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 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.

Status as of November 2020. Anyone who wishes to be notified as soon as the Tarot becomes available send your request by email.

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 perceives 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 was regarded as the son of Mut and Amoun, and was 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 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 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.]

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is being prepared for publication. Completion is expected by Sun entering Sagittarius 2020 e.v.

© Oliver St. John 2019, 2020

Visit Ordo Astri (or return to) Home
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)

Stellar Intelligence 318

According to the entry for 318 in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, the Enochian word ZOMAR denotes ‘Stellar Intelligence’.[1] The word is variously translated as ‘radiant knowledge’, ‘incantation’, ‘centre’ and ‘concentration’.

Enochian Stellar Intelligence 318: The priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu as drawn by Oliver St. JohnAs declared in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, III: 38,

Bid me within thine House to dwell, o wingéd snake of light, Hadit.

ZOMAR has a relation with ZOM, the 3rd Aethyr in the Enochian system. Although the Enochian Thirty Aethyrs do not correspond to the plane of the Tree of Life, they interpenetrate it at various points. ZOM has a tenuous relation with the 12th path linking Kether with Binah on the form side of the Tree of Life.[2]

There are said to be five Enochian words that formulate the pentagram of the womb of Da’ath, according to the Flaming Sword. Four of these words are familiar to every student. They are used to charge the pentagrams about the four quarters of the ritual circle. While countless practitioners intone these four words on a daily basis, how many of them know anything about the word from which the other four sprang forth? And what, the student may well ask, does the womb of Da’ath have to do with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram? Or the Enochian system of magick? First, we must explain how the five Enochian words correspond to the womb of Da’ath.

Five sephiroth enclose the womb of Da’ath in which is suspended the Babe of the Abyss in the mudra of Typhon Inversus. ZOMAR, 318, is attributed to Tiphereth to formulate the apex of the averse pentagram, and Kether for that of the upright pentagram.[3]

HOLQ is attributed to Binah.
BIKAL is attributed to Chokmah.
IA MAL PRJI is attributed to Geburah.
BLIOR is attributed to Gedulah.

Enochian Circle Squared

Each of the four Kerubic names sent forth to square the circle of the infinite contains the letter of the Law, ‘L’, which is that of Libra or Ma’at. The four L’s form the circle-cross, a symbol of the ‘secret word’ mentioned in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law.[4]

It is (or should be) common knowledge among practitioners that when performing the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram one stands theoretically at the junction of the paths of Samekh and Pé. The four quarters of the circle are thus elementally assigned to Air, Tiphereth, Fire, Netzach, Water, Hod, and Yesod as the basis or altar placed upon Malkuth. In the traditional or historical Golden Dawn version of the ritual, the Archangels of these sephiroth were evoked: Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Auriel respectively.

The points of the pentagram are assigned to the four elements plus Spirit. This effectively evokes the lower half of the Tree of Life, though when the full elemental invocations are used, the lower sephiroth are linked to the higher. Once the Adeptus Minor has entered the Sanctum Sanctorum, the work does not stop there. It becomes necessary to depart from the equilibrium of the middle pillar and work the paths of the Hanged Man (23rd) and Ma’at (22nd). There must be a reversal of the entire attitude or mudra of the Adept. When this is accomplished, the lower half of the Tree effectively ‘folds up’ into the upper half. Before long—though there is no exact measure in terrestrial time—another Babe of the Abyss will swear the Oath and undertake the ordeal ‘x’. Thus, in our adaptation of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, the whole path is adumbrated.[5]

ZOMAR means literally, ‘Within me, the Knowledge of the Sun’—which is the Knowledge of the True Self as Atman or KIA. The Sanskrit Atman is the equivalent of KIA, the Khabs, and the House of Hadit. There are various ways to calculate the number of ZOMAR, but by common Hebrew attributions the name is equal to 318, which is the number of Aiwass, who delivered the (Egyptian) Book of the Law and, more than a century later, Esoteric Thelema, which is the “Key of it all”.[6] On a higher arc, the ‘Knowledge of the Sun’ is the knowledge of the sun behind the sun that is Sirius, the star of Egypt and birthplace of the gods.

Enochian Stellar Intelligence 318: Het-Hoor (Hathoor)The determinative for Hathoor (left) depicts Horus as a falcon within the ‘house’ of Hathoor. It is a type of Khabs star within a Khu or dwelling. Het-Hor (Hathoor) means, ‘House of Horus’. She is the Khabs in the Khu after another fashion. As revealed by Aiwass in AL, I: 8–9:

The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!

Through the discriminating faculty of Horus, the soul realises herself as a Khu. The Khu is realised in turn as the Khabs, becoming a star, the House of Hadit, Atman or KIA in other terms. The Thelemic star in the company of heaven, infinite plurality, differs from Advaita (Non-Dualism). Advaita insists that Atman and Brahman are one, and that there is (therefore) one God alone. This is posited as the only True Self, the unitary intelligence or Monad, ‘Not Two’. From there, postmodern cults posited Isolate Intelligence, the KIA as sole self-seeking-pleasure! However, the Monad is the lie of non-existence, owing to a rational creed. It derives from the classical Greeks—or at least, it came to us that way. When philosophy ceased to be regarded as a preparation for theurgy and became seen as an end in itself, the Orphic Mysteries were misconstrued—for these are far more ancient than the classical period, from whence modern ‘history’ begins.[7] From this rationalised reinvention of the mysteries, comes forth the self-contradiction of Shankara, the renunciationist, who declares the ego as the cause of perpetual rebirth in Maya. The ego does not exist on its own ground. How then can it ‘reincarnate’? There is nothing to reincarnate. This is what is meant by the ‘Dogs of Reason’ in Liber AL. More specifically, it is the rationalist influence on Buddhistic and Advaitan thought. Socrates, for example, founded the canine brood of rational philosophy, where the ‘ideal man’ (or youth) usurped the rôle of women in the mysteries.

Ganymede, the cup-bearer to Zeus, was a blasphemous interposition. This could only come about when the real meaning of the mysteries was forgotten and the old Gods relegated to personifications of mere natural phenomena. It was the beginning of the Dark Age of materialism, which has by now reached its apotheosis.[8] Pythagoras may have known the ‘secret’—that numbers only obtain below the Abyss—but was sworn to keep silence, after the manner of his Egyptian mentors. The rationalist movement, who could only perceive the universe in terms of numbers—the phantasmal Figures of Night—could only conjecture on that which was never disclosed to the profane.

The Atman or KIA as star in the company of heaven is neither ‘one’ nor ‘many’. The doctrine of ‘Impermanence’ declares that anything that moves or changes is not real. Therefore, the Real itself does not move or change in any way, and is the sole ‘permanent’. In nature, such a thing is dead, nay, impossible. In Liber AL, II: 45 it is declared,

There is death for the dogs.

It is curious to note that the number of the verse, II: 45, is equal by division to the ‘Q’ or Khu: 245 ÷ 5 = 29. We can now look at AL, I: 8 in a different light.

The Khabs [5] is in the Khu [29], not the Khu in the Khabs.

The declaration of Aiwass is emphatic. Both Eastern and Western philosophy holds to a mistaken notion of a Monad, or Monadic Intelligence. This is precisely the error of positing that the Khu or self-soul is in the Khabs—where this is perceived as the unitary ‘one’. The doctrine insidiously persuades the Nihilist of ‘nothing’ as fact. It persuades many sincere seekers that the negation of the self is a path to knowing Reality. To the slaves of reason it serves as a lure to become lost in labyrinthine metaphysics, or worse, psychologisation of the mysteries.[9] In the outer world, we have the horror of isolationism, which can be seen as the apotheosis of a degeneration that, according to René Guénon has taken 6000 years to accomplish.[10] The wholesale degeneration of the intellect arises from reason-born phantasm—as does the ‘universe made of numbers’. Number obtains only below the Abyss, the threshold of human reason. The Monad, the Alone-Self-One, is the False Crown of the Abyss.


Notes

1. The main entry for ZOMAR is under the number 150 in the first and Second Editions (2017) of The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth. The note on the “Five Enochian words that formulate the pentagram of the womb of Da’ath” is given under HOLQ, 79, though in a somewhat encrypted fashion. One aim of the present essay is to shed further light on that entry.
2. The association between ZOM, the Enochian 3rd Aethyr, and the 12th path of the Magician I of the Tarot, is based on empirical evidence. That is to say, knowledge gained through theurgic practice. Crowley’s vision of ZOM, gained with the help of Victor Neuberg in the Bou Saâda desert, was one of madness and horror. This is understandable, for Crowley believed in the Monad or ‘Self-Alone God’. When ascending the path of Beth, the ‘house’, or ‘tent for a nomad’, the Khu is realised as an abode formed from the emanations of the Khabs star. ZOM, the 3rd Aethyr, is not particularly horrible for those who have assimilated the knowledge of Esoteric Thelema, or to put it another way, those who are not constrained by the Abyss, which is only the lower aspect of Da’ath.
3. This is, technically, the work of the Adeptus Major 6=5. See ‘Elevenfold Star of Initiation’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
4. Liber AL, I: 20: “The key of the rituals is in the secret word which I have given unto him.” Interestingly, ZOMAR has no ‘L’, as do the other names. The Enochian ‘L’ (called Ur) corresponds to the Moon waxing in Cancer, signifying the realisation or fulmination of the magical Khu body. Thus ZOMAR is in this respect the ‘star’ or Khabs in the Khu formed by the circle-cross.
5. The esoteric Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is given in various publications, including Hermetic Qabalah Foundation—Complete Course and The Enterer of the Threshold. An important development of the ritual, called ‘The Gates of Babalon’ is given in Ritual Magick—Initiation of the Star and Snake. See ‘books‘, Ordo Astri.
6. Liber AL, III: 47.
7. It is beyond the scope of an article such as this to attempt an explanation of Esoteric Thelema. The serious student must study ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [ibid].
8. See René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World. There is an article on the Ordo Astri website that quotes from the last two pages of that essay. See, ‘Crisis of the Modern World Revisited’.
9. It should be remarked that intellect and reason are not at all the same thing.
10. See René Guénon [ibid].

© Oliver St. John, 2020

Visit Ordo Astri (or return to) Home
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)

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

Books by Oliver St. John
Visit Ordo Astri or return to home
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)