Capricorn: Angel, Devil, Dweller on the Threshold

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump assigned to Capricorn and the 26th path is Set XV. The esoteric title is Lord of the Gates of Matter: Child of the Forces of Time. The Devil portrayed in most Tarot decks is a hybrid creature with bat-like wings, sometimes thought to be Baphomet, the goat-foot god that the Knights Templar were falsely accused of worshipping by the Inquisition of King Philip IV of France.

Capricorn: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema XVSaturn, the planetary ruler of Capricorn, is identified, among other things, with the ancient Egyptian god Set. Set takes on many forms, but the one particularly relevant here is the black god of the desert south of Egypt, where the heat of the sun is at maximum intensity and hot winds blow in from the Sahara. The desert symbolises the wilderness of the soul that must be entered before any spiritual truth is known. The Aramaic for the planet Saturn is Shabbathai—and from that word was derived the lurid ecclesiastical propaganda that so captured popular imagination as the ‘Sabbath of the Witches’.

The image of Capricorn represents the primordial Polar North, and the Gate of the Gods, as opposed to the Gate of Man symbolised by the summer solstice.

Capricorn and the Flaming Sword

The 26th path of A’ain connects Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun, with Hod, the sphere of Mercury, and is imaged forth by the 15th Tarot key, The Devil. The Renewing Intelligence refers to the renewal and perpetuity of all created forms. On the human level, the renewal refers to the adaptation that is required so the intellect does not atrophy—for the identification of the personal ego with the forms or constructs that appear in Hod increases the limiting or restricting power of Saturn, ruler of Capricorn. According to the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 41,

The word of Sin is Restriction.

It is the desire to become free of material limitations that drives man to seek freedom. It is necessary, though, to understand the principles of nature and their operation in the world before any limits can be transcended. The primary limitation is man himself, and his ignorance of natural laws. The magical powers of the 26th path are the Witches Sabbath (so-called) and the Evil Eye.

The Dweller on the Threshold

Saturn or Set has many forms. His nature is something of a paradox. The 14th Tarot Atu for the month of Sagittarius traditionally depicts an Angel, while the Atu for Capricorn and the solstice depicts a Devil. This Angel and Devil are two sides of one coin, a dual expression of the soul and Holy Guardian Angel. The trickster, the shapeshifter, the adversary, the opposer, the shadow, the stranger, the ‘other’ are all names for Set, Saturn or the Devil, whose role in initiation is so central that sometimes he is termed as simply, the Lord of Initiation. Another epithet is the Dweller on the Threshold.

While it is true that aspirants are tested by what is poetically termed the Lord of Initiation, Probationers do not swear any oath or obligation that would incur a trial by fire. Nonetheless, as soon as a foot is placed on the path, the Dweller on the Threshold will appear. The shape or form of this Devil is unique to each individual. While this deters many from continuing the work they began with such enthusiasm, it is the first stirring of the Occult Force.

Whether initiation really takes hold or not is largely determined by the way the person responds to the Dweller on the Threshold. There will be help if that help is recognised for what it is. There will most certainly be hindrance, obstruction and even seduction—the powerfully compelling voices that urge us to give this up as it will do us no good, that we have made the wrong choice or there is a better, more authentic discipline further down the road. The Dweller on the Threshold may take the form of some perceived or genuine misfortune, or a general sense of unease or misgiving. It may take the form of a migraine, one of those ‘flu viruses that is hard to shake off, the incessant demands of a spouse, a difficult child, a manipulative mother, a bullying father or boss at work. Money can be a considerable ‘Dweller’—whether there is too little, or too much of it. An outbreak of supernatural phenomena quite often occurs with those that have awakening psychic sensitivity—the ‘things that go bump in the night’. The Initiates are those who persist, that possess the will and resolve to keep on. Perhaps there is something else too, the “factor infinite and unknown” referred to in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, II: 32. It is also written that “many are called but few are chosen”.[1] It is not enough merely to be enthusiastic at the outset; there must be inner conviction, which arises from innate knowledge.

One must strive to understand the Dweller on the Threshold. There is a caveat. The Oath and Task of a Magister Templi is “to interpret every phenomenon as a direct dealing of God with my soul”. The New Age movement with its voracious appetite for assimilating and trivialising the threads from all wisdom traditions has tended to encourage its followers to adopt that particular jnanamudra without training, preparation, or any supporting philosophical basis or structure. Applying such a method at the beginning of the work will bring that work to a swift conclusion.[2]


Notes

1. Matthew, 22: 14.
2. The ‘Dweller on the Threshold’ is an instruction given to aspirants of the O∴A∴

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for Capricorn Solstice is Set XV. The card and its description may be viewed here at Ordo Astri.

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2022 (Revised)

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Babalon Unveiled!

Babylon the Great and the Sphinx of Egypt

In the region of Old Cairo, or Keraha-Babylon, there are remains of a colossus that once stood in the vicinity of the ancient Egyptian temple of Babylon. The mighty image was of Hathoor, as can be determined by the intact base of her ruined crown. By historical accounts, there is a meaningful association between Hathoor (or Isis) and the sphinx that guards the nearby pyramids. The association will become self evident as we proceed with our investigation.

Babylon Unveiled: Hathoor, Egyptian Goddess of Love

The ancient Egyptian city of Keraha-Babylon is east of the Giza plateau, north of the modern city of Cairo. It is of great historical significance, for its situation on the Nile meant it was both port and fortified gateway to the old sacred road to On, or Heliopolis (Egyptian Aunnu). The pyramids and sphinx of the Giza plateau are in full view of the gateway to On. Additionally, the temple of Per-Hapi on the Nile port, south of Keraha, at one time contained a line of sphinxes, among other extraordinary relics found scattered throughout the region.

This article is abridged from the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs. The book is a collection of 36 monographs, of which ‘Babalon Unveiled!’ forms the centrepiece. The description and cover art can be viewed here at Ordo Astri.

The name of the Sphinx of Egypt is Harmachis, as borne forth on its own stele, called the Dream Stela. The vastly antique statue depicting the woman and lion in one image is otherwise known as Hrumachis or Hormaku. The great statue of Hathoor, crowned with the sun, gazes eternally at the Sphinx of Egypt, her child-star, consort and divine image. While this may be construed metaphorically, it was a literal fact while the colossus, Babylon the Great, stood at the gates of On.

Babylon as Alchemical Catalyst

Babylon was the pre-historical name of the great centre even before it was called Keraha. The name of Babylon owes to a corruption, or linguistic simplification, of the ancient Egyptian name: pr-hpi-n-iunu, ‘Nile temple of the nome Aunnu’. A nome is an ancient Egyptian earth location regarded as sacred centre. According to the Pyramid Texts the name Keraha refers to the field of the battle between Horus and Set.

Per Het Hathoor Temple HieroglyphicsLeft: Per Het Temple of Hathoor Logogram

The battle becomes self-explanatory when it is considered that Keraha marks the exact division or boundary between the two lands of Khem, Upper and Lower Egypt. It is the geographic meeting or union of the red and white crowns of the North and South. Over long ages of time the symbolism of the union of the red and white has become embedded in magical and alchemical literature as the mystic marriage or royal wedding of Sol and Luna. The Persian temple of Babylon was known to the Arabs as Qubbat Babylon, ‘cupola of Babylon’, a fire temple. The cupola, a square tower with a rounded dome, is frequently used in alchemical literature to signify the furnace or athanor.

In modern times, the alchemical texts have been misconstrued. A rudimentary and false explanation of the secrets of alchemy as either pertaining to occult mysteries of physical sex or to psychological process has resulted in ludicrous attributions. For example, the athanor has been associated by Aleister Crowley and others with the male sexual organ whereas it is in fact a feminine symbol. The cucurbit, while seemingly an emblem of the female, is better understood as the containing principle of the entire occult anatomy.

Babylon: Lost Word of the Aeons

The rationalisation of the fragmentary knowledge that survived the fall of Egypt to be filtered through the distorting mirror of uninitiated scholarship has continued to the present day. The ‘lost word’, far from being recovered, is buried more deeply than ever in the substratum of human consciousness. Nonetheless, through the dark ages of man’s reign on earth, the living voice of Babylon the Great, whom we know as BABALON, emerges from the depths, calling us to truth and justice.

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 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.

The Gnostic scripture, Thunder Perfect Mind, was undoubtedly received in oracular fashion. By the time the biblical New Testament gospels were composed, the ancient Egyptian language was forgotten along with the secrets veiled by its hieroglyphs. Scriptural editors were influenced by military asceticism.

Babylon the Fallen

Mighty Babylon, gigantic symbol of the spiritual authority of the ancient Egyptian priesthood, was long ago desecrated by a Persian king who thought that treasure might be buried underneath! According to the book of Revelation, 14: 8:

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Thus the irony deepens, for to religious zealots down the ages it is Babylon that symbolises the pride and arrogance of materialism. Perhaps the adultery, confusion or mixing up of things, was after all on the side of scriptural scribes. The mythical ‘fall’ of Babylon the Great may now be seen as having its origin in literal fact.

Babalon and Ouarda the Seer

Liber AL vel Legis is a contentious oracle since a religion has been formed around it, and its so-called prophet, Aleister Crowley. However, there most certainly was a pythoness that brought forth luminous shards of the ancient Egyptian wisdom, albeit heavily cloaked in Crowley’s conceit once he had determined that it might place power in his hands. It is likely that Rose Edith Kelly (Rose Crowley) had far more to do with the transmission and writing of Liber AL than is evident from the account given by Aleister Crowley. It has been suggested we might rename the oracular book in question as the Book of Ouarda the Seer, or of Soror Ouarda, 576, for that was Rose’s magical name.

Babalon Unveiled: Ouarda the Seer (Rose Edith Kelly)Rose was by all accounts the medium and intelligence for the transmission activated through the Stele of Revealing in the Cairo museum in 1904. We know that Aleister Crowley needed her help when he wished to change some of the wording after the transmission, even though he later claimed she had not even been present in the room when the book was received! Babalon appears in two aspects in the Book of the Law. Firstly, in cosmic form as Nuit, and secondly as the Scarlet Woman or soul, who may ‘fall’ or undergo resurrection. The words that Crowley wanted to change were from Nuit, Liber AL, I: 26:

And the sign shall be my ecstasy, the consciousness of the continuity of existence, the unfragmentary non-atomic fact of my universality.

Crowley received permission (presumably) to change the last five words to, “the omnipresence of my body”, a rather trite theological intervention compared to the vitality of the original phrase. Although superficially the meaning is the same, the neologism ‘unfragmentary’, used in conjunction with ‘non-atomic’, specifically declares the geometry of space-time as non-Euclidian and the atomic world as a mere conventional illusion. Since Einstein produced his theory of relativity the instruments of material science have proved, for example, that starlight bends around the gravitational field of the sun. The curvature of the sun’s rays forms a timeless, dimensionless sphere of sensation around the star. This is comparable to the naked splendour of the body of Nuit, which is the ancient Egyptian principle of universal containment.

Babalon: Heart and Soul

Moving forward to the present time, Babalon figures prominently in certain theurgical rites. For example, in the reformed Ritual of the Pentagram, Nuit assumes four faces about the circle of the place. In the South, attributed to elemental fire and the zodiacal sign of Leo, Babalon stands guard. She is also regarded as Mistress of Magick. It is in her name that the temple is opened and closed. The Communion Mass, which involves three primary symbols of Incense, Light and Wine, is dedicated to Hormaku, the Sphinx of Egypt and the image of the Hermetic Light as magical child.

Babylon Unveiled: Hathoor (Jeff Dahl)Babylon the Great of Egypt, our Lady BABALON, as we know her through our rites and ceremonies, oracles, dreams and aspirations, is the heart and soul of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. She stands forever upon the threshold between the two lands, union of the red lion and white eagle, the kingdom of earth and that of heaven, body and soul, mind and heart. Empirical evidence supports the ideal, echoed down the ages through countless instances of inspired writing and thought, that those who put in place the magical science and art of Khem were not human, but an elder race of which very few on earth may now bear the image. The continuity of existence was therefore known aeons before Einstein produced his theories for the assistance of man’s self-destruction. The surviving remnants of the Egyptian arts declare a doctrine that is both rational and non-rational. Long ages before the general law of relativity was known by science, the priesthood of Set understood that the geometry of space-time is non-Euclidian. It is not the phallus of Osiris that is the ‘lost word’, but the soul of Nature that is as yet unknown to those who dwell in darkness and ignorance. We call this Thelema, which is the living seed of creative power latent within the dwarf-soul or star of man.

While man sleeps, a myriad of forms arise to bewilder and enchant him. Yet these forms, each masking the formless reality of bornless space, may equally enslave man or illumine the path to enlightenment and ultimate liberation. We may suppose the motive for founding upon the earth an exact mirroring of the complexities of nature was inspired through love. The mirror of the black land of Egypt expresses truth through mathematics, astronomy, hieroglyphics, art, gods, magical rites and ceremonies. Those preeval seers, skrying across aeons of time, could doubtless foresee that the race of humans is predoomed to spread violence, warfare, contagion and disease across the entire planet. Out of love, they planted the seeds of the soul’s salvation deep within the hidden matrix of our existence. The Gnosis is in itself indestructible. While the colossus of Babylon-Hathoor was pulled down and broken into fragments by slaves of a mad king, her temple yet stands, inviolate until the end of time. And, as according to all ancient wisdom sources, the end is with the beginning.


© Oliver St. John 2018, 2020
This article is an abridgement. The fulll length essay, with annotations and citations, appears in the book, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

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The Violin—AD 2040

The Violin: What kind of future does music and performance arts have now that Surveillance Capitalism is the enforced economic model of the 21st century? The scene of this short story is a town or city anywhere in the world in the year 2040.

The Violin

A woman and a small child were walking past the administration centre. There were little glass cages at intervals, and each one of them had a person inside it working various machines and devices. At the end of each row stood a security guard with a black helmet and visor and an automatic weapon slung across his shoulder.

Violin Player by Sonja Brzk“What is that strange noise?” piped up the child.

“Oh don’t pay any attention”, said the woman, “it’s just an old man, he must be at least sixty years old. He is mad. Don’t worry; security will take him away soon. He’ll be restrained, retrained or recycled or something, I expect.”

“But what is that little curved box that is making the noise?” continued the child. “The man has a sort of stick thing that he moves up and down to make the noise.”

“It’s a … a vio…” She struggled to remember the word. “A violin”, she said finally, and then again with emphasis. “A violin.”

“But it’s making me cry”, said the child.

“Don’t worry”, said the woman, “You’ll soon forget it. Look, a long time ago, in history back in the dark dangerous ages, people played music on things made of wood, with strings. They were not safe things at all. And there was a thing called … a piano. Yes, a piano, it was a really big box on legs, with black and white teeth.”

“It sounds horrid”, said the child.

“Yes, it was”, said the woman. “Look”, she lowered her tone, “in those days people were never safe. They used to touch other people all the time, and get very close to them. They even shared their houses with other people. Great crowds of them would gather, sometimes to listen to what they called ‘music’, like the frightful noise that old man is making. Of course, they all carried terrible diseases, all of them, but they didn’t care and so the dead bodies were piled up in heaps in the streets all the time. Oh, it must have been awful. And then the music made them cry and laugh and make another kind of noise called ‘singing’. You can’t imagine what the noise was like. Oh, and even worse than that! Little children like you did not have official guardians and carers to look after them, they had a thing called a ‘mother’. They were so unhappy you couldn’t believe. I only learned that when I did my advanced level degree (oh it was tough, that degree). Now listen, I have said too much. You will soon forget it and will be happy and serene again. You have ten more examinations to complete next week and a whole series of genetic modifications and upgrades, let’s not forget. You are too emotional, something will be done about that; it is not safe. Be thankful for the Great Year 2020, the beginning of our Golden Age. Real music is the little jingle you hear on your body receiver that tells you when to wake up and when to go to sleep, when to work and when to play. It tells you everything you need to know; when you are allowed to speak to other people and when you are not allowed. It’s all so easy for you now, you just click on the Obedience button and it tells you what to do.”

Edvard Munch 1893 The Scream“Did I have a mother, guardian?” asked the child.

“Please don’t be so disgusting”, said the woman, “I will have bad reports made on me. Don’t ever say such things. Of course you never had a mother, darling. Don’t even think about it. I wish I hadn’t said anything now.”

The woman stopped and straightened her uniform and looked at the small panel on her wrist. “It’s time for your next guardian to take over the shift, our fifteen minutes is up. Here she comes now. Don’t forget, work hard, be obedient, stay safe and pay attention to the latest security updates. And look, see now, that noise has stopped. They’ve taken him into custody for his own safety.”


Notes

© The Violin—AD 2040 is a short story by Oliver St. John. It will form part of a collection entitled The Future Now.

The first illustration is ‘Violin Player’ by Sonja Brzk. The second illustration is ‘The Scream’, by Edvard Munch. Painted in 1893, it is considered to be the primary influence on German Expressionism in art.

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