Eight of Batons (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Phillip and Joel on March 6, 2023.

There is something of the blue in the Pope’s robes that is akin to the diamond in the Eight. This river quality is present in both as well. Are we finally back to a more formal reflection of the Majors in the Minors? It seemed to have faded a bit. Looking back at prior correspondences using our rhythm:

The two flowers in the Eight of Batons could be related to the gesture of Prayer (rising) and Benediction (descending) in the Pope.

In the Emperor, his white beard and shoes could be related to the white portions of the baton in the Seven.

Speaking of white portions…there is something strange to the right of the Pope (our left). Is it concrete? Very geometrical. Stone? Faceted? Does it contain some kind of Pythagorean instruction? It points somehow to the presence of these white triangles in the Batons, in the negative space of the diagonals.

There is a little rhombus created by the negative space in the Emperor’s knees.

White shapes surround the hand of one of the acolytes in the Pope.

There are white triangles all around the High Priestess’s head.

The difference between all of these instances and the shapes next to the Pope is that all the others are negative space, or folds of clothing. These are neither. They are very conspicuous.

Are the blue pillars far in the distance behind the Pope? Or are they growing out of his shoulders? Or are they just very small?

Is there connection between them and the blue that is flowing out of him?

Is he holding that out of which the Batons are made? There are two blue pillars and the river, and then he is also holding two yellow batons (the one in his right hand appears to be the lining of his robe). All the ingredients to make a Baton are there…but the white triangles are in a pile next to him…and the blue diamond is just not quite formed.

An alarming feature of John’s Apocalypse is that there are all these rejected types, the abominable and the murderers and the liars, etc., who go into the marsh of fire. And then a type that doesn’t get rejected. It’s a disturbing thought. Different from this idea that all will be saved.

This in contrast to Weinreb—that out of unity we have emerged, that YHVH created multiplicity, and it is the task of man to return this multiplicity to the unity.

But it’s almost as though…is there an alchemical inner multiplicity that is the engine for the coming-into-being of unity? The separation of our sheaths, the forming of them such that they become distinct, and not this enmeshed unity. The “precipitation” of our several sheaths/bodies through the sacrifices of Christ (see here: https://treehouse.live/2020/05/02/the-sacrifices-of-jesus-and-christ-pt-1/). The process of initiation in the sense of the six basic exercises (see Tomberg’s Inner Development). A process of differentiation for the sake of unity.

In his course on Theosophy, Joel attempted to describe what the “I” is. Steiner describes the nine bodies, and yet the “I” is this mysterious tenth body that is yet not a tenth. Where is it? What is it? How does it fit into the others? Joel described the nine bodies as nine tones in a melody. And the “I” is the silence between the tones, the pause that actually makes them a melody. Without that silence, they would simply be a mash of nine notes, a discordant tone cluster. The “I” is the Tsim tsum that yields music. Steiner even admits that while the aura and the nine bodies can be seen by the clairvoyant, the “I” cannot. It is the holy of holies. It takes a messy unity and creates a multiplicity that is more of a unity than the unity was.

And so these unwanted types in the Apocalypse are cast off. Too many notes. They interrupt the melody. Sent back to make something new out of them. Harsh—but life is like that.

In the Batons—multiplicity as unity.

The two ways that the batons interact in each of them since the Four: they can be perpendicular (crossing) or parallel. And these two ways unite in the overall form.

In the Pope, there is an injunction towards unity, and yet there is this contrast of the one (the Pope) and the two (the acolytes).

In a way, the Pope is Five heading to Six: the two pillars above him, the two acolytes below him. He is the one in the middle. Where is the six? Is he alone? Or is he standing with the threefold cross as a companion?

Is the Pope even a person, a being? He is holding a second yellow staff with his “mask” at the top of it. Is there anything behind that mask, or more of the blue flowing darkness? And this same hand that is holding the appearance of being is also bestowing the benediction. A clear sixfoldness, then: two blue pillars, two yellow staffs, two acolytes.

God appearing as Man and/or Man appearing as God = blessing, benediction.

Or Michael, as the Face of God. He who stands in for God, since he cannot be seen directly or borne fully. Moses could not look directly at the face of God, he could only see his back, and his face was irradiated by it, sunburned. We cannot look directly at the light.

And yet this is what Steiner (Moses) later accomplishes in Philosophy of Freedom: the ability to look directly at the light in the observation of thinking activity.

Multiplicity vs Unity in the act of cognition. Similar to the description of the ego vs the nine bodies above, the silence in the tones creating the melody, the music. The world of percepts without the conceptual is a chaos, a mash of limitless sense impressions. None of them can be discerned or separated, and therefore they have no relation to each other. The conceptual comes in and separates them, and simultaneously brings them into relationship with each other—creating a true unity, rather than the mashed-together chaos form of unity they had before the act of cognition.

And yet the conceptual realm is also relatively formless and undifferentiated until it makes contact with the world of percepts. The concept cannot become totally concrete/specific until it joins with a perceptual content. In both cases, it is the mental image, the mental picture, which is the specified concept and/or the clarified percept.

The percept is perceived clearly (through the senses)…the mental image is also quite clear cognitively. But the concept can’t really be known except through the mental image, some form of mental image. Like with light—we can’t see light directly, only that which light illumines. Similarly, we can only “see” the concept via the mental image. A miraculous leap to the light—to see through the mental image to the concept.

“I know I’m seeing a concept, but all I see is a mental image. The concept is like a matter of faith.” The Letter-Meditation on the Moon: you have to take the flying leap into intuition.

The exception of course is the perception of the thinking process itself. This is unique—there is no sense percept. It yields a totally unique mental image. Maybe somehow analogous to the experiments you can do with a flashlight and a box.

The instinctive process in animals seems to exist still at this place where concept and percept are united. Uninterrupted by the ego. Philosophy of Freedom shows the way to restore this unity at a higher level.

Goethe’s worldview—what is perception? Just a chaos of multiplicity. Anything recognisable is a sense-free conception added to the chaos of color and form. Paradoxically, the differentiation that comes with discovering the corresponding concept to the percepts leads to reunification. Relationships are established through thinking.

There is something here of the parallel vs the perpendicular.

The light of thinking activity—the realm of unity—the yellow. They are like lasers. Endless rays of light.

And the blue—the perceptual mass coming into complex relationship through the illumination and penetration from thinking activity.

Formed concepts are not what is meant by thinking activity. Thinking activity is the core of thinking, when it ignites, before the concept fully arises. The protoplasm of the soul. Thinking-feeling-willing are here united. In Philosophy of Freedom, Steiner notes that some seek to find the essence of the human experience in feeling, that is where reality can be experienced. These he characterises as mystics. And others can only find fulfilment in deeds, in the will. These he calls thelists. But in both cases, he points out, thinking is necessary in order to arrive at these points of view. If we dive into feeling at the expense of all else, we lose both thought and will. If we dive into the will, we lose both thought and feeling. But if we dive into the observation of living thinking activity, we will find both willing and feeling within it—more powerful and real than they were in their prior form. (End of Chapter 8).

[All of the above was very difficult to take notes on and summarise. The actual conversation was much longer and more far-reaching.]

The will within thinking. This is a place that must be found, experienced—it can’t simply be read about. The silent place of I AM where the will originates thinking. That same silent place that weaves amongst the nine bodies. The meditation-prayer of The Fool in Meditations on the Tarot. It can become a perpetual state once found.

Irreducible complexity—the eternally present Ego/I AM. Was there ever a time in my experience when there was not this “I AM” presence? Stages of it.

The essence of Phillip’s struggle in his 20’s was actually exactly this—something actively working against that “I AM” presence. Destroying, deconstructing it. Unpleasant. Strange. Awareness of the world absent the sense of awareness of the “I.” Outside of himself and yet still conscious of it in the inverse, “I am not.”

This is actually very reminiscent of Steiner’s description in Chapter 6 of POF on Human Individuality. He says that if all we had was a cognitive experience, we would only be passive observers in the world. We would not develop a real sense of self. It is only through a life of feeling that we come to experience ourselves over against the cognised world, and through life of will that we become life-participants. Without a life of feeling, we have no subject (“I”) as percept amongst other percepts. We only have external percepts and internally conceptualisation. Feelings tell us about the self; thinking tells us about the world, the not-self. The “Ego death” of the Eastern path. Transcending personality, transcending feeling. A critique of pure Platonism or the Eastern transcendental path.

Steiner advocates instead an ascent into the highest heights of thinking (depersonalisation) and then descending down into the deepest parts of one’s personality, one’s feeling.

Platonism as a certain life of devotion, of raising up the feelings. Aristotelianism as a bringing the conceptual fully down into the will, totally individualising. Plato wishes to reflect or match the lofty realm of ideals/archetypes. The realm of the Gods. Whereas Aristotle wants to pull this world down, pull it through, to realise it. To take everything “up there” and recreate it “down here.” Putting an individual stamp on it.

Something here of the parable of the buried talent. Plato wants to preserve/maintain. Aristotle wants to invest. Or the older brother in the Prodigal Son. Maintaining what has been given.

Somehow Phillip identifies with the older brother, the maintainer, even though he hasn’t lived that way. He’s had so many experiences, failures, suddenly exploding and making sense in a fertile way.

In the Eight of Batons, the reflection of the above and below is happening more in this Aristotelian way—not an exact reflection. The flowers are not quite identical. Individualizing of the higher in the lower.

A re-enacting of God. The Tsim tsum. The reunification of God with all depends on us to re-enact creation and go beyond him.

It’s hard to think of the Apocalypse as the End. Since it ends with this division—the portion that is “saved” in the New Jerusalem, and the portion that is cast out into the marsh of fire.

There always has to be this sending out of a debased portion in order to bring back the creation. There is always a place, a reason, for this “marsh of fire” outside of the New Jerusalem.

The spinning wheel of the gods of Olympus, yet still borne of a living spirit of love. Not borne of a rational, neat cohesion.

There is something of an evolutionary picture there—that the realm of the New Jerusalem, the holy realm, can only be attained by passing through the marsh of fire. A higher stage of development necessitates a fall, or necessitates the fall of some other being. And then the task of the good is to rescue/redeem the fallen, but there is always this portion that then falls deeper so that the other portion can be saved. The marsh of fire is there in perpetuity, not as an eternal dwelling for any particular being per se, but rather as a necessary companion to the maintaining/perpetual creating/expanding of the New Jerusalem. And from this point of view, it simply is, without moral judgement, it is phenomenologically an essential portion of the movement and polarity of spiritual evolution. We all, at some time or other, have spent or will spend time in the marsh of fire, only to attain to the New Jerusalem, and then rescue others from the marsh.

The plants, animals, stones that didn’t make it to a human level. What portion of the marsh of fire will they need to pass through in order to get to the Holy City?

It is hard to think of things reaching an ideal homeostasis only through a punitive process. It would be nicer if it could somehow happen in a harmonious way. That’s the terror—you can lose. Fighting against that terror. What is the miracle that could end this process?

The lower, punitive beings deliberately laying down arms, returning to God on purpose. Developing rightly, without the need for the fall of more beings to facilitate a return. Maybe that’s Christ and his descent into Hell?

We attempt to negate reality through denial. Christ, instead, accepts and faces it. Accepting the possibility of eternal damnation. Taking ownership, total accountability. The Gethsemane experience. “This is really my fault, so I don’t feel like I should have to do this.” Virtue signalling is somehow similar, “if this were me, I would be like this.” But really it is the opposite of Christ’s move. His was a turning away that was a turning towards. “Let this cup pass—or I will do it if you really want me to.”

The part of us that has turned away from accountability—how do we turn it inside out, causing it to turn towards?

Charles Williams’ Company of the Co-Inherence. Taking on the suffering/responsibility of others is a lighter burden than bearing our own personal suffering. We lift each other up through exchange of burdens.

Denying responsibility—”I didn’t do that”—when I did. Self-gaslighting. The knot cripples. But when done on behalf of others it doesn’t cripple.

The knot—the blue weave. A smooth knot. Untangled. Binding up our responsibilities together. Taking each other on. Laying down personal authority (the sceptre) for the sake of the common mission (the shield), which is freedom, liberation.

The Majors will be so great to return to. The Hanged Man has these two hills. Akin to the bird in the Emperor.

The sceptre as Will, as sacred magical will that is alive. Forming a shield out of sceptres. The shield as mission, the family crest—the family’s future karmic fulfilment.

The blue tangle as blue roots—the flowers have been feeding off of these mystical roots.

The Pope has the image of the Batons on his hand.

The sacred wound. The mark of the Batons. He bears the mark of the Baton not on his hand though, but on a glove. We look carefully through the deck twice—the only glove in the deck!

The glove is needed to hold the staff. Like not being able to touch the Ark of the Covenant, it kills the one who touches it. Those holding other sceptres are barehanded.

The Batons forming a shield…the mark of protection needed to touch something so much higher. The wound is future bearing, the future will-impulse. A protective wound. Like an inoculation. The small wound that is the corrective.

Without the wound—you walk straight into the marsh, burned by touching the Baton with bare hands.

Taking a preview of the Nine of Batons:

Absolute simplicity. Feels nice. Finally we have reached the ideal form, with the diamond in the middle. Behold—tada!

In the Suit of Swords this lack of detail would be a struggle. This is like an atonement for that.

A building up from Three, to Five…now it has become perfect. No plant life at all, no leaves on the side.

Unusual for the Nine to be devoid of plant life? Before it was the Ten?