Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on August 18, 2017
August 18 part one – Death
Kevin, Ian, Jim, Phillip and Joel
We began with preventative against personal demons described on page 422, then read the quote at the beginning of the 13th Letter/Meditation.
– The skeleton is chaste. He is girt about the loins, with something that seems like cloth rather than a pelvic bone; it even has a sort of pocket. He is masked: he is not what he appears to be. A chaste process that appears frightening.
– Ironically, he has no generative organs to cover; but he is covering the hip, even emphasizing the hip. Anne Catherine Emmerich speaks of old and new forms of procreation and sexuality, e.g. the contents of the Ark of the Covenant. The right hip was an ancient/sacred place of procreation. There was a limp associated with the protuberance on the right hip (e.g. Jacob), a deformation. Related to the “prophet children.”
– Lord’s Prayer Course, on the 6th word from the cross in the later sections on the 7th petition, “Deliver Us from Evil”: “Behold thy son, behold thy mother.” John and Mary as two directions of striving (Star of David) with the central point of the Son. The two directions stretch out to maximum tension and become a flame, sword or rod. (pages 54-55 in vol 4 of the Achamoth edition). This is week 383 in the Sophia Foundation edition:
Week 383 Overcoming the evil of the 6-petalled lotus flower
When the soul awakens like a radiant sun – see Week 382 – the two triangles stretch, one above and one below, according to the strength of striving, towards the Father in the heights and the Mother in the depths, alternately in movement, sometimes reaching higher and sometimes reaching deeper, like living flames becoming a two-edged sword. Then one experiences what St. Paul says concerning “the groaning in travail of the whole of creation to obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21-22). This moral experience is possible even unto the depths of chemical substance. Then the evil of the 6-petalled lotus flower is overcome. Two lightning–like flames leaping up and down. The flaming up and down does not take place continually but like lightning. With each flaming up and down knowledge (gnosis) of the heights and of the depths arises, and the inner nature of the creation is known and experienced – the “groaning” of which Paul speaks. After the death of Jesus, the pietà took place, and John was there again together with Mary. At the ascension John was there, and also Mary; for where the heights and the depths are known, both are there together.
Thus the two sexes (two triangles) become united in a higher form (higher form of procreativity). Contents of the Ark of the Covenant are the Ten Commandments, Rod of Aaron.
– Lord’s Prayer Course also speaks of tithing as the sacrifice of the Ego, 1/10th of the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life (Malkuth). In the Sophia Foundation version, this is weeks 189-191:
Week 189 Melchizedek
So far we have considered seed nourishment, the first of five kinds of nourishment:
the bread and wine of Melchizedek
the manna that fell from heaven
the feeding of the 5000 with bread and fish
the bread and wine of the Last Supper.
Now we shall occupy ourselves with Melchizedek, who instituted communion. After the war in which Abraham triumphed, he did not take anything from the defeated kings, but handed over one-tenth of his goods. Melchizedek came to him and blessed him. But Melchizedek did not bless Abraham alone, he also blessed God, thus he blessed in two directions. Read Genesis 14:18-20. He was bestowing blessing on the spiritual world and on the physical world. He was the highest Sun initiate, who blessed in the direction above and below, just as the Sun sends its rays in all directions.
He was a being, lonely as the Sun, “without father or mother” (Hebrews 7:3). Paul speaks of him in Hebrews, chapter 7 (study material for Week 175). He was at the level of the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” He had the faculty to replace that which God and the spiritual world and the human being lack. He was a quite special, lofty and mysterious being. One finds little concerning him, as with Christian Rosenkreutz.
Weeks 190-192 Abraham’s sacrifice and the Sephiroth Tree
Week 190 As referred to in Week 189, after the war in which Abraham triumphed, he did not take anything from the defeated kings, but handed over one-tenth of his goods. Melchizedek came to him and blessed him (Genesis 14: 17-20).
Abraham did not take, but rather gave one-tenth of what he possessed. In order to understand this we have to penetrate into Jewish esotericism, whose tradition, the Cabbala, teaches concerning the Sephiroth Tree, consisting of ten levels or centers. (Meditations on the Tarot, Arcanum XVIII)
Week 191 Thus the “I” or ego is one-tenth, and Abraham sacrificed his “I.” The human being has nothing else to offer up.
The “I” is the primal “very own” that one has.
One can sacrifice it because it is one’s own.
(Thus the blood is that which is one’s own from the etheric body and one’s conscience from the astral body.)
One can sacrifice this or offer it up, but nothing else, because it does not belong to one. Therefore Abraham was absolutely obedient to God.
Later, at God’s command, he was to sacrifice his son, and he set out to do this – this was simply a consequence of his meeting with Melchizedek and the offering up of his “I.””
Through his sacrifice Abraham made his “I” into a place for the Spirit of Israel, and this lasted until the baptism in the Jordan, when the Messiah came. Here, also, an “I” was sacrificed, this time through Zarathustra, who incarnated as the Solomon Jesus child – Matthew 2:1-11, who accomplished this great deed quite alone, whereas Abraham did it with the help of Melchizedek.
Abraham renounced his “I” and breathed the Divine. The “I” became the focus for the breathing Godhead, breathing in and out. He renounced stimulus from himself, from his own initiative and received all that is constructive from the head of Melchizedek.
The upper triangle of the Sephiroth is “Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.” The middle triangle is “In Christo Morimur.” The lower triangle is “Ex Deo Nascimur.” The three Sephiroth in the region of “Ex Deo Nascimur” (“Through God we are born”) are the right hip (Force—in the above “Rest”), left hip (Radiance—in the above “Movement”) and generative organs (Power—in the above “Form”). The Lord appropriates base creative Power – “this comes to me.” Does Moses have children?
– The path of Death according to Robert is Activity (in the above “Mercy”) to Radiance (in the above “Movement”)—Left Shoulder to Left Hip. Reminiscent of the Grail story: “Whoever approaches Monsalvache must pass through Death.” The pathway to radiance from activity must go through Death.
– Aivanhov – development of the plant.
– The beginning quote from Genesis: eating the fruit, covering themselves. The tree of knowledge and of life – connection with dying.
– The Mask is like the Phantom of the Opera, a partial mask. He is operating as a blind function (no eyes) – also lacking the lower jaw.
– Toil, Pain, and Death in the Lord’s Prayer Course are resolved in the stages leading to initiation. Toil becomes the experience of the Holy Spirit in Meditation. Pain becomes the experience of Christ in the willingness to silently bear our karma. Death becomes the experience of the Father through Initiation. Hence, Death is also the image of Initiation. This is displayed pictorially, for example, in the 12 Keys of Basil Valentinus, an depiction of the stages of alchemical transformation. The fourth Key is the image of a skeleton.
– Death wears a mask – it makes one think of the mask in terms of Karl Koenig, as the lower personality/aspects of the astral body that we wear over our ego. This is what we began to wear at the time of the Fall (in addition to the loin cloth). The personal element is tied up with the élan vital, the drive for life.
– Death is so automatic/functional, yet is tied up with these deep aspects of the personality, which seems so non-functional. Is he clearing up false expressions in the realm of the personality (all of the bits and pieces)? The process of subtraction – a return to balance.
– Death is an expression of being caught up in the process of incarnating/excarnating.
– The image of Death must be displayed due to primal Fear. This interpretation of Death as an image of Initiation, overcoming Fear resolves our problem of how this card can be understood as a “Yod,” as a Mystical Experience. For the experience of initiation is one of the foremost mystical experiences.
– The number of his vertebrae = 12 pairs (24) plus one large vertebra. The ribs only connect on one side. The vertebrae are like the leaves of a plant, with the four petalled flower at the top (at the throat) – the root chakra has elevated itself, the “lunarization” of the chakras.
– It looks like he has cut off his own fleshy foot. His hips are turned one way, his torso the other (contortion).
– There is a crescent moon behind the mask. It looks like two deeper levels to the lower personality (the mask) exist – related to the 18th Arcanum, the Moon.
– One of the emerging objects looks like it is between a hand and foot – not fully developed. What is it? It is reaching toward heaven. No one can kick the door to heaven down (force one’s way in).
– The black soil is oblivion, he is cutting off the “thieves and robbers” attempting to intrude. Either fairy-like, noble, or natural invasions into his realm.
– All of it is reminiscent of Steiner’s description of the end of Saturn evolution. Different pieces of the human being developing in an overly mechanized, chaotic mess. Time for it to be destroyed, so that it can recapitulate as something living and organic in Sun evolution.
– Like the Rose Cross Meditation – process of subtraction – slowly erasing different elements (first the image, then the thought process) until finally one reaches nothing. (For both Saturn evolution and the Rose Cross Meditation, see Outline of Esoteric Science).
– Arcana 1-9 are one story. 10 brings in something very different. An activity rather than a being. The individual meets the cosmos. Then the next three are like the levels of the Rose Cross. Force = The Image. The Hanged Man = The image-forming activity that remains after the image is erased. Death = the nothing that exists after the image-forming activity has been erased.
One way of looking at the cards is:
Here 10 is a kind of hinge leading from pure spiritual experience of archetypes (1-9) to soul experience of the world.
ADAM = earth man
KAM = Rich/dark earth (as in the 13th Arcanum)
AL-KAMY = Out of Egypt (out of the rich earth).
We then took a break and walked the Rosicrucian mantra and ICHTHYS mantra from the Path to Shambhala.
Page 370 describes illicit paths of occult development. Death is the preventative measure against these illicit paths. Amputation of electric members. He is the Guardian of the Threshold, a Surgeon.
Reminiscent of Steiner’s lectures from 1917 on the electric doppleganger. The capture of souls after death, the externalization of the Double in the modern computer (see here: https://rudolfsteinerbookstore.com/product/the-electronic-doppelganger/).
Tomberg describes Gurdjieff as a bridge between purely occult methods of electrification and public, “lay” methods. Tomberg indicates that these seemingly harmless “lay” methods were relatively prominent and common (in the 1960’s). One can only imagine in the 50 intervening years how much more these methods have permeated society. E.G. pumping iron = electrifying oneself. Body builders are deformed nowadays vs the old, classic “strongman.” They were physically honest and graceful. Now it is phony, all appearance. A product of pure function. Isolating parts form the whole, specialized. This applies also to education, there is no longer a “University” in the true sense of the word.
We now live off of artificial sustenance. How else has this been normalized?
Therese Schroeder-Sheker. Chalice of Repose is there to “disentangle” individuals so that they can actually cross the threshold (https://chaliceofrepose.org). Our etheric bodies are completely tangled up. She plays the harp as a way to disentangle. The attempt has been made to entangle souls crossing the threshold – a web around the Earth. Many challenges in the way now.
Tomberg calls Death the Cosmic Hospital. New spiritual technologies (a la Chalice of Repose) must be created in order to aid this process. It is necessary so that initiates are able to incarnate. Certain individualities have remained in the lunar sphere in order to participate in this disentangling from the other side of the threshold.
Steiner has said that our unresolved failures at death are imprinted in the lunar sphere for others to take up – again that which must be disentangled (see: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19130213p01.html).
The grass = etheric plane. The scythe cuts the grass, like a scalpel.
The ghosts from the 13th Letter/Meditation are of the same nature as the Demons from the 15th Letter/Meditation: something self-generated, from the Double. The difference being that Demons are more actualized, more independent and seemingly alive than Ghosts.
We hoard our physical possessions. Our image, our biography, is captured in digital form and kept in the so-called “cloud.” We are like the ancient Egyptians, who mummified themselves in order to keep attached to that physical incarnation. We are certainly over-attached to our current (or recently passed) incarnations. A process of Ghosting, of Demonization.
Digital is etymologically related to digits = fingers and toes, that which is emerging from the dark oblivion below Death.
There is a Waldorf counter-culture which rejects the digital (or at least limits it). A digital ascetic can more easily cross the threshold vs celebrities with 8,000,000 views/followers.
“Chalice of Repose” – in every aspect the opposite of a (wandering) Ghost.
(Several of us thought here of Laurel and David)
– The crossing point between Black and White on the card – 3 levels: the Face, that of the Guardian Angel, transfixed by the Divine (empty sockets); the Middle Realm is crystalline, geometrical, angular; in the Lower Realm, the heads are lowest, and then a mess of limbs reaching up for a higher plane (like the dismembered Hanged Man, who looked as though he would be butchered).
– There are three white objects – two bones and the handle. The skeleton is flesh-colored.
– The combined pieces = a combined temptation.
– He is not really a skeleton. He is emaciated, flayed (supposedly Mani was flayed, as well as many other saints). The Skin is removed – the outcome of the Hanged Man. The skin is the protection from the direct invasion of Ahriman through the senses (1st sacrifice of Christ – sensory integration). The Scourging is tied to this. It also takes us back to Nietzsche/Peter of Alcantara. The process of flaying in one life laid him bare to the intervention of Ahriman in a subsequent life. After he saw a horse being whipped.
(We then took a longer break…to be continued…)