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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, 23 December 2016

Towards a New Golden Dawn

The Sun enters Capricorn at the darkest, or brightest time of the year, depending on whether you are situated north or south of the equator. The letter of the 26th path of Capricorn is Ayin, the eye. There is nothing more seductive and convincing to the intellect than the appearance of things—how things look. How things look is not determined by how things really are, but by the condition of the soul or beholder. The antidote to the fearsome apparitions of the Devil of the 26th path was thoughtfully provided by Lewis Carroll in The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland: “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!” This breaks the spell, and Alice wakes up from the dream.

New Golden Dawn: He who looks both ways: Heru-SetAt Aunnu (Heliopolis), Set was understood to be the child of Nuit the sky and Geb the earth. This is a retelling of a far more ancient myth where Set is the only begotten son of Nuit. As her star or manifesting power, Set had no father, as he was also the consort of Nuit. In the Theban cult of Ankh af-na-khonsu, this is continued in the dual cosmic depiction of Nuit and Set-Hadit on the Stele of Revealing. On the same stele, Horus and Set are combined in the form of the enthroned God Mentu, before which the priest and scribe stands, offering himself as a perfected word (makheru or Hormaku). All Egyptian gods are polymorphic.

The gold relief offsetting a leaden background in this combined image of the brothers Horus and Set rescued from the ruins of ancient Aunnu is suggestive of an early epithet of Set before he was demonised, the ‘Black and Gold One’ (Sut-Nubti). Heru-Set was known to the Egyptians as ‘He who looks both ways’.

Qabalah of Horus and Set

The Mystic Number of the 26th path of Capricorn is 351, while the Mystic Number of the 17th path of Gemini is 153. Whichever way we look, we are seeing either a devil or a double—and the two nouns have identical meaning. The sword of discrimination (zain) is needed to negotiate the persuasive phantoms that appear to the eye (ayin) that has not yet been made single through long practice of yoga. When the letters of the two paths are combined, OZ spells the name of a goat, as well as that of a goatish wizard.

The Phoenix Initiation

There is a ritual called the Phoenix, which is based on the Golden Dawn Neophyte ‘Z’ Initiation.[1] The Phoenix is the bridge between the Outer World of Darkness and the Illuminated Souls or inner plane Adepti. Many persons quit the path through a misapprehension of what Initiation entails. They hope, perhaps, to work ritual for a few weeks and see at once the glimmering of new light in their world, the beginning of a transfiguration that will raise them aloft to Apollonian heights while at the same time satisfying every Dionysian wish and desire. In fact, anyone who has studied the Neophyte ceremony of the Golden Dawn will know that the first thing the Candidate hears on entering the place is, “Inheritor of a dying world, prepare to enter the path of darkness!” The role of Horus in the West is here the dread Lord of the Averse Pathways, whose name is Darkness. In the East is Isis or Thoum-Aest (one of three forms of Maat in the original ceremony). She is ‘Light Dawning in Darkness’. The Holy Guardian Angel thus takes on a light and a dark aspect here, which is mediated in the ritual by the invisible but vast presence of Thoth, the word or Logos.

Towards a New Golden Dawn

The Golden Dawn symbolism of the Red Cross that brings down the White Triangle of the supernal sephiroth to the relative darkness of the lower sephiroth, via the harmonious radiance of Tiphereth, is as relevant now as it ever was. Neither Jung not Crowley could discern a difference between two Greek words that have very different meanings: Eros and Agape. Love herself has not been offended, neither has Wisdom blushed. No God forbids. It is the human soul that must face the consequences.

Crowley chose to put a Freudian interpretation on the operation of the Hermetic Light. Ithell Colquhoun, in an article written in 1955, suggested that Crowley typified the ‘Dying God’ or ‘Aeon of Osiris’ that was the very thing he claimed to be standing against.[2] Psychological reductionism is one thing, the atavisms of a crowned and conquering all-male Logos Spermatikos are quite another. The abode of the Signum Symbol is the heart. The real occult secrets are only secret because they cannot be put into words. The other kind of secrets are ones we can all do well without.


Notes

1. The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

2. Ithell Colquhoun’s article about Aleister Crowley, Heaven and Earth—The Dying-Kick of the Dying-God, appeared originally in the London Broadsheet, No. 4, April 1955. 

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2018

Related articles: Neophyte Preparation: Enterer of the Threshold

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Magical Beast of Apocalypse

Charles Stansfeld Jones, otherwise known as Frater Achad, showed forth brilliance and erudition in his book, The Egyptian Revival.[1] Achad said in the Preface to the book that it was written, “in the spirit of Suggestive Inquiry”. Further study reveals that he may have taken the Qabalistic symbolism a little too literally. He clearly felt he had made a Great Discovery in reversing the alphabet and relocating the Tarot trumps, and went so far as to think there might be some “Absolute Reason in the Primitive Universal Tradition”. In spite of this—a magical faux pas that caused some upset to his mentor, Aleister Crowley—Achad produced some highly original insights. This has made his work well worth serious study. In Chapter IV of The Egyptian Revival he writes:
We have seen in tracing out the Traditions that there have been two Wills at work, the Divine and the Personal, and that through the Ages these have appeared in conflict. One is the Bright Star or Pentagram of Unconquered Will, the other the Dark Star of the Reversed Pentagram. These two Stars are symbolised by the hands of Man, or the Magician, one raised to Heaven in the Sign of Solvé, the other directed downwards in the Sign of Coagula. When united they form a Ten-fold Star … which exactly symbolises this uniting of the Rising and Setting Sun, or the Twins Sut-Har. For the Two Wills are Harmonised in Tiphereth. But when we consider Malkuth, it is a question of Raising the Fallen Daughter, the Animal Soul, or matter, to the Throne of the Mother, Understanding … The Union of the two Stars as a Ten-fold Star in Malkuth is the Work before us … as promised by the Rainbow of the old order.
On the following pages Achad grapples with the problems raised by his upturning of the correspondences. However, this one idea alone provides us with an opportunity to gain an overview of the whole path of initiation, as mapped out in the Qabalistic grade system. From the tenfold union of the upright and averse pentagrams comes forth the elevenfold star. According to Crowley, the number 11 is “The general number of magick, or energy tending to change”.[2] The number 11 is also that of Nuit, according to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 60:
My number is 11, as are all their numbers who are of us.
Daath, Knowledge, is counted as the eleventh sephira—though in reality Daath is the non-sephira, having no place. To understand the significance of the elevenfold star of Thelemic initiation we need to examine the importance of Malkuth the Kingdom in the scheme of things.
[This article is an abridgement of the monograph included in the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]

Elevenfold Star of Union or Astrum Argenteum

The Pyramid

The magical formula of the Neophyte may apply to each of the three Orders of the Golden Dawn, Rosy Cross and Silver Star. The Golden Dawn ‘Z’ Formula expresses the Magick of Light, symbolised by the Sword (descending current) and Serpent (ascending current). The Sword and Serpent is the key symbolism of the grade of 5=6, Adeptus Minor. There is no difference between Adonai, as the ascending Serpent Power within the Initiate, and Typhon or Apophis.

The ritual chamber of Malkuth may be conceived as a womb and tomb for initiation. The four walls beyond the magick circle are the four classical elements, the faces of the Sphinx of Nature and cardinal directions. In our Neophyte ‘Z’ ritual, Phoenix, the circle is triangulated by two officers wearing the masks of Isis (Hegemon) and Horus (Hiereus), plus a third ‘invisible station’ of Thoth as the Word or Logos, the reconciler of the dual forces.[3] Once the circle is triangulated in this way, the vertical projection from the centre evokes the apex of the pyramid above. This comes about spontaneously, in the same way that the hexagram appears above and below the magician when four pentagrams are placed around the circle in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. The inner aspect of Malkuth is defined here by a tetrahedronal pyramid, whose apex is, figuratively speaking, Iacchus or the Holy Guardian Angel.
For I am perfect, being Not; and my number is nine by the fools; but with the just I am eight, and one in eight: Which is vital, for I am none indeed.
The tetrahedron is not only a symbol corresponding to the 31st path of Judgement or The Aeon XX, but is also a symbol of Daath, the eleventh and the ‘one in eight’ referred to by Hadit in Liber AL, II: 15. It is the key to magical transmutation.

Isis, or the Hegemon in the Neophyte ceremony, is the aspect of the Holy Guardian Angel that speaks kind words on behalf of the soul. Horus, or the Hiereus, is the Darkness of the Soul that must be overcome by the Candidate. Isis and Horus may be understood here as dual aspects of the Holy Guardian Angel, ‘life’ and ‘death’. The third aspect, spirit, is symbolised by the invisible station of Thoth behind the two pillars in the Hall of Double Maat. Thoth, or Tahuti, stands in the sign of the Enterer until the moment that the Candidate swears the Oath at the altar—for one must speak true words in the presence of the Gods. Thoth then draws back in the sign of Silence.

The Great Dragon

The apex of the Pyramid of Initiation—being pointed—may be likened to the horn on the head of the great dragon described in the visions of various prophets, and which forms the basis of the Golden Dawn Qabalistic instruction on the biblical fall of Adam and Eve. The instruction was traditionally spread through the knowledge given to the Practicus (Hod) and Philosophus (Netzach), and illustrated by two diagrams: Tree of Life before the Fall, and Tree of Life after the Fall. In the book of Isaiah, 27: 1, we find the first reference to the beast Leviathan, as a ‘crooked’ and ‘piercing’ serpent.
In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
In the book of Daniel, 7: 24, we also find a serpent or dragon, though seemingly of a different kind. There is an explicit reference to an eleventh horn.
As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings will arise; and another will arise after them, and he will be different from the previous ones and will subdue three kings.
Malkuth is the tenth sephira on the Tree of Life, and Daath, ‘Knowledge’, is counted as the eleventh. There are eleven dukes of Edom listed in the book of Genesis, 36: 31–43. The Edomites are both a historical and a mythical culture, of great antiquity. Esoterically, they are the elder race that preexisted the race of man. Traditionally, they are Lords of Chaos and are likened to the heads of the risen red dragon after Adam fell and Malkuth was fatally linked to the world of shells (matter). The word translated as ‘kingdom’ in the book of Daniel is the Aramaic ‘Malkuth’. There are various Qabalistic arrangements. Malkuth has in itself ten sephiroth, three above and seven below—the palaces of the Qliphoth or Shells. Seven palaces (or crowns or horns) may also be formed from compounding the supernal triad into one, and Malkuth and Yesod into one. In the book of Daniel, 2: 42, we find that,
The toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
The esoteric interpretation of the dream of Daniel concerning Nebuchadnezzar is that the two feet, each with five toes, symbolise a dual projection in consciousness from the Holy Guardian Angel. The vision describes the feet as part of clay and part of iron—the weak force and the strong force, the personal will and the divine or ‘unconquered’ will of the shining Angel (αυγοηδες). Clay is the body of Adam, the ‘man of blood’, while iron is the base metal that may be transmuted into gold when the Sun is in the sign of Scorpio—since the energy of Mars is required in the operation. The duality also expresses the upright and averse pentagrams which, when added to their unity (or the point in the centre), compose the elevenfold star of the Thelemic initiation path. The Mystic Number of Malkuth is ∑ (1–10) = 55, the two ‘fives’.

The Revelation of St. John




We find three references to a ten-horned beast in the book of St. John’s Revelation; in Revelation 12: 3, 13: 1 and 17: 6.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven royal crowns on his heads. 
Then I saw a beast with ten horns and seven heads rising out of the sea. There were ten royal crowns on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 
And the ten horns and the beast that you saw will hate the prostitute. They will leave her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
The latter verse, 17: 6, is echoed in Liber AL, 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.
Understood as allegory, St. John’s Revelation tells of the Scarlet Woman’s initiatory trial and death, marriage to her Holy Guardian Angel (as bride of Christ or Logos) and subsequent transfiguration into the heavenly Jerusalem or body of Nuit. Malkuth is thus ‘saved’, redeemed or raised from her captivation in the material world of shells—freed from the fetters that bind her to the coils of the Qliphoth or fragmented atomic universe. The ‘prostitute’ Babalon or Scarlet Woman is the soul of the Initiate.

So far as the ‘sinful’ nature of the Scarlet Woman is concerned, it is interesting to note that in Hebrew the word ‘sin’ actually means ‘thorn’ and ‘clay’. Thorny plants such as the acacia or rose symbolise the horns of the crescent moon. The moon itself, like the clay shaped by the hands of the divine potter, is a symbol of the body and the natural soul. Liber AL, I: 16, describes the Scarlet Woman as being “a moon”; as a moon, she is containment and receptivity, as well as the division into parts of cyclical, phasic existence. She is the placenta feeding the magical embryo or Khabs. The nuptial feast that follows the hour of doom of the Scarlet Woman is a celebration of the soul’s victory over death and world illusion, of her union with the eternal.[4]


Notes

1. The Egyptian Revival was first published privately in 1923.
2. Aleister Crowley, Liber 777 & other Qabalistic writings.
3. The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation [Ordo Astri].
3. The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2018

This article is an abridgement of a full length essay, with annotations, that is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Star and Snake of Egypt

Hor-sema-tawy (Harsomptus) is the child of Nuit and Hadit, or of Hathoor and Horus. His presence in the Temple of Hathoor at Denderah is therefore significant. At the Temple of Hathoor, Hor-sema-tawy, ‘Horus the Unifier of the Two Lands’, is depicted as a cosmic serpent. As the ‘pillar of his mother’, i.e., the utterance or word-vibration in the primal void, he is the unified image of Horus and Set-Typhon. The image predates the adversarial role increasingly afforded the two gods over the course of time. Through his being ‘raised in the pillar’, the child of the gods achieves form and body.

Hor-sema-tawy: Horus Unifier of the Two Lands
Hor-sema-tawy

Hathoor has extremely antique origins, which can be understood through her identification with the astronomical image of the hippo at the hub of the universe—the stellar Thuban gate of dual manifestation at the North Pole of the universe.[1] Horus, the cosmic serpent or pillar in the void, is here identical with Set-Typhon or Hadit, who mysteriously causes the star of Nuit to appear. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of the cosmic serpent on the eve of their New Year, marked by the appearance of the star Sirius, which heralded the Nile flood. At the Temple of Hathoor, the body of the cosmic serpent is seen emerging from a lotus flower carried by a barque: the seed of the soul or child-star emerging at the dawn of creation. Thus, entering the way of the serpent-body is to embark on a journey through the night of consciousness; the seed of light-consciousness is carried forth in secrecy and silence, until once more, when the astral alignments are made, the cosmic serpent arises in the vaults of the body of Hathoor to give birth to spirit and new life.
This essay forms part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
The Ba or soul of Hathoor, her cult image, was carried out of its chamber and onto the roof before the heliacal rising of the star Sirius on the eve of the New Year. Thus, she and the sun disk were united as the seer is united with that which is seen. As the sun climbs above the horizon, the span of all that can be seen is realised as the sum of all creation. The bejewelled splendour of Hathor, dazzling in the reflected glory of Ra, was nonetheless a display put on for the public celebration. Hathor, whose totem is the copper mirror, is as much about appearances as about the mysteries of being, of creation itself. About the central sanctuary or ‘Great Throne’ were grouped eleven chapels or shrine rooms, dedicated to other gods such as Isis, Sokar and Ra, and totems and images of Hathoor such as her menat necklace and sistrum. In Liber AL vel Legis, III: 22, the Initiate is instructed thus:
The other images group around me to support me: let all be worshipped, for they shall cluster to exalt me. I am the visible object of worship; the others are secret; for the Beast and his Bride are they: and for the winners of the Ordeal x. What is this? Thou shalt know.
Some of the most cryptic passages in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law become transparent when looked at in context of the ancient Egyptian way. Taken out of context, the fragments we are left with are cinders to kindle the smoke of deception. Initiations at the Temple of Hathoor were carried out in subterranean crypts, of which there are fourteen in total, a lunar number.

The ‘x’, to the ancient Egyptians, was the mark of a body or place itself, and a seal of protection against hostile forces. For this reason, talismans and other cult equipment as well as official records were stored in the crypts. At the southern end of the Temple of Hathoor there are five of these crypts running along a hallway. Here, the most valuable of the temple furnishings were kept, including the Ba or soul of Hathoor, lavishly decorated with precious stones—our Lady of Denderah, residing in her house. It was from the easternmost crypt that the annual procession of Hathoor began on the eve of the first day of the New Year, carrying the image of the goddess out from the subterranean room. In like fashion, the newly created world arises from out of the abyss when the primal word or utterance is sounded in the depth of night. Access to the chambers reserved for the rites of initiation was through concealed trapdoors in the pavement and hidden sliding wall blocks. In the subterranean world below the temple complex, the long narrow chambers and passages are arranged one above the other, so that the lowermost is laid deep within the temple foundations. Eleven of the crypts are decorated in relief—a work that was done even before the roof blocks were set. The most important reliefs, among which are included Hathoor’s musical instruments, the sistrum rattles, were set on the axis of the Temple itself, while the others are aligned with it. According to Liber AL vel Legis, I: 60 and II: 16:
My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us. The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, and the circle is Red. My colour is black to the blind, but the blue and gold are seen of the seeing. Also I have a secret glory for them that love me.
I am The Empress and the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven.
The first voice is that of Nuit, or Hathoor (these are identical when depicted in their most absolute likeness), while the second is Set-Hadit, or Horus, her son and consort, whose number is eleven.[2] These are the mysteries of the “Beast and his Bride” referred to in Liber AL, III: 22. The serpent or Occult Force is the secret nature of the soul, the mysterious bird of creation. The serpent is the means by which a star is given body, as declared in Liber AL, II: 21.
Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength and Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star and the Snake.
There are no accounts of what the rites of the crypts involved—and it is indeed unlikely that anything was ever written down. However, the sculpted images and texts throughout the Temple of Hathoor convey the mysteries of dual manifestation, which are experienced and fully realised by the Initiate. At certain times of the year, or when the alignments of the stars are right, it is possible for adepts to pass to and from various states of body at will, whether to manifestation or invisibility. Thus Horus, always the primal type of the Initiate, achieves his greatest potency when unified with Set in the form of Hor-sema-tawy—a mystery that was undoubtably celebrated, enacted and experienced by Initiates at the Temple of Hathoor. The Egyptian year was divided into three seasons of Akhet (Inundation), Peret (Growth) and Shemu (Harvest). Akhet is a word also used to describe the horizon. Hrumachis, Harmachis or Hormaku is frequently associated with the double gateway of the underworld, symbolised by the Aker lions. There, the sun enters and leaves via the West (ingress at sunset) or East (egress, at dawn). According to Liber AL, II: 34,
But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down and shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place.
The name Hrumachis or Hormaku is made clearer in its Egyptian form: Hor-em-akhet, literally, ‘Horus in the horizon’. However, akhet, or aker, is a gateway or door. The double lion-gate of the sun’s ingress and egress to and from the underworld (spring and autumn equinoxes) refers to Horus as the abstract principle of the horizon itself. It is a particular part of the sky—for example, where the sun rises at the equinox—and an equivalent portion of the Egyptian underworld. The name of Horus as horizon, or dweller in the horizon, relates to the circle, as does his eye. The horizon also symbolises the primordial boundary or limit, the first division or utterance of Logos, by which the universe is defined as having shape and meaning.[3] As ‘x’ marks the spot, it also designates the crossing that is the passing beyond. Hormaku or Hor-em-akhet was often depicted as a lion with the head of a woman, as with the Sphinx of the Giza plateau. At other times, the neter took the form of a hawk or ram—especially when linked to the god Khephra, the rising or emerging sun at dawn. Ra accomplishes this, we should bear in mind, after travelling through the underworld, symbolised as the body of the cosmic serpent.[4]

We may now return to the roof of the Temple of Hathoor, where the ritual of the union of Hathoor and Horus is enacted at the dawn of the New Year. Here, the soul of Hathoor beholds Ra, ascendant, and conjoined with the great mother-star Sirius. Her eyes are both the mirror, the marker of the horizon and the centre-point of the observer. In like fashion, the enigmatic Sphinx of the Giza plateau marks the horizon, witnessing the sun born on the equinoxes—thus she sees and partakes in the mystery of herself, her appearance. In seeing Ra, Hathoor unites with him, through the medium of his visible sun disk. Participants of the ritual are similarly united with the whole body, sense and meaning of the ritual, as well as the stellar alignments or ‘space-marks’.[5] Horus and Set-Typhon are unified in that moment, and embodied in recreated self, the new life—self-created, self-born, triumphant over all.


Notes

1. Thuban, in very ancient times, held the station of Pole Star.
2. The solution is given in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri], the entry for the 11th number: The Empress or Imperatrix takes the throne of Geburah (5) in the ceremonies of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn while the Hierophant is enthroned in the station of Tiphereth (6). The intelligence linking Geburah with Tiphereth is the path of Lamed, imaged forth by the 8th Tarot key, Justice. The number 11 is that of Da’ath, ‘Knowledge’, and Set-Hadit. Note that the numbers of the paths of the Empress and Hierophant are 14 and 16, which when added result in 30, ‘L’, the letter of Maat, ‘truth’, and the original title of the Book of the Law.
3. The Greek horizon kyklos (οριξων κυκλος) means, ‘limiting or separating circle’, from the verb horizo (οριξω), ‘to divide, separate’, from oros (ορος), ‘boundary, landmark’.
4. The body of the cosmic serpent is shown in detail in the Pyramid Texts.
5. There is a warning in Liber AL, I: 52, regarding the profound significance of the alignments of the stars, which have their counterpart in the subtle body of the female or shakti: “If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!” The consequences or “judgments” are of the nature of an error of timing, which may come about through ignorance of the vital magical function of the priestess.

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2018

‘The Star and Snake of Egypt’ is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal

Friday, 23 September 2016

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and HP Lovecraft

This book sets out to explain what Kenneth Grant’s cosmic vision is really about. We know that American writer H.P. Lovecraft had no mystic pretensions, though he did say the dream that inspired the short story Nyarlathotep “might have been prophetic”. Kenneth Grant made much use of Lovecraft’s work, using it to reformulate the ideal of Thelema.

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H.P. Lovecraft book coverDreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H.P. Lovecraft was released on the Equinox of Libra, Anno V-2 (2016). The unique project features 17 paintings created specifically for inclusion in the book, using the Surrealist method of pure psychic automatism. We reproduce two of the paintings below. The book, 172 pages in all, is printed on photographic paper, to preserve the integrity of the artwork.

Also included are three complete short stories by Lovecraft: Nyarlathotep, The Crawling Chaos, and The Haunter of the Dark, plus a reconstruction of the Necronomicon.

The book’s Introduction consists of a concise guide to Thelemic cosmology and the Qabalistic Art of Gematria. The Appendices contain a Qabalah of the Necronomicon, background information to the Lovecraft stories, and tables of Greek and Hebrew number values.

We provide below a detailed description of how the artwork in this book was created. For more information about the literary content, visit Tantrika Books.

Stone of Stars by Soror V.A.A. (below) is numbered #4 in the book. This was created through a version of parsémage (scattering); oil pastel is grated over ground of the same medium and worked in with a palette knife.

Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft: Stone of Stars painting

Surrealist André Breton defined Magical Surrealism in his 1924 Manifesto thus:
“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
Surrealist artist Ithell Colquhoun was a member of several magical Orders and knew Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Grant. The method of “pure psychic automatism” was at first applied to literature. Crowley’s Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, is perhaps the supreme example of such automatism when fused with the knowledge and discipline of the occult. In The Mantic Stain: Surrealism and Automatism (for Enquiry, 1949), Ithell Colquhoun explained how automatism could be applied to painting.

“All these automatic processes … are closely dependent on the unconscious mood of the operator; for, if a number of experiments in a single process are undertaken on one day, a great similarity of form will be noticeable throughout … It is for this reason that I feel these stains to have a ‘mantic’ or divinatory quality, which may in some sort be compared with the practices of clairvoyants, who use ink splashes, sand, pins flung together by chance, and the irregular patterns left by tea leaves and coffee grounds to release the contents of the unconscious. The famous crystal globe or ‘scrying glass’ has approximately the same function. And all have an august ancestry in that they are traceably allied to the ‘great work’ of alchemy. … the alchemist would release the contents of his own subliminal fantasy by intently watching the contents of the alembic … The method is at least as old as Leonardo da Vinci—we all know the story of his gazing at the stains of damp in an ancient wall and seeing the suggestion of the mountains, ravines, and fantastic foliage of a dream landscape.”

“With a thick brush, spread black gouache on a sheet of shiny paper, diluting the paint here and there with water. Cover it at once with a similar sheet and press them together fairly hard with the hand. Then, by the upper edge, slowly lift this second sheet … ready to reapply it and lift it again; repeat until almost dry. What you have before you is perhaps only the old paranoiac wall of da Vinci, but it is this wall carried to its own perfection. In fact, if you entitle the image thus obtained according to what you discover in it after looking at it from a little distance, you may be certain that you have expressed yourself in the most personal and valuable way.”


Dreaming Thelema of Kenneth Grant and H. P. Lovecraft: Moon-Glitter painting

Moon-Glitter (above) is numbered #14 in the book. This was created through decalcomania; gouache and ink over gesso ground.

Colquhoun wanted to achieve a union of natural and spiritual forces as well as a union of the disciplines of art and the occult. She suggested that the four traditional elements of Hermetic magick might each have corresponding automatic methods:

Fire—Fumage
Water—Écrémage and parsemage
Air—Blowing or fanning powdered materials
Earth—Decalcomania

The union of subject and object, the I-Self with all that is ‘other’, the Not-Self, is the goal of yoga or union, and is a prerequisite for magick and mysticism at advanced levels.


Notes

View / order the book here
More information about this book is posted here

© Oliver St. John 2016

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Thelemic Feast for the First Night

We celebrate the “first night of the Prophet and his Bride” every 22nd August, or when the Sun enters the zodiacal sign of Virgo.
There are rituals of the elements and feasts of the times.
A feast for the first night of the Prophet and his Bride!

Feast for the First Night: Ishtar, Queen of Heaven, Hell and the Underworld
The Prophet and Bride mentioned in Liber AL, II: 36–37 does not refer to any human personages. The wedding of the Sun and Moon or alchemical wedding is descriptive of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, the first truly mystic experience in the life of the magician.

Kenneth Grant had a firm conviction that the winter solstice of December 2012 would be deeply significant to the Thelemic initiate. There are eternal Aeons that are outside of time and therefore unaffected by temporal conditions. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law nonetheless indicates that the ‘times’ are vital to the magician and mystic.

The feminine-lunar mysteries of periodicity have their cosmic and earthly aspect. As declared in Liber AL, I: 53,
If this be not aright; if ye confound the space-marks, saying: They are one; or saying, They are many; if the ritual be not ever unto me: then expect the direful judgments of Ra Hoor Khuit!
Though the fact was probably unknown to Kenneth Grant, by the winter solstice of December 2012, Regulus, principal star in the constellation of Leo the Lion, crossed the threshold of the zodiacal sign of Virgo. It was certainly unknown to Grant that precisely three years later an event would take place on the shores of Loch Ness, Scotland, that ‘fixed’ this aeonic transition. The destruction by fire of Boleskine House was prophesied in Liber AL, III: 34. Regulus is one of the four ancient ‘Watchers’ of the heavens, marking the cardinal points of the visible universe. Those principal stars in the traditional fixed or Kerubic signs of the Zodiac—the Lion, Eagle, Bull and Woman—now form a great cross in mutable signs.

The position of Regulus coincided with the summer solstice point more than 4000 years ago. Due to astronomical precession, the Sun now forms his annual conjunction with Regulus around the 22nd August, at the entry into Virgo. This formulates the image of the Woman and Beast or Babalon, as typified by ancient Sumerian representations of Ishtar as world axis. Ishtar embodies the astrological signs Leo, Virgo and Libra—ancient depictions vary, but typically her chariot is pulled by lions, she holds a mirror to behold her own perfection and she wields the scales and balance. The constellations that the signs are named after overlap in the heavens; as the three signs are one each of fixed, mutable and cardinal types they can be taken as representative of the whole Zodiac, the circle of space.

The fixed, mutable and cardinal signs form three crosses on the great wheel of time.[1] The mutable cross of Hormaku is glyphed by Virgo, Pisces, Gemini and Sagittarius. The Tarot trumps the Hermit, the Moon, the Lovers and the Angel, are the magical images for these signs. Thus, the spiritual journey for the Thelemic initiate involves recognition that the Moon of Daath reflects the void of Ain Soph Aur to form the triangular base of the Tree of Life. The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel may then continue beyond Tiphereth until final dissolution and the crossing of the ring-pass-not of human reason. As it is put in Liber AL, I: 30 and II: 44,
This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.
Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.
The Aeonic Cross of Hormaku is comparable to the Kalachakra or ‘wheel of time’ Tantra in Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. Kalachakra and Kalachakri is a pair of deities comparable to Nuit and Hadit; they look both inside and outside of time. Kalachakra yoga or Yidam is the Tibetan way of uniting the self with a deity so as to obtain Pure Mind. Ishtadevata is one of the principle deities for this purpose. She is a Tantrik deity associated with the Kalachakra, whose name means, ‘desired’ or ‘adored’ (ishta) and ‘divine soul’ (devata). Ishtar, placed in Aquarius in the North on our Kalachakra wheel, has the same root name, Ishta. The Ishtar hieroglyph signifies precisely the crossing of the Axis of the Universe with the Celestial Horizon. In this context, the mudra of Ishtar symbolises the Aquarian Aeonic Cross.

As according to ancient tradition, the magical temple must be realigned in accordance with the times, how things look from earth now.[2] This is a vital factor; it makes all the difference between effective magick and magick that does not work because it is misaligned from the terrestrial plane.


Notes

1. See ‘Starlight Reification’, The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.
2. See, for example, the revised Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.
This essay forms part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
© Oliver St. John 2016, 2019

Related articles:
Welcome to the Aeon of Hormaku, 2012
Prophecy of Liber AL Fulfilled

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Friday, 22 July 2016

Magick of Divine Imagination

Magick greatly depends on two factors: will and imagination. These correspond to the Wand and Cup of art. The English mystic William Blake understood the occult aspect of will and desire. Blake held the divine power of imagining in such regard that he created a noun, Imagination, as a term for Christ or Logos.

Divine Imagination: William Blake Dante and Beatrice

Magick typically utilises the act of drawing or tracing out figures such as pentagrams, hexagrams and sigils imaginatively upon the astral aethyr. Inscribing such figures on the astral aethyr is effectively no different than handwriting. The ‘ink’ is the Occult Force, conveyed through the cup of imagination. The ‘pen’ is the wand or thumb, also the will of the magician. The ‘paper’ is the fluid astral aethyr impressed upon by will and imagination. The act of writing or drawing symbols connects the hand with the eye, which in turn memorably places the figures in Deep Mind. This serves as a key to the latent source of the figures that pre-exists our conscious awareness. A neurologist could explain how various neural pathways in the brain are linked through hand to eye coordination. Some of these pathways must be created, brought into existence.

According to the magical correspondences, the hand and the eye are cognate terms. The hand of ‘five’ is Hé, the letter of the 15th path of Nuit’s creative star-fire, and the window of divine imagining. The number five is that of the pentagram, the star of Nuit. The Grand Number of Five is Fifteen, and the fifteenth Tarot Atu is placed on the 26th path of A’ain, which means ‘an eye’. What we see is what we are. The Idea is at one with the Imagination. The aim of magick is to follow the symbol back to its source in the divine imagining. Our knowledge and understanding of any symbol is as vital as our ability to visualise and project it onto the astral aethyr.

The wisdom of ancient Egypt instructs us that the name—and therefore the vibration—of any God, is that God. The ancient Greeks would not say the name of Hades aloud, because they did not want him to notice them and perhaps become overly interested in their soul! According to the classical Greek tradition, Hades is the Lord of hell and death and detains souls forever in the underworld.[1]

In Goethe’s version of the timeless play Faust, all the magus did to invoke the spirits was to show them a picture of the holy hexagram in his grimoire.[2] When Mephisto makes his appearance, Faust asks him, “Was it not the power of my mighty spells and conjurations that summoned you?” And Mephisto tells him it has nothing to do with that. Since Faust was inclined towards evil, the Devil did not need to be summoned, for he was already aware of what Faust was up to, and would have come sooner or later.

When men—usually learned gentlemen, wayward monks or clergy—performed magical rituals in the 15th and 16th centuries, merely opening a book and seeing a hexagram or some such figure set them in awe of God. Add to that the fear of getting found out by the authorities—which meant cloaking such operations with utmost secrecy—and we can understand how their magick was extremely effective. We have to work a lot harder at it now.

Magick corresponds to Mercury, the Roman name for the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Tahuti, the god of writing, books and knowledge. Magick and the Word or Logos are therefore inseparable terms. Books—real ones, not the digital fakes—are reliquaries for the knowledge of countless generations. Such a book can open doorways in the imagination through the power of the written word. Such doorways are formed from the matter itself, the base material as a repository for the imagining. The imagining is in turn the agent for the soul’s transfiguration. To engage on this level, we must have enough time to not worry about time. We must be free from all other distractions and able to focus the mind without interruption. The reader then becomes an active participant, wholly absorbed in the imaginative creation and recreation of inner worlds.

So far as magical knowledge and expertise goes, the (real) book collection is the starting point. True knowledge comes with experience—getting out in the field, comparing notes, thinking a great deal, engaging with the necessary practical experimentation. Survival of any species depends on adaptation to changing conditions, new knowledge.

We have access to far more information now than anyone can handle. Information does not equal knowledge. Dissociation of mind and senses comes about through over exposure to digital images, film, television and the millions of contradictory thoughts and opinions that pour forth unceasingly through the media platforms, day and night. While the web is now a useful device for research so long as we resist the assault of peripheral nonsense, it is also a digital skrying mirror into hell. Misinformation, uninformed opinion and the utterly banal are merged in a mephitic ocean of babble.

It has become common to see people of all ages walking—even in the rural countryside or by the sea coast—with a digital audio device sending its metranomic square wave impulse directly to their ears, thus ensuring they are oblivious to their environment. Many prefer to run rather than walk, as a form of recreational exercise. What are we running away from? What it is that we do not wish to hear, to see? Is there something we would rather not think about at all?

Man has become the most ill equipped of all creatures on earth, since all others spend the greater part of their time paying close attention to their environment. Wild birds and creatures study the world in the utmost detail, mapping it with senses not even dreamed of by the human. The majority of humans are now afraid to go anywhere without a cell phone, lest they should miss a message, a text, a call. We have been seduced into thinking we are no longer alone, when in fact we are more alone than ever, isolated from self, others and the natural environment by our own need to ‘stay in touch’. Silence has entered the realms of the unknown. Fewer persons than ever are capable of real meditation or even coherent thought. Amnesia is fast becoming the normal condition.

The machines no longer serve, they have become the masters, and their operators have become obedient slaves. It is no small wonder that our systems of government and business are heartless and cruel, operating according to statistics—facts and figures that cannot in themselves reveal any truth, for they can be manipulated to serve the interests of the soulless machine and its slave, the dissociated human ego.

The ways of magick and of true knowledge are open to any child of the 21st century that understands the need to be the master of machines and not the slave of them.



Notes

1. The fearful Greek taboo may have been the source of other ‘unspeakable’ deity names. The vengeful tribal demiurge YHVH (Tetragrammaton) is supposed not to be uttered.
2. The hexagram is the symbol of macrocosmos, the ‘greater world’. By the hermetic doctrine of correspondences, ‘As above and so below’, the spirits are thus compelled to obedience.

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2018
This essay is part of the collection Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.
Books by Oliver St. John
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Friday, 17 June 2016

Thelema: Romance of the Magical Orders


“What is a valid magical Order?” “What is Thelema?” These are frequently asked questions. We will attempt to examine what Thelema really is, as opposed to what is commonly believed about it. This will include a discussion of the Rosicrucian ideal, the magical philosophy and cosmology of Thelema, and the Magisterium or secret rites of Initiation.

Thelema Romance: AA Richel Collection No. 1489 Courtesy Graham KingThelema is frequently described as a ‘magical system’ but it is no such thing in reality. Neither is it any kind of religion, though it has some affinities with Gnosticism. The magick of Thelema is a transmission. The function of a Thelemic magical Order is to transmit a particular stream of consciousness—which we term as the 93 Current—by which men and women can obtain Gnosis, direct revelation. The purpose of such revelation is to become free from imprisonment in the artificial construct that is commonly thought to be reality. Such an aim cannot, ipso facto, be fulfilled through any social or political agenda. As declared in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 11,
These are fools that men adore; both their Gods and their men are fools.
The Book of the Law was dictated to Aleister Crowley through the cosmic mediation of Rose Edith Kelly (Rose Crowley). This required the agency of a praeterhuman intelligence, named Aiwass in the book.[1] It is the aim of magick to obtain direct contact with the inner planes. The diagram called the Tree of Life best explains the term, ‘inner planes’. The material or objective world of things and objects is called Malkuth the Kingdom, and is placed as the tenth emanation at the foot of the Tree. The greater part of the universe is therefore invisible to the ordinary human senses and reason.

The ideal of the Rosicrucian legacy is that initiation only becomes valid when the person is absolutely dedicated to service. That is, they will sacrifice everything to help others on the path. If they are not in contact with the Intelligences we have spoken of, and if they are not dedicated wholly to service, then they run the risk of becoming either a Black Brother or (actually) insane. A ‘Black Brother’, in the peculiar language of the Western Mystery Tradition, is one that believes, or that wishes others to believe, that the material universe is the sole reality and that it may be understood wholly through rational process. A Black Brother may be a scientist, but may equally be a theologian, religious leader or philosopher in the modern sense of the word—the masks are endless in their variety. According to Kenneth Grant, Introduction to Part Two, Nightside of Eden:
The atavisms of the Black Brothers are the sterile stars born of the speechless or lisping Aeon, for the Word may be vibrated without distortion only via the menstruum of the female.
Thelema is a lunar and feminine mystery. This should come as no surprise, since the first chapter of Liber AL is an oracle from the ancient Egyptian goddess Nuit, comparable to the more recent Laylah or Lilith, the name given to ‘Night’ in the Bible. The Rosicrucian fraternities always differed from religious orthodoxy in two vital points. Firstly, the aim of such a fraternity is to obtain Gnosis or direct knowledge, as distinct from salvation through belief. Secondly, the feminine role as Initiatrix was reinstated, though it was frequently veiled in symbolism such as the rose or the glyph of Venus. Rosicrucian source texts make it quite clear that the fraternity alluded to is first and foremost active and alive on the inner planes, although one could be excused for thinking otherwise when studying the works of ‘authorities’ that produce tome after tome filled with the evidence of facts, dates and lists of the names of the famous.

A magical Order formed in the Rosicrucian tradition typified by the triune Order of the Golden Dawn, Rosy Cross and Silver Star must offer highly specialised training and work structured around grades of initiation based on the Hermetic Tree of Life. Any person that founds an Order of the Golden Dawn—that is, the first five grades from Probationer to Philosophus—must be in contact with the three higher degrees of the Order of the Rosy Cross. Anyone that founds an Order of the Rosy Cross must be in contact with the supernal Order of the Silver Star. The Tree of Life begins with Kether—it is not possible to start a Rosicrucian magical Order from a position somewhere halfway down the Tree and pretend there is nothing above. However, the titles afforded these magical Orders are poetic metaphors for a consciousness current. They are not brand names for historical clubs or archaic fraternities that depend on apostolic succession after the manner of Christian bishops. Nuit has declared an ending of such words and bloodlines in Liber AL, I: 59:
My incense is of resinous woods and gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.
The Flaming Sword flashes down the planes from Kether the Crown to Malkuth the Kingdom, the world of shells—where things appear and disappear, where creatures are born and die. When the 93 Current reaches Malkuth, it streaks back up the Tree to Kether. The way of initiation through the grades is the way of ascent, which is involution. To evolve is to descend the Tree from Kether to Malkuth.

One Star in Sight

There are various factions of the esoteric Order known generically as the A∴A∴ It has become quite common for Orders with this title to claim exclusive ‘lineage’ and rights to the name. It is probably for this reason that some groups prefer to be mysterious—or even mysteriously ignorant!—as to what the abbreviated title actually stands for. It is no secret. Kenneth Grant, who studied the manuscripts and diaries of Crowley at first hand, revealed that Aster Argos or ‘Silver Star’ is the poetic title of the Rosicrucian-based magical Order. In Latin, it is Argenteum Astrum.

The name is derived from the esoteric title of the Tarot image of the 13th path of Gimel, the Priestess. The 13th path or Priestess of the Silver Star extends from Kether the Crown of the Tree of Life to Tiphereth, the centre of the Ruach Elohim. The path is also called The Uniting Intelligence, or Intelligence of the Unities in the Sepher Yetzirah. Note that ‘Unities’ is plural, not singular. As revealed by Aiwass in Liber AL, I: 1–4:
Had! The manifestation of Nuit.
The unveiling of the company of heaven.
Every man and every woman is a star.
Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
The Company of Heaven also describes the ancient Egyptian Theban initiatic cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, revealed to the modern world by the prince priest Aiwass. Khonsu embodies the Logos, Thoth, and Horus the phoenix bird of resurrection or Holy Guardian Angel.

Anyone can purchase a set of the volumes of The Equinox, take the requisite Oaths, form a body of men and women and call it the A∴A∴ if they so wish. If they do not become drunk with power and lose their minds as a consequence, then they might open the ways for others. However, Crowley’s formulation of the Oaths and Tasks of the supernal grades of the Silver Star was flawed.

The Word of the Law

The Greek word Thelema (Θελημα) is the ‘word of the Law’ as stated in Liber AL, I: 39. It is not a law of scriptures, decrees or any exoteric doctrine or body of religious teachings. According to Liber AL, III: 49,
I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.
The fourfold word is Do what thou wilt. The Law of Thelema is wholly a spiritual and natural one, not a human one. Some but not all human beings have this secret nature within them, and of those, some are destined to discover it. There is nothing new about Thelema; it is not limited by time. The word Thelema means, ‘will’—not the personal will that imagines it has deterministic power but the impersonal will-force that is personified as Hadit. A comparative and perhaps better-known deity is Shiva in the Tantrik tradition, the supreme creator and destroyer of the universe.

Thelema, ‘will’, and Agape, ‘love’, both add to 93 by Greek Qabalah, expressive of the 93 Current. As the word Thelema is Qabalistically identical to Agape—spiritual love, not romantic or erotic love—the 93 Current well expresses the spiritual intelligence of the universe going forth. Consciousness exists everywhere in the universe, though it is not of the universe that we perceive, and can never be known for it is the Knower, otherwise termed Hadit. As declared by the Serpent of Knowledge, Hadit, in Liber AL, II: 3–4,
In the sphere I [Hadit] am everywhere the centre, as she [Nuit], the circumference, is nowhere found. Yet she shall be known and I never.
As consciousness is everywhere, it is not limited to the earth and the human species that has infected the planet with an artificial construct it likes to think of as ‘intelligence’. Wild birds and creatures are sentient, in contradiction to the prevailing scientism that has formed its doctrines around the need to preserve and continue the artificial hell in which Adam and Eve are imprisoned until they come to know the true state of affairs.

Cosmology

All cosmologies are misleading. The best sense of the word ‘cosmology’ is the literal one, from the Greek: ‘a conversation about the universe’. However, that is not the meaning of the term as it is commonly understood. Metaphysics is also misleading, because the academic understanding of that word is only ‘about the matter’, the physics, which paved the way for scientism. The ancients had an entirely different way of thinking that cannot be grasped by dogmatic reasoning, whether that is slanted towards scientism, religion or religious theology. As it is succinctly put in Liber AL, II: 32,
Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite and unknown; and all their words are skew-wise.
Ancient metaphysics, aeons before the term was coined, was based on detailed observation of nature, no different from the Thelemic love under will. Originally, there was only one Tree of Life that was also a Tree of Knowledge. To assist the restoration of the Tree of Life, we can happily forget the old word of Moses and instead invoke AShRH, the ‘woman’, as deity name in Kether. From the fragrance or Shakti emanations of Nuit-Babalon comes forth the tree from which the gods are sprung. As a cognate study, Ishtar is the happy goddess of the three worlds, heaven, earth and the underworld. The same three worlds are depicted on the obverse of the Stele of Revealing.

The gods of Liber AL vel Legis are interchangeable, as are all Egyptian gods or neters (‘principles’). They can be different things on different planes—as is the Holy Guardian Angel, another metaphor. There is a Thelemic Trinity implied in the structure of Liber AL, and also in the Stele of Revealing, the only fragment we have of the original Theban Thelemic cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu. There is also a trinity of sorts in the title of the book’s manuscript, ‘L’, as 30. The primal trinity is the Qabalistic Binah, the root of all form, the cosmic Matrix or womb. The Sethian Gnosis, among the books ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, asserts a trinity of spirit or fragrance, light and dark. The light and dark had no moral implications of good or evil, for the Gnosis precedes, by vast ages of time, all dualistic theologies. The fragrance, or spirit-intelligence, permeates the light and dark equally; it knows them; thus the cosmic womb or Matrix is formed.

Magisterium

The original meaning of the word Magisterium is ‘pertaining to a mystery or secret rite’. If we consider the legacy of the patriarchs of Constantinople, then we might conclude the rites of Mithras would have been better kept in the subterranean vaults. No one can exclusively own or possess the Magisterium. Anyone can proclaim that they do, but sooner or later people will find them out.

All magical Orders, their visible custodians and adepts, their teachings, their Magisterium, belong in a certain sense to the Order of Qliphoth, the Qabalistic World of Shells. What we see is what we are. Hence, the utter impossibility of teaching anything to anyone about magick let alone anything really spiritual. One of the snares in the system of grades as presented by Crowley is that he repeats the word ‘attainment’ hundreds of times, as though there were something to attain and someone to attain it; this can have a hypnotic effect on the serious student. The emphasis on attainment places initiation under the restriction of deterministic thinking. By setting forth to show that magick is no different than material science, and can be explained in the same terms, Crowley unwittingly prepared the way for reductionism and psychologisation. Future generations, born of a Wordless Aeon, would have great difficulty discerning a difference.

We are in a realm where language will always limit us unless we think differently.[2] The different mode of thinking can be described as a backwards flowing stream, and yet it cannot be taught; magick is not what we do, or attain or can get, but what we are.



Notes

1. The Egyptian name ‘Aiwass’ means, ‘He who was ordained in Thebes’.
2. By ‘thinking differently’, we refer to the mode of analogous thought. See ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2018 
This essay is also the subject of a podcast. View the podcast here or subscribe to it through iTunes here.
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Friday, 15 April 2016

Magical Art of Surreal Romanticism

Throughout the long dark history of humanity there have been magi. While some are known for their works, be it art or literature, there must be countless men and women that have either failed to develop their innate gift or have succeeded in mastering it while keeping silence to the end.

The Magus of Power (1977) from the TARO of Ithell Colquhoun (below)

Magical Art of Surreal Romanticism: The Magus of Power by Ithell Colquhoun
The word of a magus is irrevocable, as we shall see, though it is said that failure to utter a word is equally irrevocable since it must beget an abortive child. The momentum of the immense forces that first push the soul onward and then draw the soul inexorably inward towards annihilation of ego identity is sufficient to split the atom or, in psychic terms, to fragment the soul until its very name is forgotten and it endures dispersion and ultimate oblivion. The magical child, however, of which it is the object of the art of magical alchemy or of the Great Work to produce, is not the result of any cause. The ancient chestnut of determinism has become a poisoned apple in the hands of modern philosophers and rationalists. The magical child of consciousness—otherwise termed the True Will—grows as a seed in the silence of the womb of the cosmic Matrix. The fruit and the flower, nonetheless, has preexisted the seed. For this reason, the magi have oft been reported as stricken with awe at the sight of a portentous star where no star previously was seen, or plunged into rapture at the sight of a wild orchid blooming in a desert where a single drop of rain would amount to a miracle.

Surrealism and the Occult

Automatism in the arts is frequently confused with mere techniques. True automatism is an inexorable condition of mind and soul that to all intents and purposes is exercised outside and beyond the will of the person, whether they are destined to become a master, a magus, or merely another victim swallowed up by an incomprehensible universe. For ordinary purposes, we may define artistic automatism thus:
“The avoidance of conscious intention in producing works of art so that subjectivity forms the primary basis of the work.”
Automatism was not an invention of the Surrealists, or of Sigmund Freud, but has always existed in magick and alchemy. Among the finest examples are the sigils or magical signatures of the Qabalistic Intelligences and Spirits of the planets as given by Cornelius Agrippa in Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531) and centuries later copied into The Magus, by Francis Barrett (1801). These beautiful designs, along with other more abstruse signatures that can be found in medieval grimoires, were written on virgin parchment by the hand of the spirit, not that of the scribe. We also have the evidence of the Enochian language received through the invocations and skrying of Elizabethan mage John Dee and his assistant seer, Edward Kelley.

Occult artist and writer Ithell Colquhoun—a friend of André Breton, Aleister Crowley and later, Kenneth Grant—was a member of the Surrealist School. Ithell Colquhoun defined her use of automatism as super-automatism, presumably to distinguish the method from the same term that is used in psychiatry and law. We shall from hereon adopt the term as used by Colquhoun, super-automatism, when we are referring to spiritual, magical or artistic method or even natural inclination.

Within the modern Hermetic magical tradition there are some notable examples of super-automatism. Aleister Crowley claimed that he magically received, through the mediumship of his wife Rose, the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, in Cairo 1904. When the book was first received, Crowley added a note to the manuscript saying:
“This is a highly interesting example of genuine automatic writing.”
Crowley later insisted the book was dictated by a praeterhuman intelligence named Aiwass. In fact, there need be no essential contradiction between magical super-automatism and contact with a praeterhuman agency. Crowley was very sensitive, however, as to how the book might be viewed by posterity. He did not want what he considered to be his most important work compared with drawing room séances and psychism.

Magical Art of Surreal Romanticism: Sabbath (1954), Austin Osman Spare (sketchbook)

Sabbath, Austin Osman Spare sketchbook (1954)

Artist Austin Osman Spare (1886–1956), who was associated with both Crowley and occult writer Kenneth Grant, used super-automatism in drawing, painting, and in the creation of magical scripts and even textual narratives. As super-automatism has been used in magical and Hermetic disciplines since time immemorial it can readily be seen why Surrealist artists shared ideas in common with occultists. Automatism is sometimes compared to free association, a method used by Sigmund Freud to plunder the so-called unconscious mind of his clients. The French poet André Breton, who published the Surrealist Manifesto in 1924, became aware of automatism through the work of Freud. Breton here defined Surrealism as follows:
“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
The method used by Breton and others involved writing down as rapidly as possible anything that comes to mind. Thus modern automatism began as a literary method. Artist Max Ernst supplied the ‘first’ visual automatism by making collages from sections cut out from magazines, catalogues, advertisements or anything else that was available. Other painters enthusiastically took up automatism, from Joan Miro, André Masson and Ithell Colquhoun to Jackson Pollock, noted for his development of abstract expressionism. Although automatism is usually regarded as a separate method from that which Salvador Dali termed paranoiac critical, the end or object is really the same. Paranoiac critical can be defined as:
“The artist invoking a paranoid state with the intention of deconstruction of the psychological concept of ego-identity.”
Paranoia is taken to mean the fear that one is being manipulated or controlled by others. This may of course include the paranoid manipulation of others. Some of the tricks that Dali liked to play were very much inclusive of the ‘audience’, so the boundaries between who was doing what to whom were blurred, increasing the paranoia for all concerned! The aim of the method, however, is that subjectivity becomes the primary basis of the work. It is to defeat the rational mind, prohibitions and censorship that stem from ego.

Ithell Colquhoun (1906–1988) described her work as ‘mantic’. Mantic means, ‘pertaining to divination or prophecy’, and is derived from the Greek, mantikos, ‘divination’, mantis, ‘prophet’. Unlike other artists, Colquhoun deliberately wished to connect Surrealism with magick, both philosophically and in terms of method or technique. In her own writings she drew comparisons between visual art and the medieval art of alchemy. Colquhoun wanted to achieve a union of natural and spiritual forces as well as a union of the disciplines of art and the occult. The union of subject and object, the I-Self with all that is ‘other’, the Not-Self, is the goal of yoga or union, and is a prerequisite for magick and mysticism at advanced levels.

Phallus of Cosmic Recollection

Thomas De Quincey employed a type of super-automatism, comparable to Salvador Dali’s paranoiac critical; in so doing, De Quincey may have endured, and attempted to describe in his writing, the equivalent ordeal in a Rosicrucian fraternity called the Curse of a Magus. Any attempt to describe the indicible is doomed to failure, hence the ‘curse’, for there is a certain obligation to speak truth even while knowing full well it will be fatally misconstrued or otherwise perceived as alogia or simple incoherence.

Others will also see the utterer of the truth, the irrevocable word, as a liar, madman or fool. The magus must utter an irrevocable word yet must reverse consciousness to sail a vessel against the flow of time and return to the source of the fountain of all life. To meditate upon Wisdom herself (Sophia) is to behold divinity face to face, the magical power of Chokmah—it is also to court with madness. According to Thomas De Quincey (1856 Revision to Confessions):

“If in this world there is one misery having no relief, it is the pressure on the heart from the Incommunicable. And if another Sphinx should arise to propose another enigma to man—saying, What burden is that which only is insupportable by human fortitude? I should answer at once—It is the burden of the Incommunicable.”


Notes

Extracts from the book, The Magical Art of Surreal Romanticism.
© Oliver St. John 2016

Friday, 18 March 2016

Quantum Yoga and the Way of the West

The impact of what has often been termed as ‘Yoga of the West’ on English and American occultists in the latter half of the twentieth century can hardly be overstated. Dion Fortune experimented with combining pranayama meditation with a visualisation method known only to a few members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, called, ‘Rising on the Planes’.

Quantum Yoga: Ancient Egyptian Goddess Sekhet in Yoga Posture (British Museum) Israel Regardie called his particular version the ‘Middle Pillar Exercise’ and published it in what was effectively a manual or handbook for the use of this practical Qabalah as a do-it-yourself therapy. The method was swiftly seized upon by those who, until then, had struggled with reconciling the chakra system of the Hermetic Tree of Life with Eastern Laya Yoga.

Various offshoots of Dion Fortune’s Fraternity of Inner Light, such as the Helios Group, took the method exactly as presented by Regardie, combining it with Dion Fortune’s use of the Tree of Life for Rising on the Planes. We cannot agree with Regardie’s suggested applications of the Middle Pillar Exercise. However, anyone that has ability for this kind of thing at all, and that practices the method persistently for say, six months or more, will know of its efficacy.

The Middle Pillar Exercise is by no means the complete picture of how the Yoga of the West works. There is a great deal more to Applied Qabalah than running an imagined stream of light up and down five visualised chakras. Nonetheless, the Yoga of the West is designed so that it is available to all. Magick and yoga need no longer be exclusively the domain of the wealthy with time on their hands. If persisted with on a strict daily basis, magick and yoga can be done effectively in a minimum of about 45 minutes per day. That needs to be combined with as much book reading and written study as can be afforded. A magical diary record of the work is also kept on a strict daily basis. As the majority of human beings now spend far more than 45 minutes per day watching television and engaging with social media, Hermetic Tantra-yoga is not all that difficult to achieve so long as the person is prepared to make the necessary adjustments for an awakening from the somnambulant trance that now passes for sentience.

]This article is abridged from the Second Edition of The Enterer of the Threshold.]

There is some realignment needed to make the Middle Pillar Exercise into a yoga method capable of sustaining what are called ‘the higher trances’. We also need to modify or adapt some of the divine names used in the traditional method. We do not, for example, invoke the biblical demiurge Tetragrammaton as is still customary in methods derived from the Golden Dawn and Crowley. To avoid confusion, we use the term ‘Quantum Yoga’ or otherwise ‘Hermetic Tantra-yoga’ when referring to our universal adaptation of the method.

Quantum Yoga: John Dee's Celestial Egg from Monas Hieroglyphica as drawn by Oliver St. John
 Kether and Malkuth are posited as chakras that are outside the body—outside even the subtle body or astrosome of the practitioner. Although the system is by no means identical to Eastern Laya Yoga, there is some agreement with Woodroffe’s Tantrik schema as set forth in his seminal work, Serpent Power. The crown chakra, the seventh and highest in that system only comes into existence when all six lower chakras are have flowered. Shiva and Shakti, Chokmah and Binah, must be united in the third eye or ajna chakra. In our Quantum Yoga, Malkuth is not placed at the feet as it is in the Middle Pillar Exercise; it is relocated to the centre of Earth. Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, is effectively the base chakra.

There are many different chakra systems, although Woodroffe’s work has been so influential in the West that it has become commonplace for people to think there are ‘seven chakras’, as though these were objective locations. Similarly, the colour scheme afforded the chakras in the Laya Yoga scheme is mistakenly taken as ‘fact’. However, a further agreement we have with Woodroffe’s Serpent Power is that there are three centres that are of supreme significance. It is said that Kundalini Shakti penetrates the sphere of sensation at these three points. The three chakras in question equate Qabalistically to Yesod (Moon), Tiphereth (Sun) and Daath (Saturn, as the conjunction of Chokmah and Binah). We generally place emphasis on the three Shakti points, plus the two ‘outside’ or cosmic chakras, Kether and Malkuth. This equates well with the theoretical idea put forward by Dion Fortune, where there are three Circuits of Force.
1. The Magnetic Core (primary circuit; not subject to any conditions)
2. The Rainbow Aura (magnetic field; astrosome)
3. The Peripheral Circuit (sensitive to environment or cosmos)
There are difficulties in translating this idea into praxis, so we posit a Cosmic Circuit coming into existence via the circuit formed by Nuit (Kether) and Hadit (Malkuth) through the mirror of Daath and Yesod (Saturn and Moon, ‘93’). The Peripheral Circuit, normally susceptible to environmental and cosmic conditions and so related to the natal horoscope, is transmuted into a Cosmic Circuit when informed by the True Will (Magnetic Core). As was declared by Aiwass in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, 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!
It is unnecessary to change or alter the locations of the numbered sephiroth and connecting paths of the Hermetic Tree of Life. We will give here the complete Quantum Yoga or Hermetic Tantra-yoga, in tabulated form.

* Please note that the traditional Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram as given by the Golden Dawn and Crowley cannot precede this. Those forms of the ritual are ethically, culturally and practically inimical to what we aim to achieve here. The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram to be employed may be studied online here.
0. Preparations

Perform the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (invoking).

Assume the seated Egyptian Godform asana. We do not sit cross-legged on the floor. Meditation is done seated, similar to the way Egyptian gods are depicted when enthroned. Your back and spine are kept straight but not tense. Your feet are kept flat on the floor; your knees and hips should be straight but comfortably aligned. Your head should be facing forward, looking straight ahead, even if your eyes are closed. The art is to keep perfectly still while remaining calm and relaxed.

Relax the mind and body with pranayama. This does not include counting of breath or breathing with one nostril. It is helpful, though not essential at the outset, to keep the tip of your tongue pressed lightly against the roof of your mouth. Simply breathe deeply and slowly, in through the nostrils and out through the mouth. The idea is to maintain deep, relaxed breathing throughout the meditation. The rhythm of the breathing should be something like the slow rising and falling of the tides of the sea.

Clear your mind of all thoughts and sensations (Ain Soph Aur).

1. Picture Kether as an ultraviolet sphere (or star) vertically above you. Sound the name Asherah, using the vibratory technique and see Kether pulsating with the invocation.

2. The light of Kether descends and Daath is formed. Picture Daath as a silvery or violet sphere emanating from the centre of your head. Vibrate the name IAO Elohim, and see Daath pulsating with energy.

3. The light is brought down and Tiphereth is formed. Picture Tiphereth as a golden sphere of light emanating from the centre of your body. Vibrate the name IAO Eloah ve-Daath, and see Tiphereth coruscating with light.

4. The light is brought down until Yesod is formed. Picture Yesod as a violet sphere of light emanating from the base of your spine. Vibrate the name Shaddai El Chai, and see Yesod pulsating with energy.

5. The light is brought down until Malkuth is formed. Picture Malkuth as a shining black sphere vertically below. Vibrate the name Adonai, and see Malkuth becoming magnetically charged. A scarlet or infrared flame blossoms there like a fragrant rose, filling the space.
6. Return attention to the silvery or violet sphere of Da’ath. Vibrate the name IAO Elohim.
7. Endeavour to see the five sephiroth pulsating with light and colour in the vertical column. Continue the relaxed breathing and circulate light in your astrosome. With the in-breath, the infrared magnetic fire is drawn vertically upwards from Malkuth and along the middle pillar until it reaches Kether. On the out-breath, blue-white or ultraviolet light pours down like a fountain around the outside of your body. Repeat this perhaps nine or ten times. Circulate the magnetic force in this way, in a continuous cycle, until the five chakras glow brightly and you are surrounded by a brilliant violet egg or cocoon.

Commentary

The vibratory technique: Take in a full breath through both nostrils. As the air is fully expelled the name or word is loudly and forcefully vibrated so as to physically resonate. It is not shouted, and should be sonorous. The vowels are greatly extended. For example, ‘IAO’ is sounded until the breath is exhausted, ‘ee-aah-ooh!’ If it is not possible to vibrate the words loudly and physically then a technique called the Great Voice is used. Imagine that the name or word roars forth to infinity while feeling it strongly resonating within.

After the preparations, we sound or vibrate the name of Kether of Atziluth, AShRH (Asherah). Asherah is a name of the primal Creatrix, Qabalistically identical to Nuit.

We proceed to Daath. Daath is not imagined as located ‘in the throat’. Its light is pictured as emanating, radiating outwardly, from the centre of the brain between the two hemispheres. The ‘barbarous name’ for vibration is IAO ALHIM (Iao Elohim).

IAO is not a ‘secret pronunciation of Tetragrammaton’, as was supposed by the nineteenth century European philosophers. The great name IAO is a Trigrammaton. Its ancient Egyptian origin vastly predates biblical and Gnostic scriptures. Some of the meanings of IAO are given here.
The Primordial; a vessel; here—to be present; cry of exaltation; to journey forth; the abode; the house or dwelling; the all-begetter; the hair (of Nuit); door or door-leaf; the lid of a sarcophagus.
IAO is the generative principle or Neter. It is the primal sound or utterance of all phallic Gods, whether these are male or female in outward form. Tumescence occurs in both male and female when dreaming at night. Phallus, from Greek, phallos, originally had the special meaning of ‘image’. It is the image-making creative principle—that which William Blake termed Imagination, and used as a name for Christ or Logos.

With Daath formulated, we invoke Tiphereth as the Sun in the centre of all, with the conjunction of names IAO ALVH V-DOTh (Iao Eloah ve-Daath). Tiphereth is the child of Chokmah and Binah sent forth in time and space, and is the God of Knowledge and the Garden of Eden.

With Tiphereth formulated we conjure forth Yesod, the basal chakra (base of the spine), with the traditional ShDI AL ChI (Shaddai El Chai), ‘Holy Spirit of Life-Energy-Presence’.

Next, we sound ADNI (Adonai), the Lord of the Shrine at the centre of the Earth, Malkuth the ‘Kingdom’. Adonai, or Adon (ADVN) is the polar twin of the woman of heaven, AShRH.

We return awareness to Da’ath, the ‘control centre’ of the Tree, and vibrate IAO ALHIM (Iao Elohim).

The ascending magnetic force, drawn up through the chakras from Malkuth to Kether, is conceived as glowing infrared light. The descending dew or light from Nuit is conceived as radiant ultraviolet, as declared in Liber AL, I: 51:
Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.

Notes

© Oliver St. John 2016, 2019

This article is abridged from the Second Edition of the book, The Enterer of the Threshold.

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Friday, 19 February 2016

The Opening of the Key Tarot Divination

The Tarot divination method described here is a much-needed clarification of the abbreviated description given by Crowley in The Book of Thoth, and the longer but opaque presentation in the Book T of the Golden Dawn.

Opening of the Key Tarot Divination: Priestess II Thoth Tarot
Owing to its complexity, the Opening of the Key is frequently overlooked. Crowley’s explanation is too sketchy to be understood without the detailed one given in the Golden Dawn’s knowledge papers—and that is garbled and confusing. However, this is an excellent method of Tarot divination when in-depth analysis is required. To employ it accurately, we must be conversant with the rules of dignity. Anyone that is confident of reading two or three cards together using the dignities for evaluation may easily move on to the lengthier reading afforded by the Opening of the Key.

The Opening of the Key Tarot divination is based on the Orbicular Tree, or Tree of Life in a Sphere. When we enter the Orbicular Tree, time is no longer linear. We do not perceive a past that has ‘gone behind’ and is therefore static, and a future that is ‘in front’ and only exists as a set of probabilities. With the Orbicular method, the past, present and future is a continuum. It partakes of both prophecy and operational theurgy. The Aces of Tarot initiate all movement down the planes; the act of divination therefore involves invocation as well as evocation.

The Method of Counting

  • The Aces count as 11 (Energy of Magick)
  • The Knights, Queens and Princes count as 4 (elements)
  • The Princesses count as 7 (palaces in Assiah)
  • The planetary trumps are numbered 9 (the Nodes of the Moon are included with the traditional seven planets)
  • The elemental trumps count as 3 (Aleph, Mem, Shin)
  • The zodiacal trumps count as 12 (zodiacal paths and letters)
  • The small cards from 2–9 (decanates) count according to their own number
  • The Method of Spreading and Pairing the Cards

The inverse horseshoe (Ω) is the only really practical way of doing this; the nature of this method itself is somewhat circular. The relevant pack of cards is spread out, face upward and from right to left, so the two ends of the horseshoe face the diviner. The cards are then counted according to the direction that the Significator is facing.

When counting the cards off using the number system (above), those cards are dignified by the cards on either side, as usual. The Significator is counted as the first card, ‘1’. So we begin by evaluating the meaning of the Significator using the dignities of the two cards on either side of it.

When pairing off the cards we begin at both ends of the horseshoe and work inwards until all have been paired. If there is an odd number of cards then one card will be left over; we may determine whether this is pertinent to the reading.

In all of the Operations except the 4th, we have to find the pile of cards that contains the Significator. After that, we spread out that pile of cards in a horseshoe, face upward for counting and then pairing.

In the 4th Operation (36 decanates), after shuffling, we go through the entire deck (face up) to find the Significator. When the Significator is found, then—still holding the deck face up—lift off all the cards that were in front of (or on top of) the Significator. Place those cards beneath the pile that has the Significator on top, face upwards. We now have a deck with the Significator on top, face upwards. Place the Significator in the centre, and deal out the next 36 cards, face upward, starting with the 1st card at the Ascendant (first decan Leo) and proceeding anti-clockwise until the 36th card is placed as the last decan of the 12th sign.

ShMATh: Opening of the Key (First Operation)

First decide on a Significator. This is usually a court card chosen to represent the Questioner. For example, we might use the Prince of Wands if we have Sun in Leo, or if Leo is the rising sign in our natal chart. After due preliminaries (ritual of invoking, etc.), shuffle the cards and think earnestly on the question.

Each letter of ShMATh (the Name) corresponds to one of the four elements and Tarot suits: Fire-Wands, Water-Cups, Air-Swords and Earth-Disks.

Put the shuffled deck on the table face downwards. Cut the deck into two. This will be the Shin (Wands) pack, and the Aleph (Swords) pack. Remember that Tetragrammaton ShMATh reads from right to left. The Shin pack is then to your right. Leave a space between the two piles for the Mem pack. Cut the Shin pack into two, placing the top half of the cards to the right of the Aleph pack (in between Shin and Aleph). That will be the Mem (Cups) pack. Cut the Aleph pack into two and place the top half of the cards in the position of Tav (Disks). You now have four packs: Shin, Mem, Aleph and Tav.

Opening of the Key Tarot Divination: ShMATh First Operation

Turn all four packs over so they are face up. We can make a preliminary reading from the four cards on top of each pack. To do this we evaluate the dignity as according to whether the card is in Shin (Fire), Mem (Water), Aleph (Air) or Tav (Earth). We go through each pack in turn to find where the Significator is. The pack that the Significator is in will show us something of the nature of the question and how it will be answered. For example, if it is found in the Mem (Cups) pile, the matter principally concerns the emotional life of the Questioner.

Take the pack that the Significator was found in, taking care not to disturb the order of the cards. Disregard the other packs since they are irrelevant. Spread the remaining pack face upwards in a horseshoe, from right to left, so all the cards are facing upwards. The two ends of the horseshoe are nearest to the diviner. Locate the Significator. Counting proceeds in the direction the Significator is facing in. If the Significator is the Prince of Wands, that counts as 4 (see list of values, above). The Prince counts as the first card, number 1. The 4th card will be read, using the dignities of the cards that are on either side of it. We make a story of this as we go.

Example: Let us say that 4th card is the Empress III. A planetary trump counts as 9, so count 9 more, taking the Empress as card number 1. Read that card by the dignity of the cards on either side. And on we go, until at last we arrive at a card that has already been read (as a central card in the counting). This part of the reading ends here.

Now we pair the cards off starting at the two ends of the horseshoe. We read each pair of cards according to dignity. We go on until we have paired and read all the cards, making a story from this. If there is an odd number of cards, then there will be one card left over. We may determine whether this has special significance, as it stands alone. This completes the First Operation.

Second Operation: Development of the Question

We shuffle the cards (we do not cut them this time). We turn the pack face upwards and lay out the cards in a zodiacal circle, commencing from the ascendant (at the 9 o’clock position) and moving against the direction of the Sun (anticlockwise). We keep laying the cards out in the zodiacal fashion until all the cards have been used. There are now 12 piles of cards. We must find the pile of cards that contains the Significator. The signs start from Leo on the ascendant (not Aries), and proceed to Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, and so on.

The sign that we find the Significator in tells us something about the questioner in relation to the question being asked. We take the pack that the Significator was found in and, disregarding the other piles of cards, spread out this pack in the same way as was done in the First Operation. We then count and pair, making a story of this.

Third Operation: Further Development of the Question

We shuffle the cards without cutting them. We then turn the pack face upwards and lay out the cards in a zodiacal circle—this time the 12 packs will represent the 12 houses of astrology, as distinct from the 12 signs. (The values of the houses are not changed; the 1st house is the Ascendant, representing the questioner.) The procedure is then the same as in the Second Operation.

Fourth Operation: Penultimate Aspects of the Question

We shuffle the cards without cutting them. We turn the pack face upwards and look through the whole deck until we find the Significator. Having found it, we remove the cards that were on top of the Significator (effectively cutting the deck) and place them at the bottom of the pile. We then have the Significator as the top card on the deck, still facing upwards.

We place the Significator in the centre of the zodiacal wheel and deal out the next 36 cards face upwards in circular fashion, commencing from the ascendant. We read the 1st card, which represents the first decanate of the Ascendant. To do this we use the dignities of the cards on either side (which will be card 36 and card 2). Then we use the method of counting, beginning with that first card, to continue the reading, making a story as we go. When that is complete, we pair the cards and read them by taking the 1st card and the 36th card together, then the 2nd and 35th, and so on.

Fifth Operation: Conclusion of the Matter

We shuffle the cards without cutting. Then we deal out the deck in the order of the Tree of Life commencing from Kether. Once the first ten cards have been laid out from Kether to Malkuth, we place the eleventh card in Da’ath. We continue in this way until all the cards have been placed on the Tree of Life and Da’ath. We must find which sephira the Significator is in. This tells us something about the nature of the question and the sphere of its operation.

We disregard all other cards and spread out the pack containing the Significator in the usual way. Then we count and pair, making a story that summarises and concludes the reading.

Symbolism of the Method

Crowley’s suggestion that we abandon the divination if the Significator is not found in the right pack at the outset renders the method inflexible and virtually inoperable. For example, suppose we ask a question about business (Wands), and the Significator is found in the Cups pack (pleasure). It may be that our business concerns music, dancing or other arts. Our happiness may be more important than we suppose. Again, it may be that a man or woman of an emotional disposition is central to the question, whether we knew this beforehand or not. We therefore suggest that Crowley’s advice, although well meaning and no doubt learned at first hand from his Golden Dawn mentors, is both inflexible and impractical.

The beauty of the method is that as we apply it we discover the truer and deeper nature of the subject of our enquiry.

The Tarot system that we use begins with Leo (or Regulus) at zero degrees on the Ascendant, not Aries as is generally the case with natal astrology.

For example: The Five of Wands, Six of Wands and Seven of Wands correspond to Saturn in Leo, Jupiter in Leo and Mars in Leo. That gives us the three decans (ten-degree portions of the 360-degree zodiac wheel) that make up the Ascendant. Next—following the usual zodiacal order of signs—we have the Eight of Disks, Nine of Disks and Ten of Disks corresponding to Sun in Virgo, Venus in Virgo and Mercury in Virgo.

All Twos, Threes and Fours are cardinal signs; all Fives, Sixes and Sevens are fixed astrological signs and all Eights, Nines and Tens are mutable signs. The order of planets ruling the decans follows that of the planets on the Tree of Life: Saturn (3), Jupiter (4), Mars (5), Sun (6), Venus (7), Mercury (8) and Moon (9). The next decan in the series will then begin with Saturn again.

The order of the planetary sephiroth from 3 to 9 (descending) and from 9 to 3 (ascending) is expressive of the 93 Current of love under will, and is a practical key to the operation of Hermetic Tantra-yoga.

The Invocation of HRU-HUA

Perform the (reformed) Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Place your hand or a wand above the deck and, without hesitating or faltering, intone loudly and clearly the following invocation:
I invoke thee IAO, that thou wilt send HRU, the great Angel that is set over the operation of the Secret Wisdom, to lay his hand invisibly upon these consecrated cards of art. Thus shall we obtain true knowledge of hidden things. AUM.
A flashing light should clearly be observed descending from above to charge the Tarot. Think of the question while shuffling the cards thoroughly, without mental or emotional interest in the issue or its result. If you cannot do this, then you will not be able to trust in your ability to divine, and it is better if you do not attempt to do so.


Notes


© Oliver St. John 2011, revised 2019

Books by Oliver St. John

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