Taurus: Egyptian Tarot Hathoor V

The Egyptian Tarot trump trump for the sixteenth path of Taurus is Hathoor V. Venus, the Egyptian Hathoor, is the ruler of Taurus, while the Moon, the Lunar Flame, is exalted therein. The name is derived from Het-Hor, literally ‘House of Horus’.[1] The Magus of the Eternal is the esoteric title of the Tarot trump. The Hierophant or Pope is the traditional name of the trump.

Egyptian Tarot Hathoor VIn the centre of the Tarot picture is Hathoor, seated on a cubical throne, for Taurus is the Foundation of the Earth as the fixed or most stable aspect of the earth element in astrology. The throne is deep indigo, the colour of the sixteenth path in the Queen Scale. It is placed between two pillars of silver and gold. Lotus flowers surmount the tetrahedronal capitals. Hathoor is crowned with the solar disc and lunar cow horns. She bears the lotus wand in her right hand, symbol of the perfume of immortality or ‘essence’, and in her left she bears the Ankh or Rosy Cross of Life and Love. She is naked but for a translucent garment worn on the lower half of her body and legs. Her ornaments are a collar and armbands of red-orange and indigo, which is nature’s fourth primary colour.[2] Thus she is the soul of the world and the light of the world. She is Venus, the goddess of love, and the ruling star of Taurus, the Bull of Earth.

The Egyptian hieroglyphic name of Het-Hor is at the top of the Tarot picture. It is the simplest and most elegant expression of Hathoor’s name, the ‘house’ with the Horus falcon within. On either side are the symbols of Hathoor, her mirror and her sistrum rattle. The nature of the Moon, as with the human psyche, is cathodic, reflective. The world is the mirror of the soul; Venus appears to us as a star in the morning or evening by virtue of the fact that she reflects the rays of the sun, as does the Moon and other planets. The sistrum rattle is the emblem of music and dance, and is at the same time the sharp call to attention, to ‘wake up’!

Word of Hathoor

As Magus of the Eternal, Hathoor is the will to love, which is at the same time the innate knowledge of the true Self that inspires the return of the self or individuality to the integral Self. The Word of Hathoor is the eidolon, if this is understood as divine Idea, of the solar power of Horus, her sun-star, born by divine parthenogenesis.

In older depictions of the Tarot trump the Hierophant or Magus of the Eternal is shown as a pope or mysterious patriarch, or otherwise masked. When man seizes the power of sacerdotal authority and attributes it to his self, he is enslaved by that power and it matters not whether the slave calls his master Satan, God, Religion, Fate or Science. The goddess of truth and beauty will reveal nothing and mean nothing to those who do not seek her only, and with a pure heart. Thus she looks serenely and steadily straight back at the observer of the Tarot picture.

The astroglyphs for the Sun and Taurus are shown on the border at the top of the card. On the lower edge of the card are the astroglyphs for Venus, the ruling planet of Taurus, and the Moon, who achieves her exaltation therein. Vav, the letter of the sixteenth path, is to the right of the title. The letter vav has the Hebraic number value of six, the macrocosm. Venus was anciently associated with the pentagram or microcosm. Her conjunctions with the sun, as viewed from the earth, form two pentagrams, aright and averse. The apple, a Venusian symbol, is cognate with the Garden of Eden or of Paradise, which is otherwise symbolised as the Holy City in various traditions, which is the ‘return to the Self’. When the ‘five’ is added to the ‘six’ of the divine image, the vav, the result is eleven, the number of the perfect unity of the microcosm, man, with the macrocosm of the celestial worlds or higher states of being.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. Hathoor is the spelling more commonly found in the works of the Golden Dawn, based on transliteration from Coptic.

2. As according to R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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Unicorn of the Stars

The Practicus of the Golden Dawn has the eponymous title, Monokeros de Astris, ‘Unicorn of the Stars’. This is best explained through the name of the Titan, Astris (Αστρις), which means, ‘Starry One’. Astris was born from a marriage of the Sun and the ocean (Moon or sea-foam), alchemical types of fire and water. The Practicus degree corresponds to Hod (Mercury), the Water Temple that receives the fiery solar influence from Netzach (Venus).

Unicorn of the Stars: Sokar BoatThe Initiate of Hod, Unicorn of the Stars, has first to traverse, at least symbolically, the fiery paths of Shin (thirty-first) and Resh (thirtieth) before entering Hod, the Water Temple. Hod is thus seen in every way as a sphere of transmutation. Although Hod sometimes symbolises the concrete mind, as ‘form-building’, it is not the goal of Initiates to become detained by the limits of ordinary reason. In fact, Hod, the 8th path or sephira from the Crown or root of the Tree of Life in heaven, is traditionally called the Stellar Light, and is also the ‘Seat of the Primordial’. This is usefully affirmed by the Greek value of Monokeros de Astris, which is 1,175. As 29 x 75, the unicorn’s horn corresponds to the ‘Divine Pillar of Nuit (or the sky)’. The twenty-ninth path corresponds to the Hebrew letter qoph, which is the ‘head’ or ‘pinnacle’, while 75 is a number of Nuit (NVIT).

This article is abridged from Nu Hermetica—Initiation and Metaphysical Reality [Ordo Astri books].

While it is true that the letter qoph is more frequently referred to as the ‘back of the head’, owing to the shape of the letter, it is a misleading and possibly incorrect attribution. Qoph is not merely the ‘back of the head’ as the complement of resh as the ‘front of the head’. Resh refers more to the ‘chief’ or ‘leader’, which is also the ‘first’ or ‘highest’ in an order of hierarchy. But qoph (or quf in Arabic) is more specifically the skull or cranium, and as such it has a special meaning of indicating the gate of egress from the cosmological sphere to the heavenly or primordial sphere. For this reason Christ-Jesus was crucified on a hill called ‘Place of the Skull’ (Golgotha).

The Unicorn and Sokar

The primordial is variously symbolised as a pillar, mound or mountain—for there is nothing beyond the peak of a mountain except the sky or heaven. The unicorn’s horn points straight upward to heaven, and is spiralic. The Arabian white oryx is the original type of the fabled unicorn. The higher end of the ancient Egyptian hennu sky-boat of Sokar is fashioned in the shape of the head of an oryx. The unicorn’s singular horn is not descriptive of the beast itself, which has two horns, but is an esoteric assignment for the Primordial Pillar, as well as the upward ascent of consciousness, as in yoga. Sokar, it may further be noted, is frequently depicted as the head of a black hawk, a symbol of the primordial in the very particular sense of the unmanifest or ‘dark’ state, which necessarily comes first, or is greater than, all dual manifestation. Both the unicorn and the yearly rite of carrying the wooden boat of Sokar around the temple’s location, symbolises the circumpolar revolution of the ‘seven’ around the ‘eighth’ or Pole Star. The Pole Star marks the visible axis of the universe and the height of the visible heavens.[1]

The Unicorn and the Flower of Mind

The oryx is reputed to dig a bed out of the desert sand with its hooves, to lie in and keep cool. This explains the attribution of the one horn, for the shifting sands of desert dunes have always symbolised the Abyss that lurks on the upper limit of human reason. The penetrating horn of mind (reason) must be made concave, so to speak, on the abysmal threshold that closes in upon the limits of human reason. Over time, through yoga, contemplation and devotional Tantras, the Flower of Fire (or Mind) is cultivated as the ‘fruits’ of the flower are rejected in favour of pure receptivity to the intelligence from beyond.[2]

It should be noted that the Gnostic term, ‘Flower of Mind’ or ‘Flower of Fire’ is not the mind or intellect in the ordinary sense; it may be likened to an essence that is drawn out and upward. The Egyptian ‘flame’ hieroglyph has both a physical and a metaphysical level of interpretation. It carries all the meanings of a fire, flame or luminosity, and that of a ‘flame of flames’. The latter is comparable to the yogic realisation of atmadarshana of Advaita Vedanta.[3

Veritably, the threshold to the post-abysmal Mind of Minds is fiercely guarded and barred. The role of guardians or ‘watchers’ such as Anubis, and other Setian creatures including the crocodile and jackal, as well as the Cherubim in various traditions, is complex. They are guardians of the gates, ferociously attacking or even devouring those who would enter. At the same time, they symbolise the drawing forth of the bolt, which is the means by which the gates are opened.[4] The action of the bolt symbolises both ‘opening’ and the image-making or phallic power withdrawn or inverted, which is a reversal of the usual flow of consciousness.[5]

The door of the sky or of heaven is not opened by any mortal man but, for example, it was the office of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest and scribe of the Stele of Revealing, to literally ‘open the doors to the sky’. He performed the ritual of opening the doors to the roof of the temple at certain times of the year, so the image of the Goddess, taken from the subterranean vault below, could observe Sirius rising.[6] Sirius (Σθις), the Star of Egypt and of the Order, symbolises both Isis (or Hathoor) and her ‘son’ or divine child, born of the ascent of consciousness arising from the depth. Hathoor was also known as the ‘Divine Pillar’ at Iunet in Egypt, which has the same meaning.


1. The three-yearly Jubilee of the Pharaoh coincided with the rite of the ‘round’ of Sokar, proving an identification between Sokar and Set or Saturn, and also the primordial mound. Thus the unicorn, as a horned creature, has an association with both Saturn and the Pole.
2. See G.R.S. Mead, The Chaldean Oracles.
3. It is impossible for Egyptologists to construe ancient Egyptian sacred texts, as they cannot admit to the existence or even the possibility of an esoteric level of interpretation. They are thus dogged by the limitation of their reasoning faculties. They then produce nonsensical ‘translations’ of the texts, and say it is nonsense because the ancient Egyptians were themselves confused and irrational!
4. See John Anthony West, Serpent in the Sky, pp. 149–157 (on Spell 316).
5. Phallus (Greek φαλλος) literally means, ‘image’ or ‘image-making’.
6. This is explained in detail in ‘Star and Snake of Egypt’, pp. 150 Babalon Unveiled.

This article is abridged from the book Nu Hermetica—Initiation and Metaphysical Reality.

The hennu boat with oryx illustration is a detail from the Egyptian Tarot.

© Oliver St. John, 2020, 2021

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