Four of Cups (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

Four of Cups, pt 1

We began with the protective practice. 

We then invited the inspiration of God the Father to guide our conversation, since it was a New Moon.

After briefly focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart, we then moved the second part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, the 8th Letter of the Divine Alphabet (Chet, in relation to Justice) and the 8th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice (the 2nd level of trespass and the 2nd level of communion).

We then read from Revelation 14:19-20 and 15:1

– Joel has a strong urge to turn this image upside down as he is dwelling on it. He hasn’t done it, but he really wants to. For some reason he wants the arrow to be pointing up.

When upside down, the arrow looks correct. Like an elaborate candlestick. But then the four cups seem wrong. Unstable, they’re going to fall. Or like in Super Mario Bros.—these tubes hanging down from above that you jump into, and they take you into another dimension, portals to other worlds.

– From Natalia’s pointing out the face in the Three of Cups, Joel sees a face in the lower half. A devilish or leonine face. And then there’s another little face in the upper part, the 3 disc-shaped thingy. Then a whole chest and arms. Red hair and head-dress. 

It’s like two different beings. One on top of the other. Someone riding on a lion. And the four cups would be the four legs of the lion.

– There is a repetition of form in the plant. A three-fold face, then a three-fold chest, then a three-fold face again. A 3-fold amplification. [As I write this, I think of the trinity of trinities at the end of the Letter-Meditation on the Hermit. This Arcanum is also a “Nine”, as it is the 54th Arcanum.]

– The 1st time we looked at this last week, we had this strong impression of a vertical line dividing it from right to left. A river dividing two banks. A strong “line drawn in the sand” kind of feeling. But now we see the division from top to bottom, not just divided vertically.

Compared to the Four of Coins, though, this is divided much more between right and left, not above and below.

Now we really notice for the first time a strong relationship between the Three of Coins and the Three of Cups. This “opening of the oyster” in the Three of Cups, vs the appearance of the pearl in the Three of Coins. A gesture of Three bearing the Fourth in its potential. Both the pearl and the oyster/husk as latent fourth. And these blue curls are the same above both.

– Natalia brought in this picture of the multi-cultural expression in the Suit of Cups, with Egypt in the Ace, and then China in the Two, Buddhism in the Three, and now this one has an almost indigenous or aboriginal feel to it. Like a throwing spear or a poisoned dart, a totem pole. Very primal.

– It feels like, for the first time in any of these Suits, a strong indication of metamorphosis from one Arcanum to the next. Yet does any metamorphosis make sense between the Three and Four of Cups?

The broader geometry of the Three: below the “clam” or “oyster” or “seed-husk”, there is a singular flower, then out of the seed-husk comes two branches above. A total of three branchings off of the seed-husk.

This converts to a vertical line with four distinctive flower shapes in it. The form at the bottom of the Four is easily seen as a transformation of the form at the bottom of the Three. Then we see that the uppermost leaves in the Three have contracted downwards to come directly out of the bottom form. The blue curls and the red fringes in the Three have come together above them to be this red flower in the center of the Four with two blue leaves coming off each side of it. The yellow husk has risen up, and has become a fourth cup. The upper cup and the husk in the Three have swapped with the poppy/blueberries. Those blueberries have transformed into the triple-disc face and the blue flower. Their reddish fringe has become the spiky red “hair” of the triple-disc face. 

It’s really fascinating once you can see it. Like a mirroring, reflective exchanging. Above and below swap, as do center and boundary, all at once, except for the bottom flower and cups. And it kind of “shoots” the yellow husk up to become a cup.

This is very different from the transition between Three of Coins and Four of Coins. There is was a kind of splitting up and down. Like the pearl in the Three grows into the central flower of the Four, and it splits the upper coin in two. 

With the Three and Four of Cups, it is more a mirroring of right and left, but then also an exchange of flowers and cups, with them amplifying each other. Much more complex and interwoven.

– Actually, in the original Three to Four of Coins transition that we came to years ago, we saw the Ace as a structure or being seen from above….then the Two as that same structure seen from the side. Then the Three was a massive zooming out, with that pearl as the Ace. We got to see the super-structure surrounding and forming the Ace. When we zoomed back in on that pearl, it had transformed magically into the Four. A kind of leap in development, without an intervening stage of gradual metamorphosis. 

Come to think of it, we were observing metamorphosis in the Suit of Coins, but it was totally different than the Cups. There, we had to change in order to understand the change from one form to the next. There was no observable or conceivable metamorphosis from one Arcanum to the next otherwise. In a way, there was no metamorphosis at all—it was just one static form or being that was shown to us from different angles. We had to perform this kind of inner movement or metamorphosis to be able to understand the perspective each Arcanum presented to us. And we never really properly figured out what was going on in the transition from Three to Four of Coins. 

Whereas with the Cups, it is much more external and observable. This is an actual metamorphosis happening in its own world. We are much more like observers, it doesn’t feel like we need to reorient in the same way we did with the Coins. It’s actually very organic from image to image, even if it isn’t immediately obvious or intuitive.

The Four of Coins felt like the Gates of Hell opening at the time. Only now in the Cups does it feel that we can see the transition from Three to Four of Coins metamorphically. 

– The large leaves in the Four of Cups are just gesturing, they aren’t a strict division. They are exchanging something. Like they are holding up the upper cups, or protecting the lower ones from the weather. Maybe collecting water from above to eventually dump down into the two that are below. 

Also this vertical division isn’t permanent. It’s an arrow shooting through the midst of them, they had to jump to the side. It will pass through, we actually just caught this image at the brief moment of total separation. 

The Cups aren’t intrinsically or permanently separated from each other. This thing just arrived and it’s expressive of a distinct moment. It’s not a permanent division. 

Well, what a reassuring image, considering our times!

– The Four of Coins has a similar flower in the center, but the one in the Four of Cups is much more natural, not a weird out of place exaggerated image of a flower. We aren’t looking to the Five at all, as we were with the Four of Coins. Really, that’s a first—because even in the Four of Swords, we were looking towards its pair, its other half in the Five of Swords. 

Actually, come to think of it, the three is still there. There are triangular shapes throughout all of this. It is remembering the three, not trying to get to the five. Yet the central flower does have five petals. A bit harmonious that way—showing “3, 4, 5.” And the six is implied in the shape of the cups (again assuming that the three sides shown to us are matched by three sides invisible to us). 

That’s really interesting since, with the Three of Cups, we were observing this disappointing or bittersweet lingering of polarity in the midst of the harmony due to this hidden face in the background. But maybe that’s the gesture of the Cups in general—a looking back. We finally have a real continuity happening, a carrying along what has already come. This has been going on really even since the King of Swords, how he transformed into the Ace of Cups. It was really natural that transition, not like the appearance of the Ace of Swords which was so jarring. There is a real continuity going on now. 

It really feels like the Ace of Cups is a remembering of the Coins. This solid object, maybe with something gestating inside of it. A form that is so full of a potential that never seems to fully reveal itself. Then the Two of Cups feels like the transition into the Swords. An explosion, a spinning out of control. That which was contained in the solid form in the moment of bursting forth. Then the Three of Cups shows us what happens when the dust settles. Here we finally come to the Cups properly speaking—the representative of the third Suit, in the third Suit. Now it seems as though, with this sharp refinement of the Three into the Four, we’ve come to something that represents the future, the Suit of Batons, with this vertical spear or arrow running through the center of the image. These four together are so harmonious, and yet each one has a totally different and unique geometrical structure underlying it. 

– The four cups have a distinct above and below. The two broad leaves hold them up. These two broad leaves kind of cradle and honour the upper third cup in the Three of Cups. So are these upper two cups in the Four also honoured, praised by those leaves. 

In the Four of Coins the two sets of coins (above and below) are mostly symmetrical. Flip them around, there’s almost no difference. They’re almost outside of space, in a way. Maybe with the Four of Cups as representative of the Suit of Wands, it is right to properly acknowledge above and below.

– With the Three of Cups it first became clear this organic context, that there is this clear, discernible structural transition from one Cup to the next.

Really from the King of Swords onwards, it was no longer discontinuous. Everything is fitting. The honouring of the above is clear, though, in the Three and the Four in a way it wasn’t quite before. There is an emphasis on the upper portion of the Ace and the Two, but not so much anything below to be honouring it. 

With the Ace and the Two: “this is like the Coins and Swords,” shown in a more sensible/direct way. A more obvious expression through form, as well as a clear metamorphosis and relationship from image to image, is the piece that is more evident in the Cups vs the other Suits. The Ace is proclaiming itself as the 3rd Suit, with its clear threefold nature. The Two says, yes we continue from the Ace, yet with a clear twofoldness. 

Well, actually…is it that the imagery is more obvious? Or do we simply see more clearly now than we did a few years back? We might not pick up on these clues of metamorphosis if we had begun with the Cups—or on the flip side, we might not actually appreciate the obvious metamorphosis! We would just take it for granted. Only after passing through the Swords in particular do we breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Thank God, it’s a metamorphosis! It actually makes sense!” 

That’s an experience the wider world is in dire need of right now!

– Compare the Four of Cups to the Four of Coins—the central piece of the Four of Coins is totally disruptive, and out of place. In contrast to the Four of Cups, where it feels as though it’s quite natural: “oh, there are two above us and two below us.” And out of feeling capable, of really knowing how to honour the above from below, this central flower just naturally finds its place, waiting patiently to become the fifth.

In the Four of Coins, it isn’t an honouring of the above by the below. It’s a total focus on the center by both the above and below. A distraction that indicates that it isn’t properly a Four. It’s too eager to be a Five.

– The other thing we notice is that we get to track the evolution of this non-Cup being, this plant-animal creature…is that the Wand, a proto-Wand?

It’s so different from one Cup Arcanum to another, yet you can still track the metamorphosis. A recognisable being showing different stages of its metamorphosis. The same being in different stages. It’s own evolving brings about an increase in Cups. Like pollinators and their flowers, a mutual procreation and evolving. Or shells that are discarded as a creature changes shape, and needs to find or create a new home, a new shell.

– There are faces in the Four of Coins as well. And back in the day we saw the top one as a pollinator, like a bird or bug drinking out of the flower below. These faces are more chaotic than the faces we see in the Three and Four of Cups. A little owl-like. The Coin is part of the being, the eyes. Whereas the Cups only accompany the faces, they don’t make up parts of them. 

With the Three of Coins we can also see a face, but only if we turn it upside down. A bit of a moose face or something—and once again, the Coins are that face.

Whereas here in the Four of Cups, the spear-plant is one being—or perhaps several beings—in its own right.

– With the Swords, we don’t have any faces, no beings are really evident—only parts of beings…eyes, larynxes, birth canals, air-bladders…never a whole being. At least, not until the Court Swords. 

Did it actually start with the Knave of Swords, this animal-plant being that we’re seeing evolve and develop in the Cups? The Knave as this fish-being, born out of the long dilation process of the Numbered Swords. The Knave is born, and then the Knight kind of goes awry, over-evolves. It has to be slaughtered and re-made by the Queen of Swords, and becomes the King. Then with the King, he is the Ace of Cups, he condenses, unites with his throne, to become the Ace of Cups. 

So there is something building all through the Swords…the Numbered Swords are labouring the Knave to birth, and then the Court Swords are labouring the King. He himself bears within him this blue watery life-being that concentrates in the Ace and bursts forth in the Two, becoming this evolving plant-being that creates new cups out of its own evolution. 

And all throughout the Numbered Swords, we see this blue portion above and below, where the scimitars overlap, and it increases as we move through the Numbered Swords. This blue is there from the beginning, the broad sword in the Ace of Swords is blue. So this blue being is gestating from the very beginning of the Swords, but is only active once we get to the Cups.

When we moved from the Coins, which were quite developmental, to the Swords, it felt like this unavoidable yet totally incomprehensible process. Yet now from the other side of the Swords, we see a very methodical and purposeful process. The development of the Coin is for the sake of allowing this unseen gestation of the blue-being in the Suit of Swords, with a kind of nested-egg gestation…the blue being was within the Ace of Cups/King of Swords, who was within the Knave of Swords, who was within the Numbered Swords quite invisibly. The fully developed Coin had to be split and destroyed in the Ace of Swords so that this greater unfolding of a totally creative metamorphic being could take place. But we didn’t see the true fruits, the activity of that being, until now.

And now the Cups—they are a looking back, a drawing into context. The gathering of essence, containing it, passing it on. The Four containing Three, Three containing Two…the Cups bearing the Swords, making sense of them.

And yet this looking back and taking stock steadily moves forward. It isn’t stuck or retrogressive, it is collecting and gathering without going backward or regressing. Maybe treading over the same ground, but in the sense of the recapitulations of past time periods a la Cosmic Memory. Where the same stages of Saturn Evolution are repeated at the start of Sun Evolution, but this time performed by the Kyriotetes rather than the Thrones, giving it a whole new elaboration. The same, yet not the same.

– Looking at Justice. This question of “what is the 8th force that brings into balance the seven forces of the soul?” It is conscience, it’s what we find fully expressed in the Hermit. 

Rational Justice. Reason needs to find its balance.  Conscience as taking stock, as balancing the past and future.

So this spear being that is coming from above to below in the Four of Cups, maybe expressing this rational Justice, yet maybe it is also moving from back to front? Bringing something from the past into the Cups, into the future, to move forward with it. This aspect of conscience. 

It’s actually at the end of the Chariot that he asks this question, what is the 8th force that holds the other 7 together? And then says this is equanimity, balance. The new edition of The Art of the Good, all about jurisprudence. These three—Chariot, Justice, Hermit—they are all about this “art of the good”, about the seven soul forces and finding balance. This is where the Hermit ends as well, with the focus on solarizing the seven chakras, the seven soul-organs.

It’s a movement from Mastery (Chariot) to developing from this Mastery the ability to Balance opposites (Justice), and thence to true Conscience (Hermit), where that balancing force developed under Justice is now spread to all 7 chakras.

In Justice we have karma expressed through the scales, and then Grace expressed through the Sword. Maybe these are expressed in the vertical line of the Four of Cups (Sword of Grace) and the two horizontally oriented leaves (scales of karma). These are carrying over the past into the future, and the above to the below, in a fruitful way.

The Hermit is using these same cosmic forces as intellect, as the active personal intellect that can unite polarities. Grace operating through human agency. 

The Swords open up a space, so that the Grace of the spiritual world can become human Grace, in the form of the orientating aspect of human consciousness, the thinking element that is present in each of the three soul forces (thinking, feeling and willing) in order to help to realign and maintain realignment of the soul. Justice as the cosmic version, the Hermit as the practical human version.

The two scales are maybe willing and feeling with the Sword as thinking? The Sword is obligated to bring balance, to make whatever changes to that which is being weighed on the scales to bring about balance.

Or maybe the Sword is the Yes and No of the Will? It is used to cut away whatever cannot balance or throws off balance. 

The Hermit shows us the constant activity of a human, not an absolute cosmic state.

Wow, so much came out of the Four!

Seeing it again as front to back, with all four cups on the same plane…it again shows us a Lion on all fours. The central flower would be the forehead of the Lion, a little tuft. And suddenly the “above” becomes the “behind,” and the “below” becomes the “in front.” There is a flexibility of hierarchy based on orientation. A complicated, social being is shown to us here. 

This makes us think we are looking at an expression of the evolutionary unfolding of the social organism—the Temple of Humanity, the Social Art, in the Suit of Cups. At the same time—and possibly intimately related to this—it feels as though we are being shown the secrets of Moral Technology, of the etheric technology of the future…if only we knew how to read them!

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