NICK FARRELL today published a page from a Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega (A∴O∴) Knowledge Lecture coming from the “Nisi” collection, so-called, which he used to profane the A∴O∴ corpus in his two latest anti-A∴O∴ polemics Mathers’ Last Secret and King over the Water. The page in question presents the 22 Tarot Keys showed in a sequence that seems to astonish Mr. Farrell, because as No. 8 we see “Justice” and as No. 11 “Fortitude”.
This arrangement obviously breaks the usual Golden Dawn method of attributing No. 8 to “Fortitude” / “Strenght” and No. 11 to “Justice”.
However, again we see the typical example of Mr. Farrell overreacting, or trying to create a hen out of a feather to create yet another “sensation”. Just take a look at the published Knowledge Lectures from the Stella Matutina (Regardie) and the Golden Dawn (Torrens), and you will immediately spot the ambiguity of the attributions. It often says “Strenght (Justice)” and “Justice (Strenght)”, just to show that these Keys have a double attribution.
Actually the traditional (i.e. pre-Golden Dawn) sequence is as in the A∴O∴ table profaned by Mr. Farrell. However, the sequence of the Hebrew Alphabet creates an alternative order, where Teth = Strenght and Lamed = Justice. This is shown in the Knowledge Lectures as well, however in a later one compare to the one profaned by Mr. Farrell, the one belonging to the Practicus Grade to be more precise.
This same ambiguity can also bee seen in the titles of the Honours, i.e. King, Queen, Knight and Knave, vs. King, Queen, Prince and Princess, where a King = Knight and Prince = King, even throwing in an “Emperor” to the mixture in the Stella Matutina Knowledge Lecture (as published by Regardie) to create a total confusion to the Outer Order member.
It is only in the Second Order that this confusion is finally resolved, when the Hebrew (for the Keys) and the Colour Scales (i.e. King, Queen, Prince & Princess) takes precedence, as it was only in the Second Order that the initiate started to use the Tarot as a Magical Tool, that is in the previous Reformation anno 1888.
Paul Foster Case, being an initiate of the Rosicrucian Order of A∴O∴ surely knew the initiated attributions of the 22 Keys, placing No. 8 as Strenght and No. 11 as Justice, which clearly shows that this teaching never was removed from the A∴O∴ in the first place (see images above).
What Farrell has published is a Knowledge Lecture belonging to the Grade of Zelator. But in the Practicus Ceremony (i.e. two Grades later), as well as its attached Kowledge Lecture, this ambiguity is presented in full in both the G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S∴M∴, using both titles together with the attached Hebrew letter, as shown above.
The way that the A∴O∴ presented the ambiguity and double attributions of the Tarot, made it less confusing for the student of the Outer Order, presenting the traditional sequence in theory, while the magical sequence was reserved for practical application only for the Adept, and previously only hinted at in relation to the Hebrew Alphabet.
Addendum August 30, 2012
In the debate ensuing it has been pointed out that in the A∴O∴ Adeptus Major ceremony, as lately profaned, Justice is numbered as No. 8, while the astrological Sign of Libra has been retained. I must also point out that not only is Libra retained, but the Hebrew letter Lamed as well. This is highly significant as it is the sequence of the Hebrew letters and their numerations which is of primary importance in the understanding of the Tarot Keys, and which explains the apparent ambiguity, which is also brought out in the A∴O∴ Adeptus Major ceremony.
Let me quote a small part of that ceremony (profaned), of which I own a personal copy handed down to me through official channels from a Adeptus Exemptus, and which has been brought to our attention (and as lately also wrongfully portrayed and presented by individuals who cannot understand its proper context and sub-message, and therefore prompted me to bring it out in full):
…the Grade of Adeptus Major… is connected with the Grade of Adeptus Minor…, by the 22 Path, the attributions of which are to the Letter Lamed, to the Zodiacal Sign Libra, the Balance, and (in place of the Eleventh) to the Eight Key of the Tarot… […] Wherefore, also, thou wilt understand that the Eight Key of the Tarot, as assigned unto this Path, represent Eternal Truth, Justice, and Equilibrium, and governeth alike the Seasons, the Forces of Nature, and the Infinite Variety and Mutability of Things.As it happens, even the Cypher Mss., the source document of any Order or Temple claiming to be part of the Golden Dawn Tradition, attributes the 22nd Path, Libra, Lamed and Justice to Key No. VIII (8), whereas the 19th Path, Leo, Teth and Strength is attributed to Key No. XI (11). (See attached image below of the Cypher Mss.) Now read the following part of the Tarot Lecture of the Practicus, as extracted from the Cypher Manuscripts:
It is preferable to refer the Eleventh Key of Strength to the 19th Path and to Leo: and this Eight Key of Justice to Libra: although at one time the Sword of Justice might be referable as the Egyptian Seimitar to the so-called Sickle of Leo (the stars in the for part of that Constellation): and the Scales to the idea of the Sun having just quitted the Balance-Point of his Highest Elevation at the Summer Solstice. Similarly, in the Eleventh Key, the Woman closing the Mouth of the Lion or a Dragon: or the Chelae or Front Claws of Scorpio (by which name the Sign of Libra was sometimes called) would represent Venus, Lady of Libra, repressing the Fire of Vulcan upon the Fire-Altar, the ancient name of the Constellation Vulcan, shown by Saturn exalted in Libra.
VIII Justice = Lamed and Libra, and XI Strength = Teth and Leo which causeth a transposition for these are cognate symbols but at one time the sword of Justice was the Egyptian knife symbol of the sickle of Leo while the scales meant the Sun having quitted the balance point of highest declination. To the female and the lion gave the idea of Venus, Lady of Libra, repressing the fire of Vulcan (Saturn in Libra exalted). But earliest was the lion goddess to Leo and Ma[at] to Libra with her scales. And this is better.So, as is clearly seen here in comparing these two source documents, and in particular the highlighted part, that passage in the A∴O∴ Adeptus Major ceremony is a paraphrase of the Practicus lecture taken from the Cypher Mss! So what the A∴O∴ did was that it was adhering to the teachings of the foundational text of the Golden Dawn, and not to anything proposed by Papus as has been suggested (only because he was befriended with S.L. MacGregor Mathers and a brief member of the Ahathoor Temple in Paris).
|A folio of the Cypher Mss. showing Tarot attributions|
I am not a gambling man, but I would bet quite a lot that the original Golden Dawn documents (pre 1900) corroborates what was taught and circulated in the later A∴O∴. I firmly believe that also in this case the G∴D∴ and A∴O∴ are concordant. Not strange considering that the A∴O∴ was the natural continuation of the G∴D∴ under a new name.
To summarize, the correct Tarot enumeration is No. VIII for Justice and No. XI for Strength, while Teth and Leo is attributed to Strength / Fortitude, and Lamed and Libra to Justice, placing Strength after the Chariot and before the Hermit, and Justice after the Wheel of Fortune and before the Hanged Man in the alphabetic sequence. But to simplify things, and to alleviate the possible confusion of a higher number preceding a lower in the sequence, Strength also appropriated No. VIII and Justice No. XI, both in the G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S∴M∴. Thus both number attributions are correct!
Nick Farrell, obviously referring to my writing as representing a “modern reconstructions of the AO”, made this refutation a couple of days ago on a truly reconstructionist yahoo-group:
It has been said that Mathers was saying that it was possible to use both options, however he never did that before in any of the material he wrote. It should remembered that in early GD and SM knowledge papers there was no mention of an “either or.” Students, were told that Key 8 was Strength and Key 11 was Justice. This was mirrored by Book T. In Nisi it is clear that in the AO were told that only the traditional system was right. Mathers is not giving anyone two options. However they would have been confused.This is either a clear attempt by Mr. Farrell at conscious disinformation, or a show of his utter ignorance in this matter. I suggest that he should check again in his resourses on the Practicus Ceremony and attached Knowledge Lecture, where it clearly says in the G∴D∴, A∴O∴ and S∴M∴ versions: “Strength (Justice)” and “Justice (Strength)”. This is verified by Israel Regardie and his profanation of that said Knowledge Lecture in The Golden Dawn (see attached image below). I have access to the historical A∴O∴ corpus from Ahathoor Temple (the Mother Temple of the A∴O∴), and it is obvious that MacGregor Mathers presented two options.
As has already been pointed out to Mr. Farrell by more reasonable and moderate members on that said yahoo-group, S.L. MacGregor Mathers retained the traditional numbering of the Tarot Keys but placed them in the ordering sequence after the Hebrew Letters, which made No. XI appear before No. VIII. This is seen in the majority of the tabulations and on the attributions on the Tree of Life, for example as seen in Aleister Crowley’s profanation of the Tree of Life symbol (as taken from the “Portal Ceremony”) in the “White Equinox” Vol. 1, No. 2 and the G∴D∴ “Book T” in Vol. 1, No. 8. This last example of Crowley’s references substantiates the hypothesis that it was a common practice also in the original G∴D∴, pre A∴O∴.
The most probable reason behind this was that most Tarot Decks at the time (in particular Papus’ Tarot of the Bohemians) were using this older sequence of the Keys, and that the initiates of the G∴D∴ and A∴O∴ used these published decks, while at the same time being aware of the true attribution and sequence, i.e. transposing them placing No. XI before No. VIII. This is clearly hinted at already in the Practicus Ceremony which says the following:
This shows the true and genuine attribution of the Tarot trumps to the Hebrew alphabet which has long been a secret among the Initiates and which should be carefully concealed from the outer world.Finally Mr. Farrell writes the following attack on the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha Omega that I represent:
What I find even more surprising is that no one seemed to know this. Even modern reconstructions of the AO who are supposed to have papers from the original Order are claiming that the AO allowed both ideas to work side by side at the same time. But the only paperwork which says what the AO did that has been shown is mine.This is the height of presumption and arrogance to assume that no-one knew this in our Order! We do in fact have access to the A∴O∴ teachings on this, and have for as long as I can almost remember, but as there are so many modern decks out there, most notable the Raider-Waite (the most common today) and the B.O.T.A. / Paul Foster Case (which I personally prefer over Raider-Waite), not to mention the various G∴D∴ Decks, which all assign Strength to No. VIII and Justice to No. XI, there is no need to emphasise the older numeration any more, besides a brief mention of the historical transposition. However aesthetically appealing, this is why I don’t recommend Crowley’s Thoth Deck as it uses the old placement, not to mention transposing Tzaddi and Heh in the Star and Emperor Keys.