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Kiama 
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Liber Legis and the Thoth Tarot: Lust


Hi all,

As suggested by Isthmus Nekoi, Firemaiden, Jema, and a few others, I am starting the first thread of a mini-study group. This study group will look at the Liber Legis (Book of the Law) by Aleister Crowley, in relation to his famous Thoth deck. I thought I'd begin with the Lust card, because that is the most obvious one to me, that I see in the book.

In Chapter One, the Star Goddess Nuit is speaking. She is the female side of Deity, and so she is the aspect of womanhood. In this part:

Quote:
13. I am above you and in you. My ecstasy is in yours. My joy is to see your joy.

14. Above, the gemmed azure is
The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
The secret ardours of Hadit.
The winged globe, the starry blue,
Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!


15. Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.

16. For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight.

17. But ye are not so chosen.

18. Burn upon their brows, o splendrous serpent!

19. O azure-lidded woman, bend upon them![/b]
I see Crowley's Lust (Strength) card. The woman and her ecstacy, her love and lust, and the fact that for Crowley the Scarlet Woman and Whore of Babylon were the Goddess... The woman in the Lust card is like Nuit speaking in this passage.

Quote:
44. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.


Here, we get some taste of what Waite thought of the Strength card... The pure will and drive put to action to achieve something.

There is more in the Book of the Law relating to the Lust card, mostly Chapter 1. Personally, I see the whole of Chapter One as being spoen by the woman in the card: Crowley intended her to be the Whore of Babylon, and I think that this is the persona Nuit has taken on in this chapter.

I may be back with more later, but I'll leave everybody else to comment and say what they see in the book first.

Blessings,

Kiama

Edited to add: you can find the whole text of Liber Legis here:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/engccxx.htm

Thanks to Isthmus Nekoi for providing the link!



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Last edited by Kiama; 31-12-2003 at 07:06.
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Macavity 
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Hopefully not to divert from the thread before the poor thing starts (excitement notwithstanding) But I find it useful to eliminate some of "variables" to concentrate on the other language. So, introducing some of the main dramatis personae - And just 'cos I just LIKE this verse

Above, the gemmed azure is
The naked splendour of Nuit;
She bends in ecstasy to kiss
The secret ardours of Hadit.
The winged globe, the starry blue,
Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!

This is (essentially) a description of the Stele of Revealing (Click - If you want the full lowdown). I just remark that the (Azure!) Egyptian sky Goddess (who surrounds the tablet) is Nuit. The winged sun-disk, Crowley identifies as "Hadit". The female and male of the "cosmology" pictured. The seated hawk-headed God is Ra, who Crowley usually refers to as "Ra-hoor-khuit" etc. The priest on the right (in natty lepoard-skin) is the deceased commemorated in Stele: Ankh-af-na-khonsu. Much centres around Crowley's identification as being the reicarnation of this guy... and thus the "Chosen Priest"...

And seemingly (as ever) as beast itself... you can now carry on with verse (15)

Macavity



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Last edited by Macavity; 31-12-2003 at 09:20.
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Kiama 
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Quote:
15. Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given.
To me, this passage brings to mind the image of the Lust card: the woman (Scarlet Woman, Whore of Babylon...) riding the beast with 7 heads.

The image for the Lust card also comes from the Book of Revelations in the Bible, where this Beast with seven heads is likened to the kings of the different kingdoms of earth, who all mate with the Whore of Babylon. Of course, in the Bible this is seen as sinful, but Crowley saw it in a different way...

To him, of course the Kings mated with the Whore of Babylon: by doing so they went through the same king-making process as all Kings should... They had their Kingship bestowed upon them by pledging themselves to the Goddess (the Goddess in this case is a metaphor for the Land: a King, in order to be a true King, must pledge his life for the Land he rules, and be prepared to give it up for the Land if needed.)

But it's not just the King who benefits from this: the Land/Goddess/Whore of Babylon does aswell. She is seen as Virgin before the mating, and afterwards has become whole, complete, and has awakened. It is not surprise to see the woman in the Lust card arched in what seems to be ecstasy and exhaltation, riding the beast *ahem* (Don't you love the pictorial metaphors Crowley chose? ) and looking complete within herself, as though nothing can harm her, nothing will stop her... The power and 'awakenedness' exudes from her every pore, and she is dynamic.

Now, we're not saying here that a woman through sex becomes whole. That would be silly. What I'm saying is that in the old practice of Kingmaking (where the King pledges himself to the Land through mating with a representative of Her), the Goddess/Her representative/The Land is awakened: it is often said that without a King who has joined himself to the Land, the Land is barren. This is why in the tale of the Fisher King in Arthurian Legend, the land that belongs to the Wounded Fisher King is barren: the Grail is lost from these lands, the Grail being the symbol for the union of the King and the Land, male and female. (Notice that he was wounded by a spear... the symbol for male virility...) If the Grail were to be brought out of its rest by Percivale (through simply asking 'Whom does the Grail serve?'), the King would be healed (through the feminine aspect) and thus the Land would no longer be barren.

Anyway, I am quite aware that this has gone slightly away from Liber Legis, but I thought I'd just go with the flow of my thoughts and see where it took me.

For more information about the practice of 'Kingmaking', reading books by Caitlin and John Matthews, particularly those about Arthurian Legends, may be useful. Marion Zimmer-Bradley also picks up on this idea in her Mists of Avalon trilogy, as does Terry Pratchett in Wyrd Sisters.

Kiama



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isthmus nekoi 
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more diversions!


- What you've written Kiama seems to fit very well w/the agriculturally based myths of the Mother Goddess and Son Lover, who, like Osiris or Hadit (or Christ, Dumuzi, Dionysos etc etc) must be killed. Often, regicide (murder of kings) plays right into this weird mythological expression of how the agricultural/life cycle works.... Thankfully we don't need to take this so literally lol.

- Another side note: Babylon links Lust to female goddesses like Ishtar and Astarte who were associated with sacred prostitution which was in theory a very worshipful approach to female sexuality. I have read that the Whore of Babylon is related to sacred prostitution... I'm not sure if Crowley knew about such practices, but I think he would've approved. He may have said some disparaging remarks about women when it came to sex, but underlying a lot of these comments was a defiance against the Victorian construction of the "chaste woman" which he thought was absolute garbage.

- Lust is also ruled by Leo who is associated with the Age of Horus (Aquarius/Leo - opposing signs of the zodiac)

- The tail of the beast is a lion/serpent identified as the Gnostic god ABRAXAS who is also featured in the Tower. I don't know much about Abraxas, but Jung writes about him..... (Jung, Crowley and Nietschze have a lot of crazy things in common actually.....) OK, here's a quote from Jung from his very arcane "Septem Sermones ad Mortuos/7 sermons to the dead" (1916):

"It is unreal reality, because it hath no definite effect. It is also creatura (i.n.: existing things, distinction, the finite, Hadit), because it is distinct from the pleroma (i.n.: infinity, non-existence, Nuit)... It is force, duration, change."
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Kiama 
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Re: more diversions!


Quote:
Originally posted by isthmus nekoi
- Another side note: Babylon links Lust to female goddesses like Ishtar and Astarte who were associated with sacred prostitution which was in theory a very worshipful approach to female sexuality. I have read that the Whore of Babylon is related to sacred prostitution... I'm not sure if Crowley knew about such practices, but I think he would've approved. He may have said some disparaging remarks about women when it came to sex, but underlying a lot of these comments was a defiance against the Victorian construction of the "chaste woman" which he thought was absolute garbage.
Exactly! You've got it spot on, I believe.

Many Goddesses from around the world had Sacred Prostitutes in their temples, some of which have been said to be Sacred Prostitutes for the purpose of the aforementioned Kingmaking.

Brighid and Vesta are the two Goddesses I know of who have been said to have had Sacred Prostitutes. These Priestesses represented the Goddess they were dedicated to, and so it comes as no surprise that this was seen as a worshipful approach to female sexuality... Making it sacred.

Crowley did know about the practices I am sure, since he knew about sex magic and the basic principle of Heiros Gamos: the Sacred Marriage between Man and Woman as representatives of God and Goddess.

Kiama



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Salutations for the New Year to all

While everyone who has contributed to this minigroup on liber Al , and tarot so far shows people can be knowledgeble and enthusiastic but of this i'm sure(if you are being honest with yourself )no one goes through all those associations when one does a reading ...

I know at this point looking at theory is not the same as doing a tarot reading in practise so i'll keep that in mind .

I for one am confused here thou as to the nature and direction of the minigroup thou i might add as its the beginning of the christain new yr this would be a subject to keep people commited for some time

Sure liber al might help in drawing out some of the points about the thoth tarot but do we need some structure to this course of action or is it needed?

Liber al and the lust card as suggested by kiama ,ummmm... then what? Any verse from any chapter that relates to the lust card ?or perhaps any verse from any chapter that relates to any Atus of Tahuti in no particular order

Perhaps taking the first chapter then go thru it verse by verse to look for links in the thoth tarot, male- female quintesential one-many whatever as long as related to the tahuti deck
then repeat for chapter 2and 3

Perhaps whatever the interest of people means: any verse at any part of the book of the law as related to the thot deck this means you dont get bogged down in dogma,bored or dispondent

Perhaps start 0 degrees Aries (5 wands) then around zodiac assimilating each card with liber Al verses or thelemic concepts this means in a definite peroid some work can be achieved there is a goal thou this may take up to a year or longer. 1 card a week for 52 weeks still leaves a number of cards left ...

Just playing the Devils Advocate here of course, every one of the 78 cards could have a verse or some connection with some part of liber al vel legis sub figura 220 as has been done in the past with verses being allocated to the major trumps

Does anyone have other suggestions for ways to relate and study liber al with the crowley /harris deck

As i mentioned earlier on another post Crowleys Enochian aethyrs have many references to the 78 degrees of wisdom under Thelemic imagery in the aethyrs for those who want to examine their worth.

I wil be curious to see how this group takes shape and if i can contribute i will

Good Hunting
Bagheera 444
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Macavity 
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It's a very valid point. Whither next, indeed? I think it's been useful. I hadn't previously thought much about the identification of Nuit with Babylon. From further reading, here prompted, I realise NOW that this would be a correct assumption? But true, before working too hard, perhaps a look at the "Vision and Voice" might indeed save some work - Especially if Mr. C. explains some of it already in his scryings?

I speculate that Liber Legis (and much of this work) is a kind of cryptogram(?). Is there a cross-word addict in the house? It's certainly NOT my forte! At the risk of boring folk, by repetition, I was impressed by my previous link to THIS work. Not MY link(!) but what the author had to say! But, is he right - That the first chapter contains an encoded diagram of the tree of life? <shrug> Pretty amazing stuff anyway!

There are then other (book) commentaries on LIber Legis, No? Somehow I doubt I could better the deductions contained therin. For the Thoth card images, I think there must be some mileage in following the thread about the "holy couple" that seems to run through the Major Arcana and comes to the fore in several related cards? But I mostly just don't know (enough!) Should I be reaching for my Thoth Tarot deck or one of those Qabalistic Gematria encyclopaedic references?

Macavity



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Kiama 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Macavity
There are then other (book) commentaries on LIber Legis, No? Somehow I doubt I could better the deductions contained therin. For the Thoth card images, I think there must be some mileage in following the thread about the "holy couple" that seems to run through the Major Arcana and comes to the fore in several related cards? But I mostly just don't know (enough!) Should I be reaching for my Thoth Tarot deck or one of those Qabalistic Gematria encyclopaedic references?

Macavity
I so far have found that working all the cryptic messages in Liber Legis and the Thoth deck out without the aid of another book has been most rewarding and fun: obviously I won't manage to see everything that is there, but at least I have the joy of knowing I discovered things on my own. It's fun.

bagheera444: thankyou for all your suggestions! I think that going through Liber Legis verse by verse in different threads thought would leave it a bit disjointed: we'd be jumping from card to card within a verse, and we may run the danger fo not getting deep enough into a single card.

On the other hand, if we do a thread per card, starting with the cards that are most obvious in the Liber Legis (such as Lust) we can really get our teeth into this subject I think.

I was hoping to leave the mini-study group for this quite freeform, and see where our thoughts take us. After all, with all that cryptic-ness in both Liber Legis and the Thoth deck, I think any really structured study would be difficult to do... Especially since the deck is designed to spark trains of thought in your mind. I thought it would be easiest to just let people run their thoughts onto the keyboard, and see where it leads us!

As such, I was thinking simply that anybody who wishes to start a new thread about a card they see in the verses of Liber Legis can. Maybe with a title for the thread such as 'Liber Legis: *insert name of card*' Then they simply post the verse they are referring to, and explain what card they see in it and why.

Quote:
originally posted by bagheera444
While everyone who has contributed to this minigroup on liber Al , and tarot so far shows people can be knowledgeble and enthusiastic but of this i'm sure(if you are being honest with yourself )no one goes through all those associations when one does a reading ...

I know at this point looking at theory is not the same as doing a tarot reading in practise so i'll keep that in mind .


Good point, but with respect I'd be inclined to disagree. I think it depends *who* you are reading for. For instance, if I were reading for a friend who had no previous interest/knowledge in Tarot, and the reading was about a mundane aspect of their life, I would not go through all these associations.

But if the reading was for a friend who's main concern was their magical life, and their magical studies, then I definitely would find myself going through these associations.

It happened last night: my friend is undertaking some serious magical practice that will last until May, and since he is a Thelemite, the reading did end up going into all these associations. Mainly because these associations refer to magical processes, etc, as did his life. (The Lust card came up in fact, referring to his communion with the Whore of Babylon.)

So, yeah... that's my waffle for tonight!

Blessings,

Kiama



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