The Atbash code highlights the transpositions of the Major arcana first by the Golden Dawn, and then by Aleister Crowley. The Atbash code is a magical system in its own right.
The Golden Dawn system of Magic is based upon the Kabbalah, in particular the Hebrew Alphabet, which is shorthand to indicate the sequence of events in a ritual. This approach, from Aleph to Tau, is fine, but 22 steps is an intimidating number. One of the most enduring sayings within the Golden Dawn is ‘Malkuth is in Kether but after another way’. There are several ways of understanding this, but the Atbash gives us another technique in the Magician’s armoury.
Atbash Cipher: L-T transposition
The GD rituals are linear, then it is obvious that we start at Aleph, then Beth, on and upwards eventually to Tau (Th in the Tables). One level cannot start until the next is completed. In the table above, Aleph is next to Tau, and I have already demonstrated the secret relationship between the paired letters, particularly with the Star/Emperor transposition. With a binary system, we are in a non-linear mode where the net effect is that in many respects, the paired cards are swapped over with impunity.
22 Steps in a circle
With the letters paired, the circle will continue for as long as necessary. Eleven, the number of Magick and Change, is the key to understanding GD rituals. The 11th letter in the sequence is Kaph, the number of Magick and Change, coupled with the magick of Lust. Even more significant is the sum of K and T, 29, which has only two meanings in Liber 777: DKH ‘is broken’, and HDK ‘to break down, overturn. In Tree of Life terms, we have travelled from Malkuth to Kether and vice versa, making the transition at Daath. So, which would you choose? 22 or 11?
The syzygy of the paired letters at each stage complements each other, so that if one of the paired cards is deficient in some way, the operation is not impaired. There are several ways of looking at this table. One obvious method is sex magick, where one partner will represent A to K, and the other will be Th to T. Another method follows the Caduceus or Snake: A, Sh, G, Q,… while the other person will go from Th, B, R, D,… etc. One row is the ‘shadow’ of the other, so that the product of the two, Light and Dark results in the material for the next stage. The number 11 also recalls the 11 dimensions required for M Theory to unify the four forces of nature in physics.
Golden Dawn Rituals in the light of Atbash
In the Z2 Document there are five Formulae of the Magic of Light, which all have 23 steps, which is unusual, and suggests a ‘blind’ somewhere. In the Introduction:
In the true knowledge of the application of the Symbolism of the “Enterer” lies the entrance to the knowledge of Practical Magic
The “Enterer” refers to Z1, The Enterer of the Threshold; the General Exordium and the Particular Exordium, both of which have eleven lines. The key to understanding the changes shown by the transposition of Justice and Strength. The 9th stage (I) of the Magical Formulae is crucial as this is the commencement of the actual invocation, and requires balance, otherwise there is a danger of unbalanced forces. The woman in Adjustment is in command of balanced and unbalanced force. The magical weapon of choice at this juncture is the Sword. Crowley’s insights into his renamed Adjustment are pertinent:
… this card is the feminine complement of the Fool
This relates to the commencement of the operation.
She is masked, and her expression shows her secret intimate satisfaction in her domination of every element of dis-equilibrium in the Universe. This condition is symbolised by the Magic Sword which she holds in both hands, and the balances or spheres in which she weighs the Universe.
Later, Crowley says:
She represents Manifestation, which may always be cancelled out by equilibration of opposites.
Adjustment marks a critical phase in the ritual where everything is balanced in preparation for change. Contrast this with Strength/Lust where the pristine, apparent innocence of the Woman Satisfied) contrasted with the wantonness of Babalon astride the lion, inflamed with lust. The duality of Lust is entirely different from that of Adjustment, where nothing happens. Here are the last two paragraphs:
Behind the figures of the Beast and his Bride are ten luminous rayed circles; they are the Sephiroth latent and not yet in order, for every new Aeon demands a new system of classification of the Universe.
The 12th stage of the Z2 rituals is the ritual circumambulation, which signifies not just movement, but a vortex of creation. Previous to Lust is Fortune, where the ten sephiroth are 10 spokes on the Wheel, related to Malkuth. As the 11th pair, both Fortune and Lust are outside the system looking in, and so Crowley depicts the Sephiroth in each, but in entirely different structures.
In both tables above I have used the L/T transposition, but of course the Golden Dawn does not transpose the steps in its rituals. As I have tried to show above, this is not an obstacle to magic. Philosophically, since the End is in the Beginning, we have to assume that the result is already there, but it has not manifested. Where does the Golden Dawn transposition occur? at the 9th pairing, which could be seen as Yesod, which is lunar, and of course relates to the sex organs, and at the 11th, the number of Daath, sex magick, particularly in the OTO system. If you turn the Tree of Life through 180 degrees, you will find that Yesod and Daath are in identical positions, which gives us another magical system of oral sex (see the writings of Kenneth Grant).
Communicating with Spirits
At the fundamental roots of the Atbash code, and structured within Tarot, is the sex magickal system of the Golden Dawn and of the OTO. Daath, the 11th sephira, is also the Gateway to other Universes and beings. In my book, The Tarot and the Magus, I suspected that the spirits of Liber 231 were originally contacted by of sex magick, but I had not realised that it is so structured in the system. The pairing of the alphabet into two columns may also be considered as the means for communication between the ‘Other’ side, which is seen as three-dimensional in any case.
The Supernal Triangle
What happens if we reverse the order of the Sephiroth? Quite simply, the transposition of L and T is within the Supernal Triangle, and involves Kether and Binah, whose Path is the Magus. The sephiroth of Binah and Chokmah as Mother and Father respectively, are replete with sexual imagery – see Liber 777 and Dion Fortune’s Magical Qabalah.