A new order of the Sephiroth...

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A new order of the Sephiroth...

Postby h2h » Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:19 am

I’ve been meditating on Crowley’s following description of Atu XI Lust:

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 into every direction to destroy and recreate the world.

(Book of Thoth, p. 95; emphasis mine)

The thought that the order and relationship of the Sephiroths could be rearranged was, frankly, surprising for me.

My questions:

1. Is Crowley's claim that the Sephiroth are awaiting to be reordered for the new Aeon consistent with traditional Kabbalah?
2. How is this new order determined? By one's True Will or a collective consensus of reality that emerges over time in the New Aeon?
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Postby h2h » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:03 pm

CONFESSIONS
I wanted to build a wharf for my canoe. With this object I cut down a tree and trimmed a twenty-two foot log. Its circumference at the smaller end was too great for my arms to meet round it. My only instrument for moving this was a wooden pole. The tree had fallen about a hundred yards from the bank; and though it was downhill all the way to the lake, the ground was very uneven and the path so narrow that it was impossible to roll the log at all. Nevertheless, I moved it singlehanded into the lake, where I fixed it by driving piles. Passers-by spread the story of the hermit with superhuman strength, and people came from all parts to gaze upon the miracle. I should mention that normally my physical strength is far below the average, especially for work of this kind. It is quite an effort for me to shift a sixty pound load for even a few feet.
So much for the sufficiently remarkable truth. Of course imagination improved on the story. I received an indignant letter from New York from the lady who had lent me the cottage, reproaching me for having built a dam right across the lake, to the detriment of navigation!
This spasm of energy continued without abatement for some three weeks, after which I gradually recovered the balance of my normal faculties. The effect of my operations was now to increase the energy of each of them, but in reasonable proportion. I was now able to begin my proposed magical research.
In order to erect the temple of the New Aeon, it appeared necessary to make a thorough clearance of the rubbish of its ruined predecessors. I therefore planned and executed a Magical Operation to banish the "Dying God". I had written in "the Wizard Way":

He had crucified a toad
In the Basilisk abode

and now I did so. The theory of the Operation was to identify the toad with the "Dying God" and slay it. At the same time I caused the elemental spirit of the slain reptile to serve me.

http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/confess/chapter82.html

BOOK FOUR
There are many minor magical teachers, but in recorded history we have scarcely half a dozen magi in the technical sense of the word. They may be recognized by the fact that their message may be formulated as a single word, which word must be such that it overturns all existing beliefs and codes. We may take as instances the Word of Buddha, Anatta (absence of an atman or soul), which laid its axe to the root of Hindu cosmology, theology, and psychology, and incidentally knocked away the foundation of the caste system; and, indeed, of all accepted morality. Mohammed, again, with the single Word Allah, did the same with the Polytheisms, patently Pagan or camouflaged as Christian, of his period.
Similarly, Aiwass, uttering the Word Thelma (with all its implications), now supersedes the formula of the Dying God. Thelema implies not merely a new religion, but a new cosmology, a new philosophy, a new ethics. It coordinates the disconnected discoveries of science, from physics to psychology, into a coherent and consistent system. Its scope is so vast that it is impossible even to hint at the universality of its application. But the whole of my Work, from the moment of Its utterance, illustrates some phase of Its potentiality, and the story of my life itself from this time on is no more than a record of my reactions to It.

(Book 4, p. 688)
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Postby Scarecrow » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:18 pm

That made me think of this from the same book:

The card originally called “The Hierophant”, representing Osiris (as is shown by the shape of the tiara) became, in the Renaissance period, the Pope. The High Priestess came to be called “Pope Joan”, representing a certain symbolic legend which circulated among initiates, and became vulgarised in the fable of a Female Pope. More important still, “The Angel”, or “The Last Judgment”, represented the destruction of the world by fire. Its hieroglyph is, in a way, prophetic, for when the world was destroyed by fire on 21st March, 1904, [See The Equinox of the Gods, loc. cit. ] one’s attention was inevitably called to the similarity of this card to the Stele’ of Revealing. This being the beginning of the New Aeon, it has seemed more fitting to show the beginning of the Aeon; for all that is known about the next Aeon, due in 2,000 years’ time, is that its symbol is the double-wanded one. [See AL III, 34. The reference is to Maat, Themis, Lady of the Balance.]

But the new Aeon has produced such fantastic changes in the settled order of things that it would be evidently absurd to attempt to carry on the outworn traditions, “the rituals of the old time are black.” It has consequently been the endeavour of the present Scribe to preserve those essential features of the Tarot which are independent of the periodic changes of Aeon, while bringing up to date those dogmatic and artistic features of the Tarot which have become unintelligible. The art of progress is to keep intact the Eternal; yet to adopt an advance-guard, perhaps in some cases almost revolutionary, position in respect of such accidents as are subject to the empire of Time.


And (in my opinion):
1. This card comes in the middle of the major cards, and represents the coming together of forces which will yield the new offspring as it happens in nature -> so my guess is that at the end of the deck (see the 10 of disks) that reordering (or re-understanding of) the TOL has become set once again. It's not that he's saying we need to mix up how the Sephiroth are arranged. He's saying certain bits of our understanding of them has become atrophied with meaningless dogmas that can be cut free, and new insights can be attched to them based on the current Aeon.
2. My above opinion expresses my belief that he wasn't leaving the "new system of classification" open... but that he had devised it... They A:.A:., etc.
But she said: the ordeals I write not: the rituals shall be half known and half concealed: the Law is for all.
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Postby h2h » Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:03 pm

Crowley overthrowing the Aeon of Osiris/the Dying God is understandable but to claim the Sephiroth is latent and waiting to be ordered for the New Aeon is a radical and shocking statement. If he is merely describing the symbolism of Atu XI, how does one understand that Thelema implies a new cosmology?

Btw, the toad is a symbol of lust and hence its connection to Atu XI.

Regarding that quote you posted, Crowley's comments on art and the avante-garde are interesting to note in respect of his revolutionary endeavor. I just want to say one thing. In music, one usually learns all the scales, theories etc and does hard work before throwing it all out the window and advancing to freestyle.
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Postby Modest » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:42 pm

Maybe it has something to do with creating your own magical universe?
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Postby Edward Mason » Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:41 pm

93,

I have crushed an universe, and naught remains.

What I always thought Crowley meant in this passage on the imagery of Lust is that the characteristics of the sephiroth would be experienced and appreciated differently in this Aeon. So, for example, Geburah was always the awful and nasty Mars-thing the aspirant had to endure. Now, while it remains an ordeal, the ordeal is seen differently, as an intense karmic corrective; and Geburah is also a key sephirah for comprehending Ra-Hoor-Khuit.

Similarly, Thelema is much more upbeat about death as a spiritual experience. "Die daily," as the Beast put it, whereas Christians had to get much more worked up about it.

Or, with the corrected Tarot attributions of Tzaddi and Heh, those paths are now seen and experienced and described from a different perspective. Which in turn, might affect how the sephiroth they connect are seen and experienced.

I don't think the idea Crowley intended was that the sephiroth are taking on some new configuration.

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Postby h2h » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:02 pm

EM

93

Thanks for bringing up that Liber Al verse - its very appropriate. Your interpretation is reasonable but the fact Crowley would even state the Sephiroth is latent and not yet ordered in the birth of the New Aeon is undeniably strange. And to claim Thelema implies a new cosmology?

Here is a definition of cosmology:

1. The study of the physical universe considered as a totality of phenomena in time and space.
2.
A) The astrophysical study of the history, structure, and constituent dynamics of the universe.
B) A specific theory or model of this structure and these dynamics.

The ten latent Sephiroths in Atu XI are arranged in a semi-circle around a single center and the image mirrors his comments on the TOL where he writes “Modern thought conceives Reality under the image of a ring of ten ideas, such as Potential, Matter, and so on” (Book of Thoth, p. 31).

Let’s note the symbolism of Atu XI. The Cup contains both life and death, where the primordial energy of Chaos is harnessed by, and manifested through, Babalon. The horizon demarcating the upper from the lower suggests Teth/Lust, the Cup balanced between Mercy and Severity, except we see ten scattered Sephiroths from the old universe that has been destroyed in the background below the horizon. As such a more likely interpretation of the horizon is the relationship between energy and matter wherein the Cup is required for energy to manifest on the material plane (as well as the manifested forms disappearing - as the alchemists would say, solve et coagula). The Scarlet Woman riding the Beast reminds me of a happier version of Hades driving his chariot and four black horses, a screaming Persephone tucked under his arms.

For me Atu XI is clearly the most central to Crowley. The symbolism shows everything converging and uniting into One inside the Cup. One reality is dying and another one is being born.

93 93/93
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Postby Edward Mason » Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:10 pm

93,

Your interpretation of the card is intruiguing and I'll gratefully think it over, since I'm teaching this card at our regular Toronto Tarot class in two weeks. As for the sephiroth, they are being endlessly explored and understood in deeper ways; their very nature is that our understanding of them evolves all the time. A new Aeon simply ups the ante.

However, I didn't use the word 'cosmology,' so I'm not sure why you're refuting its use in this context.

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Postby h2h » Fri Jan 23, 2009 8:05 pm

93

Sorry I was referring to Crowley’s comment in Book Four that Thelema implies a new cosmology. That definition of “cosmology” was provided to clarify the point that the term implies not merely the orderly arrangement of reality, but the physical universe as we know it. The TOL is a glyph for reality and the paths between the sephiroths indicate a hierarchical and causal order. As such my question is whether aeonic change occurs within a relatively stable TOL or whether the Aeon of Horus transforms the TOL itself and whose new order remains unknown.

Crowley writes about Atu XI:

The seers in the early days of the Aeon of Osiris foresaw the Manifestation of this coming Aeon in which we live, and they regarded it with intense fear and horror, not understanding the precession of the Aeons, and regarding every change as catastrophic. This is the real interpretation of, and the reason for, the diatribes against the Beast and the Scarlet Woman in the XIII, XVII and the 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 and representatives of the Lord of the Aeon.

(Book of Thoth, p. 94)

It is worth comparing Atu XI with Hades/Persephone. His abduction of Persephone symbolizes Lust (with catastrophic consequences) and her descent into the Netherworld symbolizes the soul’s incarnation on the material plane. I leave it to others to decipher the symbolism of the pomegranates. The idea of successive reincarnations and shedding of these forms is useful in examining the lower half of Atu XI. My question is whether the ten Sephiroth of the destroyed universe (located in the background behind the Beast and Scarlet Woman) have now become shells.

I would be interested to hear what Jim has to say on this card.

93 93/93
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Postby Edward Mason » Sat Jan 24, 2009 4:35 pm

93,

JAE hasn't responded to this yet, but I thought I'd interject one comment on cosmology, by quoting Ken Wilber's <i>Sex, Ecology, Spirituality</i> (Book I, Cap 2):

"The Pythagoreans introduced the term 'Kosmos,' which we usually translate as 'cosmos.' But the original meaning of Kosmos was the patterned nature or process of all domains of existence, from matter to math to theos, and not merely the physical universe, which is usually what 'cosmos' and 'universe' mean today."

Crowley knew his Latin and Greek classics, so he was likely using the term "cosmology" in the Pythagorean sense, not the astronomical one. And the sephiroth are described as having four levels, only one of which, Assiah, is 'physical.'

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Postby h2h » Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:08 am

h2h wrote:Btw, the toad is a symbol of lust and hence its connection to Atu XI.

Interesting to note its Saturnine connection - lead as heavy and poisonous, waiting to be transformed through the Great Work into supple gold - and those grapes:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/toad.html

http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib70.html
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Re: A new order of the Sephiroth...

Postby threefold31 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:33 pm

h2h wrote:I’ve been meditating on Crowley’s following description of Atu XI Lust:

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 into every direction to destroy and recreate the world.

(Book of Thoth, p. 95; emphasis mine)


Dwtw

If indeed a new system of classification is necessary for this new Aeon, then why are we continuing to work with the old Tree of Life? I mean, I know it works well for lots of things, but is it really the qabalistic framework of a new Aeon?

In the New Naples Arrangement, the 10 spheres are numbered 0 to 9, to recognize the fact that Zero is an number like any other, and is where most mathematicians would begin counting from, (as A.C. noted in his description of the Fool card in the Tarot). At least this is a way of re-ordering the sefirot for a new perspective.

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