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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/

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Grimoire of Armadel Decoded

The Golden Dawn founder SL MacGregor Mathers first translated the Armadel manuscript held at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris from French and Latin. The work was hidden away for years in the Gerald Yorke collection, and has received little or no serious attention since it was first published in 1980. It has, though, received scholastic criticism, as lacking authenticity. In the introduction to the 1995 Weiser edition the work is written off as practically worthless, possessing neither literary merit nor magical value. A deeper investigation of The Grimoire of Armadel is now long overdue, for magical virtue is an elusive stone.

Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (Magically Restored)

Operation of the Ureil Seraphim from the Armadel, magically restored (Oliver St. John)

The name Armadel is obscure, but may be construed as a conjunction of ORH (a’arah), ‘to reveal’ and DLI (dali), ‘a vessel or urn’. The urn is the symbol of Aquarius and forms the name of Nuit, the starry goddess. We might expect a revelation concerning the celestial or heavenly abode.
[This essay is from Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.]
There is a difference to be discerned between literary merit and magical value—which must be entirely subjective. The garbled presentation may have been deliberate, to protect the work from the profane. Or it might be the whole thing was indeed faked up, as suggested in the aforesaid introduction to the most recent edition of the book. If it was, then the unique content, arguably more useful than that of grimoires favoured for their ‘authenticity’, remains something of a puzzle. While the relationship between the spirits and the dubious Christianised biblical texts is hard to discern, that does not mean it is entirely absent. This work, which looks in places as though the pages were thrown up into the air and collected together haphazard, can indicate more, viewed in a certain way, than an orderly tabulation of powers, potencies, thrones and dominions. The Latin is undoubtedly bad, provoking an amusing storm of protest from Mathers by way of his annotations: “vile”, “mutilated”, “obscure”, and “without the slightest punctuation”. Yet some of the seals and sigils in the Armadel are beautiful, having artistic merit as well as magical value. The grimoire itself is not like any other in that its aim appears to be obtaining direct knowledge from angels involved in the cosmic war in heaven, which is said to have preceded the fall of Adam. The entire Operation of the Uriel Seraphim concerns the sphere of Daath, ‘Knowledge’—an aspect of the Qabalah that has not been explored deeply until modern times.

Grimoire of Armadel: Uriel Seraphim

The Grimoire of Armadel is worth studying for the Uriel Seraphim banner alone. The figure was hidden away at the back of the source manuscript as though it were an afterthought or appendage. Yet it is the key to the real operation, which is much obscured by the greater part of the grimoire’s content. The invocation—or possibly evocation—of Uriel is actually conveyed on pp. 27 of the Weiser edition. The section is headed, ‘In the Fields of Babylon’. There appears here a seal of the Archangel Uriel that looks like a fabrication and could well be a blind. If the content is transferred to the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (the book’s frontispiece), the picture begins to come into focus. Curiously, there is an instruction to invoke Uriel before daybreak on a Wednesday, which would place Uriel in the class of spirits of Mercury. Uriel is not usually classed as a planetary spirit. He is traditionally understood to be a mighty angel, no less than Keeper of the Gates of Eden. However, the powers listed here conform to those of Mercury: prophecy, natural sciences and medicine. Indeed, the whole occult theme of the grimoire concerns Gemini and its ruler, Mercury.

The Grimoire of Armadel concerns duality and the discriminating path of the intellect, which comes under the auspices of the letter and Qabalistic 17th path of Zain (ZIN). Zain is ‘a sword’, and Uriel is said to wield the flaming sword that keeps the way of the Garden of Eden (from penetration by profane humans). The flaming sword itself is of the mysterious nature of the sphere of Daath, the non-sephira that acts as an ultimate ring-pass-not for human reason and intellect. As according to the book of Genesis, 3: 24:
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
In producing the reconstructed drawing of the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim (above) we have not sought to meddle with the form and design. It serves equally well as a banner to be physically constructed, a temple floor-plan or a triangle of evocation. The pennants on both sides of the triangle symbolise Chokmah and Binah, while the double circle of Uriel between them is Daath, which is traditionally viewed as the magical child of these two. We have no traffic with the biblical demiurge so have placed in the banner of Chokmah the Gnostic deity of the sphere. IAO adds to 81, or 9 x 9 (if spelled with omicron), and so the arrangement of nine squares confirms this. For the pennant of Binah we have substituted the name ALHI arranged in a Pythagorean tetractys. The total numeration of this tetractys is 105, the Mystic Number of the 14th path by which the Word (i.e., Logos) is made intelligible. The ten letters may symbolise the whole Tree of Life in Binah, or creative world of Briah. The total numeration of the pennants is therefore 186, which when divided by its factor, yields 93. Love is the law, love under will.

The two side-pennants may further be considered as the wings of Hadit, and the circle of Uriel as the globèd priest. According to Hadit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, II: 7,
I am the Magician and the Exorcist. I am the axle of the wheel, and the cube in the circle.
In the centre of the circle of Uriel stands the figure of an angel (or devil), which is also the figure of the exorcist in the midst of the exorcism, as it is put in the Golden Dawn ‘Z’ formula of evocation.
I am the exorcist in the midst of the exorcism. Take on therefore manifestation before me, and be without fear. For I am the one in whom fear is not.
The figure in the centre of the circle, or magical mirror of Daath, is one of utmost curiosity. It is formed from an equal cross, stands upon two feet, and is horned; it bears an upright wand in the left hand and a reversed wand in the right. In its heart is a Maltese cross, and the word ‘ZIN’ is inscribed at each quarter to reflect the flaming sword of Genesis, as turning every way.

Detail from the Triangle of Art

Detail from Uriel Seraphim, Armadel: Magically Restored (Oliver St. John)

The image of a god holding an upraised wand, fire, serpent or branch in one hand, and the same symbol inverted in the other, is a preeval symbol of Hecate and other goddesses; that is to say, the symbol was used before the latter were demonised or otherwise relegated to inferior status. The same dual symbol is glyphed in many of the traditional Tarot decks depicting monstrous forms of the Devil. The cultural distortion that is the accretion of the ages is hinted at by Eliphaz Levi in the title he gives his drawing of Baphomet for the 15th Atu, ‘Hermetic Light’.[1] The operation of this occult light is dual, hence, diabolos or ‘double’. Likewise the alchemical term, which Levi added to his Tarot trump: Solve et Coagula. The name of URIEL adds to 247 (VRIAL).

247 ÷ 13 = 19 The number of Eve and of the Sun.

Furthermore,

247 = 13 x 19 The priestess of the path of the lion; the woman rayed by the sun; the moon of the lion (or nocturnal angel of Leo).

By Qabalistic Gematria, the number 247 is that of RMZ, the outer level of the mysteries. Through the metathesis of ZMR, ‘singer; song or melody; one who chants a magical invocation’, we may intuit that the following of the symbol back to its source allows one to grasp the wisdom branch. Such a golden thread is the means of understanding the labyrinth or puzzle of the mysteries. It is the means of union with the source of all knowledge behind the veil of appearances.

By metathesis two more words are formed, ZRM, ‘overwhelm; a flood’ and RZM, ‘wink, hint or insinuate’. RZM is from the root RZI, ‘secret; mysterious’. The name of Ratziel, the Archangel in Chokmah of Briah, is formed thus, meaning ‘mystery of the house of God’. The correspondence to Chokmah and Binah is with the left and right eyes. A secret may be known in the wink or twinkle of an eye, whether from a symbol (RMZ), a song, or the singer of the song (ZMR). According to The Grimoire of Armadel (pp. 27, Weiser),
In this Sigil there be taught the method of understanding what and of what kind were those twin Souls (namely) Henoch.
The comment from Mathers reads, “It is noteworthy what is here said concerning the dual nature of Enoch!” Nonetheless, ‘Enoch’ means literally, ‘Initiation’. The grimoire goes on to expound the dual nature of Sophia and Logos, or Chokmah and Binah.
The faculties of the Mind and Understanding are purified, and these also in such a manner that they may be exalted from the lowest degree unto that which is most perfect of all. By the which composition also there can be a transmission made of the participating Power or that power of communication of the comprehension of Spirit.
The nature of the soul is dual, according to ancient Egyptian lore. When the name Enoch (ChNK) is considered as the verb, ‘to initiate’, the meaning of the above description becomes clear. The soul must undergo division before ascent of the planes can take place. This is evident by even a cursory glance at the Tree of Life. The Hermetic Caduceus may be placed upon the Tree to embrace all, though the twin serpents reach only to Daath. It is matter of interest that John Dee was guided by Uriel.[2] As a result, Dee obtained a significant proportion of the work that has come to be known as Enochian Magick.[3]

Grimoire of Armadel: Fields of Babylon

The title of the section that describes the Operation of the Uriel Seraphim, ‘In the Fields of Babylon’, refers to the fictitious Old Testament account of captivity and exile in the ancient Mesopotamian city. The assistance of the great angel Uriel described here may be construed as a metaphor for the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel—the soul, through initiation, achieves liberation from the prison of time and matter.

In ancient times, cities and gods were one and the same. The Babylonian goddess Ishtar, known as Babalon in the Thelemic tradition, is identical (through attributes) with the Egyptian Sekhet or Hathoor. The fields referred to in the title thus become transposed from a place of servitude to the ancient Egyptian reed fields or heavenly paradise called Sekhet A’aru. Unlike the land of the dead, which is placed in the west (sunset), eternity is placed in the east (sunrise) and requires passing through 21 gates or pylons. There are 21 major arcana in the Tarot, where zero encompasses all.

One other singular detail of The Grimoire of Armadel is its formulation of the first nine letters and paths of the Tree of Life as the names of spirits. There is an entry each for Alepta, Betel, Gimela, Dalete, Hethatia, Vau-ael, Zainael, Hetael, and Tetahatia—though these are not given in the correct order in the Grimoire. The first nine numbers produce the Mystic Number of Yesod, which is also a number of Saturn: ∑ (1–9) = 45. The image of Yesod is the magical mirror, and Daath may in some ways be viewed as a higher octave of the Moon. The first nine paths form the ‘housing’ of Daath, and five of these reach down from the Abyss to the world of the Ruach (mind-spirit) below it. The number 9 is also that of teth, the Serpent of Knowledge and letter of the 19th path of the Occult Intelligence.

Grimoire of Armadel: Conclusion

If the purpose of The Grimoire of Armadel is considered to be that of initiation and of obtaining knowledge for the perfection of wisdom and understanding—as opposed to the presentation of a magical cookbook of recipes for the gratification of purely egotistical whims—then it may reward the efforts of the theurgist dedicated to learning its secrets.



Notes

1. Eliphaz Levi, Transcendental Magic.
2. John Dee, 1527–1609. Dee was a scientist, magician and alchemist, and personal astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I.
3. The source MS is the Mysterium, in three parts (ref. Clay Holden Project).

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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Friday, 24 November 2017

Magick of Lord Dunsany Journey of the King

Time and the Gods was the second collection of short stories by Lord Dunsany (1858–1957), first published in 1906 (Heinemann).[1] Within five years the Irish baron was lauded as the greatest British writer and poet.

Magick of Lord Dunsany: Time, Sydney Sime

Curiously, his works—80 published books not including plays and unpublished short stories—are now relegated to the backwaters of the fantasy genre. However, Lord Dunsany constantly experimented with literary form. He invented the fantasy genre if he had anything to do with it at all. His influence with writers, poets and playwrights was and still is vast. HP Lovecraft and JRR Tolkien, to name but two of the most well known writers, have declared their respect. In 1923, Lovecraft wrote,
Dunsany has influenced me more than anyone else except Poe—his rich language, his cosmic point of view, his remote dream-world, and his exquisite sense of the fantastic all appeal to me more than anything else in modern literature. My first encounter with him—in the autumn of 1919—gave an immense impetus to my writing; perhaps the greatest it has ever had.[2]
Part One of Time and the Gods deals with the gods of Old, or gods of Pegana, and how they created the world.[3] All the while, a mysterious foe lurked, whom the gods took at first for their slave, while they sought to understand his riddle. The masked god is in fact Time, and in Part Two, Journey of the King, his role is more fully revealed.

The style of Journey of the King is at times evocative of an ancient Egyptian or Indian folk tale. Viewed philosophically, the story is an early and vibrant form of universalism or syncretism, for it harmonises elements of Taoism, Hinduism, ancient Egyptian pharaonic theocracy and Christian theology.[4]

At the beginning, the King sends the dancers and the wine-bearers out of the palace and demands of the prophets that they tell him of future things. He first tells the prophets that he will make a journey with many horses, yet riding upon none. The prophets then each give their own unique version of the King’s journey through the dream world or afterlife.
One of these, the prophet Samahn, reveals the fate of all the souls of all the worlds, to be imprisoned in “the body of a man with five small windows closely barred, and each one shackled with forgetfulness”. According to traditional Eastern wisdom, the five senses are five robbers, the slayers of the real. The King is mind or spirit that presides over them yet is often bound by their fascination. In the words of Swami Vivekananda,
My five oarsmen are foolish, and the helmsman is weak. My bearings are lost, my boat is sinking.[5]
Samahn also tells how the gods of Old, through man’s neglect of their altars, begin to fade and die. They subsequently vanish away, taking their dreams with them, though there is a hint that they will be replaced by a new god that is not of the gods of Old. We may speculate that the new god is man himself, the god that will bedazzle all with new inventions and wonders, all the while leading man to final destruction.

The prophet Monith of the Temple of Azure tells of the King’s journey among the stars, through space and outside of time. The prophecy is particularly resonant with ancient Egyptian lore. Monith also tells that King Ebalon once went out riding and when a beggar, Yeb, failed to get out of the way, the King rode over him with his horses. The King is reincarnated as Yeb, the beggar, in a future life. Yet in that future, the beggar meets King Ebalon, who has not the soul of Yeb. In this way, the destiny of the King—and of all Kings in all worlds, times and places—is unfolded.

Magick of Lord Dunsany: Shimono Kani, Sidney Sime

Time and the Gods is brimful of spiritual wisdom and arcane knowledge expressed through sensuous, subtly nuanced poetry and lyricism. We know that Dunsany became acquainted with WB Yeats of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and ‘Æ’ George William Russell, who was a confidente of the Order if not an actual member.[6] Time and the Gods was written around the same time that Aleister Crowley’s wife Rose mediumistically received the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis in Cairo, 1904. Lord Dunsany could not have known of the existence of the then unpublished manuscript. He might not have cared much for it if he had, yet there can be little doubt that Journey of the King provides a meaningful context against which the spiritual meaning of verse II: 58 becomes crystal clear.
Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King.
The prose-poetry of the tale displays Qabalistic sense and imagery. Whether this was the working of powerful intuition or otherwise, we cannot say. Part of the prophecy of Monith of the Temple of Azure, where the King gives his final blessing on the land, is a conveyance of Tiphereth in its fullest spiritual sense. The imagery of the Qabalah is echoed in the prophecy of the Prophet of Journeys. The Initiation of the King is here mapped through time and space, passing through worlds of wonder. One may recognise the initiatic journey beyond Tiphereth to the threshold of Da’ath and beyond.
The journey of the King shall be an old journey pushed on apace. Many a year before the making of the moon thou camest down with dream camels from the City without a name that stands beyond all the stars. And then began thy journey over the Waste of Nought, and thy dream camel bore thee well when those of certain of thy fellow travellers fell down in the Waste and were covered over by the silence and were turned again to nought; and those travellers when their dream camels fell, having nothing to carry them further over the Waste, were lost beyond and never found the earth. These are those men that might have been but were not. And all about thee fluttered the myriad hours travelling in great swarms across the Waste of Nought.
Compare with Liber AL, I: 27 and III: 72.
O Nuit, continuous one of Heaven, let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!
I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power; the wand of the Force of Coph Nia—but my left hand is empty, for I have crushed an Universe; and nought remains.
The narrative includes a journey on a dream camel to the end of space and time, where only Nought prevails. The prophecy of Samahn tells of the bones of thirty ancient Kings resting upon golden thrones in a white house, bearing their sceptres. The number 30 is that of ‘L’, the letter of the Egyptian goddess of the scales embodying the principle of natural law or karma.[7] The white house or palace is a well known symbol of Kether the Crown, the primal manifestation of the Tree of Life, while the golden throne is Tiphereth at the centre of all, which bears the light or lamp of Kether in the lower worlds. The prophets that foretell the journey are ten in number, which is that of the whole Tree of Life and of Malkuth the Kingdom. Time, the End of All, is the eleventh masked prophet. The number 11 is that of Da’ath, or Knowledge, as declared in Liber AL, II: 6.
I am the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star. I am Life, and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the knowledge of death.
Da’ath is not a place as such, but a mode of consciousness and a point of transition between the worlds of appearance and the indescribable worlds of pure spirit, where form is at best merely foreshadowed. Da’ath has sometimes been described, particularly in the writings of Kenneth Grant, as a place where infinite worlds may not only be accessed but also created. Of such post-abysmal dreams, the prophet Ynar of the Crystal Peak—perhaps the most powerful of them all for he is later condemned for his prophecy yet cannot be touched—tells thus:
And thou shalt find that dreams are real where there is nought as far as the Rim but only thy dreams and thee. With them thou shalt build palaces and cities resting upon nothing and having no place in time, not to be assailed by the hours or harmed by ivy or rust, not to be taken by conquerors, but destroyed by thy fancy if thou dost wish it so or by thy fancy rebuilded.
Through many worlds and dreams—which Lord Dunsany in his narrative insists are more real than the world of men—this beautiful and complex tale comes to a final resolution. Yet as one might expect, the resolution is achieved after a weird fashion. The journey begins where it ends, thus setting a keystone for all future writers in what was to become the fantasy genre.

The works of Dunsany are more than merely influential. He opened the ways of boundless, unfettered imagination to a degree that is incomparable with anything written before or since. At the same time much of his work, as exemplified in the eleven chapters of the Journey of the King, carries a real weight of spiritual, mystic and even prophetic insight.


Notes

1. Lord Dunsany’s full name was Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany.
2. Lovecraft—A Study in the Fantastic, Maurice Lévy, translated by ST Joshi, pp. 33 (Wayne State University Press 1988).
3. The Gods of Pegana is the title of Lord Dunsany’s first book, published on commission in 1905.
4. ‘Pharaonic theocracy’ is a term coined by RA Schwaller de Lubicz. See in particular, Sacred Science [Inner Traditions International]. Christian elements are sometimes conveyed with irony, as in ‘The Highwayman’ and ‘The Kith of the Elf-folk’ from The Sword of Welleran and other stories.
5. The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 7 (talk given on Wednesday June 19th, 1895).
6. According to Ithell Colquhoun, Sword of Wisdom (pp. 136): “Maybe one should include [in the list of members of Isis-Urania] some of Yeats’s contacts in the Dublin Hermetic Society and the Dublin Branch of the TS [Theosophical Society], who were also connected … with this Temple through him. Yeats certainly wrote to Lady Gregory and to GW Russell (AE) too freely on Order-matters if they were not members.”
7. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of the scales and balance (Libra), is depicted on the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot trump Adjustment VIII, which corresponds Qabalistically to Lamed (‘L’, 30) and the 22nd path of the Tree of Life.

© Oliver St. John 2017

This article is the subject of the Temple of Babalon podcast, Lord Dunsany Journey of the King Part One. The podcast is in two parts and features a dramatised audio broadcast of the short story, unabridged.

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Saturday, 21 October 2017

New Light on Stele 666

Ankh-af-na-khonsu shall go forth in the light, bearing the lamp and staff of Thelema among the living souls that dwell upon the earth.
New Light on Stele 666: Stele of Revealing
 The pharaoh Sety I and Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the priest and scribe of the Stele of Revealing, frequented the region of Upper Egypt extending from Thebes to Denderah and Abydos.[1] Ankh-af-na-khonsu was the opener of the doors of heaven at the Temple of Karnak in Thebes while Sety I built his temple at Abydos.[2] The scribe and the pharaoh lived in the late dynastic period. The prophets and sages of Egypt at that time foresaw the ending of their world, in which their secret knowledge would be lost and forgotten for millennia. Elsewhere, the biblical prophet Ezekiel was aflame with the vision of splendour. His visions also foretold of the doom and destruction of civilisations.[3] We have, perhaps, arrived at a comparable period in the history of human civilisation.

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

The Stele of Revealing is the funeral stone of a priest of the god Mentu, who lived and died during the 25th and 26th dynasties of Egypt. Theurgic activation of the funeral stone introduced Thelema to the world at the dawn of the twentieth century, albeit beneath a heavy veil. The frontside of the Stele shows an enthroned god and adoring priest under the nocturnal sky of Nuit and winged sun disk Hadit (or Heru Behedet). Mentu is the name of the enthroned god, usually named Ra-hoor-khuit. Mentu is a name of Set, and a special name of Ra as the sun’s heat at full strength. Herukhuti, Hrumachis, Hormaku (Sphinx of Egypt) and Ra-hoor-khuit are simply different spellings of the same name.

The ancient Egyptian mode of analogous thinking seems complex to the modern mind, accustomed as it is to so-called concrete facts and linear strategies. Mentu may be understood as simply a unified form of Horus and Set. The form of Mentu depicted on the Stele of Revealing combines the attributes of several Egyptian gods, as was customary with the neteru associated with important cult centres such as Thebes.[4]

Was-sceptre Egyptian hieroglyphic determinative
Thebes is derived from the Greek name for the place known to the Egyptians as Waset (or Uaset). It means ‘Place of the Sceptre’, and the was, which we call ‘sceptre’, is identical to the name and image of the god Set. Indeed, the was sceptres carried by all high-ranking priests were crowned by the likeness of the god Set. The sceptre was typically the length of the human spine and terminated in a two-pronged fork at the base. It is the symbol of dual manifestation. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn referred to the was as the ‘phoenix wand’, Creation of Life through the Initiation of Fire.[5]

Hormaku is the ‘God of the two horizons’, or ‘Horus in the sky’. The Sphinx of Egypt is the God of the Horizon as she points towards the place where the sun rises at the equinox or first point of Aries.[6] Thus, by precession of the equinoxes she now points towards the cusp of Aquarius or Nuit, The Star XVII of the Tarot trump.[7] The ‘future aeon’ referred to in Liber AL vel Legis, III: 57 as Hrumachis is not in the future but is here and now and for all eternity.

In 1904, Crowley employed the services of an Egyptologist to get the Stele translated then applied his poetic skills to render this in a manner that conveyed his magical ideas and understanding. His rendition is easy to memorise for ritual use.
I am the Lord of Thebes, and I
The inspired forth-speaker of Mentu;
For me unveils the veilèd sky,
The self-slain Ankh-af-na-khonsu
Whose words are truth. I invoke, I greet
Thy presence, O Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Unity uttermost showed!
I adore the might of Thy breath,
Supreme and terrible God,
Who makest the gods and death
To tremble before Thee: —
I, I adore thee!

Appear on the throne of Ra!
Open the ways of the Khu!
Lighten the ways of the Ka!
The ways of the Khabs run through
To stir me or still me!
Aum! let it fill me! 
The light is mine; its rays consume
Me: I have made a secret door
Into the House of Ra and Tum,
Of Khephra and of Ahathoor.
I am thy Theban, O Mentu,
The prophet Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

By Bes-na-Maut my breast I beat;
By wise Ta-Nech I weave my spell.
Show thy star-splendour, O Nuit!
Bid me within thine House to dwell,
O wingèd snake of light Hadit!
Abide with me, Ra Hoor Khuit.
When the hieroglyphics are looked into closely, further depths of meaning may be plumbed. Crowley’s mantram begins, “Unity uttermost showed, I adore the might of thy breath”. The ancient Egyptians were not overly concerned with theological ‘unity’, for the gods are polymorphous and in nature all manifestation is dual. When manifestation is withdrawn it is understood as the circle of Nuit, or All. In Thelema this is traditionally formularised as 0 = 2 (Nuit and Hadit, the ubiquitous point in the circle). Something is certainly being ‘showed’ or revealed, and while it is not wrong to assume the Qabalistic Kether, the Crown (the god wears a solar crown), the Egyptian Akh conveys a subtler depth and range of meaning.[8]

The “might of thy breath” is a translation of tuf ur biu, which includes the plural of ‘souls’ or ‘spirits’. It is easy to follow Crowley’s line of thought, for in the Qabalah, breath, mind and spirit are interchangeable terms summed up as Ruach. Yet the Egyptian sense is of many souls or spirits. To further our understanding, we need to know something about the various parts of the soul. One valuable source is E.A. Wallis Budge’s introduction to his special 1923 edition of The Book of the Dead.[9] A further source, less well known but an astounding narrative in its own right, is Omm Sety’s Egypt.[10] It is only necessary here to summarise the key parts of the soul as described by Budge.

1. Khat—the physical body or ‘shell’; the corruptible and the perishable: Malkuth.
2. Ka—the double; an abstract form of the person that especially signifies the vital energy; the Ka dwells in the body or tomb, though under some circumstances it can wander about at will: Yesod.
3. Ba—the heart-soul, often depicted as a bird with a human face, most often dwells with the Ka and is able to assume a material or non-material form at will: Paroketh.
4. Ab—the heart (not the physical organ) or soul; it is also associated with intelligence (of the heart), especially intuition and analogous thinking: Tiphereth.
5. Khaibet—the ‘shadow’; like the Ka it may be nourished by offerings and can have an existence apart from the physical body: Malkuth and Yesod.
6. Khu—the spiritual soul, often depicted in the form of an Ibis and sometimes interchangeable with the notion of ‘a spirit’, as a “Soul which under no circumstances could die” (Budge). The Khu is cognate with the Judaeo Christian term, ‘Holy Guardian Angel’, which the Greeks called Augoeides or ‘shining one’: Binah and Neschemah.
7. Sekhem—‘power’, also vitality, though not that of the earthly Ka, as the Sekhem dwells in heaven with the Khus; the name of the Egyptian lion goddess Sekhet (or Sekhmet) is the feminine noun: Chokmah.
8. Ren—the ‘name’, which has spiritual and magical import for it is linked to the soul or spirit: Tiphereth.
9. Sahu—a spiritual body that springs forth from the material body and forms a habitation for the soul: Malkuth and Tiphereth.

The Khabs or ‘star’ of Da’ath is not listed by Budge but is nonetheless vital to our understanding of Thelema. In Liber AL vel Legis, I: 8–9, Aiwass declares:
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs. Worship then the Khabs, and behold my light shed over you!
Budge did not describe the Akh (Malkuth and Kether). The Akh is named on the reverse side of the Stele of Revealing and forms the first syllable of the mantram derived by Crowley from the second stanza of his poetised translation.
AKH DUA
TUF UR BIU
BI A’A CHEFU
DUDU NERAF AN NETERU
An alternative translation of the second stanza might read as follows.
O how I have longed for thee to appear
In the splendour of thy shining rays.
Thou has set the wizened path
Before thy blessed souls—secret are the ways!
O thou, warrior at the gates of heaven,
To thee, to thee I give praise!
The ancient Egyptian language was such that the layers of possible meaning are practically infinite. For example, there is frequent repetition of a phrase for particular emphasis. There are puns—for the play-on-words was much loved by the Egyptians. There are etymological cross-references to actual earth locations known to the initiate and traveller. Tuf ur biu suggests, among other things, an ancient nome centre that housed a subterranean labyrinth, in the centre of which was a secret shrine to Horus.

In Omm Sety’s Egypt, the functions of the Akh are described in detail.[11] In Budge’s Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary there are many meanings and functions for the noun and verb and, perhaps not surprisingly, they agree with those given by Sety.[12] Principally, the sense of Akh is ‘to soar, fly through the air (as a bird)’. It also has the meaning of ‘reaching out’, which is the gesture made by the priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu on the Stele of Revealing. Other spellings convey ‘fire’, ‘shining’, ‘radiance’, ‘spirit’. According to Sety, the key spiritual and magical function of the Akh is to unite the Ka, Ba and Khu so the Ka is then able to freely travel to any world, at will. 

On the third and lower portion of the Stele of Revealing the funerary oration of the priest of the Theban cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu declares he is the son of Bes-na-mut, a priest with the same titles, and his mother Tanech, a musician for Amen-Ra. On the reverse of the Stele it is stated that his soul has passed through the gate of the west or western peak, known by the Egyptians as the passage to Amentet the land of the dead. Thus Ankh-af-na-khonsu may travel the worlds at will and even visit the earth. His name is after all that of the moon god or ‘Sky-Rider’, Khonsu. In standing before the sceptre-bearing Ra-Mentu as shown on the obverse of the Stele, the priestly prophet is as the moon shining forth with the sun’s reflected radiance. On the reverse side of the Stele, Ankh-af-na-khonsu declares he has joined his self to the earth even in death.
Do not speak against me in the presence of the Great Lord of the West: Although I have joined myself to the earth through the western gate of the sky may I endure upon the earth … Ankh-af-na-khonsu shall go forth in the light, bearing the lamp and staff of Thelema among the living souls that dwell upon the earth.[13]
In Omm Sety’s Egypt, the pharaoh Sety I also tells how upon death (in Thebes) he passed through the gate of the west.
During life the ba, akh and ka dwell always in the khat (physical body). As you well know, the akh may be freed by one who knows magic, and it can travel to distant places or even to Amenti. There are a few learned magicians who can also set the ka free during life, but this is not a good thing to do. If the ba leaves the khat, the khat will immediately die. After death, the ba, akh and ka are reunited in Amenti, but the ka may prefer to return and visit the earth. It is free to come and go at will, and this makes no difference to the reunited ba and akh, which have become as they were on earth. In Amenti there is no sickness or physical pain. But how terrible can be the pain of the heart. … I was at Thebes when I left this world, and I passed by way of Peak-of-the-West.
The tale of Dorothy Eady is no less improbable to the material scientist or rational thinker than is the reception of the Book of the Law in Cairo—in spite of Crowley’s efforts to make his account of it seem plausible. The account of Dorothy Eady is so detailed and factually accurate that even modern-day Egyptologists will not attempt to debunk it. Curiously, the Egyptologist Dorothy Eady was not only born in 1904 but was also mentored as a young girl by E.A. Wallis Budge.

The Akh may be used to travel about but it cannot do anything with physical matter because it is not of the (physical) body. Sety has explained how certain priests with knowledge of such things, having power of their Akh, may have planned to revisit the earth even in future times. In this way the pharaoh Sety I was able to visit Dorothy Eady (Omm Sety), and Ankh-af-na-khonsu and Aiwass, his mentor, were able to reveal the mysteries of the Theban gods of the Stele of Revealing to Rose Edith Kelly in Cairo, 1904.



Notes

1. Thus the House of Life (Denderah or Iunet), the House of Death (Abydos or Abdu) and the House of Ordinance (Thebes or Waset).
2. It was one of the official duties of Ankh-af-na-khonsu to literally open the doors that led out on to the roof of the Temple of Karnak, and so to the sky. At certain times of the year, for example the heliacal rising of Sirius, Egyptian priests would carry an ornate shrine housing a god on a lengthy procession that culminated on the roof of a temple. The shrine would then be placed so the god could observe the sun rising.
3. The Vision of Splendour is, by Qabalistic correspondence, the magical power of the 8th path of Hod on the Hermetic Tree of Life. The vision of Ezekiel is recorded in the book of Ezekiel, 1–26.
4. At the centre-right of the Stele is a priest of the god Mentu or Set. The enthroned god depicted at the centre-left is Mentu embodying the attributes of Ra, Horus, Set and Nekhebit or Khut-i (the serpent).
5. The phoenix—the Greek term for the Egyptian bennu or ‘soul of Aunnu’—is a bird (heron?), whereas the was is the image of Set. Creation of Life through the Initiation of Fire corresponds to the 19th path of Leo the Lion. See Crowley, 777, notes to column XLI lines 12 and 19.
6. The Sun enters the zodiacal sign of Aries around the 21st March in the northern hemisphere of the globe. The (twelve) zodiacal signs must not be confused with the constellations by which they are named.
7. The stars in Tarot trump The Star XVII have been variously described as the Pleiades, Venus and others, including Sirius. Nearly all decks show a naked goddess pouring water from a vase, which is the magical image of Aquarius, the Waters of Space. In Egypt, the annual inundation of the Nile was figured by the same image and identified with the heliacal rising of Sirius, the star of Set-Isis. Hence Kenneth Grant in his letters and writings referred to Set (or Saturn) as the ‘power behind Venus’.
8. The opening of the verse, Akh, is usually transliterated A KA in reference to the Stele. This method of transliteration renders the words in a way that is easier for the English tongue to manage but obscures much of the hieroglyphic sound and meaning. The ‘kh’ is identical to a Hebrew cheth or Greek chi, while the ‘a’ is similar in sound to the Hebrew ayin (A’a).
9. The 1923 edition of The Book of the Dead was republished in unabridged form by Arkana in 1985. Budge’s Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary (Vols One and Two) covertly reveals ancient Egyptian non-numerical Qabalah.
10. Hanny el Zeini and Catherine Dees [St. Lynne’s Press].
11. Ibid.
12. Volume 1 pp. 135 [ibid].
13. The word for ‘will or desire’ (merrt-f) is also the verb ‘to love’. The word is therefore identical to Thelema (93), which is equal to Agape (93): Love is the law, love under will. See Budge, Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Vol II (pp. 309–10).

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2018
This is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Total Eclipse: Wedding of the Beast and his Bride

Our readers in the USA will be particularly aware of the forthcoming total eclipse of the sun in the last degrees of Leo the Lion on 21st August, 2017. The totality will be visible across much of North America.

Thoth Tarot Atu Lust XI: Wedding of the Beast and his Bride
The longitudinal position of the Sun on 21st August coincides with that of the star Regulus, primary symbol of the Aeon of Hrumachis, as named in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 34.

“But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down and shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth, and shall stand until the fall of the Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one assume my throne and place.”

Initiates may thus focus their efforts towards liberation from the aeon of the demiurge, the Evil Genius of the human race. In so doing, we prepare the earth for the return to her true place among the stars.

The fixed star Regulus is one of the four ancient ‘Watchers of the Skies’ marking the corners of the visible universe. Regulus is otherwise known as Cor Leonis, ‘heart of the lion’. The Aeonic Mutable Cross of Hrumachis was formed by the end of 2012 when the position of Regulus moved out of Leo and into the sign of Virgo. Exactly three years later, at the Capricorn solstice of 2015, Boleskine House burned to the ground, fulfilling the prophecy declared in Liber AL vel Legis, III: 34. The article Prophecy of Liber AL Fulfilled appeared shortly after those events.

The alchemical rectification or fixing of the volatile was known and operated by ancient Egyptian priest-kings in the ceremony called the Opening the Mouth (of the Lion). The Mutable Cross opens a passage into hyperspace, thus affording the transmutation of the dual kundalini energy (Aub) into the starlight of Nuit (Aud). In ancient Egyptian terms, it is the forming of the magical body called the Khu, which houses the immortal Khabs star.[1] As it is put in Liber AL, I: 8,
The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.
Every Neophyte works to develop their understanding of the mysterious role played by the tetrahedronal pyramid in initiation. The tetrahedron, symbol of the Diamond Soul, is adumbrated by the Probationer as they near the end of their course. The Neophyte realises this more fully at the initiation of the Phoenix. The interplay of the triangle and square, the ternary and quadruplicity (‘Hormaku’), overshadows the whole course of initiation available to humanity in its final wave of manifestation. The three-dimensional tetrahedron representing the Khabs (‘star’) in time and space thus opens and ‘dissolves’. It then passes out of time and space into the infinite field of space (zero) and consciousness (none). The tetrahedron opens up as the Sri Yantra, the Eye in the Triangle or Hawk’s Eye in the Silver Star. As declared in Liber AL, II: 44,
Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter. There is the dissolution, and eternal ecstasy in the kisses of Nu.
The flame of Hadit now burns with the Khabs star dwelling in the celestial Khu, so the Khabs passes out of the three dimensional universe of time and space.

The Trident of Neptune

An ominous portent of another kind appears the following day, August 22nd 2017, as the Sun enters Virgo. A strange configuration appears, which we can best describe as the Trident of Neptune. We created a simple graphic here to illustrate this. 

Neptune Trident: Zodiacal Configuration for Sun entering Virgo August 22nd, 2017

The main branch of the Trident is formed by Neptune opposing Mercury and the Moon. The arms of the Trident are formed by Venus and Jupiter in square aspect. The upper points to the left and right of Neptune are formed by Uranus and Pluto, squaring Venus and Jupiter respectively.

Qabalistically, the supernal triad is represented above by Neptune, Uranus and Pluto. Below, symbolic of the terrestrial plane, we have Mercury (in retrograde cycle) and the Moon covering 8–15 degrees Virgo. The beneficent planets Jupiter and Venus here mediate between heaven and earth, the non-material and material worlds that compose the Thelemic two and naught (0=2 equation). As it is put in Liber AL, I: 28:
None breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two.
Traditionally, members of the Order celebrate the entry of the Sun into a new sign of the Zodiac each month. This entry of the Sun into Virgo, coinciding with the Trident of Neptune, is no exception. Here in the United Kingdom we will perform the rite of Nuit and Ra for Virgo at around 6pm GMT or Universal Time on the evening of Tuesday the 22nd August.[2] This ritual is a celebration of the ancient Egyptian mysteries of Isis. When Horus, the ‘Aeon’ or magical child, is poisoned by the weight of all the evils of humanity, Isis and Nephthys (the dual Aub wave) call for the sunboat of Ra to be stopped in its tracks (a total eclipse; shivadarshana).

Thus time stands still. In the silent chasm between the worlds that has opened up (rending of the veil), Isis is able to receive a communication from Tahuti or Thoth-Hermes. She is thus receptive to the Knowledge and Conversation of her Holy Guardian Angel. With the magical spell given her by Tahuti during the cessation of time, Isis is able to neutralise the poison and raise Horus from the dead.
There is a fascinating twist to this tale, in that the poisoners take the form of seven scorpions sacred to Hathoor (the Eye of Ra). When Isis compels them to be obedient (to the Great Work), they ‘turn down their heads’ and so the destructive forces that previously overwhelmed the chakras of life, love and liberty are banished and nature is renewed or restored.[3]

Eclipse Transits to the Natal Horoscope

The August 2017 total eclipse phenomenon will not be visibly perceptible to observers in the UK, though its shadow falls across much of North America. The stars and planets form the same degrees of celestial longitude wherever we happen to be on the earth. Eclipse horoscopes around the world differ only in the matter of the house positions, not the signs or aspects between the planets and luminaries. The sun will be low in the west, in the 7th astrological house in the UK. North America is five hours behind us by the clock, so it will be the middle of the afternoon there.

The house position becomes important if we want to juxtapose the eclipse chart against our birth horoscope. For example, if the eclipse point transits the 7th house in your chart, then expect the power of the eclipse to be experienced through other people, especially those you live with or have a one-to-one relationship with. The house cusps are very sensitive to such transits. If your Ascendant happens to fall between 28 and 30 degrees Leo then the power of the eclipse might be measured in personal terms. It would be as though a ‘karmic shadow’ moved across the whole sphere of life and influence. One might experience déjà vu very intensely and on a daily basis for several weeks, for example. It is worth noting here that while it is natural we should look to the precise moment when such an eclipse achieves totality, in astrological and psychic terms the immediate—quite often disruptive—effects stretch for a lunation at least (i.e., one lunar month). However, a major eclipse like this one can mark events of an entire lifetime. In collective terms, it can mark the dramatic culmination (and initiation) of long lasting social and political changes.


Notes

1. See ‘Rectification, Fixing the Volatile’, pp. 131–133, The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga.
2. ‘The Ceremonies of Nuit and Ra’, Volume VI Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light.
3. ‘Turning down the heads’ of the scorpions is the power of Isis, as recounted in her various legends. See Budge, Gods of the Egyptians.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Thelemic Mysticism: Will to a Great Work


Theurgic operations do not begin or end with a word or an oath; they begin and end with silence. We behold the sun and the stars in a light no less than that of divine revelation. Yet what we perceive is not that; it is the product of congress between the absolute and ourselves. Beyond the fixed stars, as Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi put it, is the ‘Sky without Stars’.

Thelemic Mysticism: Veils of Ain Soph Aur reflecting AtziluthIn Qabalistic terms, the void or limitless space called Ain Soph forms points of junction between planetary bodies and the viewer. The sensible universe is thus enclosed between the eye of the eternal and the eye of the seer. The source, or void spirit, is latent. On the threshold exist nodal points or space marks forming a nexus outside of space and time. The universe is a matrix providing body or form for lines of light unique to the position of the individual yet woven from an undifferentiated source. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 28–29,
None, breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two. For I am divided for love’s sake, for the chance of union.
In Thelemic cosmology we do not posit the absolute in terms of ‘one’, but in terms of zero, containing all possibilities, and two. The universe appears by power of dual manifestation. According to Liber AL vel Legis, I: 30,
This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.
[This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs]

On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the first emanation is Kether the Crown, the ‘one’. However, the supernal sephiroth are best thought of as the unified triangular base of a tetrahedronal pyramid, of which the apex is Da’ath. The first three emanations may be understood as a cloak or veil of concealment cast upon the triple void named Ain Soph Aur, as reflected through the mirror of Da’ath.
According to Liber AL, I: 4,
Every number is infinite; there is no difference.
Chokmah, which is numbered ‘two’ as the seat of primal duality, means ‘Wisdom’, which the Greeks call Sophia. Chokmah is paired with Binah, ‘Understanding’. These are the root of force and form, the means of dual manifestation. Mystic unity, often misconstrued as ‘oneness of being’, is not a goal but is the yogic means to render the inward Seeing Eye unclouded by thought. In reality, there is no separate or unitary consciousness, for that is a contradiction in terms.

Yoga literally means, ‘joining together’, and such union is integral as a means to the spiritual goal of knowing God, or Reality. We first fuse together subject and object through yogic concentration and stillness of mind and body. Division, on the other hand, is creative. Division or separation is begetting, multiplication, the discernment of one thing from another. BRA, which has the meaning, ‘created’, ‘to carve out’, ‘to separate or select’, is the verbal root of the first word of the first book of Genesis, ‘In the beginning’ (BRAShITh).
In the beginning the Elohim created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and the darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of the Elohim moved upon the face of the waters. And the Elohim said, Let there be light: and there was light. And the Elohim saw the light, that it was good: and the Elohim divided the light from the darkness.
Here is described the actions of the Logos, which utters the word of the divine absolute. It is attributed Qabalistically to Chokmah. The intelligence of Binah, ‘Understanding’, is the Matrix by which the word is clothed in form. In Kether is the union of these two, in which is concealed the will to divide and unite, to create and destroy. The uniting of subject and object, Chokmah and Binah, is to return to the source, that Mystery which cannot be defined or divided by reason.

Thelema and the Divided Will

Yoga is not about evolution but involution, the return to the source of all. According to Liber AL, III: 2,
There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known.
There must always be division in the self when it comes to the practice of magick and yoga. Until the True Will (Thelema) is known, the personal will is constantly at odds. Even then, illumination is not the end of the struggle, the spiritual battle. Magick and yoga, if pursued to the end, will ultimately depose a terrible tyrant, which we call the human ego, and put in its place the true King and guide of the soul, which we call the Holy Guardian Angel. The mind-body complex will use every means of persuasion to indefinitely postpone the practice of magick and yoga. 

1. The body says, “We can do this tomorrow, for now I am very comfortable as I am and I want to enjoy this comfort now so that I know that I am alive and well and living this life. These grave matters of spirit, this arduous work, can wait”.

2. The body says, “I am uncomfortable. Something is not right and I need to know what it is. I will be better equipped tomorrow. Things will be different then. We can do this tomorrow, when I am sure of myself.”

When the will is divided there is no single eye that can look into eternity. To the divided self, matter reigns supreme, is completely invincible. And yet this restless condition of mind, this unease with things, is the necessary prerequisite to any Great Work. It is the question that opens the Arthurian quest for the Holy Graal:

“What ails thee, o king?”

The Evil Genius (viz., ego) nonetheless seizes upon the condition as compelling evidence that any Great Work is mistaken and should be abandoned until the perfect conditions arrive.

Thelema and Satan

The Christian mystics made much of the fleshly opposition, the constant struggle with Satan. The Angel Satan is therefore best understood as the principle of initiation through trial and ordeal, as is clear from the account given in the book of Matthew, 4: 1–11. Jacob Boehme asserted that the struggle itself is vital. We are human; we are imperfect. The greatest of saints were great not because it was easy for them but because they endured in spite of everything that hell had to throw at them. Our rationality is frequently no ally, taking the side of Satan as the materialistic Opposer. According to Liber AL, II: 30–31,
If Will stops and cries Why, invoking Because, then Will stops and does nought.
If Power asks why, then is Power weakness.

Thelema versus Humanistic Psychology

The materialist, who wants everything explained in rational terms, regards Mystery with utmost contempt. The spiritual is reduced to the question posed in couch therapy: ‘How are we feeling today?’ The aim is to feel good about oneself. Feeling good in the face of the tragedy of the world requires some dishonesty to accomplish. The needs of the human ego are paramount in such personal diagnostics. A magical and spiritual practice, far from massaging the ego, will tend—at least at first—to be a source of pain and discomfort to mind and body. Materialism places sole reliance on rationality and intellect. It therefore reduces any Great Work to mere self-affirmation. Worse, psychological reductionism declares that the self can empower the self, the self can convey to its own. It is the primary delusion of the human ego. Humanistic psychology is now the common currency of academic philosophy. It affirms the woeful solipsistic mantram that there is nothing beyond the self, there is no truth beyond the self, and that truth is only what you make of it personally. It is what René Guenon described as the force of ‘anti-initiation’ in his Crisis of the Modern Age. It is the hypnotic refutation of true knowledge, for it admits to no truth beyond the self, which is whatever we choose to make of it.

Thelema and Mysticism

The mystic Jacob Boehme clearly understood that the True Will, which we call Thelema, is not a personal will or desire. Neither does it originate from the human intellect or psyche, for the nature of the psyche is reflective as the moon. Boehme was born in Görlitz in 1575. He began life as a shepherd, then took up an apprenticeship and became a master shoemaker. His work was suppressed for a time, and he was fortunate not to have been tried and found guilty of heresy. Having nothing with the desire to attain personal happiness, comfort or wellbeing, Boehme’s expressed concern was to know God. In his Confessions, Boehme writes,
I besought the Lord earnestly for his Holy Spirit and his grace, that he would please to bless and guide me in him, and take that away from me which turned me from him. I resigned myself wholly to him, that I might not live to my own will, but his …
Thelema is the Greek word used many times in the New Testament to describe the will that is expressly not the personal will or desire. For example, in the book of John, 6: 38:
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.
The Christian term ‘grace’ is as much a technical term as darshana, and should never be confused with ‘favour’, though it often is. The Thelemite will in all probability eschew the Christian Saviour—if the Light of the World is placed in such terms—while readily accepting that the Holy Guardian Angel must be the sole guide, the ‘King, Ruler and Helper’, as it is put in the Graeco-Egyptian Bornless Ritual.
This is the Lord of the Gods: This is the Lord of the Universe: This is He whom the winds fear: This is He, who having made voice by His commandment is Lord of all things: King, Ruler and Helper.
What if we should persist with the practice, resisting all contrivances of mind and body to pull us from the path? Perhaps nothing! Or perhaps that which is called grace in Christian mysticism and darshana in the East—literally, ‘a glimpse’. Boehme, in the simple but beautiful language of his Confessions, described a direct or ‘received’ experience that transcended all his knowledge.
In this … the Gate was opened to me, that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at an University …
Here, Boehme perceived a “great mystery”, a “thorough view of the Universe, as a complex moving fullness wherein all things are couched and wrapped up”. This was at first impossible for him to explain or set down in writing.
Yet it opened itself in me, from time to time, as in a young plant. It was with me for the space of twelve years, and was as it were breeding. I found a powerful instigation within me before I could bring it forth into external form of writing; but whatever I could apprehend with the external principle of my mind … I wrote down.
Far from being a state of finality or attainment, such glimpses are no more than encouragement; the struggle goes on.
Afterwards, however, the Sun shone upon me a good while, but not constantly, for sometimes the Sun hid itself, and then I knew not nor well understood my own labour. Man must confess that his knowledge is not his own but from God, who manifests the Ideas of Wisdom to the soul, in what measure he pleases …
Boehme insists that in writing down his experiences in case this might help some other on the path, his hand is guided by a spirit that is utterly beyond his self.
Neither is this my natural will, that I can do it by my own small ability; for if the Spirit were withdrawn from me, then I could neither know nor understand my own writings.
In the prayer that closes the first chapter of Confessions, there is yet an intimacy with the Serpent Power or Occult Force.
O immense Greatness! I cannot compare thee with any thing, but only with the resurrection from the dead; there will the Love-Fire rise up again in us, and rekindle again our astringent, bitter, and cold, dark and dead powers, and embrace us most courteously and friendly. O gracious, amiable, blessed Love and clear bright Light, tarry with us, I pray thee, for the evening is at hand.
Curiously, this is echoed by the words of the English mystic Thomas De Quincey on the approach of nightfall in his own Confessions:
A sudden step upon the stairs broke up my dream, and recalled me to myself. Dangerous hours were now drawing near, and I prepared for a hasty farewell.
Goethe produced his writing, his poetry; Blake produced his etchings, his wonders of colour and form. Aleister Crowley produced, with the aid of his wife Rose and the prince priest Aiwass, the Book of the Law. Kenneth Grant produced, at length, his Wisdom of S’lba. It is easy to imagine we must all produce our own ‘holy book’, our masterpiece of art or literature—some tangible material evidence that we have been where we have been, that we have seen what we have seen. It is wonderful to produce works of art but if we fall into the snare of seeking self-identification and self-validation, we close the Abyss as the limit placed above our own heads and hearts.

Materialism insists on a result as final, as product. At the end of the line is the product itself, and the consumer that purchases it through the need to self-identify (thus the ‘brand’ is all-important). Crowley, in his instructional works, spoke perhaps rather too frequently of ‘attainment’. Sages of old times were frequently more pragmatic. The second chapter of Jacob Boehme’s Confessions gets straight to the business of daily strife. It is not his aim to confess worldly sins as such, thus inviting prurience. The nature of his confession is that a Great Work is as much a daily struggle for him as it is for anyone else. The fifteen minutes of being born aloft on wings of grace may well be followed by twelve years arduous work.
I am a sinful and mortal man, as well as thou, and I must every day and hour grapple, struggle, and fight with the Devil who afflicts me in my corrupted lost nature, in the wrathful power which is in my flesh, as in all men continually. Suddenly I get the better of him, suddenly he is too hard for me; yet, notwithstanding, he has not overcome or conquered me, though he often gets the advantage over me. If he buffets me, then I must retire and give back, but the divine power helps me again; then he also receives a blow, and often loses the day in the fight. But when he is overcome, then the heavenly gate opens in my spirit, and then the spirit sees the divine and heavenly Being, not externally beyond the body, but in the well-spring of the heart. There rises up a flash of the Light in the sensibility or thoughts of the brain, and therein the Spirit does contemplate.
Boehme makes it clear that such illumination is purely internal, “not externally beyond the body”, yet it arises within, not of the self yet apprehended by the self. This Devil, as with Satan as the Opposer to the Great Work, is no more and no less than the ordinary human nature and personal will. It is certainly possible to know a truth that transcends the self, that is no rational self-identifying assertion. It is even possible to be informed by such a truth or light while immersed in the darkness of mind and body that it is our lot to dwell in.
Though an angel from heaven should tell this to me, yet for all that I could not believe it, much less lay hold on it; for I should always doubt whether it was certainly so or no. But the Sun itself arises in my spirit, and therefore I am most sure of it.
The Book of the Law, in its three chapters and 220 verses, makes it clear that human rationality, the ‘dogs of reason’, is doomed, and is the arch means of self-dooming. The condemnation reaches a crescendo in Liber AL, II: 32—33.
Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite and unknown; and all their words are skew-wise.
Enough of Because! Be he damned for a dog!
Yet the great mystery is declared as fully knowable. In Liber AL, I: 58, the starry goddess Nuit declares,
I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.
This is in direct contradiction to materialism, which is founded on the impossible and self-defeating premise of the agnostic, the egotistical negation of the atheist. Such certainty, such a Sun arising in the spirit, must not be thought of as an end, a product or finality. How many have abandoned the path, thinking their daily struggle only proved their unworthiness, their lack of success or, alternatively, that the path itself is a lie, a fraud, a bad joke played upon suffering humanity? How many more have sought the false graal of comfort, reassurance and self-validation in a spiritual or magical path? These are the first to give it up in horror when confronted with what may seem an unequal measure of pain, discomfort, doubt and self-negation. While none of these spring from the eternal, the so-called ‘negative’ qualities so feared by the materialist are nonetheless grist to the mill of initiation, as revealed in Liber AL, II: 46—47.
Dost thou fail? Art thou sorry? Is fear in thine heart? Where I am these are not.
Woe, sorrow and failure are as clouds masking the infinite radiance of eternity. The will to a Great Work is able to proclaim that no matter how powerful the human ego is to subvert our purpose, we have not been wholly overcome or conquered. Yet we must understand that the “fight of the spirit” is “sometimes down and sometimes uppermost”.
The soul liveth in great danger in this world; and therefore this life is very well called the valley of misery, full of anguish, a perpetual hurly-burly, pulling and hauling, warring, fighting, struggling and striving. But the cold and half-dead body does not always understand this fight of the soul. The body does not know how it is with it, but is heavy and anxious; it goes from one business to another, and from one place to another; it seeketh for ease and rest. And when it comes where it would be, yet it finds no such thing as that which it seeks. Then doubtings and unbelief come upon it; sometimes it seems to it as if God had quite cast it off. It doth not understand the fight of the spirit, how the same is sometimes down and sometimes uppermost.
Lest we cling to vain notions of saints in white robes, the human deification of great men and lofty, Boehme provides clarification.
Thou must know that I write not here as a story of history, as if it was related to me from another. I must continually stand in that combat, and I find it to be full of heavy strivings where in I am often struck to the ground, as well as all other men. But for the sake of the violent fight, and for the sake of the earnestness which we have together, this revelation has been given me, and the vehement driving or impulse to bring it so to pass as to set all down on paper … For when the flash rises up in the centre, one sees through and through, but cannot well apprehend or lay hold on it; for it happens to such an one as when there is tempest of lightning, where the flash of fire opens itself and suddenly vanishes. … For the old Adam belongs to the earth, and does not, with the flesh, belong to God. In this combat I had many hard trials to my heart’s grief. My Sun was often eclipsed or extinguished, but did rise again; and the oftener it was eclipsed the bright and clearer was its rising again. I do not write this for my own praise, but to the end that the reader may know wherein my knowledge stands, that he might not seek from me that which I have not, or think me to be what I am not.
Golden Dawn member Evelyn Underhill wrote this of Boehme:
For him, the universe was primarily a religious fact: its fiery energies, its impulse towards growth and change, were significant because they were aspects of the life of God. His cosmic vision was the direct outcome of spiritual experience; he told it, because he wished to stimulate in all men the spiritual life, make them realise that ‘Heaven and Hell are present everywhere, and it is but the turning of the will either into God’s love or into His wrath, that introduceth into them’.
While some might find this language too Christian or ‘Godly’, there is plenty of evidence of ‘God’s love’ in Chapter One of the Book of the Law. There is also an abundance of what Boehme would term as God’s ‘wrath’ in the third chapter of that remarkable testimonial to the enduring power of ancient Egyptian magick. If we look for the meaning behind the metaphors, especially when that language has flowed from the hand of a mystic through the heart’s fountain of direct spiritual knowledge, we generally find there is only one spiritual path in reality. The diversity, the apparent choice of a path to follow, is the appearance of a doorway and not the entrance or the place where it may lead.


Notes

© Oliver St. John 2017, 2018
This essay is part of the collection, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Astrum Draconis


Astrum Draconis, Liber 373 reveals the Tantra of the West through seven rays of the Dragon Star. While the decad of the Qabalistic Tree of Life is not usually equated with the better known sevenfold chakra system, the sevenfold Way of the Dragon is implicit.

Liber 373 Astrum Draconis the Way of the Dragon Star
Liber 373 is suitable for the Thelemic aspirant of the grade of Philosophus, or anyone that dares to know, to will and to keep silence. It is also a course in magical initiation that includes knowledge lectures, rituals, yoga, meditation, invocation, skrying and tasks to perform. According to Liber AL, III: 71,

“Hail! ye twin warriors about the pillars of the world! for your time is nigh at hand.”

Who or what, then, are these twin warriors? They have arisen and are entwined about the axis of the universe; they manifest all phenomena. The division invoked by a magical Act of Will may arise as a dual force, symbolised on the Tree of Life by the two pillars or Moon and Sun of dreaming and waking consciousness.
The number 373 is that of Logos, the divine word or primal utterance by which all things in existence are ordered and given life. The number 373 is also that of the Greek word ataxia, ‘confusion’—the confusion of many voices that make up the discordant noise of the human ego. The number 373 provides the antidote, ShKM AChD, ‘to be of one mind’. The mind and body must be calmed before meditation can be achieved. ‘The Oath’, which also corresponds to 373, invokes the soul as silent witness to the ritual act.

The book’s Appendices include the following.
The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and Comment
The Gates of Babalon Ritual and Comment
Meditation and Preparations for Meditation
The Magician as Hierogyph
Purification and Consecration
Invoking Pentagrams of the Elements
Kameas and Signatures of the Spirits
Also included is a newly revised version of the small book concerned with the Dedication of a Sanctuary or Temple. A magical Temple does not need to be an impressive structure made from stone, or a Masonic hall with tiled floor and pillars of Solomon. Buildings and specially equipped rooms are a fine thing and can be very beautiful, but the real shrine of deity is the heart of the devotee. Altars, wands, robes and lamps assist in linking magical forces with the physical plane of existence—and so the mind and body of the Initiate—but effective magical work can nonetheless be done without any special equipment. The dedication of a Sanctuary or Temple to its deity does not therefore depend on physical structures.


Notes

Liber 373 Astrum Draconis includes the Mass of Hormaku with Litany and Collects. The Liturgy is presented in full online here.

View / order the book here.

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Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twilight of Creation and Bornless Spirit

The ancient Egyptian story of creation vastly predates that of the Bible. It is so old that the better-known tales of Isis and Osiris, for example, are modern by comparison.
 
Twilight of Creation: Egyptian Creation, Budge, Gods of the Egyptians
EA Wallis Budge noted how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians.[1]
“The very gods of the older company had been superseded, and their worship abolished, and the knowledge of their history and attributes was preserved only in the minds of priests and religious experts…”
The Lords of Keraha, cited in some of the more obscure ancient Egyptian texts, are said to dwell in the swampy Delta, the metaphysical equivalent of the Abyss or Da’ath. The Lords of Keraha are primal neters, ‘principles’, emerging from a watery abyss at the dawn of creation as frog-headed (male) and snake-headed (female); sometimes they appear as cats. The important thing is that they are pairs, male and female dualities emerging from the undifferentiated Nun or Abyss.
 
Kekui raises up the light and the day through the power of command, he is the exorcist (Hadit). Kekuit raises up the darkness and the night through the power of absorption, covering and enclosure (Nuit). Yet even Kekui and Kekuit are not the first pair of aeons emerging from Nu and Nuit. That honour goes to Hehu and Hehut.

Twilight of Creation: Budge, 'Oldest Company of the Gods', Gods of the Egyptians

I am Kerah, ruler of the Night!
I am Kerahet, soul of the Abyss!
I am Kekui, for I call forth your names in the primordial depth!
I am Kekuit, for I raise you with my sceptre!
I am Hehu and Hehut, and I stand between the heavens and the earth!
It is I that give life to you, with my spirit![2]
The undifferentiated chaos and night as the source of the word of light is the source of life itself. Instead of being opposed to light, as an enemy, the night is the whole span of the unfathomable mystery of life and consciousness. Truth is. Wisdom seeks more than ordinary knowledge.
 

Qabalah of Creation

The fifth verse of the first book of Genesis was written thousands of years after the Ogdoad was depicted in hieroglyphic texts. A transliteration of the key Aramaic words is placed here in parenthesis. According to the book of Genesis, 1: 5,
And the Elohim called the light [AVR] Day [IVM], and the darkness [ChShK] they called Night [LILH]. And the evening [ORB] and the morning [BQR] were the first day [IVM AChD].
“And the darkness” adds to 364, equal to Lux Occulta, the secret or hidden light. The absence of light is the condition of the numinous source of all; light itself is a veil. The name ‘Night’ is given as LILH, 75, equal to Nuit (NVIT). LIL (70) is the root, but LILH denotes the noun, as does Lilith, which is more expressly feminine.
 
Nuit is far more than merely the consort of Nu the sky god, as suggested by Budge.[3] Nuit embraces all, and her consort is her son and manifest star, Set-Hadit. Thus Nuit and Hadit, as cosmic principles, are veiled by both visible light and darkness.
 
Much creative license was taken with the King James and other bible versions. This makes for better poetry (in the case of the KJV) but often loses something of value and changes the meaning or context. To compound matters, the loss of esoteric meaning had already taken place when the Chaldean scriptures were placed in Modern Hebrew with vowel pointing—the pointing indicates a more precise, directive meaning. When such scriptures were first written, the ambiguity was intentional, as is the case with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sanskrit. Each word, let alone a sentence or verse, is then understood as having more than one meaning.
 


Notes

1. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume I [Dover].
2. Our telling of this story serves the purpose of magical invocation, so Hehu and Hehut are named last, to assert a return to the Bornless or primal condition. The ‘Twilight Vigil’ ritual is given with a commentary in The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.
3. Ibid.
 
© Oliver St. John 2017, 2019
 
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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Holy Guardian Angel: Phoenix Rising

The Holy Guardian Angel, the Golden Dawn and the Phoenix arising from the ashes are cognate terms. True discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. Thereby, truth can be known. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Phoenix: Golden Dawn Lamen of Malkuth, Ordo AstriThe term, ‘Magick of Light’, owes to the Golden Dawn tradition established by Samuel Liddell MacGregor and Moïna Mathers, Wyn Westcott, William Woodman, Florence Farr and company. The deconstruction of that legacy was carefully prepared and set in motion by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones. It could be said that half a century later Kenneth Grant finished off completely the job they started. Or did he simply weave a seductively alluring tapestry, a fantastic veil to hide the real secret of the Golden Dawn from the profane—thus subtly doing the bidding of the Secret Chiefs through the darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Grant that cleverly noticed the Golden Dawn expression of the reification of the Magick of Light as spelling ‘The Great L.I.E.’ (Light in Extension). This is a dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from the rationalism of Crowley. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Grant, albeit in a very different style.

The dualistic denial of matter and proclamation of spiritual supremacy is nothing new; it was included in the knowledge of the syncretic Golden Dawn tradition. The Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provide a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the (esoteric) way of the West differs from that of the East in so far as matter is not to be denied but transformed. The extraordinarily lurid works of Grant are as syncretic as those of any Golden Dawn. After all, he was not urging us to become Hindus or Buddhists. The ‘Typhonian Tradition’ is usually taken to refer not to an ancient Egyptian pre-dynastic cult but to the legacy of Grant’s writings. The said writing embraces all manner of expressions, from an inverted view of the Golden Dawn, Grant’s extended use of Gematria, which he called ‘Creative Qabalah’, and on to Zen, Taoism, witchcraft, voodoo, demonology and even ufology.

The redoubtable Scientific Illuminism of Crowley is austere in comparison with the amorphous Nightside of Grant, but it continued the Golden Dawn tradition—after a fashion at least—in the declared aim of universalism. The universalism of the syncretic Golden Dawn was established at least a decade before the young Crowley was introduced to the household. It is perhaps unfortunate that he and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital.

Angels and Devils

While Grant proposed a way, if you can see it, that is essentially Against the Light, he nonetheless insisted, in his earlier writings at least, that one must attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel before bravely immersing oneself in the demon worlds of the Qliphoth. And here is a strange thing to relate in view of the polemic against luminosity: the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is a hermetic, theurgic magical operation. The irony of Grant’s Tunnels of Set is that they lead nowhere; the longer one stays in the cloying labyrinth the further one is from the fragrance of the mystic rose.

The Holy Guardian Angel, a messenger that conveys direct mystical experience to the soul, is very much part of the Rosicrucian scheme of things. That means working the grades of the Golden Dawn as far as Tiphereth, the central solar radiance of the whole Tree of Life. At the foot of the Tree, coiled about the Kingdom of Malkuth, Thanatos and Eros weave the Ring-Pass-Not that mockingly bars all ways to the canopied couch of Logos and Agape.


Notes

Abridged from The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

© Oliver St. John 2017

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