Five of Coins (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on August 28, 2018

Tarot Conversation August 28th, 2018

Five of Coins

We began with the protective practice.

We then invoked the presence of the Archangel Michael through moving Steiner’s verse in the form of the pentagram (see last week’s notes).

After focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence.

The readings:

Revelation 3:4-6 (letter to Sardis)

Matthew 6:24 (serving either God or mammon).

– Over the course of the week between conversations, we were talking of the unique nature of our conversations: that they come closer and closer to being a discussion about precisely that which we are experiencing, which is authentic/archetypal conversation. It is very difficult to describe, one just has to experience it. Then Joel, while looking for another quote in Meditations on the Tarot found a quote that brings this out quite succinctly in the Letter-Meditation on Force (see page 276).

We also talked about the Athanor, the alchemical furnace (this is brought up on page 194 in the Letter-Meditation on Justice). This seems to be an accurate word for the furnace in the middle of the Four of Coins. From Wikipedia: 

“In alchemy, an athanor is a furnace used to provide a uniform and constant heat for alchemical digestion. Etymologically, it descends from a number of Arabic texts of the period of the Califate which use the term “al-tannoor” in talismanic alchemy, meaning a bread-oven, from which the design portrayed evidently descends.

The athanor was also called Piger Henricus (“Slow Henry”), because it was chiefly used in slower operations, and because when once filled with coals, it keeps burning a long time. For this reason the Greeks referred to it as “giving no trouble”, as it did not need to be continually attended. It was also called the Philosophical furnace, Furnace of Arcana, or popularly, the Tower furnace.”

This is a bit like our Hermetic Conversations. They are also a “Slow Henry” that gives us no trouble:  they have been loaded up with enough coals that they can burn for a long time without attendance (without effort).

Observation of the Five of Coins with the other two “Five” cards:  the Pope and Temperance:

– There is a brand new leaf form in the center of the Five of Coins:  the two blue leaves in the center. They look like arrows or swords. They are angular and sharp, not flowing like the leaves and plant forms have been prior to this point. Are they burrs or thistles, or thorns? They seem connected to a non-leaf form, like a stem or root form. An alternate path that the flower form would take, the thorn-like part of the flower.

In fact each of the forms we mentioned it being similar to are different parts of the plant. A thorn is part of the stem. A burr is a seed. A thistle is a flower form. It is an ambiguous/multi-functional form. 

Joel can’t remember whether it was Steiner or Koenig or someone else (as I take these notes, come to think of it, it may be Enzo Nastati) who said that the thorn is like the horn on the cow. It is a cosmic form, relating the plant to the starry heavens, whereas the flower is more related to the planets. It makes one consider the thorns on the rose, or the crown of thorns.

– The blue “sword” moving towards the central coin makes one think of the Sword in the Stone (King Arthur). Or, with the reflective quality of the Five of Coins, the Sword in the Lake. Are they the same sword, Excalibur? At the end of his life, Arthur throws the sword back to the Lady of the Lake.

– The Five of Coins has a very balanced coloration:  but notice the lack of green. The presence of white, black, blue, red, and yellow is just about even though, unlike the other Arcana thus far. This adds to the harmonious quality of this Arcanum.

– We had noted last week that the Five is satisfied, that there is not a seeking after Six the way that Three seeks for Four and Four seeks for Five. But actually, there are two indications of the coming Six in this Arcanum:  first of all, the presence of the Pearl/White Stone still indicates a gestating Six. Also, the two plants are each six-fold. Six times two is twelve, so there is also a twelvefoldness to this Arcanum which seems to be significant (after the conversation was closed, Joel realized that this significance was the Dodecahedron, which is a collection of 12 five sided polygons. The Five of Coins has this interaction between Five and Twelve. This is further evidence that here, we are dealing with the second “He,” the finality. This is the Grail Stone, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Quintessence. The end product of the Living Stone).

Notice that the Three, Four and Five all have coins with 12 in them (vs the coin with 16 in the Ace and 10 in the Two). All three of these coins express 12-foldness in different ways:

The Three of Coins has two S-Curves, each with 12 attributes on them. But they criss-cross at the White Stone/Pearl (they share this attribute) meaning that there are 22 attributes total on these two (or four) plants. 

The Four of Coins expresses the second Apocalyptic Seal:  the Lamb in the center of the four holy creatures, which are the four points of the Zodiacal compass. Therefore, the twelve-fold Zodiac is implied.

Spiritual Science is Practical: Seven Occult Seals

Here we have exactly twelve attributes or adornments spread over the two plants. The twelvefoldness is more explicit and complete.

Notice that the Ace also has a similar gesture to the Four of Coins, in its indication of the four holy creatures around the center. The Ace of Coins doesn’t have a twelve-fold coin, but in the very center of the four-petalled flower on this coin, there are 12 dots. So we do have a more subdued connection to 12 in the Ace as well.

– There still seems to be something missing in the transition from Four to Five. A leap that we’re not seeing.

What if the central figure in the Four of Coins is not the Five in potential? What if instead the Pearl in the Four of Coins is the gestating Five?

Maybe the Five isn’t the full culmination of the central figure in Four? Maybe this culmination only comes later? Before, Phillip was seeing a gesture of something like Four of Coins = Emperor and Five of Coins = Chariot. Four as Placeholder/Representative and Five as Completion/Ruler. 

But with this new perspective, the Five isn’t the completion of Four. This makes it more of a Pope to the Four’s Emperor. Maybe the “mystery box” in Four only appeared for a time and then went somewhere else, and the Fifth Coin in the center of the Five just fills the void left by its departure. The Five becomes a surrogate, instead of a fulfillment. Somehow, this is like the Pope’s role.

The Pope and the Emperor are like two sides of the same coin, or rather the same threshold. The Emperor represents Humanity toward God, whereas the Pope represents God to Humanity. They are upholding different things within themselves. 

This idea of two sides of the same threshold—it’s like one walks through the open “door” in the Four of Coins, enters a totally new realm. Then one turns around and looks back, and what one sees is not the open door one just went through but the image on the Five of Coins. The door has disappeared, has closed. There is no turning back. You have to find the way out (the fulfillment of the “mystery box”) only by going forward.

– The Four of Coins is a turning point, a crescendo, but then the song keeps going, it doesn’t actually end there. Just the end of a movement.

– What has been tricky is the unexpected quality of drama in the movement between Four of Coins and Five of Coins. There is not this dramatic quality in the shift from Emperor to Pope.

If we look at the “Four” Arcana in the Majors we see aridity, loneliness:


Whereas the “Five” Arcana in the Majors are flow, rejuvenation, respiration:


Last week we looked at the Five in comparison to The Star. The Star is all about the flowing together of the waters above (Hope) with the waters below (Tradition). Then we have Temperance this week, which is all about the flowing together of the waters above (Angelic thought) with the waters below (human thought) in inspiration, which is also a kind of spiritual respiration or yoga. Then we have the Pope, which is all about spiritual respiration/Christian Yoga. So Temperance encapsulates both The Star and The Pope. 

This flow and interweaving is simply not there with the “Four” Arcana. Notice that both The Pope and Temperance are able to be “seen through” or entered into, traveled into, in the region of their hearts. Again a calling up of this portal quality. 

Temperance perfectly balances the waters above and the waters below, just like the two sword/flowers perfectly balance the central coin in the Five.

– The “Four” Arcana are arid, have boundaries, very clear cut. They are a presentation, an initial stage of completion. But not a full completion. One might say a completion “on paper” but not implemented. We are dealing with the overlapping perspective of the Four of Coins as the Vau (if we use Yod He Shin Vau He) or as the second He (if we use Yod He Vau He). This overlapping quality forces us to approach the Arcana like the old “Magic Eye” images, where one tries to see two things at one time. Seeing them simultaneously.

– Can we look at the Majors as Yod He Shin Vau He? What happens?

Yod – Magician Vau – Emperor

Shin – Empress

He – High Priestess He – Pope

Not entirely satisfactory somehow. Maybe this is more like it:

Yod – Magician Vau – Empress

Shin – The Fool

He – High Priestess He – Emperor

This is based on The World, which shows us Magician/Angel, High Priestess/Bull, Empress/Eagle, and Emperor/Lion around The Fool/Dancer.

The Fool stands in for the Dancer. Maybe he’s dancing while he’s walking. Look at his awkward arm positions. His elbow looks like a knee.

So this would continue through any iteration of Yod He Shin Vau He in the Majors;  the Fool would be the “Wandering Fool,” and would always have the position of Shin in each “name.”

But now with this iteration of Yod He Shin Vau He, we see the Empress lined up with the Four of Coins, and the Emperor lined up with the Five of Coins. Quite a flipe from before!

– The Four of Coins in juxtaposition to the Empress (as two Vaus). The central “mystery box” becomes the shield and belly of the Empress (a real focal point in that Arcanum). It says to us “Here is the source of the Magic.” 

The Five of Coins in juxtaposition to the Emperor: now the Child has been born, the mission has been accomplished.

The Emperor = restraint. On the other hand, Five of Coins = structure upheld through balance.

But isn’t the Emperor also balancing and supporting? He is leaning against the Throne. He is keeping the Scepter completely vertical (unlike the Magician or the Empress). He is holding the Shield up with his heel. He holds his belt up.

This is similar to how carefully the central coin is held in the Five of Coins. The fluid, mobile aspect of the Five of Coins doesn’t come across in the Emperor, but the aspect of delicate balance does.

– Pondering the High Priestess. Phillip has spent a lot of concentration on this particular Arcanum, and there is a lot there that isn’t obvious immediately. It is now clear to him that she is bearing enormous pain, but is so placid. She is experiencing a non-rational upwelling of some sort, but one that is rich with content. Her tiara slips through the upper edge of the card and becomes white. 

There is a small mark on the yellow folds across her chest. Is this a Hebrew letter? Lamed turned sideways perhaps?

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The High Priestess is very much Estelle Isaacson. Suffering so intensely. The recognition of it is to say “you suffer with utter nobility.” This is acknowledged through her stature:  she is crowned.

– Although we have noticed so much flow and mobility in the Five of Coins, this is juxtaposed with the “Crown of Thorns” aspect we noticed tonight. We can meditate on the stages of the Passion and notice the connection between Flow and Piercing. We might even say that Piercing is the necessary prerequisite for Flow. The Crown of Thorns, the Nail Wounds, the Spear Wound—this last one especially stands out in terms of the Five of Coins. This is a clear image of the four pierced limbs and the fifth wound in the center.

Now we have finally come to the Passion, after all the emphasis on Genesis (we spoke of this last time that the Suit of Coins seems to be so attached to Genesis). And here, all of a sudden, we have all of the Passion in one image.

And this isn’t just flow, it is the Divine, Archetypal expression of it—perfect acceptance and fulfillment through the God-man. 

The Resurrection Body is perfectly balanced—like our central coin—between Life and Death. The Five of Coins is also an image of the Resurrection Body (five “organs of will”). 

In this sense, the Four of Coins becomes the Tomb; and we did note this last time that the Five makes the Four appear as the Tomb breaking open, with the risen Christ as the two upper coins and the cowering guards as the two lower coins.

– The Ace, Two and Three are so rich with becoming. Then it seems as though an inorganic presence inserts itself in the Four.

Ace, Two and Three are all Genesis. Three could maybe be seen as a Nativity scene. Then Four comes along. Suddenly we have a crash course in all of Hebrew History after the Fall—Noah (Ark/Flood), Abraham (sacrifice of Isaac), Moses (Ten Commandments/Ark of Covenant), Solomon (Temple), and the entire life of Christ, from the Nativity to the descent of the Dove at Jordan, to the Passion and Resurrection—even Pentecost.

Four is a Threshold—Crossing the Threshold = Death, which leads to the Etheric Review. One’s whole life passes before ones eyes simultaneously, in vivid detail. This is what we have with the Four of Coins. It is the Etheric Review of the life body of the Hebrew Nation, and of Christ himself (who is the Hebrew Nation come to fulfillment). Then Five suddenly snaps us back into “normal time”—brings us back to the Promise, in Anne Catherine’s sense.

Ace, Two and Three more or less operate in Eternity, or at the very least in Eden, Paradise. A gradual unfolding of the archetypal in the realm of the Eternal. Ace = Garden of Eden. Two = Adam and Eve. Three = Expulsion, Cain and Abel. Then Four shows us the rescued/protected Unfallen Nature above, and the Fallen Nature below, and in the midst the Guardian of the Threshold:  this is the picture of History from the Fall to the reintegration.

So Ace, Two and Three are in the Eternal/Pure realm. Then historical, linear Time intrudes in the Four. We get only one Arcanum for all historical Time! Then we are returned to the realm of the Eternal with Five. It’s like the threshold was briefly opened between Time and Eternity. Something was allowed to cross that threshold, a wholeness that is allowed to enter into Time, retrieve something, and bring it back to the realm of the Eternal. Five, in this sense, is like a direct continuation of Three, but with an infusion from the temporal realm of Four, from the Fallen realm. 

If Adam and Eve had remained in the Paradise state, they would have dwelt in an eternal cul-de-sac. No chance for any real development, certainly not for self-development or conscious co-creation with the Divine. They must leave, fall in order to discover something to be offered and brought back. What do they discover? Goethe knows the answer:  “The greatest treasure is the personality.” This is what they discover and develop through the Fall, and bring it back as an offering to the Gods. 

This is the story of the Prodigal Son.

The Four certainly seems so out of place, so sudden and arbitrary in a way, but is there any other way to go from Three (Fall) to Five (Reintegration)? It is a necessary upset of the “natural order.”

We could say that the Emperor has restricted everything extraneous so that the element of the personality can be there in its essential form. 

In the Five of Coins, we see the Above and Below exerting maximum effort and coordination with each other in order to make sure the central coin stays in the right place. Almost like handling a hazardous substance. Its placement doesn’t happen by itself like the movements in the other Coin Arcana thus far. It has to be an effort, deliberately working together. This is the Quintessence:  the Alchemist must perform the experiment exactly right or else something is going to explode. 

This central coin is the personality. If it is not put exactly in the right balance through coordinating Above and Below, it is an extremely hazardous substance. (As I write these words, I think of the Foundation Stone of Love in the form of a dodecahedron juxtaposed with the resonating chamber of the atomic bomb in the form of a dodecahedron).

– On a more mathematical/numerological note, here we have a kind of mysterious connection between the numbers 3, 4, and 5. A connection without an immediately obvious explanation. Like the connection between Magician and Force. Why are 1 and 11 connected? They are not numerologically equivalent, as 11 = 2. The explanation in that case is we are working with the Decad. So we look at 1, 11, 21—this shows us Magician, Force, and Fool/World. Tomberg uses the specific example of 9 and 19 (Hermit and Sun) at the end of the Letter-Meditation on The Sun, but this can be done with any of the Arcana. 

With 3, 4, 5, one thinks perhaps of the ratio of the sides of a right triangle? Pythagorean.

– Now we find a connection with the Empress on the part of both the Three and Four of Coins; a connection with the Emperor on the part of both the Four and Five of Coins:

Three of Coins—(Empress)—Four of Coins—(Emperor)—Five of Coins.

– There does seem to be a rich connection between the Three of Coins as Shin and The Fool as Shin. They seem to speak to each other.

– Let’s take a look at the Decad method in terms of the Five of Coins. The Five can either be Arcanum 26 (if we treat The Fool as Zero and the World as 21) or Arcanum 27 (if we treat the Fool as 21 and the World as 22):

6 (The Lover) + 10 = 16 (The Tower of Destruction) + 10 = 26 (Five of Coins)

7 (The Chariot) + 10 = 17 (The Star) = 27 (Five of Coins)

With The Lover, The Tower, The Chariot and The Star, one really has a picture of the Prodigal Son (or, as I write this, Parzival). The central figure in The Lover involves himself in Folly, leading to the explosion of the Tower. He struggles to gain self-mastery in the Chariot, and triumphantly comes to the living waters of The Star.

There is definitely, amongst all four of these cards, a picture of a shift in dynamic. The Lover is in a state of balance or choice, about to transition. The Tower is in a state of balance but only in terms of its geometry. Otherwise it is falling apart. But both The Chariot and The Star have achieved a new form of balance, whether it is between left and right (The Chariot) or above and below (The Star).

Simply in juxtaposing these four Arcana with the Five of Coins, suddenly there is a new dimensionality to the Five. It seems that in the Five of Coins the top and bottom are in the foreground, with the bottom two coins being offered out, and the top two coins creating a protective roof or covering. The middle coin is in the background. Overall there is a concave shape, like we’re looking into a curved bowl or scoop.

Then looking back at the Four of Coins, it seems strikingly convex, with the upper and lower coins receding into the background, and the “mystery box” emerging out of the center. (We later noted that putting the two together might be like the two halves of the sphere in the Emperor/Empress. Or again, the threshold is convex on its front, and concave on its back). If we think back, the only other Coin Arcanum so far that had that dimensionality to it was the Ace, and really only for Phillip, for whom the central coin “leapt out” above the plants.

– Up until the Four of Coins, there was a definite cohesive quality. But the Five can go anywhere, it is so dynamic. Spin the coin in the middle, you don’t know what face is going to turn up. It alters the relationship significantly. The Arcanum revolving around the personality seems to have a bit of a personality disorder. 

– The Five of Coins is the geometric success or culmination of what the World was attempting. Tomberg says at the end of Meditations that the World is the Minor Arcana. The geometric form underlying her is this square-form of four corners and a fifth in the center of YHShVH.

This form was approximated in the Ace and the Four, but now it has finally occurred. And really, it will never happen again as long as we go through the Minors, as far as we can recollect of the remainder of them! The Nine of Coins will be similar, but not nearly as ideal and archetypal as the Five of Coins. It’s strange to think that in a way, the most archetypal of the Minor Arcana, that which fulfills the wish of The World, is the Five of Coins. It almost seems arbitrary.

This archetypal form is nothing less than the four Holy Creatures surrounding either Christ or Sophia (The Lamb and His Bride) in the center.

– We wonder if we need to 1) start aligning the numbered Coins with the Sephiroth and 2) looking at these different levels of Sephiroth with the royal cards alongside, as the “four worlds” for the ten Sephiroth. First we need to decide, is the Ace of Coins the Crown or the Kingdom? We both feel it is the Crown.

We end up then with a form like so:

Considering there are four such structures (one for each suit), and that this is the bottom structure, a strange lemniscatory weaving would occur, moving from the top of the lowest structure (Ace of Coins), to the bottom of the lowest structure (Ten of Coins), back to the top (King of Coins), which leads to the top of the second structure (Ace of Swords) to the bottom of the second structure (Ten of Swords) back to the top of the second structure (King of Swords), and so on. A very indirect path from bottom to top of the four Sephiroth Trees of the Minor Arcana!

– The Sola Busca may be abandoned. We feel there is definitely something there in the imagery, but it would take us too far afield to investigate it. It is not so strictly archetypal as the Marseilles Minors are. It is too personal/dramatic, like the Majors.

We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.