|The Book of Thoth - Part IV
(14884 total words in this text)
i. R.O.T.A. The
This card is
attributed to the planet Jupiter, "the Greater Fortune" in astrology. It
corresponds to the letter Kaph, which means the palm of the hand, in whose
lines, according to another tradition, the fortune of the owner may be read.
[Kaph 20 Peh 80 =100, Qoph, Pisces. The initials K Ph are those of κτεις and
φαλλος] It would be narrow to think of Jupiter as good fortune; he
represents the element of luck. The incalculable factor.
thus represents the Universe in its aspect as a continual change of state.
Above, the firmament of stars. These appear distorted in shape, although they
are balanced, some being brilliant and some dark. From them, through the
firmament, issue lightnings; they churn it into a mass of blue and violet
plumes. In the midst of all this is suspended a wheel of ten spokes, according
to the number of the Sephiroth, and of the sphere of Malkuth, indicating
governance of physical affairs.
On this wheel
are three figures, the Sworded Sphinx, Hermanubis, and Typhon; they symbolize
the three forms of energy which govern the movement of phenomena.
The nature of
these qualities requires careful description. In the Hindu system are three
Gunas-Sattvas, Rajas and Tamas. The word "Guna" is untranslatable. It is not
quite an element, a quality, a form of energy, a phase, or a potential; all of
these ideas enter into it. All the qualities that can be predicated of anything
may be ascribed to one or more of these Gunas: Tamas is darkness, inertia,
sloth, ignorance, death and the like; Rajas is energy, excitement, fire,
brilliance, restlessness; Sattvas is calm, intelligence, lucidity and balance.
They correspond to the three principal Hindu castes.
One of the
most important aphorisms of Hindu philosophy is:
revolve". This means that, according to the doctrine of continual change,
nothing can remain in any phase where one of these Gunas is predominant; however
dense and dull that thing may be, a time will come when it begins to stir. The
end and reward of the effort is a state of lucid quietude, which, however, tends
ultimately to sink into the original inertia.
The Gunas are
represented in European philosophy by the three qualities, sulphur, mercury and
salt, already pictured in Atu I, III and IV. But in this card the attribution is
somewhat different. The Sphinx is composed of the four Kerubs, shown in Atu V,
the bull, the lion, the eagle and the man. These correspond, furthermore,
to the four
magical virtues, to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence. [These are the
four elements, summed in a fifth, Spirit, to form the Pentagram; and the Magical
Virtue corresponding is Ire, to go. "To go" is the token of Godhead, as
explained in reference to the sandal-strap or Ankh, the Crux Ansata, which in
its turn is identical with the astrological symbol of Venus, comprising the 10
Sephiroth.(See diagram)]. This Sphinx represents the element of sulphur, and is
exalted, temporarily, upon the summit of the wheel. She is armed with a sword of
the short Roman pattern, held upright between the paws of the lion.
the left-hand side of the wheel is Hermanubis, who represents the alchemical
Mercury. He is a composite god; but in him the simian element predominates.
On the right
hand side, precipitating himself downward, is Typhon, who represents the element
of salt. Yet in these figures there is also a certain degree of complexity, for
Typhon was a monster of the primitive world, personifying the destructive power
and fury of volcanos and typhoons. In the legend, he attempted to obtain supreme
authority over both gods and men; but Zeus blasted him with a thunderbolt. He is
said to be the father of stormy, hot and poisonous winds; also of the Harpies.
But this card, like Atu XVI, may also be interpreted as a Unity of supreme
attainment and delight. The lightnings which destroy, also beget; and the wheel
may be regarded as the Eye of Shiva, whose opening annihilates the Universe, or
as a wheel upon the Car of Jaganath, whose devotees attain perfection at the
moment that it crushes them.
of this card, as it appears in The Vision and the Voice, with certain
inner meanings, is given in an
[The Vision and the Voice
a peacock into the stone, filling the whole Aire. It is like the vision called
the Universal Peacock, or, rather, like a representation of that vision. And now
there are countless clouds of white angels filling the Aire as the peacock
the angels are archangels with trumpets. These cause all things to appear at
once, so that there is a tremendous con- fusion of images. And now I perceive
that all these things are but veils of the wheel, for they all gather themselves
into a wheel that spins with incredible velocity. It hath many colours, but all
are thrilled with white light, so that they are transparent and luminous This
one wheel is forty-nine wheels, set at different angles, so that they compose a
sphere; each wheel has forty-nine spokes, and has forty-nine concentric tyres at
equal distances from the centre. And wherever the rays from any two wheels meet,
there is a blinding flash of glory. It must be understood that though so much
detail is visible in the wheel, yet at the same time the impression is of a
single, simple object.
that this wheel is being spun by a hand. Though the wheel fills the whole Aire,
yet the hand is much bigger than the wheel. And though this vision is so great
and splendid, yet there is no seriousness with it, or solemnity. It seems that
the hand is spinning the wheel merely for pleasure-it would be better to say
comes: For he is a jocund and ruddy god, and his laughter is the vibration of
all that exists, and the earthquakes of the soul.
conscious of the whirring of the wheel thrilling one, like an electric discharge
passing through one.
"Now I see
the figures on the wheel, which have been interpreted as the sworded Sphinx,
Hermanubis and Typhon. And that is wrong. The rim of the wheel is a vivid
emerald snake; in the centre of the wheel is a scarlet heart; and, impossible to
explain as it is, the scarlet of the heart and the green of the snake are yet
more vivid than the blinding white brilliance of the wheel.
on the wheel are darker than the wheel itself; in fact, they are stains upon the
purity of the wheel, and for that reason, and because of the whirling of the
wheel, I cannot see them. But at the top seems to be the Lamb and Flag, such as
one sees on some Christian medals, and one of the lower things is a wolf, and
the other a raven. The Lamb and Flag symbol is much brighter than the other two.
It keeps on growing brighter, until now it is brighter than the wheel itself,
and occupies more space than it did.
"It speaks: I
am the greatest of the deceivers, for my purity and innocence shall seduce the
pure and innocent, who but for me should come to the centre of the wheel. The
wolf betrayeth only the greedy and the treacherous; the raven betrayeth only the
melancholy and the dishonest. But I am he of whom it is written: He shall
deceive the very elect.
"For in the
beginning the Father of All called for lying spirits that they might sift the
creatures of the earth in three sieves, according to the three impure souls. And
he chose the wolf for the lust of the flesh, and the raven for the lust of the
mind; but me did lie choose above all to simulate the pure prompting of the
soul. Them that are fallen a prey to the wolf and the raven I have not scathed;
but them that have rejected me I have given over to the wrath of the raven and
the wolf. And the jaws of the one have torn them, and the beak of the other has
devoured the corpse. Therefore is my flag white, be cause I have left nothing
upon the earth alive. I have feasted myself on the blood of the Saints, but I am
not suspected of men to be their enemy, for my fleece is white and warm, and my
teeth are not the teeth of one that teareth flesh; and mine eyes are mild, and
they know me not the chief of the lying spirits that the Father of All sent
forth from before his face in the beginning.
attribution is salt; the wolf mercury, and the raven sulphur.)
"Now the Lamb
grows small again, there is again nothing but the wheel, and the hand that
"And I said:
'By the word of power, double in the voice of the Master; by the word that is
seven, and one in seven; and by the great and terrible word 210, I beseech thee,
O my Lord, to grant me the vision of thy Glory.' And all the rays of the wheel
stream out at me, and I am blasted and blinded with the light. I am caught up
into the wheel. I am one with the wheel. I am greater than the wheel. In the
midst of a myriad lightnings I stand, and I behold his face. (I am thrown
violently back on to the earth every second, so that I cannot quite
"All one gets
is a liquid flame of pale gold. But its radiant force keeps hurling me back.
"And I say:
By the word and the will, by the penance and the prayer, let me behold thy face.
(I cannot explain this, there is con fusion of personalities.) I who speak to
you, see what I tell you; but I, who see him, cannot communicate it to me, who
speak to you.
"If one could
gaze upon the sun at noon, that might be like the substance of him. But the
light is without heat. It is the vision of Ut in the Upanishads. And from this
vision have come all the legends of Bacchus and Krishna and Adonis. For the
impression is of a youth dancing and making music. But you must understand that
he is not doing that, for he is still. Even the hand that turns the wheel is not
his hand, but only a hand energized by him.
"And now it
is the dance of Shiva. I lie beneath his feet, his saint, his victim. My form is
the form of the god Phtah, in my essence, but the form of the god Seb is my
form. And this is the reason of existence, that in this dance which is delight,
there must be both the god and the adept. Also the earth herself is a saint; and
the sun and the moon dance upon her, torturing her with delight."
was formerly called Strength. But it implies far more than strength in the
ordinary sense of the word. Technical analysis shows that the Path corresponding
to the card is not the Strength of Geburah, but the influence from Chesed upon
Geburah, the Path balanced both vertically and horizontally on the Tree of Life
(see diagram). For this reason it has been thought better to change the
traditional title. Lust implies not only strength, but the joy of strength
exercised. It is vigour, and the rapture of vigour.
"Come forth, O children, under the
stars, & take your fill of love! I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in
yours. My joy is to see your joy."
"Beauty and strength, leaping
laughter and delicious languor, force and fire, are of us."
"I am the
Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of
men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will
tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie,
this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, O man!
lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny
thee for this."
these be grave mysteries; for there are also of my friends who be hermits. Now
think not to find them in the forest or on the mountain; but in beds of purple,
caressed by magnificent beasts of women with large limbs, and fire and light in
their eyes, and masses of flaming hair about them; there shall ye find them. Ye
shall see them at rule, at victorious armies, at all the joy; and there shall be
in them a joy a million times greater than this. Beware lest any force another,
King against King! Love one another with burning hearts; on the low men trample
in the fierce lust of your pride, in the day of your wrath."
"There is a
light before thine eyes, O prophet, a light undesired, most desirable.
uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain hard upon thy body.
exhaust in the voluptuous fulness of the inspiration; the expiration is sweeter
than death, more rapid and laughterful than a caress of Hell's own worm."
This Trump is
assigned to the sign of Leo in the Zodiac. It is the Kerub of Fire, and is ruled
by the Sun. It is the most powerful of the twelve Zodiacal cards,' and
represents the most critical of all the operations of magick and of alchemy. It
represents the act of the original marriage as it occurs in nature, as opposed
to the more artificial form portrayed in Atu VI; there is in this card no
attempt to direct the course of the operation.
subject of the card refers to the most ancient collection of legends or fables.
It is necessary here to go a little into the magical doctrine of the succession
of the Aeons, which is connected with the procession of the Zodiac. Thus, the
last Aeon, that of Osiris, is referred to Aries and Libra, as the previous Aeon,
that of Isis, was especially connected with the signs of Pisces and Virgo, while
the present, that of Horus, is linked with Aquarius and Leo. The central mystery
in that past Aeon was that of Incarnation; all the legends of god-men were
founded upon some symbolic story of that kind. The essential of all such stories
was to deny human fatherhood to the hero or god-man. In most cases, the father
is stated to be a god in some animal form, the animal being chosen in accordance
with the qualities that the authors of the cult wished to see reproduced in the
and Remus were twins begotten upon a virgin by the god Mars, and they were
suckled by a wolf. On this the whole magical formula of the city Rome was
already been made in this essay to the legends of Hermes and Dionysus.
The father of
Gautama Buddha was said to be an elephant with six tusks, appearing to his
mother in a dream.
There is also
the legend of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, impregnating the Virgin
Mary. There is here a reference to the dove of Noah's Ark, bringing glad tidings
of the salvation of the world from the waters. (The dwellers in the Ark are the
foetus, the waters the amniotic fluid.)
fables are to be found in every religion of the Aeon of Osiris: it is the
typical formula of the Dying God.
In this card,
therefore, appears the legend of the woman and the lion, or rather lion-serpent.
(This card is attributed to the letter Teth, which means a serpent.)
The seers in
the early days of the Aeon of Osiris foresaw the Manifestation of this coming
Aeon in which we now live, and they regarded it with intense horror and fear,
not understanding the precession of the Aeons, and regarding every change as
catastrophe. This is the real interpretation of, and the reason for, the
diatribes against the Beast and the Scarlet Woman in the XIII, XVII and XVIII-th
chapters of the Apocalypse; but on the Tree of Life, the path of Gimel, the
Moon, descending from the highest, cuts the path of Teth, Leo, the house of the
Sun, so that the Woman in the card may be regarded as a form of the Moon, very
fully illuminated by the Sun, and intimately united with him in such wise as to
produce, incarnate in human form, the representative or representatives of the
Lord of the Aeon.
astride the Beast; in her left hand she holds the reins, representing the
passion which unites them. In her right she holds aloft the cup, the Holy Grail
aflame with love and death. In this cup are mingled the elements of the
sacrament of the Aeon. The Book of Lies devotes one chapter to this
Seven are the
veils of the dancing-girl in the harem of IT. Seven are the names, and seven are
the lamps beside Her bed. Seven eunuchs guard Her with drawn swords; No man may
come nigh unto Her. In Her wine-cup are seven streams of the blood of the Seven
Spirits of God. Seven are the heads of THE BEAST whereon She rideth. The head of
an Angel: the head of a Saint: the head of a Poet: the head of an Adulterous
Woman: the head of a Man of Valour: the head of a Satyr: and the head of a
hath Her holiest name; and it is
This is the
Seal upon the Ring that is on the Forefinger of IT: and it is the Seal upon the
Tombs of them whom She hath slain,.
Wisdom. Let him that hath Understanding count the Number of Our Lady; for it is
the Number of a Woman; and Her Number is An Hundred and Fifty and Six.
There is a
further description in The Vision and the Voice. (See
There is in
this card a divine drunkenness or ecstasy. The woman is shown as more than a
little drunk, and more than a little mad; and the lion also is aflame with lust.
This signifies that the type of energy described is of the primitive, creative
order; it is completely independent of the criticism of reason. This card
portrays the will of the Aeon. In the background are the bloodless images of the
saints, on whom this image travels, for their whole life has been absorbed into
the Holy' Grail.
"Now ye shall
know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the
Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman all power is given. They shall
gather my children into their fold; they shall bring the glory of the stars into
the hearts of men.
"For he is
ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her
the stooping starlight."
sacrament is the physical-magical formula for attaining initiation, for the
accomplishment of the Great Work. It is in alchemy the process of distillation,
operated by internal ferment, and the influence of the Sun and Moon.
figures of the Beast and his Bride are ten luminous rayed circles; they are the
Sephiroth latent and not yet in order, for every new Aeon demands a new system
of classification of the Universe.
At the top of
the card is shown an emblem of the new light, with ten horns of the Beast, which
are serpents, sent forth in every direction to destroy and re-create the world.
of this card may be made by close examination of Liber XV (Magick, pp.345
[From The Vision and the Voice]
In Atu VII,
the charioteer bears the Grail, from the Great Mother. Here is the Vision:
charioteer speaks in a low, solemn voice, awe-inspiring, like a very large and
very distant bell: Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein, for
the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints. Glory unto the Scarlet Woman,
Babylon the Mother of Abominations, that rideth upon the Beast, for she hath
spilt their blood in every corner of the earth, and lo! she hath mingled it in
the cup of her whoredom.
breath of her kisses hath she fermented it, and it hath become the wine of the
Sacrament, the wine of the Sabbath; and in the Holy Assembly hath she poured it
out for her worshippers, and they have become drunken thereon, so that face to
face have they beheld my Father. Thus are they made worthy to become partakers
of the Mystery of this holy vessel, for the blood is the life. So sitteth she
from age to age, and the righteous are never weary of her kisses, and by her
murders and fornications she seduceth the world. Therein is manifested the glory
of my Father, who is Truth.
is such that its virtue radiateth through the cup, and I reel under the
intoxication of it. And every thought is destroyed by it. It abideth alone, and
its name is Compassion. I understand by 'Compassion' the sacrament of suffering,
partaken of by the true worshippers of the Highest. And it is an ecstasy in
which there is no trace of pain. Its passivity (=passion) is like the giving-up
of the self to the beloved.)
continues: This is the Mystery of Babylon, the Mother of Abominations, and this
is the mystery of her adulteries [The doctrine here set forth is identical with
that of the whole Mystery of Perfection understanding itself through experience
of all possible Imperfection, as explained elsewhere in this Essay.], for she
hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in
its mystery. And because she hath made her self the servant of each, therefore
is she become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her glory.
art thou, O Babylon, and desirable, for thou hast given thyself to everything
that liveth, and thy weakness hath subdued their strength. For in that union
thou didst understand. Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babylon, Lady
of the Night!
"This is that
which is written: 'O my God, in one last rapture let me attain to the union with
the many!' For she is Love, and her love is one; and she hath divided the one
love into infinite loves, and each love is one, and equal with The One, and
therefore is she passed 'from the assembly and the law and the enlightenment
unto the anarchy of solitude and darkness. For ever thus must she veil the
brilliance of Her self.'
Babylon, thou mighty Mother, that ridest upon the crownéd beast, let me be
drunken upon the wine of thy fornications; let thy kisses wanton me unto death,
that even I, thy cup- bearer, may understand.
the ruddy glow of the cup, I may perceive far above, and infinitely great, the
vision of Babylon. And the Beast whereon she rideth is the Lord of the City of
the Pyramids, that I beheld in the fourteenth Aethyr.
"Now that is
gone in the glow of the cup, and the Angel saith:
Not as yet
mayest thou understand the mystery of the Beast, for it pertaineth not unto the
mystery of this Aire, and few that are new- born unto Understanding are capable
glows ever brighter and fierier. All my sense is unsteady, being smitten with
Angel sayeth: Blessed are the saints, that their blood is mingled in the cup,
and can ;never be separate any more. For Babylon the Beautiful, the Mother of
abominations, hath sworn by her holy kteis, whereof every point is a pang, that
she will not rest from her adulteries until the blood of everything that liveth
is gathered therein, and the wine thereof laid up and matured and consecrated,
and worthy to gladden the heart of my Father. For my Father is weary with the
stress of eld, and cometh not to her bed. Yet shall this perfect wine be the
quintessence, and the elixir; and by the draught thereof shall he renew his
youth; and so shall it be eternally, as age by age the worlds do dissolve and
change, and the Universe unfoldeth itself as a Rose, and shutteth itself up as
the Cross that is bent into the Cube.
"And this is
the comedy of Pan, that is played at night in the thick forest. And this is the
mystery of Dionysus Zagreus, that is celebrated upon the holy mountain of
Kithairon. And this is the secret of the brothers of the Rosy Cross; and this is
the heart of the ritual that is accomplished in the Vault of the Adepts that is
hidden in the Mountain of the Caverns, even the Holy Mountain Abiegnus.
"And this is
the meaning of the Supper of the Passover, the spilling of the blood of the Lamb
being a ritual of the Dark Brothers, for they have sealed up the Pylon with
blood, lest the Angel of Death should enter therein. Thus do they shut
themselves off from the company of the saints. Thus do they keep themselves from
compassion and from understanding. Accursed are they, for they shut up their
blood in their heart.
themselves from the kisses of my Mother Babylon, and in their lonely fortresses
they pray to the false moon. And they bind themselves together with an oath, and
with a great curse. And of their malice they conspire together, and they have
power, and mastery, and in their cauldrons do they brew the harsh wine of
delusion, mingled with the poison of their selfishness.
make war upon the Holy One, sending forth their delusion upon men, and upon
everything that liveth. So that their false compassion is called compassion, and
their false understanding is called understanding, for this is their most potent
"Yet of their
own poison do they perish, and in their lonely fortresses shall they be eaten up
by Time that hath cheated them to serve him, and by the mighty devil Choronzon,
their master, whose name is the Second Death, for the blood that they have
sprinkled on their Pylon, that is a bar against the Angel Death, is the key by
which he entereth in."
XII. THE HANGED MAN
attributed to the letter Mem, represents the element of Water. It would perhaps
be better to say that it represents the spiritual function of water in the
economy of initiation; it is a baptism which is also a death. In the Aeon of
Osiris, this card represented the supreme formula of adeptship; for the figure
of the drowned or hanged man has its own special meaning. The legs are crossed
so that the right leg forms a right angle with the left leg, and the arms are
stretched out at an angle of 60° so as to form an equilateral triangle; this
gives the symbol of the Triangle surmounted by the Cross, which represents the
descent of the light into the darkness in order to re deem it. For this reason
there are green disks-green, the colour of Venus, signifies Grace-at the
terminations of the limbs and of the head. The air above the surface of the
water is also green, infiltrated by rays of the white light of Kether. The whole
figure is suspended from the Ankh, another way of figuring the formula of the
Rose and Cross, while around the left foot is the Serpent, creator and
destroyer, who operates all change. (This will be seen in the card which next
It is notable
that there is an apparent increase of darkness and solidity in proportion as the
redeeming element manifests itself; but the colour of green is the colour of
Venus, of the hope that lies in love. That depends upon the formulation of the
Rose and Cross, of the annihilation of the self in the Beloved, the condition of
progress. In this inferior darkness of death, the serpent of new life begins to
In the former
Aeon, that of Osiris, the element of Air, which is the nature of that Aeon, is
not unsympathetic either to Water or to Fire; compromise was a mark of that
period. But now, under a Fiery lord of the Aeon, the watery element, so far as
water is below the Abyss, is definitely hostile, unless the opposition is the
right opposition implied in marriage. But in this card the only question is of
the "redemption" of the submerged element, and therefore everything is reversed.
This idea of sacrifice is, in the final analysis, a wrong idea.
unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death;
peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice."
and every woman is a star."
idea of sacrifice is a misconception of nature, and these texts of the Book
of the Law are the answer to it.
But water is
the element of Illusion; one may regard this symbol n evil legacy from the old
Aeon; to use an anatomical analogy, it spiritual vermiform appendix.
It was the
water, and the Dwellers of the Water that slew Osiris; it is the crocodiles that
This card is
beautiful in a strange, immemorial, moribund manner. It is the card of the Dying
God; its importance in the present pack is merely that of the Cenotaph. It says:
"If ever things get bad like that again, in the new Dark Ages which appear to
threaten, this is the way to put things right." But if things have to be put
right, it shows that they are very wrong. It should be the chieftest aim of the
wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self-sacrifice, of the calamity of
chastity; faith must be slain by certainty, and chastity by ecstasy.
Book of the Law it is written: "Pity not the fallen! I never knew them. I am
not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled and the consoler."
a bad word; it implies a debt. For every star possesses boundless wealth; the
only proper way to deal with the ignorant is to bring them to the knowledge of
their starry heritage. To do this, it is necessary to behave as must be done in
order to get on good terms with animals and children: to treat them with
absolute respect; even; in a certain sense, with worship.
* * *
Note on the
Precession of the Aeons. "The Hanged Man" is an invention of the Adepts of the
I.N.R.I.-J.A.O. formula; in the Aeon previous to the Osirian, that of Isis
(Water), he is "The Drowned Man". The two uprights of the gallows shewn in the
Mediaeval packs were, in the parthenogenetic system of explaining and ruling
Nature, the bottom of the Sea and the keel of the Ark. In this Aeon all birth
was considered an emanation, without male intervention, of the Mother or
Star-Goddess, Nuit; all death a return to Her. This explains the original
attribution of the Atu to Water, and the sound M the return to Eternal Silence,
as in the word AUM. This card is therefore specially sacred to the Mystic) and
the attitude of the figure is a ritual posture in the Practice called "The Sleep
* * *
Alchemical import of this card is so alien to all dogmatic implications that it
has seemed better to deal quite separately with it. Its technical qualities are
independent of all doctrines soever; here is a matter of strictly scientific
bearings. The student will be prudent to read in connexion with these remarks
Chapter XII of Magick.
represents the sacrifice of "a male child of perfect innocence and high
intelligence"-these words were chosen with the utmost care. The meaning of his
attitude has already been described, and of the fact that he is hanged from an
Ankh, an equivalent of the Rosy Cross; in some early cards the gallows is a
Pylon, or the branch of a Tree, by shape suggesting the letter Daleth, Venus,
background is an unbounded grill of small squares; these are the Elemental
Tablets which exhibit the names and sigilla of all the energies of Nature.
Through his Work a Child is begotten, as shewn by the Serpent stirring in the
Darkness of the Abyss below him.
Yet the card
in itself is essentially a glyph of Water; Mem is one of the three great Mother
Letters, and its value is 40, the might of Tetragrammaton fully developed by
Malkuth, the symbol of the Universe under the Demiourgos. Moreover, Water is
peculiarly the Mother Letter, for both Shin and Aleph (the other two) represent
masculine ideas; and, in Nature, Homo Sapiens is a marine mammal, and our
intra-uterine existence is passed in the Amniotic Fluid. The legend of Noah, the
Ark and the Flood, is no more than a hieratic presentation of the facts of life.
It is then to Water that the Adepts have always looked for the continuation (in
some sense or other) and to the prolongation and perhaps renovation of life.
The legend of
the Gospels, dealing with the Greater Mysteries of the Lance and the Cup (those
of the god Iacchus Iao) as superior to the Lesser Mysteries (those of the God
Ion=Noah, and the N-gods in general) in which the Sword slays the god that his
head may be offered on a Plate, or Disk, says: And a soldier with a spear
pierced his side; and thereforth there came out blood and water. This Wine,
collected by the Beloved Disciple and the Virgin-Mother, waiting beneath the
Cross or Tree for that purpose, in a Cup or Chalice; this is the Holy Grail or
Sangreal (Sangraal) of Monsalvat, the Mountain of Salvation. [Grail (gréal)
actually means a dish: O.F. graal, greal, grasal, probably corrupted from late
Latin gradale, itself a corrupt form of crater, a bowl.] This Sacrament is
exalted in the Zenith in Cancer; see Atu VII.
It is most
necessary for the Student to go round and round this Wheel of symbolism until
the figures melt imperceptibly the one into the other in an intoxicating dance
of ecstasy; not until he has attained that is he able to partake of the
Sacrament, and accomplish for him- self-and for all men!-the Great Work.
But let him
also remember the practical secret cloistered in all these wind-swept corridors
of music, the actual preparation of the Stone of the Wise, the Medicine of
Metals, and the Elixir of Life!
This card is
attributed to the letter Nun, which means a fish; the symbol of life beneath the
waters; life travelling through the waters. It refers to the Zodiacal sign of
Scorpio, which is ruled by Mars, the planet of fiery energy in its lowest form,
which is therefore necessary to provide the impulse. In alchemy, this card
explains the idea of putrefaction, the technical name given by its adepts to the
series of chemical changes which develops the final form of life from the
original latent seed in the Orphic egg.
This sign is
one of the two most powerful in the Zodiac, but it has not the simplicity and
intensity of Leo. It is formally divided into three parts; the lowest is
symbolized by the Scorpion, which was supposed by early observers of Nature to
commit suicide when finding itself ringed with fire, or otherwise in a desperate
situation. This represents putrefaction in its lowest form. The strain of
environment has become intolerable, and the attacked element willingly subjects
itself to change; thus, potassium thrown upon water becomes ignited, and accepts
the embrace of the hydroxyl radicle.
interpretation of this sign is given by the serpent, who is, moreover, the main
theme of the sign. [The Qabalists embodied in the Book of Genesis, Caps I and
II, this doctrine of regeneration. NChSh, the Serpent in Eden, has the value
358: 50 also MShICh, Messiah. He is, accordingly, in the secret doctrine, the
Redeemer. The thesis may be developed at great length. Later in the Legend, the
doctrine reappears in slightly different symbolism as the story of the Flood,
elsewhere in this Essay explained. Of course, the Fish is identical in essence
with the Serpent; for Fish=NVN=Scorpio=Serpent. Also, Teth, the letter of Leo,
means Serpent. But Fish is also the Vesica, or Womb, and Christ -and so on. This
symbol resumes the whole Secret Doctrine.] The serpent is sacred, Lord of
Life and Death, and its method of progression suggests the rhythmical undulation
of those twin phases of life which we Call respectively life and death. The
serpent is also, as previously explained, the principal symbol of male energy.
From this it will be seen that this card is, in a very strict sense, the
completion of the card called Lust, Atu XI, and Atu XII represents the solution
or dissolution which links them.
aspect of the card is the Eagle, which represents exaltation above solid matter.
It was understood by the early chemists that, in certain experiments, the purest
(i.e., most tenuous) elements present were given off as gas or vapour. There are
thus represented in this card the three essential types of putrefaction.
itself represents the dance of death; the figure is a skeleton bearing a scythe,
and both the skeleton and the scythe are importantly Saturnian symbols. This
appears strange, as Saturn has no overt connection with Scorpio; but Saturn
represents the essential structure of existing things. He is that elemental
nature of things which is not destroyed by the ordinary changes which occur in
the operations of Nature. Furthermore, he is crowned with the crown of Osiris;
he represents Osiris in the waters of Amennti. Yet more, he is the original
secret male creative God: see Atu XV. "Redeunt Saturnia regna." It was only the
corruption of the Tradition, the confusion with Set, and the Cult of the Dying
God, misunderstood, deformed and distorted by the Black Lodge, that turned him
into a senile and fiendish symbol.
sweep of his scythe he creates bubbles in which are beginning to take shape the
new forms which he creates in his dance; and these forms dance also.
In this card
the symbol of the fish is paramount; the fish (Il pesce, as they call him
in Naples and many other places) and the serpent are the two principal objects
of worship in cults which taught the doctrines of resurrection or
re-incarnation. Thus we have Oannes and Dagon, fish gods, in western Asia; in
many other parts of the world are similar cults. Even in Christianity, Christ
was represented as a fish. The Greek work IXThUS, "which means fish And very
aptly symbolizes Christ", as Browning reminds one, was supposed to be a
notariqon, the initials of a sentence meaning "Jesus Christ Son of God,
Saviour". Nor is it an accident that St. Peter was a fisherman. The Gospels,
too, are full of miracles involving fish, and the fish is sacred to Mercury,
because of its cold-bloodedness, its swiftness and its brilliance. There is
moreover the sexual symbolism. This again recalls the function of Mercury as the
guide of the dead, and as the continuing elastic element in nature.
must then be considered as of greater importance and catholicity than would be
expected from the plain Zodiacal attribution. It is even a compendium of
universal energy in its most secret form.
i. The Arrow
This card is
the complement and the fulfilment of Atu VI, Gemini. It pertains to Sagittarius,
the opposite to Gemini in the Zodiac, and therefore, "after another manner," one
with it. Sagittarius means the Archer; and the card is (in its simplest and most
primitive form) a picture of Diana the Huntress. Diana is primarily one of the
lunar goddesses, though the Romans rather degraded her from the Greek "virgin
Artemis", who is also the Great Mother of Fertility, Diana of the Ephesians,
Many-Breasted. (A form of Isis-see Atu II and III.) The connection between the
Moon and the Huntress is shewn by the shape of the bow, and the occult
significance of Sagittarius is the arrow piercing the rainbow; the last three
paths of the Tree of Life make the word Qesheth, a rainbow, and Sagittarius
bears the arrow which pierces the rainbow, for his path leads from the Moon of
Yesod to the Sun of Tiphareth. (This explanation is highly technical; but this
is necessary because the card represents an important scientific formula, which
cannot be expressed in language suited to common comprehension.)
represents the Consummation of the Royal Marriage which took place in Atu VI.
The black and white personages are now united in a single androgyne figure. Even
the Bees and the Serpents on their robes have made an alliance. The Red Lion has
become white, and increased in size and importance, while the White Eagle,
similarly expanded, has become red. He has exchanged his red blood for her white
gluten. (It is impossible to explain these terms to any but advanced students of
equilibrium and counter-change are carried out completely in the figure itself;
the white woman has now a black bead; the black king, a white one. She wears the
golden crown with a silver band, he, the silver crown with a golden fillet; but
the white head on the right is extended in action by a white arm on the left
which holds the cup of the white gluten, while the black head on the left has
the black arm on the right, holding the lance which has become a torch and pours
forth its burning blood. The fire burns up the water; the water extinguishes the
The robe of
the figure is green, which symbolizes vegetable growth: this is an alchemical
allegory. In the symbolism of the fathers of science, all "actual" objects were
regarded as dead; the difficulty of transmuting metals was that the metals, as
they occur in nature, were in the nature of excrements, because they did not
grow. The first problem of alchemy was to raise mineral to vegetable life; the
adepts thought that the proper way to do this was to imitate the processes of
nature. Distillation, for instance, was not an operation to be performed by
heating something in a retort over a flame; it had to take place naturally, even
if months were required to consummate the Work. (Months, at that period of
civilization, were at the disposal of enquiring minds.)
A great deal
of what people now consider ignorance, being themselves ignorant of what the men
of old time thought, comes from this misapprehension. At the bottom of this
card, for example, are seen Fire and Water harmoniously mingled. But this is
of the spiritual idea, which is the satisfaction of the desire of the incomplete
element of one kind to satisfy its formula by assimilation of its equal and
This state of
the great Work therefore consisted in the mingling of the contradictory elements
in a cauldron. This is here represented as golden or solar, because the Sun is
the Father of all Life, and (in particular) presides over distillation. The
fertility of the Earth is maintained by rain and sun; the rain is formed by a
slow and gentle process, and is rendered effective by the co-operation of air,
which is itself alchemically the result of the Marriage of Fire and Water. So
also the formula of continued life is death, or putrefaction. Here it is
symbolized by the caput mortuum on the cauldron, a raven perched upon a
skull. In agricultural terms, this is the fallow earth.
There is a
particular interpretation of this card which is only to be understood by
Initiates of the Ninth Degree of the O.T.O; for it contains a practical magical
formula of such importance as to make it impossible to communicate it openly.
the cauldron, as the result of the operation per- formed ~ is a stream of light
which becomes two rainbows; they form the cape of the androgyne figure. In the
centre, an arrow shoots upwards. This is connected with the general symbolism
previously explained, the spiritualization of the result of the Great Work.
is moreover symbolical of another stage in the alchemical process. At a certain
period, as a result of putrefaction, there is observed a phenomenon of
many-coloured lights (The "coat of many colours" said to have been worn by
Joseph and Jesus, in the ancient legends, refers to this. See also Atu 0, the
Motley of the Green Man, Dreamer-Redeemer).
To sum up,
the whole of this card represents the hidden content of the Egg described in Atu
VI. It is the same formula, but in a more advanced stage. The original duality
has been completely compensated; but after birth comes growth; after growth,
puberty; and after puberty, purification.
In this card,
therefore, is foreshadowed the final stage of the Great Work. Behind the figure,
its edges tinged with the rainbow, which has now arisen from the twin rainbows
forming the cape of the figure, is a glory bearing an inscription VISITA
INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM.
interior parts of the earth: by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone."
Its initials make the word V.I.T.R.I.O.L., the Universal Solvent, to be
discussed later. (Its value is 726=6 X 112=33 x 22.)
stone" is also called the Universal Medicine. It is sometimes described as a
stone, sometimes as a powder, sometimes as a tincture. It divides again into two
forms, the gold and the silver, the red and the white; but its essence is always
the same, and its nature is not to be understood except by experience. It is
because the alchemists were dealing with substances on the borderland of
"matter" that they are so difficult to understand. The subject-matter of
chemistry and physics in modern times is what they would have called the study
of dead things; for the real difference between living things and dead is, in
the first instance, their behaviour.
of the alchemical motto given above form the word Vitriol. This has nothing to
do with the sulphates of either hydrogen, iron or copper, as might be supposed
from modern usage. It represents a balanced combination of the three alchemical
principles, Sulphur, Mercury and Salt. These names have no connection with
substances so named by the vulgar; they have already been described in Atu 1.111
to "visit the interior of the earth" is a recapitulation (on a higher plane) of
the first formula of the Work which has been the so constant theme of these
essays. The important word in the injunction is the central word RECTIFICANDO;
it implies the right leading of the new living substance in the path of the True
Will. The stone of the Philosophers, the Universal Medicine, is to be a talisman
of use in any event, a completely elastic and completely rigid vehicle of the
True Will of the alchemists. It is to fertilize and bring to manifested Life the
both in this card and in Atu VI, is of supreme importance. The Arrow is, in
fact, the simplest and purest glyph of Mercury, being the symbol of directed
Will. It is right to emphasize this fact by a quotation from the Fourth Aethyr,
LIT, in The Vision and the Voice. (See
[From The Vision and the Voice,
behold how the head of the dragon is but the tail of the Aethyr! Many are they
that have fought their way from mansion to mansion of the Everlasting House, and
beholding me at last have returned, declaring, "Fearful is the aspect of the
Mighty and Terrible One". Happy are they that have known me for whom I am. And
glory unto him that hath made a gallery of my throat for his arrow of truth, and
the moon for his purity.
waneth. The moon waneth. The moon waneth. For in that arrow is the Light of
Truth that overmastereth the light of the sun, whereby she shines. The arrow is
fledged with the plumes of Maat that are the plumes of Amoun, and the shaft is
the phallus of Amoun the Concealed One. And the barb thereof is the star that
thou sawest in the place where was No God.
And of them
that guarded the star, there was not found one worthy to wield the Arrow. And of
them that worshipped there was not found one worthy to behold the Arrow. Yet the
star that thou sawest was but the barb of the Arrow, and thou hadst not the wit
to grasp the shaft, or the purity to divine the plumes. Now therefore is he
blessed that is born under the sign of the Arrow, and blessed is he that hath
the sigil of the head of the crowned lion and the body of the Snake and the
Yet do thou
distinguish between the upward and the downward Arrows, for the upward arrow is
straitened in its flight, and it is shot by a firm hand, for Jesod is Jod
Tetragrammaton, and Jod is a hand, but the downward arrow is shot by the topmost
point of the Jod; and that Jod is the Hermit, and it is the minute point that is
not extended, that is nigh unto the heart of Hadit.
And now it is
commanded thee that thou withdraw thyself from the Vision, and on the morrow, at
the appointed hour, shall it be given thee further, as thou goest upon thy way,
meditating this mystery.
shalt summon the Scribe, and that which shall be written shall be written.
withdraw myself, as I am commanded. The Desert between Benshrur and Tolga.
1909. 7-8. 12 midnight.
Now then art
thou approached unto an august Arcanum; verily thou art come unto the ancient
Marvel, the winged light, the Fountains of Fire, the Mystery of the Wedge. But
it is not I that can reveal it, for I have never been permitted to behold it,
who am but the watcher upon the threshold of the Aethyr. My message is spoken,
and my mission is accomplished. And I withdraw myself, covering my face with my
wings, before the presence of the Angel of the Aethyr.
So the Angel
departed with bowed head, folding his wings across.
And there is
a little child in a mist of blue light; he hath golden hair, a mass of curls,
and deep blue eyes. Yea, he is all golden, with a living, vivid gold. And in
each hand he hath a snake; in the right hand a red, in the left hand a blue. And
he hath red sandals, but no other garment.
sayeth: Is not life a long initiation unto sorrow? And is not Isis the Lady of
Sorrow? And she is my mother. Nature is her name, and she hath a twin sister
Nephthys, whose name is Perfection. And Isis must be known of all, but of how
few is Nephthys known! Because she is dark, therefore is she feared.
But thou who
hast adored her without fear, who hast made thy life an initiation into her
Mystery, thou that hast neither mother nor father, nor sister nor brother, nor
wife nor child, who hast made thy self lonely as the hermit crab that is in the
waters of the Great Sea, behold! when the sistrons are shaken, and the trumpets
blare forth the glory of Isis, at the end therefore there is silence, and thou
shalt commune with Nephthys.
known these, there are the wings of Maut the Vulture. Thou mayest draw to an
head the bow of thy magical will; thou mayest loose the shaft and pierce her to
the heart. I am Eros. Take then the bow and the quiver from my shoulders and
slay me; for unless thou slay me, thou shalt not unveil the Mystery of the
did as he commanded; in the quiver were two arrows, one white, one black. I
cannot force myself to fit an arrow to the bow.
came a voice: It must needs be.
And I said:
No man can do this thing.
And the voice
answered, as it were an echo: Nemo hoc facere potesi.
understanding to me, and I took forth the Arrows. The white arrow had no barb,
but the black arrow was barbed like a forest of fish-hooks; it was bound round
with brass, and it had been dipped in deadly poison. Then I fitted the white
arrow to the string, and I shot it against the heart of Eros, and though I shot
with all my force, it fell harmlessly from his side. But at that moment the
black arrow was thrust through mine own heart. I am filled with fearful agony.
And the child
smiles, and says: Although thy shaft hath pierced me not, although the envenomed
barb hath struck thee through; yet I am slain, and thou livest and triumphest,
for I am thou and thou art I.
With that he
disappears, and the Aethyr splits with a roar as of ten 'thousand thunders. And
behold, The Arrow! The plumes of Maat are its crown, set about the disk. It is
the Ateph crown of Thoth, and there is the shaft of burning light, and beneath
there is a silver wedge.
I shudder and
tremble at the vision, for all about it are whorls ,and torrents of tempestuous
fire. The stars of heaven are caught in the ashes of the flame. And they are all
dark. That which was a blazing sun is like a speck of ash. And in the midst the
Arrow burns! the I see that the crown of the Arrow is the Father of all Light,
and shaft of the Arrow is the Father of all Life, and the barb of the Arrow is
the Father of all Love. For that silver wedge is like a lotus flower, and the
Eye within the Ateph Crown crieth: I watch. And the Shaft crieth: I work. And
the Barb crieth: I wait. And the voice of the Aethyr echoeth: It beams. It
burns. It blooms.
And now there
cometh a strange thought; this Arrow is the source of all motion; it is infinite
motion, yet it moveth not, so that there is 'no motion. And therefore there is
no matter. This Arrow is the glance of the Eye of Shiva. But because it moveth
not, the universe is not destroyed. The universe is put forth and swallowed up
in the quivering of the plumes of Maat, that are the plumes of the Arrow; but
those plumes quiver not.
And a voice
comes: That which is above is not like that which is below.
voice answers it: That which is below is not like that which is above.
And a third
voice answers these two: What is above and what is below? For there is the
division that divideth not, and the multiplication that multiplieth not. And the
One is the Many. Behold, this Mystery is beyond understanding, for the winged
globe is the crown, and the shaft is the wisdom, and the barb is the
understanding. And the Arrow is one, and thou art lost in the Mystery, who art
but as a babe that is carried in the womb of its mother, that art not yet ready
for the light.
vision overcometh me. My sense is stunned: my sight is blasted: my hearing is
And a voice
cometh: Thou didst seek the remedy of sorrow; therefore all sorrow is thy
portion. This is that which is written:
laid upon him the iniquity of us all." For as thy blood is mingled in the cup of
BABALON, so is thine heart the universal heart. Yet is it bound about with the
Green Serpent, the Serpent of Delight.
It is shown
me that this heart is the heart that rejoiceth, and the serpent is the serpent
of Daath, for herein all the symbols are inter changeable, for each one
containeth in itself its own opposite. And this is the great Mystery of the
Supernals that are beyond the Abyss. For below the Abyss, contradiction is
division; but above the Abyss, contradiction is Unity. And there could be
nothing true except by virtue of the contradiction that is contained in itself.
not believe how marvelous is this vision of the Arrow. And it could never be
shut out, except the Lords of Vision troubled the waters of the pool, the mind
of the Seer. But they send forth a wind that is a cloud of Angels, and they beat
the water with their feet, and little waves splash up-they are memories. For the
seer hath no head; it is expanded into the universe, a vast and silent sea,
crowned with the stars of night. Yet in the very midst thereof is the arrow.
Little images of things that were, are the foam upon the waves. And there is a
contest between the Vision and the memories. I prayed unto the Lords of Vision,
saying: O my Lords,, take not away this wonder from my sight.
said: It must needs be. Rejoice therefore if thou hast been permitted to behold,
even for a moment, this Arrow, the austere, the august. But the vision is
accomplished, and we have sent forth a great wind against thee. For thou canst
not penetrate by force, who hast refused it; nor by authority, for thou hast
trampled it under foot. Thou art bereft of all but understanding, O thou that
art no more than a little pile of dust!
images rise up against me and constrain me, so that the Aethyr is shut against
me. Only the things of the mind and of the body are open unto me. The shew-stone
is dull, for that which I see therein is but a memory.
XV. THE DEVIL
This card is
attributed to the letter 'Ayin, which means an Eye, and it refers to Capricornus
in the Zodiac. In the Dark Ages of Christianity, it was completely
misunderstood. Eliphaz Levi studied it very deeply because of its connection
with ceremonial magic, his 4 favourite subject; and he re-drew it, identifying
it with Baphomet, the ass-headed idol of the Knights of the Temple. [The Early
Christians also were accused of worshipping an Ass, or ass-headed god. See
Browning, The Ring and the Book (The Pope).] But at this time
archaeological research had not gone very far; the nature of Baphomet was not
fully understood. (See Atu 0, above.) At least he succeeded in identifying the
goat portrayed upon the card with Pan.
On the Tree
of Life, Atu XIII and XV are symmetrically placed; they lead from Tiphareth, the
human consciousness, to the spheres in which Thought (on the one hand) and Bliss
(on the other) are developed. Between them, Atu XIV leads similarly to the
sphere which formulates Existence. (See note on Atu X and arrangement.) These
three cards may therefore be summed up as a hieroglyph of the processes by which
idea manifests as form.
represents creative energy in its most material form; in the Zodiac, Capricornus
occupies the Zenith. It is the most exalted of the signs; it is the goat leaping
with lust upon the summits of earth. The sign is ruled by Saturn, who makes for
selfhood and perpetuity. In this sign, Mars is exalted, showing in its best form
the fiery, material energy of creation. The card represents Pan Pangenetor, the
All-Begetter. It is the Tree of Life as seen against a background of the
exquisitely tenuous, complex, and fantastic forms of madness, the divine madness
of spring, already foreseen in the meditative madness of winter; for the Sun
turns northwards on entering this sign. The roots of the Tree are made
transparent, in order to show the innumerable leapings of the sap; before it
stands the Himalayan goat, with an eye in the centre of his forehead,
representing the god Pan upon the highest and most secret mountains of the
earth. His creative energy is veiled in the symbol of the Wand of the Chief
Adept, crowned with the winged globe and the twin serpents of Horus and Osiris.
"Hear me, Lord of the Stars, For
thee have I worshipped ever With stains and sorrows and scars, With joyful,
joyful Endeavour. Hear me, O lilywhite goat Crisp as a thicket of thorns, With a
collar of gold for thy throat, A scarlet bow for thy horns."
The sign of
Capricornus is rough, harsh, dark, even blind; the impulse to create takes no
account of reason, custom, or foresight. It is divinely unscrupulous, sublimely
careless of result. "thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that, and no
other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the
lust of result, is every way perfect." AL. I, 42-4.
It is further
to be remarked that the trunk of the Tree pierces the heavens; about it is
indicated the ring of the body of Nuith. Similarly, the shaft of the Wand goes
down indefinitely to the centre of earth. "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." (AL. II, 26).
of this card is then the complete appreciation of all existing things. He
rejoices in the rugged and the barren no less than in the smooth and the
fertile. All things equally exalt him. He represents the finding of ecstasy in
every phenomenon, however naturally repugnant; he transcends all limitations; he
is Pan; he is All.
important to notice some other correspondences. The three vowel-consonants of
the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, Yod, 'Ayin, these three letters form the sacred name
of God, I A O. These three Atu, IX, 0, and XV, thus offer a threefold
explanation of the male creative energy; but this card especially represents the
masculine energy at its most masculine. Saturn, the ruler, is Set, the
ass-headed god of the Egyptian deserts; he is the god of the south. The name
refers to all gods containing these consonants, such as Shaitan, or Satan. (See
Magick pp.336-7). Essential to the symbolism are the surroundings -
barren places, especially high places. The cult of the mountain is an exact
parallel. The Old Testament is full of attacks upon kings who celebrated worship
in "high places"; this, although Zion itself was a mountain! This feeling
persisted, even to the days of the Witches' Sabbath, held, if possible, on a
desolate summit, but (if none were available) at least in a wild spot,
uncontaminated by the artfulness of men.
Shabbathai, the "sphere of Saturn", is the Sabbath. Historically, the animus
against witches pertains to the fear of the Jews; whose rites, supplanted by the
Christian forms of Magic, had become mysterious and terrible. Panic suggested
that Christian children were stolen, sacrificed, and eaten. The belief persists
to this day.
symbol of this card there is the allusion to the highest things and most remote.
Even the horns of the goat are spiral, to represent the movement of the
all-pervading energy. Zoroaster defines God as "having a spiral force". Compare
the more recent, if less profound, writings of Einstein. [Compare Saturn, at one
end of the Seven Sacred Wanderers, with the Moon at the other: the aged man and
the young girl -see "The Formula of Tetragrammaton". They are linked as no other
two planets, since 32=9, and each contains in itself the extremes of its own
idea. (See also Appendix: Atu xxi.)]
XVI. THE TOWER [OR: WAR]
This card is
attributed to the letter Peh, which means a mouth; it refers to the planet Mars.
In its simplest interpretation it refers to the manifestation of cosmic energy
in its grossest form. The picture shows the destruction of existing material by
fire. It may be taken as the preface to Atu XX, the Last Judgment, i.e., the
Coming of a New Aeon. This being so, it seems to indicate the quintessential
quality of the Lord of the Aeon.[See Liber AL III. 3-9; II - 13; 17-18; 23-29;
46; 49-60; 70-72.]
At the bottom
part of the card, therefore, is shown the destruction of the old-established
Aeon by lightning, flames, engines of war. In the right-hand corner are the jaws
of Dis, belching flame at the root of the structure. Falling from the tower are
broken figures of the garrison. It will be noticed that they have lost their
become mere geometrical expressions.
another (and totally different) interpretation of the card. To understand this,
it is necessary to refer to the doctrines of Yoga, especially those most widely
current in Southern India, where the cult of Shiva, the Destroyer, is paramount.
Shiva is represented as dancing upon the bodies of his devotees. To understand
this is not easy for most western minds. Briefly, the doctrine is that the
ultimate reality (which is Perfection) is Nothingness. Hence all manifestations,
however glorious, however delightful, are stains. To obtain perfection, all
existing things must be annihilated. The destruction of the garrison may
therefore be taken to mean their emancipation from the prison of organized life,
which was confining them. It was their unwisdom to cling to it.
should make it clear that magical symbols must always be understood in a double
sense, each contradictory of the other. These ideas blend naturally with the
higher and deeper significance of the card.
There is a
direct reference to this card in the Book of the Law. In Chapter I, verse
57, the goddess Nuith speaks: "Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love
under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There
is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath
chosen, knowing the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of
God". [For this reason the ancient title, to-day not very intelligible, has been
retained. Otherwise, it might have been called War.]
dominating feature of this card is the Eye of Horus. This is also the Eye of
Shiva, on the opening of which, according to the legend of this cult, the
Universe is destroyed.
there is a special technical magical meaning, which is explained openly only to
initiates of the Eleventh degree of the O.T.O.; a grade so secret that it is not
even listed in the official documents. It is not even to be understood by study
of the Eye in Atu XV. Perhaps it is lawful to mention that the Arab sages and
the Persian poets have written, not always guardedly, on the subject.
Bathed in the
effulgence of this Eye (which now assumes even a third sense, that indicated in
Atu XV) are the Dove bearing an olive branch and the Serpent: as in the above
quotation. The Serpent is portrayed as the Lion-Serpent Xnoubis or Abraxas.
These represent the two forms of desire; what Schopenhauer would have called the
Will to Live and the Will to Die. They represent the feminine and masculine
impulses; the nobility of the latter is possibly based upon recognition of the
futility of the former. This is perhaps why the renunciation of love in all the
ordinary senses of the word has been so constantly announced as the first step
towards initiation. This is an unnecessarily rigid view. This Trump is not the
only card in the Pack, nor are the "will to live" and the "will to die"
incompatible. This becomes clear as soon as life and death are understood (See
Atu XIII) as phases of a single manifestation of energy.
XVII. THE STAR
This card is
attributed to the letter He', as has been explained elsewhere. It refers to the
Zodiacal sign of Aquarius, the water- bearer. The picture represents Nuith, our
Lady of the Stars. For the full meaning of this sentence it is necessary to
understand the first chapter of the Book of the Law.
The figure of
the goddess is shown in manifestation, that is, not as the surrounding space of
heaven, shown in Atu XX, where she is the pure philosophical idea continuous and
omniform. In this card she is definitely personified as a human-seeming figure;
she is represented as bearing two cups, one golden, held high above her head,
from which she pours water upon it. (These cups resemble breasts, as it is
written: "the milk of the stars from her paps; yea, the milk of the stars from
is here resolved into its ultimate elements. (One is tempted to quote from the
Vision of the Lake Pasquaney, "Nothingness with twinkles. . . but what
twinkles!") Behind the figure of the goddess is the celestial globe. Most
prominent among its features is the seven-pointed Star of Venus, as if declaring
the principal characteristic of her nature to be Love. (See again the
description in Chapter I of the Book of the Law). From the golden cup she
pours this ethereal water, which is also milk and oil and blood, upon her own
head, indicating the eternal renewal of the categories, the inexhaustible
possibilities of existence.
hand, lowered, holds a silver cup, from which also she pours the immortal liquor
of her life. (This liquor is the Amrita of the Indian philosophers, the Nepenthe
and Ambrosia of the Greeks, the Alkahest and Universal Medicine of the
Alchemists, the Blood of the Grail; or, rather, the nectar which is the mother
of that blood. She pours it upon the junction of land and water. This water is
the water of the great Sea of Binah; in the manifestation of Nuith on a lower
plane, she is the Great Mother. For the Great Sea is upon the shore of the
fertile earth, as represented by the roses in the right hand corner of the
picture. But between sea and land is the "Abyss", and this is hidden by the
clouds, which whirl as a development of her hair: "my hair the trees of
Eternity". (AL. I, 59).
left-hand corner of the picture is the star of Babalon; the Sigil of the
Brotherhood of the A.'. A.'. For Babalon is yet a further materialization of the
original idea of Nuith; she is the Scarlet Woman, the sacred Harlot who is the
lady of Atu XI. From this star, behind the celestial sphere itself, issue the
curled rays of spiritual light. Heaven itself is no more than a veil before the
face of the immortal goddess.
It will be
seen that every form of energy in this picture is spiral. Zoroaster says, "God
is he, having the head of a hawk; having a spiral force". It is interesting to
notice that this oracle appears to anticipate the present Aeon, that of the
hawk-headed Lord, and also of the mathematical conception of the shape of the
Universe as calculated by Einstein and his school. It is only in the lower cup
that the forms of energy issuing forth show rectilinear characteristics. In this
may be discovered the doctrine which asserts that the blindness of humanity to
all the beauty and wonder of the Universe is due to this illusion of
straightness. It is significant that Riemann, Bolyai and Lobatchewsky seem to
have been the mathematical prophets of the New Revelation. For the Euclidian
geometry depends upon the conception of straight lines, and it was only because
the Parallel Postulate was found to be incapable of proof that mathematicians
began to conceive that the straight line had no true correspondence with
reality. [The straight line is no more than the limit of any curve. For
instance, it is an ellipse whose foci are an "infinite" distance apart. In fact,
such use of the Calculus is the one certain way of ensuring "straightness".]
In the first
chapter of the Book of the Law, the conclusion is of practical
importance. It gives the definite formula for the attainment of truth.
unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death;
peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice."
"But to love
me is better than all things: if under the night-stars in the desert thou
presently burnest mine incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the
Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my bosom. For one kiss
wilt thou then be willing to give all; but whoso gives one particle of dust
shall lose all in that hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and
spices; ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of the earth in
splendour & pride; but always in the love of me, and so shall ye come to my joy.
I charge you earnestly to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a
rich headdress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or
voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost
sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you:
come unto me!
"At all my
meetings with you shall the priestess say-and her eyes shall burn with desire as
she stands bare and rejoicing in my secret temple-To me! To me! calling forth
the flame of the hearts of all in her love-chant.
rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes! Wear to me jewels! Drink to
me, for I love you! I love you!
"I am the
blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked brilliance of the voluptuous
"To me! To
Manifestation of Nuit is at an end."
XVIII. THE MOON
Eighteenth Trump is attributed to the letter Qoph, which represents Pisces in
the Zodiac. It is called the Moon.
Pisces is the
last of the Signs; it represents the last stage of winter. It might be called
the Gateway of Resurrection (the letter Qoph means the back of the head, and is
connected with the potencies of the cerebellum). In the system of the old Aeon,
the resurrection of
the Sun was
not only from winter, but from night; and this card represents midnight.
"There is a
budding morrow in midnight", wrote Keats. For this reason there appears at the
bottom of the card, underneath the water which is tinged with graphs of
abomination, the sacred Beetle, the Egyptian Khephra, bearing in his mandibles
the Solar Disk. It is this Beetle that bears the Sun in his Silence through the
darkness of Night and the bitterness of Winter.
surface of the water is a sinister and forbidding landscape. We see a path or
stream, serum tinged with blood, which flows from a gap between two barren
mountains; nine drops of impure blood, drop-shaped like Yods, fall upon it from
partaking as she does of the highest and the lowest, and filling all the space
between, is the most universal of the Planets. In her higher aspect, she
occupies the place of the Link between the human and divine, as shown in Atu II.
In this Trump, her lowest avatar, she joins the earthy sphere of Netzach with
Malkuth, the culmination in matter of all superior forms. This is the waning
moon, the moon of witchcraft and abominable deeds. She is the poisoned darkness
which is the condition of the rebirth of light.
This path is
guarded by Tabu. She is uncleanliness and sorcery. Upon the hills are the black
towers of nameless mystery, of horror and of fear. All prejudice, all
superstition, dead tradition - and ancestral loathing, all combine to darken her
face before the eyes of men. It needs unconquerable courage to begin to tread
this path. Here is a weird, deceptive life. The fiery sense is baulked. The moon
has no air. The knight upon this quest has to rely on the three lower senses:
touch, taste and smell. [See the Book of Lies Cap.πβ, Bortsch.] Such
light as there may be is deadlier than darkness, and the silence is wounded by
the howling of wild beasts.
To what god
shall we appeal for aid? It is Anubis, the watcher in the twilight, the god that
stands upon the threshold, the jackal god of Khem, who stands in double form
between the Ways. At his feet, on watch, wait the jackals themselves, to devour
the carcasses of those who have not seen Him, or who have not known His Name.
This is the
threshold of life; this is the threshold of death. All is doubtful, all is
mysterious, all is intoxicating. Not the benign, solar intoxication of Dionysus,
but the dreadful madness of pernicious drugs; this is a drunkenness of sense,
after the mind has been abolished by the venom of this Moon. This is that which
is written of Abraham in the Book of the Beginning: "An horror of great
darkness came upon him." One is reminded of the mental echo of subconscious
realization, of that supreme iniquity which mystics have constantly celebrated
in their accounts of the Dark Night of the Soul. But the best men, the true men,
do not consider the matter in such terms at all. Whatever horrors may afflict
the soul, whatever abominations may excite the loathing of the heart, whatever
terrors may assail the mind, the answer is the same at every stage: "How
splendid is the Adventure!"
XIX. THE SUN
represents, in heraldic language, "the Sun, charged with a rose, on a mount
vert". [Cf. the Coat-of Arms of the family of the Author of this book.]
This is one
of the simplest of the cards; it represents Heru-ra-ha, the Lord of the New
Aeon, in his manifestation to the race of men as the Sun spiritual, moral, and
physical. He is the Lord of Light, Life, Liberty and Love. This Aeon has for its
purpose the complete emancipation of the human race.
represents the flowering of the solar influence. Around the whole picture we see
the signs of the Zodiac in their normal position, Aries rising in the East, and
so on. Freedom brings sanity. The Zodiac is a kind of childish representation of
the body of Nuith, a differentiation and classification, a chosen belt, one
girdle of Our Lady of infinite space. Convenience of description excuses the
mound represents the fertile earth, its shape, so to speak, aspiring to the
heavens. But around the top of the mound is a wall, which indicates that the
aspiration of the new Aeon does not mean the absence of control. Yet outside
this wall are the twin children who (in one form or another) have so frequently
recurred in this whole symbolism. They represent the male and female, eternally
young, shameless and innocent. They are dancing in the light, and yet they dwell
upon the earth. They represent the next stage which is to be attained by
mankind, in which complete freedom is alike the cause and the result of the new
access of solar energy upon the earth. The restriction of such ideas as sin and
death in their old sense has been abolished, At their feet are the most sacred
signs of the old Aeon, the combination of the Rose and Cross from which they are
arisen, yet which still forms their support.
itself symbolizes this broadening of the idea of the Rose and Cross. The Cross
is now expanded into the Sun, from which, of course, it is originally derived.
Its rays are twelve-not only the number of the signs of the Zodiac, but of the
most sacred title of the most holy Ancient Ones, who are Hua. (The word HUA,
"he", has the numerical value of 12.) The limitation of mundane law, which is
always associated with the number Four, has disappeared. Gone are the four arms
of a Cross limited by law; the creative energy of the Cross expands freely; its
rays pierce in every direction the body of Our Lady of the Stars.
to the wall, it should be noted that it completely encircles the top of the
mound; this is to emphasize that the formula of the Rose and Cross is still
valid in terrestrial matters. But there is now, as was not previously the case,
a close and definite alliance with the celestial.
It is also
most important to observe that the formula of the Rose and Cross (indicated by
the wall-girt mound) has completed the fire-change into "something rich and
strange"; for the mound is green, where one would expect it to be red, and the
wall red, where one would expect it to be green or blue. The indication of this
symbolism is that it must be one of the great advances in adjustment of the new
Aeon to work out simply and without prejudice the formidable problems which have
been raised by the growth of civilization.
advanced so far from the social system, though it was not a system, of the cave
man, from the primitive conception of property in human flesh. Man has advanced
so far from crude anatomical classification of the soul of any given human
being; he has accordingly landed himself in the most dreadful mire of
psychopathology and psycho-analysis. Tiresome and tough are the prejudices of
the people that date morally from about 25,000 B.C.
to their own intransigence, those people have been born under a different
spiritual law; they find themselves not only persecuted by their ancestors, but
bewildered by their own uncertainty of foothold. It must be the task of the
pioneers of the new Aeon to put this right.
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