Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on December 11, 2020
December 11, 2020
Ace of Cups, pt II
We began with the protective practice.
We then invited the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide our conversation.
After briefly focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart, we moved the second portion of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest love for all that lives, radiates the Godhood of my soul”), and the 11th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice, in relation to the 11th letter of the Divine Alphabet (Kaph) and the 11th Arcanum, Force.
We then read from Revelation 14:3-5
– Coming to the realisation that this Arcanum is a “Six.” It is the 51st Arcanum, and 51 = 5 + 1 = 6.
Last time we were speculating about a kind of implied fourth side, that we were able to see three sides of the base and of the top, three “waterfalls”, three radiating circles, etc., but maybe there was a fourth to each of these sets of three that was on the side facing away from us. The three leading into the four.
But from above, wouldn’t we actually see this as a six-sided object, a hexagon? Is that clear, or is that ambiguous somehow?
It’s clearer for the base. That is almost certainly hexagonal. But for the upper portion, with the “stage” at the rear side from our perspective, it’s more ambiguous. You can’t really make out whether there are two sides “flanking” the stage portion as there should be if it’s a truly hexagonal perimeter.
– What’s interesting is when you draw a cube, when you make a 2-d representation of a cube, the perimeter of that drawing is a hexagon. So there is this mysterious relationship between the number four and the number six. The square, when made into a cube, becomes a kind of hexagon.
Some weeks back, Joel’s house was reading the description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21, and it just sounds so bizarre on the face of it. It’s a city that is thousands of miles wide, tall, and broad, and is a perfect cube. It’s descending from the heavens to this mountain top. It sounds like something from a science fiction story. So we had to really dig into it and try to figure out, what exactly is the Apocalyptist getting at here? How can we understand this as something other than a massive and kind of cold/mechanical spaceship?
And the “key” to understanding this description is the Seal of Solomon/the Star of David: the hexagram, the six-pointed star made by two triangles (one pointing upwards and one pointing downwards) intersecting. This is the symbol of the New Jerusalem, of the realm of the Father descending and uniting with the ascending realm of the Mother below.
And when these two triangles intersect, in their midst is formed the hexagon. But we can understand this hexagon to actually be a cube, and not just a two-dimensional six-sided figure. Like a stellated cube, so to speak, or a stellated hexagon with the cube in the middle.
So this fills out what is unspoken in the Revelation. This cube that is the New Jerusalem is the centre of activity, the result of the interaction of Father and Mother in the form of a hexagram.
And this applies to our image, to the Ace of Cups as a City—the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, the City of God.
– Going back to the ambiguity of the top of the cup. It has six towers. Perhaps each one represent the intersection of two panels? This would imply six panels = a hexagonal perimeter.
The central piece (the “stage”) could be right in the middle. Not actually a “wall” of the city. But in the centre of the hexagon.
For that matter, it could be the “front”, the “panel” closest to us. There is no clear indication. It is very ambiguous in terms of dimensionality.
– This picture of the New Jerusalem brings back this dream image that Joel had. Where he was told “The last stage is Action. And Action creates Darkness.” But then in the next “scene” of the dream, he was using both hands to maintain the shape of this cube-shaped hologram, with what seemed like the entire cosmos, the galaxy, within it. But the gentle pressing of Joel’s hands was necessary for it to keep its shape as a cube. And maybe that’s what these two triangles are like—two hands that are gently maintaining this cube in the centre, containing all things manifest.
– Perhaps the fins/waterfalls are like hands? There would be three more on the other side, correct? Making a kind of hexagram from above?
– The connection of Four to Six, through the lens of Three. A complex qualitative mathematics that is very compressed somehow, and all contained in this image of the Ace of Cups.
– We can think of Three as the manifest side of Six. That every Six has a manifest side and a hidden side. Like with the Luminous Holy Trinity, which is also represented in the form of a hexagram (see page 548 of Meditations on the Tarot). There is this acknowledged or manifest masculine Holy Trinity of Father, Son, Holy Ghost. But then there is this hidden or occult Holy Trinosophia, the feminine Trinity of Mother, Daughter, Holy Soul. Or again this intuition of Bradley Rader’s, that just as there is the High Priestess for the Pope (station of Priest), and the Empress for the Emperor (station of King), the station of Prophet—the Hermit—needs his feminine counterpart, and she is found in the Wheel of Fortune. But the essence of this Prophetess is her non-representation, the fact that she is hidden. The Wheel of Fortune also has this six-foldness embedded in her, with the six spokes of the Wheel.
So maybe it’s like a movement from the Three to the Six in order to create the Four?
The concrete plane is the realm of Four, of four elements, etc.
But we’re in the third suit, corresponding to the second plane (Plane of Creation). There is something in this third suit that resonates with something beyond, something hidden—this realm of the “Six.” And maybe we have to understand this realm to win the Four, the fourth Suit of Batons which is next.
We’re trying to reach from the present (3) to the future (6) and finding the “midpoint” in the Four.
This image speaks much of the future, of that which is not totally present.
– It’s almost as though you need to be able to find or divine the Six in order to be able to make the leap to the Four.
It’s like…the Father (3) can’t make the child on his own. Only Father and Mother (6) can make a child (4), but somehow the Mother comes after the Child, the Six comes after the Four.
So from one perspective, we are ascending from Three (Cups) to a kind of unattainable, transcendent height (Six) in order to reach the Four (Batons). From a descending perspective, we can see the lowest plane, the Plane of Action (the 4th plane, the realm of the four elements) as the “child” of the Father and Mother (A “manifest” Three and “unmanifest” Three, making Six).
– Noticing the rectangular portion on the bottom. The strange space on which the Cup rests. It is divided in two—perhaps speaking to this manifest/unmanifest dichotomy in the Six. A kind of shadow and light. Not the light and shadow differentiation on the right vs left side of the Cup, but the upper and lower portions of the “base” upon which the Cup rests. Perhaps these portions could also be seen as closer and further away, not just above and below?
Aha, Joel misunderstood Phillip’s observation. Not the pyramidal base of the Cup, but the kind of “table surface” upon which the entirety of the Cup rests. This rear or upper flesh-coloured portion, and then a lower or closer white portion. Which then has transformed in the Two of Cups into a solid red. The light/white portion is in front, clearly illuminated, while the rear portion is shaded and flesh-coloured, hidden in the shadows. Reflecting this gesture of the Three, which is manifest, and the Six, which is the manifest Three plus its companion, the unmanifest Three.
But there is also something to be said in terms of the pyramidal base. Each panel is split into two parts, an upper part which is triangular (Three) and a lower portion which is rectangular (Four).
– A picture begins to form, from this perspective that the “dagger/stage” is in the midst of all the “towers” or “pillars”, and is not along the perimeter “wall”. It is in the center of the “city.” When we perceive it this way, we can see that perhaps it is directly attached to the giant red sphere below it. And that the “towers” or “candles” or “crown” is a kind of adornment, a separate piece, that is protecting and/or veiling the meeting point, the connection of this yellow dagger/stage with the red sphere below it. When we remove the “crown” or perimeter of “pillars”, can we begin to see a kind of winged creature?
– The sphere seems out of place somehow, it’s very one-dimensional geometrically, and so red. Just that central blue “fin” on the red relief would make a nice emblem on a shield or something. In a way, just this section—the red circle with the blue fin emblazoned on it—is reminiscent of the Coins, but is so different. A more animal, living, dimensional seed-Coin?
There is definitely a feeling of a kind of animality/sentience in this Arcanum. Like a living mineral, a sentient mineral. A Sphinx feeling. Feeling a little intimidated, and not sure if I’m able to answer the riddle!
– On one level, it looks like a goblet shape. But it’s clearly no ordinary goblet! Is that even meant to be the cup portion?
Which portion are we talking about?
Specifically, is the red sphere, this goblet-shape portion, even meant to be the Cup proper, the “bowl” of the Cup so to speak? That is how Phillip saw it in the beginning last week. And that it is a kind of continuous open space up through the “city” portion, which adorns the rim of the cup. But the liquid itself would be contained in the round, red portion.
But then, as the conversation proceeded last week, it kind of changed on its own, and only the city portion was the vessel portion, and the red sphere was just part of the stem or something.
And now it feels a bit strange if that top part was just a cap or an ornamentation. A lid. As though the Cup is crowned.
It all depends on how you see that “main tower”, the stage or dagger. If it’s like a circus tent (i.e. a central upward projection in the midst of the “city walls”), then it has to be a lid or covering of some kind. You would have to remove that part in order to drink out of the “bowl” of the red sphere. Whereas if it’s on the perimeter, then the “city” portion is just an extended rim of the Cup.
– The blue fins…it’s like a city on a hill, and the city is also a well, and the well is gushing up and flowing out of the walls of the city. Or a shrine-city, meant to crown the holy waters, to honour the waters.
– The inversion of a seed. The Coin is condensed, concretised storage. It has collected all that will become something.
Whereas this is a source of inward flow, producing water inside that flows out in abundance.
Again, the description of the New Jerusalem includes a river flowing in the midst of the city, and varieties of the Tree of Life growing on either side.
– Seeing the red sphere as the place where the liquid originates, and it flows so readily that it requires this heavy golden ornate lid to keep it contained, yet it still seeps out through the seams. The lid is holding down the fountain…if it came off, it would be a geyser. Maybe this is what is making the “circus tent” shape in the middle—the pushing up of a central tower due to the pressure from the water, the fountain. Like it can barely contain itself.
– Joel had the impression earlier somehow of a rocket, like something from 1930’s sci-fi films. Felt a bit silly or inappropriate to make that association. But now it makes more sense—there is this immense pressure of levity, working against gravity that is operating here.
– Similar to the Ace of Swords, where it’s kind of this Big Bang moment. All things in their fullness right at the moment of the Fall, and then they reveal their component parts throughout the Numbered Swords.
The Ace is conglomeration. The City is man-made, mineral, metal—yet full of life, full of water. There is not yet a fully animal presence here. In the Two, the Cups are clearly there, and so is the life as plants and animals as fish. Through this, the cups become more mundane. The animal element finally fully expresses itself. The Two is the fountain being let off.
– You almost get the impression that the Ace of Swords was the totally unintentional and haphazard releasing of what was meant to be, in a way, always contained in the Ace of Coins. In this case, it’s a totally intentional build-up. “We’re gonna get this thing really going and compressed and restricted, and then we’re gonna let it off on purpose.” Not because we pulled the mysterious lever we couldn’t resist pulling. The “hm, what does this button do?” of the Ace of Swords that destroys the Coin irreparably.
“Ready—we’re going to let it off!” And then the Two of Cups is the result, and it’s this magnificent, harmonious thing.
But maybe you wouldn’t know how to do that intentionally without having gone through the Swords in this haphazard and ruinous way. Now you know how to reverse-engineer the situation, so to speak, to do it right.
– You get the sense of the Cups as Coin at a higher level. Will the Batons be the Swords at a higher level?
– Something Joel realised after last week’s conversation is that the Coins are the element of Earth, and the Swords are the element of Air. So the transition from Earth to Air is a very disturbing one. It’s like that “Big Bang”, of something solid being exploded into the far reaches. But the Cups are the element of Water. The condensation of Air to Water is a much smoother, gentler affair. And that has been our experience. That the Court Swords “condensed” very gently and organically into the form of the Ace of Cups. What will the transition from Cups (Water) to Batons (Fire) be like? Again, a stranger transition than Air to Water, but perhaps not as jarring as Earth to Air?
And maybe this speaks to a certain sublimating of the Coins and Swords in the Cups and Batons. Like, the more sublime form of Earth (Coins) is Water (Cup). And the more sublime form of Air (Sword) is Fire (Baton). Coins and Swords at a higher level are Cups and Batons.
Maybe this is an expression of the four Suits as YHVH. But where is the Shin? Perhaps the Majors are somehow the Shin, in the midst of these Four?
– Maybe there is a movement from Coin, to the unfolding/unpacking of the Coin through the Swords. But that is more or less a static moment in time where things are just potentizing, being mapped out. Then the manifest reality appears in the Cups. The Swords express everything that leads between the Ace of Coins to the Ace of Cups—the transforming of the Coin into this living Coin full of fluid, but it has to go through Sword to ripen to that degree.
It makes one think of the Passion. Of Christ needing to descend into Hell so that he can Resurrect. Like the Swords are this very complicated, yet almost momentary and totally hidden process of the Passion and Descent into Hell. A very brief period in comparison to the entire 3.5 year ministry or 33 1/3 year life.
To voluntarily give oneself over to the depths…that’s the Sword process.
Like the Ace of Coins is the Last Supper.
The Ace of Cups is the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday.
For most of the apostles, the last time they saw Christ was at the Last Supper, and then three days later he appears to them in this utterly transformed state, after he had died. None of them witnessed the process that led from one to the other, least of all the Descent into Hell. “Wait, what happened in between?? How did this happen?” The Passion and Descent. That’s what the Suit of Swords is. And taken on their own, they are just this pure darkness, an expression of the most hopeless reality. The death of the God-Man.
– Realizing that the Suit of Swords is like the season of Michaelmas. The Sword of Michael confronting the Dragon in the depths. The imagery of the Swords from one perspective can be related to candle-making, to dipping the candles with ever-more layers of wax. Then at the end of Michaelmas, as we head into Advent and Christmas, there is Martinmas, the Advent candles, Santa Lucia with her candle crown, culminating in the Christmas Tree, but then heading into Candlemas. And maybe the Suit of Cups is very much related to the Christmas/Gabriel season vs the Suit of Swords as the Michaelmas season.
The Ace of Cups as Christmas Tree. We have all these growing plants in the Coins, and then they are all severed and harvested in the Swords. But maybe that harvesting was like cutting down the Christmas Tree. It’s removed from it’s mere natural element, and brought inside, decorated, spiritualised. It attains a new, higher form of life. The Christmas Tree—and the Ace of Cups—are an expression of the Tree of Life.
– The idea of this Ace of Cups as the Holy Grail. This isn’t something we’ve properly worked with yet, that the Suit of Cups is the Suit of the Holy Grail. And yet, already, we’ve had this experience of the Ace of Cups as being able to be any variety of things—the cosmos in a cube, a stage, a Christmas Tree, a city or a fortress, a fountain, etc etc etc. Like the Holy Grail, it can provide whatever it is that the person coming to it needs. It is the ultimate Arcanum, expressing whatever you want or need it to be. Even the words Graal and Stein—both can be either stone (coin) or cup. We can feel quite tangibly that this is the Suit of the Holy Grail.
– The central red portion. It could be the Host, a red wafer. Like the Coin was the seed, harvested and ground into flour in the Sword, and now in the Cups the wafer is the result. Yet it is different from the Coin in that it is red instead of yellow. Perhaps the grapes were also harvested, and pressed and fermented in the Swords? And this wafer has been dipped in the wine. Not just a transition from seed to bread, but also grape to wine.
– Notice that the Court Swords were the Sphere of Mars. This is the realm of “Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” It is the realm of the Fish Communion (remember the form of the Fish in the Knave of Swords). Whereas here in the Numbered Cups it is the Sun Sphere, the sphere of “Give us this Day our Daily Bread” and the Bread Communion.
If the Cup would be holding the wine, and the Cup is the Host, then the Host is “holding” the wine. And then it is covered with something holy as well. The vessel that the host is kept in in the Orthodox Church is called a Tabernacle—and this image very much looks like one. Interesting that we brought in this picture of a circus tent on the top of it! As the word “Tabernacle” connotes a tent.
But this is really quite religious, and sacramental.
– It feels like this is the image that gives the most clarity to the redness of the goblet portion. A very religious element. Regardless of the very plain geometry of this red portion of the Cup…this feels more living now than it’s other portions. They are more ornate geometrically, but now that all feels more implicit and abstract.
– Is this the first Arcanum in which we really feel like we’re seeing a sphere, a globe? Perhaps in the Magician, he could be holding either a disc or a ball. And of course the end of the Emperor and Empress’s staffs.
– The Sun is a perfect circle, perfectly round unlike the Earth. This disc is reminiscent of that. It is also reminiscent of the primal warmth from which all emerged—this warmth in which biological warmth, emotional warmth, physical warmth, and spiritual warmth are one. Like the spear wound, from which both water and blood flow. A differentiation of warmth from this primal warmth. The manifest warmth at the beginning as 3, which bears within it the “6”, the unmanifest varieties of warmth. The Cup itself is threefold (Crown, stem, base), but it carries or creates through this threefold form a partially manifest 6-foldness at each level.
– The ovals with diamond shapes could be piercings or stigmata. Somehow they seem related to the water flow.
– The “Mystery of Fluids” from Temperance (see page 385 until the end of the Letter-Meditation). Blood, sweat, and tears as Intuition, Imagination, and Inspiration.
He writes of the “sweat of Imagination”, as one has to bear this heavy weight of the imagination descending from heavenly heights. This is like the “crown” of the Cup, like the crown of the King of Swords has grown so large it has squished and condensed him into this red and blue portion in the middle. But maybe somehow, all three are present in this image—blood, sweat and tears?
Also, one is reminded of the woman clothed with the sun (red sphere) with the crown of twelve stars (the candle crown) and the moon under her feet (this pyramid-like base).
– Even in relation to Christ, there is a very feminine quality in this image. Even with the blood and host, a very living quality. Definitely a strong feeling of a holy Creature emerging from this image—like something out of the visions of Ezekial. Something beyond passion—yet so powerful, it could destroy me.
The “upside down dagger” is like the head (the pinnacle of the “tent”)
The fins on the side are like hands
The bottom fin that connects to the pyramid is like feet. Maybe the base of the Cup is a different object altogether, it something upon which that which is above can spin or rotate like a top.
The Resurrecting Christ breaking out of the Tomb.
This downward “Ah” of the “arms” of this creature—it is so strongly reminiscent of an image of Christ or some holy image…can’t remember what it is…[edit: earlier today, as I was writing these notes, I realised that the image that was in the back of my mind at the time of the conversation was that of Our Lady of All Nations, which Natalia had brought in connection to the Queen of Swords conversations months ago.]
Maybe this being hasn’t fully formed yet. It’s “legs” are still unraveling, swirling out from the pinnacle of the pyramid.
– Now that we’ve come to this place of Resurrection, there is something about this image that now reminds Joel of the Judgement and the Sun. They both feel relevant here. This fence or wall that is behind the Cup. It’s quite similar to the wall behind the youths in the Sun, or the tomb from which the youth emerges in the Judgement.
Perhaps this wall is yet another layer of protection for the holy objects within. There is a wall around the cup, and a pyramid, and then at the top a walled fortress and a lid/canopy.
Right now we’re just knocking at the door. We haven’t found our way in yet. So much has come, and yet we have only taken a walk around the outside.
We finished with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.