Five of Cups (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on March 11, 2021.

March 11, 2021

Five of Cups part 2

We began with the protective practice.

We then invited the presence of the Crucified Christ to guide our conversation.

We then enacted the second part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest love for all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul”), the 7th letter of the Divine Alphabet, Zayin (in relation to The Chariot), and the 7th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice.

We then read from Revelation 15:7-8, 16:1

– Joel’s initial impression this time, maybe because he just was reading the Letter-Meditation on The Chariot, is that this is an image of “Ora et Labora”, with the bottom portion praying to the above, praising it with gratitude, and the upper portion working to serve the lower (again this image of the chef presenting the freshly made meal). In a way, you could see this as an image of megalomania and its remedy simultaneously—because it could just as easily represent a narcissist parading himself before his adoring audience.

– This is the 55th Arcanum—which makes it a “One” (5 + 5 = 10, which reduces to 1). It is the seventh One:

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

We get this picture of the ball in the Magician exploding into the Wheel. Then the Sphinx from the Wheel rises to become the Sun, while the two animals in the Wheel become the two boys in the Sun. This then crystallises into a fixed/archetypal/geometric form, with the three coins above perfectly mirrored in the three coins below in the Six of Coins. Then with the Ace, this becomes crown above and hilt below. The crystal form is severed. With the Ten of Swords this becomes the swords splitting—an emphasis is placed now on left vs right rather than just above vs below. Above and below reflection still exists in that the hilts of the swords reflect the flower buds above. Then finally with the Five of Cups something is settled. We have attained some level of completion/presentation/fulfilment.

The transformation of the crossed swords in the Ten of Swords to the blue vines in the Five of Cups perhaps?

With the Five, even though it’s “inanimate” i.e. a Numbered Arcanum, it’s like you’re back to the Magician’s gesture. It has come to life in comparison to the Six of Coins, Ace of Swords and Ten of Swords. And it has truly found its center, unlike all the preceding “One” Arcana. 

The gesture is of the ball as a kind of seed at the beginning; then it expands in the Wheel; then it divides in The Sun. With the Six of Coins, there is a kind of crystallising or ossifying. It comes to this perfect, crystalline form but at the expense of the life that was in it in the first three. It is too perfect of a reflecting for it to have any life in it anymore. 

Then the Ace of Swords comes to break all that apart. To start over again. The Ten stitches this brokenness back together, heals the wound. With the Five we finally find a true fulfilment. It is an “inanimate” Numbered Arcana, yet so animated, so full of life and personality. It is totally centred, but not static or crystalline. 

We have a definite archetypal sequence of Seven here, with a solid middle in the Six of Coins holding the balance, as the turning point. And the Ten reflects Ten—i.e. the Ten of Swords reflects the Tenth Major Arcanum, the Wheel of Fortune. We can see that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd repeat themselves in the 5th, 6th and 7th:

Magician—Ace of Swords

Wheel of Fortune—Ten of Swords

The Sun—Five of Cups

Or you could see the Six of Coins as the mirror reflecting point, there are different similarities working that way:

Magician—Five of Cups

Wheel of Fortune—Ten of Swords

The Sun—Ace of Swords

This really complicates the question of what exactly the nature of One is?

Notice that in the Magician we have this tension or polarity between the ball in his right hand below and the wand in his left hand above. The curved and centrated vs the straight and elongated. 

Then this contrast continues in the Wheel, with the wand becoming the sword of the Sphinx, and the ball becoming the hub of the Wheel. Or maybe the wand multiplies, it becomes the spokes coming out of this hub, or the crank coming right out of the center of the hub.

In the Sun, it’s like the ball and wand have united even more fully—with the Sun’s face as the ball, and the various rays like a combination of sword and spoke emerging out of it. This shape of the Sun then condenses into the Coin itself—each Coin is imprinted with the image of the Sun. Perhaps what we witness here is the gradual creation of the Coin. This finds its fulfilment in the Six of Coins.

Then this Coin is broken open in the Ace of Swords. And the Ten transitions us from this breaking open to what comes into being out of this breaking open, which is the Cup.

In fact, the Ace of Swords kind of looks like a cup. The crown as the lip, the sword as the stem. And then the Ten of Swords is like those old viewfinders from the 80’s. You pull down on the lever and it slides you from one picture to another—the Ten of Swords looks like that moment of changing frames. Voila! It’s a Cup! Like the Magician pulling one more trick at the very end, transforming this exploding sword/crown into a Cup.

View-Master - Do You Remember?

Like it begins with the Magician starting his performance, and as he goes along it all seems to be going a bit wrong—especially by the time you get to the Ace of Swords, everything is going horribly, falling apart. Then suddenly his trick succeeds so beautifully and unexpectedly in the end. The Ten of Swords is a kind of Deus ex Machina. And the ending is all the more magnificent because it looked like it was all going wrong.

The Folly of God vs the wisdom of Man.

– Back in the days of the Majors, when observing the original sequence of The Magician, High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor, we always saw it as the ball and wand gradually joining to become the sceptre of the Empress and Emperor by passing through the High Priestess. But here they have become a Coin in order to become a Cup. What is the relationship of the Cup to the sceptre? 

The generative Sacred Magic. The Magician isn’t practicing Sacred Magic. He’s the 1st phase, where Magic isn’t complete yet. But then the Wheel of Fortune, in terms of how it is written about in Meditations on the Tarot, is no longer personal, it’s evolutionary. There’s something of a premonition of The World there. Magic operating through Nature, like in Force, the “Mysticism of Nature” so to speak. And then this is all really different in The Sun. The circle and rays are like the wand and ball as one thing. Like the “cosmic sceptre.” The drops coming off of it are like the condensed drop of blood, the seed, the acorn at the base of the sceptre. 

We then reviewed pages 59-60, from The Empress, where he describes the sceptre as two cups joined, one upside down. And the “stem” of the upper one becomes the Cross atop the sceptre. 

And this resonates with our picture of the Ace of Cups, as the two cups from the Two of Cups still combined around a gestating creature in the center. They are burst apart due to this gestating. 

Like Tomberg’s characterisation of the Empress’s crown vs her sceptre. The crown is the union of two potential wills, whereas two actual wills unite in the sceptre, bring something to manifestation.

Perhaps the transition from Ace of Swords to Ten of Swords to Five of Cups is the descent of potential to actual will. 

The Magician is the “proto-will”, will that has not yet developed. Then the two wills differentiate and develop over the course of the Wheel of Fortune and The Sun, finally crystallising in their development in the Six of Coins. Here we have the two potential wills fully formed. Then they interact in the Ace and Ten of Swords, and make something happen—a culmination or presentation in the Five of Cups, flowing down to the red at the base, again like the drop of blood, the seed, the acorn. 

Or maybe in the Ace and Ten of Swords we see a kind of “battle of wills”? And the Five of Cups is when they decide to work together. The “acorn” state is prefigured. 

We plan to work with 100 Arcana total: 22 Major Arcana + 56 Minor Arcana + 22 Major Arcana = 100. Because the Majors are one thing when they precede the Minors, and a different thing when they come after them. This will make the following the “One” Arcana:

1 = Magician

10 = Wheel of Fortune

19 = The Sun

28 = Six of Coins

37 = Ace of Swords

46 = Ten of Swords

55 = Five of Cups

64 = King of Cups

73 = Nine of Batons

82 = Emperor

91 = Death

100 = The World

So if we work through to the 100, it all culminates in The World. The “Four” (22) becomes “One” (100). This hearkens back to Weinreb, according to whom the Tree of Knowledge has a value of Four, and the Tree of Life a value of One. Four always represents the outer limit of development in the world of polarity, of duality. It is the horizontal wisdom of the earthly plane. Whereas the One is the return to Unity, the vertical wisdom of Heaven. So by following all the way through the 100 Arcana, we “one the four”, we return what is fallen (fourfold) back to unity. 

So the remaining five “One” Arcana are: King of Cups; Nine of Batons; Emperor; Death; The World.

We are working with a seven-foldness today, but the fullness will be Twelve, which is proper. 

– Maybe some of the Cup Arcana go upside down? Since the sceptre in the Empress is made of one upright and one upside-down cup? The Five of Cups upside down is a very strange face. The middle is a mouth. Like a Muppet or something. With weird floppy arms. 

The upper part of the (normally orientated) Five of Cups is like the “potential will,” like a crown.

The base and the stem—are they like a Cross? If so, it’s an interesting form of a Cross. A Cross with a radiant top. 

If we skip ahead to the Ten of Cups, we see that the top cup which is tipped over has a little cross shape on it. The whole Suit is the search for the Divine Will, for the Cross to ascend the Sceptre. 

There doesn’t seem to be any Cross imagery throughout the “One” Arcana. Maybe the spokes on the Wheel of Fortune? The Sun’s rays? The Sword in the Ace is a bit like a Cross. 

Reminiscent of the feature of the Wheel of Fortune, that what strikes you is the absence of the true quintessence (i.e. the Cross). Only in the Emperor do we achieve the real Cross. And he is the 10th “One”, the Decad of One.

– You get a very different feeling looking at the Cup Arcana upside down. The Ace and the Two, it’s like something is stuck to the ceiling and begins to drip off. None of them looks wrong, just totally different, a totally different image suddenly.

Maybe that’s how they interact with each other somehow? Akin to the Coins connecting up like dominoes? Maybe they need to link up with some upside down?

The Ace almost looks correct upside down. Like a chandelier, meant to be hanging that way perhaps. The plant forms become very different beings.

– Joel noticed when taking the notes that we alluded to something but never said it outright, or realised it completely—that we have the same dilemma in the Five of Cups that we did in the Ace of Coins—is that plant attached to the central cup, or growing out from behind it? Is the central cup eclipsing something, is there more to this being that we aren’t seeing?

– Last time we talked about this repetition of a motif, akin to Beethoven or jazz—seeing just how far I can take this basic form by stretching it, adapting it. And realizing how different that is from the gesture of the Swords even though on the surface it’s the same idea—finding a form and repeating it over and over again with different variations. But the variations in the Swords were nearly inconsequential. It really was so repetitive. Whereas this gesture of the Cups, it’s so much more economical—let’s see how much mileage I can get out of one basic idea, really maximise its effectiveness. You see that even in the gesture of there being a totally different image when it is turned upside down, two images contained in one. Whereas if you turn the Swords upside down, they are almost exactly the same. In fact, for most of the Coins it makes no difference either. Only really in the Three and Seven, and to some degree the Four but not really. But when you flip them, it isn’t that they’re no longer recognisable. They aren’t totally different.

– Last time we noted that the bottom seemed closer to us than the top, and now we realise we said the same thing with the Four of Cups. Why is that consistent? Really it’s in the Three, Four and Five that the bottom feels closer to us than the top. Maybe this has something to do with the shape of the cups themselves, that they appear to be resting on something, and the “upper” cups would have to be further away from us to be “resting” on something. 

And this effect is no longer the case when you turn them upside down. At least, there is no longer a strong effect. 

– We saw a ram or a bull face last time. But it could also be a kind of Goat, or a Pan, a Satyr. Something a bit pagan, like Bacchus. A wine cult. 

Also we could see this as the form of a cow the same way we saw the four paws and the head of a lion in the Four of Cups. The face of the cow is grazing on the blue and red plant life at the very bottom. Then the bottom two cups are the front hooves. The top two cups are the back hooves, and the upper plant is the tail. Then the central cup is an utter full of milk. This bounty, this grail full of nourishment, this feast or dish being presented. 

– Last time we spoke of the Ace as Eagle, the Three as Man, the Four as Lion and the Five as Bull, which would make the Two the Dancer. But we wondered, why would this kind of Pisces/Fish image represent the dancer? And then it struck Joel that the shape surrounding the Dancer in the World is the Vesica Piscis, the Fish image.

And maybe the Two of Cups is emphasising the Philtre and the Wand held by the Dancer—the struggle between Illusion (Joy for Joy’s sake) and Truth. Perhaps there was some emphasis on the Four of the World—the Four Elements or Holy Creatures—in the Coins, with this overall emphasis on the four corners, beginning with the Ace but carrying through to almost every single Numbered Coin. Then we have an emphasis on the Three of the World—the Vesica Piscis shaped garland which shows us the three gunas—throughout the Swords, which emphasise this garland shape. And now there is an emphasis on the Two of the World, the struggle between Illusion and Truth. Strange to think of the Cups as related to the number Two, or of a movement from Four to Three to Two to One as we go through the Minor Suits—one tends to think of it the other way around, i.e. Coins as Unity, Swords as Polarity, Cups as Harmony and Batons as the fullness of Quaternary. 

– There is something reminiscent in the leaves of the upper plant as hands, and the flowers or stems of the lower plant as reigns. Calls to mind the Chariot. This gesture of the Charioteer of “I’ve let go of the reigns.” Perhaps this lower (red/blue/red) root in the Five of Cups is akin to the strange white divide between the horses in The Chariot? What exactly is that thing? The larger part of it is shaped like a tooth or something, then there are three spikes coming out. Are they part of the wheels, as seen through the Chariot? It doesn’t really seem like it. Somehow it feels reminiscent of the same form as that between those lower cups in the Five of Cups. 

It’s not just an accidental space—there is some reason it has that form. The narrow space that is left for Christ between the virtually ubiquitous opposition of Lucifer and Ahriman in the human organization. 

In the Five, this part at least has reigns—in the Chariot, there’s no indication of reigns at all.

A bit like that fact that the Charioteer is not directing the horses, the Five is not holding the reigns. But not completely—it’s a bit like the leaf/hands are guiding the flowers below to grow, some invisible magical connection is there. He is conjuring them to life. 

The two wills once again mirroring each other—the two plants mirror each other. The upper plant is the gardener or plant spirit, encouraging the growth of the plants. The above and below are equally matched. 

The Charioteer and his horses, on the other hand, are not equally matched. He is already master, clearly dominant over them. It’s a finished thing. A demand for mastery from below towards him.

Here in the Five of Cups there is a mutual respect. Also the two horses themselves are not equally matched. The red horse looks quite sad, and the blue one looks a bit scornfully or haughtily at him…[“You mad, bro?”—Ha!]

There is dominance at work in the Chariot, whereas in the Five of Cups it is all coordination.

This ugly white space between the horses in the Chariot has become a genuine threefold being, red/blue/red.

The upper plant has these white stems.

There is a blue/red/blue above, and then a red/blue/red below. 

The yellow crown in the upper plant divides, lends itself as leaves to the bottom blue stems, with the yellow cup in the middle. The unified royalty above has become a threefold royalty below.

The leaves above become flowers below.

The horses in the Chariot are just an extension of the Charioteer, a part of him, not a reflection. Certainly not an equal royalty. Even as an extension of him, they are not dignified. They are just his own feet. 

– Last time we noticed the two Roman numeral Fives, the “V” shapes on the right and left are quite organic, they seem to go with the overall aesthetic of the imagery. But before we noticed something about the Two of Cups—that the Roman numeral Twos are like equal signs. This creates the odd mathematics of Ace = Two = Three.

And as odd as that sounds, it turned out to be true. The Ace and Two always were this threefold being in the Cups, just not fully unfolded. And now, the Roman numeral Fives could similarly be a “less than” and a “greater than” symbol. So that would make Four less than Five greater than Six?? This is also strange mathematics. But it somehow seems to be right—the Six does seem to be a step back. There is a geometry absent in the Six that is present in the Five. Like we have returned to the relative simplicity and starkness of the Four. It feels like a Coin Arcanum—the central flower, and the flower below are quite familiar in that regard. 

But there are new elaborations as well. This X-shape at the top. And this weird eye at the bottom? A very distinct pearl, a bit creepy.

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