Art of Sagittarius and the Holy Guardian Angel

The Tarot trump for the 25th path of Sagittarius, the Intelligence of Probation, is Art XIV, depicting the Holy Guardian Angel performing a work of transmutation on the soul. The full title of the trump is The Daughter of the Reconcilers: the Bringer-forth of Life.

Art of Sagittarius: Thoth Tarot Atu Art XIVThis trump was traditionally titled Temperance. It depicted an Angel pouring liquid between blue and red vases. In the Tarot of Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris, the card has been retitled Art. It is the art of alchemy that is portrayed here. 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, the Lovers, pairs of opposites are 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. In the trump for Sagittarius all these opposites have exchanged places; the red lion has become white, the white eagle has become red. The Holy Guardian Angel, clothed in green and wearing light and dark masks, pours fire and water into a golden cauldron. In the cauldron she mixes drops of blood from the paw of the lion and tears from the mouth of the eagle.

The link between Gemini and Sagittarius is the Arrow of Will. A stream of light, guided by an arrow, rises upwards from the cauldron until it reaches the heart of the Angel; from there, the light branches into a rainbow that falls over her shoulders like a cape. Whereas the card for Gemini depicted a mystic marriage, the card called Art symbolises the consummation of that mystical union. The spiritual idea as expressed by Crowley in the Book of Thoth (pp. 103) is that an incomplete element is spiritualised only through the assimilation of its equal and opposite. The means of accomplishment is written in gold lettering upon a large orb, shining like the Sun behind the Angel: 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.[1]

Sagittarius and the Flaming Sword

The 25th path of Samekh connects Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun, with Yesod, the sphere of the Moon. The title of the path (Sepher Yetzirah) is the Intelligence of Probation or Trial. It is only by test, experiment, trial and experience that the harmony and beauty of Tiphereth can become permanently fixed in Yesod, the Foundation in the natural soul or body for the Ruach, the intelligent mind. The operation of the Great Work can only proceed if the aspirant practices detachment, indifference to phenomena, and refuses to identify their self with the actions of the personality and the events that seem to be taking place around. The ‘indifference’ is not to be thought of as lack of attention; in fact, the level of observation is intensified through the meditation practice. The magical power of the 25th path is the Power of Transmutations.

The deity we invoke when the Sun enters Sagittarius is the Egyptian Nephthys, sister of Isis. Nephthys is the principle of dematerialisation (waning moon) and dissolution of the ego or ‘body of the king’—a process that must begin no sooner than a foot is placed on the path. For that reason, in traditional mysticism the Intelligence of Probation is often likened to a Dark Night of the Soul. The 25th path crosses the veil called Paroketh.

Sagittarius and the Holy Guardian Angel

Most, if not all religions, have sensibly avoided trying to define ‘God’. As soon as the Absolute is explained in dualistic terms, ambiguous limitations are imposed. No less the Holy Guardian Angel, a term long used in the Western Mystery Tradition. The Holy Guardian Angel is the Messenger or Communicant of the divine Absolute. As with God, it is wise to limit ourselves to negative terms—what the Holy Guardian Angel is not. Scriptures and magical grimoires use allegory to convey truth that cannot be put into words. Promises of unlimited treasure, of worldly and supernatural powers, have lured many fools while at the same time providing evidence for the sceptic that it is all superstitious nonsense.

There are some deities that closely fulfil the divine messenger role of the Holy Guardian Angel, of which a few are: Dionysus, Jesus, Krishna and Horus. These names are perhaps religious and cultural modifications of one type, a god that is able to appear (or incarnate) in human form.

The Vision of the Holy Guardian Angel is assigned to Malkuth, yet the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel is the exclusive task of an Adeptus Minor. It is impossible not to use mystical allegory: the ‘bride’ or soul in Malkuth, the daughter or princess of the Kingdom, must be wedded to the ‘prince’ or Holy Guardian Angel in Tiphereth. Experiencing the solar centre of the Hermetic Tree does not involve ordinary clairvoyance or magical powers, so-called. The ‘Heart Girt with a Serpent’ is a metaphor for the impersonal cosmic principle fully realised as the sole source of personal existence. It is that which the ancient Egyptians called ‘Intelligence of the Heart’. This cannot be arrived at through a process of reason or argument unless the sword of reason is turned against itself.

Where belief begins, knowledge ends. Faith and belief are quite different words in the language of mysticism. Faith in the spiritual sense has more to do with acceptance of the path than adherence to dogma or fixation on some particular class of vision. The Gnostics ascertained that faith (pistis) is necessary to open the heart so that knowledge (gnosis), if it should come, will find a place to dwell. In the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis I: 58, the cosmic principle Nuit informs her disciple that,

I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.

The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel may come about through subtle changes of consciousness over a long period of time, or it may come as a shattering realisation—or a series of such explosive revelations. There is no architectural blueprint that can be applied to all. The attainment of this primary goal of magick will not confer omniscience—neither does any magical grade or degree—and unless discipline and vigilance is continued, there is still a risk of falling from the path. What does this mean, ‘falling from the path’? The ‘Black Brother’ is a term that can apply equally to the magician or mystic that has lost heart, or the devotee of material sciences that seeks to suppress spiritual knowledge through dogmatic denial of its existence. Either way, the person becomes shut up in their ego, and all energy is utilised towards reinforcing the delusion. In his book Nightside of Eden, Kenneth Grant likened this to obsession by the Qliphoth of the 12th path of the Hermetic Tree, the path of Tarot Atu I, The Magus.[2] All the force of the will is concentrated on the ego, and is utilised for the reinforcement of personal identity. On the other hand, the Queen of Space rewards the aspirant that stays the path, as declared in Liber, I: 53:

This shall regenerate the world, the little world my sister, my heart and my tongue, unto whom I send this kiss.

It is said that all paths end in Mystery. Surviving the ordeals of initiation defines the path in a way that only the individual can truly understand. When the knowledge is firmly embedded in the heart through prolonged meditation, aspiration and vigilance, and is carried through into the daily life and work, then Nuit’s ‘kiss’ may at last confer the gift of certainty to her chosen one.


Notes

1. From the ancient Egyptian Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.
2. Kenneth Grant, Nightside of Eden, Part Two, Chapter 2 [Starfire Publishing].

© Oliver St. John 2012, 2018

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Equinox of Maat: Balance of the Year

When the Sun enters Libra at the Equinox of Maat, the days and nights are equal in length. Soon the days will be shortening and the nights lengthening as we, in the northern hemisphere, journey towards the winter solstice. In the southern hemisphere the situation is reversed; the days will be lengthening and the nights shortening, as the journey begins towards the height of summer.

Maat Equinox: Thoth Tarot Adjustment VIII

The Thoth Tarot trump for Libra is Adjustment VIII, depicting the Egyptian goddess Maat. A young woman is masked and bearing on her forehead the uraeus serpent. She is crowned with the ostrich plumes of Maat, and is perfectly poised upon her toes. In her hands is a magical sword, with the point downwards. She is The Daughter of the Lords of Truth, the Ruler of the Balance. She represents the absorption and transmutation of all experience in the flowing forth of continuous manifestation. She is the mistress of creation and destruction, and the balance of light and darkness. She is cosmic law, and the law of nature: truth, twofold, and the immutable law of the universe. Her powers are the works of Justice and Equilibrium.

Black and White
Day and Night
North and South
East and West
Let us find Ma’at in all things![1]

The Oracle of Maat

Behold! I am the Eye of my father, Ra. I am the one in whom the word is accomplished. I am the Bride of Tahuti and the Measure of the Universe. I am truth, and the feather is my symbol. To pass my door, you must justify every part of your soul, and you must visit the beautiful fields of the grasshoppers. You shall bathe in the pool where the Sailors of Ra in his sun-boat bathe. Purify yourself in my name, and come before me as Horus Triumphant. For I stand upon one side of Ra in the ark of the heavens and Tahuti stands upon the other. And unless you have found the flint that is hidden in my furrow, then you shall not pass my gates. But if you know all these things, and if you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra, and if you are pure—then Tahuti shall call your name! And you shall be known in the palace of the starry ones, and shall live forever and forever.[2]

Maat is the goddess that presides over the weighing of the heart ceremony, and is the ‘Straight One’, the principle of Perfect Truth and the Balance of the Universe. She is clothed in emerald green and wears the crown of double plumes. The feather is her symbol, and the Ankh of Life. Maat is the Eye of Ra, the Sun, and is the bride and consort of Thoth or Tahuti, the Egyptian Hermes-Mercury, the god of magick and of magick words and writing—the Word or Logos.

The Neters or Gods are the personification of impersonal principles. Maat, especially, is a cosmic principle. The ancient Egyptians loved puns, the play on words. Maat says, “If you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra…” One of the epithets of Maat is ‘The Me’, the Measure of all things. One must find the measure, the ‘me’ that is Maat, in the heart, the centre of all.

Maat is the Eye of Ra, and the secret hidden in the heart of Ra—she is his daughter, and so the apple of his eye. As with students, a good pupil is as that which is in the centre of the eye. It is emptiness, yet beholding all—therefore receptive. Also it is one who hears—for the human ear was shaped by sound. The heart itself is the void place of spirit. The Egyptian hieroglyph for the heart (Ab) is a pot or vessel. The handles are the ‘ears’. The ‘eye’ is the emptiness inside—the necessary condition for true meditation. Nuit wears a pot on her head, which is the hieroglyph of her name, ‘Nu’; she is the Holy Graal.

The ‘emptiness’ or spaciousness of absolute Nuit is not equal to ‘nothing at all’.  As it is put, cryptically, in the (Egyptian) Book of the Law, Liber AL, II: 2:

There is division hither homeward; there is a word not known. Spelling is defunct; all is not aught. Beware! Hold! Raise the spell of Ra-Hoor-Khuit!

Far from being nothing at all, or ‘nothingness’, Nuit’s spaciousness is everything! The one true power in the universe is the power of attention. The all-seeing eye of Ra is the eye of the beholder. In Liber AL, I: 28:

None, breathed the light, faint and faery, of the stars, and two.

Everything concerned with Maat is double. The ancient Egyptians usually had two of everything, including pairs of male and female gods or neters. Maat presides over the Neophyte Hall of Dual Manifestation. Everything in nature is double; there is ‘no-one’ in truth. The power of Egyptian magical spells is in the words; to know they are true, and to speak them truly, is the perfection of Maat.

There is a popular New Age notion that any affliction suffered in this life must owe to some ‘karmic debt’ incurred in a previous life. Let us dispel this myth, for the rule of Maat is not in any way a moral or ethical law. The law of nature is exact; we must not confuse this with any notions of human justice based on morality—if we do then we confuse this idea of karma and make little tin gods of ourselves. Furthermore, ‘reincarnation’ is a self-limiting modern myth, based on rationalist determinism.[3]


Notes

1. The Oracle of Maat is taken from ‘Ceremonies of Nuit and Ra’, Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light [Ordo Astri].
2. Oracle of Maat, Ritual Magick [ibid].
3. See ‘Lapis Philosophorum’, Babalon Unveiled! Thelemic Monographs [Ordo Astri].
© Oliver St John 2013; revised 2018
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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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