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Book of Thoth Study Group: Part 1 - Section 1

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The Cipher Manuscript ~ The Essential Golden Dawn by Chic & Sandra Tabatha Cicero.
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No history of the Golden Dawn can be given without some reference to the Cipher Manuscript - the enigmatic document upon which the rituals and knowledge lectures of the Golden Dawn are based. According to Westcott, in 1887 the Reverend A. F. A. Woodford gave him some sixty pages of a manuscript written in cipher. Woodford was an elderly Mason who, it was claimed, received the manuscript from "a dealer in curios." The manuscript, which seemed to be old, was quickly deciphered by Westcott using the cipher found in Abbot Johann Trithemius' book Polygraphiae. It proved to be a series of ritual outlines of an occult Order. Westcott asked Mathers and Woodman to join him as Chiefs of his new Order.

There continue to be many questions about where the Cipher Manuscript came from. Some people tend to think that Westcott created them. Others think that they were written by Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the author of an occult novel called Zanoni, A Strange Story, or by Frederick Hockley, the famous Rosicrucian "seer" and transcriber of occult manuscripts. There have been several other theories put forth as possible sources of the Cipher Manuscript, including a Jewish Masonic Lodge in Frankfort called Loge zur aufgehenden Morgenrothe, "the Lodge of Dawning Light" or the "Lodge of Approaching Morning Light" (with an offshoot Lodge supposedly founded in London), and a "Qabalistic College" in London headed by an influential Qabalist by the name of Johann Friedrich Falk. Both these groups have been suspected by some to have been tied to the enigmatic second Hermanoubis Temple of the Golden Dawn. However, there is no evidence to support any of these theories. In fact, the Frankfort Morgenrothe Lodge, which many modern occultists believe to have closed in 1850, is still in existence.

The real truth about the Cipher Manuscript is probably as follows: It now seems certain that the Cipher Manuscript was written by Kenneth Mackenzie, the author of The Royal Masonic Encyclopedia and a leading member of the S.R.I.A. Mackenzie had known Eliphas Levi and was a friend of Frederick Holland, another high-grade Mason. Leading Golden Dawn historian R.A.Gilbert suspects that the real Hermanoubis Temple was a Golden Dawn prototype founded in 1883 by Holland. This group was known as the "Society of Eight". Mackenzie wrote the ritual outlines of the Cipher Manuscript for Holland's order, a group that never fully manifested, or perhaps for the Sat B'hai, an Order that admitted both men and women. Westcott acquired the papers after Mackenzie's death.

With such a strong Masonic background, Westcott was familiar with the notion of organization through hierarchy. Masonic lodges could not exist without a legitimate charter from the Grand Lodge. Thus Westcott must have felt the need to provide evidence that the Golden Dawn was not something merely created out of thin air - that it had a written history to back it up. He needed a "pedigree" of a sort to prove that the G.D. had legitimate hierarchical succession from some distant authority. Since no such hierarchical authority existed for the Golden Dawn, Westcott fabricated one. Why did he do this? It was probably the only way he could attract Freemasons, Rosicrucian's, and other serious occultists to his new Order.

An additional paper, written in cipher, was inserted into the manuscript by someone - more than likely Westcott himself. This was a letter containing the credentials and address of a woman in Germany named Fraulein Sprengel (later called Anna Sprengel) who went by the magical motto of Soror Sapiens Dominabitur Astris, meaning "the wise person shall be ruled by the stars." According to Westcott, he wrote to Fraulein Sprengel and was informed that she was an Adept of an occult Order - Die Goldene Dammerung or the Golden Dawn. Through a series of letters she supposedly authorized Westcott to establish a new temple in England and gave Westcott permission to sign her name on any document that was needed. In the spring of 1888, Westcott produced a Charter of Warrant for the Isis-Urania Temple No.3 of the Order of the Golden Dawn in London.

While the Cipher Manuscript is genuine, it is certain that Westcott made up the story about Fraulein Sprengel and her letters. R.A.Gilbert has pointed out that Sapiens Dominabitur Astris was the magical motto of none other than Anna Kingsford, the founder of the Hermetic Society, who was probably the unsuspecting model for Westcott's fictitious Fraulein. Kingsford died in 1888. By making Fraulein Sprengel a high-ranking official in an obscure German Order, Westcott made her authoritative, credible, and unreachable. And once the mythical Soror S.D.A. had served her purpose, she conveniently died.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418
In Levi's, "Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie, (translated and published in English by A.E.Waite under the title Transcendental Magic) the 22 chapters of the first part are each attributed to a Hebrew letter. Strangely the contents of the chapters doesn't correspond with the Hebrew letters given by Levi, except the last chapter.

Within the Golden Dawn it was widely accepted that Levi had written the "Dogme" under an oath of secrecy. Therefore he had introduced "blinds" into the text to mislead the uninitiated.
Hmmm, very interesting. So there is something to the concealment idea. I will have to take a look at the translation.

And thanks, Aeon418, for the Tzaddi quote. Lots to think about.

And the Cicero quote. It fills out the historic questions nicely!

Thanks everyone for your replies. What a wonderful learning opportunity!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelcat
Hmmm, very interesting. So there is something to the concealment idea. I will have to take a look at the translation.
Here's part 1: http://www.hermetic.com/browe-archiv...20Part%201.pdf

Check out the headings, the hebrew letters and the Roman letters that Levi assigns to each chapter. It's bizzare stuff!
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Cool. Thanks for the link. I just downloaded it and will print it out when my work printer is less busy. Then--Into the bizzare stuff! The bizzarer the better!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelcat
Cool. Thanks for the link. I just downloaded it and will print it out when my work printer is less busy. Then--Into the bizzare stuff! The bizzarer the better!
That's what I like hear. Using works printers to print off books. LOL
It's a pity that the link for part 2 didn't work because that part contains Levi's commentary on the Book of Hermes, i.e. Tarot. And it's a pity that the footnotes by A.E.Waite haven't been included. Like this juicy one from the first chapter:
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1 There are twenty-two Trumps Major in the sequence of Tarot cards, on which account Eliphas Levi divides his Doctrine and Ritual into twenty-two chapters each. His account of the so-called Book of Hermes at the end of the work is a justification of this arrangement or a commentary thereupon. That which emerges, however, is its utter confusion. The Tarot Juggler or Magus does nor correspond to the Candidate for initiation; there is no reason why the Empress should answer to the triad or the Emperor to the quaternary; man between Vice and Virtue has no true relation with the number six, nor does the Chariot of the Tarot offer any connection with the septenary. A similar criticism obtains in other cases, notwithstanding the happy accidents by which Death is attached to the number thirteen and fifteen to the Devil. The inscriptions placed by Levi at the head of the chapters into which he divides his Doctrine give rise to other difficulties. According to his scheme the Tarot Trumps are referable to the Hebrew letters and the chapters correspond to both. A Hebrew letter appears therefore at the head of each, which is a clear issue at its value; but a connection is established also with the Roman alphabet, the result of which are stultifying, as if the letter I were equivalent to the Hebrew TETH, K to JOD, L to KAPH, R to PE, T to QUOPH, etc. It is also implied fantastically that the Roman alphabet is related to Tarot cards, but whereas the Hebrew MEM answers to the card of Death the Roman M is referred to the Hanged Man, RESH to the Judgement card but R to the Blazing Star, etc. Sephirotic allocations constitute a further medley, while Latin words included among the inscriptions are complete puzzles, e.g. the attribution of ECCE to GEBURAH and the number five.
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Sorry for entering so late into the discussion. There's so much in part I still to discuss - is there a hurry to get to some specified part as quickly as possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aeon418
That's what I like hear. Using works printers to print off books. LOL
It's a pity that the link for part 2 didn't work because that part contains Levi's commentary on the Book of Hermes, i.e. Tarot. And it's a pity that the footnotes by A.E.Waite haven't been included. Like this juicy one from the first chapter:
Quote:
1 There are twenty-two Trumps Major in the sequence of Tarot cards, on which account Eliphas Levi divides his Doctrine and Ritual into twenty-two chapters each. His account of the so-called Book of Hermes at the end of the work is a justification of this arrangement or a commentary thereupon. That which emerges, however, is its utter confusion. The Tarot Juggler or Magus does nor correspond to the Candidate for initiation; there is no reason why the Empress should answer to the triad or the Emperor to the quaternary; man between Vice and Virtue has no true relation with the number six, nor does the Chariot of the Tarot offer any connection with the septenary. A similar criticism obtains in other cases, notwithstanding the happy accidents by which Death is attached to the number thirteen and fifteen to the Devil. The inscriptions placed by Levi at the head of the chapters into which he divides his Doctrine give rise to other difficulties. According to his scheme the Tarot Trumps are referable to the Hebrew letters and the chapters correspond to both. A Hebrew letter appears therefore at the head of each, which is a clear issue at its value; but a connection is established also with the Roman alphabet, the result of which are stultifying, as if the letter I were equivalent to the Hebrew TETH, K to JOD, L to KAPH, R to PE, T to QUOPH, etc. It is also implied fantastically that the Roman alphabet is related to Tarot cards, but whereas the Hebrew MEM answers to the card of Death the Roman M is referred to the Hanged Man, RESH to the Judgement card but R to the Blazing Star, etc. Sephirotic allocations constitute a further medley, while Latin words included among the inscriptions are complete puzzles, e.g. the attribution of ECCE to GEBURAH and the number five.
Thanks very much for the link to Waite's translation of Levi, Aeon.

It is clear he has Magus=Aleph, but he is uncertain about the last two (see page 48 for his tabulation, where he finds the last two interchangeable). Except for this ambiguity, this agrees with the general Continental Hebrew-letter attributions.

I'm sorry to see this quote from Waite; his criticisms are unjust, if not deliberate misunderstandings. Comments such as "The Juggler or Magus does not correspond to the Candidate for initiation", and "There is no reason why the Empress should answer to the triad or the Emperor to the quaternary" are sheer dogmatic assertions. Levi's corresponding the individual on the card numbered "I" to a candidate for initiation seems perfectly plausible and suitable to me, while giving the card numbered "III" to the triad and one numbered "IIII" (or "IV") to the quaternary are equally so. What Waite believed might have been different, but Levi is in no case irrational.

The assignation of the Roman letters is equally understandable; Levi is not corresponding the Roman alphabet to the Hebrew; he is corresponding each in its own fashion to the XXII trumps, simply following the order of each alphabet in its own right. There is no necessary reason for the phonetic correspondences between the alphabets to match - i.e. Mem does not have to be M, since Mem is the 13th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but only the 12th of the Roman. The numbers on the cards and the order of the letters of the alphabet independently of one another seems to be Levi's concern - not corresponding Roman to Hebrew.

(Levi's only problem lay in the fact that the Latin alphabet is generally considered to have 23 letters; he had to choose whether to arbitrarily leave out K, Y or Z, and choose Y. Personally I think it is an unfortunate choice, since Y has a rich symbolism, and would have worked as the Fool).

As for the Latin captions ("Ecce for Geburah"), I don't know what to make of them; they seem to be keywords or phrases that meant a lot to Levi, and for him summed up the meaning of the sefira. "Ecce" means "Behold!", and to most people immediately summons up the Biblical phrase "Ecce Homo" - Behold the Man! - that Pilate says to the crowd clamoring for Jesus' death. "E" is also the fifth letter of the alphabet, so makes a good start for a keyword for this sefira.

In any case, I think Levi is clear when taken on his own terms. Waite (like Crowley and all believing GD members) was beholden to the "true doctrine" as taught by the GD, part of which was that Levi was a true initiate but had oaths of secrecy to observe. Since Levi was a true initiate, and the GD teaching was the authentic teaching, the only solution to the connundrum was that Levi's oaths of secrecy made him give the wrong attributions.

Ross
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelcat
Ok, last question. What does the the Universal Hexagram mean? I have read other threads about it, but I can't seem to pick up the meaning . . .
Aeon is undoubtedly right that it represents the union of Microcosm with Macrocosm. The Unicursal Hexagram represents this better because it IS "unicursal", meaning it is drawn with one continous line. Thus there is no separation between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm - the Unicursal Hexagram represents the Great Work Accomplished.

This is in contrast to the "old" common hexagram, which has two triangles (the Star of David). You have to draw each triangle separately, so there is *disunion* - the Great Work is not yet accomplished, so this old hexagram represents aspiration more than accomplisment (i.e. the triangle pointing upward represents the will to attain, while the downward pointing one represents the "grace" of the Universe descending to meet the Magus half-way. It is the union of opposites, Hadit and Nuit in Thelemic theogony, the infinitely small meeting the infinitely great; it is also easy to see the symbol for Male (upward pointing) and Female (downward pointing); their union is thus implied in this symbol).

The only difficulty with Crowley's formulation of the Unicursal Hexagram appears to be his insistence on the lines being "Euclidean".

(warning - abstract digression)

Euclidean refers to Euclid's work on the elements of geometry - this forms the basis for Crowley's later excursion on the Naples Arrangement. Euclid starts with a "point" in space; this point has only ONE dimension - position, not magnitude (it has no "size", only "place"). When a second point is introduced, then a relation can be said to exist between two points in (as yet undefined) space - this relation is the "line" (the line between the two points). Since nothing yet has any magnitude or size (you need at least another point for that), the line between the first two points cannot be said to have any breadth.

Once you introduce a third point, so long as it is not in perfect alignment with the other two, you can make a "plane" - the smallest possible geometric surface being a triangle (a sphere is geometrically an infinite surface, since it can be said to have an infinite number of points on it). Now you can speak of "breadth" or width, since you can say that "point A is farther from point B than B is from C". When there are only two points, you can only say that they are "distant" from one another.

So, why does Crowley insist that the Unicursal Hexagram's lines have to be Euclidean - that they must have "no breadth"? In the book they clearly have breadth, and you can draw it quite easily, and the lines have breadth.

I have no good answer for this question, except to think that since the lines have no breadth (in the ideal hexagram), they can be considered perfectly co-incident, and hence identical. In this way, the point of "union", in the middle, where the rose is, can be said to be EQUALLY belonging to both triangles - the accomplishment of the Great Work. This point doesn't exist on the old hexagram, since the triangles remain separate, although superimposed.

The Unicursal Hexagram is another way of expressing the idea of the "Möbius Strip".

Anybody have any better thoughts on the Euclidean lines idea?

Ross
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Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Sorry for entering so late into the discussion. There's so much in part I still to discuss - is there a hurry to get to some specified part as quickly as possible?
No, there's no hurry. But even if the next part starts anytime soon this thread will still be open.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Thanks very much for the link to Waite's translation of Levi, Aeon.
It's only half of the book. The link for part 2 didn't work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
It is clear he has Magus=Aleph, but he is uncertain about the last two (see page 48 for his tabulation, where he finds the last two interchangeable). Except for this ambiguity, this agrees with the general Continental Hebrew-letter attributions.
Yes. Again the second part containing Levi's commentary on the Book of Hermes is very clear on this. Fool = Shin etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
As for the Latin captions ("Ecce for Geburah"), I don't know what to make of them; they seem to be keywords or phrases that meant a lot to Levi, and for him summed up the meaning of the sefira.
The Latin captions puzzle me as well. Some of them make sense. Others seem quite obscure.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
In any case, I think Levi is clear when taken on his own terms. Waite (like Crowley and all believing GD members) was beholden to the "true doctrine" as taught by the GD, part of which was that Levi was a true initiate but had oaths of secrecy to observe. Since Levi was a true initiate, and the GD teaching was the authentic teaching, the only solution to the connundrum was that Levi's oaths of secrecy made him give the wrong attributions.
That's a good point Ross.
One interesting point to note is that the original author of the Cipher Manuscript, Kenneth Mackenzie, travelled to France to speak with Levi. They did discuss the Tarot correspondences, but we only have MacKenzie's account of this meeting. Both men were members of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia . But of course that proves nothing either.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
Aeon is undoubtedly right that it represents the union of Microcosm with Macrocosm. The Unicursal Hexagram represents this better because it IS "unicursal", meaning it is drawn with one continous line. Thus there is no separation between the Microcosm and the Macrocosm - the Unicursal Hexagram represents the Great Work Accomplished.
Possibly and maybe. When Crowley published Magick in Theory and Practice he had every opportunity to change the conventional hexagrams to unicursal hexagrams, but he didn't. Why? Maybe he still had a few objections to the symbol. His letters to Frater Achad indicate that he was hostile towards the Uni-Hex at one time but later changed his mind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
It is the union of opposites, Hadit and Nuit in Thelemic theogony, the infinitely small meeting the infinitely great; it is also easy to see the symbol for Male (upward pointing) and Female (downward pointing); their union is thus implied in this symbol).
Maybe the rose at the centre represents Ra-Hoor-Khuit? In one sense Nuit = Possibilty. Hadit = Individual Point of View. Ra Hoor Khuit = the unification of both in an act of Love under Will to produce experience. That's only one interpretation of these sysmbols though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell
The only difficulty with Crowley's formulation of the Unicursal Hexagram appears to be his insistence on the lines being "Euclidean".

Anybody have any better thoughts on the Euclidean lines idea?
Somewhere, I can't remember now, Crowley says that every line of a Unicursal Hexagram should be of equal length. Looking at the Hex in the Book of Thoth, is it a three dimensional shape viewed from a two dimensional perspective?
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I'm only just catching up with this - it's fascinating!

Just two things, I'd like to add. Firstly regarding a link between the Golden Dawn & Madame Blavatsky. The first English Buddhist monk, Ananda Metteya, (Allan Bennett) had been a member of the Golden Dawn. He helped to found the Buddhist Lodge of the Theosophical Society and so must have known Madame Blavatsky. Whether they influenced each other in any way, of course, is another matter.

And on gematria - there's a wonderful demonstration of gematria by a Hassidic rabbi in Chaim Potok's beautiful novel "The Chosen". Here's part of it:

"Whoever does not labor in the Torah is said to be under the divine censure. He is a nozuf, a person whom the Master of the Universe hates! A righteous man, a tzaddik, studies Torah . . . In gematriya, "nozuf" comes out one hundred forty-three and "tzaddik" comes out two hundred and four. What is the difference between "nozuf" and "tzaddik"? Sixty one. To whom does a tzaddik dedicate his life? To the Master of the Universe! La-el, to God! The word, "La-el" in gematriya is sixty one! It is a life dedicated to God that makes the difference between the nozuf and the tzaddik!"
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