Leo: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Sekhet XI

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.

Leo: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Sekhet XISekhet, the Egyptian lioness goddess of heat and fire, is depicted in the centre of the Tarot design. She is crowned by the solar disc 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 is the original type of the ‘woman of blood’, the Scarlet Woman as described in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 15.

Now ye shall know that the chosen priest and apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.

In Sekhet, Eve and the Serpent or Woman and Beast are combined in one image, for to her “is all power given”. The magick of transformation, by which the poisons of the Qliphoth or demon shells are purified and dispelled, is accomplished by the soul’s immersion in the underworld where Sekhet reigns with supreme power.[1] Her collar of grey rayed with amber declares the manifesting power of the true word or oracular utterance, which is symbolised by the cobra serpent emerging from a basket at the upper right of the Tarot card. The collar is also a type of protective shield, a further attribute of Sekhet, who protects the soul against the hostile forces of the underworld. The nemmys of Sekhet is purple, reflecting the 19th path at the level of Atziluth, the world of emanations.[2] Babalon or the Scarlet Woman is the material embodiment of Nuit; the Serpent is the embodiment of Hadit. According to Liber AL, I: 16,

For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

One of the many titles of Sekhet is ‘The Powerful One’, for that is the literal meaning of her name, derived from sekhem. Her name is thus spelled with the priestly sekhem sceptre hieroglyph in the lower left of the Tarot picture. As the Shakti power par excellence, there is some comparison to be made with Kali, adored by tantrik saints and yoginis.

The esoteric title of the Tarot trump, Daughter of the Flaming Sword, further indicates the close affinity between Sekhet and Ma’at. This is emphasised by the position of the 19th path of Leo on the Tree of Life, extending from the azure sphere of Jupiter to the fiery red of Mars. Jupiter is the natural sephira of Ma’at, nature’s Truth and Justice, while Mars is an apt station for Sekhet in her fiery and vengeful aspect. In many ways Sekhet and Ma’at are so close as to be interchangeable, and the 19th path of Leo combines the attributes.

The 19th path of Leo is called the Intelligence of the Secret of all Spiritual Activities or the Occult Intelligence. The path is the first that is wholly beneath the Abyss when descending, and the last before the Abyss when ascending the Tree. It is therefore the secret ruler and governor of all that is below, even as it receives the influence (mezla) from that which is above.[3]

The traditional magical power of the 19th path of Leo is the Power of Training Wild Beasts, which is the art of deriving oracles from snakes and women. Initiation in magick and yoga also requires the person to understand the Occult Force. As it is put by Hadit, the Serpent of Knowledge in Liber AL, II: 26–27:

I am the secret Serpent coiled about to spring: in my coiling there is joy. If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.
There is great danger in me; for who doth not understand these runes shall make a great miss. He shall fall down into the pit called Because, and there he shall perish with the dogs of Reason.

Those who work the path to the limits of reason may intuit the magical power of the Occult Intelligence, but there is great danger therein. Causal determinism has been with us since ancient times. It is resumed in modern times, more specifically as self-willed determinism. Unthinking acceptance of causal determinism means that Thelemic magicians become ensnared by the crapulous creed of scientism. The cults of self-love are also cast into the pit by the Daughter of the Flaming Sword, for the rational doctrine of the self as sole supreme leads to the self-confinement of Isolate Intelligence, and the “direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit”, as it is put in Liber AL, I: 52.[4]

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!

The power of hypnotism is also associated with the snake. The snake of light, or Lion-serpent, extends from the base of the spine to the medulla oblongata where the spinal column enters the brain at the back of the head. The serpent then forms the occult third eye (ajna) chakra.

Leo the Lion-serpent

Djet or Techa Serpent Hieroglyph

Teth the Serpent is the letter of the path, shown on the lower right edge of the Tarot card. The serpent is one of the earliest magical images of Leo. Figures of Sekhet and the cat goddess Bast frequently showed a serpent spine or tail. Techa or djed, the ancient Egyptian form of the serpent, looks similar in shape to the letter lamed.

There is a close relationship between Ma’a, the Lion of Truth, whose letter is the sickle or Egyptian sword of Ma’at, and the oracular serpent. The relation is well established in the Tarot correspondences. The paths of Leo and Libra (19 and 22) effectively revolve around Virgo (Isis) and are interchangeable.[5] The serpent hieroglyph is both the root and phonetic of the name of Tahuti (or Thoth), god of magick, writing and words, especially the Word. The serpent is also closely identified with both Ra and his sun boat as both protector and antagonist, as explained with the previous zodiacal trump in the series, Atet VII. The Lion-serpent is a very ancient image of Leo the Lion, the 5th sign of the Zodiac ruled by the Sun. It is the astral or magical image of Leo and the 19th path.

With this Tarot trump we have chosen to show Uranus as exalted in Leo, as glyphed on the lower left edge of the card. As the Daughter of Ra and the Eye of Ra, Sekhet sends forth flashing rays that incinerate the foe. Uranus corresponds to Da’ath by the analogy of lightning bolts or arrows of Neïth striking down through the Abyss. The matrix of Ma’at or Isis, as seated on her Throne of Hollow Stone is thus made luminous.[6]

Ancient Lore of Sekhet

Sekhet or Sekhmet is a warrior goddess as well as protectress. According to ancient Egyptian lore, the desert was formed from her hot, fiery breath. She is the protector of kings and leads them into battle. Upon death, Sekhet assists their passage through the underworld to her perfumed garden of paradise, called Sekhet A’aru, the ‘blessed fields’ from which the Greeks took their Eleusinian Paradise. Sekhet A’aru literally means, ‘Reed Fields’.

In a tale concerning the ending of Ra’s rule on the earth, Ra sends Hathoor in the form of Sekhet to destroy all those who conspired against him. Sekhet’s blood lust is not quelled at the end of battle and there is a danger of her destroying the entire human race. Ra then pours out beer dyed with red ochre or hematite so that it resembles blood. Mistaking the beer for blood, Sekhet becomes so drunk that she returns peacefully to Ra. Ra, the Sun, it is well to remember, is the ruler of the astrological sign of Leo the Lion. The Sun is the secret self of Sekhet, soul and daughter of Ra.

The priestesses of Sekhet performed a ritual before a different statue of the goddess on each day of the year. This has resulted in many well-preserved images of the goddess. Most of her statuettes are finely cut from solid granite, the most enduring stone—and very difficult to cut and work with.[7]

Feasts to Sekhet were celebrated at the end of battles, for the preservation of peace. During the annual festival held at the beginning of the year, the Egyptians danced and played music in celebration of the goddess. According to the few written accounts that have survived the ages, the celebrants ritually drank great quantities of red beer and wine to imitate the divine intoxication that calmed the wrath of the goddess when she almost destroyed humanity. The tale was at one time mirrored at the beginning of each year, when the Nile ran blood red with silt from up-stream. Some versions of the legend have it that Sekhet swallowed the overflow to save humankind from destruction.

There are historical records of tens of thousands attending the festival of Sekhet. The findings were made in the temple of Mut; when Thebes (Waset) rose to prominence, Mut absorbed some of the characteristics of Sekhet. Temple excavations at Luxor discovered a ‘porch of drunkenness’ built into the temple by Queen Hatshepsut, at the height of her twenty-year reign.

Such accounts have always delighted travellers and historians. However they reveal little if anything of the real mysteries of Sekhet, or of the occult powers of her path. As the ‘Old One’, Sekhet’s origins are lost in antiquity. Like Set, the only begotten son of Nuit, she is considered first of all Gods. Today, knowledge of Sekhet’s path exists in fragmentary form. Her followers, contrary to that which we would surmise from the writings of historians and Egyptologists, continue her rites in secret.


Notes

1. The importance of the feminine power in the underworld is explained in depth in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

2. The name Atziluth, the divine world of emanations, is derived from the root etz, ‘source’, ‘essence’. The word is etymologically related to Etz Chaim, the Tree of Life from which the gods are sprung.

3. The full commentary on the Yetziratic attributions of the paths is given in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, in two volumes [Ordo Astri].

4. Esoteric Thelema is fully set forth in Babalon Unveiled [ibid]. In particular, ‘Lapis Philosophorum’. An abridged form of the treatise can be read online here.

5. See Babalon Unveiled [ibid], ‘Daughter of the Lords of Truth. The essay can also be read online here.

6. In the works of Kenneth Grant, the Throne is established by the lightning of Nodens, God of the Deep, reaching upward and beyond the transplutonic (or post-abysmal) voids. This is illustrated and explained in the Appendices, Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God, Kenneth Grant [Starfire Publishing].

7. It is thought that more than 700 statues of Sekhet once stood in the funerary temple of Amenhotep III, on the west bank of the Nile.

From the book, Egyptian Tarot of Thelema.
© Oliver St. John 2020

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is an entirely new concept in the field of practical magick, divination and Thelema. The 12 Zodiac trumps can be viewed here. The Tarot is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the Tarot here. More information on our ‘Books’ page may be found here.

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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 Egyptian Tarot of Thelema is available  as of December 2020. Preview and purchase the  Tarot deck here from Printer Studio (USA and World) or here from Printer Studio (UK). More information, links and a PDF manual may be found on our Ordo Astri ‘Books’ page here.

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.

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 may inwardly perceive 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 is regarded as the son of Mut and Amoun, and he is 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 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.]

© Oliver St. John 2019, 2020

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Aspiration or Materialism

Aspiration was effectively abolished many centuries ago. Those who seek initiation must relearn what aspiration means. That will not be easy for them to do. All the modern conventions that most of us have regarded as ‘positive’, such as individualism, personal expression, democracy, rights, even liberty, were based on rational and humanistic ideals that were also founded on an anti-traditional and (as a consequence) anti-initiatic prejudice. It is only now, perhaps, that we can see where all this has led us—which is to the very opposite, in fact, of what those ideals were supposed to be about. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 43,

Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known.

Aspiration or Materialism: Sebek Egyptian Crocodile GodThe elimination of “old sweetnesses” is not done overnight. Tradition has it that we have to be careful what we ask the Gods for because we might get it. When Zeus appeared to Olympia, she was burnt to a cinder. Zeus had to appear; it was her wish. We may, for example, confuse aspiration through unknowing acceptance of materialism, which is the dominant force in the world today. Materialism prefers to substitute ‘personal development’ for spiritual aspiration, because that places the focus on the satisfaction of base needs and desires. Personal development is a subversive notion, especially when it is thought to be cognate with spiritual aspiration. If we think we can find a True Will through personal development, we are making that will-force subject to layers of subversive reasoning that fragment the truth until it becomes a mere collection of unrelated figures formed from the latent wish-desire.

Let us suppose how the ancient Egyptians might have dealt with someone in search of ‘personal development’ in relation to seeking admission to a mystery temple. First of all, the person is stripped naked, splashed with holy water and fumigated with perfumes. Then they are directed to a small door that opens into a courtyard surrounded by high walls. In the centre of the courtyard is a shrine in an enclosure built of stone, with an open doorway. They are told that in the shrine they will learn how to realise all their goals and fulfil their every wish and desire. The shrine is surrounded by a circular lake. On the other side is a large, hungry crocodile. According to the Book of the Law, II: 32,

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

It is also declared in AL, I: 57,

Love is the law, love under will.

There is no love in self-isolating fragmentation, which is the end result of skewed reason. Without love there can be no truth—for the metaphysical Monad is easily misconstrued or otherwise deliberately inverted until it becomes the Self-Alone-God, a mere projection of ego. Monadism, to coin a term, is such a persuasive notion that it undoubtedly paved the way for the invasion of the East by Western materialism. By that time, the Western world was conditioned by centuries of humanism. Humanism, essentially atheist, places the self before all else, automatically excluding the possibility of anything beyond it. Aspiration is then strictly limited to personal goals.

Aspiration and Will

This matter of aspiration raises the question of the will. Psychologists have assumed that there must be an ‘unconscious’ will. If the person thinks and acts against that will, then neurosis comes about. That is the theory. The problem is we then assume that we (or other people) are unconscious of the will. Apart from its dependence on psychological theories, this is a presumptuous and very broad generalisation. We can take neurosis as particular to the human species, but does it arise from unconsciousness of the will? Is it not more the case that from birth we learn to work out reasonable but lying strategies about everything, because that is the way of the (human) world? Through the double-thinking power of the reason we learn that truth is adaptable according to circumstances, that it is ‘all relative’.[1] This notion has long existed but Descartes is known for putting it forward as a ‘truth’ in itself. This is a convenient truth for anyone whose primary wish is to dominate the will of others through power of reasoning. Reason does not require intellect or even thought, in any real sense. ‘Facts’ are selected and arranged to support the argument, however ignorant. Those who wish to control the minds and bodies of others do not want them to think, they want them to believe and obey.

Aleister Crowley accepted the notion of the relativity of truth (when it suited him to do so), and maintained that the True Will is ultimately a force of Chaos, which he called the ‘Beast’—and with which he self-identified. As a force of Chaos, it is unknowing of any truth.[2] It is all about impulse, action, doing. This is modified, in Crowley’s scheme of things, by Babalon, Understanding (or Binah), but in his way and in spite of what he said to the contrary, he made Babalon (as woman) subservient to his idea of Will-Chaos. This notion is false; it comes from a condition of mind that owes to the threshold of the Abyss, where no truth is known, only relativity. No one is ‘unconscious’ of the will-force, but atheism and other humanistic tendencies have increased vastly the level of common ignorance, which is masked by a sense that things are ‘too complex’ to really understand or to know for certain. The complexity, which owes to relativism, ultimately tends towards chaos and madness. We see this in the present world picture, where totalitarianism has been brought about in the name of ‘democracy’, which is by now a purely theatrical, staged proceeding. Corporate and governmental systems that implement totalitarian strategies owe to completely chaotic and thoughtless economics and science, based on machines and data.

Candidates for initiation are called ‘aspirants’. It is necessary, and always has been, for spiritual aspirants to seek truth above all else and to seek that truth as wholly outside of and beyond the person, the self. We must define our terms. What is aspiration? A modern dictionary is no use here as the first definition will be something like ‘ambition of achieving something’, which is the purely materialist explanation of the word. Typically it removes all sense of any spiritual meaning that could be applied. Ambition throws the whole matter straight back on to the self, the perceived needs and desires of the person—the person who, in the present context, is not initiated. The Latin root, aspirare, suits our purpose much better, for it means ‘to breathe’. This may refer to both inhalation and exhalation, so we first must examine what kind of air we breathe.

Aspiration: Ra the Sun God (Egyptian Tarot Thelema)The ‘breath of Ra’ is not only the air that sustains life but is also ‘light’ that forms and sustains the intellect. The intellect, understood in the real sense, is far more than the reason that is common to all or most persons. The air we breathe can therefore include language. Language shapes thought, and thought shapes the world we live in.[3] The language used by materialists is corrupt, for it rests on the ignorant assumption that nothing exists beyond the material. Such information, which is no more than hypnosis through repetition of a single idea, carries an insidious message—a message wholly opposed to the work of initiation and what might be termed as ‘initiated thought’. That is to say, thought that might lead to initiation, or in other ways assist it.

Personal development is often now applied by corporations in the workplace, for the so-called ‘wellbeing’ of employees. That should be enough in itself to arouse a suspicion that there might be something wrong with such notions of personal development and wellbeing—and yet these terms are also used now in relation to spiritual matters such as yoga. Yoga means ‘union’; placed in the traditional context, the word means ‘union with God’. If yoga is about the ambitions of the person, then what is there to unite with? Since it is placed in the individual domain, there can be no spiritual aim whatsoever. It can even be harmful to the being to persist in such practices, for they will naturally carry a residue of what they carried when they were part of a genuine initiated tradition, yet the person will have no means of protecting themselves against the negative inversion of such forces that will come about as a consequence.

The present generations were born into the darkest of dark ages. They have been hypnotised from the day they were born. Materialism is the air they breathe, food they eat, and water they drink. They indoctrinate others without even knowing it. The very thoughts they have, which they imagine to be their own, are the product of a wordless aeon—which means that generations are now born that have no logos, no possibility of intellect in the real sense of what that means.[4] So-called education systems suppress all independence of thought and expression yet they pretend to develop the individual. These systems are perpetuated because they are a reliable form of brainwashing that is rigorously applied to every young person and continued through to so-called higher education. The sole aim is to produce obedient and efficient units of productivity. None of these systems encourage thought in any real sense.

Humanities, which were once called liberal sciences, are taught with a rational humanistic bias, hence the name given. Nothing is considered to be of value unless it is seen to be of benefit to man. Everything of value is thus seen to be that which is the product of man. Man is therefore isolated from everything that could teach him to reach beyond himself, to aspire.

The consequence of individualism is that everyone must conform to a lowest common denominator, formed by the base needs and desires of the majority. All true individuality is suppressed. The suppression of individuality is the general and persistent trend of the modern world. At the present time we now see an unprecedented movement to bring about the desocialisation and dehumanisation of the race across the entire globe.

It is a tragedy that the world we live in today discourages contemplation, even ruthlessly suppresses it. The machine-world of humans does not require that people think, only that they do as they are told, as obedient slaves. The most frequent complaint from our students is that they simply do not have enough time. And yet time is not a commodity, it is not even a thing in itself! What they really mean is that they are the slaves of a machine that controls every aspect of what they vainly think of as their ‘life’, from the moment they are born to the moment they die. Much that is commonly termed ‘occultism’ is no more than ordinary hypnotism. Such hypnotism is now the work of advertising agencies, media barons, governments and corporations. That kind of ‘black magic’ is by now a perfectly ordinary thing.

If aspiration is to satisfy the needs and wishes of the person, then it is a force of anti-initiation dressed up as something spiritual or holy. It is the worst kind of fraud. The Great Work alone provides the basis by which meaning is conveyed to ordinary life.[5] When ordinary life is separated from spiritual principles it falls into meaningless confusion. There is now, then, a pressing and urgent need for a Great Work, for there is no meaning in anything without it.


Notes

1. ‘Double-think’ was a term coined by George Orwell in his novel, 1984, based on the world situation of 1948. The novel has been misunderstood and misrepresented ever since. It was not a dystopian fantasy but a disguised factual narrative based on Orwell’s experience of working for the BBC propaganda department. In the novel, he called this the Ministry of Truth; the department’s sole purpose was to disseminate misinformation. ‘Truth’ changed on a daily basis. That situation has not changed, in fact it has got worse, for it is greatly facilitated by new technologies.
2. Chaos is derived from the Greek for ‘vast chasm, void’ (καος). We use the word here in the conventional sense that Crowley intended. The conventional useage, and that used in physics, is a modern corruption, however. Originally, chaos did not mean ‘random or disorganised force’ and was the name of a god (Egyptian neter, ‘principle’).
3. Schopenhauer proposed that thought shapes reality (The World as Will and Representation, 1818). It does not, but it cannot be argued that thought shapes our world. See ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled.
4. We use the term ‘wordless aeon’ to describe the spiritual vacuum of the modern age.
5. The Great Work is, put in general terms, to assist in the restoration of the earth to the governance of the original life-wave, that she might find her true place among the stars.

Related articles: Crisis of the Modern World Revisited

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2021

Aspiration or Materialism forms part of a work in progress, Nu Hermetica.

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