Tarot Conversation July 25, 2017 – The Devil

Phillip and Joel

We began with the Lord’s Prayer in the Sephiroth, and the Divine Alphabet up through the 15th Letter, Samech, with allusions to the Knight’s Practice throughout.

As there are no quotes to begin the Letter/Meditation, we read portions on pages 403 (the first full paragraph) and 409 (the last full paragraph).

– There are bizarre elements vs explicitly “dark” elements (such as the bat-wings, the chains, the hermaphrodites).  For example, what is going on with the antlers? They seem significant, but not necessarily evil – just strange.

– What we always assumed to be a sword without a hilt is, according to Tomberg, a white taper with a blue flame, a torch. This is said quite explicitly in the Letter/Meditation, but neither of us had ever made note. This too is strange:  a flame that isn’t a flame, it blends in with the wings. No glow. Still similar to a sword without a hilt, implying an immunity to normal response to pain and suffering. Invulnerability.  

– The antlers make one think of the Agricultural Course. Yarrow is meant to be stuffed into a stag’s bladder and hung from a tree for the summer. Koenig relates the bladder of the stag to its antlers. There is a polarity between the cow’s horn/manure and the bladder/yarrow. The horn is buried underground for the winter. The horn is permanent, receptive to the cosmos. Antlers fall off and regrow every year, connected to the cycle of procreation. They indicate a strong sensitivity to the environment. (see here:

– The shape of the Devil’s crown is a bit like the Emperor’s.

– The combination of the explicitly debased with the bizarre/comical (antlers, grins, crossed eyes), the overall impression it leaves is disgust. This is a revolting image.

– The antlers are like deformed plant shapes – degenerative animal/plant forms rather than a golden or jeweled crown (which is a refined mineral).

– The breast/belly region of the Devil looks like an owl.

– Everyone is so pleased in this image – this makes it extra disturbing. Vs the expression on Temperance, which is one of sadness and melancholy. A grave responsibility. She is engaged, concentrated, like so many of the other positive images. Whereas The Devil is proclaiming himself, and is cross-eyed (focused on self).  He is deformed, his fingers and toes are webbed and clawed.

– Page 404 of MOT is very expressive of the modern situation (second to last full paragraph). The generated demon that ends up ruling us is technology. The two hermaphrodites in our time are the neocon and neoliberal – seemingly at odds but both engaged in becoming slaves to a monster they have created, and which they begin to emulate. This has further degenerated into an “alt-right” and “alt-left.” Page 410 – “excess owing to intoxication” is the mark of demon creation. This is both the movement behind Trump as well as the reaction to this movement.  The contrast between the civil rights movement, one that under MLK did not bleed into excess and intoxication, vs the “queer ally” movement for example (all identity politics). Impossible to speak correctly anymore. Glorification of identity for identity’s sake. Marginalization of what is “normal.” It’s no longer a matter of standing up for the disadvantaged a la King or Ghandi. 

– The Devil as the result of the process of Death and Temperance:  in the Letter/Meditation he emphasizes that inspiration (Temperance) immediately and easily runs the risk of becoming counter-inspiration (intoxication).  He brings up Anthroposophy as a concrete example (402-403). Interesting that he later talks of Moses on the mountain while the Israelites made the golden calf below, since Robert makes an explicit connection between Moses and Steiner – the Foundation Stone meditation like a modern Ten Commandments (see, for example, The Most Holy Trinosophia). Was there a simultaneous (and ongoing?) intoxication on the part of the Society itself, akin to the golden calf?

– Last year’s retreat in July. Excess and intoxication on two sides – on the one side, an excess and intoxication in terms of the reception of and desire for visionary content. On the other, a “fever of the will and imagination to change everything utterly at a single stroke,” which was the reaction on the part of some to the first excess. Again two “hermaphrodites” contributing to the creation of an egregore. 

– The quote of St. John of the Cross from the bottom of 413-414. This perfectly describes the path of Grail Knighthood. It also describes the group experience – we were once nourished by the regular visionary content, when we were beginners. Now that we have advanced a stage, we are left in darkness, the spiritual exercises can become a burden and distasteful. For example, it has become almost impossible to bring together the whole group for Tarot study or the Knight’s Practice. This is natural, this is how we “grow accustomed to waking by [our]selves.” These would be important thoughts and concerns to hold inwardly as we head into our third summer retreat. Transforming what needs redeemed from last year.

– Moses came down from the mountain and fed the idol to the people. Who was Aaron at the time of Steiner? Interesting to see Anthroposophy in 1935 – ready to make a deal with the Nazis in order to survive. Tomberg was outspoken in his spiritual insights into Hitler, probably didn’t help his unpopularity in the Society.

– This sequence is so contextual, one needs the backstory. It isn’t like the other YHVH sequences that can more or less be taken in isolation. One sees the sequence Death, Temperance, The Devil and wants to know “how did we get here? what will happen next?” The backstory is the Wheel of Fortune, the intermingling of Fallen and Unfallen Nature. Somewhere in the 10th or 11th Letter/Meditations, Tomberg makes reference to scientists who see survival of the fittest as “normal” Nature being like doctors who see sickness as the “normal” healthy state of the body. In the Wheel of Fortune, both the healthy and the ill are still intermingled – the monkey is the healthy becoming ill, and the dog is the ill becoming healthy. Then there is a process of peeling back the layers, seeing what is in the Wheel, a process of purgation and separation. The Wheel of Fortune is a bit like the almost three year old child, ready to take the developmental leap – but in order to make the leap, there must be fever, vomiting. After that what was once intermingled (the earlier state of the child) has become irrevocably separated (vomit/purgation—and—more advanced child).  It is the same with the process from Wheel of Fortune through The Devil – once separated, Temperance and The Devil CANNOT be recombined!

– In fact, The Devil didn’t and couldn’t form fully until Temperance made her appearance. Like the quote earlier from St. John of the Cross – there are new burdens placed on the spiritual pupil due to new maturity.

– Page 414, St. Anthony says that temptation goes with growth and salvation, with responsibility. If our level of temptation increases with our level of spiritual development, this means that God the Father suffers the greatest temptation at all times.  This card is the representative in the Tarot of Pluto, which is Pluto/Phanes (God the Father) as well as Pluto/Hades (The Greatest Evil) – is this not the description of Pluto? Of God the Father in constant contact and self-restraint from the greatest Temptation? This is the first Arcanum to represent the non-classical planets. So far we have had:

The Magician – Sun

The High Priestess – Saturn

The Empress – Moon

The Emperor – Jupiter

The Pope – Mercury

The Lover – Venus

The Chariot – Mars

Justice – Libra

The Hermit – Sagittarius

Wheel of Fortune – Leo

Force – Virgo

The Hanged Man – Pisces

Death – Scorpio

Temperance – Aquarius

The Devil – Pluto

The other outer-most planets are Tower of Destruction = Uranus and The World = Neptune. The sequence goes from The Magician = Sun (Day) through The World = Neptune (Night). The sequence is anything but random, so complex, and so authentic. The YHVH method we have been working with is just one way, just the outer court of the mysteries in the Arcana.

Looking at the sequence in the light of the Grail Knight’s Practice, we see:

The Chariot through Death relate to the 7 levels of Trespass, moving upward through the chakras (The Chariot = Moon Chakra, Death = Crown Chakra), in relation to the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”:

Chariot = Doubt (1st level of trespass); Changing of Water into Wine; Wine—Stimulating; Root

Justice = Desire; Healing of the Nobleman’s Son; Honey—Satisfying; Sacral

Hermit = Disobedience, Grasping; Healing of the Paralysed Man; Milk—Strengthening; Solar Plexus

Wheel of Fortune = Eating of the Forbidden Fruit; Feeding of the 5000; Bread—Nurturing; Heart

Force = Fear; Walking on Water; Fish; Larynx

Hanged Man = Shame; Healing of the Man Born Blind; Oil; Brow

Death = Death; Raising of Lazarus from the Dead; Incense; Crown

Then we have Temperance, which corresponds to “Lead us not into Temptation,” associated with the last day of Temptation in the wilderness (overcoming the three temptations and being ministered unto by Angels) as well as the Transfiguration.

Then The Devil through The Fool/The World correspond to “Deliver us from Evil.” These 7 are associated with the 7 sayings from the Cross, descending through the chakras:

The Devil = “Father, into Thy hands I commend my Spirit”; Crown

Tower of Destruction = “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? (how Thou hast glorified me!); Brow

The Star = “I thirst”; Larynx

The Moon = “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise”; Heart

The Sun = “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”; Solar Plexus

The Judgement = “Mother, behold thy Son; Son, behold thy Mother”; Sacral

The Fool (or The World) = “It is Fulfilled”; Root

Therein, Temperance becomes a point of reflection, where:

Crown chakra = The Devil and Death

Brow Chakra = Tower of Destruction and Hanged Man

Throat Chakra = The Star and Force

Heart Chakra = The Moon and Wheel of Fortune

Solar Plexus Chakra = The Sun and The Hermit

Sacral Chakra = The Judgement and Justice

Root Chakra = The Fool/The World and The Chariot

Each of these pairs has a clear resonance between them.

How do we move into the Minor Arcana? We have been working with Y H V H = Jahveh. Is there a way to work with Y H SH V H = Jeheshuah = Jesus (finding the quintessence)?

Whether we are talking about macrocosmic evolution, biographical development, or path of initiation, the most succinct way of describing the essence of the sequence of the Tarot is found on page 401: “the drama of the destiny of the divine image and likeness.”

We become able to living in consciousness of guilt towards our neighbors.

We ended with the closing of the Grail Knight’s Practice.