Monday, April 20, 2020

A Note on the Star Sapphire

Now that the Office of the Readings is wrapped up, Augoeides is back to business as usual. I appreciate everyone who checked out our streaming ritual series, and next year we are going to see if we can incorporate some sort of streaming component with the live version of the rites so that people who are not local can still participate.

At any rate, the other day I came across an interesting point regarding the Latin in the Star Sapphire from my OTO brother Kitos Digiovanni, who teaches Latin. I have added it to my analysis of the ritual from 2018, but it strikes me as important enough to call out on its own because it points out a subtle but significant translation error in most published versions of the ritual. Here's what I'm talking about:

Crowley writes in Step 9:


Without naming names, I have noticed that the Latin is almost always incorrectly translated into English by editors as:

“All in Two, Two in One, One in Nothingness, These are neither Four nor All nor Two nor One nor Nothing.”

However, the way the number words are written, the correct translation would be:

“All into Two, Two into One, One into Nothing. These are neither Four nor All nor Two nor One nor Nothing.”

This is because the word IN can mean either “in” or “into,” depending on how the word connected with it is inflected (that is, spelled). IN UNUM would mean "into one," whereas IN UNO means "in one." The grammarians out there know this is the difference between the accusative (indicating motion towards or into) and the ablative (indicating place where). You remember this from your Latin I class, yes?

So, the nuance of difference is that the utterance in Step 9 is emphasizing not states of being, but transformations: All BECOMES Two, Two BECOMES One, and so forth. (It is obvious that Crowley was sensitive to the difference, since he correctly alternates between UNUS/UNO/UNUM and DUO/DUOS, depending on the grammatical context.)

What's important about this is that it means the ritual describes a process not a fixed state. In the Star Ruby, we see something more like a reiteration of the structure of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, with classes of spirits on all four sides and a Greek rendering of "and in the column stands the six-rayed star." So this is a series of static declarations, not really the description of a process.

The different classes of spirits have roles associated with them that are associated with steps in the process of manifestation - Iynges = initiators, Synoches = maintainers, Teletarches = perfectors, and Daemones = executors - but they are still alluded to in static terms at the four cardinal points. I noted that Liber Ararita, particularly Chapter VII likewise alludes to a process in the context of this ritual's primary word of power.

1. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh the earth melted into a liquor clear as water.

2. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh the water smoked into a lucid air.

3. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh the air ignited, and became Fire.

4. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh, O Lord, the Fire dissipated into Space.

5. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh, O Lord, the Space resolved itself into a Profundity of Mind.

6. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh the Mind of the Father was broken up into the brilliance of our Lord the Sun.

7. At the touch of the Fire Qadosh the Brilliance of our Lord was absorbed in the Naught of our Lady of the Body of the Milk of the Stars.

8. Then only was the Fire Qadosh extinguished, when the Enterer was driven back from the threshold,

9. And the Lord of Silence was established upon the Lotus flower.

10. Then was accomplished all that which was to be accomplished.

11. And All and One and Naught were slain in the slaying of the Warrior 418,

So in effect, ARARITA in this context does not just imply unity, but unification. And this helps to elucidate how the Star Sapphire is supposed to work, just by looking carefully into the Latin and recognizing the nuance and context of how it is written.

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