The path of the Magician is traditionally identified with the Semitic root Bet, meaning “house” or “temple.” According to the third diagram of the Qabalic Tree of Life I presented in the previous post of this series, the Magician represents that point on the Tree where Ra, the Creator and First Cause, blends into His daughter Tefnut, the Goddess of moisture and Mother of Heaven (Nut) and Earth (Geb). Let’s have a look at the Magician card itself:
Here we have an androgynous figure pointing up (towards Nut) and down (towards Geb) with a phallic-looking wand (perhaps representing Ra’s phallus when He ejaculated Tefnut), using a chalice (which carries water, suggesting moisture) and standing around a bunch of plants (also suggesting moisture, since green things require water to grow). Now a magician, of course, is supposed to be a person who can manipulate his or her surroundings in ways that defy rational explanation. While it may seem strange to some that I’m identifying this card with Ra ejaculating Tefnut, I’m not the first person to identify the concept of magic with the power of a sexual orgasm. This association goes all the way back to the ancient priestesses of Ishtar and other fertility Goddesses who possessed Their holy women and disseminated Their power to humans through the act of ritualized lovemaking. It also stretches through history to the Tantric followers of Vama Marga (the original “left-hand path”), the original Wiccan “Great Rite” and the “sex magic” of Thelema. From an Egyptian perspective, the argument can be made that the magical power of sex goes all the way back to Ra’s act of masturbation, which was the original and most powerful act of magic in history (since it started the chain reaction that would become our cosmos). For me at least, the infinity symbol over the Magician’s head represents how Ra’s primordial orgasm is repeated again and again in every orgasm and every magical act that is accomplished throughout the universe.
If the Fool represents Creation as starting with a primal urge, the Magician represents the Work that actually causes Creation to manifest – which brings us to the High Priestess. This pathway is associated with the Semitic letter Gimel, which is often translated to mean “camel” but which originally meant “staff sling” or “throwing stick.” The Priestess stretches from Ra through Duat (the Underworld) to Osiris, the God of heterosexual male virility and agriculture. As the dying-and-rising Lord, Osiris is the “Jesus” of the Egyptian pantheon, the God whose holy blood is spilled so that all who die may live again. The Priestess sits upon a throne in flowing robes with a lunar headdress and a crescent moon at her feet. She holds a scroll reading Tora (Torah) and is seated between two pillars, a white one on her left (marked “J” for Jachin) and a black one (marked “B” for Boaz) on her right. Behind her is a plethora of pomegranates that resemble vaginas.
For me, the lunar imagery of the Priestess suggests a tie to Osiris’ aspect as a Moon God, for His dismemberment by Seth and His reconstitution by Isis are both reflected in the cyclical waning and waxing of the Moon. The fact that the Moon’s light is actually reflected sunlight is also significant. It’s said that each night in Duat, Ra must approach Osiris to be regenerated by Him, that He might be successfully reborn at dawn. As the God who died and rose again, Osiris gives Ra the ability to do the same thing. This idea of being reborn through the Moon God is also reflected in the pomegranates and their resemblance to vaginas, for it is through vaginas that new lives come into this world. Women’s menstrual cycles are also timed with the lunar cycle in areas where there is no artificial light. As such, the creative power of Ra flows into the regenerative power of Osiris, which not only appears in the four lunar phases (i.e., new moon, waxing moon, full moon, waning moon) but also in the four phases of Osiris’ life (i.e., living Pharaoh, sacrificial God, resurrected God, Divine Judge of the dead). The “fourness” of Osiris is represented by the cross upon the High Priestess’ breast, and the fact that she holds a Torah could be used to suggest that all religious mythology, revelation and scripture are made possible by the proverbial transition of sunlight into moonlight. We can’t stare directly into the Sun or we’ll go blind; but we can stare at the Moon and study its features as much as we want. In the same way, we can’t directly observe the Gods (and even if we could, it would probably destroy us or drive us insane); but we can certainly observe Their signs and wonders in nature.
Typhonian Thelemites say the qliphothic version of the Magician is Baratchial, which involves “willfully [manipulating] consciousness and psyche by bioactive and other means, to see beyond the veil that separates the worlds.” To me, the flip side of the Magician would represent a failure to translate the primal urge to Create into a successful Act of Creation – a sort of magical “impotence,” so to speak. While Amprodias seeks to prevent Ra and His children from feeling any creative urge in the first place, Baratchial seeks to prevent that urge from being channeled through any creative act. A good example would be like when you have all kinds of crazy ideas for a really good story in your head, but you can’t actually make yourself sit down and write it. The flip side of the High Priestess, on the other hand, is called Gargophias, which Linda Falorio associates with “[dreaming the World] into existence” and creating “our own preferred realities.” I think it has more to do with forces and influences that prevent us from seeing anything good about the world. It wants to make us believe that “Existence is futile.” Amprodias makes us not want to do anything, Baratchial wants us incapable of doing anything, and Gargophias makes us hate everything.
In closing, I’d just like to repeat that my interpretations of the Major Arcana and their qliphothic flip-sides are not meant to be definitive or dogmatic. I don’t claim to have any certainty about these mysteries, and everyone is welcome to reject my opinions as they please. At the same time, I reserve the right to change my opinions at any point in time, should I ever feel a need to do so.