Themelas Three Aeons Introduction
Themelas Three Aeons : Crowley stated that the history of humanity can be divided into a series of Three Aeons, each of which was accompanied by its own forms of “magical and religious expression”. In this article we will give a brief summary of the Three Aeons of Thelema and how this is represented in the Thoth Tarot.
Themelas Three Aeons & The Thoth Tarot Deck
There are several instances of differentiation between the card titles of Thoth Deck and the traditional Rider Waite Deck with Adjustment (Justice), Strength (Lust), Temperance (Art) & finally Judgement (Aeon). The Aeon can be said to be the most radical departure from the Waite deck and we can compare images of the two cards below:
Furthermore the Three Aeons are represented symbolically in the Hierophant of the Thoth Tarot with the wand with 3 rings in his left hand. In the Hierophant card:
The Hierophant = Osiris
Woman holding large sword = Isis
Child (in star on Hierophants chest) = Horus
The Aeon card is a summary of the deities in the Stele of Revealing:
We will discuss the Aeon card in greater detail in the major arcana series but essentially it replaces the Judgement Card because Crowley felt that it represented a period of time that had already passed and he wanted to replace it with a title that expressed distinctive periods of time in terms of religious expression and spirituality and human consciousness. This is the origin of the Three Aeons that Crowley identifies.
(iii) Themelas Three Aeons & Egyptian Deities
He named these Three Aeons after Egyptian Deities and so we have
- The Aeon of Isis (after the Goddess Isis)
- The Aeon of Osiris (husband/brother of Isis)
- The Aeon of Horus (son of Isis & Osiris)
We will now look at each of these in turn:
The Aeon of Isis (10,996B.C.-8830B.C.)
Known as the Aeon of the Great Goddess and associated with the astrological age of Leo
She represented a time of the divine feminine and was the human embodiment of the earth giving forth life. Life was seen to be given birth from the earth and from woman, with the woman having the cycles of birth.
2. The Aeon of Osiris (166B.C. – 2000A.D.)
Known as the Aeon of the dying God and associated with the astrological age of Pisces. Osiris is on the Stele of Revealing picture above and is also seen in the image below:
Osiris is usually distinguished as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, &the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.
In this Aeon people were more advanced in agriculture and the role of the Sun in growing crops. Also the role of men was more widespread in the birth process. So from this, just as the sun (masculine) was important for life on earth(feminine), so man was important in the birth of a child.
In this period there was a growing fascination with death rather than the mystery that life brings and they even thought the Sun died at night in the west and was reborn in the east and also that it became weaker in the winter time. Links were made between Man (the Sun) & woman (the Moon) and human sacrifices were made to the Gods with thee religious people having elevated power of the common people. Eventually human sacrifices were replaced by animal sacrifices and then we had the ritual of the bread and wine.
3. The Aeon of Horus (2000 A.D+)
Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris & is associated with the age of Aquarius.
The Aeon of Horus is also known as the crowned and conquering child and the ever-living Sun and continuous life. In this Aeon death is an illusion. The modern Aeon of Horus is portrayed as a time of self-realization as well as a growing interest in all things spiritual matters and the evolution of the soul. In 2016 we see a rise in spiritual groups and the growth of vegetarianism/veganism. Alternative medicines have also evolved coupled with a growth in meditation groups and spiritual practises. Crowley emphasised the need to follow ones ‘true will’ or soul direction in life. Below we have the famous picture of the Eye of Horus or ‘all seeing’ spiritual eye which the true will followed will lead to spiritual self-realisation:
(iv) Themelas Three Aeons Conclusion
Crowley refers to the three aeons in his Thoth Tarot Deck and so some understanding of what distinguishes them is beneficial. What they are ultimately detailing is the evolution of human consciousness throughout the time of man so we are sufficiently spiritually aware so we can merge with the oneness of Kether. Ultimately it is taking mans Soul back to God through spiritual practice.
(v) Recommended Reading
Lon Milo DuQuette : Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot
Michael Snuffin : The Thoth Companion