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The man who writes books on a Thelema that no beast shall divine. Founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium. Member of Ordo Typhonis since 2000 e.v. More articles and essays are posted at https://ordoastri.org/ and https://tantrika.co.uk/

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Last Oracle: Winter Solstice 2012

On Friday December the 21st the Sun enters Capricorn at the winter solstice. Capricorn is the sign of the goat, and his image is the 15th Tarot key, The Devil. This phallic depiction of a hornéd god with a third eye in the middle of his forehead is the image of spirit, the invisible force that moves all of nature, clothed in material form. The ‘all of nature’ is Pan, All-begetter, the flute-playing goat-foot god much loved by ancient Greek shepherds.

Capricorn Solstice 2012: Last Oracle: The Devil XV Tarot
This winter solstice 2012 is, according to some, unique and very special. It marks the end of an era in the history of humanity and the beginning of a new one. Here are some of the theories concerning the New Aeon, 2012.

Astrologer John Major Jenkins first proposed the idea of a Great Galactic Alignment. However, when Jenkins noted that the Sun would precisely align with the galactic centre at the solstice of 2012, he also conceded that the most precise convergence has already occurred—at the winter solstice of 1998. It is very difficult to say exactly where the centre of the Milky Way is, given that it does not have a symmetrical shape.

According to Adrian Gilbert, author of The Mayan Prophecies, the Mayans prophesied the end of our age, called by them the Age of the Jaguar, in 2012. According to the calendrical data there were four previous great ages that rose and fell; we are now at the end of the fifth and final age. Unfortunately, since the Mayan civilisation collapsed and the Spanish conquest wiped out their entire culture along with its records, it is hard to know if the Mayans were prophesying anything at all. The calendar does not end, in fact, at the winter solstice 2012. The clock is simply reset and the wheel of time begins again. Nonetheless, some of those with a fondness for eschatology will be preparing for the End of it All this Thursday evening.

Here is our story: From very ancient times four very bright stars have been observed that marked the four corners of the visible universe. They are known as the Four Watchers: Aldebaron the eye of the bull in the constellation of Taurus, Antares at the heart of Scorpio, Formalhaut in Aquarius and Regulus, the heart of Leo the Lion. Owing to the precession of the equinox, since 150 BC (2,162 years ago) Regulus has been slowly moving through the sign of Leo. From about the beginning of this month, as Regulus finally edged into the sign of Virgo, all four stars are now in mutable signs of the Zodiac. The fixed cross of the universe formed by these marking stars has now become a mutable or changing cross.

Lust XI Thoth Tarot AtuThe winter solstice is the nearest seasonal marking point to celebrate the Grand Mutable Cross of the Heavens. There is a magical significance to Regulus in the sign of Virgo. The image is that of the 11th Tarot key, depicting Babalon riding upon the Beast of Revelations.
The Woman and Beast is the symbol of Hormaku, the mysterious Sphinx of Egypt. So it may well be that for those who are prepared, an alchemical Great Work of transmutation may now take place. Here is our universal horoscope for the 12 signs, winter solstice (Capricorn) 2012.

The key signature of the winter solstice is a yod or ‘finger of God’ formed by aspects between Saturn, Pluto and Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of growth, learning and expansion or magnification. As Jupiter is currently tracking backwards through Gemini, we may need to understand that the collective obsession with information technology has taken us as far as we can go before we lose our grip on reality—and in losing that we are in danger of losing something of vital importance.

One of the themes of our times is identity—maintaining identity, losing identity, and finding identity. At the root of the dilemma over personal identity is the meaning of life itself. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we doing and for what purpose? The Abyss yawns above, below and on all sides. What we see is what we are.

The need for identity was once satisfied to a large extent by the past. Race, religion, family, and ancestors—all these marks of blood, belief and belonging, extended their roots deep into the land itself. Such marks were cut in stone to be preserved for all of time. The begetting of future generations is everyman’s token of immortality. A token is nonetheless a sign or symbol of something else. It is that ‘something’ that has eluded us through all the dark ages of humanity’s time on earth.

Effective self-expression depends on knowing who and what we are. Over time we have become increasingly dependent on information provided for us from sources beyond our own reach. The weather forecast is a useful analogy. Birds and other animals know when a change of weather is coming. In the past, most people knew what the weather was going to do by observing how birds and animals were behaving. Many now live their lives without noticing there is something going on around called ‘nature’.

From what we are to what we own. There is more to what we own than mere money and possessions. It is in how we value ourselves that determines the kind of things we want to acquire and possess. The ownership of land and property goes back to the time when someone first made a mark upon a tree or stone that declared, “Beware! You are about to tread on a piece of mother earth that I have special rights to.” This was especially important when agriculture came along. Every technological innovation, it seems, carries the mark of Cain.

It was René Descartes that said, Cogito ergo sum! ‘I think, therefore I am!’ Descartes is sometimes described as the father of modern philosophy. If anything, this tells us how much value we apply to reasoning intelligence. Material science and religions alike imagine that man is the only sentient creature on the earth, if not in the entire universe. Consciousness is nonethelsess everywhere present. It is not confined to any creature or object.

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same backwards or forwards. The most famous example is the square of Sator, which has been found in many ancient buildings and artifices. The square, five across and five down, reads: SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS.

Sator Square

The Latin palindrome has caused puzzlement for centuries but the meaning is simple. All of life and all of time is circular, not linear. We tend to think in straight lines, but that is not how nature works. The end is with the beginning and the beginning with the end. Furthermore, there is a secret force that animates all of life.

 In astrology the part of the body assigned to the Lion is the heart and the spine. The Sun is the ruler of Leo and as the Sun gives life to the solar system so the heart gives life to the body. If the Sun were to die, then all life on earth would cease to exist. If the heart stops beating the body soon dies. Ancient cultures ascribed intelligence to the heart, not the brain. The assignment carries wisdom for the present times: to lose one’s heart is no different than losing one’s mind.

Until fairly recent times the vocation or career of a woman was not deemed to be of any great significance. What mattered was the career and reputation of the man that she married. Marriage was never about romance but was about property and ownership of goods. It was only in the last hundred years or so that marriage was romanticised through works of fiction. However, whenever two things are united a new set of conditions destroys the old and creates the new.

Gnothi Seuton was the Egyptian axiom inscribed on the door of ancient Greek temples: ‘Know thyself! Such knowledge may be after all a mystery of mysteries. Who and what we are is not something defined by race, religion or even place of birth but by what we learn and what we know. The Greek word gnosis implies knowledge beyond the mere collecting of facts. It is more like knowing a friend or a lover, an intimacy born of intuition. To a Gnostic, to truly know oneself is no different than knowing God or Reality.

A legacy is usually thought of as being an inheritance, property or money handed on from one person to another. It can also mean heritage, cultural tradition, historic buildings and unspoilt countryside. The first thing anyone learns about software is that it needs to be continually updated. Legacy software is software that has become obsolete but is so widely used that it needs to be preserved. Materialism sees nature as something there to serve us. The continuation of the human race may now depend on how useful we are to other species of life.

Scientists, observing nature, have frequently concluded that all other species on the planet are as self-serving and obsessed with self-preservation as we are. What we see is what we are! If we travelled to the most distant stars in the galaxy to observe life on other planets, the same rule would apply. The universe we see is a mirror image of ourselves. In the starry wisdom of old times resides the whole tragedy of earhtly life as well as the wonder and beauty of it all.


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© Oliver St. John 2012

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Welcome to the Aeon of Hormaku 2012

According to the books and letters of the late Kenneth Grant, the year 2012 is of great import for magical Initiates. The December solstice of 2012 sees a reification on Earth of the cosmic forces of a New Aeon. Spiritual survival, according to Grant, depends on application of the correct keys, which are hidden in his writings.

Aeon of Hormaku: Crowley Tarot Lust XIIt is well known that the Mayan calender ended on the winter solstice (northern hemisphere) of 2012. However, the fact that the calender ended there does not constitute any prophecy—it had to end somewhere.

We researched to see if there was any further astronomical basis to thinking that December 2012 might herald a new epoch in spiritual and magical terms.

Regulus, the star at the Heart of the Lion constellation, has now edged its way into the zodiacal sign of Virgo, forming a Grand Mutable Cross.

2012: Precessional Aeon of the Mutable Cross  

The Positions of the Four Watchers of the Heavens that mark the quarters of the sky were as follows in the year 2000.

Constellation of Taurus:
Aldebaran, the Watcher of the East,  at 9º 47 Gemini

Constellation of Scorpio:
Antares, the Watcher of the West, at 9º 46 Sagittarius

Constellation of Aquarius:
Formalhaut, the Watcher of the South, at 3º 42 Pisces

Constellation of Leo:
Regulus, the Watcher of the North, at 29º 50 Leo

At the end of November 2012, or thereabouts, Regulus leaves the Zodiac sign of Leo and enters Virgo. This completes the Grand Mutable Cross.

In 3000 BCE, Regulus was conjunct the Sun rising on the summer solstice. The conjunction took place, therefore, at the Sun's entry into the sign of Cancer the Crab.

In 150 BCE Regulus entered the sign of Leo the Lion. Regulus has therefore been passing through Leo—though it is of course the Earth that is really moving at the poles—through the last 2,162 years. This approximates a precessional Great Age.

Regulus is now entering Virgo, the astrological sign typified by the Egyptian Isis, the Sumerian Ishtar and other creatrix goddesses. The solstice of December 2012 is as good a mark as any, as such motions are too minute to be considered on a day-to-day basis.  The solstice is also the ending and beginning of the natural year cycle. The Thelemic symbolism of the Woman and the Beast is implicit in Leo and Virgo, and is also implicit in the Sphinx of Hormaku, referred to in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, III: 34.
But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down and shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place. Another prophet shall arise, and bring fresh fever from the skies; another woman shall awake the lust and worship of the Snake; another soul of God and beast shall mingle in the globèd priest; another sacrifice shall stain the tomb; another king shall reign; and blessing no longer be poured To the Hawk-headed mystical Lord!
This passage can be understood as a poetic illustration of the royal star Regulus, Cor Leonis, moving from Leo to Virgo and completing the Grand Mutable Cross. The Mutable Cross of the Zodiac is ruled by Neptune, the chakra located outside of the body, whose mystery is the dissolution spoken of by Nuit in Liber AL, I: 30.
This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.
To the ancients, Regulus, the star of the North, was one of the four great Watchers of the cardinal points. Each Watcher has an associated Archangel, and the Archangel of Regulus is Raphael. It seems fitting that Raphael, the Archangel of the Sun (ruler of Leo), is at the same time the Angel of Mercury (ruler of Virgo). The Solar-Hermetic Lucifer is therefore embodied in one symbol. As Virgo symbolised the occult power that drives initiation during the age of Pisces, Leo is the occult power during the precessional Age of Aquarius. The occult power of any astrological sign is held by the sign directly opposite (180º) in the Zodiac.
In all probability the world will awake on the morning after the solstice, 21st December 2012, without perceiving any notable changes. The trains will run on time, refuse will be collected and Christmas cards will be delivered. Prophecy is not the same as prediction, and we have no idea of any material outcome, or if indeed there should be one. Kenneth Grant warned magical adepts to be prepared. Magical work requires the aspirant to stay awake; even if we disregard the aeonic theories altogether, the advice is sound.


Study this subject in context: The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.

© Oliver St. John 2012

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© Oliver St. John 2012, 2017

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sagittarius and the Crowley-Thoth Tarot

The Tarot trump for Sagittarius is traditionally titled Temperance XIV. It depicts an Angel pouring liquid between blue and red vases. In the Crowley-Harris design, the card was retitled Art XIV. It is the art of alchemy that is portrayed in the Tarot card.

Art XIV Thoth Tarot Atu
The signs of the Zodiac are best understood as pairs. Gemini is the opposite, complementary sign to Sagittarius. In the Tarot trump for Gemini, The Lovers VI, pairs of opposites are shown: black and white, silver and gold, good and evil, male and female. The red and white tinctures of alchemy are there symbolised by the lion and an eagle. In the trump for Sagittarius, all the opposites have exchanged places: the red lion has become white, the white eagle has become red. The Angel, clothed in green and wearing light and dark masks, pours fire and water into a golden cauldron. Into the cauldron are mixed drops of blood from the paw of the lion and tears from the mouth of the eagle.

The link between Gemini and Sagittarius is the Arrow of Will. A stream of light, guided by an arrow, rises upwards from the cauldron until it reaches the heart of the Angel; from there, the light branches into a rainbow that falls over her shoulders like a cape. Whereas the card for Gemini depicted a mystic marriage, Art XIV symbolises the consummation of the mystical union. The idea expressed by Crowley in The Book of Thoth (pp. 103) is that an incomplete element is spiritualised only through the assimilation of its equal and opposite.

The means of accomplishment is written in gold lettering upon a large orb, shining like the Sun behind the Angel: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum. ‘Visit the interior parts of the earth and seek out the hidden stone. By rectification thou shalt arise thereby.’ Alchemists describe the stone of the wise or universal medicine variously as a stone, a powder or a tincture. It may be divided into silver and gold or red and white, but its essence is always the same. As written on the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus,
That which is Below is like unto that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the Miracle of the One Essence.


© Oliver St. John 2012 

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Scorpio and the Tarot of Thoth

The Sun’s entry into Scorpio heralds the beginning of the Halloween festivities. Magically speaking, the season’s elemental focus comes with the nearest full Moon—nature is not bound by the clock and the calendar in quite the same way that we are.

Scorpio and the Tarot of Thoth: Death XIII
Crowley called the Tarot card for Scorpio, “A compendium of universal energy in its most secret form.”[1] The Tarot trump for Scorpio has been regarded, along with the Halloween festivities, with some horror. For one thing the title of the trump is Death. For another, it is the 13th. The esoteric title of the card is Child of the Great Transformers: Lord of the Gates of Death.

The dual nature of Scorpio is admirably depicted in the design of the card. A skeletal figure is wielding a scythe. With the sweep of the scythe, bubbles appear in which new forms are created.

In nature, life and death are two sides of one coin and so Death is shown as a dancing figure, destroying form and structure while simultaneously recreating it. The card is therefore a symbol of transformation and regeneration, apt for the autumnal months of October and November. In the language of alchemy, the figure sums up the chemical changes called putrefaction. It is said that the base metal iron can only be changed into gold during the month when the Sun traverses Scorpio.

In astrology the fixed water sign Scorpio is ruled by fiery Mars, the energy that breaks down form into its elements—so that new life can be created. Scorpio actually has three symbols: the Scorpion, the Eagle and the Snake. While the Scorpion symbolises the voluntary submission to inevitable change, the undulations of the Snake symbolise the dual dance of life and death. The Eagle is said to be the higher form of Scorpio, since it has always represented ascendancy over matter or material form. Putrefaction gives off gas or vapour, and this has its parallel in occultism with spirituous non-material substances that are nonetheless tangible to clairvoyance. Ectoplasm or etheric matter is known to act as a medium between the physical world and more tenuous planes of existence.

The head of the Eagle is used as a symbol for alchemical distillation—it therefore represents the sublimation of gross matter. Scorpio is the 8th house or area of influence in astrology. The 8th house governs matters of sex, death and legacies. It therefore sums up all of our memory and experience; at the same time the very nature of Scorpio urges us towards transformation and change.


1. The Book of Thoth, pp. 101 [Weiser].

© Oliver St. John 2012 

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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Alchemy Thoth Tarot Spread

The Alchemy Thoth Tarot Spread was created primarily for the purpose of problem solving. The three-card groups allow the Tarot dignities to be used. One advantage of this layout is its simplicity; it is based on the idea that Rajas (Sulphur, action) acts upon Tamas (Salt, inertia) to bring about Sattwas (Mercury, wisdom).

Alchemy Thoth Tarot Spread

Alchemical Salt (5 2 8): The inertia to be overcome; the problem or any difficulties around the question.

Alchemical Sulphur (6 3 9): Activity; the action that will most likely be taken by the Querent.

Alchemical Mercury (4 1 7): A synthesis of forces; the solution; this will come to pass.

If desired, a card may be chosen and placed in the centre of the triad before shuffling and laying the other cards, to represent the Querent.


© Oliver St. John 2012, 2019

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Thoth Tarot Spread

The Fifteen-card or ‘Thoth’ Tarot spread seems to have been devised by the publisher of some early editions of the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck. The advantage of the spread is that cards are read in sets of three, so the elemental dignities of the Tarot can be applied.

Thoth Tarot Spread: The Priestess II Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot
The method of laying out the cards forms a widdershins spiral, outward from the centre. The number 15 is the Grand Number of the Pentagram as 5 multiplied by the trinity, and the Mystic Number of the Pentagram as the sum of all the numbers between one and five: Σ (1–5) = 15.

The three centre cards represent the question and the questioner. The upper left cards are a future development of the upper right cards, if the two sets agree. If the upper left and upper right cards do not agree, then the upper right position represents the course of action the querent would naturally take, and the upper left cards an alternative course of action that changes the natural outcome. The lower left cards represent the attitude of the querent or psychological basis of the question. The lower right cards represent destiny, spiritual forces or karma beyond the control of the querent; as such, these three cards are to be regarded as advice.

15-card Thoth Tarot divination spread

The Fifteen-card spread has six cards (centre and lower left) that represent the questioner. This can produce surprising insights. It is often not realised quite how much the question and its likely outcome is determined by the spiritual, mental and emotional state of the questioner. Here is an example of the cards on the top right and the top left in agreement.

The cards Adjustment VIII and The Priestess II mirror each other; they are both feminine figures, represented by Libra and the Moon respectively. The Five of Disks mirrors the Prince of Disks; the Ten of Wands mirrors the Nine of Wands. Since the two sets of cards are clearly in agreement, there is a flow or natural development of the future, reading from right to left.

Tarot Dignities

Traditionally, the cards on either side are used to evaluate the meaning of the centre card. The elemental qualities of classical hermeticism are used.
Fire and Water contrary ∴ Wands and Cups inimical
Fire and Air complementary ∴ Wands and Swords mutual
Fire and Earth complementary ∴ Wands and Disks mutual
Water and Air complementary ∴ Cups and Swords mutual
Water and Earth complementary ∴ Cups and Disks mutual
Air and Earth contrary ∴ Swords and Disks inimical
If (for example) a card of Wands has a Wand on either side, it is greatly strengthened for good or ill, according to the nature of the cards on either side. If a card of Wands has a Cup on either side, it is greatly weakened for good or ill, according to the nature of the cards on either side. If a card of Wands has a Sword or Disk card on either side, it is moderately strengthened by those cards, according to their nature.

If a card of Wands has a Cup (inimical) on one side, and a Sword (mutual) on the other side, it is said that the ‘Sword takes the Cup to the Wand’ and the Wand is moderately strengthened according to the nature of the two cards on either side. But if the Wand has on one side a Sword and on the other side a Disk, it is said that the two cards on the outside cancel or neutralise each other, since Swords and Disks are opposite in nature. In that case the two cards on either side have little or no effect on the Wand in the centre.

Trump cards, as a rule, greatly outweigh the small cards; their operation is on a different plane and in a reading they tend to represent spiritual forces or destiny. One must be careful, therefore, when there is a mixture of trumps and small cards. The trump cards correspond to zodiacal, planetary and elemental forces. Fortune X (for example) corresponds to Jupiter, and so if this card appeared with The Hermit IX, which corresponds to Virgo, the effect would be similar to that of Jupiter in Virgo in an astrological chart. The Tower XVI corresponds to Mars and so if this card appeared with The Empress IV, the trump for Venus, the action would be similar to Mars aspecting Venus in an astrological chart.

Tarot and Outer Planets

The three elemental trumps can be problematical. The Fool 0 (for example) is the primary element of Air. What if this card appears with The Devil XV, corresponding to Capricorn, a cardinal Earth sign? Air and Earth are inimical, yet the trumps are more than elemental; they are composite glyphs that mirror the paths of the Tree of Life. Two trump cards will not simply ‘cancel out’.

Fortunately the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, can be assigned to the elemental trumps. The effect of The Devil XV and The Fool 0 together can be taken as similar to that of Uranus in Capricorn.

In any reading one should look first to see if there is a predominance of any element or type. Many Wands in a reading, for example, would indicate much energy and activity. A majority of court cards would indicate that many persons were involved in the question, or there is much social activity. A large number of trumps in a reading indicate forces of destiny or karma involved with the question.


© Oliver St. John 2012, 2019

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Monday, 27 August 2012

Magical Hypnosis

To imagine we can be a better person, or that we can enjoy a better life through hypnotising ourselves with ‘positive’ affirmations is to reinforce the self-obsession that is driving the neurosis.

Hypnotism Made Easy!
Hypnosis is the drink from the cup of forgetfulness, the waters of Lethe, oblivion. The antidote to the river of Lethe is the river of Mnemosyne and the cup of remembrance. Hypnotism, even self-hypnotism, requires submission from the subject of the experiment. Submission and hypnosis are twin sirens dwelling in the river of Lethe, the cup of oblivion.

It has become popular to posit hypnosis as Gnosis. For example, that hypnosis is the key to magick, the key to it all. It is said that the evocation of a spirit to visible appearance is only done effectively by gazing into a mirror and hypnotising oneself—or even worse, being hypnotised by someone else. To hypnotise oneself in order to apprehend something one believes to be impossible or improbable is plainly a method by which delusion is magnified. 

Dhyana, the natural result of sustained concentration, is technically a kind of trance state. On that ground, the rejection of hypnotism is sometimes dismissed as mere semantics. One calls it this, another calls it that—so what? If that is so, why choose a word that means ‘sleep’?

hypnos (Greek) Sleep
1. Hypnos is the spirit or god of sleep, whose abode is Erebus, eternal darkness. He is the brother of Thanatos, death, and the son of Nyx, the mother of night. He has no father. His attributes are opium, the poppy and the waters of Lethe (forgfetfulness). He carries an inverted torch, as does Thanatos.
2. The modern word ‘hypnosis’ is derived from the Greek hypnos. Note that pistis, ‘faith’ or ‘trust’, is required from the person (or animal) being subjected to an experiment in hypnosis. The hypnotist becomes as God to the subject or patient, since the procedure requires a level of acceptance and submission usually reserved for deity. It is the exact opposite to the redemption of the soul (Greek psyche) usually associated with faith.[1]
Receptivity is not the same as submission. In the hermetic tradition the mind is trained in the art of concentration before the intuitive faculty is brought to bear. Even then, images arising in the psyche are regarded with calm indifference. The Order of the Golden Dawn at one time insisted that Probationers sign the following pledge.
The Chiefs of the Order do not care to accept as Candidates any persons accustomed to submit themselves as Mediums to the Experiments of Hypnotism, Mesmerism, or Spiritualism; or who habitually allow themselves to fall into a completely Passive condition of Will; also they disapprove of the methods made use of as a rule in such experiments.
It appears that the Chiefs of the Order failed to honour the pledge themselves. The Order was brought into disrepute as a result, directly or indirectly, of its founder succumbing to the machinations of ‘Madame Horos’, a fake medium. That, and the increasing acceptance and use of hypnotism means that discernment over these matters has largely become a thing of the past. Yet what was true then is no less true today. The core teaching of the Golden Dawn does not require adjustment to afford credibility to mind-programmers, hypnotists and spiritual healers.


1. Entry for the number 800 from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, Volume Two.

The image is the cover of a pamphlet from an anonymous author, Hynotism Made Easy! [1971].

© Oliver St. John 2012, 2019

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Monday, 6 August 2012

Isis and Daath: Thelemic Reflections

“The Egyptian name of Isis is usually transliterated as Asi (or Aset), so Isa is the reverse of this. It seems peculiarly appropriate to have a reversed name in Daath; the implication is of following Isis back to her formless source.”

Qabalah of Isis and Daath: Isis as drawn by Jeff Dahl
Isis has two references in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis. The first is in Liber AL, I: 22,  where she is named according to her most cosmic aspect. Here she is identified with Nuit, “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof”.

Now, therefore, I am known to ye by my name Nuit, and to him by a secret name which I will give him when at last he knoweth me. Since I am Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof, do ye also thus. Bind nothing! Let there be no difference made among you between any one thing and any other thing; for thereby there cometh hurt.

In the second place, Liber AL, I: 49, the manifestation of Isis is described in terms of the human soul.

Abrogate are all rituals, all ordeals, all words and signs. Ra-Hoor Khuit hath taken his seat in the East at the Equinox of the Gods; and let Asar be with Isa, who also are one. But they are not of me. Let Asar be the adorant, Isa the sufferer; Hoor in his secret name and splendour is the Lord initiating.

The body and ego is here named Asar or Osiris. The Egyptian name of Isis is usually transliterated as Asi (or Aset), so Isa is the reverse of this. It seems peculiarly appropriate to have a reversed name in Daath; the implication is of following Isis back to her formless source. In the ritual of a Neophyte, Isis is the guide of the soul. It is Isis that ‘speaks up’ for the candidate, to neutralise the terrible accusations that would otherwise come from Set or Omoo Szathan—who plays the role of Evil Genius, though he is unseen in the ritual.[1] It is notable that both verses from the Book of the Law here give hints of the ‘crossing of the Abyss’ or chasm that yawns between the rational mind and the infinite reaches beyond.

This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

Traditionally, Daath, ‘Knowledge’, is not a sephira as such. It is said to be the ‘child’ or conjunction of Chokmah and Binah. The most useful way to understand Daath is as the apex of a tetrahedronal pyramid, where the first three numbers, Kether, Chokmah and Binah, form the basal triad.[2] Daath can then be understood through its relation with Set-Hadit, the ‘Knower’, or consciousness itself. The supernal triad is as the reflection of the limitless light of Ain Soph Aur, projected through the magical mirror of Daath.

Isis and ISA

Isa is a special Egyptian name for Isis, and means ‘fragrance’. Isis is thus identified with the emanations of spirit, for she is the soul of the Tree of Life. According to the Sethian Gnosis, all manifestation depends from a triune source: Light, Darkness and Fragrance or Spirit.[3] Light and dark are not to be understood here as possessing moral qualities. Spirit permeates the light and darkness equally. The three principles create the matrix for form, the equivalent of Binah on the Hermetic Tree of Life.

Isis was always associated with the star Sirius by the ancient Egyptians. The reappearance of the star after its 70-day occultation heralded the Nile flood. In Greek, isa means ‘equilibrium’, suggestive of the way of the Tau or Middle Pillar, and by Hebrew Qabalah the name adds to 71, the ‘image of silence’, as according to Aleister Crowley.[4] Failure to keep silence when approaching the abysmal levels of Daath gives power to Choronzon or the demon of the Abyss. In simple terms, the human ego, when subjected to the strains and stresses of Daathian consciousness, fragments and breaks apart. Dissociation is the result, and some forms of so-called mental illness such as schizophrenia come about through the failure of the ego to assimilate an influx of spiritual consciousness. The training of the mind is therefore a prerequisite to any advanced occult or mystic practices. Daath is the gate of heaven and is therefore also the gate of hell—perhaps ‘hell’s mouth’ is an appropriate term to use here. 

There may be an etymological relation between Isa and the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic rune, ‘Is’, which means, ‘ice’ and is associated with the goddess of the North. The North is the polar region; the stars of the Dragon constellation, or Draco, form a pathway to immortality for kings or Initiates, as well as a fast road to hell for those who would seek to enter the portal of Daath to obtain personal power.

In Arabic, Isa is a name of Jesus. Some have thought that Asar (Osiris) and Isa are thereby declared to be as one principle in the Book of the Law. This, however, confuses Osiris with Christ (spirit), whereas the union of Asar and Isa is that of the body (Osiris) and soul (Isis). Crowley’s notion that Osiris is the formula of Christ as ‘the dying god’ is a flawed one. With the possible exception of Florence Farr, Crowley and other luminaries of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn did not look deeply into the Egyptian mysteries. Osiris dies and then becomes Lord of the Dead in the underworld. Christ goes through torments in the underworld (paralleled by the imprisonment and ordeals of John the Baptist), but then ascends to heaven. As is made clear by the Egyptian Pyramid Textsas well as the Qabalah, ‘heaven’ is not the same as Amentet; it is not located in the underworld. If anything, Christ has more in common with Hermes, and there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that his story owes to the wisdom tradition of Egypt.

Crowley, during his Paris working, Opus II, was deeply inspired and surprised by the realisation that Christ is synonymous with Hermes-Mercury. If Crowley had fully adopted this idea, though, he would have had to abandon the unwieldy notion of three Aeons, which by that time was deeply embedded in his writings on Thelema. The way of Osiris in ancient Egypt was the popular folk belief. The Ka of the deceased had to be kept alive in the underworld by the making of continuous offerings. The cult of the cosmic Ra was the ‘higher’ discipline, reserved for priests and pharaohs. It compares with so-called High Magick and is undoubtedly the wisdom veiled in the Book of the Law. In ancient Egypt, the two systems were worked side by side according to the understanding of the person or the degree of their initiation.

Isa is the means of spiritual survival or passing through the gate of Daath. As the portal for the outflowing of force into manifestation, Daath is the ultimate feminine. Magically, Isis is the power of speech or utterance, the power of the divine word or Logos. The return to Nuit or absolute consciousness means reversing the flow of consciousness—following the word back to its source. This is accomplished through the magical means of our Lady Babalon, the Shakti power of the universe. The necessary preliminary for apprehending the mysteries of Daath is the mode of analogous thought. This is quite different from ordinary thinking. Each symbol, instead of being objectified through the application of concrete meaning, is followed back to its source with the infinite.


2. See Frater Achad, The Equinox Vol. 1 No. 5, pp. 89, ‘The Temple of Solomon the King’.
3. See Thrice Greatest Hermes, collected and translated by G. R. S. Mead.
4. See 777 and other Qabalistic Writings, Aleister Crowley.

© Oliver St. John 2012, 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri]

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Thelemic Astrology

Astrology and astronomy are both rooted in an empirical observation of the celestial sphere. They define the zodiac as a circle of twelve 30-degree ‘signs’ of celestial longitude along the ecliptic—which is the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. The zodiac is a celestial coordinate system that takes the ecliptic as the origin of latitude, and the position of the sun at the spring equinox as the origin of longitude.

Thelemic Astrology: Aeon of Aquarius or HormakuThere are two main types of astrological systems: the Sidereal system, used in Hindu astrology, and the Tropical system, most widely used today in Western astrology. Each system uses a different definition of the astrological year. Both divide the ecliptic into signs named after the constellations to which they are associated. However, while the Sidereal system defines the signs based on the fixed stars, the Tropical system defines it by the position of the spring equinox—which is the intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial equator. Determined by the spring equinox, the Tropical system is sensitive to the phenomenon known as the precession of the equinoxes, the axial precession of the earth, whereas the Sidereal system is not. The two systems consequently slightly drift apart from each other over time (about 1.4 arc degrees per century).

The precession of the equinoxes has a number of observable effects and these are taken into consideration by Tropical astrology. Firstly, the positions of the South and North celestial poles appear to move in circles against the backdrop of fixed stars, completing one circuit in 25,772 years (as measured in the year 2000). This means that while today Polaris reigns as the earth’s North Star, the polar ruler will change in time and other stars will assume the heavenly throne. The South Pole is currently in darkness, but over time precession will also cause bright stars to illuminate it. Shifts in the celestial poles produce corresponding shifts in the apparent orientation of the whole star field viewed from a particular position on earth. The North and South Stars are hidden powers that bend the destiny of the company of heaven—the star-gods or children of Nuit that are unveiled in the Thelemic transmission, the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis.

Axial precession means that the position of the earth in her orbit around the Sun at the solstices and equinoxes, or any other time defined relative to the seasons, slowly changes. Tropical astrology, adopted since Graeco-Egyptian times, portrays the heavenly metamorphoses at the heart of the Graeco-Egyptian Liber AL vel Legis. Thelema defines a type of consciousness emerging through precession. The key to its activation is the Egyptian Hormaku, the Sphinx of Nature; its law is Thelema, the law of love under will.

The Tropical Zodiac

The system of astrology generally in use today is geocentric and is called the Tropical Zodiac. The twelve signs of the zodiac take their names from twelve of the constellations that have corresponding mythological and spiritual associations. The Tropical Zodiac is a picture of the heavens as seen from this planet. The picture is governed by a variety of factors including the twenty-four hours of the earth’s daily rotation and her yearly orbit around the Sun. Over the course of the year delineated as a circle, two opposite poles correspond to the times when the sun’s angle of declination causes day and night to be of equal length. These are the spring equinox on or near 21st March, and the autumn equinox on or near 21st September. At the equinoxes, the ecliptic path of the sun crosses the equator. Another pair of opposite poles corresponds to the sun’s northward and southward movement through the year:
1. The highest point of the sun’s declination at the midsummer solstice. At this time the days are longer compared to the nights, and the Sun is at his furthest point north of the eastern horizon.
2. The lowest point of the sun’s declination at the midwinter solstice. At this time the nights are longer than the days, and the Sun is at his furthest point south of the eastern horizon.
Aries the Ram is the starting point of the zodiac. It signifies the onset of spring around 21st March, when day and night are of equal length. After the spring equinox, the length of days continues to increase, climaxing at the summer solstice. Daylight then starts to recede and, by the time the sun enters Libra the Scales on 21st September, the year resumes perfect balance as day and night are equal again before autumn’s decline towards the winter solstice.

The zodiac defines the solar year from the earth’s perspective. The sun is the central factor in the zodiac. As he goes on his course he appears to pass through each sign—each 30-degree portion of a 360-degree circle. As spirit is the organising force at the centre of the four elements in the microcosm—as symbolised geometrically by the five-pointed pentagram—the sun is the central and dominant force among the twelve signs of the zodiac that are ruled by the sun, moon and planets. The seven astrological planets symbolise the macrocosm, the greater universe, geometrically represented by the six-pointed hexagram or the six central sephiroth on the Hermetic Tree of Life with Tiphereth, the Sun, at the centre.


This article is from the Introduction to the book, Hermetic Astrology.

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© Oliver St. John 2012, 2019