Friday, October 31, 2014

Cypher lunch (What the Cipher Manuscript says and does not say about the Tarot)

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The theme of this Samhain Tarot Blog Hop is feasting with our honored ancestors. Out of all the ancestors that I could raise a glass of mead with, the one that I would like to have a discussion with the most is a spiritual and magical ancestor, and not a blood relative.

One of the spiritual and magical ancestors of all students of the Golden Dawn tradition is the creator of the Cipher Manuscript. The Cipher Manuscript is the foundational document of the entire Golden Dawn system---without the Cipher Manuscript, the Order of the Golden Dawn would have never existed. The Cipher Manuscript is an outline of the Outer Order Grade rituals and subjects of study, enciphered with a substitution alphabet. 

The most likely creator of the Cipher Manuscript was a Kenneth Mackenzie, Masonic scholar and occultist. Exactly who Mackenzie meant the rituals outlined in the Cipher Manuscript for we will probably never know for sure---but we do know that the rituals were not meant for Westcott and Mathers. Probably written sometime between 1860 and 1875, the Cipher Manuscript came into the possession of William Wynn Westcott after the death of Mackenzie in 1886. Westcott, with the help of his friend, Samuel Liddell Mathers, deciphered the Cipher Manuscript and fleshed out the rituals, creating a working Order in 1888.

A page from the Cipher Manuscript---part of the 2=9 (Theoricus) initiation ritual.
 One of the features of the Golden Dawn system outlined in the Cipher Manuscript is a Tarot scheme that has became a part of the way many people read Tarot, even if they have never heard of Golden Dawn.

Cipher Manuscript--Universe card description.
The first mention of the Tarot in the Cipher Manuscript occurs in the Knowledge Lecture outline of the Zelator Grade---it is a list of the four suits of the Tarot.

The second mention of the Tarot occurs in the Theoricus Grade initiation, a ritual where the initiate is shown a key of the Tarot. In this case, it is the Universe card, which is described as 72 circles around Queen Isis, who is also Sandalphon, who bears wands and has crossed legs; there is also a seven pointed star, and four Kerubim in the corners of the card.

Cipher Manuscript--drawing of the Judgment card.
The next initiation ritual (Practicus) introduces the initiate to two more of the Tarot cards. The first card is Judgment. Of this card, the Cipher Manuscript mentions that it "is much more than the last judgment."

Cipher Manuscript--drawing of the Sun card.
The second card introduced in the Practicus ritual is the Sun. Both Judgment and the Sun are roughly illustrated in the pages of the Cipher Manuscript.

Among the knowledge to be learned in the Practicus Grade is a system of "synonyms in tarot divination," a system of astrological correspondences that has made its way outside of Golden Dawn and is used by many Tarot readers, often without knowing that the system that they are using was a creation of the mysterious creator of the first draft of the rituals of Golden Dawn.

If you have ever used "Emperor is Aries; Hierophant (High Priest) is Taurus...," then you have used the system of correspondences that were first outlined in the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscript.

Also included in this section of the Cipher Manuscript was a Tarot Lecture, talking about the four suits of the Tarot corresponding to the four worlds of the Kabbalah. The Lecture expounds for the initiate to "behold the true attribution of the Tarot--ponder it in thy heart--[reveal] not to the profane." The Lecture also mentions that the Keys of Strength and Justice need to be switched to correspond to the true attributions of the esoteric system of the Tarot, the true Book of Thoth.

Cipher Manuscript--drawing of the Moon card.
The next Grade initiation ritual (Philosophus) has three Tarot cards, all illustrated in the Cipher Manuscript. The first card is the Moon card, complete with crayfish.

Cipher Manuscript--drawing of the Star card.
The next card is the Star, which is Sirius, with Isis kneeling with water at her feet. There is a Tree of Life and the seven classical planets also on the card.

Cipher Manuscript--drawing of the Tower card.
The final card illustrated is the Tower, which the Cipher Manuscript associates with the tower of Babel. A downward symbol of Mars, a regular Tree of Life, and a Tree associated with the Qlippoth (evil inclined astral shells) surround the broken tower and falling figure.

At the end of the Philosophus ritual, the Cipher manuscript comes to an end. And while the Cipher Manuscript gives the "true" astrological correspondences to the Tarot trumps, there is a lot that the creator of the Cipher Manuscript does not tell us.

For instance, we are only shown the "true" depiction of six of the trump cards. One of the things that I would love to conjure the ghost of the creator of the Cipher Manuscript, and ask of it is "What do the rest of the Tarot trumps look like?" While later leaders of the Golden Dawn tradition have fleshed out the reminder of the Tarot deck, we have no idea what the original creator of Golden Dawn had in mind for the rest of the Tarot deck.

Likewise, we have no idea of what the rest of the rituals of the tradition were originally meant to be like---the additional rituals that we have were created by other people. Nor do we know what other sections of Tarot study that the creator of the Cipher Manuscript meant to include in the system.

Quite frankly, the creator of the Cipher Manuscript left more unfinished than finished when you actually look at the whole of the system. Nevertheless, without this slim outline, the tradition of Golden Dawn and its way of reading the Tarot would have never happened.

And I am not the only student of the Golden Dawn tradition that would like to ask the creator of the Cipher Manuscript a few dozen questions. I am merely one of the pushy ones at the front of the line.

Happy Samhain!

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Happy Halloween! (Halloween Kitty)

Happy Halloween! says Witch Kitten.
Happy Halloween! And so we end another happy holiday season with loads of candy catnip, costumes, and cats being cats.

Poor kitty eaten by a pumpkin.

Lolcat is not amused by Halloween.

Try a fun sized Kit-Kat.

Angel Cat is ready to trick or treat.

Bat Cat tries to look scary.

Franken-Cat is not sure about his costume.

Witch Kitten brews up some Halloween magic.

At midnight, witch kitties will fly on their magical broomstick.
The recipe for scary Jack-o-lanterns.
Grumpy Cat voices her opinion of Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Animal Cat (Halloween Kitty)

Goat Cat surveys his forest.
Some cat owners fantasize about having other animals, so they dress their cats up as other animals. This trend completely ignores the fact that cats are the best animals on the planet, and that humans should be thankful that cats choose to live with their human pets servants. Put an end to the insanity and wake up to the fact that the best animal is a cat. Now go get your cat some tuna and catnip!

Another Goat Cat.

Sheep Cat.

Teddy Bear Cat is so sweet, sweet as honey.

Chicken Cat wants to lay an egg in your shoe.

Frog Cat has his eye on you.

Dinosaur Cat is so cute.

Tiger Cat is so sad.

This Tiger Cat says "Smell my feet."

Duck Cat will not swim.

Bat Cat wants your blood.

Bunny Cat waits for Easter.

Mouse Kitty protests your costume choice.

Lion Cat shows off his inner awesomeness.

This cat is dressed up and labed clearly as being a cat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pirate Cat (Halloween Kitty)

Pirate Kitty steals your ahhhs.
 Cats and kittens just love to dress up as pirates. Ok, maybe not. But there are sure a lot of pictures of pirate cats on the internet. I am not sure if this is because of the behavior of cats---kitties are natural pirates---or just the fact that people love pirates. We all played pirates as kids, didn't we? Maybe it was just me. Anyway, no matter what the reason---here are some pictures of pirate cats to brighten your day.

Oh, how our definition of Pirate has changed.

What is a pirate without a parrot?

Pirate Kitty has a toilet paper roll leg.

Pirate Cat watches out for the red dot.

Plunder your living room, your kitchen, your office, your bedroom...

Pirate Cat wonders why all the rum is gone.

Perhaps the cutest Pirate Cat of all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Detective Cat is on the case (Halloween Kitty)

Sherlock Cat is on the case.
 Cats are natural detectives. Or at least, my cats are. They must examine all the evidence brought into the house, touch all the doughnuts, see if things are breakable, and interrogate me about what I was doing outside of the house. With a dog, you can get away with murder---with a cat, you are guilty until proven innocent.

Hercule Poirot---ze famous cat-detective.

The treatment I get every time I return to the house.

Good cat cop, bad cat cop.

Hard boiled detective cat.

Isn't the dog always the guilty party?

A cat murder is no problem.

Clearly, this was a suicide.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Witch and Wizard CatsI (Halloween Kitty)

I be a good witch.
 Cats have been associated with magic and witches for age, so it is not surprising that there are a ton of pictures of cats dressed up as witches and wizards. Meow---there is magic in those paws.

Pumpkin time Witch Cat.

I am the great and powerful Wizard Cat.

Magic makes one so tired.

Where is my familiar human?

There is something strange afoot.