I’ve been meaning to offer a meditation upon a paragraph from Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth which I have previously touched upon in a post, that I had since deleted. The paragraph is from the description of the Magus card, but before I get to it, I want to quickly look at another portion of that card’s description.
Crowley wrote, describing the Magus: “Tahuti, or Thoth, confirmed the Word of Dionysus by continuing it; for He shewed how by the Mind it was possible to direct the Operations of the Will. By Criticism and by recorded Memory Man avoideth Error, and the Repetition of Error. But the true Word of Tahuti was A M O U N, whereby He made Men to understand their secret Nature, that is, their unity with their True Selves, or, as they then phrased it, with God. And he discovered unto them the Way of this Attainment, and its relation with the Formula of INRI. Also by his Mystery of Number he made plain the Path for His Successor to declare the Nature of the whole Universe in its Form and in its Structure, as it were an Analysis thereof, doing for Matter what the Buddha was decreed to do for Mind.”
The Formula of INRI is of course the four elements – Iam (water), Nour (fire), Ruach (air or spirit), Iabeshah (earth), and derives from being inscribed upon the cross of Christ. (Purportedly meaning Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaerum). Though the Formula of INRI is more likely than not entirely Qabalistic, hence the Qabalistic Cross ritual, the most common ritual amongst Western Occultists given its incorporation with the LBRP (where the Four Elements are sent out to the four corners, and the “light” is dragged down from above and placed to bring equilibrium throughout the Tree of Life). Please read this post on Genius in Thelema with Elaboration from Yogacara to get a better understanding of how this “does for matter what the Buddha was decreed to do for Mind.” I’ll be elaborating, or drawing upon that information for this post where we’ll inspect further the description of the Magus card. As I’ve introduced the Five Dhyani Buddhas in the aforementioned post, I’ve made the following graphic to make it easier to digest what the Five Dhyani Buddhas are:
The White square in the center is “Buddha” (Emptiness, Nothingness), and represents the Akashic, or Space element. The four colours are the four elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Air), and the words outside sharing the same colours are the “Wisdoms” of the directions. Meditation on Form is the Rupajhanas (meditation on the four elements), and then the Formless meditations are the Arupajhanas, which cultivate the Wisdoms. Cultivated, they enable the “Body of Enlightenment”, or one’s “Buddha Nature” (which is emptiness).
…Now onto the Crowley passage from the Book of Thoth!
“Beneath his feet is the Kingdom (Malkuth), and upon his head the Crown (Kether). He is spirit and matter; he is peace and power; in him is Chaos and Night and Pan; and upon BABALON his concubine, that had made him drunk upon the blood of the saints that she hath gathered in her golden cup, hath he begotten the virgin that now he doth deflower. And that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah. And this is the stone of the philosophers that is set as a seal upon the Tomb of Tetragrammaton, and the elixir of life that is distilled from the blood of the saints, and the red powder that is the grinding-up of the bones of Chronozon. Terrible and wonderful is the Mystery thereof, O thou Titan that has climbed into the bed of Juno! Surely thou art bound unto, and broken upon, the wheel; yet hast thou uncovered the nakedness of the Holy One, and the Queen of Heaven is in travail of child, and his name shall be called Vir, and Vis, and Virus, and Virtus, and Viridis, in one name that is all these, and above all these.” – Aleister Crowley
Let’s break down line-for-line as to make it most clear what is being said (or at least, what I shall present in this meditation).
“Beneath his feet is the Kingdom (Malkuth), and upon his head the Crown (Kether)”
We’re talking about the full Tree of Life, and of course, this is a meditation on ourselves Qabalistically.
He is spirit and matter; he is peace and power; in him is Chaos and Night and Pan; and upon BABALON his concubine, that had made him drunk upon the blood of the saints that she hath gathered in her golden cup, hath he begotten the virgin that now he doth deflower.
As mentioned above with Buddhism, there’s “Emptiness” and “Form”, or Spirit and Matter. Peace is a reference to Chesed (Right Pillar), and Power is Geburah (Left Pillar). The Chaos and Night and Pan, being references to not denying our nature, not neglecting “the bad” within, and Pan represents All, good and bad. This line is speaking of equilibrium, which of course is the purpose of the Three Pillars in Qabalah, balancing the force of destruction with the force of creation to bring upon a manifestation of “The Middle Pillar” (our actualized self).
Upon BABALON is referring to the material world. BABALON is attributed to Binah as the womb wherein all men are begotten and wherein they shall rest. (Which is why Saturn is attributed to Binah as well, being symbolic of Time and Death). Being drunk on the blood of the saints, to me, implies that one has deluded themselves with words and teachings, true knowledge is transcendent of words and cannot be expressed in words. As Crowley put in his fictional novel Diary of a Drug Fiend, “I hardly ever talk- words seem such a waste, and they are none of them true. No one has yet invented a language from my point of view.” The reference to deflowering the virgin is to lose one’s skepticism, to falsely crown themselves in knowledge (Knowledge, or Daath, on the Tree of Life).
And that which is written: Malkuth shall be uplifted and set upon the throne of Binah. And this is the stone of the philosophers that is set as a seal upon the Tomb of Tetragrammaton, and the elixir of life that is distilled from the blood of the saints, and the red powder that is the grinding-up of the bones of Chronozon.
This part contains the line which I most wanted to write about. Malkuth uplifted upon the throne of Binah, Malkuth is the four elements, and Binah is Nuit, Cosmic Space, Silence, Emptiness! As mentioned above, Space and Spirit are interchangeable, really. What I love about the Tree of Life model, is that the Four Elements are in Malkuth which is logical, being the very bottom of the tree and representing physical form and manifestation (matter), and then there’s the six Sephirots above Malkuth in the Ruach, which shows the quality of the Spirit, as Ruach means “Spirit”.
In a Pentagram, which is symbolic of man, we have the Five Elements; Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Spirit. This setting of Malkuth upon Binah is to me a metaphor of “crossing the abyss”, and becoming “selfless”, which is the Ipsissimus grade in Crowley’s system, where the self becomes selflessness. This is the same as enlightenment in Zen Buddhism where one realizes their Buddha Nature.
This sealing away the “Tomb of Tetragrammaton”, is a nice way of saying sealing away the Four Elements (or transcending them). As mentioned with the Rupajhanas (meditation on form) from Buddhism, in Buddhist thought, these elements are the source of “Dukkha” (which is suffering). One transcends the elements by instead cultivating the Wisdom bodies and becoming “Buddha”, or emptiness. The Tetragrammaton being YHVH, which is the four elements. Yod (Fire), He (Water), Vau (Air), He (Earth). Interestingly as well, from Liber Samekh, Crowley offers this helpful tidbit: “Yod He realizing Themselves Will and Understanding in the twins Vau He, Mind and body.”
The Elixir of Life is referring to the Alchemical Azoth (which is Mercury), and the Magus card is the Mercury card which is on the path connecting Kether the Crown to the Mother, Binah. Crowley writes in the description of the Magus card: “Mercury is the Path leading from Kether to Binah, the Understanding; and thus He is the messenger of the gods, represents precisely that Lingam, the Word of creation whose speech is silence.” (It represents the living spirit).
Choronozon is Chaos. It is described as the anti-thesis of Magick (which is intended actions), and is said to be a personification of the raving inconsistent forces of the abyss. Crowley wrote in his confessions: “The name of the Dweller in the Abyss is Choronzon, but he is not really an individual. The Abyss is empty of being; it is filled with all possible forms, each equally inane, each therefore evil in the only true sense of the word—that is, meaningless but malignant, in so far as it craves to become real. These forms swirl senselessly into haphazard heaps like dust devils, and each such chance aggregation asserts itself to be an individual and shrieks, “I am I!” though aware all the time that its elements have no true bond; so that the slightest disturbance dissipates the delusion just as a horseman, meeting a dust devil, brings it in showers of sand to the earth.”
Terrible and wonderful is the Mystery thereof, O thou Titan that has climbed into the bed of Juno! Surely thou art bound unto, and broken upon, the wheel; yet hast thou uncovered the nakedness of the Holy One, and the Queen of Heaven is in travail of child, and his name shall be called Vir, and Vis, and Virus, and Virtus, and Viridis, in one name that is all these, and above all these.
The Wheel is the Ruach, (the circle in the middle of the Tree of Life). This can be the Wheel of Samsara (suffering), the Wheel of Life, etc. as explained in Aleister Crowley’s Book of Lies chapter Wheel and Whoa. The child of the Queen of Heaven is one’s own child. As Nietzche said in Thus Spake Zarathustra (don’t forget Zarathustra is turned to Zoroaster by the Greek words Zoros and Astron which means Undiluted Star!): “In your self-seeking, you creating ones, there is the foresight and foreseeing of the pregnant! What no one’s eye has yet seen, namely, the fruit—this, shelters and saves and nourishes your entire love. Where your entire love is, namely, with your child, there is also your entire virtue! Your work, your will is your “neighbor”: let no false values impose upon you!”
Lastly, Vir, and Vis, and Virus, and Virtus, and Viridis is of course V.V.V.V.V which is Vi Veri Universum Vivis Vici which means “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe”, or “By the power of truth I, a mortal, have conquered all creation.”
V.V.V.V.V representing five camel footprints across the desert (the desert is the abyss), and the camel (gimel) being the path from Tipharet to Kether. V.V.V.V.V was the name for Tipharet, and Tipharet can be represented by Osiris (sacrificial solar deity), and in Assyrian mythology Osiris becomes true of voice through Thoth. (Thoth is a god of Wisdom, Wisdom being Chokmah).
Quite a beautiful structure Crowley provided with his Thoth Tarot. We’ll discuss it further in future posts!