Notes of a Hermetic Conversation from August 20, 2017
Tarot conversation August 20th, part 1: Temperance and then The Devil
Jim, Phillip, Joel, Kevin, and Ian
We began with preventative against personal demons described on page 422, then read the quote at the beginning of the 14th Letter/Meditation.
– The image of Temperance reminded us of our experience with the Mass of the Lamb and His Bride from the evening prior. The blending of the water and the wine. This also feels powerfully related to the quote from Chardin at the start of the Letter/Meditation
– Her hands are so tiny and delicate, like a child’s hands
– Her garment reminds one of the description of the Cosmic Christ from Revelation – “Girded about the paps with gold” – 1st Apocalyptic Seal. Tomberg describes this in his Anthroposophical Meditations as the descent of the control of thought to the realm of feeling (temperance). Does she wear a scarf around her throat? Golden around the throat. This calls to mind the role of the Guardian Angel to visit and communicate/comfort their charge
– Kevin had a dream of combing the golden hair of Temperance, but now looking at the card he sees blue hair, matching/flowing into the blue of her robe. Expresses calm devotion rather than the fire/passion of the “red head.” A cool head. Her hair could be a veil if considered as part of her garment.
– The garment is a bit like a nun’s.
– There is an opening or transparency in the middle of her chest.
– She appears to have a double chin; she is either quite old or still has the healthy roundness of youth.
– Her eyes are wide open, vs the vacant gaze of Death or the crossed eyes of the Devil.
– There are either 12 or possibly 11 pleats on the band around her waist.
– She is pouring the fluid from the left hip (the image) to the right hip (the likeness). She maintains the flow between image and likeness.
– Arms are active, while (angelic) wings are passive. Red arms vs flesh colored wings. The wings are an organ of touch directed vertically (to the spiritual), hence covered with skin. Pages 382-383 discuss limbs as the will extending the sense of touch to the outer world, making it active rather than passive.
– The Hanged Man is hung for slaughter; Death has been flayed; Temperance has been given a heavenly skin (Resurrection Body).
– The vision at the end of the Dornach pilgrimage: Red below, Blue Above:
There was an emergency trip to the Shreinerei, just before the bus was going to leave, as Jim had never been there. Markku spoke Foundation Stone Meditation in Finnish, then others in English. Heavily emotional, weeping. Kevin and Jim became pillars, place holders. Ceremonial bows between Roberto and Estelle. Roberto’s countenance became (to Estelle) that of Rudolf Steiner, a face of flame. Apocalyptic. Blue Above, Red Below – only the Eyes showing. A spiritual world with a city inside. Two hemispheres, with many individuals in their proper place. (I hope I have recorded this accurately; ask Jim for more details).
– At the Whitsun Congress of 1907, the first time that the artistic, Rosicrucian impulse was on display, Steiner directed them to have a blue ceiling and red walls – blue above, red below.
– They had just been looking at Steiner’s death mask, in which the eyes are so striking.
Roberto’s prayer. The Art in the Goetheanum emphasizes the eyes quite a lot. St. Odilia was blind, with the book that had eyes.
Estelle’s work of “Seeing Through the Eyes of…” Christ’s blindness during the night in Gethsemane, with Mary holding it for him. In many visions, it is the eyes that remain the longest.
– A different experience: songs performed for Estelle’s birthday. Levity and dancing up on the hillside. Two women from the retreat were down below. They felt called to witness, to behold. They saw flames above the dancing group, and that a new turning point had been reached. Again two pillars.
– This calls to mind Robert’s email referencing a prophecy about a different karmic stream coming to the Goetheanum.
– From the Communion of Fish: “Behold John Beholding You.” For Joel, this has always been an intense experience. In most Christian Art, Angels and Saints are quite peaceful, rather stoic, sometimes ethereal. But for Joel’s inner eye at this moment in the Communion of Fish, the Face of John is in flames. His gaze has the same degree of intensity as an expression of the utmost evil, the mad grin of the Devil – yet it is an expression of love and joy. Difficult to describe. The type of good that can only come about through a descent into evil. A new kind of good, one that has acquired the intensity of Evil but stripped it of its darkness. Interesting to hear the face of Steiner described similarly.
– This calls to mind the Green Demons meditation:
There, where the light
in face of green demons
And the primordial Powers
Born of the light
to wrestling men
proclaim the riddle,
which from the demons
only by men can be enticed forth
And brought to the Gods.
There, soul found soul
In order to offer someday
to waiting Gods
The secrets of demons
in a darkened place
That Light may be born,
Where for want of this deed
Eternal darkness held sway.
Such a place there is.
It must vanish
Make it someday vanish
So speaks the admonishing
gaze of Michael.
This is nothing other than beholding, beholding Evil in the world, then sending it up to the Hierarchies. We are the eyes and ears, the spies for the spiritual world in a realm to which they cannot penetrate. Hence we become this new kind of Good, and we facilitate its procreation (through the confrontation with, and transformation of, Evil).
– The quote from Christ and Sophia regarding Ahriman – he is an objective illusion, once he has been named then he can be blown away like smoke (this is very similar to the verse from Psalms with which we began our session).
– What about the gender of the Angel – in the Letter/Meditation it switches from “he” on page 373 to a “winged female” on page 377. Possibly the ambiguity is on purpose, to emphasize that they don’t actually have a gender (see his reference to Swedenborg at the bottom of page 377). Rather it is the maternal nature of the Guardian Angel’s care that he wishes to emphasize.
(here we took a break and then gathered again to address the 15th Arcanum, The Devil):
– Technology is tied up so closely with eroticism nowadays. It is intangible, digital, visually engaging – mesmerizing.
– Wellness has also become eroticized. Most popular forms of wellness (e.g. yoga) have some erotic undercurrent.
– The television show “Big Bang Theory” – nerds, doctors, getting girls. The “dumb blonde” girl always makes the punch line, emphasizing the lack of common sense on the part of the nerds. Disintegration of gender norms.
– Our trip to the Hancock’s Old Home Days the previous day. The expression of gender norms is still very strong, vs the amorphous genders running rampant in city life.
– When physical labor disappears, what happens to gender? The connection between technology (reduction of physical labor) and gender dysphoria. (As I’m editing, I think of the first primal curse of Toil as a form of protection). They are now encouraging tradesmen in Canada. University vs trade school. Increasingly, university becomes a vapid and expensive waste of time. We begin to ask the Parzival question. Is that all? Is everything only a matter of “more,” of the quantitative?
– The gesture given to John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci – Look Up! Develop a new sense.
– The movement through the three cards of Death, Temperance, The Devil: Death has no symmetry, he is a mess. Temperance has a mysterious, flowing symmetry. Organic. The Devil is much too symmetrical. Ugly. Mechanical Symmetry.
– The Devil’s gesture is the opposite of Christ’s gesture in the Representative of Man. His left foot is withered. He is standing on a pedestal made by the two human creatures. It has 6 levels, including the base it is 7. Of the two creatures, the right hand (female) seems happy, the left hand (male) seems perplexed.
– The 12 yellow stripes (stairs?) in the background are like the Zodiac has collapsed on itself. It has become completely horizontal and underfoot (subterranean). The pedestal is flesh colored, a flesh pedestal. The sense of touch willed downward (opposite of the wings of Temperance). The 7 layers of the pedestal are like the 7 chakras; the bottom one is large and red – the root chakra is the most powerful.
– His crown is too big, like he has appropriated what doesn’t belong to him rightfully. His antlers are yellow, the human creatures’ are black.
– The goofiness of their expressions is disgusting, totally inappropriate. We can see that Tomberg relies on quotation more heavily for this Letter/Meditation than any other – he has resisted developing an intuitive relationship with it.
– In the Wandering Fool, Tomberg takes a numerological approach to the cards: 1=10, 2=11, 3=14, etc. So:
4 5 6 =
13 14 15
Both 5 and 14 have to do with circulation, motion. 6 and 15 have the same symmetry/geometry, but a totally different inspiration is happening (angelic – above to below vs demonic – below to above).
When we compare the crown of the Devil to the Emperor’s or the Pope’s, we see the crown is the right size, it is simply the Devil’s head is too small. Exaggerated Will/Limb pole, diminished Thought/Head pole.
– Yes, the Devil is androgynous. But doesn’t he seem to be more of a Male? Doesn’t Temperance (who is genderless) seem more Female?
– The question of Integrated Duality vs Androgyny. Androgyny seems to have to do with “having it all,” with utmost selfishness (The Devil has both breasts as well as male reproductive organs). Whereas integrated duality has to do with the willingness to let go, to sacrifice – the Angel has no gender, she has risen above it.
– The Devil’s hand is footlike, as though it is ready to “grasp downward.” His thumb is blue – is this an error? He seems to have a flesh girdle and flesh necklace/scarf. He has added more animality to what is already there. Like the Great Cat in The Younger Kyot, folds of fur around the neck. A fatty neck seems to imply it is only for metabolism, not for speech (a creative and eventually procreative function). Vs the Golden Folds on Temperance.
– Emperor (4) vs Death (13). The arm/head of Death is very similar to the scepter of the Emperor. The Emperor is resigned, in terms of anonymity, relinquishing his own glory for the sake of Glory. Death is resigned into automatism. The hunched Death vs the reclining Emperor.
– The process of separation over the course of 10 through 13. 10 is a mixed brew, and elements are slowly separated out until 13. Purifying oneself into the recline, the resignation of the Emperor (the ideal). Then we make room for Temperance (the actualized version of the ideal of the Pope).
– Both The Lover (6) and The Devil (15) display confrontation with the outer world. Both The Chariot (7) and The Tower of Destruction (16) show the overcoming of megalomania through self-mastery resulting in humility. Again, 6 and 7 are more inward and idealized, 15 and 16 are more objective and actualized.
– There is also a crisscrossed relationship amongst:
4 5 6
13 14 15
in that 4 displays the Anonymous King while 15 shows the Collective Antichrist. 6 shows us the Baby inspiring its parents to wed, while 13 shows us Death.
– The Lover vs The Devil – the main difference is the ability and freedom to choose (The Lover) vs slavery and the inability to choose (The Devil). The Angel in the Lover becomes the Star of the 17th Arcanum, The Star that is one’s higher self – “the stars incline, they do not compel.”
to be continued…