The Feast of Stars: Nuit, the Maiden, and the Holy Harlot
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
February has some of my favorite holidays: February 1st/2nd and February 14th. February 1st, or 2nd, may be my favorite one of all.
This is one of the cross quarter days, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Christians celebrate Candlemas, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a time when the year’s candles are brought to be ritually blessed. Most pagan celebrations of the holiday refer to it as Imbolc, a Celtic holiday dedicated to the goddess Brigid, the maiden goddess.
It is unknown exactly what the etymology of word Imbolc is but it may come from the Old Irish word i mbolc meaning “in the belly” referring to the time of pregnancy of ewes, or it may be derived from another Old Irish word imb-fholc meaning “to wash or cleanse oneself”, referring to a ritual cleansing. The roots of the word can be traced to words meaning both milk, cleansing, and budding. Aquarius season, the time of the Star card, the Daughter of the Firmament where we see our lady of the stars pouring ethereal waters, washing herself in the milk of the stars.
“Pour water on thyself: thus shalt thou be a Fountain to the Universe. Find thou thyself in every star! Achieve thou every possibility!” ~ Aleister Crowley
This day though is lesser known as a Thelemic celebration called the Feast of Stars. It was celebrated as far back as ancient Egypt when it was known as the Feast of Nut or Nuit, and considered the day of her birth. I will celebrate this day with joy this year, with a feast involving milk and honey and a reading of Chapter 1 of the Book of the Law, the manifestation of Nuit and the unveiling of the company of heaven.
Above, the gemmed azure is The naked splendour of Nuit; She bends in ecstasy to kiss The secret ardours of Hadit. The winged globe, the starry blue, Are mine, O Ankh-af-na-khonsu!
~ Book of the Law, I:14
It is always around this time that I feel a sense of hope awakening. The days are getting longer, and though here we are still very much in the midst of winter, one can feel a quickening, a subtle stirring. The sap preparing to rise, the buds are just beginning to form, and we are emerging from darkness. Aquarius season is here and in its most balanced form. The major arcana associated with Aquarius is the Star card, and indeed hope is something I always associate with this card.
This time of year also reminds me of the energy of the Fool card. While the Fool is associated with the Spring Equinox, it is also a card of all things nascent, and potential, preparing to move forth. In a sense this time is embryonic Spring. The Fool card is the trump of elemental Air or Aethyr, and Aquarius is the Air sign whose modern rulership is governed by the planet Uranus. Those who assign the modern planets to the Tree of Life most often assign Uranus to the Fool at Kether.
In early February the Sun enters the middle decan of Aquarius, which is ruled by Mercury, giving us the Six of Swords, which to me probably the most beautiful and hopeful of the Swords cards. In Waite Smith decks, it shows a journey over water.
In the Thoth deck, it is called Science and shows an unfolded cube as a rose cross, in the center of a fencing diagram. The steps of unfolding.
In the Tabula Mundi, an orrery of our solar system sits beneath a sextant, guiding the way and taking the sight for the journey against a background of starry space. The six is the sephira of the Sun, a star itself, and we are all suns, or stars, however you want to look at it.
Oh let the sun beat down upon my face, stars to fill my dream I am a traveler of both time and space, to be where I have been To sit with elders of the gentle race, this world has seldom seen They talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed
…Let me take you there.
~ Led Zeppelin, Kashmir
Nuit is “Infinite Space, and the Infinite Stars thereof”. The Star goddess calls to mind the Babylonian Ishtar, the Mesopotamian Astarte, and the Sumerian Inanna, all names of the same goddess of love. She is also parallel to Aphrodite, and Isis, mother of Horus. Interestingly, both Ishtar and Astarte contain the word “star”, and Inanna’s name is derived from the Sumerian “nin-an-ak” meaning “Lady of Heaven”. The “House of Heaven” was her temple, a site of sacred prostitution where the high priestess would choose a young man to represent Dumuzi, her consort, in the hieros gamos, or sacred marriage. Astarte was the deified evening star, usually shown naked alongside a star within a circle, a symbol of Venus. Ishtar also was a personification of Venus, and the courtesan of the gods. Her most famous myth describes her descent into the underworld, where in what may be the earliest striptease, she had to remove an article of clothing at each of the seven gates, until she stood naked. This gradual revealing of herself was the unveiling of truth.
~ excerpted from Book M: Liber Mundi
From Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, one can “hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe”:
“I who am the beauty of the green earth
and the white moon among stars
and the mysteries of the waters,
I call upon your soul to arise
and come unto me.
For I am the soul of nature
that gives life to the universe.
From Me all things proceed
and unto Me they must return.
Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices,
all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals.
Let there be beauty and strength,
power and compassion,
honor and humility,
mirth and reverence within you.
And you who seek to know Me,
know that your seeking and yearning
will avail you not,
unless you know the Mystery:
for if that which you seek,
you find not within yourself,
you will never find it without.
I have been with you
from the beginning,
and I am that which is attained
at the end of desire.”
Remember that all stars are Suns. Nuit is said to give birth to the Sun-god daily and he passes over her body until he reaches her mouth at sunset. One myth describes how the Sun god passes into her mouth and through her body and is reborn the next morning. Another story tells how Ra sails up her legs in the Atet (Matet) boat until noon, when he entered the Sektet boat and continued his travels until sunset.
Nuit was often painted on the inside lid of the sarcophagus, in a different perspective to the one we are familiar with on the Stele of Revealing. Rather than performing a wheel pose, a backbend, or over the earth as her consort Geb, she is shown facing the coffin’s occupant. She is said to protect the dead until he or she, like Ra, could be reborn in their new life.
The Book of the dead has Nut as mother to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera (Kheph-Ra) and took the form of a scarab beetle. At noon he was Ra at his full strength, and at sunset he was known as Tem or Tum.
Homage to thee, O thou who hast come as Khepera, Khepera the creator of the gods, Thou art seated on thy throne, thou risest up in the sky, illumining thy mother Nut, thou art seated on thy throne as the king of the gods. Thy mother Nut stretcheth out her hands, and performeth an act of homage to thee….
The Company of the Gods rejoice at thy rising, the earth is glad when it beholdeth thy rays; the people who have been long dead come forth with cries of joy to behold thy beauties every day. Thou goest forth each day over heaven and earth, and thou art made strong each day by thy mother Nut….
Homage to thee, O thou who art Ra when thou risest, and who art Tem when thou settest in beauty. Thou risest and thou shinest on the back of thy mother [Nut], O thou who art crowned the king of the gods! Nut welcometh thee, and payeth homage unto thee, and Maat, the everlasting and never-changing goddess, embraceth thee at noon and at eve….
The gods rejoice greatly when they see my beautiful appearances from the body of the goddess Nut, and when the goddess Nut bringeth me forth.
This totally is the origin of Crowley’s Liber Resh vel Helios, (the Adorations of the Sun) my favorite rite and one I now perform daily and highly recommend. The difference is that Crowley’s Liber Resh invokes the Sun in the form of Ra at sunrise, Ahathor at noon, Tum at sunset, and Khephra at midnight as the scarab rolling the sun through the sky to emerge at dawn.
All of these star goddesses are associated with the planet Venus, shining as the brightest planet in our sky in her aspect as the morning and the evening star. Right now this week here in the Northern hemisphere there is a most beautiful sight in the sky if you look to the southwest about an hour after sunset. Venus the evening star shines in the sky like a beacon, alongside a slim lunar cresent, a budding new moon. If you look just above her and slightly left, you will see her lover Mars, a reddish star that pales in contrast to her blazing beauty. By February 4th Venus and Mars will be conjunct in the sign of Aries.
By Valentine’s day the archetypal Lovers will have just embraced in fiery and martial Aries. Venus and Mars, or Moon and Sun, we see the joining of the lady and the beast Chaos. Which leads us to Babalon. The Lust card for Leo, the sign opposite Aquarius, the Star.
Now ye shall know that the chosen priest & apostle of infinite space is the prince-priest the Beast; and in his woman called the Scarlet Woman is all power given. They shall gather my children into their fold: they shall bring the glory of the stars into the hearts of men.
For he is ever a sun, and she a moon. But to him is the winged secret flame, and to her the stooping starlight. Book of the Law, I:15-16
The star goddesses Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, and Ninsi’anna all have their martial qualities, much like our lady Babalon, the Holy Harlot. Babalon has connections with all of these, as well as with Lilith. As Lon Milo Duquette otherwise known as Baba Lon, sings in his beautiful song Sweet Babalon, “Sweet Babalon, oh heavenly harlot, lover of all, refuser of none”. She may well refuse none, but she demands all. Babalon accepts nothing less than every last drop of the adepts blood, unlike Nuit, who says “I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.” Babalon is a goddess of Heka, Heka being the Egyptian word for magic, meaning action of the Ka or activation of the Ka, the Ka being the vital spark or essence of a living being. She is both the Scarlet Woman of the liberated female sexual impulse and the Great Mother, the goddess of the Chalice or Graal, and a daughter of Nuit.
From the Vision and the Voice, 15th Aethyr:
I am the mighty sorceress, the lust of the spirit. And by my dancing I gather for my mother Nuit the heads of all them that are baptized in the waters of life. I am the lust of the spirit that eateth up the soul of man. I have prepared a feast for the adepts, and they that partake thereof shall see God.
Whoa. She is not a lady to mess with. She is both a being and an energetic force, and in both forms is potent. Give her your ego and she will return it as a pile of dust.
From the Thunder, Perfect Mind, a Coptic text found at Nag Hammadi dating from around 350 CE:
For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the motherand the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring.
But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday.
And he is my offspring in (due) time,
and my power is from him.
I am the staff of his power in his youth,
and he is the rod of my old age.
And whatever he wills happens to me.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name.
Why, you who hate me, do you love me,
and hate those who love me?
You who deny me, confess me,
and you who confess me, deny me.
You who tell the truth about me, lie about me,
and you who have lied about me, tell the truth about me.
You who know me, be ignorant of me,
and those who have not known me, let them know me.
For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
Give heed to me.
In 1587 Edward Kelley, while scrying in the seventh aethyr of Deo, contacted a goddess described thusly: “All her attire is like beaten gold; she hath on her forehead a cross crystal, her neck and breast are bare unto under her dugs: she hath a girdle of beaten gold slackly buckled unto her with a pendant of gold down to the ground.” He delivered the following message from the goddess to John Dee:
I am the daughter of Fortitude, and ravished every hour from my youth. For behold I am Understanding and science dwelleth in me; and the heavens oppress me. They cover and desire me with infinite appetite; for none that are earthly have embraced me, for I am shadowed with the Circle of the Stars and covered with the morning clouds. My feet are swifter than the winds, and my hands are sweeter than the morning dew. My garments are from the beginning, and my dwelling place is in myself. The Lion knoweth not where I walk, neither do the beast of the fields understand me. I am deflowered, yet a virgin; I sanctify and am not sanctified. Happy is he that embraceth me: for in the night season I am sweet, and in the day full of pleasure. My company is a harmony of many symbols and my lips sweeter than health itself. I am a harlot for such as ravish me, and a virgin with such as know me not. For lo, I am loved of many, and I am a lover to many; and as many as come unto me as they should do, have entertainment.
Purge your streets, O ye sons of men, and wash your houses clean; make yourselves holy, and put on righteousness. Cast out your old strumpets, and burn their clothes; abstain from the company of other women that are defiled, that are sluttish, and not so handsome and beautiful as I, and then will I come and dwell amongst you: and behold, I will bring forth children unto you, and they shall be the Sons of Comfort. I will open my garments, and stand naked before you, that your love may be more enflamed toward me.
Babalon shows us the paradox of the holy whore who remains a virgin.
And she is indeed demanding. A friend of mine was listening to this Rune Soup podcast the other day. I’d told her about how Babalon made it very clear exactly what she wanted the Babalon edition decks to be like, and it was a ton of work and during a period in which I was really run down. So she was thinking of this and sent me this via email:
My favorite quote from the interview went something like “The Goddess is not very patient with human limitations”. You say you’ve got pneumonia? Bah! Who cares! Get back to lacing my corset!
Laughing here because that is her. I have laced her corset again and again. To bring this all back to Valentines Day, who more perfect to celebrate with than the goddess of Lust? If you have a Babalon edition deck I encourage you to use it on this day. The Babalon edition decks are so very sensual. If you don’t have one, know that the edition is limited and going fast.
The decks come in a specially designed corset wrap and the extra cards come in a matching garter, all done in colors of scarlet, ruby, and black in papers with a silken feel and satin ribbons.
The booklets are bound with a braided ribbon resembling a crop, and they come with a ruby colored heavy satin bag whose black cords are tied in fancy lanyard knots, with the ends sealed in red wax and consecrated In Nomine Babalon. These decks have silver foiled fronts and 93 cards in total; 14 extra cards including the zodiacal decan cards.
The boxes and the seal on the booklets have her seven pointed star symbol and are bound again in satin with a wax seal. Satin, silk, bound cords, laced up corsets and garters, molten wax. Simply reeks of Eros. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to consider it before they are gone. The edition of 156 is more than half gone already. I will not be crazy enough to make more of these corsets again! They won’t be repeated, and they will never go on sale as that would be an affront to the goddess. But I will offer that if you purchase one between now and Valentine’s Day and mention the word Eros, I will include not only a print of the new Lust card called In Nomine Babalon, but also a print of either the original Lust card or the Lovers card, your choice.
And it comes gift wrapped all in Valentine red. This is a gift for your beloved, even if your beloved only exists as the Khabs, the light of the star in your heart.
I hope this year you honor the Star Goddess on her festival, from sunset February 1st to sunset February 2nd. Whatever you celebrate this month, whether it be Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog Day, the Feast of Stars, aka the Feast of Nuit, Valentine’s Day, or the Lupercalia, may love be with you.
Light, Love, Liberty, Life.
Love is the Law, Love under Will.