Virgo: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IX

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.

Virgo: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Isis IXThe trump depicts the twin sisters Isis and Nephthys giving life to the inert soul, suspended in the watery abyss called Aukert.[1] 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 twin sisters Isis and Nephthys are depicted in the centre of the Tarot picture. We know them from their Greek names but the Egyptians knew them as Iset and Nebhet. Their names literally mean ‘Throne’ and ‘Lady of the House’. The hieroglyphs for these form the crowns of the goddesses. They both wear a fillet, tied at the back, and from the front the erect cobra serpent protrudes over their brows. The uraeus is the royal emblem and symbol of the Occult Force or Kundalini, the power of divinity and of life.

Isis and Nephthys mirror each other here, so while Isis salutes with her right hand, Nephthys salutes with her left. In the other hand each bears the Ankh of Life. The Golden Dawn scheme is resumed in this image, where Isis forms a waxing lunar crescent on the right hand side of the Tree of Life and Nephthys forms a waning lunar crescent on the left hand side. Together they are the forces of manifestation and life, symbolised as the dual serpents entwined about the Caduceus staff of Mercury or Tahuti, the word-bird and Logos.

Isis and the Garden of Eden

Between Isis and Nephthys is the hieroglyph for ‘Garden of the North’, the Delta region. The same was used in descriptions of the Temple of Neïth at Sàis (Egyptian Sait), which was originally surrounded by sumptuous gardens and waterways, and among these the royal bee hives. The honey of the bee is the food of immortality. The bee symbol is inseparable from that of the honeyed fields of Sekhet A’aret, the gardens of paradise or Fields of Eleusis.

Beneath the feet of the twin sisters is Aukert, the region of the underworld where the soul is neither truly dead nor alive, suspended in a watery abyss. The gift of Isis and Nephthys blooms above. It is the awakening to life of a star born from the divine power of imagining. The star is composed of superimposed upright and averse pentagrams forming a flower of ten petals in all. The sum of the star plus the point in the centre makes eleven, the number of initiation and of all those who follow Nuit.[2]

The Hermit is the traditional title of this Tarot card, typifying the sage that wanders alone through desolate, abandoned places in search of the truth, or of God. The legends of Isis include her hiding in the Delta swamps to give birth to the divine child Horus. While she is out searching for food, Set assumes the form of a scorpion and stings Horus to death. Her sister Nephthys then cries out to heaven and stops the sun boat of Ra in its tracks. The momentary cessation of time enables Tahuti to whisper in the ear of Isis the spell (‘moment of time’) that will resurrect Horus to immortal life. The tale has multiple levels of meaning; the soul must be receptive to wisdom, a word must be heard. In the same story Isis commands seven scorpions to bow down their heads that she may pass. They are obedient to her command because she is Isis—they belong to her.[3] The moral is that the practitioner must be obedient to the path. The Setian Ass or human ego must be willingly sacrificed to the Great Work, otherwise initiation, resurrection to new life, is impossible. The account given by Herodotus ends with the exhortation, “And these words are true and a million times true”. A true word must be heard ere it can be uttered. Thus the esoteric title of the Tarot trump for Virgo is Prophet of the Eternal: Magus of the Voice of Power, for there is close affinity between Isis and Tahuti (or Thoth).

Egyptological descriptions of Isis focus on the Middle and Late Kingdom mysteries, when many Greeks and then Romans became followers of the cult of Isis. By that time Isis was wedded with Osiris, the Lord of the Dead. With her twin sister, she was seen as the type of the funerary mourner, whose vocalised ululuations led the soul of the dead along the processional route. The tale of Isis giving birth to Horus noted above dates from the same time, for originally Horus was the child of Hathoor. The same sources give the 5th and 6th Dynasties as the time of the first known reference to Isis, or Iset as she is properly known. She is named in the Pyramid Texts, and we know that these in all probability originate from a time far more ancient even than that of the 5th Dynasty. ‘Throne’, her name, has provoked some amusing scholarly speculation. The explanation is simply that Isis is the Foundation of the Universe, the ‘Throne in the Beginning’. Our translation of Spell 78 from the Book of Coming Forth includes this.[4]

Open thou the ways, that I may return through the wheels of thy spinning, that have established the throne of my becoming; that was my seat before my beginning!

The Iset ‘throne’ hieroglyph nearly always depicts a rectangular or square insert on the base of the seat. This declares the phi ratio or Golden Mean, the foundation of the visible universe that is also descriptive of geometric forms such as the pentagram and spiral. Ancient architecture frequently incorporates the Golden Mean in its proportions. Qabalistically, Binah (‘Understanding’) is the completion of the supernal triad, the geometric foundation of form, and is often personified as Isis. The corresponding name in the world of Yetzirah (‘Foundation’) is Aralim, ‘Thrones’, the Foundation of Understanding. As Isis is also the principle of love, we are reminded that there is no understanding without love, and that love and wisdom are therefore inseparable terms. The literal meaning of philosophy is ‘love of wisdom’—would that it was the norm and not the exception!

Nebhet, the sister of Iset, also wears her name for her crown, ‘Lady of the House’. This is formed from the neb, a bowl or basket, placed upon the het symbol for ‘house’, a rectangular enclosure. The house, temple, shrine or abode thus rests on the foundations of the universe, expressed through the proportions of the phi ratio. It is then the ‘House of God’, the chakra, star or flower that is the abode for the indwelling Soul of the Eternal.

Voice of Power

The position of the 20th path of Virgo on the Tree of Life extends from the azure sphere of Gedulah (Jupiter) to the golden blaze of Tiphereth (the Sun). Gedulah is the natural sephira for both Isis and Ma’at, the law of love under will. In Tiphereth, the Magnificent Fountains flow forth to irrigate the radiant gardens of Eden.

The path is called the Intelligence of Will. The yod, bindu, flame or seed-star that is the letter of the 20th path is, in the absolute sense, Hadit, the giver of Life, the animator of all things that live and move and have their being. Hadit is Mercury in the highest, or most simple, abstract form. Mercury is the planetary ruler of the astrological sign. Virgo is unique in the Zodiac in that Mercury rules her sign and is also exalted therein. The Intelligence of Will is the stream of light or intelligence forming the innermost structures of mind or intellect in man. It is called thus “because it forms all patterns, and to know this Intelligence is to know the whole reality of the Primordial Wisdom.” The knowledge of the spiritual Will constitutes the full realisation of the cosmic purpose or meaning in all things. On this path arises the possibility of knowing and doing the True Will, as it is termed in the cults of Thelema.[5]

The letter yod of this path is the feminine essence—the “creative force that arises in pure darkness” of the 15th path. The ‘seed’ or bindu is thus conveyed to the matrix to form the Khu, spirit or Holy Ghost. The descent of this path brings the recollection of cosmic memory into the full knowledge and realisation of Tiphereth, while the ascent of the path is to immerse one’s own life’s blood or energy into the cup of the Holy Graal. All solitary creatures are traditionally assigned to this path, yet the Initiate of the path must illumine the path for others.

The mystic number of the path is 210, an indication of the mystery of NOX or Night, otherwise personified as Lilith or Lilah. The trinity of the number is summed up in the staff, lamp and cloak of the hermit traditionally assigned to this path. The staff is the energy, the Occult Force, which must be applied with strict vigilance and economy of means towards the Great Work. The lamp is a metaphor for the Occult Light, which the Initiate necessarily veils from the world. The cloak of invisibility is the silent means of transmission of the secret Word of the True Will. Hence the magical powers of the 20th path include Invisibility, Parthenogenesis and Initiation. The zodiacal sign of Virgo is naturally associated with Isis as the virgin mother. In very ancient times, before the cult of Osiris held sway, Nuit and Hathoor gave birth to a divine child by parthenogenesis, which is to say, without paternal intervention. The child is the sun-star and Hadit or Set is the ‘child’—the mysterious power that manifests the star, which is the appearance of Nuit-Isis.


Notes

1. The ‘watery abyss’, Aukert, is the region of the unawakened dead. The same is also depicted as a lake of fire. Bika Reed has compared this with the alchemical symbolism of the bath or vessel that is heated by a furnace. “The flood of man’s despair has drowned him. The heat of his own rebellion has destroyed him. Fish feed on him in shallow water.” See Rebel in the Soul—a sacred text of ancient Egypt, Bika Reed, pp. 119 [Inner Traditions International, 1978].

2. Liber AL, I: 60: “My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us.”

3. Selqet, the Scorpion goddess, is closely linked to Isis. To the Egyptians, the scorpion was not only a symbol of death but also a symbol of life-giving breath or spirit.

4. Pp. 136–145, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]. The Book of Coming Forth into Light is called by Egyptologists the ‘Book of the Dead’, a name that was originally afforded it by tomb robbers.

5. A commentary on the wisdom texts of the Sepher Yetzirah is provided in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

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.

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to Home): Thelemic Magical Collegium

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

Visit Ordo Astri (or return to) Home
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)

Prophecy of Hermes

Our focus here is on four chapters of the Perfect Sermon, XXIII to XXVI, sometimes called the Prophecy of Hermes (mid 2nd century).[1] The Prophecy of Hermes discourse takes the form of a dialogue between the Master Trismegistus and Asclepius, his disciple.

Prophecy of Hermes: Great Pyramid of EgyptThe Prophecy of Hermes was written down at a critical turning point in history. It was the cusp or event horizon of the precessional Age of Pisces, just as we are now on the cusp of the precessional Age of Aquarius. By the early centuries CE, shortly before the Christian Gospel narratives were scribed, the Creatrix or sacred feminine was all but erased from the minds of the philosophers and an All-Father or Father Monad superimposed upon the mysteries. While the popular cult of Isis still survived and proliferated far beyond the boundaries of Egypt, it would be but a short time before the Egyptian language was completely forgotten.

When the Prophecy of Hermes was written there was still what Hermes-Thoth refers to as a ‘pure philosophy’ based on Gnosis or direct revelation and an emergent impure or pseudo philosophy, based on ordinary reason. Before long, the rational or profane philosophy would become the only acceptable ‘truth’ for most persons. We have taken the liberty of restoring here the Creatrix, variously named Mut, Neïth or Hathoor, in place of the Father Monad, the ‘Self-Alone-God’.[2] In that way, we have restored the text to a simulacrum of how it might have been delivered and heard before being overwritten at a later date. However, what we have changed is very little and for the most part only concerns the titles afforded Theos or divinity. We have taken the language out of the King James Bible English of the 1906 translation and rendered it in plain English.

The Prophecy of Hermes begins with chapter XXII. Thrice Greatest (Trismegistus) has expounded to his disciple Asclepius on all matters concerning the immortal nature, and of those that will perceive it, and of those who cannot. The dialogue continues in XXIII on the nature of the images of Gods that man fashions in his own likeness.

Prophecy of Hermes: XXIII

1. Tris. The knowledge of the immortal nature is conveyed only to a few. These are chosen through the devotion of their heart. Still, of the rest, the vicious folk, we ought to say no word, for fear that our sacred sermon should be spoiled by even thinking of them. Our sermon treats of the relationship and intercourse of men and women and their Gods. Learn then, Asclepius, of wherein is the true power and strength of man.

As Mut, or as some say, Neïth, or Hathoor, gave birth to the Gods in Heaven, so man is the maker of the gods who, in the temples, allow all to approach, and who not only have light of blessing poured on them, but who also send forth their light on all; thus the devotee does not only go forward towards the Gods but also confirms the Gods on earth.

Are you surprised, o Asclepius? I see that you—even you!—do not believe.

2. Asc. I am amazed, Thrice Greatest; but willingly I give assent to all your words. A man is very blessed that has attained to such great felicity.

Tris. This is rightly so—for such deserves our wonder, in that he is the greatest of them all!

As for the race of the Gods in Heaven, it is clear from the commingling of them all that it has been made pregnant from the fairest part of nature. The only signs by which they are discerned are, as it were, from their source, before all else.

3. On the other hand, the species of the gods that humankind constructs is fashioned out of that most ancient and divine nature, and also from out of that nature in men. That is to say, it is fashioned out of the stuff of which they have been made and are configured, not only in their minds but also in each of their members and in their whole body.

It is thus that humankind, in imaging Divinity, stays mindful of the nature and the source of its own self.

Furthermore, in the same way that Hathoor is the Tree of Life from which the Gods are sprung, that they might be in her likeness, then so has mankind produced its own gods according to the likeness of the look of its own self.

 XXIV

1. Asc. Surely you do not mean their statues, O Master?

Tris. I mean their statues, o Asclepius. Can you not see how much you—even you!—doubt my word? Statues ensouled with sense and filled with spirit! These work mighty and strange results. Statues that foresee what is to come, and perchance can prophecy. They will foretell things by dreams and in many other ways. There are statues that take the strength away from men, or that may cure their sorrow, if they should deserve it.

Do you not know then, Asclepius, that Egypt is the image of the Heaven? Or that which is even truer, the transference or descent of all that are in governance or exercise in Heaven? And yet more truly still it must be said:

This land of ours is the Shrine of all the World.

2. It is proper that the wise should give utmost care in considering and understanding all that I have said concerning these matters. As for you, Asclepius, it is not right that you should be ignorant of the same.

The time will come when it will seem as if Egypt served the Divinity with single-minded devotion and care for nothing—for all her holy cult will fall to nothingness and be in vain.

That Divinity is now about to depart speedily from Earth and return to Heaven, and Egypt shall be left alone. The Earth, which was once the seat of devoted and honourable cults shall be widowed, bereft—no longer knowing the presence of the Gods.

And barbarians shall fill this region and this land. Not only shall there be the neglect of the pious cults but—and what is still more painful—by profane laws, penalties shall be decreed against such devoted practices and worship of the Gods. These will even be totally prohibited.

3. This most holy land, the seat of our shrines and temples, shall then be choked with tombs and corpses.

O Egypt, Egypt! Only tales will remain of your cults, and these will be as unbelievable to your own sons as for the rest of humankind. Words alone will be left carved on your stones, to recount your beautiful deeds.

And Egypt will be made the home of those who are alien to her.

Yes! The Godly Company shall climb back to Heaven, and their forsaken worshippers will all die out. And Egypt, bereft of God and man, shall be abandoned.

4. And now I speak to you, O River, holiest Stream! I tell you what will be. Your banks will overflow with bloody torrents. Not only shall your sacred streams be stained with blood but also they shall all flow over with the same.

The cult of the dead shall far exceed the cult of the living. The surviving remnant shall be Egyptians in their appearance but in their deeds they shall be as the profane.

XXV

1. Why do you weep, Asclepius? There is more than this, by far more wretched. Egypt herself shall be impelled and stained with even greater evil.

For she, the Holy Land, once deservedly the most beloved of the Gods by reason of her untiring service to the Gods on Earth, she the sole abode of holiness and teacher of wisdom upon the earth, shall be the type of all that is most barbarous. And then, out of our loathing for mankind, the world will seem no more deserving of our wonder and our praise.

This entire good thing, of which none fairer was ever seen, nor is there anything, nor will there ever be, will be in peril.

2. And that will prove a burden unto men. On account of this they will despise and cease to love this Cosmos as a whole. They will cease to love the eternal work of the Divine; the glorious and entire creation, comprised of manifold variety of forms; the steadfast deliverer of the Divine Will, wholly supporting that Great Work.

They will cease to love the multitudinous whole that is the principle of love itself, that should be reverenced, praised and loved—by them at least that have the eyes to see. For Darkness will be set before the Light, and Death will be thought preferable to Life. They will not even raise their eyes to Heaven. And then they will think that the holy, wise and strong are mad. They will think that fools and profane are wise sages. The unruly mob will be held as strong, and ignorance will prevail over all.

3. Of the soul, and all concerning her, whereby she presumes that either she has been born deathless or that she will attain to deathlessness, as according to all that I have said to you:

All this will be considered not only a matter of jest and mockery, but even as vanity.

Believe me, if you will, that the penalty of death shall even be decreed to him who shall devote himself to the Pure Knowledge.

New legislation will be enforced, a novel law; nothing that is sacred, nothing holy, nothing that is worthy of the Heaven, or Gods in Heaven, shall ever be heard, or even believed in the mind.

4. The sorrowful departure of the Gods from humankind takes place. Only noxious spirits remain, who mingled with humanity will lay their hands on them, and drive the wretched folk to every reckless evil—to wars, and robberies, deceits, and all those things that are opposed to the soul’s very nature.

Then the Earth shall no longer hold together. The sea shall no longer be sailed upon. The Heaven shall not continue with the courses of the stars, nor the star-courses in Heaven.

The voice of every God shall cease in the Great Silence that no one can break. The fruits of Earth shall rot. Earth shall no longer bring forth. The air itself shall faint away in despair of that sad listlessness.

XXVI

1. This, when it comes, shall be the world’s old age and impiety, denoting irregularity and irrationality in all things.

Asclepius, when these things all come to pass, then the Great Old Ones, to thwart the criminals, and to cancel the error of the corruption of all things, to restore all things so as to be in accordance with Divine Will, shall put an end to the evil. It will be washed away with water-flood, or burnt away with fire or forcibly expelled with war and famine.[2] The Holy Spirit will restore the Cosmos to its ancient form, so that the world shall once again be loved and worshipped. And once again, ceaseless praises and hymns of blessing will be sent forth.

2. In this rebirth of Cosmos is the renewal of all good things, and the holiest return of Nature’s self, by means of divine ordinance—of Nature, which was without beginning, and which is without an end. For the Divine Will has no beginning; it is ever the same and as it is, without end.

This then, is the Divine Will, and the whole world her Image.


Notes on Prophecy of Hermes

1. The original version of this Graeco Egyptian sacred text can be studied in Thrice-Greatest Hermes, Vol. 2, translated by G.R.S. Mead (1906).
2. Mut and her consort Amoun, along with their son Khonsu, were revered at the great Temple of Karnak in Thebes, Upper Egypt (Egyptian Waset). As with Hathoor and Neïth, Mut was in very ancient times the Creatrix whose divine son or child was born by parthenogenesis—no father was required. Also, Amoun replaced Mentu, a Typhonian form of Ra, at Thebes in the 21st century BCE. The cult of Mentu, as with that of Mut, nonetheless endured.
3. This line is from the Greek original, as quoted by Lactantius (D. I., vii, 8). See Mead’s footnote 3, pp. 224, Thrice-Greatest Hermes.

© Oliver St. John 2021
The Prophecy of Hermes is part of a work in progress. The book will be entitled, Nu Hermetica.

All books available by Oliver St. John
Visit Ordo Astri (or return to home): Thelemic Magical Collegium
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Temple of Babalon YouTube Channel (podcast)