The Tarot of the Old Path and the Thoth Tarot, both use different titles on their Key 20 cards than traditional Tarot. Instead of Justice, the usual card as key 20, they call them Karma, or Aeon.
The Tarot of the Old path uses Karma as its title, because the Old Religion's theology places it there. This is the realm of cause and effect, a place of psychosomatic life, where the psyche determines the cause of its effectual emotional thought, but the effects on the bodies health, wealth and well being. Hence, karma represents the soul's responsibility for the physiological behavior of the body. Therefore, incarnation is involved in action, and action is prompted by desire. To ensure a good return in one's efforts, the soul must, as a personality, clime the Tree of Life it descended from. At first this takes willful action, but as one "remembers" their True Self, they begin loosing desire, until it ceases in Tiphareth, the 6th Sephiroth- On the Qabalistic Tree of Life-called Beauty. Once desire is lost, one meets the Priestess or High Priestess who takes them through the Abyss of the Universal Collective Unconscious and/ or Abysmal Womb, where one is totally purified by a form of baptism, one no longer "experiences" death. The ties that used to bind us to the "Emperor's" laws of nature, no longer apply,i.e., Karma is no longer experienced. One's soul may now decide whether it wishes to incarnate or not, but which ever way it decides to go, it doesn't forget the past anymore. There is a philosophy of the Craft, called the Charge, where it is stated, " I am that which is attained at the end of desire."
Key 20 of the Tarot of The Old Path, shows different states of being on the "inner planes". As on the Tree of Life, the lower region is the earth plane. Shown on this plane, an embryo sucks its thumb, while near by a snow drop flower blooms, implying hope, in the "language of flowers".
A soul rises from the figure of a dead knight, traveling through a tunnel to a great light at the end. A spirit welcomes him into the second liquid light and/or plane of water, known as the Astral plane. In the center of the Old Path Tarot , Karma card, stands the Hooded Guardian, who holds the scales of balance, that symbolize "good or bad" karma, that has been earned in the last incarnation. A soul, with head bowed, awaits the Guardian's judgment. A soul arising to a higher plane, and a couple receiving a joyful union is shown behind the Guardian. The female form, showing contact with the embryo, is going back down to earthly incarnation. In the Craft, the next plane is called the manasic plane, that links the inner dimension of Air. Here, the soul has a nimbus of light. It is the Plane called Summerland, by the followers of the Craft, much like the Elysian planes of the Greeks, or the "Happy Hunting Grounds" of the Native American's. One of the souls is shown communicating with the Goddess, who wears the horns of the Moon and a necklace of rebirth. The Horned God, has the light of the Sun behind him, as that is the entry into the realms of inner- fire, from which glows a pure white light, which is called Kether, on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. In the Craft this is called the dimension of masterhood and/or godhood. Here dwell the "great ones" who are beyond Karma, and only manifest to teach another influence in the ever changing eras of man.
The Thoth Tarot- Key 20- The Aeon is called:
The Universal Key of good judgment that is utilized in both personal and professional situations.
The Egyptian Goddess Nuit (Nut or Nuit), the dark Sky Goddess curves over the figure of Osiris, Egyptian God of Wisdom (Chokmah on the Tree of Life) who married Isis, Egyptian Goddess of Intuition (Binah on the Tree of Life). The union of Isis & Osiris gave birth to Horus, the God of Perception, which is seen as three floating fetuses. Nut or Nuit, the Egyptian Sky Goddess, makes the sign of Leo; the zodiac Leo represents creative and professional power.
This card reminds us that properly used creativity makes positive impact in both family and professional career. The resurrected Osiris, with his finger in his mouth, reflects that wisdom comes from experience; to create, see error and correct it, is the path of wisdom. Wisdom is not randomly spoken.
The red-winged eye of Horus at the top of the seated figure of this card represents inspired vision that gives us the whole-view of any situation. We should understand that by creating error and correcting that error, we become wise. Here we have astral transformation that soon becomes physical manifestation.
Everything is a symbol of the One Self, for everything proceeds from a generating idea (self-awareness) which is related to transcendent conception. I (Osiris) Am (Isis) Me (Horus)...is the generating principle of manifestation. We are the Divine Me communicating to the Whole of Spirit (Holy Ghost) as I Am! We need never leave that which we truly love, for all we become truly aware of, we become! Becoming never ends, it is the love process of being; the process of one energy constantly transforming! On the bottom of the Thoth Card, is the Hebrew letter Shin, looking like a strange trident, and the triangle of fire.
The Path of Shin-20-The Aeon is also called the Judgment Card in traditional tarot.
The Twentieth Key
Primary Path color: Radiant Orange-Scarlet.
Musical Note: C Natural.
Maternal Letter: Fire.
Qabalistic/Esoteric Title: The Spirit of the Primal Fire.
This is the 31st Path of Wisdom that is known as The Perpetual Intelligence, because it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon, each in an order convenient for it. The Path of Shin known as Judgment because it joins (the orange path on the right lower side of the Tree of Life glyph) the Earth (Malkuth) with Splendor (Hod), the base Sephira (Circle) and completion of the Pillar of Severity (The right side of the Tree of Life --your left if looking at it--forms a Pillar to the top Black circle that is Binah. This is the Pillar of Severity.) . The Earth is now connected to the ultimate expression of Binah (Goddess/Mother) which is the Will to Form that is the activating Path of Intellect while the opposite, The Moon, is a formative Path of emotion. This Judgment, is a process undergone by the Personality as it strives to become conscious of its own inner working. It is perpetual process of monitoring of the Personality toward universal consciousness or what I call "Claiming your Divine Inheritance".
The Angelic powers of Hru, invoked by the desire of the path traveling student, slowly burn away that which is deemed unworthy of Divine Inheritance by the redeeming fire; a process that is actually physical and can be associated with the Kundalini Fire of the Root chakra as it rises up the spine towards the Brain. This is the "Splendor of the Material World"(as noted by the Golden Dawn) that points out the relationship of the Path of Shin to the physical body as a state of Resurrection or Rebirth.
Being the Path where the components of the Personality first encountered in the Universe are critically analyzed and judged (evaluated). It is a bright and fiery probationary path of the intellect while the Moon is the dark, cold and watery probationary path of the emotions. Both are the introduction to the true nature of Self (Greater Self) in incarnation and can thus be extremely difficult. That is one reason why people are cautioned about "Raising the Kundalini"(primal life force).
As seen in the 20-Aeon card, all elements are present on this path, either active or inactive--which is to say expressed (seen-active) or unexpressed (unseen passive) making these Elemental Paths difficult to understand. Shin contains all four alchemical Elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. The evolution of the cosmos is from the subtle (simple) to the most complex; from nothing to something. From simple quanta (sub-atomic particle) to complex molecular and cellular structures. In all things, the whole is implicit in the developing parts.
In the Thoth Tarot, The Aeon, supersedes all earlier concepts of the Key, and show the harmonious and spiritual state of human existence which will be on earth in the 22 century (according to Crowley). This is symbolized by the Goddess Nuit, and her consort Hadit (seen as a golden orb of light). Their union births Horus, an reincarnation of Osiris, shown as seated and standing depicting his active and passive forms. Another name for Horus is Heru, which is synonymous with Hru, "The Great Angel set over the Tarot".
This card, according to Qabalistic doctrine, also symbolizes the passing of the 500 year period of darkness and trial, preparatory to a new Aeon of Light." There is much more to know, so if you have questions---research is recommended. The Aeon, key 20, is called the Path of Shin, meaning
Tooth and the maternal meaning of the Shin is Fire, both the meaning of the Path and the maternal meaning are a powerful combination.
Dr.Paul Foster Case describes the Path of Shin, as, “The Perpetual Intelligence", because it is a continuous monitoring Intelligence of the progress of the Personality toward Universal Consciousness.
Now I have often called the Mind Universal collective Unconscious, not consciousness, simply because a consciousness is a microcosmic reality born of the Macrocosmic Universal Mind; however, if we release our consciousness to the Universal Conscious Energy, we have developed a Consciousness that bridges the Macrocosm and Microcosm that is personally Self-Aware! We have then successfully become the Horus, the 22nd century human evolution! That is the reasoning behind Crowley's replacing the old Judgment card with the newer Aeon card.
The Path of Shin joins the Earth Intelligence-Malkuth with that of Hod-the Splendor Intelligence, which is the Sephiroth base of the Pillar of Severity, connecting Earth with the Will-To-Be ( Will to form) of the Great Binah. According to the Qabalah, and Crowley, on this path, the Student experiences a perpetual burning away of that which is unworthy by the Archangel controlled "Redeeming Fire"; a process that is physically experienced as the higher vibratory Passion of the "I Will be", that is Eheieh in Hebrew and begins hotly flowing through our bodies as an inner heat. This is a point of delicate balance, and a Teacher of the Mysteries must expect the Students to react in peculiar ways, such as a feeling of heated passion for the Teacher. This is simply a misplaced transference, because the cultural ego, seeks self-gratification when stimulated by a seemingly inner or outside influence. This bright energy is really the beginning of unconditional love radiating within the student whose inner self is responding to the Gnosis (Knowledge).There exists a Love/ Passion dynamic that is the Fire of Spirit reacting to sensual flesh and with proper guidance the Student will go into the Fire, burning away desire, but building a Passionate Being that is Love, which is pure, where one is not trying to control it with conditions.
Thus is the lesson of Hod, which states, that love/passion is not a peacocks splendor, rather it is the Foundation of all Creation. For the personality to know this is a perpetual process of "burning off the unworthy", so that progress can continue, is often hard won. Thus, the "Splendor of the Material World" is burned away in a kind of physical resurrection, a rebirth of body and personality sending us perpetually towards the Great Mother and her love of forms.
This paradigm of resurrection is bases on the developments of the opposite card to this progressive Path of Shin, a path that is THE MOON -Key 18, relating to the disciplined quest for a greater reality, that actually changes the physiological. In other words, the balanced Energetic forces of both Shin and Qoph (the Moon) stimulate the rebirth of our bodies that necessitates a physiological rebuild, necessary to handle the higher vibratory states of the Higher Consciousness and the One Emotion that is Love without conditions. This is a process that Paul Foster Case described, as building a "Master's Body". A body, where the Kundalini is flowing, uncoiled and hot, without emotionally adverse effects.
Hence, The Path of Shin, is the bright fiery probationary path of the Intellect where the components of the Personality first encountered in The Universe Path of Tau, are critically analyzed and evaluated, i.e. Judged . The opposite path is that of THE MOON, a dark watery probationary path of emotions. The balance of Aeon and Moon, builds the Master body...the Manifested Body of Horus - The Solar Child of Isis and Osiris. (The two previous Aeons).
These introductory Paths to the True Nature of Self in incarnation, are usually extremely difficult to travel, because these Elemental Paths of which The Aeon, The Fool, and The Hanged Man are known, are very difficult to understand. This mental difficulty is because all of the Elements are present on each Path, in either repressed or expressed form. For example, the pattern of maternal letters (form producing intelligence) as stated in the Qabalistic text, Sepher Yetzirah that Air (Gases) produces Water which produces Fire which we know to be true by studying physics. THE FOOL-0, is pure Air. THE HANGED MAN-KEY 12, is Air acted upon by Water, and THE AEON- Key- 20, is Air and Water acted upon by Fire within the human body. It pays to note, that the human body is the Crucible of Spiritual Alchemy.
Therefore, On the Path of Shin, the Consciousness (Water) is activated by the Dynamic Principle (Fire) in the presence of equilibrating Spirit (Air) with in the physical vehicle (Earth), all of which produces a balance of intelligence forces in the individual, necessary for total understanding of the Personality structure and its relationship to the Greater Self.
Many Qabalists know the Middle Pillar, the straight alignment of Malkuth, Yesod, Tiphareth and Kether, is the pillar of balance, yet the Path of Shin, is Left hand Path, or the left side Pillar of Severity and is usually subject to imbalance. The answer to this seeming quandary is that every symbol, represented on these Path cards, is a duality, containing its own opposite. Each Path must contain the essential components of its opposite Path, as energy moves from positive to negative, male to female, electric to magnetic. Upon viewing Hod (Splendor) you will see that it is connected or conjoined with Netzach. Hod is related to The Aeon, and Netzach is related to The Moon, showing that intelligence applied without feeling is as pathological as feeling applied without intellect. And since the Cards represent a kind of intellect/conscious energy, everything we experience, every idea, every activity, co-exists in us with its opposite.
There are so many concepts to grasp in the Major Arcana, that the student may feel overwhelmed. Luckily, the images on the Cards are pictorial representation of the visual experiences of the Paths opening up a great deal of learning and data by meditating on them. These Qabalistic Images have been carefully assembled over the centuries by the experienced mental work of highly advanced women and men, who have at first traveled these inner Archetypal Roads and then meticulously laid down, in image, the details to assist latter generations.
It is the short coming of most students who begin these astral paths, that at once encountering theses Tarot constructs, believing that they have a reality of their own. The Qabalistic Teacher must explain that only when the student is able to go beyond the lower Astral, is it where one touches upon realities that activate the symbols, i.e. "open the Gates" to greater Consciousness. For instance, while traveling the Path of Shin, one may at first experience what is illustrated on the Aeon Card. Diligent skrying, will soon project our consciousness beyond the visual construct into a understanding that the Path is the enervating, activating effect of the Cosmic Motive Principle on the individual consciousness. That is to say, that on the Path of Shin, the Fiery Spirit (Kundalini) permeates the Personality of the individual, in the descent of Energy into Matter. Thus, the last illusions of personality separateness is burned away.
The Tree of Life is as the Universe, if we have learned any physics at all, we know that from the simplest concept, cane all the complexity that is the Cosmos. In the Big Bang theory, a singularity, which came from nothing (Dark energy and Dark Matter), exploded outward, and became many. This is also a concept easily seen in the development of the human body, as a single celled zygote, divides into hundreds of thousands of cells ultimately ending up as a human body. In the Tarot, The Fool, is the ultimate simplicity and The Universe is representative of the ultimate complexity and yet all the Cards are implicit, unexpressed in The Fool. Therefore, in all the cards in-between we find the balance between what is expressed or unexpressed.
I am ending this discussion of simplicity into complexity, with the understanding that The Aeon, The Universe and The Moon are aspects of our individual waking consciousness that comprises a sensual personality while also representing stages of Self -Awareness.
The Aeon Card, representing the Path of Shin, is where the aspirant to the Mysteries experiences the Personality being lifted from the tomb of matter and evaluated on the extent to which it has balanced the four alchemical elements of Malkuth; Intellect (Fire), emotions (Water), Spirit (Air) and physical-sensual being (Earth). This individual balance also explains the fact that each individual aspirant encounters different experiences on the Paths.
It should be noted, that the patterns of the cards will be totally meaningless, unless the student understands what is symbolized by the four alchemical "Elements" and/or Elemental Forces that every Qabalistic symbol represents to a specific part of the Whole Self.
Further understanding of The Aeon or Path of Shin, is in its meaning, "Tooth", which suggests hardness, sharpness and/or biting. It is often interpreted as the teeth which chew prior to the ingestion of energy into the system--in this case the Kundalini is released and chews up the divided personality, by dealing a final bite to the perception of a separate and individual physical self, leaving the original Persona which is Child of God. A continual process of "Above all things, Know thyself"
As I have mentioned, Crowley's Aeon card departs completely from the traditional Cards of the Ryder-Waite or Golden Dawn Tarot decks. The Aeon card is illustrative of Crowley's personal philosophy derived from The Book of Law, which he stated was revealed to him, thus forming the core of his teachings. He called the Aeon Card the Stele of Revealing. In his explanation of the Aeon, he claimed it superseded all traditional concepts of the Key (Judgment Card) because it shows the harmonious, spiritual state of human existence that will reside on this earth in the mid-twenty second century. This advanced human condition is illustrated by the Dark Sky Goddess Nuith arching over her consort, Hadit, who is the Golden Orb of Light. Their Union produces Horus, as shown both seated and standing, his passive and active forms. Crowley states that another name for Horus is Heru, which is synonymous with Hru, which he calls "The Great Angel set over the Tarot".
Consistently, Qabalistic doctrine is a system of Gnosis (Knowledge) that evolves with the races of human kind, we have passed into the predicted 500 year period of extreme darkness and trial, preparatory to a new Aeon of Light. Thus, we have the letter Shin below the Standing Horus, in a flowery form and the Three Yods, each have an internal human shape that is arising to partake of the Light of the coming Aeon. Naturally the study of The Book of Law is recommended to further the understanding of this card of the new Aeon.
However, enough knowledge has been presented in this treatise of the Aeon-key 20, to know that when this card is thrown during a reading:
- It states that a final decision has been reached.
- A matter has been determined without appeal on its plane.
- The final decision has been made, and a new state of enlightenment is beginning.
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