Enterer of the Threshold: Apprentice

Book for the Student and Apprentice (Probationer): The Enterer of the Threshold. This book has been substantially revised since 2024. This book serves as an introduction to the Hermetic Order of the Star and Snake. It is in every way a concise theoretical and practical guide.

Ordo Astri Books: Apprentice (Probationer): The Enterer of the ThresholdWhile it was not written exclusively for those who seek membership of such an organisation, the foremost aim was to serve the interests of the latter. So far as a wider readership goes, it was always hoped that it might help in some small way to bring clarity to an area that has suffered utmost obfuscation, and not least of all from the many persons who are considered to be experts. Indeed, confusion abounds today on all matters that really belong to the esoteric domain. And for that very reason, this book, and all other books we have written, were never intended for those who are merely curious or that have a passing interest in a subject they are in no way prepared to study with serious intent. Even this modest volume, a sort of handbook or manual, was not written to be a quick digest, so minimising any effort put in by the student; it requires deep thought and contemplation. The subject concerns preparations needful to the person that earnestly pursues the path of initiation, comprising a vast array of topics inclusive of traditional sciences such as magick, astrology, and the science of numbers as well as essential methods for acquiring real knowledge, including ritual and yoga meditation. Of all these, it is concentration of the mind that is foremost, and ‘concentration’ is meant here in the technical sense (dharana), by which real yoga and discriminative knowledge is alone made possible.

Apprentice degree is the most important one in the Order because it lays the foundation for the development of initiatic possibilities. At the very beginning there is the intellectual matter of books, study and thought, which is the work of the Student. This intellectual work continues through all the grades. The ritual circle is next constructed by taking the Great Work from theory into practice.

In ceremonial, the drawing of a circle is the key to all. It must be a true magical vortex—raising about the sphere of the mind an absolute barrier to all extraneous impressions—thus enabling perfect spontaneity.[1]

The Apprentice must define or mark out the circle of the place. ‘Squaring the circle’ implies bringing to form or manifestation all that we are and can ever be. Towards this aim, the Apprentice must practice and understand an elevenfold formula:

0. Intellectual Thought and Study.
1. The Fraternal Name.
2. The Oath and Task.
3. The Holy Obligation.
4. The Powers of the Sphinx.
5. The Keeping of the Record!
6. The Mudra of Horus the Enterer and Silence.
7. Vibration of Words of Power.
8. The Ritual of the Gates of Babalon.
9. Asana and Pranayama.
10. The Sword and Serpent.

From Apprentice to Neophyte

Since we must get away as far as possible from reductionism and psychologisation of the mysteries, we use the traditional term Sacred Science to describe the subject of our interest. The Sacred Science is obviously not the same thing at all as conventional or profane science, and will never be understood by the methods of the latter. With profane science, theories rest on the belief that they can be ‘proved’ by repeated experiments with control conditions. Material science is quantitative while ours is qualitative.

Alchemy involves repeated operations, as demonstrated in a host of anonymously written treatises, but the ‘proving’ is not the same, and these were never meant to be material operations or effects. All experimentation is irrelevant from the metaphysical point of view. The immortal stone of the wise cannot be weighed, measured or otherwise calculated. According to profane sciences, the human soul does not exist for likewise it cannot be weighed or measured. The soul is the basis of our work.

The proving of what might be termed as ‘spiritual alchemy’ is not that of rational persuasion, but is akin to the proving of bread when the action of yeast causes it to rise. Bread thus became a widely used metaphor for the ‘substance’ of the soul, and wine a metaphor for the spirit. Soul and spirit are unknown to material science, for that which is not material in its basis cannot be proven by material experiments or actions; so it shall always be—never the twain shall meet. The Christian Hermeticist Meister Ekhart expressed this in lucid terms when commenting on the book of Matthew, 6: 24, ‘no man can serve two masters’.[2]

The two eyes of the soul of man cannot both perform their work at once: but if the soul shall see with the right eye into eternity, then the left eye must close itself and refrain from working, and be as though it were dead. For if the left eye be fulfilling its office toward outward things, that is holding converse with time and the creatures; then must the right eye be hindered in its working; that is, in its contemplation. Therefore, whosoever will have the one must let the other go; for ‘no man can serve two masters.’


1. Paraphrased from Golden Dawn Flying Roll lecture XXVII.
2. From Theologia Germanica, Meister Ekhart.

The Enterer of the Threshold: View book on author’s website at Lulu.

See also: Hermetic Astrology (2024 Revised Edition) on this website. Also:
Hermetic Qabalah Foundation—Complete Course

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Angels of Sacred Dance, Love and Whoredom

The four female spirits or angels of sacred dance and love are Na’amah, Lilith, Eisheth Zenunim and Agrat Bat Mahlat. In very ancient times they played the part of dancers, lovers and pythonesses or oracular priestesses. When state monotheism became the only lawful means of spiritual communion, the four magical dancers between the worlds were demonised.

Angels of Sacred Dance: Queen of the NightAccording to the Zohar, after Cain killed his brother Abel, Adam was separated from Eve for 130 years.[1] Lilith and Na’amah visited Adam and bore his demonic children, called the Plagues of Mankind. In the Zohar, the abode of the Venusian female spirits of sacred dance is in hell, and they are the four consorts of the Archdemon Samael.

Even Samael has an ambiguous nature in scriptures, for in some of the old books he has the status of Archangel, while in others he is the Prince of Hell or of the Qliphoth. The name of the Archdemon Samael has the meaning of ‘North’, or ‘Left-hand’, an indication that Samael and his four consorts were originally associated with a very ancient (viz., pre-religious) tradition.

Elements of the pre-religious spiritual disciplines have survived into relatively modern times. For example, in the Tantrik tradition of the East as Shiva and Shakti, and in Egypt as Set-Hadit and Nuit, not to mention the oracular Wadjet, Neïth, Seshet, Sekhet and countless others. ‘Sinister’ is derived from the Latin sinistrum, meaning ‘left’. Tantrik cults centred around the sacred feminine are viewed as ‘Left-hand path’, and are considered evil or antisocial, especially since some of the methods prohibit the use of sex for procreation. This is a reversal of what has been considered acceptable since biblical times. Social conventions reinforced over long ages of prohibition, religious taboo and state bribery only legitimise sexual activity, for example, as a means of begetting children.

In modern secular societies, sexual congress without the intention of producing progeny is acceptable so long as it is for recreational amusement. In that case it is fenced around with medical precautions that cancel, or otherwise render as evil and abortive, the reification of the psychosexual force. The ‘demonic’ slur is thus ironic, since sexual congress without the specialised forbidden knowledge results in evil or unbalanced astral forms or psychic aggregates. The ‘astral’ or subtle realm coincides with the plane of elemental air, Qabalistic Yetzirah or Sanskrit vayu. Elementars and other denizens of the inferior subtle regions are able to inhabit the vacuous recesses of the human mind, feeding off the vital fluids. The physical consequence of this ignorance of ancient doctrine includes the whole range of mental disorders, speech and cognitive dysfunction in human beings.

Angels of Sacred Dance: Notes

This article forms the introduction to the chapter of the same title in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs, Revised Second Edition.

Ishtar Queen of the Night: LilithThe photograph of Ishtar (known as Lilith) is of the Burney Relief, courtesy of Trustees of the British Museum. The British Museum recently produced a reconstruction of the plaque  to show how it was probably painted, which was construed by analysing traces of pigment. The body of Ishtar is thought to have been painted in red ochre, for example.

Click on the image to view at full size.

1. The Zohar, one of the key Qabalistic source texts, was first published in Spain in the thirteenth century. Its origin is disputed; the publisher, Moses de León, claimed the Zohar to have been composed in the second century AD by the rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who hid in a cave for thirteen years to escape Roman persecution. He studied the Torah and was inspired by the Prophet Elijah to write the Zohar. Scholars in modern times have produced evidence to show that the author, or at least compositor of the work, was the publisher himself, which would date the Zohar as no earlier than 1270 AD.

© Oliver St. John 2018, 2024

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