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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/

Friday, 18 December 2015

The Priest-Kings of Thelema

On the 27th November 2015 the Cairo Post published the following item: “The sarcophagus of the priest Ankh-f-n-khonsu has been unearthed in Cairo.” The story spread like wildfire.

Priest-Kings of Thelema: Boulaq Museum Ankh-af-na-khonsu

Thelemites are well aware that the (Egyptian) Book of the Law transmission was activated by Aleister and Rose Crowley’s discovery of a funeral stele numbered ‘666’ in the Bulaq museum in Cairo. When the news story was released, thousands assumed the sarcophagus must have belonged to Ankh-af-na-khonsu of the Stele of Revealing. Not so, pointed out the experts, since the sarcophagus of the priest and scribe of the Stele is already known about and it is not this one. The rumour was thus quickly squashed. The newly unearthed sarcophagus was centuries earlier than that of the man named Ankh-af-na-khonsu that is associated with the Book of the Law.
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
However, the newly unearthed sarcophagus was that of a member of the same Theban cult. Initiates of the cult took the eponymous title, ‘Ankh-af-na-khonsu’. The name of the prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu refers to all members of the initiatic cult—centuries before the 26th Dynasty of Egypt.

There is a distinction between Aleister Crowley as the scribe of Liber AL and the Ankh-af-na-khonsu that is referred to as “prophet and scribe” in the book. Crowley believed in reincarnation, a common belief with occultists of the 20th century. He assumed that Ankh-af-na-khonsu was himself in a ‘past life’. Those of us who wish to follow the teachings of Aiwass, the communicating intelligence of the book, need not accept this. We are thus free to understand Thelema as timeless wisdom, embedded in the land of Khem. Perhaps one more “secret that has not yet been revealed” (Liber AL, II: 2) has now been disclosed. Aleister and Rose Crowley succeeded in breaking open an inner-plane time capsule. 

The transmission from Aiwass reveals the secret knowledge of the Setian cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, whose name literally means, ‘Life of the Sky-rider’. The Rider of the Sky was an Egyptian name for the Moon, in particular, the god Khonsu, the child of Mut and Amoun. To the Theban cult, Khonsu assumed all the attributes of other gods such as Atem Ra, Horus and Amoun, and carried the Left-eye of the Moon as his totem hieroglyph. The Theban cult revered Khonsu as a type of the Holy Guardian Angel, the soul that has united with the Angel, whose word is truth. Such a soul is able to stand before Horus as the Lord of the Last Judgement on the day of be-with-us and say, while looking straight into his fearsome hawk’s eye,
I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth.
A prophetic revelation will always be open to interpretation, for prophecy is akin to divination and has nothing to do with prediction—though the two things are frequently confused. Crowley saw himself as the prophet of a New Aeon. Kenneth Grant, Crowley’s nearest lineal successor, also sought to form his own cult, woven from the fabric of his imagination and helped along by the works of Gerard Massey, Robert Temple and even the fantastical tales of Howard P. Lovecraft.[2] Grant, whom Crowley admonished for going off on a “pipe-dream”, focussed his work entirely on the Qliphoth, an intensely dualistic aspect of the Qabalah that classifies a world of demons inhabiting an inverse Tree of Knowledge in the shadow of the Tree of Life. Both men were successful, in various ways, in forming cults of Thelema based on their own highly sexualised, modernist variations on the Hermetic Magnum Opus. Both versions of Thelema bear little if any relation to the source work’s roots in an ancient Egyptian initiatory cult.

Liber AL vel Legis is in some ways an anti-scripture, in that the matter of the book insists that all religions are ‘crapulous creeds’ (AL, III: 54). That is to say, religious belief based on scriptural law is a condition of being intoxicated, as is the human ego in love with itself. It is ironic that a religion of Thelema was founded long after the death of Aleister Crowley in 1947 and somewhat against his wishes. Crowley made his position clear in Magick Without Tears, ‘Religion: Is Thelema a New Religion?’ After exploring what the term ‘religion’ means, he concludes the letter with the following statement.
Call it a new religion, then, if it so please your Gracious Majesty; but I confess that I fail to see what you will have gained by so doing, and I feel bound to add that you might easily cause a great deal of misunderstanding, and work a rather stupid kind of mischief. The word does not occur in The Book of the Law.
The Book of the Law goes further than merely eschewing all religious beliefs. By denouncing human rationality as an instrument of the personal ego, the book declares war on all dogma, including that of material science. It would not have been necessary, in the 26th dynasty of Egypt, to include such repudiation in any knowledge transmission. Only a small portion of the book’s content, though, is uninterrupted by thoughts and questions from Crowley. The spiritual and magical doctrine of the cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu is clearly expounded in the first thirteen verses of the first chapter. Through the second and third chapters, the tone of Aiwass becomes increasingly hostile and the knowledge cryptic. In fact, a verdict seems to have been reached as early as I: 17, when it is flatly declared, “But ye are not so chosen.” In the context of the preceding verses, Crowley is warned not to make the error of personally identifying himself with the “prince-priest the Beast”, the “chosen apostle of infinite space” (I: 15). He sought a way out of this by later suggesting that ‘ye’ must refer to others, not him!
It is best if we do not confuse the symbol with its concrete meaning, or the metaphor with that which it alludes to. The true identity of the Beast and Scarlet Woman is poetically revealed in Liber AL, I: 16.
For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.
This is clearly a description of cosmic principles. Even the soul that has attained supreme liberation cannot be Ishvara, supreme Lord of the Universe, as was explained by Swami Vivekananda.[2] The immortal stone or star can never be a new religion, doomed to merely rearrange the symbolism of previous religions and then insist the new image of Ishvara, or his man-god-prophet, is ‘The Truth’. It should be clear from the generic cult name, Ankh-af-na-khonsu, that to associate Thelema with any individual human personality is an error of a magnitude—indeed, it is a catastrophe for the soul, for such a belief confounds the whole matter of the work.


1. Liber AL, III: 37.
2. Robert Temple, The Sirius Mystery—New Scientific Evidence for Alien Contact 5000 Years Ago (1976) was a particularly powerful influence on the works of Kenneth Grant.
3. Various doctrinal views on Ishvara are discussed by Swami Vivekananda. See, ‘The Philosophy of Ishvara’, in his treatise on Bhakti Yoga.

© Oliver St. John, 2015, revised 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

Related articles (Star and Snake):
Prophecy of Liber AL Fulfilled
Aleister Crowley Legacy: Boleskine Tribute
The Law of Thelema: Quantum Yoga

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium
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Friday, 16 October 2015

The True Significance of 666

The mysterious number 666 is ubiquitous in popular culture and literature. The number has been subject to quasi-mystical and scholastic speculation for centuries. Uninformed opinion finds something singularly evil in the trinity of sixes—as if a number could possess moral values. Nonetheless, once a thing is repeated often enough it comes to be regarded as fact.

True Significance of 666: Blake, Whore of Babylon
The cryptic reference to the number 666 in the visionary narrative of St. John’s book of Revelation is the best-known example.
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding calculate the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
Historians often construe the number, as given in the context of Revelation, as a cipher for the Roman Emperor Nero (NRVN QSR). In some versions of the text, the number is given as 616, which is a direct transliteration of the Latin name (NRV QSR). It is thought this was later changed to add to 666, so as to be solar and more universal. Biblical scriptures were redacted or adulterated over many centuries to conform to values arising from social, political and economic circumstances. As it is the magical context we are interested in here, the Qabalah can provide a basis for meaningful enquiry.

To put it poetically, the number 666 is a flower blooming in the desert at night. Mystic significance is discovered in meditation, not ordinary thought, which is as night to that which springs forth in the light of Gnosis. The word, ‘meditation’ is derived from the Latin verb, meditari, which has the root meaning of ‘measure’. The measure of a thing is the key of its value; hence, “He that hath wisdom shall count the number”.

Numbers are more than the expression of quantity; they are pure ideas, things in themselves. The number 6 will always be the number 6; it will never be 7 or 8 no matter where we are or how we think about it. When any idea, object, person or creature is considered as a separate thing in itself it is meaningless; isolation gives rise to all notions of hell. Nothing can be known unless other things are brought in to ‘measure’ it. When each thing is loved and understood, knowledge becomes wisdom. Love is about the relationship of things. The meaning of any object becomes apparent when known by another. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 4,
Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
Numinous source or reality is veiled by all figures arising from the Abyss. It is time to “calculate the number of the beast”.

Magick of 666

6 x 6 = 36

Now we can add together all the numbers between 1 and 36.

∑ (1–36) = 666

Now divide 666 by 6.

666 ÷ 6 = 111

True Significance of 666: Kamea of the Sun
The Hermetic Tree of Life is a decimal system based on the Pythagorean Tetractys. The 6th number or sephira corresponds to the Sun as the visible centre of our immediate universe. The sephira is named Tiphereth, ‘Beauty’ or ‘Harmony’. The Kamea or ‘Magic Square’ of the number 6 is therefore considered to be the Kamea of the Sun, expressive of natural harmony.

The Kamea of the Sun, or 6, has 36 squares, 6 x 6. When we add each row or column, even the diagonal, it always adds to 111. The number 111 is that of Aleph spelled in full, ALP. Aleph is the Fool of Tarot or Spirit of Aethyr, and the beast (‘ox’) that turns the wheel of heavens. It is the Energy of the Work, defined by the equilibrium preserved through perpetual motion.[1]

Adding together every number in the Kamea results in 666, which is a trinity or triangulation of 6. The triangle is the measure of two other points and is the means of understanding through relationship, which is love under will.

The Sun is a symbol of Logos, the life-giving word. The number 666 therefore has an affinity with Chokmah or Sophia, ‘Wisdom’, the second sephira of the Tree. Logoidal emanations pass along the 14th path of Daleth, called the Luminous Intelligence, to become intelligible in Binah, the third number called ‘Understanding’. There is a Tree in every sphere, and it is the Tree of Tiphereth, the Word (or Sun) of Chokmah and Binah, that is the Tree of Eternity or Life.

The number of the beast is declared to be that of a man. It is said that King Solomon was paid a weight of 666 talents in gold per year (1 Kings, 10: 14). In ancient times, the number 666 was used to indicate a gold standard (‘pure gold’).

The number 666 is that of the ‘flaming sword which turned every way’. According to the biblical book of Genesis, 3: 24, the sword was placed East of Eden to prevent man from returning to the Garden of Eden.

The number 666 is also the number of a woman, though the fact is rarely mentioned. ‘Scarlet Woman’, AShH ShNI, adds to 666. The Scarlet Woman is the consort of the Beast or Dragon of Time, a metaphor for dual cosmic principles such as Shiva and Shakti, Sun and Moon, Eve and the Serpent. According to Liber AL, I: 16,
For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

Wisdom tells us that neither Eve nor Adam was ever banished from the supernal Eden by a vengeful Demiurge; we only have to realise the true state of affairs to escape the Evil Genius of Man that imprisons our consciousness in a fake construct he calls ‘reality’.

To know the spiritual Sun that is veiled by the material fire of the solar system, man must do a Great Work. The sacrifice required is that of giving time to meditation until the cessation of chaotic thoughts gives rise to a flower blooming in the desert at night.


1. Ursa Major, the Great Bear constellation, is the ‘beast’ that turns the wheel of the heavens, or appears to do so while always pointing to the Pole Star. Aleph, the ‘ox’ is therefore the symbol of whirling motion. The revolution of the heavens appears that way from the point of view of the earth, which rotates as she dances around the sun.

All Qabalistic references are taken from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2019

Books by Oliver St. John

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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Thelemic Magical Doctrine of the Afterlife

The Afterlife is a subject frequently ignored. It is generally assumed that the esotericist accepts the doctrine of reincarnation. The mutant version of metempsychosis, or reincarnation, became increasingly popular in the Western world from the time of Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society and onwards. The doctrine is relatively modern, appearing in the middle of the first millennium in both Greek and Hindu philosophy, Orphism and the Vedas. Greek scholars dispute that Plato, who wrote about it, understood reincarnation in the modern sense.

Astral Body and Ghost by Austin Osman Spare

Our notion of reincarnation owes to the classical interpretation of a doctrine shrouded in mystery. If we look at the context of the time in which such ideas emerged, then reincarnation becomes less mysterious. It coincided with the rise of ascetic patriarchal cults. The priestesses of the elder Gods were thrown out of the temples or forced into prostitution. Zealots and Pharisees demanded absolute obedience to religious law, and falsified biblical scriptures to suit political requirements. This time saw the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilisation, which prepared the way for the Hellenistic era and then oblivion. With the rise of asceticism, extreme yoga methods were created, aimed at physical purity. Two and a half thousand years ago the new nation states abolished ‘the old ways’, which included exceedingly antique magical practices such as divination and oracles.
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs]
The thrust of classical reincarnation is that it works on a merit system. If you are good, you will achieve reincarnation in a higher life form. If you are evil, you will be reborn as a dog, a toad, a worm or a demon. This concept depends on a strictly hierarchical view of nature consisting of higher life forms and lower life forms, where man is assumed to be the pinnacle of creation. Spirit is seen as the opposer of nature—which should be made submissive to the superior might of man. Once we embrace the idea that the soul can be pure, we must then account for impurity and sin. Once we believe a soul can be rewarded in the afterlife, then we must believe the soul can be punished for iniquity. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, II: 22, refutes all classical notions of purity and sin.
It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.
Liber AL makes the case against reincarnation and in favour of eternal transcendence perfectly clear.
II: 9 Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and are done; but there is that which remains.
II: 21 Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolves he shall remain in pure ecstasy forever.
II: 44 Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and the eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.
II: 49 I am not of the slaves that perish.
II: 66 Thy death shall be the seal of the promise of our agelong love.
II: 73 Death is forbidden, o man, unto thee.
If consciousness is extinguished with the death of the body then our lives are a bad joke; there is no meaning or purpose in anything. That which is encrypted in Liber AL does not include reincarnation. It is a doctrine of immortality. When the ‘body of the King’ dissolves, that is, the human ego or ahamkhara dissolves, there is ‘that which remains’—the immortal principle.

The popularity of classical reincarnation nonetheless continues unabated. After all, if we believe we are going to ‘come back’ over countless lifetimes, there is hardly any pressing need to do something called a Great Work.

Traditions far more ancient than metempsychosis supposed the dead to live on in an ancestral spirit or dream world, sometimes called the underworld. The ancestral spirits could then be contacted at particular times, or when there was a need. Such practices continue to this day in some parts of the world, in the cults of voudon, for example. The ancient Egyptians supported diverse schools of thought, included countless gods or neters, and many pantheons. The folk tradition was not too dissimilar from other folk traditions around the world. The vital Ka or spirit body of the deceased was presumed to live on in the underworld or duat, and offerings of food, drink and flowers were to be made regularly at the tomb to preserve the existence of the ancestors. If the offerings were not made then the Ka might become a vampire and seek sustenance from among the living.

The transcendence of the soul, the achievement of immortality, was an esoteric doctrine and not a folk tradition among the ancient Egyptians. It was preserved for pharaohs, high priests and other Initiates. Likewise with the Eastern tradition—which has it that Atman, the immortal principle, is able to reincarnate in countless different bodies and forms. The doctrine does not admit to the possibility of the soul being born again and again ‘as itself’. Hindu classical scholars are well aware of this, and are very careful when interpreting the Bhagavad Gita, for example, to point out that it is Atman that reincarnates, not the human ego—which has no essential substance or ground.

The Book of the Law may readily be understood as an imperative concerning spiritual life or death for those that would dare. The quest for the elixir of life, the immortal stone of the wise, is not to be confused with a quest for psychological self-improvement. In Liber AL, I: 34, Nuit replies to Crowley’s insistent demands.
But she said: the ordeals I write not: the rituals shall be half known and half concealed: the Law is for all.
The ‘rituals’, as with Egyptian hieroglyphs, are not known by the object of the symbol, but by the latency of the symbol. The symbol must be followed back to its source. The “Law is for all” does not mean, ‘for every single person in the world’. As in the context of other scriptures, ‘all’ frequently means ‘of all types and manner of persons’. The path of Esoteric Thelema requires ruthless discernment yet it does not exclude any man or woman by race, religion or culture. As the governing principle of magical initiation, the Law of Thelema secretly informs and directs human thought and activity, disrupting and destroying the accretions. However, the Thelemic transmission does not allow human reason to prevail against love. The Book of the Law unrelentingly declares war on causal determinism, the error termed the “word of Sin” in Liber AL, I: 41.

In AL, I: 38, it is given that the soul who endures the ordeals of the path of knowledge may enjoy spiritual ecstasy both during and after earthly existence.
I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.
The spiritual pulse of Thelema is love, while its wisdom is only known through discernment—which is the essential discipline of the path of knowledge, as declared in AL, I: 57:
Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!
Much of the wisdom conveyed by Aiwass addresses the question of the soul’s survival after physical death. The achievement of the soul depends on vital magical and spiritual factors that have profound import for every man and every woman that is a star. The choice for the soul is understood to be one of life on the one hand or annihilation on the other. Through the course of initiation the soul is to be led by Hadit, the esoteric will-force, through her own death and resurrection. This is done in order to open a portal or gateway through which others may pass to discover new worlds of beauty and truth.


© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium 
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Sunday, 23 August 2015

Crisis of the Modern Age - René Guenon and the Law of Thelema

René Guenon had a far-reaching vision. Guenon’s life covered a critical turning point in history, encompassing great changes. With the book, Crisis of the Modern Age, Guenon was seeing what he called the Kali Yuga, the ending of a Great Aeon or Mahayuga, and the sinking into dissolution of all real knowledge. René Guenon died in 1951 and could not have foreseen exactly how things would turn out half a century later. Yet much of what he wrote concerning the distortion of symbol, language and the meaning of things, the loss of tradition, everywhere prevails.

Crisis of the Modern Age: Neuzeit Tarot Ten of Swords
The Neuzeit Tarot card depicts ten swords, bearing nonsensical motifs and depending from a crazy carousel.[1]

The masses look on, enthralled by the illusion or otherwise self-absorbed. Grasping hands vainly reach upwards.

Reason has become indistinguishable from the irrational and absurd.

The Kali Yuga of Hindu scripture is understood to be the ‘Age of the Demon’. The demon opposes all spiritual knowledge, bringing on a long Dark Age of materiality. With the culmination of Kali Yuga comes the final dissolution, preparing the way for the birth of a new Mahayuga cycle. Lasting for more than 6000 years, Kali Yuga comes as the fourth and final phase in a Great Aeon, as calculated by the precession of the equinoxes. According to the astronomer and sage, Aryabhatta, writing fifteen centuries ago, Kali Yuga began around 3000 BCE. We have more than a thousand years of Kali Yuga before a new Golden Age dawns; by that time there will be nothing left of our present civilisation.

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

Aleister Crowley’s theory of three Great Aeons is very unsatisfactory, as evidenced by his garbled account of it in The Book of Thoth. He tried, unconvincingly, to equate his aeonic theory with the precession of the equinoxes, though he did note that we are now entering the precessional Age of Aquarius—a mere 2000 years in the great precessional cycle of 26,000 years.

The talisman that unlocked the (Egyptian) Book of the Law time capsule in Cairo, 1904, was the Stele of Revealing. It is the funeral stele of an Egyptian priest and scribe that served in the Temple of Karnak in Thebes, around 700 BCE. The cult name of the priest is Ankh-af-na-khonsu, ‘Life and Soul of Khonsu’. Khonsu is the Egyptian deity revered at Thebes as the son of Mut and Amoun. One of the duties of the priest was to ‘open the doors of Nuit’, that is, he opened the doors on the processional route that led to the roof of the temple, from where the heliacal rising of Sirius, the star of Egypt could be observed.

The name Khonsu means, ‘Sky-Traveller’, and is descriptive of the Moon as reflective principle. The Moon was anciently associated with the marking of time. The spiritual law encrypted in the funeral stele came near the end of the long ages of ancient Egyptian civilisation. In another thousand years the language would be completely forgotten. Even by Hellenistic times, Egyptian priests would only study the old Gods of Egypt academically.

The reception of the Book of the Law in 1904 coincided with the death of the Romantic era in Europe and the unmitigated onslaught of industrialisation in the name of ‘progress’. Entire populations of nation states were to be crushed and traumatised by mechanised industrial warfare on a vast scale. For more than a century now, governments and warlords, with their teams of scientific advisers, have concerned themselves with the extermination or otherwise subjugation of populations. In times of peace, so-called, then the war becomes one where the weapons are psychological or in other ways covert. We have arrived at the present historical epoch, sometimes called the information age.

There are very few people today who have heard of Plato and Aristotle. Not one in a thousand, perhaps ten thousand, of those few have ever read either of them, even in translations. But there are also very few people whose thinking, such as it is, is not conditioned by the ideas of those two men.[2]

Crowley, writing seventy years ago observed, as did others of his time, a rapid decline in the ability of people to think coherently. In the twenty-first century there are now very few persons capable of concentrating their minds on one thing to the exclusion of all else. The average person spends more time at work in a job, perhaps two or three jobs, than at any other time in history. A few decades ago there was much speculation as to how things would be in the future. It was frequently imagined that there would be more leisure time for all. Machines would take care of mundane tasks, or otherwise accelerate tasks so people had more time to themselves.

That future has arrived now, and the opposite has occurred. Many persons spend hours a day looking at virtual displays on a phone, tablet or computer. Listening to digital ‘music’ in headphones while performing various unrelated tasks is commonplace—a degradation of both music and listener. Buried beneath layers of wallpaper noise and visual distraction, consciousness becomes isolated, the senses muted. The information addict is the slave of everyone else’s thoughts, however banal. Digital images and icons are replacing literature. Whereas literature is a reliquary, a digital image can never be more than dots creating an illusion of form and space. Virtual reality is a lie; the software illusion is not ‘near’ reality, it has nothing to do with it. The same applies to digital music, film and television. The professionals tell us that most people do not actually read the information on websites or other forms of digital media. What they do is ‘scan’ the information. The person runs their eye quickly down the content, searching for something appealing.

Businesses make large amounts of money from mouse clicks. There is no need to think. There is no precious time in which to calculate the loss of subtle knowledge that cannot be bought or sold. Once such keys are lost they are lost forever. Thought, imagination, requires far too much effort. Self-identification is instinctive, not rational. Corporations do not make profit from moral and intellectual strength, they make profit from moral and intellectual weakness.

One of René Guenon’s central themes when commenting on the modern age was that which he termed, ‘anti-initiation’. If initiation involves the transmission of knowledge, then there has to be an equal and opposite idea. Guenon observed a powerful movement against initiation in the modern world. He denounced many of the occult traditions from which we have taken influence. That clearing away, the denunciation of all that was not harmonious in his universe, was undoubtedly part of René Guenon’s personal initiation, yet what he wrote has universal implications. Guenon could have little idea at that time of the massive rise of popular culture that would take place in the 60s and 70s and that has continued to the present day. Pop culture, with its genres and fashion cults, is a powerful force against initiation, real knowledge and meaningful tradition. Advertising, television and ‘social media’ are forces against initiation, whether blindly or no.

Guenon was at the same time seeing the emergence of the New Age movement. The ‘New Age’ is a general term that includes many quasi-spiritual paths that lead only to dispersion of mind and the wasting of the soul. Yet they all claim to confer magical powers, ‘healing’, self-mastery and spiritual enlightenment.

There is now a very disturbing movement of anti-intellectualism in the West. The blinding of words by the confusion of language has always served the authoritarian anti-intellectual movement. That service is done in the name of freedom, in the name of equality and in the name of individualism—even where there is no real individuality, no freedom and no social justice.

Absorption in the digital delusion destroys the intellectual and imaginative faculty needed in spiritual practice. However, it has always taken great moral courage to stay the path. It takes courage to stand against the flow of fashion, to resist the unnatural pressures of the mundane world, to combat economically driven distraction and diversion in things alternately banal or horrifying.

The Real is eternally true. Every mystic tradition for thousands of years has told us that. Civilisations rise and fall—history tells us that. The present technological age will certainly come to an end—everything does. None of that makes any difference to Reality. There is still plenty of the natural world left, although it is fast declining under the advance of human technological and industrial totalitarianism. If we switch off digital devices, phones, computers and other gadgets, leave our urban environments and go to the woods, the sea—if we learn to understand the language of birds and wild creatures, come to understand the subtle vibrations of plants and trees, of the sun, the moon and the stars—then we will be closer at least to the Real, to something truly authentic. No man, not even the greatest thinker, philosopher, guru or mage, can prevent the sun from rising and setting or command the moon to change her course. No one can start or stop the revolution of the Great Wheel of the Aeons. What we can do is prepare ourselves spiritually so that, like the Egyptian priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu, we may ‘open the doors of Nuit’ and take a step closer to the Real and eternal.


1. The illustration of the Ten of Swords is from the (rare) pop art Neuzeit Tarot [Walter Wegmüller, AG Muller 1982]. From the author's collection.
2. The Book of Thoth, pp. 33. The italics are ours, not those of the author.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium
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Monday, 15 June 2015

Magick of Earth and Stars

The Hermetic Qabalah has developed into a modern and universally applicable system of magick and yoga. It has not been necessary to change either the sephiroth or the paths of the Tree of Life to realise the powerful magical and yogic applications of the Pythagorean model. The changes to the allocations of Tarot trumps to the paths introduced by Aleister Crowley have proved to be more than adequate.[1] We have modified some of the divine names that are keys to the inner working of the Qabalah so the magical systems that have their basis in the Qabalah become harmonious. It is not wise to invoke the monotheistic God of Judaeo-Christian scriptures and then proceed to invoke ancient Egyptian, Phoenician and Assyrian deities. Certainly, this has been attempted for more than a century since the most recent occult revival, but it is akin to playing a piano by hitting the keys with a lump hammer.
Magick of Earth and Stars: Ishtar or Lilith, Queen of the Night (British Museum)
At this point, an enquiry naturally arises. Why should occultists based in Europe, Australia and the United States, perform yoga and magical rites that involve the calling in of deities whose natural home is ancient Egypt, Phoenicia and Babylonia? This is a valid question to ask, and the enquiry can take us down some interesting avenues of exploration. After the death of Dion Fortune (Violet Firth), her Society of Inner Light introduced a strict rule for their students that only the Gods of ancient Britain should be worked with. This is usually taken to mean Celtic deities, although scholars have argued that the deities of the Anglo-Saxons have as much right to be regarded in this light.[2] The idea is that one should work with the spiritual and natural forces of one’s native land. On the face of it this rule seems to originate from Nationalism, but there is sound reasoning behind it. Local deities, whose worship continued for many thousands of years until it began to be suppressed by religious monotheists some 1500 years ago, were rooted deep in the land itself.
The genius loci, the spirit or atmosphere of a particular place or terrestrial location, evolved through magical manipulation to become the complex Neteru or ‘Principles’ as exemplified by the ancient Egyptian Gods. The Egyptians called the shrines nome centres, and there may be an etymological connection with that word and the well-known earth elementals of European folk tradition. Over time, many of the nome centres developed into large temple complexes, even cities. There were 42 of these nome centres in Egypt, 20 in the North and 22 in the South. The principal centres followed the course of the river Nile from the hot desert lands of the South to the swampy delta region. As the Nile mirrored the celestial Milky Way, so the earth locations were associated with star systems. The association of nomes and Neters with the stars was not, however, a product of evolution, it had more to do with involution—going back, returning to the source. For this reason, Egyptian hieroglyphics always look backward, not forward. The ancient Egyptians did not share the modern conventional delusion of ‘progress’. There is one hieroglyph, though, that does not look backward or forward, and that is the hieroglyph for a location or place. The circle-cross is the earliest form of the tau-cross, ‘the mark’.

X Marks the Spot!

Spots and stars are cognate terms in the language of ancient Egypt, and it is for this reason the starry goddess was depicted as spotted, or as dressed in the skin of a spotted beast. The earliest magical cults on earth are known to have been guided and instructed by the moon and the stars.

The circle-cross, where two or more co-ordinates meet to define and locate an event, marks a nativity or crossing from one world or plane of existence to another. A nexus of supersensitive threads within a wider matrix coalesce here to yield their secrets in the crossing. Whoever crosses is changed by the event in its finality. In practice, the secrets are revealed over time as the word from the matrix is assimilated. Such knowledge is formed both within and outside of temporal conditions. The magical memory is the means and the basis of such congress between planes of existence, subtly infused by and ultimately revealing the stellar Gnosis beyond matter.

Location in the magical sense refers to an aperture in the Astral Light fixed by the willed intent of the practitioner and opened by communication with the Holy Guardian Angel or celestial counterpart. Such a location may be anchored to an earthly one charged with elemental potency, such as a nome centre, a standing stone or well. A terrestrial location becomes an aperture between the worlds when memory is carried or conveyed by the spirit or intelligence of the magical operation. The naming of a place provides a vital clue to its occult potential, as does the geological structure and position relative to the appearance of sun, moon and stars as they trace their celestial paths through a terrestrial year, irradiating and magnetising it through each circle of time.
Magick of Earth and Stars: Egyptian Shen Ring carried by Mut
The Egyptian hieroglyph for the eternal is the shen ring carried by the vulture, Mut. The shen has every meaning of hovering or alighting like a bird, circling or going around. The circling thus defines the mark of the place or mark of the beast. The vulture is an apt totem, for in consuming death she gives life to the spirit. The crossing points or events in time become magnetically sealed in the memory of the place and held by the beasts or creatures that are attracted to it through their likeness. Some of these creatures act as elemental guardians, warding off all inimical forces. Hence the symbol of the circle-cross was depicted as being held by the fierce lioness goddess Sekhet, and was also inscribed upon amulets for protection against the hostile forces of the underworld. The Egyptian goddess Taweret, also associated with the mark of the beast, was the image placed at the North Pole and celestial centre of the universe in Egyptian astronomical centres. She is thus the ultimate crossing point, and is the keeper of the net or network of stresses that form the matrix and the Ring-Pass-Not of the Abyss in Qabalistic terms.

Like the chakras of Eastern Laya or Kundalini Yoga, the nomes were first and foremost etheric locations when associated with the local deities. One of the differences between the Hermetic Tantra-yoga of the West and Laya Yoga of the East is that the latter works on the etheric plane while the former is operated on the astral plane. The etheric plane is the closest non-physical or subtle plane to matter. For this reason, the chakras in the Laya Yoga system are related to physical organs and glands, even the endocrine system, and have elemental correspondences. The chakras of Hermetic Qabalah, on the other hand, are corresponded to the planets.

Every physical object or body has an etheric counterpart, and this applies equally to geographical locations. The etheric counterpart may best be thought of as a network of subtle electromagnetic stresses that, while not having physical substance, weave around and interact with matter. The practice of Laya Yoga naturally begins with the earth or base chakra. The power is then worked upwards through each chakra in turn. Hermetic Tantra-yoga is not dissimilar, but we begin by drawing down the celestial power from the stars, along the path called the Lightning Flash on the Tree of Life, before drawing the occult force upwards again. The etheric plane is also involved, but in a less direct fashion as we work primarily from the astral or Yetziratic level as it is called in the Qabalah.

In modern towns and cities the genius loci may persist, but through millennia of neglect and urban development it is often relegated to subterranean vaults deep below the pavement and concrete structures. Such spirits may account for some of the hauntings and other supernatural phenomena still encountered, though increasingly rarely, by citizens who have retained something of the psychic faculties of their ancestors.

The cult of Babalon once extended from the land of Egypt to Arabia and what is now known as Iraq. A short time ago a shrine to Isis was excavated in the middle of London, and her artefacts were discovered in an ancient cave alongside Celtic artefacts dating from the same time. In the present age, our magical work is to reach out to the stars. Seen from afar, the earth is a pinpoint of blue light among countless stars and galaxies. This is not to deny the importance of sending roots down into the earth upon which our physical shells live and move and have their being. Working with the shape, form and invisible spirit of the place where we live is a key principle in the Tantrik arts. If we travel far enough towards the heavens, we find that all of time and space is within equal reach. If we dig down deep enough, then we find that the sun-star burning at the core of the earth is equally distant from any location on the surface of the planet. Our magical system is a universal one, and as we can reach out to any star in the cosmos, so we must extend our reach to every corner of the globe.


1. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 57: “All these old letters of my Book are aright; but Tzaddi is not the Star.” The Star XVII of Aquarius is placed on the 15th path and The Emperor IV of Aries to the 28th path. The Hebrew letters do not change positions, only the Tarot trumps and associated correspondences.

2. See Anglo-Saxon Runes by T. Linsell.

This essay is from the book, Liber 373 Astrum Draconis [Ordo Astri]

© Oliver St. John 2014, 2018 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Witches Sabbath

The moment that men began to claim to be Gods, to personalise the creative power manifested through astral and elemental forces, was the moment that men ceased to be Gods. As soon as men claimed the power for themselves they had to create theologies of good and evil to explain the dichotomy of disruptive or immoral forces within the self.

Magick Circle, J.W. Waterhouse (1886)

The personalisation of the source of creative power took place simultaneously with the invention of monotheism. While polytheism allows the free flow of psychic force in all its expressions, the religions of the ‘one God’ restrict or curtail the psychosexual energy that informs nature and being.

The bread that people ate in the middle ages was frequently laced with ergot, which has powerful psychoactive properties. Ergot was so common in bread that until the 1850s it was believed to be a natural part of the rye plant, from which bread was made. Tales of Devil worship, often laced with elements of Jewish ritual practices, were used to terrify a mainly illiterate population into paying more money to the church. Add to that a little imaginative fantasy—doubtlessly helped along by the ergot—and it was only one small step to the Witches Sabbath, the dreadful orgy where naked women shamelessly cavort around a hideous phantasmal Devil.

Witchcraft reached its apotheosis with the infamous book written by the German Catholic Heinrich Kramer and published in 1486. The title of the book was Malleus Maleficarum, ‘The Hammer of the Witches’. Previous to the publication of that book, the Church was sceptical that such a thing as Witchcraft even existed. The real purpose of the book was to introduce punitive legislation to deal with the many heretics that had arisen by the 13th century, daring to question religious dogma. It was perhaps due to the egocentricities of the writer that the chosen victims for trial and prosecution were, according to Kramer, more often women than men. The bias is understandable if we consider that women had been demonised since at least the writing of the second biblical book of Genesis around 500–600 BCE.

Curiously, magick was certainly practiced extensively before the 15th century. There was a great deal of interest in Qabalah, the sorcery of evocation, and theurgic practices, some of which were not too different from what we do today and would term as Hermetic Magick. Those who practiced magick at that time were largely educated men and so of the nobility. The source books were written in classical or ecclesiastical Latin, and Greek. Thanks to Malleus Maleficarum, the notion of magick and sorcery was effectively transferred from educated men with libraries at their disposal to uneducated women. Ironically, nearly all those that were prosecuted for being witches would have been regular churchgoers; in those days, everyone was. People only began to fear magick and sorcery when it was put forward that anyone, even the poor and uneducated, could command infernal powers simply by devoting themselves to the love of the Devil. Witchcraft and the evil power of the Devil did not originate with Judaeo Christian theology as such. It originated with what was essentially a work of fiction composed by a German clergyman in the 15th century.

There is no good or evil force in the universe as such. The idea that humans might gain power from a supernatural being embodying cosmic evil is pure fantasy—there is no ‘dark force’ existing beyond our own imagining. Nonetheless, the idea that a person, whether educated or not, could obtain supernatural powers by simply getting on the side of Satan was, and still is, a very powerful one.[1] Malleus Maleficarum, which pretended to be the product of fact-finding research, was a bestseller in the 15th and 16th centuries. Various names were cited to lend the treatise authority. The result was that thousands of persons, the majority of them women, were tried, tortured horribly, and executed. The fear of the educated governing authorities happened to coincide with the fear and prejudice of an uneducated populace, and was blown out of all proportion by what seemed like credible evidence. Sadly, little has changed since then.

Vinum Sabbati

Vinum Sabbati is the Latin term for ‘Wine of the Sabbath’. Down the ages, people have tried to describe Vinum Sabbati as an actual physical substance, for example a special concoction laced with hallucinogenic drugs. There certainly were such concoctions all over Europe in the times of the classical Greeks, and some were highly skilled at producing them. Such drugs were not outlawed by the state until the 20th century.

It is the Astral Plane—visible to some, invisible to most—where the world of matter coalesces with the world of spirit. That is the true medium for the Vinum Sabbati. What then is the special ingredient that some have perceived as an elixir of the Gods, and others as a cocktail for devil worshippers? The ‘substance’ variously called the immortal stone, lapis philosophorum or miraculous medicine of the philosophers cannot be weighed and measured by the means of material scientism. From the point of view of Esoteric Thelema, the mysterious substance is the Khabs in the Khu. As declared by Aiwass in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 8,
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
The seed-star of consciousness projection is in the astrosome or body of light. The world appears to us through that power. Truth is in the eye of the beholder. The lurid symbolism of medieval Witchcraft, fermented in the witches cauldron of fear-filled imagining, may be interpreted thus. Magick, sorcery and yoga, understood in the purest sense, is not to gain power in the world, which is a powerful illusion. Real magick serves the purpose of opening gateways to the infinite in the subtle fabric of the mind-stuff of the universe. Across the threshold, beyond the limits of ordinary human consciousness, there exist intelligences that dwarf the mind of man. The purpose of the Great Work has ever been to make contact with such intelligences.

The devils and demons that populate the grimoires of the occult, as well as many works of fiction, are masks veiling a truth that is an abomination to those who would control and enslave the terrestrial sphere: the human ego essentially has no existence from its own side. The phenomenal outpourings of the Tree of Knowledge veil the numinous source of all. The conceptual mind is merely a mask woven from the emptiness of the void, and which therefore obscures the true state of affairs, or Reality.


1. The idea of Satan as a ‘Prince of Darkness’ is itself a confounded one. According to the book of Matthew 4: 1–11, where the name appears, Satan is the name of an Angel of God, appointed by God to test Jesus. Satan is therefore comparable to the Egyptian Set, the Initiator through Trial and Ordeal.
© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Magical Pathworking the Tree of Life

There is a plethora of books dealing with pathworkings of the Tree of Life, though much of it is quite dismal stuff. The guided visualisation technique has been over-used since it gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.

Magical Pathworking: Hermetic Tree of Life
Even some of the better-known works spoon-feed the novice with a hotchpotch of mythologies and clichéd explanations. The guided visualisations inevitably direct us according to the philosophical basis of those who created them, which is, as often as not, the ‘self-improvement’ snare of pop psychology.

The original form of the pathworking method is based on ancient Egyptian magick, broadly defined as ‘Assumption of the Godform’. The hieroglyphs are not merely symbols as ‘signposts’ but are that which they represent. The method is called ‘pathworking’ because the ritual involves clairvoyant exploration of the 22 paths (or modes of consciousness) of the Hermetic Tree of Life. There is no need for scripts, narratives or mythological storytelling scenarios.

The beauty of the authentic magical pathworking method is in its simplicity. The symbolism to be employed is exactly as the Tree of Life model looks on the printed page of a book. Let us take the 32nd path from Malkuth the Kingdom to Yesod the Temple of the Moon as an example.

Malkuth is defined by a circle, and the lines of the path run from there to Yesod, also defined by a circle.

Magical Pathworking: Lower Sephiroth and Paths of the Tree of Life
The image of the 32nd path is the Tarot trump, The Universe XXI.

Magical Pathworking: Thoth Tarot trump The Universe XXI

From the beginning, when we are ascending the path, the ‘entrance’ is the Hebrew letter, Tav.

agical Pathworking: Hebrew letter Tav

Towards the end of the path is the astroglyph of Saturn.

Magical Pathworking: Astroglyph for Saturn

The primary symbols are then translated into workable praxis. It is no use approaching this as though we were attending the theatre or sitting down to watch a movie. This is not passive entertainment. If anything, it is the exact reverse of gazing at virtual images and icons, clicking them with a mouse or tapping them with a finger to prompt some kind of activity. Magick is an intensely active business. One must engage all the powers of the alert concentration available. The consciousness of the magician must be exalted. Burning the appropriate incense and gathering the various colours and other magical correspondences of the 32nd path will assist us.[1] Hermetic Tantra-yoga will greatly boost our energetic capacity and control.

Once the right conditions have been established pathworking becomes a relatively simple matter of imaginative projection. When consciousness is transferred to the desire body or astrosome we can send that shining body of light to the Temple of Malkuth. As with the diagrams of the Tree of Life, the Temple has three portals or doorways in the North. These correspond to the paths of Tav, Shin and Qoph. Between the two pillars is the doorway to the 32nd path of Tav. This illustration of the Temple of Malkuth will suit the purpose very well.

Magical Pathworking: Temple of Malkuth (Neophyte)

There are various ways in which this can be done, but it is simple and effective to see a luminous veil covering the door, which has the image of the Tarot trump on it. Astrally tracing the flaming letter Tav acts as a key to pass the threshold. Once on the other side of the door, the inner senses must fully replace their physical counterparts. Not only do we desire to see into the path but we also want to hear it, touch it, feel it and smell it with our subtle or non-physical senses.

As with the kind of meditation practice where the mind is trained to orbit a symbol, key word or phrase, any thoughts or impressions that cannot strictly be related to the subject are sent back to the void from whence they have arisen. This must not become an exercise in whimsical daydreaming, where the mind is allowed to go where it will. The experience of the path should correspond with the recognised symbolism, the keys of the path. This can be checked later when reviewing the diary record.

Towards the end of the path, a distant symbol or image corresponding to Yesod, the Temple of the Moon is seen. This is always the point of return. The sephiroth are paths in themselves; one path at a time is enough.


1.  Some intelligent adaptation is required for the tables of Crowley’s 777. Traditionally, the 32nd path corresponds, via its astroglyph, Saturn, to noxious odours. It would be pointless to poison oneself with sulphur or choke on the smoke of asafoetida! Any austere or dark smelling fragrance will do. Myrrh is bittersweet incense that will help evoke the higher aspects of Saturn without causing asphyxiation. The 32nd path has ‘earthy’ associations, so the incense or oil of patchouli could also be used, for example. When in doubt, use grains of pure frankincense, the universal fragrance for ritual magick.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2019

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Friday, 17 April 2015

The Dual Nature of the Soul

The British occultist and writer Dion Fortune (Violet Firth, 1890–1946) made the operation of magical ‘polarity’ central to her work. In Chapter Nineteen, The Sea Priestess, the novel’s main character reveals Fortune’s doctrine concerning the human soul.[1] Male and female have specific functions in magick. The duality is likened to a positive or negative magnetic charge. The female is negative on the plane of matter, while the male is positive. On the astral plane, she is positive, he is negative.
Ankh in Triangle from 'Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs'
As consciousness ‘ascends’ from matter to spirit, the poles reverse on each subsequent plane. In operations of ritual magick, the priestess magnetically draws the power from the priest, who must direct that power towards the Shakti veiled by the human form and personality of the priestess. A looped Circuit of Force is then set up between the practitioners. Perhaps it is open to question as to whether the female is really “negative on the plane of matter”. However, the feminine power or Shakti, as termed in the East, is paramount in advanced schools of magick and yoga within diverse traditions.
[This appears in Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
According to the ancients, everything that is visible belongs to the material world. Everything that is invisible belongs to the spiritual world. In every creature there are two aspects: positive and negative; dynamic and receptive; male and female. The duality is summarised and glyphed as Sol and Luna, the Sun and Moon. As one or the other aspect manifests in the world of form, the alternative aspect is latent in the world of spirit (and so invisible). The latent aspect, which is the greater part, only comes forth when it is evoked, summoned or called forth.

Circuits of Force

There is a footnote in the book Serpent Power by Sir John Woodroffe that describes three points where Kundalini penetrates the aura. The chakras are the ajna, anahatha and muladhara. These correspond approximately to Da’ath, Tiphereth and Yesod, or Saturn, the Sun and the Moon. By thoughtful adaptation of Dion Fortune’s ‘Circuits of Force’, a map of the cosmos and occult anatomy can be created.[2]

Circuits of Force and the Astrosome from 'Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs'

1. The Central Circuit or primary magnetic core (innermost) can be symbolised by ‘93’ since the field of polarity is between Daath and Yesod, Saturn and the Moon. The Central Circuit is not changed or modified by any external influences. This conforms to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 58:
Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, and not other.
2. The Cosmic Circuit (outermost) is summed up in the polar field between Kether and Malkuth. The two chakras are not within the astrosome but outside it. The incarnate magnetic core is formed by the discarnate Cosmic Circuit.

3. The peripheral field of polarity between primary magnetic core and Cosmic Circuit creates the Rainbow Aura or astrosome. The astrosome is sensitive to external influence; the imprint received from cosmos is symbolised by the astrological horoscope drawn up at the time of birth. The astrosome equates to the six sephiroth revolving about Tiphereth, the central Sun and Logos of the solar system. These chakras or power zones function as nodes of communication within the electromagnetic field of the aura. The astrosome therefore comes about within the field of polarity between the incarnate primary magnetic core and the discarnate cosmic circuit. The auric field is highly charged; it is somewhat plastic in nature and is conterminous with the astral plane. The natal horoscope is a mirror of the stellar environment at the time of birth, impressed by the cosmos on the highly sensitive astrosome. The cosmic image influences the internal organisation of the aura. Aiwass conveys the Esoteric Doctrine of Thelema in Liber AL, I: 7,
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
The fivefold Khabs or Star of Nuit regulates the primary magnetic core or polar field of Daath and Yesod, Saturn and the Moon. The cosmic influence or mezla is thus mediated to the earth, via the Sun of our solar system.[3] The peripheral field between the inner and outer circuits regulates the astrosome. The Cosmic Circuit is focused through the North Star, Kether, the head of the polar axis of the universe. The tail or south pole of the axis is symbolised by the star of Hormaku, hidden deep in the underworld or subconscious of man. Hormaku symbolises the true nature of Malkuth, the Kingdom, and is the completion of the Great Work on earth. There are three things required to align the Circuits of Force:

1. The True Will
Power of the Inviolate Sceptre or Vajra

2. The Cosmos
Magical environment of the magician; Circle of the Place

3. The Chariot
The mobile astrosome for the magical exploration of Cosmos

The active and dynamic aspect of the feminine True Will or Thelema is initiated through the 93 magnetic core or Double Wand of Power, as described in Liber AL, III: 72.
I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia—but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; and nought remains.
The Tantrik Vajra is the totem of the double power, which is brought from latency to activity through the discipline of the work and development of the concentration of the mind in yoga practice.

The astrosome of the magician is the image of the solar system with Tiphereth at the centre, producing the rainbow spectrum of light from ultraviolet to infrared. The astrosome of the magician is the self in positive mode, transmitter of the planetary logos. The formula of the astrosome is LVX, Konx Om Pax or Light In Extension.

The shade (or dark double) of the magician is symbolised by the circuit of force between Daath and Yesod, the 93 source of occult knowledge. The shade of the magician is the self in negative mode, as transmitter of the Stellar Logos. The formula of the shade is the Ape of Thoth, NOX and the Night of Pan.

The positive and negative modes are not to be understood here as good or evil. The positive mode is a centrifugal force; the negative mode is a centripetal force. The former projects outwardly, while the latter absorbs inwardly. The five radials of the Khabs star are the five senses in man, which are a window to the universe. The visible universe, however, can only act as a mirror of man and his five-fold perception. The knot that must be untied by the magician is the web of the worlds created by consciousness projection. The girdle of Isis is unloosed through her law of magical polarity.

Practical Application

The primary magnetic core is formed by the polarity between Daath or Saturn, the third eye chakra, and the Moon or base of the spine where the kundalini force is stored. We can give qualities to this magnetic core, but when we do we create phantoms, little devils in the light, that are only mirrors for aspects of ourselves. Such devils are neither good nor evil per se, but as they are derived from a partial knowledge of the self, their power to cause division in the self (and therefore harm) is strong. For that reason, it is a dangerous force for the average human being. For the Initiate, it is the beginning, the first threshold.

The Tree of Life necessarily depicts the material plane, and other planes above, as depending from Kether or Atziluth. In fact, the Supernal triad only comes about when the power of vision residing with the Saturn or third eye chakra is seamlessly united in thought to the source, the river of life that wells upwards and is stored at the base of the spine. A circuit is formed thereby, that passes through the base of the spine at the lower end, and through the mirror of vision at the upper—which has its physical analogy with the centre of the brain between the two hemispheres. This may be imagined as a circle of ultraviolet light. The Saturn chakra is likened to a mirror that is turned inwards or backwards, towards the base of the spine. What is seen in the mirror of the imagination reflects the primal upsurge from the earth, below, as receptacle or chalice.

The desire body attains full power, as a vehicle of consciousness that can travel anywhere inside or outside of space and time, when the mirror of vision is at one with the primal magnetic force, invisible in itself. The primary magnetic core then realises its identity with the Cosmos. The desire body emerges from the active field thus formed by polarity. The desire body is the class of phenomena that religious symbolism veils as the Holy Ghost.

Tiphereth is the meeting place between the magician and the priestess (his soul), a magical garden where all planes of existence converge. The convergence is as fully realised in the physical body, the flesh, as it is realised by the spirit—the indwelling presence in the body of light. That is why the Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel corresponds to Malkuth.

The Circuits of Force schema reveals that human souls are imprisoned in a bubble of their own consciousness, a film projection that we take as reality. Even ordinary magical working does not penetrate beyond that bubble—the outer edge of which is referred to here as the Peripheral Circuit. Journeys to explore inner space are inevitably journeys through the infinite maze of the Self, since the Self is a mirror image of the Cosmos. Astral vision, skrying or clairvoyance consists of such a journey. What is required, then, is the means to break through from the Peripheral to the Cosmic by linking all three Circuits of Force. To penetrate beyond this shell or cocoon—to escape from the mirror world—a key is required. That key is expressed in the sevenfold spell, Love is the law, love under will. The ancient Egyptians figured it as the ankh or Key of Life.


1. The Sea Priestess, 1938 [Inner Light Publishing Company].
2. ‘Teachings Concerning the Aura’, Aspects of Occultism, Dion Fortune [Aquarian Press 1962].
3. MZLA has the Qabalistic value of 78, as does the name Aiwass.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Magick of the Aries Equinox

The Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot trump for the Aries Equinox is The Emperor IV. It is a surprisingly conventional image compared to the rest of the deck. As an alternative Tarot for the equinox, we present here The Aeon XX. Here we have Nuit, Hadit and Heru-ra-ha, the double form of Horus. The principle of governance is extended to the cosmic level.[1]

Aries Equinox: Thoth Tarot Trump The Aeon XX
Evocation is among the magical powers of this path. Whereas invocation means ‘calling in’, evocation is ‘calling forth’, or to call up. Thus images of the Tarot card based on the Renaissance Tarot de Marseille deck depict the dead being called up from their tombs on the day of judgement by an Angel blowing a trumpet. Aleister Crowley changed the title and the image of the card so The Aeon XX depicts the Egyptian gods or neters, Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Here, Horus becomes the Avenging Angel, the Lord of Judgement. It is notable that in this image Horus is shown in dual form, as Heru-ra-ha. He is crowned and throned as Ra-Hoor-Khuit but at the same time is surrounded by a figure of Harpocrates or Hoor-paar-kraat, the God of Silence. There is a dark side to this, for in the present age man has replaced the image of Logos, the word, and Theos, divinity, with the image of himself. If a word is not heard then it may not be uttered. At the apotheosis of his technical and scientific wizardry, man has become dumb. The ventriloquist’s dummy is thus an apt totem of the present technological age.[2]

Aries Equinox: Natural Intelligence

The 28th path of Tzaddi connects Netzach, the sphere of Venus, with Yesod, the sphere of the Moon. The title of the 28th path is the Natural Intelligence, for it is the perfection of the nature of all things under the orb of the Sun. The desire of Venus reflected into the mirror of the Moon makes impressions upon the Astral Light. Much of the work of occultism is to create new forms as suitable vehicles for the incarnation of the will to transcendence. On the other side of the coin, forms are created to hook or enslave the soul, as revealed by the ‘fishhook’ of the letter tzaddi.

The king portrayed in the traditional Tarot trump is the fisher-king found in the myths and legends of many cultures. The king is an image of meditation and magick where key symbols are held and fixed by concentration of will. Meditation requires sustained and persistent effort over a lengthy period of time—years, not days or weeks—before it ceases to be regarded as a personal exercise. The powerful astral glamour that pervades this path gives rise to the delusion of instant enlightenment, the notion that much can be gained spiritually in return for very little effort. The desire for acquisition of spiritual or magical powers, or the belief that one can be made ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’ through magical manipulation, psychological improvement or hypnotism is no more than the restless urge of the human ego to maintain its tyranny over the soul. The beginner at meditation discovers that instead of making things more comfortable, the practice irritates the body and is annoying to the ego. Most therefore terminate the discipline within a few days or weeks, deciding that it is not their ‘path’, after all—they soon return to the market place where vendors are eager to trade in miracles. The magical power of the 28th path is the Power of Consecrating Things.[3]

The Aries Equinox and 28th path thus embody the principle of governance. The King and the land are one. The ego and body are one. There is a need to seek out a holy graal, lest the body of the king becomes a wasteland, and the soul is dragged down with it.

Aries Equinox: Esoteric Title of the Tarot Trump

There is a note of interest here on the esoteric title of the Tarot trump, Sun of the Morning, Chief among the Mighty. These titles were passed down from the historic Golden Dawn of 1888 and presumably came from the inexhaustible genius of the Golden Dawn founder, SL Macgregor Mathers. Some Golden Dawn sources—and there are many—render the title as Son of the Morning. It is impossible to know for sure what was originally intended as the papers of the Golden Dawn were all passed on and copied by hand. Those that have rendered it Sun of the Morning have taken it from the tables in Liber 777. However, these were compiled from the same kind of sources and even the most recently published editions contain ‘typos’ never corrected in the first draft. Crowley never got round to updating his key scales to conform to the Liber AL change of the trump’s allocation from the 15th path of Hé to the 28th path of Tzaddi.

Ithell Colquhoun used Sun of the Morning in her surrealist Tarot, though it is possible she had access to other sources than that of Crowley. We are happy in any case to take the title as it was given in 777, and by Colquhoun, though our intuitive sense tells us that Mathers most likely named it Son of the Morning after all! The first placement of the card was on the 15th path from Chokmah to Tiphereth, and so the King is called Chief among the Mighty as his root is directly with the supernals. As for Son of the Morning, this would be an allusion to the Holy Guardian Angel in Tiphereth as well as the name of the Order, the Golden Dawn. The title has provoked interesting lines of thought, whether the trump is placed with Hé or Tzaddi. For example, as Tzaddi, the King becomes the Son of the Morning Star. To save losing any sleep, it is well to remember that ‘son’ and ‘sun’ are cognate terms.


1. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Atu Hrumachis IV fully reveals Horus as risen Lord of the Equinox. See the Tarot card and description here at Ordo Astri.
2. From The Mystic Tarot and the Trees of Eternity, ‘King of Tzaddi’.
3. The description of the 28th path is adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.

© Oliver St. John 2015, 2019 (revised)

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