King of Swords (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on November 5, 2020

November 5, 2020

King of Swords, pt 1

We began with the protective practice.

We then invited the guidance of the Crucified Christ to our conversation.

After briefly focusing the mantra IT THINKS on the region of the larynx, we moved the third part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“I Rest within the Godhead of the World”), the 11th letter of the Divine Alphabet (Kaph, in relation to the 11th Arcanum, Force) and the 11th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice—related to the 5th healing miracle of Walking on Water and the 5th level of Trespass—Fleeing from the face of God.

We then read from Revelation 13:10-12

– This feels like we’ve time-warped back to the Majors. He doesn’t strike you as a Minor Arcanum.

– Phillip has quite a few impressions…it’s difficult for him to separate positive developments in his own life from the impression he’s receiving from the card.

He first noticed the yellow, radiant, glowing crown. It’s radiant, yet in a way secretly, it’s behind the hat somehow. It feels as though this somehow reflects or indicates the King’s knowing, his consciousness. And then the way he’s looking back on the rest of the Suit of Swords…there’s something more than just reflection or rumination on the past happening here. It’s more related somehow to what we find in the 11th portion of the Grail Knight’s Practice, this awakening to the Mother in the depths of the Earth. Like he has now acquired this awareness of the Mother working in the depths. And even though he wasn’t aware of her for the entire development of the Swords leading up to him, now looking back he can see and feel her presence weaving through all of these past stages of development and experiences. And this new awareness doesn’t just transform his state of being in the present, it transforms everything that came before. It takes all of these pieces that felt divided and disconnected and in a flash, unites them all into a harmonious whole. 

A revelation through a new way of seeing. Akin to this idea that Jesus Christ, the Mystery of Golgotha, is The Center of gravity of time, the Origin of Time, which then radiates out, transforming and re-determining all of the past events leading up to it, and all of the future proceeding from it. The idea that the past and future aren’t necessarily fixed—his looking back makes the fractured past whole in a magical way.

Phillip always felt, throughout all of the struggles originating around age 18, a severe fragmentation that breaks him apart, and what is breaking is a sense for the wholeness that he is present in. On some abstract level he maintains the awareness that, “yes, the world around me is whole—but it is not whole for me, experientially. And if I validate this subjective perception of things not being whole, of being fractured, then I betray the true wholeness.” But in hindsight, he can find the wholeness that was there all along, that could not be seen in the moment of passing through it—and only then the soul becomes whole.

– Perhaps we could compare the journey through the Swords leading up to the King as being lost in the woods at night, of feeling this panic that one is lost forever and is going to die alone in the wilderness. And then you finally pass out from exhaustion, or from running into a tree and getting knocked out, and when you wake up in the morning, you see that the whole time you were lost in your own backyard, which you couldn’t recognise in the night and in your panic.

Only this has happened in the soul life. One was lost in the soul life, and felt as though one could never make it back to the Sun. This is a deeper, more amplified version, an existential version.

The King is that moment of waking up, of seeing where you’ve been the whole time. Realising the momentary perception was inaccurate. 

That moment when you wake up, and the dream starts to fade, it recedes and dissipates—day consciousness absorbs it. 

But then that begs the question—was this actually a birth process? Or an illusion?

Maybe if you don’t make it through this whole process with enough of the thread of reality that connects the before and after…you get lost in it forever. Like Ariadne’s thread in the labyrinth. You would never get to that hindsight moment, the flash of understanding the reality of what you’ve been through. 

Or Dante. What if he had stopped on his journey, become lost in Hell?

That coming to day consciousness, the realisation that the tree scraping your window was not a monster…does that make the whole journey “just a dream”, an imagined thing? Or was it a reality that one passed through?

Either way, there’s a sigh of relief. You wake up in the morning with an overwhelming gratitude that you could come out of that experience, and it wasn’t the be-all end-all you felt it to be. You weren’t and aren’t doomed.

And maybe the more accurate description isn’t just a waking up from a dream in the morning. It’s more like the end of the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy returns/wakes up from Oz. Or the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There’s this certainty that one has been through something that has utterly transformed you—but an uncertainty about exactly what the nature of it was. “Was that real? Or was it just a dream? What was that?”

– Like passing through the Belt of Lies, or dwelling on the Threshold. You can’t linger there and actually know it in its reality. That’s what the Numbered Swords express. This region or experience that you have to leave in order to recollect it, to know where you’ve really been.

– The other piece is that ability to retain or recollect the dream. There’s a balance there. You have to be able to hold onto that invisible thread that leads you to the other side of the dream, and yet nonetheless be able to so thoroughly internalise the nightmare to the point that it can actually be recollected, and therefore properly asses what it looks like from within (during the experience) and from without (after the fact).

Walking between these extremes of madness—of being lost in the dream—vs waking up with no memory of what was. 

– He is a new creation somehow. Whatever he was, the journey actually transformed him. Prior to this journey he couldn’t operate with this memory, with this awareness. The difference between looking at the map or planning the route, and walking the path, actually making your way to the destination. 

– Arranging them from right to left seems to make sense: King—Queen—Knight—Knave

(As opposed to Coins which were arranged left to right). 

He’s the only one of the four looking back, with this new capacity, due to being the last link in the chain.

– It’s interesting that the first thing Phillip noticed was this crown of light—for Joel, it was the last thing he saw. He got this impression of “A City on a Hill” sort of quality. Like he’s trying to veil or hide this powerful shine, but it’s so bright it can’t be hidden.

– Joel also had an instantaneous impression as he was laying out the cards for the evening that you could move directly from the Ace to the King if you placed them next to each other. It’s like there are these two holes made in space in the Ace—out of one comes the hand of the King, and he pulls this Sword out of the other hole (the Crown)…and he just keeps pulling until the entire King follows along. This weird magic act where he pulls himself out of the hat. A sudden appearance.

Like a time dilation through a wormhole, going through the birth canal of the Numbered Swords has a kind of instantaneous transition from one Arcanum to the next. Then we hit the Court Swords, and it’s like that moment after leaving warp speed, where the full form of the ship comes back in layers one by one. 

It’s like the move from Ace straight to King is the outer event, how it appears externally—a sudden magical appearance. But the full deck, including all the other stages in between, expresses what it felt like for him, for the King—what he experienced from within the activity.

– We’re also looking at this entire suit basically as “The Tower of Destruction done right.” And so it’s like the Tower is Man, is the King. A la Schwaller de Lubicz, The Temple of Man.

He’s like some combination of the Emperor and the Chariot. Like the art of learning to learn combined with mastering mastery. What would the 3rd iteration be? Transforming transformation?

– This waking in the night life, and then retaining it while awake. It’s expressed in a way by the crown of light above, and then these two faces, one on each shoulder. Maybe they speak to him, he communicates with them. Like the crown illuminates the night life, and the faces retain the memory.

He’s achieved a perfect balance from one perspective, yet from another he’s full of this potential, a gnostic potential, for power. The power to draw things into a cohesive whole. 

– There’s this balance around the crown of light, and then this balance of the two faces. Would the third balance be between the sword on his right, and the emerging baton on his left? Is this the first baton? No, not the first…the Knight of Coins had a club.

Maybe the sword and the baton expresses “mastering mastery”

And the two faces express “transforming transformation”

And the light above is memory, the art of “learning to learn”

– His breastplate is so striking, like water in a constant flow. It’s huge, and yet it’s so balanced, there is a great harmony all throughout it. 

He is certainly much more harmonious than other Court Arcana thus far.

– Going back to the Tower. This lightning, this instantaneous appearance or flashing in…yet on the other side of this experience it’s the total opposite, because this lightning is a flashing in of eternity, of something endless. 

– The progression…in the Ace, there is the implication of a human being due to the presence of the hand. Then there is nothing human at all in the remainder of the Numbered Swords. Then we have a human being finding himself in the progression of Knave, Knight, Queen…until we get to the King, who more or less says “Actually, the human being was always here, it just flashed forward, and reconfigured the past by its arrival.”

We can think again of the true process of evolution as the unfolding of the Adam Kadmon, or of the small child gradually coming to consciousness. But in this moment what strikes in as a new image is the Etheric Christ as lightning flashing from the East to the West, and yet simultaneously “Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Age.” So experiencing the Etheric Christ is a flash, an unpredictable moment in time, and yet this experience brings in its wake the transformative realisation that reconfigures all the apparent lack of Him that came before this flash, and now we see that he has always been there. 

– Another aspect is like…well, it’s hard to describe…let’s say one is now looking back over one’s life or over a journey…and in the course of the actual journey (in this case, the step-wise movement through the Numbered Swords) felt disjointed, like disconnected qualities in each stage. And maybe there is something to do here with the fallen likeness. Like the ability to observe the Image is obscured by a kind of “cloud” produced by the fallen likeness. And it’s only in the passage through the Queen that the fallen likeness is redeemed, becomes Likeness—and then it’s only in hindsight that the all-pervasive presence of the Image throughout the entire journey reveals itself. During the journey itself, this clouding of the Image by the fallen likeness made every blow of destiny feel like an attack on one’s self, but then in hindsight, these blows of destiny are then revealed to be the activity of the Image, bringing to birth the conformity of the likeness once again with the Image as prototype. 

– Going back to the breastplate…there is a similarity there between the breastplate and the knees. Similar shape, with this angle pointing upwards, meeting in a central, balanced point—really meeting in a vertical line, at least his left knee clearly does. There is this impression in the breastplate of these two columns spiralling inward, like water flowing into something. Like part of a fountain display. 

It makes one think of the verse quoted in the recent email from Bill Trusiewicz, from John 7:38…”out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”

This breastplate has a stronger structure vs that worn by the Charioteer. We can see him in the same light as the prior three Court Arcana—as this energy of transformative possibility—yet with the King it has reached a stable form. Yet he is still pulsating with this powerful energy, and with possibilities of transformation.

– Notice that the dots have become ubiquitous, and very well arranged, yet not in any mechanical sort of way (vs the Knight). His shining, obscured crown appears to be all dots, and very different from the Queen’s crown.

– With the Pope, you would enter into this still, night-time oceanside scene within him. Here you would enter the rapids if you entered into his zone. 

Yet this quality in the night…it could carry you off to a place you won’t make your way back from. In this case it’s well-balanced, held, structural…and as breastplate the implication is it is somehow protective. You can try to pierce water with a sword—it’s not going to do anything! It merges back together again immediately.

It’s like we’re now on the cusp of the Cups, and his whole body is water. His arms, legs and trunk. He’s a living mystery. The King of Coins is putting on display this secret knowledge, giving validity to your guess, rewarding your struggle. This King is not doing something instructional. He is a living expression of the Mystery, the Mystery embodied, not taught or described.

– He is becoming a Cup, a Cup of light, a Cup of water.

– Going back to this phrase “City on a Hill.” Notice that the Ace of Cups begins with this city-like cup, all towers. He is a meeting place of two Aces—the Ace of Swords and Ace of Cups.

He’s becoming a container—the light radiating out of the head is a central piece, at the core of everything he’s accomplished and the core of his structure. Like a sign of that 8th force which brings the other 7 into balance that Tomberg writes of in the transition from the Chariot to Justice. 

– What is the organisational principal that underlies the transformational force or energy he radiates? 

Clearly the sword is at the ready, perhaps to cut off errant portions of his body (trying to run off a la the Knight). And perhaps the baton is like the invisible thread he hung onto during his journey through the labyrinth of the Numbered Swords.

– The skirt is the most disorganised piece. It looks sloppy. Drawn by a child. Even his left hand is strange, poorly drawn somehow. This is the only portion that feels as though it’s still in development, this place where the baton is. We’re reminded of the Magician—who holds the ball at the region of his generative organs. The knob of the baton is in the same region on the King. 

– This baton looks like a ruler. And it’s akin somehow to the belt he’s wearing. Then there’s this weird flesh-coloured section on the other side of the baton. Is that more of his robes? Or his throne? They blend together. If it’s throne, it’s cutting into his skirt. 

There is definitely an abundance of this flesh color, with the sword and the throne. The yellow accompanies the flesh color.

The flesh color all goes together with this really wacky throne—is it even a throne? It’s kind of a pillar? Very geometrical. Is he on top of a turret, on a castle somewhere, up on the roof? They almost look like stairs or steps, especially behind his right leg. There is this impression of multiple levels or layers. Hard to make sense of it. And then there’s this strange symbol down at the bottom as well. Is that a bass clef? With a plant-like form next to it. 

Bass Clef Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

– The knees look like leaves or bugs.

– The shoes have these curled toes. Again, calling to mind the “Hope U” gesture in eurythmy. 

It’s like he is a sword. If he stuck is feet together like Charlie Chaplin, and stood very straight, his feet would form a handguard. What if he was once a sword, but one that has passed through his transformational birth canal?

– But then there is this skirt/hand/baton region that is not quite done. It’s cooling off, an unfinished portion…again, like it’s still returning from warp speed. An opening in the spiral, the seed for the Cups. 

But from the waist up, it is a beautiful image. Really represents this “Mastery of mastery.” 

– The Ace of Swords is the Tower that transforms rather than expelling inhabitants. 

– With the Knave, we had this separation into three parts, of head, larynx and trunk. Then we had this intimation of Adam, Adam Kadmon, with both Knave and Knight. With the Queen, we got this picture of John Zebedee at the foot of the Cross, taking Mary as his mother. John Zebedee, in this moment, is a three-fold John: John the Baptist overlighting Lazarus-John, who dwells in the heart of John Zebedee. Here we have Adam, Cain, and St Francis unified. Well, maybe there is a connection there between these three Johns and these different parts of the Knave and the King. Maybe John the Baptist, with his beheading, would be connected to the Head and the crown of light (this memory or learning to learn). Maybe John Zebedee would be related to the transformation, to the shoulders, to the larynx, since as St Francis he had this power to tame and transform the wolf. And then perhaps we could think of Lazarus-John as related to the trunk and to the region of the baton. This “Master of Mastery.” Resurrection from the dead.

– And then there is this image of the red sword from the Queen as the redeemed Likeness. We put it into connection with the Larynx. Notice that in the Knave, he pulls the sword from out of his larynx, this is what activates the whole process and releases him from the “bag of waters.” What he pulls out would initially appear to be a red sword—but then he pulls the true sword out, and the red is revealed to be only the sheath, only an appearance. The Knave’s likeness only has the appearance of being whole, but then as soon as he uses the sword to open his crown to the Divine, it becomes a fallen likeness. Somehow this conjures the fallen likeness as being in relation to the fallen Word, the misuse of the larynx. With the Queen, the Larynx, the Word, the Likeness, is redeemed. 

Maybe the King is this threefold Word, in that he is a threefold John: notice he has three heads. Perhaps the main head is John the Baptist, with the other two flanking him on each side. The entirety works together as one being who acts and maintains the wholeness. 

– This light glowing out of the crown—perhaps we could think of this as a column of light that has adorned itself with this magnificence in the form of the King of Swords. Adorned with this beautiful and organised garb, with these columns of water. The Light pouring out of the crown is The Center of gravity for the whole thing—like Christ maintaining the unity of the Three Johns. 

– The Ace is like a sword of flame, and flying off of it are primal seeds of light that go through a journey to become an organizing light within the King himself. 

Perhaps this is all related to the three levels of light in the 8th part of the Grail Knight’s practice, related to the Healing of the Nobleman’s Son: 

Radiant light to the Circle of All

Warming light upon the Circle of Nature

Glowing light into the Circle of Neighborly Love

– Sabrina pointed out that “Decision” etymologically originates in the Latin for “to cut off.” And so every cut is a decision, a discarding of that which you have chosen not to do. The Swords are in a way stuck in indecision until the Knave makes the first cut…and maybe that wasn’t a good decision, a spontaneous act that had huge unintended consequences…but at least it was a decision!

We’ll leave this for now…it feels a bit endless…let’s let it percolate…

We closed with the third portion of the Foundation Stone Meditation.