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

Friday, 23 December 2016

Towards a New Golden Dawn

 Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

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.

At 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.

He who looks both ways: Heru-Set
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

We have entered dark times, in terms of the collective consciousness as well as actual global events. It seems apt, then, to be revisiting some of the core teachings and practices in our tradition. 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. The fact we have now seen a hundred years of general intellectual acceptance of Freud’s theories on the nature of Theos does nothing to change reality (or Theos), it only changes how men and women are disposed to see things. Likewise, neither Carl Jung not Aleister 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 facts on the day of be-with-us. Though the name Eve means “to fall or stumble”, it is Adam (viz., human ego) that casts his soul into the Abyss—or realises her as his only chance for the Kingdom.

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) The Occult Science has certainly been crushed beneath the juggernaut wheels of the Freudian view of Occult Science for far too long. Psychological reductionism is one thing, the atavisms of a crowned and conquering all-male Logos Spermatikos are quite another. If we could but remember what Alice said, and dispel in an instant the latest pack of jokers. If we could but remember that the abode of the Signum Symbol is the heart—and that 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; they are in fact a recipe for the very neuroses that Freud went to such lengths to examine.

Undoubtedly, there is a Great Work to be done before we may see the light born into the darkness of the world.

Love is the law, love under will.


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 Initiation: Enterer of the Threshold