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 Card BoxThe primary aim of the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema, therefore, is to assist in returning Thelema and the Book of the Law to its original custodians.[1]

Our Tarot nonetheless preserves traditional elements from the Marseille deck, some of the revised titles of the Crowley-Harris deck, and the esoteric assignations of the Golden Dawn. Unique to the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is the use of Ithell Colquhoun’s brilliant understanding of the Golden Dawn colour correspondences.[2] This has enabled us to produce the first figurative Tarot that is fully integrated by colour correspondence and also accords with the Orbicular Tree schema of the Golden Dawn.

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the  Tarot deck here from Printer Studio (USA and World) or here from Printer Studio (UK). More information, links and a PDF manual may be found on our Ordo Astri ‘Books’ page here.

The deck is suitable for practical magick, meditation or divination. In every true act of divination, in every true act of magick, something of the soul is born into the world. The soul will take with her something of the nature of the world she is in sympathetic accord with, even upon the death of the physical body that houses her. This is the great transformation, recounted in diverse ways in Egyptian papyrus spells.

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 black, his nemyss and apron of blue-black and indigo. His ornaments, sceptre and ankh are black, gold and grey as according to the Key-Scale colours of the 26th path and the ancient Egyptian title that was afforded Set, ‘the black and gold one’ (Set-Nubti). His peculiar ass-head with truncated ears has caused much bafflement. Some have thought he was modelled on a creature that has long been extinct. Whether this is true or not, Set is certainly among the most ancient of gods. Like Sokar, Lord of the Necropolis, Set is older 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 may inwardly perceive the primordial wisdom.

There is a complete description of Nuit XVII here.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Khonsu XVIIIThe Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 29th path of Pisces is Khonsu XVIII. Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, the ‘Sky Traveller’. The esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The 29th path of the Tree of Life extends upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s hieroglyphic name is at the top of the picture. The hawk-headed god of the Moon is at the centre, going forth between two pillars. He bears the priestly was sceptre in his right hand and the Ankh of Life in his left. Khonsu is regarded as the son of Mut and Amoun, and he is closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The crown of Khonsu is the full disk and crescent of the Moon; it is not a coincidence that the shape formed from this composite glyph is identical to that of the hieroglyphic Eye of the Moon or Left Eye of Ra. The human psyche is reflective as the shade of the Moon; to see Ra (God) with clear or pure perception is to know God. To know God is to be known by God—thus it is to become God, the Ever-Becoming.

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 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 his image depicted 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. It 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.

Leo: Atu XI Sekhet the LionessThe 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 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 Parthenogenesis, Invisibility and Initiation, the three magical powers of the 20th path. These were reflected in the Staff, Cloak and Lamp of 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 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.

Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Sokar XIIIThe 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. Sokar 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.

Thelema Atu Neith XIVThe 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. Neïth is depicted here as a young woman clothed in 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 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.

The full description of Neïth XIV 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].

2. Ithell Colquhoun produced her abstract designs for the Tarot in 1977. Our Tarot is the first figurative and symbolic Tarot to utilise her ingenious understanding of the key-scales in the four worlds, so that the whole Tarot is internally related through colour as well as design. See the book, TARO as colour [Ithell Colquhoun, Fulgar.]

© Oliver St. John 2019, 2020

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Enochian Keys to the Apocalypse

Some have speculated that John Dee’s Enochian Keys (or Calls) of the Thirty Aethyrs are a theurgic operation comparable to opening the seven seals of the Apocalypse. Commentators and critics regard the subject from a strictly scholarly and so exoteric point of view, and are not in any way qualified to explain esoteric matters. However, the line of thought is an interesting one and appears to have some justification when the Keys are studied and practiced over a lengthy period of time.

Enochian Keys to Apocalypse: Death on a Pale Horse William Blake (1800)‘Apocalypse’ is of course the title of the well-known New Testament book of St. John, the book of Revelation. The word ‘apocalypse’, from the Greek root apokalypto, means ‘to reveal’. The book’s title is frequently confused with ‘Armageddon’, a word from Revelation 16: 16 that refers to a kind of ‘last battle on earth’, a war between spiritual forces and evil (anti-spiritual) forces before the Day of Judgement. The meaning of the word is sometimes taken out of context and reduced so that it refers to any catastrophic war between contending human forces. Such a battle, when understood as taking place between the spiritual and the material, is not the same as a ‘revelation’, though it might form a part of that revelation under some circumstances. The battle between spiritual and material forces must, by definition, always be ‘won’ finally by the spiritual, since the material has no existence beyond that which is strictly limited to the world of human affairs.[1]

The Enochian Keys seem to include elements both of revelation and of the ‘last battle’. This is no doubt tempered by the fact that Dee’s translation (and so understanding) of the Enochian Keys was placed in language very similar to that of the King James English Bible—though that was not published until after his death, thought to be around 1609. The general agreement between the Keys and the Revelation of St. John, albeit sometimes placed from within a perspective other than Christian theology, concords with the knowledge of other traditions such as the manvantara cycles of the Vedas. It can certainly be taken as a warning of the drawing to a close of the Age of Darkness (Kali Yuga), which must come before the final dissolution. Before the dissolution can take place, there is a period of utmost darkness in which the force of Antichrist, which is a force of pure materialism, temporarily (or apparently) triumphs absolutely.[2]

This urgency has its reflection on more than one level. Spiritually, it is the expression of an eternal truth. On the psychic level, it expresses the need for regeneration so that spiritual realisation is even possible. One should then bear in mind that such an end is the beginning of renewal, wherein by fire all of nature is renewed and restored to original perfection: Igne Natura Renovata Integra.[3]

Enochian Keys: The 8th

It is not the intention here to create a commentary on all of the Enochian Keys, which would take at least a small book to accomplish. We will focus here on one of them, the 8th Key. This Key invokes the subquadrant angle of Earth of Air in the Terrestrial Watchtower of Air.[4]

The 8th Enochian Key begins,

Beautiful is the first, which is as the third heaven made of pillars of Hycacinth, in whom the Elders have become strong, which I have prepared for my own truth, so saith the Lord; whose Eternal reign shall be as bucklers to the Stooping Dragon, and like unto the harvest of a widow.

The “first” and “the third heaven” is a technical reference to the order of the Watchtower Tablets and their subquadrants—in this case, the third angle (Earth) of the first Tablet (Air). Hyacinth is traditionally associated with peace but also desire in the spiritual sense of longing for eternal truth, in which alone is peace of mind in any real and lasting sense. The violet flowers in some varieties of hyacinth do indeed form ‘pillars’ of six-petalled stars. The ‘six’ symbolises the meeting of time and eternity in the world centre or heart of all, and is figured by the hexagram of two interlaced triangles.

The Elders or Old Ones are frequently mentioned in the spells of the so-called Egyptian Book of the Dead. According to tradition these are the children of the Sons of the Gods (Beni Elohim) that spawned the original life-wave on the earth. In the Bible, the children of Gods and women are called the Nephilim, and their descendants the Anak—a word that has an identical meaning to that of Nephilim, ‘giants, tall, noble or renowned’.

Curiously, the name ‘Watchers’ has been applied to the Elders or Nephilim as mentioned in the book of Genesis.[5] The apocryphal Book of Enoch, which has a more detailed and probably older account of this very ancient mystery, was not discovered until centuries after the time of John Dee. Dee named the language of the Angels ‘Enochian’ as his intention had been to psychically recover what was at that time the ‘lost’ book of Enoch.

The last line of this first stanza, where it says that the eternal reign of the Lord shall be as “bucklers to the Stooping Dragon, and like unto the harvest of a widow”, may be understood metaphysically. The word ‘buckler’ is used in the book of Psalms, 18: 2:

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock; in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

The Hebrew word is mageni, from the root MGN, which has the value of 93 and is thus equal to Thelema. A buckler was the name given to a heraldic device born upon shields; it sometimes refers to a goatskin shield (Greek aegis) worn by Athene. In broad terms, the strength and protection is the path itself, the Way. “The Lord is my rock” may also be associated with the holy mountain, for example Hermon in the ancient land of Canaan or Phoenicia, where Ashtaroth is both the name of a place and that of a hornéd goddess.

It may have been on mount Hermon that Christ Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, according to some sources.[6] From this same holy mountain—near the summit of which still remains, built from blocks of stone, the highest shrine in the world—that the angels descended, according to the apocryphal book of Enoch. It can thus be understood why they are called ‘Watchers’. From this it may be seen that the Nephilim were the first type of avatars.[7] The transfiguration of Christ Jesus is then, at the very least, a recollection of the Elder race, to which he properly belongs according to tradition. For example, some of the Orphic texts support the same Gnostic theme: “I am a child of earth and stars, but my race is of the heavenly order”.[8]

The “harvest of a widow” is an allusion to Binah, the Mother of Faith and the Foundation of the Primordial Wisdom (Sepher Yetzirah). Here is indicated the hidden or left side of Hekate, revealed to no mortal man. It is the ‘night’ or unmanifest side, that is pure observance or watchfulness, yet without manifest projection, ‘light’ or extrusion. It is the ‘hidden light’ (AVR MPLA) of the Qabalah, an attribute afforded Kether as the ‘height’, beyond the visible stars. There is mention of Machpalah, a ‘double cave’, in Genesis (19: 30–50:13), where one chamber is the light or manifest, and the other is the dark or unmanifest side. In terms of initiation this equates to the ‘second birth’, Tiphereth, and ‘third birth’, Kether.[9] In the present context, a withdrawal of manifestation is implied, as at the end of a Great Age.

The Key continues,

How many are there which remain in the glory of the earth, which are, and shall not see death until the Fall of the Great House, and the dragon shall sink!

In the 11th of the Enochian Keys, there is reference to the ‘House of Death’, which seems to have identical meaning. This appears to place the Day of Judgement, if we use the Apocalypse frame of reference, literally in the present times. If the precessional wheel of the equinoxes is seen to commence from the house of Leo (some time before the end of the last Ice Age), which was named by the Egyptians the ‘First Time’, then we are now at the Fall of the Great House, which is Aquarius.

Come away, for the thunders have spoken; come away, for the crown of the temple, and the robe of Him that is, was, and shall be crowned, are divided.

“Him that is, was, and shall be crowned” is a reference to the Lord and Master of Time, for example Christ and Shiva—for both these bear the symbols of the key of eternity and the sceptre of time, three-fold (past, present and future).[10] The division of the “crown of the temple” is the division of the earth from all spiritual influence during the reign of Antichrist. The division of the robe seems to be a direct allusion to the Romans, who divided up the robe of Jesus to sell, before his crucifixion.[11] Thus the world, or at least the human world, is sold into slavery and condemned to hell through rejection of Christ and the denial of all spiritual possibilities. The ‘robe of Christ’ is his resurrection garment or body, which is to say, the possibility by which a soul may enter the ‘kingdom of heaven’.

Come forth, appear to the terror of the earthbound, and to our joy, and to those who in thy knowledge are prepared!

It is now revealed that those who remained “in the glory of the earth” are in fact earthbound, which is to say they will not rise again—for these, death is finality. The Angels of Truth and Justice, appearing at the end of time, will seem terrible to the wicked, but are a wonder and joy to those that have retained spiritual realisation, and so have not lost their souls as have the damned. This includes those that have faithfully followed out the path of pure knowledge, or of devotion (as according to tradition).


Notes

1. See Guénon, Reign of Quantity [Sophia Perennis].
2. Ibid.
3. This does not mean that ‘our world’ will literally or physically be consumed by fire. Catastrophe, including fire or flood, can sometimes mark the ending of the great cycles of time, but we will not enter into speculation here. The dissolution will take place, whatever the physical circumstances should happen to be.
4. There are four tablets of Enochian letters and spirit names corresponding to each of the classical elements, and each of these is divided into four subquadrants of lesser elements: Air of Air, Water of Air, Earth of Air and Fire of Air, for example. There is also a Black Cross or Spirit Tablet (in the Golden Dawn scheme) that binds them all together. There are 91 Genii or Governors that determine which of the Thirty Aethyrs or Aires is invoked when the one Key that calls them is sounded.
5. The term is thought to have originated with The Manuscript Found in Saragossa by Count Jan Potocki (early 1800s). He used the word ‘egregores’ (Greek egregoros), referring to what he called “fallen angels”. The Nephilim were a race said to be born of congress between the Sons of Gods (Beni Elohim) and the daughters of earth (Genesis 6:4.) The sense of the Nephilim as ‘fallen angels’ is true in so far as they descended—compare to the Sanskrit avatara, by which a spiritual force is reified. The word ‘egregore’ was later corrupted so that it came only to mean a kind of collective psychic force.
6. Transfiguration of Christ Jesus: R.T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) [IVP Academic, 2008].
7. See avatara, above (4). This is entirely contrary to what is said of the angels in the book of Enoch, where they are described as “iniquitous”, spawning a race of evil giants that ate men. It would be better to understand that the race of men are eaten up by their own pride. The book of Enoch is a corruption of the original legend, of which only a fragment remains. See the ‘Sons of Seth’ in Thrice Greatest Hermes, translated by GRS Mead.
8. Orphic inscription from the Petalia Gold Tablet, 300–200 BCE [British Museum].
9. The second birth and third birth is also described as a ‘first and second crossing’, in relation to the symbol of the double cave. This is compared to the Egyptian hekat and nekhakha, commonly mistaken for a ‘crook and flail’. See pp. 228–231, Babalon Unveiled—Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].
10. See Guénon, Symbols of Sacred Science, pp. 120.
11. Matthew 27: 35; Mark 15: 24; John, 19: 23.

Enochian Keys to the Apocalypse is abridged from Nu Hermetica, a work in progress.
© Oliver St. John 2021

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Aspiration or Materialism

Aspiration was effectively abolished many centuries ago. Those who seek initiation must relearn what aspiration means. That will not be easy for them to do. All the modern conventions that most of us have regarded as ‘positive’, such as individualism, personal expression, democracy, rights, even liberty, were based on rational and humanistic ideals that were also founded on an anti-traditional and (as a consequence) anti-initiatic prejudice. It is only now, perhaps, that we can see where all this has led us—which is to the very opposite, in fact, of what those ideals were supposed to be about. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, 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 elimination of “old sweetnesses” is not done overnight. Tradition has it that we have to be careful what we ask the Gods for because we 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 layers of subversive reasoning that fragment the truth until it becomes a mere collection of unrelated figures formed from the latent wish-desire.

Let us suppose how the ancient Egyptians might have dealt with someone in search of ‘personal development’ in relation to seeking admission to a mystery temple. First of all, the person is stripped naked, splashed with holy water and fumigated with perfumes. Then they are directed to a small door that opens into a courtyard surrounded by high walls. In the centre of the courtyard is a shrine in an enclosure built of stone, with an open doorway. They are told that in the shrine they will learn how to realise all their goals and fulfil their every wish and desire. The shrine is surrounded by a circular lake. On the other side is a large, hungry crocodile. According to the 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 metaphysical Monad is easily misconstrued or otherwise deliberately inverted until it becomes the Self-Alone-God, a mere projection of ego. Monadism, to coin a term, is such a persuasive notion that it undoubtedly paved the way for the invasion of the East by Western materialism. By that time, the Western world was conditioned by centuries of humanism. Humanism, essentially atheist, places the self before all else, automatically excluding the possibility of anything beyond it. Aspiration is then strictly limited to personal goals.

Aspiration and Will

This matter of aspiration raises the question of the will. Psychologists have assumed that there must be an ‘unconscious’ will. If 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. Apart from its dependence on psychological theories, 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’.[1] 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.

Aleister 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.[2] It is all about impulse, action, doing. This is modified, in Crowley’s 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, but atheism and other humanistic tendencies have increased vastly the level of common ignorance, which is masked by a sense that things are ‘too complex’ to really understand or to know for certain. The complexity, which owes to relativism, ultimately tends towards chaos and madness. We see this in the present world picture, where totalitarianism has been brought about in the name of ‘democracy’, which is by now a purely theatrical, staged proceeding. Corporate and governmental systems that implement totalitarian strategies owe to completely chaotic and thoughtless economics and science, based on machines and data.

Candidates for initiation are called ‘aspirants’. It is necessary, and always has been, for spiritual aspirants to seek truth above all else and to seek that truth as wholly outside of and beyond the person, the self. We must define our terms. What is aspiration? A modern dictionary is no use here as the first definition will be something like ‘ambition of achieving something’, which is the purely materialist explanation of the word. Typically it removes all sense of any spiritual meaning that could be applied. 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, understood in the real sense, is far more than the reason that is common to all or most persons. The air we breathe can therefore include language. Language shapes thought, and thought shapes the world we live in.[3] The language used by materialists is corrupt, for it rests on the ignorant assumption that nothing exists 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 often now applied by corporations in the workplace, for the so-called ‘wellbeing’ of employees. That should be enough in itself to arouse a suspicion that there might be something wrong with such notions of personal development and wellbeing—and yet these terms are also used now 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? Since it is placed in the individual domain, there can be no spiritual aim whatsoever. It can even be harmful to the being to persist in such practices, for they will naturally carry a residue of what they carried when they were part of a genuine initiated tradition, yet the person will have no means of protecting themselves against the negative inversion of such forces that will come about as a consequence.

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 product of a wordless aeon—which means that generations are now born that have no logos, no possibility of intellect in the real sense of what that means.[4] So-called education systems suppress all independence of thought and expression yet they pretend to develop the individual. These systems are perpetuated because they are a reliable form of brainwashing that is rigorously applied to every young person and continued through to so-called higher education. The sole aim is to produce obedient and 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.

The consequence of individualism is that everyone must conform to a lowest common denominator, formed by the base needs and desires of the majority. All true individuality is suppressed. The suppression of individuality is the general and persistent trend of the modern world. At the present time we now see an unprecedented movement to bring about the desocialisation and dehumanisation of the race across the entire globe.

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. Much that is commonly termed ‘occultism’ is no more than ordinary hypnotism. Such hypnotism is now the work of advertising agencies, media barons, governments and corporations. That kind of ‘black magic’ is by now a perfectly ordinary thing.

If aspiration is to satisfy 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. The Great Work alone provides the basis by which meaning is conveyed to ordinary life.[5] When ordinary life is separated from spiritual principles it falls into meaningless confusion. There is now, then, a pressing and urgent need for a Great Work, for there is no meaning in anything without it.


Notes

1. ‘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; 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.
2. 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’).
3. Schopenhauer proposed that thought shapes reality (The World as Will and Representation, 1818). It does not, but it cannot be argued that thought shapes our world. See ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled.
4. We use the term ‘wordless aeon’ to describe the spiritual vacuum of the modern age.
5. The Great Work is, put in general terms, to assist in the restoration of the earth to the governance of the original life-wave, that she might find her true place among the stars.

Related articles: Crisis of the Modern World Revisited

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2021

Aspiration or Materialism forms part of a work in progress, Nu Hermetica.

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