Notes of a Hermetic Conversation from June 20, 2017
June 20, 2017
Death – Joel and Phillip
We began with the Divine Alphabet up through the 13th Letter, Mem, with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice. After reading the introductory quotes to the 13th Letter/Meditation, we observed the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Arcana (as YHVH):
– There is a similarity of gesture between Force and Death, with particular differences. For example, one of Death’s feet is missing, and we can just see the toes of one of Force’s feet. The position of their arms is reversed. She shows us her front, he shows us his back. He is in a very painful looking position, unnatural.
– Looking at the underlying geometry of the card. Are there letters formed by this geometry (e.g. Chi)?
The shapes formed by the negative space. The indication of a circular, counterclockwise movement from the shape of the blade on the scythe. The upper portion (Head/ribs) very different from the middle portion (crisscrossing limbs), and the lower portion (the dark earth with debris in it). The heads on the ground are like two place holders, two pillars – they are not randomly strewn. They are like Adam and Eve, the primal Yes and No – succumbing to temptation.
– The field grows body parts, and he collects his own body from what is harvested. He’s not, properly speaking, a body – he’s cobbled together. He’s not a terrifying hunter/slayer like the usual Grim Reaper image. He’s simply harvesting what sprouts due to psychic illness.
– The Wheel of Fortune moves us from the realm of the inner world to the outer world. Then a choice is made between Purity (Force) or impurity (Hanged Man). Impurity dips down into the realm of Death if it doesn’t suffer Penance. Death is a measure of last resort. The Hanged Man is Cain, Force is Abel.
– Death is not truly Real or Eternal. It is only created or comes about to tend the anti-Garden. He can only cobble together his body if there is a harvest. We are on the brink of doing this on a physical level (growing organs, cobbling together a false eternal body).
– It is a bit like the 8th sphere, where the dregs of evolution go to attempt to maintain their existence. The cast-off slag of Earth evolution. It is irredeemable until beyond Vulcan evolution.
– He is not an Ahrimanic image. This is not Ahriman plotting, attempting to lay siege to the Divine Plan. It’s too automatic. He has such a blank stare – can he see at all? It is simply automatic destruction, with no drive or intention. Sorath vs. Ahriman. Ahriman has a plan, he has desires for domination, desires to deceive and thwart. Sorath is pure emptiness. He doesn’t wish for a mankind that lives without the spirit, he wishes for the complete mineralization of the cosmos. The result of Sorath is empty machines, constantly consuming to survive. The leftover momentum of biological evolution (survival of the fittest). It is a human-created nothing, nihilism. No inwardness whatsoever.
– Wheel of Fortune is a mixture of elements. With Force, a pure element separates itself out from this mixture. The Hanged Man is what is left, and Death must be removed from the Hanged Man in order to rescue him.
– Similar to the constellation
– Death seems to arrive too early in the sequence. He is there almost as soon as the personality has unfolded all of its aspects (1-9). There is so much development in these first 9, and it quickly evaporates. This is a tragic portion of the Arcana. Nothing is the same after the 13th Arcanum, no more relatively static figures, except for Temperance. The Tarot are truly Christian, as this displays the Christian doctrine of the Fall so powerfully. Leaving Paradise/wholeness for a bifurcated world. This is not a Buddhist path. The imagery is heavy duty, graphic.
– Force in this light takes on quite a miraculous quality; things didn’t go completely awry. This is the attraction of the structure we have been investigating, with the Yod as the pinnacle of the triangle, the He at the left-hand corner, the Vau at the right hand corner, and the second He in the middle, continuing the middle column.
The attraction lies in there always being the column on the left, the column of purity (High Priestess, Pope, Justice, Force, Temperance, The Star, The Judgement). Even if, in one of the pillars, everything seems to be going completely wrong, in another pillar it has remained pure. Some piece of the Eternal is always held back, despite what appearances may tell us. A threefold story line, rather than a single, linear story.
– The first 9 deal more with Archetypes: the relationship between Above and Below, in various spatial layers.. Once the Wheel of Fortune occurs, we are dealing with Prototypes, the relationship between Past and Future. We are dealing with divergent paths, moments in time, “as before, so after.” If the entire spread of 1-22 is a story, 1-9 is only introducing the cast, character development. 10 is when the story really begins.
– The spread can remind us that the Earth sphere is only one of many. We get this impression from reading Steiner’s descriptions of the path of the soul after death through the planetary spheres. We have a whole biography in each one. Our normal approach to life is so geocentric. It is a bit like attaching so much importance to the first 9 Arcana, only to have it “wrecked” by Death. The Buddhist perspective releases us from this geocentricity in a different way than Steiner (Ed. Note – when I write “Geocentricity” it autocorrects to Egocentricity!).
– The whole developmental perspective laid out by the 22 Major Arcana helps to release us from our normal perspective of life proceeding from Birth to Death (and then from Death to Birth) – as though it were only two pieces of equal weight. With the Tarot, the movement is from Conception (The Magician) through to the Midnight Hour (The Fool/The World), split into 22 parts. The time of “normal life” on Earth is from the 4th to the 13th Arcanum. With the Tarot, life is still split into two parts, but they run Conception to Midnight Hour (Major Arcana) and Midnight Hour to Conception (Minor Arcana). According to Willi Sucher and Robert Powell, it is at the Midnight Hour that we find our Conception Chart (Ascendant).
– The lifecycles, the 7 year stages are part and parcel of the Camphill approach – a Goethean observation of the human being through biography work. What happened, and when, in one’s biography? What does that indicate developmentally?
– 1-9 is Conception through the Consciousness Soul years (42). Then comes Wheel of Fortune. From age 0-21, we are in touch with the Mystery of Birth – our Angel (via our environment) guiding us through developmental stages as a free gift. Our Angel leaves us in freedom increasingly from 21 onward. From 42 onward we are in touch with the Mystery of Death. This aligns with the 10th-13th Arcana. The Mystery of Death allows us to take our development into our own hands, and potentially result in initiation/higher knowledge. This is the reason Steiner states that an initiate generally does not begin teaching unit 42. Up until this point the Gate of Death is closed.
– The Path to Death:
Wheel of Fortune (Mars years, 42-49): Finding one’s place in the Cosmic Drama
Force (Jupiter Years, 49-56): Cultivating purity
Hanged Man (Saturn Years, 56-63): Doing penance for one’s past
Death: Allowing that which remains to be removed
We follow consciously and in a preparatory way what would normally be accomplished only after death.
We ended with the closing of the Grail Knight’s Practice.