Hanged Man (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 15, 2017

Tarot meeting May 15, 2017

Phillip and Joel were present.

We began with the first 12 letters of the Divine Alphabet (through Lamed), adding in the petitions and themes of each part of the Knight’s Practice.  We then read the opening to the 12th letter, and focused on the first 12 Arcana, primarily The Hanged Man.

– There are a lot of questions and anomalies that arise from looking at this image.  Why is it even called The Hanged Man?  It’s not a depiction of a traditional hanging.  Is it a punishment?  Torture?  Is it or was it a well-known type of hanging?  It’s actually reminiscent of an animal being slaughtered – hung by the Achilles tendon which can bear the weight of the whole body.  Certainly the rope in the image is not wrapped around his ankle.  On that note – his hands could be behind his back, but they could also be missing, cut off.  It makes the 13th Arcanum, Death, a more natural leap to look at 12 this way, as in Death pieces of human beings are scattered over the ground.

– His neck is so fleshy, sagging from the gravity.

– There is only one other blue haired person so far – she of the “impudent face” in The Lover.  A lot of his coloration/clothing is unusual.  The red pants, the blue shoes, the yellow waist, and the short sleeves.  He has a non-ceremonial, informal dress.  He is not a person of fame or importance (unlike most of the other cards).  The yellow skirt is eye-catching – almost like a crown.  The two crescent shaped pockets stand out, reminding one of the scales of Justice.

– The white in his clothing makes the shape of a cross on a hill, like Golgotha – this means his head is inside of the hill of Golgotha, the place of the Skull of Adam.

– His leg position (right bent behind left) – a bit like the sigil for Jupiter.  Robert says that this card represents Pisces; his position is very similar to the eurythmy for Pisces.  

– Even if his hands are not removed, why are they out of the picture?  They seem related to the branches of the trees on either side of him, which have been cut off.  Matthew 5:30 “If your right hand offends you, cut it off…” and also John 15:2 “He cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit in me…”  What is this wood that is yellow and seems to bleed when the branch is cut?

– There is a lot of the dark green color.  So far only the Magician and the Chariot have had it.  This card has much more green foliage than those do.

– His crossed leg is reminiscent of the Emperor.  The acceptance of restraint.  It is reversed in the Emperor (right leg in front of the left).

– The legs are accepting restraint; in the arms it is imposed; the head is almost unconscious, like a chicken when it is hung up by its legs, in a state of sleep, totally submissive.  It is in between two mounds of earth, buried.  He is like the return of the Solar human being – head as root in the ground, legs as flower up above.  His pale, corpse-like head is very root-like, while his legs are colorful.

– His hands almost seem tucked inside of himself.  John 20:25 “Unless I…put my hand into his side…”  He is conscious in his will, not in his intellect.  Investigating inside of himself.

– The YHVH pattern:  in this case, the second He is Death.  The Vau is The Hanged Man, an image that in a sense needs death to preserve its wholeness, one that results in death.

X – holistic, sets the context

XI – the Ideal of the method of Force

XII – the chaff, that which does not achieve Force

XIII – the result

XI feels more magical than gnostic, while XII feels more gnostic than magical.

– No suffering seems to be occurring in XII.  He seems internally to be somewhere else, somewhere mystical – while being tortured or punished.  

– The numerical aspect – 12 cut branches, 9 buttons (3 and 6).

– In our biographical/developmental picture, the 12th Arcanum is 56-63 years of age – Saturn years, the development of Spirit-Man.  Often everything one has worked one’s whole life to achieve goes awry at this time, one realizes one will not achieve what one wished to.  One’s body begins to fall apart.  We begin the process of detaching from earthly life.  Steiner’s Saturn years are a good example (1917-1924).  Also he is a perfect example of the Zodiacalized Will.

– The Road to Emmaus is emphasized in the 12th letter.  The clairvoyant heart, experiences of warmth.  But the foundation of this experience was intense sadness and confusion as they recalled the events of the past weekend (Mystery of Golgotha).  The clairvoyant heart occurs via suffering.  This is in line with Tomberg’s earlier teaching of Suffering as a path to the Etheric Christ.  “Heart clairvoyance” can sound so lovely and wishy-washy, but what is described is quite intense.

– The hallucinatory function of the senses.  Tomberg gives an overarching summary of reality, even aspects that we would dismiss (like hallucinations).  The scale of reliability:

Senses:  hallucinatory (least reliable)

Lower chakras:  image-based clairvoyance

higher chakras:  auditory clairvoyance

Heart Chakra:  warmth clairvoyance (most reliable)

Actual Truth is indicated through the concordance among these modes of knowledge, as well as reason and experience.  The Hermeticist seeks the synthesis of initiation, righteousness, scientific knowledge, etc.  Finding the uniting Truth in everything, by all means.

– The last quote before the letter, “That which I had to say about the operation of Sol is completed.”  This is a very mysterious quote.  Why include it?  It goes along with this impression of the end of a human life, before Death occurs.  12 is a number of completeness.

– X is the first jump in the continuity of the Arcana.  IX is a sort of completeness, capping of the first 8.  Yet XII is even more complete than the Hermit.  There doesn’t seem to be another card that speaks of completeness until the last one, the World.  X is continuity meeting discontinuity; XI is the saving of that which can be saved; XII shows someone in the state in which Death is the next step, both physically and spiritually.  X is the beginning of Crossing the Threshold, everything is thrown out of order.  Macrocosmically, it is an explanation of physical evolution in the light of spiritual history. But microcosmically, it is a meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold.  All of the cards are experiences of consciousness, possibly (though not necessarily) originating through one’s life experiences.

– The development of the Tarot through the Lazarus individuality.  15th century (Christian Rosenkreuz), the physical level.  Creation of the Arcana themselves.  18th century (Comte de Saint Germain) – brought to life through French occultism (connected to Freemasonry, divination, etc.).  20th/21st century – it is ensouled.  Brought into connection concretely with Christ, and Catholicism (not just as religion, but as “wholeness,” all knowledge and experience are contained within the Tarot).

– The images come from a consciousness without division in it.  The images are at once human and superhuman.  1-9 show the preparation of the human personality for initiation.  10 is both the expansion into the macrocosm or into the depths of the human being.  10 is the Threshold.  At 9, The Hermit, we are ready to cross the Threshold – but no matter how much we are prepared, we are still jostled by this experience.  Then, there is no avoiding the experience of Death on the occult path.  11 and 12 show the preparation for this experience.  The Hanged Man is resigned, at peace with the Death of all he is attached to.  He now has the Courage not just to Cross the Threshold but to encounter the Guardian.

– Phillip’s life experience.  He is more prepared to meet the Guardian, to meet Death, through these images.  Adopting a mask of being resigned vs. being in the triggering experience itself – which quickly dissolves the mask.

– The whole gesture of the Hanged Man speaks to realized peace.  He is almost theatrical – like a circus performer, acrobatics, gymnastics.  Creating beauty in the midst of something horrendous.  

– The toe is poking out in XI, here his foot is central, at the top.

– The story of Doc Holliday, as portrayed in the film Tombstone.  The most extreme composure.  Humor, grace, in the midst of terrible violence and dying of tuberculosis.  Unstoppable, so admirable.  Robert’s anecdote about Steiner and someone falling from the roof – he was unfazed, just kept lecturing.  One practices to never be startled or taken off guard.

–  Never being thrown off guard on the one hand, but on the other the image also speaks of endless waiting, undeserved loneliness or punishment.  Like the Man Born Blind or Job – I do not deserve this, and I may wait forever and not see relief.  But I will wait.  This endless waiting can actually set the stage for being startled, if one does not stay vigilant and awake while waiting.  This is a timely Arcanum.  We all are experiencing an endless waiting – whether for deliverance or for doom (Death).  And yet we are constantly thrown off balance by the multitude of random interruptions in our day to day life.  

We ended with the closing mantra of the Grail Knight’s Practice.