Copyright: Nick Sandberg 2001
Key to the Gnosis: The Revelation in Seven Chapters is a series of pieces intended to introduce the reader to some of my ideas about Western occultism, and particularly how ancient and often hidden beliefs may be of importance in the world of today. I am particularly interested in the Qabalist interpretations of the Old and New Testament and the esoteric Tarot, and have drawn much of my knowledge of these subjects from studying the Qabalistic teachings of Dr Paul Foster Case.1 For those largely or entirely unfamiliar with either Qabalah or Dr Case’s work, much of the content these pieces may pose many hurdles in comprehension. I apologize for this, it is largely due to my inability to easily put into modern terms the concepts of Qabalah as they have come down to us from antiquity. A useful bibliography is included for those who would like to know more.
Chapter 1 – August 18th 1999 [completed]
Chapter 2 – The Great Work [completed]
Chapter 3 – Pisces [completed]
Chapter 4 – Grail [about half-completed!]
Chapter 5 – Tarot [in preparation]
Chapter 6 – The Believers at Rome [in preparation]
Chapter 7 – Revelation! [in preparation]
The series commences with a piece that I hope serves to place the pieces into our modern era.
Author’s note – As of December 2001 I am in the process of re-writing and completing these pieces, something sorely needed! Chapters 1 and 2 are completed, the others awaiting.
August 18th 1999 – The Grand Cross
Coming seven days after the last solar eclipse of the second Christian millenium, August 18th 1999 was the date on which a “Grand Cross” astrological pattern formed in our skies, an event which occurs only once roughly every twenty-four thousand years. On this day, the Sun, Moon and all the planets studied by the ancients grouped themselves within just four of the twelve astrological houses – Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius. From the chart above it can be seen that Saturn and Jupiter are in Taurus, Mercury, Venus and the Sun are in Leo, Mars and the Moon are in Scorpio, and Neptune is in Aquarius.
These four houses take the shape of a cross with relation to each other on the traditional zodiac, and that is why this formation is known as a “Grand Cross.” These four astrological signs are traditionally represented by the symbols of Man, the Lion, the Bull and the Eagle, and these symbols are frequently seen in esoteric literature, where they often refer to the four elements – earth, air, water, and fire. Most notably, the “four creatures,” as they are usually known, appear in two biblical passages – Ezekiel 1, and Revelation 4. But, before I take a look at their biblical significance, I will look at what they mean in Tarot.
The four creatures appear in two cards of the major arcana of the esoteric Tarot. These are keys 10 and 21 – the Wheel of Fortune and The World. Whilst the esoteric Tarot has never been fully made available to the public, the designs drawn by Jessie Burns Parke, under the instruction of Dr Paul Foster Case, are widely regarded as being the most faithful to the original.2
The Wheel of Fortune symbolizes both the concept of periodicity – the natural circular motion of the forces of nature – and evolution – movement in a given direction through this periodicity. This is indicated by the card’s title, the wheel symbol in its centre, and by the Hebrew letter “kaph” in the lower right-hand corner. As a word, Kaph means “clasping hand” and the closed hand symbol here represents the figure of the spiral, this being the shape that a closed hand takes when looked on from above. The spiral symbolizes both periodicity and evolution for its shape indicates both circular motion and movement away from a centre.
The circular design in the centre of the card is the “Wheel of Ezekiel,” as seen by the Biblical prophet and referred to in Ezekiel 1. The eight letters on the outer ring of the wheel take the form of two groups. One group reads “TARO” and the other contains the Hebrew letters “Yod Heh Vav Heh” (YHVH or Jehovah) – sometimes known as the “Tetragrammaton.” The word TARO refers both to the cards and the processes they symbolically depict, and, reorganized to ROTA, the concept of periodicity. The letters YHVH mean “that which was, is, and is to come,” and one of the meanings of this phrase is that life takes place in the eternal Now. The alchemical symbols in the second ring are those of Salt, Sulphur, Mercury and Man. The first three are the three principal elements of alchemy, symbolizing the primordial principles which the ancients believe brought our world into being. The symbol of Aquarius – Man – below them infers that it is the action of man’s consciousness that brings about the integration of these forces and, in a like manner, the completion of his evolution.
The three creatures that surround the wheel symbolize the process of evolution. The snake represents the fiery life force, kundalini, that esotericists believe is the guiding principle behind evolution. More will be written about this energy in the chapters that follow. The jackal-headed figure of Hermanubis represents man as the Western Mystery Schools believe he currently is – only partially evolved.3 The figure’s jackal-head infers that it is our head and mind that need to develop further if we are to complete our evolution. The fact that only Hermanubis’ ears rise above the horizontal centre line of the circle infers that it is the development of “inner hearing,” or intuition, that will direct the next stage of our evolutionary progress. The sphinx represents the perfected human state, the individual who has completed his or her own personal evolution. The storm clouds gathering behind the Sphinx give some indication of the “weather conditions” that the designers of the card believed would be prevalent as the final stages of this evolutionary movement neared its completion.
Two of the ideas that the Wheel of Fortune therefore symbolizes relate to the evolution of the species, taking place through the periodic cycles of nature, and the belief that it is human consciousness that is the transforming principle of our world.
The World is similar to the Wheel of Fortune in both layout and symbolism but, in this card, the head of the bull faces outward. This signifies that the completion of human evolution has now taken place. The androgyne “world dancer” figure represents the evolutionarily perfected man or woman – the individual who has achieved the final state, usually known as “cosmic consciousness,” or “enlightenment.”
In the US, August 18th 1999 is rendered 8-18-1999, which reduces to 8181999. There are a few interesting things about this sequence I have noticed:
8181 – In Tarot numerology, 81 infers the power of 1 operating through the agency of 8. The number 81 can therefore be said to represent evolution, for Key 8, Strength, symbolizes kundalini, the latent energy of evolution, and Key 1, The Magician, symbolizes self-consciousness, the principle that makes this latent energy active. Eighty-one also symbolizes periodicity for it is the only number, number 1 aside, for which the sum of its digits squared equals the number itself. (8+1=9, 9×9=81), giving it a distinctly cyclical feel. These two principles, evolution and periodicity, taken together, would seem to infer something relating to a period of evolutionary activity.
999 – This is of course a powerful symbol of completion, or approaching completion, (also “emergency,” if one is in the UK!)
8181999 – splitting this sequence up a little produces some interesting patterns:
The middle – 81 + 99 = 180 – the number of degrees in a half circle.
The ends – 81 + 9 = 90 – a quarter circle.
As digits – 8+1+8+1+9+9+9 = 45 – an eighth circle.
These numbers, as degrees of a circle, thus allude to the representation of the Wheel of Ezekiel seen in the centre of Key 10. In addition, the number 45 is also known as the number of “enlightened Man,” for it represents a circle split into 8 equal sections, an esoteric symbol of Spirit. The number 8 is also associated with the “Christ” principle, another term relating to enlightenment or cosmic consciousness. In Greek gematria, Jesus – Iessous – has the value 888 and the number 8 is thus associated with Christ.
Also of interest is what happens when we multiply the digits together.
8x1x8x1x9x9x9 = 46656. 46,656 is an interesting number. Its sixth root is exactly 6. Thus the above multiplication gives the number six raised to the power of six. This number is of significance in occult numerology and multidimensional geometry, representing in some ways the ultimate meaning and manifestation of the physical world, or occult “macrocosm.” The number 6 traditionally represents the world we experience for it is the number of sides of the cube, an esoteric symbol for three dimensional, or physical, existence.
The biblical book of Revelation, like much of the New Testament, conceals a distinct, esoteric meaning beneath the interpretation usually given it – namely that of it being a piece of visionary writing prophetically relating a grim future for humanity. I will look a lot more closely at Revelation in the final chapter and so here only mention that the book details in symbolic form both the mechanism and experience of “kundalini-awakening” – a secret process of initiation by which an individual may complete his or her own personal evolution and achieve enlightenment.4
Whilst Revelation is traditionally regarded as applying principally to the individual seeking development, it is also possible to relate some of the concepts revealed to the development of our world. This is because esotericists believe that there exists a high degree of symbolic parity between what happens to man and what happens to the world, a concept that will be extensively explored in later pieces. The following passage introduces the four creatures:
And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle – Rev 4:6-8, Authorized King James Version.
The first three chapters of the Revelation introduce the chakras – psycho-spiritual vortices of transformation – the seven churches which are in Asia, identifying each via symbols and relating a little of its positive and negative qualities. With the commencement of Chapter 4, so begins the actual “revelation,” the actual, physical and psychical “unveiling” of the Gnosis. The initiate, John, is seated in deep meditation when he becomes aware of the “four creatures” being seated before the throne. The four creatures here represent the four lower chakras, and the action of them being before the throne infers that they are now under the control of the Higher Self – the immortal part of our being accessible, to the initiate, via intuition. This is the true beginning of the Revelation for, prior to the Higher Self gaining control of the four lower chakras, it was considered too risky for the awakening process later detailed to commence. As related to our world situation, the action of the four beasts coming before the throne can be said to refer to the planetary bodies studied by the ancients grouping themselves solely in the four astrological signs that the beasts represent. This would mean that, on such a date the four lower chakras of the group mind become under the control of the Divine. The developmental epoques that have preceeded this date may have been filled with death, destruction and disillusionment, but now the Divine presence is in control and the entire world can slowly be steered along the path to enlightenment.
In summing up these slices of esoteric thought, one might say that on the day August 18 1999 our world finally entered a new era. The Piscean Era (see piece #3), with its confusion and darkness, was completed and our world came to the point where the next phase of our evolution could safely commence.
Another interesting thing about August 18th 1999 is that this was the date (GMT) that NASA had scheduled to undertake the highly perilous Earth “fly-by” of the space probe, Cassini. What made this exercise hazardous was the fact that Cassini is powered by 72.3 lbs of radioactive plutonium, the most toxic substance known. Should the slightest navigation error have occurred, the probe would have re-entered our atmosphere, burning up and dumping its fuel rod supply onto us with likely significantly fatal consequences.
Cassini, needless to say, did not re-enter our atmosphere, and is currently flying away from us. But that these two events, the Grand Cross and the Cassini fly-by, should have occurred on the same day would perhaps appear a little too coincidental for some. For many it might seem strange that NASA should have picked a day potentially so charged with Christian religious significance to have undertaken such a potentially apocalyptic manoeuvre.
© Nick Sandberg 2001
(1) Dr Paul Foster Case (1884 – 1954) wrote extensively on many subjects related to Qabalah, including Alchemy, Sound and Colour, Astrology, and The Tree of Life. He is particularly well-known for his work on the esoteric Tarot and the Cube of Space. Although several books of his are publicly available, the majority of his teachings are available only from the organization he founded, Builders of The Adytum (BOTA).
(2) See Case (1995). Dr Case’s thoughts on Tarot are further revealed in the teachings offered by his organization, B.O.T.A. See note above.
(3) The phrase “Western Mystery School” is the usual generic term given to the various organizations that today still offer ancient esoteric teachings. These schools derive their knowledge from the various esoteric disciplines that have made their way to the West over the last two thousand years. Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, and Alchemy are examples. In truth, the majority of all Western esoteric teachings are originally derived from the doctrine of Qabalah (sometimes Cabala, Kabbalah, or other spellings).
(4) See especially Pryse.
Case, Paul Foster, Dr. (1995). The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages, Builders of the Adytum Ltd.
Pryse, James Morgan. (1910). The Apocalypse Unsealed, Health Research.