Initiation of the King
and the Ordeal X



In the Book of the Law, chapter three: verse 22, the sun-god Ra-Hoor-Khuit says,

I am the visible object
of worship; the others are secret; for the Beast
& his Bride are they: and for the winners of
the Ordeal x.
– 220,3:22

TsadiX is צ, the Hebrew letter named Tsadi. Its value is 90, or 900 in its finial form, ץ. The Hebrew word Melek means King and its letters (מלך) sum to 90 by Gematria. Tsadi is the Major Arcanum Tarot card The Emperor, the path between Yesod and Netzach on the Tree of Life. The astrological attribution of The Emperor, Aries, ruled by Mars and in which the Sun is exalted, is a good symbol for Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Ra Horus of the Horizon), especially as Aries is the sign on the horizon at the dawn of the year, the first sign of the zodiac.

Aleister Crowley wrote of The Emperor in The Book of Thoth, pp 77 & 78: “His arms and head form an upright triangle; below, crossed legs represent the Cross. This figure is the alchemical symbol of Sulfur (see Atu X). Sulfur is the male fiery energy of the Universe, the Rajas of Hindu philosophy. This is the swift creative energy, the initiative of all Being. The power of the Emperor is a generalization of the paternal power; hence such symbols as the Bee and the Fleur-de-lys, which are shown on this card.”



The letter Tsadi, צדי, is also named Tzedeq, צדק. Tzedeq means ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’, or one who is just or righteous. A Tzedeq is one who knows the law and abides by it, a wise man, an authority.

Tzedeq is strongly associated with the fourth sephira on the Tree of Life, Chesed(חסד). Chesed is Jupiter and very much a father figure.

Tzedeq is also the ‘secret fourfold word’. Note that the number four (4) pops up again and again in any qabalistic examination of Tzedeq. It implies four-square righteousness, law – both natural and societal, authority, Tetragrammaton, the four classical elements and the four dimensions (3 space + 1 time) which define the apparent reality of objective material existence.

The notion of ‘four’ may well be seen as limitation and restriction, even oppression. The natural human instinct is to overcome restriction, to defeat oppression, by directly opposing it. But this stragedy fails. One way to defeat physical limitations is by embracing them. Asana, pranayama and dhyana may all be seen as restrictions of body, breath and thought, yet these practices lead to liberation from the limitations of the body/mind complex and are of immense value to the adept.

These apparently restrictive practices bring the attention into the present. The ego always wants the mind to be extended in the past and future because the ego has no dimension in the present. The sense of self-as-a-unique-identity seeks confirmation of its reality in the world through a collection of relationships. When we still the body and mind, we may identify with a balance that transcends the complex relativity of everyday life. When the four elements are brought into a balanced poise, a fifth element, named spirit, transcends the four but is not separate from them. The more intimate the contact with nature, the more profound the contact with spirit.

Tree of Life showing X


the door

The Hebrew letter Dalet (ד) has the numeration 4 and means ‘door’. All doors, or gates, to initiation are found in the eternal present. Thus Tzedeq, the Secret Fourfold Word, is a doorway to transcendent consciousness.

There are four gates to one palace;
the floor of that palace is of silver and
gold; lapis lazuli & jasper are there; and
all rare scents; jasmine & rose, and the
emblems of death. Let him enter in turn
or at once the four gates; let him stand
on the floor of the palace.

The Ipsissimus enters the four gates at once. The rest of us, not having completed that ultimate initiation, enter the four gates one at a time, in sequential order, beginning with the Silver Gate named X. Silver and gold are the sephiroth Yesod and Tiphareth. Lapis lazuli and jasper, semi-precious stones of dark blue and rust red respectively, represent Nuit and Hadit.

Het HorThe palace is Het (חית), the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet whose name sums to 418. The ancient Egyptian hieroglyph Het represents a house or temple. It appears in the name Ahathoor, who is Het-Hoor or Temple of Horus. In the hieroglyph, Het is the square or rectangle with the smaller square inside it. The smaller square represents an alter or hearth but, so long as it is there, it doesn’t seem to matter where it appears. Indeed, Nephthys wears the symbol Het as a headdress. Hoor, or Horus, is the falcon.

tarot adjustment

The Emperor is the Tarot trump that Aleister Crowley counterchanged with The Star in response to this injunction from Nuit in the Book of the Law:

All these old letters of my Book are
aright; but צ [Tsadi/Tzedeq] is not the Star. This
also is secret: my prophet shall reveal
it to the wise.

Because he discovered these new attributions late in life, after most of his extensive writing was done, the new correspondences appear only here and there as Crowley went back to edit critical works. The transposition is described in some detail at the beginning of The Book of Thoth, Crowley’s ever-popular treatise on Tarot first published in 1944 c.e., the year he turned 69 years old. He updated parts of his New Comment on the Book of the Law, written in 1920, while other parts continue to express the old attributions. Of course, Liber 777, Crowley’s tables of qabalistic correspondences originally published in 1909, was never updated to show the correct attributions and not a word about the discovery appears in The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, written 1921. In The Book of Thoth itself, at the end of his description of  IV. The Emperor (p.78), Crowley gives its position on the Tree of Life as that of Hé (ה) instead of Tsadi (צ), even though he had begun with the words “This card is attributed to the letter Tzaddi...” This error suggests that he was editing the new attributions into pre-existing work. (The Emperor’s correct position is shown in the diagram titled “THE TAROT – GENERAL ATTRIBUTION” in Appendix B of The Book of Thoth, p. 268).

In verse 167, entitled De Arte Alchemistica, of the 1962 c.e. edition of The Book of Wisdom or Folly, Liber Aleph (copyright Karl J. Germer, published by Thelema Publishing Company, West Point, California, and printed by Compositora Gráfica LUX Ltda., Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Crowley doesn’t miss a beat, although the original text of Liber Aleph was penned in 1918. “Next, from the Father floweth the Virtue of the Star in the Path of the Water-bearer, for Initiative, and Energy, and Determination, in the Innermost.” The path from Chokmah to Tiphareth, Hé (ה), had previously been occupied by The Emperor before it traded places with The Star, Aquarius. Strangely, the on-line edition, supposedly published on 20 March 1991 c.e., shows the old, uncorrected, text of this verse.

This is certainly not the only example of archaic or, in some cases, wildly incorrect Tarot attributions to be found on “official” Thelemic web sites. Even the beginner must be his or her own authority, taking responsibility to double check and cross reference all information used to build up the personal qabalah. Tsadi/Tzedeq is all about authority. Authority and responsibility must reside in the same person. We are brought up to vest authority in parents and teachers. If we fail to divest others of authority in our lives when we grow up, we remain infantilised. In some ways, the Initiation of the King and the Ordeal X is similar to a teenager’s separation anxiety and identity crisis. There is no law beyond Do What THOU Wilt.


Liber Al vel Legis, the Book of the Law, is largely undecipherable to those without initiation. The intelligent are baffled by it; the ignorant either dismiss it or wrap it in the nacre of superstition. Yet the core of the Thelemic Vedas holds astonishing wisdom for those who come through the ordeals consequent to its initiations.

The fool readeth this Book of the Law, and
its comment; & he understandeth it not.

Let him come through the first ordeal, &
it will be to him as silver.

Through the second, gold.

Through the third, stones of precious water.

Through the fourth, ultimate sparks of the
intimate fire.

These verses portray the Book of the Law as a magic mirror. It reflects the level of initiated wisdom and understanding accessed by the reader.

In chapter one of Liber Al, Nuit says:

There is a word to say about the Hierophantic
task. Behold! there are three ordeals in
one, and it may be given in three ways.
The gross must pass through fire; let the
fine be tried in intellect, and the
lofty chosen ones in the highest; Thus
ye have star & star, system & system;
let not one know well the other!

Note that a hierophant is one who ‘shows’ the ‘mysteries.’ Liber 718, the Book of Codes, comments on chapter 3 verses 63 to 67 and chapter 1 verse 50 of Liber Al, below:


Know that the ordeals shall differ from chela to chela, and the Master shall know which will serve best. The gross must pass through fire, and it shall be to him as silver. This is the first door and its letter is X. The fine shall be tried in intellect, and it shall be to him as gold. This is the second door and its letter is R. The lofty ones shall be chosen in the highest, and it shall be to them as mercury. This is the third door and its letter is B. The one in three shall be to the Beast as the ultimate sparks of his own Daemon; he shall come to full knowledge of Godhood. He shall transcend the Three in order to become the One. He shall transcend the One to become the None. This is the fourth door, and its letter is A. Know that the Word of the ordeals is ABRAX, as it is hidden in the Book of the Law.

Silver is associated with the sephiroth Yesod, the perspective of the Zelator, the newly minted adept. Gold is Tiphareth, the perspective of the Minor Adept, the Man of Earth and first of the three Thelemite Grades. Mercury is associated with the Tarot trump card The Magus, Bet (ב). The mind (Ruach) is not able to cross the Abyss or see into the Supernal Triad, for there is a twist in the Abyss and all rationale is skewed. The grades of Master of the Temple and Magus, Binah and Chokmah, are about being rather than knowing. From a perspective in the Ruach, Neptune (Chokmah, The Magus) appears as changeable and arbitrary as Mercury.

Tree of Life showing ABRX


The intimate fire, from the perspective of the incarnation, is his or her own Holy Guardian Angel. We have already perceived sparks of the intimate fire, our Holy Guardian Angels, at least since we attained adeptship in Yesod. Now, in Kether, at the top end of the map of human consciousness known as the Tree of Life, we experience the ultimate transcendence as Ipsissimi. We have dedicated every breath, every erg, to the service of our Higher Selves, our own personal Christs.


Though the Book of the Law tells us nothing directly about the initiations, Nuit says,

“...Behold! there are three ordeals in
one, and it may be given in three ways.
The gross must pass through fire;...
– 220,1:50

The three paths reaching upward from Malkuth form the graphic image of the Hebrew letter Shin (ש). The classical element Fire is attributed to Shin. (ToL)
Qesheth        Shin
Thus the Neophyte passes through the fire of Shin to become a Zelator. The Ordeal X is the first of the three ordeals in one.

Shin means tooth. After the body decays, and even the bones have turned to dust, the teeth remain. Tooth enamel, being the hardest substance in the body, is also the most durable. It endures after the body is gone. Spirit also endures after the body is gone, so, in addition to Fire, the element Spirit is attributed to the letter Shin. Shin (pronounced: sheen) is both the fire of life and the eternal spirit. The Ordeal X is a trial by fire. Symbolically, after the gross is burned away, what remains is spirit. In practice nothing changes but the point of view. Yet the loss of illusion is painful and the temporal ego suffers great anxiety as the result of real changes in consciousness.


There is a further qabalistical curiosity associated with the Word of the Ordeals. The paths Aleph and Bet cap the Supernal Triad, while the paths Resh and Tzedeq lay along the bottom reaches of the Ruach. Together they encapsulate the Tree of Life except for Malkuth and the Three Glamours, which dangle from the main body as if to form a pendant. If we take this seemingly appended structure as a Shin and tack it on the end of the Word of the Ordeals, we get the name of the ancient god Abraxas.

The initiations and ordeals are more intimate than the external material world in which we incarnate as beasts of the earth. The silver door is the Initiation of the King and the Ordeal X in which the illusion of separateness is shattered. It is the first of four major shifts in consciousness which progressively bring one into closer contact with one’s Holy Guardian Angel. At the other end of the spectrum, when the Ipsissimus comes through the Ordeal A, the consciousness of Angel and incarnation are indistinguishable.



This is the Thelemic system of initiation named in the Word of the Ordeals, ABRAX. From Neophyte to Ipsissimus there is no law beyond Do What Thou Wilt.

 Nemo Pandragon

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If this letter shows as a question mark (?) rather than the Hebrew letter Tzadi (צ), please visit Download Shalom Old Style from that site and install it on your computer. You should then be able to see the Hebrew letters and words which appear in the rest of this article.
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For an example of X transliterated as Tsadi/Tzedeq, see the entry for 210, the word NOX (נעץ) in Sepher Sephiroth, Liber D. NOX is also referenced in footnote 14 for The Cry of the 14th Aethyr in The Vision & the Voice, Liber 418, p. 135. 50 (N) + 70 (O) + 90 (X) = 210. Tsadi is the common Hebrew transliteration of the English letter X. It is not unusual for Tsadi/Tzedeq to be assigned to the X key when Hebrew fonts are mapped to the standard English/Roman computer keyboard.
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Ra-Hoor-Khuit says, “I am in a secret fourfold word, the blasphemy against all gods of men.” – 220,3:49. The secret fourfold word is expressed by an efficient method of prayer, an operation of Thelemic magick. All gods and goddesses are projections or externalisations of aspects of ourselves. Disowned gods, particularly the supernatural monotheistic ‘God’, are blasphemed by the truth that they have no existence beyond the reality we give them. “We are atheists; we who see God!” – 77,2:12. The pretensions of disowned gods are obviated by the magick of the secret fourfold Word, but this righteous truth takes nothing away from the utility that our gods may have for us.

Almost 72 years after the writing of the Book of the Law, again in the persona of Ra-Hoor-Khuit, Aiwass wrote, “Thou shalt fight in the temple and fight in the field, and wherever thou goest thy cry shall be Thelema and the secret four-fold Word. (My scribe has described ‘Tzedeq’ as this word, and while he speaks Truth, his discovery is hardly as important as he may have claimed; certainly it serves to establish him as my son.)” – 718,1:11. The scribe of Liber 718, the Book of Codes, was James Charles Beck of Beaverton, Oregon. Jim told me that every word of Libers 718 and 77 was written down as it was dictated by Aiwass except Liber 718, chapter 5: verse 12 in which Jim was obliged to write down his vision in his own words. The verses where Aiwass appears to be having a dialogue with the scribe, he assured me, were entirely contrived by Aiwass without Jim’s active participation. I never heard any claims regarding Tzedeq from Jim when I spoke with him, nor in subsequent correspondence.
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Thanks to the late great Mel Blanc, the original voice of Bugs Bunny, for this word.
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Mercury is a metallic element, and so like stone. Yet it is the only naturally occuring liquid on the planet, at standard temperature and pressure (STP), other than water. (The other elemental metals that are liquid at STP, caesium, francium and gallium, would not be found naturally in their liquid form, whereas vermilion, even heated in a small camp fire, would leave puddles of pure liquid mercury.)
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The English word christ comes from the Greek word Cristos (Χριστος) which is a literal translation of the Hebrew word Messiah (משיח), meaning anointed with scented oil as high priest, king or prophet. The Thelemic Christ is the Holy Guardian Angel.
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