The Afro-Tantric Tarot of the Kalas

The Tree of Life has been described as the ‘ground-plan of the Western Esoteric Tradition’. It is this, and much more, in a sense other than that demonstrated in the previous chapter. Its delineations are capable of illumining the arcane systems of classical antiquity by reference to the cults from which they originally: the cults of Africa.

Furthermore, traces of some of the most obscure magical languages are yet extant in some of the god names, place names and ancient dialects of Africa. In the West African ‘fetish’ cults, for instance, are preserved some of the primal names of magical power that were carried over and integrated with Egyptian and Chaldean traditions at a much later age. The pantheons of these primal cults are replete with names suggesting Enochian, Atlantean, and even earlier rootage. Odudua, the Supreme Genetrix, worshipped by the peoples of Yoruba, Dahomey, Benin, and neighbouring kingdoms, was undoubtedly the type-name and the root of the most ancient deity known to man, later worshipped in masculine form as Od, Ad or Had, Hadit, the Chaldean form of Set. Similarly, Ol-i-orun or Oludumare ‘The All Powerful’ carries distinctly Enochian echoes, while the name Oga-ogo, ‘The Most Glorious’, is reminiscent of Ar-O-Go-Go-Ru-Abrao in the mighty Satanic invocation that has been translated as ‘Thou spiritual Sun! Satan, Thou Eye, Thou Lust; Cry aloud! Whirl the Wheel, O my Father, O Satan, O Sun!

Both these deities, Oliorun and Oga-Ogo, ae expressions of the Ain, or Eye of the Void, which in the primal African Cult was known as Elemi, a name which was said to be incommunicable. It was the equivalent of El or AL, continued in the Draconian Cults as El Shaddai or Al Shaitan, the stellar deity worshipped by the Arabs and the Jews and by the earliest settlers in Sumer. Alemi or Alhim became the Elohim of Biblical lore. These gods or cosmic powers pour through the Veil of the Ain – the All-seeing Eye – which has its human analogue in the ajnachakra, concentrated in the first power-zone (Kether) as Obatala. Obatala, meaning ‘the King of whiteness and light’, was preserved in the occult tradition of the Tree of Life. One of the titles of Kether is ‘The White Head’. In African symbolism whiteness represents Spirit, and the light of Spirit. During the celebration of the Mysteries the neophyte was plastered with white ash or clay to denote his transformation into a spirit, and his ability thereafter to function in the world of spirits. White was therefore revered in the Mysteries as the holiest of hues. Obatala as ‘The King of Whiteness’ was a trans-sexual deity, as the white seed or semen, Obatala then became the equivalent of the masculine component of deity. He is the African logos and it is the work of Obatala to form the child in the womb, his feminine aspect, Odudua. Odudua is the chief goddess of the African pantheon. Her name means ‘The Black One’. An alternative name of Odudua is Iya Agba ‘The Mother who Receives’, an exact equivalent of the qabalistic Binah, the third sephira of the Tree of Life. Obatala and Odudua, the White and the Black, were, in the beginning, locked in copulation and hermetically sealed in a bottle-gourd; Obatala in the lid (i.e. the head), and Odudua in the bottom of the bottle which was engulfed in the Great Sea and enveloped in profound darkness – the primeval gulf located on the Tree of Life as the Abyss between Chokmah and Binah. Obatala represents all supernal things; Odudua, all infernal things. Obatala is Mind; Odudua is Matter. Obatala is Heaven; Odudua is Hell. These concepts are implicit in the whitened gourd which is provided with a cover or veil in the scared temples of the Mysteries. These twin deities are actually One God and this idea is conveyed by a statue having a single foot, a single arm, and a tail terminating in a ball or globe.

The cosmic power-zones, Chokmah and Binah, that are assigned to Obatala and Odudua respectively typify the dual currents of magical energy known as the Ob and the Od. In the physical organism the control of these two currents of occult electricity implies the inhibition of the usual results of sexual congress. The libido is not earthed, but magically directed so as to incarnate in a form specially prepared for its reception, viz: a talisman, sigil, yantra, or vever that is the vehicle of the deity invoked. The formula of the Ob and the Od, and therefore of Obatala and Odudua is resumed in the glyph known as the Caduceus of Mercury (see diagram). The triple tongue of flame formed by the heads of the twin serpents and the ball of the wand represents the natural and central Fire equilibrated by the polarization of the Ob and the Od. Ob is the lunar vibration used by the Magus when he rouses the Chokmah power-zone in conjunction with Yesod, hence the designation of the Chokmah Grade in the magical hierarchy of the A.·. A.·. is 9° = 2▫ (the numbers of Yesod and Chokmah respectively). Od is the vibration of the Magical Light of Set. Aour, Light – the LUX of the Gnostics – is the solar vibration: the sun in the heavens; consciousness in humanity; gold in metals. The secret of magnetism as of magick, consists in ruling the fatality of the serpent (Ob)  by the intelligence and power of Od in order to create the perfect equilibrium which manifests as Aour, the Magick Light, in balanced polarity, vibrating in readiness to create.

In the Tantric cults the globe of the wand equates with the bindu, the concentration is a single point or seed of cosmic creativity. Aour is then the sushuma, the central column of the Tree of Life, the spinal column in man, while Ob and Od are the left and right nerve currents. When polarized, they arouse the Fire Snake sleeping at the base of the spine. The Kundalini then shoots upward and becomes the central fire-tongue of triple flame of Spirit in the Caduceus symbolism. This has the form of the letter Shin, the letter of Fire and Spirit attributed to Shaitan or Set. The word Shin signifies a “tooth”; it is the typical tri-dent of Spirit, the horn or bone of resurrection typified by the phallus of Osiris, the trident of the Indian Shaivities, no less than by the Fork of Neptune, Poseidon, Dagon, and other ancient gods of the deep. The number of Shin is 300, which repeats the triple or threefold symbolism, for 100 is the sum of the initials of the P(hallus) and the K(teis), the magical instruments that create the phenomenal world. The number 100 is therefore the number of illusion.

The word Ob or Aub is of major significance in the primal mystery cults of inner Africa. According to Gerald Massey:

“Dr. Hahn derives the word Aub from a Hottentot root, Au, meaning to flow, or bleed. The motion of the serpent made it a type of that which flows – water flows, blood flows – and the Serpent flows along the ground. Cf. the MQNR IMIM, or fountain of blood for the feminine pudenda, Lev. Xii. 7, which is likewise the Tepht (hole) of the Snake.

“The witch of Endor was described as a woman with knowledge of Aub (Ob), because the witch, whether African, Assyrian, Egyptian or European, is a pythoness, a serpent-woman possessed of the knowledge and wisdom of the Obeah or Ophite Cult. Sir Richard Burton, in Dahome, notes the feminine origin of the priesthood, the Danhgwe-no or Fetish Priests of Hwida, whose titles signify the Mothers of the Serpent.”

Odudua, the personification of the ophidian current was the presiding deity of the City of Ado, where a temple of scared prostitution was established in her name, not far from Badagry. Ado is a terrestrial power-zone similar in kind to the scared center of the Tantrics in Kamarupa (Assam) where, according to tradition, the earth menstruates. Odudua thus equates with the Scarlet Whore of Babylon.

Next in importance to Odudua is the African Jupiter Shango of Jakuta. He dwells above the firmament in an immense palace with gates of bronze. His brother Ogun, sometimes known as Ogoun Badagris – the bloody war-god – equates with the Sphere of Mars (Geburah on the Tree of Life. Iron is his scared metal and it is used in the Rites of Blood that celebrate his mass. The solar aspect of Shango and his attribution to Tiphereth, the Sixth Sephira, owes itself to the fact that like most mythical beings Shango was supposed to have assumed human form as an historical king of Yoruba. He was rejected by his people after the usual fashion of redeemers and hanged himself upon a tree called Ayan. Having chosen to die he later resurrects as a fetish, or oricha, and becomes the Lord of the Dead. The incident gave to Shango the additional name of Obakoso, King of Ikoso, which is the place in which he hanged himself and was subsequently buried. Ikaso was thereafter hallowed and very soon became a city for people who gradually gravitated to the place and built houses for the priests of the oricha. Until comparatively recent times the kings of Yoruba visited Ikoso on the day of their coronation to receive the Sword of Shango and the insignia of their executive power.

The African Venus, Ifa, is the original of the Hebrew Eva. Nothing was done without consulting Ifa. She was regarded as the messenger and interpreter of the gods, and through her agency alone the fetishes manifested, she established herself at Ado, the city scared to Odudua, after having been banished from the city of Ife. This is an allusion to the degradation of the Great Mother to the status of the Great Whore of later theogenies.

As the central or solar power-zone – Tiphereth – is always attributed to a god who is slain and whose redeeming blood saves, so the Venusian- Lunar attribution of Netzach affords the feminine inversion of the primal myth, showing how the Goddess gradually became degraded as the God was exalted.

In some myths Ifa is regarded as masculine, and at Ado – the City of Prostitution – he planted a palm-mut which produced sixteen palm trees from the same root. The symbolism of the number 16 is of major importance. The following is a primal myth quoted by Farrow which shows clearly the magico-sexual origin of the fetish:

In the early days of the world, when the human race was few in number, the gods were stinted in sacrifice and so often went hungry and had to forage for themselves. Ifa took to fishing, but had no success, and, being hungry, consulted Eshu (who is also called Elegba), who told him that if he could obtain sixteen palm-nuts from the two palm-trees of Orungan, the chief man, he would show Ifa how to forecast the future and benefit mankind, and so receive abundance of offerings in return; but he stipulated that the first choice of all offerings should be his. Ifa agreed, and went to Orungan to ask for the nuts, telling him for what purpose he required them. Orungan, delighted at the prospect, took his wife with him and hastened to get the nuts; but, finding the trees too high, drove the monkeys to them, who ate the pulp of the fruit and threw down the ‘nuts’, i.e. the hard shell which contains an oily kernel. Orungan’s wife, Orishabi by name, tied these in her waist-cloth, as a child is carried, and so bore them to Ifa. Elegba (Eshu) then taught Ifa, who, in turn, taught Orungan, and so made him the first babalawo. Therefore, when a man goes to consult Ifa, his wife always accompanies him, or, if he is unmarried, his mother, and the woman carries the sixteen palm-nuts…

The symbolism of the 16 palm-nuts and the 16 ripe dates from which the monkeys began to eat the red pulp which surrounds the stones conceals the mystery of the 16 Kalas, rays or emanations of feminine magnetism referred to by the Tantrics and the Tamil Siddhas. Dates are the special symbol of Ifa who is also known as Bango, the goddess of the palm-nut, and sixteen palm-nuts are used when consulting the fetish and receiving an oracle.

The Mecurial Current of the Tree of Life is typified by Aje Chaluga, god of riches. He is a son of Olokun, the great deep, and his emblem is an enormous sea-shell. The marine symbolism is continued in the Yesodic power-zone by Iyemoja, ‘the Mother of Fish’. She is also known as the ‘Foundation’ from whence issued all the gods and goddesses. From Ife, that is from the gaping womb of Iyemoja, emerged in great confusion all the deities.

Finally, to the Earth-Sphere, Malkuth, is attributed Dada, god of nature and vegetation. Perhaps Odudua as Ile, the earth, also belongs here. On the other hand, this form of Odudua might more aptly be attributed to the 14th kala, (vide infra).

The ten cosmic power-zones concentrate the influences of the major African deities that were later to reappear in the West Indian cults of Obeah, the Jamaican Myal and Wanga cults and the Voodoo systems generally. But therefore these influences could become absorbed into the human life-wave they had to flow into the microcosm by the appropriate paths or rays which unite the power-zines into the complex network of which the Tree of Life is a working model.

The air-ray of the 11th kala is attributed to Afefe, ‘the wind’, messenger of Oya and one of three consorts of Chango. Oye is described as the Genius of the African Wind who dwells with th spirit of the locusts in the grand temple of Legba (Elegba), chief of the evil genii. This kala is also represented by Orungan (the air), raper of his mother Iyemoja. In the Tarot of Tahuti this ray is attributed to the Holy Spirit whose sacred ‘breath’ impregnates the Virgin. Orungan is thus an African precursor of the Ruach, the Holy Spirit.

To the path of Beth, the 12th kala, is assigned Osanyin, the ‘genius of medicine’. He is, of all the genii, the most highly revered and the most frequently invoked. His symbol is an iron rod surmounted by the image of a bird, which reveals his connection with the Mercurial Aesculapius. Aroni, another deity of the mercurial ray is a genius of the forest; he is also skillful in medicine, but mischievous, capricious and dreaded by those who do not understand his nature. He occasionally appears in human form with a dog’s head and having one foot. At other times, he appears as a whirlwind which sweeps through the forest carrying the leaves before it.

The 13th kala is dominated by the Moon and appears in the form of Ochosi, a hunter; his symbol is the bow. The full implications of the occult significance of the bow are discussed in Aleister Crowley $ the Hidden God, Chapter 7. The reference is to lunar or periodic blood, and this is borne out by the ascription to this ray of the gods of the lagoons, Togo and Once, waters which equate with the Egyptian Pool of Punt or ‘Red Sea’. These lagoons featured in the administration of law and order from the time of the most ancient African Kings. The accused was thrown into the water; if he floated he was taken into the canoe and declared innocent; if he sank, the demon Togo is said to have slain him, which means that if Togo is flowing, then life is destroyed. The sexual symbolism is obvious.

Odudua reappears as some specific kala, the 14th which she embodied as the Goddess of Prostitution (Ado). He rites or orgies were celebrated in her official temple. To the Ogboni, the African secret society, she was known as Ile, the Earth. Champana, the fetish of disease, is connected with his Venusian ray. He is the deformed god whose symbol is a large stick marked with red and white spots His messengers appear in the form of mosquitoes and flies. Champana is the most dreaded of all the fetishes and his evident connection with syphilis and other venereal diseases accounts fo his association with the 14th kala, of which he is a qliphotic reflex.

To the kala of Mars, presided over by Aries belongs the fiery aspect of Chango, and the god Ogoun with his manamana or chains of fire. This kala is of special significance because it precedes the 16th kala. The martial symbolism with its violence, its heat and its energy denotes the feminine power at its peak, and it is all the more emphasized by the fact that it appears between the kalas of Oduda and Ife. The symbolism is easier to understand when it is realized that the goddess Erzulie is the gentle aspect of Odudua on its way to becoming – via the martial current of the 15th kala – the demonic Erzulie bon rouge whose rites are characterized by blood and sexual license. The two aspects are akin to those of Bast, the Cat of the North, and Sekhet, the Cat or Lioness of the South, in Egypt, and of Bhavani and Kali in India.

Ife herself typifies the 16th kala represented by the gaping vulva of Iyemoja, from whence the manifested universe emerges. The laboring earth is ascribed to Taurus the Bull, and to the Hippopotamus, the Great Bearer of the waters.

The 17th ray is that of the twins; in the African cults, the Ibeji, who were the shadowy companions of twin children, and similar to the genii that inhabit a small species of monkey that infests the forests of Guinea. The symbolism of Gemini, the twins, and of Mercury with its Kaf-Ape symbolism justifies this assignment of the Ibeji to the 17th kala. The tempest, Oro, also belongs to this ray, which is that of ominous appearances and screaming winds, upon his feast day Oro appears in the shape of a monster in human form with face and lips smeared with blood. His bellowing resounds in all the cities, and the fetish priests celebrate his mass in the groves sacred to him. The terrible voice of Oro is simulated in the Mysteries by the rapid twirling of a wooden clapper attached to a string.

Loco, the god of the forests, alos Abiku, Elere and Ojehun, evil spirits that inhabit jungle and deserts are ascribed to the 18th kala. They contrive to enter the human fetus in order to be born into the human life-wave and take their pleasure among men. This ray has an affinity with the stomach as well as with the occult phenomenon of vampirism and other forms of parasitism. Another form of Ojehun is Opin Ijehin, ‘he who takes part in the food’. He has his habitation in the abdominal region and is the genius who maintains the fire of the digestive system. He never permits this vital element – which serves in the preparation of food – to be extinguished. His messenger is named Ebi, ‘hunger’.

To the 19th kala is ascribed the serpent deities, Dangbe, Idagba, and the python god, Selwanga. At Dahomey and at Porto-Novo a small non-venomous inoffensive species of boa called Dangbe is consecrated to the goddess Aidowedo  and is revered as her messenger. This kala, being under the influence of the constellation Scorpio, is of primary importance in all cults of the shadow, The 19th path is the path of the Serpent Dangbe which has its temples and its oricha (fetish-priests), It is forbidden to kill a serpent under the most severe penalties. Its messenger is the white ant. Hillocks of this insect may be seen, even today, surrounded with palm leaves to indicate that the inhabitants are in the service of Dangbe. Masey observes that:

The reptile was kept in a small hut by an old woman who fed it, and who gave forth the answers when her oracle was consulted. She was the Pythoness, the Medium of Spirit communication. The feminine origin of the priesthood is also indicated by the Danhgbwe-No or Fetish-Priests of Hwida, whose names signify the Mothers of the Serpent. The tongue of the serpent is known to be a very peculiar organ of touch … A snake called Ganin-Gub by the Hottentots is also said to have genitals and to seek to have connection with women while they are sleeping.

Lightning, which symbolizes the dart of the serpent’s tongue, which in turn symbolizes the sudden spasm of sexual orgasm, is also natural to the 19th ray. Hence Manamana, and Ugan or Ogoun, the African Vulcan, are associated with this scorpionic or ophidian current.

Ile, the Earth, and Oricha-Oko – the fetish of the fields and of agriculture – are imbued with 20th ray, that of Virgo. Chougoudo, who inspires terror of a place and thereby protects it, undoubtedly belongs on this path.

The 21st ray, being under the influence of Jupiter is that of Shango, whose symbolism has been explained in connection with the solar symbolism of the 6th cosmic power-zone, Tiphereth.

Under the influence of Libra comes Egungun (lit. ‘bones of the dead’). This is the name and symbol under which judicial power is defied in Yoruba. At the time of his festivals Egungun’s fetish-priests appear in the streets in the forms of masked demons fantastically attired.

Olokun is the negro Neptune, the sea, and Olosa the lagoon is his consort. Olosa has a temple under the waters and the crocodile is her totem. Other deities belonging to this Ray of the ‘Deep Ones’ are Oya, the river Niger, Ochun and Oba, two rivers of Yoruba, all of which are consorts of Shango.

The scorpionic ray is ascribed to Dangbe and to Ere, the boa-constrictor, the messenger of Aidoweda who embodies the next, i.e. the 25th kala. Aidoweda or Ayida Oeddo is the goddess of the rainbow: ‘Ayida Oeddo is the goddess of the rainbow: “Ayida Oeddo, my serpent goddess, when you come it is like the lightning-flash”. This is the Sagitarian influence manifesting in the form of the female fetish par excellence. Her oricha is a large serpent that appears only when it wants to drink. It then rests its tail on the ground and thrusts its mouth into the water. It is said that ‘he who finds the excrement of this serpent is rich forever’. The excremental symbolism refers to an alchemical formula involving the essences or kalas referred to in connection with the goddess Ife.

The 26th ray sounds the ‘demonic’ level of Priapus and Pan, known in Africa under the names Elegba, Legba or Echou (Eshu), and sometimes called Ongogo Ogo, ‘the fetish of the knotted stick’ (i.e. the phallus. Elegba, or  Legba or Echou (Eshu), and sometimes called Ongogo Ogo, ‘the fetish of the knotted stick’ (i.e . phallus). Elegba, or Elegbara, means ‘the strong’; Echu means ‘the rejected’. Elegba is the evil genius who, by himself or with his companions, excites lechery and sexual passion. His principal earthly power-zone is at Woro near Badagry, in the midst of a grove of palms and other scared trees. He is usually shown seated, hands upon knees, naked and with a large phallus fully extended. Effigies of him are usually modelled in clay. He has an enormous head, birds’ feathers form the hair, shells are set in place of eyes and teeth and he usually appears in human form. At the time of his worship he is drenched with hen’s blood and palm-oil; his messengers are vultures and turkey buzzards. Elegba’s feast is named the Odun which is undoubtedly the precursor of the Witches’ Sabbath; it is celebrated annually about October 1st. Odun means ‘the year’, which signifies a complete cycle of time. The hen’s blood and palm-oil are symbolic of the kalas relating to the periodic flow of the female; the excrement of that lunar serpent which confers perpetual wealth.

The 27th kala is martial and scared to Ogoun Badagris.

The 28th ray manifests Odudua in the form of the wet-nurse, hence the connection with Aquarius, the stellar influence that informs this kala. Iyemoja, ‘the mother of fish’, re-appears at this level. Raped by her son, Orungan, she fled. He begged her to return and as he was about to overtake her she fell over backward. Her breasts, swollen to bursting, became two streams which formed a lagoon called Odo Iyemoja. An identical fetish is Iyewa, the mother who changed into a lagoon in order to quench the thirst of her children.

After creating the lagoon, Iyemoja’s body burst open. This occurred at Ife, the holy city of Yoruba. Ife signifies an enlargement, a pregnancy. Iyemoja in her aspect of a bursting womb equates with the Piscean current of the 29th path. From her womb (i.e. Ife) came forth in chaos all the gods and goddesses ever created.

Adie-Irana, the hen that guides the mummy to the country of the dead (Orunrere) is also an aspect of the Piscean current. As this 29th kala is connected with magical power-zones in the legs and feet of the human body, the fetish Ipori – who abides in the great toe, may also be placed on this path.

The solar kala, the 30th, is presided over by Orun and Eleda. Orun is the Sun, Eleda the genius who dwells in the head. In the Chaldaean qabalah the letter resh, attributed to the Sun, means ‘the head’. Andanlosan, a sun-god, also finds a place here.

To the Fire-ray – the 31st – is allotted to Manamana, the lightning (see remarks concerning the 19th kala). Orun-apadi, the fiery furnace, the heaven of potsherds equivalent to the Christian conception of hell, and Egungun – as the Last Judgement – are other aspects of this ray. The fetish Biri, ‘darkness’ or akasha, synonymous with invisibility of which the 31st kala is the type, also belongs here.

On the path of Saturn – the 32nd – appear the Zangbeto, the scared police or ‘people of the night who come from the other side of the sea’. ‘People of the night’ is an expression that refers to the color of sex and an indication of the nature of the rites of the primal African cultus. Also under the aegis of Saturn the dreaded Ogboni. Egungun, ‘bones of the dead’ finds a place here. The fetish Buje is also under Saturn. He is ebony black and represents the perfection of beauty, i.e. the beauty of sexual attractiveness. Odun, ‘the year’, symbol of fulfillment, perfection, wholeness, the end of a cycle of time, is also charged with this kala.

The Rev. P. Baudin was aware of the great gulf dividing the popular conception of primitive African cults and the initiated teachings underlying them, when he observed that the ‘chief fetish-priests have a secret doctrine which differs greatly the popular doctrine.

The rationale of the Mysteries was based upon the physics and metaphysics of the Double Cross: the Cross of Matter and its reflection or projection into the world of spirit. This forms the eight-fold cross described in Chapter 1, the cross of four points reflected or doubled. The cross as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical world is brought out in the later recensions of the African cults, those of Voodoo, Myalism, Obeah, where it indicates the gate of ingress into the spirit world. The eight-fold cross is composed of the micro- and macrocosmic rays or kalas which form the cross described in the previous chapter. Or the 32 major kalas, 8 formed the basis of the human cross whereupon the Adept was stretched or extended in cruciform fashion. The ease with which the later Voodoo cults absorbed the metaphysics of the Christian cross into their systems was due to the fact that the crucifixion represented, to the Africans, the transformation of Christ from this world to the spirit world via the gateway of the cross. This was the crossroads or the place of crossing over to the spirit world, and it was when the physical body was deprived of consciousness, either in death, trance, or the magnetic sleep of the serpent, that the transition became possible. Hence the association of death, blackness, and sex in the fetish Ghede (or Guede), a form of Baron Samedhi, Carrefour, Kalfu or Carfax: the Lord of the Crossroads and King of the Dead.

Death or trance had a sexual connotation implied by man’s extension on the criss-cross web of marmas that literally projected him into the spirit world. It was precisely at the points of intersection, at the crossroads, that this crossing-over occurred.

The cross, and the variations of it that appear in the verses of Voodoo, indicates the gateway to the spirit world. It conveys to initiates of the Cult no such ideas as the Christians – who tried to ‘convert’ them – supposed. The initiates were unconvertable because they – not the Christians – possessed the true key to the meaning of the cross and of the ritual ‘death’ or sacrifice upon it. The sacrifice was a joyous crossing over into the world of spirit in full consciousness, not a morbid and fatal mutilation of the mortal body in a desperate bargain with God for life immortal. No matter where the cross appears, whether it is the original cross of the African Mysteries taken over into the Voodoo cults; the Tau Cross of the Masons; the Sign of the Cross that was originally the Sign of Set; it always was and is founded upon the human cross composed of the secret kalas, the mysterious network of which projected man’s consciousness into the spirit world. It ramified into the cross of 8, 16, 32, 64, 256 occult kalas which manifest in the ultimate flowering of the spermatozoon as the brain of the fully initiated Adept. The brain is the physical abode of the ajan power-zone; it may be regraded also as containing in miniature the complex network of marmas that laces the entire organism. A present-day Voodoo Adept teaches that:

Between the two lobes of the cerebrum, about mid-centre in the brain, and almost equidistant from both sides and back-and-front is located the pineal body [ajnachakra] which is the seat of occult control in the body. The area around pineal body is divided into sixteen sectors, from each of which emanate occult radiations which keep the body, through the brain, in a mentally controlled condition – the occult control of the human body is due to the balance of the various areas – sixteen in all – which surround the pineal body, or which emanate from it. In fact, these areas of influence both exist around and emanate from the pineal body. They are sixteen, or eight positive and eight negative, and they must be understood to be the basis of the connection of the four dimensions of the psyche as they operate through the cerebrum and the 256 lattices of the cerebral cortex, and the metaphysical idealities which are the true realities of the world of consciousness.

The original sacrifice of sperm, followed by the magnetic sleep or trance, was misinterpreted by later cults as the sacrifice of blood and the death of the body. This misinterpretation arose from a misconception of the menstruum of manifestation which was primarily feminine and which referred to the lunar periodic cycle typified by the Goddess. The feminine source was the original cross or crucifixion, the fixing of spirit in matter, hence the use of blood in the rites of evocation and witchcraft. The cross within the circle typified the original rite, and the cross as the square (four-squared0 yields the 16 kalas which do not exist until the rite of squaring the circle has been accomplished. This is the Great Work. The Ordeal X therefore involves crossing over in full consciousness. This is the origin of the cross as the symbol of the Mysteries of Death which were – from the first – of a psycho-sexual nature.

In the course of time, the Mysteries became confused; the initiated techniques were veiled and replaced in the Outer by empty doctrines that had no basis in fact and made matters worse confounded. The Greeks, with their myths unrelated and unrelatable to the genuine Gnosis which they obscured in a greater fog, were largely responsible for the loss of the initiated tradition.

On the basis of the Primal Cross of the eight marmas it is possible to arrange – schematically – the eight major deities typical of the kalas which they influence. Oliorum – as the Ain or Ayin (Eye of the Void) – is without the human dimension, in much the same way that the Sahasrarachakra is beyond the physical organism. Obatala, as Kether and Chokmah, equates therefore with the Ajnachakra, the seat of the Will. The qoph power-zone is of a dual nature, and to it are allotted Odudua, Saturn, Venus, Iyemoja, Moon, Pisces, and their respective rays. Both these power-zones – obatala and Odudua – form the menstrua of the double Life-force represented by the two magnetic fluids of Aquarius, the eleventh zodiacal sign.

The two hands or palms which form the horizontal beam of the cross, and which therefore typify the stabilization of the force upon earth of the entire complex of forces represented by the complete cross, are assigned to the manifestations in the Outer of the secret African cultus: the Ogboni, the Zangbeto, the Zobop, which are secret societies relating to Death and to Sex, all of which are informed by the Egungun, ‘the bones of the dead’. This is the region of Law and it is therefore assigned to Libra and the 22nd kala; to Saturn, Lord of the Dead and the 32nd kala; and, because of its infinitely vital intersection of the vertical pillar of the cross, to the 31st kala of Fire and Spirit.

The Eye of the yoni, being two-fold, is allotted to Ife (as Venus) and the 7th kala; also to the 16th, the vital kala of the tellurian current represented by Taurus. This yoni also represents Hwido who partakes not only of the fire of the 25th kala – which manifests in the rainbow – but also of the fire of the Sun, kala 19, and to the ‘water’ of the 24th ray which manifests as the Ophidian Current. It is the fusion of the leonine heat of the 19th kala and the cold-blooded fluid of the reptile, that produces the rainbow. The ayin, or Eye of the Goat, relates to Legba, god of the crossroads: the hidden eye of the earth that rays downward into the infernal regions of the 26th kala. These vibrations arouse Dangbe whose symbol – the Red Snake – suggests the Fire Snake and the Draconian serpent of the 24th kala which is indeed aroused by the solar-phallic flame of the 19th kala.

The cross thus forms a complete resumé of Kundalini Yoga in both its physical (i.e. horizontal) and metaphysical (vertical) dimensions. It is then easy to see how the Voodoo Cults emerged from this original complex of kalas, and how their connection with the genuine occult current guaranteed their perpetuation into modern times. The Voodoo cults are the only cults of African origin that have survived destruction at the hands of those who lost touch with the Gnosis. They survived by virtue of their being founded on natural, not upon ‘supernatural’ fact, and by the process of absorbing the symbols of Christianity the keys to which its own followers had lost, or never possessed.

The interaction of the Circle and the Cross, or, more precisely, the fluid identity of the one with the other as the cross revolves and becomes the wheel or circle – a dynamic chakra – alternates as the eightfold or ‘reflected cross’ of 4×4= 16 kalas, as in the African, Voodoo, and Chinese Cults of the 8×8=64 Fa; and as the Circle of 360°, represented terrestrially in Egypt by the 36 Nomes, each of ten divisions, and again as the Cross and Circle combined as in the Tantric Cult with its 16 kalas and Kaula Circle.

The Cross of the four quarters, which was ascribed to the elements formed also the original ‘Magic Mirror’, one of the chief instruments of the magician’s equipment in later ages. The abyss of space reflected in its mysterious depths the height of heaven. North and South consisted in the vertical beam – or upright – of the cross; East and West, of the horizontal beam represented by the surface of the earth itself. The horizontal beam thus comprehends total extent on a plane surface: the arena of mundane life or waking consciousness. The intersection of this surface represents therefore the gateway to another dimension, to the waters beneath the earth that mirror in their uncertain depths the heights of space above the earth wherein glow the stars, the unborn or unfleshed souls of future states of consciousness, or simply, life beyond earth. The mortal world spreads east and west and the world of the immortals or les invisibles lies above and below it in the vertical dimensions of height and depths, north and south, Horus and Set. The point of crossing was the point of entrance to and egress from the spirit world.

In Haitian Voodoo, the waters beneath the earth typify the birthplace of the human race, viz: Guinea. The foot of the cross is the source of all mundane life and its summit points to the extra-terrestrial home of the loa, the spirits who spangle the darkness of night with their star-fire. The magic mirror reveals its mysterious imagery to the initiate only at the point of intersection, the supreme marma. In this sense is the Cross the true instrument of immortality and redemption from the waters. It is the Gateway to other dimensions which it creates when it unites the three modes of consciousness represented by the watery abyss and the heavenly fire, which are seemingly divided by the veil of earth and air (land and sky).

This is the Sign of the Cross (roads) over which Legba presides in the Rada Rites, the rites that are based upon the cross of the cardinal points, the four ways or roads. These ways or paths are identified in the names Carfax, Carrefour, Karfu (Kalfu), etc., where the car or quatre indicates the intersection of the vectors connecting the four cardinal points. But there was an earlier meaning of Car, or Kar, which signified lower, under, bottom, and this primal meaning is retained in the functions of Carrefour or Karfu as the Lord of the Underworld, the Place of the Dead down under. The crossroads therefore became – in later symbology – the locus of departed spirits or rather the gate of egress for departing spirits, and the African sorcerer as well as his West Indian counterpart performs his rites at the Crossroads because the point of intersection of the Four Ways is also the point of departure which leads to the Amenta, the realm of the Shadow. This realm is black – Kalfu means the Black One – and it is connected with the sexual mysteries because the place of darkness is the place not only of death but also of regeneration. The Osiris in Amenta no less than the Phallus in the Vulva makes the Crossing into spirit world by means of the transformation implied in the symbolism of the Cross.

In the Voodoo Petro rites, as distinct from those of Rada, emphasis is laid upon the dimensions or pathways between the cardinal points, and the Gateway thereto is presided over by Carrefour or Carfax.

The eight directions of space typified by the Asiatic Tantrics in their basic yantra of the eight-petalled lotus bears a similar significance. The magic mirror as a means of trafficking with spirits and of seeing past and future events reflected in its depths, was based originally upon the mirror of the ‘waters’ beneath the earth: the subliminal abyss of the subconsciousness typified by the Cross and the intersection of space-time-present symbolized by the vertical beam of extra-terrestrial and clairvoyant vision. The appeal to the earth, either by a battery of magical knocks or knells, or by beating it with the palms of the hands, or by tracing the magical vevers upon its surface, is a primitive mode of knocking on the door of the spirit world and of arousing the subconscious entities and evoking ancient atavisms which manifest in the mirror of dream, otherwise clairvoyant vision. In later times, the bell was the most usual means of attracting the attention of the spirits, and this was based upon the vibrations heard or experienced by sensitivities during trance. The bell of metal was based upon the astral bell which has a peculiarly sonorous vibration familiar to occultists who have awakened the Fire Snake and activated the nadis; hence the close association of the bell and its chimes with religious rites and ceremonies connected with death. The Tibetan lama to this day uses the bell as a means of establishing contact with extra-terrestrial or spirit entities, and Buddhist relics of the dead are preserved in bell-shaped sanctuaries or shrines (chorten).

The appended list is a tabulation of the kalas described in the foregoing pages. They emerge from the Ain or Ayin (Eye of the Void). As already explained (p.24) Olorun, being this Eye is virtually beyond the System. The first 10 kalas (from Obatala to Dada) constitute the cosmic power-zones, and the remaining 22 kalas relate to the human subtle anatomy which acts as a prism, diffusing the colours (or kalas) from the White Light of Obatala via the astrological and elemental kalas of the Rays or Paths. The Table should be apprehended in relation to the Glyph of the Tree of Life on page 9.

O: Olorun or Ol-i-orun; Olodumare; Oag-Ogo; Elemi; Emi.

Cosmic Power-zones

  1.  
  2. Obatala; Orisha nla; Ala-morere; Orisha kpokpo; Alabalache;

Orisha oginia; Anansi.

  1. Odudua; Iya Agba; Ile.
  2. Chango; Jakuta.
  3. Ugun (Ogoun Badagris).
  4.  
  5. Ifa; Odudua; Bango.
  6. Aje Chaluga.
  7.  
  8. Dada; Ile; Orisha Oko.

Microcosmic Power-zones

  1. Afefe; Oye; Orungan.
  2. Osanyin; Aroni.
  3. The Owl (messenger of Aje, sorceresses); Ochosi;

Iyemoja; Aidowedo; Togo; Anansi (Spider fetish).

  1. Odudua; Ile; Champana.
  2. Ugun; Chango (martial aspect).
  3. Ife; Ile.
  4. Ibeji; Oro.
  5. Abiku; Elere; Ojehun; Opin Ijehun; Ebi.
  6. Dangbe, Aidowedo; Manaman; Selwanga.
  7. Ile Orishi Oko; Chougoudou
  8.  
  9.  
  10. Olokun; Olosa, Oya; Oba.
  11. Aidowedo; Ere; Dange.
  12. Aidowedo, Ochu-mare.
  13. Elegba; Eshu; Ongogo Ogo; Elegbara; Odun.
  14. Ugun; Ogoun Badagris.
  15. Odudua; Odo Iyemoja; Iyewa.
  16. Iyemoja; Ife; Adie-Irana; (Guide to Orun-rere).
  17. Orun; Eleda; Andanlosan; Ajahuto.
  18. Manamana; Orun-apadi; Egungun (as Last Judgement); Oro.
  19. Zangbeto; Ogboni; Egungun; Buje; Orun-rere; Odun.

(Note: The reader may notice several names in this list not mentioned in the text. They are added for the sake of completeness; their attributes and characteristics are in accord with the kalas to which they are attributed.)