Knave of Cups

A somewhat different approach: I will leave some initial impressions here, and then anyone is free to contribute via the comments…

The conversation is now open…

We begin by placing this image in the context of the entirety of the Suit of Cups, focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart. The reader is then encouraged to move the second part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, beginning with the mantra “In purest love for all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul”, and then working through the chakras from crown to root in relation to the seven Stages of the Passion and the seven Words from the Cross.

We then bring the Knave of Cups into relation with the 9th Letter of the Divine Alphabet: Tet; the Ninth Arcanum: The Hermit…

…and the quality of “Conscience.” This finds its radiation in the Tree of Life between the sephiroth on the right shoulder (Peace) and the left shoulder (Activity). Those who know the Grail Knight’s Practice can then perform the 9th part: the third level of trespass (disobedience and grasping) that is overcome by the third healing miracle (the healing of the paralysed man) and the third level of communion (the strengthening quality of milk).

The Apocalypse readings for the Knave of Cups come from Chapter 17:7-15:

And the angel said to me, “Why were you astonished? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that bears her, the one that has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the abyss, and is going to destruction; and they who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the cosmos, will be astonished on seeing that the beast was and is not and will presently be. Here is the mind possessed of wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains, there where the woman sits upon them, and are seven kings. The five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come, and when he has come he must remain for a little while. And the beast that was and is not, he is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but receive authority as kings along with the beast for one hour. These have a single resolve, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage a war with the suckling lamb and the suckling lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” And he says to me, “The waters that you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.”

In our work with the Major Arcana, we experienced the journey from the Magician to the World as a journey from conception, to birth, to death, and finally to the Saturn sphere. With the Minor Arcana, we have been imagining them as the journey back into incarnation: the Numbered Coins as the realm of Midnight Hour; the Court Coins as the Saturn sphere; the Numbered Swords as the Jupiter sphere; the Court Swords as the Mars sphere; and the Numbered Cups as the Sun sphere. We have been considering this journey of the soul into incarnation in relation to the musical pieces selected for the Sophia Grail Circle of the same name. With the Knave of Cups, we enter into the Venus sphere on the path of incarnation. The music selected by Robert Powell to express this experience of the Venus sphere is Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61, movement II:

Notes to formal conversations can be found below; again, however, I encourage all readers to take advantage of the comments section to have an extended, virtual “conversation” around the Knave of Cups.

Conversation—Part One

Conversation—Part Two

Conversation—Part Three


  1. Natalia says:

    To me some impressions the Knave of Cups gives is that I wonder about his other leg which has “cartoon type” of things coming from his shoe, like ” fast” ,airy something or as If something has got stuck to his shoe. It makes me even think if sand of desert is so hot that maybe he has to quickly move his feet! What is that ground actually, its a bit different to other grounds as if a little ” edge” or hole is there on the ground and he is just crossing it.
    Another thing is that he has appearance that makes me think of Parcifal. I imagined Parcifal always having a bit feminine appearance as his handsomeness is always mentioned. He was this figure also in his one former earlier Egyptian life , Youth of Sais who lifted The veil of Isis and died. Now the veil is hovering in front of his own face!
    The lower Part of Cup brings ones association to Egypt as in The Ace of Cups. But as If the pyramid is not keeping its form proper anymore.
    There is this unveiling of Cup and feeling ” I have had to carry this so long now it can be shown” but there is still this very strong connection through his facial expression to this object.
    And how he keeps this hat on his left hand, very softly. The hat or turban could be still doing something, balancing him on his movement maybe. There is something there in the hat ,it makes me see there almost reflecting something of the ground, especially If you put The card upside down. Does it have a relation to this ” valley” on The ground ? This thing he is maybe crossing over.
    The right side of The card is so light, compared to left side with more heavy appearance of cup and his facial expression.
    Is he balancing something? The sense of past ,towards future is to be felt too, is he inbetween?


    1. GK says:

      Dear Natalia…my apologies it has taken so long to reply! I really appreciate this observation of the lines that seem to emerge out of the shoes of the Knave of Cups. As though they indicate quickness of movement, or like they are spikes—maybe like shoes for climbing or cleats for playing soccer or something. In either case, an agility and athletic quality is indicated. I wondered whether we had seen anything like that before, and the only image that comes close is The Magician. It is only his right foot that has these spikes/air movements. And he is not in movement, he is kind of stuck to the ground, maybe these spikes have him nailed down or something. It actually made me notice for the first time that The Magician has a heel on his left shoe and not his right—they aren’t just two different colors, they have two different qualities; spikes on the blue/right that connect him into the earth vs a heel on the red/left that lifts him up. Maybe there is something in the image as a whole that has his right side (our left) tilting down and his left side (our right) lifting up?

      Which makes one think of unstable ground…taking us back to this Knave of Cups…it is very much like a chasm is opening up, like maybe it isn’t so much that the ground is too hot to walk on, but that the ground is falling apart beneath her feet…she has to hurry before it all crumbles away beneath her.

      And yes…the Youth of Sais lifting the veil of Isis…and then he dies! Again bringing us to this as an image of a mission finally accomplished after years of struggle…she is taking her last breath as she falls to her knees, delivering the Cup that she had hidden within herself for so long…I left our initial conversation last month with the feeling that there are so many connections between this image and The Judgement—the cup is very much like the trumpet of the Angel, the trumpet that is connected to the Angel’s larynx and heart, just as this cup would have been when it was still “inside the shelf” of her chest cavity…the Knave’s face and hair is very similar to the Angel’s…the flag-form that is in her shirt is like the flag coming off of the trumpet in The Judgement. And yet, while The Judgement has everything to do with resurrection, this is an image of dying, of self-sacrifice. But with The Judgement, you again have intimations of this Parzival individuality in his incarnation as the Youth of Nain who was resurrected by Christ.

      And yes, right, once again we have the pyramid form which has been emphasised throughout the Cups, and again brings in the Youth of Sais. But the pyramid is falling apart, or one side has been removed. Maybe this is related to the unveiling of Isis, pulling down a wall of the pyramid? I also begin to wonder if the side of the pyramid that is “missing” has been raised up—do you see this triangular portion of the flesh-coloured scarf? Maybe that used to be the wall or door of the pyramid. And now this blue stream, like a blue rainbow, is coming out of the opening in the pyramid. Again, like a resurrection from the tomb or something. The Epyptian initiation into death. Again, it makes me think that perhaps this head was inside the cup…but maybe it was down in the bottom of it, and only came out when the “door” was removed…and the flesh-scarf and head are attached to the backside of this “door”.

      Ah! And now so interesting as I re-read your comments after having looked at The Magician! Again we have this “heaviness” on the Knave’s right (our left) and this levity or raising up on her left (our right), just as we do in The Magician. And of course, the whole theme of the Letter-Meditation on The Magician has to do with balance, being a tightrope walker, and of needing to walk while holding one’s head in one’s hand like St. Dionysius (pp 9-10). Yes, it’s like the hat is a portion of the ground…maybe she even had been crawling and some of this sticky ground came off in her hand? But it also appears as though the ground is being “lifted” or vacuumed up somehow by this golden hat. It’s like portions of her are lifting up, being exposed, being revealed, at the expense of other parts which are falling part, breaking down, crumbling. This combination of the very young and very old, of death and life. But more than anything to me, it makes me think of the moment of death as the moment of the birth of the spirit…like Christ’s death as the birth of his spirit into the Earth after the 3.5 year “gestation” in the body of Jesus.

      As I was just leafing through the Letter-Meditation on The Magician, I noticed this quote from Marc Haven on p 14, which refers to the undulations in the sand due to the wind in relation to our sense-perceptions…

      Also, I don’t know if you have ever read this modern version (really an inversion) of the myth of Isis from Steiner…but it is a real riddle, an arcanum, maybe to be considered along with the Knave of Cups…a most peculiar Epiphany lecture!:

      Well, so much for now…Phillip is moving to the area on Monday…hopefully this week we will have a second conversation at Jim’s place on the Knave, and maybe for the first time in years, regular weekly in person meetings!




  2. Natalia says:

    Dear Joel!
    There is certainly to be felt this inner connection with Knave of Cups and Magician. Magician having an ideal of ” making every burden light” , maybe in his youthful way. Knave have really wandered through hard times it seems from his facial expression. Somehow he is able to balance heavyness and light in his being.
    I am not sure If I see The flesh coloured pyramid in his scarf but I see these black shapes which first look only shadows, but it seems to have a connection to this blue part streaming from pyramid opening and creating an opening to the scarf. Maybe you meant the same. Anyway, it makes a connection to his face as well and increases the feeling that his head came out of pyramid. It seems he is almost living in this remembrance of it. Like his consciousness is not fully here, yet. If he went through an Initiation he is a different being now. He is able to act skilfully but he is a bit otherwordly. This brings thoughts back to what you said about life and dead ,he had seen them both.
    Two strange things drew my attention as they look irrational somewhat. His right sleeve has white end and close to it another white thing is pulling out from(“out of”) blue. I looked Temperance as well as she also had a white irregular thing on her left shoulder which looks a bit like a small sharp nail.
    That Steiner lecture was surprising almost strange.


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