Three Trees – The Second Tree
In my last post I talked a bit about the Sphaira within the Satura framework and their accompanying names and came up with the following Tree:
As every Sphaira on the Tree of Life can be seen as a sphere, or environment, the next Tree of Life describes the quality of Spirit as it moves through these environments. As the same wine has a different taste when served in a different glass, so does Spirit exhibit a different quality depending on the environment it finds itself in. Within Satura, the different names of these different “faces” of Spirit are based on the Orphic Cosmologies and Orphic Cosmogonies, of which different versions exist (more information can be found here and here1), which gave me a lot of leeway to play around with the various names of the Orphic Gods within the Tree of Life. The result is a philosophical view of our current understanding of the Universe and how it came into existence, close to the modern scientific view of how our Universe took shape (i.e. Big Bang Theory), and how Pantheism perceives the Universe.
For those who have already studied the Qabalah, this is the first Tree of the Four Qabalistic Worlds, or The Tree of Life in the World of Atziluth. If you haven’t looked that much into the practical Qabalah yet, don’t worry, all there is to understand is that there are four Qabalistic Worlds (all with their own Tree of Life) which supersede one another, and this is the highest World:
The All begins with Aion, The One. Aion, in contrast to Khronos (who represents empirical time), represents eternity. Aion is the undivided Monad, and can thus be taken as being non-dual and thus neither male nor female. The symbol of the Monad is the point within the circle:
Can you see how much this symbol looks like an eyeball with a little pupil in the middle? It also represents the seed, or even more appropriately the cell. But later within this article we will look more closely at this symbol.
The Orphics didn’t always differentiate between Aion and Khronos, which is why both Gods were envisioned in the same way, as being “a Serpent (Drakon) with extra heads growing upon it of a bull and a lion, and a god’s countenance in the middle; it had wings upon its shoulders, and its name was Khronos (Aion)”2
And like cells sometimes do, they split, which is how Ananke came into being, and also at the same time Khronos. Or from a Daoist perspective one could say that the first principle created space (yin) and as soon as space exists we immediately get formulated-time (yang). Ananke herself is however not quite the same as space; she is, but she isn’t. Ananke is necessity, or inevitability, and as she is described as being “an incorporeal, serpentine being whose outstretched arms encompassed the breadth of the universe”3, she can be seen as being the Orphic Nuit.4 Ananke is the principle which makes it necessary and inevitable for Spirit to create.
Note that Khronos (time) is not Kronos (The Titan), even though the two were often (deliberately) confused by the ancient Greeks. Khronos here as formulated Time fits perfectly within the Sphaira of Form (Noēsis). Khronos is male and his appearance has already been described.
So here we got Khronos, and Ananke, falling deeply in love with each other above the abyss and feeling a bit creative one day, so they feel the need to create an egg within the ether (who wouldn’t?). But there was no ether yet, so first they just went ahead and “begot Aither (Light) and great Khaos (Chasm or Air), vast this way and that, no limit below it, no base, no place to settle.”5 which we now find together with Erebos to complete the Three Aers within in the Sphaira Gnosis. (For those familiar with Thelema, it is this Khaos of which the demon Choronzon is the personification)
And here is where it gets confusing, because following the path of Lightening down the Tree of Life (from the first Sphaira to the second, to the third to the forth etc.) we should now continue to describe Eros (Phanes). But to understand why the Elder Eros falls in the Sphaira Agape it may be best to say something about Nyx first. In some myths Nyx (night) is described as being the mother of Phanes (who is also The Elder Eros), in other myths she is described as being Phanes’ lover and in yet again other myths as Phanes’ daughter. By placing Nyx in the middle of the left pillar (which is also often called the night-side of the Tree, as the opposing pillar is called the dayside, which in itself makes me placing her there more than appropriate), this problem is fixed. She is Phanes’ (Irikepaios) mother because she comes before him on the Tree. She is Phanes’ (Eros) lover by being opposite of him on the Tree, and together with Eros she creates the Egg, and she is Phanes’ (Eros) daughter because she comes after Eros (Phanes) in the downward progression on the Tree. Aion is also closely associated with The Elder Eros, which means that if we look closer at all this we can see “the seed” (Aion) trying to manifest itself (as Phanes) by using various principles within itself (like Ananke, Khronos, Eros, and Nyx).
Don’t confuse Eros the Elder with Eros the Younger (cupid, who falls in the 7th Sphaira, Nike, in a lower World), but “EROS was the Protogenos (primordial deity) of procreation who emerged self-formed at the beginning of time. He was the driving force behind the generation of new life in the early cosmos. The Orphics knew him as Phanes, a primal being hatched from the world egg at creation. He was also equivalent to Thesis, “Creation,” and Physis, “Nature.”5 Eros is thus “the driving force behind the generation of new life”, Love, and falls in the Sphaira Agape, also Love.** (Don’t get too hung up on Thesis/Physis yet. Eros is Thesis/Physis, Phanes is Thesis/Physis etc. More will be explained later)
Nyx is a “shadowy” figure as Wikipedia calls her, and as it says on the same page, “a figure of such exceptional power [Dynamis] and beauty, that she is feared by Zeus himself. Nyx is a bit of a darker consigliere type figure as they call it in the Mafia, or a consultant in plain English. She can also be seen as a darker version of Ananke.
And here we have it. In Kallos we find the Golden Orphic Egg, and The Golden Orphic Phanes, in his most natural form as the Irikepaios, or the bringer of Light. Phanes is The Protogonos, or the first-born, and the Divine Androgyn (both male and female). Phanes is described as “an incorporeal god with golden wings on his shoulders, bulls’ heads growing upon his flanks, and on his head a monstrous serpent, presenting the appearance of all kinds of animal forms”6 which is very close to the description of Aion/Khronos. The Lion is however absent in this description (even though I was so sure that some source described him as having the head of a Lion, I can’t find it at the moment), but he is however described as roaring as a Lion7 and on the second century representation of Phanes in art we can clearly see the Lion on his chest. So from a Qabalistic/Pantheistic perspective, as Aion is without form, Phanes is Aion personified, and takes the form Aion would have had if form would exist in the Sphaira Thesis. Also try to remember the various “shape(s)” or forms which make Aion/Phanes. The countenance of a God is present, and a Lion, A Serpent, and a Bull. Sound familiar?
And through the act of the splitting of the Egg by Spirit, (call it the Big Bang if you want to), which we call Spirit Active, or Thesis in EROS, symbolized by the Greek letter phi, Φ (which looks like the act of an egg being split from above), we get the Earth (Gaia), and Sky (Ouranos), and Spirit becomes passive, or in other words we get what in EROS is called Physis of which the symbol is the Greek letter theta ϴ, and in this symbol we can see the split egg, the lower half of the egg representing the Earth and the above half representing the Sky. If you look more closely you can see that θέσις (Thesis) and Φύσις (Physis) are flashed, Thesis representing Spirit active beginning with theta, the symbol of Spirit passive, and Physis representing Spirit passive beginning with phi, the symbol of Spirit active, which not only shows us that both are essentially the same but that the one follows from the other continually (again, Nature, Brings forth, Nature, Brings forth, Nature etc.)
I assume that most people here are familiar with Earth (Gaia) and Sky (Ouranos), which means that I don’t want to waste too much time on their descriptions. The only thing I should mention is that these Gods and the principles they represent (not just Gaia, or Ouranos, but all of them on the entire Tree) are within this World still very abstract, or raw if you will. Therefore Gaia feels quite at home within Nike as a Goddess of procreation (abstract, raw and uncultivated Nature/Earth, but still sensual). As Gaia continues from the earlier female principles on the Tree, Nyx and Ananke (who continued from Aion), so too does Ouranos continue from Eros (Phanes) and Khronos (and Aion).
Description with picture from Theoi.com: “Aion, the god of time, stands turning the wheel of heaven inscribed with the signs of the zodiac. The god was identified with both Khronos (Time) and Ouranos (Heaven). Beneath him reclines Gaia (Mother Earth) attended by the four Karpoi (Fruits) of the seasons – from left to right: Eiar (Spring), Theron (Summer), Phthinoporon (Autumn) and Kheimon (Winter)”8
And as we move lower on The Tree, we find all the energies from above amalgamating and condensing within the Silvery egg, which is comprised of both the Sphaira Themelios and Physis. Themelios can be seen as the Astral realm, which is like Noēsis (and the Sphaira Physis) a world of form. Like the Moon (which also falls within this Sphaira) reflects the light of the Sun, the Astral can be seen as a reflection of the physical on one hand, and on the other as a reflection of the Sphaira above it). Here we find Phanes Antauges, Antauges meaning reflection or reflecting light. This Silver Phanes is kind of the mirror-image of Phanes Irikepaios.
And then finally, within the Sphaira Physis we find Pan, The All, who is also Phanes. This is not The Great Horned God Pan, although one could argue a relation, as Pan, The Horned God represents Little Nature, this Pan represents Big Nature which is All of Nature, including Little Nature.9
But Pan, The All, is “celebrated” as “Protogonos (First-Born) [Phanes] … the order of all and of the whole world, wherefore he is also called Pan (All)”10
And Pan is Aion, and Aion is Pan, and maybe the best way to understand it is if we again look at the symbol of the Monad:
If we call the point within the circle Aion, the seed, or the spring from which the whole circle came into existence, and we call everything within the circle – including the point itself – Pan, The All, The Universe, we can learn how Pan is Aion and how Aion is Pan. Aion has everything it takes to create an entire Universe within itself. So even before Aion creates the Universe, Aion (The One) is Pan (The All). Because everything springs from Aion, Aion is also within everything. The All (Pan) is Aion (The One). Pan (The All) includes Aion (The One), and Aion (The One) includes Pan (The All). All is One, and One is All.
“Early alchemical ouroboros illustration. From the work of Cleopatra the Alchemist (Greco-Roman Egypt).”11 The Words in the middle are Hen to Pan, meaning One is All.
- http://www.hellenicgods.org/orphiccosmogonyandtheogony and http://www.hellenicgods.org/orphic-rhapsodies——24
- Orphica, Theogonies Fragment 54 (from Damascius) (trans. West) (Greek hymns C3rd A.D. – C2nd B.C.) (Theoi.com)
- Orphica, Theogonies Fragment 54 (from Damascius) (trans. West), same as note 2.
- “Uttering the voice of a bull and of a glaring lion.” Orphic Rhapsodies 79 http://www.hellenicgods.org/orphic-rhapsodies——24
- However, some aspects of The Horned God Pan would feel more at home in other Sphaira or paths of the Tree, like the lustful Pan (Nomios) would feel more at home in Nike and Aegipan would feel more at home on the 16th path of the Tree, corresponding with Capricorn and XV The Devil in the Tarot.
- Orphica, Theogonies Fragment 54 (from Damascius) (trans. West), same as note 2.
- Symbol of the Monad from wikipedia.
- The bold letters on this Tree can be used to perform the “Golden Dawn” Middle Pillar Ritual. I might publish my own (Saturic) version of this Ritual later.
- And I almost forgot. What gave me my AHA moment was Stephen Skinner who on page 398 of his The Complete Magicians Tables (Golden Hoard Press 2006) says: “Alternatively, if we identify Kronos with Chronos, then it could
hold its usual place at Binah, with Aither and Chaos falling in Daath and
Phanes being attributed to Chesed, as Father of the gods.” Of course Khronos doesn’t have to be identified with Kronos, and Phanes automatically becomes Eros (Phanes). But once I figured this one out the rest fell into place easily.
** Love is probably not the only creative force in the Universe, but probably the most prominent and might be what it all comes down to in the end. Was rereading this the day after I wrote it and it rubbed me wrong, hence this comment.
Previous Posts in the Satura Series: