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A'Ano'Nin: The Devil Is A Woman Dressed In Red

  Linda Falorio 1993

      In The Shadow Tarot, the card of A'Ano'Nin speaks to the dark side of Atu XV, The Devil of traditional tarots. The Devil, known in the esoteric teachings of the Golden Dawn as The Lord of the Gates of  Matter, and The Child of the Forces  of Time falls astrologically under the aegis of the planet  Saturn, Chronos, Keeper of Time, higher octave of the Moon in its role as signifier of the slow, inexorable rhythms of nature. Alchemically, Saturn relates to the qualities of lead, to the denseness and heaviness of matter, the solidity of earth, to the pull of gravitation that keeps us on the planet, as well as the planet's seething molten core.

       Saturn, outermost planet known in ancient times, defined the boundaries of the then known cosmos, and defines our personal boundaries and vulnerabilities as well, both physical and psychological. Where the Moon, earth's bright satellite nurtures earthly life, dark and distant Saturn defines the limitations inherent in life's structure and form.  Cold and dark, Saturn refers us to the geophysical North, the direction from which orgone energy streams into our life web, discernible as the pulsing aurora of the Northern Lights.  Saturn thus is also associated with winter, December in the Northern Hemisphere, when the Sun enters Capricorn, Saturn's native sign. 

     In the Shadow Tarot, The Devil, though most often thought of as typically male, instead turns a feminine face to us as Set, ass-headed Egyptian god of the deserts, Shaitan of the desert-dwelling Yezidi whose devotees worshipped facing North. In this card we find the soul in bondage to the senses and the earth: matter ruling spirit. Yet, where in traditional tarot the idea of matter dominating spirit has been seen as evil, in the Shadow Tarot we experience this as a condition to be sought. The feminine has long been maligned, yet there is truth in this, for if earthly existence is seen as an evil to be endured on the way to some heavenly paradise, the feminine has but two possible roles: that of virginal psychopomp, leading the soul to God, as Beatrice did for the poet Dante Alighieri, or that of temptress, leading the soul from God, binding man to earth as the physical gateway to the material world of sensuality and satisfaction of animal desire through the subtle pheromonal working of her body. Indeed, matter equals mother, for it is she who clothes all things with form, she who holds the developing fetus in her body, thus she keeps our boundaries and holds us in reality.

    A'Ano'Nin calls us to the lustful dance of spirit clothed with form. The soul is pulled into incarnation by desire. Enthralled by the rapture of the senses, the glamour cast upon us by our lovely planet binds us to the blessings of the earth, we have fallen into Time that we may revel in the joy of physical existence.

    In the pentagramthe five-pointed starwe see an ancient seal of protection. It represents the four elements of the Ancientsfire, water, air, and earthwhose infinite combinations constitute the manifested universe crowned by the fifth element of spirit to which humanity aspires. Inverted, the pentagram becomes the sign of Pater Pan: "Pamphage, Pangenitor, all father, all begetter".  It represents the generative spirit of the fertile earth, the Goat Foot God, Cernunnos, Capricorn, SaturnThe Devil, if you willnone other than the god who "has a spiral force", the spirit of A'Ano'Nin, which binds us all to life.  

     In the card of A'Ano'Nin, Set, the red-haired ass who has come to represent bodily passion and lust, appears as the alluring Scarlet Woman, or Suvasini"sweet-smelling woman"her body exuding powerful pheromonal essences.  These affect the primitive mammalian limbic areas of the backbrain which regulate the most basic levels of instinctual behavior. It has long been known that women who live and work together tend to menstruate during the same time. This is due to the release of hormone-triggering pheromones at certain phases of the menstrual cycle, one woman's biology thus triggering another's, all taking place entirely below the level of conscious awareness. 

     In this card, the heightened emotions and intensification of the senses caused by this stimulation of the ancient rhinencephalon, or "nose brain", through the primitive sense of smell are graphically depicted. Satyrs and fauns are found cavorting in the priapic bliss engendered, in a wild Saturnalia of passion and desire to which Set gives the sign of blessing. This pagan carnival (from L. carnem levare, "to put away the flesh", as food) of Saturnalia was celebrated at the end of December, the month of Capricorn, for the seven days prior to the Winter Solstice. This festival, generally beginning on the fifteenth of December, an interesting occurrence in that 15 is also the number of the major arcana of The DevilAtu XVcommemorated the rule of Saturn, beneficent Etruscan King in the fabled Golden Age of peace, prosperity, and universal happiness, in which greed was unknown, nor was there slavery or private property, for the citizenry held all things in common. The festival of Saturnalia was marked by feasting, revelry and mad pursuit of pleasure, in which masters changed places with their slaves, and all ate at a common table, keeping alive the idea of equality. Furthermore, war could not be declared, and executions were postponed. This season, then as now, was time for giving and receiving gifts.  

     But there was a darker side to the Roman Saturnalia. It was also a period of license, when customary restraints of law and morality were thrown aside, when all gave themselves up to pleasure, and the darker passions were given vent never allowed in the staid and sober course of ordinary life. The human personality was allowed to dissolve into madness, feeding on the dark world of the senses as the Maenads feasted upon their victims, torn to shreds in the ecstatic worship of their gods.  

     Saturnalia, though an ancient festival, bears a striking similarity to current native practices of those living high in the Andes mountains of Peru. At certain times of the year, these natives mount wild festivals accompanied by much chewing of coca leaves. During the festival they play pan-pipes and drums, engage in public erotic rites, and indulge in bloody fist fights,  drinking maize beer and brandy through the night until stupor is attained.

     The Devil, always a troublesome card to interpret, has often been explained as the soul or spirit in bondage to the senses and the earth. When this card is active in our lives, involved are issues of power over and control, bondage and submission. Competition comes into play, fueled by material greed and ambition to make it to the top. Methods may be covert, involving subtle manipulation, and "playing politics" to win the game. Thus, The Devil, Capricornus, can be seen as the archetypal Organization Man. He believes in hierarchy, hard work, and tradition, he believes in control of animal passions and emotions, in self-control, and in submission to authority, in sacrificing his individuality in favor of the common good. This, in its highest expression supports the creation of a society in which the human spirit may be sustained and nurtured.

     As every idea contains the seed of its own opposite, The Devil as A'Ano'nin becomes that wild, untamed lustful animal spirit within us, that blind ecstatic force of nature which is an expression of the fertility and abundance of the earth. However, such free and joyful expression of the human spirit is feared as hubris that constitutes a societal danger, threatening the very ideas of hierarchy, structure, authority, and control upon which societies are based. Therefore, in order to function and survive, a society finds it must place limits upon individual behavior defined as disruptive to the common good of the group. Furthermore, if it is not to devolve into anarchy and chaos, there must be a consensus of meaning, an agreement on what constitutes its reason for existence, its purposes and plans.

     The individual, once he has become a danger to the status quo, arousing anxiety that the human universe may collapse into chaos and uncertainty must be repressed and brought under societal control. Society, to justify it's actions in the preserving of its power-structure, calls upon the combined establishments of church and state and medicine to define such individuals either as "sinful", as "criminal", or "crazy" in the old game of "blame the victim", or scape-goating.

     Submission to a dead hierarchy that has ceased to provide little meaning or societal context beyond the ideological imperative of preserving its own ability to pursue material greed and ambition, breeds poverty of spirit, hopelessness, helplessness, and depression, which may be expected to eventually explode into violence, anger, and aggression, threatening the power structure with the very uncertainty and chaos which it so fears.

     It should not be surprising that such release of pent-up energy as we find in the ancient Saturnalia, or in the modern Peruvian rites often degenerated into wild orgies of lust and crime, in which we can perhaps identify an ancient type of the disturbing current practice known as "wilding". Yet, the mad spree of random anti-social gang violence and aggression known as wilding, may also be seen as a result of the individual's repression by a society that imparts little meaning beyond pursuance of material greed and ambition, one that, rather than nurturing the free human spirit allows little opportunity for its expression, thus breeding violence, anger, and aggression.

     When we find ourselves in bondage to such a repressive system, rather than follow through with the cycle of repressiondepressionangerviolence, we need instead to find the ability to see beyond the conventional wisdom cautioning us to quietly observe the status quo, we need to see through artificial societal limitations placed upon behavior. Rather than exploding with anger at our repressors, we may then release ourselves in joy to follow the path with heart, the dictate of our spirit and our Will.

 In A Reading:

     When we use this card for meditation, or when we see this card in a reading we are reminded to live through the senses. It is time to get back in touch with the cycles of the earth, to attune ourselves to the vast rhythms of nature, and the timeless wisdom of our bodies.  We need to take time to get back to basics, to notice the mundane, to enjoy and appreciate those around us, with all their faults and failings, in that they are unique expressions of the phases and cycles affecting human life.

      At times, we all feel stuck, and stressed, frustrated by subjection to senseless rules and regulations. We find ourselves bending to social pressure to conform to standards that we find devoid of meaning. We have moments when we fear we are in danger  of becoming Myrmidons to corporate, patriarchal anality, that we have dutifully sacrificed the best in us, our vitality and youth, to the demands of industrial efficiency in our quest to "get ahead".

      Such social pressure and overwork tend to block the streaming orgonomic energies of our bodies, and we may experience depression, sexual impotence, or vague feelings of anxiety and guilt when we allow ourselves to experience sensual pleasure. We are left feeling isolated, trapped, controlled, depressed, and alienated from nature and the body. Longing to escape, we may become attracted to religions, or other world-views that validate denial of sensual pleasure in the here and now, promising release through transcendence of the material world and the world of the senses. On the other side, when we seek to break free from social sanctions and express our freedom and pleasure of the senses, we may encounter those who, in venting a sense of vengeful righteousness based on fear, seek to impose their restrictive sex-morality upon otherswhat Wilhelm Reich called "the emotional plague."

      "Be Here Now", staying in the moment is the secret of A'Ano'Nin, for in attunement with the natural world, we find the ability to draw healing energy and vitality from direct contact with the earth as the Greek, Tellus, derived his strength. One with the earth, we are able to find power spots, and to "ground" potentially disruptive forces by channeling them back into the all-accepting earth. In our attunement with nature, in our love and acceptance of the basis of life, in our own natural instincts and humanity, we find the ability to contact all manner of fairies, gnomes, sylphs, undines, and devas of the kingdoms of the earth, and to communicate with all forms of life. In feeling at one with the expression of life, at ease in a wholistic world of which humanity is a natural part, where instincts are not evil, where everything/ everyone/ every act is acceptable as a necessary unfolding of The Faceless One, Hecate, La Belle Dame Sans Mercithe Unfathomable Great Goddesswe gain the ability to materialize desire in the Here and Now.

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