Typhonian Ordo Templi Orientis - Robert Taylor - The Nightside Tarot

The Black Stone

The Nightside Tarot

Robert Taylor

Since the first publication of Nightside of Eden in 1977, there have been several attempts at reifying the Nightside Tarot, as adumbrated in that book*1. Now, however, a Nightside Cell of the OTO is operative in London that shows a lot of promise, due mainly to a combination of creative and magical skills.

The traditional Tarot pack is of Arabian origin, but the Tradition that it represents is much older, being Egyptian first, and prior to that, Inner African. During its immense journey from Primeval Africa to 20thC. Europe, the Tradition has picked up a great deal of baggage, most of it, in the Tarot's case, in the 19thC. with the overlaying upon it of Hebrew qabalism and symbolism by Eliphas Levi. Whilst much of this symbolism is still relevant, the Tarot as a concept needs to be reconstituted and remembered, reapplying the symbolism in a form closer to its source. The Nightside Tarot will take the bare bones of the Old Tarot and clothe them in the New Flesh, restoring the Primal Gnosis in its purest possible form. It will be a book of Silence rather than Speech, a Parade of Ghostly Images*2, a Tarot of Dead Names, a million-year memorial to the Age of Howling - of which the present Wordless Aeon is a reflection - a receptacle for the Current's transmission and storage of its knowledge.

One aspect of the Typhonian Tradition is the Evolutionary Current expressed through the form of the Opposer, the Vehicle of Perpetual Revolution which goes beyond the limits of the accepted order, transcended by the True Will. Classic evolutionary theory states that slight changes over the course of millions of years gradually change the forms of living creatures. Yet, if this is true, where are all the transitional forms? The bat is basically a rat with wings, but there are neither surviving rodents halfway towards becoming bats, nor fossils of such creatures.

Consider also that fish developed legs and lungs before they could move about on land. In other words, they developed organs that were potentially detrimental to them in their then-present environment, but potentially useful to them in an environment they knew nothing about! It is almost as if these creatures desired to change. And, in essence, this is what happens: in Austin Spare's phrase, "an organic wish"*3 or subconscious desire, that opposes the 'natural' direction of the development of the species, preventing it going down the avenue of over-specialisation.

Life evolves its adaptations before it needs them. The mechanism for this lies in our genome: the genetic blueprint. We know that we can carry unutilised genes for millions of years: human embryos still grow gills, for example, and children are regularly born with tails. If we can carry past genes for this long, why not future genes? When these genes become 'switched on', this is what causes so-called evolutionary saltations or jumps. There are no transitional forms; a species changes dramatically over only a few generations, then continues in its 'new' direction evolving at the 'normal' rate. All possible variations must already exist in our genetic code, prior to their being needed. For a fish to grow legs, or an ape to speak, the genes must be there already. If a species runs out of mutant options, it goes extinct; but in the interim, there must be a great deal of scope for an animal like a dog to become a dolphin.

The point of this is the desire itself - the desire that drives a rodent to adapt its fore legs into wings, a fish to adapt its fins into legs, or an ape to adapt its vocal apparatus to facilitate speech. Because whatever classic evolutionary theory says, a creature's behaviour can cause evolutionary change. To be more specific: unconsciously, as opposed to consciously, acquired characteristics can be inherited. These adaptations are not as a result of environmental changes; for as we have seen, fish didn't walk about on land before they acquired lungs and legs. Rather, it is an adaptation to a new pattern of living*4.

This is the New Flesh, creating in ourselves the organic wish for evolutionary change, to become beyond the human. By virtue of its impact upon the terrestrial, the Typhonian Current engendered the organic wish of an ape to traffic with, and ultimately become, something outside itself. The momentum is gathering pace, and we are now on the threshold of a massive expansion of consciousness. This is why Thelema has been described as creating "the next evolutionary step": it is up to us as humans to continue the expression of the Tradition.

Science has ascertained that evolution works on the "Red Queen" principle, named after the character in Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking-Glass, who runs as fast as she can merely to stay in the same place*5. This is the evolutionary equivalent of the hamster's wheel, and the next evolutionary step is a step sideways, not forwards; off the perpetual treadmill, outside the Circles of Time. In order to take this step, the human race must, individually and collectively, establish contact with what have been termed 'extra (or intra) - terrestrials'. Whatever 'they' are, 'they' are outside ourselves: not as separate entities, but outside the scope of what makes us merely human.

The Nightside Tarot, it is intended, will function as a Gateway to these reaches of non-human consciousness: a latter-day Book of the Dead. In order to prepare suitable vehicles for the reception of this Primal Tarot of the New Flesh, a series of articles will appear in future issues of Starfire, illuminating the Primal Gnosis, and acting as a foretaste of the Nightside Tarot.

The accompanying illustration [not at this URL] is the provisionally entitled Ace of Stones, the first card of the Minor Arcana of the Nightside Tarot (the other suits being Stars, Serpents, and Skulls). The card depicts the Black Stone, the Sixtystone or Hexecontalithos, so-called because of the number of characters carved upon it.*6 The Ace of Stones is a birthing/earthing stone, the source from whence the entire pack is born, and whence also it returns, for the Black Stone is a lodestone, attracting towards itself all it has sent forth. The Stone is an Ark, because it is the foundation upon which the earth is created. Each character engraved upon its surface corresponds to one year in the sixty-year cycle of Dogon foundation ceremonies. The Dogon say that the Stone descends (from the celestial Pole*7 to earth) through 22 stations (the Major Arcana, and also the 22 letters of the sacred celestial alphabet, the 22 Avatars of Vishnu*8 etc.) in a sevenfold spiral.*9 22 divided by 7 is, of course, pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, a commensuration of the curved and the straight. Its revolution is the grinding millstone of Time, it being the Stone that Kronos (Time) swallowed and then vomited.*10 The Ancient Greeks said that this Stone descended at Delphi, and was used to make rain and summon the black thunder clouds. The Nabatheans of Petra (which name means 'rock'), called it Dhu Shera, Lord of Desire.*11 The Romans called it Manalis Lapis, the manes-having stone or the Stone of the Dead.*12 The Hebrews called it Magdala or Great Stone, its priestess or earthly representative being Mary Magdalene.*13

The Black Stone is both female, as the Phrygian genetrix Kybéle was worshipped in the form of a Black Stone (cf. the Ka'ba stone at Mecca, a meteorite once known as the 'Old Woman'*14), and also male, as the stone phallus of Shiva, which seeds the black thunderclouds with rain. The seed, coalesced in the dark womb of the thundercloud, returns to earth again in the form of the thunderbolt or meteorite: a seed containing the 15 principle of life and power, the Dogon say.*15 The rain links the Stone to the Deluge cycle of myths; like the ark of Utnapishtim (the Sumerian Noah), built of seven decks, and the Ka'ba, encircled seven times by Moslems. Legend has it that the Ka'ba was destroyed in the Deluge, and rebuilt by Abraham, who was led to the site by a serpent. When the rebuilding was finished, the serpent coiled around it, a circle about the 16 square, the Dragon about the Pole.*16 The sexual bipolarity of the stone was embodied in the black stone worshipping Amazons, women who followed the 'male'warriors way.*17

The hardness of stone equates it with bone, the lasting foundation of the body in all ecstasies. Australian Aborigines call the stone tjurunga, or 'other body', the same word they use for the bull-roarer, also used to call rain. Their women say they are impregnated with the souls of 18 children that emerge from a stone.*18 The Dogon say their snake ancestor swallowed his twin and vomited him up in the form of a pattern of stones, representing his main skeletal joints.*19 The Rainbow Serpent of the Australian Aborigines also vomits up stones, which were later claimed as shamans treasures, linking back to Kronos swallowing his children, i.e. all those he had previously brought forth.

It will readily be seen, then, that all these concepts (and, therefore, all the suits) intertwine and are subsumed within the Black Stone; it is a Dark Grail, a "negative, retrogressive version of the alchemical 'Philosophers Stone'*20 the cornerstone of a dark and devolutionary doctrine of atavistic resurgence. In his essay Ixaxar and Atavistic Resurgence*21, D.M. Mitchell writes: "real evolution is only possible by regaining access to our primal states of mind and being." The millstone of Time is to be turned back on itself, reversed, à rebours.

A suggested practice

The viewer is to prepare him or herself by whatever means he or she is most comfortable with, and then project awareness into the picture, through the vulva of the Stone into the Dark Universe beyond. On passing through the Stone, one regresses to a reptilian or serpentine form, returning to vomit forth the 'stones' swallowed in the Nightside. The resulting experiences are to be recorded, and sent in to the author, here at Starfire. In this way, independent confirmation of material can be obtained, birthing the remainder of the Nightside Tarot.

  1. See Nightside of Eden, by Kennth Grant (Muller, London 1977; Skoob, London 1994).
  2. See Imprisoned with the Pharaohs by H.P. Lovecraft.
  3. See The Book of Pleasure by Austin Osman Spare.
  4. See The Great Evolution Mystery by Gordon Rattray Taylor (Seeker & Warburg, London 1983,
  5. See The Red Queen, by Matt Ridley (Penguin, London 1994).
  6. See the works of Arthur Machen, Robert E, Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. The Black Stone is a theme that runs throughout many tales. See also The Black Stone: Six Essays on the Sixtystone. Sarcophagus Press, Yorkshire 1993, and the article "The Black Stone Unearthed" in The Silver Key: The Journal of the Miskatonick Society No. 2. Sepulchral Press, Oregon 1994.
  7. The South Pole. According to Dante, in the Divine Comedy, Satan falls from the South Pole to earth, where he is now lodged.
  8. Vishnu, the primeval cosmic man, lord of the waters and of the sacred fire, the cycle of the year, and the whirlpool that sucks back all that it has once produced,
  9. Francis Huxley, The Way of the Sacred. Star Books, London 1980 p 167.
  10. Kronos means 'Time', and comes from a root meaning 'to grind' which is why Kronoy is often figured as a miller. Furthermore, if Time is the Great Reaper, the corn he reaps has to be threshed and ground.
  11. John O'Neill, The Night of the Gods. Bernard Quaritch, London 1897 p 123.
  12. Ibid. p 118.
  13. Ibid. p 147, From a root Magh, 'to have power', whence also Magic and Magnet.
  14. Other names of the goddess are Kububa, Kuba, Kube and the Latin Cybele. The relationship with both Ka'ba and 'cube' is evident. The Kabyles of Kabylia in Northern Algeria say their first Great Mother goddess was turned to stone.
  15. Francis Huxley, The Wcky of the Sacred. p 147.
  16. Ibid. p 168.
  17. John O'Neill, The Night of the Gods. Bernard Quaritch, London 1897 p 121.
  18. Francis Huxley, The Way of the Sacred. p 148.
  19. Ibid. p 146.
  20. Peter Smith, "Notes on the Black Stone" in The Black Storie: Six Essays on the Sixtystone. p 7.
  21. Ibid. p 25.

© Robert Taylor

with permission:
STARFIRE  II,2, 1998
BCM Starfire
London WC1N 3XX
Starfire - Magazine of the Typhonian Order - 2-2

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