Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on July 31, 2018
July 31st – Four of Coins
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of the Holy Spirit by reading from Acts 2:1-4.
After briefly focusing on the mantra I AM in the region of the brow chakra, we moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence. We then read from Revelation 2:24-29 (Letter to Thyatira), Matthew 6:14-15 (on forgiving debts), and the quote from John Ruskin (see notes for July 24).
We then focused, to begin with, on the Four of Coins as Arcanum 25 = 7, so next to the Chariot (7) and the Tower of Destruction (16), and as Arcanum 26 = 8, so next to Justice (8) and the Star (17).
– There is a geometry that jumps out when we look at the red parts on the plants. Something like:
So we have this YHShVH geometry (the four corners with the fifth in the center) both above and below; and then the overall geometry (with four coins in the corners and the box in the middle) contains this as well.
It becomes ever clearer that the overall geometry of the Major Arcana is that of a large Triangle, with a smaller triangle within: a Trinity, with a Fourth emerging (this is YHVH). Whereas the geometry we keep running into again and again in the Minor Arcana is a Quaternary with a Fifth emerging (this is YHShVH).
What is unusual with the Four of Coins is that the centerpiece (which is not a coin) is so prominent—and it is the fifth not the fourth. So in the Four of Coins, the visual focus is neither on a coin nor on the Fourth.
– Immediately after last week’s conversations, Joel had the strong impression that the middle object in the the Four of Coins is a flame—an altar, a sacrificial offering, a fireplace, with those worshipping or being warmed gathered around it. Alternatively, it could be some kind of fiery pit, which reveals its more sinister aspect.
A very fruitful iteration of this perspective, however, is to see this “flame in a box” as a retort or a refinery. Here we see the oven in which Coin is formed, the primal origin of Coin. At the same time, the etheric body, the archetype of a plant, is in the form of a flame. So this refinery is the primal origin of both Coin and Plant, the two aspects of the Coin Arcana. In the refinery, Coin and Plant are one: flame shapes Coin and is reflected in Plant.
– We might see this Arcanum as both Moses and Aaron simultaneously: we could see this as Moses receiving the Ten Commandments (the box in the middle) from YHWH (the four coins) on Mt Sinai; or we could see this as the golden calf (the box in the middle) with the Hebrews surrounding and worshipping it at the base of Mt. Sinai.
– Notice with the central flower we have five red and two blue points on the flower. In the Tychonic perspective astrologically, there are two planets revolving around the Earth: Sun and Moon (the two blue points). The other five planets (the red points) are revolving around the Sun.
– If we see this as a fiery pit, or a window, or a portal, we might see the surrounding figures/faces as Guardians of the Threshold. But to where/what?
On page 511 of the Letter/Meditation on the Moon, Tomberg discusses the difference between conscience and intellect. The meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold is an overwhelming confrontation with Conscience. In order to develop intuition, to take the “flying leap” into the darkness, intellect must bow before conscience and serve it.
– It’s like we are looking at the exploding Tower of Destruction from above: we are seeing inside of the Tower in the central box.
– Returning to the aspect of the Guardian of the Threshold, the Letter-Meditation speaks of him on page 512, and describes him as having both a sword and scales, just like Justice does. The sword is “his vivifying and healing action, giving courage and humility to the soul which hungers and thirsts for the depths, and the balance is his action of presenting the precise account of what must be paid in order to have the right to go further.” We return to the issue of payment of debt = coin.
– The Letter-Meditation on The Moon characterizes the brain-bound intellect as only capable of understanding the discontinuous, i.e. the discreet. It can only understand things non-material as if they were as unto matter, a discontinuous solid. This is the eclipsing power of the terrestrial intellect.
But the Four of Coins is revealing to us the often-concealed continuous; it shows us the place where Coin and Plant (two discreet objects) are one in the process of becoming (the aspect of Springtime). It is the anti-eclipse; i.e. it reveals that which is normally hidden, rather than hiding that which is normally seen.
– This is certainly related to both The Tower and The Moon, but it is not the same kind or level of crisis as is happening in those Arcana. What is happening in the Four of Coins in terms of anti-eclipse is not a threatening crisis at all.
On the other hand, one might say it is more threatening than any of the crises that were presented in the Major Arcana. It has more power and dread, a holy terror or holy awe about it, in a way that the Majors never really approach. They operate more-so on the soul level, and this is showing us a true confrontation with the world of Spirit. There is no element here of a human-level drama or mere crisis; it is a depiction of a spiritual event. One does not react to the Guardian of the Threshold with “Oh No!” as the men might as they are blasted out of their tower. Those men are frightened and disappointed, but there is no real complexity to the emotional core of that image. For the Four of Coins, these are weightier feelings by far, and far more nebulous and complex.
– In terms of the Guardian of the Threshold, we think of the Cherubim guarding the four gates to Eden. He/They are guarding the Tree of Life. We think of the New Jerusalem, which is described as cubic in Revelation: the square of fire/flower in the middle recalls to mind this cubic city.
– Certainly, like The World, this Arcanum is a portal—a space has opened up that allows a greater level of dimensionality.
It is not showing in great detail the Garden of Eden, but revealing a portal to it.
We begin to see the central square as expressing three cosmic regions simultaneously:
Garden of Eden—Shambhala (Earth’s Core)—New Jerusalem
What begins as Paradise must sink into the core of the Earth and become Shambhala, which at the end of time rises again to join with the New Jerusalem (composed of “New Heaven” and “New Earth”).
We think of the molten sea of Hiram Abiff.
– In terms of the Garden of Eden, what of the other three Coin Arcana so far?
The Ace could be like the seed of the Tree of Life, the heart of the Garden.
Whereas the Four is almost like starting over again, with the broad overview of the whole (not concentrated on the seed).
The Ace is Paradise. Adam-Eve is still a unity, still in the Garden. The center of the Arcanum is the Tree of Life, and it is a shield, it is protection itself, rather than something guarded by Cherubim, as something needing protection as it does in the Four of Coins. We see the Four Rivers, and in the “midst” of the Garden (the center of the Coin) we see the Tree of Knowledge. Adam-Eve stay in the penumbra, the solar aspect of the coin (Life), rather than going into the lunar flower in the center (Knowledge).
The Four of Coins shows the state of Eden post-expulsion. Now the Tree of Life/Eden/Innocence/Purity is no longer a protection for humanity. Rather it is something that itself requires protection. It is surrounded by Cherubim.
– We think again of the Letter-Meditation on The Moon, in terms of the deadening force of David numbering the people, his reduction of quality to quantity. Coin as related to “name,” as related to the bestowal of the qualitative. Adam naming each of the animals, honoring the individuality vs the destruction of individuality via census. Coin, number always are in danger of being reduced to mere quantity.
Is there a basis for equating Coin/Number with Name?
If we look at the Sephiroth Tree, we see that the 22 Paths between the Sephiroth are the basis of Alphabet, of Letter and Language.
But the basis of Number are the Ten Sephiroth themselves, and these Ten Sephiroth are nothing other than the very Names of God. The Holiest, most Primal Names or Qualities are the basis of all Number.
The experience of Number that we are having via these conversations and Arcana vs the experience of number in grade school eg 2+2=4 is indescribably greater.
– The limits of the intellect are mentioned in the Letter-Meditation on The Moon, how we must take the “flying leap” if we wish to move from “walking” (speculative intellect) to “swimming” (profound meditation). This was Phillip’s experience moving into Anthroposophy. For some it seems to be a blind faith, or a memorization of a new dogma when it comes to Anthroposophy. But for Phillip, and for Joel as well, it was more like entering into a new element, learning to move and dwell in a new environment. It required the “flying leap” into a new way of knowing.
– All of this is very much related to Tomberg’s meditations on the Letters to the Churches in Christ and Sophia. We can relate the Ace of Coins to the First Church: here it is a question of Weight, of whether or not we can voluntarily serve and descend into incarnation to accomplish a task, or if we are unwilling and hence fall into incarnation, resulting in toil.
The Two of Coins is related to Measure, the path of patience, perseverance—the bearing of suffering in the confrontation between Good and Evil. Or do we wish to avoid suffering and instead join forces with either luciferic escape (oriental yoga) or ahrimanic power (black magic)?
The Three of Coins is related to Number, the confrontation with Death on the part of the ancient Egyptian culture (notice the Pyramid). Do we develop a distinct and unique individuality? Or are we subsumed into the mass, as one number amongst an endless number? Are destroyed or completed by Death? If we persevere, we are given the “white stone.” (The Pearl).
Now we have come to the Four of Coins, the church of Thyatira.
It is the conflict between Christian culture and Sibylline culture: again, we have Moses vs Aaron.
For the Christian Culture, Toil/Weight becomes the Strength of Obedience, Service.
Suffering/Measure becomes the Beauty of Chastity, Hope.
Death/Number becomes the Wisdom of Poverty, Faith.
And what unites all three of these is Love, is Righteousness. We have a community of unique and distinct Egos dedicating themselves to paths of service in Love.
Whereas in the Sibylline culture, Jezebel creates the path by which:
Toil can be avoided through escape from the needs of the external world, as all are nourished by the “food sacrificed to idols”, i.e. the hypnotizing content of Sibylline revelation.
Pain can be avoided through escape from the requirements of spiritual development. Jezebel is the gateway to the spiritual, and the rest of the community is not required to go through the catharsis required to reach the spiritual world. This is the “fornication.”
Death is avoided by losing one’s individuality. The whole community blends into a mass-consciousness in worship of the Jezebel.
In this community, we have an ego-less mass, avoiding the pain of dedicating themselves to service in the world.
So we have once again, the community of uprightness represented by Moses receiving the revelation, and the community of decadence represented by Aaron supplying the masses with the golden calf—all represented in one composite (multi-vocal) image.
We have recently had discussions as to how this is embedded in the very nature of Judaism (mainly from the work of Unz). How, from the very first, all of the rituals and language of the Hebrew faith could simultaneously be used in honor of YHWH or used for any number of decadent gods, their spiritual impact changing completely depending upon the inner (magical) nature of the person invoking the ritual. Hence the severe injunction on the Hebrew people against adulterating themselves with other gods, as it was only a razor’s edge separating worship of YHWH from worship of Moloch or Baal. As we have observed with so many things nowadays, whether it is Islam or Judaism or Catholicism, it is both Christian and Anti-christian simultaneously. These titles become inadequate, as they conceal a whole spectrum of spiritual meaning underneath of them, making true conversation impossible.
– And what about the seeming contradiction between what Tomberg writes in Christ and Sophia, in which he warns against the danger of using the lower drives and instincts for spiritual development, vs what he writes in the Letter-Meditation on The Moon, in which the intellect must bow in service to the disinterested instinct in order to develop intuition? Here we have exactly the same problem of the limits of categorical language.
The intellect bowing in service to instinct…the main question becomes, which instinct?
As we have discussed before, Thought and the activity of Thinking is in reality a Nothing on its own. It is always in service to Beings of one kind or another, Beings that we are more or less aware of depending on our development. Our thinking is always in service to someone or something somewhere, whether we know it or not. The question here is whether it is in service to the unredeemed subconscious drives of the sub-earthly or to the redeemed inspirations of the supra-conscious. Here we have instinct vs Instinct.
There is the completely self-serving and self-interested instinct, and then there is the creative instinct which we might say lies behind all thoughts, actions, life, beings. It is the instinct of which the Letter-Meditation on The Star speaks of: spontaneity, life, the essence of Springtime. The lack of calculation is key, this instinct emerges pure.
This instinct results in the solarization of the chakras (the sub-conscious). Another key word here is “disinterested.” There is a world of difference between the “disinterested” or self-less instinct vs the “interested” or craving instinct. One is Play and the other is Destruction.
– Phillip recalls the oars on a friend’s boat in Finland. Their simplicity, their effectiveness, how different they were from “normal” oars. We in the West tend to think we have it all through technology and calculation. That if we spend enough time, energy, money we can come to the Solution for any problem. But this only ever narrows and limits what can be done in any given situation!
In reality the solutions to any problem are so manifold, can manifest in so many different ways from day to day and situation to situation.
It makes one think of Ahriman in the Persian myths. The Twin to Ahura Mazdao who disagreed with the Divine Plan, and wanted to prove to the Father that his way was better by convincing humanity to follow his plan. For Ahriman, the Whole = Parts. If one can figure out each little piece and make it work “just right,” then one has figured out the whole, and it will all work with mechanical perfection. Complete centralized control, intellectualization.
Consider the Ahrimanic method vs that of the Mother. The Mother who sees the Whole in each of the Parts, where the Whole is greater than the sum of the Parts, and each Part is greater than the Whole. The Whole must be felt, must be lived and experienced, it cannot be known. It is too great and too tender to be known. No solution to anything comes without a felt experience of wholeness. Is this not the disinterested instinctivity of which we are speaking? Out of this playful experience can emerge manifold manifestations of the One Thing.
– Perhaps “Coin” relates to counting and Holy Number. Coin is only a piece/fragment/part but can be exchanged for anything else in the whole. A census is an essentially worthless/meaningless piece of paper that gives someone power, control, “proof” of an argument.
Money itself, on the other hand, has actual value, it is more than just empty number. It bears a kinetic (and hence magical) energy. According to Steiner, Money is the lifeblood of brotherhood in the social organism.
– Returning again to the Letter-Meditation on The Moon, with the image of the intellect developing itself to the point of serving conscience—this marries itself so perfectly with the image we began to see last time, of the “flower” of the human being developing itself up to the point that the bird can drink nectar from its blossom. Intellect = lotus flowers, Tree of Knowledge, which must be solarized to the point that Birds/Angels (Conscience) can come and receive nourishment from them.
Tomberg describes the Moon Arcanum as showing conscience (the light of the sun reflected by the Moon) eclipsed by the Earth (terrestrial intellect), meaning the Sun is directly behind the Earth. We must remember the nature of an Eclipse: it is unusual, it is temporary. It is just a passing moment, cyclical, not permanent.
It seems to us that Tomberg only described one aspect of this Arcanum, one interpretation. Our discussion last year went more into the aspect of The Moon as Yahweh, as a sacrificial decent in order to bear burdens, pay debts. Yahweh draws the illnesses of the world below towards himself in order to transmute them into Good.
– When the Earth blocks the Sun’s light from being reflected by the Moon, we have an experience of only the Moon’s light, that which the Moon herself radiates. This radiation is experienced as Darkness—this is the Midnight Sun, the Moon’s spiritual (hidden) light. Spiritually, the Moon is the higher luminary; terrestrially, the Sun. In this image of experiencing spiritually the radiance of the Midnight Sun, of a shining where usually there is only darkness, we again have the image of the anti-eclipse. “The Light shone in the Darkness, and the Darkness understood it not.” John’s Gospel. The other side, the counter-image of The Moon is the Four of Coins.
But the terrestrial realm in the imagery of The Moon, in reaction to this unusual light, shows only rebellion, disharmony. There is a kind of a draw to the light, but it is rigid (tower). Is that the normal/natural relationship between the terrestrial intellect and this invisible (dark) light? If the invisible light is Conscience, what is the initial and natural reaction of the subconscious when that light shines on it, calls it up from the depths? Thinking of creatures that live in darkness or have been trapped in darkness. The light is a torture, a threat. Or it’s a bit like trying to get out of the warm bed when the alarm goes off. One is so enmeshed in one’s habits, one’s subconscious, that the light brings discomfort, a feeling of breaking apart.
This brings us right back around the the aspect of the Guardian of the Threshold.
This is the uncomfortable transition from negative conscience (“Thou Shalt Not”, that which makes us feel shame after a wrong action, or keeps us from performing a wrong action) to positive conscience (“Thou shalt”, the creative inspiration to perform a deed). Lesser to Greater Guardian.
– The Arcana are, over and over again, showing us two opposites superimposed onto each other. They show us a place where opposites are united before they split—just like the forge/furnace with the coin vs plant. The Arcana are the Forge.
– Notice that in the Four of Coins, the plants are growing away from the centerpiece. It is a light that is still harmoniously united to the darkness (an occult, hidden light). Hence the plants grow away from it. The plants are the inverse of the plants in the Ace of Coins, which grow directly towards the center Coin.
It’s a bit like the way plants grow on Earth. Plants don’t grow towards the Earth, towards the Mother, but they have an occult (hidden, sub earthly) attachment to the Mother, to the hidden light, via the roots. They are permeated with the forces of the Mother, even if they don’t grow towards her.
And on that note, what about interpreting The Moon’s terrestrial aspect as related to the Mother rather than the intellect or the subconscious? She bears all of the trauma of world history, she recedes beneath it. Notice in the Four of Coins, innocence is something that needs protecting, rather than being the protecting force as it is in the Ace. Pre-fallen vs Fallen humanity. Innocence/Purity/The Mother needs protecting.
The Mother, both outside of us and as an aspect of our own Ego, sees all the trauma without judgment. Innocence cannot judge, she is pure love and chastity. The “Father” aspect of our Ego is all limb, conscience, creating in us the blush of shame and the urge to constantly perfect ourselves and do better. The “Mother” aspect of our Ego is so silent as to be totally unnoticeable. She is pure sense organ, she is the loving grandmother who absorbs with greatest interest every detail of our life without judgment.
We might say that the sub-earthly realms became a protective force around the buried Mother. What she fled from (the trauma of human history) becomes a sheath, a guardian. Anyone who wishes to pass into her realm must have developed their morality and uprightness to the upmost. Only the pure shall pass. The sub-earthly spheres perform essentially the same action as the sword of the Cherubim protecting the Tree of Life.
So perhaps we have:
Ace = Garden of Eden
Two = Adam and Eve
Three = Temptation (Adam, Eve, and Serpent; or Adam and Eve hiding before the face of God).
Four = Expulsion from the Garden, receding of the Mother.
– So much of life is empirical/experiential, and not merely ideological/abstract. But we have the tendency to approach life with layers and layers of ideologies with which to process and filter what is happening to us. We feel deeply threatened by opening ourselves up to what is happening around us, it gives us an acute sense of vulnerability. We coat our fragile, traumatized core in protective layers of presuppositions and biases. We avoid at all costs acknowledging that we have fallen from grace, being at fault, needing forgiveness, being broken.
We are the inverse of the Mother. We surround our guilty self with layers of ideology in order to protect it with contact with the empirical (usually healing!) reality, out of fear and shame. This is the inverse of the Mother, who hides a core of innocence within layers of trauma in order to protect it from being destroyed. Tomberg’s approach to the Moon has more to do with the human aspect and not with the Mother’s aspect.
– Overall, though, learning how to live deeply in the consciousness of “how am I at fault?” is a huge theme of Meditations on the Tarot. The transition from being a passenger to a crew member on the ship of humanity. It feels much more comfortable to be a passenger, but one is only unaware of what threatens us all.
– Therefore there is a three-fold aspect to the Four of Coins, relating to Eden, Shambhala, and New Jerusalem. The central portal is at once an image of Lost Innocence, of one’s Awful Destiny, and of the Light at the end of the Tunnel. In this latter aspect one sees the Hope represented in The Star.
– Returning to this image of seeing the events of the Tower of Destruction as though from directly above. The coins are flying out of the Tower (we see this even in the original image). Are we getting a view of the celestial flame/lightning with the central image? Or a glimpse to what they were doing, to the experiment they were performing? It gives one the impression that the Tower of Destruction is less about the two of them forming a rigid ideology in which they became trapped, and more about hoarding. The two of them were hoarding up treasure, hoarding up knowledge that was unjustly kept apart from everyone else. Now it has been set free for everyone to share in.
– Comparing Four of Coins to the Chariot. In the Chariot, we see four faces (the two horses, and on each shoulder of the Charioteer). These are like the Four Coins. Greater Guardian = two faces above, Lesser Guardian = two faces of the horses below. The Charioteer’s face is the fifth amongst the four.
It is interesting how with the Major Arcana, one begins to be drawn into a story, an unfolding of events in time. The Minor Arcana are all simultaneity, no story. There are still manifold beings and events, and they have relationship with each other, but there is no sequence unfolding in time.
– There is a two-fold aspect to being a Guardian of the Threshold: Who do I let in? And what do I let out? The first question is shown to us by the Chariot and Justice. They are the Guardians keeping those from entering in who should not enter. And the second question is shown to us by the Tower of Destruction and the Star. They show us the release of knowledge and experience from beyond the Threshold.
Looking at the Four of Coins in its aspect as the number 4, in relation to the Emperor (4) and Death (13=4), we see that these Arcana as well show an aspect of Guardian, of Protector. They are letting certain beings and forces come in and out, for example Death is extracting from the Etheric world beings and forces that don’t belong there. Then The World (22=4) is herself a portal.
An overwhelming emphasis on the confrontation with the Guardian of the Threshold, as well as taking on that role oneself (as a Grail Knight for example).
– Another shadow aspect of this arcanum is an expression of technophilia. We could see this as a television or computer screen in the middle, with the coins as human beings hypnotized, sucked in by the media. An expression of voodoo magic/hypnotism. The beings that are being hypnotized themselves become another hypnotizing force. This brings us back to the Sibylline aspect we have noticed before. It is also another layer of protection. If one is to approach that which is hidden within the center, one must have developed righteousness to the point of being able to see through that which hypnotizes, to be immune to it. The Four of Coins is like a Rorschach test of Moral Development. Where are you on the scale of Conscience?
– It is very interesting that we entered into the theme of Eclipse last week, leading up to an eclipse at the end of the week (which we had both forgotten about).
– It is very important for us to pay heed to the warnings extracted from this Arcanum, for example in our role as Grail Knights, or in karma research. How do we develop morally in order to be proper guardians and stewards of that which is precious and holy?
– Is there a strong Mars aspect to this Arcanum (brought to mind by Mars’s alignment with Moon and Sun during the recent eclipse). Yes. We can see how Ace = Saturn, Two = Sun, Three = Moon, and Four = Mars. In the angularity, the square, there is something very Martian/masculine/powerful.
We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.