Laying the Groundwork

Christmas 2015—I suggested to a group of about nine of us who were working together on a soul-spiritual level in Peterborough, New Hampshire that we take into the Holy Nights the idea of taking up the request at the end of Meditations on the Tarot to pen 56 Letter-Meditations on the Minor Arcana of the Tarot of Marseilles.

A month and a half later, a plan is formed. What follows is an email from me to the group from February 7, 2016:

Hi all,

Phillip shared with me that on Wednesday night the idea of working with MOT as a group was brought up, and how we move forward with that, particularly with an aim of working with the Minor Arcana.  I wanted to share my thoughts on this.

First of all, I want to give a fuller picture of the work with the Minor Arcana that I’ve been living with. If we look at Tomberg’s indications in Meditations on the Tarot, he basically portrays the work with the Minor Arcana as ascending the Sephiroth Tree, from Kingdom to Crown.  In The Lord’s Prayer Course, he describes it as working with the stages of John’s Apocalypse:  Coins = 7 Seals, Swords = 7 Trumpets, Cups = 7 Vials, Batons = New Jerusalem.  

What’s become clear to me is that in working with the Minor Arcana, we enter a realm in which we not only study what has already been in terms of Tomberg’s work (e.g. Lord’s Prayer Course, MOT, Christ and Sophia, etc.), but we have the potential to both elaborate upon and synthesize his work; we open the circle into a spiral.

If the ultimate aim is 56 letter/meditations on the Minor Arcana, these letter mediations [sic] stand to:

– continue the work begun in Meditations on the Tarot

– continue the unfinished work of Tomberg’s Meditations on the Apocalypse, which were cut short at the 7 letters

– continue the work on the Lord’s Prayer, since the Lord’s Prayer is also essentially an elaboration of the Sephiroth Tree

I also see working with the four suits of the Minor Arcana as somehow related to the spiritual organism which has its root in the Morning Meditation, sprouts in the Foundation Stone, bears leaf in the four levels of Christian Hermeticism, and flowers in the “Inner Radiance” practice.  Next would be the fruit of this organism.  

Realistically, crafting 56 letter/meditations in the vein of MOT is a lifelong project.  It is likely something not all of us will see through to the end, if any of us.  However, we can be sure there are aspects to working as a group, even if it is only in laying the foundation of such a work, that would both make the work truly anonymous as well as potentially build a bridge “beyond the grave” as our Unknown Friend puts it.   

I still see the practical aspects of working with the Minor Arcana as something which requires Robert’s guidance – hopefully guidance we can receive to some degree this year.

As to the practical aspect of working intensively with the Major Arcana, which necessarily precedes working with the Minor Arcana – 
I think we have already spoken of looking at the Major Arcana in conjunction with the “parts” of the Knight’s Practice.  I think we could go through one part/Arcana per month.  For myself personally, I also plan this year to begin practicing the Lord’s Prayer Course.  The first part of the course is 96 weeks – conveniently, 96 weeks = 22 months.  So, there is an arcanum for each month of the practice.  Is anyone else interested in taking this up?  I think it would be a very potent method of working with the Arcana:  in conjunction with the Knight’s Practice and the Lord’s Prayer Course.  I had planned on beginning this in conjunction with Christ’s decent into the eighth sub-earthly sphere, i.e. June of this year – but we could begin earlier than that, if that’s what everyone wants.  

Clearly, none of us knows what the next 6 months holds, although I think we all feel massive change is coming both externally and internally.  I think it is ok for us to commit to a 22 month long group practice while fully conscious that our ability to meet may be severely hampered for a period.  We can continue our group practice even if we cannot meet physically. 

Thoughts?  How do we all feel about this?

Best – Joel

A few months later, as we headed closer to our chosen starting point (June, 2016), I reached out to everyone with my reflections on how we might begin. Included here is my email to the group from May 21, 2016:

Greetings all on the Festival of the Holy Trinity, exactly 49 years (and one day) after the completion of Meditations on the Tarot.

I wanted to give a brief picture of what’s living in me for our proceedings over the next months and possibly years as we head into this new type of work together.

Some of the structure of how we will proceed is, selfishly enough, based on my choice to take up The Lord’s Prayer Course starting in June.  The structure of the course involves weekly readings to meditate on in conjunction with a monthly focus on an Arcanum of the Tarot.  The first 96 weeks of the course (out of over 600!) exist as a whole in a certain sense – conveniently enough this is 22 months, one for each Arcanum.
However, I hope I am not delusional in feeling that there are strong points of connection between my personal choice of spiritual practice for the next 22 months, and the needs and strivings of our group. I see a mutual undertaking of the Major Arcana:

1. Deepening pre-existing relationships to the material in a living way that can only come about through group study.

2.  Tying together the various works of Tomberg, specifically Meditations on the TarotChrist and Sophia, and The Lord’s Prayer Course.  

3.  Because of the above, serving as a proper crash course into Tomberg for those of us less familiar with his work.

4.  Unveiling new layers of the Grail Knight’s Practice, as we look at each part in connection to each Arcanum.

5.  Setting the stage for the ultimate goal:  delving into the Minor Arcana.  This is a crucial aspect that, despite its not being the forefront for some time, must remain in the back of our minds.

6.  Giving us the opportunity to both “think in Arcana” (as encouraged by Tomberg in MOTT) and to “think in unison” (as encouraged through our readings with [Estelle Isaacson]).

7.  Allowing us to flex our thinking and willing as a group, in addition to our well established, devotional middle realm.

8.  Opening up a space for the Maitreya to work in a quite direct manner with our group; hence

9.  Creating a Grail for spiritual beings to inhabit, and for spiritual impulses to take root in us.

10.  Actively working with the forces of Good released from June 4th onward from the 8th subearthly sphere, in conscious counterbalance to the forces of Evil released concurrently.

I’m sure there are many other forgotten and unforeseen consequences of doing such a work together.  

Now, to the practical. Here is what I have for June:

Month of “The Magician” and Part 1 of GKP (Read Tomberg’s Third Sacrifice of Christ)           

June 1st:  Overview/general discussion – 7 pm at Jim’s           

8th:  Paradise (Genesis 2+3)           

15th:  Nine Beatitudes (AMNT 3,4,5)           

22nd:  Stages of the Passion (AMNT 9,10)           

29th:  The Last Things (Matthew 24+25)

I have included for each week the reading from The Lord’s Prayer Course.  AMNT refers to part two of Christ and Sophia:  Anthroposophical Meditations on the New Testament. I have also included the reading that is alluded to in the first part of the Knight’s Practice.  The only reading that I would consider “required” in any sense is the first Letter on The Magician – that must be our point of contact.  The other readings are optional – there to flesh out, broaden and deepen our contemplation of The Magician, to lend fuel to the weekly discussions.  It might be nice if each of us brought a portion of one of the month’s readings that spoke to us each week to set the stage for our conversation.  Does everyone have a copy of MOTT and C+S? Those will come in handy.

I think it will be important for us to begin and end our conversations with a “thinking in unison” of the Arcanum in question for a few minutes silently.  Possibly then we could open with the quotations that begin the letter in question before proceeding with our individual offerings of the various readings, or of what has come to us out of a contemplation of the Arcanum.

It might be good for us to make a goal of creating summaries of the first 13 Arcana as we go. Summaries for 14 – 22 have been printed in The Wandering Fool.  It would be good practice to try our hand at crafting the missing ones, as we look toward the Minor Arcana.

Another major detail to consider is how often we will all be together, how often we will do the GK practice together, and how often we will have the Mass.  I think these details are all very fluid and can be worked with on a month to month basis, but we should get them clear for the month of June at least. 

I would like to discuss all of these details as a group on June 1st, as well as dig into some of the aspects of Major vs Minor Arcana to give us the wash before we begin painting, so to speak. 

June 1st, Jim’s place, normal time? Hope you all can be there.

Deep thanks to you all for the willingness to take this on,


PS I had the thought that possibly we could send our “syllabus” to other Grail Knights who have a connection to our group.  Kevin, Heidi, and Richard B. are enthusiastic. They will “enter the etheric temple” with us by participating in whatever aspect of the work they feel drawn to, even if it is as simple as focusing on a particular Arcanum every month. The slightest gesture in this regard creates a “magic chain” of protection for the Earth during this unspeakably dark summer. Others could be included in the same vein, if you think of anyone.  

Finally, we met in person on June 1, 2016 for our first Hermetic Conversation. Reflections from that evening:

Thank you to everyone for meeting last night.  There was a special mood in the room; it feels like we’re on the threshold of something both intimate and vast.

I wanted to send out a summary of what we talked about last night, just so we’re all on the same page as we head into this.  Let me know if I’ve missed anything:

We won’t be able to all be together very often.  Our connecting thread will be to hold in our consciousness the Arcanum of the month, and to be reading at whatever depth we are able the accompanying letter.  Notes in the vein of The Wandering Fool will be sent out for those who have missed a week.  Once a month or so we will meet to do the entire Grail Knight’s Practice and to share the Mass – preferably when we’re all around.

To begin with, we’ll weave the Practice into the study by ending with doing only Part One.  From there, we’ll see where we’re led in the next months.

Keep it heart centered – bring in pieces from the “suggested reading,” from other sources, from your biography, your artwork to contribute to the contemplation of the image. Feel open to these things, rather than it being a more or less narrow study of intellectual content.  Keep in mind the silence between sharing – this is when the spiritual world has its chance to speak.  The silence is the breathing of the group.

The most essential reading to remain familiar with is the Letter Meditation for the month.  Our process will be to:

– Read the quote from the beginning of the Letter as an invocation

– Look at the Arcanum in question and for a few minutes silently contemplate the image in unison, bringing it to life within us

– Speaking out afterimages from this contemplation if we feel called to

– Building up a summary of the Letter Meditation as a group.  We could go one at a time, gradually coming to the whole.

– Bringing it [sic] elements from other readings, questions, etc as we feel inspired to do so (remembering the Silence)

– When we feel a natural end to the conversation, we end with the Grail Knight’s Practice

And behind all of this – it is just a latticework upon which vines should grow!  Let’s remain open to inspiration, to where our group study wants to lead us.  We only need to feel attached to a specific structure to give ourselves a beginning.

Here is a reading list for the month:

June:  Month of The Magician and Part 1 of GKP (Read Tomberg’s Third Sacrifice of Christ)

7:  Paradise (Genesis 2+3) 

14:  Nine Beatitudes (Christ and Sophia, NT 3,4,5)

21:  Stages of the Passion (Christ and Sophia, NT 9,10)

28:  The Last Things (Matthew 24+25) 

Thanks and see you next Tuesday!

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