The Path Of Samekh Temperance
The Fourteenth Key
□ RELATED SOUND: G Sharp
□ SIGN: Sagittarius (Mutable Fire)
□ SIMPLE LETTER: Anger
□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Daughter of the Reconcilers, the Bringer Forth of Life
THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Twenty-fifth Path is the Intelligence of Probation, or is Tentative, and is so called because it is the primary temptation, by which the Creator trieth all righteous persons.
The Path of Samekh, TEMPERANCE, leads from Yesod to Tiphareth, from the Moon to the Sun, from the Personality to the Higher Self. It is among the most important and difficult Paths of the entire Tree, and one on which the very enormity of the Great Work may be experienced. It has been called a Path which is the "Dark Night of the Soul,"142 a Path on which one enters a deep tunnel in the belief that the Light is to be found at the end of it. This is a Path of trial and temptation, called the Intelligence of Probation. It is also known as the "Daughter of the Reconcilers, the Bringer Forth of Life." In his 777 Crowley made this comment on the letter Samekh: It is "The Womb preserving Life. Self-control and Self-Sacrifice govern the Wheel."143 All of these phrases direct us to the idea that behind this card, ultimately, is the Great Mother, the CP ni?N m rp (YHVH Elohim) of Binah. For this reason the central figure of both the Golden Dawn and Crowley cards are female. Moreover the Twenty-Fifth Path is that of Sagittarius, the Archer who is also Diana the Huntress, Goddess of the Moon. This repeats the principle that all of the figures of the Tarot (except THE FOOL) are Mother-Binah and Father-Chokmah under different guises.
In her function as Diana she governs the tides of earth, and the fluctuations of the Astral Current. She is the natural framework and support for the waxing and waning of the energies of existence. She is the Prop, the very meaning of the word Samekh. The Great Mother is, thus, the "Womb preserving Life." She is restriction and control over natural energies; all of the energies of the manifest universe are controlled and manipulated within specific bounds and restrictions.
In their Voice of Isis, Hariette and Homer Curtis describe the Universal Mother as the "power of bringing forth in humanity the Divine Child or the Christ."144 It is that which in every individual brings about the contact of the Personality with the inner divine light. This is, in Qabalistic terms, the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Rising on the Path of TEMPERANCE leads to our bearing of the Child, which is ourselves reborn.
Key 14 is the beginning of an awareness of the Higher Self of Tiphareth. The card demonstrates not the experience itself, but how the experience is brought about, i.e., through an exchange and balance of opposites which can only be symbolically described. The use of symbols here has nothing whatsoever to do with secrecy, but is merely reflective of the inadequacy of language to describe the process.
Crowley's card is the most specific, showing the process in alchemical terms, where Fire becomes Water and Water becomes Fire. And, as we appreciate that the primary alchemy takes place within the body of the alchemist himself, we can also appreciate that this card is describing an actual physical effect. It is not nearly so symbolic as some might believe.
The willful interchange of Fire and Water is the merging or tempering of energy opposites within the body, here symbolized by a stream poured back and forth from one vase to another. This is the Living Water, consciousness vivified by being merged with the Fiery Spirit. The process is one of bringing the Spirit into the body so that it tempers the consciousness, and is itself tempered by the consciousness, thus forming something new, something which is "more than the sum of its parts." This is the personal application of the Yod (Fire) and Heh (Water) uniting in the individual to produce Vau (Air) within the body which is Heh-final and Earth.
The process involves an inner manipulation of sexual energies. Indeed, the symbolism of the arrow released upward is one of spiritual orgasm. Such an interpretation may appear extreme, but is actually well-accepted in Christian iconography. The ecstasy of Theresa, the sixteenth century mystic and Saint, is described as an angel thrusting a flaming arrow into her heart. This symbolism of the piercing arrow which brings ecstasy and enlightenment appears to be a universally applicable (indeed archetypal) description of a real process.
What happens is the establishment of a rhythmic masturbatory motion of inner energy. The mental control of this energy, its conscious manipulation, is symbolized by the interchange of Fire and Water, or by the interchange of fluid between vases. The key to this actually simple process is the infinity symbol, the figure eight which Waite uses above the figure of his MAGICIAN. It is an ebb and flow which is confined, i.e., is used within very specific perimeters (thus the womb symbolism) but which is taken in either direction at will. As one changes the rate of vibration of this inner energy, one raises or lowers the level of consciousness, i.e., moves from Chakra to Chakra or from Path to Path.
To explain all of this in a more simple way: At the lowest level, Water (which we have previously described as consciousness) being acted upon by Fire (the sexual, Kundalini energy) produces the images of the astral, the pictures which form in our minds. These are the Air (Vau) quality, as our minds are the grounding Earth. The principle is one of producing a consciously-controlled vision, one which is limited by the will. The important point to understand is that most of the word symbols of Alchemy, Hermeticism, Qabalah, etc., describe processes to which anyone can relate. They are neither remote nor complicated, especially at the level of Assiah. And, in some respects, this whole symbolic language has been totally superseded by the language of psychology as established by Carl Jung and others.
It should be added that the Metals described in Alchemical literature are the same as the Seven Chakras of the Hindus, the Seven Planets and the Sephiroth of Microprosopus. These words have been used as codes over the centuries, meaning seven distinct levels of objective consciousness. Thus, when one speaks of a Planet ruling a sign of the Zodiac, what is meant is the relationship of a Sign to a given center of energy both in the Greater Universe and in the Human body.
Sagittarius is the sign of the Zodiac related to TEMPERANCE. Its Planetary ruler is Jupiter, meaning Chesed, but also to some extent the WHEEL OF FORTUNE, tenth key of the Tarot.
Chesed is suggested by the blue colored robe worn by the Golden Dawn angel, the color of the Twenty-Fifth Path in Atziluth. On the figure's breast is a golden square, a further reference to Chesed, to the number four and to matter. In the Waite card the square is covered by a triangle, meaning that all of the manifest Universe is governed by the Supernals. Here we recall that Chesed is the architect of all manifestation, working with the pure "potential to form" of Binah.
To reiterate the important meanings of TEMPERANCE: 1) It refers to an actual physical process, one which has been the secret of mystics for centuries. 2) This process involves an interchange of opposite energies directed by the will. 3) The process is set in motion at the level of the Higher Self. It is instituted in Chesed, the most refined level of Microprosopus to which the Higher Self is central, and the Sephira where the will to form of the Great Mother is enacted. 4) Until this process is accomplished, the Higher Self cannot be known to the Personality.
The whole experience is one of preparation of the Personality, and the body in which it is operating, to deal with an influx of Light which would be devastating to a system unready to handle such energy. Most important here is the monitoring of progress, the continual testing from above. It is the angel here which is at once the Higher Self and the initiatory forces of Nature, which pours the elixir from vase to vase. This is an ongoing process of testing, measuring to see how much the physical vehicle can bear. When it can handle the stress of the energy interchange here symbolized, the arrow is released. On the other hand, the Angel makes certain that no individual is allowed more than it can handle. The result of taking on too much at once is an admonishing jolt, from this angel, not soon to be forgotten. The angels, described as sentinals at each inner gate, are there for our own protection.
Some special insights may be derived by considering the description of the letter Samekh in the Sepher Yetzirah, although the terms in this document lend themselves to an extraordinary range of interpretation. The word anger ( TA11 ) is referred to Samekh. However, Case states that this is a "blind, "and that the original meaning of the Hebrew word was quivering or vibration.145 Such an interpretation is entirely consistent with the alchemical symbolism, for the interchange of Fire and Water is a control of inner vibrations. But there are two other meanings of "anger" which might be appropriate to this Path. First is the idea of anger in the sense of Divine rage, a passion so overwhelming that its force draws the bow and releases the arrow of Sagittarius on the upward Middle
Pillar. Second, is an aspect of the Mysteries only rarely discussed, and certainly germane to the Twenty-Fifth Path: this is the very real hostility often felt by the student toward the Path itself, as he works day after day and seems to be getting nowhere. Such hostility and frustration is in itself a major test; it is part and parcel of the work prior to the emergence of inner proofs. The anger, if it may be called that, is dispelled along this Path, as the Spirit begins to fill the vessel in which the elements have been purified to receive it.
The relationship of this Path to three others provides one of the best interlocks of Qabalistic symbolism, for the combined letters of the three lowest Paths, P , B , and n , spell the Hebrew word for bow. The same word also means rainbow, a recurring symbol in the Tarot. These three Paths are the forces which, when combined, send the arrow skyward toward Tiphareth. These are the three minor tests prior to the major testing of TEMPERANCE. To even approach the twenty-fifth Path one must have begun to temper the "Water" of The MOON (P) with the "Fire" of JUDGMENT (») and ground the interchange on the Path of THE UNIVERSE (n). This work is suggested in THE UNIVERSE by the bi-polar rods carried by the central figure.
The Golden Dawn and Waite cards are very similar in their symbolism, both following tradition very closely. The Golden Dawn vases are red and blue to symbolize an interchange between opposite energies (Chokmah and Binah in their Atziluth colors). The vases on the Waite card are gold to show that all of this is an operation of the Sun. That planet is also represented by the sign on the angel's forehead, and by the sphere above the Golden Dawn angel's head. In both cases, also, the angel has one foot on solid water and the other on land meaning solid matter and fluid consciousness. The Water is somewhat representative of Yesod, the lower source of this Path, the Foundation which is the source of the dualities of our sensory condition and which controls their ebb and flow. These are the opposites which we seek to manipulate through the conscious use of the Solar Fire shown in the background as a flaming volcano.
Crowley's symbolism is at once more complicated and more explicit, although the meaning of the card which he calls Art is precisely the same as the others. And, of those cards in which Crowley deviated radically from traditional design this is one of the most successful. It graphically demonstrates complex and subtle principles only vaguely suggested by the Waite and Golden Dawn cards.
Crowley points out in his Book of Thoth that this card is the complement and fulfillment of Key six, Gemini, THE LOVERS. It is "the Consummation of the Royal Marriage which took place in Atu VI... It is the same formula, but in a more advanced stage. The original duality has been completely compensated; but after birth comes growth; after growth puberty; and after puberty, purification."146 There is a perfect interchange. The alchemical Red Lion has become white, and the White Lion has become red. Water is poured on Fire, Fire is merged with Water, all within a golden cauldron which is understood to be the purified physical vehicle.
It will be seen that a tiny arrow rises toward the breasts of the figure, which are arranged in the form of the six planets of Microprosopus around the
Sun. Moreover, the method of successfully treading this Path is cryptically given in the Latin inscription around the figure: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem which means, "Visit the interior parts of the earth; by rectification thou shalt find the hidden stone." The stone, sometimes referred to as the Philosopher's Stone is the ultimate goal of alchemy.
Obviously, it would be impossible to expand here on the system of alchemy and the Great Work, to which Crowley refers. It must, however, be added that Crowley's use of alchemical symbolism has some private meanings specific to his system. As in THE TOWER, he mentions that there is a special secret here, known to IXo initiates of his O.T.O., and one which readers will not be surprised to discover is again blatantly sexual.
In his book Sexuality, Magic and Perversion Francis King explains a "code" in which the sexual techniques of the O.T.O. were described: "This code was drawn from the traditional technical terminology of alchemy. The penis was referred to as the athanor, the semen as the serpent or occasionally the blood of the red lion, while the vagina was called the curcurbite or the retort. The secretions that lubricate the vagina were called the menstruum of the Gluten, sometimes abbreviated to the menstruum, and the mixture of semen with vaginal lubricant was termed the First Matter, or when supposedly transmuted by the magical powers of the participants in the rite, the Amrita or Elixir.
"The initiates of the IXo claimed that success in almost any magical operation, from the invocation of a god to 'procuring a great treasure' could be achieved by the application of the appropriate sexual technique."147
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