Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on November 13, 2018
November 13, 2018
Eight of Coins
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of the Holy Spirit through reading the 3rd stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.
After briefly focusing the mantra I AM on the brow chakra, we performed the 4th part of the Inner Radiance sequence, and the 20th letter of the Divine Alphabet (Resh) in relation to the 20th Major Arcanum, The Judgement.
We then read from Revelation 4:6-7 and Matthew 16:13-20 (Simon becomes Peter, the Rock).
– Addressing the symmetry of the Eight of Coins. At first glance, it appears to be 100% symmetrical. But there is one exception: the top and bottom flowers are slightly different. But the right to left symmetry is exact, as is the color symmetry. In this regard, it is akin to the Ace and the Six of Coins.
– There is a very strong emphasis on four levels of coins here (each level with two coins): like the four planes of the Sephiroth Tree. There have only been four levels of coins since the Six of Coins, but we didn’t really notice that fact when observing the Six and Seven.
Lining these three up side by side: Six, Seven, Eight, and looking at how the different levels change from Arcanum to Arcanum.
The first, second and fourth levels change. First level: 1, 2, 2. Second level: 1, 1, 2. Fourth level: 1, 2, 2. But the third level stays the same: 2, 2, and 2. The first and fourth level are similar, but not identical, in terms of their transformation.
– This is the first blue pearl—with two red pearls. But for the first time these red pearls are explicitly the base of a blossom (red blossom).
– The blue is consistently in the foreground. The way the leaves are turned, the coloration of the petals. This is unusual, usually one thinks of blue receding and red advancing. It’s akin to the way that Mary is portrayed: blue without, red within.
– There is no intermediary between the central flower and the two (or is it four?) red pearls. No stalk, as in the Seven. There is actually minimal stalk/stem activity at all. With the Seven, there was an accentuation of the stalk/stem portion of the plant: below it was thicker, and above it divided into two. It showed the beginnings of an unorthodox display of plant progression. But with the Eight of Coins, it has become almost all flower and leaf. An explosion of flowering, a bouquet.
There is also a brand new flower form introduced in this Arcanum. An elongated form. There is something about them that is akin to the flowers in the Four of Coins, but really they are completely new. On the horizontal flowers, the stamen or pistol looks akin to that of an Iris. Very soft and rounded, almost paw-like, unlike the pointed blossoms of before.
– Looking back: the Two, Five and Seven have two flowers
The Ace and Three have four flowers.
The Six is ambiguous—does it have two? Or three?
It is the Four and Eight of Coins that have Seven Flowers.
– The bottom of the Seven and the Eight are very similar. But looking at the second line between the Seven and the Eight, a real metamorphosis takes place. The second line of the Seven is where the special, single coin is, framed by plants. It has been split into two in the Eight. It seems as though this has occurred due to a transformation of the two-fold stem—and this, in turn, due to a transformation of the central flower. It’s like the central flower of the Seven has sprouted out and evolved. The only time we’ve seen a flower like the central one of the Eight before was the central flower of the Six. The Eight, however, is a definite eight-rayed cross, whereas the Six is more like a four-rayed cross (although the blue intimates the development of 8-rays). Here in the Eight of Coins, the central flower is more like an 8-rayed cross approaching 16 (notice the black lines amongst the red and blue petals). This is the first intimation of the number 16 since the central coin of the Ace (the sun-like rays around the border of the coin).
– There’s a real sense of stability in this image. Hypothetically lot of action could burst forth from it, but somehow this is not very explicit.
Going into a few of Joel’s first impressions of the image, we dig a little deeper in this regard:
At first, it looked like something being rung out, or something solidifying out of liquid. Like cheese being squeezed in a cloth. Or a mold for shaping hot metal—coins perhaps?
On another level, it gave off a strong impression of power, of strictness, a kind of military attitude. This has something to do with its strict symmetry and geometry/angularity. It is harsh and cold.
On the other hand, there is also something like a fanfare about it—a glory. When one sees it as four planes, one begins to get the impression of lines of hillside going off into the distance—four ridges. And the coins become giant borders tumbling over these hillsides. One gets the impression of an attack, a chaos, or some kind of natural disaster—an avalanche. One feels the awe-inspiring quality of this image.
And so actually, here we have a very strong polarity, between something solid, cold, immovable, strict on the one hand–yet more or less exploding on the other. One is reminded very strongly of a soldier, standing steady and immovable at his post yet ready to spring into violent action at a moment’s notice.
– Looking at our sequence based on the vertical progression of YHShVH:
So we have the Yod sequence Ace, Four, Seven. Something is blossoming. Then we have the He sequence Two, Five, Eight. Something is solidifying. The curvature is being lost, and angularity is being gained.
Both the Two and the Eight we have brought into connection with The Judgement:
Ace = The World
Two = The Judgement
Three = The Sun
Four = The Moon
Five = The Star
Six = The Moon
Seven = The Sun
Eight = The Judgement
We could arrange the Two and the Eight around The Judgement:
The Two seems to have more to do with the Angelic realm above, and the Eight more to do with the rectangular tomb below.
We can also see in the S curve geometry of the Two a more explicit expression of the Angel raising the Youth from the dead. The Eight is not so clear. It seems to be more about the interpenetration of spirit and matter, the mutual sustaining of the two.
The Eight is more like two wills already completely dependent upon and actively in relationship with each other, unlike the Two which is showing two wills in the process of meeting and aligning with each other. In the Eight, they are not coming into relationship, they are already completely interwoven.
This makes one think of the nature of the Resurrection Body—a unity of the qualities of Death and Life (see pages 573-74). The abilities of pure will/disincarnate spirit, but with materiality. The activity of life without the limits of the terrestrial.
The Two of Coins expresses something of the descent of Christ to the Mother below, while the Father is awaiting above.
The Eight of Coins shows the actual realm of the Dead—the unlimited potential of the realm of the Dead, taking on a formed, material quality. Matter that can spiritualize and vice versa. Christ appearing on the road to Emmaus: physically present, yet with an explosive dynamism.
We wonder, does this lend an ephemeral quality to the substantiality of the Resurrection Body? Perhaps the spiritual dynamism will step to the fore and disintegrate the materiality? Or on the other hand does the material present a barrier to the dynamism finding an outlet? Doesn’t this bring us exactly back to the question of the relationship between coin (materiality) and plant (dynamism)? This is exactly what the coins and plants are expressing, the tug of war between material substantiality and spiritual dynamism.
One of life’s core questions: how exactly does consciousness stay in connection with the body? Something that we all take for granted, don’t worry about at all, but terrifying if there is a break. Like if one suddenly cannot breathe, or anything about our well-being that we take for granted. But maybe even more extreme.
Only in the Ace is there some kind of explicit but ambiguous relation between the Coin and the Plant. The plant is touching the coin, but it’s unclear whether the plant is emerging from the coin or what exactly is going on. In all the other Arcana thus far, the coins and plants do not make direct contact. They are only creating a tension that relates them to each other. This is a very interesting observation.
Going back to the struggle between substantiality and dynamism—this is our human struggle through and through. We see the upper hand of one or the other in everyone, particularly in people with special needs it becomes outwardly apparent that dynamism is destroying substance or that substance is blocking dynamism. This is the deep magic of the Resurrection Body: it is 100% both substantiality and dynamism at one and the same time: it is spirit-matter, life-death.
None-the-less, there does seem to be a spectrum of experience or expression within the Resurrection Body. For example, the Ascension speaks more to the dynamism, the spirit completely dissolving materiality. And then Pentecost or Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is like the out-breathing counterpart to the Ascension’s in-breath. The unity of life-death is not static, it is a dance and a breathing. Compare the communion of fish, or Thomas putting his hands in the wounds, to something like the Ascension. There is something so intimate and concrete about the former vs the latter. More on the “substance” side of the spectrum vs the “dynamism” side. There exists a huge spectrum of ways that the Resurrection Body can express itself due to the unity and identity of Spirit and Matter, not a sole way of expressing, being, acting.
So we might say that the Two of Coins is the process of The Judgement; the Eight of Coins is the result. The origin and the destination, or culmination. (Edit: as I write these notes, I realize we could say that the Two is the Dynamism, and the Eight is the Substantiality).
The Two is like a side view, above to below. Upper coin = Angel, lower coin = Youth. It is showing us something temporal, a process happening in time.
The Eight is different. It is as though we were somewhere in between the Angel and the Youth, say at the end of the Trumpet. If we looked up, we would see the Angel, if we looked down, we would see the Youth. Maybe the Eight is showing us either/both of these views. It is showing us the Angel as Glory, Pleroma, Fullness; and it is simultaneously showing us the Resurrection Body as Tomb and Rising of the Dead. It is non-temporal, eternal in its quality.
There is absolutely something eternal about this image. This wasn’t immediately evident. It’s very non-temporal compared to the others. And yet it still seems like a natural follow up to the Seven.
It speaks again to this idea of the summary, of the cumulative aspect of the Coin Arcana. The Eight has somehow summarized all that came before, in the sense of the nature of the number 8 referred to at the end of the Letter-Meditation on The Chariot (page 169)—the eighth force which holds the seven forces of the psyche in equilibrium. The Eight of Coins certainly brings everything into balance, into equilibrium.
At the same time, on purely the level of form/geometry, there are Coin Arcana that the Eight seems to have nothing to do with. Nothing of the Three. Mainly it is the Four and the Six, also the Seven, that are visible within this image. It doesn’t summarize everything the way the Six does, by incorporating elements from the other images. There’s a different quality to the summary it offers.
– There is something musical about the Suit of Coins so far. The first three Arcana are like the introduction of the several themes and motifs of the piece of music. The Four brings in something totally new, the next movement. This new element is mirrored and counterbalanced in Five, and the Six builds out of that mirroring, resolving what the Four brought with what was already there with the Ace, Two and Three. The Seven develops all of this further—plays with the resolution offered by Six. But the Eight….the Eight isn’t even related to Ace, Two, and Three. Interesting how it is related to The Judgement yet not the Two. It’s all flower. All the other Arcana have more complete plant forms, not such an emphasis on one element.
– The Eight has embodied more of the archetypal, it has more of an eternal quality. It is very pure in that regard. It would be difficult to connect it to the Arcanum Justice (the 8th Major), for example, due to its strict geometry. This is different with, say, connecting the Two to the High Priestess (the 2nd Major). Even if the prior Coin Arcana were very archetypal vs the Majors, there was still some connecting thread back to the personal, soulful quality of the Majors. The Eight doesn’t have that. It is more impersonal.
– Of all the Arcana thus far, this is the most obvious/intuitive layout of the number in question. Four pairs. Very simple and straightforward. How else would you even do it? Whereas the Seven was very counterintuitive. We would have made something more like a house (upward triangle above, square below).
– In all of the Arcana so far, we have noticed a very sharp implicit duality/polarity. Maybe this is less so in the Eight? There is something more elevated here—much less grounded—although more secure at the same time. Stability coupled with dynamism.
Perhaps it is this: the duality is implicit, in potential in the first seven. You can see what polarity would play out were the “seed” of each Arcana to become a full plant. But with the Eight, it is no longer a potential. It is not something inherited that needs to come to light and be resolved. The Eight is, in a way, after the fact. It is not inherited, it is chosen. It is intentional. The duality has been risen above, integrated. It is a duality that is completely co-present. It is not “look at the card one way and you see this, another way and you see that.” They’re both there at the same time (the stability and the dynamism). They are cooperating—working completely hand in hand. Not at odds with each other at all.
– Going back to the musical analogy: this is like ending a piece of music with something that had none of the elements that came before, but somehow brought it to just the right conclusion. The melody that had been approached, teased, hinted at, sought for the entire time, finally presented in fullness.
– Last time we spoke of the last deed changing everything—mainly in the context of earth evolution. The final act, the future, transforming and elevating all of the past. Each moment changes all that came before it. This made Joel think in a new way of the deathbed conversion. It isn’t just a last minute change of heart, the last ditch effort to avoid damnation. It actually changes the entire life that had been led up unto that point—the whole past life of the person is now different, had been leading up to that conversion. Page 565 brings this up in the Letter-Meditation on the Judgement, regarding what is written in the Book of Life.
But now we could ask the question: how does this effect our view and understanding of karma and reincarnation? From Anthroposophy, one might understand multiple lives as “each life is an incomplete, partial expression of the Eternal Individuality. Each life bears the karma prepared for it by the previous life, and prepares karma for future lives.”
But this is clearly incomplete. The view given us by the Minor Arcana is almost the exact opposite.
Here we see, first of all, the total uniqueness of each life that we live. Each life is as crucial and unique as each of the Coin Arcana has been so far. A world unto itself, of unfathomable depth.
On the other hand, and even more importantly, we see that each life that is lived changes all of the lives that have been lived before. The future changes the past. What I do in this incarnation is not just the result of the sum total of my karma so far. My deeds in this life reach backwards and transform the quality of what has been lived through previously. The entire scope and quality of my incarnations will not be revealed until the last moment of my final incarnation.
Again, here is a more hopeful and human picture than the standard one. This returns the value to the single incarnation on the one hand, and also allows the human being to escape from the psychological prison of past karma.
Usually we would see the determinant of a series in the first in the series, not in the last. That the whole is somehow contained in the beginning, and all things run their course based off of that beginning. This deterministic mindset is very ingrained in the materialistic age.
But the Minor Arcana don’t work that way. The Ace is not in charge here, is not determining all that came after. The other Coins are not bound by its pre-determination—no, in fact, they have changed the quality of the Ace by their appearance.
But maybe here we are dealing with the Four Causes (Effective, Formal, Material, Final) of Aristotle?
– The overlapping duality of the Ace—it has potentials, certain latent capacities and possibilities. But there is also a kind of infinite potential that only the future can put bounds on. Boundaries that weren’t in place prior to the path unfolding and creating them.
– Laying out, side by side, the first eight Coin Arcana. A beautiful spectrum. They’ve really taken on, via our conversation and attention, their unique personalities. They were basically empty forms before. Steiner speaks of how when we enter the spiritual world, first we learn to read the occult script. And then this reading becomes a hearing, and when we begin to hear, then we are actually in touch with spiritual beings in the spiritual world. This has been a bit like that. First we needed to learn to read the Tarot. Now that we can read, we begin to hear the various spiritual beings that can speak through each Arcanum. They stop being just images.
It’s a bit like one could come with any burning question to each of these eight beings. In one sense, they would only give a silent, imposing blank stare in response to one’s question. But in another sense, they are actively answering: each is actively answering through the particular form that it maintains. In a way, each one answers any question with its own, unchanging multi-vocal response: each steadily maintains the Answer that they sound out in the spiritual world. They have complete dedication to performing the movements that maintain these forms and images, which contain the resounding Answers—so far, 8 unique Answers to our questioning, our crises of conscience.
We closed with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.