Since the First Edition of Babalon Unveiled was published it has come to our notice that some people have very strange ideas concerning who or what our Lady Babalon is, or what she symbolises. The following article is from the Second Edition.

Blake: BABALONBabalon, as divine personification and Shakti, who holds the power of ‘reversing time’ in the assimilation and reabsorption of all illusions of self, is integral to initiatic transmission and gnosis. Yet it is very common now to find ‘devotees’ of Babalon that are devoted to what can only be described as a kind of advertising agency notion of the ‘modern woman’. This involves a sexualised ideal of women that is a contradiction in itself, a dissociated idea of the self that could only come about in the confusion that owes to the spiritual vacuum of the present times. It persists in the ambiguous realm of fantasy—which also happens to be the realm used for selling products. Sadly, the licentious trading on the name of Babalon typifies the total inversion and parodying of all spiritual knowledge. It denies any possibility of real initiation while pretending to sell ‘liberation’ through the cynical commercial exploitation of completely ordinary human weakness and delusion.

Babalon, as she has come to be known, has vastly ancient origins. As we have mentioned earlier, her name derives from a corruption of the Egyptian per-hapi-en-aunnu, the ‘Nile Temple of Aunnu’.[1] The Nile Temple, dedicated to Hathoor the goddess of the sky and the divine pillar or initiatic axis that links heaven with earth, refers to the nome centre of the place named by the Greeks as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. The name Hathoor (Het-hor) means literally ‘House of Horus’. Babalon is thus cognate with Nuit as the personification of the supreme principle. According to the book of Revelation 12: 1,

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

As ‘clothed with the sun’, Babalon signifies both the manifest and the unmanifest principle. Hathoor is notable for giving birth to Horus without the need for a father, which is indicative of a metaphysical understanding of reality that reaches beyond the cosmological level—though the latter is often the upper limit of what can be imagined by those who write on ‘ancient mysteries’.

The relatively modern spelling of the name Babalon was derived from the Enochian Keys. By Qabalistic values the name adds to 156, which is the number of the Zodiac as a unified principle (12 x 13).[2] From that we can ascertain that while the absolute principle is not altered by any conditions of manifestation, our Lady Babalon, in her manifest aspect, is the ruler of the cosmological sphere. As we know that Horus in his earliest form as Set-Mentu is the Legislator or Lord of the Cosmic Cycle, we can understand how it is not really possible to separate Horus from Hathoor, in the same way Shiva is not separate from Shakti and Hadit is not separate from Nuit, for these are dual aspects of the supreme principle. From the corporeal point of view, Babalon is the type of the human soul, named the Scarlet Woman in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. As such, she suffers the burden of good and evil, which resides in the human heart.

We must here discern a difference between ‘heart’ as an analogy for spiritual intelligence and the conventional meaning of the word as merely emotion, instinct or sentiment. The ‘compassion and tenderness’ mentioned in the Book of the Law, which is no more than the sentimentalism that typifies our modern times, has negative implications for the soul.[3] The sympathy or feeling that the soul has is closely associated with her bodily emotions and mentality. Such ‘feeling’ thus easily becomes a mask for pride and egotism. While there is nothing wrong with love and kindness when it springs freely from the heart, the human mind has immense capacity for deception.

Scorpio, ruled by fiery Mars, the energy or ‘blood’ of life, is a correspondence of the Scarlet Woman. The number 156 also happens to be a number of Kemoz, an angel of Scorpio.[4] The name suggests ‘essence of darkness’, which is similar to what is said in the Sepher Yetzirah as descriptive of the fifteenth path of Aquarius and Nuit.[5] Darkness or blackness can symbolise the primordial state, which is identical with the supreme principle. In its inferior aspect, darkness is simply ignorance, so we are at once confronted with the dual nature of symbolism. Both aspects apply to the Scarlet Woman or human soul, for she must choose; to choose wisely she must learn the art of discrimination that makes true knowledge possible. As according to the Book of the Law, I: 57,

There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!

The dove is the symbol of Deliverance, also the avatar that ascends and descends the axis or world tree as intermediary. It is inseparable from the symbolism of the Holy Graal. The serpent itself has a dual aspect, superior and inferior. Here it is played against the bird of heaven, as the Adversary or tendency towards evil that is in man. To a certain extent then, the soul must undergo trials in the underworld or infernal realm that has its equation with ‘ordinary life’, before reaching the centre of the labyrinth—all that which guards the true heart of knowledge. Once the centre is reached—if it is reached and not denied—it becomes possible for the soul’s initiatory death and resurrection or ascent.

Notes on our Lady Babalon

1. See ‘Babalon Unveiled’, Second Edition (Revised), p. 24.
2. The number 156 is also the number of squares in each of the Enochian Watchtowers. It is also that of the ‘Splenderous Eden’ (ODN KBVD).
3. Book of the Law, III: 43.
4. KMVTz (156) is Ruling Angel of the 1st Decanate of Scorpio.
5. See Thirty-two paths of Wisdom by the present author.

Our Lady Babalon is from Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs Second Edition (Revised). The article is there titled ‘Babalon Revisited’.

© Oliver St. John 2021, 2023

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Romance of the Magical Orders

Magical Orders: We here explore the relation between modern magical Orders and the Rosicrucian tradition as reconstructed by the neo-spiritualists.

Romance of the Magical Orders: Argenteum Astrum Richel No 1489The true function of an initiatic Order is transmission. Such transmission has its source outside of and beyond the human sphere, or sphere of the individuality. It should easily then be seen that such a purpose cannot possibly be fulfilled through any social or political agenda. According to René Guénon,

“… it is easy to understand that the role of the individual who confers initiation on another is veritably one of transmitter in the most exact sense of the word. Such a person does not act as an individual, but as the support of an influence not belonging to the individual order; he is only a link in the chain of which the starting-point lies outside and beyond humanity. This is why he acts not in his own name but in the name of the organisation to which he is attached and from which he holds his powers; or, more exactly still, he acts in the name of the principle that the organisation visibly represents.”

Perspectives on Initiation [Sophia Perennis].

The fact that such transmission takes place, however, does not in itself mean that effective initiation is a certainty, for there must be latency within the person that makes it possible. There are also other factors, educational, social and environmental, for example, that may determine if a person is ‘qualified’ for initiation. It can happen that a person is so resistant to spiritual realisation that they are impervious to its influence. It is said in all traditions that the person must be prepared to make a sacrifice. A sacrifice can have various meanings, including the proper performance of rites, but first and foremost, the ego and its accumulated obstructive aggregates must essentially be realised as having no true or real existence, save as a distorted mirror image composed of reflections and impressions.

Disparate traditions, including deviations from tradition—which would include all modern organisations—are nonetheless linked as though by an invisible chain so long as they still carry the possibility of initiation. ‘Initiation’ in the true or real sense is not merely ‘to start something off’, as is suggested by the etymology of the word, but refers to initiatic transmission conveyed through authentic tradition. However, this can apply no matter how obscure that tradition has become, even when it has become obscure to the members that make up the external body of an organisation.

The Rosicrucian fraternity, if it can be called that, is esoteric, not exoteric or religious as such. The primary aim is to obtain direct knowledge as distinct from ‘salvation’ through belief. The ancient feminine rôle as Initiatrix is frequently veiled in symbolism such as the rose, or the glyph of Venus. Late Rosicrucian source texts make it clear that what the fraternity alludes to is first and foremost active and alive on the interior, although one could be excused for thinking otherwise if studying scholarly works that are dedicated to producing evidence of facts, dates and names of personages. Contrary to such misleading presentations, the Order of the Rose Cross is not a name for historical clubs, archaic fraternities or ‘societies’, whether secret or otherwise.

The true Rosicrucian Order vanished from Europe long before its name was carried as a banner by esotericists. We must then take into account modern forms of this. The grade or degree system is very frequently divided into three Orders, an outer, an inner, and one that surpasses and transcends all the considerations of the first two. The titles afforded these symbolise, properly speaking, varying degrees of spiritual realisation. This requires an initiatic ‘chain’: any person that founds an Order of the Golden Dawn—that is, the first five grades—must be in contact with the three higher degrees of the Order of the Rosy Cross. And likewise, anyone that founds an Order of the Rosy Cross must be in contact with the supernal Order of the Silver Star. The Tree of Life ‘begins’ with Kether—it is not possible to start an initiatic Order from a position halfway down the Tree and pretend there is nothing above, as sometimes is the case!

None of these considerations discourage the fantasists, who set up their own puppet theatre in which they play the starring rôle. It is quite common to hear of those who claim to have ‘crossed the Abyss’, so making an initiatic ‘journey’ from the second to the third Order. They will even imagine they have accomplished this through magical or psychic means, which proves they lack the elementary knowledge that would be necessary to take the first step towards any real and effective initiation. Organisations known generically as the A∴A∴ will, on the other hand, usually assert exclusive ‘lineage’ and rights to the name, which was only an invention of Aleister Crowley in the first place. Curiously, some groups prefer to be mysterious—or even mysteriously ignorant—as to what the abbreviated title stands for.

Aster Argos (archaic Greek) or ‘Silver Star’ is the title of the Order corresponding to the supernal triad of the Tree of Life. In Latin, it is Argenteum Astrum.[1] The name is derived from Priestess of the Silver Star, the title afforded to Tarot Atu II by MacGregor Mathers, founder of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The trump is assigned to the thirteenth path of Gimel, which the title alludes to. The path extends from Kether the Crown of the Tree of Life to Tiphereth, the centre of the individuality. In the Sepher Yetzirah, the thirteenth path is given the title the ‘Uniting Intelligence’. This is sometimes also translated as ‘Intelligence of the Unities’. Clearly, this secondary title cannot be in any way correct—for a unity cannot be a plurality, unless we are to suppose that Hebrew esotericism supported a kind of Monism, where each creature self or individuality is a self-contained unit. The real meaning becomes clear if we remember that the path extends from the first number (or sephira), Kether, which symbolises the ‘unity’ of the integral being. It is also the first path that links the supernal triad, the unity of three-in-one, with the lower spheres of the individuality.

Here then is the reconciliation of all that which would appear to be separate from the corporeal human perspective. The early Tarot trumps that were later assigned to the path depict not a priestess but a ‘Lady Pope’, owing to a peculiar legend. Firstly, this can indicate the loss of the feminine initiatic principle, which is exceedingly ancient, and was only present in pre-religious traditions. Secondly, there is the loss of any unitive doctrine, such as is represented by papal authority—we should remember that the need for restoration of a lost esotericism, as was attempted by the modernists, took place after the ascendancy of Protestantism, and in fact was inspired as late as the chaos and disorder of the French Revolution. When Crowley plagiarised Ekhartshousen’s Cloud on the Sanctuary to push his Order, he wanted to put forward a ‘Star in the West’, as a counter measure to the Theosophist pretence at bringing orientalism to the West. What is important here is that modern reinvented traditions all attempted to restore a lost tradition, however vain and misguided their efforts, relying as they did on magick and psychism. The ‘lost word’ may here be construed on more than one level.

Magical Orders: Notes

1. The orientialist Kenneth Grant studied and copied the manuscripts and diaries of Crowley while posing as his ‘assistant’ at his retirement home in Hastings towards the end of his life. He found there the only unequivocal reference to the meaning of the two initial letters of the name.

‘Romance of the Magical Orders’ has been substantially revised for the Second Edition of Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

Romance of the Magical Orders
© Oliver St. John 2018, 2023 (revised for the Second Edition).

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