Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Egyptian Revival or The Ever-Coming Son in the Light of the Tarot

Book Review: The Egyptian Revival or The Ever-Coming Son in the Light of the Tarot by Frater Achad (Kindle Edition, originally 1923)

This is Frater Achad’s scheme of re-ordering the Tarot trumps, as the 22 paths between the Qabalistic Sephira, into a formulation which he found to be more intuitive. Actually, he reversed the entire order of the trumps as indicative of the ascending Serpent of Wisdom path rather than the descending Lightning Bolt of Creation path as is usually depicted. He noted that this new configuration united the Sephira with their planetary rulers which he saw as an ‘astrological harmony’ that confirmed his intuitive gleanings. Achad acknowledged that multiple interpretations of the Tarot trumps are possible and not contradictory. He introduces his new interpretation in light of the New Aeon (of Thelema) which he seems to equate with the Aquarian Age.

Achad referred to the Egyptian Revival as a revival of interest during the time of this book (the 1920’s) in Egyptology and deciphering the civilization of Ancient Egypt. He mentions the brief period of King Khu-en-aten where a so-called mono-theistic religion of Aten, the solar disk, was established (circa 600’s BCE I think). I have heard Neo-Pythagoreans assert that this was the doctrine that informed Pythagoras and perhaps the Orphics as well. Of course, after his reign, the (possibly more polytheistic) cult of Amen-Ra was re-established by King Tutanhkamen.

Achad links Christ and Osiris, as many others do. He mentions that the ‘Ever-Coming Son” of the title of the book refers to Horus as the Crowned and Conquering Child from Crowley’s Neo-Egyptian mythology. He considers the earliest myth patterns of Egypt as the Son and the Mother – Sut-Typhon. The earliest mother was the Hippopotamus goddess who later became Typhon, the Water Dragon. Also he mentions the Great Star Goddess, Nuit of the Heavens, as a figure of the Great Mother. The child, or son, he describes was from the earliest time the twins Sut-Horus as the gods of the two horizons – so it is Sut the opener and Horus the closer, or Sut as darkness and Horus as light. He notes that the word Pharaoh comes from Har-Iu (Horus) as then Coming Son of two houses. (IU refers to two or twin). Har also refers to Hak as Harpocrates (Greek) as the hidden babe God of Silence, another twin of Horus.  “Har-Makhu was the Star-God of both Horizons. SutHar developed into the Solar Deity afterwards called Aten, or Atum.” The twin lions of Sut-Horus are equated with Atum-Ra. He says this attests to the Typhonian origin of Aten. He then mentions the “Four Suts” (sons) as perhaps the equinoxes and solstices and then asserts that a fatherhood of the son was proposed as Tum – the god of sunset, and so Aten becomes Atum. He gives a progression from Tum to Atum to Atum-Ra. (I have also heard that Atum is a very old god and a god before creation – so perhaps a bit contradictory). He then says that the Osirians branded Sut-Typhon as ‘fatherless’, perhaps ‘Harlot and Bastard’ of a sort as mother and son without father and so Sut was seen as orphan. Achad equates ATUM with ADAM of the nearby Hebrews. Achad notes that King Khu-en-aten made god-figures in human form rather than as human-animal hybrids. Achad goes on to say that IU (as two or twin) refers to male and female in one. He sees IU as the root of the word Jew and Iu-Sif as the origin of the Hebrew name Joseph. Iu-Sif as well as Har-Iu refer to this ‘Ever Coming Son.’ He then says that, “IU, as the Genetrix, became IU-Pater or Jupiter; and IU the Son who Comes, became IU-Sus, or Jesus. The Ever Coming Son was the prototype of the Wandering Jew, originally a symbol of Eternal Youth.” (most IE students would equate Jupiter with the Dyeus-Pater – or god as father, of the Indo-Aryan tribes.) I guess the bottom line is that Atum, as Child of the Mother, later became Atum-Ra, as God the Father. He describes this as a transition from the first man being derived as ‘blood of the mother’ to being derives as ‘essence of the male.’ He also goes into much astrological symbolism such as the Precession of the Equinoxes to equate the Piscean Age (the Fishes) as that of Jesus, as many seem to do, as well as Osiris/Horus. However, he also sees Crowley’s promulgation of the Aeon of Horus (proclaimed in Liber Al vel Legis in 1904) as the Age of Horus the Avenger (of his father Osiris) as Ra-Hoor-Khuit. Again he sees this new time as the time of Man, as the water-bearer Aquarius. I should note that although this is an interesting summary or sketch of Egyptian doctrine of this time period, it is not explained as clearly as would be ideal.

Next Achad gives a brief summary of Qabalistic doctrines of the emanation of the limitless light into denser and denser planes and their centers known as the ten Sephira. In terms of Tetragrammaton he notes that Chokmah is the Father, Binah the Mother, the next six Sephira (Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod) are the Son, and Malkuth is the Daughter. “The Daughter must marry the Son and so become the Mother, true mate of the Father, before all is reabsorbed into the Crown of Light.” He discusses the intelligences ruling the Sephira and the Qabalistic notions of lower-self and Higher Self in terms of the subduing of ego and the Knowledge of Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. He also discusses the Pentagram/Hexagram conjunction in the 5=6 formula of Adeptus Minor in terms of the word of the Aeon, ABRAHADABRA. He speaks often about the Divine Plan, or God’s Plan, as if pre-destination is a major factor. I find that a bit disconcerting, although I can perhaps understand that we may have some sort of destiny based on our karmic tendencies and momentums from the past. I see his ramblings here as similar to Crowley’s – every human-star riding in their pre-destined orbit.

Achad links Kether with AMOUN and also to the sphere of the Primum Mobile, the First Cause or First Whirling Motion. He mentions “the Jupiter-Amoun Tradition of the Fatherhood of God as a Supreme and Concealed Force.”  He goes through the ‘rays’ of the Tetragrammaton as Yod (in Chokmah), He (in Binah), Vau (in Tiphareth), and He (in Malkuth).

Achad goes on to explain the trump-paths of his newly restored path attributions in great detail and he makes the suggestion that this was the original configuration (mainly due to the matching of astrological attributes).  He divides the descent into two sets of paths refered to as the Tradition of Light (Jupiter-Amoun) and the Tradition of Darkness (Fatherless Child and Mother – Sut-Typhon), the first descending from Kether to Chokmah to Tiphareth and the second from Kether to Binah to Tiphareth. He also notes a revision from the Sut-Typhonian tradition of reckoning the year into 365 days through the technique of Sirius (the star of Sothis-Isis) to that of Osiris at 365 ¼ days by virtue of the lunar-solar calendar. Achad proceeds to go through each path explaining the symbolism of the new configuration and comparing to the Rider-Waite attributes.

The Qabala and Tarot traditions require becoming familiar with attribute symbolism which also includes Hebrew letters, planetary rulers and intelligences, and elements. There is also gematria and incorporating ideas from Crowley’s Thelema and Liber AL. Achad here often throws Egyptian symbolism into the mix, the Tarot being sometimes depicted as ‘the Book of Thoth’. He refers to the Light and Dark Traditions as the White and Black Sphinxes which the Charioteer, the Lord of the Aeon (Horus), uses to pull him along. He refers to the High Priestess, the ‘Priestess of the Silver Star’ as his counterpart and he says she holds (Crowley’s) Book of the Law on her lap – as “the lost Thora of the Wheel of the Tarot.” He sees the Charioteer and the High Priestess as the initiators of the Mysteries of Hadit and Nuit, respectively. He mentions a theme of raising the fallen daughter (Malkuth as the animal soul) to the throne of the mother (Binah, or Understanding). Certainly, this reformulation of the attributions of the paths of the Tarot trumps is akin to the reformulation (by Crowley) towards the Aeon of Horus and the Law of Thelema. Achad goes into some detail in explaining the symbolism of the Sun, Man, and Tiphareth as 666. He notes Horus as the opener, the revealer – that all is revealed by the light of the sun at dawn. Regarding the Tradition of Light he says that the Sun  (as Atum-Ra) is indeed the center of the Solar System, and the Father in that sense, but that he is not the Father of the whole Universe (as the Dark Tradition based on Sirius and the earlier reckoning of cyclic time knows). He equates the Tradition of Darkness with Time and the Tradition of Light with Space. He notes the symbolism of Baphomet (as the Devil of the Tarot) as harmonizing in Tiphareth (where they cross) both the Light and Dark traditions. Thus it is the combining of the traditions of Set and Horus. He sees this combining also in the Hermetic axiom – As above so below – as well as in the hand gestures of Baphomet for the two alchemical operations – solve and coagula. He also sees the Beast (666) as the representation of Man as between matter and spirit, with both being necessary for spiritual development. Interestingly, he notes that the Sut-Typhonian tradition became despised and along with it the ‘woman’ became despised and the New Aeon is a means for this unbalanced situation to be reversed, as the woman – as the Mystery of Babalon – to be exalted – by the actions of the cosmic Beast. Hadit, as the infinitesimal and Nuit, as the infinite – he sees as Time and Space as well – and Hadit he mentions as the hidden and lost father (of the fatherless mother-son Sut-Typhonian tradition). So one can see Crowley’s New Aeon symbolism as a restoration of the influence of the lost/hidden/despised Dark Tradition. So in the Mystery of Babalon and the Beast they are seen as the incarnated form of Nuit and Hadit, as Malkuth and Kether – 10 and 1 – so 11 – so Daath. When united in the form of their son – as Ra-Hoor-Khuit – is in Tiphareth.

Achad is quite speculative throughout this text which is quite rich with symbolism, which it seems to me is a key feature of the Western Esoteric Tradition, He mentions the Precession of the Equinoxes and suggests that the ancients knew about this and goes on to note symbolic situations along the zodiacal changes. Again, he sees the Aeon of Horus as equivalent to the Precessional Age of Aquarius. He suggests that the key features of this age are the recognition of the Great Mother of the Stars (Nuit) and the discovery of the Secret of the Lost Father (Hadit). Next he notes Crowley’s progression of the Ages of Isis (past time of Mother worship), Osiris (father god veneration), and Horus (redeeming child-god). He notes these as a recurring triplicity in the formula of IAO – Isis-Apophis-Osiris. He notes Horus as the avenger Apophis, or Horus the Avenger – as the one who destroys those who try to ‘go back’, presumably against the flow of the times. Those who go ‘with the flow’ go along with the “Ever-Coming Son” and the way of destiny and so there is a harmony and this is like the Way of the Tao (which he also notes is a sort of harmony beyond the way of the magician and the way of the mystic). Thus, Destiny is seen as a forward-moving force and to go back is to go against destiny.

Next Achad gives his own understanding of the Law of Thelema and how it has worked in his own life. This is perhaps a more practical aspect of the text. He notes that the statement, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law” implies that it is the whole of the law for all so that all might be doing their will and so interfering with the will of others needs to be considered. He found that by striving to not be willfully influential to others by considering their own will-paths, that he benefitted by developing better relationships.

He goes through much more fairly well contemplated imagery and symbolism of Sephira, paths, trumps, planetary symbolism, and gematria. He mentions more astronomically-oriented notions as the orbits of the planets being the ‘aura of the sun’. But as we now know – the sun is not the center of the universe (the true father) but merely the center of the system with which we travel through the universe. The Sun, he says, is the Son of the Star Mother and the Father of the Earth. Symbolically, he sees the sun’s current influence as the House of Aquarius – as the breath or prana of the sun during this cycle when it is in that house at the vernal equinox. He goes on to talk about the ‘Universal Tradition’ but loses me there in the symbolic-ness. Finally, he recites the Emerald Tablet of Hermes with a few comments and suggests that the tablet and this text should be studied together – as the symbolisms relate, presumably.

It should be noted that Achad was first wholly accepted by Crowley as a ‘magickal son’ and great revealer but that later he became less praise-worthy and Crowley eventually rejected him as mad. Apparently, he had some issues, possibly with his ‘messianic complex’ and had difficulties from this. He was noted later to become a Catholic with some others of his group – the Great Brotherhood of Light – presumably as they somehow thought they could reform Catholicism into a new updated enlightened form – which was probably a bad idea from the outset. Even though Achad shows great symbolic ability perhaps he was a bit too tuned into the Tradition of Light as he calls it – seeking to reform it from within – rather than to reject it’s corrupt exoteric form. His occasional mentions of the Great White Brotherhood smack a bit of Theosophy and New Age style thinking and his rather frequent mention of ‘God’s Plan’ and God’s Will show at least a slight tendency towards monotheistic dogmatism. He equates the Will of God to True Will as a will informed by the Higher Self rather than the personal will.

Achad certainly did add much to Crowley’s symbolic tradition regarding the reformulation of Western Esotericism to accord with his Law of Thelema – which is likely the most significant overhaul of this tradition – ever.   

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