Lion-serpent of Babalon

The 19th path of Teth the Lion-serpent connects Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter, with Geburah, the sphere of Mars, and is imaged forth by the Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot key Lust XI. The path is called the Intelligence of the Secret of all Spiritual Activities or the Occult Intelligence.

Lion-serpent of Babalon: Lust-XI, Crowley-Harris Thoth deck

The 19th path of the Lion-serpent is the first that is wholly beneath the Abyss when descending, and the last before the Abyss when ascending the Tree. It is therefore the secret ruler and governor of all that is below, even as it receives the influence (mezla) from that which is above. The earlier versions of the 11th Tarot trump, such as the first printed Tarot of Marseille, depict a curious form of what the ancient Egyptians termed as the ‘Opening of the Mouth’. The woman appears to be forcing the mouth of a lion or other beast open. This is an image of the tearing open of the Gate of Knowledge, Da’ath—something that requires great spiritual strength and courage to do without suffering calamity, since there is a high risk of obsession by the flow of images on this high-powered path. The secret of the path is that visible nature veils or conceals the numinous source of all.

The magical power of the 19th path is the Power of Training Wild Beasts, which is the art of deriving oracles from snakes and women. The power of hypnotism is also associated with the snake. The snake of light, or Lion-serpent, extends from the base of the spine to the medulla oblongata where the spinal column enters the brain at the back of the head. Occultly, the serpent then forms the third eye chakra. The secret of the 19th path is known to magi, and has been intuited by those that have travelled the intellectual path to its limits. To those seeking the realms beyond the Abyss, every bodhisattva is a lion in the road, an obstacle to the attainment of Gnosis. To be saved by Crowley is no better than being sent to hell by Jesus.

Lion-serpent of Teth: Mystic Tarot

Over the course of time, the letter teth evolved so that it came to mean ‘serpent’. Although the serpent of old times was always nahash, the letter was banished from the 24th path and nun, ‘a fish’ substituted. The repression of the serpent or Occult Force owed largely to the distortions of the biblical book of Genesis. The early Semitic and Cretan forms of the letter teth depicted the circle cross or Mark of the Beast. The symbol is identical to that used by the ancient Egyptians to show a terrestrial or astral location.

Circle Cross 'Mark of the Beast' DeterminativeThe Mark of the Beast was also used as a protective amulet by the Egyptians, and was associated with Sekhet the lion goddess and Tauret the keeper of the Net, the starry cosmic matrix. The serpent and cross have always enjoyed a special relationship. The crossing of the 13th and 19th paths of the Tree forms the shadow or inverse reflection below the Abyss of the Calvary cross. The crossing of the two paths of the Moon of the Priestess and the Sun of the Lion-serpent form the special Mark of the Beast in the centre of the Unicursal Hexagram, a type of the Rosy Cross.

Lion-serpent: Unicursal or Alchemical Hexagram with Elements

The Unicursal Hexagram is alchemical, depicting the four elements of Fire, Earth, Water and Air, equilibrated by Spirit under the governance of Sol and Luna.

The Moon was the earliest calendrical device. As the signature of time, periodicity, the Moon was the crown of Thoth or Tahuti (pronounce, djehuti). Thoth gave knowledge and magick to Isis after she followed the advice of her dark sister Nephthys. She was then able to stop the flow of time by appealing to Ra the Sun God. At the cessation of time at the crossroads, where the essences of the Woman and Beast intermingle (the 13th and 19th paths), Thoth was able to descend from heaven to earth in order to whisper magical words and spells into the ear of Isis.

Lion-serpent of Sun and Moon

The tale of Isis and Ra was replicated, in corrupt form, in the apocryphal Book of Enoch, which describes how the sons of the Elohim descended to earth to copulate with the daughters of Eve. The sons of the Elohim then stayed with the women and taught them the knowledge of magick, alchemy and sciences. The congress produced a race of giants, ‘lofty ones’ or ‘noble men’ called the Nephalim.

The 19th path, along with the 20th of the Hermit and the 21st of the Wheel of Force, is worked by the Adeptus Major. The Adeptus, having attained the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, the ‘five equals six’ degree, must now reverse this formula and make the six of the Macrocosm equal to the five of the Microcosm. This requires works of alchemy and evocation, summed up by the magical formulae of VITRIOL and ARARITA. ARARITA is a notariqon for,

One is thy Beginning. One is thy Spirit. One is thy Transmutation.

VITRIOL is Latin:

Visitae Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum.

The Adeptus is exhorted: ‘Go ye forth into the interior places of the earth. Seek out the hidden stone of the wise. By rectification, ye shall arise.’ The philosophic stone is thus found in the interior places of the earth, or Malkuth, hidden among the roots of the Tree of Life. Rectification means extracting the subtle from the gross, the gold from base metal and the elixir of life from among the poisons of the mind, which are as the excretions of the body.

The Quintessence of all, summed up by ARARITA, is also known as the magical AZOTH, which is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end expressed in three languages. The end of time is with the beginning, and vice versa.  AZOTH consists of Alpha and Omega, Aleph and Tav, A and Z.

Lion-Serpent: AZOTH

The Lion-serpent Opens the Ways

The Sun cradled by the Moon is a form of the Holy Graal, the cup of our Lady BABALON. On the 19th path, Nuit and Hadit, cosmic principles of space and consciousness, attain their material expression as Babalon riding the Lion, the Woman and the Beast. Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden is a kindred image. The Egyptian ceremony of Opening the Mouth (of the deceased) enabled the king or Initiate to pass through the duat or underworld and traverse the fragrant paths of light that lead to the starry bowers of the garden of Nuit.

Some have described the image of the 11th Tarot key as a woman closing the mouth of a lion, and from there comes the association with the magical power of The Taming of Wild Beasts. The ability to converse with and understand the secret languages of wild creatures is listed among the powers of the ‘fallen angels’ or Spirits of The Goetia. The Goetic Spirits are conjured by ceremonial evocation—one of the most glamorous sword and sorcery operations of magick. The Goetia is at the same time considered to be highly dangerous by many occultists.  However, it is not necessary for those with developed faculties to evoke any Goetic Spirits in order to converse with birds and other wild animals. The method, which involves a sensitive understanding and practice of the magical Law of Thelema, is not one that can be taught or learned in the ordinary way. Those that imagine Nuit’s declared law to be merely a formula for using sexual magick to serve personal or political ends are naturally excluded from such conversations. Human consciousness is not at all the crown of creation, though man very much likes to think that it is; neither is man the only sentient creature on earth, let alone among all the other worlds that are and shall be. The sevenfold ARARITA and VITRIOL express a secret written and concealed in the sevenfold Law of Thelema:

Love is the law, love under will.


Notes

Qabalistic knowledge adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, entry for the 19th number [Ordo Astri].

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2019

Related Articles: All Tarot (Category)

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium

Solstice Chariot to the Stars

Cancer, Chariot of the Sun, is the 18th path on the Hermetic Tree of Life and is the intelligence linking the Understanding of Binah, the throne of Saturn, with Geburah, the energy of Mars. The esoteric title of the path is Child of the Powers of the Waters: Lord of the Triumph of Light.

Thoth Atu VII Chariot to the StarsThe Thoth Tarot trump is The Chariot VII, depicting Binah as the Holy Graal and Geburah as the furnace of the Sun, which is the blood or energy poured into the Cup by the magician.The sixteen subquadrants of the elemental Watchtowers of the Universe are depicted as composite sphinxes drawing the Chariot forward. The letter of the Tarot Atu is cheth, ‘fence or enclosure’. Cheth spelled in full (ChITh) is equal to 418, the number of Abrahadabra, which is emblazoned upon the Chariot’s canopy. Aleister Crowley’s solar interpretation of Abrahadabra as ‘Father-Sun-Hadit’ conceals a lunar formula, which is that of the magical spirit-body called the Khu in ancient Egyptian sacred texts and in Liber AL vel Legis. In cosmic aspect the Khu is the ‘company of heaven’ referred to in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis I: 1–4:

Had! The manifestation of Nuit. The unveiling of the company of heaven. Every man and every woman is a star. Every number is infinite; there is no difference.

The 18th path of Cheth is called the Intelligence of the House of Influence. Cheth means ‘a wall or enclosure’. From the interior of Binah, runes of secret knowledge flow forth via the Abyss. Secreted in these shades or stars is the key of union with Nuit, the Queen of Space. The power or intelligence of the 18th path is experienced as consciousness that flows like water from the innermost depths, symbolised as the walled City of the Pyramids.

Secrets of the Chariot

Much of the labour of the Great Work is to make the frail human personality a suitable vehicle for the influx of cosmic consciousness that would otherwise overwhelm it. The preliminary work is to train the mind and increase the power of concentration—to hold an image steady in the mind like an unwavering flame. The mental powers are then applied to the building of a chariot or Merkebah, as depicted in the Tarot trump. The chariot is the vehicle of will, called the resurrection body in mysticism. By this vehicle, the secret paths of the Hermetic Tree may be negotiated. The Holy Ghost and Holy Graal are cognate terms. The Cup of Babalon or Binah is the receptacle from which the feminine spirit, Khu or Shekinah, is imbibed, producing divine intoxication—not to be confused with ordinary drunkenness. The resurrection body is introduced in Liber AL vel Legis, I: 8,

The Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs.

The magical power of the 18th path is the Power of Casting Enchantments.[1]

Khephra Scarab by Jeff-DahlTaken at the most superficial level, the Power of Casting Enchantments is suggestive of the kind of magick usually associated with witchcraft or voodoo, where village folk consult with their shaman to settle a dispute with their neighbour, get revenge on someone that has slighted them, or perhaps cook up a potion to help them seduce someone. More seriously, the ancient Egyptian image for Cancer is the scarab beetle, Khephra. Khephra, or the sun at media nox, is the supreme totem of enchantment and of all transformations. Khephra is the neter (principle) of Becoming. Khephra is self-created, self-born, self-becoming, ever-changing and ever-living. Khephra is the Becoming—the magical transformative principle itself. Through this principle the soul is able to pass through the underworld and undergo transformation into a radiant Khu or Phoenix—the resurrection bird or Chariot to the Stars.

Influential occultists of the 20th century were deluded by the pseudo doctrine of the Theosophists, where the individual ego is supposed to ‘reincarnate’ for life after life. Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and others readily embraced the Theosophical notion as it provided almost limitless possibilities for story-telling. Fictional characters could travel back and forth in time; a magician could be anything they want to imagine in a ‘past life’—very often a priest or priestess from the sunken isle of Atlantis with incredible supernatural powers, or a mysterious adept endlessly reincarnating into new earthly lives to fulfil a supremely appointed destiny. If taken in any way seriously this is flattering for the individual while leading the aspirant into a spiritual cul-de-sac. The misinterpretation of ancient Greek and Hindu scriptures was later packaged and sold to naïve Westerners by New Age entrepreneurs.

Acceptance of the Theosophical doctrine has prevented Crowley and his followers from interpreting the Book of the Law on vital matters, such as, ‘‘What happens to the soul after death?’ ‘What must an Initiate do to prepare for this?’ Even the aim and purpose of a Great Work becomes obscure once the nebulous philosophy of the New Age movement is accepted. Crowley, who was heavily influenced by Madame Blavatsky, proclaimed that Thelema is a ‘New Law for Humanity’. It is in fact the very ancient law and eternal truth that governs Initiation and soul survival. Esoteric Thelema is identical with the Setian Gnosis of ancient Egypt, and in particular, of the Setian cult of Mentu in Thebes of the 26th Dynasty.[2] Egyptologists have served to further obfuscate the truth by placing emphasis on the late dynastic Osirian mummification process. Yet even The Egyptian Book of the Dead (so-called) reveals a consistent ancient Egyptian doctrine of the afterlife. The work of one unique incarnation determines whether the soul survives the second death or suffers annihilation through the dispersive forces of the underworld. Esoteric Thelema continues the ancient Egyptian Setian Gnosis where magical initiation and the life of the soul after mortal death are notions so intimately related as to be identical.[3]


Notes

1. Adapted from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth [Ordo Astri].

2. The source of the Thelemic transmission mediated by Rose Crowley in Cairo in 1904 was the Stele of Revealing, the funeral stele of a priest of the cult of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, Thebes, 26th Dynasty (around 500 BCE). See Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].

3. See Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs for Esoteric Thelema. The book includes new translations and commentaries on spells from The Egyptian Book of the Dead. The ancient Egyptian and Thelemic doctrine of the afterlife is there fully explained.

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2019
Khephra Scarab drawn by Jeff Dahl

Related Articles: all in Tarot category

Books by Oliver St John
Subscribe to The 93 Current monthly Journal
Visit Ordo Astri: Thelemic Magical Collegium

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

All books available by Oliver St. John
Visit Ordo Astri: College of Thelema
Subscribe to our monthly Journal, The 93 Current