This Trump was formerly called Strength. But it implies far more
than strength in the ordinary sense of the word. Technical analysis
shows that the Path corresponding to the card is not the Strength of Geburah, but the influence from Chesed upon Geburah, the Path
balanced both vertically and horizontally on the Tree of Life (see
diagram). For this reason it has been thought better to change the
traditional title. Lust implies not only strength, but the joy of
strength exercised. It is vigour, and the rapture of vigour.
“Come forth, O children, under the
stars, & take your fill of love! I am above you and in you. My
ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.”
“Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor,
force and fire, are of us.”
“I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright
glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship
me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, &
be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie,
this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be
strong, O man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear
not that any God shall deny thee for this.”
“Behold! these be grave mysteries; for there are also of my
friends who be hermits. Now think not to find them in the forest
or on the mountain; but in beds of purple, caressed by
magnificent beasts of women with large limbs, and fire and light
in their eyes, and masses of flaming hair about them; there
shall ye find them. Ye shall see them at rule, at victorious
armies, at all the joy; and there shall be in them a joy a
million times greater than this. Beware lest any force another,
King against King! Love one another with burning hearts; on the
low men trample in the fierce lust of your pride, in the day of
“There is a light before thine eyes, O prophet, a light
undesired, most desirable.
“I am uplifted in thine heart; and the kisses of the stars rain
hard upon thy body.
“Thou art exhaust in the voluptuous fulness of the inspiration;
the expiration is sweeter than death, more rapid and laughterful
than a caress of Hell’s own worm.”
This Trump is assigned to the sign of
Leo in the Zodiac. It is the Kerub of Fire, and is ruled by the Sun.
It is the most powerful of the twelve Zodiacal cards,’ and
represents the most critical of all the operations of magick and of
alchemy. It represents the act of the original marriage as it occurs
in nature, as opposed to the more artificial form portrayed in Atu
VI; there is in this card no attempt to direct the course of the
The main subject of the card refers to the most ancient collection
of legends or fables. It is necessary here to go a little into the
magical doctrine of the succession of the Aeons, which is connected
with the procession of the Zodiac. Thus, the last Aeon, that of
Osiris, is referred to Aries and Libra, as the previous Aeon, that
of Isis, was especially connected with the signs of Pisces and
Virgo, while the present, that of Horus, is linked with Aquarius and
Leo. The central mystery in that past Aeon was that of Incarnation;
all the legends of god-men were founded upon some symbolic story of
that kind. The essential of all such stories was to deny human
fatherhood to the hero or god-man. In most cases, the father is
stated to be a god in some animal form, the animal being chosen in
accordance with the qualities that the authors of the cult wished to
see reproduced in the child.
Thus, Romulus and Remus were twins begotten upon a virgin by the god
Mars, and they were suckled by a wolf. On this the whole magical
formula of the city Rome was founded.
Reference has already been made in this essay to the legends of
Hermes and Dionysus.
The father of Gautama Buddha was said to be an elephant with six
tusks, appearing to his mother in a dream.
There is also the legend of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove,
impregnating the Virgin Mary. There is here a reference to the dove
of Noah’s Ark, bringing glad tidings of the salvation of the world
from the waters. (The dwellers in the Ark are the foetus, the waters
the amniotic fluid.)
Similar fables are to be found in every religion of the Aeon of
Osiris: it is the typical formula of the Dying God.
In this card, therefore, appears the legend of the woman and the
lion, or rather lion-serpent. (This card is attributed to the letter
Teth, which means a serpent.)
The seers in the early days of the Aeon of Osiris foresaw the
Manifestation of this coming Aeon in which we now live, and they
regarded it with intense horror and fear, not understanding the
precession of the Aeons, and regarding every change as catastrophe.
This is the real interpretation of, and the reason for, the
diatribes against the Beast and the Scarlet Woman in the XIII, XVII
and XVIII-th chapters of the Apocalypse; but on the Tree of Life,
the path of Gimel, the Moon, descending from the highest, cuts the
path of Teth, Leo, the house of the Sun, so that the Woman in the
card may be regarded as a form of the Moon, very fully illuminated
by the Sun, and intimately united with him in such wise as to
produce, incarnate in human form, the representative or
representatives of the Lord of the Aeon.
She rides astride the Beast; in her left hand she holds the reins,
representing the passion which unites them. In her right she holds
aloft the cup, the Holy Grail aflame with love and death. In this
cup are mingled the elements of the sacrament of the Aeon. The Book
of Lies devotes one chapter to this symbol.
Seven are the veils of the
dancing-girl in the harem of IT.
Seven are the names, and seven are the lamps beside Her bed.
Seven eunuchs guard Her with drawn swords; No man may come nigh
In Her wine-cup are seven streams of the blood of the Seven
Spirits of God.
Seven are the heads of THE BEAST whereon She rideth.
The head of an Angel: the head of a Saint: the head of a Poet:
the head of an Adulterous Woman: the head of a Man of Valour:
the head of a Satyr: and the head of a Lion-Serpent.
Seven letters hath Her holiest name; and it is
This is the Seal upon the Ring that is on the Forefinger of IT:
and it is the Seal upon the Tombs of them whom She hath slain,.
Here is Wisdom. Let him that hath Understanding count the Number
of Our Lady; for it is the Number of a Woman; and Her Number is
An Hundred and Fifty and Six.
There is a further description in The Vision and the Voice. (See
There is in this card a divine
drunkenness or ecstasy. The woman is shown as more than a little
drunk, and more than a little mad; and the lion also is aflame with
lust. This signifies that the type of energy described is of the
primitive, creative order; it is completely independent of the
criticism of reason. This card portrays the will of the Aeon. In the
background are the bloodless images of the saints, on whom this
image travels, for their whole life has been absorbed into the Holy’
“Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite
space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the
Scarlet Woman all power is given. They shall gather my children into
their fold; they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts
“For he is ever a sun, and she a
moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the
This sacrament is the physical-magical
formula for attaining initiation, for the accomplishment of the
Great Work. It is in alchemy the process of distillation, operated
by internal ferment, and the influence of the Sun and Moon.
Behind the figures of the Beast and his Bride are ten luminous rayed
circles; they are the Sephiroth latent and not yet in order, for
every new Aeon demands a new system of classification of the
At the top of the card is shown an emblem of the new light, with ten
horns of the Beast, which are serpents, sent forth in every
direction to destroy and re-create the world.
Further study of this card may be made by close examination of Liber
XV (Magick, pp.345 sqq.).
The Vision and the Voice]
In Atu VII, the charioteer bears the Grail, from the Great Mother.
Here is the Vision:
“The charioteer speaks in a low,
solemn voice, awe-inspiring, like a very large and very distant
bell: Let him look upon the cup whose blood is mingled therein,
for the wine of the cup is the blood of the saints. Glory unto
the Scarlet Woman, Babylon the Mother of Abominations, that
rideth upon the Beast, for she hath spilt their blood in every
corner of the earth, and lo! she hath mingled it in the cup of
“With the breath of her kisses hath she fermented it, and it
hath become the wine of the Sacrament, the wine of the Sabbath;
and in the Holy Assembly hath she poured it out for her
worshippers, and they have become drunken thereon, so that face
to face have they beheld my Father. Thus are they made worthy to
become partakers of the Mystery of this holy vessel, for the
blood is the life. So sitteth she from age to age, and the
righteous are never weary of her kisses, and by her murders and
fornications she seduceth the world. Therein is manifested the
glory of my Father, who is Truth.
(“This wine is such that its virtue radiateth through the cup,
and I reel under the intoxication of it. And every thought is
destroyed by it. It abideth alone, and its name is Compassion. I
understand by ‘Compassion’ the sacrament of suffering, partaken
of by the true worshippers of the Highest. And it is an ecstasy
in which there is no trace of pain. Its passivity (=passion) is
like the giving-up of the self to the beloved.)
“The voice continues: This is the Mystery of Babylon, the Mother
of Abominations, and this is the mystery of her adulteries [The
doctrine here set forth is identical with that of the whole
Mystery of Perfection understanding itself through experience of
all possible Imperfection, as explained elsewhere in this
Essay.], for she hath yielded up herself to everything that liveth, and hath become a partaker in its mystery. And because
she hath made her self the servant of each, therefore is she
become the mistress of all. Not as yet canst thou comprehend her
“Beautiful art thou, O Babylon, and desirable, for thou hast
given thyself to everything that liveth, and thy weakness hath
subdued their strength. For in that union thou didst understand.
Therefore art thou called Understanding, O Babylon, Lady of the
“This is that which is written: ‘O my God, in one last rapture
let me attain to the union with the many!’ For she is Love, and
her love is one; and she hath divided the one love into infinite
loves, and each love is one, and equal with The One, and
therefore is she passed ‘from the assembly and the law and the
enlightenment unto the anarchy of solitude and darkness. For
ever thus must she veil the brilliance of Her self.’
“O Babylon, Babylon, thou mighty Mother, that ridest upon the
crowned beast, let me be drunken upon the wine of thy
fornications; let thy kisses wanton me unto death, that even I,
thy cup- bearer, may understand.
“Now, through the ruddy glow of the cup, I may perceive far
above, and infinitely great, the vision of Babylon. And the
Beast whereon she rideth is the Lord of the City of the
Pyramids, that I beheld in the fourteenth Aethyr.
“Now that is gone in the glow of the cup, and the Angel saith:
Not as yet mayest thou
understand the mystery of the Beast, for it pertaineth not
unto the mystery of this Aire, and few that are new- born
unto Understanding are capable thereof.
“The cup glows ever brighter and
fierier. All my sense is unsteady, being smitten with ecstasy.
“And the Angel sayeth: Blessed are the saints, that their blood
is mingled in the cup, and can ;never be separate any more. For
Babylon the Beautiful, the Mother of abominations, hath sworn by
her holy kteis, whereof every point is a pang, that she will not
rest from her adulteries until the blood of everything that
liveth is gathered therein, and the wine thereof laid up and
matured and consecrated, and worthy to gladden the heart of my
Father. For my Father is weary with the stress of eld, and
cometh not to her bed. Yet shall this perfect wine be the
quintessence, and the elixir; and by the draught thereof shall
he renew his youth; and so shall it be eternally, as age by age
the worlds do dissolve and change, and the Universe unfoldeth
itself as a Rose, and shutteth itself up as the Cross that is
bent into the Cube.
“And this is the comedy of Pan, that is played at night in the
thick forest. And this is the mystery of Dionysus Zagreus, that
is celebrated upon the holy mountain of Kithairon. And this is
the secret of the brothers of the Rosy Cross; and this is the
heart of the ritual that is accomplished in the Vault of the
Adepts that is hidden in the Mountain of the Caverns, even the
Holy Mountain Abiegnus.
“And this is the meaning of the Supper of the Passover, the
spilling of the blood of the Lamb being a ritual of the Dark
Brothers, for they have sealed up the Pylon with blood, lest the
Angel of Death should enter therein. Thus do they shut
themselves off from the company of the saints. Thus do they keep
themselves from compassion and from understanding. Accursed are
they, for they shut up their blood in their heart.
“They keep themselves from the kisses of my Mother Babylon, and
in their lonely fortresses they pray to the false moon. And they
bind themselves together with an oath, and with a great curse.
And of their malice they conspire together, and they have power,
and mastery, and in their cauldrons do they brew the harsh wine
of delusion, mingled with the poison of their selfishness.
“Thus they make war upon the Holy One, sending forth their
delusion upon men, and upon everything that liveth. So that
their false compassion is called compassion, and their false
understanding is called understanding, for this is their most
“Yet of their own poison do they perish, and in their lonely
fortresses shall they be eaten up by Time that hath cheated them
to serve him, and by the mighty devil
Choronzon, their master,
whose name is the Second Death, for the blood that they have
sprinkled on their Pylon, that is a bar against the Angel Death,
is the key by which he entereth in.”
XII. THE HANGED MAN
This card, attributed to the letter Mem,
represents the element of Water. It would perhaps be better to say
that it represents the spiritual function of water in the economy of
initiation; it is a baptism which is also a death. In the Aeon of
Osiris, this card represented the supreme formula of adeptship; for
the figure of the drowned or hanged man has its own special meaning.
The legs are crossed so that the right leg forms a right angle with
the left leg, and the arms are stretched out at an angle of 60°
so as to form an equilateral triangle; this gives the symbol of the
Triangle surmounted by the Cross, which represents the descent of
the light into the darkness in order to re deem it.
For this reason there are green
disks-green, the colour of Venus, signifies Grace-at the
terminations of the limbs and of the head. The air above the surface
of the water is also green, infiltrated by rays of the white light
of Kether. The whole figure is suspended from the Ankh, another way
of figuring the formula of the Rose and Cross, while around the left
foot is the Serpent, creator and destroyer, who operates all change.
(This will be seen in the card which next follows.)
It is notable that there is an apparent increase of darkness and
solidity in proportion as the redeeming element manifests itself;
but the colour of green is the colour of Venus, of the hope that
lies in love. That depends upon the formulation of the Rose and
Cross, of the annihilation of the self in the Beloved, the condition
of progress. In this inferior darkness of death, the serpent of new
life begins to stir.
In the former Aeon, that of Osiris, the element of Air, which is the
nature of that Aeon, is not unsympathetic either to Water or to
Fire; compromise was a mark of that period. But now, under a Fiery
lord of the Aeon, the watery element, so far as water is below the
Abyss, is definitely hostile, unless the opposition is the right
opposition implied in marriage. But in this card the only question
is of the “redemption” of the submerged element, and therefore
everything is reversed. This idea of sacrifice is, in the final
analysis, a wrong idea.
“I give unimaginable joys on
earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death;
peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in
“Every man and every woman is a star.”
The whole idea of sacrifice is a
misconception of nature, and these texts of the Book of the Law are
the answer to it.
But water is the element of Illusion; one may regard this symbol n
evil legacy from the old Aeon; to use an anatomical analogy, it
spiritual vermiform appendix.
It was the water, and the Dwellers of the Water that slew Osiris; it
is the crocodiles that threaten Hoor-Pa-Kraat.
This card is beautiful in a strange, immemorial, moribund manner. It
is the card of the Dying God; its importance in the present pack is
merely that of the Cenotaph. It says: “If ever things get bad like
that again, in the new Dark Ages which appear to threaten, this is
the way to put things right.” But if things have to be put right, it
shows that they are very wrong. It should be the chieftest aim of
the wise to rid mankind of the insolence of self-sacrifice, of the
calamity of chastity; faith must be slain by certainty, and chastity
In the Book of the Law it is written:
“Pity not the fallen! I never knew
them. I am not for them. I console not: I hate the consoled and
Redemption is a bad word; it implies a
debt. For every star possesses boundless wealth; the only proper way
to deal with the ignorant is to bring them to the knowledge of their
starry heritage. To do this, it is necessary to behave as must be
done in order to get on good terms with animals and children: to
treat them with absolute respect; even; in a certain sense, with
* * *
Note on the Precession of the Aeons.
“The Hanged Man” is an invention of the Adepts of the I.N.R.I.-J.A.O.
formula; in the Aeon previous to the Osirian, that of Isis (Water),
he is “The Drowned Man”. The two uprights of the gallows shewn in
Mediaeval packs were, in the parthenogenetic system of explaining
and ruling Nature, the bottom of the Sea and the keel of the Ark. In
this Aeon all birth was considered an emanation, without male
intervention, of the Mother or Star-Goddess, Nuit; all death a
return to Her. This explains the original attribution of the Atu to
Water, and the sound M the return to Eternal Silence, as in the word
AUM. This card is therefore specially sacred to the Mystic) and the
attitude of the figure is a ritual posture in the Practice called
“The Sleep of Shiloam”.
* * *
The Alchemical import of this card is so
alien to all dogmatic implications that it has seemed better to deal
quite separately with it. Its technical qualities are independent of
all doctrines soever; here is a matter of strictly scientific
bearings. The student will be prudent to read in connexion with
these remarks Chapter XII of Magick.
The Atu represents the sacrifice of “a male child of perfect
innocence and high intelligence”-these words were chosen with the
utmost care. The meaning of his attitude has already been described,
and of the fact that he is hanged from an Ankh, an equivalent of the
Rosy Cross; in some early cards the gallows is a Pylon, or the
branch of a Tree, by shape suggesting the letter Daleth, Venus,
His background is an unbounded grill of small squares; these are the
Elemental Tablets which exhibit the names and sigilla of all the
energies of Nature. Through his Work a Child is begotten, as shewn
by the Serpent stirring in the Darkness of the Abyss below him.
Yet the card in itself is essentially a glyph of Water; Mem is one
of the three great Mother Letters, and its value is 40, the might of
Tetragrammaton fully developed by Malkuth, the symbol of the
Universe under the Demiourgos. Moreover, Water is peculiarly the
Mother Letter, for both Shin and Aleph (the other two) represent
masculine ideas; and, in Nature, Homo Sapiens is a marine mammal,
and our intra-uterine existence is passed in the Amniotic Fluid. The
legend of Noah, the Ark and the Flood, is no more than a hieratic
presentation of the facts of life. It is then to Water that the
Adepts have always looked for the continuation (in some sense or
other) and to the prolongation and perhaps renovation of life.
The legend of the Gospels, dealing with the Greater Mysteries of the
Lance and the Cup (those of the god Iacchus Iao) as superior to the
Lesser Mysteries (those of the God Ion=Noah, and the N-gods in
general) in which the Sword slays the god that his head may be
offered on a Plate, or Disk, says: And a soldier with a spear
pierced his side; and thereforth there came out blood and water.
This Wine, collected by the Beloved Disciple and the Virgin-Mother,
waiting beneath the Cross or Tree for that purpose, in a Cup or
Chalice; this is the Holy Grail or Sangreal (Sangraal) of Monsalvat,
the Mountain of Salvation. [Grail (gréal) actually means a dish: O.F.
graal, greal, grasal, probably corrupted from late Latin gradale,
itself a corrupt form of crater, a bowl.] This Sacrament is exalted
in the Zenith in Cancer; see Atu VII.
It is most necessary for the Student to go round and round this
Wheel of symbolism until the figures melt imperceptibly the one into
the other in an intoxicating dance of ecstasy; not until he has
attained that is he able to partake of the Sacrament, and accomplish
for him- self-and for all men!-the Great Work.
But let him also remember the practical secret cloistered in all
these wind-swept corridors of music, the actual preparation of the
Stone of the Wise, the Medicine of Metals, and the Elixir of Life!
This card is attributed to the letter Nun, which means a fish; the
symbol of life beneath the waters; life travelling through the
waters. It refers to the Zodiacal sign of Scorpio, which is ruled by
Mars, the planet of fiery energy in its lowest form, which is
therefore necessary to provide the impulse. In alchemy, this card
explains the idea of putrefaction, the technical name given by its
adepts to the series of chemical changes which develops the final
form of life from the original latent seed in the Orphic egg.
This sign is one of the two most powerful in the Zodiac, but it has
not the simplicity and intensity of Leo. It is formally divided into
three parts; the lowest is symbolized by the Scorpion, which was
supposed by early observers of Nature to commit suicide when finding
itself ringed with fire, or otherwise in a desperate situation. This
represents putrefaction in its lowest form. The strain of
environment has become intolerable, and the attacked element
willingly subjects itself to change; thus, potassium thrown upon
water becomes ignited, and accepts the embrace of the hydroxyl radicle.
The middle interpretation of this sign is given by the serpent, who
is, moreover, the main theme of the sign.
[The Qabalists embodied in
the Book of Genesis, Caps I and II, this doctrine of regeneration.
NChSh, the Serpent in Eden, has the value 358: 50 also MShICh,
Messiah. He is, accordingly, in the secret doctrine, the Redeemer.
The thesis may be developed at great length. Later in the Legend,
the doctrine reappears in slightly different symbolism as the story
of the Flood, elsewhere in this Essay explained. Of course, the Fish
is identical in essence with the Serpent; for Fish=NVN=Scorpio=Serpent.
Also, Teth, the letter of Leo, means Serpent. But Fish is also the
Vesica, or Womb, and Christ -and so on. This symbol resumes the
whole Secret Doctrine.]
The serpent is sacred, Lord of Life and
Death, and its method of progression suggests the rhythmical
undulation of those twin phases of life which we Call respectively
life and death. The serpent is also, as previously explained, the
principal symbol of male energy. From this it will be seen that this
card is, in a very strict sense, the completion of the card called
Lust, Atu XI, and Atu XII represents the solution or dissolution
which links them.
The highest aspect of the card is the Eagle, which represents
exaltation above solid matter. It was understood by the early
chemists that, in certain experiments, the purest (i.e., most
tenuous) elements present were given off as gas or vapour. There are
thus represented in this card the three essential types of
The card itself represents the dance of death; the figure is a
skeleton bearing a scythe, and both the skeleton and the scythe are
importantly Saturnian symbols. This appears strange, as Saturn has
no overt connection with Scorpio; but Saturn represents the
essential structure of existing things. He is that elemental nature
of things which is not destroyed by the ordinary changes which occur
in the operations of Nature. Furthermore, he is crowned with the
crown of Osiris; he represents Osiris in the waters of Amennti. Yet
more, he is the original secret male creative God: see Atu XV.
“Redeunt Saturnia regna.” It was only the corruption of the
Tradition, the confusion with Set, and the Cult of the Dying God,
misunderstood, deformed and distorted by the Black Lodge, that
turned him into a senile and fiendish symbol.
With the sweep of his scythe he creates bubbles in which are
beginning to take shape the new forms which he creates in his dance;
and these forms dance also.
In this card the symbol of the fish is paramount; the fish (Il pesce,
as they call him in Naples and many other places) and the serpent
are the two principal objects of worship in cults which taught the
doctrines of resurrection or re-incarnation. Thus we have Oannes and
Dagon, fish gods, in western Asia; in many other parts of the world
are similar cults. Even in Christianity, Christ was represented as a
fish. The Greek work IXThUS, “which means fish And very aptly
symbolizes Christ”, as Browning reminds one, was supposed to be a
notariqon, the initials of a sentence meaning “Jesus Christ Son of
God, Saviour”. Nor is it an accident that St. Peter was a fisherman.
The Gospels, too, are full of miracles involving fish, and the fish
is sacred to Mercury, because of its cold-bloodedness, its swiftness
and its brilliance. There is moreover the sexual symbolism. This
again recalls the function of Mercury as the guide of the dead, and
as the continuing elastic element in nature.
This card must then be considered as of greater importance and
catholicity than would be expected from the plain Zodiacal
attribution. It is even a compendium of universal energy in its most
i. The Arrow
This card is the complement and the fulfillment of Atu VI, Gemini. It
pertains to Sagittarius, the opposite to Gemini in the Zodiac, and
therefore, “after another manner,” one with it. Sagittarius means
the Archer; and the card is (in its simplest and most primitive
form) a picture of Diana the Huntress. Diana is primarily one of the
lunar goddesses, though the Romans rather degraded her from the
Greek “virgin Artemis”, who is also the Great Mother of Fertility,
Diana of the Ephesians, Many-Breasted. (A form of Isis-see Atu II
The connection between the Moon and the Huntress is shewn
by the shape of the bow, and the occult significance of Sagittarius
is the arrow piercing the rainbow; the last three paths of the Tree
of Life make the word Qesheth, a rainbow, and Sagittarius bears the
arrow which pierces the rainbow, for his path leads from the Moon of Yesod to the
Sun of Tiphareth. (This explanation is highly
technical; but this is necessary because the card represents an
important scientific formula, which cannot be expressed in language
suited to common comprehension.)
This card represents the Consummation of the Royal Marriage which
took place in Atu VI. The black and white personages are now united
in a single androgyne figure. Even the Bees and the Serpents on
their robes have made an alliance. The Red Lion has become white,
and increased in size and importance, while the White Eagle,
similarly expanded, has become red. He has exchanged his red blood
for her white gluten. (It is impossible to explain these terms to
any but advanced students of alchemy.)
The equilibrium and counter-change are carried out completely in the
figure itself; the white woman has now a black bead; the black king,
a white one. She wears the golden crown with a silver band, he, the
silver crown with a golden fillet; but the white head on the right
is extended in action by a white arm on the left which holds the cup
of the white gluten, while the black head on the left has the black
arm on the right, holding the lance which has become a torch and
pours forth its burning blood. The fire burns up the water; the
water extinguishes the fire.
The robe of the figure is green, which symbolizes vegetable growth:
this is an alchemical allegory. In the symbolism of the fathers of
science, all “actual” objects were regarded as dead; the difficulty
of transmuting metals was that the metals, as they occur in nature,
were in the nature of excrements, because they did not grow. The
first problem of alchemy was to raise mineral to vegetable life; the
adepts thought that the proper way to do this was to imitate the
processes of nature. Distillation, for instance, was not an
operation to be performed by heating something in a retort over a
flame; it had to take place naturally, even if months were required
to consummate the Work. (Months, at that period of civilization,
were at the disposal of enquiring minds.)
A great deal of what people now consider ignorance, being themselves
ignorant of what the men of old time thought, comes from this
misapprehension. At the bottom of this card, for example, are seen
Fire and Water harmoniously mingled. But this is only a crude symbol
of the spiritual idea, which is the satisfaction of the desire of
the incomplete element of one kind to satisfy its formula by
assimilation of its equal and opposite.
This state of the great Work therefore consisted in the mingling of
the contradictory elements in a cauldron. This is here represented
as golden or solar, because the Sun is the Father of all Life, and
(in particular) presides over distillation. The fertility of the
Earth is maintained by rain and sun; the rain is formed by a slow
and gentle process, and is rendered effective by the co-operation of
air, which is itself alchemically the result of the Marriage of Fire
and Water. So also the formula of continued life is death, or
putrefaction. Here it is symbolized by the caput mortuum on the
cauldron, a raven perched upon a skull. In agricultural terms, this
is the fallow earth.
There is a particular interpretation of this card which is only to
be understood by Initiates of the Ninth Degree of the O.T.O; for it
contains a practical magical formula of such importance as to make
it impossible to communicate it openly.
Rising from the cauldron, as the result of the operation per- formed
~ is a stream of light which becomes two rainbows; they form the
cape of the androgyne figure. In the centre, an arrow shoots
upwards. This is connected with the general symbolism previously
explained, the spiritualization of the result of the Great Work.
The rainbow is moreover symbolical of another stage in the
alchemical process. At a certain period, as a result of
putrefaction, there is observed a phenomenon of many-coloured lights
(The “coat of many colours” said to have been worn by Joseph and
Jesus, in the ancient legends, refers to this. See also Atu 0, the
Motley of the Green Man, Dreamer-Redeemer).
To sum up, the whole of this card represents the hidden content of
the Egg described in Atu VI. It is the same formula, but in a more
advanced stage. The original duality has been completely
compensated; but after birth comes growth; after growth, puberty;
and after puberty, purification.
In this card, therefore, is foreshadowed the final stage of the
Great Work. Behind the figure, its edges tinged with the rainbow,
which has now arisen from the twin rainbows forming the cape of the
figure, is a glory bearing an inscription,
VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE
RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM.
“Visit the interior parts of the earth: by rectification thou shalt
find the hidden stone”
Its initials make the word V.I.T.R.I.O.L.,
the Universal Solvent, to be discussed later. (Its value is 726=6 X
112=33 x 22.)
This “hidden stone” is also called the Universal Medicine. It is
sometimes described as a stone, sometimes as a powder, sometimes as
a tincture. It divides again into two forms, the gold and the
silver, the red and the white; but its essence is always the same,
and its nature is not to be understood except by experience. It is
because the alchemists were dealing with substances on the
borderland of “matter” that they are so difficult to understand. The
subject-matter of chemistry and physics in modern times is what they
would have called the study of dead things; for the real difference
between living things and dead is, in the first instance, their
The initials of the alchemical motto given above form the word
Vitriol. This has nothing to do with the sulphates of either
hydrogen, iron or copper, as might be supposed from modern usage. It
represents a balanced combination of the three alchemical
principles, Sulphur, Mercury and Salt. These names have no
connection with substances so named by the vulgar; they have already
been described in Atu 1.111 and IV
The counsel to “visit the interior of the earth” is a recapitulation
(on a higher plane) of the first formula of the Work which has been
the so constant theme of these essays. The important word in the
injunction is the central word RECTIFICANDO; it implies the right
leading of the new living substance in the path of the True Will.
The stone of the Philosophers, the Universal Medicine, is to be a
talisman of use in any event, a completely elastic and completely
rigid vehicle of the True Will of the alchemists. It is to fertilize
and bring to manifested Life the Orphic Egg.
The Arrow, both in this card and in Atu VI, is of supreme
importance. The Arrow is, in fact, the simplest and purest glyph of
Mercury, being the symbol of directed Will.
It is right to emphasize this fact by a quotation from the Fourth
Aethyr, LIT, in The Vision and the Voice. (See Appendix.)
The Vision and the Voice, 5th Aethyr]
Now, then, behold how the head of the dragon is but the tail of the
Aethyr! Many are they that have fought their way from mansion to
mansion of the Everlasting House, and beholding me at last have
returned, declaring, “Fearful is the aspect of the Mighty and
Terrible One”. Happy are they that have known me for whom I am. And
glory unto him that hath made a gallery of my throat for his arrow
of truth, and the moon for his purity.
The moon waneth. The moon waneth. The moon waneth. For in that arrow
is the Light of Truth that overmastereth the light of the sun,
whereby she shines. The arrow is fledged with the plumes of Maat
that are the plumes of Amoun, and the shaft is the phallus of Amoun
the Concealed One. And the barb thereof is the star that thou sawest
in the place where was No God.
And of them that guarded the star, there was not found one worthy to
wield the Arrow. And of them that worshipped there was not found one
worthy to behold the Arrow. Yet the star that thou sawest was but
the barb of the Arrow, and thou hadst not the wit to grasp the
shaft, or the purity to divine the plumes. Now therefore is he
blessed that is born under the sign of the Arrow, and blessed is he
that hath the sigil of the head of the crowned lion and the body of
the Snake and the Arrow therewith.
Yet do thou distinguish between the upward and the downward Arrows,
for the upward arrow is straitened in its flight, and it is shot by
a firm hand, for Jesod is Jod Tetragrammaton, and Jod is a hand, but
the downward arrow is shot by the topmost point of the Jod; and that
Jod is the Hermit, and it is the minute point that is not extended,
that is nigh unto the heart of Hadit.
And now it is commanded thee that thou withdraw thyself from the
Vision, and on the morrow, at the appointed hour, shall it be given
thee further, as thou goest upon thy way, meditating this mystery.
And thou shalt summon the Scribe, and that which shall be written
shall be written. Therefore I withdraw myself, as I am commanded.
The Desert between Benshrur and Tolga.
December 12, 1909. 7-8. 12 midnight.
Now then art thou approached unto an august Arcanum; verily thou art
come unto the ancient Marvel, the winged light, the Fountains of
Fire, the Mystery of the Wedge. But it is not I that can reveal it,
for I have never been permitted to behold it, who am but the watcher
upon the threshold of the Aethyr. My message is spoken, and my
mission is accomplished. And I withdraw myself, covering my face
with my wings, before the presence of the Angel of the Aethyr.
So the Angel departed with bowed head, folding his wings across.
And there is a little child in a mist of blue light; he hath golden
hair, a mass of curls, and deep blue eyes. Yea, he is all golden,
with a living, vivid gold. And in each hand he hath a snake; in the
right hand a red, in the left hand a blue. And he hath red sandals,
but no other garment.
And he sayeth: Is not life a long initiation unto sorrow? And is not
Isis the Lady of Sorrow? And she is my mother. Nature is her name,
and she hath a twin sister Nephthys, whose name is Perfection. And
Isis must be known of all, but of how few is Nephthys known! Because
she is dark, therefore is she feared.
But thou who hast adored her without fear, who hast made thy life an
initiation into her Mystery, thou that hast neither mother nor
father, nor sister nor brother, nor wife nor child, who hast made
thy self lonely as the hermit crab that is in the waters of the
Great Sea, behold! when the sistrons are shaken, and the trumpets
blare forth the glory of Isis, at the end therefore there is
silence, and thou shalt commune with Nephthys.
And having known these, there are the wings of Maut the Vulture.
Thou mayest draw to an head the bow of thy magical will; thou mayest
loose the shaft and pierce her to the heart. I am Eros. Take then
the bow and the quiver from my shoulders and slay me; for unless
thou slay me, thou shalt not unveil the Mystery of the Aethyr.
Therefore I did as he commanded; in the quiver were two arrows, one
white, one black. I cannot force myself to fit an arrow to the bow.
And there came a voice: It must
And I said: No man can do this thing.
And the voice answered, as it were an echo: Nemo hoc facere
Then came understanding to me, and I took forth the Arrows. The
white arrow had no barb, but the black arrow was barbed like a
forest of fish-hooks; it was bound round with brass, and it had been
dipped in deadly poison. Then I fitted the white arrow to the
string, and I shot it against the heart of Eros, and though I shot
with all my force, it fell harmlessly from his side. But at that
moment the black arrow was thrust through mine own heart. I am
filled with fearful agony.
And the child smiles, and says: Although thy shaft hath pierced me
not, although the envenomed barb hath struck thee through; yet I am
slain, and thou livest and triumphest, for I am thou and thou art I.
With that he disappears, and the Aethyr splits with a roar as of ten
‘thousand thunders. And behold, The Arrow! The plumes of Maat are
its crown, set about the disk. It is the Ateph crown of Thoth, and
there is the shaft of burning light, and beneath there is a silver
I shudder and tremble at the vision, for all about it are whorls
,and torrents of tempestuous fire. The stars of heaven are caught in
the ashes of the flame. And they are all dark. That which was a
blazing sun is like a speck of ash. And in the midst the Arrow
burns! the I see that the crown of the Arrow is the Father of all
Light, and shaft of the Arrow is the Father of all Life, and the
barb of the Arrow is the Father of all Love. For that silver wedge
is like a lotus flower, and the Eye within the Ateph Crown crieth: I
watch. And the Shaft crieth: I work.
And the Barb crieth: I wait. And the voice of the Aethyr echoeth: It
beams. It burns. It blooms. And now there cometh a strange thought;
this Arrow is the source of all motion; it is infinite motion, yet
it moveth not, so that there is ‘no motion. And therefore there is
no matter. This Arrow is the glance of the Eye of Shiva. But because
it moveth not, the universe is not destroyed. The universe is put
forth and swallowed up in the quivering of the plumes of Maat, that
are the plumes of the Arrow; but those plumes quiver not.
And a voice comes: That which is
above is not like that which is below.
And another voice answers it: That which is below is not like
that which is above.
And a third voice answers these two: What is above and what is
below? For there is the division that divideth not, and the
multiplication that multiplieth not.
And the One is the Many. Behold,
this Mystery is beyond understanding, for the winged globe is
the crown, and the shaft is the wisdom, and the barb is the
And the Arrow is one, and thou art
lost in the Mystery, who art but as a babe that is carried in
the womb of its mother, that art not yet ready for the light.
And the vision overcometh me. My sense is stunned: my sight is
blasted: my hearing is dulled.
And a voice cometh: Thou didst seek the remedy of sorrow;
therefore all sorrow is thy portion. This is that which is
“God hath laid upon him the
iniquity of us all.” For as thy blood is mingled in the cup
of BABALON, so is thine heart the universal heart. Yet is it
bound about with the Green Serpent, the Serpent of Delight.
It is shown me that this heart is the
heart that rejoiceth, and the serpent is the serpent of Daath, for
herein all the symbols are inter changeable, for each one containeth
in itself its own opposite. And this is the great Mystery of the
Supernals that are beyond the Abyss. For below the Abyss,
contradiction is division; but above the Abyss, contradiction is
Unity. And there could be nothing true except by virtue of the
contradiction that is contained in itself.
Thou canst not believe how marvelous is this vision of the Arrow.
And it could never be shut out, except the Lords of Vision troubled
the waters of the pool, the mind of the Seer. But they send forth a
wind that is a cloud of Angels, and they beat the water with their
feet, and little waves splash up-they are memories. For the seer
hath no head; it is expanded into the universe, a vast and silent
sea, crowned with the stars of night. Yet in the very midst thereof
is the arrow. Little images of things that were, are the foam upon
the waves. And there is a contest between the Vision and the
memories. I prayed unto the Lords of Vision, saying: O my Lords,,
take not away this wonder from my sight.
And they said: It must needs be. Rejoice therefore if thou hast been
permitted to behold, even for a moment, this Arrow, the austere, the
august. But the vision is accomplished, and we have sent forth a
great wind against thee. For thou canst not penetrate by force, who
hast refused it; nor by authority, for thou hast trampled it under
foot. Thou art bereft of all but understanding, O thou that art no
more than a little pile of dust!
And the images rise up against me and constrain me, so that the
Aethyr is shut against me. Only the things of the mind and of the
body are open unto me. The shew-stone is dull, for that which I see
therein is but a memory.
XV. THE DEVIL
This card is attributed to the letter ‘Ayin, which means an Eye, and
it refers to Capricornus in the Zodiac. In the Dark Ages of
Christianity, it was completely misunderstood. Eliphaz Levi studied
it very deeply because of its connection with ceremonial magic, his
4 favourite subject; and he re-drew it, identifying it with Baphomet,
the ass-headed idol of the Knights of the Temple. [The Early
Christians also were accused of worshipping an Ass, or ass-headed
god. See Browning, The Ring and the Book (The Pope).] But at this
time archaeological research had not gone very far; the nature of
Baphomet was not fully understood. (See Atu 0, above.) At least he
succeeded in identifying the goat portrayed upon the card with Pan.
On the Tree of Life, Atu XIII and XV are symmetrically placed; they
lead from Tiphareth, the human consciousness, to the spheres in
which Thought (on the one hand) and Bliss (on the other) are
developed. Between them, Atu XIV leads similarly to the sphere which
formulates Existence. (See note on Atu X and arrangement.) These
three cards may therefore be summed up as a hieroglyph of the
processes by which idea manifests as form.
This card represents creative energy in its most material form; in
the Zodiac, Capricornus occupies the Zenith. It is the most exalted
of the signs; it is the goat leaping with lust upon the summits of
earth. The sign is ruled by Saturn, who makes for selfhood and
perpetuity. In this sign, Mars is exalted, showing in its best form
the fiery, material energy of creation. The card represents Pan Pangenetor, the All-Begetter. It is the Tree of Life as seen against
a background of the exquisitely tenuous, complex, and fantastic
forms of madness, the divine madness of spring, already foreseen in
the meditative madness of winter; for the Sun turns northwards on
entering this sign.
The roots of the Tree are made transparent, in
order to show the innumerable leapings of the sap; before it stands
the Himalayan goat, with an eye in the centre of his forehead,
representing the god Pan upon the highest and most secret mountains
of the earth. His creative energy is veiled in the symbol of the
Wand of the Chief Adept, crowned with the winged globe and the twin
serpents of Horus and Osiris.
“Hear me, Lord of the
For thee have I worshipped ever
With stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful Endeavour.
Hear me, O lilywhite goat
Crisp as a thicket of thorns,
With a collar of gold for thy throat,
A scarlet bow for thy horns.”
The sign of Capricornus is rough, harsh, dark, even blind; the
impulse to create takes no account of reason, custom, or foresight.
It is divinely unscrupulous, sublimely careless of result.
“thou hast no right but to do thy
will. Do that, and no other shall say nay. For pure will,
unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is
every way perfect.” AL. I, 42-4.
It is further to be remarked that the trunk of the Tree pierces the
heavens; about it is indicated the ring of the body of Nuith.
Similarly, the shaft of the Wand goes down indefinitely to the
centre of earth.
“If I lift up my head, I and my Nuit
are one. If I droop down mine head, and shoot forth venom, then
is rapture of the earth, and I and the earth are one.” (AL. II,
The formula of this card is then the complete appreciation of all
existing things. He rejoices in the rugged and the barren no less
than in the smooth and the fertile. All things equally exalt him. He
represents the finding of ecstasy in every phenomenon, however
naturally repugnant; he transcends all limitations; he is Pan; he is
It is important to notice some other correspondences. The three
vowel-consonants of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph, Yod, ‘Ayin, these
three letters form the sacred name of God, I A O. These three Atu,
IX, 0, and XV, thus offer a threefold explanation of the male
creative energy; but this card especially represents the masculine
energy at its most masculine. Saturn, the ruler, is Set, the
ass-headed god of the Egyptian deserts; he is the god of the south.
The name refers to all gods containing these consonants, such as
Shaitan, or Satan. (See Magick pp.336-7). Essential to the symbolism
are the surroundings - barren places, especially high places. The
cult of the mountain is an exact parallel. The Old Testament is full
of attacks upon kings who celebrated worship in “high places”; this,
although Zion itself was a mountain! This feeling persisted, even to
the days of the Witches’ Sabbath, held, if possible, on a desolate
summit, but (if none were available) at least in a wild spot,
uncontaminated by the artfulness of men.
Note that Shabbathai, the “sphere of Saturn”, is the Sabbath.
Historically, the animus against witches pertains to the fear of the
Jews; whose rites, supplanted by the Christian forms of Magic, had
become mysterious and terrible. Panic suggested that Christian
children were stolen, sacrificed, and eaten. The belief persists to
In every symbol of this card there is the allusion to the highest
things and most remote. Even the horns of the goat are spiral, to
represent the movement of the all-pervading energy. Zoroaster
defines God as “having a spiral force”. Compare the more recent, if
less profound, writings of Einstein. [Compare Saturn, at one end of
the Seven Sacred Wanderers, with the Moon at the other: the aged man
and the young girl -see “The Formula of Tetragrammaton”. They are
linked as no other two planets, since 32=9, and each contains in
itself the extremes of its own idea. (See also Appendix: Atu xxi.)]
XVI. THE TOWER [OR: WAR]
This card is attributed to the letter Peh, which means a mouth; it
refers to the planet Mars. In its simplest interpretation it refers
to the manifestation of cosmic energy in its grossest form. The
picture shows the destruction of existing material by fire. It may
be taken as the preface to Atu XX, the Last Judgment, i.e., the
Coming of a New Aeon. This being so, it seems to indicate the
quintessential quality of the Lord of the Aeon. [See Liber AL III.
3-9; II - 13; 17-18; 23-29; 46; 49-60; 70-72.]
At the bottom part of the card, therefore, is shown the destruction
of the old-established Aeon by lightning, flames, engines of war. In
the right-hand corner are the jaws of Dis, belching flame at the
root of the structure. Falling from the tower are broken figures of
the garrison. It will be noticed that they have lost their human
They have become mere geometrical expressions.
This suggests another (and totally different) interpretation of the
card. To understand this, it is necessary to refer to the doctrines
of Yoga, especially those most widely current in Southern India,
where the cult of Shiva, the Destroyer, is paramount. Shiva is
represented as dancing upon the bodies of his devotees. To
understand this is not easy for most western minds. Briefly, the
doctrine is that the ultimate reality (which is Perfection) is
Nothingness. Hence all manifestations, however glorious, however
delightful, are stains. To obtain perfection, all existing things
must be annihilated. The destruction of the garrison may therefore
be taken to mean their emancipation from the prison of organized
life, which was confining them. It was their unwisdom to cling to
The above should make it clear that magical symbols must always be
understood in a double sense, each contradictory of the other. These
ideas blend naturally with the higher and deeper significance of the
There is a direct reference to this card in the
Book of the Law. In
Chapter I, verse 57, the goddess Nuith speaks:
“Invoke me under my
stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake
love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is
the serpent. Choose ye well! He, my prophet, hath chosen, knowing
the law of the fortress, and the great mystery of the House of God”.
[For this reason the ancient title, to-day not very intelligible,
has been retained. Otherwise, it might have been called War.]
The dominating feature of this card is the Eye of Horus. This is
also the Eye of Shiva, on the opening of which, according to the
legend of this cult, the Universe is destroyed.
Besides this, there is a special technical magical meaning, which is
explained openly only to initiates of the Eleventh degree of the
O.T.O.; a grade so secret that it is not even listed in the official
documents. It is not even to be understood by study of the Eye in
Atu XV. Perhaps it is lawful to mention that the Arab sages and the
Persian poets have written, not always guardedly, on the subject.
Bathed in the effulgence of this Eye (which now assumes even a third
sense, that indicated in Atu XV) are the Dove bearing an olive
branch and the Serpent: as in the above quotation. The Serpent is
portrayed as the Lion-Serpent Xnoubis or Abraxas. These represent
the two forms of desire; what Schopenhauer would have called the
Will to Live and the Will to Die. They represent the feminine and
masculine impulses; the nobility of the latter is possibly based
upon recognition of the futility of the former. This is perhaps why
the renunciation of love in all the ordinary senses of the word has
been so constantly announced as the first step towards initiation.
This is an unnecessarily rigid view. This Trump is not the only card
in the Pack, nor are the “will to live” and the “will to die”
incompatible. This becomes clear as soon as life and death are
understood (See Atu XIII) as phases of a single manifestation of
This card is attributed to the letter He’, as has been explained
elsewhere. It refers to the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius, the water-
bearer. The picture represents Nuith, our Lady of the Stars. For the
full meaning of this sentence it is necessary to understand the
first chapter of the Book of the Law.
The figure of the goddess is shown in manifestation, that is, not as
the surrounding space of heaven, shown in Atu XX, where she is the
pure philosophical idea continuous and omniform. In this card she is
definitely personified as a human-seeming figure; she is represented
as bearing two cups, one golden, held high above her head, from
which she pours water upon it.
(These cups resemble breasts, as it is written:
“the milk of the
stars from her paps; yea, the milk of the stars from her paps”).
The Universe is here resolved into its ultimate elements. (One is
tempted to quote from the Vision of the Lake Pasquaney, “Nothingness
with twinkles. . . but what twinkles!”) Behind the figure of the
goddess is the celestial globe. Most prominent among its features is
the seven-pointed Star of Venus, as if declaring the principal
characteristic of her nature to be Love. (See again the description
in Chapter I of the Book of the Law). From the golden cup she pours
this ethereal water, which is also milk and oil and blood, upon her
own head, indicating the eternal renewal of the categories, the
inexhaustible possibilities of existence.
The left hand, lowered, holds a silver cup, from which also she
pours the immortal liquor of her life. (This liquor is the Amrita of
the Indian philosophers, the Nepenthe and Ambrosia of the Greeks,
the Alkahest and Universal Medicine of the Alchemists, the Blood of
the Grail; or, rather, the nectar which is the mother of that blood.
She pours it upon the junction of land and water. This water is the
water of the great Sea of Binah; in the manifestation of Nuith on a
lower plane, she is the Great Mother. For the Great Sea is upon the
shore of the fertile earth, as represented by the roses in the right
hand corner of the picture. But between sea and land is the “Abyss”,
and this is hidden by the clouds, which whirl as a development of
her hair: “my hair the trees of Eternity”. (AL. I, 59).
In the left-hand corner of the picture is the star of
Sigil of the Brotherhood of the A.’. A.’. For Babalon is yet a
further materialization of the original idea of Nuith; she is the
Scarlet Woman, the sacred Harlot who is the lady of Atu XI. From
this star, behind the celestial sphere itself, issue the curled rays
of spiritual light. Heaven itself is no more than a veil before the
face of the immortal goddess.
It will be seen that every form of energy in this picture is spiral.
Zoroaster says, “God is he, having the head of a hawk; having a
spiral force”. It is interesting to notice that this oracle appears
to anticipate the present Aeon, that of the hawk-headed Lord, and
also of the mathematical conception of the shape of the Universe as
calculated by Einstein and his school. It is only in the lower cup
that the forms of energy issuing forth show rectilinear
characteristics. In this may be discovered the doctrine which
asserts that the blindness of humanity to all the beauty and wonder
of the Universe is due to this illusion of straightness. It is
significant that Riemann, Bolyai and Lobatchewsky seem to have been
the mathematical prophets of the New Revelation.
For the Euclidian
geometry depends upon the conception of straight lines, and it was
only because the Parallel Postulate was found to be incapable of
proof that mathematicians began to conceive that the straight line
had no true correspondence with reality. [The straight line is no
more than the limit of any curve. For instance, it is an ellipse
whose foci are an “infinite” distance apart. In fact, such use of
the Calculus is the one certain way of ensuring “straightness”.]
In the first chapter of the Book of the Law, the conclusion is of
It gives the definite formula for the attainment of truth.
“I give unimaginable joys on
earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death;
peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in
“But to love me is better than all things: if under the
night-stars in the desert thou presently burnest mine
incense before me, invoking me with a pure heart, and the
Serpent flame therein, thou shalt come a little to lie in my
bosom. For one kiss wilt thou then be willing to give all;
but whoso gives one particle of dust shall lose all in that
hour. Ye shall gather goods and store of women and spices;
ye shall wear rich jewels; ye shall exceed the nations of
the earth in splendour & pride; but always in the love of
me, and so shall ye come to my joy. I charge you earnestly
to come before me in a single robe, and covered with a rich
headdress. I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple,
veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and
drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the
wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto
“At all my meetings with you shall the priestess say-and her
eyes shall burn with desire as she stands bare and rejoicing
in my secret temple-To me! To me! calling forth the flame of
the hearts of all in her love-chant.
“Sing the rapturous love-song unto me! Burn to me perfumes!
Wear to me jewels!
Drink to me, for I love you! I love you!
“I am the blue-lidded daughter of Sunset; I am the naked
brilliance of the voluptuous night-sky.
“To me! To me!
“The Manifestation of Nuit is at an end.”
XVIII. THE MOON
The Eighteenth Trump is attributed to the letter Qoph, which
represents Pisces in the Zodiac. It is called the Moon.
Pisces is the last of the Signs; it represents the last stage of
winter. It might be called the Gateway of Resurrection (the letter
Qoph means the back of the head, and is connected with the potencies
of the cerebellum). In the system of the old Aeon, the resurrection
of the Sun was not only from winter, but from night; and this card
“There is a budding morrow in midnight”, wrote Keats. For this
reason there appears at the bottom of the card, underneath the water
which is tinged with graphs of abomination, the sacred Beetle, the
Egyptian Khephra, bearing in his mandibles the Solar Disk. It is
this Beetle that bears the Sun in his Silence through the darkness
of Night and the bitterness of Winter.
Above the surface of the water is a sinister and forbidding
landscape. We see a path or stream, serum tinged with blood, which
flows from a gap between two barren mountains; nine drops of impure
blood, drop-shaped like Yods, fall upon it from the Moon.
The Moon, partaking as she does of the highest and the lowest, and
filling all the space between, is the most universal of the Planets.
In her higher aspect, she occupies the place of the Link between the
human and divine, as shown in Atu II. In this Trump, her lowest
avatar, she joins the earthy sphere of Netzach with Malkuth, the
culmination in matter of all superior forms. This is the waning
moon, the moon of witchcraft and abominable deeds. She is the
poisoned darkness which is the condition of the rebirth of light.
This path is guarded by Tabu. She is uncleanliness and sorcery. Upon
the hills are the black towers of nameless mystery, of horror and of
fear. All prejudice, all superstition, dead tradition - and
ancestral loathing, all combine to darken her face before the eyes
of men. It needs unconquerable courage to begin to tread this path.
Here is a weird, deceptive life. The fiery sense is baulked. The
moon has no air. The knight upon this quest has to rely on the three
lower senses: touch, taste and smell. [See
the Book of Lies Cap.pß,
Bortsch.] Such light as there may be is deadlier than darkness, and
the silence is wounded by the howling of wild beasts.
To what god shall we appeal for aid? It is Anubis, the watcher in
the twilight, the god that stands upon the threshold, the jackal god
Khem, who stands in double form between the Ways. At his feet, on
watch, wait the jackals themselves, to devour the carcasses of those
who have not seen Him, or who have not known His Name.
This is the threshold of life; this is the threshold of death. All
is doubtful, all is mysterious, all is intoxicating. Not the benign,
solar intoxication of Dionysus, but the dreadful madness of
pernicious drugs; this is a drunkenness of sense, after the mind has
been abolished by the venom of this Moon. This is that which is
written of Abraham in the Book of the Beginning: “An horror of great
darkness came upon him.” One is reminded of the mental echo of
subconscious realization, of that supreme iniquity which mystics
have constantly celebrated in their accounts of the Dark Night of
the Soul. But the best men, the true men, do not consider the matter
in such terms at all. Whatever horrors may afflict the soul,
whatever abominations may excite the loathing of the heart, whatever
terrors may assail the mind, the answer is the same at every stage:
“How splendid is the Adventure!”
This card represents, in heraldic language, “the Sun, charged with a
rose, on a mount vert”. [Cf. the Coat-of Arms of the family of the
Author of this book.]
This is one of the simplest of the cards; it represents Heru-ra-ha,
the Lord of the New Aeon, in his manifestation to the race of men as
the Sun spiritual, moral, and physical. He is the Lord of Light,
Life, Liberty and Love. This Aeon has for its purpose the complete
emancipation of the human race.
The rose represents the flowering of the solar influence. Around the
whole picture we see the signs of the Zodiac in their normal
position, Aries rising in the East, and so on. Freedom brings
sanity. The Zodiac is a kind of childish representation of the body
of Nuith, a differentiation and classification, a chosen belt, one
girdle of Our Lady of infinite space. Convenience of description
excuses the device.
The green mound represents the fertile earth, its shape, so to
speak, aspiring to the heavens. But around the top of the mound is a
wall, which indicates that the aspiration of the new Aeon does not
mean the absence of control. Yet outside this wall are the twin
children who (in one form or another) have so frequently recurred in
this whole symbolism. They represent the male and female, eternally
young, shameless and innocent. They are dancing in the light, and
yet they dwell upon the earth. They represent the next stage which
is to be attained by mankind, in which complete freedom is alike the
cause and the result of the new access of solar energy upon the
earth. The restriction of such ideas as sin and death in their old
sense has been abolished, At their feet are the most sacred signs of
the old Aeon, the combination of the Rose and Cross from which they
are arisen, yet which still forms their support.
The card itself symbolizes this broadening of the idea of the Rose
and Cross. The Cross is now expanded into the Sun, from which, of
course, it is originally derived. Its rays are twelve-not only the
number of the signs of the Zodiac, but of the most sacred title of
the most holy Ancient Ones, who are Hua. (The word HUA, “he”, has
the numerical value of 12.) The limitation of mundane law, which is
always associated with the number Four, has disappeared. Gone are
the four arms of a Cross limited by law; the creative energy of the
Cross expands freely; its rays pierce in every direction the body of
Our Lady of the Stars.
With regard to the wall, it should be noted that it completely
encircles the top of the mound; this is to emphasize that the
formula of the Rose and Cross is still valid in terrestrial matters.
But there is now, as was not previously the case, a close and
definite alliance with the celestial.
It is also most important to observe that the formula of the Rose
and Cross (indicated by the wall-girt mound) has completed the
fire-change into “something rich and strange”; for the mound is
green, where one would expect it to be red, and the wall red, where
one would expect it to be green or blue. The indication of this
symbolism is that it must be one of the great advances in adjustment
of the new Aeon to work out simply and without prejudice the
formidable problems which have been raised by the growth of
Man has advanced so far from the social system, though it was not a
system, of the cave man, from the primitive conception of property
in human flesh. Man has advanced so far from crude anatomical
classification of the soul of any given human being; he has
accordingly landed himself in the most dreadful mire of
psychopathology and psycho-analysis. Tiresome and tough are the
prejudices of the people that date morally from about 25,000 B.C.
Largely owing to their own intransigence, those people have been
born under a different spiritual law; they find themselves not only
persecuted by their ancestors, but bewildered by their own
uncertainty of foothold. It must be the task of the pioneers of the
new Aeon to put this right.
XX. THE AEON
In this card it has been necessary to depart completely from the
tradition of the cards, in order to carry on that tradition.
The old card was called The Angel: or, The Last Judgment. It
represented an Angel or Messenger blowing a trumpet, attached to
which was a flag, bearing the symbol of the Aeon of Osiris. Below
him the graves were opening, the dead rising up. There were three of
them. The central one had his hands raised with right angles at the
elbows and shoulders, so as to form the letter Shin, which refers to
Fire. The card therefore represented the destruction of the world by
Fire. This was accomplished in the year of the vulgar era 1904, when
the fiery god Horus took the place of the airy god Osiris in the
East as Hierophant (see Atu V). At the beginning, then, of this new
Aeon, it is fit to exhibit the message of that angel who brought the
news of the new Aeon to earth. The new card is thus of necessity an
adaptation of the Stélé of Revealing.
Around the top of the card is the body of Nuith, the star-goddess,
who is the category of unlimited possibility; her mate is Hadit, the
ubiquitous point-of-view, the only philosophically tenable
conception of Reality. He is represented by a globe of fire,
representing eternal energy; winged, to show his power of Going. As
a result of the marriage of these two, the child Horus is born. He
is, however, known under his special name, Heru-ra-ha. A double god;
his extroverted form is Ra-hoor-khuit; and his passive or
introverted form Hoor-pa kraat. (See above, the Formula of Tetragrammaton). He is also solar in character, and is therefore
shown coming forth in golden light.
The whole of this symbolism is thoroughly explained in the
It should, by the way, be noted that the name Heru is identical with
Hru, who is the great Angel set over the Tarot. This new Tarot may
therefore be regarded as a series of illustrations to the Book of
the Law; the doctrine of that Book is everywhere implicit.
At the bottom of the card we see the letter Shin itself in a form
suggestive of a flower; the three Yods are occupied by three human
figures arising to partake in the Essence of the new Aeon. Behind
this letter is a symbolic representation of the Sign
of Libra; this is the forth-shadowing of the Aeon which is to follow
this present one, presumably in about 2,000 years-“the fall of the
Great Equinox; when Hrumachis shall arise and the double-wanded one
assume my throne and place”. The present
Aeon is too young to give a more definite representation of this
future event. But in this connection attention must be drawn to the
figure of Ra-hoor-khuit:
“I am the Lord of the Double Wand of Power;
the wand of the Force of Coph Nia; but my left hand is empty, for I
have crushed an Universe; & nought remains.
There are many other
details with regard to the Lord of the Aeon which should be studied
in the Book of the Law.
It is also important to study very thoroughly, and meditate upon,
this Book, in order to appreciate the spiritual, moral, and material
events which have marked the catastrophic transition from the Aeon
of Osiris. The time for the birth of an Aeon seems to be indicated
by great concentration of political power with the accompanying
improvements in the means of travel and communication, with a
general advance in philosophy and science, with a general need of
consolidation in religious thought. It is very instructive to
compare the events of the five hundred years preceding and following
the crisis of approximately 2,000 years ago, with those of similar
periods centred in 1904 of the old era. It is a thought far from
comforting to the present generation, that 500 years of Dark Ages
are likely to be upon us. But, if the analogy holds, that is the
case. Fortunately, to-day we have brighter torches and more
i. The Virgin Universe.
The first and most obvious characteristic of this card is that it
comes at the end of all, and is therefore the complement of the
Fool. It is attributed to the letter Tau. The two cards together
accordingly spell the word Ath, which means Essence. All reality is
consequently compromised in the series of which these two letters
form the beginning and the end. This beginning was Nothing; the end
must there fore be also Nothing, but Nothing in its complete
expansion, as previously explained. The number 4, rather than the
number 2, was chosen as the basis of this expansion, partly no doubt
for convenience, to enlarge the “universe of discourse”; partly to
emphasize the idea of limitation.
The letter Tau means the Sign of the Cross, that is, of extension;
and this extension is symbolized as four-fold because of the
convenience of constructing the revolving symbol of Tetragrammaton.
In the case of the number 2, the only issue is the return to the
unity or to the negative. No continuous process can be conveniently
symbolized; but the number 4 lends itself, not only to this rigid
extension, the hard facts of nature, but also to the transcendence
of space and time by a continuously self-compensating change.
The letter Tau is attributed to Saturn, the outermost and slowest of
the seven sacred planets; because of these dull, heavy qualities,
the element of earth was thrust upon the symbol. The original three
elements, Fire, Air, Water, sufficed for primitive thought; Earth
and Spirit represent a later accretion. Neither is to be found in
the original twenty-two Paths of the Sepher Yetzirah. The world of
Assiah, the material world, does not appear except as a pendant to
the Tree of Life.
In the same way, the element of Spirit is attributed to the letter
Shin, as an additional ornament, somewhat in the same way as Kether
is said to be symbolized by the topmost point of the Yod of
Tetragrammaton. It is constantly necessary to distinguish between
the symbols of philosophical theory and those more elaborate symbols
based upon them which are necessary in practical work.
Saturn and Earth have certain qualities in common-heaviness,
coldness, dryness, immobility, dullness and the like. Yet Saturn
appears in Binah in respect of its blackness in the Queen’s scale,
which is the scale of Observed Nature; but always, as soon as the
end of a process is reached, it returns automatically to the
In Chemistry, it is the heaviest elements that are unable in
terrestrial conditions to support the strain and stress of their
internal structure; consequently, they radiate particles of the most
tenuous character and the highest activity. In an essay written in
Cefalù, Sicily, on the second law of Thermo-dynamics, it was
suggested that at the absolute zero of the air thermometer, an
element heavier than uranium might exist, of such a nature that it
was capable of reconstituting the entire series of elements. It was
a chemical interpretation of the equation, 0=2.
It becomes then reasonable to argue from analogy that since the end
must beget the beginning, the symbolism will follow; hence,
blackness is also attributed to the sun, according to a certain
long- hidden tradition. One of the shocks for candidates in the
“Mysteries” was the revelation “Osiris is a black god”.
Saturn, therefore, is masculine; he is the old god, (the god of
fertility) the sun in the south; but equally the Great Sea, the
great Mother; and the letter Tau upon the Tree of Life appears as an
emanation from the moon of Yesod, the foundation of the Tree and
representative of the reproductive process and of the equilibrium
between change and stability, or rather their identification. The
influence of the path descends upon the earth, Malkuth, the
daughter. Here again appears the doctrine of “setting the daughter
upon the throne of the Mother”. In the card itself there is
consequently a glyph of the completion of the Great Work in its
highest sense, exactly as the Atu of the Fool symbolizes its
beginning. The Fool is the negative issuing into manifestation; the
Universe is that manifestation, its purpose accomplished, ready to
return. The twenty cards that lie between these two exhibit the
Great Work and its agents in various stages. The image of the
Universe in this sense is accordingly that of a maiden, the final
letter of Tetragrammaton.
In the present card she is represented as a dancing figure. In her
hands she manipulates the radiant spiral force, the active and
passive, each possessing its dual polarity. her dancing partner is
shown as Heru-Ra-Ha of Atu XIX.
“The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light;
these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake.”
This final form
of the image of the Magical Formula of the God combines and
transforms so many symbols that description is difficult, and would
be nugatory. The proper method of study of this card-indeed of all,
but of this especially-is long-continued meditation. The Universe,
so states the theme, is the Celebration of the Great Work
accomplished. In the corners of the card are the four Kerubim
showing the established Universe; and about her is an ellipse
composed of seventy- two circles for the quinaries of the Zodiac,
In the centre of the lower part of the card is represented the
skeleton plan of the building of the house of Matter. It shews the
ninety-two known chemical elements, arranged according to their rank
in the hierarchy. (The design is due to the genius of the late J. W.
N. Sullivan: see The Bases of Modern Science.)
In the centre, a wheel of Light initiates the form of the Tree of
Life, shewing the ten principal bodies of the solar system. But this
Tree is not visible except to those of wholly pure heart.
1. The primum mobile,
represented by Pluto. (Compare the doctrine of the alpha
particles of radium.)
2. The sphere of the Zodiac or fixed stars, represented
The Abyss. This is represented by Herschel, the planet
of disintegration and explosion.
6. The Sun.
9. The Moon.
10. The Earth. (The Four Elements).
All these symbols swim and dance in a complex but continuous
ambience of loops and whorls. The general colour of the traditional
card is subfusc; it represents the confusion and darkness of the
material world. But the New Aeon has brought fullness of Light; in
the Minutum Mundum, Earth is no longer black, or of mixed colours,
but is pure bright green. Similarly, the indigo of Saturn is derived
from the blue velvet of the midnight sky, and the maiden of the
dance represents the issue from this, yet through this, to the
Eternal. This card is to-day as bright and glowing as any in the