Fire: Egyptian Tarot The Aeon XX

The trump for the thirty-first path of Fire and Spirit is The Aeon XX. The path also corresponds to the dwarf outer planet Pluto. Judgement is the traditional title of the trump, viz., the Last Judgement when souls are called to the resurrection.

Fire and Spirit: Egyptian Tarot The Aeon XXThe esoteric title of this Tarot trump is Spirit of the Primal Fire. The spirit-fire is that which animates all living beings. It is the seed of the resurrection body. The mysteries of transformation are summed up in the alchemical phrase, Igni Natura Renovata Integra, ‘Nature is renewed and perfected through fire’. The ‘seed’ or eternal source is not actually within the body or mind; all that belongs to the corporeal state is adjunct to the Real. From the point of view of the human individuality, it seems as though that were the case. It is by analogy when it is said that the soul bears within herself the seed of her own resurrection. In the scriptures it is symbolised, for example, that Magdalene, as ‘soul’, is the devout follower of Christ-Jesus

Shin is the letter of the thirty-first path and is formed from three flames joined at the base. Shin literally means ‘tooth’, but the significance is of spirit or that which endures—bone (by analogy), thus eternity and the immortal life.[1] The ancient Egyptian source of the word is shen, the ring of indefinite cyclical return and the ‘round’, which is shown here being carried through the air by Horus in the form of a falcon.[2]

At the top of the picture, to the left, are the Egyptian hieroglyphs for the Eternal (heh). In the centre, between the two lampwicks, is the solar glyph of circle and principial point. The wick of a lamp burns and gives forth a flame of light without perishing. It is fed on pure oil, the perfection of life. There is a comparison to be made with the Caduceus, which symbolises the dual power of Kundalini. When the twin serpents of the Shakti Power cease to oppose and are, so to speak, woven together, the immortal state is within reach. In the case of the yogin, the appearance of things no longer deludes him.

Horus carries the shen ring over a symbolic representation of the step pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara Necropolis outside of Memphis, Egypt. Necropolis (Greek) means ‘city of the dead’, but this is really a misnomer as the Egyptians saw it as a place of eternal life. The Egyptian name is therefore heh, ‘Eternity’, identical in sound and meaning to the woven flax hieroglyph but spelled in such a way as to indicate a specific earth location.[3]

The base of the four-sided, seven-stepped pyramid is a trapezium or trapezoid. The parallel but unequal sides are indicative of the fourth dimension or non-Euclidian space-time. Beneath the desert of Saqqara is a labyrinth, as previously mentioned.[4] Very large granite vessels are situated there in cells only big enough to fit them. It is unknown as to how these large and heavy objects could be placed in such a manner below ground. What we do know is that the vessels, shaped somewhat like a sarcophagus or ark, were never designed to house a mummy. The insides of the sealed boxes are polished to mirror-like perfection. They are very precisely placed in the underground labyrinth. According to some, the vessels are subtle repositories of knowledge predating the Ice Age and built to endure a catastrophe.

Aeon, the title of the trump, indicates a cosmic cycle and in this case it is specifically the ending of the present Manvantara. The number 20 links The Aeon with Destiny X (Kaph), or the Kalachakra Wheel. Kalachakra yoga or Yidam is the Tibetan way of uniting the self with deity to obtain Pure Mind. Ishtadevata is the principle deity, and is associated with the Kalachakra, whose name means, ‘desired’ or ‘adored’ (ishta) and ‘divine soul’ (devata). As a pair, Kalachakra and Kalachakri look both inside and outside of time.

Pluto is one of the three ‘new’ planets discovered in modern times and so symbolising the disruption and chaos that comes about near the ending of a great cycle of aeons. Pluto is sometimes corresponded to Kether on the Tree of Life, but this is an inversion, for the Lord of Hell is an apt title for the forces of greed and materialism that have characterised the epoch, not to mention unmitigated violence.

Spirit of the Primal Fire

The thirty-first path of Shin connects Hod, the sphere of Mercury, with Malkuth, the sphere of action and elements (or visible universe). The path is called the Perpetual Intelligence, and is so-called because ‘it rules the movement of the sun and the moon according to their constitution, causing each to gravitate in its respective orb’. This path connects Malkuth with the left hand pillar of Form. The Perfect Intelligence of Hod is here realised ‘in the flesh’. From the human point of view, the fruits of such knowledge come to pass as future events, though in reality there is only simultaneity. From the point of view of eternity there is no past or future; there is nowhere to go as eternity encompasses all possibilities—time in the earthbound sense simply ceases to exist.

The magical powers of the path are Evocation and Pyromancy. These are derived from the correspondences of the path; firstly the traditional Tarot trump Judgement, which depicts the dead arising from their graves (evocation), summoned by a blast from the trumpet of the Angel Israfel.[5] Secondly, the element of fire (pyromancy). Both powers may be regarded as analogous. Necromancy is not the power of this path and so the notion of evocation here has more in the way of meaning the return of the self to the (greater) Self at the end of a cycle or at the end of time. It is not the ‘dead’ that can actually arise but the living spirit. Divination by fire is the means of seeing the past or future, for example, by gazing into the flickering firelight. The higher meaning of this involves ‘fire’ when that is understood as coming about through the discipline that strengthens the mind and will to become engrossed in the Great Work. It is by the elimination of all distractions that one may see things clearly.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. Eternity and immortality are not the same. Eternity is Infinite, without qualification; immortality is within the realm of existence or being.

2. For an explanation of the multiple perspective drawing of the falcon, based on ancient Egyptian art, see Lucie Lamy, Egyptian Mysteries pp. 18 [Thames and Hudson 1981].

3. The Egyptian name for the Necropolis or Eternal Place is spelled with three mounds or hills and the circle-cross determinative. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, pp. 507 b.

4. Cf. Sokar XIII.

5. Some sources have the Angel of the Last Judgement as Gabriel. The Angel is also associated with Raphael, Uriel and various others.

6. A symbolic ‘pathworking’ of the 31st path formed part of the ceremony of initiation to the grade of Hod in the historical Order of the Golden Dawn.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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