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Oliver St. John is the author of twelve books covering Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, the Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of the Thelemic Magical Collegium, Ordo Astri, and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Twilight of Creation and Bornless Spirit

E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians. However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translation and hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.

The Sepher Sephiroth of S. L. MacGregor Mathers that Aleister Crowley published under the cover of Liber 777 was never intended to be anything more than a beginning, a means of gaining a foothold in a vast and mysterious subject. Our Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth now extends to more than a thousand pages over two volumes, yet such a work is never truly finished.[1] Members of the Order must, according to tradition, keep their own book of numbers—so to continue the work. Most recently, I thought to examine the fifth verse of the first book of Genesis, which is arguably the most important Qabalistic source. I give here a transliteration of the key Hebrew words in parenthesis.

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, for light itself can only be 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. According to E. A. Wallis Budge when commenting on the primal Ogdoad of the Delta region in his Gods of the Egyptians, Nuit was merely the consort of Nu the sky god.[2] In our Theban and Thelemic schema, Nuit embraces all, and her consort is her son and manifest star, Set-Hadit (or Sirius). Thus Nuit and Hadit are really beyond light and darkness.

Much creative license is 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 in other ways often changes the meaning or context altogether. We could of course say that was already done when the Chaldean scriptures were placed in Modern Hebrew with vowel pointing. 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, can then be read on many different levels of meaning.

Twilight of Creation: Kerah and Kerahet Primal Ogdoad Gods of Egypti (Denderah)
Kerah and Kerahet

The ancient Egyptian source work story of creation vastly predates the Bible and is so old that the later dynastic tales of Osiris, for example, are modern by comparison. E. A. Wallis Budge noted in The Gods of the Egyptians how little was known or indeed, remembered, of the swampy Ogdoad arising from the primal void even by the ancient Egyptians:

“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, who probably regarded the ancient views about these gods which had come down to them as the product of men belonging to a lower stage of civilization than their own.”

The last statement of Budge’s is open to question since the ancient Egyptians had no concept of ‘progress’ to match that of our industrialised civilisation (so-called). However, much can be done with Budge’s literal translations and faithfully copied hieroglyphs when the magical tap of inspiration is turned on. In that way, we produced the ritual called the Twilight Vigil.[3] The Lords of Keraha, cited in some of the more obscure of ancient Egyptian holy books, were said to dwell in the swampy Delta, the metaphysical equivalent of the Abyss or Da’ath.

The fragmentary surviving knowledge concerning Keraha is a precise magical and scientific treatise compared to Genesis, which then begins to look like a version scribed for very small children. The first book of Genesis (in particular) is nonetheless beautifully written. Scientist magi like John Dee would have studied Genesis more than any other book, because it tells the story of the creation of the universe. And the story was, at that time, regarded as absolutely authoritative.[4] If you were a scholar, knowing your Bible well in more than one language was sometimes necessary for survival. One can only begin to imagine where one such as Dee might have taken things if he had access to the translations of Budge![5]

The Lords of Keraha or primal Neters emerging from Nu and Nuit are depicted 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, as it is declared in our ritual called the Twilight Vigil:

“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!”

In Twilight Vigil we wanted to assert a return to the Bornless or primal condition rather than give yet another rendition of creation, so Hehu and Hehut are named last. This asserts that 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 neither this nor that, and yet it is the whole span of the unfathomable mystery of life and consciousness. With all respect to the darkly luminous works of Kenneth Grant, the real (or original) Typhonian or Setian Gnosis is not “Against the Light”. It was never for or against anything. Truth is. Wisdom seeks more than ordinary knowledge. All questions of this or that spring from turbulence, and ultimately are no more than an egotistic urge towards self-assertion—which in itself gives rise to the neurosis of self-doubt.[6]


[1] The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth consists of more than one thousand pages over two volumes.

[2] See The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume I. While there are several versions of this online, it is well worth taking the trouble to purchase the excellent Dover edition of both volumes.

[3] The ritual called the Twilight Vigil is given with a commentary in our book, The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation.

[4] The Darwin-based theory of Evolution and the many projections and assumptions that go with that is our modern day secular version of religious dogma. Anyone daring to challenge its supreme canonical authority will be held to ridicule if not mocked. Science dogma also includes the ‘holy of holies’ that the human species is the most intelligent on this planet (if not in the universe) and that its needs supersede the needs of all other creatures. Curiously, the anthropocentric view of creation originated in the West with the biblical books of Genesis!

[5] Budge is no longer in favour with some Egyptologists nowadays, and his rather literal translations and commentaries have been subjected to heavy criticism. However, the literal translations avoid the projections of modern cultural bias, something that Budge would have been well aware of and that modern day scholars would do well to learn from. Furthermore, the literal translation, when viewed alongside the hieroglyphics, provides by far the best resource for the practical Hermetic magician. E. A. Wallis Budge is thought by some to have been a member of an active Golden Dawn Temple in London (see Ithell Colquhoun, Sword of Wisdom). This would no doubt serve to further displease Budge’s Egyptological critics.

[6] For the Adept of the magical arts there is condition of mind that might be termed as ‘hyper turbulence’. Christian mystic Jacob Boehme created the word turba to describe this state of affairs. Turba is far more than ordinary anxiety as understood in the conventional and psychological sense.

© Oliver St. John 2017

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Nu Golden Dawn: Night Magick vs Light Magick

The post-truth age is a chilling but unavoidable truth.[1] At least, it is a truth so long as we can no longer discern the true from the false, good from evil. While truth cannot be absolutely true, true discernment is made in the heart and not the reasoning mind alone. This is the seat of what is called the True Will or Thelema.

Deconstructionism was used as a method in the arts long before it was recognised as driving political debate (so-called). Kenneth Grant—perhaps first of the post-modern occultists—laid a trail so littered with ‘blinds’ that even the most perceptive individuals have difficulty deciphering the way. Yet when he neared the end of his time—and foresaw the end of ours—he was unequivocal so far as stating that Initiates should prepare for the incoming wave of Qliphoth. To explain this in the terms coined by Grant: rends in the subtle fabric that once protected the planet are now admitting overwhelming incursions from Outside. The uninitiated have no defence against the resultant atavistic resurgence and succumb to obsession in their legions. Grant’s instructions for the needful preparations are nonetheless scattered about the Typhonian Trilogies in a way that makes them difficult to find and identify.[2]

The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites: Golden Dawn Altar or Material Basis

It is our stated aim to redefine the operation of the Magick of Light for the New Aeon. The 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 doing the bidding of the Secret Chiefs in a way more subtle than the darkly devious devices of his own imagining?

It was Kenneth 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 an Eastern and indeed dualistic philosophical view to take, though in reality not much different from that of Aleister Crowley who increasingly resorted to the Yi-King over the Tarot (which he was never good at by his own admission) and the Taoist way over that of the Hermetic. Crowley littered his work with paradoxical assertions and negations, as did Kenneth 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 use of the Chaldean Oracles, attributed to the Persian sage Zoroaster, provides a fine example. The Upanishads are full of it. Strangely enough, everyone seems to be more or less in agreement that the 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 Kenneth 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 Kenneth 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 Aleister 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 a young Aleister Crowley was introduced to the household.

It is perhaps unfortunate that Crowley and other first wave Golden Dawn dissidents discarded elements of the tradition that were valuable and magically vital. For example, the early Golden Dawn temples had equal rights and privileges for women that meant far more than paying mere lip service to a lofty ideal. When Mathers moved base from London to Paris he appointed Florence Farr as head. The respect afforded the women of the Golden Dawn is less surprising when we consider that the primary magical contact behind MacGregor and Moïna Mathers was the Egyptian goddess Isis. The first Golden Dawn temple in London was therefore named Isis-Urania. Crowley, on the other hand, revered women only when poeticising, and was otherwise consistent in asserting male supremacy in all things—an attitude that has continued in his legacy even to the present times.[3]

Nu Golden Dawn

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.[4] 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 and Theurgic magical operation. The irony of Kenneth 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 divine 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.

The Phoenix and other Stellar Rites of Initiation is due for release this Easter tide. Details about the book are posted on the Ordo Astri website and at Tantrika Books. There is also a discursive commentary on this in our upcoming Temple of Babalon podcast, Episode 17.


[1] Post-truth is where personal opinion and agenda is made to obscure or simply deny obvious facts. It is usually descriptive of faux political debate, but has wide application.

[2] Kenneth Grant refers to a certain “Sign of Protection”. This is described in The Ninth Arch, Appendices I (Starfire Publishing).

[3] One only has to read Aleister Crowley’s The Law is for All to understand where he stood regarding the place of women. Ref: The Law is For All, by Aleister Crowley, New Falcon Publications 1991; pp. 305–12 and 315–6.

[4] Against the Light: A Nightside Narrative is the title of a book by Kenneth Grant (Starfire Publishing, 2016).

 © Oliver St. John 2017

Friday, 17 February 2017

Nuit-Babalon Gnosis: Thunder Perfect Mind

The Creatrix has a primal role in the ancient mysteries—namely, the pre-religious mysteries, which are inclusive of the sacred feminine. Babalon is the daughter of Nuit, and the Scarlet Woman her soul. The fragments of Gnostic scriptures that survived the book burners more than two millennia ago are heavily tainted with what was then the growing suppression of women and all magical practices. Scriptures such as the Trimorphic Protennoia (Nag Hammadi, online) carry powerful elements of the Gnosis, but such texts were already being redacted and overwritten under the influence of fanatical all-male ascetic cults. Such cults—no less than the religions that formed out of them—can only construe the sacred in a male image, or otherwise as an abstract ‘Father’ whose ministers obediently spout nationalist and militarist propaganda. In modern times the Left-hand path—outside of the ashram—is portrayed in the language and images of a fear-phantasm created in the averse mirror of fifteen centuries of tyrannical state suppression.

Nuit-Babalon Gnosis: Whore of Babylon by William Blake
BABALON the HOLY (William Blake)

Any person that has spent time with the books of the Bible—unless they accept the convoluted thought of religious theological doctrine—will understand the need for a radiation suit when browsing, let alone embarking on a prolonged study. The ferocious condemnation of all ‘foreign’ gods and their (pagan) worshippers in the Old Testament, the horrible threats and curses against anyone (especially women) practicing magick, divination—or even dancing—roll on, foaming at the mouth, for page upon page. The emergent state monotheism of 500–600 BCE not only threw out the priestesses from the temples but also systematically took away all the rights of women, forcing them to become wholly subservient to men through laws that were to be enforced with the utmost cruelty. (The biblical book of Numbers 30, 1–16, for merely one case example, is a catalogue of hateful and incredibly damaging laws.)

The Order of the Golden Dawn, while under the leadership of Samuel Liddel MacGregor Mathers and later, Florence Farr, introduced equal rights and opportunities for women among its membership as early as the 1890s. Feminist writing since the 1970s by now forms a clearly defined—and self-defining—genre. Unfortunately this may have assisted in continuing the suppression that the writers wish to draw attention to.  The wider esoteric community has not yet woken up to the fact that we cannot take the Qabalah, and (therefore) much of ceremonial magick without making some needful adjustments. The traditional Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (as given in Aleister Crowley’s Liber O and various Golden Dawn derived material), for example, requires the magician to invoke the biblical demiurge Tetragrammaton in the East. This is the same demiurge that, according to scripture, curses all other gods, hates women and all ‘foreigners’, and demands that worshippers of any other gods but the supreme god of the patriarchs should be “utterly destroyed”. (The latter phrase occurs as an exact match no fewer than 21 times in the King James Bible, commencing with the book of Exodus, 22: 20.) Very often in the very next verse of scripture, the “Jealous God” tetchily demands the timely submission of first-born human or (later on) animal sacrifices. Is that really what we want to invoke to protect our magical circle?

Let us consider, for example, that our magical circle is usually set up for the invocation of Egyptian and Babylonian or Mesopotamian deities. These, along with all magical arts and divination, are furiously condemned in the oracles of the monotheistic ‘God’. It is foolish to imagine that the work of Qabalists in the Western Mystery Tradition, however well intentioned, can somehow patch this over by positing that Tetragrammaton is merely an elemental formula, or that the insertion of an additional letter shin puts it all to rights by asserting a Christian theological notion of ‘redemption’ based on sin, guilt and debt (it comes as no surprise to learn that redemption or salvation developed alongside early banking systems).

The rise of asceticism, anthropocentric religions and scientism, coincided historically with the rise of patriarchal governance, suppression of women, the viewing of nature as an adversary and (as a consequence) the wholesale destruction of our natural environment. The distortion of the Sumerian creation myth where Eve, instead of being blessed, is cursed for all of time for giving Adam the fruits of knowledge to eat (Genesis 2) has been continued in modern times. Crowley’s The Law is for All contains some ill-considered and completely inexcusable examples of mystic misogyny of the worst kind. (Furthermore, do we really believe that Rose Crowley was not even present in the room in Cairo 1904 at the reception of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis?)

Of the Gnostic scriptures, the voice of the deity that comes closest to that of our Thelemic Shakti-Babalon, the bride of the Beast or Serpent, is quite possibly the Sethian Gnostic Thunder Perfect Mind.* While baffling to scholars who cannot work out where to place it, the enigmatic Thunder text has strong resonances with the voice of Madimi and Babalon that appeared to John Dee and Edward Kelly during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It is also comparable to the voice of Nuit in chapter one of Liber AL vel Legis, the Babalon of the Jack Parsons workings, and the Babalon or Sophia-Barbelo that has appeared to Thelemic devotees in more recent times. It is my view that The Thunder Perfect Mind was received in oracular fashion, and that some of it may have been delivered in response to questions asked by those assembled to hear it. More than one scribe may have recorded the oracle, accounting for some overlapping in the source text, as though different versions were superimposed.

To celebrate the Gnosis, I thought to present here an initiated transcription and magical restoration of the sacred text of Thunder Perfect Mind. It is in every way suitable for use as a magical invocation.

The Thunder Perfect Mind or Babalon the Holy

I was sent forth from Mystery,
And I will come to them that reflect upon me,
For those that seek me, shall find me.
Behold me, ye who reflect upon me,
And listen to me, ye that that have ears to hear!
Ye who have waited for me, take me to yourselves,
And do not banish me from your sight.
Do not say hateful things of me, do not hear them spoken.
Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or at any time.
Be vigilant! Do not forget me.

I am the First and the Last.
I am the blessed one and the forsaken one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one—and yet many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is of great nobility,
And I have not taken a husband.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
And it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father,
And the sister of my husband,
And yet he is my offspring,
And from him I take my power.
I am the rod of his power in his youth,
And he is the staff of my old age.
I am the Silence beyond knowing,
And the Idea of continuous recollection.
I am the Voice whose tongues are legion,
And the Word whose forms are many.
I am the Oracle, whose utterance is my name.

You who deny me, confess me,
And you who confess me, deny me.
You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
And you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me.
You who know me, do not know me,
And those who have not known me, let them know me.
For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and I am pride.
I am shameless and I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and I am peace.
Take heed of me! For I am the one who is disgraced,
And the one who is exalted greatly.

I am [ISIS] the one whose Image is great in Egypt,
And the one who has no Image among the barbarians.
I am the one who has been hated everywhere,
And who has been loved everywhere.
I am the one whom they call Life,
And that you have called Death.
I am the one whom they call Law,
And that you have called Lawlessness.
I am the one whom you have pursued,
And I am the one whom you have seized.
I am the one whom you have scattered,
Even while ye have gathered me together.
I am the one before whom you were ashamed,
And you have been shameless unto me.

I am the one whom you have despised,
And yet you reflect upon me.
I am the one you have hidden from,
And thus do you appear to me!
And wherever you hide yourselves,
I myself will appear.
And whenever you appear,
I myself will hide from you.

You that would know me
Will yet darken my understanding,
And embrace my wisdom with sorrow.
You embrace me in places that are ugly and ruined,
And steal from those which are true, even in your falsehood.
Out of shame, take me to yourselves shamelessly.
And when you find fault in my members,
Look for that fault in yourselves.
Come forward to me, you who know me
And you who know my members,
Then you will establish the great ones
Among the smallest of creatures.

Why do you curse me and pretend to honour me?
When you were wounded, I gave you mercy.
Do not separate me from those who once knew you.
And do not cast anyone out, nor turn anyone away.
I am the Mind of Thunderous Perfection.
I am the answer to my own question,
And the knowledge of those who seek after me,
And the will of those who ask of me.
I am the power of the powers in my knowledge
Of the angels, who have been sent at my word,
And of gods in their seasons by my counsel,
And of the spirits of every man who dwells with me,
And of the women who dwell within me.
I am the one who is blessed, and who is praised,
And yet who is scornfully despised.
I am peace, and war has come because of me.
And I am an alien and a citizen.
I am the substance and the one who has no substance.

There are those who cannot know me from their ignorance,
And those who know me, that are of my very substance.
Yet those who are close to me have yet been ignorant of me,
And those who are far away from me have yet known me a little.
On the day when I am close to you,
You are far away from me,
And on the day when I am far away from you,
I am closer to you than I can ever be.

I am forever within.
I am always of the qualities.
I am forever of the principalities and the spirits.
I am always that which the soul seeks.
I am control and that which is uncontrollable.
I am unity and dissolution.
I am the one that is below,
And yet they come up to me.
I am judgement and acquittal.
I, I am sinless, and the root of sin derives from me.
I am the weak lust in the appearance of things,
And the strong will to the eternal is within me.
I am the sound that may be heard by everyone,
And the voice that is beyond reason.
I am a mute who does not speak forth,
And yet great is the multitude of my words.

I prepare the bread and my Mind is within it.
I am the knowledge of my own name.
I am the one who cries out, and who hears.
I appear and yet I walk in the shadow of invisibility.
I am the attacked and the defended.
I am the one who is called Truth,
And who is known to be iniquitous.
For what is within you is what is outside of you,
And the one who fashions you on the outside
Is the one who shaped the inside of you.
And what you see outside of you, you will see inside of you.
It is visible, and it is your garment.

Hear me, o ye that have ears to hear,
And learn of my words, ye who know me!
I am the sound that is attainable by all;
I am the voice beyond reason.
I am the name of the sound,
And the sound of the name.
I am the signature of the letter,
And the seal of the division.
And I am the darkness and the light.
And I am the voice of my listeners,
And the one who listens to you.

For I am the Great Power.
And he that sends forth to me will hear my name.
And he that delivers me shall be as one who created me.
And I will speak forth his name.
Take heed then, ye that hear me,
And ye angels also, and those who have been sent,
And ye spirits who have arisen from the dead.
For I am the one who alone exists,
And I have no one who will judge me.

Many are the pleasant forms that exist in
Numerous sins, and poisons,
Even in disgraceful passions, and fleeting pleasures,
Which men embrace weakly.
When they seek, and attain clarity,
And go up to their place of peace,
Then at last shall they find me.
And they shall have life,
And they will not die again.


Related articles:
The Oracle of Babalon: Daughter of Fortitude (article)
The Oracle of Babalon: Daughter of Fortitude (podcast)

Related books by Oliver St. John:
The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth

* The source texts of Thunder Perfect Mind are available online. The Nag Hammadi Library, online, has several different translations of most of the Gnostic texts.

Other books of note: The Sword of Wisdom, Ithell Colquhoun, is an account of MacGregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn that is uniquely trustworthy and fair.

© Oliver St. John 2017

Friday, 20 January 2017

Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth: Treatise on Gematria

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth is the result of many years of practical work and research. It gives me great pleasure to announce the release of this whole work in two volumes of over 1000 pages.

The Flaming Sword is a comprehensive and unique treatise on Gematria, revealing the pre-religious Gnosis and its relation to Thelema. In addition to the substantial Sepher Sephiroth (“book of numbers”) there is an introductory guide to the use of the book, tables of Hebrew, Greek and Enochian values, prime numbers, and a complete set of Magical Kameas with corrected and redrawn planetary seals and sigils.

The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth Treatise on Gematria

With the kind permission of Starfire Publishing, substantial quotations from Kenneth Grant’s seminal work, The Nightside of Eden, are included. The information on the paths of the sword and serpent of the Hermetic Tree is therefore comprehensive. The book also serves as a veritable grimoire for those engaged with the more specialised work of the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis. The Flaming Sword provides multiple solutions to all of the riddles of Liber AL vel Legis, as well as some of the most cryptic passages. By including words and numbers that have special application and meaning to those who work with the Thelemic, Typhonian or ‘93’ magical current, the legacy of our work is powerfully encoded so that future generations of magicians may continue its development.

The word “Qabalah” implies something passed on from mouth to ear—a whisper in the ear, to those prepared to receive it. Gematria is the association of a word or phrase with another word or phrase sharing the same numerical value. The skilful use and understanding of Gematria provides a vessel for the incarnation of spiritual ideas. With persistent practice, a number will instantly convey all of its related meanings to the trained mind; the subtlest nuances will be perceived and refreshed, again and again. An enduring plumbline is forged between the rational mind and the Deep Mind so the consciousness of the magician habitually inhabits and explores spaces that would otherwise remain inaccessible.

Greek words from the New Testament and Hermetica are included, in addition to the usual Hebrew words; the entire Enochian vocabulary of John Dee is included, as well as Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic and ancient Egyptian.

Format: 6×9 high quality paperback, in two volumes
Volume One: 684 pages
Volume Two: 584 pages

Related articles: The Word Thelema 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Towards a New Golden Dawn

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

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

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

He who looks both ways: Heru-Set
The gold relief offsetting a leaden background in this combined image of the brothers Horus and Set rescued from the ruins of ancient Aunnu is suggestive of an early epithet of Set before he was demonised, the “Black and Gold One” (Sut-Nubti). Heru-Set was known to the Egyptians as “He who looks both ways”. Qabalists might note that the Mystic Number of the 26th path of Capricorn is 351, while the Mystic Number of the 17th path of Gemini is 153. Whichever way we look, we are seeing either a devil or a double—and the two nouns have identical meaning. The sword of discrimination (Zain) is needed to negotiate the persuasive phantoms that appear to the eye (Ayin) that has not yet been made single through long practice of yoga. When the letters of the two paths are combined, OZ spells the name of a goat, as well as that of a goatish wizard.

The Phoenix Initiation

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

Towards a New Golden Dawn

We seem to have entered dark times, in terms of the collective consciousness as well as actual global events. If that is in any way true, then it seems apt to be revisiting some of the core teachings and practices in our tradition. The Golden Dawn symbolism of the red cross that brings down the white triangle of the supernal sephiroth to the relative darkness of the lower sephiroth, via the harmonious radiance of Tiphereth, is as relevant now as it ever was. The fact we have now seen a hundred years of general intellectual acceptance of Freud’s theories on the nature of Theos does nothing to change reality (or Theos), it only changes how men and women are disposed to see things. Likewise, neither Carl Jung not Aleister Crowley could discern a difference between two Greek words that have very different meanings: Eros and Agape. Love herself has not been offended, neither has Wisdom blushed. No God forbids. It is the human soul that will pick up the tab on the day of be-with-us. Though the name Eve means “to fall or stumble”, it is Adam (viz., human ego) that casts his soul into the Abyss—or realises her as his only chance for the Kingdom.

Aleister Crowley chose to put a Freudian interpretation on the operation of the Hermetic Light. Ithell Colquhoun, in an article written in 1955, suggested that Crowley typified the ‘Dying God’ or ‘Aeon of Osiris’ that was the very thing he claimed to be standing against.(2) The Occult Science has certainly been crushed beneath the juggernaut wheels of the Freudian view of Occult Science for far to long. Psychological reductionism is one thing, the atavisms of a crowned and conquering all-male Logos Spermatikos are quite another. If we could but remember what Alice said, and dispel in an instant the latest pack of jokers. If we could but remember that the abode of the Signum Symbol is the heart—and that the real occult secrets are only secret because they cannot be put into words. The other kind of secrets are ones we can all do well without; they are in fact a recipe for the very neuroses that Freud went to such lengths to examine.

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

Love is the law, love under will.


1. The Phoenix is also known to Initiates as Liber CMXXX. Our book for the Probationer 0=0 is The Enterer of the Threshold.

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

© Oliver St. John 2016

Related articles: Neophyte Initiation: Enterer of the Threshold

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Magical Beast of Apocalypse

Charles Stansfeld Jones, otherwise known as Frater Achad, showed forth brilliance and erudition in his book, The Egyptian Revival. However, although Achad said in the Preface to the book that it was written “in the spirit of Suggestive Inquiry”, further study reveals he perhaps took the Qabalistic symbolism a little too literally. He clearly felt he had made a Great Discovery in reversing the alphabet and relocating the Tarot trumps, and went so far as to think there might be some “Absolute Reason in the Primitive Universal Tradition”. In spite of this—a magical faux pas that caused some upset to his mentor, Aleister Crowley—Achad produced some highly original insights, which make his work well worth serious study. In Chapter IV of The Egyptian Revival he writes:
We have seen in tracing out the Traditions that there have been two Wills at work, the Divine and the Personal, and that through the Ages these have appeared in conflict. One is the Bright Star or Pentagram of Unconquered Will, the other the Dark Star of the Reversed Pentagram. These two Stars are symbolised by the hands of Man, or the Magician, one raised to Heaven in the Sign of Solvé, the other directed downwards in the Sign of Coagula. When united they form a Ten-fold Star, just as the hand of the man who has fallen may be grasped by the one who Raises him in the Grip of the Lion, which exactly symbolises this uniting of the Rising and Setting Sun, or the Twins Sut-Har. For the Two Wills are Harmonised in Tiphereth. But when we consider Malkuth, it is a question of Raising the Fallen Daughter, the Animal Soul, or matter, to the Throne of the Mother, Understanding … The Union of the two Stars as a Ten-fold Star in Malkuth is the Work before us … as promised by the Rainbow of the old order.
On the following pages, the inspiration fades a little as Achad grapples with the problems raised by his upturning of the correspondences. However, this one idea alone provides us with an opportunity to gain an overview of the whole path of Initiation, as mapped out in the Qabalistic grade system of Thelemic magical Orders. From the tenfold union of the upright and averse pentagrams comes forth the elevenfold star, which is the key to magical Initiation.

According to Aleister Crowley, the number 11 is “The general number of magick, or energy tending to change” (Liber 777). The number 11 is also that of Nuit, according to the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, I: 60:
My number is 11, as are all their numbers who are of us.
Da’ath, Knowledge, is the eleventh sephira—really a non-sephira. To understand the significance of the elevenfold star of Thelemic Initiation, we need to examine the importance of Malkuth the Kingdom in the whole scheme of things.

Ordo Astri: Elevenfold Star of Union
Elevenfold Star

The Pyramid

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

The ritual chamber of Malkuth may be conceived as a womb and tomb for Initiation. The four walls beyond the magick circle are the four classical elements, the faces of the Sphinx of Nature and cardinal directions. In our dynamic version of the Golden Dawn Neophyte “Z” ritual, the Phoenix, the circle is triangulated by two officers wearing the masks of Isis (Hegemon) and Horus (Hiereus), plus a third ‘invisible station’ of Thoth as the Word or Logos, the reconciler of the dual forces. Once the altar is triangulated in this way, the vertical projection from the centre evokes the apex of a pyramid above. This comes about spontaneously in the same way that the six-fold hexagram appears above and below the magician when four pentagrams are placed around the circle in the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. The inner aspect of Malkuth is defined here by a tetrahedronal pyramid, whose apex is, figuratively speaking, Iacchus or the Holy Guardian Angel. The tetrahedron is not only a symbol corresponding to the 31st path of The Aeon XX, but is also a symbol of Da’ath, the eleventh sephira that is yet not a sephira as such. It is the key to magical transmutation.

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

The Great Dragon

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

The Revelation of St. John

Death on a Pale White Horse, William Blake (1800)
Death on a Pale White Horse, William Blake (1880)

We find three references to a ten-horned beast in the book of St. John’s Revelation; in Revelation 12: 3, 13: 1 and 17: 6:
Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven royal crowns on his heads.

Then I saw a beast with ten horns and seven heads rising out of the sea. There were ten royal crowns on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads.

And the ten horns and the beast that you saw will hate the prostitute. They will leave her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
The latter verse, 17: 6, is echoed in the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, III: 43:
Let the Scarlet Woman beware! If pity and compassion and tenderness visit her heart; if she leave my work to toy with old sweetnesses; then shall my vengeance be known. I will slay me her child: I will alienate her heart: I will cast her out from men: as a shrinking and despised harlot shall she crawl through dusk wet streets, and die cold and an-hungered.
Understood as an allegory, St. John’s Revelation tells of the Scarlet Woman’s initiatory trial and death, marriage to her Holy Guardian Angel (as bride of Christ or Logos) and subsequent transfiguration into the heavenly Jerusalem or body of Nuit. Malkuth is thus ‘saved’, redeemed or raised from her captivation in the material world of shells—freed from the fetters that bind her to the coils of the Qliphoth or fragmented atomic universe. The ‘prostitute’ Babalon or Scarlet Woman is the soul of the Initiate.

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

Transmutation of the Qliphoth

We repeatedly encounter the dual symbolism of the piercing thorn and the clay or flesh of the mortal body of Adam. The Initiated doctrine of the Qliphoth, however, instructs us that the piercing nature of the dragon’s horn is required to ascend the Tree of Life. ‘Aspiration’ cannot be merely wishful thinking. Neither can we dream our way to the summit with symbol and metaphor alone. There is no ritual or secret formula that will raise inert matter to life and movement unless the exorcist is Hadit, the magical force itself. The enginery of the universe therefore plays a vital part in the Initiation of the candidate. Hadit, the Serpent of Knowledge, declares his nature in 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. “Come unto me” is a foolish word: for it is I that go.
Note that the verse, II: 7, may symbolise “27”, the path of the magical energy of the flaming mouth of Apophis, imaged forth by the Tarot trump The Tower XVI. When the beast arises from the pit, he will bring down fire from heaven—the magical serpent will also bring plague and poisons to test the soul. The serpent, as Hadit, is the magician as well as the exorcist, for his motion gives rise to phenomena. The Logos or word of God manifests as the Chaos Beast, or impersonal generative and binding force of Leviathan, below the Abyss. The path requires that the intellect is kept sharp. The virtue of Malkuth is Discrimination, the vice, Inertia. The single horn of the unicorn is an apt symbol for a keen mind, aspiration to further knowledge, and the single-pointed meditation of yoga practice.

The task of all aspirants is to follow the word (Thelema) back to its source with the infinite. However, the means of so doing is not tenfold, but elevenfold, as hinted at in the book of Daniel (7: 24). Aspirants to the Silver Star are men; brothers of the Silver Star are women, metaphorically speaking. The supernal sephiroth cannot be penetrated from below, as there is a flaming sword placed to guard the way of Eden or Binah. The book of Daniel describes how the eleventh horn has “subdued” the three horns, that is, the supernal sephiroth—by cutting them off, which is of the nature of an eclipse. The science of man concentrates a false crown in Da’ath, which men revere and worship, for it is made in their likeness. This is the “image” of the beast, or “second beast” described in the book of Revelation (13: 11—18). The word can only be a symbol, not the thing itself; it is a mirror, as is man’s consciousness.

The relationship between Malkuth and Geburah, the 5th sephira, is a close one, as we learn from the Siphra Dzenioutha, the Qabalistic source work in these matters. Leviathan exacts severe “judgements”, or karma. By this, we can glean an insight into the true nature of such a beast. The idea of a universe made of unbalanced forces seeking completion through bonding with other unbalanced forces lies at the basis of the Qabalistic doctrine of the Qliphoth or “shells”. The shells, which by analogy with atomic theory are as the valence shell of the atom, are drawn together by their tendency to seek stability through mutual exchanges of energy. Assembled by atomic bonding, the Qliphoth form the body of the great dragon called Leviathan in the Old Testament. The body of Leviathan is mutable and polymorphic; the units forming it are forever decaying while their dispersed elements are ‘recycled’ to assemble as new forms. The body of Leviathan is an image not only of the mutability of the physical universe but also of human souls who, incomplete by nature, seek stability through union with other unbalanced forces. The purpose of the Great Work (therefore) is to transmute by the power of magick the Qliphoth or unbalanced forces of the universe from their incompleteness by uniting them to that which is fixed or constant, as opposed to that which is transient and perishable. “Love under will”, on the other hand, is a magical art of universal application. The love or bonding capacity of the unbalanced forces is not merely suppressed in the hope of attaining something better, but is directed by the Thelemic 93 current or True Will towards Nuit consciousness.

The 11th horn arising in the midst of the ten as recounted in the vision of Daniel may be understood as the (man-made) aspirational Pyramid of the Oath of the Probationer. The Pyramid is encountered in various forms throughout the Outer Order or Golden Dawn. The penetrating horn of the (personal) will and intellect is required to ascend the planes, until this is halted at Da’ath. After that, the horn of the dragon must become concave. “Storming the mountain” doesn’t work any more; the Babe in the Egg of Blue germinates in darkness and mystery.

The Black Brothers (whether scientists or theologians) that are described in Aleister Crowley’s Enochian magick workings, The Vision and the Voice, concentrate a false crown in Da’ath and worship it, since it is the image of themselves. The ‘Antichrist’, on the other hand, a term frequently applied to the magical beast of Revelation, 666, is a somewhat loaded term. It confuses the function of the beast of Revelation—which is a cosmic one, an entirely impersonal force. It also confuses the function of Christ by an assignment of arbitrary values. If we consider that the Christ of the Gnostics is called ABERAMENTHO—“Like unto Ra-Menthu”—then we must conclude that the Nazarene was, to the Gnostics at least, identical to Ankh af-na-khonsu that stands before Menthu on the Stele of Revealing. Menthu is the form of Horus revered by the cult of the prophet Ankh af-na-khonsu at Thebes,and is in fact a name of Set-Typhon, as the destructive heat and fire of the Sun. The Stele of Revealing shows clearly that the Theban cult was an oracular one centred on the Fire Snake—for the Pythoness is the only truly prophetic ‘beast of revelation’. Thelema is indeed a Draconic cult of the stars, once the Osirian (viz., patriarchal) interpretative bias on the mysteries is abolished.

Multiplying ten by eleven yields 110, a number of BABALON and the manifestation of magick, the knowledge of Da’ath. The number 110 is also that of ChBQ, “to embrace, understand, grasp”, and DMIVN, “resemblance, likeness or imagination”. Furthermore, 110 is the number of OLI “higher, uppermost”, OIL, “heaven, the height”, and TzII, “desert or wilderness—a wild beast or desert creature”. The dark angel variously depicted as Typhon or Horus-Apep, the glittering image or augoedes, Heru-ra-ha, and Babalon triumphant (as Aima Elohim) express the unity of the whole Tree as ten sephiroth plus Da’ath—all the possibilities of the Tree, and all the faces of the Angel in one.

© Oliver St. John 2016
This essay is abridged from a fully annotated work on Thelemic Initiation
With thanks to Brian Walsh of the Irish Order of Thelema for his invaluable assistance


The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga, Oliver St. John
The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, Oliver St. John
The Equinox (esp. Temple of Solomon the King), Aleister Crowley
Kabbalah Unveiled, translated by MacGregor Mathers
Golden Dawn, “Microcosm” and “Macrocosm” lectures
Golden Dawn, Z1, Z2, Z3 Knowledge
The Egyptian Revival
, Frater Achad
The book of Revelation of St. John the Divine
The King James Bible

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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Samhain and the Star and Snake of Egypt

Hor-sema-tawy (or Harsomptus) is the child of Nuit and Hadit, or Hathor and Horus, hence his importance in the Temple of Hathor at Denderah. At the Temple of Hathor, Hor-sema-tawy, “Horus the Unifier of the Two Lands”, is depicted as a cosmic serpent. As the “pillar of his mother”, i.e., the utterance or word-vibration in the primal void, this form of Horus is a unified image of Horus and Set-Typhon that predates the adversarial role increasingly afforded the two gods over the course of time. Through his being “raised in the pillar”, the child of the gods achieves form and body.
Hor-sema-tawy: Horus Unifier of the Two Lands
Hathor has extremely antique origins, which can be understood through her identification with the astronomical image of the hippo at the hub of the universe—the Thuban gate of manifestation and non-manifestation at the celestial North Pole. Horus, the cosmic serpent or pillar in the void, is here identical with Set-Typhon, the manifesting star of Nuit. 

The entry of the Sun into Scorpio signifies the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, and is a precursor to the season of Samhain or Halloween. Samhain (October 31st) is the commencement of the Celtic New Year, while the ancient Egyptians celebrated the birth of the cosmic serpent on the eve of their New Year, coinciding with the Nile flood. The earliest symbol for Scorpio was the snake, corresponding to the archaic Aramaic letter nahesh, “serpent”. Nun, “a fish”, was a later substitution, made when the ‘brazen serpent’ nahesh became identified with evil in monotheistic scriptures.

At the Temple of Hathor, the body of the cosmic serpent is seen emerging from a lotus flower carried by a barque: the seed of the soul or child-star emerging at the dawn of creation. Thus, entering the way of the serpent-body is to embark on a journey through the night of consciousness; the seed of light-consciousness is carried forth in secrecy and silence, until once more, when the astral alignments are made, the cosmic serpent arises in the vaults of the body of Hathor, to give birth to new self.

The chambers and vaults of the Temple of Hathor may provide us with inspiration as we journey into the night of the soul to recreate ourselves in the image of will and imagining. The Ba or soul of Hathor, her cult image, was carried out of its chamber and onto the roof before the heliacal rising of the star Sirius at the commencement of the New Year. Thus, she and the sun disk were united as the seer is united with that which is seen. As the sun, Ra, climbs above the horizon, the span of all that can be seen is realised as the sum of all that can be dreamed of and created. The bejewelled splendour of Hathor, dazzling in the reflected glory of Ra, was nonetheless a display put on for the public celebration. Hathor, whose totem is the copper mirror, is as much about appearances as about the mysteries of being, of creation itself.

About the central sanctuary or “Great Throne” were grouped eleven chapels or shrine rooms, dedicated to other gods such as Isis, Sokar and Ra, and totems and images of Hathor such as her menat necklace and sistrum. In the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis III: 22, the Initiate is instructed thus:

“The other images group around me to support me: let all be worshipped, for they shall cluster to exalt me. I am the visible object of worship; the others are secret; for the Beast and his Bride are they: and for the winners of the Ordeal x. What is this? Thou shalt know.”

Some of the most cryptic passages in Liber AL vel Legis become transparent when looked at in context of the ancient Egyptian way. Taken out of context, the fragments we are left with are cinders to kindle the smoke of deception. Initiations at the Temple of Hathor were carried out in subterranean crypts, of which there are fourteen in total, a lunar number. The “x”, to the ancient Egyptians, was the mark of a body or place itself, and a seal of protection against hostile forces. Thus talismans and other cult equipment as well as official records were stored in the crypts. At the southern end of the Temple of Hathor there are five of these crypts running along a hallway. Here, the most valuable of the temple furnishings were kept, including the Ba or soul of Hathor, lavishly decorated with precious stones—Hathor, Lady of Dendara, residing in her house. It was from the easternmost crypt that the annual procession of Hathor began on the eve of the first day of the New Year, carrying the image of the goddess out from the subterranean room. In like fashion, the newly created world arises from out of the abyss when the primal word or utterance is sounded in the depth of night.

Access to the chambers reserved for the rites of Initiation was through concealed trapdoors in the pavement and hidden sliding wall blocks. In the subterranean world below the Temple complex, the long narrow chambers and passages are arranged one above the other, so that the lowermost is laid deep within the temple foundations. Eleven of the crypts are decorated in relief—a work that was done even before the roof blocks were set. The most important reliefs, among which are included Hathor’s musical instruments, the sistrum rattles, were set on the axis of the Temple itself, while the others are aligned with it. According to the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis I: 60 and II: 16:

“My number is 11, as all their numbers who are of us. The Five Pointed Star, with a Circle in the Middle, and the circle is Red. My colour is black to the blind, but the blue and gold are seen of the seeing. Also I have a secret glory for them that love me.”

“I am The Empress and the Hierophant. Thus eleven, as my bride is eleven.”

The first voice is that of Nuit, or Hathor (these goddesses are identical when depicted in their most absolute likeness), while the second is Hadit, or Horus, her son and consort. Hence, the beast and his bride, the serpent or Occult Force that is the secret nature of the soul, the mysterious bird of creation. The serpent is the means by which a star is given body as declared in Liber AL vel Legis, II: 21:

“Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstasy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength and Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star and the Snake.”

Though there are no accounts of what the rites of the crypts involved—and it is indeed unlikely that anything was ever written down—the sculpted images and texts throughout the Temple of Hathor convey more than enough to recognise that the mysteries of being and non-being, manifestation and non-manifestation, were to be experienced and fully realised by the Initiate. At certain times of the year, or when the alignments of the stars are right, it is possible to pass to and from the states of body, manifestation or appearance, and non-being, invisibility or disappearance. Thus Horus, always the primal type of the Initiate, achieves his greatest potency when unified with Set-Typhon in the form of Hor-sema-tawy—a mystery celebrated, enacted and experienced by Initiates at the Temple of Hathor.

The Egyptian year was divided into three seasons of Akhet (Inundation), Peret (Growth) and Shemu (Harvest). Akhet is a word also used to describe the horizon, as in the Egyptian name of the god Hor-em-akhet, “Horus in the horizon”. The same god, known as Hrumachis (Liber AL vel Legis), Harmachis or Hormaku, links to the double gateway of the underworld, symbolised by the Aker lions, where the Sun enters and leaves via the West (ingress at sunset) or East (egress, at dawn). In the Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis II: 34:

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

The name Hrumachis or Hormaku is made clearer in its Egyptian form: Hor-em-akhet, literally, “Horus in the horizon”. However, akhet, or aker, is a gateway or door. As the double gateway of the sun’s ingress and egress to and from the underworld (spring and autumn equinoxes) it is depicted as two lions. The name therefore refers to Horus as the abstract principle of the horizon itself, a particular part of the sky—for example where the sun rises at the equinox–and an equivalent portion of the Egyptian duat or underworld.

The name of Horus as horizon, or the dweller in the horizon, relates to the circle, but also the primordial boundary or limit, the first division or utterance of Logos, by which the universe is defined as having shape and meaning. The Greek horizon kyklos (οριξων κυκλος) means, “limiting or separating circle”, from the verb horizo (οριξω), “to divide, separate", from oros (ορος), “boundary, landmark”. As “x” marks the spot, it at the same time designates the crossing that is the passing beyond.

Hormaku or Hor-em-akhet was often depicted as a sphinx with the head of a man, as on the Giza plateau, at other times as a lion or a ram—especially when linked to the god Khephra, the rising or emerging sun at dawn. Ra accomplishes this, we should bear in mind, after travelling through the underworld, symbolised in utmost detail in the Pyramid Texts as the body of the cosmic serpent.

We should now return to the roof of the Temple of Hathor, where the ritual of the union of Hathor and Horus is enacted at the dawn of the New Year. Here, the soul of Hathor beholds Ra, ascendant, and conjoined with the great mother-star Sirius. Her eyes are both the mirror, the marker of the horizon and the centre-point of the observer. In like fashion, the Sphinx on the Giza plateau marks the horizon, witnesses the sun born on the equinoxes, which is the mystery of himself. In seeing Ra, Hathor unites with him, through the medium of his visible sun disk. Anyone witnessing the ritual is similarly united with the whole body, sense and meaning of it. Horus and Set-Typhon are unified in that moment, and embodied in recreated self, the new life—self-created, self-born, triumphant over all.

© Oliver St. John 2016

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