Fire: Egyptian Tarot The Aeon XX

The trump for the thirty-first path of Fire and Spirit is The Aeon XX. The path also corresponds to the dwarf outer planet Pluto. Judgement is the traditional title of the trump, viz., the Last Judgement when souls are called to the resurrection.

Fire and Spirit: Egyptian Tarot The Aeon XXThe esoteric title of this Tarot trump is Spirit of the Primal Fire. The spirit-fire is that which animates all living beings. It is the seed of the resurrection body. The mysteries of transformation are summed up in the alchemical phrase, Igni Natura Renovata Integra, ‘Nature is renewed and perfected through fire’. The ‘seed’ or eternal source is not actually within the body or mind; all that belongs to the corporeal state is adjunct to the Real. From the point of view of the human individuality, it seems as though that were the case. It is by analogy when it is said that the soul bears within herself the seed of her own resurrection. In the scriptures it is symbolised, for example, that Magdalene, as ‘soul’, is the devout follower of Christ-Jesus

Shin is the letter of the thirty-first path and is formed from three flames joined at the base. Shin literally means ‘tooth’, but the significance is of spirit or that which endures—bone (by analogy), thus eternity and the immortal life.[1] The ancient Egyptian source of the word is shen, the ring of indefinite cyclical return and the ‘round’, which is shown here being carried through the air by Horus in the form of a falcon.[2]

At the top of the picture, to the left, are the Egyptian hieroglyphs for the Eternal (heh). In the centre, between the two lampwicks, is the solar glyph of circle and principial point. The wick of a lamp burns and gives forth a flame of light without perishing. It is fed on pure oil, the perfection of life. There is a comparison to be made with the Caduceus, which symbolises the dual power of Kundalini. When the twin serpents of the Shakti Power cease to oppose and are, so to speak, woven together, the immortal state is within reach. In the case of the yogin, the appearance of things no longer deludes him.

Horus carries the shen ring over a symbolic representation of the step pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara Necropolis outside of Memphis, Egypt. Necropolis (Greek) means ‘city of the dead’, but this is really a misnomer as the Egyptians saw it as a place of eternal life. The Egyptian name is therefore heh, ‘Eternity’, identical in sound and meaning to the woven flax hieroglyph but spelled in such a way as to indicate a specific earth location.[3]

The base of the four-sided, seven-stepped pyramid is a trapezium or trapezoid. The parallel but unequal sides are indicative of the fourth dimension or non-Euclidian space-time. Beneath the desert of Saqqara is a labyrinth, as previously mentioned.[4] Very large granite vessels are situated there in cells only big enough to fit them. It is unknown as to how these large and heavy objects could be placed in such a manner below ground. What we do know is that the vessels, shaped somewhat like a sarcophagus or ark, were never designed to house a mummy. The insides of the sealed boxes are polished to mirror-like perfection. They are very precisely placed in the underground labyrinth. According to some, the vessels are subtle repositories of knowledge predating the Ice Age and built to endure a catastrophe.

Aeon, the title of the trump, indicates a cosmic cycle and in this case it is specifically the ending of the present Manvantara. The number 20 links The Aeon with Destiny X (Kaph), or the Kalachakra Wheel. Kalachakra yoga or Yidam is the Tibetan way of uniting the self with deity to obtain Pure Mind. Ishtadevata is the principle deity, and is associated with the Kalachakra, whose name means, ‘desired’ or ‘adored’ (ishta) and ‘divine soul’ (devata). As a pair, Kalachakra and Kalachakri look both inside and outside of time.

Pluto is one of the three ‘new’ planets discovered in modern times and so symbolising the disruption and chaos that comes about near the ending of a great cycle of aeons. Pluto is sometimes corresponded to Kether on the Tree of Life, but this is an inversion, for the Lord of Hell is an apt title for the forces of greed and materialism that have characterised the epoch, not to mention unmitigated violence.

Spirit of the Primal Fire

The thirty-first path of Shin connects Hod, the sphere of Mercury, with Malkuth, the sphere of action and elements (or visible universe). The path is called the Perpetual Intelligence, and is so-called because ‘it rules the movement of the sun and the moon according to their constitution, causing each to gravitate in its respective orb’. This path connects Malkuth with the left hand pillar of Form. The Perfect Intelligence of Hod is here realised ‘in the flesh’. From the human point of view, the fruits of such knowledge come to pass as future events, though in reality there is only simultaneity. From the point of view of eternity there is no past or future; there is nowhere to go as eternity encompasses all possibilities—time in the earthbound sense simply ceases to exist.

The magical powers of the path are Evocation and Pyromancy. These are derived from the correspondences of the path; firstly the traditional Tarot trump Judgement, which depicts the dead arising from their graves (evocation), summoned by a blast from the trumpet of the Angel Israfel.[5] Secondly, the element of fire (pyromancy). Both powers may be regarded as analogous. Necromancy is not the power of this path and so the notion of evocation here has more in the way of meaning the return of the self to the (greater) Self at the end of a cycle or at the end of time. It is not the ‘dead’ that can actually arise but the living spirit. Divination by fire is the means of seeing the past or future, for example, by gazing into the flickering firelight. The higher meaning of this involves ‘fire’ when that is understood as coming about through the discipline that strengthens the mind and will to become engrossed in the Great Work. It is by the elimination of all distractions that one may see things clearly.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. Eternity and immortality are not the same. Eternity is Infinite, without qualification; immortality is within the realm of existence or being.

2. For an explanation of the multiple perspective drawing of the falcon, based on ancient Egyptian art, see Lucie Lamy, Egyptian Mysteries pp. 18 [Thames and Hudson 1981].

3. The Egyptian name for the Necropolis or Eternal Place is spelled with three mounds or hills and the circle-cross determinative. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, pp. 507 b.

4. Cf. Sokar XIII.

5. Some sources have the Angel of the Last Judgement as Gabriel. The Angel is also associated with Raphael, Uriel and various others.

6. A symbolic ‘pathworking’ of the 31st path formed part of the ceremony of initiation to the grade of Hod in the historical Order of the Golden Dawn.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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Pisces: Egyptian Tarot Khonsu XVIII

The Egyptian Tarot trump for the twenty-ninth path of Pisces is Khonsu XVIII. Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the Moon, the Sky Traveller.

Egyptian Tarot Khonsu XVIIIThe esoteric title of the trump is Ruler of Flux and Reflux: Child of the Sons of the Mighty. The twenty-ninth 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 disc 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 with clear or pure perception is to know God and (therefore) to be known by God.

The Moon has three faces: white (or silver), black and red; she is white at the full, invisible in the dark phase and scarlet at the eclipse. The globed capitals of the pillars and lunar crown of Khonsu are also suggestive of the supernal triad of the Tree of Life, where Kether is the ‘higher moon’.

The figures are skryed through the domed hieroglyphic Gate of the Moon. This is a stylised version of the Egyptian determinative for ‘foundation’. In the lower section is the telesmatic name of Shad Barshama’ath Shartathan, the Spirit of the Spirits of the Moon, as drawn on the Kamea of the Moon. The name adds to 3,321, the sum total of all the squares on the Kamea and can be translated, ‘Elemental Child born from the Oracle of Joy’. If the name is looked at Qabalistically, it yields some fascinating nuances. Barshama’ath can be construed as ‘Spirit of clear-seeing’.[1] To ‘see things clearly’ is to know directly and is not to be confused with the visual or imaginative faculties. Barshama’ath also has the meaning ‘pure name’, and Ma’at is the Lion of Truth.[2] Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, is called the Pure Intelligence.

Shartathan denotes Thoth as Chief of Scribes. Thoth, or Tahuti as known to the Egyptians, was originally a god of the Moon, like Khonsu. On the lower arc, the Moon is typically associated with magical mirrors, skrying and clairvoyance. The magick ‘writing’ of Tahuti is that which appears in the clear mirror of the Seer or Witness, which has nothing to do with ‘visions’ as that is usually understood.

The astroglyphs for Pisces and Jupiter, the ruling planet, are at the lower edge of the card. Qoph, the letter of the path, is to the right. The letter Qoph symbolises the skull, a symbol of the primordial ‘cave’, which resides in the heart of the holy mountain. On the corporeal level, Atu XVIII corresponds to Pisces and the Moon as regulator of organic life.

The Moon of Pisces

The Sun’s entry into Pisces near the end of the cold months is a reminder of the darkest hour before the dawn. The springtime is not far away. In the southern hemisphere it is a reminder that the cooler air of autumn will soon drive out the burning heat of a long summer.

Pisces is traditionally ruled by Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus and to the ancient Egyptians as Amoun (or Amen).[3] Khonsu, god of the Moon, was thus ordained as the child of Mut and Amoun at Thebes. Jupiter, Zeus and Amoun were originally gods of the mountain, and of the seas and rains that replenish the earth with new life and growth. Amoun is a mysterious god. He is self-created, and his location, unlike the sky-gods Horus, Hathoor and Nuit, is below the horizon. He is the Hidden God.

The Qabalah throws further light on the association between the Hidden God and the mysteries of Pisces, sign of the Fishes. The twenty-ninth path connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The symbolic weapons of the path of Pisces are the Twilight of the Place, and the Magical Mirror. As the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the twilight is very noticeable. This is especially so with the lengthening of shadows near sunset, before Venus, the first and brightest star of the evening sky, appears in the west. The magical twilight is also the special light of a room prepared for ritual. Candles and the smoke of incense provide ideal conditions for the arising of spectral images.

Child of the Sons of the Mighty

The title of the twenty-ninth path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the incarnation of all bodies according to the revolution of the Zodiac. The root of the word that is translated ‘corporeal’ (gosham) implies a violent rainstorm or shower—the ‘shower of the life of earth’ that comes through the seed of the Unborn Spirit or Holy Guardian Angel in the ritual called the Bornless. The ‘seed’ is alchemical and refers to the fluidic or formless fire from which all forms receive their essence. The “revolution of the Zodiac” is explained by the operation of Sol and Luna as the governance of Spirit acting upon the Zodiac through the four classical elements of nature. All bodies are composed of these elements. Each creature retains impressions of the cosmic environment, the symbol of which is the natal horoscope, varying according to the time and place of birth. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are cosmic archetypes. Merely knowing the sign of birth does not reveal a person’s nature. The sign alone symbolises a type, not an individual.

The descent of this path is the incarnation or embodiment of each creature, while the ascent of it implies knowledge of the Occult Intelligences, which bears a relation with the manas or ‘inward sense’ of the Hindi doctrines, for it is the principle of mind itself, which forms objects formed from the five senses.

The magical powers of the twenty-ninth path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions. When the light of the Moon is shed upon the earth, as the conditioned view of the ego, then the mind is bedazzled by glamours or enchantments. It becomes absorbed in its own reflections, attributing reality or True Self to that which is no more than fleeting shadows. The shades (spirits, shadows) of the Moon may therefore deceive the foolish and indeed, all men are deceived by such phantoms, mistaking them for reality, unless they are prepared to practice concentration and meditation for a long time. The gift of clairvoyance in the etymological sense of the word (‘clear sight’) is bestowed on those who truly desire to seek out the truth. It should be understood that ‘clairvoyance’ or clear-sightedness as intended here has nothing to do whatsoever with any kind of psychic vision.


From the forthcoming book and Egyptian Tarot deck.

1. ShThM, 740, means ‘to open the eyes; to see clearly’.

2. BR ShMATh, ‘pure name’, also ‘first created’, i.e., to see the whole world as new or freshly born.

3. Most modern astrologers have substituted Neptune as ruler of Pisces. They similarly assign Uranus to Aquarius and Pluto to Scorpio, discarding the traditional rulerships and throwing the whole scheme into disorder.

© Oliver St. John 2020, 2024

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