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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.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twilight of Creation and Bornless Spirit

E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians. However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translation and hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.

The Sepher Sephiroth of S. L. MacGregor Mathers that Aleister Crowley published under the cover of Liber 777 was never intended to be anything more than a beginning, a means of gaining a foothold in a vast and mysterious subject. Our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth now extends to more than a thousand pages over two volumes, yet such a work is never truly finished.[1] Members of the Order must, according to tradition, keep their own book of numbers—so to continue the work. Most recently, I thought to examine the fifth verse of the first book of Genesis, which is arguably the most important Qabalistic source. I give here a transliteration of the key Hebrew words in parenthesis.

Genesis 1: 5

And the Elohim called the light [AVR] Day [IVM], and the darkness [ChShK] they called Night [LILH]. And the evening [ORB] and the morning [BQR] were the first day [IVM AChD].

“And the darkness” adds to 364, equal to Lux Occulta, the secret or hidden light. The absence of light is the condition of the numinous source of all, for light itself can only be a veil. The name Night is given as LILH, 75, equal to Nuit (NVIT). LIL (70) is the root, but LILH denotes the noun, as does Lilith, which is more expressly feminine. According to E. A. Wallis Budge when commenting on the primal Ogdoad of the Delta region in his Gods of the Egyptians, Nuit was merely the consort of Nu the sky god.[2] In our Theban and Thelemic schema, Nuit embraces all, and her consort is her son and manifest star, Set-Hadit (or Sirius). Thus Nuit and Hadit are really beyond light and darkness.

Much creative license is taken with the King James and other bible versions. This makes for better poetry (in the case of the KJV) but often loses something of value and in other ways often changes the meaning or context altogether. We could of course say that was already done when the Chaldean scriptures were placed in Modern Hebrew with vowel pointing. When such scriptures were first written, the ambiguity was intentional, as is the case with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sanskrit. Each word, let alone a sentence or verse, can then be read on many different levels of meaning.

Twilight of Creation: Kerah and Kerahet Primal Ogdoad Gods of Egypti (Denderah)
Kerah and Kerahet

The ancient Egyptian source work story of creation vastly predates the Bible and is so old that the later dynastic tales of Osiris, for example, are modern by comparison. E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians:

“The very gods of the older company had been superseded, and their worship abolished, and the knowledge of their history and attributes was preserved only in the minds of priests and religious experts, who probably regarded the ancient views about these gods which had come down to them as the product of men belonging to a lower stage of civilization than their own.”

The last statement of Budge’s is open to question since the ancient Egyptians had no concept of ‘progress’ to match that of our industrialised civilisation (so-called). However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translations and faithfully copied hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.[3] The Lords of Keraha, cited in some of the more obscure of ancient Egyptian holy books, were said to dwell in the swampy Delta, the metaphysical equivalent of the Abyss or Da’ath.

The fragmentary surviving knowledge concerning Keraha is a precise magical and scientific treatise compared to Genesis, which then begins to look like a version scribed for very small children. The first book of Genesis (in particular) is nonetheless beautifully written. Scientist magi like John Dee would have studied Genesis more than any other book, because it tells the story of the creation of the universe. And the story was, at that time, regarded as absolutely authoritative.[4] If you were a scholar, knowing your Bible well in more than one language was sometimes necessary for survival. One can only begin to imagine where one such as Dee might have taken things if he had access to the translations of Budge![5]

The Lords of Keraha or primal Neters emerging from Nu and Nuit are depicted as frog-headed (male) and snake-headed (female); sometimes they appear as cats. The important thing is that they are pairs, male and female dualities emerging from the undifferentiated Nun or Abyss. Kekui raises up the light and the day through the power of command, he is the exorcist (Hadit). Kekuit raises up the darkness and the night through the power of absorption, covering and enclosure (Nuit). Yet even Kekui and Kekuit are not the first pair of aeons emerging from Nu and Nuit. That honour goes to Hehu and Hehut, as it is declared in our ritual called the Twilight Vigil:

“I am Kerah, ruler of the Night!
I am Kerahet, soul of the Abyss!
I am Kekui, for I call forth your names in the primordial depth!
I am Kekuit, for I raise you with my sceptre!
I am Hehu and Hehut, and I stand between the heavens and the earth!
It is I that give life to you, with my spirit!”

In Twilight Vigil we wanted to assert a return to the Bornless or primal condition rather than give yet another rendition of creation, so Hehu and Hehut are named last. This asserts that the undifferentiated chaos and night as the source of the word of light is the source of life itself. Instead of being opposed to light, as an enemy, the night is neither this nor that, and yet it is the whole span of the unfathomable mystery of life and consciousness. With all respect to the darkly luminous works of Kenneth Grant, the real (or original) Typhonian or Setian Gnosis is not “Against the Light”. It was never for or against anything. Truth is. Wisdom seeks more than ordinary knowledge. All questions of this or that spring from turbulence, and ultimately are no more than an egotistic urge towards self-assertion—which in itself gives rise to the neurosis of self-doubt.[6]

NOTES

[1] The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth consists of more than one thousand pages over two volumes.

[2] See The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume I. While there are several versions of this online, it is well worth taking the trouble to purchase the excellent Dover edition of both volumes.

[3] The ritual called the Twilight Vigil is given with a commentary in our book, The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

[4] The Darwin-based theory of Evolution and the many projections and assumptions that go with that is our modern day secular version of religious dogma. Anyone daring to challenge its supreme canonical authority will be held to ridicule if not mocked. Science dogma also includes the ‘holy of holies’ that the human species is the most intelligent on this planet (if not in the universe) and that its needs supersede the needs of all other creatures. Curiously, the anthropocentric view of creation originated in the West with the biblical books of Genesis!

[5] Budge is no longer in favour with some Egyptologists nowadays, and his rather literal translations and commentaries have been subjected to heavy criticism. However, the literal translations avoid the projections of modern cultural bias, something that Budge would have been well aware of and that modern day scholars would do well to learn from. Furthermore, the literal translation, when viewed alongside the hieroglyphics, provides by far the best resource for the practical Hermetic magician. E. A. Wallis Budge is thought by some to have been a member of an active Golden Dawn Temple in London (see Ithell Colquhoun, Sword of Wisdom). This would no doubt serve to further displease Budge’s Egyptological critics.

[6] For the Adept of the magical arts there is condition of mind that might be termed as ‘hyper turbulence’. Christian mystic Jacob Boehme created the word turba to describe this state of affairs. Turba is far more than ordinary anxiety as understood in the conventional and psychological sense.

© Oliver St. John 2017