Atu XIV: Art

Letter: ס Samekh (S, X)

Number: 60

Proximity: Sephira #6 (Tiphareth) to Sephira #8 (Hod)

Ruling Pentagram:

Pent #25 “Trial” – Water of (Ch’ien) The Creative, Heaven (Above/Below)

Earth of (Tui) The Joyous, Lake (Without/Within)

Berashith: “Elohim saw that it was good”

Corner Hexagrams:

(Upper right) Fire: Hex #26: 大畜 (Ta Ch’u) Taming Power of the Great

(Lower left) Air: Hex #25: 無妄 (Wu Wang) Innocence

(Upper left) Water: Hex #46: (Shêng) Pushing Upward

(Lower right) Earth: Hex #45: (Ts’ui) Gathering Together / Massing

Keywords (Dignified): Alchemy, Creativity, Synthesis, Projection, Distillation, Perspective, Assimilation, Invocation, Imagination, Attunement, Invention, Intuition, Communication, Simulation, Refinery, Skill, Mastery

Keywords (Ill-Dignified): Inefficiency, Waste, Ignorance, Difficulty, Dullness, Disinterest, Disturbance


Historical: Often shown as a winged lady, pouring liquid from one container, into another, this card has changed numbers. In earlier packs, she was represented with an ermine. The numeration of Temperance tended to be mercurial, shifting from VII, to XIV. This may be the case because it was considered to be the result of the Lovers shown in VI, the child. The mother and her womb is the master alchemist of life who creates the highest material being, Man. Thus, an adult female is shown.

Golden Dawn: Called Temperance Daughter of the Reconcilers, the Temperance card corresponds to the zodiacal Sagittarius, primarily, and Capricorn and Scorpio, secondarily. The planetaries, Saturn and Mars, are considered integral to the card’s transmutative process, as well as ruling Capricorn and Scorpio. Art places between Sephira #6 (Tiphareth,) and Sephira #9 (Yesod,) in the Golden Dawn system.


Thoth: Renamed Art, and we are asked to accept this without being offered much explanation for it. He was very concerned with creating a complex scene, that illustrated the full, rich, gamut of the Alchemical Process, the understanding of which is complicated more by his obtuse writings on the card. This is evidenced by continued confusion, to this day, as to why he changed the name from Temperance to Art, and what the scene actually means. Most tarot hoarders are too stupid to know what alchemy is, and even if they’ve bothered to hear about it they won’t connect this card to it right off without a copy of The Tarot of the Egyptians by the author.
      Crowley reinforced the card’s visible alchemical traits significantly, and explains its properties in vivid detail. This is fortunate for us, as the card art itself is usually very boring, and his words serve to elucidate poorer versions of “Artemis.” Considering that it explains how babies are made in the middle of the Dark Ages this is no surprise. The Dark Ages of course were anything but Dark in certain parts of the world, outside of the tiny little continent of Europe. Even the ‘heathen’ and ‘pagan’ Vikings were experiencing a Golden Age in contrast to their Christian cousins. This is the eternal bane of the Tarot, it was hidden away for so long, out of fear of discovery by one’s neighbors, that, just as it could come out of the closet, scientific effort banished it to the “occult” cupboard, from where it had to crawl out, once again, into the light of the New Aeon. It was only with the psychedelic 60’s that we see a revival and flowering of the Tarot, largely thanks to Crowley. The cauldron is added, in which the red and white animals of alchemy interact. The woman is many-breasted, like Artemis. He states that the most primitive of the images on this card would simply be Artemis, even though she was degraded greatly by the Romans as Diana. He also states that the station foreshadows the final stage of The Great Work, and points out that he’s added the highest symbol of Mercury according to him, the arrow.
     Much to-do is made over Crowley’s decision, but he is correct. The card perfectly encapsulates the Great Mother’s intellect. She is, after all, a mathematician at heart. The old Temperance, before this elevated and exquisite vision is a foul card which should be relegated to the Hell of the old Aeon as quickly and as permanently as possible. (Really she is not that bad actually, but the ideas behind what has made her so boring and uninspiring are unforgivable…there are many good ways to make Temperance elegant and meaningful without sinking into angel wings and matrons)
     Although the art of Lady Harris is effective, Crowley doesn’t help very much with illuminating the nature of the station beyond his text, and more could have been written in order to help sustain her elevated status.. However, we  agreed that it was a dutiful renaming, considering that Temperance was rather Christianized and thus contaminated by false religious ideology.

Mutational Alchemy Interpretation: Our supreme arrow of Mercury is still present, it surrounds our Goddess Ra’ath or Circe with its golden light, the glow of the pregnant female. It has finally found its target, Sol. The Hexagrams proffer up an image of full and waxing pregnancy in the rich fullness of its precision cellular activity. Balanced, concentrated perception where the mother’s great experience and power over the egg and sperm leads to life as told in the Fire Hex #26, Taming Power of the Great. This is the place where the Hermit dwells. The Air Hex, speaks to the child’s grace, Innocence. The Water Hex #46, Pushing Upward, affirms the mother’s status as both nurturer and destroyer, editing and making changes incomprehensible to onlookers. The change wrought by the encapsulation of Life in the alembic of the womb is a destructive and awe inspiring process. Yet like Temperance, it is perfectly balanced and accorded the most careful alchemical oversights evolution has to offer. This massing of cells into a cohesive being is pointed to by the Earth Hex, #45, Gathering Together/Massing. So all in all, we get the image of the supreme act of creative force, a bit mysterious and chaotic looking, but the results from this alchemical master act. .Life is splendid. The process is to repeat as the point of the TwinStar meets Sol, forever.  The Star in all of this is the female herself…so powerful, so precise, nothing males can ever do can come close. It is for this reason the card is to be held up as art. There are many disciplinary forces to consider in the card, not merely abstinence. All art is discipline and perseverance, temperance is not enough of a word to describe all that goes along with that. It’s just too short. If the Magus is the Master, then here is where Mastery is personified, in the union of female with Logos.

The Scene: Circe, with influences of Ra’ath, the daughter of Ra (like Anubis, Ra’ath is an Anglicized word, the original form is closer to “Raet.”) There is little written of Ra’ath that is not simply attributed to Mrs. Hathor, who is also a cow headed goddess. While Hathor is Mother, Daughter and Wife to Ra, Ra’ath is specifically the wife and daughter aspect and so close to Ra as to be virtually indistinguishable from his Will and Power. In the language of the East Indian tradition, Ra’ath would be the Shakti of Ra.  Just as the goddess takes different forms, so too does her husband, more specifically she is married to Mentu or Montu, the fierce and deadly Lord of War and Vengeance, who introduced himself to Crowley vis a vis the Book of the Law, in the proof called the Stellae of Revealing. This depicts Montu, not merely Ra, and the distinction is of immense importance. It is not the false “Horus” of Isis the deceiver (A curse be upon her) nor is it simply the father god Ra. Cobras were of great importance to Ra’ath, as they flank the walkway to the temple at Medamud. Her connection to Ma’at is secured in her vulture headdress.  Ra and Ra’ath are the Mother/Father deities of Stars, of course. Ra is specifically attributed to the largest and closest star by the Egyptians – they were ignorant of the true nature of more distant stars, but in light of modern science we can extend his boundaries much further, especially as the radioactive and warlike Ra Hoor Khut, whose sacred book speaks from a place of stars which mankind has, as of yet, failed to attain. Circe tames men and turns them into beasts according to their nature, this alchemy of revealing the true form by artifice, is the heart of the Art card. Art also has a way of subduing through beauty. “Musick has charm to subdue a savage breast,” wrote William Congreve in The Mourning Bride (1697) and, “Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”
It’s important not to limit the boundaries of Art within traditional media, such as music and visual Art, or only within a certain style, (for example, the white chauvinist stating blandly that “Rap music is just obnoxious talking;”) Art rides over preference, and at the heart of it lies Mystery.