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Oliver St. John is the author of fifteen books covering Hermetic and Thelemic philosophy, Qabalah, operative magical Theurgy, the Tarot and astrology. He is a founding member of the Thelemic Magical Collegium, Ordo Astri, and has been a member of the Typhonian Order since 2000 e.v.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Virgo: Lamp and Staff of the Hermit

Virgo is the sign of the pure maiden, the inviolate sceptre—which is all a way of veiling with words and images an inexpressible truth. The yod, bindu, flame or seed-star that is the letter of the 20th path and Tarot trump The Hermit IX on the Hermetic Tree is Hadit, the giver of Life, the animator of all things that live and move and that have their being.

Thoth Tarot Atu The Hermit IX

Hermetic Light Magick of Thelema Blog: Tarot Atu The Hermit IX

The Tarot image for this path has the esoteric title, Prophet of the Eternal: Magus of the Voice of Power. According to The Flaming Sword Sepher Sephiroth, in our commentary on the wisdom texts of the Sepher Yetzirah:

“The 20th path of Yod connects Chesed, the sphere of Jupiter, with Tiphereth, the sphere of the Sun, and is imaged forth by the Tarot key, The Hermit IX. The path is called the Intelligence of Will since it is the stream of light or intelligence that forms the innermost structures of the mind or intellect in man; the Intelligence of Will is called thus “because it forms all patterns, and to know this Intelligence is to know the whole reality of the Primordial Wisdom”. The knowledge of the spiritual will constitutes the full realisation of the cosmic purpose or meaning in all things; on this path arises the possibility of knowing and doing the True Will, as it is termed in the cults of Thelema.”

The Tarot picture for this path depicts a hermit, for Hermes is the Greek deity that the Romans called Mercury. Hadit is Mercury in the highest—or most simple or abstract—form. Mercury is the planetary ruler of the astrological sign of Virgo, and Virgo is unique in the Zodiac in that Mercury rules her sign and is also exalted therein. The lamp of the hermit is a metaphor for the Hermetic Light, which he veils from the world. His staff is the energy, the Occult Force, which he applies with strict vigilance and economy of means towards the Great Work. Behind him is Cerberus the three-headed hound of hell. Cerberus, the son of Typhon, doubles as both scourge and Guardian of the Gate—for he prevents those that have become ensnared in the underworld from ever escaping.

The mundane character of Virgo, the mutable earth sign, is all about the particulars, the details of every-thing. The conceptual mind, driven forwards by the scourge of Hadit, yet thrown back into the abyss by the son of Typhon, breeds and begets more and more infernal children. Thus Conceptual Art is now the predominant doctrine in today’s academic institutions. It is a sign or omen that the analytical mind has attained its full immersion in the realm of matter at its lowest or most dense level.

At this material extremity of the human mind, the situation depicted in the minor Tarot card called the Ten of Swords comes about. The human heart or soul is broken up into fragments that are blasted, blown and scattered through the echoing emptiness of space—torn apart by the divisive power of the sword of the reasoning mind.

As a race, we are still in the aftermath of the explosion of the first atom bomb—a point that was frequently made by Kenneth Grant in his Typhonian Trilogies. We live in an age that trembles before the terrifying shadow of the Ape of Thoth as it is depicted in the Tarot trump assigned to Hermes-Mercury. That is why in The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga we chose to use the atom and particle physics as a metaphysical analogy.(1) The trauma of that tremendous atom-smashing event, that has rended apart far more than even physical matter, now continues to reverberate on the plane of mind. The cell phones, the computers and other digital devices that are now the plague-fetishes of our times are no more than ‘particular’ vehicles of expression for the lasting imprint of that hellish atomic atrocity upon the collective intelligence of humanity. That singular event demonstrated that the most clever and subtle minds the race could produce were only, in the end, capable of producing senseless, barbaric mass-destruction on a scale never before imagined.

The fragmented atom sweeps matter away in a titanic and lightning-fast cloud of fire and smoke, yet the very first test of its unleashed destructive power tore open the fabric of space and time. A crack was then opened up in the delicate membrane that encircles the planet—the invisible egg of light that once served as a barrier or ring-pass-not against the intrusion of those from ‘Outside’, as Kenneth Grant terms it. That is why the Fool that Aleister Crowley had painted for the highest path of Aleph on the Hermetic Tree wears a mask of madness and horror—for he has opened a veil that was once so tightly drawn to appear seamless, and therefore invisible to mortal eyes. What is the secret that the Fool beholds? It is himself that he sees, hurtling downwards towards the abyss.

The configuration of stars and planets signifies that we have truly entered a new era. It is an era in which every Initiate must conserve all of their energy and direct it towards the Great Work. Only then will they succeed in rising up above what is metaphorically termed, “the waters of the Nile flood”.

Footnote Ref.

The Law of Thelema—Quantum Yoga by Oliver St. John (Ordo Astri).

Books by Oliver St John

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© Oliver St. John 2013, 2017 (revised)