High Priestess (I)

Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on July 5, 2016

Tarot Study, 7/5

 June, Joel, Laurel, Jim, and Gail were present.

We began with the Lord’s Prayer through the Chakras, the invocation from the beginning of the second Letter (“Wisdom has built her house…”), then silently dwelt with five or six different representations of the High Priestess.

Afterimages from “thinking in unison” the High Priestess:

– The veil surrounds the Priestess’s head – like ears.  “Spiritual Hearing” vs “Spiritual Touch” of the Magician.  Reminiscent of the “Cosmic Humor” from the Representative of Humanity.  Magician reminiscent of the Christ figure.  

– The veil is more like an earhorn – blocks the planes that aren’t to be perceived (p 46)

– Connected to the Descent into Hell – only Christ could pierce the veil.  When Lazarus did so, he was lost among the Dead. (Chastity).

– Related to one of Estelle’s visions of Titurel on the battle field.  A knight that betrayed him.  Battle is not going well.  An elemental realm opens up that confuses thoughts and words.  The veil makes possible the thoughts and words transcribed into the book in her lap.

– Her appearance is like one who is thinking about what she has just read; looking into another world; listening in order to transcribe.  The eyes are to the side – she is reflecting.

– Book = Word = Lamb of God.  The cross formed by the folds of her garment – the Book is “holding the cross” like the Child or Lamb in paintings of the Virgin and Child.

– Cross is also reminiscent of the Sword (of the Word), like a great pen writing the Book in her lap.  But the sword is not in her hands, nor does it proceed from her mouth – it is connected to her heart.  It could also be a sword piercing her heart.

– Is the Cross related to the house of Seven Pillars?  The Seven Stages of the Passion?  How does this picture relate to the House of Seven Pillars?  A question for contemplation. (Second Petition in the GKP).

– Many of the forms in the picture are like a “B” gesture – building a house

– The veil is reminiscent of a medieval gown, a high collar.

– Many features of priestly vestment – what is the symbolism connected with the vestment historically?  EG White rabbi’s shawl around her face.

– A great variation in color once again, but the two simplest ones (blue outer garment, red within) are “truest” to Tomberg’s treatment of the Arcanum.  The patchwork of the Magician corresponds with Pure Activity, while the simple blue and red speaks to Pure Passivity/Receptivity.  

– Blue and Red calls up the images of the Virgin by Raphael – great significance to the choice of colors and imagery. Are the differently colored variations on the Priestess an artistic decadence resulting from a lack of spiritual authenticity?  Like painting Raphael’s Virgins different colors?  

– The “image not made by man” of Christ’s face on a veil – the veil wrapping itself around the Priestess might be making a similar “image not made by man.”

– In older paintings, Cherubim were holding up the veils – they could be just outside of the image of the Priestess.

– Also like a scroll unrolling.  Juxtaposed with the lemniscate hat – a complimentary gesture. 

– The amount of clothing speaks strongly of Chastity – once again calling up the second part of the Grail Knight’s Practice [Edit December 2020: see notes for The Magician on June 14, 2016 for a brief description].  Chastity, Temperance, Stages of the Passion.  “Thy Kingdom Come” (Seven Pillars).

– The Arcana are the reincarnation of Egyptian hieroglyphics/Mystery wisdom.  On the path of initiation (Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition), experiences are living symbols.  Writing poetry can give one this experience.  The same experience can express itself differently through the varying media of our personalities.  The different representations of the Arcana are more like the different, but equally authentic, representations of the Virgin from different artists.

– This is a specifically Christian stream related to the karmic schooling of the 7 Pillars.

– The band/clasp divides above and below; above is the realm of Divine Breath, below the realm of Reflection in Water.

“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.” 

― W.B. Yeats

Again, chastity, dedication, in terms of listening attentively into the Silence and also accurately reflecting the experience in the record of the Book.

Being vs. Activity of Love.  Are we aiming for ultimate Being?  Erasing the personality?  Or Ultimate Love?  Personality, twofoldness is necessary.  Holy Trinity – The Lover who Loves, the Loved One who Loves, and Their Love.

Plato rejects personality – but his writings are so warm.  Aristotle emphasizes the marriage of form and matter – but Moses is the representative of the primacy of Being (“I am that I am”).  

“All history is a footnote to Plato” – AN Whitehead; Bertrand Russell.

“Thieves and Robbers.” Those who were initiated prior to Christ had no other option but to erase the personality.  This has transformed completely after Christ – the Personality is no longer “stolen.”  What is the second meaning (p 38)?

Gift of Tears vs. Lacking capability to cry (theosophical path:  “Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears. Before the ear can hear, it must have lost its sensitiveness. Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters it must have lost the power to wound. Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart.”

Mabel Collins).

Expression of the Representative of Man vs. Expression of Buddha

Balancing (Cruciform) Sympathy and Antipathy vs. Erasing Sympathy and Antipathy

Dismissal of Yoga Path in Inner Development – Blanket statement?

The task of Maitreya – Christening of Buddhism, “Buddhizing” Christianity.  Christianity must rediscover the element of depth supplied by Buddhism; Buddhism must discover the way of compassionate action via Christ.  How has this taken its first steps in the 80 years since Inner Development?

The danger of the Yoga path is the lifting of the personality out of the Chakras into Bliss, leaving them empty to be filled with Kundalini (unredeemed Shadow).  The Christian Path transforms the Chakras from Above to Below, uniting the Personality with Christ.

Cultivating Inner Radiance – incorporates and balances the Yoga Path.  The first part (Transfiguration) moves from Root to Crown – but then the second part (Crucifixion) moves from Crown to Root.  

Is How to Know Higher Worlds out of date (1904)?  Organs of perception are wounds that have led to separateness, 3 dimensionality.  vs “The World That I Am” (from Estelle).  Objectivity reaches its limit at some point.  Possibly it is like point and circle – expanding the realm of sympathies and antipathies to its most objective (widest possible orb), crosses the infinity point and becomes the smallest point – the most subjective.  The two meet in infinity.

Maybe it is not irrelevant, but only one piece of a whole.  School of Michael = Nerve/Sense; School of Jesus = Heart/Lung; School of Sophia = Metabolic/Limb (Choreocosmos, Mass).  LIberating to see things in context, rather than absolutes.

What about the 8-fold path?  Why did Steiner not write more about it after 1904?  Was he leaving it to his successor?  Maitreya’s connection to speech.

6-fold path emphasized by Anthroposophists – became a “Thing.”  

I can be experienced as hygienic, but has its limits.  EG positivity vs naming Evil, leading to moral action.  Positivity, equanimity, not as simple as they seem or as the head would wish.

Seeing positivity from a higher plane.  Turning over the tables – anger paired with positivity?  Not just blanket positivity that stifles a part of us, or blanket equanimity that stifles.  We cannot stifle the personality – Per-sonar, to speak through (the mask), to speak through our karma.

The path of the 10-petalled lotus flower from How to Know Higher Worlds:

“An inner training of a particularly intimate character is necessary for the development of the ten-petalled lotus flower, for it is now a question of learning consciously to control and dominate the sense-impressions themselves. This is of particular importance in the initial stages of clairvoyance, for it is only by this means that a source of countless illusions and fancies is avoided. People as a rule do not realize by what factors their sudden ideas and memories are dominated, and how they are produced. Consider the following case. Someone is traveling by railway; his mind is busy with one thought; suddenly is thought diverges; he recollects an experience that befell him years ago and interweaves it with his present thought. He did not notice that in looking through the window he had caught sight of a person who resembled another intimately connected with the recollected experience. He remains conscious, not of what he saw, but of the effect it produced, and thus believes that it all came to him of its own accords. How much in life occurs in such a way! How great is the part played in our life by things we hear and learn, without our consciously realizing the connection! Someone, for instance, cannot bear a certain color, but does not realize that this is due to the fact that the schoolmaster who used to worry him many years ago wore a coat of that color. Innumerable illusions are based upon such associations. Many things leave their mark upon the soul while remaining outside the pale of consciousness. The following may occur. Someone reads in the paper about the death of a well-known person, and forthwith claims to have had a presentiment of it yesterday, although he had neither heard nor seen anything that might have given rise to such a thought. And indeed it is quite true that the thought occurred to him yesterday, as though of its own accord, that this particular person would die; only one thing escaped his attention: two or three hours before this thought occurred to him yesterday, he went to visit an acquaintance; a newspaper lay on the table; he did not actually read it, but his eyes unconsciously fell on the announcement of the dangerous illness of the person in question. He remained unconscious of the impression he had received, and yet this impression resulted in his presentiment.

Reflection upon these matters will show how great is the source of illusion and fantasy contained in such associations. It is just this source which must be dammed up by all who seek to develop their ten-petalled lotus flower. Deeply hidden characteristics in other souls can be perceived by this organ, but their truth depends on the attainment of immunity from the above-mentioned illusions. For this purpose it is necessary that the student should control and dominate everything that seeks to influence him from outside. He should reach the point of really receiving no impressions beyond those he wishes to receive. This can only be achieved by the development of a powerful inner life; by an effort of the will he only allows such things to impress him to which his attention is directed, and he actually evades all impressions to which he does not voluntarily respond. If he sees something it is because he wills to see it, and if he does not voluntarily take notice of something it is actually non-existent for him. The greater the energy and inner activity devoted to this work, the more extensively will this faculty be attained. The student must avoid all vacuous gazing and mechanical listening. For him only those things exist to which he turns his eye or his ear. He must practice the power of hearing nothing, even in the greatest disturbance, if he does not will to hear; and he must make his eyes unimpressionable to things of which he does not particularly take notice. He must be shielded as by an inner armor against all unconscious impressions. In this connection the student must devote special care to his thought-life. He singles out a particular thought and endeavors to link with it only such other thoughts as he can himself consciously and voluntarily produce. He rejects all casual ideas and does not connect this thought with another until he has investigated the origin of the latter. He goes still further. If, for instance, he feels a particular antipathy for something, he will combat it and endeavor to establish a conscious relation between himself and the thing in question. In this way the unconscious elements that intrude into his soul will become fewer and fewer. Only by such severe self-discipline can the ten-petalled lotus flower attain its proper form. The student’s inner life must become a life of attention, and he must learn really to hold at a distance everything to which he should not or does not wish to direct his attention.

If this strict self-discipline be accompanied by meditation as prescribed in esoteric training, the lotus flower in the region of the pit of the stomach comes to maturity in the right way, and light and color of a spiritual kind are now added to the form and warmth perceptible to the organs described above. The talents and faculties of other beings are thereby revealed, also the forces and the hidden attributes of nature. The colored aura of living creatures then becomes visible; all that is around us manifests its spiritual attributes. It must be understood that the very greatest care is necessary at this stage of development, for the play of unconscious memories is here exceedingly active. If this were not the case, many people would possess this inner sense, for it comes almost immediately into evidence when the impressions delivered by the outer senses are held so completely under control that they become dependent on nothing save attention or inattention. This inner sense remains ineffective as long as the powerful outer sense smother and benumb it.”

Can we experience strong antipathy for that which we feel a natural sympathy?  Vice Versa?  Cultivating our emotional sphere to give it mobility, to sculpt it, rather than stifle it or let it run wild.  We can’t allow the six subsidiary exercises to keep us stuck in our heads – they must activate the spiritual Will.

Goethe – Highest Treasure of humanity is the Personality.