Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 8, 2018
Tarot meeting May 8, 2018
Ace of Coins
We began with the protective practice from page 422 of MOTT.
Then the invocation of the Holy Trinity and Holy Trinosophia by reading from the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.
Then we focused on the brow chakra with the mantra “I AM”, and performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (M). We read Revelation 1:6-9, and the quote from C.S. Lewis (see notes for April 10 + 24).
– Again, in the time between our meetings, both in our own musing and in conversation, we had further insights into the Ace of Coins.
We discussed the nature of the Sephiroth Tree. According to Anne Catherine Emmerich, Sephiroth means Sapphire Root: a mixture of stone and plant, just like the image of the Ace of Coins. We know from Tomberg that the method of working with Minor Arcana is to see the numbered cards as a movement through the ten Sephiroth in each of the four planes (the four suits), and the court cards as summaries of the ten Sephiroth in each of the four planes (Emanation—King, Creation—Queen, Formation—Knight, and Action—Knave). Whereas the Major Arcana are a movement through the paths connecting each of the different Sephiroth.
Last week we spoke of the difference between transformation/metamorphosis in Time and the “Flash of Eternity” that keeps metamorphosis connected to the Eternal Source, that keeps the circle open to a spiral, the “Flash of Eternity” being related more so to the principle of Exchange than to Transformation/Metamorphosis. Perhaps the nodal “Flashes of Eternity” are represented to us in the ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life, whereas the 22 paths between them represent the pathway of transformation/metamorphosis in Time between the flashes of the Eternal. The Major Arcana, then, are showing us the wholeness of the plan of Time unfolding, whereas the Minor Arcana are directing us to the Eternal Source. The ten Sephiroth = Ten Names of God, expressions of the Eternal.
The court cards bring the two together: the numbered Minors are points, the Majors are lines, the court Minors are planes. We also spoke last week of the Coins as an expression of the Manifest (the Father) taking on the form of the Unmanifest (the Mother) so that Creation can come about. The sacrifice of his own form so that the unformed can come into being. Possibly the Swords are the complement: Mother in the guise of the Father (the Unmanifest swallowing up or “cutting” the Manifest)? And the Cups are the Mother in her true form, and the Batons are the Father in his true form?
Last week we discussed the experience of the two-fold Transcendent Self, that has a Mother and a Father aspect (Beholding/Memory and Conscience/Creativity respectively). The experiences of Jesus of Nazareth leading up to the baptism show us the archetypal interaction between the Soul/Empirical Self (Jesus of Nazareth) and the Transcendent Self (Mother Mary/John the Baptist). First, Jesus of Nazareth goes to his Mother and pours out all of his tragic experiences, his biography. She receives all of this with loving interest. They are both transformed by this experience. Jesus is emptied out by this. We can turn this into an inner practice, of confessing to/confiding in the “Mother” aspect of the Transcendent Self, pouring our troubles into her silent beholding until we are empty.
Then, emptied of his prior experiences, Jesus almost sleep-walks to the River Jordan. John the Baptist represents the Father aspect of the Transcendent Self. He submerges Jesus (the Son) in the water (touch/intuition); the Spirit descends as a Dove (image/imagination); the Father’s voice thunders from above (sound/inspiration). His emptiness is filled by the Eternal content of the Father, and he becomes Christ Jesus. This too can become inner practice. After confiding in the Mother and becoming empty, we can await our submergence, the descent of the Dove, the thundering voice: in other words, we can await the “Flash of Eternity,” the creative conscience to come to life within us in answer to what we have poured out. Mary is our intercessor to the Father.
We also had the realization that the question of whether there is a primal Unity or a primal Duality (love of Father and Mother) is inherent in the very structure of our method of approaching the Minor Arcana. With the Major Arcana, we worked with the Tetragrammaton: Yod He Vau He, where the second He would become the Yod of the next iteration. This is working from a primal Unity (Yod). However, with the Minors we are working with the Pentagrammaton: Yod He Shin Vau He. In this case the Vau and He become the Yod and He of the next iteration. We are now working with a primal Duality (Yod/He) rather than a primal Unity of just Yod.
We also pondered the question of how we make of ourselves a talisman that the spiritual world can work through us to bring about authentic creations, and so that we can accurately perceive Truth in reality. It brings a new understanding to the practice of Eurythmy: that we are imprinting ourselves, sealing ourselves with authentic symbolism so that we can become a Coin/Talisman for the spiritual world: to be able to translate/exchange the Divine into Material (and vice versa) via the spiritual currency or medium of our own souls. The practice/observation of authentic Sacred Art builds in us the capacity to create Sacred Art in all we do.
Finally, we also observed that the similarity between The World and the Ace of Coins extends to the musical quality that Tomberg emphasizes in the 22nd Letter-Meditation. The “Flash of the Eternal” is like a flash of the meeting point of all things, an intersection of all beings and events. The art form that is the most like this is music. A piece of music of course has different movements and metamorphoses going on, but it is also possibly the best example of the marriage of Unity and Multiplicity. A song plays to us as a whole, yet no type of instrument is doing the same thing as another. Each is doing something unique, yet it comes together to make a seamless whole, a harmony. Whereas, for example, a drama is made up of different actors, but each takes their turn, each stands out as a unique character much more so than the individual voices and instruments sounding simultaneously. Dance, on the other hand, usually has many people doing the same movement, at best a weaving between two or three movements. Drama has too much of the unique, dance too much of the uniform. Music carries each to its limit and marries them. We could think of the Ace of Coins as a kind of musical notation for the World Song.
– Turning to the Ace of Coins in our conversation: we notice a color pattern. The outer portion of the plants has an emphasis on red (radiating diagonally from the coin towards the sides of the card); the middle portion has an emphasis on yellow (radiating diagonally to the corners); and in inner portion has an emphasis on blue (radiating vertically). The three colors/gunas from The World.
– These colors moving from bottom to the top of each plant: 1 = Red (the bottom fringe of leaves); 2 = Yellow/Blue; 3 = Blue; 4 = Yellow; 5 = Red (the bud/fruit at the tip).
Looking at the number of points on each of these portions of the plant:
1 = Red = 5 Points
2 = Yellow/Blue = 2 Points
3 = Blue = 3 Points
4 = Yellow = 4 Points
5 = Red = 1 Points
There are lines on the stem close to the coin. Are they shadows? A thickened area?
– The red fringe of 5 leaves is reminiscent of or a recapitulation of the 16 pointed radiant sun/star on the coin, whereas the four petalled yellow flower around the central red bulb at the top is reminiscent of or a recapitulation of the central flower in the coin. A mirroring of each other.
Maybe the plants and the coin are the same object, but from different angles and different stages of development. The blue plants are from a side view and are not fully blossoming, whereas the coin is a view from above with the flower completely opened up.
– Following up on our discussion last time of primal Unity (Being) vs Duality (Love), of the Two-fold (Father/Mother) nature of the Ego. What resolves this question is to see the origin as well as the Ego as two-fold in the sense of the Androgyne, of a holy Marriage. A flower is an image of an androgynous being—flowers have a balance of male and female in one being. Possibly flowers are romantic because they represent holy Marriage/Androgyny, a chaste resolution to the opposition of gender.
– There is a polarity between the Sun/Leaf forms and the Flower forms. The leaf is connected to the Sun—the leaf collects the sunlight for the plant. The flower is bearing the fruit. A two fold Self of leaf and flower.
– The coin is reminiscent of a Communion wafer, and the plants are like vines. We have an image here of the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist. This is possibly the highest example, the archetypal activity of spiritual exchange. Transubstantiation, the imprinting of the Resurrection Body (making of oneself a talisman for the Spirit).
Tying this into the leaf and flower, we see in the Lord’s Prayer Course that the first four stages of Communion (Bread, Milk, Honey, Wine) are related to the stages of metamorphosis of a plant. Bread = Seed, Milk = Leaf/stem (milk comes from the digestion of the leaf/stem), Honey = Flower, Wine = Fruit.
– The Coin as an image of a seed sprouting. Interesting that it displays these two stages alongside each other: whole seed, seed sprouting. The seed is unharmed, is still whole, even though it is depicted as sprouting. A realistic picture would show the seed falling to pieces.
Spiritual Art follows different laws than realistic/naturalistic art. It follows the spiritual laws imminent in natural phenomenon, it doesn’t simply imitate or copy nature. The question for us then is why do these laws indicate that the seed should sprout without dying away and disintegrating?
– Sun/Leaf as Father, Flower as Mother—Christ as Fruit. One is reminded of Tomberg’s characterization of Sophia as a “spiritual atmosphere”, a force leading Israel to the accomplishment of its mission (Jesus Christ).
This is also reminiscent of the Emerald Tablet: “The Father is the Sun…It doth descend to Earth…Things superior and inferior…”
Christ is both the seed and the fruit (the Bread and Wine) = I am the Alpha and the Omega. Sophia as the metamorphosis in between the “Nodes of Eternity” = Flower and Leaf (Milk and Honey). The relationship between the Sephiroth (Names of God/Christ) and the 22 Paths (Sophia). Coins = Christ = Eternity. Sophia = Plant = Metamorphosis.
Brings to mind working with Platonic forms in clay. Beginning with one form and then pushing in the corners, making them into the planes of the next form. The finished forms are the nodes/coins/Sephiroth. The pushing in of corners is the path, the metamorphosis.
The two aspects of Rudolf Steiner’s work. Anthroposophy is largely a description of the Sophia aspect of transformation/metamorphosis: the Divine Plan in seven stages. On the other hand, what is presented in something like Philosophy of Freedom is a description of a method leading to the experience of the Flash of Eternity. The Christ aspect, the Christ experience. One experiences this in the course of reading POF, if only for an instant. One can’t even grasp it and then it’s gone; if one isn’t paying attention one doesn’t realize what one has experienced. But in fact, these “flashes” should only last for an instant, and then be like seeds or ferments which unfold in one’s activity—imagine living in this state more or less continuously! It’s possible this is what people on the autistic spectrum are experiencing.
Have we met anyone who is able to access this realm regularly and bring it into action? Possibly Dennis Klocek. Many Anthroposophists have a somewhat dogmatic presentation in which they have tricked themselves into thinking they’re in touch with the true nature of Anthroposophy, but are merely recapitulating, reflecting—not operating from this hard-to-recognize realm from POF.
The final chapter of Goethe’s Theory of Knowledge is also connected to this. Steiner takes the reader to the place where thought becomes akin to a sense perception. His description builds and builds, and he goes on to describe what human endeavor would look like unfolding out of such a form of consciousness. It’s rather mind boggling how clear and full his description/vision is.
The goal of humanity, the final state is to be constantly living in the Flash of Eternity—that every moment is the unfolding of a new creation, all activities are lightning flashes of the Eternal. Imagine living in this state, where one does not rely on habit, memories, norms, teachers, etc, but only weaves activity out of the pure moral content of the eternal creative spirit. One would have to be so utterly forgetful and yet completely present and focused simultaneously.
The preliminary step to this stage would be the building of new conduits to the Eternal in all the different realms of human endeavor and relationship. Opening up a pathway for those lightning flashes to enter. First, all meetings/relationships in the social realm would have to arise out of that connection with the Eternal. Then all creative acts in culture could work off of that foundation.
– The realization that the right relationship to Tradition/Traditionalism is not to become a strict adherent to a Tradition (e.g. Roger Buck and Catholicism), but to attempt to dispel the rejection of all Tradition, which is the trend of progressive, liberal, post-modernism. What happened was humanity realized that the Traditions were lacking, but the response for a good number of people was to reject Tradition outright, to abandon all traditional values and faiths and point to them as an evil. Progressive liberalism has poisoned the overall picture of traditions. They’ve taken what little we had and gotten rid of it rather than brought it to further completion. The other response has been to run back to the Traditions and staunchly defend them, to not admit they are incomplete. Most Traditionalists just want to bring back Tradition as it was, rather than grow the Tradition. See page 608 of MOT in the Letter-Meditation on The Fool: “…the tradition lives only when it is deepened, elevated and increased in size. Conservation alone does not suffice at all.” This is the guiding star of our work with the Minor Arcana.
That being said, Traditionalism is merely incomplete, whereas liberal progressivism is almost completely ungrounded in reality. Liberal progressivism is like the paths without the Sephiroth, metamorphosis without Eternity, Sophia without Christ. Sophia becomes the Harlot. It is like bamboo that is only propagated by cuttings, rather than allowing the plant to go to seed and complete the cycle to begin altogether anew.
Traditionalism is like the Sephiroth without paths: stagnant, trapped, unable to grow.
– Owen Barfield’s work was in philology. He examined language in order to see how changes in the evolution of consciousness were displayed in changes of poetic expression in language. He makes the bold assertion that the striking of a new metaphor brings about a change in consciousness; and that this change of consciousness results from the creation of new meaning in the striking of a new metaphor. Here we see the principle of exchange as the tool for bringing about new creation. A metaphor, an analogy is an exchange: an exchange of meaning between two ideas/words that had no prior relationship. This exchange brings about a new creation in the realm of consciousness: new meaning. This is Barfield’s particular experience and description of the Flash of Eternity. And this is precisely what we were engaged in last week: the striking of a new metaphor, the discovery/creation of new meaning. This means that we were engaged on an experiential level with the very same thing that was the topic of our conversation (the law of spiritual exchange): this is a rare occurrence to experience something simultaneously with it coming to consciousness/conversation (in fact, this is exactly what is described in POF). Not only this, but we had the experience of the Flash of Eternity as we were speaking, down to a physical sensation of warmth in the head, heart, larynx. We made the Arcanum into a spiritual exercise, a felt/lived experience; it was not limited to an abstract/intellectual experience.
– a summary of the different images that have arisen out of this Arcanum:
And now two others: Compass, with four cardinal points; and a clock or sun dial (like the 19th Arcanum, The Sun).
Tomberg in the Wandering Fool uses numerology to examine the Major Arcana, where 1=10 (1+0)=19(1+9); 2=11(1+1)=20(2+0), etc.
He raises the question near the end—do we treat the Ace of Coins as a One, since it is the first card of the Minor Arcana? Or as 23=5, since it carries on from the Majors? Or as 22=4, if we consider The Fool as Zero? This gives the Ace of Coins a fluidity, a numerological value of 1, 4, and 5 simultaneously.
Looking at it as a One:
Magician—Wheel of Fortune—The Sun—Ace of Coins
This is a striking sequence. In the Magician, the baton is above the coin. If we see the Wheel as a transformation of the Coin, and the Sun as a transformation of the Wheel, and the Coin as a transformation of the Sun, we have a kind of ascent and enlargement of the coin in the Magician. The passage of the Coin through the Scepter.
In our conversations on The Sun, we observed that:
The Magician is holding a pocket watch and a winding key.
The Wheel is the internal mechanism of the watch, being wound up.
The Sun is the external face of the watch, reflective of the mechanism—a correspondence/exchange. It is ready to begin keeping the time
The Ace of Coins shows the actual “ticking of the clock”—Eternity unfolding into Time, the activity of Time unfolding.
The Ace of Coins is like a combination/summary of the Magician’s sphere/coin/watch, the Wheel, and the Sun. It could even be a close-up view of what the Magician is holding. This would mean that the Ace of Coins is a reduction to the barebones: just the Coin itself, no other beings interacting with it.
On the other hand, as a 5:
Pope—Temperance—Ace of Coins
Both the Pope and Temperance are, like the Ace of Coins, all about exchange. With the Pope it is about Christian Yoga, Spiritual Respiration—as well as the Five Wounds. Temperance is about the activity of Inspiration, of the choral thinking with one’s Angel—the exchange of fluids between the two vessels.
With both the Pope and Temperance we are awoken to the dimension of depth in the card, of a background and foreground. There is also an emphasis on respiration between above and below. This possibly ties into the indication in the first Letter-Meditation that the ascent of consciousness to the Spirit is simultaneously a descent into the heart. This descent is not a movement “down” but rather a movement inward, into the depths of the heart. The Ace of Coins also has this element of depth to it, of the Coin in the foreground and plants in the background.
We also for the first time notice the similarity between the bottom portions of Temperance and the Pope.
And what about as a 4?
Emperor—Death—Ace of Coins
What is being communicated here is less familiar/intuitive to us. The ball on the Emperor’s scepter and the Shield are related to the Ace of Coins. As for Death, one thinks of the third temptation, to turn stones into bread. The dark side of Coin. We haven’t really addressed the “warning” side of the Arcanum, only the positive side.
In this light, its counter image is one of decay, withdrawal, retreat. We see this in the loneliness, isolation and anonymity of the Emperor (in the wilderness). We see this in the activity of Death, removing that which doesn’t belong to the realm of life, hardening forces that are invading it. And we see this in the plants in the Ace of Coins, which from this perspective are wilting, decaying, withdrawing into the Coin/stone/earth. If they aren’t unfurling, they are enfolding. It becomes a bit of a crab-like image. One is reminded of the Turtle from Hindu (and other) mythology, who carries the World on his back. A hard shell protecting a soft body within. This brings us back to the Coin as a shield, as a protection, just as Death purges the etheric of the threat of mineralization.
– Finally, we can return to our journey through the life cycle of the human being from the Major Arcana:
Magician = Conception
High Priestess = Gestation
Empress = Birth
Emperor = Physical Body
Pope = Etheric Body
Lover = Astral Body
Chariot = Sentient Soul
Justice = Intellectual Soul
Hermit = Consciousness Soul
Wheel of Fortune = Spirit Self
Force = Spirit Life
Hanged Man = Spirit Man
Death = Death
Temperance = Etheric Review
Devil = 40 Days in the Wilderness
Tower of Destruction = Moon Sphere (Kama Loka)
The Star = Mercury Sphere
The Moon = Venus Sphere
The Sun = Sun Sphere
The Judgement = Mars Sphere
The Fool = Jupiter Sphere
The World = Saturn Sphere
Ace of Coins would then be the Midnight Hour—the Flash of Eternity from the Father. Usually we think of the Midnight Hour as complete darkness/unconsciousness, of dissolving into the Father. A pure beholding/immersion. Zero resistance = zero consciousness. But perhaps it is very different than this depiction. Maybe it is an experience of the Lightning Flash of the Eternal that is so intense, that all is forgotten, even the memory of that experience, too overwhelming for consciousness to uphold.
Steiner describes the experience at the Midnight Hour as a choice. One sees the Divine Ideal, the Goal of the Spiritual World—which is Man Himself, Ideal Man (Son of Man). He sees that he could contribute to the accomplishment of this Divine Ideal, but only through incarnating again, only through the expiation of karma. However, Lucifer approaches us at this moment, and gives us a completely authentic offer: he can escort us to higher spheres, where all of our errors are healed, and we no longer have to incarnate. We are given the choice to have immediate perfection and escape the cycle of incarnations, or we can contribute something to the accomplishment of the Divine Ideal through the path of karma.
Here we have a recapitulation of the experience immediately after death. After death we see the etheric review. We then set out on the path of Kama Loka/Purgatory. The purpose of this path is to help us to separate ourselves from our previous, earthly life and look towards the spirit. During this process, we experience all of the effects of our actions, the karma of our actions. This creates a future-oriented thought life in us in the spiritual world that races on ahead of us, it leaves us behind as it were, until the midnight hour.
We then have the experience of the Midnight Hour, which is akin to Death. After the Midnight Hour we experience the vision of the Divine Ideal on the far shores of the future—this is akin to the Etheric review. We see the path leading to this Divine Ideal: this path is revealed to us by the future-oriented thought life that has now returned to us. It shows us all of our unresolved karma from the previous life. We are filled with the strong urge to make good on that karma and contribute to the Divine Ideal. Whereas Kama Loka is an experience of karma that separates us from the past earthly life, this is an experience of karma that directs us to the future earthly life (all of this is in GA 140).
The Coin in the Ace of Coins is the Divine Ideal shining before us. The plants in the Ace of Coins show us the winding, dark paths of karma that lead us to that shining ideal.
The Ace of Coins is simultaneously an image of the experience of the Eternal Flash of the Father in the Midnight Hour, as well as the Divine Ideal and the path leading to it.
– Looking at the card sideways, it is a strong image of the Brow Chakra, the third eye shining between right and left/Ahriman and Lucifer. The saying of Christ that goes with this Chakra: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”/“My God, My God, how Thou hast glorified Me!” It is twofold, just as many of our other observations have been around this Arcanum. Christ spoke one Aramaic phrase which expressed two completely opposite meanings simultaneously.
– We notice that the suit of Coins is adorned with plants. It is not simply Coin = Mineral/Material/Physical, as they are adorned with Life/Plant throughout. The Swords, on the other hand, depict throughout the cutting up of the plants, the severing/harvesting/pruning.
– We ended with a presentation of a comprehensive arrangement of all 78 Arcana that will guide our process. This will be shared next week, as it requires some explanation.
We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in Eurythmy (a five pointed star 3 times, with different iterations of IAO).