Virgo: Lamp and Staff of the Hermit

Virgo is the sign of the pure maiden, the inviolate sceptre—which is all a way of veiling with words and images an inexpressible truth. The yod, bindu, flame or seed-star that is the letter of the 20th path and Tarot trump The Hermit IX on the Tree of Life is, in the absolute sense, Hadit, the giver of Life, the animator of all things that live and move and have their being.

The Hermit IX Thoth Tarot Atu

The esoteric title of the trump is Prophet of the Eternal: Magus of the Voice of Power. The 20th path of Yod connects Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter, with Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun. The path is imaged forth by the Tarot key, The Hermit IX. The path is called The Intelligence of Will since it is the stream of light or intelligence forming the innermost structures of mind or intellect in man. The Intelligence of Will is called thus “because it forms all patterns, and to know this Intelligence is to know the whole reality of the Primordial Wisdom.” The knowledge of the spiritual will constitutes the full realisation of the cosmic purpose or meaning in all things; on this path arises the possibility of knowing and doing the True Will, as it is termed in the cults of Thelema.[1]

The Hermit as Mercury

The Thoth Tarot picture for this path depicts a hermit, for Hermes is the Greek deity that the Romans called Mercury. Hadit is Mercury in the highest, most simple or abstract form. Mercury is the planetary ruler of the astrological sign of Virgo, and Virgo is unique in the Zodiac in that Mercury rules her sign and is exalted therein. The lamp of the hermit is a metaphor for the Occult Light, which he veils from the world. The staff of the hermit is Energy and Will, which he applies with strict vigilance and economy of means towards the Great Work. Behind him is Cerberus the three-headed hound of hell. Cerberus, the son of Typhon, doubles as both scourge and Guardian of the Gate—for he prevents those that have become ensnared in the underworld from ever escaping.

Aleister Crowley directed the artist Frieda Harris to depict the hermit as according to his ‘phallic’ magical philosophy. The spermatozoon in the lower left corner is thus an unintentional blind. While Crowley felt he might be revealing too much of the mysteries, he was in fact not even revealing the half of it! Even in the Golden Dawn system of correspondences adopted by Crowley, Virgo is the sign of Isis. The will-seed is hers in a subtler sense.[2] While Asar (Osiris) has this seed-star latent within him, if he limits or restricts Isis (the woman) through adoration of his personalised will then he dooms her (thusly, his soul) to the fate of the scarlet woman as described in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, III: 43.

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.

Crowley was deluded enough to think the above verse might apply to an actual woman, and certainly not to himself. Although he habitually worked with symbol and analogy, his egocentricity was such that he was unable to understand that the woman referred to in the Book of the Law is a metaphor for the human soul.

Fragmentation of the Atomic Age

The mundane character of Virgo, the mutable earth sign, is all about the particulars, the details of every-thing. The conceptual mind, driven forwards by the scourge of Hadit, yet thrown back into the abyss by the son of Typhon, breeds and begets more and more infernal children. Thus Conceptual Art is now the predominant doctrine in today’s educational institutions. It is a sign or omen that the analytical mind has attained its full immersion in the realm of matter at its lowest or most dense level.

At this material extremity of the human mind, the situation depicted in the minor Tarot card called the Ten of Swords comes about. The human heart or soul is broken up into fragments that are blasted, blown and scattered through the echoing emptiness of space—torn apart by the divisive power of the sword of the reasoning mind. As a race, we are still in the aftermath of the explosion of the first atom bomb. We live in an age that trembles before the terrifying shadow of the Ape of Thoth as it is depicted in the Tarot trump assigned to Hermes-Mercury. That is why we sometimes use the atom and particle physics as a metaphysical analogy.[3] The fragmented atom sweeps matter away in a lightning-fast cloud of fire and smoke. The trauma of that tremendous atom-smashing event, that has rended apart far more than even physical matter, now continues to reverberate on the plane of mind. The cell phones, computers and other digital devices that are now the plague-fetishes of our times are no more than ‘particular’ vehicles of expression for the lasting imprint of that hellish atomic atrocity upon the collective intelligence of humanity. That singular event demonstrated that the most clever and subtle scientific minds the race could produce were only, in the end, capable of producing senseless, barbaric mass-destruction on a scale never before imagined.

Kenneth Grant, in his Typhonian Trilogies, told how even the very first atom-splitting test tore open the fabric of space and time. A crack was then opened up in the delicate membrane that encircles the planet—the invisible egg of light that once served as a barrier or ring-pass-not against the intrusion of those from ‘Outside’. That is why The Fool 0 that Frieda Harris had painted for the path of Aleph on the Hermetic Tree wears a mask of madness and horror—for he has opened a veil that was once so tightly drawn to appear seamless, and therefore invisible to mortal eyes. What is the secret that the Fool beholds? It is himself that he sees, hurtling downwards towards the abyss.

The physical destruction unleashed by the atom is itself a metaphor for the intellectually destructive philosophical atomism, which was introduced through the arguments of the ancient Greeks. Causal determinism is still the dominant intellectual mode of our times.[4] The tragic consequences of this are but dimly perceived by the legions of cerebrally and sensually anaesthetised hominids—those who dare not take their eyes and ears away from the beguiling artificial world of digital information. The configuration of stars and planets signifies that we have truly entered a new era. It is an era in which Initiates must conserve all of their energy and direct it towards the Great Work. Only then will they succeed in rising up above what is metaphorically termed, the waters of the Nile flood. While the water of the flood is not evil in itself, the dwellers that lurk within present a foe more formidable than mankind has ever imagined.


Notes

1. A commentary on the wisdom texts of the Sepher Yetzirah is provided in The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].
2. The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema restores Atu IX to Isis. The trump is shown and fully described here.
3. The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga [Ordo Astri].
4. The error of causal determinism is fully explained in ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

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True Will and Word of Thelema

This is Esoteric Thelema: The Will is esoteric. Effect, appearance, is exoteric. ‘True Will’ in its full expression may be written in Egyptian hieroglyphs thus:

True Will in Egyptian HieroglyphsThe Greek word ‘Thelema’, through its number 93, is equal to Agape, ‘love’. The ancient Egyptian word for ‘will’ or ‘desire’ is the same word used for the verb ‘to love’.[1] True Will is spelled here with the sickle-ma Lion of Truth determinative. The phonetic ‘m’ is glyphed by the twilight owl of Sophia that calls the soul to resurrection. The sealed scroll is the esoteric determinative, indicative of ‘secret or hidden things’. The word, mer-t, is pronounced, meret. On the reverse side of the Stele of Revealing, it is declared,

Ankh-af-na-khonsu shall go forth in the light, bearing the lamp and staff of Thelema among the living souls that dwell upon the earth.[2]

The root of the word, mer, forms countless words in the ancient Egyptian language. Many more are found in other languages, both ancient and modern. Mer has every meaning of flowing like a river, or watery as a lake. It is life giving, the animating will. It is a light-flowing stream, a transmission or communicative path. It is the Song of Songs, the vibration of love and life. It is the compass of every book of spells ever written. The word embraces love in all its forms. Merut means, ‘sweetheart’ or ‘beloved woman’. Merit is desire itself, the flame arising in void space. Mera is a ‘lover’ or ‘friend’, denoting (in prayer) the Holy Guardian Angel.

True Will and the Temple Priestess

In Latin, the word merus, mera or merum has the meaning of ‘unmixed wine’, denoting purity. The (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, I: 44 states,

For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

The word also has the meaning of ‘bare’, ‘unadorned’—naked as truth herself. Ironically, over time the feminine noun, meratrix, came to mean ‘courtesan’ or ‘harlot’. When religious patriarchs usurped the rôle of the priestesses, all women were thrown out of the temples and subjected to slavery or prostitution.[3]

The Egyptian word for the True Will, mer-t, was anciently used as the highly respected title of priestesses serving at the temple of Tahuti (Thoth) in Khemenu (Hermopolis), the ‘City of the Eight’. The name refers to the Ogdoad of primal gods arising from the watery abyss called the nun. The principal deities of Khemenu were Set-Typhon and Tahuti, the resurrection word-bird and god of scribes. Set-Typhon was depicted at Khemenu in the form of a hippopotamus, upon which was a hawk fighting with a serpent. The hippopotamus or ‘river horse’ was also sacred to Hathoor, as its great bulk and semi-aquatic domain keys in to the foundations of the universe, perceived as the hub or axis about which the constellations revolve.

As the word of Will, Love and Truth, mer-t has a close association with Ma’at, goddess of Truth and Justice. We can spell ‘Lion of Truth’, incorporating Ma’at and Zain the Sword, Upholder of Truth, in hieroglyphics.

True Will of Maat, 93Two of the hieroglyphs are determinatives, so there is no need to add a number value. The sickle can be given the value of 30, as it is the original lamed, ‘L’. The phonetic ‘T’ (half circle) can be given the value of 9. Therefore, when spelled in hieroglyphs, Ma’at has the value of 93. The original title of the Book of the Law is thus apt, for ‘L’ (30) spells out the Book of Ma’at, the book of her occult lore.


Notes

1. See Budge, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, Volume I, pp. 309–10.
2. The translation is from ‘New Light on Stele 666’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs, pp. 43.
3. See ‘Fall and Resurrection of Babalon’,  Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs.

© Oliver St. John 2019

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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 writers and editors were strongly influenced by the intensely dualistic Greek and Persian cults, and so driven by the rigours of military male 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
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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