The Eighteenth Key
□ PATH COLOR: Crimson (Ultraviolet)
□ RELATED SOUND: B Natural
□ SIMPLE LETTER: Sleep
□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Ruler of Flux and Reflux. The Child of the Sons of the Mighty.
THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Twenty-ninth Path is the Corporeal Intelligence, so-called because it forms every body which is formed beneath the whole set of worlds and the increment of them.
The Path of Qoph connects Netzach (Victory) with Malkuth (The Kingdom), and is described not only as the "Victory of the Material World," but as the "deceptive effect of the apparent power of Material Forces." Crowley calls this Path the "Gateway of Resurrection.. .the threshold of life.. .or spiritual re-
birth, may be considered at two levels: First, in the course of incarnation, it is the stage of the soul's organization of the physical body which it will inhabit. It is a "Sleep" (as attributed to Qoph by the Sepher Yetzirah) preceding the waking mortal consciousness, a form of pre-consciousness differentiating into matter from the collective unconscious of Netzach. Second, in terms of the spiritually-developing individual, it is a conquest of the phantoms reflected from the material world, what the Golden Dawn described as "The Child of the Sons of the Mighty," meaning the "creations of the created." This is a watery Path of probation, where the student must face and conquer the phantoms of the darkest recesses of his own mind, as well as those of the race.In that sense it can be a terrible and frightening Path, involving real dangers to the emotional stability of those who are not strong enough to handle this experience; such inner disturbance may actually result in serious physical problems. On the other hand, tradition states that the successful treading of this Path confers the powers of "bewitchments and casting illusions." When we slay the dragons of the deep recesses of our sleep-consciousness, and understand their mechanisms, we gain the capacity to manipulate those qualities in ourselves as well as in others.
The meaning of Qoph is the back of the head. It is behind the head itself, which is Resh (THE SUN). Thus, what is symbolized by THE MOON is anterior to the bright intellectual awareness of THE SUN. At this level of the Tree the Moon only reflects the light of the Sun; the Path at the center of the card is going from the dark side of the Moon, toward the light side on which the Sun shines directly. Here is should be noted that Crowley disagreed pointedly with the Golden Dawn and Waite interpretation which say that the Moon is in its increase. The rationale given is that the crayfish is the symbol of Cancer, meaning that when the Sun is in Pisces, the Moon will be increasing in Cancer. So the Crayfish emerging from the Water, at one level, was intended to mean: "the Sun below the horizon as he ever is when the Moon is increasing above."109
Another important idea expressed in the Golden Dawn manuscripts is that of the crayfish imagery developed from the Scarab or Dung-Beetle.110 Crowley developed this idea, making the dung-bettle central to his card and emphasizing the darker aspects of the Path. He called this "The Waning moon of witchcraft, and abominable deeds. . .the poisoned darkness which is the condition of the rebirth of light."11 The rebirth of the Light out of a hideous and abominable darkness is his primary concern, one admirably symbolized by the beetle, a reference to Kephera, Father of the Gods, and the great God of creation and resurrection.112 The Beetle, or Scarabaeus, (called kheprera by the Egyptians) was the God's key symbol. As a species, this is a beetle which lays its eggs in a ball of dung, which it pushes along, and from which the eggs eventually hatch as they are subjected to the warmth of the Sun. The dung-ball was considered to be like the Sun itself, for it contained all that was necessary for growth and nourishment.
In some respects the form emerging from the waters is both the highest and the lowest. It is the very originator of life as it is Kephera, the God who is said to have emerged as a beetle "from the watery mass of Nu." It is the highest creative force, beginning its material self-expression as the lowest organic form. The crayfish means the organic evolution of the human race; it also refers to the cellular development of the physical vehicle from the inner roots of nature. And, as an originator of form, Pisces (ruled by Jupiter) relates to Chesed. The very earliest Golden Dawn papers, the so-called Ancient Cypher Manuscripts say of Pisces "by it the waters of Chesed flow down,"113 meaning that it is a primary formative consciousness at the lowest level of the Tree.
Of course, the most important Tarot reference to the Moon is with THE HIGH PRIESTESS, the Path of Gimel leading directly from God the Father to God the Son. The High Priestess is the source of the crystal clear waters of consciousness emerging from the Godhead. The same waters are seen here in THE MOON, but they are polluted! This is not to imply that there is anything intrinsically evil on this Path. Rather, its phantoms relate to the density of the physical body, that compound organism affected by all three Paths leading into Malkuth: JUDGMENT, THE MOON and THE UNIVERSE. As has been described, the process of travelling the Paths has a definite effect on the body. The physical vehicle is subtly modified as the Light descends into it, and as the Personality becomes increasingly aware of the presence and activities of the Higher Self.
Relative to the human body, the Path of THE MOON is an organizing (formative) one. It is described in the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom as the "Corporeal Intelligence," which Case tells us means "body consciousness." He notes also that the root of the word "corporeal" in Hebrew means "to rain upon."114 In each of the three cards Yods are shown "raining" down upon the Path. Or, as Pausanius described, these might be the tears of the Moon-Goddess, which caused the Nile to rise and fall.115 There is, in any event, a general agreement that something descends from the Moon to the Earth on this Path as is symbolized by the falling Yods.
In Waite's card there are fifteen yods, a possible reference to the bondage of matter symbolized by the fifteenth Key, THE DEVIL. The Golden Dawn card shows four yods, one for the powers of each of the Four Worlds, while Crowley uses nine as a reference to Yesod. He describes these as "drops of impure blood,"116 meaning the cycle of menstruation. He describes the Path as a stream of serum tinged with blood.
Indeed, the activity of menstruation and its dark blood is intimately connected to this Path, the Path of childbirth presided over by the Greek Goddess, Artemis.m As the sister of Apollo, the Sun, Artemis was the Moon. Like her Roman counterpart, Diana, she was a goddess of the hunt, travelling through brutal and mountainous woods with her pack of hounds. Thus is childbirth linked with the most savage aspects of Nature. The Goddess, like the Path, can be vicious and unforgiving, her legend being filled with qualities at once dark and vindictive. Any breech of her regulations was immediately and ferociously punished. So, from the standpoint of Greek legend, the dogs of THE MOON may be considered those of Artemis, ready to attack and destroy men who displease her. The very idea is barbaric and uncivilized, as is the Path of Qoph. This is a primitive Path, one of raw animal nature. It is a Path of animal instincts (the law of the jungle), passions and energies uncontrolled by intellectual, moral or ethical considerations. This can be a very cruel Path, showing us aspects of ourselves which society forces us to repress, but which are an integral and undeniable part of our human make-up. Yet we approach the images and lessons of this Path with our whole being, applying reason to that which we encounter, as we apply feeling to that which is encountered on the Path of JUDGMENT.
THE MOON is one of the cards for which tradition has provided a very definite structure, both the Golden Dawn and Waite cards being wholly dependant on the design shown in the Marseilles version: Two dogs (in Waite's deck they are a dog and a wolf) stand threateningly beneath a personified moon, between two desolate towers. A crayfish is in the water below. Here it is at least interesting to observe that in the Marseilles version no Path is shown, and it is only by inference that one realizes that the crayfish will eventually pass between the two very ferocious dogs.
Mathers and Crowley were in agreement that these should actually be considered the jackals of Anubis, the scavengers of the dead. Anubis was the jackal god, and the great god of the Underworld, charged with both the judgment and the embalming of the deceased. In the Tarot this means the natural deterioration of the physical body in death, the return of its energy into the unseen, as well as a suggestion of correspondence with the Path of Shin, JUDGMENT. The implication is that the activity of natural forces on the body in death is concurrent with the "weighing of the soul" on that Path.
Anubis is a very complex god of lunar opposites, as is suggested by Crowley's dual figures. Anubis is a god of light and of darkness, of death and of resurrection, whose cult was a fascination to those ancient societies in the shadow of Egypt. Describing the subtleties of this deity's cult to the Romans, Plutarch wrote:
By Anubis they understand the horizontal circle, which divides the invisible part of the world, which they call Nephthys, from the visible, to which they give the name Isis; and as this circle equally touches upon the confines of both light and darkness, it may be looked upon as common to them both-and from this circumstance arose that resemblance which they imagine between Anubis and the dog, it being observed of this animal, that he is equally watchful by day as night. In short, the Egyptian Anubis seems to be of much the same power and nature as the Greek Hecate, a deity common both to the celestial and infernal regions.118
Pursuant to the idea of Anubis and resurrection, there is a definite relationship to the Christ legend. It can be said, however whimsically, that in an obscure medieval symbolism the lobster is a symbol of the risen Christ.119 And, one must be exceedingly cautious in dismissing such symbolism out of hand, because of the Tarot's very elusive, but unquestionably medieval, origins. In the fourteenth century every symbol, however occult, was related to Christ.
One way or the other, birth, death and resurrection are pivotal concepts on the Path of THE MOON. These are not symbolic processes; they are biological, and occur in the darkness and the light of our sense perception. The energy process, a cyclic wave motion, is shown by Crowley as a pattern of both above and below, linked by the Beetle of the Sun.
To reiterate the meaning of this murky Path in the most simple of terms: this is the natural energy from which our physical bodies develop in the womb. It is a process that is continual throughout our lives, as cells die and are replaced. The work of this Path is ended with the dissolution of energy back to its source, which is Netzach.
To understand this Path is to understand the relationship of our personality-consciousness to the physical vehicle built for each incarnation, a very difficult undertaking for most people, who perceive themselves as having existence only through their bodies. Here the meaning of the simple letter Qoph, sleep, gives an important clue. During the cyclic phase of withdrawal of consciousness from the physical, most people continue to act on information and fantasies closely related to their bodily existence. Their dreams are filled with the shades of matter which, once consciously transcended, is the conquest of the Path of THE MOON.
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The pathology of the poet says that the undevout astronomer is mad the pathology of the very plain man says that the genius is mad and between these extremes, which stand for ten thousand analogous excesses, the sovereign reason takes the part of a moderator and does what it can. I do not think that there is a pathology of the occult dedications, but about their extravagances no one can question, and it is not less difficult than thankless to act as a moderator regarding them.