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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.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Scarlet Woman: Love is the Law of Magical Polarity

The Scarlet Woman Part Two: Love is the Law of Magical Polarity
Part One, The Scarlet Woman or Soul in the Underworld, can be read here.

Star and Snake Blogspot: The Lovers VI Tarot

Polarity magick was always the core of Dion Fortune’s work. As a self-declared Moon Priestess, Dion Fortune required solar priests to work with. The Fraternity of Inner Light developed the magick of polarity over the many years that Dion Fortune was the Director of Studies. We inherited the polarity magick methodology directly, through personal contact with Mary Long, a former student of Dion Fortune who wrote a novel based on her experiences, Our Son Moves Among You. Mary Long also succeeded in an evocation of Pan in the early 1950s, using polarity as the principal mode of operation. The part played by the syzygy is vital:
To work the magick of polarity or magical alchemy you must create an astral image of your contrasexual ‘other’ or opposite sex. Step towards the pillars and see the Magus of Power in the form of an Egyptian priest bearing a was sceptre, or the Priestess of the Silver Star in the form of an Egyptian priestess bearing a lotus wand. Send all the power that you can raise towards this figure, and then merge with the syzygy until the two have become one astrosome.
“Syzygy” is a Gnostic term that refers to male-female pairings of the Emanations or Aeons. The term was adapted by C.R.F. Seymour, a member of Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of the Inner Light. In a diary Record he wrote: “I knew that as an initiate of the Serpent Wisdom I had to share this power with my syzergy. And turning to the priestly adept who gave me this initiation I saw that he, as an adept, was his own syzergy. He had polarised the higher and lower natures, and so was a complete self-polarising entity.”(1)
The inner working of polarity does not necessarily involve any other human person. Polarity magick also works through direct personal contact or at a distance, through correspondence combined with theurgic practice. In his book, Hermetic Magic, Stephen Edred Flowers makes the point that, historically, Hermetic magical Orders never existed in the way that people imagine them and sometimes administrate them in the modern world. The real Hermetic work was always accomplished by correspondence (and meeting) between the adept and the aspirants—usually a very small group of people. This magical tradition of intimate contact goes back thousands of years.

The task of every Hermeticist is to study Hermetic philosophy and cosmology, and from that they form a Great Symbol of the Universe (Sri Yantra), which is built in to their astrosome and then activated for theurgic work. When a Hermeticist develops this and creates their own, unique symbol of the Universe, they begin to teach others. In teaching others, that symbol becomes perfected. So polarity is vital, without it there is no Great Work. Magical polarity take place not only from person to person, but from the inner plane Order to everyone else. Ultimately, the idea is to become fully self-polarised, as mentioned in the diary quotation from C.R.F. Seymour (above).

The law of Thelema, as “written and concealed” in the Egyptian Book of the Law, is a law of relationship, of love under will. The polarity between the person and the Holy Guardian Angel is vertical polarity, and in the ordinary case, human relationships are horizontal—on the same plane. When magical polarity is properly managed, either one, both, or all practitioners establish a degree of vertical polarity. Put in other terms, they have forged a link between three Circuits of Force: the magnetic core (Hadit), the astrosome (Khabs in the Khu) and the cosmic circuit (Nuit).

Polarity magick brings a great deal of energy, force or magnetism into a ritual or a daily practice. The power that is raised is carefully directed according to the nature of the magical operation. There is always a danger that a person that is ignorant of occult principles, or is simply unable to perceive the operations that take place on the subtle planes, may inadvertently seek vitality from their environment—from those around them—instead of acquiring it from the free elemental resources of nature and from the vertical polarity of inner plane contacts. An analogy with atomic bonding in physics can be made with this ‘lending and borrowing’ principle inherent in the universe.(2) There is a grave danger when the appetite of the Ka (or vital body) becomes dissociated from the intellectual and moral faculties. The risk is not only of obsession, but also of becoming a ghoul or vampire. Although vampirism is thought by most people not to exist outside of the realms of fiction, occultists have always known about the degradation that the human soul can suffer through wilfully or inadvertently seeking sustenance from horizontal polarity on the psychic planes. Although it has become popular for magical fantasists to glamourise the notion of the vampire, the reality is not glorious. The chance of immortality is lost forever and the fate of the soul is truly horrible. Eventually the soul will seek sustenance from anything on the lower astral plane that has a shred of etheric vitality left in it, without discrimination.

In the first part of this essay we quoted a verse from the Egyptian Book of the Law. It will be helpful now to go into further details regarding that verse, for it is among the key verses in Liber AL that are commonly interpreted on a superficial level. Placing the book in the context of the magical and alchemical Great Work is an alternative to the rational-materialist dogma that has grown up around the work over the last century. Here again is the warning given to the Scarlet Woman or soul in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis III: 43:
Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.
The biblical language in which Liber AL vel Legis was written should not blind us to the spiritual and physical facts that are outlined in many of the passages. The Scarlet Woman here is the human soul in the underworld. “Compassion” implies horizontal polarity, for it is not possible, in reality, to feel or to truly know the feelings of another. Such faux feelings mask self-indulgent emotions generated by the ego sphere and given majestic qualities by the cunning reasoning faculty. It is noble to honour the King, the spiritual core or star that is hidden in every man and every woman, while “pity” is an inversion of self-pride. The “vengeance” is an automatic function within nature, for the magical “child” of the soul, the immortal stone of the philosophers, will perish through neglect. The soul becomes alienated and “cast out” through clinging to the delusion of separate existence. The kind of “harlot” alluded to here is the degenerate soul that will seek nourishment from any source whatsoever, including the etheric substance that emanates from dead and putrifying flesh. In the twilight, at the borderland of consciousness, the lost soul eventually succumbs to the natural inertia of the universe and is annihilated.

Real magical polarity working can and does take place between one human person and another, creating a powerful circuit of force. If one person has forged a lasting link with the cosmic circuit of force, they can mediate this to others in their field—but it requires a certain amount of faith from the latter. There is a careful difference to be made between faith and belief, though the two words are often confused. Spiritually, faith is summed up in the Greek word pistis, the necessary precedent to gnosis or pure knowledge. As a proper noun, Pistis is the name of a Goddess that was later associated with Sophia, Wisdom. Pistis Sophia is comparable to the Egyptian Isis, whose faith means honesty, integrity and reliability. In magical Hermeticism this relates to the work, the practice itself, the following out of the discipline and the manner of conduct—for it is not enough to simply do what is required, one must maintain the right attitude, called mudra in the East. For example, most magical Orders will require that certain practices and observances be adopted. Such practices do not always appeal directly to the reason, or to the self-aggrandising ego. Trust and faith, as much as will and determination, allow the person to overcome self-absorption, to ignore the voice of reason that insists the work is pointless unless it has immediate material outcome. It then becomes possible to sacrifice time and effort towards a mystical objective that has no value in the eyes of the worldly. A contacted magical Order is conceived as a ‘star’, and by becoming a member in the body of an Order one enters a solar system grouped around that star. In that way, polarity becomes effective and is not exploited by the destructive hunger of the vampire latent in us all. The Scarlet Woman is free to arise with Hadit.

Let us take a deeper look at the notion of magical polarity. Nuit and Hadit express the ultimate cosmic principle of polarity that manifests on the earth as female and male, moon and sun, night and day, darkness and light. On the magical plane at the personal level, Nuit and Hadit are expressed as the Khu and the Khabs, the magical body and the star that burns at the core of every man and every woman. It is put thus in Liber AL vel Legis, I: 8–9:
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!
In Chapter One of the book, it is Nuit that speaks to the seer and scribe—it is her light that is shed over the worshipper of the star or Khabs. Nuit is the Queen of Space, the personification of spaciousness and emptiness; she is the Non-Being alluded to in the Ain-Soph of the Qabalah. It is Hadit that alone causes her to appear, to manifest as a body of stars. Nuit’s ultimate revelation is her nakedness, for as the principle of containment itself (the circle of zero) how can she be contained? Thus, Nuit is never depicted as clothed. Only by the magick of Hadit—who is at once the Magician and the Exorcist—can Nuit manifest.

While Nuit can thereby be known, Hadit can never be known, as declared in Liber AL vel Legis II: 3–4:
In the sphere I am everywhere the centre, as she, the circumference, is nowhere found. Yet she shall be known and I never.
Hadit cannot be known, since he is the principle of knowing. Nuit is able to appear by virtue of her stars, her ‘children’ or followers (Egyptian shem-su). These somewhat abstract terms conceal the whole romance and mystery of life, death and love. The polarity magick of Nuit and Hadit is best put in poetic terms, as a dance, a love-play (or lila) that, through its motive affect upon space, whirls the worlds into life and being so that eternity is reflected in the continuity of existence.

Polarity magick, once seen in this way, can hardly be ignored or disposed of as a mere detail of the Hermetic tradition, or as an experiment that began and ended with Dion Fortune and her Fraternity of Inner Light in the 30s and 40s. Polarity is how the magick works, whether it is seen to be about the creation of worlds or their destruction. It is not a coincidence that the gospel narratives concerning Jesus tell of his having twelve disciples. There are twelve astrological signs in the Zodiac, and the circle of the ecliptic (the sun’s visible path) has for long ages been likened to a glittering girdle worn by the Goddess in all of her thousand and one names. The starry body of Nuit is her appearance, but hidden among the stars is the key of eternity’s doorway. There can be no intervention by a ‘redeemer’ on behalf of the soul; the Judaeo-Christian concept of redemption implies a debt paid off vicariously, a kind of salvation through knavery. Yet as we know, the Hermetic Great Work requires that the soul or Scarlet Woman must overcome her natural tendency towards vampirism. To conclude, the Egyptian Book of the Law tells of the soul’s redemption, not as a covenant between a God resembling a tax collector and his chosen race or religion, but as a covenant involving the seeking out of Nuit’s love by following the path of Knowledge:
Obey my prophet! follow out the ordeals of my knowledge! seek me only! Then the joys of my love will redeem ye from all pain. This is so: I swear it by the vault of my body; by my sacred heart and tongue; by all I can give, by all I desire of ye all.
Liber AL vel Legis, I: 32


(1) November 1940—extracts from the polarity work are reproduced in Dancers to the Gods, Alan Richardson [Aquarian Press 1985]. The syzygy is explained as practical method in Hermetic Qabalah Initiation Workbook, from which this quotation is taken.

(2) This is covered in depth in “Leviathan and the Beast”, The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.

© Oliver St. John 2014, 2018

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Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Scarlet Woman or Soul in the Underworld

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. You may have noticed that the books you really love are bound together by a secret thread … Again, you have stood before some landscape, which seems to embody what you have been looking for all your life; and then turned to the friend at your side who appears to be seeing what you saw—but at the first words a gulf yawns between you, and you realise that this landscape means something totally different to him, that he is pursuing an alien vision and cares nothing for the ineffable suggestion by which you are transported.

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

We mythologise that which we know to be true, yet cannot explain rationally. Since Plato at least, reason has been placed above myth in our culture. The word “myth” is derived from the Greek mu, meaning “from the mouth”. To the materialist, this can only mean speech, a story or tale—something less than the rational explanation. To the Gnostic, the magician, the theurgist, it is the non-verbal utterance that silently conveys the secret buried deep in the heart of all things. Thus muo means “silent”, “a secret”, “to close the mouth”. To reveal an occult secret is to conceal it—for by declaring it in speech or writing, the myth is inevitably retold. Magick and myth are inseparable, and are equally hated by the rationalist—who does not wish to know, but to acquire that which is useful. The goal of the rationalist is to obtain a purchase on ‘truth’.

Mu, the root of all mythology, leads us to every consideration of knowledge and utterance. To muse on something is to remember, and the Greek myth of the Muses developed from the much older Moirai, called the Norns in Norse mythology. The Moirai are the three women or goddesses that spin the thread, that weave the thread, and that cut the thread of life. This mystery is accomplished by the power of ordinance, called Moira by the Greeks and known as Maat (or Mut) to the ancient Egyptians. When the immutable is known, reason becomes mute. No value is afforded to divine apostasia, however, in modern culture. For one thing, no purchase can be made upon it, and therefore no profit made. Music can at least entertain, and there again we have our muse and our mu, reminding us of something we have forgotten. Professional muses or musicians can be paid for their work, but they cannot be rewarded if they should fall silent.

Ishtar, the Scarlet Woman: Queen of Heaven, Earth, the Seas and the Underworld

Ishtar Queen of Heaven and Earth (Burney Relief)

New Evidence

Thanks to new archeological evidence and the uncovering of lost scriptures, a different picture is now emerging of history—and of mythology. Gods, pantheons, metaphysical ideas, were once shared all over the region of Egypt, Phoenicia, and Mesopotamia—indeed, the world. The expertise of the Phoenicians at making very fast ships means it is no longer in the realms of fantasy to suppose that people travelled as far as the Americas and back. Until the enforced establishment of monotheism, along with the creation of ‘unifying’ (and therefore divisive) religious cults that began to take place from about 500 BC, it was common to exchange gods, practices, rites and customs. Temples to Egyptian gods were built in Phoenicia, while the oldest of the Phoenician goddesses, Asherah, was worshipped in Egypt as Qudshu (or Qutesh), the “Holy One”. It took more than seven centuries of tyrannical oppression and genocide to finally persuade the reluctant people that monotheism—involving the centralised administration of culture and worship—was superior to the old pagan ways. The repression of knowledge and culture, accompanied by the rewriting of myths to support the new state religions, includes the outlawing of magical Hermeticism in all its colourful shapes and forms, from the so-called low magick of witchcraft to the high magick of theurgy.

Asherah—whose name was later merged with similar sounding goddesses such as Ashtaroth, Astarte and Ishtar—was the original “Scarlet Woman” as termed in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis. She is the woman of blood, the soul in her earthly and heavenly or divine aspects. We need to employ a kind of reversed psychology to understand much that has been framed in the terms of monotheistic cults. Our lady of heaven is a ‘harlot’ in so far as she is the giver and receiver of all life, and so the embodiment of the Holy Graal. Called “Babalon” in Thelemic literature as well as the Enochian Calls of Elizabethan mage John Dee, she is identified with the temples of the goddess that was adored in the ancient city of Babylon—itself a symbol of everything that was despised by the zealous scribes, priestly officials and bearded patriarchs of fanatical monotheism.

God is Polymorphic!

We can use the Qabalah to make ready correspondences between different systems of thought; indeed, this mutual recognition was in evidence at least six thousand years ago. However, we must be careful to maintain a separation between systems. In Egypt alone, each different locality or nome centre had its own metaphysics, its own creation myths, and its own pantheon. Polytheism is a misleading term, for it was always understood, at least by the wise, that the Absolute assumes many guises when it wishes to communicate with the human mind. ‘God’, as such, is polymorphic.

We have but one word for the soul in the English language whereas Egyptian and Eastern metaphysics has many terms for the different vehicles or subtle bodies. Fortunately, the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, has given us a simple and practical metaphysics. The Scarlet Woman of the book is the soul. Left to her natural course she is a vampire, seeking vital sustenance from her environment. It is only by undergoing resurrection through the agency of the mysterious serpent called Hadit that she can overcome the forces of time and death to become an immortal star (Khabs) in the body of Nuit (the Khu).

If we apply ourselves to the symbolic scheme of the Hermetic Tree of Life, we find there are five parts of the soul. Since Liber AL vel Legis was a transmission from the Theban cult centre of ancient Egypt, it will help to supply an Egyptian frame of reference along with the traditional names of the Qabalah.

Egyptian and Qabalistic Parts of the Soul

Egyptian and Qabalistic Parts of the Soul

These correspondences cannot be exact; there is some overlapping when different cultural traditions are aligned on a numerical basis. Fortunately, the very flexibility of the Qabalah has made it the most enduring system for the classification of all possible ideas. Hadit, the Serpent of Knowledge, is the ubiquitous metaphysical point of consciousness within the circle of the absolute, and is simultaneously ‘everywhere’. The Khabs star is the fivefold window or gateway of consciousness that projects the illusion of the material universe through the five senses in man. As the “star”, the Khabs could equally be placed in Kether, and would then be the principle of radiation while Hadit would be the invisible yet active light, the mysterious source behind it. Nuit, the polar complement of Hadit, the circle that encompasses all, can be conceived as the zero not listed in the table. When Hadit causes her manifestation or appearance there is a close analogy to be made between Nuit and the Khu, the magical spirit-body.

When the Khu is located at Binah, the seat of the Neschemic intuition, it is the matrix by which the conscious will of Chokmah is formulated; thought comes about through the polar force and form aspects of Chokmah and Binah, the Khabs and the Khu. The Master in the Pistis Sophia, said, “Zomah Zomah Ozza Rachama Ozayah!” This does not translate very easily, but an approximation that suits our present purpose is, “Thought, thought, the power of the matrix of IAO!” The word that translates as “thought” is zomah (ZMH), which has a wide range of meanings including thought, desire, meditation, imagination and sin. The word alone provides more than enough for a meditation subject.

In many ways the Ka in the natural state has a closer identification with the Nephesch or animal soul than it does with the Ruach, the mind-spirit. However, in Hermetic work the Ka must be divorced or liberated from the Khaibet or shadow with the assistance of the Ruach, the breath of spirit. The Khaibet can be imagined as existing on the threshold of matter—all that appears to the five senses of man—and the etheric web that, while being invisible to the ordinary senses, binds all together in a subtle field or network of threads or fibres. The relation between the Khu and the Khaibet can best be understood by the Hermetic axiom, “As above, so below”.

Qabalah of the Soul

The Nephesch of the Qabalah literally means any kind of living thing—that is the meaning of the word as it is used in the biblical book of Genesis.
The Nephesch may also be read as soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion; to take breath, to refresh oneself.(1)
In the Qabalah, the Nephesch represents one of the five parts of the human soul. On the Tree of Life it is attributed to the lunar sphere of Yesod and, in certain schemes, to the sphere of Malkuth. Nephesch is the Hebrew word for “to take breath”, and generally for “soul” too, even though it most particularly refers to the soul of nature. The breath taken in by the soul is the Ruach, the wind, scent, fragrance or spirit hidden in creation and giving it life. In the Eastern tradition, this breath animating the soul is called prana, which is manifested in time by the kalas.(2)
The Nephesch is the Scarlet Woman or soul in the underworld. She must overcome the hostile forces of the underworld if she is to survive physical mortality. It should not be supposed that the underworld is something that is only created through belief, that it is a myth that has no root in the so-called real world or even that it is a ‘place’ or location that is somehow removed, on another plane, from that upon which we seem to live and move and have our being. The demonic forces of the underworld dominate human nature; the human soul or Nephesch is the vehicle by which they seek expression in the world.

Magical and Theurgic practice requires working to develop the astrosome so the practitioner can operate fully on the subtle, non-material planes. The word astrosome combines two Greek words, astron, a star, indicating the starry or celestial field, and soma, meaning “a body”. There is a close correspondence between the astrosome and what is frequently referred to as a Body of Light, although the latter is used more specifically to refer to the mental construct that is projected by the will, desire and imagination in magical and yogic practice. The astrosome really describes everything other than the physical body or shell.

Through yoga, the Nephesch or animal soul in Yesod is given the breath of spirit via the higher intellectual faculty afforded by the Ruach. The Ruach encompasses the sephiroth of the Hermetic Tree of Life from Yesod to Daath. When Hermetic meditation is supported by the magical training of the mind, the Ruach is organised so that it becomes a better vehicle for the Neschemah or spiritual intuition in Binah, the sphere that is beyond the Abyss of the human mind.

Once the astrosome has been fully realised it encompasses the Nephesch and the Ruachit is everything except the gross physical body. The Ruach itself embodies all of the six sephiroth grouped around Tiphereth, yet it is subject to the solar and lunar forces of the Astral Plane. When the solar and lunar forces are stilled by meditation so they no longer pull the mind and emotions this way and that, then Hadit, who manifests in the human sphere as the Serpent Power or Occult Force, is able to affect a work of transformation upon the soul. The Egyptian Hadit, as termed in Liber AL vel Legis, corresponds to that which is called the Holy Spirit in Christian literature, and that which is called Atman in the Eastern scriptures (the Atman of Eastern philosophy was probably derived from the solar-cosmic Egyptian deity Atoum or Atem Ra).

The Holy Guardian Angel

Magick is aimed at the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”. Although everyone does not like the term, it is necessary to avoid subjecting the Holy Guardian Angel of the Hermetic tradition to metaphysical speculation. The mystery and the presence of the Holy Guardian Angel or Daemon must remain completely outside and beyond any conception of the self. Psychological terms such as ‘higher self’ place a limit on the absolute, and worse still, impose arbitrary moral values. Nonetheless, there is a reasonably practical notion put forward in the Qabalah of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that the Holy Guardian Angel is encountered primarily as an Intelligence in Tiphereth of Yetzirah. In order to encounter the Daemon in Tiphereth of Yetzirah, we must first open the ways to the Kether of Assiah. And to that extent, we are bringing in Atman, Hadit or the Yechidah. The spiritually intuitive intelligence of the Neschemah sums up Kether and Chokmah in the third sephira called Binah, “Understanding”. Binah is the sphere of Nuit-Babalon or the Scarlet Woman above the Abyss—and therefore beyond the hellish regions of the underworld that dominate the human mind, body and spirit.

As the Bornless Spirit, the Holy Guardian Angel is beyond any realm that we can imagine or conceptualise. Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, the Khabs and Khu, the stars and the planets – all these are conceptions of the mind, however lofty. Once the Holy Guardian Angel is put away in a box, he is lost forever, so we must be very careful about saying, “The angel is this” or “The angel is that”.

Vampire of Compassion

The Ka shares many of the qualities of the Nephesch. Both the Ka and the Nephesch are principles of life, the creature, the appetite, the desire, the passions and the need for refreshment or sustenance. The Ka is the vitality, the life force itself. It has a natural hunger, an appetite, and this hunger must be redirected in magick to the spiritual purpose. If not, then the Ka becomes subject to fatal forces, as does the fallen Scarlet Woman in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis III: 43, when she seeks to appease her appetite on the plane of desire, and succumbs to compassion:
Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.
“Compassion” here describes the vampirical tendency of the human soul to seek nourishment from her environment, from those around her, and to disguise this tendency in worthiness, a deserved reward, or even pretended spirituality or wisdom. An appetite for spiritual knowledge can be encouraged and developed through the work. If the person has no real appetite for spiritual knowledge, they fail in the work. If they merely have a desire for the acquisition and use of knowledge, if they wish to gain a purchase on knowledge, then they may develop certain of the magical powers, so-called, but they will be barred from entry through the door of the Mysteries. This is not a moral punishment enacted by some jealous and vengeful God; it is natural law. A tree can adapt itself to changing conditions within certain parameters, but it cannot uproot itself and walk across to the next field if the one it is in happens to have flooded. In a reversal of the Jewish feast of Passover the person has painted blood—the blood of their victims—on the door of the house, and is now barred from entry to that house. The feast of the Passover, celebrated at the spring equinox—and which has its correspondence with the Christianised version of Easter—is relevant to the mysteries of the Scarlet Woman, the woman of blood. There are mysteries of blood involved with Easter and the Passover in the Judaeo-Christian tradition:
Curiously, according to Exodus 12: 5, the [Passover] sacrifice could be “taken out from the sheep, or from the goats”; the important thing seems to be that it is a male less than one year old and is essentially a spring-lamb, for the Jewish festival to commemorate their supposed departure from Egypt is celebrated at the spring equinox when the Sun enters Aries the Ram. The Passover celebrates the crossing of the Red Sea by Moses; the Jewish festivals are worked out according to a lunar calendar, and for this reason the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus (the sacrificial lamb of God) takes place on the first Sunday following the first full Moon after the spring equinox.

The sacred role of the female in the mysteries had long been usurped by male priests and other officials. The original source of the creative blood of the universe was the priestess of the Moon, through her menstrual cycle; once the role of the priestess was forgotten, or defiled, it became necessary to sacrifice animals in order to prolong the astral power of the God made exclusively in the male image. The esoteric significance of the spring equinox concerns the passing over or crossing of the Abyss to the scarlet sea of Binah through the dissolution of the king’s body—the ego and human personality. Hence there were three marks of sacrificial blood made on the doors of good citizens in the myth of Exodus, which was created to introduce new centralised cultic laws. Originally, the Passover was a private and domestic rite that involved a pilgrimage to the local shrine of the deity.(3)

The Khaibet is much more than the “shadow” of Jungian psychology; again, there is no exact match with other systems of thought, only correspondences. To a certain extent, the Khaibet can be extended to include the physical body itself—which is a shell, so far as the magician is concerned. To those who still believe in the illusion of the material world, only the physical body is real. To the magician, the physical body is the least real of all things as is evidenced by his or her study and observance of nature. There is a ‘tug of war’ that commences once the Occult Force begins its ascent. It is not confined to the Khaibet or the Ka, there may even be a spiritual war, the “war in heaven” described in the mystic literature of many cultural traditions. Ultimately, the Khaibet shell must be cracked apart and the fallen soul or Scarlet Woman ‘torn upon wheels’ (or chakras) so the dual principles of Sol and Luna can be released for the Hermetic Great Work upon the soul.

All astral forms are created by will, desire and imagining. The work of practical magick is largely concerned with the lower astral triad on the Hermetic Tree of life that is composed of Netzach, Hod and Yesod. The power of thought and the power of imagination are closely linked—as expressed in the single word, zomah. On the higher arc, Binah forms the matrix by which the intelligent will-force from Chokmah can build forms. The 12th path of Beth-Mercury is called the Intelligence of Transparency, and the “house” of Beth gives a clue to the clothing of the word in form that takes place at this level. Mercury has its lower plane correspondence in Hod, and there in Hod is all the mental construction work of ordinary magick. The desirous will-force in Netzach on the side of Force and the form-building power of Hod on the side of Form have the power to project images in the magical mirror of Yesod.

Occult Anatomy

Every person has an astrosome, even if they have not done any structured magical work—every person has a natal horoscope so long as they were born on the earth.(4) But until magical work is done, it is only a semblance, an amorphous shadow compared to the organised astrosome of a Hermetic magician. The magician has organised their thoughts around a Great Symbol (Eastern Sri Yantra), and trained their mind by the intelligent use of the associated correspondences.

The Ritual of the Pentagram creates a palace of 32 points—four pentagrams and two hexagrams, one above and one below. The Ritual of the Pentagram is therefore a geometric projection of the Tree of Life, which has 32 paths in all. There is also a 33rd point when we count the magician as the Hadit point in the circle that is in fact everywhere and anywhere. That 33rd point is equal to the non-sephira Daath on the Hermetic Tree of Life. There is an old time legend that Indian fakirs would demonstrate this fact by playing the snake charmer to a piece of rope, which would then rise up in the air. The fakir would then climb the rope, and as soon as he got to the top he would vanish into thin air.

Part Two of this essay is entitled Magical Polarity.


(1) From The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.

(2) “The Initiation of the KA”, from The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga. A treatise on the parts of the soul as relevant to Initiation.

(3) The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.

(4) The astrosome is a rarely used technical term that we have borrowed from the French occultist Mouni Sadhu, the author of a substantial tome called The Tarot—A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism. Sadhu invented his own terms, or adapted them, such as “elementar” for an active thought-form. The astrosome is a summation of all that has an autonomous function on what is called the Astral Plane in occultism.

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2017  

Books by Oliver St. John

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