Four of Batons (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Phillip and Joel on November 20, 2022.

As opposed to the Two of Batons, we now have two different flowers. It is no longer perfectly symmetrical. Which flower is meant to be the upper, and which is meant to be the lower? And we have the return of the cutting—we did not have cut flowers in the Two. We haven’t had cuts since the Ace of Batons, and no cut flowers since the Swords.

Noticing the vesica piscis shaped “frame” created by the leaves in the Four of Batons vs that created by the leaves and buds in the Two of Batons. Since the flower buds are included in it in the Two, it is more strictly vesica piscis shaped, whereas the “flattened” flowers in the Four make more of an oval/egg shape:

It’s almost like the buds in the Two have fallen off, especially on the one side (the more daisy-like flower in the Four). That one has seven petals, like the flowers in the Two (whereas the other has five yellow and three red petals—this flower is different, new. It couldn’t have developed as directly out of the flowers in the Two compared with the seven-petalled daisy).

And with this “falling off” of the buds in the Two also comes a cutting of the bases of the flowers as well.

Noticing the flowers growing out of the sides—the white stems have gone farther down into the yellow blossoms at the base. This is different from both the Two and the Three:

It’s as though the stems/leaves on the sides are now imitating the form of the yellow flower as it was previously, no longer content to be just stems and leaves.

The cutting…is it in any kind of association with the black blade tips on the batons? They are increasing…similar to the increasing scimitar blades in the Numbered Swords. Is there an increase of cutting with increasing blades? As in the Four of Swords. The cutting is there in the Ace and the Three of Swords, but takes center stage in the Four, when there is for the first time a double layer of scimitars framing the flower.

Notice that the outer blades in the Four of Batons are fused together, they are joined. They now appear to be more similar to the ends of the scimitars than they did before.

In the Swords, the fusion carries on into the rest of the scimitars, but is only partial: the two scimitars are only fused together at certain places: at the ends, at the blue, and the yellow. Whereas the two batons are totally fused together, along the entire length of each set of two.

The fusion always goes along with the colors (blue and yellow), and not with the black portion. The batons are fully colored, therefore the fusion is total. Unless perhaps the white in between the black in the scimitars is actually a thing unto itself, and not just negative space? Invisibly fusing the black together.

In any case, the Batons are consistently and totally fused/interwoven…in fact they are so progressively:

At first, in the black, fused with a gap

Then, in the yellow, fused “regularly.”

Then, in the blue, going beyond fusion to being totally interwoven.

Those three elements, different stages of interweaving, are present in the scimitars, but not in an order that makes any sense.

That which is peripheral in the Swords (the latticework) has now become central in the Batons—and vice versa. The flowers and leaves are now peripheral, and they they are still framed by the X shape, in four different frames. They are still honoured although not central.

For all the framing and borders in the Swords, the Baton has more cohesion—even though it is not has “hard” as the Sword. This Suit is much more harmonious.

The Sword is like a snapshot of a process or event in motion, one that conveys the fact that so much is absent rather than conveying an active presence or fullness. Whereas the Baton conveys connection, and the resonance with something else.

The corner flowers in the Swords have become the central plants in the Batons (the arcanological similarity here is their proximity to the latticework in each Suit). But they have now connected onto the latticework, they too have become integrated.

In the Four of Swords, you could imagine the blue portions as trampolines that the flowers floats between, and the scimitars as walls containing it, a kind of “box.” Pretty sure at the time we were focusing on the Four of Swords (early 2020?) we brought up Moses in the basket of reeds at one point?

There is a containing going on in the Swords, a compartmentalising. Whereas with the Batons, it is a radiating out and away. Which is clearer in the Four of Batons vs the Two—in the Two they could be going in or going out. Here the flowers are cut, they are floating out.

The scimitars make a tunnel, a rigid structure. They form the vesica piscis throughout the Swords. Now, in the Batons, the vesica piscis is formed by leaves instead, with this leaf quality of breathing, all this open space. A canopy rather than a rooftop.

With the Swords, each individual Arcanum is totally cut off from connection to the other parts of itself. Whereas in the Batons, place them adjacent to one another and connections are made, contact.

The tiny blue leaves on the seven-petalled plant seem new.

Were the flowers here cut? Or were they snapped off? Perhaps this is true of the Ace of Batons as well—we never even considered it before. We always assumed they were cut with the Sword. Noticing the shape of the base of the stem…there’s a bit of excess there, like when you peel a twig off of a tree and there is a bit of excess bark that tags a long with it. Whereas in the Swords, it is a clean cut.

It goes back to this idea of the King of Cups breaking the cup in two, snapping it off to make the baton.

There is something of Temperance in the gap between his fingers…the diagonal stream of white. Is it white cloth or a gap?

The breaking of the branch in the Ace, by hand…not by cutting. Just like the cup in the King. The feeling in the Swords of separation and severing, whereas this feeling in the Batons that things are not severed and separated the same way. The branch is removed at a natural point, a joint of sorts, whereas the Sword flowers are cut at a convenient place with a tool.

So, in the Swords, the implement does the pruning, and we are left with extra, some unresolved other, more than is needed.

Whereas in the Batons, my hand does the pruning, and then that which I prune becomes my implement. There is nothing extra or unresolved.

There is a kind of arrowhead shaped negative space around the bases of the cut flowers. Perhaps we remarked on this in the Two of Batons, but they are even more pronounced here in the Four. The contrast of sword and arrow. Arrow as Baton.

In the Robin Hood stories, a branch is a porto-arrow. He whittles the branch to the point that it is a good arrow, leaves a few leafy branches on the back of it to make it aerodynamic.

Or when he needs a quarterstaff. When Robin Hood first meets Little John, they are blocking each other’s way on a bridge and challenge each other to a fight to see who has to make way for the other. They each snap a branch off of a tree, and whittle the excess off until they have a good quarterstaff—again, a Baton.

Robin Hood is the “Green Man” whose face we see in the center of the Batons, especially the Two. He lives in the woods. His implements are all former branches, all is made of wood.

Vs Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Swords, cages, all metal. Living in a castle, a fortress, the hardness of the Swords.

The plant that was growing out of the center in the Two and Three had this three-petalled shape to it. Now the white stems have grown into this form, the yellow part has changed. The shape it used to have is now there on the five-petalled flower, the red part.

This new flower on the other side, it’s a bit like a daisy. It’s very normal, actually, not so fantastical as the flowers have been since the Coins. It’s petals are a little wilted.

Something of its form can be seen in the Two of Cups…and the blue leaves are there somehow in the Seven of Cups…but these are very strange flowers.

This daisy in the Four of Batons gives the impression, “Welcome back to reality, to the familiar.” Whereas the other flower is still in this dreamy world as before. A juxtaposition.

There is something of the three-petalled one in the Four of Coins. In fact, this is all through the Four of Coins, this basic three petalled tulip shape.

And then in the Swords, there are two basic types of flowers that appear, they mirror each other around the Five (Two and Eight, Four and Six). No longer this tulip shape.

And then in the Cups, all the flower forms are quite radical.

Now we are coming full circle. We are back to the forms that were in the Coins, but somehow they are looking more and more like reality, like “real” flowers, instead of these archetypal forms.

For the three-petalled flower, both leaves are touching the sides. With the seven-petalled daisy, only one leaf is touching, and its base is very close to touching as well. Slightly different sizes/orientations between the two flowers.

Is the black part of the Baton where the staff was broken off from the tree? A little bit of black bark left, too tricky to whittle off at the bend? Rather than a blade, as we had assumed before.

Maybe…but what kind of a tree grows these kinds of branches?

Well, the branch didn’t look like that originally. The branch is a proto-instrument. Whereas the Batons that we see here are the finished product. Most of the bark and small branches whittle off, painted, carved, etc., to have this beautiful form. Like the traditional construction of an alphorn—the shepherds would seek out a spruce tree growing with a particular curve out of the mountainside. They would cut it down, split it in half, and carve out the center of the alphorn. Then they would bind it back together into one piece, and add all kinds of decorative elements to it. The branch/tree transformed into a beautiful trumpet. Or the same could be said for a quarterstaff, etc.

It’s really interesting to think of a musical instrument in this context.

We’re really recognising and feeling the woodiness of the Batons for the first time. In the Swords, it was all metal, steel bars, concrete. And the Cups were gold…or beeswax. Not a hard metal, a malleable substance.

And the Coins weren’t really metallic—they gave more the impression of a hard seed.

The Cups were gold or beeswax—substances that can easily be molten. This in contrast to the Swords, where the activity that always came to mind was blacksmithing. Nothing is ever molten with iron. Extreme temperatures are needed to achieve the iron bloom, and even then you can’t really say it is molten metal. There is nothing molten about the Swords. All the shards flying off while hammering the iron.

The Swords are about containment, containing the central object. With the Batons—do these interwoven Batons need to be separated in order to be used? Or do they function as an interwoven piece this way, as the scimitars did in order to contain?

It’s a valid question, as by the Nine or Ten of Batons, we have a very bulky structure, a mass of Batons. What is one supposed to do with that?

Are the plants in the center of the Numbered Batons grafted on? Or is it a trellis for these plants to grow on? The plants seem connected to the blue…is this a source of water? Like the Garden of Eden, with the four rivers branching out.

The St. Andrew’s Cross is the form in the Two and Four of Batons (vs the ICHTHYS in the Three). Supposedly he was crucified on a on a cross shaped this way. But also, this is known as a saltire, which means stirrup. It was a particular military formation, either dividind the field into four units, or using two diagonal lines of soldiers to charge, hedging the enemy in. One could also build fencing this way, dividing up a field for agriculture.

If we relax our gaze, we can see concentric circles, like a corral seen from above. With the water in the center.

Or a nursery, a plant nursery.The “cut” flowers are going to be grafted or transplanted. Seeing a garden from above. Concentric circles, different walkways. The Ace as a tree in the midst of the Garden. The source.

The reading at the Christian Community this morning was from Revelation Chapter 22. Washing our robes clean that we may partake of the Tree of Life in the midst of the New Jerusalem.

The Coins are Paradise. The Swords are the expulsion. The Batons show us the return. This is not a natural/wild garden, the garden of delights of Eden. No, this is the New Jerusalem. Very curated. A city-garden. Like a tower. The hanging gardens of Babylon. A tower made of concentric layers.

Anne Catherine Emmerich describes Mary at one points as a Tower. All of these levels/worlds within her. Interesting that Tomberg begins the Letter-Meditation on the Tower of Destruction with the Magnificat, but never really returns to this theme of Mary as the Tower. This positive aspect of the Tower of Destruction (really the “House of God”), of the flame of the Holy Spirit descending into Mary—either at the Annunciation, the conception of Jesus, or on Whitsun. Tomberg doesn’t really go into this aspect at all, the power of absolute humility on the part of Mary. The archetypal potency of the feminine as something to do with this openness and humility. It isn’t determinative, it is totally receptive.

In our system, we brought the Ace into relation with the Lover, the Two with the Pope, the Three with the Emperor—and the Four is in relation to the Empress, who very much expresses this sacred magical power of the humility of Mary:

Maybe the Four of Batons is an amplification of her shield.

Seeing the Suit of Batons as a Tower: The Ace as the pinnacle/center, then below it the Two, then the Three, etc. The Ten is the foundation at the bottom, therefore it is so heavy and massive. A Tower that is not built from below to above, like the Tower of Babel. It is a Tower which grows from above to below. This is the New Jerusalem.

Anne Catherine describes Mary as a complex Tower, with sides, compartments, many details. Mary as the New Jerusalem descending/growing downwards.

We had this impression when we got to the King of Cups that we had finally been able to enter this mysterious building in the Ace of Cups, and it turned out to be a let down, totally strange. The man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. But maybe we were only in the antechamber, he was the doorkeeper. Only now in the Suit of Batons do we get to know the entire structure, starting from the top and working our way down. In the Ace of Cups, we witnessed this structure from without, and a building up from below to above; now we are within it, and get to know it as a growing from above to below.