Emperor (III)

Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on September 19, 2016

Tarot Study, 9/19 – The Fourth Arcanum, The Emperor

 June, Joel, and Phillip were present.  

We began with the first four gestures of the Tarot Alphabet [edit December 2020: see the notes from the first conversation on the Emperor for an explanation of the “Tarot Alphabet”].  Then we observed the first Four Arcana.

– The Scepter is in pieces for the Empress; it has been made whole for the Emperor.  It is objective for the Emperor – it stands complete, observable outside him.  For the Empress, it is subjective, united with her and the other elements of the card.

– The sitting positions:  very clear that the Empress is seated.  The Emperor renounces sitting and standing for the sake of his mission.  The Magician is clearly standing.  The High Priestess is ambiguous.  

– Vesica Piscis (red) – reproductive, womblike.  

– She is passive above, active below – but in a hidden way.  Gestation:  a hidden, ambiguous activity.

– For the transmutation of the wand and sphere into the Scepter, is the Book the High Priestess holds equivalent to the Sphere?

– Spiritual Fecundity:  quote from page 30.  Fire and Wind become Science and Book.

– The Book in medieval times was the result of such a long process, something we don’t understand anymore.  There was so much within a single book.

– The Book is the Book of Nature.  The Earth Globe has the Stellar Script written onto it – Astrogeographia.

– During gestation, the cosmic events are woven into the etheric body, later becoming life events.  Writing the Book of Destiny.

– The Wand/Scepter is the Magician’s Tool, his implement or conduit (that which conjures the Spiritual).

– The Spiritual needs the Natural in order to manifest (and vice versa).  The High Priestess asks, “How can I help?”  She creates the silent space where the horizontal line of humanity can meet the vertical line of the Spirit.  Over the course of the first four cards, it is a movement from separateness to wholeness, and honoring the wholeness.  The first and fourth are clear and static; the second and third are more ambiguous and active.  Red indicates activity (belly of High Priestess; Womb of Empress; Arms of Emperor holding the “child”).

Magician = Spirit = Form Force of Seeds.  All of the Ideal Forms are laid out.  Conception.

High Priestess = Soul = Ripening Force of Seeds (Breath).  Gestation.

Empress = Body = Substance Force of Seeds.  Spirit working into Physical.  Birth.

Emperor = Synthesis (1st part of Fourth petition of the Grail Knight’s Practice. Whereas the first three petitions each have one mantra in the Grail Knight’s Practice, the 4th Petition, “Give us this Day our Daily Bread”, has three mantra. The first corresponds to the Emperor, the second to the Pope, the third to the Lover: the three aspects of the Fourth Petition).

The 22 Arcana are the Cycle of Life and Death:

Magician = Conception (Descent of Spirit Seed)

High Priestess = Gestation 

Empress = Birth

Emperor = Moon Years 

Pope = Mercury Years (Circulation, Breathing)

Lover = Venus Years (Astrality, Desire)

Chariot = Sentient Soul Years (Learning to balance Yes/No)

Justice = Intellectual Soul Years (Clarity, Equanimity, Sobriety)

Hermit = Consciousness Soul Years (Loneliness)

Wheel of Fortune = Mars Years (Spirit Self, transformed Astral/Animal)

Force = Jupiter Years (Spirit Life, transformed Life Force)

Hanged Man = Saturn Years (Spirt Man; Zodiacilized Will)

Death = Death

Temperance = 3 1/2 days of Etheric Memory Picture

The Devil = 40 Days in the Wilderness

Tower of Destruction = Kama Loka/Moon Sphere

The Star = Mercury Sphere

The Moon = Venus Sphere

The Sun = Sun Sphere

Last Judgement = Mars Sphere

The Fool = Jupiter Sphere

The World = Saturn Sphere

At the Midnight Hour we enter the realm of the Minor Arcana.  Are they Jacob’s Ladder?  The descent of the Soul to Conception?

Possibly the first three cards, as Spirit/Soul/Body are then the distillations of the etheric body, astral body, etc that are carried through the realm of death – the continuity of the monad.  3 seeds.

The moment of conception – the embryo used to be pictured as a miniature person.

Spirit-seed descends at conception – a sort of death for the higher self.

The Tetractys of Pythagoras.  A “House of Ten:”


   2 3

 4 5 6

7 8 9 10

Four lines = 10 numbers.  The first 4 arcana are the seeds for all 10 Sephiroth = 22 Major Arcana.  4=10=22=4.  They contain the entire Tree of Life in seed form.

Moving the Tree of Life has been a relief and a revelation, akin to finding karma and reincarnation long ago.  It gives new hope, a new opening, access to strength.  It moves us beyond the Cross.

The 3 Crosses of Golgotha are harmonized, united, and enlivened through the 3 Pillars of the Tree of Life.

Saturn (Kether) – Sun (Tiphereth) – Moon (Yesod) – Earth (Malkuth).  Path of Evolution through Middle Pillar.

In the Temple Legend, 3 seeds are planted in the mouth of Adam by Seth:  

When Seth, the son whom God gave Adam and Eve in place of the murdered Abel, once entered Paradise, he found the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life inter-grown; their branches intertwined. From this tree Seth took three seeds, following the command of the Angel who guided him. He kept the three seeds and when Adam died, he placed them into Adam’s mouth. And a tree grew out of Adam’s grave; to those who knew how to look upon it in the right way, this tree revealed a writing in flaming letters — the words: “Ejeh Asher Ejeh. I am He that was. He that is, He that shall be.” Now Seth took some wood from this tree and many things were made out of it: among them the rod which became the magic rod of Moses. And this tree multiplied; from its wood the portal of Solomon’s temple was made, and later on, when it had passed through many other destinies, it became the Cross upon which the Savior hung.

From http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19070629p01.html, lecture from 6/29, 1907.

Guenon speaks of ritual symbolism being inverted by Antichristian forces (e.g. Swastika).  Obama’s symbol like the Sphere if the Cross were absent (World without Christ, Anti-Emperor).

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The Emperor is the Magician turned inside out.  The items that were scattered all about have become ordered.  Scepter, Shield, Throne.  We can trace the development of the Wand/Scepter, but where does the Shield come from?  

The shield is hidden in the first (Spiritual Touch).  It then becomes Spiritual Hearing/Word in the High Priestess – part of the Book.  Then it becomes Spiritual Seeing or Image for the Empress – the Image of the Eagle.  Then it becomes objective reality for the Emperor.  

The Scepter is the means of manifestation, whereas the Shield is the Aim or Ideal.  

The first four cards display vividly the creative act – the Ideal, the Imagination only becomes clearer through the attempt to make it Real; and that which is Real, the product of creativity only becomes better defined as the Ideal becomes clearer.  They are mutually fructifying.  The scepter is still “in pieces” while it is still subjective – our Art only becomes whole when we make the attempt to objectify it, to make it Real.  We actually don’t have a clear picture of what we want to make or do until we begin to make or do it.

The Magician – young, head in the clouds, everything is a mess.  The Emperor – Old, bearded, everything in order.

Possibly this was the process of writing Meditations on the Tarot.  A conversation between VT and the Book itself – that what he was meant to write only became clear out of the process of writing.  Philosophy of Freedom in action – creating a content out of itself, without model or precedent.  Living language.

Wand – Stole – Scepter

Coin – Book – Shield

Hat – Crown/Veil – Crown/Wings

Table – Throne – Throne/Wings