Grail Knight’s Intensive (IV)

Notes of Hermetic Conversations from August 20 and 21, 2017

August 20th, continued…

– The first 9 Arcana portray the way things are in potential – eternal archetypes/ideals.  From the 10th onward, karma is on display, the fallen nature. A story begins to unfold that one is planted into and has to figure out. It is like when one first begins to discover a spiritual path, e.g. Anthroposophy, and studies it alone. This is a lonely but relatively easy experience. Then one meets other Anthroposophists, becomes involved in initiatives and the Society at large. The drama that permeates all of these working groups, the karma, is another thing to deal with entirely – another level of the spiritual path, the one that works with many other people rather than alone.

– We can compare what is written on page 402 about the Anthroposophical tendency to label everything as either Luciferic or Ahrimanic with what is written on page 409 about Moses on the mount. Steiner is quite literally Moses on the mount, and the Foundation Stone Meditation is like the 10 Commandments coming from above. But what then is the decadence below? What is the Anthroposophical Idol? It has something to do with concepts, categories, memorization. One thinks of the aftermath of the death of Rudolf Steiner. The 1935 split in the Society, when Wegman and Vreede were expelled from the Board. From then on, it was Marie von Sievers, Albert Steffen, and Guenther Wachsmuth doing their best to preserve the legacy of Rudolf Steiner, at the expense of the living content coming through Tomberg, Sucher, Koenig and many others. In a way this has trapped Steiner in one individuality – one which he has moved on from and in which he no longer belongs. This is the karma of this individuality, to remain trapped as Moses, or as Aristotle, or as Aquinas. To create a legacy that takes on a life of its own.

– We Sophians are quick to see the Egregore of the Anthroposophical Society, but what about the Sophianic Egregore? Are we conscious of her activity and how we contribute to her creation? We can imagine 12 seats in the ideal circle, and one must always be for Scorpio, the one who criticizes and points out the error. An important seat that should not always rest on the same individual. This is important for spiritual hygiene.

– We used the word “aftermath” above – this comes from after-mowth, after the reaping or the harvest (Death, Grim Reaper). Mowth in contradistinction to Growth.

– We can also think of Christ’s Harrowing of Hell. This more or less means the Furrowing of Hell, the Plowing of the Field of Hell. A stage of preparation for growth. Notice the straight lines in the ground in The Devil, this looks like a plowed field.

– How can we continue to be Grail Knights in light of the content of the 15th Letter/Meditation, the repeated injunction not to contemplate Evil more than absolutely necessary? It seems as though what is particularly dangerous about the tendency to label everything as either Luciferic or Ahrimanic is that it actually removes the need for discernment. It creates two easy blanket categories in which to place everything. One does not actually recognize Evil in its true manifestation, nor does one see any good in anything. The work of the Grail Knight is to actually discern – where, what, and who is Ahriman? What are his aims? And then sending this to the Hierarchies.

– The associated tendency on the part of Anthroposophists is to decrease the amount of space for Jesus Christ. There is only room for “the Christ Being” or “Christ Impulse” or “Cosmic Christ.” No space is made for living into, relating to Jesus Christ. Christ is the septum; it is crucial that we carve out a space between Lucifer and Ahriman in which Christ can live.

– The Lover, the 6th Arcanum is this septum, between yes and no. Freedom to choose. The Devil is All Yes, which means there is no choice left. That is what is so disturbing and terrifying about this imagery. The annihilation of Death; an angry and violent end to the world – neither of these is quite as terrifying as the idea that humanity would joyfully and eagerly relinquish its freedom to The Devil. We happily look forward to virtual reality, transhumanism, the end of material death – we are whistling on our way to Hell! That is what the 15th Arcanum displays – joyfully relinquishing Freedom because we have lost our discernment. Again, the illusion of naming evil in the Anthroposophical Society has vaccinated them from actually performing the task of naming Ahriman in his incarnation. This aids the process of the “happy death.”

– Again, how do we examine these things in ourselves? In the groups in which we are active? Casting the retrospective glance over, for example, Choreocosmos – can we acknowledge what is stagnant?

– A Choreocosmos workshop featured at an event in Maine in 2002, alongside so-called “real” eurythmy. Met with distrust by practicing eurythmists – so inevitably it goes to “lay-people.” 

– As Grail Knights we are Guardians of the Threshold. No severe rejection or criticism. But what about true freedom, improvisation, responding in real time? A musical spontaneity. 

– Choreocosmos is a language. New words can only come about in a real and authentic language. “Slang doesn’t work unless you know what you are slanging.” This calls forth the importance of provenance, and reminds us of the interplay between image and likeness. 

– It is a normal process for things to die and become. However, modern marketing wishes to make things fresh and new constantly – like always being awake and never sleeping.

– Maybe Choreocosmos is something new on an individual level, creating new dialects of a language (eurythmy) rather than a totally new language. Possibly this is why it tended to go to non-eurythmists rather than professional eurythmists?

– The question becomes, when is something a deadening process and when is it creative élan?

– The workshop we have had this week, our experience with improvisational Choreocosmos was like rolling the stone away. Anne Catherine Emmerich claims that the stone was wedged on one side, nearly impossible to roll it in that direction – and that is the direction it rolled at the time of the Resurrection. The whole process of Entombment is like a gestating baby. We have to try to roll away the stone, even if it seems impossible – then spiritual powers come to aid us.

– This is like our struggle with Meditations on the Tarot. We receive help from the other side when we work with this material, to achieve the impossible goal of 56 Letter/Meditations on the Minor Arcana.

– It is also related to the process of relieving Robert from a one man job, yet having forbearance towards those who cannot actively take up his work. We must have the courage to carry on and persevere. 

– We are all working at different rhythms – some of us “metabolize” quickly, some more slowly. We must have tolerance for our differences of approach. Looking through the weekend, seeing which roles were carried spontaneously by different individuals. We have the tendency to feel bad about “deer in headlights” moments, when it seems as though none of us knows what is going on. We want to schedule something more tightly in those moments. But those moments are crucial for spontaneity, for improvisation and creativity to occur. As a social therapist, it is about framing a group of people with just the right amount of context to maximize freedom/creativity, and efficiency/order, keeping them in balance. This weekend felt quite successful.

– Working with speech. What does that look like? We can be Dr. Frankestein – speaking only in our consonants. Too heady. Or we can be Frankenstein’s Monster – speaking only with voice, with volume. Too much in our bellies. Or we can speak in all vowels, with long pauses. This only expresses inward experience. Too watery, it does not reach the other. The key is Breath. When we speak in such a way that it takes a great amount of Breath; when our Breath carries through to the end of what we are speaking – this is creative speech (or what can become creative speech).

The next portion comes from our last conversation on August 21st, again beginning with the passage from Psalms. Jim, Phillip, Kevin, Ian, and Joel were there.

Kevin’s Dream – A house bursts into flame. Then a shift to a house on a knoll in a forest. Half of the house has fallen away. 18th century dwelling. The chimney is pulling the house down.

He is climbing a ladder. At the very top, there are two inaccessible rungs. Then the rungs become vines. Suddenly he is in a garden, at a party with a beautiful dance partner. She has a hat like the one Force wears, and she is in turns blue (ora) then red (labor). She leads him to an office. Outside is a huge crane holding a golden woman in a bag. 

The dream ends with him folding up some bedding from sleeping on the side of the road.

– The key to the entire dream is the contrast between living and mechanized thinking – how our mechanized thinking approaches the summit (the ladder) but cannot deal with what is alive (the vines). It is the crane keeping the golden lady in the bag. One also thinks of Kevin’s other dream of combing the lady’s golden hair – the process of disentangling (radiation vs enfoldment).

Jim’s Dream – He is at a circle dance led by Robert in a hilly meadow. He feels unworthy and steps out. After a while he decides to step back in. Later he is in a ditch to the side of the dance. He is alone with Robert, who seems totally exhausted while leaning against the bank.

Suddenly he is in an enormous room, an endless dance floor with giant windows. Dazzling. He is dancing in an absolutely joyful, unlimited fashion. No restrictions – not even gravity. A figure approaches – a beautiful young woman; then he realizes she is the Woman, Woman Herself. Her eyes become all that remains as she says “I love how tall you are.”

– This expresses the conflict between Jim’s head and his heart. But the Woman loves how tall he is – head in the heights, yet fully active (freely dancing).

Joel remembers his own dream, from two nights ago, prior to the description of Estelle’s vision at the Schreinerei. The details are vague, but he was with Robert and Jim. They realized that they needed to bring a certain gem, a pearl to Estelle – that it needed to touch her, to make contact, so that she could bring something to realization. The “pearl of wisdom.” Again, the two karmic streams making contact.

– The question arises as to what exactly the method is for working with the Tarot in these conversations? It as to do with what speaks to one’s heart. The book In Sine Jesu describes what might be a deceitfully simple practice on the part of Catholic priests – contemplation of the Host.

– It begins with perception. First we look at every detail of the image. Then we begin to notice details that we hadn’t before, details that strike us. Possibly because they don’t make sense. Or we wonder why the illustrator (who didn’t draw much, there aren’t many details in these images vs a Renaissance painting) chose those details in particular – why has the Arcanum been expressed this way? So first it is perception, then it is questioning. Out of this questioning, a dialogue comes about – both with the Arcanum itself, as well as with the others in the circle. Conversation is key. Just as our dreams are so often explained to us by sharing them with someone else, our questions about the Arcana are often answered by others in the group – or they throw a completely different light and perspective on a detail that bothered us, that had no context.

When we converse with the Arcana, with whom are we speaking?

In the Wandering Fool, Tomberg describes working with the Tarot as first reducing them to the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, then focusing on their Geometry. Joel’s method is to work quite directly with the Hebrew Alphabet and the Sephiroth Tree, while Phillip’s method is to focus on the basic form and geometry of each Arcanum. We realize through this reduction that the seed-content of each card is a reflection of Reality, of the Cosmic Order – of Hierarchical Beings. From working with Robert, we know that by Truth he doesn’t mean the “facts” or just another story, he means to describe the Deep Structure of the Cosmos.

What should be mentioned is that anything we draw out of the cards, any particular pattern we work with is not absolute – it is like spelling different words with the 22 Letters. No particular word is absolute. The word we work with most often in our conversations is YHVH, the so-called Path of Lightning:

We can see from this arrangement that the left-hand column (High Priestess, Pope, Justice, Force, Temperance, Star, Resurrection) is predominantly female, and expresses the unfallen Image. It is purity, a Sophianic priestly path. On the other hand, the right-hand column (Empress, Lover, Hermit, Hanged Man, Devil, Moon, Fool) shows us a confrontation with Evil and a Fall – a Michaelic knightly path. This is the column of the Fallen Likeness. In the middle (Magician, Emperor, Chariot, Wheel of Fortune, Death, Tower of Destruction, Sun, World), we have a path of Death and Resurrection. This is the Christ path that weaves between unfallen image and fallen likeness, between pure contemplation of the Good and active confrontation with Evil. Can we recognize that each of us dwells more predominately in one column more than the others? Can we find it in ourselves to strive to live in all three columns? Can we tolerate another who happens to live in a different column than we do?

This is only one example of how one can “Spell a Word” with the Cards. In Medieval Times, it would have been too much for a Scholar/Hermit to travel with a library of books. So, they traveled with Tarot Cards. When they met another itinerant Hermit, they could have a conversation, share their knowledge, simply by doing different spreads of the cards, rather than delving into many different tomes. 

Conversation is key to the process. Koenig speaks (in The First Three Years) of the different sense organs for the higher senses, and he points to the larynx as the organ for the sense of thought, of perceiving thoughts. Our speaking activates this sense of thought when we are between 1-2, leading to the birth of thinking between age 2-3. The larynx is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system – the living tree of nerves growing downward out of the dead root of our brain. When we speak and listen, through conversation, we enter a realm of living thinking. 

Even Tomberg accomplished this process through conversation; other than his wife, Maria, however, his circle of Hermeticists with whom he conversed was across the threshold. Hence why it was written Anonymously (as it was not written only by him) and also why the author greets us from across the threshold. This level of conversation is something we need to work our way up to.

By having the Arcanum as the center of the conversation, we remove the need for a central teacher or leader. The Arcanum itself becomes the teacher and the leader, and a circle cocreates in response to this teacher.

We must have both the humility and presumption of the little child, as described on page 394 extensively, in order to engage in this process. With Steiner, it is so easy to be overwhelmed by the content that he transmitted and miss his emphasis on a method of spiritual development – that the key goal was to encourage people to develop themselves into “spiritual scientists” or perceivers of the spiritual world. The same holds true with Meditations on the Tarot. It is easy to be so bowled over by the content that we miss the point at the very end – that we are encouraged to engage in what ends up being a very simple process (conversing with the Tarot) in order to write our own Letter/Meditations. We must have the boldness, the presumption to take up the Boddhisatva’s invitation. 

The paragraph beginning at the bottom of page 452 describes the process beautifully – that we are here dealing with questions which arise while observing the Arcana, questions which build to the point of crises. These crises can last over long periods of time and can suddenly be answered either by inspiration or through conversation with another person.

It is heart-rending to read the paragraph beginning at the bottom of 453. This seems to be an expression of Tomberg’s own personal pain and doubt when it comes to the accomplishment of his own mission – his struggle with the empty consolation that he did his best.

The ever deeper states of crisis lead to transformed states of consciousness. This seems related to the quote on page 414 from St. Anthony the Great – that there is no salvation without temptation, implying that level of temptation overcome corresponds to the heights of salvation one achieves. One can think of God the Father himself – the suffering of the Father. As the source of Salvation, he must be in constant contact with an impossibly powerful degree of Temptation. In fact, we have here the image of the two-fold aspect of Pluto:  Hades vs Phanes, the Devil vs the Father. It was only after the process of coming to this understanding of the Father and Evil that we realized that the 15th Arcanum does indeed correspond to Pluto. So we can see that rather than a rote memorization of “The Devil=Pluto”, we can develop an inner activity which leads us to this same realization in an organic way.

“Being God, God paid no mind to Godliness”

Another Word that can be spelled with the Arcana:

The Feminine Trinity – an arrangement of all the female figures – 

For a full description of this “word” of arrangement, see the attached from Ian at the end of these notes.

2 (High Priestess) and 11 (Force) = Daughter in the Heights (conception)

3 (The Empress) and 14 (Temperance = Mother in the Depths (birth)

8 (Justice) and 17 (The Star) = Holy Soul in the encircling round (maintaining, growing)

The World could stand in the middle as a sort of Fullness. However, we can see a numerological relationship developing – High Priestess and Force are both = 2; Justice and The Star are both = 8. The Empress = 3. If we consider The Fool = 0, then The World = 3 (21=3). Possibly it is Temperance who dwells in the middle, maintaining the flow of connections between the three aspects of the Trinity? Then The World becomes another aspect of the Mother. Here we have the Fibonacci sequence: 2 (Daughter), 3 (Mother), 5 (Middle), and 8 (Holy Soul).

What about the male figures? Almost immediate consensus arises – the images themselves tell us:

Father = Pope and Hermit

Son = Magician and Emperor

Holy Spirit = Chariot and Hanged Man

In the middle is the Fool – the Fool as God-Man (Jesus Christ), Temperance as Goddess-Woman (Mary Sophia).

And so we have just had a conversation in pictures, a spontaneous realization of Truth.

Is it possible that there are particular beings attached to these images, that they are not just reflections of cosmic truth (a vague statement)? Just as we have the sigils, the signs of the Zodiac above us (the dwelling place of the Angelic Hierarchies) and the planetary beings moving through them (demarcated by the planets), so Steiner speaks of an “inner cosmos,” that there are the equivalent of planets moving through the Earth. Robert has brought this to the point of Astrogeographia, the surface of the Earth. The interior of the Earth is an inversion of the cosmos – Shambhala is in a sense also the Central Sun, the Heart of the Galaxy. And so there is a Maternal Hierarchy operating in the sub earthly realms, one with which we have not had contact since the Fall of Humanity. The Tarot don’t just correspond with the Zodiac, they are the actual sigils of the sub-earthly Zodiac. Temperance doesn’t just correspond with Aquarius, she is herself the sigil of a realm of beings in the sub earthly spheres.

These images have come to us quite gradually over the past 1000 years. They began as the oral tradition of the Templars, rescued from the Middle East (Egypt, Jerusalem) – the time of Lazarus’s incarnation as the boy in the midst of the 12. Then they became cards, images – the time of CR incarnation. Then they became known as an esoteric tool rather than just a game or method of divination – the time of the Ct of St Germaine. Now they are reaching a new level of manifestation, they are being fully Christened. Christ is opening up the Path to Shambhala for the first time since the Fall. Lazarus was the first to witness the sub-earthly spheres 2000 years ago – this is his domain, he is the guide to the Tarot/Sub-earthly realms. An entirely new science, akin to astrosophy, will need to come about in relation to the Earth herself.

This leads us into the realm of so-called “flat earth” theories. Actually, in the perspective of projective geometry, every straight line exists on a curve, and parallels meet in infinity. Shambhala, the Heart of the Earth, leads through a projective geometric inversion to the boundaries of the Universe, to the Father in the Heights, via Infinity. Again, an entirely new perspective and way of thinking about the universe will need to become prevalent to some degree.

Burning down the house, repentance, changing of thinking – the Tower of Destruction. This was the final experience of Aquinas before he returned as Steiner. We must go through the same process.


If the Major Arcana of the Tarot hold the keys to everything, the Divine Feminine must be represented therein, therefore let us begin by looking at the female figures in the deck. Cards 2 the High Priestess, 3 the Empress, 8 Justice and 11 Force, 14 Temperance, and 17 the Star all feature women, both seated and in action. In fact the deck can be divided up nicely by removing cards 21 the Fool (as the means) and 22 the World (as the goal) and placing them 1-10  above 11-20. Many interesting rapports between the top and bottom cards can be seen in this arrangement, for example cards 1 and 11 both have figures wearing a hat shaped like the leminscate.

 Now looking at the first three female figures we see they are all enthroned (seated) and VT tells us the throne represents the  “place in the world“ of a being, so the deck shows these three royal females, as aspects of the Divine feminine are “ in the world“. If we ask which is which in the order from the prayer : Mother, Daughter, Holy Soul, the Empress  with her septre pointed at her womb would best qualify for the title Mother. From the letters the quote starting the exercise on the Empress refers to the Annunciation or conception of the Birth of all births, and is called the Arcanum of Generation. Subtly the author points us to the more hidden aspect of the Mother when as a last sentence , he “leaves us to our angel“.  

Temperance is the card with a standing angel pouring a just measure between two vases,her beautiful wings as “organs of will“, the living manifestation of the frozen wings that make up the back of the Empress’s throne. The angel is the more active aspect of the Mother showing forth “high and purely maternal love“, and card 14 is the Arcanum of Inspiration : above and below working together. The Empress as “place, and authority“ and the Angel of Temperance, as gradual  reunion of the Image and the Likeness are here seen as two aspects of the Divinely Feminine Mother

Though named second in the prayer, the Daughter, with heavenly logic, must preceed the Mother, as Conception comes before Generation and the deck shows card 2, the High Priestess, Guardian of Revelation, of “pure reflection of the whole in it’s germinal state“on her throne just before the Empress. Her book is the perfect reception of primal Inspiration, the plan of what is about to be created, or brought to life by the Mother. Her standing counterpart is the woman calmly holding open the jaws of a lion, card 11, Force , or Virginity, the means by which the plan will be activated. As the active aspect of the Daughter, she is the power of non-fallen nature, behind all miracles, present everywhere as this Force “doth penetrate all substance“. There is even a numeric relationship hidden here, as 11 =1+1=2.

As The Mother to the Father and the Daughter to the Son, the Holy Soul is the feminine partner of the Holy Spirit. VT tells us that the Holy Spirirt, in relation to the creation formula from Genesis is in the “seeing that it (the day’s work) was good“, and the element of judgement is taken up in card 8 Justice. From the letters the throne of Justice is there to maintain equilibrium, in her one hand the balance between Severity and Mercy, in the other the Sword to enforce the decision. In the parable the Prodigal Son the mercy is evident in the Father’s rejoicing at the return of his son, the severity (in this case voluntary) in his awful state before this return. The author points us to the words from the cross “Father forgive them…“ showing 1) recognition of wrong  and 2) judgement handed over to the Father and  “…they know not what they do“ 3) interceding, or pleading for mercy. The quote at the top of the letter reminds us the only way to see the Father is through the octenary and the end speaks of individual freedom as the eighth force or planet.

The Star is card 17 (17= 1+7=8) and features an eighth star dominating the seven smaller ones around it. This is the Arcanum of Growth, of the Ideal transforming into the Real. We read of the flow of continuity of the “mud“ of the present becoming the “godly fluid“ of the future. This is how mercy once resolved upon  (in Judgement) shows itself : in hope (the star), creativity (the woman), and tradition (the water). Together these cards show the Holy Soul as both Judgement and Mercy, following the Holy Spirit’s “seeing it was good“ on the journey back to the Father.

In the spirit of the letters, let us apply these relationships in a practical manner. RS always recomended pictures to enhance meditation, as the soul uses them to “think“. Let us picture from VT’s Lazarus, Come Forth! the Father as the breathless majesty of a star-strewn night, the sunset’s beauty as the loving sacrifice of the Son, and the gathering rose light of the dawn as the Holy Spirit. Working with the Seal of Solomon  and the creation from Genesis, we start with the place beyond the stars, the Father resting within Himself. At the Star’s next point, the Daughter, we see the High Priestess, the primal plan of what is about to be created, weaving with virgin Force. After the Manvantara at the top of the hexagram, the Father looks within himself and creates the Daughter (cards 2 and 11, the plan and the means) and then speaks the Word “Let there be light“, the Son, the sunset, the third point of the star.

Across from the Father, his perfect counterpoise, the Mother is at the bottom of the star. The Empress receives the word to generate it, in cooperation with the heirarchies gradually  (Temperance).

The fifth point of the star, the Holy Spirit, as the sunrise “sees that it was good“ because it looks across to the Daughter and sees the Father’s intentions and method, hears them perfectly spoken in the Son/sunset, and stands next to the Mother, their manifestation.

This creation must return to the Father, through the Holy Soul, the sixth point of the star who gazes upon the Son, (the evening), is one with the Mother, and stands next to the beginning of its rebirth, the Holy Spirit, the Sunrise (the morning), “and the evening and the morning were the first day“. Through heavenly judgement and mercy she “un-speaks“ the Word, (the eurythmy gesture here is the same as the Son—”O”) all things flowing into the next, “resting within the Father“ before the next “day“ will be conceived of, (Daughter, 2,11), spoken (Word, sunset) into creation (Mother, 3,14), realized (Holy Spirit, sunrise) and returned (Holy Soul 8,17) once again to the Father. 

Each combination of cards gives light to the being of the Mother in Solomon Mary (Eve, Mother of  all), the Daughter, Nathan Mary giving birth to the Paradisiacal, Virgin, soul –the original plan for humanity, and Magdalene as Holy Soul, for only someone who has fully experienced something, (the Fall) could be said to be a true (merciful) judge. She is the most completely human of the Marys.  Card 17 has all three elements of the Holy Trinosophia, the stars representing the heavenly plan, or the Daughter; the Woman, representing creativity, the Mother; the Holy Soul as the water flowing into the future, preserving what is good as tradition. Thus communities are formed in the image of the Lord as the son of Penitence, the human sin he accepted, or Judgement, and Innocence, the possitive karma he returns to the Father.

The cards provide a two fold insight into each aspect of the Holy Trinosophia, and help us picture that in the closing of the “Our Mother“ prayer we are simply calling on them when we say that “Thine is the Homeland (the Mother, womb and place of origin, Solomon Mary), the Divine Wisdom (Daughter, reflection of the starry plan of creation, Nathan Mary), and the All Merciful Compassion ( Judgement and Mercy, Mary Magdalene).