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Oliver St. John is the author of books on Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of Ordo Astri, Thelemic Magical Collegium and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v. New articles and essays are posted at Tantrika Books.

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, called 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. “All of nature” is Pan, the All-begetter, the flute-playing goat-foot god much loved by ancient Greek shepherds.

Crowley-Thoth Tarot Atu XV, the Devil

The Devil XV Thoth Tarot Atu

How on earth, you may well wonder, did this somewhat licentious lover of wine, women and song become transmuted—through a complex chain of theological speculation—into a personification of cosmic evil?

This winter solstice 2012 is, to some, unique and very special. It marks the end of an entire era in the history of humanity and the beginning of a new one. Here is a digest of some of the theories of this 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 own theory, based on astronomical facts and inspired by the astrological and magical images. 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.

The 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 the Goddess Babalon riding upon the Beast of Revelations.

Thoth Tarot Atu Lust XI

Lust XI Thoth Tarot Atu

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 unparalleled alchemical Great Work of transmutation may now take place—As above, so below.

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 our 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 this 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. In truth, what we see is what we are and what we are is what we see. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

The need for identity was once satisfied to a large extent by the past. Race, religion, family, and ancestors—all these marks of blood, of 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 simply know when a change of weather is coming. In the past, most folk 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 them 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 fact how we value ourselves that determines the kind of things that 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 bit 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. Mankind often likes to think he is the only sentient creature on planet earth. He even imagines he might be the only sentient creature in the universe. Now here is a thought: Consciousness is 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 quite 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 is with the end.

 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: for to lose ones heart is no different than losing ones 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. As such we all have the magical power to cause “Change to occur in conformity with Will.”

Gnothi Seuton was the Egyptian axiom inscribed on the door of ancient Greek temples: “Know Thyself!” Such knowledge may be, after all, the mystery of all mysteries. In a sense, who and what we are is something defined not by race, religion or even place of birth but by what we learn and what we know about ourselves. The Greek word gnosis implies a kind of knowing that is more than 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 the divinity inherent in all things.

A legacy is usually thought of as being an inheritance, property or money that is handed on from one person to another. It can also mean heritage, a cultural tradition, historic buildings or even 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. At present, we tend to see nature as something there to serve us, which needs to be of some use to ourselves. The continuation of the human race may one day 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. However, the golden rule is that what we see is what we are and that what we are is what we see. Should we travel to the most distant stars in the galaxy and observe life on other planets, the same rule will apply. The universe is a mirror image of ourselves as we are an image of the universe. In that starry wisdom of old times resides the whole tragedy of life—and the beauty and the wonder of the continuity of existence.

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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.

It is fairly 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 did some research to see if there was any further astronomical basis to thinking that December 2012 might herald a new epoch in spiritual and magical terms. What we discovered supports the interpretation of the third chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, that is revealed in The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.

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.

Aeon of Hormaku: Crowley Tarot Lust XI

2012: Precession and the Aeon of the Mutable Cross  

The Positions of the Four Watchers of the Heavens 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 Liber AL vel Legis, 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 from the Egyptian Book of the Law 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 verse I: 30 of Liber AL vel Legis:
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 Iniitation 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.

There is a difference between prophecy, in the magical sense of the word, and the hysteria of new age numerologists, doom-mongers and the like. 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. It is doubtful that television channels and radio stations will broadcast news of a new World Order, or of an extraterrestrial intervention. 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 that they should prepare themselves, and that is precisely what we are doing. Hermetic magical work requires that the aspirant stays awake; even if we disregard the aeonic theories altogether, the advice is sound.


A full exposition of the magical import of the Aeon of Hormaku and precession is given in Stella Tenebrae Volume One Number 2 (Ordo Astri).

Study this subject within the overall context of magical philosophy: The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.

© Oliver St. John 2012

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