Aquarius and the Star of Nuit

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 15th path of Aquarius is Nuit XVII. The esoteric title of the path is Daughter of the Firmament: Dweller between the Waters.

Aquarius: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Nuit XVIIThe placing of The Star XVII on the 15th path is to end the ages old confusion between the blood of material generation and the pure essence that is the substance of spiritual regeneration. The 15th path of Hé connects Chokmah, the sphere of the Zodiac, with Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun. The 15th path is called the Constituting Intelligence because it is the essence of creative force that arises in pure darkness; the word used for ‘essence’ is etzem, which has the same root as OTz, ‘tree’, from whence the Tree of Life. The same word etzem can mean ‘bone’, ‘body’, ‘life’, and ‘substance’. The power of manifesting or begetting is the primal power of the Goddess, which is that of division into two; the path therefore corresponds to the Goddess of the Stars. As declared by Nuit in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, I: 59,

My incense is of resinous woods and gums; and there is no blood therein: because of my hair the trees of Eternity.

Chokmah is the chakra of the Zodiac, as separate and distinct from the fixed stars, which are the domain of Kether and the North Pole of the universe. The Zodiac is the belt or girdle of Venus, which is the planetary symbol of Nuit in her manifestation as visible nature. Incense and fragrance are ancient metaphors for pure spirit or essence—“that essence of creative force that arises in pure darkness”. The darkness itself is a metaphor, since it is more than merely an absence of light. Visible light is a veil, an appearance that clothes the nakedness of Nuit, whose essence is interior radiance. According to the book of Genesis, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life and the inverse Tree of Knowledge. Originally, there was one eternal Tree of Life embracing heaven, earth and the underworld.

‘Blood’ is the self-replicating power or energy that moves through all incarnated creatures, yet the oracle of Nuit in the Book of the Law, I: 59 asserts that her creative essence has “no blood therein”. It is therefore necessary to counterchange the Tarot trumps on the 15th and 28th paths. Aries, previously assigned to the 15th path, is the sign of the fire of blood, which is the blood of the Lamb as depicted in Christian esotericism. Aquarius, on the other hand, is the sign of the Waters of Space, typified by the Egyptian hieroglyph of two streams of water or radiation.

Nuit is the Star Goddess particularly concerned with the occult or hidden side of nature; her mysteries are those of the Occult Force and of regeneration through the elemental ‘child’ that reflects the true son or sun-star of Nuit.

The magical weapons are the Aspigillum for the sprinkling of the lustral water, and the Censor for the perfumes. The magical power of the 15th path is that of Astrology; the starry wisdom of the 15th path should not be confused with popular notions of astrology.

Aquarius and the Essence of Night

Nuit is depicted in the Tarot trump numbered 17 as cosmic space, which is an analogy for her subtle (i.e. formless) manifestation. The esoteric title of the trump is Daughter of the Firmament: Dweller between the Waters. The Sri Yantra of the Eastern Tantras is a geometric symbol of the matrix or cosmological foundation formed by the essence or emanations of Nuit and her sun-star. The same matrix was displayed in ancient Egyptian depictions of the Goddess, especially the polymorphic variations of Nuit and Hathoor, by networks of five-pointed or five-fingered stars. The Egyptian hieroglyph for the radiation of light or transmission of energy is identical to the astrological wave-glyph for the zodiacal sign of Aquarius.


Notes

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for Aquarius is Nuit XVII. The card and its description may be viewed here at Ordo Astri.

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2022 (Revised)

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Capricorn: Angel, Devil, Dweller on the Threshold

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump assigned to Capricorn and the 26th path is Set XV.[1] 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 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, 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. 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. 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”.[2] It is not enough merely to be enthusiastic at the outset; there must be inner conviction, which arises from innate knowledge.


Notes

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

2. Matthew, 22: 14.

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2022 (Revised)

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Sagittarius: Alchemy and the Guardian Angel

The Egyptian Tarot of Thelema trump for the 25th path of Sagittarius is Neith XIV.[1] The full title of the trump is Daughter of the Reconcilers: Bringer-forth of Life.

Sagittarius: Egyptian Tarot of Thelema Neith XIVThis Tarot trump is traditionally titled Temperance. It usually depicts an Angel pouring liquid between blue and red vases, which is often thought to symbolise the art of alchemy, as well as the Holy Guardian Angel of the Western Mystery Tradition. The trump corresponds to Sagittarius, the mutable fire sign of the Zodiac.

The signs of the Zodiac are best understood as pairs; Gemini is opposite and complementary to Sagittarius the Archer or Centaur. In the Tarot trump for Gemini, pairs of opposites are often shown: black and white, silver and gold, good and evil, male and female. The red and white tinctures of alchemy are symbolised by a lion and an eagle, which are also the lesser and the greater mysteries in terms of initiation. The link between Gemini and Sagittarius is the Arrow of Will. The arrow shown in our Tarot trump here is upward and is combined with the djed pillar or central will-column and the weaving shuttle of Neith, by which she produces the fabric or tapestry of existence. There are sometimes two arrows associated with Neith, crossed. Also, the arrow or arrows can be aimed downward or upward, depending on the meaning. One meaning of the arrow pointing downward is expressed in the alchemical formula:

Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidum.

‘Visit the interior parts of the earth: by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone.’ Alchemists described the stone of the wise or universal medicine variously as a stone, a powder or a tincture. It may be divided into silver and gold or red and white, but its essence is always the same.

That which is Below is like unto that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the Miracle of the One Essence.[2]

Sagittarius and the Flaming Sword

The esoteric title of the 25th path of Sagittarius is Daughter of the Reconcilers: Bringer-forth of Life. Hence, the magical power of the 25th path is the Power of Transmutations. The old Tarot of Marseille depicts an Angel pouring liquid between blue and red vases. It is not difficult to conclude that the art of alchemy is portrayed there—Sagittarius is after all the mutable fire sign of the Zodiac. Neptune or Shiva, principle of the dissolution of Cosmic Cycles, is the governor of the mutable signs.

The 25th path connects the sphere of the Moon or natural psyche with that of the Sun, the centre of the mind’s intelligence. The silver of the Moon and gold of the Sun are here fused into the stone of the wise or philosophic egg. These terms are metaphors for the ‘substance’ of the immortal principle. Fools will always attempt to apprehend the immortal stone—similarly, a child might seek to capture sunshine in a bottle. While the child may be rewarded with a faery song, the real fool will get nothing in return for the immortal soul that he has traded away in return for wordly acquisition.

The 25th path crosses the veil called Paroketh, marking the division between the world of appearances and the formless world of spirit, which is completely invisible to the profane. As such, the 25th path is called the Intelligence of Probation or Trial. The mind’s intelligence (Ruach) has its foundation in Yesod, the natural soul or body. It is only by trial and experience that the harmony and beauty of Tiphereth can be fixed as a permanent reflection in Yesod. The proving of the Great Work is not the kind of ‘proving’ that might convince the sceptic but is the proving of the very soul. To be a foundation for beauty, the psyche must undergo the purification of study, the organisation of the thoughts. Likewise, the body must submit to the beneficent astringent of the rituals and practice.

The operation of the Great Work can only proceed if the aspirant practices detachment, indifference to phenomena, and refuses to self-identify with the actions of the personality and events that seem to be taking place around. The ‘indifference’ is not to be thought of as lack of attention. The level of observation is intensified through meditation practice. As the spinner of the worlds,  Neïth also fires the Arrow of Truth that spells dissolution of ego—a process that must begin no sooner than a foot is placed on the path. For that reason the Intelligence of Probation is often likened to a Dark Night of the Soul.


Notes

1. For the Egyptian Tarot of Thelema, all 12 of the zodiacal trumps can be viewed here with their descriptions.

2. From the ancient Egyptian Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.

© Oliver St. John 2012, 2022 (revised)

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