What Mean Path Of

□ PATH COLOR: Red-Orange


□ MEANING: Nail or Hook


□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Magus of the Eternal.

Thoth The Lovers Zain


Kabalah Path And The Tarot

THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Sixteenth Path is the Triumphal or Eternal Intelligence, so called because it is the pleasure of the Glory, beyond which is no other Glory like to it, and it is called also the Paradise prepared for the Righteous.

The Path of THE HIEROPHANT, Vau, leads from Chesed to Chokmah and is the uppermost Path on the Pillar of Mercy. It is described in the Golden Dawn documents as "The Zodiac acting through Taurus upon Jupiter," which may sound simplistic, but which is very accurate. This is the action of Chokmah, as the spermatic potential of the manifest universe, upon the first manifestation. Chokmah is the Supernal Father as Chesed is the Father in manifestation. Chokmah is Yod of Macroprosopus; Chesed is the Yod of Microprosopus.

Thus is the Path of Vau a powerfully masculine one to which Taurus, the Bull, is applied. It is Fixed Earth in the Zodiac, meaning that it is a stable foundation. And here, our earlier definition of this Path as a "stabilizing extreme" is particularly useful.

THE HIEROPHANT is the opposite Path of THE CHARIOT, the vehicle (stabilizing active extreme/Cardinal Water) by which the Soul is carried across the Abyss. THE HIEROPHANT is the celestial road on which THE CHARIOT rides; it is the absolute foundation of the process of revelation; it is a rock-solid base of experience between the Supreme Spiritual Self and the Ego of Tiphareth, of which memory is one aspect.

The idea that THE HIEROPHANT relates to memory may be considered in light of the meaning of the word Vau, which means nail or hook. A nail binds together, it unifies, suggesting that a primary function of THE HIEROPHANT is to link Microprosopus with Macroprosopus, i.e., the Great Universe with manifestation. It is the Triumphal or Eternal Intelligence by which all that we are is forever tied to the Divine Spirit. This binding consciousness is described in a variety of symbolic ways, such as: It links the Sun and the Moon, or it ties together the Above and the Below. It is also related to teaching, that which introduces higher ideas into the lower organism. Expressing it another way, it can be said that the intelligent energy which binds the pure inner spirit to the outer aspects of manifestation is also the source for our understanding of that inner spirit. It is the only source. THE HIEROPHANT is the only teacher. He is, as the esoteric title of the card states, "The Magus of the Eternal."

In many versions of this Key, the seated figure is shown as the Pope. The imagery was explained by A.E. Waite with the suggestion that this is "a particular application of the more general office that he symbolizes. He is the ruling power of external religion, as the High Priestess is the prevailing genius of the esoteric, withdrawn power."221 Paul Case emphatically disagreed with this, saying that "On the contrary, he is the Pontifex, the 'bridge-maker' who provides a connecting link between outer experience and interior illumination."222

But, as we shall presently consider, Waite touches on some very important concepts in this card, which he called the "summa totius theologiae, when it passed into the utmost rigidity of expression."223

Relative to the traditional use of the Catholic Pontiff in Tarot, it should be appreciated that until very recently western esotericism was inextricably bound to Christianity. At the period when the cards emerged, metaphysics was merely a way of looking at the given faith, which was above question as a system. There were no viable alternatives. Thus, the great esotericists were either Catholic priests, or those who sought the approbation of the Catholic hierarchy for their research. By example, one can cite the correspondence of Henry Cornelius Agrippa with the great Humanist Abbot, John Trithemius. The abbot, himself an avid student of these matters and a Hebrew scholar,224

warmly responded to receipt of Agrippa's Of Occult Philosophy: "With how much pleasure I receive it no mortal tongue can express nor the pen of any write."225 Neither the Prelate nor the younger occult philosopher were condemned for their work, because it was actually carried out within the confines of accepted Catholic doctrine.226

Thus, for the originators of the cards to have used the image of their Pope to represent the mysteries of the energies of the Path of Vau, the Supreme Teacher, was reasonable. This image is problematical only to those attempting to separate the Hermetic Qabalah from the Medieval Christianity in which it was unquestionably nurtured.

To the fifteenth century metaphysician this was not only the Pope as administrator of the inner pathways, but it was the Pope as the teacher speaking ex cathedra (from the Throne). In Catholic doctrine, when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, his word is infallible. And when the leader of the faith speaks infallibly, all must listen. Thus to Vau the Sepher Yetzirah attributes hearing. The act of listening is shown in the Waite card by the two figures kneeling before the Pope. We should take them to mean the opposite aspects of ourselves in the human condition, united in their listening attention to the Universal Teacher. These two figures are the Sun and Moon currents of the body, reason and intuition, consciousnes and sub-consciousness, etc. These qualities are anthromorphized as priests, i.e., participants at the altar rather than spectators. The implication is that both are an integral and inseparable part of the process of enlightenment, and that their obedience has been pledged to the principle represented by THE HIEROPHANT.

Waite's Hierophant blesses from his position between the two columns of the Mysteries. At his feet are the crossed keys of Heaven (Gold, Sun) and Hell (Silver, Moon). This latter is so attributed because one of the Moon goddesses rules the underworld. In his hand is the Papal Cross, what has been called the "Triple Cross of the Western peoples."227

Not surprisingly, the Golden Dawn and Crowley cards have both moved away from the figure as Pope. The Golden Dawn figure retains the three-tiered Papal crown, but as a symbol of the Supernals. The emphasis is placed on the role of the Hierophant as shepherd and teacher of the Law. Crowley, whose early training left him with intensely anti-Christian feelings has produced a Hierophant reminiscent of one of the Titans, the primeval deities of the Greeks. His main stress was on what we have called the "grounding" of the Key, for his Kerubiim at the corners of the card are the tentative expression of the primordial Elements of Kether which pass down to Chokmah as the Sphere of the Zodiac. And while we think of the Zodiac as twelve, it is in reality four triplicities. Each Element is broken down into three signs, Qabalistically related to the Yod, Heh and Vau.

THE HIEROPHANT is the administrator of the duality which emerges with Chokmah, is structured by Binah, and which begins as mainfestation below the Abyss in Chesed. It is thus related to Tiphareth, the central point of manifestation. Tiphareth is suggested in two ways here. The first is by the Vau itself, the third letter of the Tetragrammaton, and the Son. The second is the number attributed to Vau, six, which is also that of Tiphareth.

A more obtuse reference to Tiphareth is Crowley's use of the five-pointed star on the breast of the Hierophant. As the primordial Elements evolve downward, they do so under the control of the fifth Element, Spirit. The principle of the Pentagram holds even in Kether, where the Primordial Elements are held in perfect unexpressed unity by a fifth which, at that exalted level, is the Ain Soph. This perfect Unity is expressed by the Swastica in motion, the central point of which is commensurate with the uppermost point of the Pentagram.

What Crowley has done in placing the Pentagram so prominently here is to affirm the uniting of the Above and the Below, a process in which the symbolic Moon always plays a key part. For the Moon is found both above and below the Sun on the Tree of Life. It is Yesod, and it is THE HIGH PRIESTESS. Here both are implied, for the Moon is exalted in Taurus.

The fact that Taurus is ruled by Venus refers us to THE EMPRESS, the Path of Daleth which is the mean between Chokmah and Binah, just as Vau is the product of the Yod and Heh. THE EMPRESS is "Mother Nature," the fertilized Universal Conciousness which is at the root of THE HIEROPHANT's teaching. In this regard it should be observed that THE HIEROPHANT is on the "feeling" (Venus-Netzach) side of the Tree of Life. We learn its lessons through intuition, as we learn the lessons of its opposite, THE CHARIOT, through intellect. On this Path intuition is applied to concepts collected by reason and built up by memory.

Pursuant to the idea of Venus-EMPRESS behind Earth-HIEROPHANT, there is a very interesting interplay of symbols: £, the sign meaning Earth becomes $, the sign of Venus, when it is reversed. Also the sign of Taurus itself, is a uniting of the symbols of Sun (©) and Moon (D), D + © = 8 • And, as we have seen in the other cards, the uniting of the Sun and the Moon always refers to the Garden of Eden. Vauis whatthe Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom calls the "Paradise Prepared for the Righteous." THE HIEROPHANT is the Earthy aspect of the Garden as THE CHARIOT is Watery, THE LOVERS is Airy and THE EMPEROR Fiery. What we have explained as the grounding or the earthiness of the Garden is the "Law" expounded by the Hierophant. The Golden Dawn card shows this as a scroll (the same scroll of the Law which is held by THE HIGH PRIESTESS in the Waite deck).

The scroll holds the "Word" which one hears through THE HIEROPHANT, and which is also the Logos. For the Word is creation, and to understand the created Universe is to hear the Word. This is the essential meaning of the Golden Dawn and Waite cards.

Crowley's card, which is considered one of the most important of the Tarot, contains many traditional elements, but adds some symbolism which is entirely personal to Crowley's philosophy. He explains the image of a child within the Pentagram within a larger Hexagram: "This symbolizes the law of the new Aeon of the Child Horus, which has supplanted that Aeon of the 'Dying

God' which governed the world for two thousand years." And elsewhere he adds . .for the rhythm of the Hierophant is such that he moves at intervals of 2,000 years."228

The Hierophant sits on a Bull between two elephants, holding a wand with three interlocking rings. These rings symbolize the Aeons of Isis, Osiris and Horus (The Child in the Pentagram is Horus). Beneath is the "Scarlet Woman." Above is what Crowley called an "oriel," meaning a window (referring to Heh, THE EMPEROR) built out from a wall on brackets, in this case nine Nails (Vaus). The symbolism means the linking of the Above and the Below: The window is the passageway for Light (manifest Spirit) between Macroprosopus and Microprosopus.

In the Golden Dawn card the figure holds a Crook, one of the symbols of Chesed suggestive of Jupiterian benevolence. But Crowley warns that the card is not necessarily benevolent, affirming an idea in the Book of Tokens that Vau (the Fifth Key) is the severe root of Geburah.229 Crowley takes this one step farther: "Though the face of the Hierophant appears benignant and smiling, and the child himself seems glad with wanton innocence, it is hard to deny that the expression of the initiator is something mysterious, even sinister. He seems to be enjoying a secret joke at somebody's expense. There is a distinctly sadistic aspect to this card. . ."230 Crowley insists that this is quite natural as the Key relates to the original Bull legend, that of Pasiphae. In that Greek myth Pasiphae falls in love with a sacred white bull, the union of which produces the Minotaur. This is, however, a very questionable interpretation. On the other hand, it is agreed by most authorities that there are some very unpleasant aspects to this key, having to do with its position intermediate between the Above and the Below.

This issue and its implications are very cleverly related to Gnosticism by Richard Cavendish in his work, The Tarot:

Taken in descending order, the trumps from the Juggler to the Pope recall the gnostic accounts of the creation of the Universe. It was believed that in the beginning the One became Two by thinking, so that there was a Mind and a Thought. The Juggler can be equated with the divine Mind, the Female Pope with the Thought in its original purity, and the Empress as the Thought after it has become impregnated by the Mind to become the mother of all the lower powers. Among those lower powers was the De-murge or Cosmocrater, the maker of the visible world. . .Gnostics frequently identified the Demiurge with the God of the Old Testament. He was regarded as an evil power, the maker and ruler of matter and flesh in which the divine spark of spirit is held prisoner. . . The Pope also has some sinister undertones. Gnostics maintained that the evil Demiurge invented conventional religion and morality to keep men enslaved to him by inducing them to worship him and obey his laws.231

The Demiurge, the Lesser Creator who rules over manifestation, was the great deceiver. Thus the initiate of the Valentinian Gnostic mysteries was taught to ignore the authority of this creator,232 whom Mead described as "hanging from Spirit at the very boundary of the phenomenal universe."233 It appears, in any event, that Cavandish is quite correct in his assertion that the negative qualities ascribed by tradition to this card have their roots in Gnosticism.

The implications of Gnostic thought are, in regard to Tarot, both complex and exciting. One who has studied the Qabalah at some length may be surprised to find the same concepts expressed in the language of early Christianity. As one authority expressed the question: "Is Gnosticism Christian Qabalism? Except for the name of Jesus we are in a completely Jewish world. These are the mysteries of the Zohar and of the Hasidim."234

Continue reading here: The Fourth Path In Kabbalah

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