Death (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on June 5, 2017

Tarot meeting June 5, 2017:  Death.  Phillip and Joel.

We began with the Divine Alphabet through the 13th letter, Mem, incorporating the themes of the Grail Knight’s Practice up through the 7th level of Trespass, Death.

Then we observed four Arcana:  Wheel of Fortune, Force, Hanged Man, and Death.

– There is a lot in this card that has gone unobserved.  This is a more unfamiliar region of the cards vs. 1-9.  The heads from The Lover and The Chariot seem to be in the dirt.  His hip bone is reminiscent of the shape of the Emperor’s crown.  The head of Death looks like the Moon in the 18th Arcanum, a crescent moon, only it is facing to our right rather than our left.

– What exactly is he?  There are so many forms to find in his body, e.g. a beet shape at the base of the spine, with leaves growing up. The spine is also similar to the Emperor’s necklace.  

– Is he skin, bone, or both?  His feet are clearly skin, and one is missing.  At first it seems to be the left foot, but then one realizes it could be either leg (the perspective makes it hard to tell which one is closer to the viewer). He is like an agglomeration of pieces, a Gollum.

– The movement of the form from the Emperor’s crown to Death’s hips makes one think of the metamorphosis of the human form, that there are “heads” all over the human body.

– Does he have a bandage around his jaw?  Like Jacob Marley in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – wore a bandage to keep his jaw in place. His nose and lips are there, almost like a mask.  His ribs only attach on one side of the spine.

– Lots of vegetable/animal forms – living yet agglomerated.  Like fossils.  Maybe they are unfinished details on purpose?  Like The Devil, maybe one shouldn’t spend too much time on this theme.

– Which leg is the left leg?  Why is his foot missing?  It seems to be embedded in the ground.  It is the only properly formed limb in the ground – the three other “hands” are misshapen in one way or another.  Did he cut off his own foot?  Like an inversion of the prophecy from Genesis about the Woman standing on the head of the serpent.  Revelation 12 – the dragon waiting to consume the Child, the woman sent to the desert.

– Why is the grass blue and yellow?  The blade is red.  The earth is black.  It’s like the negative of a photo or something, an anti-region, sub-earthly.  The theme of the 13th Letter – electrifying the physical body into a nether-world, a ghost world.

– “Death” is written on the side, rather than below as in the other cards.  Originally this card went without a title.  Death has no title (quality), while the Fool has no number (quantity).  Pure quality juxtaposed with pure quantity.  There are many similarities and inversions between Death and the Fool.  They have the same basic position.  The Fool has a bag and staff rather than a scythe.  His landscape is of normal colors, with a living animal, and his exposed backside (very different from “skin and bones” on full display).

– The 10th through 13th shows something falling apart completely; the 11th is an attempt to reverse this calamity.  The hands are in the lion’s mouth in 11; then they are bound/cut off in 12; then they are on the ground in 13.  We enter a time of ominous cards – 10, 13, 15, 16, 18 in particular – with periodic relief:  11, 14, 17.  

Recalling this form:

We see that actually the entire left-hand column (including 11, 14, 17) are cards of “relief.”  This is the column of Unfallen (Virgin) Nature.

– The mystery of Abraham’s descendants vs his servant Eleazar’s.  The correction of that which has fallen over the course of generations (leading up to a vessel for the Sister Soul of Adam, Nathan Jesus).  

– But how is the unfallen nature maintained (the sister souls of Adam and Eve that were held back)?  Are they maintained/borne by vessels, e.g. the Ark of the Covenant?  Are these unfallen souls equivalent to what Anne Catherine Emmerich refers to as “The Promise”?  The unfallen side nurtures the striving of the fallen side.  The fallen side must cultivate magical/ritualistic means of staying connected.  

– The Baptism in the Jordan is like the breath of God into Adam all over again; the 3 1/2 years are like the first day of Adam’s life all over again.  If Adam had not fallen, human beings would only live for one “day.”

– Christ’s life is the recapitulation of human history, only done correctly.  Both the fallen and unfallen natures make way for the Christ, who is beyond unfallen, so that he can live amongst and redeem that which has fallen.  Temperance (unfallen, purity) becomes a path for Christ to inhabit and redeem the Devil (fallen nature, evil).  

– The 22 Major Arcana are not just a picture of human biography, from conception to midnight hour.  They are also a picture of Cosmic Evolution – from the 1st Era, Polarea, through to the end of the 7th Era.  This puts our time (the middle of the post-Atlantean era) in the Devil!  The Wheel of Fortune is the end of Lemuria (the Fall, destruction by Fire).  Death corresponds to the end of Atlantis (mineralization of the physical, the Flood).  Tower of Destruction = War of All against All.

– It is also the path of Initiation.  1-9 are the preparation the student must take before approaching the threshold; 10 is the approach to the threshold, the warning of the Guardian before crossing (see How to Know Higher Worlds).  11, 12 – preparing oneself to not just approach, but to actually cross the threshold, based on this warning.  13 – one has crossed the threshold, and experiences the overwhelming shock of the Death of one’s lower self.

– The unfallen sister souls of Adam and Eve reside in the Great Mother Lodge of Humanity, protected until the appointed time.  This goes along with the idea that magical/ritualistic activities were required to maintain the connection with them.

– The relationship with the Promise involves more than just the Hebrew culture.  Christ and Sophia are not encompassed only by this culture.  The story of the Promise is just the known, archetypal portion of a much larger story involving many different times and cultures.  This is due to the primarily physical nature of the task of the Hebrews – preparing the physical vessel for the Christ.  Other beings (for example, Buddha) prepare other vessels.

– During the times when the Ark was lost, for example, the connection between the Nathan Mary and Jesus with the Hebrew people became tenuous, risked being lost.  The danger of the Promise being removed.

– Sex magic is a decadent version of a holy sexual ritual necessary for the maintenance of the Promise.  This turns our perception of it on its head.  When we read intimations of these eugenic occultist practices in Anne Catherine’s notes, it can make us scandalized, because we associate it with the darker, decadent rituals popularized by Crowley, etc.  But actually, these ancient practices are the original, holy version of something that was later warped.  This is like blood-purity.  In the time of the Hebrews, this was an essential doctrine for the creation of the vessel for the Messiah.  In our time, it becomes Nazism.  It is out of place now – as is the old sex magic.  They were only necessary for bringing about the Christ.

– Sex is a holy thing for some.  The issue is whether one is seeking personal fulfillment or whether it is simply one aspect of a totality of relationship with heart and emotion at the center.  This has become even more debased in our time – sexual expression is seen to be a right, a path to fulfilling one’s identity.  The sacred, true, Christian form of sex magic, if it could even be called that nowadays, could only look something like the Romantic Theology of Charles Williams, based around the idea of “co-inherence.”  The greatest co-inherence is “I and the Father are one” and “Christ in me; myself in Christ.”  It is the pinnacle of communion and interweaving of two distinct beings.  When co-inherence is achieved on a spiritual and psychological level in the realm of romance (marriage), then sex can be the expression on three levels (spiritual, emotional, physical) of mystical union – it becomes true chastity. On the other hand, pornography is simply brute, impersonal.  Debased sex magic is only about building up one’s own power – never about achieving higher levels of communion.

– The column on the right (see above) – from Empress to The Fool.  It expresses falling apart completely and just barely coming out the other side, as the Fool.  This is the severely human, magical column – that which comes into contact with Earth (and sub-Earth) vs the left-hand column (High Priestess through Resurrection).  This is the column of Gnosis, always remaining above and pure.  The Middle Path, from the Magician to the World, is a path of Birth, Death, Resurrection.  This is the Mystical/Hermetic column, with Wheel of Fortune/Death right in the middle:

(10 reflects 13, 7 reflects 16, etc.)

– We notice that just as 11 (Force) has the same hat as 1 (The Magician), so does 22 (The World) hold her legs the same way as 12 (The Hanged Man).

– The content of the Letter/Meditation is reminiscent of Lazarus, Come Forth! in that it discusses forgetting, sleep and death vs remembering, awakening, resurrecting.  After that it is a darker discussion – of ghosts and the redemption of ghosts.  Tomberg recounts embracing a ghost and breathing it in, receiving an electric shock, being visited by the deceased afterwards.  This sounds like the Count of St. Germain.  He describes two types of immortality, one pure and one electrified. How does this apply to our time?  Some say he misunderstood Gurdjieff and got it wrong.  But he is right that it is a path of enfoldment, and not radiation, espoused by Gurdjieff.  His characterization of the anti-reincarnation must certainly be prevalent in our time.  Sometimes accomplished through magical means on purpose (Luciferic), sometimes more so through modern technology (Ahrimanic).  Lust for power, Obama, Kurtzweil, surgeries, mind-control (MK Ultra).  There must be a kind of semi-religious Antichrist cult.  Technological enslavement is the goal (permanent incarnation/immediate reincarnation).  The tension between yes and no is thriving in our culture (particularly in the past year).  Everyone is caught in the crossfire.

– In the Light Course (, Steiner makes a distinction between electrical phenomena in the natural world vs man-made electricity.  Cosmic electricity is a totally different thing than what we generate.  Light ether vs electricity (fallen light ether).  Light is invisible – it is what allows us to see, not what we see.  Light ether, the cosmic electricity is analogous.    

We ended with the closing of the Grail Knight’s Practice and portions of the Path to Shambhala (threefold walking the Rosicrucian Mantra).