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Monday, 14 January 2013

Mystery Babylon

This week I'll be drawing from Aleister Crowley's Book of Thoth Tarot. Today's draw is 'Lust', usually known as 'Strength' in most decks.

This card disturbs me, because with my Christian training I recognize the image from this passage from the Book of Revelation in the Bible:

'And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns,

And the woman was arrayed in scarlet and purple colour, and and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

And upon her forehead was a name written with a mystery: Babylon the Great, mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.'

~Revelations 17: 3-9

It turns out that the heads are hills, and the horns represent kings, and the woman herself represents a capital city, 'a great city which reigns over the kings of the earth'. Some people say the figure was meant to represent Rome at the time the book was written, others that it foretells a great power of the future. Some believe it to be a reference to the Roman Catholic Church, others to 'errant world religions', etc. Whichever,it is a powerful image to imbed in a young mind, not a thing that one forgets. To me, this card is clearly based on the Whore of Babylon, as she is known. She's even called Lust!

I've steered clear of this deck for a long time because the imagery disturbs me and I know nothing of Thelema, Crowley's belief system. I've ordered a book by Lon Milo DuQuette which is generally accepted to be a user-friendly introduction to this curious deck, and I look forward to receiving it.

For now, I suppose I will just take it as a message that today will require fortitude. Perhaps it stands for the fortitude it will take me to explore this deck this week and face my fears regarding its imagery.


  1. I must admit, I am (pleasantly!) surprised to see you blogging with this one :]

    It's funny how different people react to the same decks/cards in such a range of ways. I admit to being quite embarrassingly ignorance, even with my basic skimming of Crowley's book/use of my keyword book (I have Duquette's too but I've not had time yet to read it at all) since I mostly read this deck intuitively these days. to me it's so...empowering and dynamic and awesome a card.

    looking forward to you posts. i learned something new already :]

  2. Can't get into this card, I'm afraid. All I see here is the Whore of Babylon. I'll be interested to read about her in the DuQuette book. Maybe it will come today.