published in "Cincinnati Journal of Ceremonial Magick"
Volume I, Number 5, 1983
The Dance of the Mask is a system for the crafting of artificial egos,
and the animation of them with the correct "flavor" of energy.
The value of the system lies in the facility of directing Will
through the Masks, as a type of fine-tuned focus. It's an economy of
energy and time, and increases the effective manifestations of the
Double Current. The most common application of the Dance, as one might
suppose, is in the realm of human communication. Since the Priest(ess)
of Maat is concerned with the evolution of consciousness, all of our
dealings with sentient life should be shaped to that end.
In every human encounter, then, each Sphere of the Priest(ess) of Maat
should reflect the correct energies with the corresponding Spheres of
the "other". There are receptive and active Masks for each Sephorah,
and modes of Dancing them according to the Paths involved. In
essence, the process is that of destroying illusion by means of
The following schema is applicable to workings other than in the
Kingdom. The Masks have their own wisdom, and instruct the Dancer in
the processes of working with them. In order to present the Dance of
the Mask in a form familiar to most Western adepts, we follow the
Kabalistic Tree of Life, simply to give examples of the nature of Masks
and Dances. The individual application of them is by no means
restricted to the instances listed here; once the basic idea is
grasped, the only limit is ones own ingenuity and assessment of
circumstances in which the Dance of the Mask can and should be applied.
CXCV (Upper Tree)
0 Egg of HPK (Da'ath)
1 Dance of the Swan
4 Ravens of Odin
5 Cockerel of Mithras
7 Peacock of Ishtar
8 Ibis Tahuti
12 Tightrope Walker
13 Thai Terrple-Dancers
16 Religious Procession
17 Pas de Deux
18 Cossack Horsemen
19 Salome's Dance
20 Shaman's Medicine Dance
21 Whirling Dervishes
22 Hindu Story-Dancers
23 Indian Pole-Divers
24 Cobra-Kiss Dance
25 Greek Drama
26 Punch & Judy
27 Shiva's Drum-Dance
28 Royal Procession
29 Coven Circle-Dance
31 Group Games (Red Rover, London Bridge)
32 Street Carnival
Note: The Dances from 11 to 32 apply to Col. CXCVI
as well as to Col. CXCVII.
CXCVI (Lower Tree)
0 Dance of the Teacher
7 Cup of BABALON
CXCVII (Maat Titles)
1 She Who Moves
2 Ongoing Balance
3 Mother of the Sun
4 The Mask-Dancer
5 Air, the Unconfined
6 Black Flame
7 The Bee-Gynander
8 The Quill-Plume
10 Black Pearl within the Crystal Lotus
The Spheres referred to constitute a double Tree, the Malkuth of the
upper one being the Kether of the lower. The Paths are the same for
both Trees, and should be considered in the illumination of the
appropriate Tarot Trump.
The Dance of the Swan is pure and unmodified awareness. The Swan is the
Hindu glyph of AUM, the initial breathing-forth of Prakriti-Prana-Maya.
In this Mask, one is simply aware, without being aware of any thing, or
even of oneself.
The Dance of the Eagle of Gaia is the Malkuth of the Upper Tree and the
Kether of the Lower Tree, thus forming the link between realization and
manifestation. Gaia, or Ge, is the ancient Earth-goddess, and is
included here in reverence of the mother planet. The eagle has aerial
supremacy over vast ranges of the earth. Also, as the Alchemical Eagle,
she conceals within herself her mate, the Lion; this indicates an
effective method for bringing realization into manifestation through
the generation and use of the Elixir of Life.
The Path of Aleph, the Fool, is danced as the Mime, such as in the art
of Marcel Marceau, or of Charlie Chaplin. In this, the link between
pure awareness and wisdom is expressed in the silence of Harpocrat by
the whole-body movements of the Mime; it is the perfect blend of the
opposites of comedy and tragedy, and represents human consciousness
at its most sublime.
The Dance of the Crane, Hadit (Upper Tree) presents the appearance of
the contradiction of Wisdom. Here, the onrushing Father-Force
appears in the almost-stationary guise of the sole = gray crane, poised
on one foot on the shoreline. He stands at the juncture of the four
worlds of the elements, under the sun (fire), in the path of the wind
(air), on the sands of the beach (earth), while he darts his head
under the waves (water) to fish. His stillness represents the fact that
Primal Force, with nothing else but itself to reckon direction and
velocity by is, relatively, standing still.
The Dance of the Master (Lower Tree) is the Mask by which Wisdom
manifests when the audience isn't ready to accept Wisdom in the Mask of
the Mime (Fool). Here, the true type is the Zen Master, or the Yaqui
Man of Knowledge, Don Juan. The main task of the Master is to rid the
seeker of all prejudice in the way of looking at things, by whatever
method is the most effective - from a total ignoring of the baffled
chela, to knocking him down with an unexpected blow.
The Path of Beth, the Magus, is Danced as the Circus Tightrope-Walker,
juggling the weapons of his Art, The link between pure awareness and
Understanding enables the performer to accomplish many
miraculous-seeming feats. The Tightrope Walker acts, not for mere
entertainment of the crowd, nor for the ego-gratification of applause,
but as a living example of the capabilities of the human spirit when it
acts from "above the Abyss".
The Dance of the Owl of Nuit (Upper Tree), represents First Form, the
dark Ocean Mother, as the bird of night. The hunting owl is a silent,
moving form, dropping through the night-woods to grasp its prey. It is
perceived as undifferentiated form, a vague, feathery mass of moving
life; its cry suggests the question that leads to Understanding. The
Dance of the Mirror, (Lower Tree) is the Mask by which one may more
swiftly open the gate of Understanding for another, by reflecting him
to himself. This isn't done by anything as crude as mimicry; rather,
one contacts the subject's Angel, through one's own Angel, and shows
him the view of himself "from the outside". This is still dealing in
the language of separation, however. Closer to reality, through Tao
(which is the universal continuum, the soul-stuff of every individual),
one allows the subject to see himself through another's eyes, which
brings an expanded viewpoint of one's true place in the scheme of
The Path of Daleth, the Empress, is Danced as the Pavanne, the stately
dance of the Spanish court of old. Force is united with Form in the
most controlled and dignified dance possible, with measured movement
tracing out stylized patterns; the narrow aperature, through
restriction, increases the power of a flow of force by concentrating it
through a small opening.
The False Sephora, Da'ath, is represented in the upper Tree by a non
Dance, yogic asana, and in the lower T ree by a non Mask, the Teacher.
It' s also represented by a "non-bird", the Egg of Harpocrat. The
particular asana here would be Austin Spare's "Death Posture". A
Teacher can only lead the student to self-discovery, and Harpocrat's
Egg is the Phoenix - in potentiality.
The Path of Vau, the Hierophant, is Danced as a Religious Procession.
The Initiates wend their way through the community, away from the town,
and to the Sacred Grove where the worthy candidates are to be inducted
into the Mysteries. This Dance expresses the need, within the human
psyche, of cerernonythat portrays the importance and solemnity with
which one approaches the path of Initiation.
The Dance of the Ravens of Odin emphasizes the twin faculties of
Chesed: creative act and critical judgement. In the Dance of the upper
Tree, these faculties are turned inward. One pauses here to examine the
Work accomplished thus far, whether it be in conformity with Will,
whether it represents one's best efforts, whether changing
circumstances call for a change of style or method. Full development
of this Dance establishes an overview of the realm of practicality and
art, and insures a selfgovernance whereby all action and creation is
directed toward the doing of Will.
The Dance of the Judge (lower Tree) turns the faculties outward.
Within this Mask, one acts to create an environment in which "others"
may discover and do their Will. The critical faculty prevents
vampirism and wasting of time and energy, however, by enabling the
Judge to know, with certainty, when another is acting contrary to
The Path of Teth, Lust, is represented somewhat darkly here by the
Biblically famous Veil-Dance of Salome. It illustrates the power
inherent in human passion, which, when controlled and manipulated by an
Adept, can result in so decisive an event as the death of a prophet.
The Path of Cheth, the Chariot, assumes the form of the Cossack
horseman. It presents the essence of Going in conditions of danger. The
dare devil stunts of the Cossacks, aboard a galloping horse, illustrate
the possibility of negotiating the dangers of the Abyss via the linkage
of strength and understanding (both of the self and of the situation.)
The Dance of the Cockerel of Mithras reveals the ideal combination of
the fierce bravery of the fighting gamecock with the seasoned
endurance of the Centurian. Mithras, Lord of the Morning, is the
soldiers' god, and lends His protection in battle.
The Dance of the Firebrand (lower Tree), is the first of the Magickal
Weapons to be represented. It is the Wand as Dorje, or flashing
thunderbolt, that manifests the declaration and implementation of Will.
The Path of Zain, the Lovers, is Danced as the pas de deux (as in Swan
Lake), to demonstrate the link between beauty and understanding. The
congruent movements of paired dancers in the formal mode of ballet can
be considered as a subtle and spiritualized form of love-making.
On the path of He, the Tao of Magick is succinctly illustrated by the
Trump, the Star. But with the usual employment of opposites, the Dance
of this path is Water Ballet, wherein the Dancers immerse themselves in
the medium, rather than flowing the medium of water (or blood) through
themselves. This gives a strange, but valid approach to the link
between Wisdom and Beauty.
The Path of Yod, the Hermit, is represented by the Medicine Dance of
the Shaman. The Shaman masks his own identity within that of the god or
totem-spirit, and Dances the god-energy down for healing, or success in
the hunt, or favorable weather for crops, etc. He dances alone,
anonymously, for the benefit of the community. His is the linking of
Mercy and Beauty.
The Path of Gimel, the Priestess, is manifested by the Thai
Temple-Dancers. They dance for the people in the Temple courtyard, then
turn to face the Temple and dance for the gods, linking man and god,
Tiphereth and Kether.
The Path of Lamed, Adjustment, is shown by the Hindu Story-Dancers.
They enact religious tales, usually from the Mahabarata and the
Ramayana, much as medieval troupes enacted the Mystery-Plays from the
Bible. Their movements are smooth and balanced; particularly in the
Krishna-dances is the link between strength and beauty demonstrated.
The Path of Mem, the Hanged Man, is personified in the pole-diving of
certain primitive tribesmen. A carefully-measured length of flexible
liana is tied to the top of a tall pole, and the other end is affixed
to the ankle of the diver. He climbs to the top of the pole, gracefully
launches into space, and is saved from dashing out his brains on the
ground by the vine. He usually clears the earth at the bottom of the
dive by about six inches to a foot. He hangs upside down until his
fellows arrive to undo him.
The nicety of calculation of the length and elasticity of the vine,
coupled with the needed bravery for the stunt, epitomized the link
between intellect and strength.
The Hawk-Dance of Heru (upper tree) invokes the beauty, harmony, and
balance of the Lord of the Aeon. Horus Ra is the Sun, poised in the
Upper Air, radiating life to all below. This Dance yields more to
contemplation than to explanation.
The Dance of the Warrior, (lower Tree) manifests the attributes of
Horus in the human plane. The Warrior is attuned to his environment,
all of his elements are in harmony and balance. His being radiates
beauty and strength; he is the Golden One.
The Path of Kaph, Fortune, is Danced as a Dervish, spinning about one's
own axis to the attainment of ecstacy, Between Mercy and Victory spins
this wheel, whether it be the Dancer, Fortuna, the Zodiac, or Karma.
The Path of Nun, Death, is Danced by the Naga worshippers, who bring
milk and meat to their holy cobras, and dance with them, risking death
by kissing the snakes on the head. This links Beauty and Victory in a
very Scorpionic way.
The Path of Ayin, the Devil, is represented by the ageless Punch and
Judy show. Punch himself is a diminutive and domesticated Pan, but in
his small triumphs, the Horned One peeps through and reveals himself
briefly. This Dance links Harmony and the Splendor of Mind through
small flashes of chaos and madness.
The Ibis-Dance of Tehuti (Thoth) is self-evident, and needs no
The Dance of Excalibur (lower Tree), is the second Dance of the
Magickal weapons, here represented by one of the most famous Swords in
legend/history. The analytical power of the Mind is manifested by the
symbol of the Arthurian right to the throne (which is a small note of
caution against abusing Hod.)
Samech, Art, is represented by Greek Drama. This originated as part of
the Temple Mysteries, but eventually expanded to the masses via the
Olyrmpic Games. In the art of Sophocles and other dramatists of his
age, the Archtypes were fully manifested for the benefit of those who
were moved by them unconsciously. When viewed upon a stage, the forces
of Oedipus, Antigone, Creon, etc., could be comprehended and dealt with
consciously. This Dance links the Unconscious of Yesod to the
Consciousness of Tiphereth.
The Dance of the Peacock of Ishtar (upper Tree) links the nature of the
Goddess of Love with the hidden symbology of the Peacock, which is that
of Shaitan. This Mask encompasses all possible human relationships, not
just that of the love of Man and Woman.
The Dance of the Cup of BABALON (lower Tree) again instructs the Dancer
in the matter of manifestation. On the Outer, one should be ever ready
to receive, in utter detachment, the Blood of the Saints as it may be
freely offered to one. On the Inner, the reverse is true, wherein one
keeps not one drop for oneself, but returns all that is given, together
with all that one has of one's own, back to Nuit.
The Path of Tzaddi, the Emperor, is Danced as the Royalor Military
Procession. It is the moving, living, display of armed might, the
enforcing arm of Empire. The annual May Day parade in Russia fulfills
this type of ritual function. It is a strong, dark link of the
Unconscious of Yesod with Victory.
The Path of Resh, the Sun, is Danced as the Maypole-dance, a timeless
tradition for the welcoming of the Spring and new life. It is a natural
Dance of the Crowned and Conquering Child.
The Dance of the Vulture is the Mask of Maut, the dark aspect of Maat.
This carrion-bird is mateless, according to Egyptian legend, and
produces offspring by being fertilized by the Southwest Wind. This
eater-of-the-dead reflects the horror of putrefaction and decay, yet
represents the transformation of the remains into the stuff of new
For the Path of Qoph, the Coven Circle-Dance portrays the power of the
Lunar forces. The nature of this Dance is of the spell-weaving and
glamor-casting properties of the Moon and of the Art of Hecate.
Properly Danced, this Mask provides a certain degree of public
The Dance of Shiva/Kali represents the dark, and destructive aspect of
Yesod (and this links with the Elder Gods). Space destroys and Time
devours all that has arisen from them. The destruction is not
malicious, but impersonal and forming part of the cycle of changes that
also encompasses creation, growth, decline and the transmutation of
The Path of Pe, the Tower, is also related to destruction as Shiva's
Drum Dance, that grim celebration of the slaying of the Elephant
Demon, and Shiva's skinning off the hide and wearing it while he
Dances. Shiva is known as Lord of the Dance and this particular
destructive aspect links Mind with human relationships.
The Path of Shin, the Aeon, is Danced in children's group games -
London Bridge, Ring-around-the Rosie, Red Rover, etc. - as another
type of the wise innocence of the Child. The wearing of this Mask
imparts the vision of the Play of Maya.
The Path of Tau, the Universe, is sheer Street Carnival. It is the
celebration of life by the living, and is typified by the Mardi Gras
celebrations, the Woodstocks. It's a wild and free foretaste of the
essence of the Race-Consciousness to come.
The Malkuth of the lower Tree is the myriad and varied Dances of the
everyday Mask of Ego. This Mask is crafted under the auspices of
Heru-Ra-Ha and the Black Flame, and is the primary Mask in which the
Priest(ess) of Maat Dances in the Outer. It must therefore be strong
and stable, yet flexible enough to change into one or more of the more
specialized Masks instantly.
The system of the Dance of the Mask operates in three stages. The first
is meditative contemplative. With the use of the Tarot (Thoth
Deck), one considers the nature of each Dance and Mask, and their
interrelationships. When the essence of each Dance and Mask is
understood, and the dynamic pattern of the Double Tree is grasped as a
whole, then one begins a series of Temple rituals.
These are the actual Dancing of the Masks, either in total spontaneous
dance, or in the concentrated form of gesture/visualization (mudra).
The third phase consists of Dancing the Mask in daily living, crafting
and animating the Mask most appropriate to any situation.
Here, again, it is vital to maintain the viewpoint of the Observer,
Hadit. As one improves craftsmanship and facility with practice, the
Masks grow more and more convincing. For one with true acting talent,
the Masks may come to take on a form of life of their own, drawing the
self-belief of their creator to inform them with a human soul, and thus
requiring a repetition of the Ego death. A Mask will remain a Mask to
the Priest(ess) of Maat for as long as it's remembered that indeed
there is no Dancer.