Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 22, 2017
Tarot meeting May 22 – The Hanged Man
Joel, Phillip and Jim
We began with the Lord’s Prayer in the Tree of Life, then the Divine Alphabet with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice, up through the 12th Letter, Lamed.
After reading the opening quotes to the 12th Letter/Meditation:
– When the image of the Hanged Man is looked at upside-down, it appears as though he is dancing an Irish Jig. We noted last time that at first it appears as though he is being hung to be butchered, it a state of torture. By the end of the conversation, it seemed as though he was performing acrobatics in the midst of his suffering. Simply by a reversal of “gravitation,” he is either being tortured or is dancing.
– The shape of the knot at the top of the rope is curious. It is reflected in the way he holds his arms. The white portion of his clothing is also very reminiscent of this shape.
– The theme of butchering, or flaying: Job is quoted at the very end of the Letter/Meditation, “My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside…For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, then from my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold not another.” Take note that Job does not say “after I die, I shall see God.” He makes a point of saying that his skin shall be removed, and his flesh will see God. (While writing up these notes, I am thinking of Tomberg’s discourse on the first sacrifice of Christ, the creation of skin as a protection from Ahriman entering directly through the senses).
– The Hanged Man is the truly human man and his lot is a truly human one. What is the relationship to the 6th level of trespass, Shame? And to the Man Born Blind? Certainly he is like Job – experiencing misfortune for the sake of the Glory of God, waiting for an unknown amount of time for deliverance.
– The truly human man is upside down. Does this tell us something about the way in which Christ comes again? The matter of celestial gravitation, heaven rather than earth is attracting the Hanged Man. But is this image a relic of pre-Christian times? Since now, Christ is united with the Earth. Celestial gravitation should not draw us away from Earth any longer, but towards it.
– There is another level to this, however. This image is directly related to the description of Sophia from Revelation, albeit male and upside down. There we see her crowned with 12 stars (akin to the legs, the “zodiacalized will” of the Hanged Man), clothed with the Sun (the Solar Thinking of the Heart of the Hanged Man), with the Moon under her feet (the Lunar Imagination of the head of the Hanged Man). Both of these images are related to Steiner’s description of the human being of the future. Far into the future, the bottom half of the human being (including the right arm) will have atrophied. The human being will be upside down, as he was during Sun evolution (head towards the ground, as a kind of “root”). The heart will have become the head, the portion of the human being currently below this having atrophied and fallen away. The heart is the 12 petalled lotus flower = crown of 12 stars, zodiacalized will. Meanwhile, the two petalled lotus flower will have grown from an astral to a physical organ – two “legs” or wings: The Moon under her feet, the Lunar Imagination. The middle realm of the human being will be the larynx that has developed to the point of being a reproductive organ, the woman crying out in the pains of labor. This is the realm of “solar thinking,” of creative radiation.
This is related to the riddle of the sphinx, which describes not just the forms that man passes through from birth to death, but also on a macrocosmic level the form of the human being from Lemuria to the end of physical incarnation. We began as beings on four feet; we are now beings on two; at the end we are on two feet (the two “wings” springing from what is now the forehead) supported by a staff (the left arm which has become right arm due to reversal of polarity, the right arm having atrophied along with what is currently the lower portion of the human being, from the stomach down). (This description of Steiner’s comes from lecture 10 of “Esoteric Cosmology,” a lecture series from 1906. See here: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA094/English/SGP1978/19060606p01.html).
The imagery of the 12th Arcanum is hiding this secret in plain sight, using the commonplace imagery at its disposal.
– The severed limbs of the trees, according to Tomberg, represent the internalized Zodiac. The red where they have been cut are tear-drop shaped, like drops of blood. Reminds one of the gifts of blood, sweat, and tears spoken of in the 14th Arcanum, Temperance.
– The Road to Emmaus, the Heart-clairvoyance is prefaced by grief, sadness, and doubt. This is the path to the Etheric Christ. In the fuller story contained in Anne Catherine Emmerich: they are with disciples (Luke is a bit of bystander, a reporter who interviews everyone). They feel compelled to leave, get fresh air, take a walk. There has been some discomfort and disagreement, and Luke and Cleophas walk different directions when they leave the house and meet up later, to throw anyone watching off the scent. The first appearance of Christ after Mary Magdalene. Not in a room, but walking. Within an emotionally complex and very human tale. They were questioning the whole situation amongst Christ’s followers. When they first ran into this mysterious stranger, they were trying to avoid him, before they knew he was Christ. They don’t recognize him until breaking bread together – recognition through communion – then he disappears. We (i.e. Grail Knights) have had experiences akin to this quite recently, doubt, questioning, taking a walk. We are in the aftermath of the Second Coming, akin to the aftermath of the Mystery of Golgotha.
– Robert makes a point in his lectures on the 3 Great Teachers that the founder of Alcoholic’s Anonymous had an experience of the Etheric Christ. The 12 Steps come from Christ. A very strong feeling of community within an AA circle. Robert claims that evil in the form of a self-generated demon has to be addressed and dealt with within oneself.
– J. has pointed out the synchronicity with his brother-in-law, who is an alcoholic: they both go to their “Anonymous” meetings on Mondays, which both begin with saying the Lord’s Prayer! AA is a perfect, living example of the Christ Force, the Lazarus force of the redemption of Evil. The members of AA have the mission of lifting up other human beings. They are accomplishing a good that cannot exist without having fallen – and fallen hard – beforehand. Evil as the potential for new and great Good. Tomberg’s son Alexis was an alcoholic, died young – the manuscript of Lazarus, Come Forth! was dedicated to his memory.
– The shape of the rope holding him up, and the way his foot comes close to this rope, the negative space between is very eye-catching. Is there a leaf growing out of the rope? We begin to question ourselves as to what details we are noticing, and whether we are reading into things. That being said, the images are so simple – none of the details seems to be arbitrary.
– The “relaxed” leg – is it really relaxed? Wouldn’t it hang differently if it were relaxed? It would be bent at the hip, not the knee, not gracefully poised. He’s a dancer, in a creative state.
– Why the lack of hands? Either cut off or tied? So that he can’t untie himself and escape. He looks a bit like Houdini or something – an escape artist. A circus performer, like the Magician. Also Force – She is the Lion Tamer. It is Wheel of Fortune that reintroduces the Game aspect, which was there originally with the Magician, but not there with the 2nd through 9th Arcana. Wheel of Fortune is like a merry-go-round or ferris wheel, vs the serious nature of High Priestess, Empress, or Emperor.
– Questions arising out of the text: what is rapture? where does this word originate? Related to raptor, birds of prey. Soaring birds. A special quality of seeing – ability to see specific minute details from a great height, both the broad view and the specific. This is the aim of Hermeticism.
Desperation is related to despair
– the reflection of 10, 11, and 12 with 1, 2, and 3. When we put one above the other, certain elements are reflected. The Empress’s crown reflects the rope (the triangular shape – the only other time this shape seems to occur). There is a “wheel” of activity in the middle of the image of the Magician, reflecting the Wheel of Fortune. 2 and 11 – the first is consciousness moving from potential to manifestation (the book), the other is will moving from potential to manifestation (the lion). Both somehow related to the salvation of nature, to spiritual/material evolution.
– How high up is the Hanged Man? There are strange landscapes in 10, 11, and 12. 10 seems to be floating on a golden sea. 11 seems to be floating in mid-air. Is 12 taking place between the peaks of two mountains? Tomberg calls the device he is hanging from a porch. What is a porch? An area in between – neither in nor out. Tomberg describes the Hanged Man as neither completely in heaven nor completely on earth. He is like the desert fathers, in the wilderness, alone – stuck in between. Always in a place of solitude.
– The blood rushing to the head, makes one woozy – like a chicken prior to slaughter. The union of head and heart (all of the blood uniting with the head). The hermeticist wants to experience Truth to every degree, through every method. The blood flows to the whole body, and lastly to the head – it comes to consciousness last of all for the Hanged Man. The discussion in the 12th letter of the theologian vs the scientist. The scientist has an arrogant point of view, but a humble method – the theologian is the opposite.
– In the 3rd Letter, he states that Sacred Magic is “Life as it was before the Fall” – vertical generation (page 73). All of this is expressive of both Anne Catherine Emmerich’s description of the changing vessel for the Christ (the Promise) culminating in Mary, but also expressive of Steiner’s vision of the future human being, reproducing via the larynx. Joel has always envisioned this being with the Heart as Head as being open, chalice like and receptive above, rather than with a closed skull. Receiving divine impulses which bring about the birth of something via the larynx.
– MOT is a living document, a holy text. There are an enormous number of deliberately unfinished thoughts and threads throughout the text, begging to be followed all the way by some reader.
– speaking of the portion in the 1st letter describing the Emerald Tablet. A book from 1928 on Hermes. There is other interesting information on generation (pre-sexual, from the hip): Zeus, Jacob, as well as discussion of giants.
– Looking at Words like we are looking at Arcana, as living beings – e.g. what is the word “moral”? What about “coin”? In the Cabalistic tradition, this would be looked at down to the very letter, the gematria.
We ended with the closing mantra of the Grail Knight’s Practice.