Vole! Aude! Scie! Tace!

There is an Hermetic maxim that goes “To Will, To Dare, To Know and To Keep (or Be) Silent.” It parallels the observation that those who truly know don’t talk about it, and those who speak as if they do don’t really know. There are several variations on this theme; the one that I like best may in fact be Wiccan in origin: “To Know, To Will, To Dare and to Keep Silent.” I’ve seen it called the “Four Powers of the Magus.”

“To Know” presumes that learning is the key to mastery. Without it all you have to go on is assumptions, which – while they may eventually prove to be valid – are taking the long way around (unless of course you value the journey more than arriving at the destination).

“To Will” means mustering the resolve to see it through to the end no matter what; think of it as “applied knowledge.”

“To Dare” simply means “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

“To Keep Silent” is more than just “keeping your head down;” silence allows the small, still voice of inspiration to be heard.

I pulled out the Thoth deck and tried to match up cards to the maxim; there turned out to be more than one possibility. (Note that I’m not showing all combinations here since I only have three Thoth decks of the same size; you can do the visual juggling if you like.) The interesting thing in this exercise is that, while the “To Will” and “To Dare” cards are constant, the “To Know” and “To Keep Silent” cards are partially interchangeable, suggesting that knowledge and restraint are entirely consistent: “those who know don’t speak.” As I see it, the Priestess represents hidden knowledge, the Hierophant dogma and the Hermit universal wisdom. The Aeon joins the “To Keep Silent” group because Horus has his finger to his lips. The top row is my favorite of the three series.

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