Supping At The Angel & Feathers
This article explores the link between three elements of magick - the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, extra-terrestrialism, and the Aeon of Maat. The link is intimate - stripped of jargon, they are different facets of an identical experience. The experience is that of trafficking with wider and deeper ranges of consciousness - often referred to as 'Outside' or 'Beyond'. Dissolving the veils of jargon, we find a beautiful simplicity at the core.
'The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel' is an extremely glamorous concept in the Western Magical Tradition. It remains nothing more than a concept until it has been experienced; and, once it has been experienced, the concept bears no relation whatever to the reality. This reality is an unshakeable insight into the substratum, the fountain of living waters which underlies and infuses the play of manifestation. Communion with the Angel may be realised by a formal Working such the Sacred Magic of Abramelin, or Crowley's Liber Samekh; or it may arise with apparent spontaneity, an accumulation of experience which reaches 'critical mass'. Contact is not, though, at the behest of the magician; it is the Angel which opens the Operation. This is because the magician is a facet of the Angel, not - as he or she might like to think - an autonomous being. The human is a terrestrial expression of the Angel, nothing more. 'Extra-terrestrial', therefore, refers to vast reach es of awareness that stretch beyond the terrestrial, and of which the terrestrial is a limited expression.
This extra-terrestrial reality is often referred to as the Aeon of Maat, the Matrix or Womb from which manifestation arises. The Aeons have been been interpreted as periods of time which are bounded by the Precession of the Equinoxes, but this superficial interpretation veils the reality to which the term points. As in the Angel and extra-terrestrialism, we must look beyond the concept.
Some readers may be wondering about the basis for the above remarks. A number of years ago I received an unmistakeable call to undertake the Knowledge and Conversation, and it seemed clear to me that Liber Samekh was to be my chosen instrument. This was in spite of the fact that I did not consider myself to be competent in some of the magical techniques of Samekh; however, since the time had clearly arrived, I had to do my best with the skills available. I stuck closely to the format of Samekh in terms of frequency of ritual, order of stages, etc. Liber Samekh is a very intensive Operation, an accelerating intensity and frequency of Working that has to be kept to. This intensity gives rise to a powerful momentum, the nature and intensity of which can be appreciated only by someone who has undertaken something similar.
The accelerating dynamism of the initial ten moons of Samekh is a preparation for the eleventh, culminating moon. The expectation is that the dynamism generated will hurl the aspirant into rapturous, orgasmic communion with the Angel. It doesn't; the essence of this final moon is of waiting for the approach of the Angel, who has indeed been the instigator of the Working. This is an extremely hard lesson; undoubtedly, it has to be learnt afresh at first hand by the aspirant. There is a passage of Liber LXV, The Book of the Heart Girt with the Serpent which captures this point beautifully:
The prophet cried against the mountain; come thou hither, that I may speak with thee!The nature of the Angel is at once both simple and profound. It is the Gateway to the continuum of consciousness which lurks behind the mask of multiplicity, and which is extraterrestrial; this continuum is also masked as the Aeon of Maat, which is not a sequence of time but insight into Reality. This Reality is ever-present, veiled by terrestrial identity; we have only to cease to be hypnotised by our self-imposed limitations, for it to become apparent that we are that Reality, always have been, and always will be. Hence the above line 'I waited patiently, and Thou wast with me from the beginning'; it really is that simple. The notion of the jivanmukta, he who is liberated whilst still living, is a glorious one; on the other hand, the only thing keeping us from this liberation is the illusion that we are not free.
Don't take my word for it, though. Your Angel knows of that gorgeous little tavern "The Angel & Feathers' which is always just around every corner ...
Supping At The Angel & Feathers
It is as well at the outset to clarify the use of the term 'terrestrial'. It denotes simply that which is earth-bound, or human. The terrestrial vehicle is a mask, an incarnation of a consciousness, the veils of which dissolve in the course of initiation. 'Extra-terrestrial', therefore, indicates that which is outwith or beyond the comparatively narrow range of human, earth-bound, terrestrial consciousness. 'Beyond' or 'Outside' is often used in a similar fashion - that which lies beyond the confines of the terrestrial vehicle. A fine example of the use of the term 'terrestrial' in this context occurs in the first paragraph of Lovecraft's story Beyond the Wall of Sleep:
... From my experience, I cannot doubt but that man, when lost to terrestrial consciousness, is indeed sojurning in another and uncorporeal life of far different nature from the life we know, and of which only the slightest and most indistinct memories exist after waking ... We may guess that in dreams life, matter, and vitality, as the earth knows such things, are not necessarily constant; and that time and space do not exist as our waking selves comprehend them. Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on this terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon.Magick has a mystical core - the realisation of sunyavada, the emptiness at the heart of matter. This emptiness is simultaneously a plenitude, nourishing in its depths the seed of manifestation which flowers in its perfection and then fades. The rhythm of the universe is maintained in a perpetual expansion and contraction, becoming and absorption. Initiation is the unveiling of consciousness; whether this is viewed as an internal or an external journey makes little odds, since both amount to the same thing. It is the assimilation of magical and mystical experience - a process of understanding, of insight. The nature of this insight is an awareness that consciousness does not rest with the individual, but is universal or cosmic; there is a continuum, not a multiplicity of isolated units.
Whatever the nature of the magical or mystical practices pursued, the real change is at the level of Jnana - intuitive knowledge. What changes is not consciousness, but that which we have previously thought of as ourselves in relation to it. Awareness is no longer restricted to the terrestrial vehicle; the focus shifts, attuning to wider and deeper ranges of consciousness beyond what was formerly considered to be the self. The sense of individuality is only a restriction or dungeon so long as we incarcerate ourselves therein, a bondage forged by our own preconceptions. We are all facets of the universe. There is no individual self which endures, but the flux and flow of perception, like wave after wave surging forth. The wave is a transient form of the water, giving way to another wave. Consciousness roils, throwing forth shadows from its depths; these shadows are the glamours of manifestation, a perpetual play which flows and shimmers, urgent and alive, sweeping this way and that. We are drawn from these shadows: not as monads, self-existent and eternally enduring; but as transient ripples of consciousness which flow outwards, melding and coalescing with other ripples. In this incessant weaving amidst the continuum of consciousness, self and not-self mingle and fuse, slipping back and forth, trespassing want only across apparent boundaries which have always been fluid.
To become alive to this transience seems an extraordinary thing; yet it is the most natural state in the world. It is a measure of how we have cut ourselves off from reality - drawn the covers over our heads and huddled in our ghettos. Initiation is a vitriol, dissolving the illusion of separateness. Only in recognising individuality as illusion, and ceasing to cling to it, can we see past what we are not, to the fecund infinity of that which we really are. This relinquishment is the pressing of the blood into the Cup of Babalon. It is a work of reconciliation: not of the melding of self and other, the microcosm and the macrocosm, the apparent individual and the rest of the universe, which have never been apart anyway; but of our awareness of that identity. This reintegration is a path not of renunciation, but of fulfilment - of awakening to a wider, richer, deeper identity. It lies at the heart of magick, and is the Great Work. Without such a vision, there is only results magic, which accentuates the sense of separation from the rest of the universe. This is the path of compulsive individuality, the attempt to seal up the blood in the body, to cling to the sense of separation, inured to the flux and flow of the universe - a tide which inevitably claims all transient shadows for the melting pot. This melting pot is the Cup of Babalon, from whence springs the gamut of existence, and to where it returns.
Initiation is thus not something which occurs to an individual. The terrestrial vehicle is a refraction of a much vaster field of awareness. As initiation runs its course, awareness becomes wider and deeper, less bound up with the terrestrial vehicle, and increasingly alive to reaches which lie beyond. This is not a steady process, but unfolds by leaps of intuitive insight. Its course is sometimes expressed as a move from the self towards the Self the totality, the cosmic consciousness, of which the self is a refraction. All knowledge is Self-knowledge, and initiation is a process of remembering, or reintegration. All apparent entities are ranges of consciousness, equally vehicles of the Self. There is a sea of sentience; we traffic with wider and deeper ranges, and there is assimilation: 'For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union'. Entities such as Lam and Aiwass are no more entities in their own right than are human beings: not remote, august beings, but equally shadows in the sweep of sentience.
The sentiments of Lovecraft in the passage already quoted are not so far from those of Crowley, when he wrote:
My observation of the Universe convinces me that there are beings of intelligence and power of a far higher quality than anything we can conceive of as human; that they are not necessarily based on the cerebral and nervous structures that we know, and that the one and only chance for mankind to advance as a whole is for individuals to make contact with such Beings.Crowley's traffickings with Aiwass and Amalantrah are examples of such contact. Crowley usually needed a medium to facilitate such communication, although there were occasions when mediumship did operate fitfully for him: the glimpses of Aiwass during the earthing of Liber AL, for instance. In the case of the Amalantrah Working, this mediumship was provided by several Scarlet Women, who were sensitised by sex, drugs, and alcohol in various combinations, and became oracular. Their visions were often located at an astral Temple, peopled by doubles of those taking part in the physical sessions, as well as the forms of colleagues who were at a distance. Frequently what the medium was seeing and hearing was meaningless to her, but oracular and intended for the comprehension of Crowley. Communication was sometimes explicit; more often it was subtler, the essence being conveyed by means of numbers, symbols, I Ching hexagrams, Tarot cards, and the like. Communication in this fashion may seem at first sight perverse, and wilfully obscure. However, the use of gematria and symbols can spark intuitive leaps, flashes of insight that are simply not amenable to expression in words. It is not unlike the mathematician's approach to communication in terms of pure number, as being more precise than language in its apprehension. Thus, Workings such as that with Amalantrah, or those in the Algerian desert in 1909, go beyond the subjective - although there is bound to be some such tincture, like light shining through coloured glass. These are records of traffic with extra-terrestrial forces, and their worth is substantiated by the fact that, years later, other occultists are able to study these records and make creative use of them, with a view to picking up some of the multitude of threads and continuing with them.
Extra-terrestrial contact has also occurred in the case of people who do not regard themselves as occultists or magicians. The contact need not be conscious, and an interesting example of this occurs in Lovecraft's work, much of which was written as an outlet for, and an attempt to come to terms with, his extraordinarily rich, intense and exotic dreams. Quotation has already been made above from Beyond the Wall of Sleep; many others of Lovecraft's stories instance traffic with extra-terrestrial elements. A perusal of his Selected Correspondence makes it clear that this contact occurred whilst dreaming; during waking hours, an obsessive rationalism came into play, and Lovecraft dismissed the significance of his dreams as anything other than fodder for his stories. The stories themselves, though, are clear testament to how deeply he was disturbed by such contact; and also that, however much the rational aspect of him cavilled, in deeper dimensions of consciousness he not only knew that the contact was real, but also understood the significance. Such contact typified the intrusion of alien consciousness into his own - alien, that is, to his conscious, terrestrial vehicle; alien in the sense of being out with the self-imposed boundaries of that terrestrial vehicle; but ultimately not alien, since nothing exists outside consciousness. The sense of alien intrusion via the matrix of creative imagination was expressed by Lovecraft in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith of October 17th, 1930:
... The true function of phantasy is to give the imagination a ground for limitless expansion, & to satisfy aesthetically the sincere & burning curiosity and sense of awe which a sensitive minority of mankind feel towards the alluring & provocative abysses of unplumbed space and unguessed entity which press in upon the known world from unknown infinities & in unknown relationships of time, space, matter, force, dimensionality, & consciousness.For the magician, the first clear instance in his initiation of sustained, extraterrestrial contact is often the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel - a contact characterised as marking occult puberty. It is difficult not to speculate on the nature of the Angel, since this stage of initiation looms so large in magical tradition. Like so much else, though, it is beyond the conception of the human mind. Sometimes the Angel is delineated as an entity wholly separate from ourselves, almost a spiritual body-guard assigned to watch over us; at ' others, the descriptions sound reminiscent of that venerable concept 'Higher Self'. This is an ambiguous term; often it is simply a case of someone abstracting their favourite characteristics and cherishing them as the epitome of 'spiritual culture'. On the contrary, the Angel is of a nature which is beyond the terrestrial vehicle, and of which the mind can retain only fleeting glimpses. However, whether the Angel is a denizen of the Inner or the Outer, a refraction of a quintessential awareness or something wholly separate, is beside the point. There is no 'Inner' or 'Outer', simply because there is nothing of which to be inside or outside. We are attempting to understand in terrestrial, logical terms something the nature of which lies beyond such comprehension.
Contact with the Angel need not be some sudden, overwhelming bolt from the blue, like Saul of Tarsus being knocked from his horse in a blinding blaze of vision. More often, it is a case of a multitude of experiences which are cumulative, reach critical mass, and then assume shape. Again, the contact need not be sensed consciously, but might instead fertilise unknown dimensions of consciousness, dormant until there is a foreshadowing. There is one common characteristic: a durable link has now been forged between the terrestrial mind and those wider, deeper ranges of consciousness which nourish it. This growing, intimate awareness is of far more enduring worth than any amount of pyrotechnics - the sort of dramatic sound and fury which many magicians seem to expect from traffic with the Angel. An initiation of such intensity is not confined to occultism; a similar experience runs like a thread through many different traditions and disciplines. The hallmark, though, is that there is an opening-up of awareness, a sensitivity to impressions which were not previously perceived. This can be seen across the gamut of creative artistry - artistry, that is, which is not simply human artifice. There can be no doubt that artists such as Beethoven, Dali, Mozart and van Gogh, to name but a few, were enjoying something so akin to traffic with their Angel, that the only difference lies in the label put to the experience.
Traffic with the Angel is not the attainment of an individual - though, given the depths of our solipsist conditioning, it is perhaps inevitable that it should be seen as such. Rather, the impulse for communion comes from beyond the aspirant - from the Angel; it is the registering of this impulse which is the opening of the Working. The work of the aspirant lies not in striving for contact, but in preparing himself for the approach of the Angel. This is akin to true creativity; rather than manufacture, the artist seeks to render himself a fit channel through which inspiration is more likely to flow. The approach of the Angel is sometimes figured as a lightning flash, a bolt or spear, a swift transfixion. This glyphs a sudden shift in perception or perspective, a swift change of vantage point, like waking from a dream. These are flickers of a wider awareness - the Beyond - bursting through momentarily. It is experienced as momentary by terrestrial mind since this is the only way in which eternity and infinity can be interpreted. This approach of the Beyond can assume myriad guises. It can take the form of dreams, such as in the case of Lovecraft; for a mathematician, it may be figured in the intuitive glimpse of subtle, profound and elusive formulae; for the artist, a beauty and symmetry that has never suffused his work before. In terrestrial terms, we have the trafficking with wider and deeper ranges of consciousness, or alien contact. In reality, alien is the very last thing that it is; on the contrary, it is the communion with a deeper, more fundamental identity. This deeper identity is sometimes figured as the Aeon of Maat - which, although often masked as a span of time, is in fact a level of initiation. The Aeon of Maat glyphs this substratum of advaitic awareness in which the sense of terrestrial identity is rooted and with which it is suffused - an awareness, the glimmerings of which constitute traffic with the Angel. A consideration of the Aeon of Maat, therefore, has much light to throw on the subject of traffic with extra-terrestrial entities. It is as well to start with an account of the Aeons generally, and some thoughts on the Aeon of Horus in particular. This will, inevitably, draw upon Crowley's work, and make clear that the Aeon of Maat is implicit in that of Horus.
Throughout much of Crowley's work, the Aeons are presented in a relatively straight-forward, literal manner: an Aeon spans approximately two thousand years, the succession of the Aeons being marked by the Precession of the Equinoxes. There were several early aeons which were primeval and prehistoric, covering many thousands of years, during which the universe was manifested and life evolved. More recently we have the emergence of the Aeons as they are more familiar to us - beginning with the Aeon of Isis. This was marked by a matrilinear pattern of organisation and the predominance of the feminine, reproduction considered to be by the female alone. With it came the worship of the Goddess as Mother, the male role being restricted to that of consort and son. This was succeeded by the Aeon of Osiris, during which the röle of the Mother was superseded in importance by that of the Father, and the social pattern became patrilinear. This in its turn has given way to the Aeon of Horus, the Eternal, ever-coming Child, marked by the growing awareness of the continuity of consciousness. The Aeon of Horus is a precursor to that of Maat, when the common nature of consciousness is realised. After this comes the Pralaya, the absorption of the manifest back into cosmic Night. In this way manifestation is perpetually thrown forth and reabsorbed, in an eternal play of Being and Not-Being, of becoming and dissolution.
This view concentrates on the Aeons as the unfolding or evolution of manifestation. They are also, however, stages of initiation or insight. These two ways of regarding the Aeons - macrocosmic and microcosmic - are not different; they do not, even, represent the same principle applied on different planes. The key to the understanding of Maat is advaita: not divided. Awareness is a continuum, a gamut; an unbroken, ecstatic play which is yet Silence and Nothingness. This state of affairs is glyphed as 0 = 2: there is simply no difference between them. There are some interesting chinks in the more literal account of the succession of the Aeons. An aeon is defined as an indeterminate length of time; it may be an instant, or it could be on the scale of the Hindu yugas, which persist for hundreds of thousands of years. Crowley did on occasion depart from a purely historical view. For instance, verse 34 of Chapter Ill of Liber AL refers to the arising of the next Aeon '...when Hrumachis shall arise and the doublewanded one assume my throne and place ...". The Old Comment, published in The Equinox volume one number VII, remarks:
Following him [Horus] will arise the Equinox of Ma, the Goddess of Justice, it may be a hundred or ten thousand years from now; for the computation of Time is not here as There.Wherever "There" is, it is clearly beyond time, and thus independent of the astronomical phenomena of the Precession of the Equinoxes. Elsewhere, Crowley refers to the possibility of the Aeon of Horus collapsing within a hundred years or so of its inception, if the work of preparation did not go well. This is depicted as catastrophe, with a collapse into a new Dark Age, and is again interesting as a departure from the inevitable, evolutionary and progressive view of Aonic succession.
There is no doubt that an indication of what lies beyond Horus is there in Crowley's writings, for those who care to read between the lines. There are hints of a close relationship between Horus and Maat. In the New Comment he has this to say about the same section of Cap. III verse 34 quoted earlier:
Note the close connection between Leo and Libra in the Tarot, the numbers VIII and XI being interchanged with XI and VIII. There is no violent antithesis as that between Osiris and Horus; Strength will prepare the reign of Justice. We should begin already, as I deem, to regard this Justice as the Ideal whose way we should make ready, by virtue of our Force and Fire.Horus is a preparation for the Aeon of Maat. What is the nature of this preparation? More to the point, for what are we preparing? Horus is of the nature of Force and Fire, and thus purgative. In this context, it purges the hindrances to the dawning of universal awareness, of pan-dimensional or cosmic consciousness. An awareness of the undying, ever-coming Son is the keynote of the Aeon of Horus. Death is not the extinction formerly considered, let alone the herald of hell or heaven; but a time of t ransition, of crossing over, of incarnating afresh, the sloughing off of one form and the reformulation into another. Atu XIII is a succinct representation of this - our old friend is shown there as not a Grim Reaper despatching tortured souls, but a dancer of reformulation. Consciousness roils, a perpetual shifting of forms.
A purgative involves disintegration, and this is the function of the Aeon of Horus. It is the illusion of separateness, of the absolute and sovereign individuality of consciousness, which is swept away. This is dissolution or disillusion - the erosion of the idea of separation from the rest of the universe, an idea which is ever naught but illusion. Horus disintegrates this sense of isolation, paving the way for reintegration into the unveiled, advaitic awareness of Maat. Maat is mentioned at various points in the course of Liber 418, The Vision and the Voice, as foreshadowing the Aeon to supersede that of Horus. The reference is generally to Themis, or Thmaist-justice; but Crowley puts the equivalence beyond any doubt with a footnote in The Book of Thoth: 'See AL III,34. The reference is to Maat, Themis, Lady of the Balance'. Later in the same book, in the course of an essay on Atu 0, The Fool, comes a passage which identifies Maat with Atu 0, throwing into relief theim port of the Aeon of Maat:
In the medieval pack, the title of the card is Le Mat, adapted from the Italian Matto, madman or fool ... If one assumes that the Tarot is of Egyptian origin, one may suppose that Mat (this card being the key card of the whole pack) really stands for Maut, the Vulture goddess, who is an earlier and more sublime modification of the idea of Nuith than Isis.The affinity with Atu 0, The Fool - which glyphs, amongst other things, the innocence of undifferentiated consciousness - is the key to understanding the Aeon of Maat. The Tarot is a compendium of the course of initiation; and Atu 0 is, as Crowley indicates time and again, the key card in the whole pack. The reintegration of consciousness, and the dissolution of division, is the essence of initiation.
The card most readily associated with Maat is Atu VIII, Adjustment, assigned to the Hebrew letter Lamed and the zodiacal sign Libra. It shows a female Harlequin figure pirouetting within a diamond or vesica shape, finely balanced. She is masked, and bears the sword and balances of adjustment. The card is loaded with Maatian symbols. Crowley's remarks on this card reinforce the close relationship with Atu 0 - a relationship the contemplation of which does so much to convey the essence of the Aeon of Maat :
This woman-goddess is Harlequin; she is the partner and fulfilment of The Fool. She is the ultimate illusion which is manifestation; she is the dance, many-coloured, many-wiled, of Life itself. Constantly whirling, under the phantom-show of Space and Time: all things are real, the Soul is the surface, precisely because they are instantly compensated by this Adjustment. All things are harmony and beauty; all things are Truth: because they cancel out.Elsewhere in the same essay, Crowley stresses that this card is the feminine complement of The Fool. The relationship is so subtle and interwoven as to suggest identity. The mingling is indicated by a further passage, this time from Liber Aleph:
Now this Ox is the letter Aleph, and is that Atu of Thoth whose Number is zero, and whose name is Maat, Truth, or Maut, the Vulture, the All-Mother, being an image of Our Lady Nuit, but also it is called The Fool, who is Parsifal, 'der reine Thor', and so referreth to him that walketh in the Tao.These passages underpin firmly the identity of Maat with The Fool, and thus give insight into the nature of Maat. However, there is more here than simply a return to an advaitic, undifferentiated innocence. Maat represents the expression of that innocence through manifestation. It is why She holds the Balance; She is poised as delicately as a feather; and, as a fine balance, She is constantly making subtle compensations and checks in order to maintain the balance - for we have here the dynamic balance of Going, or constant Becoming, rather than the Silence and Stillness of Being. Reading the above extract from the essay on Atu VIII, what shines through is a sense of Perfection, or the Perfect Ion as Achad put it. We have the consummation of manifestation: the delicate, dynamic balance of the Naught and the All. The Perfect Ion, or the Aeon of Maat, is the perfection of manifestation, its ultimate flowering. It is the redemption of matter, the Daughter raised to the throne of the Mother. It is the crescendo, following which is the return to Silence.
The letters associated with Atus 0 and VIII are Aleph and Lamed respectively. The combination of the letters gives us LA (Nothing, not) and AL (God, the), the closeness of which constitutes the key to Liber AL. Crowley considered the subtle interplay of Aleph and Lamed to be of supreme importance, the basis for 'a complete Cabalistic system of greater depth and sublimity than any other'. He went on to say that the details of this system had not yet been revealed; whether it was completed but remains unpublished, or whether its earthing by him was never finished, is not known. The most comprehensive account published is in the text of Liber V vel Regull; it demonstrates the intimacy and complementary nature of the relation between Aleph and Lamed, Atus 0 and VIII, The Fool and Adjustment, conveying the essential flavour of the Aeon of Maat. It also makes apparent the expression of the Aeon of Maat in terms of the Tetragrammaton, in particular as Hé final; and there are three short, interesting passages from The Book of Thoth which bear on this aspect:
The Union of the Father and Mother produces Twins, the son going forward to the daughter, the daughter returning the energy to the father; by this cycle of change the stability and eternity of the Universe are assured. [page 54]Within the context of the Tetragrammaton, Maat is the Hé final, the ultimate issue" of the "original Energy', as well as its absorption. Again, Maat is she perfection, the Perfect Aeon, the flower at its peak. As Atu VIII She is glyphed by the poised, delicately balanced figure who pirouettes about a point - the point of return. She is the Perfect expression of the infinite potential of The Fool. Having flowered into perfection, She is poised on the edge of return or reabsorption - The Fool on the edge of the Abyss. This balance is to be seen in terms not of time, but of a perpetual and dynamic balance of being and non-being, of becoming. These ideas are tenuous and fleeting to the terrestrial mind, which is conditioned by duality and time. By a process of contemplation rather than intellectual grasping, however, these glyphs act as receivers, earthing flashes of insight which remain forever inexpressible in terms of reason, but which hover on the edge of awareness. Horus and Maat constitute a Double Current; they are twin aeons - the Twins of Tetragrammaton, the Son and the Daughter, the Vau and the Hé final. Likewise, they are Ra-Hoor-Khuit and Hoor-paar-kraat, the manifest and unmanifest twins which are Perfection: and Perfection, being Silence, is Zain, the Wordless Aeon. These twins are shadowed forth in Atu VI, assigned to Gemini; and contemplation of this card sheds further light on their interplay.
Atu VI depicts the closeness of the Twins; it also, though, emphasises the disintegrative or purgative side of the formula solve et coagula - the breakdown into constituent elements, prior to their synthesis or reintegration. In the Atu this is suggested by the arrow, which is about to be shot by the figure of Eros or Cupid towards the Twins. The arrow is a symbol of direction, and shows the dynamic of True Will - which is not being but going, not individual but universal. The arrow pierces all points simultaneously in a perpetual orgasm; it is tipped with poison, an all-penetrent toxin capable of dissolving the illusion of separateness. The complement of Atu VI is Atu XIV, Art, which depicts the flight of the arrow beyond its disintegrative stage. The Two are now resolved into their synthesis, which is Perfection. The arrow is soaring Beyond, piercing the rainbow. There is no goal, only the dynamic of the flight. The flight is towards Perfection, as we gather from the Vision of the Fifth Aethyr:
And having known these [Isis and Nephthys] there are the wings of Maut the Vulture. Thou mayest draw to an head the bow of thy magical will; thou mayest loose the shaft and pierce her to the heart.Maut the Vulture is a glyph of Maat, and Maat is Perfection: the perfection or redemption of matter, the perfection of Zero as Two. The arrow, as the magical will, has its own dynamic; it is on the return flight, soaring to its reabsorption into the undifferentiated consciousness from where it was loosed, that undifferentiated consciousness itself preparing to melt back into the Naught. This is representative of the He final, the original Energy in its completion; and in its counter-balancing, the reabsor ption: the Silence from which all things issue forth, and into which they are poised to return.
In 1974, Liber Pennae Praenumbra (The Book of the Foreshadowing of the Feather) was earthed. Often in opulent language, and expressed in flowing imagery, it is cast as a transmission from the Aeon of Maat - hence the title. The feather is a symbol of Maat, glyphing the weight against which the heart was judged in Amenta. The principal mantra from this text is IPSOS, 'by the same mouth':
By the same mouth, 0 Mother of the Sun, is the word breathed forth and the nectar received. By the same breath, 0 Counterweight of the Heart, is the manifest created and destroyed.'Mouth' suggests the Hebrew letter Pé, associated with which is Atu XVI, The Tower. This is a glyph of many intermingling ideas - the phallus erupting, the aspirant being shattered by the flash of illumination, and the dissolution of individuality at the impact of the cosmic. There is, however, another aspect - that of the pregnant Womb of the Mother. Liber 777 gives a correspondence for Pé as 'The Crowned and Conquering Children emerging from the Womb'; later in the same section of 777 these children ar e referred to as Horus and Harpocrates. Crowley makes a more explicit reference to this aspect of Atu XVI in the course of his Comment on Liber LXV.
Pé is the letter of Atu XVI the 'House of God' or 'Blasted Tower'. The hieroglyph represents a Tower - symbolic of the ego in its phallic aspect, yet shut up, i.e. separate. This Tower is smitten by the Lightning Flash of Illumination, the impact of the H.G.A. and the Flaming Sword of the Energy that proceeds from Kether to Malkuth. Thence are cast forth two figures representing by their attitude the letter Ayin: these are the twins (Horus and Harpocrates) born at the breaking open of the Womb of the Mo ther (the second aspect of The Tower as 'a spring shut up, a fountain sealed').This Mouth is the Gate through which manifestation issues forth, and to which it returns; by the same mouth is the word uttered and absorbed. There is a clear connection with the foregoing remarks about Tetragrammaton, and in particular with the Twins - the Son and the Daughter, the Vau and the Hé final. The hieroglyphs coalesce; none can be pinned down and assigned a definite, clear and unambiguous meaning. The four elements of the Tetragrammaton have meaning only in relation to each other; that meaning is dynamic - moving, flowing, shifting. We are dealing with the formulae as they have been refracted through terrestrial mind, with inevitable interpretation in terms of duality and time. The essence of glyph and symbol is conveyed intuitively, in a flash of insight. It is no more than a flash, because once the mind attempts to grasp the insight, it is gone. The flash is the refraction of the insight in terrestrial mind, a fleeting glimpse of the infinite and eternal.
Maat is the Mouth both of ingress and of egress, of manifestation and of non-manifestation, of flowering and of reabsorption. It is the matrix from which everything springs, and to which everything returns. The Harlequin figure of Atu VIII is masked because She is the nothingness which masks itself with the play of form. She is perfectly balanced, Perfection itself, the supreme balance of Zero and Two - their utter and perfect equivalence. ALIL, 'the image of nothingness and silence which is a fulfilment of the aspiration' is mirrored as LILA, the play of manifestation. The Aeon of Maat is not something distant in time - a future aeon some two thousand years hence, which somehow reaches back to us; it is here and now, and we need only to perceive it. It is the pellucidity of innocent, undifferentiated awareness, which is at the same time the perfection of manifestation: a perfection which is not something perhaps capable of attainment at some future time, but is already here - has always been, and will always be. It is the clarity and freedom of jivanmukta - liberation whilst yet living. The liberation is not of the terrestrial vehicle - which is a child of space and time, and thus subject to its limitations - but of consciousness, no longer shackled to the vehicle through which it has formerly focused, but able to expand and soar beyond its former confines.
Maat is at the core of matter or manifestation. It the background from which everything springs, in which it is nourished, with which it is infused, and to which it returns: undifferentiated awareness which lies forever beyond the boundaries of terrestrial awareness - boundaries which have no reality, are self-imposed and self-limiting. Initiation is the widening and deepening of awareness, the remembrance or remembering of a pan-dimensional, cosmic state. The Aeons are states of initiation, the unveiling of awareness, which become apparent when the aspirant is ready to perceive; not uniform spans of time, but of indeterminate length. They are not successive, but simultaneous; likewise, Naught and Two are not merely different aspects of the same thing, but are utterly identical - 'the soul is the surface, and the surface is the soul'. The Naught is not superior to the Two, nor the Two a progression from the Naught. This is a Truth which remains forever a closed book to the rational mind, but which flowers intuitively in the silence of contemplation.
It is with this continuum, this matrix, that we traffic when making ,alien' contact. As we become increasingly alive to those vast reaches of awareness which lie beyond the terrestrial, so there is a corresponding awareness that we are not confined to the terrestrial vehicle through which we have habitually focussed. This diffusion of identity may seem a strange, threatening idea to our rational way of thinking, conditioned as it is by language to perceive in terms of contraries such as subject and object, inner and outer, me and not-me. However, at deeper levels of awareness we know this to be a shallow superstructure. There is a sensation of recognition, of remembrance, of experiencing again an intrinsic state which had slipped awhile beyond conscious recall. This state remains as a substratum, the hidden stream or current which powers the fountain. The Angel dwells at this point, where the terrestrial merges into the infinite and eternal; it is the point which is everywhere and at all times, veiled by the chimera of terrestrial identity, revealed by the dissolution of that identity. The Angel is ever present, infinite and eternal, a fountain of living waters from which we can drink at any time; all that is needed is to listen to the Voice of the Silence. The Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel, and the Aeon of Maat, are identical; this identity can be experienced at first hand by, quite simply, communing with the Angel. Magical and mystical experience is the life-blood of initiation, by which we are eternally supping at the Angel & Feathers.
© Michael Staley
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