a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


Crowley's Tzaddi Switch and the OSOGD

To: alt.magick.tyagi, alt.magick
From: catherine yronwode (
Subject: Crowley's Tzaddi Switch and the OSOGD
Date: 2004-06-07 23:55:05 PST 

[To Poke Runyon]

Siva and i recently attended a pair of initiations at the OSOGD in
Richmond, California (0=0 Neophyte and 4=7 Philosophus grades), and i
was greatly impressed by the intelligence behind the order's reworking
of the old HOGD grades. Very inspirational ritual work, really, by Sam
Webster and a crew of others, including our friend Joseph Maxx 555. I
was impressed by the dedication of the members to the melding of Thelema
and Golden Dawn paradigms, with a Chaos Magick flavour. 

In particular i was moved to laugh out loud with delight at their deft
handling of a portion of the Tarot lecture dealing with Tzaddi / Heh
(the old Crowley switcheroo) -- their take on this was brilliant. 

I also thought of the conversations you, siva, and i have had in usenet,
when at one point in the lecture there was specific mention made of the
three spellings of K/C/Qabbalah -- "the Jewish mystical Kabbalah with a
K, the Christian Cabbala with a C, and the Hermetic Qabbala with a Q" --
with the initiate being advised to study all three! It was really grand,
Poke. You would have loved it. 

In addition to the intelligent ritual work, the lodge itself is well
appointed and the costumes are excellent, something that always cheers
my heart. On a scale of 1 to 10, with your CHS/OTA lodge standing at a
10 for excellence of design and workmanship, i give the OSOGD a solid 8
for lodge design and a 9 for costumes -- and i trust that as the years
go by, they will only improve. 

The Tzaddi moment came when the candidate was being introduced to three
paths on the standard tree of life diagram favoured by GD practitioners.
Hebrew letters placed on the wall in different areas of the room gave a
semi-literal "you are here" map of the paths from "eye level." 

Each path was named and pointed out to the candidate by Hebrew letter
(pronounced in English), and then the candidate was circumambulated
around the lodge to the altar, where a tarot card was propped up on an
easel and a further correlation was made between the Hebrew letter for
the path, the card's English name, and its astronomical/astrological

On pointing to the letter Tzaddi, the initiator said something to the
effect of, "Before you is the path of the letter Tzaddi -- or, as some
would have it, Heh." That's when i laughed out loud. After this
circumambulation, the candidate was presented TWO tarot cards instead of
one on the altar and was told the attributes of both, and it was

explained that a mage is capable of working with and holding in mind
one, two, or more mutually contradictory symbol systems. This was as
elegant a solution to the Tzaddi problem as i have ever seen. 

I later jokingly asked Joseph Maxx 555 if the same lecture would be
given in reverse to candidates who made it up the tree to Heh -- and he
quipped back, "That's Third Order business." Maybe you would have to
have been there to appreciate it, but i was grinning from ear to ear. 

I also spoke with Sam Webster about this and we got into a little
conversation on what Crowley was up to with that Tzaddi switch --  and
Sam surprised me by agreeing with my opinion (as few others have) that
Crowley did not write a Tzaddi in his original manuscript, that in fact,
he wrote no actual Hebrew letter at all or, at best a Peh. (This failure
of legibility has caused siva to read that passage as "All these old
letters of my Book are aright, but Squiggle is not the Star.") Sam said
that he had shown the pages to a graphologist, who compared the writing
to other samples of Crowley's handwriting, and the man's opinion was
that Crowley was "on something" (i.e. some drug or another) when he
wrote it. This lends even more credibility to siva's "Squiggle is not
the Star" joke. 

As for me, leaving the OSOGD to one side, i also have opinions about the
matter. I see at least four other possible senses behind the relevant
passage of the Book of the Law: 
 (1) The Squiggle is a Peh. Crowley cogitated on it for while, realized
that Peh never had been a Star in the first place, couldn't figure out
what Peh was doing in the sentence, and revised it to a Tzaddi. In this
case the Squiggle was merely indicative of the fact that Crowley was so
wasted on dope that he forgot how to write proper Hebrew and/or forgot
the Golden Dawn ascriptions of Hebrew letters to tarot trumps. The whole
thing is just drug-inspired babble. 

 (2) Aiwaz was making an injunction to not confuse the Map for the
Territory. In this case "Tzaddi is not the Star" does not mean, "switch
two letters around" -- because then "all" these old letters could not be
aright, since Heh would also be wrong! It means, "Don't mistake a Book
for Reality, the letter Tzaddi for a Star." 

 (3) The aspirant is being adjured to distinguish between mundane,
dependent, outwardly directed, temporal, carnal reality and enlightened,
self-actualizing, initiated, spiritual, inward seeking reality. This is
most easily understood by reading the sentence about Squiggle in the
context of the entirety of paragraph 57: 
     Invoke me under my stars! 
     Love is the law, love under will. 
     Nor let the fools mistake love; 
     for there are love and love. 
     There is the dove, and there is the serpent. 
     Choose ye well! 
     He, my prophet, hath chosen, 
     knowing the law of the fortress, 
     and the great mystery of the House of God. 
     All these old letters of my Book are aright; 
     but [Tzaddi] is not the Star.
What is set up is a series of comparisons, with the aspirant being
asked to invoke the deity "under my stars" but not to foolishly
mistake the material plane stars for the higher realms -- 
     [carnal, mundane] love versus [inspired, divine] love; 
     [descending Christian] dove versus [rising Kundalini] serpent 
         (the Serpent flame is mentioned again in paragraph 61); 
     [military-political] fortress versus [religious] House of God;
     law [of the fortress] versus mystery [of the House of God]
     Tzaddi-Star trump versus Star [under which invocation is made]. 

 (4) Since Heh is not mentioned by Aiwaz at all, Aiwaz was implying that
Heh has the correct symbolical attribution and is in the correct place
-- but Tzaddi, although in the right *place*, should have another
*symbol* -- something different than a Star. Tzaddi signifies a Fish
Hook in Hebrew, and it also carries connotations of holiness and innate
protection against the Evil Eye. In Jewish folk magic and lore, fish are
said to be immune to the Evil Eye and people with the last name Tzaddik,
Zaddik, Sattich, etc. are also said to be immune to the Evil Eye. For
more details on this see .
Aiwaz may have been asking for a Fish, Fish Hook, or Fishing card to be
substituted into the trumps where the Star card now appears. 

Well, those are just a few of my own contradictory thoughts on the
Tzaddi mystery, and that's why i got such a kick out of the OSOGD's take
on it.

As Joseph Maxx said, "We just decided cut through that Gordian knot" --
and they sure did! 

cat yronwode

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races