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; more precisely, the source work, the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, veils the initiatory secrets of the Theban cult of Set-Typhon or Mentu.
Mentu, or Ra-Mentu, is depicted on our Tarot for Aries, Hrumachis IV. Mentu appears on the front side of the Stele of Revealing, which was activated in the Cairo working of 1904 by Rose Edith Kelly and Aleister Crowley. The Esoteric Thelema conveyed by Aiwass, the communicant of the book, owes nothing to the rationalist humanism of Crowley and his modern day apologists.
The traditional key-scale correspondences of the Tree of Life are continued in our new Tarot designs so that the deck is suitable for practical magick, meditation and divination. The primary aim of the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is to assist in returning Thelema and the Book of the Law to its lawful custodians.
Egyptian Tarot Deck
All these images may be viewed at full size by clicking on the picture. The first Tarot card to be created was that which symbolises the Capricorn Solstice and the 26th path, traditionally called ‘The Devil XV’. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu is titled Set XV and depicts the Egyptian god Set, ‘First before the Gods’.
This card is a prototype and will be redrawn before it is finalised for publication. Set 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.
The esoteric title of the Tarot key is Lord of the Gates of Matter: Child of the Forces of Time. The Thelemic year begins for us, not on the 20th March each year, but on the winter solstice, when the Sun crosses the zero degrees mark of Capricorn. The 26th path of Capricorn is the Renewing Intelligence, and the time of year marks the first light of the Khabs in the Khu, sounded in the depth. Cancer and Capricorn mark the height and depth of the Sun. The equinoxes mark the cardinal crossing. The four cross-quarters mark the Kerubic signs, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo and Scorpio. The full description of Set XV may be read here.
We next created the card for the Sun entering Aquarius, traditionally called ‘The Star XVII’. Our Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu depicts Nuit, goddess of the stars, and first oracle of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. The key-scale colour and other correspondences are of the 15th path of Aquarius (or 28th path in Crowley’s tables, which were not corrected).
The hieroglyphs of Nuit’s name are shown at the top of the card. At the centre is Nuit bending over the Star Pentactys. In the lower section of the image is the Lion of Truth, Ma’a, Nuit’s power in the underworld and opposite sign of the Zodiac, Leo. According to the instruction of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15, to the Scarlet Woman, Nuit-Babalon, “is all power given”. There is a complete description of Nuit XVII here.
Our Tarot card for the Sun entering Pisces is called Khonsu XVIII. The traditional title of the card is ‘The Moon XVII’. This card, as with that of Set XV, is a prototype and will be redrawn before the deck is published. Khonsu is the Egyptian god of the Moon, the ‘Sky-Rider’, and also happens to form part of the name of the scribe and priest to whom the Stele of Revealing belongs, Ankh-af-na-khonsu. The esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The key-scale correspondences for Khonsu XVIII are of the 29th path of the Tree of Life, extending upwards from Malkuth (the Kingdom) to Netzach (Venus). Khonsu’s Egyptian hieroglyphic name is at the top of the picture. The hawk-headed god of the Moon is at the centre, going forth between two pillars. He bears the priestly was sceptre in his right hand and the Ankh of Life in his left. Khonsu was regarded as the son of Mut and Amoun, and was closely identified with both Tahuti and Horus at Thebes (Egyptian Waset). The full description of Khonsu XVIII may be read here.
The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 28th path of Aries is Hrumachis IV. Hrumachis, the Egyptian Sphinx, has various names, including Hormaku, Horakhty and Ra Hoor Khuit. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, traditionally called ‘The Emperor’, is Sun of the Morning: Chief among the Mighty. The Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Hor-em-akhet, from which the Greek form Hrumachis is derived, is at the top of the Tarot picture. In the centre is Ra-Mentu or Ra Hoor Khuit, based on the Stele of Revealing. As Hrumachis, Horus is fully raised to the sky or heaven. The Sun and Serpent crown affirm his identity with both Ra and Typhon-Apophis. He wears the leopard spots, emblematic of the ‘space-marks’ or stars, and the gift of divine prophecy. His nemmys is night-blue, the colour of the body of Nuit, which encompasses the whole horizon. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Hrumachis IV is described in detail here.
The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the Sun entering Taurus is quite naturally Hathoor V. The traditional title of the Atu is the ‘The Hierophant’ or ‘Pope’. Hathoor is the Way-shower or revealer of Adam to himself. She is crowned by the lunar horns and weilds the lotus wand or sceptre of the creation of life. The name of Hathoor, as given in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, is derived from Het-Hor, literally, ‘House of Horus’. The esoteric title of the Tarot trump is Magus of the Eternal.
In the centre of the Tarot picture is Hathoor, seated on a cubical throne, for Taurus is the Foundation of the Earth. The throne is of moon-white or silver, for the Moon is exalted in Taurus and is the fructification of earth and all her creatures. The throne is placed between two pillars of silver and gold. Lotus flowers surmount the tetrahedronal capitals. Hathoor is crowned with the solar disk and lunar cow horns. She bears the lotus wand in her right hand, symbol of the perfume of immortality, and in her left she bears the Rosy Cross of Life and Love. The complete description of Hathoor V may be read here.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 20th path of Virgo is Isis IX. Mercury, the Stellar Light, is the ruler of the sign of Virgo and is exalted therein. The trump depicts the twin sisters Iset and Nebhet (Isis and Nephthys) giving life to the inert soul, suspended in the watery abyss called Aukert, neither truly alive nor truly dead. By dual manifestation the spiritual powers of the soul create the star or Khabs in the Khu. The twin sisters are placed in the Garden of Eden, which was at one time manifested on the earth as the gardens surrounding the Temple of Neïth in the Delta region, the House of the Lady of Sàis.
The image at the same time depicts the legend of Isis as recorded by Herodotus, when she raised Horus to life after he was poisoned by Set in the form of a scorpion. The card thus depicts the three magical powers of the 20th path, Parthenogenesis, Invisibility and Initiation. These were reflected in the Staff, Cloak and Lamp of the Hermit in the traditional Tarot designs.
The full description of Isis IX can be read here.
Live updating: The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is a work in progress. As each card is created or modified, it will be added to this post.
1. Esoteric Thelema is set forth, with many applications both practical and philosophical, in the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].
© Oliver St. John 2019