Our Lady BABALON

From time to time it has come to our notice that some people have very strange ideas concerning who or what our Lady Babalon is, or what she symbolises.

Blake: BABALONBabalon, as divine personification and Shakti, to whom is the power of ‘reversing time’ in the assimilation and reabsorption of all illusions of self, is integral to initiatic transmission and gnosis. Yet it is very common nowadays to find ‘devotees’ of Babalon that are only devoted to a kind of advertising agency notion of the ‘modern woman’. This involves a kind of sexualised ideal of women that is a contradiction in itself, a dissociated idea of the self that could only come about in the confusion that owes to the spiritual vacuum of the present times. It persists in the ambiguous realm of fantasy—which also happens to be the realm used for selling products. Sadly, the licentious trading on the name of Babalon typifies the total inversion of all spiritual knowledge. It denies any possibility of gnosis or initiation while pretending to sell ‘liberation’ through the cynical commercial exploitation of completely ordinary human weakness and delusion.

Our Lady Babalon has vastly ancient origins. Her name derives from a corruption of the Egyptian per-hapi-en-aunnu, ‘Nile Temple of Aunnu’. The Nile Temple, dedicated to Hathoor the goddess of the sky and the divine pillar or initiatic axis, refers to the nome centre of the place named by the Greeks as Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. Hathoor is notable for giving birth to Horus without any need for a father, which is indicative of a pure metaphysical understanding of reality beyond the cosmological level, identical to the Advaitan knowledge path or Non Dual gnosis.

The name Hathoor, Egyptian Het-hor, means literally ‘House of Horus’. Hathoor, or Babalon, is thus cognate with Nuit as personification of the supreme principle. As ‘clothed with the sun’, she is both the manifest and unmanifest principle. The relatively modern spelling of her name was derived from the Enochian Keys. By regular Qabalistic values the name ‘Babalon’ adds to 156, which is the number of the Zodiac as a unified principle (12 x 13). It is also the number of squares in each of the Enochian Watchtower Tablets. From that we can ascertain that while the absolute principle is not altered by any conditions of manifestation, Babalon, in her manifest aspect, is the ruler of the cosmological sphere. As we know that Horus in his earliest form as Set-Mentu is the Legislator or Lord of the Cosmic Cycle, we can understand how it is not really possible to separate Horus from Hathoor in the same way that Hadit is not separate from Nuit, for these are dual aspects of the supreme principle.

From the corporeal and human point of view, Our Lady Babalon is the type of the human soul, especially when named the ‘Scarlet Woman’ in the Book of the Law. As such, the soul suffers the burden of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, which resides in the human heart. Some insights may be gleaned from a name of the Garden of Eden (ODN KBVD), which also has the value of 156. According to our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, the Scarlet Woman or soul is warned that the gates of paradise will be closed if she is herself closed to the word of the Holy Guardian Angel. The “compassion and tenderness” mentioned in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 43, has negative implications for the soul. The sympathy or feeling that the soul has is very closely associated with her bodily emotions and mentality. Such ‘feeling’ thus easily becomes a mask for pride and egotism. While there is nothing wrong with love and kindness when it springs freely from the heart, the human mind has an immense capacity for deception. We must also discern a difference here between the ‘heart’ as an analogy for spiritual intelligence and the conventional meaning of the word as merely emotion, instinct or sentiment.

Scorpio, ruled by fiery Mars, the energy or ‘blood’ of life, is sometimes understood as a correspondence of Babalon as the ‘Scarlet Woman’ referred to in the Book of the Law. It is worthwhile looking at a further correspondence of the number 156, KMVTz (Kemotz). Our Flaming Sword gives this as the Ruling Angel of the 1st Decanate of Scorpio. The name suggests ‘essence of darkness’, which seems rather abstruse until we consider that darkness or blackness can symbolise the unmanifest or primordial state, which is identical with the supreme principal. In its inferior aspect, darkness is simply the darkness of ignorance, so we are at once confronted with the dual nature of symbolism. Both aspects apply to the Scarlet Woman or human soul, for she must choose, as according to the Book of the Law, I: 57:

There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!

The dove is the symbol of the Deliverance, also the avatar that ascends and descends the axis or world tree as an intermediary. It is inseparable from the symbolism of the Holy Graal. The serpent itself has a dual aspect, superior and inferior. Here it is played against the bird of heaven, as the Adversary or tendency towards evil that is in man. To a certain extent then, the soul must undergo trials in the underworld or infernal realm that has its equation with ‘ordinary life’, before reaching the centre of the labyrinth. Once the centre is reached—if it is reached and not denied—it becomes possible for the soul’s initiatory death and resurrection or ascent.


Notes on our Lady Babalon

This article further develops themes explored in our books Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs and the forthcoming Nu Hermetica.

© Oliver St. John 2021

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Enochian Keys to the Apocalypse

Some have speculated that John Dee’s book of Enochian Keys (or Calls) is 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 the title of the 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.

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 Enochian Keys and the book of Revelation, albeit placed within a perspective other than Christian theology, concords with the knowledge of all other traditions. 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. This 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.

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.[1] This region corresponds elementally to the Tarot court card Princess of Swords, the ‘Throne’ of the Ace of Swords. Her full title is Princess of the Rushing Winds, the Lotus of the Palace of Air. The suit of Air in the Tarot corresponds to the whole realm of the intellect in the microcosm, or on the human scale.

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 or manifested the original life-wave on the earth. In the Bible, their children 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’. The ‘Lord’ is named IAD, ‘Holy’. This has the numerical value of 70, equal to the Greek omicron and Hebrew a’ain. Both letters are derived from the earlier Phoenician a’ain (or ayin), ‘an eye’—and both the sound and form can be traced back much earlier, to the ancient Egyptians.

Curiously, the name ‘Watchers’ has been applied to the Elders or Nephilim as mentioned in the book of Genesis. 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 was on mount Hermon that Christ Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, according to some sources. It was from near the summit, where still exists the highest shrine in the world, built from stone blocks, that the angels descended as according to the apocryphal book of Enoch. This is also recorded on a stele that that was stolen from the shrine and is now preserved in the British Museum. It was here that the angels were said to have taken the oath to descend and mingle with the daughters of men. From this it may be seen that the Nephilim were born of the first avatars. Mount Hermon is used in modern times for the purpose of military surveillance across some considerable distance. However, the view from the mountain is also analogous with the darshana (‘view’) of the Supreme Principle.

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”.

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). 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. Thus our world is sold into slavery and condemned to hell through rejection of the Truth 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.


Notes

1. 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.

Enochian Keys to the Apocalypse is abridged from Nu Hermetica, soon to be released.
© Oliver St. John 2021

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Romance of the Magical Orders

Magical Orders: We here explore the relation between Thelema and magical Orders in the Rosicrucian tradition. We will also cover the cosmology and philosophy of Thelema. [This is an abridged form of the essay that has been substantially revised and rewritten for a Second Edition of Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]

Thelema is a lunar and feminine mystery that vastly predates the Rosicrucian mysteries, upon which has been superimposed the grade or degree system we are familiar with.

Romance of the Magical Orders: Argenteum Astrum Richel No 1489Thelema is frequently described as a ‘magical system’ but it is no such thing in reality. Neither is it any kind of religion, though it has some affinities with Gnosticism. The true function of an initiatic Order is transmission. Such transmission has its source outside of and beyond the human sphere, or sphere of the individuality. Such an aim cannot, ipso facto, be fulfilled through any social or political agenda. As declared in AL, I: 11,

These are fools that men adore; both their Gods and their men are fools.

According to René Guénon,

… it is easy to understand that the role of the individual who confers initiation on another is veritably one of transmitter in the most exact sense of the word. Such a person does not act as an individual, but as the support of an influence not belonging to the individual order; he is only a link in the chain of which the starting-point lies outside and beyond humanity. This is why he acts not in his own name but in the name of the organisation to which he is attached and from which he holds his powers; or, more exactly still, he acts in the name of the principle that the organisation visibly represents.[1]

The (Egyptian) Book of the Law was dictated through the agency of a praeterhuman intelligence, named Aiwass in the book.[2] It is the aim of magick to prepare the person for initiatic transmission. The fact that such transmission takes place, however, does not in itself mean that effective initiation is a certainty, for there must be latency within the person that makes it possible. There are also many other factors, social and environmental, for example, that may determine if the person is so resistant to spiritual realisation that they are impervious to its influence. The ideal of the Rosicrucian legacy is that initiation only becomes valid when the person is prepared to make a sacrifice, which in ancient Egyptian terms makes a priest ma’a kheru, ‘true-speaking’ or ‘true of voice’. The ego and accumulated obstructive aggregates of the person must essentially be realised as having no true existence.

A ‘Black Brother’, in the peculiar language of the Western Mystery Tradition, is one that believes, or that wishes others to believe, that the material universe is the sole reality and that it may be understood wholly through rational process. A Black Brother may be a scientist, but may equally be a theologian, religious leader or philosopher in the modern sense of the word—the masks are endless in their variety. According to Kenneth Grant, Introduction to Part Two, Nightside of Eden,

The atavisms of the Black Brothers are the sterile stars born of the speechless or lisping Aeon, for the Word may be vibrated without distortion only via the menstruum of the female.

Thelema is a lunar and feminine mystery that vastly predates the Rosicrucian mysteries, upon which has been superimposed the grade or degree system we are familiar with. Seemingly disparate traditions, including deviations from tradition—which would include all modern organisations—are nonetheless linked as though by an invisible chain so long as they still carry the possibility of real initiation. By ‘real’ initiation, we mean here not the etymological meaning of the word, which is merely ‘to start something off’, but the technical meaning, which refers to initiatic transmission conveyed through authentic tradition—no matter how obscured that tradition has become even from the members that make up the external body of an organisation.

Rosicrucian fraternities (unless very degenerate) always differ from religious orthodoxy in two vital points. Firstly, the aim is to obtain direct knowledge as distinct from ‘salvation’ through belief, which is an exoteric or religious concern. Secondly, the feminine rôle as Initiatrix is reinstated, though it is frequently veiled in symbolism such as the rose, or the glyph of Venus. Rosicrucian source texts make it clear that what the fraternity alludes to is first and foremost active and alive on the interior, although one could be excused for thinking otherwise when studying the works of ‘authorities’ that produce tome after tome filled with the evidence of facts, dates and names of personages. The Order of the Rosy Cross is not a name for historical clubs, archaic fraternities or ‘societies’, secret or otherwise.

The titles afforded the three Orders are poetic metaphors for varying degrees of spiritual realisation. Any person that founds an Order of the Golden Dawn—that is, the first five grades—must be in contact with the three higher degrees of the Order of the Rosy Cross. And likewise, anyone that founds an Order of the Rosy Cross must be in contact with the supernal Order of the Silver Star. The Tree of Life ‘begins’ with Kether—it is not possible to start a Rosicrucian Order from a position halfway down the Tree and pretend there is nothing above!

None of these considerations discourage the fantasists, of course, who are persuaded by the Serpent of Knowledge arising in them to set up their own puppet theatre in which they play the starring rôle. It is by now quite common to hear of those who claim to have ‘crossed the Abyss’ and so obtained full and permanent spiritual realisation. It does not seem to occur to them that if they had realised in any way what they claim then they would know there is nothing to claim and no one to claim it.

Magical Orders: Argenteum Astrum

There are various exoteric factions of the Order known generically as the A∴A∴ It has become quite common for Orders with this title to assert exclusive ‘lineage’ and rights to the name. Curiously, some groups prefer to be mysterious—or even mysteriously ignorant!—as to what the abbreviated title actually stands for. Aster Argos (Greek) or ‘Silver Star’ is the poetic title of the Rosicrucian-based Order corresponding to the supernal triad. In Latin, it is Argenteum Astrum.[3]

The name is derived from the esoteric title of the Priestess II of Tarot, assigned to the 13th path of Gimel. The  path of the Priestess of the Silver Star extends from Kether the Crown of the Tree of Life to Tiphereth, the centre of the Ruach Elohim. In the Sepher Yetzirah the 13th path is called the Uniting Intelligence, or Intelligence of the Unities. Note that ‘Unities’ is plural, not singular. As it is revealed by Aiwass in Liber AL, I: 1–4 concerning the Star of Nuit,

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.

Magical Orders and the Word of the Law

Thelema (Θελημα) is the “word of the Law” as stated in AL, I: 39. It is not a law of scriptures, decrees or any exoteric doctrine or body of religious teachings. According to AL, III: 49,

I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.

The fourfold word is Do what thou wilt. The Law of Thelema is a spiritual and natural one, not a human one. Some but not all human beings have this secret nature within them and of those, some are destined to discover it. The word Thelema means ‘will’—not the personal will with its illusory deterministic power but the will-force indicated by the Greek word used, which is rooted in Theos (Θεος), the influence of the divine or spiritual realm that is by definition of non-human origin.

Thelema and Agape (Αγαπη), ‘love’, both add to the number 93 by Greek Qabalah. The word Thelema is therefore cognate with the word Agape, which is spiritual love and intelligence, not romantic or erotic love. Consciousness exists everywhere in the universe, though it is not of the universe that we perceive. As declared by the Serpent of Knowledge, Hadit, in AL, II: 3–4:

In the sphere I [Hadit] am everywhere the centre, as she [Nuit], the circumference, is nowhere found. Yet she shall be known and I never.

Consciousness is everywhere and is not limited to the domain of the human. Wild birds and creatures are sentient, in contradiction to the prevailing scientism that forms its degenerate doctrines to preserve the artificial hell in which Adam and Eve are imprisoned until they come to know the true state of affairs.

Cosmology

The best sense of the word ‘cosmology’ is the literal one, from the Greek: ‘a conversation about the universe’. However, that is not the meaning of the term as it is commonly understood. Likewise, the conventional academic understanding of metaphysics is only ‘about the matter’, the physics, which paved the way for scientism. The ancients had an entirely different way of thinking that cannot be grasped by rational process, whether its resulting dogma is slanted towards scientism, religion or religious theology. As it is succinctly put in AL, II: 32,

Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite and unknown; and all their words are skew-wise.

Metaphysics literally means ‘to pass beyond the form of a thing’, and thus it really owes to pure esotericism. Ancient metaphysics, aeons before the term was coined, could be expressed only through symbols formed from a detailed observation of nature.

Originally, there was only one Tree of Life that was also a Tree of Knowledge. From the fragrant emanation of Nuit-Babalon comes forth the tree from which the gods are sprung. As a cognate study, Ishtar is the happy goddess of the three worlds of heaven, earth and the underworld. The same three worlds are depicted on the obverse of the Stele of Revealing and there is certainly a Thelemic Trinity implied in the structure of the (Egyptian) Book of the Law. There is also a trinity of sorts in the title of the book’s manuscript, ‘L’, as 30. The primal trinity is Binah, the root of all form, the cosmic Matrix or womb—and so the basis, through relationship, of all understanding.

The Sethian Gnosis, which is included among the books ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, asserts a trinity of spirit or fragrance, light and dark. The light and dark had no moral implications of good or evil—the Gnosis precedes religious theologies by vast ages of time. The fragrance, or spirit-intelligence, permeates the light and dark equally; it knows them; thus the cosmic womb or Matrix is formed.


Notes

1. Perspectives on Initiation [Sophia Perennis].
2. The Egyptian name ‘Aiwass’ means, ‘He who was ordained in Thebes’.
3. Kenneth Grant studied and copied the manuscripts and diaries of Crowley while posing as his ‘assistant’ at his retirement home in Hastings towards the end of his life. He found there the only unequivocal reference to the meaning of the two initial letters of the name.

‘Romance of the Magical Orders’ has been substantially revised and is to appear in the Second Edition of Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

Romance of the Magical Orders
© Oliver St. John 2018, 2021 (revised).

View all books by Oliver St. John here

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