Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on September 12, 2016
Tarot Study, 9/12 – The Fourth Arcanum, The Emperor
June, Joel, Gail, Richard, Dennis, Phillip, and Rosario were present.
Richard, Gail, Dennis and Rosario could only stay for the first hour, so we went over practices from Assisi, portions of the “Path to Shambhala.”
We then read out the quotes beginning the first four Letters to feel their different qualities, before focusing our attention on the Emperor.
Richard shared one image: A dream he had of a beautiful glowworm, the same colors as The Emperor, emerging from and descending into the Depths – only in the vertical. Robert Powell came from behind this glowworm holding a treatise on the Emperor. From behind Robert emerged a Shaman, who claimed that Robert was an example of one who “comes in the Name of the Lord,” i.e. someone who has renounced his own mission for another. The Shaman said there were nine levels of understanding the practice of “Coming in the Name of the Lord.” The Path to Shambhala and The Emperor both conjured this memory for him.
The Emperor is in the Catacombs – he is occult.
We then moved the first four letters of the Hebrew Alphabet – A, B, G, D [edit December 2020: see explanation in previous notes].
For the conversation, June, Phillip, and Joel were present:
Difficult to coalesce a single image or gesture out of the Emperor vs. The Magician – both the dark and light side of this Arcanum are so clearly expressed.
For example, why is he leaning on the Throne?
We brought out the Hermit – Emperor as Guardian of the Day, Hermit as Guardian of the Night. Possibly the juxtaposition would reveal something. The Scepter is transformed into the Lamp and Staff?
In a storytelling workshop Joel attended, they created characters based off of the seven different planetary soul types. It is easy to do this for Mars or Saturn or Jupiter. But the Sun is difficult. A Sun character doesn’t necessarily do much. It is the absence or presence of this character (the missing boy King) that affects the story. Their role is to harmonize and activate the other characters, not to be center stage themselves.
This is like the Emperor. He synthesizes; he decreases that all else may increase.
We don’t have the same picture of what a King or Emperor is vs medieval mentality. There are no more external Emperors.
Charlemagne, the artwork and depictions of Charlemagne exemplify this quality for us on an aesthetic level.
Emperors bring events and people together in the right constellation and at the right time – they are a force of movement and gravity.
Hence the card depicts something otherwise invisible or unnoticed. A person who disappears into what they arrange, harmonize and assemble.
There is a movement in the card, from the gaze of the Emperor to the top of the Scepter, down through the Scepter through his right leg. The point where the legs cross is the midpoint of a lemniscate, which then descends down below the feet and travels back up through the left leg and the Shield and Throne, back to the Emperor’s head. He is quite literally a center of movement in the card.
The Throne/Crown create a shape reminiscent of the top of the Shield. He has made the objects like him and himself like the objects – he is disappearing into the objects he has assembled. He decreases that they increase – “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” So different from The Magician, where everything is spread out and unassembled.
The first three Arcana have a place – the Magician could be a juggler on the street, the Priestess could be in a cathedral, the Empress in a castle.
But the Emperor is like something from a surrealist film (Jodorowsky) – you stumble upon a king, in all of his garb, leaning on a throne in the desert, looking at a scepter. It is a shock, in a way.
The 4th Letter is exactly the place when Tomberg begins to discuss the Temptations in the Wilderness – which is exactly this image, of a king out in the desert.
One way of picturing the progress of the Arcana – 1 2 3 4 is a Yod He Vau He, a set: Mysticism, Gnosis, Sacred Magic, Hermeticism. Laying out the mode of working.
4 becomes 1 of the next set: 4 5 6 7, another Yod He Vau He – Power vs Obedience, Riches vs. Poverty, Instinct vs. Chastity, Megalomania vs Humility. From Eliphas Levi:
Tomberg’s essays on “Russian Spirituality” in relation to Catherine Doherty. Building a Pillar in the Heart. Knew Dorothy Day. Poustinia. Brought Thomas Merton to his transformation.
Tomberg describes the way by which Christianity emerged in Russia in the 10th century. No other faith would do for the Russian Soul. Steiner describes Anthroposophy as the “missing piece” (the Emperor?) of Russian Spirituality, as that which will make it whole, whereas without it Russia descends into Bolshevism.
Warmth, Light, Life, and Peace associated with certain figures through Randall Scott – St. Seraphim, Dorothy Day, St. Francis.
[Letter referenced by Phillip, from Randall:
…Having given some thought to your question regarding particular Saints in relation to the 4 aspects of the inner radiance sequence, Light (L), Love (R), Life (Au), and Peace (M), these saints have suggested themselves to me:
Light — Saint Seraphim of Sarov http://www.amazon.com/Flame-Snow-Life-Serafim-Sarov/dp/0872432238 (a classic)
Love — Saint Francis of Assisi
http://www.amazon.com/Gods-fool-times-Francis-Assisi/dp/0060634626/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431342266&sr=1-7&keywords=saint+francis+of+assisi+biography+by+green (a classic)
Love — Blessed Teresa of Calcutta http://www.amazon.com/Mother-Teresa-A-Life-Inspired/dp/1622784812/ref=pd_sim_14_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1N9FTRB4R2WY6D494TYP
Life — Saint Augustine http://www.amazon.com/Augustine-Hippo-Biography-New-Epilogue/dp/0520227573/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431343324&sr=1-2&keywords=saint+augustine+biography (a classic)
Peace — Saint Catherine of Sienna http://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Siena-Sigrid-Undset/dp/1586174088/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431343588&sr=1-1&keywords=saint+catherine+of+siena+biography (a classic)
Peace — Dorothy Day http://www.amazon.com/All-Grace-Biography-Dorothy-Day/dp/1570759219/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431343826&sr=1-2&keywords=dorothy+day+biography
The links I have provided are to biographies that, to the best of my knowledge, are the most suitable for your puposes. Some are no doubt to be found in the city library system. I have provided links in some cases also to quite cheap used book alternatives (in these cases it would be good to pay attention to descriptions of condition, ‘acceptable’ in my view not so, ‘good’ sometimes so, sometimes not, depending on the bookseller, ‘very good’ usually having no underlining or other marks, and nearly always so otherwise).
All best on this endeavor.