Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 28, 2019
May 28, 2019
King of Coins, and a summation of the Suit of Coins
We began with the protective practice.
We invoked the presence of Archangel Michael through performing the Michaelic verse in eurythmy.
After briefly focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence and the 16th Letter of the Divine Alphabet, Ayin (The Tower of Destruction).
We then read from Psalm 119: 121-128; Revelation 7:16-17, 8:1; and Matthew 28:11-20.
Impressions of the King of Coins, along with the entire Suit of Coins:
– Focusing again on the ambiguity of 11 or 12 petals on the outer flower of the coin that the King holds. It brings to mind the disciples, that in the circle of 12 there is one betrayer. One is “covered over” by the finger of the King. This brings the image of the King of Coins into the context of the Last Supper—Christ handing the bread (coin) to Judas, and saying to him, “Go do what you have to do.”
– Each of the Court Arcana goes with its own set of 10, its own plane of the Sephiroth, which is itself a sort of miniature Sephiroth Tree.
Knave = Tenfold in the realm of Action. External vs internal, a divided state.
Knight = Tenfold in the realm of Formation. The External begins to transform the internal.
Queen = Tenfold in the realm of Creation. Her activity leads to the creation of the coin, and its adaptation. The Internal determines the External.
King = Tenfold in the realm of Emanation. He reminds us of Vadim, who was both maintenance man and eurythmist at Plowshare for many years. A Russian man, who would say in terms of learning eurythmy forms: “You don’t need the form drawn on a chalkboard. You already know. Don’t think—just move. Just do it.” The King tells us, “you already know. You already are.” He is in the totality, he emanates from a higher world (Ain Soph). “You already have this within you.” He stands beyond the threshold—the inner world standing behind the external world has a portal (his coin) by which it enters into expression, becomes external.
With the Knave, the external dominates, and the internal can only be active in response to it.
With the King, the Internal dominates, transmitting the external into existence.
– Going back to the immanent/transcendent paradigm. These two together form the complete archetypal reality of both the external and internal worlds. One can have the same archetype manifest in two different distinct modes (immanent vs transcendent). There is both an immanent and transcendent aspect to the external, and an immanent and transcendent aspect to the internal.
– Recalling Steiner’s book Stages of Higher Knowledge. (See https://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA012/English/AP1967/GA012_c01.html).
4 = Material knowledge. Complete divide between subject and object, with both image and concept standing in between the two.
3 = Imaginative knowledge. Divide between subject and object, but now object has united with image. There is only Subject—concept—Image/Object. A direct seeing of the Other.
2 = Inspirational knowledge. Divide between subject and object, but now the object is united with concept. There is only Subject—Concept/Object. A direct hearing, a conversation with the Other.
1 = Intuitive knowledge. No divide between subject and object. Subject/Object united in the realm of Being, of the Ego. Mystical Union.
– With the Knave, the object is completely externalized, it determines/awakens the inner life of the Knave.
With the King, the subject/object is completely internalized, and moving out from this state, it determines/awakens the external life, the external just beginning to crystallize. The creation of the Tsim Tsum (see Emperor, page 84). The Ain Soph creates a pocket of externality, of limitation—something other than itself, which is All.
– So are these four characters showing four different ways of experiencing the 10?
Perhaps: the 10 Coins in the “immanent”—the Knave
in the “transcendent at work on the immanent”—the Knight
in the “transcendent coming into being vs immanent”—the Queen
in the mystical union of the two—the King
More specific than this, actually:
Four different ways of engaging with the 10 Coins.
1. Knave = experience the 10 Coin Arcana as 10 bare, geometric forms. Observing all the little details.
2. Knight = experience the 10 Coin Arcana as Arcana, as Firments. What do they call forth in our inner life? What of our own memories, experiences, knowledge is called up by these images?
3. Queen = experience the 10 Coin Arcana as a process of metamorphosis, adaptations of the One Thing. How do they move from one to the other? Can you bring this movement to life within yourself?
4. King = experience the 10 Coin Arcana as One Thing, one organism undivided.
Isn’t this a summary and a guideline for our approach to Hermetic Conversation?
One can only experience the first two (Knave and Knight levels) when observing the first Arcanum of a sequence, in this case the Ace of Coins. One could of course begin with either—focusing on the details or on what is called up in one’s inner life. But it is more hygienic to begin with the Knave, to allow the concrete details of the image itself to guide one into the investigation of one’s own experience. Otherwise one is letting one’s own arbitrary imagination overshadow the concrete reality of the image; the image cannot speak.
If one wants to move onto the level of the Queen, one must have at least two Arcana of a sequence before one, in this case the Ace and the Two. How does the Ace transform into the Two, what movement is occurring here that we must perform in our inner life in order to fill in the invisible interstitial that has come about between Ace and Two? Probably unwise to begin here. One should start with engaging with a single Arcanum before trying to engage with a sequence.
Finally, if one wants to move to the level of the King, one must have engaged on the level of Knave, Knight, and Queen with an entire sequence, i.e. from Ace to Ten. To begin with the whole picture would result in missing the trees for the forest—one would have no grasp of the inner life of each particular Arcanum, and therefore no grasp of the inner life of the whole. And certainly in our experience, we didn’t discover the way that the Ten Coins fit together into a single organism until we had engaged deeply on the level of the Queen. (see attached image of the 10 Coins as one Arcanum). (Note – we discovered the possibility of this full organism when we got to the Eight of Coins, but didn’t get to experience the full reality of it until the Ten of Coins).
It’s important to recognize these structural limitations, i.e. that a beginner can only engage on the levels of Knave and Knight. Anything further doesn’t have any meaning at that stage.
One could of course, hypothetically, begin anywhere. But the levels of King and Queen can only truly actuate with the Knave and Knight as preparation. Hypothetically, one could ignore the stage of Knight, come to think of it. But then the whole process would have no soul. It would simply be a conceptual playing with forms. On the other hand, without the Knave, it would have no rigor, it would simply be a playing around with one’s own subjectivity and imagination.
– All of this further elucidates the polarity of Transcendent vs Immanent, or Vertical vs Horizontal Causality, or Spontaneous Creativity vs Darwinian Evolution. All are actually right, and part of the overall process.
– The Knave and Knight as prerequisites to processes. Perhaps even the Transcendent has to follow this process of elaborating itself from simple to complex stages of wholeness—movements that occur similar to the electron shell states of jumps without transitions in between, yet still from simpler to more complex states.
And yet it seems we’ve laid out a process of understanding, though—not of becoming. Becoming would operate from the other way around, from wholeness to metamorphosis, to ensouled and then to completely separated and differentiated. In a way, it is still a movement from simple to complex, but in another way it’s the complete opposite.
– It’s amazing the lack of this type of conversation in the (mainstream) modern world. The farther along we go in this process, we see how essential it is. Like the presence of the good…a little goes a long way, makes all the difference. But the gate is shutting, these types of topics are completely shut out. So many a priori assumptions are made that eclipse these questions from even being asked, that there is zero awareness that anything is lacking from scientific discipline.
Yet these questions, this process is nevertheless essential in that we’ve just laid out the true process of understanding. Science doesn’t actually know how to understand. It makes one think of Steiner’s indications around the growth and development of a human being—up to a certain age, it’s an act of grace, but after a certain age no development occurs automatically. This principle is at work for the field of science in a broader sense. Under its current m.o., science will never “stumble upon” the true process of understanding, it will eternally grope in the dark until it consciously seeks what is lacking.
What of this process does science have? It is stuck in the Knave (observation of detail) and to some degree the Queen (metamorphosis). But mostly the Knave. No Knight, and no King—the Cosmos is neither ensouled nor grasped as one holistic being.
And the Knave is exactly where we’ve started. It is equally applicable to the outer world. Nature contains an equivalent symbolic content, that can be dutifully and rigorously observed. This is absolutely a necessary, holy part of the whole. It only becomes a problem if one becomes stuck there.
– Noticing the progress of our interpretation of the four Court Arcana.
First of all, we saw them as four distinct spiritual activities that can stand alone, self-contained. This is the static Knave/Knight perspective.
Second of all, we saw them as four spiritual grades, and one might move from one to the next, or one might remain at one level for a time. This is the developmental Queen perspective.
Third of all, we have now come to see them as a wholeness, as four critical parts of a process that is a unity (that is, the process of understanding). This is the King perspective.
Although, as we have seen, they can just as easily be seen as the four parts of the single process of becoming or creative activity. The Fullness of Creative Activity vs the Fullness of Knowing.
– Unlike the four primary Majors (Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor), this set of four needs the Ten Numbered Arcana in order to make sense in the way we’ve qualified them—that is, either to create an object (the Ten) or to understand an object (the Ten). But maybe this is so only at the level of the Knave? And does he really need each specific Arcanum of these Ten? Does he need these Ten specifically?
We needed the Ten to come first for us, i.e. experientially in order to grasp what the Court is doing. Absorbing the Numbered Coins first vs just approaching the Court Cards without having done so. The Coins are just one element of the Court images, they wouldn’t have carried the same weight. And this in spite of the fact that we both still feel unsure as to exactly what the Coins are all about! Yet we can feel the tug of war from image to image, or between plant and coin in one particular image, etc. We spent such a long time there, yet it isn’t nearly so concise or clear cut as the Majors.
The process of attempting to engage with the Ten Numbered Coins provides a backstory and fleshes out the character of the Knave. The Knave is like us, he is looking at all Ten Numbered Coins and wondering what it all means too!
How would he look as a beginning on his own, without the preceding Ten?
It reminds one of the passive vs active crew members referred to in Wheel of Fortune (page 237).
By absorbing the Ten Numbered Coins first, we become Knave, we become active participants rather than passive observers of these four Arcana.
We become Knight through the richness of the inner impressions we receive from our observations and conversations.
We become Queen by becoming co-creators in the process, by adding to the story, new elaborations.
We become King through experiencing the reality that he indicates to us, as the fruit of the process: “You have what I have…” We enter the “Hermetic Zone,” the interstices.
– An aside…Phillip for the first time notices that the Nine of Coins has a flower that is more scepter shaped, and one more shield shaped. The Scepter = “by what means,” The Shield = “by what right.” Empress vs Emperor.
The Magician holds the two elements of the Scepter, the Ball and the Wand. By what means? Malleability (Ball) and Mobility (Wand). The Mother (Prima Materia) and the Father (Prima Essentia).
The High Priestess holds the porto-shield = the open book. By what right. Communicability/Intelligibility. Christ (the Word/Logos) and Sophia (Wisdom).
All of the Numbered Coins are a play of ball-, wand-, and shield-like elements.
The Magician through the Emperor shows us the simultaneous activity of becoming/creating and understanding/knowing. With the Court Cards, for understanding one has to move from Knave to King; for becoming, one has to move from King to Knave. But with Magician, High Priestess, Empress, and Emperor, whether it is displaying the path of knowledge or the path of creation, it goes the same way. They are more essential in that sense. Yet they are each more unique from each other vs the Court Arcana. They don’t exist in a common world/domain like the Court Arcana do. They are like snapshots or clippings, who knows where they came from. This is ironic considering how much they need each other so as to be complete.
The Major Four create a form like a rainbow, an arch. They show us the process of understanding and creation, without showing us what they understand or produce.
The Minor Four are as though that arch was given a twist, turned into a loop. It inverts it, shows us the same four only in actual concrete relation to their own experience. Not just their inner states. In this inversion, the four roles meld together, and meet each other on the same plane. In showing these four in concrete relation to an external world—whether it be one they create or one they understand—the Ten Numbered Coins “spill out,” are unveiled.
Yet seeing this tenfold external world has only helped elucidate the nature of the Four—at least, so far! This tenfold world itself is still mostly a mystery. It was certainly a powerful experience!
– The Wand is the aspect of Becoming. The Shield is the aspect of Understanding (shield like a mirror/reflective, and as symbolic image, summarizing a multitude of details).
Together, what do they result in, what do they create? It is the Ten. Why is the wholeness of creation and understanding Ten? What are they?
They are Ten vessels—Ten empty vessels, endlessly useful for creating new forms and/or for understanding aspects of the world.
They are either the tenfold process of understanding limitless creativity, or they are the tenfold process of creating the means to limitless understanding.
– “Nunc stans” — the Now that persists = Eternity vs the Now that passes, which gives rise to Time.
The Nunc stans is the One Thing, the Tenfoldness. The Now that passes gives rise to each individual Numbered Coin, with increasing complexity up through the Ten. Yet even the Ace is not at all simple. We are cordoning off segments of an eternal wholeness in order to understand, yet each piece is its own world. The Court Cards don’t operate this way, they are not objects/worlds; they are actors/subjects.
Notice that Coin is transferable to products of creation or objects of observation, production and consumption.
Again we seem to be led back to immanent and transcendent. This seems to be a fundamental polarity that doesn’t have to do necessarily with the material world at all, that isn’t brought about by the material world, but pre-exists it.
One tends to think that The Fall and/or the material world brought about bifurcation. Yet even without the Cartesian divide, this twofoldness of actualization vs understandability is there.
– Phillip has been investigating intelligent design after watching the Wolfgang Smith doc. The systems experts who are digging into intelligent design have coined the principle of “irreducible complexity.” Basically, the Darwinian blindspot consists in the narrative that “living things evolve from a state of simplicity to a state of increasing complexity due to a process of random mutation.” Yet this is a complete misunderstanding of observable phenomena. At the most basic level, the most basic so-called “simple” living organism has an irreducible complexity, a baseline level of complexity that is a flying leap above non-living entities, an order of magnitude. The whole tree of life is, from there, only a continuous elaboration of an underlying complex design. The systems analysts conclude that intentional design is the only explanation one can come to. They do not seek to investigate what or how this design could be, or who the designer could be. Only that one is forced to admit that the universe is intentionally created to be a certain way, otherwise the level of complexity could never ever arise randomly.
This threshold of complexity—if an organism devolves at all below this level of complexity, its functionality disappears. Intelligibility is married to functionality. The modern experience of the world is that these two aspects are two different things, that there is at best a causal relationship between intelligibility and functionality, but something random and randomly developed can nonetheless function. But for the Coin, these two are fundamentally united, two sides of the exchange.
Could this lead us to the maxim: “to truly understand something is to know how it came about (i.e. how it was created)?” If we follow the process of becoming, does this lead to understanding? Yes—but only if done in a four-fold way. It can’t just be the Queen, horizontal metamorphosis. One needs to grasp all four levels, back to the source.
The flip side of the above maxim would be, “To truly Create is to develop something comprehensible.” This is the inverse of the conclusions of the intelligent design advocates, who say “this comprehensible yet complex being must have been created.”
The drive of consciousness at the most rudimentary level is to be ordered, to be functioning.
Comprehensibility is indivisible from intention/creation. We know this on a gut level. On the flip side, the drive to be and to become, to transform into something higher, requires something comprehensible to aspire to. Even Darwinian evolution implicitly agrees to this. As Tomberg points out in The Star, at the highest level it is Hope that draws the past into the future, but on a biological level it is the drive to reproduce, an implicit hope that something higher will develop out of what currently exists (see page 473).
And the destruction of Hope leads eventually to the erasure of all Coin. All “drive to become” within oneself can no longer be ordered by that higher potentiality. To divide functionality from intention, to describe the world as a fluke of ordered metamorphosis in the midst of limitless randomly operating multi-verses, is to utterly destroy hope, and therefore eradicate the future.
That’s what this is all about—coming to the reassurance that there is an authentic inner and outer reality that I Hopefully engage with; that is, which I engage with while Full of Hope.
– Human consciousness is the lowest level of a diversified wholeness. Yet we reflect this wholeness in so many disparate ways. We have a true nature, but we don’t get further along (generally speaking) than knowing that it’s there and wondering how we will live and create.
– Going back to the fundamental two-foldness that seems to exist prior to the Fall—this is exactly what Tomberg describes in the first part of the Tower of Destruction (see pages 434-35). There is a fundamental bifurcation that led to the descent into matter, not the other way around. And this, in fact, seems to be our role in evolution as emphasized in the Philosophy of Freedom: to experience the world as polarities that need to be resolved, to create a split in the world by nature of our level of consciousness, and to both overcome that split as well as achieve a higher level of consciousness by doing so. This split, as described by Steiner, seems to be exactly between Immanent (perceptible world) and transcendent (conceptual world)—the Four Court Coins show us the path to reunification.
This struggle with the two-fold nature of reality. Perhaps this is the “irreducible complexity” of reality itself? To go beyond it is to enter Ain Soph, the Unlimited. This continues to be the truth that I feel we are approaching through this whole process: that “In the Beginning was the Father and the Mother.” This whole Pygmalion style story—that the Father was there first and needed to create a being who could accurately reflect and realize his intentions, that Essence created Substance in order to bring itself into manifestation—this seems more and more inaccurate. No, in the beginning both were present, simultaneously “The Spirit of God (Father/Fire) was brooding over the Face of the Waters (Mother).”
We must abandon “only Father,” the traditional/patriarchal one-sidedness that has persisted for millennia. Yet we cannot swing into the radical extreme of “the evil patriarchy is over! bring in the feminine by force!”
It is simply, “In the Beginning were the Father and the Mother.” We have Two Parents, not one. We cannot discard the Father for the sake of the Mother, this would redress nothing. We must “Honor our Father and our Mother that we may live a long life,” and this seems to be the entire message of the Our Mother prayer, to remember that which we have forgotten without discarding that which we have always remembered.
Yet this implies that At the Beginning, duality was there! And therefore, at the beginning, the risk of the Fall, of enmity was there. True Love entails risk. Coin, playing cards—gambling.
– The Majors are like a language we know very well now. The Minors are like learning a second language, that we still tend to fumble to speak, read, and understand.
– At the start of the conversation, Joel noticed the oddness of seeing the whole spread together, the stark contrast between Ace and King. It didn’t seem like there was any relationship between the two. In some way, we seemed to have addressed this and it seems more like a whole.
The King reminds you: “Remember the Arcanum of Arcana—the Ace, the One Coin.” That Arcanum has it All.
– Reading pages 27, 48-49 of Younger Kyot. Kyot finds a mysterious object that, in its description, is so reminiscent of the Ace of Coins. After he rides away, Flegetanis pulls an identical object out of his pocket, a move most reminiscent of the King of Coins! And, just as we still feel rather baffled by the Numbered Coins, there is never any explanation given in Estelle’s visions as to what this mysterious object is!
(from later the next week – The King of Coins as Moses’s experience with the burning bush. “I AM that I AM.” The King shows us the true I AM, and points out that we, too, have the I AM within us. Moses then becomes a “King of Coins”—maybe the King of Coins!)
We closed with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.