Notes of a Hermetic Conversation from February 20, 2018
February 20, 2018 – The Fool
We began with invoking the Holy Spirit through reciting the third stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation. Then we performed the Divine Alphabet up through the 21st letter, Shin, with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice.
Looking at the spread Empress, Lover, Hermit, Hanged Man, Devil, Moon, Fool, Emperor as a transition from Sacred Magic to Hermeticism.
– The moment of transition from the Fool to the Emperor, when Sacred Magic becomes Hermeticism. This is exemplary of Jung’s quote from the beginning of the Letter-Meditation. Conscious thinking, day consciousness, surrenders to super-conscious (“dormant or sleeping” = night consciousness) influences. The Personality is now acting out of something “truer and wiser” than its surface thinking.
These two cards follow up on the Moon, whose virtue is “Raising the Subconscious to Consciousness.” A process of replacing day-waking consciousness with an illuminated/elevated sub-consciousness (i.e. super-consciousness).
– When it comes to the life of Christ, the Resurrection is the ultimate stage, the culmination. As soon as the Resurrection Body appears, it Ascends. There is no opportunity for a fully-lived biography within that Resurrection Body.
The Fool is like an image of the Resurrection Body experiencing a normal-length biography, a path of destiny. A biography in which subconsciousness has arisen and been purified, and united itself with consciousness.
When we speak of consciousness wedding itself to sub-consciousness, aren’t we speaking of the marriage of meditation and prayer that is the theme of the 21st Letter-Meditation (p 607)? This is an incredible quote: “…human endeavor and the action of grace from above…unite and become a complete circle which contracts and concentrates to become a point where the ascent and descent are simultaneous and coincide. And this point is the ‘philosopher’s stone’…”
What an image!
– Yes, the Resurrected Christ is always youthful and yet aged at the same time. But what if this Resurrection Body was exposed to an historical, actual biography, to blows of fate? This is tied up with that tragic nature of reality of which we spoke last time: in spite of the culmination in victory (the Resurrection), it must then interact with a still fallen, unfinished world. This is a paradox—the finished and eternal adopting qualities of that which is unfinished. Christ speaks this paradox: “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” vs “take up your cross and follow me.” The entire history of the Church is just that, more and more over time: the Resurrection Body living a “normal” biography through the saints. We could think in particular of St. Francis as an exemplary figure in this regard.
Joel has a depiction of St Francis whose face is quite similar to that of The Fool’s. The Fool could very well be an image of Francis—it makes one think of the story of him taming the wolf. He was a “Fool of Love,” and along with St. John the Evangelist is the patron of Love.
– The Fool addresses the question “Where does the eternal meet history/biography, not just in the material body itself but the whole world/environment around it?” He truly is an image of Death overcome.
The Resurrection Body slowly becomes ubiquitous in Nature. Just as Death is planted in the material/physical, is common to all physical reality, the whole process of the redemption of nature has to do with the Resurrection Body living into the world via the biographies of individuals to a greater and greater extent over time, until it has permeated all of Nature and has replaced the rule of Death. Death = the subconscious in Nature, the automatic, whereas the Resurrection Body/Love = Raising this to consciousness. This is the Wandering Fool, wandering to the ends of the earth to replace Death with Love through the human members of the Church.
– The Fool bears a wound from a dog vs Death who has cut off his own foot. The principle of bearing suffering vs performing surgery. Death is the surgeon who keeps decay/disease from going too far. The Fool actually ingests the wound/evil/disease, and turns it into something creative. This whole process is tied up with the formation of a new organ, it necessitates a new organ by which the process can be accomplished. The wounds/organs of the Resurrection Body.
– We spoke prior to the conversation about how refreshing an actual right/left political dialogue would be, rather than the surface thinking and lack of fluidity of concept that pervades both extremes of the spectrum. The same could be said for a living dialogue between “survival of the fittest” vs “survival of the cooperative.” A much more intricate perspective and field of knowledge would arise out of such a dialogue.
There is no depth perception without two functioning eyes. Joel’s father has an ailment in which the two images produced by the eyes are smushed together (macular telangiectasia)—this is also not ideal! We as Hermeticists can have this temptation, to simply mush everything together in the name of synthesis.
– The Fool is pointing towards a certain trajectory, akin to the exponential momentum of Meditations on the Tarot. Discussions of cosmogony lately with Kevin, focusing on the spiral. A future orientated cosmogony. The first portion of the spiral/vortex was the spiritual world creating man, giving everything over to man. Our cosmological concern has been about our origins, the past, whether it is blind universe or Loving God who has made us. Our concern should become future orientated, like the trajectory of the Fool. When we begin to see human beings as infusers of the counterforce to Death—the Force of Love—biography by biography, life by life, then we see that we truly are the crest in the wave of evolution. Each deed we perform has the potential to serve the redemption of Nature—we pour ourselves out as the Gods have done for us.
– Looking at The Fool’s imagery: his yoke is easy? His burden is light? Is the staff over his shoulder a yoke? The bag as his burden: what about the lemniscate of the bag and his head? A bit like Dionysius carrying around his own head in the anecdote from the first Letter-Meditation. His head is light, while his limbs are bearing the blows of the world, the dog and the exposed backside.
There seems to be an almost mindless peace above. Reminds Joel of the Lent service (his first). We usually associate the phrase “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” with death, mourning, tragedy. When Joel received the ashes and heard the phrase, however, an overwhelming feeling of relief and freedom washed over him. “Do your duty; for the rest, don’t sweat it. You are only dust.” The Fool has this mindless peace above, while his limbs are busy bearing what must be borne, sacrificially.
– But what is that patchwork middle realm?
The sleeve protruding on the left hand side of the card could almost be an arm emerging/growing. The bag is the same shape as the sleeve, and mirrors the hand on the other shoulder. It almost looks like he is carrying around his arm in the bag, and has the hand that belongs to it stuck on his shoulder. Is he in some kind of transition? Maybe he doesn’t need the arm just at that moment?
When we look at it this way, the right side of the card flows together as its own separate being. The head attaches directly to the arm (like a head with a leg), that is holding onto a staff.
Maybe this is expressing the fact that the Resurrection Body appearing historically is in a state of flux and development. It is only an aspiration to begin with, until the manifestation of Maitreya Buddha. See page 613. He will be the manifestation on the physical plane of the realization of the ideal of Christianity—the first true Christian, one might say—after which, his particular success will become the common property of all mankind. The Resurrection Body fully manifests at that point. Hence, the midsection of The Fool is in transition until the manifestation of Maitreya Buddha, who doesn’t just preach the Good, but performs and transmits Goodness, becomes Goodness itself.
When this occurs, The Fool transforms into the Emperor. The midsection is organized, all of the pieces fall into place. When we read the 4th Letter-Meditation, it might as well be about the Maitreya, and the difference that is made when and whether this Anonymous representative of humanity is recognized or not.
This process is the intense focus of the spiritual world—Meditation—and the deepest longing of Nature—Prayer—and the two will be united fully and concentrated to a point in the Maitreya.
The Fool = Touch Me not, for I have not yet ascended to the Father
The Emperor = Touch Me Now, for I have returned from the Father
– Tomberg refers to this Letter-Meditation as a memorial wreath on the invisible tombstone of his Russian Martinist brothers. This Letter is, more than any of the others, deeply personal for many reasons.
– This whole picture—the transition from The Fool to The Emperor—changes the hopeless, tragic picture we came to last time. The Fool is now the picture of a ceaseless striving, and the unavoidable failure that comes with those attempts, until success is ultimately achieved. The transition from Sacred Magic to Hermeticism is only tragic for a time. One must pass through the eye of the needle and become something totally new. Hermeticism doesn’t just maintain the past, it does so through passing through a flipe, becoming something totally new and integrated. It is the path from a caterpillar to a butterfly. The caterpillar builds the cocoon and dissolves. But it doesn’t reorganize itself back into a caterpillar. It becomes something completely other in the form of a butterfly. This is the meaning of a Living Tradition; it is one that preserves essence through transformation of substance, not through maintaining the same form eternally. The problem with Traditionalism—it sees the cosmic cycle as a process of caterpillar—cocoon—caterpillar, rather than leading to butterfly. This speaks to the task of our generation: if Steiner’s time was that of Mysticism; and Tomberg’s that of Gnosis; and Robert’s that of Sacred Magic; how do we meet or enable that flipe to Hermeticism? Because it may be that Anthroposophy/Christian Hermeticism/Astrosophia preserve their essence and integrate through processes of dissolution and reorganization similar to that of the butterfly. This means that wherever the story goes next, it will be hard to recognize the form it takes; it will not simply carry on with the forms of the 20th century.
– This brings up overarching questions of the tragedies involved in getting humanity to where it needs to go—enormous sacrifices that themselves are going through transformations. Deep tragedies that are integral sacrifices for the process. In other words, the sacrifice on the part of some of the hierarchies in choosing Evil, Evil as ultimately being nothing other than a part of the dissolution process that can yield a higher form. God is not Unlimited in the sense that he contains all within him that then manifests on the physical plane in a variety of forms. No, God is Unlimited in that he is always seeking higher and higher forms of Goodness, Infinite heights of Goodness; and that he knows the only path to those infinite heights are along the lines of Freedom—Evil—Redemption. The deeper the Evil, the Higher the Good. We can think of the end of our 7 Planetary Evolutionary stages, an end that has on one side Vulcan (Earth become Star, Human Beings become Gods), and on the other the 8th Sphere, a garbage heap of devolving, irredeemable beings who chose to remain on the downward turn. The story of the next 7 Planetary stages will be Vulcan Humanity’s redemption of this fallen 8th Sphere, into an even higher form of Good.
We closed with the end of the Grail Knight’s Practice.