The Pole Star demonstrates evidence of the influence of Papus in Crowley’s commentaries on the Fool, the Ace of Disks and the Princess of Disks in particular.
Ace of Disks
This is the chapter where Crowley mentions Papus.
Dr. Gerard Encausse, “Papus”, who followed Eliphaz Levi, felt himself even more closely bound by his Oath of Secrecy, so that his dealings with the Tarot are worthless; and that although he was Grand Master of the O.T.O. in France, and Grand Hierophant 97° of the Rite of Memphis on the death of John Yarker.
These historical data are necessary to explain why all previous packs are of little more than archaeological interest; for the New Aeon demanded a new system of symbolism. Thus, in particular, the old conception of the Earth as a passive, immobile, even dead, even “evil” element, had to go. It was imperative to restore the King-Scale colour attribution to that of the Aeon of Isis, Emerald Green, as was understood by the Egyptian Hierophants. This green is, however, not the original vegetable green of Isis, but the new green of spring following the resurrection of Osiris as Horus. Nor are the Disks any more to be considered as Coins; the Disk is a whirling emblem. Naturally so; since it is now know that every Star, every true Planet, is a whirling sphere. The Atom, again, is no more the hard, intractable, dead Particle of Dalton, but a system of whirling forces, comparable to the Solar hierarchy itself.”.
Princess of Disks
Quite why Crowley feels the need to cite Papus at this point only becomes clear when we study Table 1, where the Heh(f) of Heh(f) position is given as infinity. As we know, technical analysis shows the Earth element not to exist in terms of YHV, and there is the famous phrase ‘Kether is in Malkuth, but after another way’. Crowley incorporated this concept in the Princess of Disks, last of the Court cards.
Two of Disks
The Two of Disks has the symbol of infinity incorporated in it. Note that the green colour signifies Earth, while the Serpent has a crown, with its tail in close proximity, which again suggests “Kether is in Malkuth…”
Crowley’s favourite dictum 0=2 is very interesting in this context. For a long time, I have followed the idea that Crowley is discussing eleven, the Lust card. Eleven is the number of change, the ‘false sephira’ Daath, the qlippoth, the letter Kaph. Crowley modified the counting method in the Opening of the Key for the Aces from five to eleven as well. Kenneth Grant discusses the significance of 11 in his books. However, in the Sepher Yetsirah, Aleph follows the ten sephiroth, therefore it is the Eleventh card.
We might understand 0=2 to mean that the Fool is equivalent to the 11th card, which “represents an original, subtle, impulse or impact, coming from a completely strange quarter.” However, the 11th, Lust, represents “Courage, strength, energy and action, une grande passion: resort to magick, the use of magickal power.”
Lust is an important aspect of Crowley’s sex magickal system, but the fact is, Crowley uses far more explicitly sexual language in his commentary, particularly in his description of Parsifal. Crowley even discusses the Formula of Tetragrammaton; how the Father and Mother produce Twins. “In the most stable dynasties, the new King was always a stranger, a foreigner; what is more, he had to kill the old king and marry that king’s daughter.”
Quite what this obsession with sex has to do with this card is not clear. I eventually found the clue after pondering Table 2, searching for the connection it must have with Crowley’s BoT, I found myself looking at the Contents page – ( not something that is necessary considering the times I have read the book!), and there was the answer – The Fool is listed separately from the other 21 Major Arcana, and what is more, the sub-sections of the are also listed.
Here are the titles of the Fool section in the Index. Fortunately, as we shall see in the actual text, Crowley concatenates them into 11 sections:
- The Fool as Zero, the Mother Letters, the vulture and spiral creation (Princess of Disks, Star, Devil)
- The Formula of Tetragrammaton
- Succession through introduction of alien blood
- The “Green Man” of the Spring Festival. “April Fool”. The Holy Ghost
- The “Great Fool” of the Celts (Dalua)
- Salvation and the Saviour, Paternity
- “The Rich Fisherman” Percivale
- Saviour Fish-God, Holy Grail, King Arthur, Parsifal Opera
- The Crocodile (Mako, Son of Set or Sebek
- Maximum innocence developing into maximum fertility”, Pole Star, Fish Gods, Noah, Hoor-pa-Kraat
- Akasha, Babe in the Egg, the Nile, Crocodile as devourer, Creator/Destroyer, innocence virility
- Zeus Arrhenotheleus
- Hermaphrodite, Air as origin, Dianus and Diana, Akasha=Harpocrates (Hoor-pa-Kraat)
- Dionysus Zagreus. Bacchus Diphues
- Two Gods as one. Crowley identifies them as the ‘Vau of Tetragrammaton’. Bisexuality, Priapus, the crocodile.
There are enough textual clues to suggest that the main categories follow an order applied to Papus’ structure.
Papus’ Tarot and the Fool in the Book of Thoth
|God 21||Man 21||Universe 21||Return to Unity|
|Green Man, Holy Ghost||Great Fool, Celts||Percivale||Sebek||Hoor-paar-Kraat||Zeus Arrhenotheleus & Dionysus Zagreus. Bacchus Diphues||Baphomet|
The first two sections ‘The Fool’ and ‘Formula of the Tetragrammaton’ provide an overview, and omitted here. However, Crowley hints that the Fool contains the YHVH system, and there are enough clues to show this to be so. We start with the Green Man, Spring and Aries – fiery attributes which fit in with Yod of Yod positive. Dalua/Christ fits in with the ideas of paternity and salvation for Yod of Yod negative. In the Heh section we begin with The Fisherman for the Heh of Yod positive, and the Crocodile for the negative aspect – both of course have watery connotations. Hoor-paar-Kraat is the Son, perfect for Vau positive. There is a potential problem with Zeus Arrhenotheleus and Dionysus Zagreus and Bacchus Diphues, but I suggest that they are accommodated in the negative phase of Vau. Finally, we can have Baphomet in seventh place. The Summary is conveniently ignored for these purposes.
There is another interesting idea that connects the Fool to the Ace of Disks and the Two of Disks – Crowley draws attention to the colour green – the Green Man of Spring, the green of Isis for the Ace of Disks, and the green snake in the 2 of Disks.