Frater Achad's inverted arrangement of Tarot Trumps
|22||11||כ (kaph)||(Jupiter)||Wheel of Fortune||X|
|21||12||ש (shin)||(Fire)||The Aeon||XX.|
|20||13||ת (tau)||(Saturn)||The Universe||XXI.|
|19||14||צ (tzaddi)||(Aquarius)||The Star||XVIII.|
|17||16||ר (resh)||(Sol)||The Sun||XIX.|
|16||17||ע (ayin)||(Capricorn)||The Devil||XVI.|
|15||18||פ (peh)||(Mars)||The Tower||XVII.|
|12||21||ק (qoph)||(Pisces)||The Moon||XVIII.|
|11||22||ה (heh)||(Aries)||The Emperor||IV.|
|10||23||י (yod)||(Virgo)||The Hermit||IX.|
|8||25||ם (mem)||(Water)||The Hanged Man||XII.|
|7||26||ז (zayin)||(Gemini)||The Lovers||VI.|
|6||27||ו (vau)||(Taurus)||The Heirophant||V.|
|5||28||ח (cheth)||(Cancer)||The Chariot||VII.|
|4||29||ג (gimel)||(Luna)||The High Priestess||III.|
|3||30||ד (daleth)||(Venus)||The Empress||II.|
|2||31||ב (beth)||(Mercury)||The Magus||I.|
|1||32||א (aleph)||(Air)||The Fool||0.|
Q.B.L. is a unique work in both Qabalistic and Thelemic circles. In the world of the Qabalah, Frater Achad revealed revolutionary new principles that caused students of the Qabalah to reexamine and thus deepen their knowledge of the Tree of Life. In Thelemic circles, Aleister Crowley named Frater Achad his magical heir and Achad was fully expected to lead the cause of Thelemic Magick after Crowley’s death—until publication of this book caused a rift between the two and Crowley began to distance himself from Achad.
It is in an appendix to Q.B.L, that Achad first puts forth his idea of reversing the paths 'up' the tree. He would later expand upon this arrangement in 'The Egyptian Revival'.
CONCERNING THE TWENTY-TWO PATHS AND THE ATTRIBUTIONS OF THE TAROT TRUMPS
Having written as far as the end of the brief description of the XVIIth Trump called THE STAR, I noticed the time. and finding it already the small hours of the morning of May 31st E. V., I rested a moment from my labours on this my little book. My mind went back to the words I had just written and underscored, “The symbolism of the Paths is more important when considered from the BOTTOM TO THE TOP OF THE TREE.” I went to bed, being right weary, but this thought kept recurring to me until, of a sudden, a glimmer of its tremendous importance illuminated my Understanding. I began mentally working on a plan which had never before been hinted at by any of the so-called Authorities. It seemed to have great possibilities, but I slept upon it and began further investigations in the morning.
The results of these investigations, which have been in progress until this morning, (June 2nd, 1922 E. V.) have proved so far reaching in their consequences that I have found it difficult to decide as to the best manner of dealing with this discovery, which at first sight seems to revolutionize the whole System.
I have decided, therefore, to present to you - and here I do not alone refer to new students but to ALL those of whatever Grade who have based their System of Attainment on the TREE OF LIFE - the first ideas of this revelation, but without dealing with the complexities which will occur to those who realize the consequences involved in making the further adjustments which appear to be indicated, or my own attempts to solve these problems.
This explanation will involve a matter which had not been fully discussed in the previous pages, viz:
THE SWORD AND THE SERPENT
The Qabalists tell us that the SEPHIROTH were emanated by means of the FLAMING SWORD, or LIGHTNING FLASH, which descended from Kether unto Malkuth (as shown in the diagram in Chapter One.) They also say that this was followed by the ASCENT of the SERPENT of WISDOM who thus formed the PATHS. They showed his head at the top of the Tree, in the path leading from Kether to Chokmah, which is in turn the First Path of the FLAMING SWORD.
All the known authorities have then continued to number the remaining 22 of the 32 Paths of Wisdom, from Path 11 (joining Kether and Chokmah) to Path 32 (joining Yesod and Malkuth). Students have only to refer to such well known Authorities as Mr. W. Wynn Westcott, in his Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah (Watkins 1910), Book 777 (London 1909) see], THE EQUINOX, Volume I, Number 2 see], which shows the attributions of Mr. Mathers and the Golden Dawn, etc., to prove this assertion to be a recognized fact.
One may now question how it was that the SERPENT who formed the Paths by ASCENDING The Tree, could possibly have started at the Top, and why previous commentators have never taken this vital idea into consideration.
Achad would later publish 'the Egyptian Revival', in which he lays out his updated arragement in full;
Some months ago, I prepared a treatise entitled “Q. B. L. or The Bride's Reception,” purporting to be a simple exposition of the Qabalistic Process and an explanation of “The Tree of Life” with its Correspondences according to the system I had studied and practiced for a number of years.
While writing it I obtained some “New” ideas which seemed to indicate the possibility of the Restoration of the Order of the “Paths” to their Original form. These ideas I put down as they came to me, and included them as an Appendix to the main body of the book.
Briefly, the nature of the suggested change was as follows: The Qabalistic Tradition of the last few centuries is that the “Ten Sephiroth”, or “Numerical Emanations”, were formed by the “Lightning Flash” of Creation, while the “Twenty-two Paths” were produced by the Ascent of the “Serpent of Wisdom” from Malkuth to Kether.
The recognized Numeration of these Paths was from Number Eleven, transmitting the Influence from Kether to Chokmah, to Number Thirty-two, transmitting it from Yesod to Malkuth the Tenth and last Sephira.
I questioned this, since the Serpent is said to have Ascended, and suggested that the Eleventh Path should be from Malkuth to Yesod, and so on up the Tree in exactly the reverse Order.
Upon experimenting with this arrangement I discovered that although there seemed to be a decided improvement as regards the Paths below the Abyss, above it, all the symbolism became reversed and confused. Even so, there were some interesting combinations.
The main point was, however, that the new arrangement of the lower Paths suggested the possibility of a wonderful Astrological Harmony, since many of them were now united with their Planetary Rulers, etc., in the Sephiroth.
The next step was the discovery of the Symbolism of the Middle Pillar, when the Three Mother Letters of the Elements were attributed to the Three Paths which unite the Four Sephiroth which are in equilibrium. These, when placed in position, showed the Symbolism of the Universal Mercury under the form of a Caduceus and Winged Globe.
I decided, therefore, to adopt this arrangement of the Three Elements, and to try to place the Planetary and Zodiacal Signs in such positions on the Tree that the Astrological Symbolism would be perfect.
I discovered that this was possible. There was one variation, which, if adopted, disclosed some other valuable Qabalistic Symbolism in regard to “The Beginning”. I explained this fully in the Appendix to Q.B.L. With my original notes left in their rough form, I published the complete book in a limited edition for Students of the Qabalah. This has met with a very good reception in all parts of the globe. I have received many encouraging letters, all of which express interest in the revised arrangement. The press reports have been favorable, and a conservative Magazine “The Occult Review” admits the importance of the discovery.
One great Authority, however, while admitting that many of the ideas are brilliant, says that he cannot accept this Reformed Order in the face of several hundred years of the old tradition, and maintains that the previous arrangement is the correct one.
While I realize that great changes in the recognized Systems of Initiation in certain Orders might be necessary if the Reformed Order of the Paths were adopted, and while recognizing the importance of the opinion of the Authority mentioned above, I still maintain that this New Arrangement is worthy of the most careful consideration and study. One would expect to find some reason for the arrangement of the Paths, and this present plan seems to me the most reasonable; in fact it suggests that there was an Absolute Reason in the Primitive Universal Tradition, though this became lost to view as time went on.
My aim is to discover the Truth insofar as that is possible to man, and to uphold what seems to me most true, until I am convinced of error; but, to change my viewpoint, if necessary, as soon as more Light is given me. If this “New” arrangement is correct, it will prove itself to be so in the minds of those who study it in an unbiased manner. In any case it is of interest as one aspect of truth, and its right place may be found in due course. It may lead the Student to other important discoveries as it has in my own case. I am convinced that the inquiry is by no means exhausted.
Finally, it has led me to, what I believe is, the reconstruction of the Original Qabalistic Plan. It explains the Path indicated by the Child Horus in the First AETHYR of “The Vision and the Voice” obtained by Frater O. M. in 1909 E. V.
If we would obtain the Fruits of the Tree of Life, we must be prepared to put in a little of this Present Time on the study of First Principles. When we have a grasp of these the rest will come in due course, for, as I explained before, The Hidden Influence FLOWS easily once the channels have been opened up.
Now a few further words in regard to the “Channels of Mezla” or “Paths” of the Tree of Life. I have hinted at another possible arrangement of these “Paths” for it is said “When the Great Serpent raised his Head unto Da'ath (Knowledge, the Child of Chokmah and Binah) his Head was BLASTED, therefore is all knowledge piece-meal”. We obtain a hint from the earliest Qabalistic Treatise “The Sepher Yetzirah” or “Book of Formations” for it says “Ten are the numbers of the ineffable Sephiroth, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Learn this wisdom and be wise in the understanding of it, investigate these numbers, and draw knowledge from them, FIX THE DESIGN IN ITS PURITY, and pass from it to its creator seated on his throne” again Rittangelius gives “REPLACE THE FORMATIVE POWER UPON HIS THRONE” and Postellus states “RESTORE THE DEVICE OR WORKMANSHIP TO ITS PLACE.”
So we see there appears to have been some mystery to be cleared up in order to restore the Temple of the Qabalah to its true Splendour.
It was prophesied through Frater O. M. in the “Vision and the Voice” 8th Aethyr. “UNTO HIM THAT UNDERSTANDETH AT LAST do I deliver the secrets of truth in such wise that the least of the little children of the light may run to the knees of the mother and be brought to understand.”
So we need have no fear, the way is to be made plain, for one has understood at last.
Therefore in the Words of Horus the Crowned Child of the Aeon (First Aethyr) will I point out the Way, for it is written:
“Thou shalt laugh at the folly of the fool. Thou shalt learn the wisdom of the wise. And thou shalt be initiate in holy things. And thou shalt be learned in the things of love. And thou shalt be mighty in the things of war. And thou shalt interpret the oracles. And thou shalt drive all these before thee in thy car, and though by none of these canst thou reach up to me, yet by each of these must thou attain to me. And thou must have the strength of the lion, and the secrecy of the hermit. And thou must turn the wheel of life. And thou must hold the balances of Truth. Thou must pass through the great Waters a Redeemer. Thou must have the tail of the Scorpion, and the poisoned arrows of the Archer, and the dreadful horns of the Goat. And so shall thou break down the fortress that guardeth the Palace of the King my son. And thou must work by the light of the Star and of the Moon and of the Sun, and by the dreadful light of judgment that is the birth of the Holy Spirit within thee. When these shall have destroyed the universe, then mayest thou enter the palace of the Queen my daughter”.
If we examine this Hexagram, we notice that the Hebrew Letters on the Paths forming the Hexagon, are as follows: Kaph, Samek, Qoph, He, Pe, Tau: or 20+60+100+5+80+400 = 665 which is the number of BITh HRChM, meaning The Womb. This does represent The Womb of Creation, for these paths outline the Circle of the “Key of Life” or Ankh, upon which the Tree of Life is built.
We should notice also the peculiar arrangement of the Hexagram. There are four interior Paths, forming the bases of four similar Triangles. These Paths are those of “The Star,” “The Sun,” “Death” and “The Devil”. They may be said to symbolically represent the Sun in the Four Quarters. Thus, “The Devil,” although the basis of the Tradition of Darkness, represents the Rising Sun of the Eastern Horizon; for SUT is the “Opener” of the Day. This Dark Tradition gradually resulted in a Lurid Dawn. The Path of “The Sun” represents the Setting Sun, since the tradition of Light tended to become “Twilight.” This is the Path of Horus, Lord of the Western Horizon, who closed the Day. Together they are Sut-Horus the Twin Lion Gods. The Path of “The Star” represents the Sun of Midday, at its height; thus “The One Star in Sight” during the Day. This position of the Sun has been called AHATHOOR, and in the Tarot Card we see that Goddess. But AHA is also a title of Horus, as is HAR and HAR-MAKHU, which means Horus of the Star. This is his Name as Opener of the Year, and it is His Influence which descends through the Path of Shin, as the Sun behind the Sun.
The Path of “Death” represents the Sun of Midnight, in the Underworld.
Crowley never agreed;
... an even grosser imbecility has been perpetrated.
One who ought to have known better tried to improve the Tree of Life by turning
the Serpent of Wisdom upside down! Yet he could not even make his scheme
symmetrical: his little remaining good sense revolted at the supreme atrocities. Yet
he succeeded in reducing the whole Magical Alphabet to nonsense, and shewing
that he had never understood its real meaning.
The absurdity of any such disturbance of the arrangement of the Paths is evident
to any sober student from such examples as the following. Binah, the Supernal
Understanding, is connected with Tiphareth, the Human Consciousness, by Zain,
Gemini, the Oracles of the Gods, or the Intuition. That is, the attribution represents
a psychological fact: to replace it by 'The Devil' is either humour or plain idiocy.
Again the card 'Fortitude' [later named 'Lust' by Crowley], Leo, balanaces
Majesty and Mercy with Strength and Severity: what sense is there in putting
'Death', the Scorpion, in its stead? There are twenty other mistakes in this new
wonderful illuminated-from-on-high attribution; the student can therefore be sure
of twenty more laughs if he cares to study it.
--Aliester Crowley, Magick in Theory & Practice