Magick of the Aries Equinox

Aries Equinox: The entry of the Sun into Aries signifies the commencement of the Thelemic New Year, as dated from year zero, 20th March 1904. This commemorates the first ritual of Thelema, the “Equinox of the Gods”, an invocation of Horus performed by Aleister Crowley and his wife Rose, in Cairo Egypt.

Aries Equinox: Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot trump The Aeon XX

The Crowley-Harris Tarot trump for the Aries Equinox is The Emperor IV. It is a surprisingly conventional image compared to the rest of the deck. As an alternative Tarot for the equinox, we present The Aeon XX. Here we have Nuit, Hadit and Heru-ra-ha, the double form of Horus. The principle of governance is extended to the cosmic level. Concerning The Aeon XX and the 31st path called the Perpetual Intelligence:

“Evocation is among the magical powers of this path. Whereas invocation means ‘calling in’, evocation is ‘calling forth’, or to call up. Thus images of the Tarot card based on the Renaissance Tarot de Marseille deck depict the dead being called up from their tombs on the day of judgement by an Angel blowing a trumpet.  Aleister Crowley changed the title and the image of the card so The Aeon XX depicts the Egyptian gods or neters, Nuit, Hadit and Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Here, Horus becomes the Avenging Angel, the Lord of Judgement. It is notable that in this image Horus is shown in dual form. He is crowned and throned as Ra-Hoor-Khuit but at the same time is surrounded by a figure of Harpocrates or Hoor-paar-kraat, the God of Silence. There is a dark side to this, for in the present age man has replaced the image of Logos, the word, and Theos, the divine, with the image of himself. If a word is not heard then it may not be uttered. At the apotheosis of his technical and scientific wizardry, man has become dumb. The ventriloquist’s dummy is thus an apt totem of the present technological age.”[1]

Aries Equinox: Natural Intelligence

“The 28th path of Tzaddi connects Netzach, the sphere of Venus, with Yesod, the sphere of the Moon, and is imaged forth by the Tarot key, The Emperor IV. The title of the 28th path is the Natural Intelligence, for it is the perfection of the nature of all things under the orb of the Sun. The desire of Venus reflected into the mirror of the Moon makes impressions upon the Astral Light. Much of the work of occultism is to create new forms as suitable vehicles for the incarnation of the will to transcendence. On the other side of the coin, forms are created to hook or enslave the soul, as revealed by the fishhook of the letter tzaddi.

Aries Equinox: Hebrew letter Tzaddi of the 28th path

“The king portrayed in the Tarot trump is the fisher-king found in the myths and legends of many cultures. The king is an image of meditation and magick where key symbols are held and fixed by concentration of will. Meditation requires sustained and persistent effort over a lengthy period of time—years, not days or weeks—before it ceases to be regarded as a personal exercise. The powerful astral glamour that pervades this path gives rise to the delusion of instant enlightenment, that much can be gained spiritually in return for very little effort. The desire for acquisition of spiritual or magical powers, or the belief that one can be made ‘healthy, wealthy and wise’ through magical manipulation, psychological improvement or hypnotism, is no more than the restless urge of the human ego to maintain its tyranny over the soul. The beginner at meditation discovers that instead of making things more comfortable, the practice irritates the body and is annoying to the ego. Most therefore terminate the discipline within a few days or weeks, deciding that it is not their ‘path’, after all—they soon return to the market place where vendors are eager to trade in miracles. The magical power of the 28th path is the Power of Consecrating Things.”[2]

The Aries Equinox and 28th path thus embody the principle of governance. The King and the land are one. The ego and body are one. There is a need to seek out a holy graal, lest the body of the king becomes a wasteland, and the soul is dragged down with it.

Aries Equinox: Esoteric Title of the Tarot Trump

There is a note of interest here on the esoteric title of the Tarot trump, Sun of the Morning: Chief among the Mighty. These titles were passed down from the historic Golden Dawn of 1888 and presumably came from the inexhaustible genius of the Golden Dawn founder, S. L. Macgregor Mathers. Some Golden Dawn sources—and there are many—render the title as Son of the Morning. It is impossible to know for sure what was originally intended as the papers of the Golden Dawn were all passed on and copied by hand. Those that have rendered it Sun of the Morning have taken it from Aleister Crowley’s tables in 777. However, these were compiled from the same kind of sources and even the most recently published editions contain ‘typos’ never corrected in the first draft. Crowley never even got round to updating his key scales to conform with the Liber AL change of the trump’s allocation from the 15th path of Hé to the 28th path of Tzaddi.

Ithell Colquhoun used Sun of the Morning in her extraordinary surrealist Tarot, though it is possible she had access to other sources than that of Crowley. We are happy in any case to take the title as it was given in 777, and by Colquhoun, though our intuitive sense tells us that Mathers most likely named it Son of the Morning after all! The first placement of the card was on the 15th path from Chokmah to Tiphereth, and so the King is called Chief among the Mighty as his root is directly with the supernals. As for Son of the Morning, this would be an allusion to the Holy Guardian Angel in Tiphereth as well as the name of the Order, the Golden Dawn. The title has provoked interesting lines of thought, whether the trump is placed with Hé or Tzaddi. For example, as Tzaddi, the King becomes the Son of the Morning Star. To save losing any sleep, it is well to remember that in Qabalistic terms, “son” and “sun” are identical.


1. From The Mystic Tarot and the Trees of Eternity, “The King of Tzaddi”.
2. Description of the 31st and 28th paths from The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth.
Related articles: Equinox of the Gods
© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018 (revised)

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Crisis of the Modern Age

René Guenon had a far-reaching vision. His life covered a critical turning point in history, encompassing great changes. With the book, Crisis of the Modern Age, Guenon was seeing what he called the Kali Yuga, the ending of a Great Aeon or Mahayuga, and the sinking into dissolution of all real knowledge. René Guenon died in 1951 and could not have foreseen exactly how things would turn out half a century later. Yet much of what he wrote concerning the distortion of symbol, language and the meaning of things, the loss of tradition, everywhere prevails.

René Guenon Crisis: Ten of Swords AGMuller

Ten of Swords from pop art Neuzeit Tarot, Walter Wegmüller, AG Muller 1982: The card depicts ten swords, bearing nonsensical motifs and depending from a crazy carousel. The masses look on, enthralled by the illusion or otherwise self-absorbed. Grasping hands vainly reach upwards. Reason has become indistinguishable from the absurd and irrational.

The Kali Yuga, according to Hindu scriptures, is the ‘Age of the Demon’. The ‘demon’ is the force that opposes all spiritual knowledge, bringing on a long Dark Age of materiality. With the culmination of Kali Yuga comes the final dissolution, preparing the way for the birth of a new Mahayuga cycle. Lasting for more than 6000 years, Kali Yuga comes as the fourth and final phase in a Great Aeon. The working out of these ages of time by Eastern philosophers seems to have incorporated full knowledge of the astronomical precession of the equinoxes. According to the astronomer and sage, Aryabhatta, writing fifteen centuries ago, Kali Yuga began around 3000 BCE. We have more than a thousand years of Kali Yuga before a new Golden Age dawns; by that time there will be nothing left of our present civilisation.

Guenon vs Crowley

Aleister Crowley’s theory of three Great Aeons is very unsatisfactory, as evidenced by his garbled account of it in The Book of Thoth. Crowley tried, unconvincingly, to equate his aeonic theory with the precession of the equinoxes, though he did note that we are now entering the precessional Age of Aquarius—a mere 2000 years in the great precessional cycle of 26,000 years. The Egyptian Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis, has very little to say about aeons or ages of time; there is no account in the book of any New Aeon. The passage that refers to Crowley as “the prophet”, Liber AL I: 26, was expressing his own thoughts and questions on the book—he gave himself that appointment. In the same verse Crowley appealed to Nuit for “a sign”. That is, he sought a sign or token of his own supreme authority. It becomes clear that while receiving and recording the transmission, Crowley’s meditation was constantly disturbed by his desire to resurrect the fragmented Order of the Golden Dawn with himself as leader. He thus misconstrued the book’s true import.

However, if we study the Egyptian Book of the Law in the light of the precessional ages, of which the last is the apocalyptic Kali Yuga, it becomes clear that, so far as the book is concerned with time at all, it describes the present time as the final phase of the dissolution of a Great Aeon, a Mahayuga. The book then provides the keys for an Initiate to survive the dissolution in spiritual terms. We must exercise careful discernment when studying this book: while the revelation concealed in the text did not spring from the mind of Crowley, there is much other content that did, or that was influenced by his insistent thoughts and demands.

The talisman that unlocked the 93 Thelemic Current, unleashed on Aleister and Rose Crowley in a hotel room in Cairo in 1904, was the Stele of Revealing, discovered in the Museum of Cairo by Rose. It was the funeral stele of an Egyptian high priest that served in the Temple of Karnak in Thebes, around 700 BCE, and named Ankh af-na-khonsu, ‘Life and Soul of Khonsu’.[1] Khonsu is the Egyptian deity or Neter revered at Thebes, and particularly associated with the Moon. The Moon was in turn associated with the counting of time. There is no need to go further into the historical details here. What is important is that the spiritual law encrypted in the funeral stele of Ankh af-na-khonsu came near the end of the long ages of ancient Egyptian civilisation. In another thousand years the language would be completely forgotten. Even by Hellenistic times, the old Gods of Egypt would only be studied academically by Egyptian priests. Crowley’s reception of the Book of the Law in 1904 coincided simultaneously with the death of the Romantic era in Europe and the unmitigated onslaught of a Dark Age more terrible than any other—a time in which countless numbers of human beings on earth would be crushed by mechanised industrial warfare on a vast scale. When nations are not directly concerned with industrial subjugation or mass extermination of their own species the war becomes one where the weapons are either psychological or clandestine. We have arrived at the present time.

One idea unique to the Western Mystery Tradition is that one can live an ordinary life, or a ‘normal existence’, and do ritual and meditation for an hour or so a day over a prolonged period of time. One ought to be able to engage with the world and worldly concerns, work for a living and even maintain a family. One need not become an effete spiritual recluse incapable of taking a bus or managing ordinary things. The methods of training have been in use for about a century, where the person keeps a daily diary Record of their spiritual and magical work. Crowley, writing seventy years ago, said:

There are very few people today who have heard of Plato and Aristotle. Not one in a thousand, perhaps ten thousand, of those few have ever read either of them, even in translations. But there are also very few people whose thinking, such as it is, is not conditioned by the ideas of those two men.[2]

The emphasis, “such as it is”, is ours, not that of the author. Crowley was observing a decline in the ability of people to think coherently. In the twenty-first century there are now very few persons capable of concentrating their minds on one thing to the exclusion of all else. People now spend more time at work in a job, or two or three jobs, than at any other time in history. A few decades ago there was a lot of talk about how things would be in the future. Everyone imagined there would be more leisure time. Machines would take care of mundane tasks, or accelerate tasks so people had more time to themselves.

Guenon and the Future

That future has arrived now, and the opposite has occurred. With the sovereign role now played by Information Technology, many people spend hours a day looking at virtual displays on a phone, tablet or computer. They listen to digital ‘music’ in headphones while they are performing various tasks—a degradation of both music and listener. Their consciousness is buried beneath multiple layers of wallpaper distractions. Whereas at one time a person undergoing Hermetic training had to learn how to control their own thought, the information addict is already the slave of everyone else’s thoughts, however banal. Literature is being replaced by digital images and icons. No matter how high the resolution, a digital image can never be more than dots creating an illusion of form and space. Virtual reality is a lie; the software illusion is not ‘near’ reality, it has nothing to do with it. The same applies to digital music, film and television.

We are told by business professionals that very few people will actually read the present article. Though it might score millions of website ‘hits’, we understand that most people do not actually read the information on websites or other forms of digital media. What they do is ‘scan’ the information—the person runs their eye quickly down the content, searching for something that might ‘grab them’.

Businesses make large amounts of money from mouse clicks. There is no need to think. No precious time in which to calculate the loss of a thing that cannot be bought or sold, a thing that once lost is lost forever. It is no longer about thought or imagination, which takes far too much effort. It is about comfortable self-identification. Corporations do not make profit from moral and intellectual strength; they make profit from moral and intellectual weakness.

Absorption in the digital delusion kills the intellectual and imaginative faculty that is needed in magical or spiritual practice. Although the pursuit of magick and mysticism was always for a small minority of persons, it has become more difficult because of how the modern world has turned out. However, it has always taken great moral courage to get anywhere with real magick. The courage to stand against the flow of fashion, to resist the mundane world and the pressures it places, the tendency towards the economically driven distraction and diversion in things alternately banal or horrifying. To paraphrase Crowley, one must earn the right to do Yoga by managing one’s time and life to make room for it in the first place.[3]

Guenon and the Present

When René Guenon commented on the modern age he used the term, ‘anti-initiation’. If initiation can be the transmission of knowledge, then there has to be an equal and opposite idea. Guenon observed a powerful movement against initiation in the modern world. He denounced many of the occult traditions from which we have taken influence. That clearing away, the denunciation of all that was not harmonious in his universe, was part of the personal initiation of René Guenon, and yet what he wrote has universal implications. Guenon could have little idea, at that time, of the massive rise of popular culture that took place in the 60s and 70s and that has continued onward to the present day. Pop culture, with all its genres and fashion cults, is a powerful force against initiation, real knowledge and meaningful tradition. Advertising, television and social media are all forces against initiation, whether blindly or no.

Guenon was seeing the emergence of what we may now term as the New Age movement. The New Age is a general term that includes many quasi-spiritual ‘paths’ that lead nowhere but to dispersion of mind and the wasting of the soul. Yet they all claim to confer magical powers, ‘healing’, self-mastery and even spiritual enlightenment.

More insidiously—though it is openly supported by pop culture and New Age spirituality—there is now a very disturbing movement of anti-intellectualism in the West. Anti-intellectualism and totalitarianism have always gone hand in hand. The blinding of words by the confusion of language has always served the authoritarian anti-intellectual movement. That service is done in the name of freedom, in the name of equality and in the name of individualism—even where there is no real individuality, no freedom and no social justice.

The Real is eternally true. Human reason and ego does not touch it, for these have no ground in the Real. Every mystic tradition for thousands of years has told us that. Civilisations rise and fall—history tells us that. The present technological age will certainly come to an end—everything does. None of that makes any difference to the Real, and what is eternally true. One must not fall into despair. That is a false trail, for despair is itself a force of anti-initiation.

There is still plenty of the natural world left, although it is fast declining under the advance of human technological and industrial totalitarianism. If we switch off our digital devices, phones, computers and other gadgets, leave our urban environments and go to the woods, the sea—if we learn to understand the language of birds and wild creatures, come to understand the subtle vibrations of plants and trees, of the sun, the moon and the stars—then we will be closer at least to the Real, to something truly authentic. No man, not even the greatest thinker, philosopher, guru or mage, can prevent the sun from rising and setting or command the moon to change her course. No one can start or stop the revolution of the Great Wheel of the Aeons. What we can do is prepare ourselves spiritually so that, like the Egyptian high priest Ankh-af-na-khonsu, we may “open the doors of Nuit”.


1. Part of the inscription on the funeral stele of Ankh-af-na-khonsu, reads, “Lord of Thebes, the Opener of the Doors of Nuit in Karnak, Ankh-af-na-khonsu, the Justified.”
2. The Book of Thoth, pp. 33.
3. Aleister Crowley, Eight Lectures on Yoga.
© Oliver St. John 2015, 2018

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Revival of Magick

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Art and Magick of Pisces

The Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot trump for Pisces and the 29th path of the Tree of Life is The Moon XVIII. Here we have a path that is half in shadows and that must pass between two sentinels wearing the foreboding headdress of the Egyptian Anubis, a guardian of the underworld. According to Crowley:

Such light as there may be is deadlier than darkness, and the silence is wounded by howling beasts.

At the top of the picture is the Sun, pushed through the darkness and cold of night towards the dawn by the Egyptian scarab beetle, Khephra. Khephra is, like Amoun, a self-created god. Like the butterfly, the beetle undergoes a series of remarkable transformations where at one point he seems to be completely inanimate, nothing more than a shell or stone. Miraculously, from this inertia comes forth the fully fledged scarab with wings on which to ride the breezes of dawn.

Magick of Pisces: Thoth Tarot trump The Moon XVIII

As we near the end of the cold months, the Sun’s entry into Pisces is a reminder of the darkest hour before the dawn. The springtime is not far away. On the other side of the globe, in the southern hemisphere, it is a reminder that the cooler air of autumn will soon drive out the burning heat of a long summer.

Pisces is traditionally ruled by the planet Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus and to the ancient Egyptians as Amoun. So if you ever wondered where the word “Amen” comes from, that is uttered at the end of Christian prayers—there is your answer. Jupiter, Zeus and Amoun were originally gods of the mountain and of the seas and the rains that come to replenish the earth with new life and growth. The Egyptian Amoun is a very mysterious god. He is self-created and his location, unlike the sky-gods Horus, Hathoor and Nuit, is below the horizon. One of his titles is “The Hidden God”.

The Hermetic Qabalah might throw some further light on the associations between Pisces, the sign of the fishes, and the mysterious operations of a Hidden God. On the Hermetic Tree of Life, Pisces is the 29th path that connects the material universe (Malkuth) with the animating power of Venus (Netzach), the morning and evening star. The magical power of the path of Pisces is The Twilight of the Place. At this time of year, as the days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, the twilight is very noticeable especially with the lengthening of shadows near sunset, when Venus—the first and brightest star of the evening sky—appears in the western sky. The magical twilight is also the special light of a room prepared for ritual, with candles and the smoke of incense providing ideal conditions for the arising of phantasmal or spectral images. The Magical Mirror is the magical weapon or instrument attributed to Pisces.

As the 12th sign and 12th house in astrology, Pisces represents the deeper realms of the subconscious mind. Psychology traditionally gives three types of consciousness:

  1. Waking consciousness or self-awarenes
  2. Subconscious or dreaming consciousness
  3. The unconscious

It has been argued that there is no such thing as an unconscious, since if it is not conscious then it cannot be thought of as any kind of consciousness. We will turn to the Hermetic Qabalah for assistance. The letter for Pisces is qoph or “Q”, which represents the back of the head and the medulla oblongata—the lowest part of the brainstem, connecting the brain with the spinal cord. This is the most primal part of the brain, and in terms of consciousness it is where the earliest evolutionary memories are stored. If one could send consciousness backwards, from the frontal lobes of rational intelligence to the narrow passage of the medulla oblongata, one might be able to see all the way down to the base of the spine. There is evidence that once upon a time, homosapiens had a tail, as do most non-human creatures on our planet. Returning to the letter Q of Pisces, a queue is also a kind of tail. The long, sombre epic of mankind’s existence on the planet, is yet another kind of tale. A tale that has been told in countless ways by many cultures along the evolutionary way.

Pisces and The Flaming Sword

According to The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth:

Path 29, Qoph

The 29th path of Qoph connects Netzach, the sphere of Venus, with Malkuth, the sphere of the visible universe, and is imaged forth by the Tarot key, The Moon XVIII. The title of the 29th path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it is concerned with the incarnation of all bodies according to the revolution of the Zodiac. The root of the word that is translated “Corporeal” (gosham) implies a violent rainstorm or shower—the “shower of the life of earth” that comes through the seed of the Unborn Spirit, or Holy Guardian Angel, in the ritual called The Bornless. The ‘seed’ is really alchemical and refers to the fluidic or formless fire from which all forms receive their essence.

To understand the “revolution of the Zodiac” and the part that it plays one needs to know that the Zodiac is the image of Spirit working through the Sun upon the four elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth. All bodies are composed of these elements; each creature has a unique astrosome, the symbol of which is the natal horoscope, varying according to the time and place of birth. The twelve signs of the Zodiac are cosmic archetypes, and that is why a person’s nature is not revealed simply by knowing their ‘sign’—for the sign alone symbolises a type, not an individual.

The descent of this path is the incarnation or embodiment of each creature, while the ascent of it implies knowledge of the Occult Intelligences—the knowledge that is hidden from the profane. The magical powers of the 29th path are of Bewitchments and Casting Illusions.

616 ShIMIRVN (Shimiron) Qliphoth of Pisces

“Malignant Women”; the 29th path connects Venus, the lowest sephira on the Force side of the Tree, with Malkuth, the dead-end of matter; the women of malicious intent are the phantasms of decaying (or thwarted) desire, rife with poisoning and corruption; as such, these ‘women’ are no more than blind forces, but they have a tremendous capacity to inflict harm on the unwary human; “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is an aphorism that can apply not only to the human but to the elementar that has been deprived of ‘blood’ or energy; the Intelligence of the path orders the neural and biological patterns that in turn influence the behaviour of species, whether they are supposed to be ‘sentient’ or otherwise; when the human ego identifies personally with the biological urge to procreate or self-replicate—that great force which is, in fact, an entirely impersonal machine or engine—all manner of psychological aberrations occur; the person seeking self-fulfilment in the production of offspring, and finding the result is nothing of the sort, may subvert or redirect the flow of life-force into other objects of desire; typical afflictions are ‘eating disorders’, so-called—for devouring and begetting are dual principles of the Great Mother at the cosmic level; the predatory behaviour of both men and women, especially when it forms part of a group mentality, is another, less specific; alcoholism is yet another trait, since it arises from a desire to be reabsorbed back into the stream of life from whence the organism was formed; yet it is the self-assertion of the ego—maintaining the delusion that it has a separate life and existence of its own—that is the root of all ailments of the soul.

© Oliver St. John 2013, 2018
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