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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.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Equinox of Maat: the Balance of the Year

When the Sun enters Libra at the Equinox, the days and nights are equal in length. Soon the days will be shortening and the nights lengthening as we, in the northern hemisphere, journey towards the winter solstice. In the southern hemisphere the situation is reversed; the days will be lengthening and the nights shortening, as the journey begins towards the height of summer.

Crowley-Harris Thoth Tarot Atu Adjustment VIII

Equinox of Maat: Thoth Tarot trump Adjustment VIII

The Tarot trump for Libra is Adjustment VIII, depicting the Egyptian goddess Ma’at. A young woman is masked and bearing on her forehead the uraeus serpent. She is crowned with the ostrich plumes of Ma’at, and is perfectly poised upon her toes. In her hands is a magical sword, with the point downwards. She is The Daughter of the Lords of Truth, the Ruler of the Balance. She represents the absorption and transmutation of all experience in the flowing forth of continuous manifestation. She is the mistress of creation and destruction, and the balance of light and darkness. She is cosmic law, and the law of nature: truth, twofold, and the immutable law of the universe. Her powers are the works of Justice and Equilibrium.

Black and White
Day and Night
North and South
East and West

Let us find Ma’at in all things!

There is a popular notion that any affliction suffered in this life must owe to some ‘karmic debt’ incurred in a previous life. Let us dispel this myth, for the rule of Ma’at is not in any way a moral or ethical law. The law of nature is exact; we must not confuse this with any notions of human justice based on morality—if we do then we confuse this idea of karma and make little tin gods of ourselves.

The Oracle of Maat

Behold! I am the Eye of my father, Ra. I am the one in whom the word is accomplished. I am the Bride of Tahuti and the Measure of the Universe. I am truth, and the feather is my symbol. To pass my door, you must justify every part of your soul, and you must visit the beautiful fields of the grasshoppers. You shall bathe in the pool where the Sailors of Ra in his sun-boat bathe. Purify yourself in my name, and come before me as Horus Triumphant. For I stand upon one side of Ra in the ark of the heavens and Tahuti stands upon the other. And unless you have found the secret that I have hidden in the earth, then you shall not pass my gates. But if you know all these things, and if you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra, and if you are pure—then Tahuti shall call your name! And you shall be known in the palace of the starry ones, and shall live forever and forever. (1)

Ma’at is the goddess that presides over the weighing of the heart ceremony, and is the “Straight One”, the principle of Perfect Truth and the Balance of the Universe. She is clothed in emerald green and wears the crown of double plumes. The feather is her symbol, and the Ankh of Life. Maat is the Eye of Ra, the Sun, and is the bride and consort of Thoth or Tahuti, the Egyptian Hermes-Mercury, the god of magick and of magick words and writing—the Word or Logos.

The Neters or Gods are the personification of impersonal principles. Ma’at, especially, is a cosmic principle. The ancient Egyptians loved puns, the play on words, and there is one here, where Ma’at says, “If you have found me that dwells in the heart of Ra…” One of the epithets of Ma’at was “The Me”, the Measure of all things. One must find the measure, the “me” that is Ma’at , in the heart, the centre of all.

Ma’at is the Eye of Ra, and the secret hidden in the heart of Ra—she is his daughter, after all, and the apple of his eye. As with students, a good pupil is one in the centre of the eye, one that beholds, yet is a void, an emptiness—therefore receptive, ‘one who beholds’, capable of true meditation. Also one who hears—the human ear was shaped by the sounds, not the other way round. The heart itself is the void place of spirit. An Egyptian hieroglyph for the heart (Ab) is a pot or vessel and the handles are the ‘ears’. The ‘eye’ is the emptiness inside. Nuit wears a pot on her head, her name, “Nu”; she is the Holy Graal.

Everything about Ma’at is double, and the Egyptians usually had two of everything, male and female Gods, Neters, everything. Ma’at presides over the Hall of Dual Manifestation, and everything in nature is double, there is ‘no-one’ in truth.

The whole power of Egyptian magical spells is in the words; to know they are true words and to speak them forth is the perfect Truth that is equal to Ma’at

Equinox: The Egyptian Goddess Maat, Ruler of the Balance

This depiction of Ma’at with a single feather is from Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Volume 1, pp. 418–419.

The Oracle of Ma’at is taken from "Ceremonies of Nuit and Ra", Ritual Magick—The Rites and Ceremonies of Hermetic Light, Volume VI (Ordo Astri).

Other Books by Oliver St John

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© Oliver St John 2013; revised 2017