Monday, January 25, 2016

The Path of Saturn - Divine Melancholia and the Magus


When I first saw the film Melancholia it made me absolutely furious - I thought the writing was poor and the occultism weak.  It left me reeling with rage.  I thought about the movie for weeks, grumpily, Lars had touched a nerve.  I saw it again the other night and admit it as a masterpiece.  As another taste of the doomy flavour of this last retro I have just finished reading The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances Yates and while it makes me wonder again at the so-called ''Grimoire Magi'' who have no understanding of Qabalah, the reflections on the role of inspired melancholia being the signature of all great men of wisdom leads me once again to Saturn and the Magus.

As most occultists know the attributions of Hebrew Letters to Tarot cards differ across systems - the continental system originated by Levi, the British version a la Golden Dawn, variations by Crowley et al, etc.  In this gradual evolution of understanding, intolerably slow in coming, we sense that there is something wrong with the Tarot attributions, as we sense that there is something wrong in all WMT Qabalah.  In fact like most sensible WMT practitioners seem to abandon the Qabalah as their foundation when they realise something is not right, they appear to do the same with the Tarot - returning to earlier, cleaner forms of Tarot that have not been mixed up with 777 style attributions.

When one lays out the Tarot cards in their rational order and uses the Saadia/Chaldean planetary order for the cards that would be associated with the double letters this is what it looks like:

  • The Magus - Saturn
  • The Priestess - Jupiter
  • The Empress - Mars
  • The Wheel of Fortune - Sol
  • The Tower - Venus
  • The Sun - Mercury
  • The World - Luna

An exhaustive explanation of this is beyond the scope of this post and also requires more research on my part but I will provide a few elucidations and ''ahas!'' for the wise before returning to the main theme.

The Priestess was known as Juno - the consort of Jupiter she was the goddess of all power and empire, and she was also the patroness of riches.  The Tower association with Venus will be perhaps be the most maddening change for some, so married they are to the erroneous and destructive mis-attribution to Mars.  The Tower is associated with Venus as Lucifer, the destruction associated with it is giving in to appetite, desire and lasciviousness.  The Sun to Mercury perhaps seems most puzzling but remember the G.D. associations also give us strange things like the Moon card to Pisces.  Now look at the imagery in the foreground of the Sun cards we see a young boy on a horse, or twins, playing in fertile fields.  This imagery is Mercurial - Gemini and Virgo.  The Sun is so large in the sky because Mercury is so close to it, Mercury is known as the Star of the Sun.

Io's post brought a lot of these Saturnian ideas that have been swilling about me this retro to a head. Yates writes of Medieval melancholia as the lowest possible state of humours: miserable, lacklustre, morose and full of despair - but, during the Renaissance, melancholia, now combined with furores in a divine bi-polar disorder, was rehabilitated by the magi to become the three-step potential for a great destiny leading from i) the sciences ii) the politico-religious to the iii) mystical, metaphysical.

As you can see the path of Saturn on the Saadia Tree links Tifereth to Kether - the microcosm and the macrocosm, the above and below to which our magus points.  This union of the opposites is brought about by the Magus with his tools of mathematics, of natural philosophy, and of magic.  Our Baphomet Asmodeus, as Goat Sorcerer Extraordinaire, also resonates strongly with Saturn.  The alternate names for Kether are linked with darkness, destruction and the void.  In Jewish Kabbalah, Keter is a place we approach with great fear and trembling, lest we are destroyed in the Divine Kiss - we run and return - Wisdom is the Fear of the Lord, and to shun Evil is Understanding.

Is a mage stripped of all he is on the path of Saturn?  Many of our legendary magicians have been - Agrippa, Dee, Kelley, Crowley...  One of the first plays I was involved in in Prague was Edmond by David Mamet and here we see our protagonist deconstructed in 23 scenes: divorced, mis-directed, decieved, grifted, robbed, enraged into murder, and finally raped in a prison cell by a plethora of seedy characters who each ask him - do you understand? Perhaps the journey of these Saturnian magi is only completed in poverty, rags and despair - reduced to a skeleton in a cell, divested of all their trappings, can they finally say they understand? What is this self if it isn't the things we have?

As Planet X, Planet 9 or Melancholia, begins to heave into view, and we all take a moment to rethink the legends and how little we know - as another occult renaissance is simmering on the stove of a human heart that loves knowledge - we have to ask do we really want to understand?


  1. I'm not sure. There's something off to me with The Empress as Mars. When I got to know your proposal of going back to the oldest association between planets and hebrew letters, my first intuition was to keep the planets with their Tarot cards, but swap the letters around. Example: The High Priestess kept being the Moon and thus got Tav, a Cross, and she indeed carries a cross and leads to the first Crossroad! Being the Moon, she would be placed between Malkuth and Yesod, the Gateway of misteries between matter and spirit - and right between them two pillars (as she's frequently depicted). The so the World keeps Saturn, and ends up atop the tree leading to Kether. Well at that point up in the tree the view is supposed to get quite macrocosmic allright? A fit place for The World.

    The Magus as Saturn... Now this sounds wrong again, but strikes many chords at the same time. With Dum├ęzil we see that the prime function of the Magician is binding, and the word Yoga incidentally means the same. Very saturnian. There's also the fact that in Egypt two deities ruled over Magic, being Isis and Thoth. Isis a supreme mother-figure can occupy the place of Saturn, and Thoth gets Mercury.

    Despite all this Mercury stands out as a better fit for the juggling magician. The I-Chings declares the Magician as the one who hears and translate the voice of Gods to people. A messenger of a sorts. Magic is the Art of Change, and changing is a mercurial endeavour. I often conflate Mercury with the african/afro-american Exu (Eshu), lords of crossroads, in Umbanda said to perform the function of converting forces between their opposites. Much the same, magick is the art of change (changing shit into gold being the best changes one can make after all). Finally the magician is supposed to go everywhere, travelling with a Body of Light as do Mercury with his boots.

    Of course, changing the letters may jumble the order of the cards as we are accustomed. But this order itself is a recent artifact, and quite a messy one, as we already have the Hebrew Letters who are also numbers and also numbered paths on the Tree.

  2. Hello Iago I will be presenting a full analysis of these attributions very shortly but for now I will ask you to consider the following:

    Goetia = Jugglery - demonology, angelology, necromancy the connection with Hekate, the underworld/space - none of these I associate with the Mercurial trickster, - time, death, sickness these types of ''high magic'' are Saturnian. I fully resonate with the idea of the Renaissance magi - Dee, Agrippa, etc as men of ''inspired melancholia'' - source text The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, Yates

    The Empress associated with Mars when Mars is understood as a sylvanian agricultural god (as it was before the idea of Mars was corrupted by Empire, as Empire has corrupted all the gods) and the way in which the mother protects her young - you lose nothing of the ''fertility'' aspect. Mars's Kingship is ''Seed'' and its *transposition* is desolation.

    Juno = Jupiter is a no brainer.

    Look at the Wheel of Fortune card - its a solar cross surrounded by the four cherubim representing the four seasons - there will be a full supporting analysis of this and supporting quotes from medieval literature where the wheel of fortune was considered solar.

    The Tower as Venus works on a number of levels - the card follows the Devil card, and shows a number of people being ejected from the Tower which is called the house of God, they have ''fallen from heaven'' - crosspolinate with the idea of Venus as Lucifer, and the notion of giving in to temptation, desire, etc.

    Again in the Sun card focus on the foreground of the popular and old style representations of the card for the association with Mercury - we see twins, or the actual young Mercury riding a horse.

    The World card actually shows Diana/Artemis as virgin and the Moon as the final lord over the Earth. There is no Earth in the planets.

    Bear in mind that this association makes the Chaldean order the order of the planets which obeys the general rational rule of the way the other letters are laid out AMSh, Air, Water, Fire and H-Q as the zodiac Aries-Pisces. What is your planetary order based on?

    I appreciate you have learned these associations from your entry point into occultism. Using the attributions I have given lay out the cards on your floor using the ''Saadia attributions'' shown on this blog and you will see the medieval chain of being laid out. What deck are you using to draw your conclusions from?

  3. Thank you for your attentive reply. My relationship with the tarot began through contemporary Golden Dawn inspired tradition. Mainly Thoth Deck and Raider-Waite, but nowadays I've been drawn to search for the roots - and then found a somewhat firmer ground in Jodorowsky's reconstructed Marseilles.

    I've studied a little bit of the earlier story of the tarot and by what I could discern is a goddamn mess.

    Also I've been accompanying your work with Saadia tree attentively recently. Thank you for the whole work put out here. Physiognomy, Genetics, the whole thing. I've read most of it and find it deeply inspiring!

    I've been through the proccess (briefly painful) of abandoning the Kircher Tree. Following a recommendation peraphs given here or by you (not sure anymore) I've been reading the Sepher Yetzerah and since them seriously contemplating Saadia Tree.

    Regarding Goetia = Jugglery - Do you mean about a divide of "Low Magic" (concerning mediations - demonology angeology etc -and connection to underground/duality) and "High Magic" (as a haute-saturnian endeavour of transcendence and divine ascension)?

    Thank you for the new information on this comment. A few ideas come up:

    Re. the Empress and agriculture, it reminds me of how much metallurgy (associated with mars) is linked with soilwork (iron tools) and deep-cave penetration (underground mysteries). Also - Mars as movement: many metallurgist clans were nomadic (Deleuze remarks this on his War Machine plateau; the way the War Machine is magically "captured" and bound by the Magician-Priest conclave that gave origin to the State). Mars as seed: the semen? "Vir" as in the root of virility and virtue?

    Also: the Book of Law commands "Let the woman be girt with a sword before me". Sword linked to Mars (though not sure you still take these 777 associations as valid or as a corruption?)

    I did not knew about the Wheel of Fortune solar bearings. But it's a mandala anyway so isn't of a surprise.

    Venus as Tower: Venus as desire (buddhist implications). By the way Peh fit Venus so much more than Daleth. Peh is like what you do with the mouth when reaching to suck.

    By the way, what deck do you use to draw your conclusions?

    Cheers from Brasil.

  4. Iago,

    My situation is very similar to yours. I immersed myself in the GD tradition/Kircher Tree, primarily through the Thoth Tarot.

    Over time, I became more and more frustrated with the inconsistencies and holes in the system and arrived at a conception of the Tree very similar to the Saadia one posted here. I also began using Hadar's reconstructed Marseille deck because it is much more de-personalized.

    Recently I returned to the Thoth Tarot with new insights. When it comes to the Tarot/Tree attributions, I agree with preserving the relationships between the Tarot cards and their respective planets, and switching the letters (i.e. World = Saturn = Beth).

    Where are you at in your Tarot and Kabbalah studies now??