Eight of Cups (III)

Notes of an in-person conversation between Phillip and Joel on May 29, 2021

May 29, 2021

Eight of Cups

Phillip and Joel, in person.

We began with the protective practice.

Then we invoked the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide our conversation.

After briefly focusing the mantra “SHE FEELS” on the region of the heart, we moved the second part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest Love for all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul”). We then moved the tenth letter of the Divine Alphebet, Yod, in relation to the Wheel of Fortune, and the tenth part of the Grail Knight’s Practice (4th level of trespass and communion, 4th healing miracle).

We then read from Revelation 16:12-14

– The first observation that stands out is that there are five pearls. We’ve never had this particular arrangement before. It feels like a culmination of sorts, in that they are arranged in the archetypal fashion of four (white) corners and one (blue) center, a la the Four of Coins.

A progression of the Four of Coins yet again. So layered. Because here, the pearls and flowers are just an embedded, background form. They aren’t the dominate form as in the Four of Coins. There are many layers to this image. 

– Mainly one’s eye is drawn to the two central cups and the flower with the flame. 

Is it a flame? Or a seed? A blade stabbing, with a reddened tip?

– This blue flower is the same one from the Eight of Swords and the Nine of Coins.

There is a mood of sunrise and sunset with the colors over and under the blue flower.

– It seems as though four of these cups are protected: the two in the center, and the middle cups both above and below. Whereas it is like the other four—the corner cups—are excluded or cast out. 

Yes, four are protected, but the two in the very center more totally, they are more central. 

– Why is the flower off-center? For the sake of the white blade/flame?

It could be hearkening back to the Ace of Coins? The blade could be an object in its own right, occluding a stem that attaches the blue flower to the rest of the upper plant. Or else it could really be two different plants that are very close to each other and only appear as one? The lower plant topped by this blue flower and the upper plant have the white blade at its base.

Maybe back again to this Lily and Rose idea again? A blue rose?

The lower plant would be more like a head with arms and legs. The upper plant would be more like a being with four arms?

There is a real acrobatic feel to this. Juggling, with one person standing on the other’s shoulders.

– It’s unusual to see the color purple. Although the coloration is not exactly the same in each of ours…it’s so hard to tell what is intentional and what is not, but the comparison of the two cards helps in this. Like the watermarks in the Ace of Cups…at first Joel thought they were just some kind of error in printing them, but they seem to be intentional miscolorations, to give the impression of a watermark.

– You could almost see the form of The World here—the four corner cups vs the diamond or cross of enclosed cups—or perhaps those four form a vesica piscis? Then it’s like these dancers, these dancing plants frame—or rather intersect—this vesica piscis, rather than in The World where the vesica piscis frames the dancer.

The five pearls are like a distillation of that. 

But it still doesn’t explain the blade.

– In the bottom part, the red is more part of that radiant flower. It’s like a peacock feather. Or even like the tail of a peacock, showing off for his mate. It definitely has more of the feeling of an animal feather than a leaf.

Whereas the upper red is not so much part of the radiant flower, it is part of the blade. 

The blade itself is like a single feather. 

Like a Native American head decoration.

The radiant flower is like the Tom Turkey, spreading its tale feathers out to protect the brood, a “bring it on” kind of attitude.

– This image once agains conjures the Sacred Marriage, the two cups in the center, a wedding ceremony.

But then with the other six cups, it’s more like breaking up a fight, like the total opposite gesture. The upper and lower “protected” cups don’t have anything to do with each other, they aren’t brought into intimate contact like the central two are.

This is much more “6+2 = 8” than 4+4 or any other way of getting to 8.

Or 3+3+2 = 8.

The 3+3 are only related insomuch as they reflect each other. Th middle two are much more intimately related.

– What about 2 x 4? The only four that makes itself apparent at first are the four pearls. 

But it’s more like 4(a) + 4(b) = 8. The four corners plus the four protected cups (the cross/vesica piscis). Two different types of four making 8, not two identical fours making eight.

– The Roman numerals on the side are very neatly tucked in…

It’s interesting, now that we look more closely at both the Suit of Swords and the Suit of Cups, it seems that the Cups were not designed to include numbers the same way the Swords were.

With the Swords, the numbers are always at the same position on the sides of the image, and they point outwards. Whereas with the Cups, sometimes the numbers are a bit higher, or a bit lower, and they point inwards. 

With the Swords, it’s like they were designed with the positioning of the Roman numerals as the determining factor, whereas with the Cups it is the form of the Cups themselves that takes precedence, and the numbers just have to find their place wherever they can end up.

The perspective of the numbers in the Cups actually draws you into the Cup. Whereas in the Swords, the perspective of the number places you within the center of the curved swords, looking outwards.

– Mitosis. In the Nine of Coins, we came to this movement of a lemniscate or double helix, DNA-like spiralling in the shape of the Coins. And there too, we have this extra stem, this space-maker that makes it that it is not exactly reflective from above to below.

– Looking at the movement of the imagery, from the King of Swords through to the Seven of Cups…

The King is the reborn and redeemed Knight of Swords. The Knight of Swords was this unwieldy creature, who had to be slain by the Queen. She redeems the threefold double, and the King becomes the threefold John. He is filled with these streams of living water, this pillar of water and light. 

He then condenses into his own throne, becoming the Ace of Cups, which is still filled with this volatile fluid. It bursts apart and becomes the Two of Cups: the top flies off and becomes one cup, while the base is the other cup. Red fluid is released in this operation, making the puddle of red at the base of the Two.

It is revealed in the Two what was gestating and coming to volatility within the Ace, these fish which suck up the red out of the central flower, turning it into a Cup.

In the Three of Cups this flower has become a Cup, and the two fish have become mere fruits or bulbs, they have lost something in bringing the flower into the cup state.

But then there is this gestating cup down below in the Three, a kind of seedpod. It becomes full cup in the Four, and in doing so it is tossed up to join the upper cup…the rest of the plant in the Four goes through a kind of flip-flopping rearrangement and condensation when this happens. 

Then in the Five, it’s like the central red flower in the Four suddenly pops out, splits the plant in half, and becomes the fifth cup. Very naturally and smoothly.  But perhaps again with a reversal of the halves of the plant—above going below and vice versa.

With the Six, the central cup in the Five gets chopped in half by the leaf-hands of the upper plant…the two plants are brought back into unity, and “squeezed” into a very thin line. Perhaps the leaf-hands of the upper plant kind of grab the two red flowers of the lower plant in the five as they sever the central cup, and they are tangled or fused back together.

Then in the Seven there is a bit of a quantum leap. We looked at two possibilities: either there is a complete reorientation of the Six, with it basically turning on its side, and a seventh cup appearing in the middle…or it is more like the two columns of three cups in the Six ram into each other, combine…and due to this they sort of evaporate or “put out the fire” of that central plant…it becomes just two whisps of smoke in the Seven. And out of this combination of six into a central column of three, the four corner cups emerge from this merging, making Seven. Again, a kind of quantum leap. [As I post these notes online, on September 3, 2021, I realise this is the formula from the Letter-Meditation on the Chariot: that the overcoming of the three temptations by the three vows yields the seven healing miracles…where three becomes seven]

There is a kind of…point and circle gesture?…going back and forth through these. Not quite point and circle. More like an accordion opening (odd Arcana) and closing (even Arcana). There is this pulsing, this breathing. 

But then the transition from Seven to Eight is an exponential expansion. 

Really, you are at a different level of metamorphosis once you go beyond the Six of Cups. The changes are relatively gradual/incremental up to then. After that, it’s like you’ve either zoomed way in or way out and lost these familiar details, while gaining others of a new, unfamiliar type. The scale changes.

– Is there an emphasis on white after the Six? It’s there a bit in the Three of Cups, but then again there is a kind of matching or reflection between Three and Seven.

More waves in the plant in the Seven and Eight? There is more whispiness in the plant in the Seven. The Seven is not as alive. Whereas the poppies in the Three are actually doing something. The Four is a lion or a spear. The Seven is merely a plant. Less magical…and yet somehow more magical in another sense, simultaneously. Everything coming into focus.

The Seven is the puff of smoke at the end of something that reached its maximum tension in the Six. Then the Eight! You thought the fire was out, and then an explosion happens. So complicated. 

– Maybe two of the cups in the Seven become the two sunset flowers in the eight? 

– From the Five to the Six—it’s the plants that come together. Then the cup in the middle is put into an unstable quantum state and has to resolve into two to properly contain the plant. But the plant is the determiner, the reflector, the divider. 

The Six is all flower. Whereas there are no flowers in the Seven. The Three is heading to all leaf, whereas the Seven actually accomplishes it. 

The Four is heading to all flower, and the Six actually accomplishes it. 

Maybe the post-Five Arcana fulfil their respective pre-Five Arcana? So what about the Two and the Eight then?

Maybe the Eight is the Two seen from above? There are some similar colorations there. 

– There is still a jump, a real divide from the Six to the Seven. Maybe it is the Batons acting from the future. Some force that is not apparent directly as of yet. 

Thinking of the Stages of the Passion. The first six: Footwashing, Scourging, Crowning with Thorns, Bearing of the Cross, Crucifixion, Entombment—all fine, you can see quite clearly how they progress from one to the other in this very outward sense. 

But then the mood of the disciples after stumbling on the Resurrection—??!!. A whole underground process has occurred that went completely unwitnessed. A total leap in every sense. 

And that then carries on. The metamorphosis is now happening counter-intuitively. 

In the context of “Stages of the Passion”, what would Eight, Nine, and Ten be? Perhaps the “Touch me not…go and tell the others”, the meeting with Magdalene? Or perhaps the Road to Emmaus? 

Actually, just that evening at Bible Evening the passage was from John 20, where it says “Eight days after the Resurrection”…and this was when Thomas touched the wounds of Christ. Thomas is the Twin—the two cups in the center. 

Perhaps it has to do with the whole 40 days shared with the Risen One. 

– Maybe there is a bit of reflecting back…the white blade was there between the Six and the Seven. Something invisible that caused the transformation. Whatever that was that brought about that shift from Six to Seven, it isn’t depicted in the imagery of the cards…or is only depicted later on, as it is something operating from the future.

With the Ace through Six you can understand and build formally on what came before. With the Six to Seven leap, it points to something greater, a magical power or force beyond the Minor Arcana working in. 

That which is absent from the Wheel of Fortune is the Quinta Essentia, Christ. 

The Wheel of Fortune as representing she who has no representation. 

– The Eight is very much like a Hindu deity—many beings yet one being simultaneously. 

– Thinking of the blade with the red tip in terms of the spear wound. Thomas touching this wound. These two sunset/sunrise flowers have a real “Pacman” sort of gesture, grabbing, very tactile. 

The fish from the Two, and their mouths, recollected here. 

The passage from John 20:24-29:

But one of the Twelve, Thomas (which meant “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my hand in his side, I will most certainly not have faith.” And eight days later his disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. The doors being sealed, Jesus comes and stood in their midst and said, “Peace to you.” Then he says to Thomas, “Bring your finger here and look at my hands, and bring your hand and put it in my side, and cease to be faithless, but be faithful instead.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My LORD and my GOD.” Jesus says to him, “You have faith because you have seen me? How blissful those who do not see and who have faith.”

David Bentley Hart notes regarding the Greek words used for LORD and GOD: Here, Thomas addresses Jesus as o theos, which unambiguously means “God” in the absolute sense (as opposed to Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel, where it is only used in this sense some of the time vs others). He addresses him also as o kyrios, again with the honorific article, which also happens to be the Greek rendering of the Hebrew Adonai in the Septuagint, the preferred textual circumlocution for God’s unutterable name, the tetragrammaton (YHVH). Thomas’s words here, then, appear to be the final theological statement of the Gospel at its “first ending.” 

This intimacy that is indicated in this passage…”the doors being sealed.” This intimate, safe, protected space, like in the Eight of Cups. In this intimate space, one can have contact with the wounds of Christ…”Come, feel the tsim-tsum.” Thomas exemplifies this contrast between experience and fullness vs simple faith. A ripeness has to happen: “You had your opportunity to have faith…you didn’t take it, but it still ripens invisibly and shows itself in this personal manner.” He is the Twin, divided, Faith and Doubt combined a la the Hermit. He was the one who wanted to die with Lazarus, to share in this experience. Perhaps it is more blissful to have faith without seeing…but Thomas needs to have direct contact. And when he has this direct contact, he is able to confirm, to be the one to call Christ by the highest title, as the One True God. 

The Eight expresses this contact with the Risen One…and in all the instances of this contact, there is this deeply interpersonal aspect to the event. 

Joel then laid out for Phillip and new and complicated spread…

One begins with the “One” Arcana (1, 10, 19, 28, 37, 46, 55):

Magician—Wheel of Fortune—The Sun—Six of Coins—Ace of Swords—Ten of Swords—Five of Cups

Here the fourth “One”, the Six of Coins is a kind of turning point, a sort of fruition. The “He” of the Yod-He-Vau-He of the first four “One” Arcana. A kind of consolidation occurs here, where “Mysticism” becomes “Gnosis”…so then we align the “Two” Arcana with the “One” Arcana beginning from the Six of Coins:

Here we see this resonance between the Five of Cups and Seven of Coins very strongly.  This was part of what had brought Joel’s attention to this spread, pondering this formal connection between the Five of Cups and the Seven of Coins.

Then we carry on this way, where the Seven of Coins is the second “He” of the “Two Arcana: High Priestess (Yod) Force (He) Judgement (Vau) Seven of Coins (He). And this Seven of Coins is the transition to Sacred Magic, to the “Three” Arcana:

And this was the other connection that led Joel to this picture, was this strong resonance between the Eight of Coins and the Six of Cups. With the Seven and the Eight of Coins, we have a transition from this playful dancing display to something intimidating and almost over-ripe, too full, explosive. And then the same gestures are there in the transition from the Five of Cups to the Six of Cups. And this picture of the connections bridging the “One” to the “Two” to the “Three” and so on just bubbled up in Joel’s imagination as he was going to sleep one night. Almost keeping him from going to sleep, as he could see the connections so immediately and wanted to think through the whole of the Tarot in this way.

What is interesting is it becomes a kind of complex loop, or series of loops. When you work with the Tarot as 22 Majors—56 Minors—22 Majors, you have 100 Arcana total. And when you go through the series of the “One” Arcana, you end up with:

Magician (1)

Wheel of Fortune (10)

The Sun (19)

Six of Coins (28)

Ace of Swords (37)

Ten of Swords (46)

Five of Cups (55)

King of Cups (64)

Nine of Batons (73)

Emperor (82)

Death (91)

The World (100)

So here, the “Four” Arcana (Emperor, Death, The World) are transformed into “One” Arcana. As in Weinreb, the “Four” of the earthly/Fallen (Tree of Knowledge), must be turned back into a Unity, raised up to the heavenly once again, reunited with the Godhead (Tree of Life). This is what we do when we work with the Tarot in this way.

Similarly, the “Four” Arcana take over the “Seven” (Chariot = 7 and 85, Tower of Destruction = 16 and 94). And the “Seven” Arcana take over the “One” (Magician = 1 and 79, Wheel of Fortune = 10 and 88, The Sun = 19 and 97). And so these three Numbers—One, Four, and Seven—all loop into one another, and out of their sequences come the “Two” path, the “Five” path, and “Eight” path, all of which loop into each other…Again we arrive at the very sequences that display themselves in the YHShVH “paths” of the Minor Arcana (Ace, Four, Seven, Ten; Two, Five, Eight, Knave; Three, Six, Nine, Knight, etc.).

In a condensed, purely numerical pattern, it would look something like this:

Joel wishes he could lay out this looping spread as a wholeness, but it would be impossible to capture…it can really only be put together in one’s imagination! But so many resonances start to appear once you start working with this spread. It is really incredible. For example, in the above…finding the connection between the Knave of Swords and the Fool. There is so much to bring together there that is intrinsic to the “Holy Mathematics” of the Tarot.

They closed with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.

[Later, on July 25, Joel sent some images to Phillip experimenting with this layout…]