by Conduit A.B.S.
In the "In the Continuum" guide to the Gnostic Mass, the College of Thelema provides us with a diagram of the temple. It refers to the following image: "The three descending triangles whose apexes mark the altar, the font, and the tomb are the three descending triangles of the Tree of Life, but expanded so as to give some room to move about."
The three supernals of the Tree of Life applied here to the temple adds up to nine points. Nine suggests the sphere of Yesod, thus; the sub-conscious implantation of the message of the Mass. Yesod also refers to institutions of belief systems, such as temples. The three stages (steps) of the high altar are encountered by the Priest in his ascension with the Priestess. Something very definite happens there in the ascension process of those steps. When the Priestess first enters the temple she is referred to as "The Virgin," she greets the Congregation and Deacon, then ascends the steps. When she returns to the floor of the temple, she is transformed. She further weaves her transformation in her serpentine dance about the altar and font. It is seen in her address to the entombed Priest that she now speaks not as "The Virgin" but as a "Priestess." The three steps could be applied to the elemental order of the tarot. Together they ascend the three steps of the first three elements: fire, water, and air. The Priest approaches these steps with the Priestess after proclaiming; "I set thee upon the summit of the earth."
The final element, earth, is referred to as the high altar itself. The high altar is also referred to by A. Crowley as "...the solid basis of the work, the fixed Will of the Magician." The Priestess takes the fourth on to the footstool (the summit of the earth) where she assumes her position an the altar in the fourth element, earth. The Priest kneels at the summit of the earth, but never actually steps on the fourth element. In the application of the Zodiac, one could say that the feet represent Pisces, which is attributed to one's beliefs, steps upon and believes in all these elements. Her thighs caress the high altar, earth, where Sagittarius ruling this part of the body shows she has vision or sight regarding the earth. The Priest ascends with his beliefs (feet/Pisces) on the steps of the first three elements, but he never actually steps or places his beliefs on the earth. Instead, he labors at the summit; his knees kneeling on the summit of the earth represents Capricorn, therefore he works upon the earth in adoration of Nuit. When the Priest ascends the steps a second time, he addresses the veiled altar with each step referring to; infinite space, the flame of life, the path of creation, and resurrection (just to name a few).
In all these steps, his only actual reference to the earth itself is the very line with which he chooses to invoke the splendor of Nuit; "By seed and root and stem and bud and leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke thee." His invocation, occurring on the first step (attributed to the fire element in this theory) is a proclamation of Will. In his chapter on the Wand, A. Crowley wrote the following about the Will; "This Magical Will is the wand in your hand by which the Great Work is accomplished, by which the Daughter is not merely set upon the throne of the Mother,* but is assumed in the Highest." Although there isn't any stage direction indicating that the Priest should raise his wand when invoking with reference to the plant life of the earth, it could very well be effective for him to (subtly) do so in light of the aforementioned theory.
* The Mother, the earth or high altar.
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