Unus Deus: The Eightfold Key to Thelemic Magick

Unus Deus: The Eightfold Key to Thelemic Magick

Unus Deus: The Eightfold Key to Thelemic Magick

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

This essay is intended to serve as an explication for the symbols & ideas synthesized in the diagram which heads this article. This image combines the various ideas that are to be discussed and, by the end of reading this article, you should ideally be able to understand why everything in this image is there. The main thesis is that this “Eightfold Key” represents a way to unlock a certain understanding of certain rituals, symbols, and ideas in Thelemic magick.

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to believe that this Key is the “Key to all Thelemic Magick ever” or anything like that; it is only one perspective among potentially infinite. Its worth should ultimately be judged by whether it is seen to be a perspective that is useful, that simply “clicks,” that generates new ideas, that stimulates new thoughts and connections, and so on. That is, it should be judged by each individual as to whether it aids in the accomplishment of their Wills in some manner.

Introduction

The Qabalah is undoubtedly a crucial branch of knowledge required to delve into the deeper layers of symbolism and meaning that are inherent in our rituals. While the Qabalah is an incredibly flexible and versatile system in theory, an unfortunate but all-too-common common tendency is to learn a certain “attribution scheme” and to stick with it. For example, it is common for individuals to interpret the Mass as an expression of the Tetragrammaton formula and nothing else.

This Eightfold Key represents a new way of understanding certain central symbols (such as Therion and Babalon) and certain of our rituals – specifically, Liber XXV (The Star Ruby), Liber XXXVI (The Star Sapphire), and Liber XV (The Gnostic Mass). This Eightfold Key does not follow the typical attribution schemes that one would be used to in virtually all material on Golden Dawn and Thelemic rituals. Nonetheless, the basis of this Eightfold Key is fundamentally in attributions and ideas related by Aleister Crowley himself: none of these attributions in themselves are my unique insights. I have not encountered this particular application of these symbols to understanding common Thelemic rituals, and my interpretation & synthesis of these symbolic applications have led to writing this essay.

On that note, it must be stated clearly and explicitly that nothing herein is “official doctrine”, neither of Thelema nor of OTO nor of any organization nor any individual other than myself. While I am confident that these ideas will be relevant and at least somewhat illuminating to many (otherwise I would not have bothered writing this explication), I am well-aware that this is not the end-all answer to all questions. Even further, believing this is the sole solution would fly in the face of my belief that symbolism is inherently multi-layered as well as inherently inexhaustible in terms of its potential meanings. This Eightfold Key is offered to hopefully allow another perspective to be taken, along with the many connections and insights that ideally follow therefrom.

Finally, it should be noted that the intended audience of this essay are those who are already somewhat experienced and/or knowledgeable practitioners of Thelemic magick. The point is not that this material is “secret” or “above your grade,” but that it assumes a fair degree of familiarity with certain terms and ideas in order to make the most of the concepts herein.

The Basis of the Eightfold Key

The fundamental symbolic basis of this Eightfold Key is the table “Appendix I” in 777 & other Qabalistic Writings by Aleister Crowley, where he discusses “The Trigrams of the Yi King.” In this table, he attributes the 8 Trigrams of the Yi King to various things, most importantly to the 4 directional quarters (North-South-East-West) and the 4 cross-quarters (Northeast-S.E.-N.W.-S.W.) and certain Hermetic ideas. All the attributions are taken from this table, so nothing in terms of attributions are original, only their interpretations.

Yi King Trigrams - 8 Directions

In this Eightfold Key, we do not require an extensive knowledge of the system of the Yi King along with its Trigrams, Hexagrams, and so on, nor do we need to know what their Chinese names mean. They form the fundamental basis of the Eightfold scheme, but their basic meanings can be understood by understanding the composition of Trigrams. Trigrams are all composed of 3 lines, hence the name “Trigram,” and each line is either “unbroken” or “broken.” Unbroken lines refer to yang, the masculine principle which corresponds with our Western notions of the Element of Fire, Yod of Tetragrammaton, Chokmah, and so on; the broken lines refer to yin, the feminine principle which corresponds with our Western notions of the Element of Water, Heh of Tetragrammaton, Binah, and so on.

Trigrams with more unbroken lines can be said to be “more yang” and, likewise, Trigrams with more broken lines can be said to be “more yin.” Since there are only two possibilities for each of the 3 lines, there are a total of 2(i.e. 8) possible permutations of yang and yin for a Trigram. We may start understanding these Trigrams and their attributions by focusing first on the 4 basic directions.

The 4 Quarters

To begin to explain this diagram, we may most effectively begin by looking at the 4 basic directions of the 4 quarters: North-South-East-West. This is the fundamental orientation of virtually every single Thelemic ritual, especially if we consider Boleskine to essentially be “spiritual East” (as opposed to literally East, as the direction toward it depends on where one is measuring from). Taking certain attributions from Crowley’s 777 table we get:

—East— —West— —South— —North—
Hindu Attribution Prana Akasha Lingam Yoni
Yetziratic Attribution + O

This helps us begin to see the basic attributions of the 4 quarters in the Eightfold Key: We can see that this forms essentially two Pairs of Opposites, or two dualities. Namely, there is the East-West duality of Sol (☉)-Luna (☾), and there is the South-North duality of Lingam (+)-Yoni (O).

Interestingly, Crowley does not use typical Elemental, Planetary, Zodiacal, or Alchemical symbols for South and North: He chooses to use a Cross (+) and a Circle (O). While crosses and circles are undoubtedly part of the Hermetic tradition, it is somewhat unorthodox to attribute them in this way (it does not occur anywhere else in 777 in nearly the same way). They are essentially equivalent to the Hindu notions of Lingam (+) and Yoni (O), of which the male penis and female womb represent the most physical symbols.

Also interesting is the attribution of Prana and Akasha to Sol and Luna, respectively. Prana is the Hindu word for “energy” or “power” or “force,” and it is understood to be the underlying energy that moves all things in the Universe including ourselves (hence, for example, the practice of pranayama, which literally means the control of energy). Akasha is the Hindu word for “Space,” and represents the underlying form or space that underlies all objects in the Universe. They are essentially the Verb (Prana) and Noun (Akasha) of Hindu cosmology, to make things patently simple. They correspond nicely to our modern notions of Energy and Matter.

In terms of dualities, for this particular context Lingam (+) and Yoni (O) are more “primary” or “primordial” or “abstract”: they are more fundamental or basic than that of Sol and Luna. This can be seen in their being simplistic or “pure” geometric figures, + & O.  Lingam and Yoni correspond to “The Lord” and “The Lady” in the Collects of Liber XV, and represent the ineffable infinities that underlie all things. Qabalistically, we express this notion of being “more fundamental” by the fact that Lingam and Yoni are attributed by Crowley (in this context) to Chokmah (the 2nd Sephirah) and Binah (the 3rd Sephirah), which lie above the Abyss. Sol and Luna (in this context) are attributed to spheres further down the Tree of Life, implying more complexity and concreteness to the ideas.

Interestingly, Sol and Luna in this context are attributed to Tiphareth (the 6th Sephirah) and Malkuth (the 10th Sephirah), corresponding traditionally to Sol and Earth (i.e. not Luna, which would be Yesod, the 9th Sephirah). This may not make sense initially, but when we take a look at the Gnostic Mass, we see that the fundamental duality expressed throughout the ritual is one of Sol and Earth, or simply Heaven and Earth (terms which correspond more closely to that of the Yi King’s cosmology). Our Creed testifies to the “One Star” of the Sun as well as to the “One Earth,” we partake in the Eucharist of the essence of “the life of the Sun” and the “joy of the Earth”: plentiful examples abound throughout the Gnostic Mass in many ways. For those who are interested, this essay goes into this particular idea of Sol and Earth in the Gnostic Mass in more depth.

This all comes together once we realize where the “deities” are placed in the quarters for the Star Ruby in particular. In the East we have Therion, and in the West we have Babalon. Therion corresponds to Sol and Prana/Energy, whereas Babalon corresponds to Luna and Akasha/Space: the Sun and the Earth, both of which are explicitly identified with their respective “deities” in the Creed of the Gnostic Mass.

For the other duality, that of Lingam and Yoni, we have Hadit in the South and Nuit in the North. Hadit in the South corresponds to the Lingam and the Cross (+), whereas Nuit in the North corresponds to the Yoni and the Circle (O). This corresponds exactly with what Crowley explains in his New Comment to Liber AL I:1, “Nu is connected with North, while Had is Sad, Set, Satan, Sat (equals ‘Being’ in Sanskrit), South…” They are both traditionally associated with 0/Naught based on Liber AL and Crowley’s attributions in 777 but, in this case, they correspond “on a lower plane” with Chokmah/yang/Lingam (Hadit) and Binah/yin/Yoni (Nuit). In terms of the Trigrams, they correspond with the only two Trigrams that are completely yang or yin. Hadit is all yang lines and Nuit is all yin lines, somewhat unsurprisingly. The Sol and Luna Trigrams are the only two Trigrams that contain both yang and yin lines yet remain vertically balanced in themselves (a yang on top is balanced by a yang on the bottom, etc).

—East— —West— —South— —North—
Hindu Attribution Prana Akasha Lingam Yoni
Yetziratic Attribution + O
Sephiroth 6 (Sol) 10 (Earth) 2 (Chokmah) 3 (Binah)
Trigrams Prana Akasha Lingam Yoni

In certain ways, this attribution scheme of two dualities (Lingam-Yoni, and Sol-Luna) is more satisfying than the traditional Elemental attributions. In terms of the 4 deities present in the Star Ruby (at least the later Magick in Theory & Practice version), the more traditional and typical Elemental attributions certainly fit as each of the 4 is attributed to a Kerub which together form the Sphinx. Hence, Therion “roars” (Fire/Lion) in the East, Nuit “says” (Air/Man) in the North, Babalon “whispers” (Water/Eagle) in the West, and Hadit “bellows” (Earth/Bull) in the South. Nonetheless, it seems there are aspects that do not seem to fit quite right in this typical Elemental attribution scheme.

Yi King - 4 QuartersWhen we take these new attributions, things seem to fall naturally into place: Lingam and Yoni, the universal or primordial duality, is attributed to Hadit and Nuit along the North-South axis (reflecting what Crowley writes about them in the aforementioned section of the New Comment). Sol and Luna, essentially the Lingam and Yoni “on a lower scale” are Sol and Luna, the macrocosmic duality. Although Luna here serves as a stand-in for Earth when contemplated in relation to the Tree of Life and other contexts (such as the Gnostic Mass), it is helpful to think of Sol and Luna in this case not as 2 planets among 7, but rather as a fundamental duality in itself, much how Alchemical symbolism often utilizes Sol and Luna to be the ultimate Masculine and Feminine symbols (respectively). This therefore means that, in this case, Sol includes other “masculine” ideas like Mars and Jupiter, and Luna includes the “feminine” ideas of Earth and Venus (as some examples).

The Hebrew letters used to designate these dualities is interesting as well: Hadit and Nuit somewhat unsurprisingly correspond to Yod and Heh, the first two letters of Tetragrammaton, representing Father/Fire/yang and Mother/Water/yin. Together, they create YH (“Jah”), a name of God, which enumerates to 15 – in a way, this simple combination of letters, Yod and Heh, to create 15 shows an underlying symbolic formula at work in the Gnostic Mass, which is designated “Liber 15.” We might then expect Sol to correspond to Vav and Luna to Heh Final, but they do not. Instead, Crowley attributes them to Resh and Gimel. The reason for these attributions is found in the Tarot Trump correspondences of the Planets: Sol corresponds to Atu XIX: The Sun to which is attributed the letter Resh, and Luna corresponds to Atu II: The Priestess to which is attributed the letter Gimel. In a way, this shows us that these attributions do not follow the typical “Tetragrammaton scheme” exactly. Perhaps a new and slightly different formula of Tetragrammaton might be derived from these letters.

Finally, we have Crowley’s traditional “Planetary Attribution” column in 777 which may initially be confusing, as it uses similar symbols to other previously mentioned attributions, but it is actually quite simple. We have considered the Lingam-Yoni, Sol-Luna dualities and it should be understood that this represents one way of slicing the pie, so to speak. The One can be divided in innumerable ways, and we might divide It into Lingam, Yoni, Sol, Luna. Another, more common way to divide It is with the 7 Planets. This means that Sol and Luna are no longer understood in the former context (similar to their Alchemical counterparts as representing the ultimate Masculine and Feminine ideas in the abstract), and now they will be understood in their context as being two of the 7 Planets. In short: Symbols can mean different things depending on their context. To further explain this idea: Consider the word “day.” How long is a day? Chances are your answer is “24 hours,” which is correct. Now how long is a night, then? 12 hours, or somewhere around there, is likely your answer. Then how long is a day? 12 hours, of course. How can “day” refer to both 12 hour periods as well as 24 hour periods? It is because of context: When “day” stands alone, it represents the entire cycle of 24 hours, but when “day” is juxtaposed with “night,” it represents half of the cycle of 12 hours. In this case, the new juxtaposition is with the other classical Planets, and therefore they take on slightly different meanings.

Crowley attributes Sol to Hadit and Luna to Nuit; he then attributes Jupiter to Therion and Saturn to Babalon. Sol and Luna, in the context of the 7 classical Planets, represent the primordial duality. They are essentially the equivalent of Lingam/+ and Yoni/O when reflected into this particular symbolic scheme. Therion and Babalon cannot then be attributed to Sol and Luna as they are in the previous formulation: They refer to Saturn and Jupiter. In a sense, Saturn and Jupiter are also the “primordial” duality insofar as they were considered the two most distant planets by the ancients. Traditionally, Saturn and Jupiter are opposites: they are the Great Malefic (Saturn) and the Great Benefic (Jupiter); they represent constriction (Saturn) and expansion (Jupiter); they represent severity and harshness (Saturn) and mercy and benevolence (Jupiter). Therefore, in terms of the 7 classical Planets, Hadit is Sol, Nuit is Luna, Therion is Jupiter, and Babalon is Saturn. Not to get too far ahead, but this leaves Mars for Elemental Fire, Venus for Elemental Water, Mercury for Elemental Air, and of course Earth for Elemental Earth.

To jump ahead slightly for a moment, we see that the 4 cross-quarters (those points halfway between the 4 quarters) are attributed to the 4 Elements, and that a general scheme is therefore formed by the Eightfold Key:

  • The Ineffable Duality: Hadit and Nuit, South and North, Lingam and Yoni
  • The Macrocosmic Duality: Therion and Babalon, East and West, Sol and Luna
  • The Microcosmic Quaternity: The 4 Elements (or the duality of “active” and “passive” Elements)

This mirrors the Officers of the Gnostic Mass: Priest & Priestess form the Ineffable Duality, the Deacon contains the Macrocosmic Duality in him/herself (note that the Deacon stands between the small altar and font, which symbolically represent Sol/Tiphareth & Luna/Yesod, respectively), and the Children form the Microcosmic Quaternity (the Positive Child holding the 2 “active” Elements while the Negative Child holds the 2 “passive” Elements).

For a final detour, consider briefly how the quarters are attributed in Resh: East is Sunrise, South is Noon, West is Sunset, and North is Midnight. In this sense, East-West is the horizontal plane, and South-North actually represents the vertical plane (Noon at the zenith, Midnight at the nadir). In this sense, we can see the Ineffable Duality in the top-down axis, the Macrocosmic Duality forming the forward-backward axis, and the 4 Elements fit into the diagonals. There are, of course, various permutations of these ideas (for example, Hadit-Nuit can be conceived as Inner-Outer, Therion-Babalon as Up-Down, and the 4 Elements covering the 4 directions, essentially covering all possible directions), but I will leave that up to your own imagination and ingenium.

The 4 Cross-Quarters

The 4 cross-quarters become clear once the previous attributions are understood. They pleasingly fit into their places in a fairly natural way. The cross-quarters are North-East, South-East, South-West, and North-West. They correspond respectively to Fire, Water, Air, and Earth according to Crowley’s attributions in 777. We might add the traditional Tetragrammaton correspondences to the Elements as well.

—N.E.— —S.E.— —S.W.— —N.W.—
Yetziratic Attribution Fire Water Air Earth
 Tetragrammaton Yod Heh Vav Heh final
Hindu Attribution Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi

In this case, the Hindu attributions are exactly the same as our traditional, Western 4 Elements: Tejas means Fire, Apas means Water, Vayu means Air, and Prithivi means Earth.

In terms of Hebrew letters, the 3 primary Elements are attributed to the 3 Mother Letters: Fire is attributed to Shin (ש), Water to Mem (מ), Air to Aleph (א). Earth is attributed to the final letter in Hebrew, Tav (ת).

The Planetary attributions, as previously mentioned: Fire is attributed to Mars, Water to Venus, Air to Mercury, and Earth to Earth. Some of these attributions may seem somewhat strange, but if we keep the idea of 3 primary Elements with the additional (or “encompassing”) fourth Element of Earth it becomes clear. Mars & Venus are the same “primordial duality” as Sol & Luna (or Jupiter & Saturn) but “on a lower scale” – it is not an uncommon idea that masculine is “Mars-like” and feminine is “Venus-like.” Mercury performs the role of reconciler between these two complements/opposites, much like He often does in Alchemical imagery.  Planetary Earth unambiguously represents Elemental Earth.

Alchemical MercuryThese Planetary attributions to the Elements become especially illuminating in relation to their appearance in Liber XV, the Gnostic Mass. If we look at the creed, we see Chaos in the place of Yod/Fire, Babalon in that of Heh/Water, Baphomet in that of Vav/Air, and the Gnostic & Catholic Church in that of Heh Final/Earth. The duality of Chaos-Babalon as Mars-Venus is fairly straightforward, but the attribution of Mercury to Baphomet is especially appropriate. Mercury is the most common Alchemical symbol for the ultimate goal or result of the Great Work of Alchemy, the union of opposites. In Alchemical imagery, Mercury often stands between the dualities of Sol-Luna, Jupiter-Saturn, and Mars-Venus, reconciling the ineffable, macrocosmic, and microcosmic dualities into itself. In fact, there is a certain Mercury symbol which combines all the Planetary symbols into a single whole [see image to the right], and it looks remarkably like the traditional depiction Baphomet. Earth corresponds to the Church as the Church represents the physical manifestation of the Law. Interestingly, Baphomet therefore takes on the role that corresponds to the Old Aeon notion of Christ being the bridegroom of the Church: now we see Baphomet in the Christ-role of being bridegroom of our Church!

These attributions can be carried even farther if we look at the Collects as well. Consider the typical attribution of Tetragrammaton to the 4 Elements in this context. Sabazius X° attributes the Collects to Tetragrammaton as follows: “The Sun and The Lord = Yod; The Moon and The Lady = Heh; The Saints = Vav; The Earth and The Principles = Heh final”. With this in mind, we can see that Vav corresponds to the Element of Air, the Planet of Mercury, and the Collect of The Saints; Heh Final corresponds to the Element of Earth, the Planet of Earth, and the Collect of The Earth. These attributions from Crowley reinforce the attributions made by Sabazius to the Collects: Mercury/Saints & Earth form a duality of sorts, mirroring that of Baphomet and the Church from the Creed. The Saints are the transmitters of the Light of the Gnosis, and both knowledge and communication are traditional functions of Mercury. In this sense, the Saints may be understood as the Promethean light-bringers to Earth: they infuse the womb of Earth with the gnosis-fire of Wisdom.

These attributions to the Elements also elucidate the Officers of the Gnostic Mass: Fire/Mars corresponds to the Priest, Water/Venus to the Priestess, Air/Mercury to the Deacon, and Earth to the Children. Naturally, the Fire/Mars of the Priest is reflected in his scarlet robe, the Water of the Priestess in her wearing blue, and Air/Mercury in the Deacon wearing yellow; the Children represent Earth under the duality of black & white. Mercury is especially appropriate to be attributed to the Deacon as he is the leader of the People (Mercury as psychopomp) and bearer of the Book of the Law (Mercury as Logos/Word of God). Interestingly, the Trigrams attributed to the 4 Elements show that none of the Trigrams are entirely balanced in themselves: they are all somewhat lop-sided, and require each of the other three Trigrams in order to attain balance. In other words, it can be taken as a symbolic explanation of the necessity of Children in the Gnostic Mass: they are required for the balance of the Officers and the forces they represent.

Fire - Tejas - YodWater - Apas - HehEarth - Prithivi - Heh finalAir - Vayu - Vav

The Star Sapphire Detour

In order to further understand the depth of this Eightfold Key, especially in terms of the cross-quarters, it is necessary to look at Liber XXXVI, The Star Sapphire.

In the Star Sapphire ritual, we go through the 4 quarters and assert a unity between various aspects of Tetragrammaton. There is a unity of Y & H, of H & V, etc. This unity is represented by the phrase “unus deus Ararita” in the ritual, which is repeated in each of the 4 quarters. “Unus deus” is Latin for “one/single god”. The word “ARARITA” is actually a notariqon, or acronym, for a phrase which is translated in one of the Thelemic Holy Books as, “O my God! One is Thy Beginning! One is Thy Spirit, and Thy Permutation One!” (Liber ARARITA). It is essentially understood as a declaration of Unity of all things, especially between opposites. As it is written in another Holy Book, “Also he taught me the holy unutterable word Ararita, so that I melted the sixfold gold into a single invisible point, whereof naught may be spoken” (Liber LXV, V:15). ARARITA represents both the method (the uniting of opposites) and the result (the union thereof). Note that it is spelled “Ararita,” as if it were a word unto itself, in both the rubric of Liber XXXVI as well as in Liber LXV. Symbolically, this union is represented in each quarter by “mak[ing] the Holy Hexagram”. The Hexagram is, in this context, a symbol of the union of two opposites, represented by the two triangles which compose the Hexagram. Note that each of the quarters as one masculine aspect and one feminine aspect that unite with one another: each quarter has one upright triangle (masculine) and downward triangle (feminine) to form the Hexagram. When we proclaim “unus deus Ararita,” the Hexagram of two separate triangles symbolically becomes the unicursal Hexagram, where there is no separation between the two triangles anymore, i.e. there is “Unity uttermost showed” in 4 different permutations in the 4 different quarters. Note on the diagram at the beginning of this essay that “VNVS DEVS” forms a circle around the center. These 8 letters are to show that, ultimately, all these permutations are permutations of the One. And yet also remember “let it be ever thus; that men speak not of Thee as One but as None; and let them speak not of thee at all, since thou art continuous!” (Liber AL, I:27).

In the Star Sapphire itself, we do some ritual signs and then advance to the East and say “Pater et Mater unus deus Ararita.” This literally means “Father and Mother are one god Ararita.”  In terms of Tetragrammaton, Yod and Heh are One.

We go round to the South and say: “Mater et Filius unus deus Ararita.” This literally means “Mother and Son are one god Ararita.” In terms of Tetragrammaton, Heh and Vav are One.

We go round to the West, make the Holy Hexagram and then say: “Filius et Filia unus deus Ararita.” This literally means “Son and Daughter are one god Ararita.” In terms of Tetragrammaton, Vav and Heh final are One.

We go round to the North, make the Holy Hexagram and then say: “Filia et Pater unus deus Ararita.” This literally means “Daughter and Father are one god Ararita.” In terms of Tetragrammaton, Heh final and Yod are One. The cycle has restarted, and it perpetuates itself unto eternity. As Crowley wrote, “This mystery of the Daughter awakening the eld of the all-Father and thus perpetuating Tetragrammaton is of great importance” (Comment to 4th Aethyr).

Star Sapphire TetragrammatonNotice that the 4 quarters do not correspond to a single letter of Tetragrammaton. Each quarter corresponds to a union of two different letters.

  • East = YH (Father-Mother)
  • South = HV (Mother-Son)
  • West = VH (Son-Daughter)
  • North = HY (Daughter-Father)

This arrangement shows that each letter of Tetragrammaton is in one of the cross-quarters: Father/Pater (Yod) in the North-East, Mother/Mater (Heh) in the South-East, Son/Filius (Vav) in the South-West, and Daughter/Filia (Heh final) in the North-West. NOX FormulaBy going around the circle, one has therefore formed the sigil of N.O.X., the cross-in-the-circle when the cross is tilted like an “X.” This sigil secretly contains all 3 letters of N.O.X. within it, just as the normal upright cross “☩” contains the letters L.V.X..

If we now take the attributions of Tetragrammaton to the cross-quarters derived from the Star Sapphire, and we add back in the attributions of the Trigrams from 777, we see that they match up flawlessly.

—N.E.— —S.E.— —S.W.— —N.W.—
Yetziratic Attribution Fire Water Air Earth
Hindu Attribution Tejas Apas Vayu Prithivi
 Tetragrammaton Yod Heh Vav Heh final
Star Sapphire Pater Mater Filius Filia
Trigrams Fire - Tejas - Yod Water - Apas - Heh Air - Vayu - Vav Earth - Prithivi - Heh final

After all this in the ritual of the Star Sapphire, we then “return to the Centre, and so to The Centre of All.” We are symbolically returning to the center of the Eightfold Key, the Unity (unus deus) underlying the eightfold permutations. We then “mak[e] the Rosy Cross,” which symbolically is essentially the union of opposites (Rose and Cross, similar to Circle/Yoni and Cross/Lingam). Eventually, the rubric states “Also shall Set appear in the Circle.” Set is a complex symbol in Thelema, but the basic meanings can be seen in his identity with Horus and by the Qabalistic spelling of his name as given by Crowley.

In this Aeon of Horus, Ra-Hoor-Khuit, or technically Heru-Ra-Ha (both of which, along with others, are essentially forms or aspects of Horus), represents the supreme Unity, often identified with the Sun or solar nature in some way. Traditionally, Set is the enemy of Horus; they are the archetypal night and day. Yet, in this new Aeon, Horus is a symbol that contains its opposite in itself. Whether it is understood as Set, or Apophis (the Greek name for Apep, the Egyptian serpent of destruction and darkness and therefore enemy of the Sun/light/day), this “anti-Christ” or “anti-Horus” is contained within itself, similar to how Heru-Ra-Ha contains both Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-paar-kraat. Crowley writes, “This child Horus is a twin, two in one. Horus and Harpocrates are one, and they are also one with Set or Apophis, the destroyer of Osiris” (Equinox of the Gods, ch.8). Set is therefore ultimately an identical symbol to that of Horus.

There are further considerations of the name “Set” itself being related to similar terms like Sat (“Being” in Sanskrit), Satan, Saturn, and the like. Set is indeed a symbol of Satan, insofar as Satan represents the eternal enemy of Christ, the darkness against the light yet again. We can also say Satan is a symbol of Set in the same way – in fact, Set showed up in writings a few millenia before Satan did.  The point is really moot, for this Satan would necessarily need to contain its own opposite to be an adequate symbol: just as Christ needs Anti-Christ, Anti-Christ needs Christ. All opposites are codependent and intertwined: this is a fundamental understanding of the new Aeon, the Aeon of the Crowned and Conquering Child, which is itself the union of the past Aeons of Mother and Father into a new synthesis. Whether we see it as Set, or as Horus, or as Heru-Ra-Ha, or as Hoor-Set, or Hoor-Apep, or both or neither, they all are symbols pointing to the conjunction of opposites in a single Unity, unus deus. 

So Set appears in the Circle while we are at its Centre. We just saw how Set is identified with Horus, and now we can look at the name “Set” itself. Crowley spells Set in a particular way: the Greek letter Sigma and the Greek letter Theta. The trick is that he uses certain archaic forms of both of these letters.  For the Sigma, instead of the typical “Σ”, Crowley used an earlier script where Sigma looks essentially identical to our modern “C”. Note that this letter resembles a lunar crescent. For Theta, instead of the typical “Θ”, which looks like a Circle with a short horizontal line through the middle, Crowley used the older form which was a circle with a dot in the middle, essentially identical with the typical Solar glyph “☉”. Combining these, we have something like “C☉” which forms a sort-of sideways “Sol & Luna conjoined” glyph. “Set” is therefore a name for Sol & Luna conjoined, which is itself simply one archetypal expression of the union of opposites, whether Lingam & Yoni, Sol & Luna, Father & Mother, Subject & Object, Cross & Circle, etc.

Note that the final Sign of this portion of the Star Sapphire is that of “Baphomet.” BAPHOMET is a name that represents the union of all opposites. It is a fitting name to symbolize the union of the 8 permutations of this Eightfold Key into the single unity. Like “UNUS DEUS,” BAPHOMET is 8 letters, as seen in a Holy Book of Thelema where it is written, “I am Baphomet, that is the Eightfold Word…” (Liber A’ash). 

Epilogue

And with that, one should (theoretically) be able to decipher the various aspects of the Eightfold Key. If you’ve made it this far in the essay, I give you my congratulations, and I hope that the journey allowed for some new connections and/or insights to occur. Again, I see this mainly as an extrapolation of ideas already inherent in Crowley’s own attributions and writings, but since I have been and am still unaware of any further elucidation of this particular scheme, I felt that creating this Key may be useful and interesting to some Thelemic magicians who are grappling with similar concepts. Lege. Judica. Tace. 

Unus Deus: The Eightfold Key to Thelemic Magick

Love is the law, love under will.

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7 comments

  1. This gave much clarity on personal experience. I’ve been dealing with supposed schizophrenia, bassicaly two voices in my head that identify as horus and set. And the conjunction of them is called lucifer or venus. This put some clarity and focus on some of the things i have been dealing with.

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  2. A very interesting elaboration on the eight-element cosmology. I hope you don’t mind a little bit of self-promotion, but I think you might find my latest book quite interesting; it’s called “The Magician’s I Ching”, and it addresses the I Ching with a Thelemic perspective.

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  3. Don’t forget the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, which also comes from a Thelemic tradition. Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon and Samhain. Best, Soror HP.

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