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Five-shard crystal of Alara

Book of Thoth: The Four Eights


THE FOUR EIGHTS

   

The four Eights are attributed to Hod. Being in the same plane as the Sevens on the Tree of Life, but on the other side, the same inherent defects as are found in the Sevens will apply. Yet one may perhaps urge this alleviation, that the Eights come as (in a sense) a remedy for the error of the Sevens. The mischief has been done; and there is now a reaction against it. One may, therefore, expect to find that, while there is no possibility of perfection in the cards of this number, they are free from such essential and original errors as in the Lower case.

The Eight of Wands is called Swiftness, as one might expect from its attribution to Mercury and Sagittarius. This is an etherealization of the idea of fire; all gross elements have disappeared.

(Let there be a short digression with regard to the signs of the Zodiac. In the case of each element, the Cardinal sign represents the swift, impulsive onrush of the idea. In the Kerubic sign, the element has come to its full balance of power; and in the other signs the force is fading away. Thus, Aries represents the rush of fire, Lightning; Leo, its power, the Sun; and Sagittarius, the rainbow its sublimation. Similar considerations apply to the other elements. See the Attributions section: The Triplicities of the Zodiac.)



In the Eight of Wands, fire is no longer conjoined with the ideas of combustion and destruction. It represents energy in its most exalted and tenuous sense; this suggests such forms thereof as the electric current; one might almost say pure light in the material sense of that word.

The Eight of Cups is called Indolence. This card is the very apex of unpleasantness. It is ruled by the planet Saturn; time, sorrow, have descended upon pleasure, and there is no strength in the element of water which can react against it. This card is not exactly "the morning after the night before"; but it is very nearly that. The difference is that the "night before" has not happened! This card represents a party for which all preparations have been made; but the host has forgotten to invite the guests; or, the caterers have not delivered the good cheer. There is this difference, though, that it is in some way or other the host's own fault. The party that he planned was just a little bit above his capacity; perhaps he lost heart at the last moment.

The Eight of Swords is called Interference. At first sight, it would seem easy to confuse it with the Eight of Cups; but the idea is, in reality, quite different. The card is attributed to Jupiter and Gemini; accordingly, there is no weighing down of the will by internal or external stress. It is simply the error of being good- natured when good-nature is disastrous. Gemini is an airy sign, an intellectual sign; Jupiter is geniality and optimism. This will not do in the world of Swords; if one must hit at all, a knock-out blow is best. But there is another element in this card; that of unexpected (the Eights, being at heart Mercurial, are always that) interference, sheer unforeseen bad luck. Trivial incidents have often altered the destiny of empires, brought to naught "the best laid plans of mice and men".

The Eight of Disks is called Prudence. This card is a great deal better than the last two, because, in purely material matters, especially those relating to actual money, there is a sort of strength in doing nothing at all. The problem of every financier is, first of all, to gain time; if his resources are sufficient, he always beats the market. This is the card of "putting something away for a rainy day".

Its attribution is Sol in Virgo; it is the card of the husband-man; he can do little more than sow the seed, sit back, and wait for the harvest. There is nothing noble about this aspect of the card; like all the Eights, it represents an element of calculation, and gambling is securely profitable if one has adjusted the cagnotte properly.

There is yet another point which complicates this card. The Eight of Disks represents the geomantic figure Populus, which is an easy-going figure, and at the same time stable. One thinks of Queen Victoria's time, of a man who is "something in the City" rolling up to Town with Albert the Good advertized by his watch- chain and his frock-coat; on the surface he is very affable, but he is nobody's fool.

Belial

Regulus in Virgo

XI. LUST

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 your wrath."

"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 operation.

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.

Waratah-Blossom

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 unto Her.
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.

AO-156 GRID CELL CENTRED (sp.) ON CUZCO, IN SOUTHERN PERU [+]

There is a further description in The Vision and the Voice. (See Appendix) 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' Grail. "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 of men. "For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight." 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 Universe. 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.).

BABALON

The Cry of the 12th Aethyr, Which is Called LOE [+]

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 her whoredom.

"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 glory.

"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 Night!

"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 crownéd 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 potent spell.

"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."

Asmodeus

Book of Thoth: XXI The Universe

XXI. THE 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 beginning.

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, the Shemhamphorasch.

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 by Neptune.
  3. Saturn.
    The Abyss. This is represented by Herschel, the planet of disintegration and explosion.
  4. Jupiter
  5. Mars.
  6. The Sun.
  7. Venus.
  8. Mercury.
  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 Pack.

THE VIRGIN UNIVERSE

[From The Vision and the Voice, 9th Aethyr]

"We are come unto a palace of which every stone is a separate jewel, and is set with millions of moons. 'And this palace is nothing but the body of a woman, proud and delicate, and beyond imagination fair. She is like a child of twelve years old. She has very deep eyelids, and long lashes. Her eyes are closed, or nearly closed. It is impossible to say anything about her. She is naked; her whole body is covered with fine gold hairs, that are the electric flames which are the spears of mighty and terrible Angels whose breastplates are the scales of her skin. And the hair of her head, that flows down to her feet, is the very light of God himself. Of all the glories beheld by the Seer in the Aethyrs, there is not one which is worthy to be compared with her littlest finger-nail. For although he may not partake of the Aethyr, without the ceremonial preparations, even the beholding of this Aethyr from afar is like the par taking of all the former Aethyrs.

"The Seer is lost in wonder, which is Peace.

"And the ring of the horizon above her is a company of glorious Archangels with joined hands, that stand and sing: This is the daughter of BABALON the Beautiful, that she hath borne unto the Father of All. And unto all hath she borne her.

"This is the Daughter of the King. This is the Virgin of Eternity. This is she that the Holy One hath wrested from the Giant Time, and the prize of them that have overcome Space. This is she that is set upon the Throne of Understanding. Holy, Holy, Holy is her name, not to be spoken among men. For Kore they have called her, and Malkah, and Betulah, and Persephone.

"And the poets have feigned songs about her, and the prophets have spoken vain things, and the young men have dreamed vain dreams: but this is she, that immaculate, the name of whose name may not be spoken. Thought cannot pierce the glory that defendeth her, for thought is smitten dead before her presence. Memory is blank, and in the most ancient books of Magick are neither words to conjure her, nor adorations to praise her. Will bends like a reed in the tempests that sweep the borders of her kingdom, and imagination cannot figure so much as one petal of the lilies whereon she standeth in the lake of crystal, in the sea of glass.

"This is she that hath bedecked her hair with seven stars, the seven breaths of God that move and thrill its excellence. And she hath tired her hair with seven combs, whereupon are written the seven secret names of God that are not known even of the Angels, or of the Archangels, or of the Leader of the armies of the Lord.

"Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, and blessed be thy name for ever, unto whom the Aeons are but the pulsings of thy blood."