Analysis of the All Seeing Eye

The All Seeing Eye

The All Seeing Eye or Eye of Providence is a religious symbol, which in a Christian context, stood for God watching over the society of his children. It also had widespread use along similar lines in western esoteric philosophy and particularly Freemasonry. More recently it has come to signify New World Order  (NWO) in the form of a modern technologically driven surveillance state, overseen by a secret society of Illuminati. The Eye is generally placed within a triangle, the latter being reminiscent of the Holy Trinity in Christian iconography. The triangle is also a diagrammatic form associated with the hierarchy and thus enhances the All Seeing Eye as a symbol of the hierarchical society envisaged in The Pyramid of Power of the NWO. To see how the Two Trees links with the All Seeing Eye, one must first examine the experience of the individual with the All Seeing Eye. This is the experience of climbing ‘the ladder’ within a hierarchical structure. What motivates one to climb in the first place and how is this climbing achieved? What is the eye when viewed from within? To answer these questions, two simple social models employing hierarchical organization are analysed and compared.

Two Social Models

The first of these models is the Man of Earth Triad of initiations (MoE) found in the western esoteric order of the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), further details of which can be found here and in more detail here and here. The second model is  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs found in mainstream social psychology theory.

 Man of Earth Triad  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Both systems consist of a series of steps converging to a predetermined goal, the goal marking the endpoint and ultimate attainment of that system. For the MoE triad, the endpoint is the transformation of a raw recruit or neophyte into a functioning member of the hermetic community running the initiations. Maslow’s hierarchy has a similar goal in providing a route for a ‘raw recruit’ to become a functioning member of a social order; Maslow’s model can be seen as a generalized form of the MoE.

The MoE system involves six initiations: the first or ‘Minerval’ is deemed a prologue to the main initiations and allows the candidate an opportunity to withdraw; the next four initiations form the central four degrees I° – IV°; and the final degree of the Perfect Initiate, seen as a pendant to the IV° initiation.  Crowley later gave an insight into the purpose of these degrees in his letters:

Minerval The Ego is attracted to the Solar System.
Man and Brother
Woman and Sister
The Child experiences Birth.
II° Magician The Man experiences Life.
III° Master Magician He experiences Death.
IV° Perfect Magician and companion of the Holy Royal Arch of Enoch He experiences the World beyond Death.
Perfect Initiate, or Prince of Jerusalem This entire cycle of Point-Events is withdrawn into Annihilation.

From Crowley’s descriptions, the initiations symbolise the process of life as a basis for the psychological transformation of the candidate from their old life to their new and enlightened existence.

The steps of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are self-explanatory though thorough explanations can be found within the linked Wikipedia article. Self-actualization describes an idealised and perfected self  imagined by an individual and is dependent on the desires of the individual: thus a person dedicated to athletics might see a great sportsman as self-actualisation while another person may visualise the perfect parent as their ultimate goal.

Interestingly, Maslow later expanded his definition of self-actualisation to include a spiritual element which included the development of the individual to be the best they could be both for themselves and the greater good. This will allow parallels to be drawn between the two systems under study, allowing a common spiritual basis to be developed for both.

Analysis of Hierarchy: An Individual’s Perspective

The two systems have a preparatory step, explicitly recognised in the MoE initiations as the Minerval (zero degree) stage and implicitly required in Maslow’s hierarchy as the personifying of the initial desire into an idealized personality (sportsman, pop singer, brilliant scientist…) which is the goal for the individual; icons, both living and imagined, are useful in this initial formulation of the goal. With the MoE, this idealization is introduced in the Minerval stage as that of the enlightened magician.

In order to get inside the abstract nature of the hierarchical systems, a heady mixture of mathematics and western magical theory will be used, more specifically Pascal’s Triangle from the former and the classical four elements along with the Tarot trumps from the latter. There is no apology for using such ‘off the wall’ means to provide an explanation so long as such means bring about a deeper understanding of a deeply spiritual matter. To aid the reader at this stage, the following reasoning as to the methods used may be of help:

  1. Pascal’s Triangle provides  a more detailed structure to the convergent triangular scheme which allows for some insight into understanding the internal workings of the hierarchical systems. It also may be hinted in some of the alchemical diagrams.
    The seven stages of the great work of transmutation, Cabala, Stefan Michelsberger, 1616 The bath of the philosophers, Commentariorum Alchymaie, Libavius, 1606
  2. The MoE initiations belong to the western esoteric tradition and have been shown to bear a strong resemblance to the general model of Maslow, as outlined above.
  3. The western  esoteric tradition provides a set of idealized  personalities in the Tarot Trumps which can be used as representative personalities within the system. The Tarot Trumps were recognised as deep archetypes of the psyche by Jung.
  4. The western esoteric tradition associates ideas through the  numerical value of their spellings, Gematria. This technique is here applied using the positional value of the Tarot trumps – this positional value is vitally important in understanding the narrative of the Trumps themselves.

Zeroth Degree – Defining the Desire

As was stated above, the preliminary to enter the hierarchy is to harness the driving force of desire towards the idealised goal (magician, sports star…). Let this force first be represented by the Tarot trump traditionally attributed to it, Lust:

Lust is in the 11th position, identified by the Roman numerals XI above. The numeric form, 11, can also be thought of a symbol for the divided self: two ones bound together forming a composite new number, the prime number eleven.   Lust was placed in this position by Crowley in line with the card’s perceived resonance with the astrological star sign Leo. The more traditional Rider-Waite Tarot deck has Justice at the 11th position. Having this card as the underlying guiding force for the hierarchical system provides an interesting basis for meditation on a more “traditional” social structure mediated through balance, the law and the greater good though it will not be further discussed here. Now 11 = 1 + 10, or in Roman numerals,

XI = I + X

The tarot cards found at the 1st and 10th position are The Magus and Fortune respectively. The divided self is thus split into two distinct parts, defined by these cards. Work can now be done to unify these separate selves through chasing the dream locked inside the desire.


The theme of the All-Seeing eye is evident in the art of the Fortune card with the Wheel of Fortune in place of the eye on a triangular background. The Fortune card is an extremely passive archetype and can be seen as a person fully given up to the vagaries of fate and fortune, always ‘going with the flow’ : the card stands for randomness, life dictated by luck, whether good or bad. In modern parlance, this person would be known as ‘the Slacker’. For advocates of Crowley, the X in the formula can also be seen as the ‘Ordeal X’ which has four aspects as detailed in the Book of the Law (III:22,64-67).

Notable elements of the art found in The Magus are the general mathematical symbolism of the complex geometric grid forming the backdrop to the card and the curve, reminiscent of a normal or bell curve found in statistics, upon which the Magus stands on tiptoe.  By definition, the Magus is in control of all that he surveys and a master of anything he turns his hand to. He is a master of statistics in that he is beyond the randomness captured in its graphs and indeed stands as the mean and central result derived from such a graph. One can think of him in modern terms as the ultimate control freak.

These two archetypes are very much opposites, though together they neatly define the initial, driving desire of an individual in terms of a consummate master of the situation (pop star, successful business person, guru…), The Magus, as well as the randomness within the person preventing realization of their goal,  Fortune. Thus prepared in the Minerval antechamber, the supplicant is ready to enter the hierarchy proper.

The Initiation – Into the Mix

The candidate enters the system at this stage becoming a ‘brother/sister’ in the MoE system or sorting out physiological needs according to Maslow. According to Crowley there is a ‘birth’ into the new system described by this stage. In order to move forward with the analysis, a model is needed that describes the hierarchical system including the entry point, levels of hierarchy and endpoint as well as a method of linking and holding the levels together. At this point, Pascal’s Triangle is introduced, and more specifically, its properties with binomial expansion. Non-mathematicians need not fear as a symbolic/semantic analysis will now be outlined: a  more mathematical, probability-based analysis is given here which will give additional insights into the system.

To enter the society, there must be an initial test to discover the capabilities of the supplicant: if he is already a magician there is no need to go through the business of climbing the hierarchy, being purified and trained in the process. This test can thus be thought of as the ‘test of the magician’ or ‘test of power’.  The Powers of the Sphinx based on the classical elements form the basis of the tests in our model. Each power is designated a number, in line with the numerically based system:

  • (4) The Power of Silence (Earth)
  • (3) The Power of Knowledge (Air)
  • (2) The Power of Courage (Water)
  • (1) The Power of Will (Fire)

For the entrance test, the most tangible power, of Silence, is then applied to the prepared candidate:
(I + X)4
Note that a candidate who is all ‘I‘ and no ‘X‘, that is an individual who is  competent within that social group (e.g. already a top sportsman, pop star, good citizen…) will be unaffected by the test as I4 = 14 = 1. For most candidates however their ‘Slack’ is greatly enlarged and the ‘test of power’ becomes the ‘amplification of shame’: this shame becomes the debt that must be shed in order to rise up the hierarchy.

The candidate then takes their place in the appropriate part of the hierarchy.  For a candidate with significant ‘X‘, this will be on the 5th row of Pascal’s Triangle.

The empowered candidate resonates with this row due to the special property of the number 11 in Pascal’s Triangle – each row is eleven raised to the power of the row minus one. Thus 110 = 1,  111 = 11,  112 = 121,  113=1331,  114=14641. This property, called Magic 11s also works for higher rows though it is a little more involved. The 5th row also holds the coefficients found in the algebraic expansion of (I + X)4
(I + X)4 = I4 + 4I3X + 6I2X2 + 4IX3 + X4
We use this expanded form to ‘get inside’ the system of which the candidate, as initiate, is now a part.

First Degree – The Wall of Silence

Looking at the expansion again in more detail, the first degree initiate (MoE) or candidate working on their physiology (Maslow) has entered into a very complex state with a now five terms making up the description:

I4 + 4I3X + 6I2X2 + 4IX3 + X4
There is however only one term that the initiate can concentrate upon as the other terms contain aspects of the desired goal, ‘I‘ or the magician, and cannot be touched for this reason. ‘X4‘ can be addressed consciously by the candidate without conflicting with the desire to reach the goal. ‘X4‘  can be understood as randomness or lack of control in respect to the Power of Silence. One way to to view succeeding at this level is ‘to keep calm (and silent) and carry on’. Another way to look at the ordeal for this level is the process of aligning one’s earthly (material) affairs towards achieving the goal of the system; this aligns well with Maslow’s tackling of physiological needs as the first step.

The candidate’s success causes the  ‘X4‘  term to disappear and other terms dealt with at a subconscious level are also simplified and lessened in the process. The candidate then comes to more resemble the next level and is awarded the initiation or recognition for that level. Thus is the hierarchy climbed:

The Magician (or perfected self) is always present at each level as the guiding  aspect of the aspirant because I4 = I3 = I2 = I = 1.

Second Degree – Finding a Direction

The reward for reaching this level forms the basis for further progression: through the transition the aspirant now perceives which way is ‘up’. He can now begin to formulate a conscious philosophy for accelerating along this newly found direction towards the desired apex of achievement. Thus the candidate safely navigates the uncertainty of knowledge and the term    ‘X3‘ disappears. The ‘settling in’ of the candidate at this stage equates to the feeling of safety alluded to in Maslow’s scheme – the candidate has moved beyond ignorance-based fear and now has a plan.

Third Degree – The Courage of Convictions

The initiate has a philosophy for success and must use it to plan future actions. Here patience to follow the newly formulated course of action and a quiet courage to let go that which is past are now the keys to this grade. Empathy between the initiate and others in the system can now develop as they share and seek the commonly held goal together. Thus Maslow’s love and belonging is relevant here. The term  ‘X2‘ representing the irregularities of action is here solved.

Fourth Degree – Resolve to Resolution

The initiate has now gone full circle and experiences a sense of déjà vu, coming back to the state ‘I+X‘ formed at the Minerval stage. This fact also explains the allure of the system to the prospective Minerval as they identify naturally with these elevated initiates. The same problem is once again presented but now the aspirant is equipped with three of the powers of the Sphinx: Silence, Knowledge and Courage. From these the Will crystallises to accomplish the goal formed at the beginning, whose solution will earn the initiate the esteem of his fellows and elevate him to the pinnacle. Interpreting the Maslow model, the candidate seeks esteem from the community by finally solving the ‘Slack’ for which he originally joined the group, defined in the Minerval stage. This esteem will allow final transcendence from the doubts that were brought by the aspirant into the system.

The Perfect Initiate – The ‘I‘ in the Triangle

The goal is attained, the dream realised, the divided self is united and randomness has been banished. The subject is now a fully-fledged member of the community, capable of operating at a level sufficient to the requirements of his fellows.  Symbolically the candidate is raised to the power of nothing, (I+X)0, a power beyond those of the Sphinx.’I‘ is now freed from the slackness that bedeviled it and can now fully engage with those around it. Here also is Maslow’s sense of self-actualisation – the candidate has achieved their goal, formulated from their original desire and actuated through the power of society.

That’s it, isn’t it?

This seems to be the end of the story: the protagonist achieves his goal, finally bathed in the esteem of society and everyone lives happily ever after…

Well, if nothing else, entropy will eventually erode the position of perfection achieved by the initiate and he will fall again back into a state of self-doubt. New challenges or slackness spawned by laziness or hubris will introduce randomness back into life and the initiate will once again be required to ‘climb the mountain’ and regain his position on the pinnacle. Thus a strange cycle (or spiral) is established:

A way of seeing this cycle is as a constant cycle of progression. The perfect initiate on one hierarchy becomes the Minerval candidate for a new hierarchy. Hence, the person hops between ‘local’ hierarchies which are are related to each other as a hierarchy of hierarchies. A possible form of this system might be the fractal,  Sierpiński Sieve, which can be generated by a number of methods  including the even and odd numbers of Pascal’s Triangle and via the randomness of dice rolls:

Sierpiński Sieve in Pascal’s Triangle Construction of a Sierpiński Sieve from triangles

It is now tempting to see ‘the All-Seeing Eye (I)’ perched on top of this great fractal society, dictating the direction of ‘up’ and all the subservient ‘I‘s that guide towards convergence to this point. Being a fractal, the pattern and structure of the whole is repeated at all levels of detail.

It is also interesting to think of how the direction ‘up’ can be perceived. Pascal’s Triangle contains the bell curve which is of fundamental importance to modern statistics:

From the perspective of the bell curve, going ‘up’ is actually moving towards the centre, where the average or mean of the population is found. Thus attaining to the ‘I‘ or the Magician is becoming ‘Mr. Average’ or ‘Mr. Mean’. Indeed ‘The Magus’ of Crowley’s Thoth Deck stands on the centre of a bell-shaped curve in the image of the card (see above). Thus the whole process is a convergence of individuals towards a universal average as defined by the ‘All Seeing Eye’ : visualize the scene from Hellraiser 2, a great and infernal beam emanating from a tower, at the centre of a fractal labyrinth full of scurrying shapes. Thus our mad hunt in perfecting our perceived self-image in order to earn the esteem of those around us is really a herding mechanism instigated and overseen by a central mediating body.

As good as it gets?

Don’t get me wrong: a convergent mode of thought, the basis of our problem-solving facility, is a powerful tool which has brought about many great breakthroughs in art, science and philosophy. But don’t mistake the tool for the toolbox: if we constantly use a hammer then every problem becomes a nail.  There is another way to look at our conundrum of the divided self. We must go back and consider the formula of the perfect initiate wherein the magic of uniting  is accomplished,  (I+X)0. Here the ‘Power of Nothing’ is applied to the aspirant to bring unification. ‘Nothing’ is also a key to an alternate explanation and result. Crowley gave a hint towards this by viewing the highest initiation, the Perfect Initiate, as a form of annihilation.  What if one gave equal weight and importance to the the desired goal, ‘I‘, and its associated Slack, ‘X‘ ? An aid to understanding this philosophy can be found in the works of the inimitable J.R. “Bob” Dobbs. Then the ‘up’ direction as well as the binding glue of desire would disappear, leaving a ‘0‘ in place of  the hierarchical triangle and its ‘I‘.  If this happens the system collapses and disappears. The aspirant falls down the newly created rabbit hole towards a new adventure