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Oliver St. John is the author of fifteen books covering Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, the Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of the Thelemic Magical Collegium, Ordo Astri, and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Aquarius and the Nightside

Thoth Tarot Atu The Star XVII

The Star XVII Thoth Tarot Atu

Thou art The Daughter of the Firmament: the Dweller between the Waters. Thou art eternity. Thou art the Star of Nuit. Thou art love, and the lamps of Venus! Thou art the window of heaven and the destiny of man to attain. Thou art the Holy Graal itself, and the amrita with which it is filled, thou art ambrosia of the Gods. Thou art the Waters of Space and thy cup is Binah on the Tree of Life. Thy veil is the Abyss betwixt the great sea and the fertile earth, the clouds that are broken up and drop down dew. Thou art the goddess of Infinite Space, and Babalon thy daughter. Thine are the Marks of Space, and thine art is Occult. Thy magical weapons are the Censer for the perfumes, as clouds carry the distillation of the water of earth and the Aspergillum for the sprinkling of the lustral water. For this is alike as to the shedding of the rain from the clouds. I invoke thee, whose number is eleven! I invoke thee, continuous one of Heaven!

Aquarius, the Waters of Space, is a fixed air sign ruled by Saturn, the principle of limitation and form. The letter hé of the fifteenth path of Aquarius on the Hermetic Tree of Life means “a window”, and has the value of 5. The window of ‘five’ is the image of the starry goddess Nuit, The Star, through which the seer perceives the primordial wisdom. The path begins in Chokmah, associated with the ajna chakra or third eye, and terminates in Tiphereth, the beauty of all the sephiroth in radiant harmony.

While Chokmah manifests fully as Mazloth or the Zodiac, in visible nature Tiphereth appears as the Sun, the life-giving spirit that animates the 12 signs through the course of the year. The key to the Zodiac is the Sun acting through Spirit in governance of the four elements, Fire, Air, Water and Earth.

The Hebrew word for Zodiac, Mazloth, provides a key to understanding the transmission of consciousness that is veiled by the symbolism of the fifteenth path. In The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, we find under the number 251 the Greek word imas, the thong, strap or girdle of the goddess Venus:
Esoterically the green line or girdle of Venus is the belt of the zodiac or ecliptic that encircles the earth; the planetary or mundane chakra name of Chokmah is Mazloth, the Zodiac.
Under ChKMVTh, 474 (equal to DOTh or Daath), we find:
Chokmah the second sephira is the sphere of the zodiac, Mazloth; the starry wisdom is the primordial gnosis, the secret kept by the Sethians or Typhonians, the builders of the oldest pyramids. The root of Mazloth is MZLA (78), a type of influx or influence from Kether or the North Pole of the universe.
The influx or Mazla is described thus, under the number 78:
MZLA has the meaning of flowing, to flow down in drops; it is a whirling or spiralic, radiant force. As MZLVTh is the name of the Zodiac, MZLA refers to the stars of Draco and Thuban at the North Pole. The Dragon constellation is named thus because at one time it coincided with the Nodes of the Moon, Caput Draconis and Cauda Draconis. It is therefore a cosmic symbol of the Kundalini or Serpent Power, embodying the polar electro-magnetic force of the universe. The idea of “flowing” and “drops” (as in dew drops) suggests that Kether is to be regarded as feminine or neutral—the sahasrara chakra of the Tantras is described as a Moon or moonflower, turned downwards.
As declared by the Goddess Nuit in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 9:
Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!
Nuit is depicted in the Tarot trump numbered 17 not as cosmic space but as visible nature, her manifestation. The esoteric title of the trump is the Daughter of the Firmament: the Dweller between the Waters. The ‘waters’ are symbolised by the two cups that Nuit bears, gold for the blood or energy of the universe and silver for the dew of the stars, the elixir of life. The seven-pointed star in the Crowley-Harris image is that of Venus; esoterically the number seven also relates to Set or Sirius, the Sun-behind-the-Sun.

Kenneth Grant, who devoted his life to an exploration of the Nightside of the Tree, is the only source for a study of the ‘dark’ aspects of the path that is both detailed and imaginative. In his book Nightside of Eden, concerning the fifteenth Tunnel of Set he says that:
Seven, or Sevekh, was the primal goddess of the seven stars (Ursa Major) of the planisphere, and these stars or rays were the seven heads of the Dragon of the Deep that later appeared in the Christian myth as the Beast of the Apocalypse. The Star of the 15th kala is therefore the Star of Sothis or Shaitan, and is concealed in the feminine generative essence known as the soul or blood of Isis.
Grant then goes on to note, regarding the magical power of the fifteenth path:
The magical siddhi associated with this kala is Astrology which – on the other side of the Tree—has a very different connotation to that which it usually obtains, for it is there the genuine science of the stars, or kalas, and differs from the popular conception of astrology as does the Tarot from the vulgar playing-card game.
It might be helpful for those not well-versed in the star-lore of Kenneth Grant if I were to mention that what he terms as “stars, or kalas” are not the visible gems of the night sky—though they have their correspondence with them. More often than not he is referring to the nodes and constellations of a matrix—perceptible to the seer as a shining gossamer web—that extrudes from the body of the consecrated Shakti. The Sri Yantra of the Eastern Tantras is a geometric symbol of this matrix. The same matrix was displayed in ancient Egyptian depictions of the Goddess, especially the polymorphic variations of Nuit and Hathoor, by networks of five-pointed or five-fingered stars. The Egyptian hieroglyph for the radiation of light or transmission of energy is identical to the astrological wave-glyph for the zodiacal sign of Aquarius.


For more on Draco and Thuban, the Pole Star of antiquity, see the 2016 Revised Edition of Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light (Ordo Astri). The Tarot image of The Star XVII is from the Crowley and Frieda Harris Thoth deck. The Nightside of Eden by Kenneth Grant forms a part of his nine volume Typhonian Trilogy and deals with all the paths of the Nightside or Tree of Knowledge. Quotations are from the Skoob Books edition (1994), Part Two, Chapter 5. A new edition of the book is available from Starfire Publishing since early 2014. The Egyptian Book of the Law, otherwise known as Liber AL vel Legis, is the record of a transmission received by Aleister and Rose Crowley in Cairo, 1904 e.v.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Astrological Time Machine

Capricorn and Aquarius are both ruled by Saturn, the Lord of Time, the supreme ruler and governor of the material universe. Capricorn and Aquarius are directly opposite Cancer and Leo and these two pairs form the outermost rim and the innermost centre of the celestial Holy Graal. They are the winter cup and the summer cup respectively. At midwinter the light is born in the midst of darkness and at midsummer the soul is awakened as she passes through a baptism of water and of fire.

There is an ancient symbol, the Chi-Ro, the cross and sword, that was appropriated by Constantine in the 4th century as a battle standard for Christian armies. The Chi-Ro was originally a pagan cipher or monogram, compounded from two Greek letters, Chi (X) and Ro (P):

Chi-Ro Symbol

The cross and the sword of the Chi-Ro was remarked on by Plato in his Timaeus as a celestial image, that of the intersection of the two great circles of the heavens, the solar ecliptic or zodiac and the celestial equator. This does indeed form a cross similar to that of the Greek letter Chi. Plato suggested that the two great circles form the anima mundi or world soul. The Chi-Ro signifies the six directions that make up the Cube of Space or Cube of Light known to Hermeticists:

Hermetic Cube of Space

 The Cube of Space is used by many modern ritual magicians, even if they have never heard of it. Any cube has six sides, formed from the six directions of space. Nearly all traditions have some form of marking out the ritual circle with four cardinal points representing terrestrial North, South, East and West. No ritual magick is effective unless two more directions are added, Above and Below, forming a central axis of power. It is the mystic “squaring of the circle” that opens the way towards Gnosis—the direct perception of truth or Reality for oneself.

The Chi-Ro may also be understood as a kind of time machine. The two belts are great circles, wheels in space that encompass the earth. The circle is the symbol of the infinite, where the end is with the beginning and the beginning is with the end. The alchemists summed this up in the name AZOTH, a secret ‘substance’, the Hermetic or fluidic light. The name AZOTH is composed of the first and last letters in three languages: A to Z in Latin, Alpha and Omega in Greek and Aleph and Tav in Hebrew.

To understand the Chi-Ro as a time machine or a vessel for the exploration of inner space, we first have to imagine the Earth encompassed by the circle of the zodiac, then add the circle of the celestial equator with its North and South poles:

The Chi-Ro Time Machine

The two points of intersection between the celestial equator and the belt of the ecliptic form the Chi (X) or cross with the axis of the North and South Poles as the Ro (P) or sword. Envision the two circles rotating in different directions: The ecliptic path leads to the future, while the celestial path leads to the past. The point of intersection is the Eternal Now, the present; it is the point of consciousness. In fact, since the nature of time and space is a continuum and not a straight line, as we tend to think of it, time is not actually moving anywhere, forward or backward, and neither are we. The illusion of time moving forwards towards ‘tomorrow’ with ‘yesterday’ receding behind is underpinned by the Earth rotating on her axis while simultaneously flying on her course around the Sun. Consciousness is eternally present; nature is infinite and circular, and does not move in a straight line from past to future.

View book, Hermetic Astrology by Oliver St. John

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© Oliver St. John 2013, 2016

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Oracle of Babalon

A book collector, Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631), purchased the field where John Dee had buried his diary records, and proceeded to dig them up. The Cotton Manuscripts were subsequently edited and published by Meric Casaubon in his A True and Faithful Relation (1659).

An operation recorded by John Dee on the 23rd May 1587 is commonly thought to have been the result of skrying the 7th Aethyr of the Enochian system. There is no evidence from John Dee’s diaries that Dee and Kelly ever skryed any of the 30 Aethyrs directly; the idea originated from comparison of the Daughter of Fortitude oracle with Aleister Crowley’s skrying of the 7th Aethyr, centuries later. The spirit invoked in the skrying crystal was Madimi, the same spirit that was contacted at the beginning of the Enochian work. The mischievous spirit had sometimes appeared naked, causing some consternation to the two men.

William Blake: BABALON

Daughter of Fortitude: William Blake BABALON

Another myth is that the vision so unnerved Kelly that it caused him to permanently part company with Dee and sever all relations. This story was elaborated and dramatised somewhat by Kenneth Grant in his book, The Magical Revival and has been oft repeated; the alleged criminal activities of Kelly that supposedly followed might owe more to Crowley’s past life fantasies than any historical evidence. In fact, according to Dee’s record, the reading over of the Oracle from the Daughter of Fortitude, described in the diary as the “Golden Woman”, caused the two men “great comfort”. The vision was received soon after Dee and Kelly, with some reluctance, obeyed an instruction to share their wives in common. This is all the more extraordinary on consideration that all four parties involved were devout, God-fearing Christians. On 3rd May, the four had signed a pledge, concerning what was termed as a strange and secret doctrine that “should unto no mortal man be disclosed”:
We four (whose heads appeared under one crystalline crown, and in one pillar united and enclosed) do most humbly and heartily thank thee (O Almighty God, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier) for all thy mercies and benefits hitherto received in our own persons, and in them that appertain unto us; and at this present do faithfully and sincerely confess and acknowledge that thy profound wisdom in this most new and strange doctrine (among Christians) propounded, commended and enjoined unto us four only, is above our human reason, and our Catholic Christian profession to like of…
John Dee’s method of invocation appears to have been a simple prayer to be “instructed in the understanding and practice of wisdom”. The result was a beautiful and truly remarkable oracle received from the Goddess Babalon, whose mystery is that she is a harlot, loved by many, and yet remains a virgin. A Hermeticist may readily understand this to be Isis, Nuit-Babalon or the Shakti of the Eastern Tantras. As Shekinah or female holy presence her natural abode is Binah or Saturn, above the Abyss of the Hermetic Tree of Life. As the Graal or Graal cup holder, she is naturally the receiver of all and the refuser of none. The vision was, however, received by two men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I! Kelly described the Goddess thus:
All her attire is like beaten gold; she hath on her forehead a cross crystalline, her neck and breast are bare unto under her dugs. She hath a girdle of beaten gold slackly buckled unto her with a pendant of gold down to the ground.
The Oracle of Babalon  
I am the daughter of fortitude and ravished every hour, from my youth. For behold, I am understanding, and science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They covet and desire me with infinite appetite; for none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the circle of the sun, and covered with the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in my self. The lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beasts of the field understand me. I am deflowered, and yet a virgin; I sanctify, and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols, and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not: For lo, I am loved by many, and I am a lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have [my knowledge].
As yet, I walk in the clouds; as yet, I am carried by the winds, and cannot descend unto you for the multitude of your abominations, and the filthy loathsomeness of your dwelling places.

Purge your streets, o ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on [the garments of truth]. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes; [avoid the company of the profane, for they do not know me] and then will I come and dwell amongst you. I will open my garments, and stand naked before you, that your love may be more enflamed towards me. And behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the sons of love.
Babalon added repeated warnings not ever to disclose this knowledge to the profane. The vision describes the method of Enochian Sexual Magick best termed as Jnanamudra; when practiced by the adept, Jnanamudra leads automatically to Mahamudra. The Oracle bears comparison with the Sethian Gnostic text, Thunder Perfect Mind (or, Divine Barbelo), dated to the middle of the 2nd century CE (Nag Hammadi library, online). However, Dee and Kelly could have not possibly have seen this, since the Nag Hammadi texts were buried in a cave in Egypt and not discovered until 1945 e.v. It is worth noting that John Dee began his Enochian magical operation to recover lost ancient books through the means of clairvoyance.


I have taken the liberty of revising some of the Oracle as it appears in the Cotton Ms. for the purpose of magical invocation.

1. The word “symbols” is sometimes given as “cymbals”; the English language of the time had no standard spelling, the word could be either, and either word fits the context.

2. The original text gives “entertainment” which I have rendered “knowledge”. Bear in mind the Oracle was presumably received in the Enochian language.

3. The sentence, “As yet I walk in the clouds…” was originally the last, I have placed it here where it sits more comfortably in the overall flow of the passage. Where the original text had “you” and “your”, I have substituted “them” and “their”, assuming that the person who uses this as an invocation has known the love of Babalon.

4. The last line, “sons of love”, could be interpreted “sons of God”, since in the Enochian language “love”, BLIOR, is a name of the Holy Guardian Angel. One thinks also of the Nephalim, mentioned in the book of Genesis and Apocryphal book of Enoch—the lost book that John Dee was in fact hoping to recover by clairvoyant means.

A Note on Jack Parsons and the “Babalon Working”: It was most probably Jack Parsons, a rocket scientist and former disciple of Aleister Crowley, that initially made the comparison between the vision of Babalon and Crowley’s skrying of the 7th Aethyr. The “Babalon Working” of Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, is now widely documented. Through this, Parsons obtained his Liber 49, an Oracle from Babalon that Parsons thought to be a fourth chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis.

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Sunday, 6 January 2013

2013 : The Year Ahead

The year 2013 is the second of five years in which we have a tumultuous and somewhat scary series of seven Uranus-Pluto squares. Pluto represents plutocrats, governments and other major powers such as the economy and those who control it, especially if the control is done in secret. Uranus symbolises liberty and freedom, social justice and the rights of the individual.

Uranus Square Pluto (Exact), 20th May, 2013

Uranus Square Pluto May 2013 Astrological Chart

The conflict of Uranus and Pluto symbolises critical tension between freedom and individual liberty on the one hand, and power and tyranny on the other. On a global scale the power of governments, banks, and the money-lenders that control the world’s resources comes to a nerve-jangling stand-off against the rights of the individual. We can all appreciate the obvious facts behind Marx’s Das Kapital. He who controls money and resources controls the people; in fact, he controls pretty much everything on the material plane. The lords of money are the lords of this earth. So long as this remains a fact then war, famine, poverty and tyranny will continue until the intervention of some manmade or natural disaster sends us all to kingdom come.

Two of the seven squares will occur during 2013. The first is on May 20 and the second is on November 1. The months before and after those dates are very tense periods with the possibility of explosive events occurring where the squares are exact. April will be dramatic, especially where the economy is concerned, one of the powers that dominates the world. Banks could fail (again!) to a catastrophic extent.

Saturn, the planet of understanding and wisdom gained through trial and experience, moved into Scorpio last year, and there he will stay for the next two and a half years. The sign of Scorpio is concerned with debt, taxation, shared resources or other people’s money, investments, inheritance and legacy. Scorpio, as the natural sign of the 8th house, is also concerned with sex, death and transformation. In the magical and alchemical sense, these last three are inseparable terms.

Debt is a four-letter word that has considerable import in the situation we find ourselves in at the beginning of this 21st century. The international money-lenders and bankers of the world depend on debt to make vast profits. Yet we are now being told that we cannot borrow – even though lending and borrowing maintains the Capitalist money system and global economy. So long as the trading and investments of the world depend on two human emotions, greed and fear, then the consequences will always involve pain and suffering. As industrial civilisations have expanded, so has the extent of the pain and suffering. Depending on technology and science for continued economic growth has made no difference to this equation.

On the spiritual level, what is debt anyway? There is a word, “Redemption”, the redemption from sin. This does not only apply to Christianity, Buddhism has the concept of “Merit”; in fact all the world religions have some notion of sin, and redemption from sin. “Redeeming” implies a trade, barter or exchange. The concept automatically implies a ransom paid, a kind of salvation through knavery; indeed, the whole idea of sin and redemption rests upon a complex psychopathology that has little bearing on spiritual knowledge or wisdom.

View the book, Hermetic Astrology by Oliver St. John

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© Oliver St. John 2013