Chapter 3, verse xi: “Let the woman be girt with a sword before me”.
The symbolism of Crowley’s Thoth tarot is much more profound than the usual tarot meanings and symbolism. Crowley had a wonderful underlined subtext and messages communicating his ideas and beliefs through the Thoth tarot deck. I find his ‘secret’ symbolism and messages fascinating.
Before we start to explore the symbolism of this card, remember we are only approaching it from the Crowlian point of view and a very specific one – which is mine.
Let us understand first who is the Hierophant and what it represents.
The Hierophant is a person, especially a priest, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles.
According to Wikipedia, a hierophant (Ancient Greek: ἱεροφάντης) is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. As such, a hierophant interprets sacred mysteries and arcane principles. In Attica, Hierophant was the title of the chief priest at the Eleusinian Mysteries. It was an office inherited within the Philaidae or Eumolpidae families. The office of Hierophant, High Priestess and Dadouchousa Priestess were all inherited within the Philaidae or Eumolpidae families, and the Hierophant and the High Priestess were of equal rank. It was the task of the High Priestess to impersonate the roles of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone in the enactment during the Mysteries.
The Hierophant is associated with the element of earth.
From the above, we can understand that the hierophant is a top religious figure like the Pope, or the chief Rabbi if you like, whose job was to be a conductor, a channel, funnel or mediator between the gods and the people. In this particular card, focusing only on the hidden symbolism, the hierophant is the representation of the goddess Nuit.
Nuit represents the element of infinite space. The mother of all stars – after all – “Every man and every woman is a star” (chapter 1, verse 3). Nuit is also the place each star is return to when his or her light diminishes. She is also the divine law. The law that the hierophant needs to transmit to her followers.
“Let the woman be girt with a sword before me”
At the front of the card, before the hierophant, we can see the woman girt with a sword.
According to The Book of Thoth, “she represents the Scarlet Woman in the hierarchy of the new Aeon” or in other words, representative of the ‘new woman’, ie, no more just a housewife or a pretty decor on the arm of her husband or boyfriend, but armed and militant, seeking her truth and equal rights.
We can see how all of this manifests in the feminist movement of the 70s and the Me Too movement of our days.
The woman girt with a sword , “The woman is the priestess; in her reposes the mystery. She is the mother, brooding yet tender; the lover, at once passionate and aloof; the wife, revered and cherished. She is the witch woman.” (Freedom is a two-edged Sword, Jack Parsons)
The deeper you look into the hidden symbolism and meaning of this mysterious woman, the clear it gets, that she can be Nuit herself, guarding the divine law.
The law is simple and clear and it’s the hierophant’s job to pass it to his congregation:
“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”
“Love is the law, love under will”
Or in our words
Love and do what you will
“The symbolism of the Wand is peculiar” – Solve et Coagula
Crowley describes the three interlaced rings of the wand, as a “representative of the three Aeons of Isis, Osiris and Horus”. However, on a closer look, we see that the hierophant holding the wand with its three rings aspiring upward, in his right hand (solve).
As a Setian/Typhonian, I couldn’t help the thought that the three interlaced rings, would be much more comfortable in the right hand of destruction (solve) as a representative of Set, Osiris & Ra.
Set and Osiris are both Ra’s grandsons and make a sacred triad. Both brothers have to sacrifice themselves for the continuation of Ra — of life — Osiris by getting killed by his brother Set, and Set killing his brother and becoming the ‘outcast’ God. (Aromagick)
The demonstration cycle of life through destruction and creation is continued with the symbolism of the hierophant’s left hand.
His left hand (coagula) is pointing downward in the Shamak mudra hand position. I must admit that this never occurred to me before, but once I become aware of it, I could not un-see it.
The Shamak mudra also calls the kidney mudra, is the perfect hand position to deliver the message of Solve et Coagula (destruction and creation). In the beginning, I couldn’t see the connection between the kidney mudra to the word coagula and what it represents in the occult symbolism, especially here, to the hierophant and his wand.
Coagulation means The action or process of a liquid, especially blood, changing to a solid or semi-solid state.
“a supplement that inhibits blood coagulation”
The main function of the kidneys is to cleanse the blood of toxins and transform the waste into urine.
The hierophant’s right hand in the Shamak mudra, suggests that before we can coagulate, we must be cleansed and purified of all toxins. Only then can we coagulate into our new and transformed selves.
“The Throne of the Hierophant is surrounded by elephants, which are of the nature of Taurus; and he is actually seated upon a bull.”
At first look, the card seems to resonate with the symbolism of the zodiac sign Taurus, which is an earth sign. The element of earth is represented in this card as the Bull Kerub and symbolises the earth element at its most balanced and strongest. If we look at the symbolism of the bull from the Setian perspective, it takes us back to the cattle cult which is probably the oldest cult in the world.
All Egyptian male deities have bull avatars. The Bull of Ombos is the avatar of Set. The Bull Cult probably sprang out of the Cattle cult linking deities like the Heavenly Cow/Hathor which represents the female aspect of the cult.
The bull symbolises male fertility and potency and is connected with energy, stamina, endurance, protection, and aggression. As a symbol of strength, the bull was worshipped throughout the ancient world. From the astrological point of view, the zodiac sign of Taurus is linked to Spring in the agriculture calendar. Symbolising the season of rebirth, wealth and abundance. The bull also stands as a symbol of stubbornness, ferocity, tyranny and brutality, all the characteristics of a powerful God/s, and will make an honourable sacrifice for the almighty.
We might think, that we have moved on from the religious practices and worship of the bull’s cult, but today, the cattle cult assumed a different structure — the dairy and meat industry, that most of us are pretty much worshipping still.
Just to remind you, a hierophant is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. As such, a hierophant interprets sacred mysteries and arcane principles.
In this card, the hierophant symbolises the link to the secret of the rhythm of time and the ancient practice of the worship of the bull.
The secrets of the time lords are encoded in the divine law which is guarded by Nuit/NWT and delivered by the hierophant.