• i. De Mercurio
• ii. The Lord of Illusion

This card is referred to the letter Beth, which means a house, and is attributed to the planet Mercury. The ideas connected with this symbol are so complex and so multifarious that it seems better to attach to this general description certain documents which bear upon different aspects of this card. The whole will then form an adequate basis for the full interpretation of the card through study, meditation, and use.

The French title of this card in the medieval pack is “Le Bâteleur”, the Bearer of the Bâton. [Variant: LE PAGAD. Origin unknown. Suggestions:

(1) PChD terror (esp. Panic fear) a title of Geburah. Also a thigh: i.e. membrum virile. By Arabic analogy, PAChD, causer of terror: Value 93!!

(2) Pagoda, a phallic memorial: Similar, and equally apt.] Mercury is pre-eminently the bearer of the Wand: Energy sent forth. This card therefore represents the Wisdom, the Will, the Word, the Logos by whom the worlds were created. (See the Gospel according to St. John, chapter I.)

It represents the Will. In brief, he is the Son, the manifestation in act of the idea of the Father. He is the male correlative of the High Priestess. Let there be no confusion here on account of the fundamental doctrine of the Sun and Moon as the Second Harmonics to the Lingam and the Yoni; for, as will be seen in the citation from The Paris Working, (see Appendix) the creative Mercury is of the nature of the Sun. But Mercury is the Path leading from Kether to Binah, the Understanding; and thus He is the messenger of the gods, represents precisely that Lingam, the Word of creation whose speech is silence.


Mercury, however, represents action in all forms and phases. He is the fluidic basis of all transmission of activity; and, on the dynamic theory of the Universe, he is himself the substance thereof. He is, in the language of modern physics, that electric charge which is the first manifestation of the ring of ten indefinable ideas, as previously explained. He is thus continuous creation.

Logically also, being the Word, he is the law of reason or of necessity or chance, which is the secret meaning of the Word, which is the essence of the Word, and the condition of its utterance. This being so, and especially because he is duality, he represents both truth and falsehood, wisdom and folly. Being the unexpected, he unsettles any established idea, and therefore appears tricky. He has no conscience, being creative. If he cannot attain his ends by fair means, he does it by foul. The legends of the youthful Mercury are therefore legends of cunning. He cannot be understood, because he is the Unconscious Will. His position on the Tree of Life shows the third Sephira, Binah, Understanding, as not yet formulated; still less the false Sephira, Da’ath, knowledge.

From the above it will appear that this card is the second emanation from the Crown, and therefore, in a sense, the adult form of the first emanation, the Fool, whose letter is Aleph, the Unity. These ideas are so subtle and so tenuous, on these exalted planes of thought, that definition is impossible. It is not even desirable, because it is the nature of these ideas to flow one into the other. One cannot do more than say that any given hieroglyph represents a slight insistence upon some particular form of a pantomorphous idea. In this card, the emphasis is upon the creative and dualistic character of the path of Beth.

In the traditional card the disguise is that of a Juggler.

This representation of the Juggler is one of the crudest and least satisfactory in the medieval pack. He is usually represented with a headdress shaped like the sign of infinity in mathematics (this is shown in detail in the card called the Two of Disks). He bears a wand with a knob at each end, which was probably connected with the dual polarity of electricity; but it is also the hollow wand of Prometheus that brings down fire from Heaven. On a table or altar, behind which he is standing, are the three other elemental weapons.

“With the Wand createth He.
With the Cup preserveth He.
With the Dagger destroyeth He.
With the Coin redeemeth He.”
Liber Magi vv. 7-10.”

The present card has been designed principally upon the Graeco-Egyptian tradition; for the understanding of this idea was certainly further advanced when these philosophies modified each other, than elsewhere at any time.

The Hindu conception of Mercury, Hanuman, the monkey god, is abominably degraded. None of the higher aspects of the symbol are found in his cult. The aim of his adepts seems principally to have been the production of a temporary incarnation of the god by sending the women of the tribe every year into the jungle. Nor do we find any legend of any depth or spirituality. Hanuman is certainly little more than the Ape of Thoth.

The principal characteristic of Tahuti or Thoth, the Egyptian Mercury, is, firstly, that he has the head of the ibis. The ibis is the symbol of concentration, because it was supposed that this bird stood continuously upon one leg, motionless. This is quite evidently a symbol of the meditative spirit. There may also have been some reference to the central mystery of the Aeon of Osiris, the secret guarded so carefully from the profane, that the intervention of the male was necessary to the production of children. In this form of Thoth, he is seen bearing the phoenix wand, symbolizing resurrection through the generative process. In his left hand is the Ankh, which represents a sandal-strap; that is to say, the means of progress through the worlds, which is the distinguishing mark of godhead. But, by its shape, this Ankh (crux ansata) is actually another form of the Rose and Cross, and this fact is perhaps not quite such an accident as modern Egyptologists, preoccupied with their attempted refutation of the Phallic school of Archaeology, would have us suppose.

The other form of Thoth represents him primarily as Wisdom and the Word. He bears in his right hand the Style, in his left the Papyrus. He is the messenger of the gods; he transmits their will by hieroglyphs intelligible to the initiate, and records their acts; but it was seen from very early times that the use of speech, or writing, meant the introduction of ambiguity at the best, and falsehood at the worst; they therefore represented Thoth as followed by an ape, the cynocephalus, whose business was to distort the Word of the god; to mock, to simulate and to deceive. In philosophical language one may say: Manifestation implies illusion. This doctrine is found in Hindu philosophy, where the aspect of Tahuti of which we are speaking is called Mayan. This doctrine is also found in the central and typical image of the Mahayana school of Buddhism (really identical with the doctrine of Shiva and Shakti). A vision of this image will be found in the document entitled “The Lord of Illusion” .

The present card endeavours to represent all the above conceptions. Yet no true image is possible at all; for, firstly, all images are necessarily false as such; and, secondly, the motion being perpetual, and its rate that of the limit, c, the rate of Light, any stasis contradicts the idea of the card: this picture is, therefore, hardly more than mnemonic jottings. Many of the ideas expressed in the design are well expounded in the extracts from The Paris Working.

[From The Paris Working.]
Here follows a very full description of the nature of Mercury in several aspects, particularly his relation with Jupiter and the Sun:

“In the Beginning was the Word, the Logos, who is Mercury; and is therefore to be identified with Christ. Both are messengers; their birth mysteries are similar; the pranks of their childhood are similar. In the Vision of the Universal Mercury, Hermes is seen descending upon the sea, which refers to Mary. [The path of Beth on the Tree of Life shows him descending from Kether, the Crown, upon Binah, the Great Sea.]The Crucifixion represents the Caduceus; the two thieves, the two serpents; the cliff in the vision of the Universal Mercury is Golgotha; Maria is simply Maia with the solar R in her womb. The controversy about Christ between the Synoptics and John was really a contention between the priests of Bacchus, Sol, and Osiris; also, perhaps, of Adonis and Attis on the one hand, and those of Hermes on the other, at that period when initiates all over the world found it necessary, owing to the growth of the Roman Empire and the opening up of means of communication, to replace conflicting Polytheisms by a synthetic Faith.”

“To continue the identification, compare Christ’s descent into hell with the function of Hermes as guide of the dead. Also Hermes leading up Eurydice, and Christ raising up Jairus’ daughter. Christ is said to have risen on the third day, because it takes three days for the Planet Mercury to become visible after separating from the orb of the sun. (It may be noted here that Mercury and Venus are the planets between us and the sun, as if the Mother and the Son were mediators between us and the Father.)

Note Christ as the Healer, and also his own expression: “The Son of Man cometh as a thief in the night.” Also this scripture (Matthew xxiv, 24-7):

“For as the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Note also Christ’s relations with the money-changers, his frequent parables, and the fact that his first disciple was a publican, i.e., tax-collector.

Note also Mercury as the deliverer of Prometheus.

One half of the Fish symbol is also common to Christ and Mercury; fish are sacred to Mercury (owing presumably to their quality of movement and cold-bloodedness). Many of Christ’s disciples were fishermen, and he was always doing miracles in connection with fish.

Note also Christ as the mediator:

“No man cometh unto the Father but by me”, and Mercury as Chokmah “through whom alone we can approach Kether.”

“The Caduceus contains a complete symbol of the Gnosis. The winged sun or phallus represents the joy of life on all planes from the lowest to the highest. The serpents (besides being Active and Passive, Horns and Osiris, and all their other well-known attributions) are those qualities of Eagle and Lion respectively, of which we know, but do not speak. It is the symbol which unites the Microcosm and the Macrocosm, the symbol of the Magical operation that accomplishes this. The Caduceus is Life itself, and is of universal application. It is the universal solvent.”

“I see it all now; the virile force of Mars is far beneath him. All the other gods are merely aspects of Jupiter formulated by Hermes. He is the first of the Aeons.”

“The sense of humour of this god is very strong. He is not sentimental about his principal function; he regards the Universe as an excellent practical joke; yet he recognizes that Jupiter is serious, and the Universe is serious, although he laughs at them for being serious. His sole business is to transmit the force from Jupiter, and is concerned with nothing else. The message is Life, but in Jupiter the life is latent.”

“With regard to Reincarnation, the heliocentric theory is right. As we conquer the conditions of a planet, we incarnate upon the next planet inwards; until we return to the Father of All, when our experiences link together, become intelligible, and star speaks to star. Terra is the last planet where bodies are made of earth; in Venus they are fluid; on Mercury aerial; while in the Sun they are fashioned of pure fire.”

[”In the Suns we remember; in the Planets we forget.” - Eliphaz Levi.]

“I now see the eightfold star of Mercury suddenly blazing out; it is composed of four fleurs-de-lys with rays like anthers, bulrushes in shape between them. The central core has the cypher of the Grand Master, but not the one you know. Upon the cross are the Dove, the Hawk, the Serpent and the Lion. Also, one symbol yet more secret. Now I behold fiery swords of light. All this is upon a Cosmic scale. All the distances are astronomical. When I say “Sword”, I have a definite consciousness of a weapon many millions of miles in length”.

[Extract from Liber CDXVIII The Vision and the Voice: 3rd Aethyr (Ed. Princ. p.144.)]

It is the figure of the Magus of the Taro; in his right arm the torch of the flames blazing upwards; in his left, the cup of poison, a cataract into Hell. And upon his head the evil talisman, blasphemy and blasphemy and blasphemy, in the form of a circle. That is the greatest blasphemy of all (i.e., that the circle should be thus profaned. This evil circle is of three concentric rings). On his feet hath he scythes and swords and sickles; daggers; knives; every sharp thing-a millionfold, and all in one. And before him is the Table that is a Table of wickedness, the forty-two-fold Table.


This Table is connected with the forty-two Assessors of the Dead, for they are the Accusers, whom the soul must baffle; and with the forty-two-fold name of God, for this is the Mystery of Iniquity, that there was ever a beginning at all. And this Magus casteth forth, by the might of his four weapons, veil after veil; a thousand shining colours, ripping and tearing the Aethyr; so that it is like jagged saws, or like broken teeth in the face of a young girl, or like disruption, or madness. There is a horrible grinding sound, maddening. This is the mill in which the Universal Substance, which is ether, was ground down into matter.

A voice says:

“Behold the brilliance of the Lord, whose feet are set upon him that pardoneth transgression. Behold the six-fold Star that flameth in the Vault, the seal of the marriage of the great White King and his black slave.”

So I looked into the Stone, and beheld the sixfold Star: the whole Aethyr is as tawny clouds, like the flame of a furnace. And there is a mighty host of Angels, blue and golden, that throng it, and they cry: Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, that art not shaken in the earthquakes, and in the thunders! The end of things is come upon us; the day of Be-with-us is at hand! For he hath created the Universe, and overthrown it, that he might take his pleasure thereupon.

And now, in the midst of the Aethyr, I behold that god. He hath a thousand arms, and in each hand is a weapon of terrible strength. His face is more terrible than the storm, and from his eyes flash lightnings of intolerable brilliance. From his mouth run seas of blood. Upon his head is a crown of every deadly thing. Upon his forehead is the upright Tau, and on either side of it are signs of blasphemy. And about him clingeth a young girl, like unto the King’s daughter that appeared in the ninth Aethyr. But she is become rosy by reason of his force, and her purity hath tinged his black with blue.

They are clasped in a furious embrace, so that she is torn asunder by the terror of the god; yet so tightly clingeth she about him, that he is strangled. She hath forced back his head, and his throat is livid with the pressure of her fingers. Their joint cry is an intolerable anguish; yet it is the cry of their rapture, so that every pain, and every curse, and every bereavement, and every death of everything in the whole universe, is but one little gust of wind in that tempest-scream of ecstasy. [This image is to be found painted (usually on silk, and repeated in varying forms, often representing the planets, about its central glory) upon the sacred Banners which adorn the shrines of Tibet].

And an Angel speaks:

“Behold, this vision is utterly beyond thine understanding. Yet shalt thou endeavour to unite thyself with the dreadful marriage-bed.”

So I am torn asunder, nerve from nerve and vein from vein, and more intimately--- cell from cell, molecule from molecule, and atom from atom, and at the same time all crushed together. (Write down that the tearing asunder is a crushing together.) All the double phenomena are only two ways of looking at a single phenomenon; and the single phenomenon is Peace. There is no sense in my words or in my thoughts. “Faces half-formed arose.” This is the meaning of that passage; they are attempts to interpret Chaos. But Chaos is Peace Cosmos is the War of the Rose and the Cross. That was a “half- formed face” that I said then. All images are useless.

Yea, as in a looking-glass, so in thy mind, that is backed with the false metal of lying, is every symbol read averse. Lo! everything wherein thou hast trusted must confound thee, and that thou didst flee from was thy saviour. So therefore didst thou shriek in the Black Sabbath when thou didst kiss the hairy buttocks of the goat, when the gnarled god tore thee asunder, when the icy cataract of death swept thee away.

Shriek, therefore, shriek aloud; mingle the roar of the gored lion and the moan of the torn bull, and the cry of the man that is torn by the claws of the Eagle, and the scream of the Eagle that is strangled by the hands of the Man. Mingle all these in the death-shriek of the Sphinx, for the blind man hath profaned her mystery. Who is this, Oedipus, Tiresias, Erinyes? Who is this, that is blind and a seer, a fool above wisdom? Whom do the hounds of heaven follow, and the crocodiles of hell await?

Aleph, Vau, Yod, Ayin, Resh, Tau, is his name. [These are the Paths forming a Current 1-2-6-8-9-10 on the Tree of Life].
Beneath his feet is the Kingdom, and upon his head the Crown. He is spirit and matter; he is peace and power; in him is Chaos and Night and Pan; and upon BABALON his concubine, that hath made him drunk upon the blood of the saints that she hath gathered in her golden cup, hath he begotten the virgin that now he doth deflower. And this is that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah. And this is the stone of the philosophers that is set as a seal upon the Tomb of Tetragrammaton, and the elixir of life that is distilled from the blood of the saints, and the red powder that is the grinding-up of the bones of Choronzon.

Terrible and wonderful is the Mystery thereof, O thou Titan that hast climbed into the bed of Juno! Surely thou art bound unto, and broken upon, the wheel; yet hast thou uncovered the nakedness of the Holy One, and the Queen of Heaven is in travail of child, and his name shall be called Vir, and Vis, and Virus, and Virtus, and Viridis, in one name that is all these, and above all these. [Vi Veri Vniversum Vivus Vici, the motto of the Master Therion as an 8=3]

* * *

The following excerpt from Liber Aleph, the Book of Wisdom or Folly, may also help to elucidate the meaning of this card.

“Tahuti, or Thoth, confirmed the Word of Dionysus by continuing it; for He shewed how by the Mind it was possible to direct the Operations of the Will. By Criticism and by recorded Memory Man avoideth Error, and the Repetition of Error. But the true Word of Tahuti was A M O U N, whereby He made Men to understand their secret Nature, that is, their unity with their True Selves, or, as they then phrased it, with God. And he discovered unto them the Way of this Attainment, and its relation with the Formula of INRI. Also by his Mystery of Number he made plain the Path for His Successor to declare the Nature of the whole Universe in its Form and in its Structure, as it were an Analysis thereof, doing for Matter what the Buddha was decreed to do for Mind.”

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This card is referred to the letter Gimel, which means a Camel. (The symbolism of the Camel is explained later.)

The card refers to the Moon. The Moon (being the general feminine symbol, the symbol of the second order corresponding to the Sun as the Yoni does to the Lingam) is universal, and goes from the highest to the lowest. It is a symbol which will recur frequently in these hieroglyphs. But in the earlier Trumps the concern is with Nature above the Abyss; the High Priestess is the first card which connects the Supernal Triad with the Hexad; and her path, as shown in the diagram, makes a direct connection between the Father in his highest aspect, and the Son in his most perfect manifestation. This path is in exact balance in the middle pillar. There is here, therefore, the purest and most exalted conception of the Moon. (At the other end of the scale is Atu xviii, q.v.)

The card represents the most spiritual form of Isis the Eternal Virgin; the Artemis of the Greeks. She is clothed only in the luminous veil of light. It is important for high initiation to regard Light not as the perfect manifestation of the Eternal Spirit, but rather as the veil which hides that Spirit It does so all the more effectively because of its incomparably dazzling brilliance.


[The tradition of the best schools of Hindu mysticism has a precise parallelism. The final obstacle to full Enlightenment is exactly this Vision of Formless Effulgence].


Thus she is light and the body of light. She is the truth behind the veil of light. She is the soul of light. Upon her knees is the bow of Artemis, which is also a musical instrument, for she is huntress, and hunts by enchantment.

Now, regard this idea as from behind the Veil of Light, the third Veil of the original Nothing. This light is the menstruum of manifestation, the goddess Nuith, the possibility of Form. This first and most spiritual manifestation of the feminine takes to itself a masculine correlative, by formulating in itself any geometrical point from which to contemplate possibility. This virginal goddess is then potentially the goddess of fertility. She is the idea behind all form; as soon as the influence of the triad descends below the Abyss, there is the completion of concrete idea.

The following chapter of the Book of Lies (falsely so-called), may assist the student to understand this doctrine by dint of meditation:

In the Wind of the mind arises the turbulence called I.
It breaks; down shower the barren thoughts.
All life is choked.
This desert is the Abyss wherein is the Universe.
The Stars are but thistles in that waste.
Yet this desert is but one spot accurséd in a world of bliss. Now and again Travellers cross the desert; they come from the Great Sea, and to the Great Sea they go.
And as they go they spill water; one day they will irrigate the desert, till it flower.
See! Five footprints of a Camel! V.V.V.V.V.
(For the classical description of the Abyss, the student should consult Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, especially the Tenth Aethyr The Equinox, Vol. I, No.5, Supplement.)

At the bottom of the card, accordingly, are shown nascent forms, whorls, crystals, seeds, pods, symbolising the beginnings of life. In the midst is the Camel which is mentioned in the chapter quoted above. In this card is the one link between the archetypal and formative worlds.

Thus far concerning this path, considered as issuing downwards from the Crown; but to the aspirant, that is, to the adept who is already in Tiphareth, to him who has attained to the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, this is the path which leads upwards; and this card, in one system entitled the Priestess of the Silver Star, is symbolic of the thought (or rather of the intelligible radiance) of that Angel. It is, in short, a symbol of the highest Initiation. Now it is a condition of Initiation that its keys are to be communicated by those who possess them to all true aspirants. This card is thus very peculiarly a glyph of the work of the A.’.A.’.

Some idea of the formula is given in this other chapter of the Book of Lies:

The Brothers of A.’.A.’. are one with the Mother of the Child.
The Many is as adorable to the One as the One is to the Many. This is the Love of These; creation-parturition is the Bliss of the One; coition-dissolution is the Bliss of the Many.
The All, thus interwoven of These, is Bliss.
Naught is beyond Bliss.
The Man delights in uniting with the Woman; the Woman in parting from the Child.
The Brothers of A.’.A.’. are Women; the Aspirants to A.’.A.’. are Men.

It is important to reflect that this card is wholly feminine, wholly virginal, for it represents the influence and the means of manifestation (or, from below, of attainment) in itself. It represents possibility in its second stage without any beginning of consummation.


It is especially to be observed that the three consecutive letters, Gimel, Daleth, He’ (Atu II, III, XVII) show the Feminine Symbol (Yin) in three forms composing a Triune Goddess. This Trinity is immediately followed by the three corresponding and complementary Fathers, Vau, Tzaddi, Yod (Atu IV, V, IX). The Trumps 0 and I are hermaphrodite. The remaining fourteen Trumps represent these Primordial Quintessences of Being in conjunction, function, or manifestation.


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This card is attributed to the letter Daleth, which means a door, and it refers to the planet Venus. This card is, on the face of it, the complement of The Emperor; but her attributions are much more universal.

On the Tree of Life, Daleth is the path leading from Chokmah to Binah, uniting the Father with the Mother. Daleth is one of the three paths which are altogether above the Abyss. There is further more the alchemical symbol of Venus, the only one of the planetary symbols which comprises all the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life. The doctrine implied is that the fundamental formula of the Universe is Love. [The circle touches the Sephiroth I, 2, 4, 6, 5, 3; the Cross is formed by 6, 9, 10 and 7, 8.]
It is impossible to summarize the meanings of the symbol of the Woman, for this very reason, that she continually recurs in infinitely varied form. “Many-throned, many-minded, many-wiled, daughter of Zeus.”

In this card, she is shown in her most general manifestation. She combines the highest spiritual with the lowest material qualities. For this reason, she is fitted to represent one of the three alchemical forms of energy, Salt. Salt is the inactive principle of Nature; Salt is matter which must be energized by Sulphur to maintain the whirling equilibrium of the Universe. The arms and torso of the figure consequently suggest the shape of the alchemical symbol of Salt. She represents a woman with the imperial crown and vestments, seated upon a throne, whose uprights suggest blue twisted flames symbolic of her birth from water, the feminine, fluid element. In her right hand she bears the lotus of Isis; the lotus represents the feminine, or passive power.


Its roots are in the earth beneath the water, or in the water itself, but it opens its petals to the Sun, whose image is the belly of the chalice. It is, therefore, a living form of the Holy Grail, sanctified by the blood of the Sun. Perching upon the flamelike uprights of her throne are two of her most sacred birds, the sparrow and the dove; the nub of this symbolism must be sought in the poems of Catullus and Martial. On her robe are bees; also dominos, surrounded by continuous spiral lines; the signification is everywhere similar.

About her, for a girdle, is the Zodiac.

Beneath the throne is a floor of tapestry, embroidered with fleurs-de-lys and fishes; they seem to be adoring the Secret Rose, which is indicated at the base of the throne. The significance of these symbols has already been explained. In this card all symbols are cognate, because of the simplicity and purity of the emblem. There is here no contradiction; such opposition as there seems to be is only the opposition necessary to balance. And this is shown by the revolving moons.
The heraldry of the Empress is two-fold: on the one side, the Pelican of tradition feeding its young from the blood of its own heart; on the other, the White Eagle of the Alchemist.

With regard to the Pelican, its full symbolism is only available to Initiates of the Fifth degree of the O.T.O. In general terms, the meaning may be suggested by identifying the Pelican herself with the Great Mother and her offspring, with the Daughter in the formula of Tetragrammaton. It is because the daughter is the daughter of her mother that she can be raised to her throne. In other language, there is a continuity of life, an inheritance of blood, which binds all forms of Nature together. There is no break between light and darkness. Natura non facit saltum. If these considerations were fully understood, it would become possible to reconcile the Quantum theory with the Electro-magnetic equations.

The White Eagle in this trump corresponds to the Red Eagle in the Consort card, the Emperor. It is here necessary to work back wards. For in these highest cards are the symbols of perfection; both the initial perfection of Nature and the final perfection of Art; not only Isis, but Nephthys. Consequently, the details of the work pertain to subsequent cards, especially Atu vi and Atu xiv.

At the back of the card is the Arch or Door, which is the interpretation of the letter Daleth. This card, summed up, may be called the Gate of Heaven. But, because of the beauty of the symbol, because of its omniform presentation, the student who is dazzled by any given manifestation may be led astray. In no other card is it so necessary to disregard the parts, to concentrate upon the whole.


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This card is attributed to the letter Tzaddi, and it refers to the sign of Aries in the Zodiac. This sign is ruled by Mars, and therein the Sun is exalted. The sign is thus a combination of energy in its most material form with the idea of authority. The sign TZ or TS implies this in the original, onomatopoetic form of language. It is derived from Sanskrit roots meaning Head and Age, and is found to-day in words like Cæsar, Tsar, Sirdar, Senate, Senior, Signor, Sefior, Seigneur.

The card represents a crowned male figure, with imperial vestments and regalia. He is seated upon the throne whose capitals are the heads of the Himalayan wild ram, since Aries means a Ram. At his feet, couchant, is the Lamb and Flag, to confirm this attribution on the lower plane; for the ram, by nature, is a wild and courageous animal, lonely in lonely places, whereas when tamed and made to lie down in green pastures, nothing is left but the docile, cowardly, gregarious and succulent beast. This is the theory of government.

The Emperor is also one of the more important alchemical cards; with Atu II and III, he makes up the triad: Sulphur, Mercury, Salt. His arms and head form an upright triangle; below, crossed legs represent the Cross. This figure is the alchemical symbol of Sulphur (see Atu X). Sulphur is the male fiery energy of the Universe, the Rajas of Hindu philosophy. This is the swift creative energy, the initiative of all Being. The power of the Emperor is a generalization of the paternal power; hence such symbols as the Bee and the Fleur-de-lys, which are shown on this card. With regard to the quality of this power, it must be noted that it represents sudden, violent, but impermanent activity. If it persists too long, it burns and destroys. Distinguish from the Creative Energy of Aleph and Beth: this card is below the Abyss.

The Emperor bears a sceptre (surmounted by a ram’s head for the reasons given above) and an orb surmounted by a Maltese cross, which signifies that his energy has reached a successful issue, that his government has been established.
There is one further symbol of importance. His shield represents the two-headed eagle crowned with a crimson disk. This represents the red tincture of the alchemist, of the nature of gold, as the white eagle shown in Atu III pertains to his consort, the Empress, and is lunar, of silver.

It is finally to be observed that the white light which descends upon him indicates the position of this card in the Tree of Life. His authority is derived from Chokmah, the creative Wisdom, the Word, and is exerted upon Tiphareth, the organized man.


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This card is referred to the letter Vau, which means a Nail; of this instrument nine appear at the top of the card; they serve to fix the oriel behind the main figure of the picture.

The card is referred to Taurus; therefore the Throne of the Hierophant is surrounded by elephants, which are of the nature of Taurus; and he is actually seated upon a bull. Around him are the four beasts or Kerubs, one in each corner of the card; for these are the guardians of every shrine. But the main reference is to the particular arcanum which is the principal business, the essential, of all magical work; the uniting of the microcosm with the macrocosm.

Accordingly, the oriel is diaphanous; before the Manifestor of the Mystery is a hexagram representing the macrocosm. In its centre is a pentagram, representing a dancing male child. This symbolizes the law of the new Aeon of the Child Horns, which has supplanted that Aeon of the “Dying God” which governed the world for two thousand years. Before him is the woman girt with a sword; she represents the Scarlet Woman in the hierarchy of the new Aeon. This symbolism is further carried out in the oriel where, behind the phallic headdress, the rose of five petals is in blossom.

The symbolism of the snake and dove refers to this verse of the Book of the Law--- chap. I, verse 57:

“there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent”.

This symbol recurs in the trump numbered XVI.

The background of the whole card is the dark blue of the starry night of Nuit, from whose womb all phenomena are born.
Taurus, the sign of the Zodiac represented by this card, is itself the Bull Kerub; that is, Earth in its strongest and most balanced form.

The ruler of this sign is Venus; she is represented by the woman standing before the hierophant.

Chapter III of the Book of the Law, verse xi, reads:

“Let the woman be girt with a sword before me.”

This woman represents Venus as she now is in this new aeon; no longer the mere vehicle of her male counterpart, but armed and militant. In this sign the Moon is “exalted”; her influence is represented not only by the woman, but by the nine nails.
It is impossible at the present time to explain this card thoroughly, for only the course of events can show how the new current of initiation will work out.

It is the aeon of Horus, of the Child. Though the face of the Hierophant appears benignant and smiling, and the child himself seems glad with wanton innocence, it is hard to deny that in the expression of the initiator is something mysterious, even sinister. He seems to be enjoying a very secret joke at somebody’s expense. There is a distinctly sadistic aspect to this card; not unnaturally, since it derives from the Legend of Pasiphae, the prototype of all the legends of Bull-gods. These still persist in such religions as Shaivism, and (after multiple degradations) in Christianity itself.

The symbolism of the Wand is peculiar; the three interlaced rings which crown it may be taken as representative of the three Aeons of Isis, Osiris and Horus with their interlocking magical formulae. The upper ring is marked with scarlet for Horus; the two lower rings with green for Isis, and pale yellow for Osiris, respectively.

All these are based upon deep indigo, the colour of Saturn, the Lord of Time. For the rhythm of the Hierophant is such that he moves only at intervals of 2,000 years.


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This card and its twin, XIV, Art, are the most obscure and difficult of the Atu. Each of these symbols is in itself double, so that the meanings form a divergent series, and the integration of the Card can only be regained by repeated marriages, identifications, and some form of Hermaphroditism.

Yet the attribution is the essence of simplicity. Atu VI refers to Gemini, ruled by Mercury. It means The Twins. The Hebrew letter corresponding is Zain, which means a Sword, and the framework of the card is therefore the Arch of Swords, beneath which the Royal Marriage takes place.

The Sword is primarily an engine of division. In the intellectual world-which is the world of the Sword suit-it represents analysis. This card and Atu XIV together compose the comprehensive alchemical maxim: Solve et coagula.

This card is consequently one of the most fundamental cards in the Tarot. It is the first card in which more than one figure appears. [The Ape of Thoth in Atu I is only a shadow.] In its original form, it was the story of Creation.

Here is appended, for its historical interest, the description of this card in its primitive form from Liber 418.

“There is an Assyrian legend of a woman with a fish, and also there is a legend of Eve and the Serpent, for Cain was the child of Eve and the Serpent, and not of Eve and Adam; and therefore when he had slain his brother, who was the first murderer, having sacrificed living things to his demon, had Cain the mark upon his brow, which is the mark of the Beast spoken of in the Apocalypse, and is the sign of Initiation.

“The shedding of blood is necessary, for God did not hear the children of Eve until blood was shed. And that is external religion; but Cain spake not with God, nor had the mark of initiation upon his brow, so that he was shunned of all men, until he had shed blood. And this blood was the blood of his brother. This is a mystery of the sixth key of the Tarot, which ought not to be called The Lovers, but The Brothers.


“In the middle of the card stands Cain; in his right hand is the Hammer of Thor with which he hath slain his brother, and it is all wet with his blood. And his left hand he holdeth open as a sign of innocence. On his right hand is his mother Eve, around whom the serpent is entwined with his hood spread behind her head; and on his left hand is a figure somewhat like the Hindoo Kali, but much more seductive. Yet I know it to be Lilith. And above him is the Great Sigil of the Arrow, downward, but it is struck through the heart of the child. This child also is Abel. And the meaning of this part of the card is obscure, but that is the correct drawing of the Tarot card; and that is the correct magical fable from which the Hebrew scribes, who were not complete Initiates, stole their legend of the Fall and the subsequent events.”

It is very significant that almost every sentence in this passage seems to reverse the meaning of the previous one. This is because reaction is always equal and opposite to action. This equation is, or should be, simultaneous in the intellectual world, where there is no great time lag; the formulation of any idea creates its contradictory at almost the same moment. The contradictory of any proposition is implicit in itself. This is necessary to preserve the equilibrium of the Universe. The theory has been explained in the essay on Atu I, the Juggler, but must now be again emphasized in order to interpret this card.

The key is that the Card represents the Creation of the World. The Hierarchs held this secret as of transcendant importance. Consequently, the Initiates who issued the Tarot, for use during the Aeon of Osiris, superseded the original card above described in “The Vision and the Voice”. They were concerned to create a new Universe of their own; they were the fathers of Science. Their methods of working, grouped under the generic term Alchemy, have never been made public. The interesting point is that all developments of modern science in the last fifty years have given intelligent and instructed people the opportunity of reflecting that the whole trend of science has been to return to alchemical aims and (mutatis mutandis) methods. The secrecy observed by the alchemists was made necessary by the power of persecuting Churches. Bitterly as bigots fought among themselves, they were all equally concerned to destroy the infant Science, which, as they instinctively recognized, would put an end to the ignorance and faith on which their power and wealth depended.

The subject of this card is Analysis, followed by Synthesis. The first question asked by science is: “Of what are things composed? “This having been answered, the next question is: “How shall we recombine them to our greater advantage?” This resumes the whole policy of the Tarot.

The hooded figure which occupies the centre of the Card is another form of The Hermit, who is further explained in Atu IX. He is himself a form of the god Mercury, described in Atu I; he is closely shrouded, as if to signify that the ultimate reason of things lies in a realm beyond manifestation and intellect. (As elsewhere explained, only two operations are ultimately possible---analysis and synthesis). He is standing in the Sign of the Enterer, as if projecting the mysterious forces of creation. About his arms is a scroll, indicative of the Word which is alike his essence and his message.


But the Sign of the Enterer is also the Sign of Benediction and of Consecration; thus his action in this card is the Celebration of the Hermetic Marriage. Behind him are the figures of Eve, Lilith and Cupid. This symbolism has been incorporated in order to preserve in some measure the original form of the card, and to show its derivation, its heirship, its continuity with the past. On the quiver of Cupid is inscribed the word Thelema, which is the Word of the Law. (See Liber AL, chap. I, verse 39.) His shafts are quanta of Will. It is thus shown that this fundamental formula of magical working, analysis and synthesis, persists through the Aeons.

One may now consider the Hermetic Marriage itself.

This part of the Card has been simplified from “the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreutz”, a masterpiece too lengthy and diffuse to quote usefully in this place. But the essence of the analysis is the continuous see-saw of contradictory ideas. It is a glyph of duality. The Royal persons concerned are the Black or Moorish King with a golden crown, and the White Queen with a silver crown. He is accompanied by the Red Lion, and she by the White Eagle. These are symbols of the male and female principles in Nature; they are therefore equally, in various stages of manifestation, Sun and Moon, Fire and Water, Air and Earth. In chemistry they appear as acid and alkali, or (more deeply) metals and non-metals, taking those words in their widest philosophical sense to include hydrogen on the one hand and oxygen on the other. In this aspect, the hooded figure represents the Protean element of carbon, the seed of all organic life.

The symbolism of male and female is carried on still further by the weapons of the King and Queen; he bears the Sacred Lance, and she the Holy Grail; their other hands are joined, as consenting to the Marriage. Their weapons are supported by twin children, whose positions are counterchanged; for the white child not only holds the Cup, but carries roses, while the black child, holding his father’s Lance, carries also the club, an equivalent symbol. At the bottom of the whole is the result of the Marriage in primitive and pantomorphic form; it is the winged Orphic egg. This egg represents the essence of all that life which comes under this formula of male and female.


It carries on the symbolism of the Serpents with which the King’s robe is embroidered, and of the Bees which adorn the mantle of the Queen. The egg is grey, mingling white and black; thus it signifies the co-operation of the three Supernals of the Tree of Life. The colour of the Serpent is purple, Mercury in the scale of the Queen. It is the influence of that God manifested in Nature, whereas the wings are tinged with crimson, the colour (in the King scale) of Binah the great Mother. In this symbol is therefore a complete glyph of the equilibrium necessary to begin the Great Work. But, as to the final mystery, that is left unsolved. Perfect is the plan to produce life, but the nature of this life is concealed. It is capable of taking any possible form; but what form? That is dependent upon the influences attendant on gestation.

The figure in the air presents some difficulty. The traditional interpretation of the figure is that he is Cupid; and it is not at first clear what Cupid has to do with Gemini. No light is thrown upon this point by consideration of the position of the path upon the Tree of Life, for Gemini leads from Binah to Tiphareth. There accordingly arises the whole question of Cupid. Roman gods usually represent a more material aspect of the Greek gods from whom they are derived; in this case, Eros. Eros is the son of Aphrodite, and tradition varies as to whether his father was Ares, Zeus or Hermes---that is, Mars, Jupiter or Mercury.


His appearance in this card suggests that Hermes is the true sire; and this view is confirmed by the fact that it is not altogether easy to distinguish him from the child Mercury, for they have in common wantonness) irresponsibility, and the love of playing tricks. But in this image are peculiar characteristics. He carries a bow and arrows in a golden quiver. (He is sometimes represented with a torch.) He has golden wings, and is blindfolded. From this, it may appear that he represents the intelligent (and, at the same time, unconscious) will of the soul to unite itself with all and sundry, as has been explained in the general formula with regard to the agony of separateness.

No very special importance is attached to Cupid in alchemical figures. Yet, in one sense, he is the source of all action; the libido to express Zero as Two. From another point of view, he may be regarded as the intellectual aspect of the influence of Binah upon Tiphareth, for (in one tradition) the title of the card is “The Children of the Voice, the Oracle of the Mighty Gods”. From this point of view, he is a symbol of inspiration, descending upon the hooded figure, who is, in this instance, a prophet operating the conjunction of the King and Queen. His arrow represents the spiritual intelligence necessary in alchemical operations, rather than the mere hunger to perform them. On the other hand, the arrow is peculiarly a symbol of direction, and it is, therefore, proper to put the word “Thelema” in Greek letters on the quiver. It is also to be observed that the opposite card, Sagittarius, means the Bearer of the Arrow, or Archer, a figure who does not appear in any form in Atu XIV. These two cards are so complementary that they cannot be studied separately, for full interpretation.


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Atu VII refers to the zodiacal sign of Cancer, the sign into which the Sun moves at the Summer Solstice.


[Note that Cheth - Cheth 8-Yod 10-Tau 400-has the value of 418. This is one of the most important of the key numbers of Liber AL. It is the number of the word of the Aeon, ABRAHADABRA, the cypher of the Great Work. (See The Equinox of the Gods, p.138. Also The Temple of Solomon the King.) On this word alone a complete volume could, and should, be written.]

Cancer is the cardinal sign of the element of Water, [Hence St. John Baptist’s Day, and the various ceremonials connected with water.] and represents the first keen onrush of that element. Cancer also represents the path which leads from the great Mother Binah to Geburah, and is thus the influence of the Supernals descending through the Veil of Water (which is blood) upon the energy of man, and so inspires it. It corresponds, in this way, to The Hierophant, which, on the other side of the Tree of Life, brings down the fire of Chokmah.

The design of this present card has been much influenced by the Trump portrayed by Eliphaz Levi.

The canopy of the Chariot is the night-sky-blue of Binah. The pillars are the four pillars of ?he Universe, the regimen of Tetragrammaton. The scarlet wheels represent the original energy of Geburah which causes the revolving motion.
This chariot is drawn by four sphinxes composed of the four Kerubs, the Bull, the Lion, the Eagle and the Man. In each sphinx these elements are counter-changed; thus the whole represents the sixteen sub-elements.
The Charioteer is clothed in the amber-coloured armour appropriate to the sign. He is throned in the chariot rather than con ducting it, because the whole system of progression is perfectly balanced. His only function is to bear the Holy Grail.

Upon his armour are ten Stars of Assiah, the inheritance of celestial dew from his mother.

He bears as a crest the Crab appropriate to the sign. The vizor of his helmet is lowered, for no man may look upon his face and live. For the same reason, no part of his body is exposed.

Cancer is the house of the Moon; there are thus certain analogies between this card and that of the High Priestess. But, also, Jupiter is exalted in Cancer, and here one recalls the card called Fortune (Atu X) attributed to Jupiter.

The central and most important feature of the card is its centre - the Holy Grail. It is of pure amethyst, of the colour of Jupiter, but its shape suggests the full moon and the Great Sea of Binah. In the centre is radiant blood; the spiritual life is inferred; light in the darkness. These rays, moreover, revolve, emphasizing the Jupiterian element in the symbol.


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This card in the old pack was called Justice. This word has none but a purely human and therefore relative sense; so it is not to be considered as one of the facts of Nature. Nature is not just, according to any theological or ethical idea; but Nature is exact.

This card represents the sign of Libra, ruled by Venus; in it Saturn is exalted. The equilibrium of all things is hereby symbolized. It is the final adjustment in the formula of Tetragrammaton, when the daughter, redeemed by her marriage with the Son, is thereby set up on the throne of the mother; thus, finally, she “awakens the Eld of the All-Father.”

In the greatest symbolism of all, however, the symbolism beyond all planetary and Zodiacal considerations, this card is the feminine complement of the Fool, for the letters Aleph Lamed constitute the secret key of the Book of the Law, and this is the basis of a complete qabalistic system of greater depth and sublimity than any other. The details of this system have not yet been revealed. It has been thought right, nevertheless, to hint at its existence by equating the designs of these two cards. Not only therefore, because Libra is a sign of Venus, but because she is the partner of the Fool, is the Goddess represented as dancing, with the suggestion of Harlequin.

The figure is that of a young and slender woman poised exactly upon toetip. She is crowned with the ostrich plumes of Maat, the Egyptian goddess of Justice, and on her forehead is the Uraeus serpent, Lord of Life and Death. She is masked, and her expression shows her secret intimate satisfaction in her domination of every element of dis-equilibrium in the Universe. This condition is symbolized by the Magic Sword which she holds in both hands, and the balances or spheres in which she weighs the Universe, Alpha the First balanced exactly against Omega the Last. These are the Judex and Testes of Final Judgment; the Testes, in particular, are symbolic of the secret course of judgment whereby all current experience is absorbed, transmuted, and ultimately passed on, by virtue of the operation of the Sword, to further manifestation. This all takes place within the diamond formed by the figure which is the concealed Vesica Piscis through which this sublimated and adjusted experience passes to its next manifestation.

She poises herself before a throne composed of spheres and pyramids (four in number, signifying Law and Limitation) which themselves maintain the same equity that she herself manifests, though on a completely impersonal plane, in the framework within which all operations take place. Outside this again, at the corner of the card, are indicated balanced spheres of light and darkness, and constantly equilibrated rays from these spheres form a curtain, the interplay of all those forces which she sums up and adjudicates.

One must go more deeply into philosophy; the Trump represents The Woman Satisfied. Equilibrium stands apart from any individual prejudices; therefore the title, in France, should rather be Justesse. In this sense, Nature is scrupulously just. It is impossible to drop a pin without exciting a corresponding reaction in every Star. The action has disturbed the balance of the Universe.

This woman-goddess is Harlequin; she is the partner and fulfillment of The Fool. She is the ultimate illusion which is manifestation; she is the dance, many-coloured, many-wiled, of Life itself. Constantly whirling, all possibilities are enjoyed, under the phantom show of Space and Time: all things are real, the soul is the surface, precisely because they are instantly compensated by this Adjustment. All things are harmony and beauty; all things are Truth: because they cancel out.
She is the goddess Maat; she bears upon her nemyss the ostrich feathers of the Twofold Truth.

From this Crown, so delicate that the most faintest breath of thought must stir it, depend, by chains of Cause, the Scales wherein Alpha, the first, is poised in perfect equilibrium with Omega, the last. The scales of the balance are the Two Witnesses in whom shall every word be established. She is therefore to be understood as assessing the virtue of every act and demanding exact and precise satisfaction.

More than this, she is the complete formula of the Dyad; the word AL is the title of the Book of the Law, whose number is 31, the most secret of the numerical keys of that Book. She represents Manifestation, which may always be cancelled out by equilibration of opposites.

She is wrapped in a cloak of mystery, the more mysterious because diaphanous; she is the sphinx without a secret, because she is purely a matter of calculation. In Eastern philosophy she is Karma.

Her attributions develop this thesis. Venus rules the sign of the Balance; and that is to show the formula: “Love is the law, love under will”. But Saturn represents above all the element of Time, without which adjustment cannot take place, for all action and re action take place in time, and therefore, time being itself merely a condition of phenomena, all phenomena are invalid because uncompensated.

The Woman Satisfied. From the cloak of the vivid wantonness of her dancing wings issue her hands; they hold the hilt of the Phallic sword of the magician. She holds the blade between her thighs.

This is again a hieroglyph of “Love is the law, love under will”. Every form of energy must be directed, must be applied with integrity, to the full satisfaction of its destiny.


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This card is attributed to the letter Yod, which means the Hand. Hence, the hand, which is the tool or instrument par excellence, is in the centre of the picture. The letter Yod is the foundation of all the other letters of the Hebrew alphabet, which are merely combinations of it in various ways.

The letter Yod is the first letter of the name Tetragrammaton, and this symbolizes the Father, who is Wisdom; he is the highest form of Mercury, and the Logos, the Creator of all worlds. Accordingly, his representative in physical life is the spermatozoon; this is why the card is called The Hermit.

The figure of the Hermit himself recalls the shape of the letter Yod, and the colour of his cloak is the colour of Binah, in whom he gestates. In his hand he holds a Lamp whose centre is the Sun, portrayed in the likeness of the Sigil of the great King of Fire (Yod is the secret Fire). It seems that he is contemplating---in a certain sense, adoring---the Orphic egg (greenish in colour) because it is conterminous with the Universe, while the snake which surrounds it is many-coloured to signify the iridescence of Mercury. For he is not only creative, but is the fluidic essence of Light, which is the life of the Universe.

The highest symbolism of this card is, therefore, Fertility in its most exalted sense, and this is reflected in the attribution of the card to the sign of Virgo, which is another aspect of the same quality. Virgo is an earthy sign, and is referred especially to Corn, so that the background of the card is a field of wheat.

Virgo represents the lowest, most receptive, most feminine form of earth, and forms the crust over Hades. Yet not only is Virgo ruled by Mercury, but Mercury is exalted therein. Compare the Ten of Disks, and the general doctrine that the climax of the Descent into Matter is the signal for the reintegration by Spirit. It is the Formula of the Princess, the mode of fulfillment of the Great Work.

This card recalls the Legend of Persephone, and herein is a dogma. Concealed within Mercury is a light which pervades all parts of the Universe equally; one of his titles is Psychopompos, the guide of the soul through the lower regions. These symbols are indicated by his Serpent Wand, which is actually growing out of the Abyss, and is the spermatozoon developed as a poison, and manifesting the foetus. Following him is Cerberus, the three-headed Hound of Hell whom he has tamed. In this Trump is shewn the entire mystery of Life in its most secret workings. Yod Phallus Spermatozoon Hand Logos Virgin. There is perfect Identity, not merely Equivalence, of the Extremes, the Manifestation, and the Method.


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i. R.O.T.A. The Wheel

This card is attributed to the planet Jupiter, “the Greater Fortune” in astrology. It corresponds to the letter Kaph, which means the palm of the hand, in whose lines, according to another tradition, the fortune of the owner may be read. [Kaph 20 Peh 80 =100, Qoph, Pisces. The initials K Ph are those of .te.. and fa....] It would be narrow to think of Jupiter as good fortune; he represents the element of luck. The incalculable factor.

This card thus represents the Universe in its aspect as a continual change of state. Above, the firmament of stars. These appear distorted in shape, although they are balanced, some being brilliant and some dark. From them, through the firmament, issue lightnings; they churn it into a mass of blue and violet plumes. In the midst of all this is suspended a wheel of ten spokes, according to the number of the Sephiroth, and of the sphere of Malkuth, indicating governance of physical affairs.

On this wheel are three figures, the Sworded Sphinx, Hermanubis, and Typhon; they symbolize the three forms of energy which govern the movement of phenomena.

The nature of these qualities requires careful description. In the Hindu system are three Gunas - Sattvas, Rajas and Tamas. The word “Guna” is untranslatable. It is not quite an element, a quality, a form of energy, a phase, or a potential; all of these ideas enter into it. All the qualities that can be predicated of anything may be ascribed to one or more of these Gunas: Tamas is darkness, inertia, sloth, ignorance, death and the like; Rajas is energy, excitement, fire, brilliance, restlessness; Sattvas is calm, intelligence, lucidity and balance. They correspond to the three principal Hindu castes.

One of the most important aphorisms of Hindu philosophy is:

“the Gunas revolve”.

This means that, according to the doctrine of continual change, nothing can remain in any phase where one of these Gunas is predominant; however dense and dull that thing may be, a time will come when it begins to stir. The end and reward of the effort is a state of lucid quietude, which, however, tends ultimately to sink into the original inertia.

The Gunas are represented in European philosophy by the three qualities, sulphur, mercury and salt, already pictured in Atu I, III and IV. But in this card the attribution is somewhat different. The Sphinx is composed of the four Kerubs, shown in Atu V, the bull, the lion, the eagle and the man. These correspond, furthermore, to the four magical virtues, to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silence.


[These are the four elements, summed in a fifth, Spirit, to form the Pentagram; and the Magical Virtue corresponding is Ire, to go. “To go” is the token of Godhead, as explained in reference to the sandal-strap or Ankh, the Crux Ansata, which in its turn is identical with the astrological symbol of Venus, comprising the 10 Sephiroth. (See diagram)].


This Sphinx represents the element of sulphur, and is exalted, temporarily, upon the summit of the wheel. She is armed with a sword of the short Roman pattern, held upright between the paws of the lion.

Climbing up the left-hand side of the wheel is Hermanubis, who represents the alchemical Mercury. He is a composite god; but in him the simian element predominates.

On the right hand side, precipitating himself downward, is Typhon, who represents the element of salt. Yet in these figures there is also a certain degree of complexity, for Typhon was a monster of the primitive world, personifying the destructive power and fury of volcanos and typhoons. In the legend, he attempted to obtain supreme authority over both gods and men; but Zeus blasted him with a thunderbolt. He is said to be the father of stormy, hot and poisonous winds; also of the Harpies. But this card, like Atu XVI, may also be interpreted as a Unity of supreme attainment and delight. The lightnings which destroy, also beget; and the wheel may be regarded as the Eye of Shiva, whose opening annihilates the Universe, or as a wheel upon the Car of Jaganath, whose devotees attain perfection at the moment that it crushes them.

A description of this card, as it appears in The Vision and the Voice, with certain inner meanings, is given in an Appendix.

[The Vision and the Voice (4th Aethyr.)]

“There cometh a peacock into the stone, filling the whole Aire. It is like the vision called the Universal Peacock, or, rather, like a representation of that vision. And now there are countless clouds of white angels filling the Aire as the peacock dissolves.

“Now behind the angels are archangels with trumpets. These cause all things to appear at once, so that there is a tremendous con- fusion of images. And now I perceive that all these things are but veils of the wheel, for they all gather themselves into a wheel that spins with incredible velocity. It hath many colours, but all are thrilled with white light, so that they are transparent and luminous This one wheel is forty-nine wheels, set at different angles, so that they compose a sphere; each wheel has forty-nine spokes, and has forty-nine concentric tyres at equal distances from the centre. And wherever the rays from any two wheels meet, there is a blinding flash of glory. It must be understood that though so much detail is visible in the wheel, yet at the same time the impression is of a single, simple object.

“It seems that this wheel is being spun by a hand. Though the wheel fills the whole Aire, yet the hand is much bigger than the wheel. And though this vision is so great and splendid, yet there is no seriousness with it, or solemnity. It seems that the hand is spinning the wheel merely for pleasure-it would be better to say amusement.

“A voice comes: For he is a jocund and ruddy god, and his laughter is the vibration of all that exists, and the earthquakes of the soul.

“One is conscious of the whirring of the wheel thrilling one, like an electric discharge passing through one.
“Now I see the figures on the wheel, which have been interpreted as the sworded Sphinx, Hermanubis and Typhon. And that is wrong. The rim of the wheel is a vivid emerald snake; in the centre of the wheel is a scarlet heart; and, impossible to explain as it is, the scarlet of the heart and the green of the snake are yet more vivid than the blinding white brilliance of the wheel.

“The figures on the wheel are darker than the wheel itself; in fact, they are stains upon the purity of the wheel, and for that reason, and because of the whirling of the wheel, I cannot see them. But at the top seems to be the Lamb and Flag, such as one sees on some Christian medals, and one of the lower things is a wolf, and the other a raven. The Lamb and Flag symbol is much brighter than the other two. It keeps on growing brighter, until now it is brighter than the wheel itself, and occupies more space than it did.

“It speaks: I am the greatest of the deceivers, for my purity and innocence shall seduce the pure and innocent, who but for me should come to the centre of the wheel. The wolf betrayeth only the greedy and the treacherous; the raven betrayeth only the melancholy and the dishonest. But I am he of whom it is written: He shall deceive the very elect.

“For in the beginning the Father of All called for lying spirits that they might sift the creatures of the earth in three sieves, according to the three impure souls. And he chose the wolf for the lust of the flesh, and the raven for the lust of the mind; but me did lie choose above all to simulate the pure prompting of the soul. Them that are fallen a prey to the wolf and the raven I have not scathed; but them that have rejected me I have given over to the wrath of the raven and the wolf. And the jaws of the one have torn them, and the beak of the other has devoured the corpse. Therefore is my flag white, be cause I have left nothing upon the earth alive. I have feasted myself on the blood of the Saints, but I am not suspected of men to be their enemy, for my fleece is white and warm, and my teeth are not the teeth of one that teareth flesh; and mine eyes are mild, and they know me not the chief of the lying spirits that the Father of All sent forth from before his face in the beginning.
(“His attribution is salt; the wolf mercury, and the raven sulphur.)

“Now the Lamb grows small again, there is again nothing but the wheel, and the hand that whirleth it.

“And I said: ‘By the word of power, double in the voice of the Master; by the word that is seven, and one in seven; and by the great and terrible word 210, I beseech thee, O my Lord, to grant me the vision of thy Glory.’ And all the rays of the wheel stream out at me, and I am blasted and blinded with the light. I am caught up into the wheel. I am one with the wheel. I am greater than the wheel. In the midst of a myriad lightnings I stand, and I behold his face. (I am thrown violently back on to the earth every second, so that I cannot quite concentrate.)
“All one gets is a liquid flame of pale gold. But its radiant force keeps hurling me back.

“And I say: By the word and the will, by the penance and the prayer, let me behold thy face. (I cannot explain this, there is con fusion of personalities.) I who speak to you, see what I tell you; but I, who see him, cannot communicate it to me, who speak to you.

“If one could gaze upon the sun at noon, that might be like the substance of him. But the light is without heat. It is the vision of Ut in the Upanishads. And from this vision have come all the legends of Bacchus and Krishna and Adonis. For the impression is of a youth dancing and making music. But you must understand that he is not doing that, for he is still. Even the hand that turns the wheel is not his hand, but only a hand energized by him.

“And now it is the dance of Shiva. I lie beneath his feet, his saint, his victim. My form is the form of the god Phtah, in my essence, but the form of the god Seb is my form. And this is the reason of existence, that in this dance which is delight, there must be both the god and the adept. Also the earth herself is a saint; and the sun and the moon dance upon her, torturing her with delight."

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