The purpose of magick is for healing and empowerment.’

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding of the Christian Gospel narrative and the older folk traditions (‘healing’). Misunderstanding of the nature of power (‘empowerment’).

The king and the land are one. When the king is ailing, the land is impoverished; the people suffer. The question is asked of the king, “What ails thee, o king?” This begins the quest for the Holy Graal. The king sends his knights out on the errand to find the sum bonum or stone of the wise. The question is never answered, for the will is esoteric, the ‘effect’ (or appearance of things) is exoteric. Thus the Graal is not a remedy as such; it is the stone of the wise. The stone may only be expressed through symbol and allegory. If the symbol is objectified, then ‘the king dies’.

In the lucrative field of pop psychology, feeling good about oneself is an objectified (therefore false) Graal, and is frequently even confused with ‘spirituality’. Deterministic thinking breeds legions of vampire progeny in the objectification of pursuits, achievements and goals such as ‘self-worth’, or the acquiring of material wealth and status. Most often this derives from the deterministic scale of feeling good and feeling bad, called ‘Maslow’s Pyramid’. At the summit of the pyramid is the false Graal of ‘self-actualisation’. The self-fulfilled, self-willed, intellectually self-satisfied and morally complacent individual attains the pinnacle. At the base of the pyramid is physical need, necessity. Sometimes an inverse pyramid of ‘low self-esteem’ is placed below to show negativity. Belief in this doctrine leads the person to become isolated from others and imprisoned by the very beliefs that led them to seek ‘healing’ in the first place. The doctrine also leads to another abortive child of the New Age, called ‘positive thinking’. This encourages self-suppression through hypnosis.

‘Self-empowerment’ is as impossible as self-initiation. How can the self give to the self? ‘Empowerment’ actually means to give or convey power to another. Therefore when a consultant, for example, pretends to help a person become ‘empowered’, any power is transferred to the professional.

There is only one real power in the universe. That power is the power of attention. Every creature on earth has it; every songbird on every tree and chimney has it. Human beings are unique among all creatures in that they have entirely lost the power of placing attention on their immediate environment. Frequently they do not even know what power is. Politicians, for example, are not powerful in any real sense, no matter how wealthy they may be, no matter how large the systems of government or armies they command. They are merely the puppets of blind forces. The status we have in the eyes of the worldly, our apparent accomplishment, has nothing to do with any real power.

Sapphire 7. ‘Reincarnation’.

False doctrine.
Source: misunderstanding of Eastern traditions. Causal determinism. Linear thinking as opposed to analogous thought.

Reincarnation is a persistent New Age myth, for it promises a kind of immortality in the flesh. The mutant version of metempsychosis, or reincarnation, became increasingly popular in the Western world from the time of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and onwards. The doctrine is relatively modern, appearing in the middle of the first millennium in both Greek and Hindu philosophy, Orphism and the Vedas. Greek scholars dispute that Plato, who wrote about it, accepted the doctrine as it has come to be understood. The modern notion of reincarnation owes to the classical interpretation of a doctrine shrouded in mystery. The thrust of classical reincarnation is that it works on a merit system. If you do good, you will achieve reincarnation in a higher life form. If you do evil, you will be reborn as a dog, a toad, a worm or a demon. This concept depends on a strictly hierarchical view of nature consisting of higher life forms and lower life forms, where man is assumed to be the pinnacle of creation. The doctrine coincides with that of spirit seen as the opposer of nature—that nature is to be overcome, to be made submissive to the superior might of man. Once we embrace the idea that the soul can be pure, then we must account for impurity and sin. Once we believe a soul can be rewarded in the afterlife then we must believe the soul can be punished for iniquity. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 22, refutes all classical notions of purity and sin.[5]

It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.

Sapphire 8. ‘Spiritual Evolution’.

False doctrine.
Source: Scientism applied to theurgy; theological causal determinism.

The notion that we may evolve spiritually, on the personal level, is derived from linear thinking, which imagines we may ‘progress’ forwards in time. The mystic goal of the soul’s liberation is not bound or defined by temporal considerations—when that is done, the matter is objectified, the ‘king is dead’. The knowledge path requires that we follow the symbol back to its source with the infinite. The knowledge path is that of involution, not evolution. We are helped in this matter by the words of Liber AL, II: 58.

Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, and not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was.

Cosmic pretension concerning impersonal evolution was a failing of 20th century occultists—for thereby they succumbed to megalomania. To imagine that Thelema—as a religion—might supersede the existing world religions and put everything to rights is plainly absurd. The world religions were all propagated, without exception, in the vain hope of unifying people and cultures. Such attempts at unification have always succeeded only in creating more human misery and suffering through division and conflict. The Utopian idealism of the early twentieth century soon collapsed into Dystopia, a state of affairs now bolstered and perpetuated by the vast expansion of technological dependency.[6]

Sapphire 9. ‘You create your own reality’.

False doctrine.
Source: Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation (1818).

Aleister Crowley and his followers have accepted Schopenhauer’s rationalist argument in defining the ‘True Will’. As a consequence, we now have a commercial brand of ‘Thelema’ that is acceptable to academics, yet which has nothing to do with any spiritual path.

The basis, that the entire world is an appearance, having no essential reality in itself, is borrowed from the Eastern schools, especially Buddhism. After that, the rest bears little or no relation with any established historical tradition other than Greek rational argument, especially that of the Stoics. Here, the (human) will is perceived in terms of causal determinism. Schopenhauer’s doctrine states that everything that appears in nature does so by an act of will. The will is independent of knowledge, which is ‘secondary’ (as caused by will). Knowledge is not therefore required for will to manifest. The will is the only thing-in-itself, the “sole truly real, primary, metaphysical thing in a world in which everything else is only appearance, i.e., mere representation”. The will therefore, “gives all things, whatever they may be, the power to exist and to act”. Since this will is a blind force, there is automatically a need for ethical values such as are found in asceticism (chastity, various abstinences, for example). Previously, such a will-force was ascribed only to God or the divine absolute. Schopenhauer famously declared: “The world is my representation.” Aleister Crowley and occultists through to the present times have generally adopted the concept, both philosophically and in operative theurgy. Both Nietzsche and later Crowley rejected, however, the notion that desire begets suffering. They therefore sought to remove entirely the ethical requirement. This paved the way for the postmodern Left-hand path school of thought and magical practice, which, when taken to the logical extreme, produces the self-confining, self-limiting doctrine of Isolate Intelligence.

Sapphire 10. ‘Magick is a system of belief’.

False doctrine.
Source: popular myth, propagated through journalism, mostly online but in many modern book publications since the late 1980s; hypnotism and ‘psychological occultism’.

i) Belief is a requirement of religion, but is an obstruction to the path of Gnosis. Where belief begins, knowledge ends.

ii) The notion that one can effect magical change through ‘suspension of disbelief’, i.e., to believe something to be true that one knows to be absurd, achieves nothing but the magnification of existing delusion.

Sapphire 11. ‘Sex is the stone of the wise and key of all knowledge.’

False doctrine.
Source: Aleister Crowley and many other writers and thinkers that have fallen for the hoax. As with entheogens (below), the root of the error is determinism.

… let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer …

When outcome or result is generated by manipulation of physiological function (‘sexual magick’), the verse quoted above from Liber AL, I: 49, becomes a critical factor in the tendency produced in the (reflective) human psyche, and in any physical manifestation. Isa and Asar, or woman and man, the polar twins in time and space, must be perfectly united. As it is said, they “also are one”. Until this union takes place, they are “not of me”, that is to say, their existence is strictly limited in time. Knowing this, the soul (Isa) suffers; even while the will-seed (Asar) is poured forth in adoration of the objectified symbol, that will remains isolated. It is an error to interpret the Thelemic law of love under will as mere manipulation, an application of a mechanical science. The consequence of Eros (the desire principle) is Thanatos or death as finality. Secreted in the subtle body of woman are the kalas, in universal terms, the ‘moment’ that must be seized. As declared in Liber AL, I: 52:

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!

Such judgments are indeed “direful”, for even at an advanced stage of magical development there is still the very real possibility of the soul’s annihilation. The soul knows this, but the will of the ego-self has the power to contract itself, to concentrate all desire upon the objectified result, which means death for the soul, as declared in Liber AL, I: 51.

Will he not sink? Amn. Ho! warrior, if thy servant sink?

Sapphire 12. Entheogens (psychotropic plants, etc.) produce altered states that are spiritual and initiatory.

False doctrine.
Source: causal determinism; rationalism or scientism; misunderstanding of folk-loric traditions (‘shamanism’); much literature in the last century, beginning with some of the works of Aleister Crowley, who saw no difference between yogic samadhi (‘union with God’) and altered states of consciousness that might be obtained by ‘anyone’ through resort to hashish, mescaline, etc.[7]

The material rationalist seeks a physical (or intellectual) cause for everything. Thus, a ‘vision of God’, for example might be thought to be ‘caused’ by a chemical change in the body. Such a change must therefore be caused in turn by something else. Taking any drug, be it synthetic or from a natural plant source, will effect changes in the body’s chemistry, as does the consumption of food, drink, anything whatsoever. Physical substances affect physical things, such as chemistry, hormones. The experiences that may be gained through the use of psychotropic plants are extremely persuasive; very powerful visions may occur, though the nature and quality of these will differ greatly according to each individual. The spiritually minded person will encounter what they may truly believe to be tremendous spiritual insights. The materialist may experience no more than a play of light and colour, finding it insignificant, an exotic form of entertainment. A person with a fragile, disordered psyche might experience terrifying, disturbing hallucinations, and so forth. There is nothing truly spiritual in any of this. The power of such visions is that of persuading the person that there is. The altered state, even the change in perception of reality that may be produced through the use of psychotropic plants, is no more than the observation of an effect in the body.

Sapphire Stone: Conclusion

Such erroneous ideas are “The word of Sin” that is “Restriction” (Liber AL, I: 41). They are restricting, limiting and imprisoning would-be Thelemites around the world today, and millions more that have accepted the New Age anti-philosophy, whether wittingly or not.

The Law of Thelema lives! It is to liberate our souls, not enslave them.

Disambiguation

Does Esoteric Thelema repudiate the usually stated aims of magick, to wit, initiation or Gnosis? Do we reject the notion that the True Will can be known?

Certainly not, in either case. Direct knowledge of reality, the true state of affairs, remains the aim and fully realisable goal of magical initiation and the spiritual path of Esoteric Thelema. The 93 Current of love under will cannot be explained in ordinary terms, for it is by nature esoteric; any explanation objectifies, evokes, calls to appearance, defines and limits in time. Its existence is entirely independent of us, yet truly is our selves. It is the Lapis Philosophorum, the stone of the wise, and the elixir of life. It flows like a clear mountain spring, a fountain of light and life, yet is neither light nor darkness. It is neither sun nor shadow reflection; fragrance is its emanation. It is the eternal, indestructible crystalline jewel of undying love and wisdom.


Notes

1. Scholarly evidence has been produced to show how even the timeline of European learning has been distorted. Ancient Egypt is the source of mathematics, and from there comes forth architecture, astronomy, metal working, agriculture and spiritual philosophy. The knowledge was filtered through to the rest of teh world via Mesopotamia and ancient Greece. The European stream is almost entirely dependent on the Greek rationalism.  See, ‘A non-Eurocentric historical timeline of Mathematics’ as proposed by George Gheverghese Joseph in his book, The Crest of the Peacock.
2. We paraphrase here the wisdom of Swami Ramakrishna (Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna).
3. The Equinox Vol. 1 No. 5, pp. 89, ‘The Temple of Solomon the King’. It is not known whether the author was Crowley or Fuller. Fuller began the writing but departed from the Order before it was finished.
4. The World as Will and Representation (1818).
5. From ‘Thelemic Doctrine of the Afterlife’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The first chapter of the book, ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, applies the sapphire stone to conduct a critical reappraisal of Western philosophy.
6. See the essay, ‘Magical Evolution of Consciousness’, Babalon Unveiled [ibid]. The essay may also be read online here.
7. Crowley notably put this idea across in his published diary record, John St. John.

© Oliver St. John 2019

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The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick and Thelema. Thelema sprang from an ancient Egyptian source. The source work, the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, veils the initiatory secrets of the Theban cult of Set-Typhon or Mentu.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hrumachis IVMentu, or Ra-Mentu, is depicted on our Tarot for Aries, Hrumachis IV. Mentu appears on the front side of the Stele of Revealing, which was activated in the Cairo working of 1904 by Rose Edith Kelly and Aleister Crowley. The Esoteric Thelema conveyed by Aiwass, the communicant of the book, owes nothing to the rationalist humanism of Crowley and his modern day apologists.[1]

The traditional key-scale correspondences of the Tree of Life are continued in our new Tarot designs so that the deck is suitable for practical magick, meditation and divination. The primary aim of the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is to assist in returning Thelema and the Book of the Law to its lawful custodians.

Egyptian Tarot Deck

These images may be viewed at full size by clicking on them. The first Tarot card to be created was that which symbolises the Capricorn Solstice and 26th path, traditionally titled ‘The Devil XV’. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu is titled Set XV and depicts the Egyptian god, ‘First before the Gods’.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Set XVSet is here depicted 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 indigo or dark violet. 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 even than the Pyramids. Perhaps he is as old as the vast wilderness of the desert itself.

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. The full description of Set XV may be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Nuit XVIIWe next created the card for the Sun entering Aquarius, traditionally called ‘The Star XVII’. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for Aquarius is Nuit XVII. The traditional title is ‘The Star XVII’. The esoteric title is Daughter of the Firmament: Dweller between the Waters. Nuit is depicted here as she appears on the Stele of Revealing. She is shown bending over the Star Pentactys, a pyramid of 15 stars. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15, to the Scarlet Woman “is all power given”. Thus, 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’ indicates the heavens above. Depicted on the lower left border of the card are the symbols of Saturn, the astrological ruler of Aquarius, and Uranus, ruler of the Kerubic signs. Saturn is the principle of limitation and form while Uranus symbolises the limitless expanse of space. 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 5. The window of ‘five’ is the image of the starry goddess Nuit, through which the seer perceives the primordial wisdom. There is a complete description of Nuit XVII here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Khonsu XVIIIOur Tarot card for the Sun entering Pisces is called Khonsu XVIII. The traditional title of the card is ‘The Moon XVII’. Khonsu is the Egyptian god of the Moon, the ‘Sky-Rider’, and also happens to form part of the name of the scribe and priest to whom the Stele of Revealing belongs, Ankh-af-na-khonsu. The esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The key-scale correspondences for Khonsu XVIII are of the 29th path of the Tree of Life, extending upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s Egyptian 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 was regarded as the son of Mut and  Amoun, and was closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The full description of Khonsu XVIII may be read here.

Thelema Atu IV HrumachisThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 28th path of Aries is Hrumachis IV. Hrumachis, the Egyptian Sphinx, has various names, including Hormaku, Horakhty and Ra Hoor Khuit. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally called ‘The Emperor’, is Son of the Morning: Chief among the Mighty. The Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Hor-em-akhet, from which the Greek form Hrumachis is derived, is at the top of the Tarot picture. In the centre is Ra-Mentu or Ra Hoor Khuit, based on the Stele of Revealing. As Hrumachis, Horus is fully raised to the sky or heaven. The Sun and Serpent crown affirm his identity with both Ra and Typhon-Apophis. He wears the leopard spots, emblematic of the ‘space-marks’ or stars, and the gift of divine prophecy. His nemmys is night-blue, the colour of the body of Nuit, which encompasses the whole horizon. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hrumachis IV is described in detail here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hathoor VThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the Sun entering Taurus is quite naturally Hathoor V. The traditional title of the Atu is the ‘The Hierophant’ or ‘Pope’. Hathoor is the Way-shower or revealer of Adam to himself. She is crowned by the lunar horns and weilds the lotus wand or sceptre of the creation of life. The name of Hathoor, as given in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, is derived from Het-Hor, literally, ‘House of Horus’. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Magus of the Eternal.

In the centre of the Tarot picture is Hathoor, seated on a cubical throne, for Taurus is the Foundation of the Earth. The throne is of moon-white or silver, for the Moon is exalted in Taurus and is the fructification of earth and all her creatures. The throne is placed between two pillars of silver and gold. Lotus flowers surmount the tetrahedronal capitals. Hathoor is crowned with the solar disk and lunar cow horns. She bears the lotus wand in her right hand, symbol of the perfume of immortality, and in her left she bears the Rosy Cross of Life and Love. The complete description of Hathoor V may be read here.

Shenut Atu VI GeminiThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema for Gemini, the Twins or Lovers, is Shenut VI. Shenut is the goddess of dual manifestation. We depict here a pair of ancient Egyptian sacred dancing girls, making the gesture, ‘As above and so below’. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Children of the Voice: Oracle of the Mighty Gods. The ‘voice’ is the oracle of Understanding and Wisdom. On the Tree of Life, these are Binah and Chokmah. The primary cosmic duality is personified in pairs such as Babalon and the Beast, Sophia and Logos, Eve and the Serpent.

In the centre of the Tarot picture are two Egyptian dancing girls, based on the tomb painting of Nebamun Osama. The hieroglyphic name Shenut, goddess of dual manifestation, is at the top of the Tarot picture. Related terms are shni-t, ‘spell’, ‘curse’, and shnem, ‘to unite with’. When the hieroglyphic determinative of a bird alighting is used, as shown here in the lower half of the Tarot picture, the word means ‘dancers’, or a company of dancers and musicians. The full description of Shenut VI may be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atet VII: Sun Boat of RaThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema for the Sun entering Cancer at the Solstice is Atet VII. This card, traditionally named ‘The Chariot VII’, is the original type of the solar chariot, the sun boat of Ra. The motion of Ra defines the expanse of the sky, the reach of heaven. Thus the invisible Sun of Spirit is concealed or clothed in light. The barque or sun boat of Ra is also therefore the marker of time. If the sun boat should be stopped in its tracks, as is told in the legends of Isis, time would cease.

The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Child of the Powers of the Waters: Lord of the Triumph of Light. This is best explained through the Qabalistic title of the 18th path, Intelligence of the House of Influence. Cheth, the letter of the path, means ‘a wall or enclosure’. The enclosure of cheth is the sun boat itself. It is also the magical spirit-body called the Khu (or khu-t) in ancient Egyptian sacred texts including the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. In cosmic aspect, the Khu is the company of heaven referred to in Liber AL, I: 1–4.

Had! The manifestation of Nuit. The unveiling of the company of heaven. Every man and every woman is a star. Every number is infinite; there is no difference.

The full description of Atet VII can be read here.

Atu Sekhet XI LeoThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 19th path of Leo is Sekhet XI. The Sun, the Solar Light, is the ruler of the sign of the Lion. Sekhet, the Egyptian lioness goddess of heat and fire, is depicted in the centre of the Tarot design. She is crowned by the solar disk from which projects the cosmic cobra serpent, the animating spirit and energy of the Occult Force or Kundalini. In her right hand she wields the ankh of eternal life and in her left the lotus sceptre. The lotus, as a symbol, combines the four classical elements. She has her roots in the fertile mud, floats upon the surface of the waters and grows upward through the air, opening her flower to the solar light or fire.

Sekhet wears a red dress trimmed with white, for she is the original type of the ‘woman of blood’, the Scarlet Woman as described in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15.

The full description of Sekhet XI can be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IXThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 20th path of Virgo is Isis IX. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of the sign of Virgo and is exalted therein. The trump depicts the twin sisters Iset and Nebhet (Isis and Nephthys) giving life to the inert soul, suspended in the watery abyss called Aukert, neither truly alive nor truly dead. By dual manifestation the spiritual powers of the soul create the star or Khabs in the Khu. The twin sisters are placed in the Garden of Eden, which was at one time manifested on the earth as the gardens surrounding the Temple of Neïth in the Delta region, the House of the Lady of Sàis.

The image at the same time depicts the legend of Isis as recorded by Herodotus, when she raised Horus to life after he was poisoned by Set in the form of a scorpion. The card thus depicts the three magical powers of the 20th path, Parthenogenesis, Invisibility and Initiation. These were reflected in the Staff, Cloak and Lamp of the Hermit in the traditional Tarot designs.

The full description of Isis IX can be read here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Maat VIIIThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 22nd path of Libra is Maat VIII. Venus, the Glittering Splendour, is the ruler of the sign of Libra and Saturn is exalted therein. Maat 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 full description of Maat VIII can be read here.

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.

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. 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.

The full description of Sokar XIII can be read here.


Notes

1. Esoteric Thelema is set forth, with many applications both practical and philosophical, in the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

Live updating: The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is a work in progress. New Tarot designs and revisions will be posted to this page as they are created.

© Oliver St. John 2019

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