|The Book of Thoth - Part III
(14042 total words in this text)
[From Little Essays toward
Of all the
magical and mystical virtues, of all the graces of the Soul, of all the
attainments of the Spirit, none has been so misunderstood, even when at all
apprehended, as Silence.
It would not
be possible to enumerate the common errors; nay, it may be said that to think of
it at all is in itself an error; for its nature is Pure Being, that is to say,
Nothing, so that it is beyond all intellection or intuition. Thus, then, the
utmost of our Essay can be only a certain Wardenship, as it were a Tyling of the
Lodge wherein the Mystery of Silence may be consummated.
attitude there is sound traditional authority; Harpocrates, God of Silence, is
called "The Lord of Defence and Protection".
nature is by no means that negative and passive silence which the word commonly
connotes; for He is the All-Wandering Spirit, the Pure and Perfect
Knight-Errant, who answers all Enigmas, and opens the closed Portal of the
King's Daughter. But Silence in the vulgar sense is not the answer to the Riddle
of the Sphinx; it is that which is created by that answer. For Silence is the
Equilibrium of Perfection; so that Harpocrates is the omniform, the universal
Key to every Mystery soever. The Sphinx is the "Puzzel or Pucelle", the Feminine
Idea to which there is only one complement, always different in form, and always
identical in essence. This is the signification of the Picture of the God; it is
shown more clearly in His adult form as the Fool of the Tarot and as Bacchus
Diphues, and without equivocation when He appears as Baphomet.
enquire more closely into His symbolism. The first quality which engages our
attention is doubtless His innocence. Not without deep wisdom is He called Twin
of Horns: and this is the Aeon of Horus: it is He who sent forth Aiwass His
minister to proclaim its advent. The Fourth Power of the Sphinx is Silence; to
us, then, who aspire to this power :as the crown of our Work, it will be of
utmost value to attain His innocence in all its fulness. We must understand,
first of all, that the root of Moral Responsibility, on which man stupidly
prides himself as distinguishing him from the other animals, is Restriction,
which is the Word of Sin. Indeed, there is truth in the Hebrew fable, that the
knowledge of Good and Evil brings forth Death. To regain Innocence is to regain
Eden. We must learn to live without the murderous consciousness that every
breath we draw swells the sails which bear our frail vessels to the Port of the
Grave. We must cast out Fear by Love; seeing that every Act is an Orgasm, their
total issue cannot be but Birth. Also, Love is the law: thus every act must be
Righteousness and Truth. By certain Meditations this may be understood and
established; and this ought to be done so thoroughly that we become unconscious
of our Sanctification, for only then is Innocence made perfect. This state is,
in fact, a necessary condition of any proper contemplation of what we are
accustomed to consider the first task of the Aspirant, the solution of the
question. "What is my True Will?" For until we become innocent, we are certain
to try to judge our Will from the outside, whereas True Will should spring, a
fountain of Light, from within, and flow unchecked, seething with Love) into the
Ocean of Life.
This is the
true idea of Silence; it is our Will which issues, perfectly elastic, sublimely
Protean, to fill every interstice of the Universe of Manifestation which it
meets in its course. There is no gulf too great for its immeasurable strength,
no strait too arduous for its imperturbable subtlety. It fits itself with
perfect precision to every need; its fluidity is the warrant of its fidelity.
Its form is always varied by that of the particular imperfection which it
encounters: its essence is identical in every event. Always the effect of its
action is Perfection, that is, Silence; and this Perfection is ever the same,
being perfect; yet ever different, because each case presents its own peculiar
quantity and quality.
impossible for inspiration itself to sound a dithyramb of Silence; for each new
aspect of Harpocrates is worthy of the music of the Universe throughout
Eternity. I have simply been led by my loyal Love of that strange Race among
whom I find myself incarnate to indite this poor stanza of the infinite Epic of
Harpocrates as being the facet of His fecund Brilliance which has refracted the
most needful light upon mine own darkling Entrance to His shrine of fulminating,
of ineffable Godhead.
I praise the
luxuriant Rapture of Innocence, the virile and pantomorphous Ecstasy of
All-Fufilment; I praise the Crowned and Conquering Child whose name is Force and
Fire, whose subtlety and strength make sure serenity, whose energy and endurance
accomplish the Attainment of the Virgin of the Absolute; who, being manifested,
is the Player upon the sevenfold pipe, the Great God Pan, and, being withdrawn
into the Perfection that he willed, is Silence.
ii. DE SAPIENTIA ET STULTITIA
[From Liber Aleph: The Book of
Wisdom or Folly.]
O, my Son, in
this the Colophon of mine Epistle will I recall the Title and Superscription
thereof; that is, the Book of Wisdom or Folly. I proclaim Blessing and
Worship unto Nuith our Lady and her Lord, Hadith, for the Miracle of the Anatomy
of the Child Ra-Hoor-Khuit, as it is shewed in the design Minutum Mundum,
the Tree of Life. For though Wisdom be the Second Emanation of His Essence,
there is a path to separate and to join them, the Reference thereof being Aleph,
that is One indeed, but also an Hundred and Eleven in his full Orthography; to
signify the Most Holy Trinity. And by metathesis it is Thick Darkness, and
Sudden Death. This is also the Number of AUM, which is AMOUN, and the Root-Sound
of OMNE or, in Greek, PAN; and it is a Number of the Sun. Yet is the Atu of
Thoth that correspondeth thereunto marked with ZERO, and its Name is MAT,
whereof I have spoken formerly, and its Image is The Fool. O, my son, gather
thou all these Limbs together into one Body, and breathe upon it with thy
Spirit, that it may live; then do thou embrace it with Lust of thy Manhood, and
go in unto it, and know it; so shall ye be One Flesh. Now at last in the
Reinforcement and Ecstasy of this Consummation thou shalt wit by what
Inspiration thou didst choose thy Name in the Gnosis, I mean PARZIVAL, "der
reine Thor", the True Knight that won Kingship in Monsalvat, and made whole the
Wound of Amfortas, and ordered Kundry to Right Service, and regained the Lance,
and revived the Miracle of the Sangraal; yea, also upon himself did he
accomplish his Word in the end: "Höchsten Heiles Wunder! Erlösung dem Erlöser!"
This is the last Word of the Song that thine Uncle Richard Wagner made for
Worship of this Mystery. Understand thou this, O my Son, as I take leave of thee
in this Epistle, that the Summit of Wisdom is the Opening of the Way that
leadeth unto the Crown and Essence of all, to the Soul of the Child Horus, the
Lord of the Aeon. This is the Path of the Pure Fool.
DE ORACULO SUMMO
And who is
this Pure Fool? Lo, in the Sagas of Old Time, Legend of Scald, of Bard, of
Druid, cometh he not in Green like Spring? O thou Great Fool, thou Water that
art Air, in whom all complex is resolved! Yea, thou in ragged Raiment, with the
Staff of Priapus and the Wineskin! Thou standest upon the Crocodile, like
Hoor-pa-Kraat; and the Great Cat leapeth upon Thee! Yea, and more also, I have
known Thee who Thou art, Bacchus Diphues, none and two, in thy name IAO! Now at
the End of all do I come to the Being of Thee, beyond By-coming, and I cry aloud
my Word, as it was given unto Man by thine Uncle Alcofribas Nasier, the oracle
of the Bottle of BACBUC. And this Word is TRINC.
iii. DE HERBA SANCTISSIMA ARABICA
Recall, O my
Son, the Fable of the Hebrews, which they brought from the City Babylon, how
Nebuchadnezzar the Great King, being afflicted in his Spirit, did depart from
among Men for Seven Years' space, eating Grass as doth an Ox. Now this Ox is the
letter Aleph, and is that Atu of Thoth whose number is Zero, and whose Name is
Maat, Truth; or Maut, the Vulture, the All-Mother, being an Image of Our Lady
Nuith, but also it is called the Fool, which is Parsifal, "der reine Thor", and
so referreth to him that walketh in the Way of the Tao. Also he is Harpocrates,
the Child Horus walking (as saith Daood, the Badawi that became King, in his
Psalmody) upon the Lion and the Dragon; that is, he is in Unity with his own
Secret Nature, as I have shewn thee in my Word concerning the Sphinx. O my Son,
yester Eve came the Spirit upon me that I also should eat the Grass of the
Arabians, and by Virtue of the Bewitchment thereof behold that which might be
appointed for the Enlightenment of mine Eyes. Now then of this may I not speak,
seeing that it involveth the Mystery of the Transcending of Time, so that in One
Hour of our Terrestial Measure did I gather the Harvest of an Aeon, and in Ten
Lives I could not declare it.
DE QUIBUSDAM MYSTERIIS, QUAE VIDI
Yet even as a
Man may set up a Memorial or Symbol to import Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand,
so may I strive to inform thine Understanding by Hieroglyph. And here shall
thine own experience serve us, because a Token of Remembrance sufficeth him that
is familiar with a Matter, which to him that knoweth it not should not be made
manifest, no, not in a Year of Instruction. Here first then is one amid the
Uncounted Wonders of that Vision: upon a Field blacker and richer than Velvet
was the Sun of all Being, alone. Then about Him were little Crosses, Greek,
overrunning the Heaven. These changed from Form to Form geometrical, Marvel
devouring Marvel, a Thousand Times a Thousand in their Course and Sequence,
until by their Movement was the Universe churned into the Quintessence of Light.
Moreover at another Time did I behold all things as Bullae, iridescent and
luminous, self-shining in every Colour and every Combination of Colour, Myriad
pursuing Myriad until by their perpetual Beauty they exhausted the Virtue of my
Mind to receive them, and whelmed it, so that I was fain to withdraw myself from
the Burthen of that Brilliance. Yet, O my Son, the Sum of all this amounteth not
to the Worth of one Dawn-Glimmer of Our True Vision of Holiness.
DE QUODAM MODO MEDITATIONIS
Now for the
Chief of that which was granted unto me; it was the Apprehension of those willed
Changes or Transmutations of the Mind which lead into Truth, being as Ladders
unto Heaven, or so I called them at that Time, seeking for a phrase to admonish
the Scribe that attended on my Words, to grave a Balustre upon the Stele of my
Working. But I make Effort in vain, O my Son, to record this Matter in Detail;
for it is the Quality of this Grass to quicken the Operation of Thought it may
be a Thousandfold, and moreover to figure each Step in Images complex and
overpowering in Beauty, so that one hath not Time wherein to conceive, much less
to utter any Word for a Name of any one of them. Also, such was the Multiplicity
of these Ladders, and their Equivalence, that the Memory holdeth no more any one
of them, but only a certain Comprehension of the Method, wordless by Reason of
its Subtility. Now, therefore, must I make by my Will a Concentration mighty and
terrible of my Thought, that I may bring forth this Mystery in Expression. For
this Method is of Virtue and Profit; by it mayst thou come easily and with
Delight to the Perfection of Truth, it is no Odds from what Thought thou makest
the first Leap in thy Meditation, so that thou mayst know how every Road endeth
in Monsalvat and the Temple of the Sangraal.
SEQUITUR DE HAC RE
generally, on Ground both of Theory and Experience, so little as I have, that a
Man must first be Initiate, and established in Our Law, before he may use this
Method. For in it is an Implication of our Secret Enlightenment, concerning the
Universe, how its Nature is utterly Perfection. Now every Thought is a
Separation, and the Medicine of that is to marry Each One with its
Contradiction, as I have shewed formerly in many Writings. And thou shalt clap
the one to the other with Vehemence of Spirit, swiftly as Light itself, that the
Ecstasy be Spontaneous. So therefore it is expedient that thou have travelled
already in this Path of Antithesis, knowing perfectly the Answer to every Griph
or Problem, and thy Mind ready there with. For by the Property of this Grass all
passeth with Speed incalculable of Wit, and an Hesitation should confound thee,
breaking down thy Ladder, and throwing back thy Mind to receive Impression from
Environment, as at thy first Beginning. Verily, the Nature of this Method is
Solution, and the Destruction of every Complexity by Explosion of Ecstasy, as
every Element thereof is fulfilled by its Correlative, and is annihilated (since
it loseth separate Existence) in the Orgasm that is consummated within the Bed
of thy Mind.
SEQUITUR DE HAC RE
right well, O my Son, how a Thought is imperfect in two Dimensions, being
separate from its Contradiction, but also constrained in its Scope, because by
that Contradiction we do not (commonly) complete the Universe, save only that of
its Discourse. Thus if we contrast Health with Sickness, we include in their
Sphere of Union no more than one Quality that may be predicted of all Things.
Furthermore, it is for the most Part not easy to find or to formulate the true
Contradiction of any Thought as a positive Idea, but only as a Formal Negation
in vague Terms, so that the ready Answer is but Antithesis. Thus to "White", one
putteth not the Phrase "All that which is not White", for this is void,
formless; it is neither clear, simple, nor positive in Conception; but one
answereth "Black", for this hath an Image of his Significance. So then the
Cohesion of Antitheticals destroyeth them only in Part, and one becometh
instantly conscious of the Residue that is unsatisfied or unbalanced, whose
Eidolon leapeth in thy Mind with Splendour and Joy unspeakable. Let not this
deceive thee, for its Existence proveth its Imperfection, and thou must call
forth its Mate, and destroy them by Love, as with the former. This method is
continuous, and proceedeth ever from the Gross to the Fine, and from the
Particular to the General, dissolving all Things into the One Substance of
CONCLUSIO DR HOC MODO SANCTITATIS
that Impressions of Sense have Opposites readily conceived, as long to short, or
light to dark; and so with Emotions and Perceptions, as Love to Hate, or False
to True; but the more Violent the Antagonism, the more is it bound in Illusion,
determined by Relation. Thus the Word "Long" hath no Meaning save it be referred
to a Standard; but Love is not thus obscure, because Hate is its twin, partaking
bountifully of a Common Nature therewith. Now, hear this: it was given unto me
in my Visions of the Aethyrs, when I was in the Wilderness of Sahara, by Tolga,
upon the Brink of the Great Eastern Erg, that above the Abyss, Contradiction is
Unity, and that nothing could be true save by Virtue of the Contradiction that
is contained in itself. Behold, therefore, in this Method thou shalt come
presently to Ideas of this Order that include in themselves their own
Contradiction, and have no Antithesis. Here then is thy Lever of Antinomy broken
in thine Hand; yet, being in true Balance, thou mayest soar, passionate and
eager, from Heaven to Heaven, by the Expansion of thine Idea, and its
Exaltation, or by Concentration as thou understandeth, by Virtue of thy Studies
in the Book of the Law, the Word thereof concerning Our Lady Nuith, and
Hadith that is the Core of every Star. And this last Going upon thy Ladder is
easy, if thou be truly Initiate, for the Momentum of thy Force in Transcendental
Antithesis serveth to propel thee, and the Emancipation from the Fetters of
Thought that thou hast won in that Praxis of Art maketh the Whirlpool and
Gravitation of Truth of Competence to draw thee unto itself.
DE VIA SOLA SOLIS
This is the
Profit of mine Intoxication of this holy Herb, The Grass of the Arabs, that it
hath shewed me this Mystery (with many others), not as a New Light, for I had
that aforetime, but by its swift Synthesis and Manifestation of a long Sequence
of Events in a Moment. I had Wit to analyze this Method, and to discover its
Essential Law, which before had escaped the Focus of the Lens of mine
Understanding. Yea, O my Son, there is no True Path of Light, save that which I
have formerly made plain; yet in every Path is Profit, if thou be cunning to
perceive it and to clasp it. For we win Truth oftentimes by Reflexion, or by the
Composition and Selection of an Artist in his Presentation thereof, when else we
were blind thereunto, lacking his Mode of Light. Yet were that Art of none avail
unless we had already the Root of that Truth in our Nature, and a Bud ready to
flower at the Summoning of that Sun. In Witness, nor a Boy nor a Stone hath
Knowledge of the Sections of a Cone, and their Properties; but thou mayest teach
these to the Boy by right Presentation, because he hath in his Nature those Laws
of Mind that are consonant with our Art Mathematical, and hath Need only of
Fledging (I may say this), so that he apply them consciously to the Work, when,
all being in Truth, that is, in the necessary Relations that rule our Illusion,
he cometh in Course to Apprehension.
I. THE JUGGLER
i. De Mercurio
ii. The Lord of Illusion
This card is
referred to the letter Beth, which means a house, and is attributed to the
planet Mercury. The ideas connected with this symbol are so complex and so
multifarious that it seems better to attach to this general description certain
documents which bear upon different aspects of this card. The whole will then
form an adequate basis for the full interpretation of the card through study,
meditation, and use.
title of this card in the medieval pack is "Le Bâteleur", the Bearer of the
Bâton. [Variant: LE PAGAD. Origin unknown. Suggestions: (1) PChD terror (esp.
Panic fear) a title of Geburah. Also a thigh: i.e.membrum virile. By Arabic
analogy, PAChD, causer of terror: Value 93!! (2) Pagoda, a phallic memorial:
Similar, and equally apt.] Mercury is pre-eminently the bearer of the Wand:
Energy sent forth. This card therefore represents the Wisdom, the Will, the
Word, the Logos by whom the worlds were created. (See the Gospel according to
St. John, chapter I.) It represents the Will. In brief, he is the Son, the
manifestation in act of the idea of the Father. He is the male correlative of
the High Priestess. Let there be no confusion here on account of the fundamental
doctrine of the Sun and Moon as the Second Harmonics to the Lingam and the Yoni;
for, as will be seen in the citation from The Paris Working, (see
the creative Mercury is of the nature of the Sun. But Mercury is the Path
leading from Kether to Binah, the Understanding; and thus He is the messenger of
the gods, represents precisely that Lingam, the Word of creation whose speech is
however, represents action in all forms and phases. He is the fluidic basis of
all transmission of activity; and, on the dynamic theory of the Universe, he is
himself the substance thereof. He is, in the language of modern physics, that
electric charge which is the first manifestation of the ring of ten indefinable
ideas, as previously explained. He is thus continuous creation.
also, being the Word, he is the law of reason or of necessity or chance, which
is the secret meaning of the Word, which is the essence of the Word, and the
condition of its utterance. This being so, and especially because he is duality,
he represents both truth and falsehood, wisdom and folly. Being the unexpected,
he unsettles any established idea, and therefore appears tricky. He has no
conscience, being creative. If he cannot attain his ends by fair means, he does
it by foul. The legends of the youthful Mercury are therefore legends of
cunning. He cannot be understood, because he is the Unconscious Will. His
position on the Tree of Life shows the third Sephira, Binah, Understanding, as
not yet formulated; still less the false Sephira, Da'ath, knowledge.
above it will appear that this card is the second emanation from the Crown, and
therefore, in a sense, the adult form of the first emanation, the Fool, whose
letter is Aleph, the Unity. These ideas are so subtle and so tenuous, on these
exalted planes of thought, that definition is impossible. It is not even
desirable, because it is the nature of these ideas to flow one into the other.
One cannot do more than say that any given hieroglyph represents a slight
insistence upon some particular form of a pantomorphous idea. In this card, the
emphasis is upon the creative and dualistic character of the path of Beth.
traditional card the disguise is that of a Juggler.
representation of the Juggler is one of the crudest and least satisfactory in
the medieval pack. He is usually represented with a headdress shaped like the
sign of infinity in mathematics (this is shown in detail in the card called the
Two of Disks). He bears a wand with a knob at each end, which was probably
connected with the dual polarity of electricity; but it is also the hollow wand
of Prometheus that brings down fire from Heaven. On a table or altar, behind
which he is standing, are the three other elemental weapons.
"With the Wand createth He. With
the Cup preserveth He. With the Dagger destroyeth He. With the Coin redeemeth
He." Liber Magi vv. 7-10."
card has been designed principally upon the Graeco-Egyptian tradition; for the
understanding of this idea was certainly further advanced when these
philosophies modified each other, than elsewhere at any time.
conception of Mercury, Hanuman, the monkey god, is abominably degraded. None of
the higher aspects of the symbol are found in his cult. The aim of his adepts
seems principally to have been the production of a temporary incarnation of the
god by sending the women of the tribe every year into the jungle. Nor do we find
any legend of any depth or spirituality. Hanuman is certainly little more than
the Ape of Thoth.
characteristic of Tahuti or Thoth, the Egyptian Mercury, is, firstly, that he
has the head of the ibis. The ibis is the symbol of concentration, because it
was supposed that this bird stood continuously upon one leg, motionless. This is
quite evidently a symbol of the meditative spirit. There may also have been some
reference to the central mystery of the Aeon of Osiris, the secret guarded so
carefully from the profane, that the intervention of the male was necessary to
the production of children. In this form of Thoth, he is seen bearing the
phoenix wand, symbolising resurrection through the generative process. In his
left hand is the Ankh, which represents a sandal-strap; that is to say, the
means of progress through the worlds, which is the distinguishing mark of
godhead. But, by its shape, this Ankh (crux ansata) is actually another
form of the Rose and Cross, and this fact is perhaps not quite such an accident
as modern Egyptologists, preoccupied with their attempted refutation of the
Phallic school of Archaeology, would have us suppose.
form of Thoth represents him primarily as Wisdom and the Word. He bears in his
right hand the Style, in his left the Papyrus. He is the messenger of the gods;
he transmits their will by hieroglyphs intelligible to the initiate, and records
their acts; but it was seen from very early times that the use of speech, or
writing, meant the introduction of ambiguity at the best, and falsehood at the
worst; they therefore represented Thoth as followed by an ape, the cynocephalus,
whose business was to distort the Word of the god; to mock, to simulate and to
deceive. In philosophical language one may say: Manifestation implies illusion.
This doctrine is found in Hindu philosophy, where the aspect of Tahuti of which
we are speaking is called Mayan. This doctrine is also found in the central and
typical image of the Mahayana school of Buddhism (really identical with the
doctrine of Shiva and Shakti). A vision of this image will be found in the
document entitled "The Lord
of Illusion" .
card endeavours to represent all the above conceptions. Yet no true image is
possible at all; for, firstly, all images are necessarily false as such; and,
secondly, the motion being perpetual, and its rate that of the limit, c,
the rate of Light, any stasis contradicts the idea of the card: this picture is,
therefore, hardly more than mnemonic jottings. Many of the ideas expressed in
the design are well expounded in the extracts from
The Paris Working.
I. DE MERCURIO
[From The Paris Working.]
a very full description of the nature of Mercury in several aspects,
particularly his relation with Jupiter and the Sun:
Beginning was the Word, the Logos, who is Mercury; and is therefore to be
identified with Christ. Both are messengers; their birth mysteries are similar;
the pranks of their childhood are similar. In the Vision of the Universal
Mercury, Hermes is seen descending upon the sea, which refers to Mary. [The
path of Beth on the Tree of Life shows him descending from Kether, the Crown,
upon Binah, the Great Sea.]The Crucifixion represents the Caduceus; the two
thieves, the two serpents; the cliff in the vision of the Universal Mercury is
Golgotha; Maria is simply Maia with the solar R in her womb. The controversy
about Christ between the Synoptics and John was really a contention between the
priests of Bacchus, Sol, and Osiris; also, perhaps, of Adonis and Attis on the
one hand, and those of Hermes on the other, at that period when initiates all
over the world found it necessary, owing to the growth of the Roman Empire and
the opening up of means of communication, to replace conflicting Polytheisms by
a synthetic Faith."
the identification, compare Christ's descent into hell with the function of
Hermes as guide of the dead. Also Hermes leading up Eurydice, and Christ raising
up Jairus' daughter. Christ is said to have risen on the third day, because it
takes three days for the Planet Mercury to become visible after separating from
the orb of the sun. (It may be noted here that Mercury and Venus are the planets
between us and the sun, as if the Mother and the Son were mediators between us
and the Father.)
as the Healer, and also his own expression: "The Son of Man cometh as a thief in
the night." Also this scripture (Matthew xxiv, 24-7): "For as the lightning
cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming
of the Son of Man be."
Christ's relations with the money-changers, his frequent parables, and the fact
that his first disciple was a publican, i.e., tax-collector.
Mercury as the deliverer of Prometheus.
One half of
the Fish symbol is also common to Christ and Mercury; fish are sacred to Mercury
(owing presumably to their quality of movement and cold-bloodedness). Many of
Christ's disciples were fishermen, and he was always doing miracles in
connection with fish.
Christ as the mediator: "No man cometh unto the Father but by me", and Mercury
as Chokmah "through whom alone we can approach Kether."
contains a complete symbol of the Gnosis. The winged sun or phallus represents
the joy of life on all planes from the lowest to the highest. The serpents
(besides being Active and Passive, Horns and Osiris, and all their other
well-known attributions) are those qualities of Eagle and Lion respectively, of
which we know, but do not speak. It is the symbol which unites the Microcosm and
the Macrocosm, the symbol of the Magical operation that accomplishes this. The
Caduceus is Life itself, and is of universal application. It is the universal
"I see it all
now; the virile force of Mars is far beneath him. All the other gods are merely
aspects of Jupiter formulated by Hermes. He is the first of the Aeons."
"The sense of
humour of this god is very strong. He is not sentimental about his principal
function; he regards the Universe as an excellent practical joke; yet he
recognizes that Jupiter is serious, and the Universe is serious, although he
laughs at them for being serious. His sole business is to transmit the force
from Jupiter, and is concerned with nothing else. The message is Life, but in
Jupiter the life is latent."
to Reincarnation, the heliocentric theory is right. As we conquer the conditions
of a planet, we incarnate upon the next planet inwards; until we return to the
Father of All, when our experiences link together, become intelligible, and star
speaks to star. Terra is the last planet where bodies are made of earth; in
Venus they are fluid; on Mercury aerial; while in the Sun they are fashioned of
pure fire." ["In the Suns we remember; in the Planets we forget." - Eliphaz
"I now see
the eightfold star of Mercury suddenly blazing out; it is composed of four
fleurs-de-lys with rays like anthers, bulrushes in shape between them. The
central core has the cypher of the Grand Master, but not the one you know. Upon
the cross are the Dove, the Hawk, the Serpent and the Lion. Also, one symbol yet
more secret. Now I behold fiery swords of light. All this is upon a Cosmic
scale. All the distances are astronomical. When I say "Sword", I have a definite
consciousness of a weapon many millions of miles in length".
2. THE LORD OF ILLUSION
[Extract from Liber CDXVIII The
Vision and the Voice: 3rd Aethyr (Ed. Princ. p.144.)]
It is the
figure of the Magus of the Taro; in his right arm the torch of the flames
blazing upwards; in his left, the cup of poison, a cataract into Hell. And upon
his head the evil talisman, blasphemy and blasphemy and blasphemy, in the form
of a circle. That is the greatest blasphemy of all (i.e., that the circle should
be thus profaned. This evil circle is of three concentric rings). On his feet
hath he scythes and swords and sickles; daggers; knives; every sharp thing-a
millionfold, and all in one. And before him is the Table that is a Table of
wickedness, the forty-two-fold Table. This Table is connected with the forty-two
Assessors of the Dead, for they are the Accusers, whom the soul must baffle; and
with the forty-two-fold name of God, for this is the Mystery of Iniquity, that
there was ever a beginning at all. And this Magus casteth forth, by the might of
his four weapons, veil after veil; a thousand shining colours, ripping and
tearing the Aethyr; so that it is like jagged saws, or like broken teeth in the
face of a young girl, or like disruption, or madness. There is a horrible
grinding sound, maddening. This is the mill in which the Universal Substance,
which is ether, was ground down into matter.
A voice says:
"Behold the brilliance of the Lord, whose feet are set upon him that pardoneth
transgression. Behold the six-fold Star that flameth in the Vault, the seal of
the marriage of the great White King and his black slave."
So I looked
into the Stone, and beheld the sixfold Star: the whole Aethyr is as tawny
clouds, like the flame of a furnace. And there is a mighty host of Angels, blue
and golden, that throng it, and they cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, that art
not shaken in the earthquakes, and in the thunders! The end of things is come
upon us; the day of Be-with-us is at hand! For he hath created the Universe, and
overthrown it, that he might take his pleasure thereupon.
And now, in
the midst of the Aethyr, I behold that god. He hath a thousand arms, and in each
hand is a weapon of terrible strength. His face is more terrible than the storm,
and from his eyes flash lightnings of intolerable brilliance. From his mouth run
seas of blood. Upon his head is a crown of every deadly thing. Upon his forehead
is the upright Tau, and on either side of it are signs of blasphemy. And about
him clingeth a young girl, like unto the King's daughter that appeared in the
ninth Aethyr. But she is become rosy by reason of his force, and her purity hath
tinged his black with blue.
clasped in a furious embrace, so that she is torn asunder by the terror of the
god; yet so tightly clingeth she about him, that he is strangled. She hath
forced back his head, and his throat is livid with the pressure of her fingers.
Their joint cry is an intolerable anguish; yet it is the cry of their rapture,
so that every pain, and every curse, and every bereavement, and every death of
everything in the whole universe, is but one little gust of wind in that
tempest-scream of ecstasy. [This image is to be found painted (usually on silk,
and repeated in varying forms, often representing the planets, about its central
glory) upon the sacred Banners which adorn the shrines of Tibet].
And an Angel
speaks: "Behold, this vision is utterly beyond thine understanding. Yet shalt
thou endeavour to unite thyself with the dreadful marriage-bed."
So I am torn
asunder, nerve from nerve and vein from vein, and more intimately---cell from
cell, molecule from molecule, and atom from atom, and at the same time all
crushed together. (Write down that the tearing asunder is a crushing
together.) All the double phenomena are only two ways of looking at a single
phenomenon; and the single phenomenon is Peace. There is no sense in my words or
in my thoughts. "Faces half-formed arose." This is the meaning of that passage;
they are attempts to interpret Chaos. But Chaos is Peace Cosmos is the War of
the Rose and the Cross. That was a "half- formed face" that I said then. All
images are useless.
Yea, as in a
looking-glass, so in thy mind, that is backed with the false metal of lying, is
every symbol read averse. Lo! everything wherein thou hast trusted must confound
thee, and that thou didst flee from was thy saviour. So therefore didst thou
shriek in the Black Sabbath when thou didst kiss the hairy buttocks of the goat,
when the gnarled god tore thee asunder, when the icy cataract of death swept
therefore, shriek aloud; mingle the roar of the gored lion and the moan of the
torn bull, and the cry of the man that is torn by the claws of the Eagle, and
the scream of the Eagle that is strangled by the hands of the Man. Mingle all
these in the death-shriek of the Sphinx, for the blind man hath profaned her
mystery. Who is this, Oedipus, Tiresias, Erinyes? Who is this, that is blind and
a seer, a fool above wisdom? Whom do the hounds of heaven follow, and the
crocodiles of hell await? Aleph, Vau, Yod, Ayin, Resh, Tau, is his name. [These
are the Paths forming a Current 1-2-6-8-9-10 on the Tree of Life].
feet is the Kingdom, and upon his head the Crown. He is spirit and matter; he is
peace and power; in him is Chaos and Night and Pan; and upon BABALON his
concubine, that hath made him drunk upon the blood of the saints that she hath
gathered in her golden cup, hath he begotten the virgin that now he doth
deflower. And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set
upon the throne of Binah. And this is the stone of the philosophers that is set
as a seal upon the Tomb of Tetragrammaton, and the elixir of life that is
distilled from the blood of the saints, and the red powder that is the
grinding-up of the bones of Choronzon.
wonderful is the Mystery thereof, O thou Titan that hast climbed into the bed of
Juno! Surely thou art bound unto, and broken upon, the wheel; yet hast thou
uncovered the nakedness of the Holy One, and the Queen of Heaven is in travail
of child, and his name shall be called Vir, and Vis, and Virus, and Virtus, and
Viridis, in one name that is all these, and above all these. [Vi Veri Vniversum
Vivus Vici, the motto of the Master Therion as an 8=3]
* * *
excerpt from Liber Aleph, the Book of Wisdom or Folly, may also help to
elucidate the meaning of this card.
Thoth, confirmed the Word of Dionysus by continuing it; for He shewed how by the
Mind it was possible to direct the Operations of the Will. By Criticism and by
recorded Memory Man avoideth Error, and the Repetition of Error. But the true
Word of Tahuti was A M O U N, whereby He made Men to understand their secret
Nature, that is, their unity with their True Selves, or, as they then phrased
it, with God. And he discovered unto them the Way of this Attainment, and its
relation with the Formula of INRI. Also by his Mystery of Number he made plain
the Path for His Successor to declare the Nature of the whole Universe in its
Form and in its Structure, as it were an Analysis thereof, doing for Matter what
the Buddha was decreed to do for Mind."
II. THE HIGH PRIESTESS
This card is
referred to the letter Gimel, which means a Camel. (The symbolism of the Camel
is explained later.)
refers to the Moon. The Moon (being the general feminine symbol, the symbol of
the second order corresponding to the Sun as the Yoni does to the Lingam) is
universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest. It is a symbol which will
recur frequently in these hieroglyphs. But in the earlier Trumps the concern is
with Nature above the Abyss; the High Priestess is the first card which connects
the Supernal Triad with the Hexad; and her path, as shown in the diagram, makes
a direct connection between the Father in his highest aspect, and the Son in his
most perfect manifestation. This path is in exact balance in the middle pillar.
There is here, therefore, the purest and most exalted conception of the Moon.
(At the other end of the scale is Atu xviii, q.v.)
represents the most spiritual form of Isis the Eternal Virgin; the Artemis of
the Greeks. She is clothed only in the luminous veil of light. It is important
for high initiation to regard Light not as the perfect manifestation of the
Eternal Spirit, but rather as the veil which hides that Spirit It does so all
the more effectively because of its incomparably dazzling brilliance. [The
tradition of the best schools of Hindu mysticism has a precise parallelism. The
final obstacle to full Enlightenment is exactly this Vision of Formless
Effulgence]. Thus she is light and the body of light. She is the truth behind
the veil of light. She is the soul of light. Upon her knees is the bow of
Artemis, which is also a musical instrument, for she is huntress, and hunts by
this idea as from behind the Veil of Light, the third Veil of the original
Nothing. This light is the menstruum of manifestation, the goddess Nuith, the
possibility of Form. This first and most spiritual manifestation of the feminine
takes to itself a masculine correlative, by formulating in itself any
geometrical point from which to contemplate possibility. This virginal goddess
is then potentially the goddess of fertility. She is the idea behind all form;
as soon as the influence of the triad descends below the Abyss, there is the
completion of concrete idea.
chapter of the Book of Lies (falsely so-called), may assist the student
to understand this doctrine by dint of meditation:
In the Wind
of the mind arises the turbulence called I. It breaks; down shower the barren
thoughts. All life is choked. This desert is the Abyss wherein is the Universe.
The Stars are but thistles in that waste. Yet this desert is but one spot
accurséd in a world of bliss. Now and again Travellers cross the desert; they
come from the Great Sea, and to the Great Sea they go. And as they go they spill
water; one day they will irrigate the desert, till it flower. See! Five
footprints of a Camel! V.V.V.V.V. (For the classical description of the Abyss,
the student should consult Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice,
especially the Tenth Aethyr The Equinox, Vol. I, No.5,
At the bottom
of the card, accordingly, are shown nascent forms, whorls, crystals, seeds,
pods, symbolising the beginnings of life. In the midst is the Camel which is
mentioned in the chapter quoted above. In this card is the one link between the
archetypal and formative worlds.
concerning this path, considered as issuing downwards from the Crown; but to the
aspirant, that is, to the adept who is already in Tiphareth, to him who has
attained to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, this is
the path which leads upwards; and this card, in one system entitled the
Priestess of the Silver Star, is symbolic of the thought (or rather of the
intelligible radiance) of that Angel. It is, in short, a symbol of the highest
Initiation. Now it is a condition of Initiation that its keys are to be
communicated by those who possess them to all true aspirants. This card is thus
very peculiarly a glyph of the work of the A.'.A.'. Some idea of the formula is
given in this other chapter of the Book of Lies:
of A.'.A.'. are one with the Mother of the Child. The Many is as adorable to the
One as the One is to the Many. This is the Love of These; creation-parturition
is the Bliss of the One; coition-dissolution is the Bliss of the Many. The All,
thus interwoven of These, is Bliss. Naught is beyond Bliss. The Man delights in
uniting with the Woman; the Woman in parting from the Child. The Brothers of
A.'.A.'. are Women; the Aspirants to A.'.A.'. are Men.
important to reflect that this card is wholly feminine, wholly virginal, for it
represents the influence and the means of manifestation (or, from below, of
attainment) in itself. It represents possibility in its second stage without any
beginning of consummation.
especially to be observed that the three consecutive letters, Gimel, Daleth, He'
(Atu II, III, XVII) show the Feminine Symbol (Yin) in three forms composing a
Triune Goddess. This Trinity is immediately followed by the three corresponding
and complementary Fathers, Vau, Tzaddi, Yod (Atu IV, V, IX). The Trumps 0 and I
are hermaphrodite. The remaining fourteen Trumps represent these Primordial
Quintessences of Being in conjunction, function, or manifestation.
III. THE EMPRESS
This card is
attributed to the letter Daleth, which means a door, and it refers to the planet
Venus. This card is, on the face of it, the complement of The Emperor; but her
attributions are much more universal.
On the Tree
of Life, Daleth is the path leading from Chokmah to Binah, uniting the Father
with the Mother. Daleth is one of the three paths which are altogether above the
Abyss. There is further more the alchemical symbol of Venus, the only one of the
planetary symbols which comprises all the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The
doctrine implied is that the fundamental formula of the Universe is Love. [The
circle touches the Sephiroth I, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3; the Cross is formed by 6, 9, 10
and 7, 8.]
impossible to summarize the meanings of the symbol of the Woman, for this very
reason, that she continually recurs in infinitely varied form. "Many-throned,
many-minded, many-wiled, daughter of Zeus."
In this card,
she is shown in her most general manifestation. She combines the highest
spiritual with the lowest material qualities. For this reason, she is fitted to
represent one of the three alchemical forms of energy, Salt. Salt is the
inactive principle of Nature; Salt is matter which must be energized by Sulphur
to maintain the whirling equilibrium of the Universe. The arms and torso of the
figure consequently suggest the shape of the alchemical symbol of Salt. She
represents a woman with the imperial crown and vestments, seated upon a throne,
whose uprights suggest blue twisted flames symbolic of her birth from water, the
feminine, fluid element. In her right hand she bears the lotus of Isis; the
lotus represents the feminine, or passive power. Its roots are in the earth
beneath the water, or in the water itself, but it opens its petals to the Sun,
whose image is the belly of the chalice. It is, therefore, a living form of the
Holy Grail, sanctified by the blood of the Sun. Perching upon the flamelike
uprights of her throne are two of her most sacred birds, the sparrow and the
dove; the nub of this symbolism must be sought in the poems of Catullus and
Martial. On her robe are bees; also dominos, surrounded by continuous spiral
lines; the signification is everywhere similar.
for a girdle, is the Zodiac.
throne is a floor of tapestry, embroidered with fleurs-de-lys and fishes; they
seem to be adoring the Secret Rose, which is indicated at the base of the
throne. The significance of these symbols has already been explained. In this
card all symbols are cognate, because of the simplicity and purity of the
emblem. There is here no contradiction; such opposition as there seems to be is
only the opposition necessary to balance. And this is shown by the revolving
of the Empress is two-fold: on the one side, the Pelican of tradition feeding
its young from the blood of its own heart; on the other, the White Eagle of the
to the Pelican, its full symbolism is only available to Initiates of the Fifth
degree of the O.T.O. In general terms, the meaning may be suggested by
identifying the Pelican herself with the Great Mother and her offspring, with
the Daughter in the formula of Tetragrammaton. It is because the daughter is
the daughter of her mother that she can be raised to her throne. In other
language, there is a continuity of life, an inheritance of blood, which binds
all forms of Nature together. There is no break between light and darkness.
Natura non facit saltum. If these considerations were fully understood, it
would become possible to reconcile the Quantum theory with the Electro-magnetic
Eagle in this trump corresponds to the Red Eagle in the Consort card, the
Emperor. It is here necessary to work back wards. For in these highest cards are
the symbols of perfection; both the initial perfection of Nature and the final
perfection of Art; not only Isis, but Nephthys. Consequently, the details of the
work pertain to subsequent cards, especially Atu vi and Atu xiv.
At the back
of the card is the Arch or Door, which is the interpretation of the letter
Daleth. This card, summed up, may be called the Gate of Heaven. But, because of
the beauty of the symbol, because of its omniform presentation, the student who
is dazzled by any given manifestation may be led astray. In no other card is it
so necessary to disregard the parts, to concentrate upon the whole.
IV. THE EMPEROR
This card is
attributed to the letter Tzaddi, and it refers to the sign of Aries in the
Zodiac. This sign is ruled by Mars, and therein the Sun is exalted. The sign is
thus a combination of energy in its most material form with the idea of
authority. The sign TZ or TS implies this in the original, onomatopoetic form of
language. It is derived from Sanskrit roots meaning Head and Age, and is found
to-day in words like Cæsar, Tsar, Sirdar, Senate, Senior, Signor, Sefior,
represents a crowned male figure, with imperial vestments and regalia. He is
seated upon the throne whose capitals are the heads of the Himalayan wild ram,
since Aries means a Ram. At his feet, couchant, is the Lamb and Flag, to confirm
this attribution on the lower plane; for the ram, by nature, is a wild and
courageous animal, lonely in lonely places, whereas when tamed and made to lie
down in green pastures, nothing is left but the docile, cowardly, gregarious and
succulent beast. This is the theory of government.
is also one of the more important alchemical cards; with Atu II and III, he
makes up the triad: Sulphur, Mercury, Salt. His arms and head form an upright
triangle; below, crossed legs represent the Cross. This figure is the alchemical
symbol of Sulphur (see Atu X). Sulphur is the male fiery energy of the Universe,
the Rajas of Hindu philosophy. This is the swift creative energy, the initiative
of all Being. The power of the Emperor is a generalization of the paternal
power; hence such symbols as the Bee and the Fleur-de-lys, which are shown on
this card. With regard to the quality of this power, it must be noted that it
represents sudden, violent, but impermanent activity. If it persists too long,
it burns and destroys. Distinguish from the Creative Energy of Aleph and Beth:
this card is below the Abyss.
bears a sceptre (surmounted by a ram's head for the reasons given above) and an
orb surmounted by a Maltese cross, which signifies that his energy has reached a
successful issue, that his government has been established.
There is one
further symbol of importance. His shield represents the two-headed eagle crowned
with a crimson disk. This represents the red tincture of the alchemist, of the
nature of gold, as the white eagle shown in Atu III pertains to his consort, the
Empress, and is lunar, of silver.
It is finally
to be observed that the white light which descends upon him indicates the
position of this card in the Tree of Life. His authority is derived from
Chokmah, the creative Wisdom, the Word, and is exerted upon Tiphareth, the
V. THE HIEROPHANT
This card is
referred to the letter Vau, which means a Nail; of this instrument nine appear
at the top of the card; they serve to fix the oriel behind the main figure of
The card is
referred to Taurus; therefore the Throne of the Hierophant is surrounded by
elephants, which are of the nature of Taurus; and he is actually seated upon a
bull. Around him are the four beasts or Kerubs, one in each corner of the card;
for these are the guardians of every shrine. But the main reference is to the
particular arcanum which is the principal business, the essential, of all
magical work; the uniting of the microcosm with the macrocosm. Accordingly, the
oriel is diaphanous; before the Manifestor of the Mystery is a hexagram
representing the macrocosm. In its centre is a pentagram, representing a dancing
male child. This symbolizes the law of the new Aeon of the Child Horns, which
has supplanted that Aeon of the "Dying God" which governed the world for two
thousand years. Before him is the woman girt with a sword; she represents the
Scarlet Woman in the hierarchy of the new Aeon. This symbolism is further
carried out in the oriel where, behind the phallic headdress, the rose of five
petals is in blossom.
of the snake and dove refers to this verse of the Book of the Law---chap.
I, verse 57: "there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the
recurs in the trump numbered XVI.
background of the whole card is the dark blue of the starry night of Nuit, from
whose womb all phenomena are born.
sign of the Zodiac represented by this card, is itself the Bull Kerub; that is,
Earth in its strongest and most balanced form.
The ruler of
this sign is Venus; she is represented by the woman standing before the
of the Book of the Law, verse xi, reads:
woman be girt with a sword before me." This woman represents Venus as she now is
in this new aeon; no longer the mere vehicle of her male counterpart, but armed
In this sign
the Moon is "exalted"; her influence is represented not only by the woman, but
by the nine nails.
impossible at the present time to explain this card thoroughly, for only the
course of events can show how the new current of initiation will work out.
It is the
aeon of Horus, of the Child. Though the face of the Hierophant appears benignant
and smiling, and the child himself seems glad with wanton innocence, it is hard
to deny that in the expression of the initiator is something mysterious, even
sinister. He seems to be enjoying a very secret joke at somebody's expense.
There is a distinctly sadistic aspect to this card; not unnaturally, since it
derives from the Legend of Pasiphae, the prototype of all the legends of
Bull-gods. These still persist in such religions as Shaivism, and (after
multiple degradations) in Christianity itself.
of the Wand is peculiar; the three interlaced rings which crown it may be taken
as representative of the three Aeons of Isis, Osiris and Horus with their
interlocking magical formulae. The upper ring is marked with scarlet for Horus;
the two lower rings with green for Isis, and pale yellow for Osiris,
All these are
based upon deep indigo, the colour of Saturn, the Lord of Time. For the rhythm
of the Hierophant is such that he moves only at intervals of 2,000 years.
VI. THE LOVERS [OR: THE BROTHERS]
This card and
its twin, XIV, Art, are the most obscure and difficult of the Atu. Each of these
symbols is in itself double, so that the meanings form a divergent series, and
the integration of the Card can only be regained by repeated marriages,
identifications, and some form of Hermaphroditism.
attribution is the essence of simplicity. Atu VI refers to Gemini, ruled by
Mercury. It means The Twins. The Hebrew letter corresponding is Zain, which
means a Sword, and the framework of the card is therefore the Arch of Swords,
beneath which the Royal Marriage takes place.
The Sword is
primarily an engine of division. In the intellectual world-which is the world of
the Sword suit-it represents analysis. This card and Atu XIV together compose
the comprehensive alchemical maxim: Solve et coagula.
This card is
consequently one of the most fundamental cards in the Tarot. It is the first
card in which more than one figure appears. [The Ape of Thoth in Atu I is only a
shadow.] In its original form, it was the story of Creation.
appended, for its historical interest, the description of this card in its
primitive form from Liber 418.
"There is an
Assyrian legend of a woman with a fish, and also there is a legend of Eve and
the Serpent, for Cain was the child of Eve and the Serpent, and not of Eve and
Adam; and therefore when he had slain his brother, who was the first murderer,
having sacrificed living things to his demon, had Cain the mark upon his brow,
which is the mark of the Beast spoken of in the Apocalypse, and is the sign of
of blood is necessary, for God did not hear the children of Eve until blood was
shed. And that is external religion; but Cain spake not with God, nor had the
mark of initiation upon his brow, so that he was shunned of all men, until he
had shed blood. And this blood was the blood of his brother. This is a mystery
of the sixth key of the Tarot, which ought not to be called The Lovers, but The
middle of the card stands Cain; in his right hand is the Hammer of Thor with
which he hath slain his brother, and it is all wet with his blood. And his left
hand he holdeth open as a sign of innocence. On his right hand is his mother
Eve, around whom the serpent is entwined with his hood spread behind her head;
and on his left hand is a figure somewhat like the Hindoo Kali, but much more
seductive. Yet I know it to be Lilith. And above him is the Great Sigil of the
Arrow, downward, but it is struck through the heart of the child. This child
also is Abel. And the meaning of this part of the card is obscure, but that is
the correct drawing of the Tarot card; and that is the correct magical fable
from which the Hebrew scribes, who were not complete Initiates, stole their
legend of the Fall and the subsequent events."
It is very
significant that almost every sentence in this passage seems to reverse the
meaning of the previous one. This is because reaction is always equal and
opposite to action. This equation is, or should be, simultaneous in the
intellectual world, where there is no great time lag; the formulation of any
idea creates its contradictory at almost the same moment. The contradictory of
any proposition is implicit in itself. This is necessary to preserve the
equilibrium of the Universe. The theory has been explained in the essay on Atu
I, the Juggler, but must now be again emphasized in order to interpret this
The key is
that the Card represents the Creation of the World. The Hierarchs held this
secret as of transcendant importance. Consequently, the Initiates who issued the
Tarot, for use during the Aeon of Osiris, superseded the original card above
described in "The Vision and the Voice". They were concerned to create a new
Universe of their own; they were the fathers of Science. Their methods of
working, grouped under the generic term Alchemy, have never been made public.
The interesting point is that all developments of modern science in the last
fifty years have given intelligent and instructed people the opportunity of
reflecting that the whole trend of science has been to return to alchemical aims
and (mutatis mutandis) methods. The secrecy observed by the alchemists
was made necessary by the power of persecuting Churches. Bitterly as bigots
fought among themselves, they were all equally concerned to destroy the infant
Science, which, as they instinctively recognized, would put an end to the
ignorance and faith on which their power and wealth depended.
of this card is Analysis, followed by Synthesis. The first question asked by
science is: "Of what are things composed? "This having been answered, the next
question is: "How shall we recombine them to our greater advantage?" This
resumes the whole policy of the Tarot.
figure which occupies the centre of the Card is another form of The Hermit, who
is further explained in Atu IX. He is himself a form of the god Mercury,
described in Atu I; he is closely shrouded, as if to signify that the ultimate
reason of things lies in a realm beyond manifestation and intellect. (As
elsewhere explained, only two operations are ultimately possible---analysis and
synthesis). He is standing in the Sign of the Enterer, as if projecting the
mysterious forces of creation. About his arms is a scroll, indicative of the
Word which is alike his essence and his message. But the Sign of the Enterer is
also the Sign of Benediction and of Consecration; thus his action in this card
is the Celebration of the Hermetic Marriage. Behind him are the figures of Eve,
Lilith and Cupid. This symbolism has been incorporated in order to preserve in
some measure the original form of the card, and to show its derivation, its
heirship, its continuity with the past. On the quiver of Cupid is inscribed the
word Thelema, which is the Word of the Law. (See Liber AL, chap. I, verse
39.) His shafts are quanta of Will. It is thus shown that this
fundamental formula of magical working, analysis and synthesis, persists through
One may now
consider the Hermetic Marriage itself.
This part of
the Card has been simplified from "the Chymical Marriage of Christian
Rosenkreutz", a masterpiece too lengthy and diffuse to quote usefully in this
place. But the essence of the analysis is the continuous see-saw of
contradictory ideas. It is a glyph of duality. The Royal persons concerned are
the Black or Moorish King with a golden crown, and the White Queen with a silver
crown. He is accompanied by the Red Lion, and she by the White Eagle. These are
symbols of the male and female principles in Nature; they are therefore equally,
in various stages of manifestation, Sun and Moon, Fire and Water, Air and Earth.
In chemistry they appear as acid and alkali, or (more deeply) metals and
non-metals, taking those words in their widest philosophical sense to include
hydrogen on the one hand and oxygen on the other. In this aspect, the hooded
figure represents the Protean element of carbon, the seed of all organic life.
of male and female is carried on still further by the weapons of the King and
Queen; he bears the Sacred Lance, and she the Holy Grail; their other hands are
joined, as consenting to the Marriage. Their weapons are supported by twin
children, whose positions are counterchanged; for the white child not only holds
the Cup, but carries roses, while the black child, holding his father's Lance,
carries also the club, an equivalent symbol. At the bottom of the whole is the
result of the Marriage in primitive and pantomorphic form; it is the winged
Orphic egg. This egg represents the essence of all that life which comes under
this formula of male and female. It carries on the symbolism of the Serpents
with which the King's robe is embroidered, and of the Bees which adorn the
mantle of the Queen. The egg is grey, mingling white and black; thus it
signifies the co-operation of the three Supernals of the Tree of Life. The
colour of the Serpent is purple, Mercury in the scale of the Queen. It is the
influence of that God manifested in Nature, whereas the wings are tinged with
crimson, the colour (in the King scale) of Binah the great Mother. In this
symbol is therefore a complete glyph of the equilibrium necessary to begin the
Great Work. But, as to the final mystery, that is left unsolved. Perfect is the
plan to produce life, but the nature of this life is concealed. It is capable of
taking any possible form; but what form? That is dependent upon the influences
attendant on gestation.
The figure in
the air presents some difficulty. The traditional interpretation of the figure
is that he is Cupid; and it is not at first clear what Cupid has to do with
Gemini. No light is thrown upon this point by consideration of the position of
the path upon the Tree of Life, for Gemini leads from Binah to Tiphareth. There
accordingly arises the whole question of Cupid. Roman gods usually represent a
more material aspect of the Greek gods from whom they are derived; in this case,
Eros. Eros is the son of Aphrodite, and tradition varies as to whether his
father was Ares, Zeus or Hermes---that is, Mars, Jupiter or Mercury. His
appearance in this card suggests that Hermes is the true sire; and this view is
confirmed by the fact that it is not altogether easy to distinguish him from the
child Mercury, for they have in common wantonness) irresponsibility, and the
love of playing tricks. But in this image are peculiar characteristics. He
carries a bow and arrows in a golden quiver. (He is sometimes represented with a
torch.) He has golden wings, and is blindfolded. From this, it may appear that
he represents the intelligent (and, at the same time, unconscious) will of the
soul to unite itself with all and sundry, as has been explained in the general
formula with regard to the agony of separateness.
special importance is attached to Cupid in alchemical figures. Yet, in one
sense, he is the source of all action; the libido to express Zero as Two. From
another point of view, he may be regarded as the intellectual aspect of the
influence of Binah upon Tiphareth, for (in one tradition) the title of the card
is "The Children of the Voice, the Oracle of the Mighty Gods". From this point
of view, he is a symbol of inspiration, descending upon the hooded figure, who
is, in this instance, a prophet operating the conjunction of the King and Queen.
His arrow represents the spiritual intelligence necessary in alchemical
operations, rather than the mere hunger to perform them. On the other hand, the
arrow is peculiarly a symbol of direction, and it is, therefore, proper to put
the word "Thelema" in Greek letters on the quiver. It is also to be observed
that the opposite card, Sagittarius, means the Bearer of the Arrow, or Archer, a
figure who does not appear in any form in Atu XIV. These two cards are so
complementary that they cannot be studied separately, for full interpretation.
VII. THE CHARIOT
refers to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, the sign into which the Sun moves at the
Summer Solstice. [Note that Cheth - Cheth 8-Yod 10-Tau 400-has the value of 418.
This is one of the most important of the key numbers of Liber AL. It is the
number of the word of the Aeon, ABRAHADABRA, the cypher of the Great Work. (See
The Equinox of the Gods, p.138. Also The Temple of Solomon the King.) On this
word alone a complete volume could, and should, be written.]
Cancer is the
cardinal sign of the element of Water, [Hence St. John Baptist's Day, and the
various ceremonials connected with water.] and represents the first keen onrush
of that element. Cancer also represents the path which leads from the great
Mother Binah to Geburah, and is thus the influence of the Supernals descending
through the Veil of Water (which is blood) upon the energy of man, and so
inspires it. It corresponds, in this way, to The Hierophant, which, on the other
side of the Tree of Life, brings down the fire of Chokmah.
The design of
this present card has been much influenced by the Trump portrayed by Eliphaz
The canopy of
the Chariot is the night-sky-blue of Binah. The pillars are the four pillars of
?he Universe, the regimen of Tetragrammaton. The scarlet wheels represent the
original energy of Geburah which causes the revolving motion.
is drawn by four sphinxes composed of the four Kerubs, the Bull, the Lion, the
Eagle and the Man. In each sphinx these elements are counter-changed; thus the
whole represents the sixteen sub-elements.
Charioteer is clothed in the amber-coloured armour appropriate to the sign. He
is throned in the chariot rather than con ducting it, because the whole system
of progression is perfectly balanced. His only function is to bear the Holy
armour are ten Stars of Assiah, the inheritance of celestial dew from his
He bears as a
crest the Crab appropriate to the sign. The vizor of his helmet is lowered, for
no man may look upon his face and live. For the same reason, no part of his body
Cancer is the
house of the Moon; there are thus certain analogies between this card and that
of the High Priestess. But, also, Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, and here one
recalls the card called Fortune (Atu X) attributed to Jupiter.
and most important feature of the card is its centre - the Holy Grail. It is of
pure amethyst, of the colour of Jupiter, but its shape suggests the full moon
and the Great Sea of Binah.
In the centre
is radiant blood; the spiritual life is inferred; light in the darkness. These
rays, moreover, revolve, emphasizing the Jupiterian element in the symbol.
This card in
the old pack was called Justice. This word has none but a purely human and
therefore relative sense; so it is not to be considered as one of the facts of
Nature. Nature is not just, according to any theological or ethical idea; but
Nature is exact.
represents the sign of Libra, ruled by Venus; in it Saturn is exalted. The
equilibrium of all things is hereby symbolized. It is the final adjustment in
the formula of Tetragrammaton, when the daughter, redeemed by her marriage with
the Son, is thereby set up on the throne of the mother; thus, finally, she
"awakens the Eld of the All-Father."
greatest symbolism of all, however, the symbolism beyond all planetary and
Zodiacal considerations, this card is the feminine complement of the Fool, for
the letters Aleph Lamed constitute the secret key of the Book of the Law,
and this is the basis of a complete qabalistic system of greater depth and
sublimity than any other. The details of this system have not yet been revealed.
It has been thought right, nevertheless, to hint at its existence by equating
the designs of these two cards. Not only therefore, because Libra is a sign of
Venus, but because she is the partner of the Fool, is the Goddess represented as
dancing, with the suggestion of Harlequin.
The figure is
that of a young and slender woman poised exactly upon toetip. She is crowned
with the ostrich plumes of Maat, the Egyptian goddess of Justice, and on her
forehead is the Uraeus serpent, Lord of Life and Death. She is masked, and her
expression shows her secret intimate satisfaction in her domination of every
element of dis-equilibrium in the Universe. This condition is symbolized by the
Magic Sword which she holds in both hands, and the balances or spheres in which
she weighs the Universe, Alpha the First balanced exactly against Omega the
Last. These are the Judex and Testes of Final Judgment; the Testes, in
particular, are symbolic of the secret course of judgment whereby all current
experience is absorbed, transmuted, and ultimately passed on, by virtue of the
operation of the Sword, to further manifestation. This all takes place within
the diamond formed by the figure which is the concealed Vesica Piscis
through which this sublimated and adjusted experience passes to its next
herself before a throne composed of spheres and pyramids (four in number,
signifying Law and Limitation) which themselves maintain the same equity that
she herself manifests, though on a completely impersonal plane, in the framework
within which all operations take place. Outside this again, at the corner of the
card, are indicated balanced spheres of light and darkness, and constantly
equilibrated rays from these spheres form a curtain, the interplay of all those
forces which she sums up and adjudicates.
One must go
more deeply into philosophy; the Trump represents The Woman Satisfied.
Equilibrium stands apart from any individual prejudices; therefore the title, in
France, should rather be Justesse. In this sense, Nature is scrupulously just.
It is impossible to drop a pin without exciting a corresponding reaction in
every Star. The action has disturbed the balance of the Universe.
woman-goddess is Harlequin; she is the partner and fulfilment of The Fool. She
is the ultimate illusion which is manifestation; she is the dance,
many-coloured, many-wiled, of Life itself. Constantly whirling, all
possibilities are enjoyed, under the phantom show of Space and Time: all things
are real, the soul is the surface, precisely because they are instantly
compensated by this Adjustment. All things are harmony and beauty; all things
are Truth: because they cancel out.
She is the
goddess Maat; she bears upon her nemyss the ostrich feathers of the Twofold
Crown, so delicate that the most faintest breath of thought must stir it,
depend, by chains of Cause, the Scales wherein Alpha, the first, is poised in
perfect equilibrium with Omega, the last. The scales of the balance are the Two
Witnesses in whom shall every word be established. She is therefore to be
understood as assessing the virtue of every act and demanding exact and precise
this, she is the complete formula of the Dyad; the word AL is the title of the
Book of the Law, whose number is 31, the most secret of the numerical
keys of that Book. She represents Manifestation, which may always be cancelled
out by equilibration of opposites.
wrapped in a cloak of mystery, the more mysterious because diaphanous; she is
the sphinx without a secret, because she is purely a matter of calculation. In
Eastern philosophy she is Karma.
attributions develop this thesis. Venus rules the sign of the Balance; and that
is to show the formula: "Love is the law, love under will". But Saturn
represents above all the element of Time, without which adjustment cannot take
place, for all action and re action take place in time, and therefore, time
being itself merely a condition of phenomena, all phenomena are invalid because
Satisfied. From the cloak of the vivid wantonness of her dancing wings issue her
hands; they hold the hilt of the Phallic sword of the magician. She holds the
blade between her thighs.
This is again
a hieroglyph of "Love is the law, love under will". Every form of energy must be
directed, must be applied with integrity, to the full satisfaction of its
IX. THE HERMIT
This card is
attributed to the letter Yod, which means the Hand. Hence, the hand, which is
the tool or instrument par excellence, is in the centre of the picture. The
letter Yod is the foundation of all the other letters of the Hebrew alphabet,
which are merely combinations of it in various ways.
Yod is the first letter of the name Tetragrammaton, and this symbolizes the
Father, who is Wisdom; he is the highest form of Mercury, and the Logos, the
Creator of all worlds. Accordingly, his representative in physical life is the
spermatozoon; this is why the card is called The Hermit.
The figure of
the Hermit himself recalls the shape of the letter Yod, and the colour of his
cloak is the colour of Binah, in whom he gestates. In his hand he holds a Lamp
whose centre is the Sun, portrayed in the likeness of the Sigil of the great
King of Fire (Yod is the secret Fire). It seems that he is contemplating---in a
certain sense, adoring---the Orphic egg (greenish in colour) because it is
conterminous with the Universe, while the snake which surrounds it is many-coloured
to signify the iridescence of Mercury. For he is not only creative, but is the
fluidic essence of Light, which is the life of the Universe.
symbolism of this card is, therefore, Fertility in its most exalted sense, and
this is reflected in the attribution of the card to the sign of Virgo, which is
another aspect of the same quality. Virgo is an earthy sign, and is referred
especially to Corn, so that the background of the card is a field of wheat.
represents the lowest, most receptive, most feminine form of earth, and forms
the crust over Hades. Yet not only is Virgo ruled by Mercury, but Mercury is
exalted therein. Compare the Ten of Disks, and the general doctrine that the
climax of the Descent into Matter is the signal for the reintegration by Spirit.
It is the Formula of the Princess, the mode of fulfilment of the Great Work.
recalls the Legend of Persephone, and herein is a dogma. Concealed within
Mercury is a light which pervades all parts of the Universe equally; one of his
titles is Psychopompos, the guide of the soul through the lower regions. These
symbols are indicated by his Serpent Wand, which is actually growing out of the
Abyss, and is the spermatozoon developed as a poison, and manifesting the foetus.
Following him is Cerberus, the three-headed Hound of Hell whom he has tamed. In
this Trump is shewn the entire mystery of Life in its most secret workings. Yod
Phallus Spermatozoon Hand Logos Virgin. There is perfect Identity, not merely
Equivalence, of the Extremes, the Manifestation, and the Method
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