King of Cups (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Phillip and Joel on July 17, 2022.

(“I am the Whore of Babylon.” – Phillip’s response to the reading of Revelation 18…)

Focusing to begin with on the entire Court of the Cups.

The floor under the King’s throne? New and intriguing. Like a moving throne, or a trap door. Like in Batman. The throne moves out of the way, revealing a staircase. Going down into the lower levels, secretly, with a lantern.

Or is it a throne at all? Is it all a kind of spiral staircase, and he is walking up? Or seated on the stairs? If he is sitting, he’s gigantic. Or those are very tiny stairs.

It’s a bit Art Deco. Very 20th century pattern. Anachronistic. There’s design there, an aesthetic, not just rudimentary landscape is in other Arcana. He is somewhere, specific place, and definitely indoors. Unusual.

It’s a little like the Devil in some ways. Also some of this same geometry of the prominent floor/foreground is there in the Ace and Two of Cups, but rudimentary, unrefined. There’s also a bit of it in the Sun and the Judgement, but not central to the overall image in those cases. Quite concrete though.

Are we finally inside the building? The tower in the Ace that we couldn’t find our way into, did we finally make our way in? Someone finally answered the doorbell. Like in the Wizard of Oz. The guy who won’t let them in, “not no way, not no how!” but then overhears Dorothy’s sorrow and begins to weep into his own moustache. He is secretly the Wizard himself, playing the role of the doorman.

The King of Cups has something of the Art Deco “feel” of this film.

He has a lot of pomp, a lot of style: “Do you see this? This is how it’s done.” His hat, his cape, his sleeves. So elaborate.

Is his right sleeve rolled up? It’s very aesthetic/stylish…

…or…is that a snake? Or an extension of the Cup? An extension of the central knob, related to the Queen somehow? Her central knob, and the others that came before in the Court were red.

In the Knave, we saw a bird over his right arm. Be wise as snakes (King) and gentle as doves (Knave)?

Yes, it is a coiled snake. You can see its head.

And what is the white, connecting the hat lapel with the bowl of the cup? A flow off of his shoulder, towards the cup? Is it going into the cup? Or springing out from it? If you imagine it away, it becomes a very weak shoulder.

The tunic is tucked in between his legs in a strange way—almost labial. This dark, thick shading. It’s very plant-like overall. Perhaps the Adam leaf?

He has very thin legs as well.

He seems to be deliberately revealing this leaf area, pulling back his robes. It seems to be a continuation of this buttoned part. A portion of the blue robe continues from the cup. There is some connection of this cup with his loins. Did he give birth to it?

The blue connected to the cup could have been folded up, covering it, like a handkerchief. It was all under wraps, in his loins. Could it be related to a phallus?

The Queen’s cup is closed. The King’s, as well as the other male figures (although we have questioned the gender of the Knave and Knight) is open at the top. His cup is almost closed, not wide open like the Knave and Knight. It is more in this state of being almost closed than any other cup we have seen. It is a strange opening. The Queen’s is like a globe, in two hemispheres. Completely covered up. This is not like a cup. It’s like a hot air balloon. It would be totally impractical to drink out of it.

Where his hand grips, it is white—a break in the stem, discontinuous. And on our left/his right, it is bent, not straight. Like he broke it. We are seeing it in the process of him snapping off the bottom. It changes the mood of the image to one of frustration. He looks a little worried, concerned. Maybe those blue folds coming out of the bottom of the cup are related to this breaking off of the base.

Is he holding the two halves together? About to reunite them? Reminiscent of W.J. Stein’s Ninth Century and the Holy Grail. Where he talks about the broken sword that must be reunited, which is the Word. The healing of the Word, which needs reformed. But here it is the broken cup.

Does the Queen cut the top and the base off of her cup? With her sword? And his reaction—”What have you done??”

The connection between the white—on the shoulder and at his hand—and also over his ear and his beard. A two-prong beard with shading in the center.

It’s as though he says to us, as we finally enter the building, “I’m sorry you came all this way…it’s broken…” The opposite mood of the Knave, where she/he completely falls apart, sacrifices everything to deliver this precious cup safely.

Was it an arbitrary experiment on the part of the Queen? “I have this magic cup, what can I do with it? Cut the top? Force it to do this or that…” The Sword not necessarily as the arbitrary human will, but more as the meddling with the seemingly infinite possibilities of the archetypal.

In this image, we have three appearances—the blue waves pouring out of the bottom, the red snake emerging from the middle, and the white flow at the top—are they due to three different openings or breakages? At the larynx/head, at the heart, and the will/loins.

His fourth button is in shadow. Is he the “fourth button” of the Court Cups? Is he in shadow?

Note that he is pulling back the blue robes that would cover his loins, but also his red cape is pulled back, which would cover his front entirely. This is a big reveal, two layers of veiled revelation.

He is revealing the broken cup that is uniting with him.

He is not like the Knight of Swords, who makes himself whole by approaching the floating cup that bears his missing hand. Instead, the King is holding the base, yet the snake emerges and squeezes his arm. Causes his hand to squeeze, and snap the base?

Maybe his shoulder is removed by the white? A destruction/shattering of his right arm, along with the shattering of the cup?

His smaller blue robe accentuates the unity of the upper two portions of the cup and the separation of the base. The separation of his lower portion from the upper. The cup is becoming a sceptre.

Well, in that case…he’s taking one for the team in order to make the sceptre, to help it come about. He cracks the base, and expels the snake, which tries to stop him from destroying the cup. He is emaciated. Like an old woman in his lower half. “Sorry, I had to do it to make the sceptre, even if it kills me.”

Is the white indicating his disappearing into the sceptre? He’s disappearing into the white, then into the sceptre. Independent of him, yet made of him. This white is distinctly separate. Like the cup has a little tail, or a banner waving in the wind. Waving the white flag. Surrender.

This is definitely the first figure with ear flaps! Is it a bit reminiscent of the Fool? Does he have the Magician’s broad hat brim, or Force’s? It’s a bit like the hat in the Lover? Or the Devil’s crown/hat? And the Angel in the Judgement has wings for ears. But this hat is totally over the top, unprecedented despite similarities.

In the King of Coins, this highly accentuated center piece is crown-like. A pretty similar hat, just no real crown in the middle. The King of Swords is the closest. But this one is so weird. Totally alien.

Again, it looks like one of the costumes from the Wizard of Oz. This whole card smacks of 1920s-30s movie magic. But about 400 years early!

Does he have the blue cloth/handkerchief ready to take the broken base, to wrap it carefully, join it with his loins? Phallus-to-be?

Anfortas. The Grail heals the wound. In the story, is he able to drink from the cup/receive from the stone? The bleeding lance must touch his wound. Is this the bleeding lance? In becoming?

The King of Coins does have a two-pointed beard, and ear flaps. Similar figure. He is also opening his groin area a little, but not to the same extent. Not the same way. With the King of Coins, the action is beginning. His legs are crossed, the Coin covers him a bit. With the King of Cups the action is completed, full exposure.

We’ve never noticed the rest of the chair under the King of Coins’ right arm before. The Coin chair/throne is like the Cup hat/crown. A weird wrap around. A flying nun hat.

In the King of Cups compared to the King of Coins, there is a much more human expression, emotion, concern, pathos, waiting. The King of Coins is just observing. The King of Coins is postured back, leaning back. The King of Cups is expressive, moved forward.

Perhaps the King of Swords was also indoors? But this floor is really weird. Like in the movie Tron when they’re inside the computer world.

…Another plane of existence.

There has been something of the nature of occult technology, of sub-nature, of the sexual running all through the Cups. Even though this is from the 16th century. It prefigures the 7th cultural age somehow. As a subtext, under the surface for the most part.

The bottom is broken…the groin revealed…the floor suddenly takes definition…it is all revealed…an incursion from below somehow.

From the very start, in the Ace, it was all so enticing and beautiful, but a weird electricity ran throughout. Now it is clear: “Let me show you how awful this really is.” As though in Heaven, all is whole, but for that to exist, a fractured world must exist. A paradoxical wholeness.

The S.F.: a semblance of purity/harmony/beauty with a shadow underlying it that struggles to be unveiled. If R. actually confronted it, his gift would not be able to manifest itself. So everyone tiptoes around it. The cost of the “Mission”—the crutch of people compensating for his faults, even though that’s “not right.”

The one who’s destined to give rise to the sceptre can’t even see it, he insists that it is a cup until he breaks it. If he didn’t convince everyone that it’s just a cup, it would never come into being—if he thought it was a path to the Baton, he would never create the Baton.

Like with the insistence on laws of karma and reincarnation. The base of these laws breaks off, and a sceptre of reality is left, the actual relationship of reincarnation to the stars.

We’re back to this porphyritic process. Goethe refers to a porphyritic process, whereby an ur-substance or ur-form or ur-being that is undifferentiated begins to differentiate. And some portion of it must be expelled, exposed, must crystalize and “fall” or specialise so that the remainder that is fluid can rise to a higher plane of development. This is bound up with events like the separation of the Moon, the appearance of the human bodily form, the appearance of solid, visible planets (and therefore the passage of time) rather than planetary spheres (eternally radiating). The gesture of anthroposophical cosmogenesis and world evolution. Looking at the individuality Porphyry as the one who plays this role of the porphyritic process as his mission. Atlas; Jacob; Euphorbus; Pythagoras; Melchior; Porphyry; Kyot; Kepler. Each one of them to one degree or another represents the perfecting, the crystallizing out of something old, so that something new can begin. A sacrificial role. If it were to occur consciously, it would be an ahrimanic behaviour. But it must proceed out of innocence, a degree of naivety/ignorance for it to remain hygienic. Confronting, exposing the shadow would only do harm from this perspective.

Constantinople created a pillar of seven blocks of porphyry, at the summit of which was Christ in the form of Apollo (Apollo is the same as Archangel Jesus/Vidar in the work of Steiner) and at the base of which is the palladium, the wooden statue of Pallas Athena (Sophia). In this porphyritic process, this individuality excretes the seven stones that make a pillar, a Jacob’s Ladder, a bridge between Christ and Sophia.

This move that must be made from a Grail circle (where the periphery focuses on a central point) to a Parzival circle (where the periphery turns and looks outward, where each point of the periphery is an active center). A turning inside out.

Suddenly reminded of Rudolf Steiner’s bizarre description of the future human being, from here

The third aspect of the Logos is the creative power of the word (as expressed at the beginning of the Gospel of St. John), of which the words of human speech are the reflection. In the old myths and legends this truth was represented in the figure of Vulcan, the cripple. His mission was to guard the sacred fire. He is crippled because, in initiation, man must lose something of his lower, physical forces; the lower part of the body is a product of the past. Raised to the heights of initiation, the lower nature must fall away, to rise thereafter to a yet higher stage. Thus in the course of his evolution man has divided into a lower and higher nature. 

In certain mediaeval pictures, the human body is divided into two parts by a straight line; the head and left upper part of the body are above, the right upper part and the lower part of the body are below the line. This division is an indication of the past and the future of the human body. 

The two-petalled lotus-flower lies beneath the forehead, at the root of the nose. As yet it is an undeveloped astral organ which will one day unfold into two antennae or wings. The symbol of them can already be seen in the horns traditionally represented on the head of Moses. 

Viewed from above downwards, head and sexual organ, man is synthetic and one. All this is the product of the past. Left and right he is symmetrical, representing the present and the future. These two symmetrical parts, however, have not the same value. Why is man usually right-handed? The right hand which is the more active of the two today, is destined subsequently to atrophy. The left hand will survive when the two ‘wings’ on the forehead have developed. The heart will be the brain of the chest — an organ of knowledge. 

Before man assumed the upright posture there was a time when he moved on all fours. Such is the origin of the riddle of the Sphinx: ‘Who is the being who in infancy walks on four legs, in middle age on two, in old age on three?’ Oedipus answers that this being is man, who when, a baby crawls on all fours, and in old age leans on a stick. In reality, riddle and answer refer to the whole evolution of humanity, past, present and future, as it was known in the ancient Mysteries. Quadruped in a previous epoch of development, man walks today on two feet; in the future he will ‘fly’ and will indeed make use of three auxiliary organs, namely the two wings developed from the two-petalled lotus which will be the motive organ of his will, and for the rest, the organ arising by a metamorphosis of the left half of the chest, and the left hand. Such will be the organs of movement in the future. 

The present organs of reproduction will atrophy as well as the right side and the right hand. Man will give birth to his like by the force of the word; his word will mould ethereal bodies like his own.

Amazing! This description is just like this picture! The winged head which will become the will; the atrophied lower part and right arm. Phillip points out that, in reference to the right side atrophying, the upper right quadrant of the circulatory system is different than the left. Lymphatically, anyway.

Perhaps the rib cage expands, discards the lower…and the cup becomes a vessel for the heart-head of the future human being?

Sophia in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation is this future human being that has turned upside down. The crown of 12 stars = the heart, twelve-petal lotus. She is clothed with the Sun, giving birth to a child = the larynx, new organ of ethereal generation. And she stands on the moon, which is usually represented as a crescent = two petal lotus/wings. Perhaps this description has more of the spiritual reality within it, vs Steiner’s more literalistic physical/etheric description.

It looks like he is on a surfboard. Riding the waves—or riding on light beams.

Perhaps a process moving from above to below…the beetle wings of his crown open, dripping white from his ear to his shoulder, breaking the base, and the blue drops down. Creates a spotlight on the floor, light emanating from this blue. This calls up the incursion from below, by casting the spotlight down.

This opening of the robe, exposing how awful things are, reminiscent of the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol who opens his robes to Scrooge, revealing two starving children: Ignorance and Want. The children of all materialists. The awful suffering of which they remain unaware that makes their well being sustainable. Then he is left with the Ghost of Christmas Future, facing his own death.

The yellow part of the throne(?) reminiscent of the lion in Force. Is that a mane or something?

Is that actually a tassel connected to his cape? Or is it the back of the chair/throne?

Looking at the correspondences with Hermit, Justice, Chariot, Lover. It works both backwards and forewords. A blending is going on. Like the Knave and King are combinations of Hermit and Lover, while the Knight and Queen are combinations of Justice and Chariot:

The Lover/groin connection. An issue of Chastity.

The tassel connected to Hermit. The “dripping” lamp and cup. The proto-baton vs staff. The Hermit is also a foreshadowing of the human being of the future—walking on three legs.

This is not a victory, like in the King of Swords…a darker turn.

The Suit of Swords as the active resistance to suffering. The Cups as the acceptance of suffering. This acceptance is the only victory here. The Virgin Mary, “Let it be unto me according to Thy will.”

The Dark Night of the Soul. Feeling awful in the presence of the Divine. No matter how awful it feels, I will do what is needed.

Comparing it to the situation with Estelle Isaacson. A kind of glamor projected onto her by those on the outside, but it is actually an awful experience from the inside. Embarrassing, feeling weak and vulnerable.