Set / Horus by Benjamin Rowe Copyright year, 1992 by Benjamin Rowe Permission is granted t
Set / Horus
by Benjamin Rowe
Copyright year, 1992 by Benjamin Rowe
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My article titled Enochian Temples contains several "channelings" that reveal the fundamental relationships existing between the Enochian Tablets, the path of initiation, and Frater Achad's version of the Tree of Life. My own comments elsewhere in that work show in considerable detail that the lives of Crowley and Achad and the relations between them are in fact an enactment of the mythos of Horus and Set. My purpose in this current paper is to briefly look at manifestations of these same factors in other parts of the Earth Tablet working, the magickal work of which Enochian Temples is a part, and in some other mythological systems, notably that of Arthurian Romance.
The Terrible Twins
Horus and Set were originally expressions of the primal duality, the two aspects of Heaven, the day-sky and night-sky. As the Egyptian mythology was
elaborated towards its final chaotic state, their symbolism drifted away from these absolute poles into the middle ground, first becoming solar, and finally taking on a variety of solar/martial and zodiacal characteristics. Yet their final form can still be expressed in a concise symbology, that of the astrological signs of Aries and Scorpio. Taken whole, their symbolism is that of the primal duality manifesting in its male aspects.
A brief list of some of the characteristics associated with the gods shows their positions as opposite poles of a duality. These characteristics are extracted from myths quoted in Budge's Gods of the Egyptians.
Bursting-forth of life Withdrawal of life and its
Openly active Secretive
Conqueror & King Victim & Rebel
Hawk, Lion, & Ram Serpent, Antelope, Hippo
Rises into the sky Descends into the Earth
Steals Set's virility Throws filth in face of Horus
Aries is a fire sign, representing fresh, outrushing energy and the first explosion of life in the spring. Mars rules the sign and the Sun is exalted therein. Venus is in its detriment here, and Saturn falls. The planets detail the sign's character: Mars makes Aries energetic, impulsive, and combative. Sol provides the sign
with leadership ability and a strong tendency to dominate others, to exalt the self. The detrimental relationship of Venus indicates that it lacks in compassion, and Saturn's fall provides a definite lack of restraint. One need only compare these
characteristics with those of Horus listed above, and those listed in Liber AL to confirm the identity of the god and the sign.
In its most general form, Aries is represented by the myth-pattern I call the ManWho-Lives, which appears in many different myth-systems essentially
unchanged. He is the warrior who by right of conquest becomes the King, and rules until he is overcome by Death. Cabalistically speaking, he represents the transformation of the martial sexual power into a solar child, or the transformation of fire-by-friction into solar fire.
Scorpio is a watery sign, representing the withdrawal of life from the plant kingdom at the end of the growing season, and its concentration into the seed,
which is buried in the Earth to await a new life. Extension of this principle into the animal kingdom accounts for its connection with the sex act. Mars also rules this sign, demonstrating its basic connection with Aries. But in place of Sol we have Uranus exalted. Venus remains in its detriment here, but Luna falls instead of Saturn. Scorpio shares the energy and combativeness of Aries, and the lack of lovingness, but the watery nature of the sign makes those characteristics reflect back on itself. Where the goal of Aries is exaltation of the self, Scorpio's Uranian influence directs it towards the disassembly and destruction of the self, particularly its Tiphereth aspect.
Horus can not maintain a state of ascendancy without a self-interested and emotionally passive populace to rule. He requires the peasant mentality of
Taurus (Venus ruling and Luna exalted), which is content to be ruled so long as it is comfortable and undisturbed in its own pursuits. His opponent Set/Scorpio seeks to break out of the emotional passivity, creating disturbances and breaking the patterns of normal life so that new conditions might be created.
The myth-pattern of Set is that of the Man-Who-Dies. In one aspect, he is the victim of Horus, the one who is slain so that Horus's reputation can be enhanced. Except for his slaying of Osiris, there are very few instances in Egyptian mythology where Set engages in active violence. In contrast, the myths
of Horus are filled with detailed accounts of slaughter. Set traditionally acts the part of the perpetual victim. Horus slays him over and over, and always he reappears in another form to be slain again.1
In another aspect he is the rebel, the man who does not submit to conquest and goes "underground", opposing the conqueror secretly because he lacks the
power to oppose him openly. His is also the pattern of the martyr, who submits to death rather than abandon his principles. Or speaking more generally, the Eagle aspect of Scorpio represents adherence to the ideal at the expense of the mundane. This becomes important in considering the Grail myths, as we will later.2
There is also at least a partial correspondence between Scorpio and the selfimmolating Phoenix, which destroys itself in order to reproduce.
Cabalistically speaking Set represents the transmutation of fire-by-friction (Mars ruling Scorpio) through a dark solar stage into electric fire, the fire of the divine will (Uranus, exalted in Scorpio). He is the Wandering Son, the Everyman who
breaks away from his home life and community, passes through strange ordeals and trials, and returns home a demi-god to save the community from destruction and oppression by the conqueror.
Both are heroes; both necessary to the accomplishment of the hero's task. Their fundamental natures embody the same energies but with dissimilar emphasis. While related to Aries and Scorpio in their individual manifestations, together
they are the twins of Gemini. Thus they at times appear to be in conflict, as in the Horus/Set, Cain/Abel, and Romulus/Remus myths, and at other times they
cooperate, as in the Arthurian Romances and the myth of Castor and Pollux.3
This mythology of the two heroes has appeared in nearly every human culture. The myth is so pervasive that it would be impossible to examine a significant
portion of its manifestations in this brief study. The examples above are merely a few of the more familiar past expressions.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest human works recorded, contains the all the essential aspects of the mythos. Gilgamesh himself is the Arian man-wholives, growing to manhood in a foreign court, returning as a hero to take the
place of his father as king, dying only after a long life of rulership. His friend Enkidu is his Scorpian counterpart, born and raised in the wastelands, tempted into human society by the pleasure of sex, dying after attempting to visit the underworld while in the flesh.
In each astrological age these two reverse their roles. In the age of Gemini, Arian Gilgamesh survives and Scorpian Enkidu dies. In Taurus the earliest cults of Set appear in Egypt, and the Cancerian/Taurean goddess and Capricornian/Scorpian Horned God of the Old Religion experience a resurgence
in Europe. Places reverse again in the next age, with Arian gods such as Perseus, Theseus, and Mithras slaying various Taurean bulls and Scorpian monsters. In Pisces, the Arian Jesus dies in the scapegoat ritual, betrayed by Scorpian Judas.4 Later Paul of Tarsus performs a similar betrayal of the teachings themselves, distorting them by emphasis of the death and repressionoriented aspects at the expense of the triumphal aspect.
All these reversals would tend to indicate that in the current Aquarian astrological period Horus or some other Arian god would again become dominant. But the
planet Uranus rules Aquarius, and Uranus is exalted in Set's sign. Mercury, Thoth, is exalted in Aquarius, and one of Thoth's roles in Egyptian mythology was to ensure that neither Horus or Set ever came to complete victory over the other. So this may be a time in which both gods manifest in a more-or-less equal fashion, uniting them in friendship as they were in the previous Airy sign.
Shortly after the first inflows of Aquarian energy, an example of such mythological cooperation appeared in the form of two historical figures, John Dee and Edward Kelly, earlier incarnations of Jones and Crowley. The name of Dee's birthplace and home, Morlake, suggests the death-waters of Scorpio, as does his obsessive concern with magick (governed by Mars in Scorpio) and
astrology and "radical truths" (governed by Uranus and Pluto). Kelly's knighthood makes him, nominally at least, an Arian warrior. His death in a fall from a tower clearly relates to the Tarot card for Mars, and his own lifelong obsession with the Philosopher's Stone is Solar, thus confirming his place as the Arian member of the pair. The cooperation between these two brought about the first purely magickal manifestation of the Aquarian energies, the Enochian magickal system.
The evidence seems to indicate that a similar cooperation was intended for the incarnations of these two as Jones and Crowley. Astrological considerations confirm the cooperative-antagonistic nature of their interaction: Their suns, indicating their individual characters, are in opposition. Their moons are conjunct, indicating similar pasts. Their ascendants and midheavens, indicating current environment and goals, have both beneficent and antagonistic aspects. Liber AL prophesies such a condition. But the partnership was sundered before it could become productive, and their interaction went into its competitive mode.
Romantic myths and the two Trees
The first inflow of Aquarian energy occurred in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, sparking the Renaissance. Thus it should not be surprising that the mythological systems that reached their perfection at that time contain elements of both the Arian and Scorpian modes of initiation. Examining those myths, we find that some have a near-perfect correlation with the traditional version of the Tree of Life, while others correspond closely to the paths of Jones' version of the Tree, which embodies the Scorpian mode.
In the traditional Tree (hereafter called the "Old Tree") the formula of Horus has the warrior (Mars, lowest horizontal path) producing a solar child (Leo, middle path) through divine Love (Venus, highest path). Going up the middle pillar of the Tree, he passes through the stages of cloistered training (Saturn), travel and broadening of experience (Sagittarius) under the instruction of older warriors (path of Mars crossing Sagittarius), presentation to the King (Tiphereth),
confirmation of his Lordship (Leo), and dedication to the service of his Lady (Luna) as the embodiment of Love (Venus).
This is typical of the view of Knighthood in the romantic myths of the times. Tristam, Lancelot, and Arthur are all exemplars of this formula.5
Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur distills all these myths and combines them in his tales of the Knights of the Round Table. It is easy for anyone to determine the correspondences between those sections of the book and the paths of the Old Tree. But Malory's tales of the Knights of the Grail have an even more detailed correspondence with Jones' version of the Tree (hereafter called Achad's Tree), as do other Parsifal-like legends.
In Achad's Tree, we have the man of the Earth, the Everyman (Taurus, lowest horizontal path) who goes through trials and ordeals (Scorpio, middle path) to emerge as a man-god (Aquarius, highest path). His path up the Tree begins with
aimless wandering (Air), during which he is tempted by two qliphotic females, the Woman-who-gives-Pleasure and the Woman-who-gives-Death (Yesod-Luna).6
He succumbs and is damaged thereby, or narrowly escapes. He encounters a
priest (Taurus, The Hierophant) who enjoins him to sacrifice the normal use of that part of himself that caused him to be tempted, and to voluntarily re-dedicate it to the True Grail of which the temptresses were pale reflections (Water, The Hanged Man). He does so, and the gods reward him with full union with his soul (Tiphereth). He then goes through further ordeals and trials (Scorpio) in which he overcomes by his will-to-good (Shin, Fire). After passing through all the ordeals, he enters into the company of the stars (Aquarius) where he attains to both the Grail (Binah) and the Spear (Chokmah) which glow with the light of God
Achad's path is also the path of Spartacus, the slave-laborer (Taurus) who killed his master and rebelled (Scorpio) to bring an end to bondage (Saturn, old ruler of Aquarius) and make the slaves into free men (Uranus, new ruler of Aquarius). The story of Moses and the Hebrew Captivity possibly has a similar intent.
The story of the Knights of the Grail begins in Tiphereth, as did the channeling in Enochian Temples mentioned above. That channeling presented the path as it is experienced through the use of a special technique, which links the microcosm
and macrocosm by direct experience of the energies of the planets. The Grail stories give a more general view of the process. The footnotes will show the correspondences with the paths of Achad's Tree.
The knight has been granted union with his soul, and the Angel of God has spoken to him through the path of Shin, the pillar of light in the center of the Temple. He has cast aside his lesser elemental weapons, his sword and shield, in dedicating himself to the search for the Grail. In his eagerness he ventures
forth without arms or armor, and is captured by another knight.7 He is brought to a castle,8 where he explains his search for the Grail and begs to be supplied with weapons. Signs and wonders reveal that he is the rightful bearer of a magickal sword being kept at the castle. A magickal shield is also present, and he is told he may keep it if he will slay a monster (or an evil knight) that is troubling the locals.9
He destroys the monster, and wanders out into a wasteland10, empty of human life, where he is then confronted by other monsters, sometimes masking as persons and circumstances out of his past. The consequences of actions taken before the quest began are not nullified by his dedication to the Grail, and he must deal with them justly, paying any penalties due from him, and reaping rewards of right action. But all in a way that will not hinder the quest.11
These adventures and ordeals bring him to full proficiency with his weapons. He comes to a chapel or church,12 where he tells his adventures to the priest. The priest explains the meaning of his experience in relation to the cosmos13 and
gives him the consecrated host, confirming his right to the shield. He is told of a black rock castle wherein the Grail is kept.14
He travels to that castle, joining up with two of his fellow Knights of the Grail.
They enter, and are asked to attempt the restoration of a magickal sword that had wounded the King of the castle. The best of the three Knights succeeds, signaling the fulfillment of the quest.15
The Grail is brought out.16 The three knights are introduced to three other groups of three knights who came from the south (Gaul), east (Denmark), and west (Ireland). Together they complete the circle of the zodiac, forming the Company of the Stars.17 The knights feast on the fruits of the Earth and drink
from the Grail. The Holy Spear is brought forth, and the best of the knights uses it to heal the wounds of the old king.18
The knights venture out after the feast and are captured and imprisoned.19 The
Grail comes to their cell and they are sustained by it. The king of the castle dies, and the people free the knights. The people declare the best of the knights to be their new King.20 The knights create a chest of gold and jewels for the Grail, declare the chest's holiness, and pray before it daily.21
The Angel of the Presence appears to them in the form of a holy hermit.22 The Angel blesses them and judges the course of their quest. The best of the three knights is taken up into heaven immediately, taking the Grail and the Spear with him.23 The second-best becomes a priest, and retires from the world.24 The last
of the three returns to the world.25 The story ends.
The paragraphs above are a summary of the adventures of the three Scorpian Knights of the Grail, Galahad, Percivale, and Bors, as they are portrayed in
Malory's work. The events are listed in the order they occurred in the story. Only a few points were borrowed from other versions of the Grail legends. Malory
wrote over four hundred years before Jones manifested Achad's Tree, yet the symbolism of the story matches that Tree exactly. The Spartacus legend is older than Christianity, but the details of its symbolism can be connected to Achad's Tree just as directly.
The Abyss and the two systems.
The Wasteland of the Grail stories corresponds to the area of the Tree bounded by Geburah, Chesed, Binah, and Chokmah. This is the area of the false sephira Da'ath, and of the so-called Abyss, both much talked about among magicians in
recent years. In the initiatory systems based on the Old Tree, it is perceived as a realm of horrors and of a rending of the self.
Yet the formulations of the Grail stories and of the channelings in Enochian Temples reduce the Abyss almost to a trifle, and deny the existence of anything resembling Da'ath. Instead, we are shown dryness and lack of nourishment, lack
of meaning, illusion and deception as the primary experiences in that area of the Tree. The reason for this major difference between the two formulations of the path lies in the manner in which mind is perceived and dealt with.
The Solar-Arian systems of the Old Tree perceive mind as an aspect of God. Indeed, the god-name for Tiphereth is just that: IHVH ALVH VDOTH, "God made manifest in the Sphere of Mind". All the magickal techniques of these systems are designed to make the mind (that is, the Ruach) formulate itself in such a manner that it is the closest possible approximation of that which is being
invoked. When enough of the mind-stuff is drawn into the formulation, there is an automatic flow of force from higher levels following the Law of Similarity or Congruence. It is exaltation through the force of union.
The Uranian-Scorpian systems, on the other hand, perceive mind as an aspect
of matter. Their techniques are all designed under the assumption that the spirit that the Solar types invoke is something which is already in the individual in full measure. From their perspective, the problem is not one of uniting the
separated, but of discovering the spirit by understanding and elimination of that which conceals it. Knowing that the undying spiritual will is already part of themselves, they are willing to test every aspect of their own being to the point of destruction, under the assumption that that part which they are not able to destroy must be a manifestation of God. Theirs is the path of exaltation through the force of separation.
In the Scorpian systems, Da'ath is reminiscent of a familiar optical illusion in which black squares are closely arranged in rows and columns on a white background. The eye manufactures black spots where four squares meet, even
though there is nothing there but white paper. It takes a conscious act of will to not see the black spots. Da'ath is a similar illusion with the force of the whole Ruach behind it. The Ruach sees this empty space in the middle of the upper
Tree, and its natural tendency causes it to manufacture the illusion of a sephira. What is actually happening is that the six sephiroth surrounding this empty space exert a uniform outward pull. The mind, with its solar habit of creating centralized entities, misinterprets the pull outwards as a push outwards coming from the middle of the void. It invents an entity to do the pushing, the Dweller on the Threshold, and a place for that entity to reside, Da'ath. The positive characteristics of Da'ath described by some magicians are on close examination seen to be a forced, unstable mixture of the characteristics of Chesed and Binah, or of the paths of Scorpio and Aquarius that border the wasteland on the lower
and upper sides.
The practices of the Solar-Arian initiatory systems tend to encourage the manufacture of this false perception. Their entire practice is based on taking the natural tendencies of the Ruach, the Solar being, and expanding them to the utmost. Thus when they reach a point where the Solar mode is no longer valid, their habitual use of that mode turns the transition into the next mode into an ultimate disaster for the personal identity.
The Scorpian initiatory systems avoid this particular pitfall. Since they are oriented from the beginning to the willful disassembly of the personal self, the inertia of their work blends smoothly into the ultimate disassembly that precedes entry into the supernals. The actual crossing of the "Abyss" simply becomes, for them, the cessation of the need to engage in the disassembly of the individual self.
But this smooth transition is achieved only at a cost: the Scorpian initiate trades one great death for a nearly continuous series of lesser deaths, willfully undertaken over the course of incarnate life.26 As a consequence, his
experience of the whole path has more distributed, low-key spiritual pain and discomfort than that of the Arian initiate. But his habituation to the experience of pain causes his transition into the supernals to become an experience of tremendous relief, rather than one of terror. Accustomed to friction with his environment, he suddenly becomes frictionless and free-flowing. The experience
can also be quite accurately equated to that of a drowning man who finally manages to break through the surface to the clear air.
But even for the Arian adept, conscious conditioning of the mind to the correct perspective on the Abyss eliminates many of the horrors formerly connected with the passage to the supernals. One can train the Ruach to not see illusory Da'ath without changing its essential nature. The attempt also gives the magician a lesson in the incredible persistence with which the Ruach makes projections of itself.
If one evaluates the two systems in terms of the overall intensity of the difficulties experienced, it appears that in the end they are about equal. There is no
particular reason to chose one over the other, except personal preference and tendency. They are actually one system, since the same stages (sephiroth) are to be seen in both cases. Only the degree of emphasis changes from one to the
other. In the multi-incarnational process of evolution, it is likely that the individual will work with both approaches many times.
The reader might perceive a connection between the Scorpian perspective as
described here, and the principles developed by the Buddha. This is no accident: Buddha was the expression of the Scorpian perspective within his own time and culture. His birth, enlightenment, and death all took place when the Sun was in Taurus, and the Moon was full in the sign of Scorpio, signifying him as an exemplar of that axis of the zodiac.
But cultural perspective produces differences between Buddhism and the
Western, magickal expression of the Scorpio-Taurus axis. Buddha recognized
sorrow as the inevitable result of the interaction of spirit and matter, but his only goal was to eliminate the possibility of sorrow by eliminating his connection with matter. The Scorpian adept perceives sorrow as an intermediate stage in his
effort to bring about a free flow between matter and the divine, creative will. On
all planes, the nature of matter is inertia. It tends to maintain its set course until the will is strong enough to change that course. Until that strength is achieved, friction results: pain is the result of friction. When the will overcomes the inertia of matter, causing it to fully conform to the will's impulse, then from the standpoint
of the will the friction ceases, and pain ceases.
Buddha claimed that the perceptible universe is Maya, illusion. The Scorpian
adept restates this idea in slightly different terms, saying that all perceptions are limited or partial by the very nature of the mechanism of perception. But he further recognizes that the illusions themselves have a kind of order, and that this order is determined in all aspects by the interaction of will and matter. Will and matter are both entirely mysterious in themselves. It is only by
understanding the patterns taken on by the illusions their interaction generates, which we call by such names as Mind, Ruach, Soul, and consciousness, that we can come to some awareness of their intrinsic nature.
The expanded formula -- INRI/IRNI
The myth of the two heroes, or the two gods, forms the core of the INRI formula, one of the most subtle and mysterious of all magickal formulas. In the Golden Dawn system, this formula is equated to and interpreted in terms of the formula of IAO. But there is only a partial correspondence between these two formulas; IAO is a specifically solar formula, a single expression in time and space of the more general conception of INRI.
In one interpretation, INRI exactly reflects the astrological foundation of the Set/Horus mythos. That is, a Gemini mythos, twin forces represented by the two
I's or pillars, whose interaction is defined by the modes of Scorpio and of Sol in his exaltation. What has been said so far in this paper is in fact an examination of this interpretation of INRI.
In the most inclusive interpretation, the last I of INRI is not redundant, but rather expresses a perfection of what is only latent in the first I. The symbolism of alchemy shows this best. The following table shows the basic correspondences.
Letter Elemental Planetary Zodiacal Alchemical
I Earth Earth/Luna Virgo Materia Prima
N Water Mars/Uranus Scorpio Solve
R Fire Mars/Sun Aries Coagula
I Air Mercury Virgo Essence or
All alchemical processes involve changing the materia into the essence or elixer by various sequences of Solve and Coagula, of dissolution and concentration. In
one description of the work, heat (Mars) is applied to the materia prima, resulting in a separation of its components (Uranus), and the reduction of the "dead head" (Scorpio) to an ash, alchemical salt. More heat being applied to the separated components causes first a coagulation (Sol) then a separation of the active sulphur (Aries) from the Mercury.
(Basil Valentine notes that these processes rarely occur without the concurrent appearance of the Taurean and Libran complements. His descriptions are too
prolix to quote, but careful reading indicates that these complements operate under the formula AGLA, which can be considered the complement of INRI. The Aleph of Air or spirit replaces the Earthy Yods, the Gimel of Luna replaces the Resh of Sol, and Lamed/Libra replaces Nun/Scorpio.)
We have seen previously that the two heroes are to a certain extent interchangeable. Depending on circumstance, one or the other dominates the relationship. A similar principle holds for INRI. The two central letters can be interchanged without destroying the validity of the formula. IRNI works as well as INRI. With respect to the Enochian Temples and Achad's system, INRI
represents the formula of initiation as it applies to humanity as a whole, while IRNI applies to the initiatory path of individuals.
IRNI - the individual formula
The IRNI formula divides the path of initiation into four stages:
Earthy/Lunar: encompassing all aspects of the personality, represented in the Tree of Life by the triangle formed by Netzach, Hod, and Malkuth, with Yesod as the stage's primary point of focus. Element of Earth.
Solar: concerned with the powers of the awakened soul. This stage is shown in the Tree by the golden rectangle surrounding and focused in Tiphereth. Element of Fire.
Transitional: concerned with the passage from soul consciousness to divine consciousness. Represented in the Tree by the centerless golden rectangle
formed by Chokmah, Binah, Chesed and Geburah. Element of water.
Divine: concerned with the activities of the transcendental or divine consciousness, and represented in the Tree by the triangle of Kether, Chokmah, and Binah. Element of Air.
These four stages have been examined in Enochian Temples and the two
papers so far released in the Achad's Cabala series. My intent here is to outline the expression of these four stages in Le Morte D'Arthur.
Malory's work falls into two clearly defined sections, those concerned with Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and those concerned with the Knights of the Grail. The Round Table stories relate primarily to the first two stages, showing the transition from normal human awareness to solar awareness, ending with the start of the third stage.
The symbolism of the Blasted Tower pervades the sections of the book
concerned with Arthur and the Round Table Knights. The title itself shows this as a central theme. All the heroism, triumph, and glory portrayed is negated by the "Morte Saunz Guerdon", the unmitigated disaster with which it ends. The
glorious rise followed by disaster is characteristic of Martial energies, and of the sign of Aries.
The Tower itself is never mentioned explicitly in the book, but it is the central theme of the events preceding the book's opening. Prior to the beginning of the book, Britain is composed of innumerable small kingdoms, constantly at war with one another, and only loosely reigned over by a false king, the usurper
Vortigern. This state corresponds to the lunar stage, and Vortigern to the unintegrated personality and the lower type of Aries, who is capable of war and slaying, but lacks the unifying ability provided by the influence of Sol. Vortigern, out of fear27 of the true princes Pendragon and Uther, attempted to build a
mighty tower as a place of defense against them. But each time he built, the tower fell for no reason.
Consulting his astrologers, he was told that for the tower to stand, the cornerstone must be bathed in the blood of a child with no mortal father.28 This turned out to be the child Merlin. But Merlin confronted him with the true reason for the fall of the tower: the tower was built over the den of two dragons, whose conflict shook it down. Digging beneath the tower, Vortigern discovered the two dragons, one red and one white. The dragons fought, and the white dragon
slayed the red.
The red dragon was naturally symbolic of Vortigern, being of the red of Mars. The white dragon represented the true princes, its color representing the
brilliance of the sun. Shortly after this incident, Pendragon and Uther invaded Britain, Vortigern was slain, and Pendragon assumed the throne as rightful king. But Pendragon and Uther are themselves still primarily of the martial type, rather than the solar. The name Pendragon actually means "warlord" or "war-leader". Uther's sexual obsession with Igraine is obviously martial. The true Arian type, martial and solar, does not appear until Arthur. But, being the true and victorious rulers, they represent the integrated personality, which is the precursor to fusion with the soul.
Nearly all the Knights of the Round Table follow this same pattern of triumph followed by disaster. None of them could handle the darker Scorpian side of the martial force, and suffered as a result. Those whose personal success was not marred by disaster were caught up in the general disaster of Arthur's death.
As I mentioned earlier, both the Arian and Scorpian paths differ mainly in emphasis. Each contains the other to a certain extent. Within the Arian
symbolism of Arthur and the Round Table, Merlin represents the shadowy
presence of the Scorpio side. He is the child of a maiden and an incubus, representing the Taurus/Scorpio axis (and possibly the Old Religion, still influential in Britain at that time). He is a master of magicks. Depending on the version, he ends his life either hidden in a thorn bush (attributed to Scorpio) or buried in a cave (again Scorpio, the underworld).
His death or disappearance occurs just as the Quest for the Grail begins, as if his presence is no longer needed with the Scorpian Grail Knights coming into the foreground. His place is taken by Lancelot, who represents the solar presence within the predominantly Scorpian symbolism of the Grail Knights.
Merlin being a Scorpian archetype, the end of Arthur in a death without recompense is inherent in the events by which he was brought to be born. For it was Merlin who arranged for Uther to be spirited into Tintagel, and to lie with Igraine in the semblance of her husband so that Arthur would be conceived. And it was he into whose hands the newborn child was given.
The means of Arthur's ascent to the throne establishes that he embodied the lesser mysteries of the knife and pantacle, of Tiphereth and Malkuth/Yesod. The sword in the stone is a direct correspondence to these magickal implements, and
the fact that they are stuck together indicates the fusion of the earthly being with the soul. The sword in addition confirms the martial/solar character of his expression, for it is the implement of Mars as well as the knife of Air, and letters are written upon it in gold, the metal of the Sun.
So, where Uther and Pendragon are the integrated personality, the Netzach
aspect, Arthur is the soul itself come to full consciousness. He not only unites the diverse kingdoms of Britain under one banner, but serves as well as the ideal to which all the lesser kings and knights, and the people themselves, aspire. His presence causes the alignment of all the castes of British society to a single purpose, as the soul brings the lower vehicles into alignment with its own purposes. His conquest over the invading Saxons can then be equated to the elimination by the soul of all in the personality that is unfit.
In the channelings of Enochian Temples, the conquest of the personality by the soul is followed by a period of peace and pleasure. In the Arthurian myths, this is the period following the conquest of the invaders, and before the beginning of
the Grail quest. But this period comes to an end when disturbances of another kind arise. These new problems do not stem from material causes. Instead, they come from the spirit. The easing of the challenges of incarnate existence brings a relaxation to the soul that allows previously unnoticed influences to affect events. The channelings indicate that the influences come mainly from the planets, representing the macrocosm.
This stage is represented in Arthurian myth by an increasing restlessness in the knights. The unity gained in battle begins to dissolve, and they fight among themselves and with other British knights. Some distraction is needed if the kingdom is not to fall into its previous disarray.
By this time Merlin had been overcome by his Taurean opposite, Viviane, and had withdrawn into the secrecy of his own sign of Scorpio. But he briefly reappears at this time to announce the Quest for the Grail, and to prophecy concerning those who will succeed in the quest, primarily about Galahad.
Galahad, the perfect knight of the Grail, is the child of Launcelot, the most perfect worldly knight after Arthur. The name Galahad is also Launcelot's baptismal name, indicating that his son represents an extension of his worldly
being into a spiritual context. There is an echo of this in modern times in the way that Crowley as Horus fathered the "magickal child", Jones/Set.
Galahad is the next step beyond the pure solar consciousness, in which the soul begins to perceive itself not as the Lord of Creation, the positive pole of the Malkuth-Tiphereth polarity, but as a middle aspect between the spirit and matter. As the middle aspect, its characteristics and very existence are determined by
the interaction of those two greater poles. In order to unite itself with the divine, it must go through the process of destroying or shedding those aspects of itself
that are caused by the material pole.
This destructive process is interpreted as purification in the Grail stories, and sexual purity or abstinence is deemed to be a basic necessity. Normal sexual
activity tends to tie the consciousness to the body, and therefore to the Tiphereth-Malkuth polarity. Practitioners of tantric systems are able to overcome this tendency, but tantric magick is related to the path of Horus, the path of exaltation through union. The Grail stories as Malory tells them are concerned with the path of Set, of exaltation through separation.
Nevertheless, the Grail stories show clearly that overcoming of the normal sexual urges is intended to be a part of the path they express. There is the Siege
Perilous, which kills any worldly knight that sits in it. There is the "Sword which was broken", and the king who was wounded in the thigh by the Holy Spear for thinking lustful thoughts about a female servant of the Grail. These symbols are all correspondences to the Blasted Tower, which figures so strongly in the tales of the Round Table. Only Galahad, the virgin knight, can sit in the Siege, and only he can mend the sword which was broken, and wield the Spear to heal the king.
There are also a number of episodes in the stories that deal explicitly with tests of the Grail Knights' sexual purity, and the three knights who achieve the Grail are ranked according to the manner in which they pass these tests. Galahad,
who never responded to the temptation, was ranked first. Percivale, who responded but overcame temptation is ranked second. Bors, the last ranked, is apparently more an Arian type than a Scorpian type. His temptation was not
overtly sexual. Instead, it enacts the typical ritual of the two heroes, wherein the Arian hero-who-lives must slay the hero-who-dies. The test is to see whether he can break out of the Arian role by refusing to slay. (Note that it is not repression of the martial force that is shown in these stories, but always conscious redirection of the force to a spiritual object.)
After passing the tests, the three knights are ready to achieve the Grail. Their achievement is easy compared to the experience of the Abyss common to the
path of Horus. Horrors were all part of their testing and need not be experienced again. Two different versions of this achievement both express the same
essence in different symbols.
In the first version, the three knights simply come to the edge of the sea, and discover a richly decorated boat. Within the boat they discover the Grail. The sea in this case is the watery aspect of the "N" of IRNI. The boat rides above the sea as the initiate who achieves Binah floats free above the transitional area of the upper Tree. The Grail itself is naturally Binah, the Greater Mother.
The second version is the one used by Malory, and was described in the earlier section of this paper dealing with the story's relation to Achad's Tree. Carbonek, the castle transformed to coal, is clearly Binah. The three knights simply arrive at the castle and are greeted by those who tend the Grail. After a demonstration by one of the Knights of their fitness (by mending the sword which was broken) they
are feted and fed from the Grail.
Both stories demonstrate that the passage into the supernals is not a trial in the Scorpian path, but a relief from trial. Everything of trial has been done over the whole course of the path, and the final passage is simple and free from pain or terror.
INRI - the group or communal formula
The application of INRI to humanity is shown in The Book of the Seniors, another part of the Earth Tablet working. Here we see the basic Set/Horus formula modified by the addition of Isis (Earth/Luna, first I) and Thoth (Mercury, last I). Osiris, humanity, is not shown in the formula because he is the subject on whom the other gods are acting.
The story of Seniors follows one of the several versions of the Osiris myth. In this particular version, Isis betrays Osiris into the hands of Set, who rends him to pieces and buries those pieces about the Earth. Horus overcomes Set and
recovers the pieces, which are then re-united and re-animated by Thoth.
In the Isis stage, humanity is shown in a state of innocence, living on the astral plane of the planet Earth but not yet incarnated. At this point humanity has not developed the sense of individuality or the consciousness of mortality, and is no more than a type of deva or nature spirit specialized for a particular function. Isis/Earth decides that humanity can be used as the tool by which she can rid herself of involutionary forces, which she had absorbed into herself in order that they not manifest elsewhere in the solar system.
To accomplish this task, she requires that humanity be brought out of its stage of innocence by the introduction of individuality and mortality. She calls upon Set, the serpent, who governs the action of the next stage, with Horus taking a lesser role.
Set first creates bodies in which the human race-soul can incarnate, through a process of forced evolution working on the material of the Earth. He and Horus both attempt to create different types of bodies through different methods of evolution. Horus's types are judged to be inadequate to the task, and Set's types
are allowed to flourish and develop. (In the distorted Christian version of the tale, the Serpent subverts Eve to his own purposes, rather than the other way
Once the bodies have been developed, Set creates an opening in the barrier
between the astral and physical realms. He then tempts susceptible aspects of
the race-soul into incarnation. The qualities and perceptions they pick up through incarnation infect the race-soul, causing a disruption of its natural unity, and its shattering into individual souls of the type currently possessed by the race. Thus he "tears Osiris to pieces".
Set uses the involutionary forces to sweep all of these souls into the cycles of incarnation. Having focused their awareness on the physical plane, he closes the passage between the planes, locking them in. He has scattered the pieces of
Osiris and buried them in the Earth. (In the Christian version, Eve tempts Adam to eat the apple, the fruit of incarnate experience, causing them to be ejected from the garden of Eden and cast into the desert of Earthly existence.)
Having closed the passage, Set distributes the involutionary force into the auras of the human beings, each to his capacity, and releases the remainder back into the environment. (Thereby creating "original sin", not mentioned in the Egyptian version.)
The intention of Isis was that she would rid herself of the involutionary forces through humanity's struggles to survive and to improve their condition on Earth. Having unconscious memories of their previous existence on a higher plane, the human souls would be perpetually creating thought-forms of desire to return to that plane. These thought-forms directly counteract the matter-oriented tendencies of the involutionary force. Their attempts to gain control over their
physical environment would also generate counteractive thoughts, since control implies imposed order, and the involutionary aspect relates strongly to randomness.
As the story is told in The Book of the Seniors, this elimination of the involutionary forces was fully accomplished prior to the beginnings of recorded history. All that has passed since then has been aimed towards the reunification of the race-soul. Thus the era of Set ended, and the era of Horus, representing the solar or coagulating aspect, began. Horus collected the scattered pieces of Osiris and assembled them into their prior shape, but still lacking their original livingness.
Horus is a god of conquest, and conquest has been the primary means by which humanity has been gathered together. From scattered groups living in nearisolation, the trend since the last ice age has been constantly towards bringing larger and larger groups of people into coordinated activity. The martial/solar figure, the warlord or king, has been dominant throughout most of this period both as the leader and war-chief and as a point of focus for the consciousness of
the individuals making up the society. In this latter role he acts as the ego, the motivating self-interest that determines the actions of the community. He is the social equivalent of the individual's ideals and goals.
After the group reaches a certain size, the importance of the individual ruler lessens and power begins to be distributed within a larger group. Other individuals appear who express the purposes of special groups within the social structure. Eventually a point is reached where the solar king acts as only one among many more or less equal centers of power in the society. This is the
social correspondence of the stage in individual evolution where the power of the sun-sign in his astrological pattern lessens and the other planets in the pattern each become a focus for part of the individual's attention, interacting with each other and with the sun-sign in a constantly changing dance of activity.
But unlike the original, naturally unified humanity, this new organization is being
built up on the material side of existence rather than strictly on the spiritual side. It is an attempt to re-create that original unity in matter. While the attempt has had its cyclic advances and fall-backs, each cycle has created larger groups in
each succeeding civilization.
Today a point has been reached where all of humanity is effectively one
economic organism, each part dependent on and affected by every other part.
No country or culture is independent of the others. Despite this de facto unity, the mental perceptions of the race have not yet adjusted, so that there is still a sense of nationalism or cultural chauvinism, of "us against them", in a large portion of the population. Circumstance will gradually eliminate this perception as various economic and political disasters resulting from nationalistic viewpoints force people to recognize the interdependence as a fact. The necessity for preventing the recurrence of such disasters will force an adaptation to that fact based on practical considerations, rather than on any particular idealistic or political basis. Adjustments that grow up from the needs of living, as these will, tend to be absorbed and retained in a culture where those adopted on principle (or forcefully imposed by a ruling class) eventually die out.
Thoth governs this final stage, for it is communication that is creating the circumstances where these adjustments can take place. The speed of
communication and transportation has always been the prime determinant of the level of interdependence. Where communications are slow, changes spread slowly, and people in one part of the world are able to think of themselves as separate from the rest. Where communications accelerate, the spread of change also accelerates, and events occurring at a distance take on more importance.
Today we have a situation in which events in any part of the world can be known in any other part almost instantly. Our consciousness of distance has been overwhelmed and negated. A rebellion occurs in Tibet, and we see it here as it happens, where as little as fifty years ago the event would have been long resolved before we could know of it. Parallel to this, we can now exert an influence on events anywhere in the world as they happen, almost as easily as
we can influence events in our own neighborhoods. McCluhan's "global village"
has become a fact of life.
It is this instant communication that will break down the barriers of nationalism and cultural chauvinism, creating a global perception of humanity as one interdependent civilization. This is not to say that cultural differences will cease to exist. In fact, friction between cultures is likely to increase before adaptation takes place. Friction between cultural perspectives will force the adaptation as much as will economic considerations. But the final result will be a great weakening of the sense of "otherness" that peoples have towards different cultures.
When the cultural perception of interdependency catches up with the factual economic interdependence, the human race as a whole will be in a state that corresponds to that of the integrated individual personality when it is ready for fusion with its soul. Gradually the veil between the race's personality aspect and the race-soul will fall away, and the power and increased awareness that has
been gathered through the eons of struggle in the cycle of incarnation will be added back into the race-soul, making it conscious of itself for the first time as an entity with an existence apart from the individuals whose awareness contributes
Osiris, betrayed by Isis, sundered by Set, and gathered again by Horus,
awakens again to life by the power of the words of Thoth. With the awakening of this great consciousness, individuals who are ready for fusion with their own soul will discover that that fusion also brings them into the sphere of activity of the race-soul. They will be able to consciously participate in the deliberations and actions of that being as it seeks to express itself in matter through humanity, while still maintaining their distinction as individual beings with the ability to evolve further, beyond the levels where the race-soul lives.
1 The most common human manifestation of Set's slaying-and-
reappearance pattern is in cases of sexual repression, where the life-force, deprived of its normal expression by the conscious self (=Sol), finds outlet in bizarre, compulsive, or neurotic behaviors.
2 The last line in the list of characteristics describes the way in which each
of the gods fights the other, in the earliest myths of their battles. It shows the primal roots of the symbolism of these two gods, since these two actions are methods of expressing dominance and denying dominance that humans share
with most of the higher primates. In our western culture these behaviors have been sublimated but still appear with full force. In other cultures they frequently appear in their original form.
Horus stealing the virility of Set means that as conqueror he forces his victim to assume the female role in a homosexual act, either oral or anal. Most of the legends of their battles contain references to Horus running his spear (a traditional symbol for the penis) through Set's body from bottom to top, or alternatively running his spear through Set's head, and displaying the body to his followers. Forced public submission to a homosexual act is a common
expression of dominance among primates. A similar pattern is shown in Hispanic cultures, where only the man assuming the female role is considered
homosexual. For the man taking the male role, the act is considered evidence of exceptional virility. American culture generally substitutes a symbolic act of submission for the sexual act, but follows the same pattern.
Set throwing filth in the face of Horus shows the classical method of humiliating a dominant male and lowering his status. In many human cultures actual fecal matter is used. Americans generally substitute rotten vegetables or cream pies. It can be said with more than a little truth that all the other symbolism of these two gods is elaboration and enhancement of these basic
3 In practice, these two heroes never manifest without their Venusian
counterparts, the Woman-Who-Holds-Life (Isis, Taurus, with Venus ruling and Luna exalted.) and the Woman-Who-Judges (Maat or Nepthys, Libra, Venus
ruling and Saturn exalted. ). Thus the manifestation of the Horus current in 1904 produced the manifestation of the balancing Maat current. The current of Isis,
balancing that of Set, has never left manifestation. It is an expression of the fundamental energies of the planet Earth.
4 Transliterating from Greek to Hebrew, Judas is spelled iod, vav, daleth,
aleph, samek, summing to 81, the mystic number of Luna, confirming his connection with the Taurus-Scorpio axis of the zodiac, as does the lunar silver he took from the Romans.
5 The Scorpian counterpart to Arthur is, of course, Merlin. He is the child of
an incubus, and a master of enchantments and sorcery. In different versions of
the story he ends his days imprisoned in a thorn-bush (attributed to Scorpio) or, paralleling Enkidu, hidden in the depths of the Earth. Guinevere and Viviane are their female complements, related to Libra and Taurus respectively.
6 These are the qliphotic counterparts of the Taurean and Libran female
7 He is the Lamb, a Ram without weapons, or the Child Horus, as yet
unable to revenge his father Osiris.
8 The Tower of Mars, Geburah.
9 The discarded elemental weapons are replaced with the consecrated
counterparts, the Sword of Mars and the Shield of Jupiter, Chesed. The monster and evil knight are, of course, the remnants of the knight's pre-dedication behavior patterns, which he has to consciously destroy and replace with their spiritual counterparts from Chesed before he earns the right to carry the shield. 10 Scorpio.
11 Pisces, sign of Karma, the consequences of past actions.
12 Chesed, Jupiter
13 Sagittarius, connecting the priest of Chesed with Chokmah, sphere of the
fixed stars or cosmos.
14 The name of the Castle of the Grail, originally Caer Benoic, was
transformed by the mythologizers of the Romantic era into "Carbonek" meaning "coal". Coal, while black and hard, is a product of the living Earth. The implied doctrine is that the planet Earth, not Saturn, is the true ruler of Binah.
15 The broken sword and wounded king are variations of the Blasted Tower
of Mars, with the "break" of the Abyss crossing the path. The fact that the Knight of the Grail was able to mend the sword implies that the Abyss as such no longer exists. This idea is emphasized at the end of the channeling in Enochian Temples.
16 The Earth reveals her true nature as the Great Mother, Binah.
17 Tzaddi, connecting Binah with Chesed.
18 Chokmah. The implied doctrine is that Christ (the old king) succeeded in
manifesting the formula of Horus in the body, by taking on the character of the Son, but failed to fully manifest the higher initiations of Binah and Chokmah, since his body died in the course of the Scorpian ordeals. The Scorpian Knights of the Grail succeed where the Hawk or Lamb of Aries, Horus or Christ, fails.
They join the Stars, the gods, while still in the body, and heal the wounds left by the previous aeon.
19 Paths of Capricorn and Saturn. The achievement of the Grail at first only
serves to make the spirit perceive its imprisonment in matter more acutely. (Capricorn) But when the Grail continues to sustain the knight despite his imprisonment he becomes able to see that matter is as holy in essence as is the spirit.
20 Path of Sol, connecting Tiphereth with Chesed.
21 Chokmah, and the Path of Jupiter. The Word of the Magus and the inflow
of Chokmah's power overcomes the inertia and despair of imprisonment in
22 The Angel at the top of the path of Shin heralds the True God in Kether.
23 Kether, and the paths of Shin and Tzaddi. The Grail and Spear are raised
up to become the objects of a new quest in a realm beyond Kether.
24 Path of Jupiter, withdrawing the wheel into the central point.
25 Path of Saturn.
26 These lesser deaths should not be confused with the "little death" of sex-
magick. The latter are a form of the Solar exaltation-through-union. Nor should the deaths and pains of this path be confused with any sort of physical mortification. Such practices are a perversion of the correct acts, which are entirely spiritual in character.
27 Another typically martial characteristic.
28 That is, the Arian energies (the tower) had to be balanced by the energies
of Scorpio (Merlin).
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank