Scorpio and the Love Dragon
By Michael Osiris Snuffin (2002)
Surrounding the Skeleton in the Death trump of the Thoth deck are the three forms of Scorpio: the scorpion, the serpent, and the eagle. This tripartite symbolism of Scorpio originates in connection with the tarot in the Ritual of the Portal, an initiation ritual of the Golden Dawn:
“The Scorpion is the emblem of ruthless destruction; the Snake is the mixed and deceptive nature, serving alike for good and evil; the Eagle is the higher and Divine Nature, yet to be found herein, the Alchemical Eagle of distillation, the Renewer of life. As it is said:–’Thy youth shall be renewed like the Eagles.’”1
Crowley explains and expounds on this symbolism in different terms in Chapter 157 of Liber Aleph:
“Threefold is the Nature of Love: Eagle, Serpent, and Scorpion. And of these the Scorpion is he that, having no Lion of Light and Courage within him, seemeth to himself encircled by Fire, and, driving his Sting into himself, he dieth. Such are the Black Brothers, that cry: I am I; they that deny Love, restricting it to their own Nature. But the Serpent is the Secret Nature of Man, that is Life and Death, and maketh his Way through the Generations in Silence. And the Eagle is that Might of Love which is the Key of Magick, uplifting the Body and its Appurtenance unto High Ecstasy upon his Wings. It is by Virtue thereof that the Sphinx beholdeth the Sun unwinking, and confronteth the Pyramid without Shame.”2
The Love that Crowley refers to is one of the Four Emanations of Law (Light, Life, Liberty and Love) discussed in Liber 150, De Lege Libellum.3 As we shall see, the three forms of Scorpio symbolize three ways that this Love is expressed.
The Scorpion represents unexpressed and repressed Love. Rather than revel in their passions and yearnings, the chaste are imprisoned by them, like a circle of fire. The Scorpion in this sense reflects the Victorian/Christian sexual repression and denial that Crowley rebelled against his entire life. The nature of the Scorpion is further explained in Chapter 163 of Liber Aleph:
“Verily, O my Son, herein lieth the Danger and the Treason of thy Scorpion. For his Nature is against himself, being the deepest Ego, that is, a Being separate from the Universe; and this is the Root of the Whole Mystery of Evil. For he hath in him the Magick Power, which if he use not, he is self-poisoned, even as any Organ of the Body that refuseth its Function.”4
The chaste are beings separate from the sexual universe; they are “the Black Brothers, that cry: I am I; they that deny Love, restricting it to their own nature.” The Book of the Law has strong opinions on this matter of Love and restriction:
“The word of Sin is Restriction: O man! refuse not thy wife, if she will! O Lover, if thou wilt, depart! There is no bond that can unite the divided but love: all else is a curse. Accursed! Accursed be it to the aeons! Hell.” (AL 1:41)
The Scorpion stands between a lily and a lotus, plants associated with Binah and therefore Saturn. The lily takes the shape of the Greek Alpha, and Omega is drawn in light blue on the lotus. These symbols evoke the Saturnine traits of time and limitation, that which has a beginning and an end. Thus the Scorpion becomes an “emblem of ruthless destruction,” as the Love it represents is not shared or perpetuated through procreation.
The Serpent represents the expression of Love on the physical plane, for purposes of physical pleasure and procreation. The Serpent’s tail is in the mouth of a Fish. The Fish is a symbol of the feminine principle by virtue of its shape, and the Serpent is “the principal symbol of male energy.” 5Thus do we have male and female conjoined, representative of the sexual act.
The Serpent is also the Kundalini serpent that lies coiled at the base of the spine, dormant until aroused by sexual attraction and physical pleasure. Because of the general ignorance in society of sexual energy and its manipulation, the power of this Love is subject to use or abuse by the bearer. Thus is it written in Chapter 173 of Liber Aleph:
“The Serpent is proper to Works of Change, or Magick; yet is he poisonous also unless thou hast wit to enchant him.”6
And also in the Ritual of the Portal:
“…the Snake is the mixed and deceptive nature, serving alike for good and evil.”
The power of Love as expressed by the Serpent is limited to the physical plane. The Serpent coils upward to the pelvis of the Skeleton and no further, for the true power and potential of Love is still unrealized. This is hinted at in Liber Aleph:
“The Serpent is the Secret Nature of Man, that is Life and Death, and maketh his Way through the Generations in Silence.”7
It is through the ecstasy of orgasm that the Serpent is transformed into the Eagle, “which represents exaltation above solid matter” as the expression of Love on the spiritual or etheric plane. This is indicated by the position of the Eagle at the Crown chakra of the skeleton, and also in Liber Aleph:
“…the Eagle is subtlest in this Sort, so that this path is proper to a Transcendental Labour.”8
The “Transcendental Labour” is Sex Magick, which harnesses the energy and power of Love to achieve enlightenment (as in Eastern Sex Magick) or to cause change in conformity with Will (as in Western Sex Magick). The catalyst is the orgasm, expressed vividly in Liber Aleph:
“…the Eagle is that Might of Love which is the Key of Magick, uplifting the Body and its Appurtenance unto High Ecstasy upon his Wings.”9
The power and scope of the Love symbolized by the Eagle is universal in nature, as symbolized by the threads extending out from its wings.
To summarize, the three forms of Scorpio represent the three expressions of Love: the Scorpion symbolizes unexpressed Love, the Serpent is the physical expression of Love, and the Eagle is the etheric or energetic expression of Love. In Liber Aleph, Crowley reveals a fourth form of Scorpio, the Dragon, which replaces the Eagle:
“Our Dragon, therefore, combining the Natures of the Eagle and the Serpent, is our Love, the Organon of our Will, by whose Virtue we perform the Work and Miracle of the One Substance, as saith thine Ancestor Hermes Trismegistus, in his Tablet of Smaragda. And this Dragon is called thy Silence, because in the Hour of his Operation that within thee which saith ‘I’ is abolished in Conjunction with the Beloved.”10
The Dragon is a winged serpent, a composite symbol of the physical and etheric expressions of Love. The precedent for this synthesis of the physical and spiritual is given in the first verse of Emerald Tablet of Hermes:
“It is true and no lie, certain, and to be depended upon, that the superior agrees with the inferior, and the inferior with the superior, to effect that one truly wonderful work.”11
By changing the kerubic symbol, Crowley has changed the principal expression of Love from a spiritual bias to a synthesis and balance of its spiritual and physical expressions. Like the Son of the Tetragrammaton, the Dragon is the product and the union of the natures of both its parents, the feminine Eagle and the masculine Serpent. Thus is the Dragon the new and complete symbol of Kerubic Scorpio in the Aeon of Horus.
1 The Golden Dawn, page 211.
2 Liber Aleph, Chapter 157 “On the Dragon, which is Eagle, Serpent and Scorpion.”
3 See The Equinox, Volume 3, Number 10, pages 63-79.
4 Liber Aleph, Chapter 163 “On the Correct Formula of the Dragon.”
5 The Book of Thoth, page 100.
6 Liber Aleph, Chapter 173 “On the Keys of Death and the Devil, Arcana of the Tarot of the R.C. Brotherhood.”
7 Liber Aleph, Chapter 157 “On the Dragon, which is the Eagle, Serpent and Scorpion.”
8 Liber Aleph, Chapter 173 “On the Keys of Death and the Devil, Arcana of the Tarot of the R.C. Brotherhood.”
9 Liber Aleph, Chapter 157 “On the Dragon, which is Eagle, Serpent and Scorpion.”
10 Liber Aleph, Chapter 157 “On the Dragon, which is Eagle, Serpent and Scorpion.”
11 Hall, Manly P. “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” page 158.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Osiris Snuffin
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