The Wheel of Jupiter

by Michael Osiris Snuffin (2002)

One of the main doctrines of the Fortune trump is to reach the center of the wheel. “The axle moveth not: attain thou that.” [1] A dynamic interpretation of the nature of the three principles of the Wheel and their relationship to the axle is presented in Aleister Crowley’s Rite of Jupiter. Crowley incorporated the major symbolism of the trump into the Rite, turning the principles into officers and arranging the temple according to the basic design of the card:

The Temple represents the Wheel of Fortune of the Tarot. At its axle is the Altar on which sits C[entrum].I[n].C[entri].T[rigono]. On the rim, S[phinx] at East spoke, H[ermanubis] at North-West, T[yphon] at South-West. To the West of the Wheel is a veil.

The officers on the rim of the Wheel represent the triune energies of the Hindu Gunas and the Alchemical elements. Hermanubis is Rajas and Mercury, Typhon is Tamas and Salt, and the Sphinx is Sattvas and Sulphur. Crowley describes these triune principles as “the three forms of energy which govern the movement of phenomena” and “the three forms of being.” [2]

The axle of the Wheel is represented by Centrum In Centri Trigono, Latin for “the point in the center of the triangle,” an allusion to the Eye in the Triangle. C.I.C.T. is Jupiter, the source of the triune principles hidden at the center of the Wheel.

The Rite of Jupiter begins by summoning the guests to the banquet of the Father of the Gods. After the stage is set, Typhon and Hermanubis identify each other by their respective relationships with Jupiter:

TYPHON: Hail unto thee, thou great god Hermanubis!

Art thou not the messenger of Jupiter?

HERMANUBIS: Hail unto thee, thou great god Typhon!

Art thou not the executor of his vengeance?

The two gods decide to seek the center of the wheel, and with the Sphinx they run around the rim of the wheel until all three are exhausted. No closer to the center of the wheel, Typhon and Hermanubis agree to “seek an oracle of the Gods.” They prostrate themselves before the Sphinx, asking her to declare “the mystery whereby we may approach the centre of the wheel.” She responds:

SPHINX: Neither by sloth nor by activity may even my secret be attained. Neither by emotion nor by reason may I even be understood. How then should ye come to the centre of the wheel?

The Sphinx identifies Typhon with sloth and emotion, and Hermanubis with activity and reason, qualities associated with the Gunas they represent.

Hermanubis answers the Sphinx with a question:

HERMANUBIS: Mother of mystery, what is thy position on Olympus?

SPHINX: Upon the rim of the wheel.

Hermanubis and Typhon realize that the Sphinx is also stuck on the rim of the wheel. At this point C.I.C.T. speaks up with the requested oracle:

Feeling, and thought, and ecstasy

Are but the cerements of Me.

Thrown off like planets from the Sun

Ye are but satellites of the One.

But should your revolution stop

Ye would inevitably drop

Headlong within the central Soul,

And all the parts become the Whole.

Sloth and activity and peace,

When will ye learn that ye must cease?

Note that the Sphinx is identified with ecstasy and peace, qualities of the Guna Sattvas. The Officers on the rim are confused by the oracle:

TYPHON: How should I cease from lethargy?

HERMANUBIS: How should I quench activity?

SPHINX: How should I give up ecstasy?

C.I.C.T.: What shines upon your foreheads?

S,H,T (together): The Eye within the Triangle.

C.I.C.T.: What burns upon your breasts?

S,H,T (together): The Rosy Cross.

C.I.C.T.: Brethren of the Rosy Cross! Aspirants to the Silver Star! Not until these are ended can ye come to the centre of the wheel.

The next scene opens with Typhon, Hermanubis and the Sphinx each expressing their intentions to start the banquet in accordance with their particular attributions. Typhon says “I desire to begin the banquet,” thus expressing emotion. Hermanubis reasons that the banquet should begin, “as it is certainly necessary that this should be done.” The Sphinx makes a “mute appeal” to C.I.C.T., who responds with a knock and says:

I heed not the passion, or the reason, or the soul of man.

C.I.C.T. then declares three attributes of himself, each expressed through the music of the Sphinx. Through his positive reaction, each of the Officers on the rim identifies himself with one of these attributes of C.I.C.T.: the Sphinx with his will, Hermanubis with his mind, and Typhon with his heart. Each Officer has no reaction or a negative reaction to the music favored by the others, and so C.I.C.T. repeats the oracle given earlier in more basic terms:

Irreconcilable, my children, how shall ye partake of the Banquet of Jupiter, or come to the centre of the wheel? For this is the secret of Jupiter, that He who created you is in each of you, yet apart from all; before Him ye are equal, revolving in time and in Space; but he is unmoved and within.

After a pause, Typhon recites poetry proclaiming the flow and ebb of life as the Earth passes from Spring to Winter, effectively cooling his passion. He moves to the East, crouches before the Sphinx, and faces C.I.C.T. Hermanubis recites poetry that celebrates the awakening of the Kundalini serpent, inflaming him with passion, and then joins Typhon, crouching before the Sphinx. Thus we have all three principles combined into one, oriented upon the center of the wheel. C.I.C.T. gives a speech, and then allows the banquet of Jupiter to begin.

The three Officers move to the center to attend to C.I.C.T., and then the nature of the rite changes and departs from the realm of the Fortune trump. C.I.C.T. is veiled, and when the veil is drawn he is revealed as Jupiter. It is thus demonstrated that only when these three principles combine and cease to move that they will come to the center of the wheel and the godhead shall be known.


1 Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth, page 257. Originally published as part of "The Two and Twenty Secret Instructions of the Master" in The Heart of the Master.
2 Crowley, Aleister. The Book of Thoth, page 90.

Copyright (c) 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin

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