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Lust : The Whore of Babylon Rides the Ten Horned Beast
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Aleister Crowley’s version of the Tarot Trump (or Major Arcana) for Leo, the Lion (Planets and Signs Key) is renamed Lust and portrayed accordingly in strong colours. The Lion holds the spirit of life, the fierce force greedy for the red meat of action. No mere materialistic mania for money, fool’s gold or empty flesh.
An earlier reference to Aleister Crowley (see Note for Throne of God) focussed on his spirit-inspired writing and the same phenomenon inspired his portrayal of this card. The card is traditionally called ‘Strength’ and portrayed with a woman opening or closing the mouth of a lion.
Aleister Crowley was an early pioneer of modern astrology, helping to rescue it from the darkness and disuse into which it had fallen following the age of Reason. He was also a keen Kabbalist, devoting much of his energies to exploring the esoteric astrology of the Tree of Life. And he dabbled in spirit magic.
His ventures into these deep and powerful mysteries led to detours and earned him widespread notoriety which has obscured the value of his pioneering work. This remains a heady realm and it is wise to consider these ideas with curious caution.
The Tarot emerged in Italy in the 15th century, early in the Renaissance, and is an oracular representation of the Tree of Life. The 22 Major Arcana represent each of the 22 Paths of the Tree, also associated with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet . The Paths in turn represent the twelve Signs and ten planets of our heavens found in an astrological horoscope (see Hebrew alphabet, Tarot Trumps).
The modern popular deck of cards is derived from the Tarot. The Tarot’s four court cards represent the hierarchy of the four elements, as do the four suits. King, Queen and Jack are an abbreviation of the King, Queen, Knight and Page or Princess, representing Fire, Water, Air and Earth respectively. Clubs correspond to Wands, representing fire; Spades are Swords, representing air; Hearts translate Cups, water; and diamonds are Pentacles or Coins, representing the element of earth. The ten numbered cards relate to the ten planetary Sephiroth or ‘visible’ Shining Ones of the Tree.
This connection with the Tree of Life makes it not unnatural to associate the portraits with the imagery of Revelation which is strongly bound to the Tradition of the Tree. Aleister Crowley, or his spirit speaker, associates the lion with the Beast of Revelation and the woman with the Whore of Babylon who rides the Beast (Ch.17. v3 ). Certainly the Beast 666 is rightly associated with the Lion, the Sign of the Sun. In the interpretation of Crowley’s spirit writing, the Whore of Babylon is personified as an archetypal Eve, or Earth Mother, whose love of all men gives her a special insight and understanding. The Whore is also identified in Revelation with the great City of Babylon which represents the corrupt world of commerce and materialism.
It is intriguing to speculate what the significance of the woman is in this ancient Tradition of the Tarot, for a card signifying all the male strength of the Lion’s Sign. Certainly when men are moved by the more receptive feminine signs of earth and water and women by the more active energies of fire and air, a powerful dynamic can be created.
The seven heads are described by Crowley as the Angel, the Saint, the Poet, the wild Bacchante Woman or Adulteress, the Warrior, the Satyr and the Lion-Serpent of the tail. Seven is one of the most popular sacred numbers and is better understood to represent the seven chakras, the powerful spiritual centres we each carry. The ten crowned ‘horns’ of the Beast (Rev. 13. 1 ) are the ten ‘visible’ Shining Ones of the Tree of Life, also potent spiritual centres within us all, all creatures and all creation. These are the ten astrological planets of the Sun’s system, excluding Traditionally ‘invisible’ Pluto.
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