The Path Of Zain


□ MEANING: Sword or Armor


□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Children of the Voice; The Oracle of the Mighty Gods i i n

THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Seventeenth Path is the Disposing Intelligence, which provides Faith to the Righteous, and they are clothed with the Holy Spirit by it, and it is called the Foundation of Excellence in the state of higher things.

The Path of Zain, THE LOVERS, between Binah and Tiphareth, connects the pure consciousness from which form emerged with the central point of all manifestation, a complexity which can barely be suggested by the image on a Tarot card. It is perhaps for this reason that the design of the card has changed over the centuries. In most of the earliest versions, such as the Marseilles Tarot, it was called The Lover (singular) and showed a man between two women, above whom was a cupid with a posed arrow. Presumably this single lover made no sense to later Tarot artists, and in the eighteenth century the card began to appear with two "Lovers" and a uniting figure of some sort.

Yet the early concept of The Lover is very profound, for this card does not represent the mundane love of two persons. It is, rather, the dualities of a single individual, wilfully united in pursuit of Divine Love. Crowley's point that the card should really be called "The Brothers" is well taken. In fact, the Key's true meaning is imbedded in its sign of the Zodiac, Gemini, The Twins. The dual energies which the Lover proposes to unite are equal and opposite, i.e., "twins." The uniting of these twins is a major step upwards, toward the Godhead on the Tree of life.

The principle is that as Divine Energy surged across the Abyss into manifestation, stable dualities were formed. The Great Work is a "marriage" of these dualities of manifestation, a return to a primeval state. Thus, this Path may be considered the aspect of the Garden of Eden from which mankind was expelled, but to which it may earn re-entry by consciously dealing with what has been called the inner Sun and Moon. The whole key to the Great Work is the uniting of the Sun and the Moon under Mercury (the planet ruling Gemini).

In relating this symbolism to the Path of THE LOVERS, Case performed a fascinating exercise in Gematria. He took the Hebrew title of the Path from the Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom, and broke it down into its component parts. The Path of Zain, is called the Disposing Intelligence, n (ha-regesh), from which the following is derived: (¡1 means the), 1 is the Sun, > is the Moon, and V is Fire. So BAin means the Sun + Moon + Fire.210 On the Tarot card, the Sun is the man, the Moon is the woman, and the Divine Fire above the Abyss is represented by the Angel or Cupid.

In explanation of this, Case states that the Sun is self-consciousness, while the Moon is subconsciousness. These are both aspects of the one Life-Breath, each working through half of the body. And "When the Solar and Lunar currents of the Life-Power are rightly perceived, rightly discriminated, and when their operation is kept in proper order, the personality of the man engaged in this practice becomes a free, unobstructed channel for the outpouring of the cosmic life force."211

Case was discussing not the Waite deck, but his own BOTA version, a "correction" of the earlier deck which changed the symbolism little, but improved the drawing quality and eliminated the personified Minor Cards. Thus, one would expect explanations of the cards by Waite and Case to be similar, even despite Waite's apparent caution about what he put into print. Such similarities, however, are few and where Case considered this card one of dualities unified by the Spiritual Self, Waite merely emphasized its relationship to the Garden of Eden. He referred to Adam and Eve and to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but made no mention of Spiritual Alchemy in this card which he called "love before it is contaminated by gross material desire," adding that "in a very high sense, the card is a mystery of the Covenant and the Sabbath."212 One might well suggest that such comments, drawn from his Pictorial Key to the Tarot are so cryptic as to be almost useless to the serious student. The intention here is not to deprecate Waite, who must be respected for maintaining his oaths of secrecy, but to point out the extent to which there are two explanations to every card, an exoteric one and an esoteric one.

In all versions of this Key, no matter how it may be described or how different the design, the esoteric meaning is the same. They all mean the union of manifest opposites under the Divine Love of the Supernals through Binah. It is, as Waite stresses, the Garden of Eden, but it is the Garden from which the soul itself is expelled in manifestation and to which it may return. The same message is in Crowley's card, which shows the theme of union as an Alchemical "Marriage" of the component parts of the seeker. The Golden Dawn also represents this spiritual union, but with an important difference. The seeker works actively for this to come about: the Higher Self descends to release the Personality from bondage, recalling the idea, encountered with THE HANGED MAN that while the Personality believes itself to be the pursuer, it is actually the pursued.

The legend of Perseus and Andromeda, used to make this point, contains some fascinating implications for the interpretation of the card. In the myth, Andromeda was the daughter of the King of the Ethiopians and Cassiopeia, who boasted that she was more beautiful than the Nereids (daughters of the Sea God, Nereus). In anger the Nereids complained to Poseidon, who flooded the land and then sent a terrible monster to inhabit it. The only way that this monster could be vanquished was for the king's daughter, Andromeda, to be sacrificed to it, and she was thus tied to a rock on the shore.

Perseus, however, who had just successfully taken the head of Medusa, saw her and fell in love. He wanted to marry Andromeda, which the father insisted was only possible if the monster were slain. So Perseus killed the monster, but Andromeda's uncle, nevertheless, tried to prevent the marriage by sending attackers against the hero. Perseus, in turn, displayed the frightful head of Medusa, and turned his adversaries to stone after which he and Andromeda lived more or less happily ever after.

However, in one ancient interpretation of the story, Perseus, Andromeda, her father, mother and the monster were brought into the sky where they became constellations of the same names.213 In Qabalistic terms, this could be taken to mean that the actions of Perseus (i.e., the Spiritual Self) resulted in the return of all participants to the sky, i.e., the Godhead. And while that explanation may seem a bit strained, such mythologies were part of the general culture at the time of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and were often interpreted in esoteric terms.

The stress of the Golden Dawn card is on the extent to which the process of this Path is a very active one, for the self-control and will (Mercury) which directs the movement and integration of the opposites is not passive as the other cards tend to suggest Perseus here has the same fiery, dynamic and inspirational qualities ascribed to the Serpent.

Another indicator of activity on this Path is the attribution of the Sword to Zain. This is an instrument of active division and separation; it is a sword of perception which cuts to the core of things, and defines clearly. And insofar as such perception is attributed to Zain, to it is also attached the sense of smell, thus implying not only the most direct, but also the most subtle of awareness and response.

While the sword is rarely found in this Tarot Key, it is very common in Alchemical representations of the same theme as, for example in the "Eleventh Key" of Basilius Valentinus, the seventeenth century alchemist. In his illustration are two female twins, each mounted on a lion and holding a figure of the Sun and of the Moon. Behind them is a man in armor (another meaning of Zain) and holding a sword. The caption reads: "The twins Sun and Moon are united by the conjunction which seems to be death."214 So we understand that the consummation of this marriage requires a "death." Indeed, to successfully pursue this Path across the Abyss means the death even of one's own Higher Self. It is a willful and total self-destruction and immersion into the Divine. The separation and re-integration of the dual components of the manifest Self demands subordination of the Ego to the One Divine Principle. The Sword destroys utterly those who will travel across the Abyss. Thus is the Path called the Disposing Intelligence; it is an experience which is the completion of the process begun on the Path of Samekh, TEMPERANCE. Taken together, TEMPERANCE and THE LOVERS are the Alchemical formula of Solve et Coagula. The Sword separates out (dissolves), an activity which we have previously shown to mean analysis.This is followed by a synthesis, or reintegration in a new way. Therefore, Solve et Coagula.

It can actually be quite intriguing to see how all of the complicated symbols of Alchemy, Lions, Eagles, Glutens, Suns, Moons, etc., reduce to some very basic psychological concepts. But here, again, we appreciate that such descriptive terms did not exist until the present day, and we are forced to interpret the codes of the early Qabalists, of Mathers, of Waite, and even of Crowley. And in THE LOVERS, this requisite decipherment of language is especially difficult.

Crowley, in fact, stated that THE LOVERS and TEMPERANCE were the most difficult cards of the Tarot, which is certainly true. The Path of TEMPERANCE requires a complete integration of the Personality in its subordination to the Ego in Tiphareth. The Path of THE LOVERS requires a complete integration of the totality of the self manifest in Microprosopus, for the return of the Soul to the aspect of the "Garden" from which it emerged. In more basic terms, TEMPERANCE is the balance of the Lower Self, THE LOVERS is the balance of the Higher.

By comparison with the Waite and Golden Dawn cards, Crowley's LOVERS is intellectually superior. Certainly no version of THE LOVERS has ever been more daringly explicit in revealing the secret of the Path.

What is shown here is the "Royal Marriage," of opposites, presided over by the hooded figure who is at once the Hermit and the personification of Mercury. Above are the figures of Eve and Lilith, with Cupid aiming an arrow symbolizing the Will. The marriage takes place between the Black King and the White Queen. He wears a gold crown, bears a lance, and is attended by the Red Lion. His black child, interchanged with the White Queen's child, holds the base of the King's lance in one hand and a club in the other. She is attended by the White Eagle and her white child, who carries flowers in one hand and supports the base of the Grail in the other. In the lower section of the card is the Winged Orphic Egg, the very essence of life itself, which is the product of this union.

Perhaps the most curious assertion made by Crowley about this card (for which he gives no basis whatsoever) is that in some original form it presented the story of creation. He claims that at the center of the card was Cain, shown having just slain Abel. This is described at some length in The Equinox.216 While a reference to bloodshed may seem out of place in a card of marriage, we are told that the shedding of the blood of the brother is the very key to THE LOVERS: "The shedding of blood is necessary, for God did not hear the children of Eden until the blood was shed."217 Crowley elaborates on this idea in a footnote, wherein he explains that the bloody sacrifice is not necessarily black magic. He says: "One should assume into one's own being, ceremonially, the whole karma of the creature slain."218 But the process is not to be viewed as a unique and singular experience, for Crowley tells us that the "integration of the card can only be regained by repeated marriages, identifications and some form of Hermaphroditism."219

So the process is one which is both reciprocal and repeated over and over again. First one "brother" dies and is absorbed into the other. Then there is a return to a balance of opposites after which the second brother is killed and absorbed into the first. The process is defined by the infinity sign of Mercury-Magician, since The Sun and Moon unite under Mercury.

Insofar as the marriage occurs repeatedly, the use of the number twelve in both the Waite and Golden Dawn cards is highly significant. In Waite's card the Tree of Life behind the male figure holds twelve flames; in the Golden Dawn card there are twelve points on the Star of Perseus' shield. The twelve in both cases refer to the Zodiac and the perfection of each of the types of incarnation. Theoretically, return to the Godhead requires that we incarnate repeatedly and perfect each of these types in turn.

As a marriage of the King and Queen under a floating Cupid, THE LOVERS relates to the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, written at the beginning of the seventeenth century.220 This is a work which, like the Fama Fraternitas is one of the key documents of Hermetic-Qabalism. And, unlike so many alchemical texts, the Chemical Wedding is immensely readable, having the charming qualities of a fairy tale. Yet is remains one of the most profound pieces of esoteric symbolism ever written. Those who read the text, and meditate on it, will gain exceptional insights into both THE LOVERS and TEMPERANCE. One such insight relates to the suggestion that blood is spilled on this Path. There are, in fact, a number of "events" at the Chemical Wedding which reinforce this idea.

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

The Illustrated Key To The Tarot

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.

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  • Santeri
    What is the work of the path of zain?
    5 years ago

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