Knave of Coins (III)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on February 26, 2019

February 26, 2019

Knave of Coins

We began with the protective practice.

We then invoked the presence of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Trinosophia by performing the closing of the Knight’s Practice and the Glory Be (to the Father and the Mother).

After briefly focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we then performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence and the 19th Letter of the Divine Alphabet (Qoph). 

We read from Psalm 119: 145-152 (related to Qoph); Revelation 6: 7-8; and Matthew 21: 28-32

Observations of the Knave of Coins as a Five (32nd Arcanum):

Pope—Temperance—Two of Coins—Knave of Coins

and as a Six (33rd Arcanum):

Lover—Devil—Two of Coins—Knave of Coins

– We notice a particular resonance between The Lover and the Knave. Their garments; the gesture of the hands on different figures; the points of the sun’s rays and the angel’s arrow are like the belt’s points, only they are in the upper portion rather than the midsection. In fact, it seems whenever we run into this shape in the Majors it is in the upper portion rather than the midsection of the card, as in the Knave. The negative space between the legs of both the Knave and the Lover is very similar, and it is almost knife-like, or like an arrow pointing up. 

– The Two and the Knave can follow on from either the Pope and Temperance, or from Lover and Devil. It is a very different story that is presented depending on which ones they are following on from. It seems as though it is the Lover in particular, however, that is emphasized in the Knave. 

If they follow on from the Pope and Temperance, it is a story about entering into the depth world and developing “Choral thinking”, inspired thinking together with one’s Angel. There is an emphasis on respiration and hermeticism, heart-thinking. 

If they follow on from the Lover and the Devil, it is more about seduction, choice, fidelity, hypnotism vs divine guidance, intoxication vs chastity. 

As a Five, the story is about the depth world being discovered by and interacted with by the human being. As a Six, on the other hand, it is more about the depth world seizing the human being in two different modes. In the mode of the Lover, it is a more human and loving experience of testing. The depth world tests the human unconscious in The Lover, but in a warm and heart-filled way. Whereas in The Devil, the unconscious is being not just tested, but tempted by a fallen/subearthly realm of the depth world. The difference between a trial presented by the so-called “Hierarchies of the Right” (Lover) vs temptation on the part of the “Hierarchies of the Left” (Devil). An attempt to prove the essential goodness vs the essential evil of humanity.

In a certain sense, we could say that the two coins of the Two of Coins (and by extension, the Knave) are here:

Upper coin = Pope and Temperance

Lower Coin = Lover and Devil

The Pope shows us a depth world of heart and will that is divine and un-fallen. The Image. In this interaction “temptation” doesn’t lead to doom but to grace, as represented by The Lover.

Whereas in Temperance, we have an interaction with the depth world more in the realm of the Likeness, which is fallen and needs redeemed. In this realm, temptation can actually lead to doom/evil, as represented by The Devil.

The Two of Coins actually shows the activity of these two realms. Whereas the Knave is affecting the activity that is required to stand back and observe this reality. It is more about coming to awareness of a process rather than actually engaging in it or experiencing it. His engaging is played out in arriving at a state in which he can truly observe and properly see.

This is not about the Knave entering the depth realm and needing to confront and transform Evil into good, overcoming temptation/The Devil in order to achieve transformation. Nothing so heavy or intense as this. He is a Knave, not a Knight!

No, it is harder to qualify…there is a kind of lemniscate of activity once again:

Flowing from the Pope above, down to the Devil below, over to the Lover and then up to Temperance and back to the Pope.

This shows us his process:  he is seeing something enormous, the Pleroma, the fullness of reality in the Coin that he holds (this experience represented by the Pope). In doing this, he has to confront doubt, hidden selfish motivations, fear, the possibility of being hypnotized/paralyzed by this panorama, bowing down and worshipping it and being subservient to it, etc. This experience is represented by the Devil—confronting his own deficiencies. The Lover shows us the successful confrontation, with aid and guidance from above. The fruit of this is shown by Temperance, where he has become equal to that which he must observe, truly seeing it without hesitating, misreading, or falling into a sleep/hypnotic state. On top of this, his own deficiencies, or potential deficiencies, are part and parcel of the very panorama that he is trying to witness in full.

– In a way, this brings us back to a forgotten approach to the Arcana:  the biographical picture, the journey of the human being through life and death. With the Majors, we had come to the following picture:

Magician = Conception

High Priestess = Gestation

Empress = Birth

Emperor = Moon Years

Pope = Mercury Years

Lover = Venus Years

Chariot = (Sentient Soul) Sun Years

Justice = (Intellectual Soul) Sun Years

Hermit = (Consciousness Soul) Sun Years

Wheel of Fortune = Mars Years

Force = Jupiter Years

Hanged Man = Saturn Years

Death = Death

Temperance = Etheric Review

Devil = 40 Days in the Wilderness

Tower of Destruction = Moon Sphere

Star = Mercury Sphere

Moon = Venus Sphere

Sun = Sun Sphere

Judgement = Mars Sphere

Fool = Jupiter Sphere

World = Saturn Sphere

And here we stopped. The Minor Arcana were a question mark in this regard. Would the journey back into incarnation be presented to us?

With the Knave of Coins, something is brought back in this regard, as there is an impression created by him that is akin to the Etheric Review after death. But it is on the other side of the Midnight Hour. Steiner describes the journey of the human being after death as such (throughout GA 140):

During the Etheric Review we have a concrete experience of Cosmic Thought. Our thinking is united with Cosmic Thinking, which is the Akasha. Over the course of Kamaloka, this cosmic thinking flees from us, and flies far ahead on the journey through the realm of death. We are then beings of “will-feeling, or feeling-will” up until the Midnight Hour. We forget completely about our previous life on earth, and our focus is put entirely on the spiritual world. 

At the Midnight Hour, we are confronted with a choice, a Luciferic Temptation:  we can either journey into higher realms where we will be perfected completely by grace, so that we need no longer incarnate, or we can choose to incarnate again. With the latter choice we see that by choosing to incarnate again, we would contribute to the forming of the Great Temple, the New Adam which is the collective being of Humanity—in other words, we contribute to the work of Christ. We have the possibility of bringing new forces into human and spiritual evolution. 

When we make the choice to incarnate again, all of a sudden the “Cosmic Thinking” that flew far ahead of us returns. We have finally caught up with it. This is analogous to the etheric review after death:  an etheric review after the Midnight Hour. But what this Etheric Review shows us with absolute clarity is our karmic debt from the previous life, everything that we must do to make reparation in the life to come. Our gaze is now drawn increasingly toward the Earth. Like the Knave, we must now behold our karmic debt, our past and future, without wavering. This is what happens when we leave the Zodiacal Realm (the realm of the Father) and enter the Saturn Sphere:  the sphere of the Seraphim, Spirits of Love and Memory.

So we might say there is a two-fold aspect to the Ten Numbered Coins:  they are simultaneously an experience of the etheric review right after death, but also an experience of this other etheric review (or preview?) after the Midnight Hour.

Steiner characterizes this another way. Our three day experience of the etheric review after death condenses to a distillation, a kind of seed that we bring with us. We could say that this seed is buried in the earth over the course of our journey from the Moon Sphere to the Midnight Hour. A kind of winter time. And then during and after the Midnight Hour, it is germinated by the Father and begins to grow into a new plant.

The Midnight Hour as the realm of the Father—the Ten Numbered Coins are the Ten Names of God the Father. We are immersed in the “Hallowed be They Name” of the Ten Names of God during the Midnight Hour.

We can see a kind of Trinity of aspects the Ten Numbered Coins:

1:  Ten Names of God

2:  Etheric Review (Likeness)

3:  Return to incarnation (Image/restoration of the Likeness)

All of this brings to mind “Coin,” as in karmic debt, the buried talent, Goethe’s claim that “the Personality is the Highest Treasure.”

And so perhaps the Minor Arcana have indeed continued this journey:  the Ten Numbered Coins as an immersion in the sphere of the Father, and the Court Coins as a journey through the Saturn Sphere, looking towards the next incarnation.

In that sense, considering the future Court Coins. How will they aid in the understanding and elaborating of what the Knave experiences? Does the Knave represent the fullness of a process, or is he just a gateway?

– Returning to the lemniscate created by the “Fives” and “Sixes.” Part of how the Knave is able to observe without getting stuck in any of these realities, overwhelmed and absorbed by them, is his ability to move—and this mobility originates from his sharp alertness. He doesn’t enter completely into any one realm (represented by a card, an Arcanum). He goes in deeply, yet without diving in completely. It’s more that he glides or slides in. He is mobile, yet immobile. He stands in his place, but also steps back, creating distance and space for something to be present. He is both moving and not moving. He brings others together, he merges them. That is the movement he accomplishes, and is simultaneously the antidote to him getting trapped within or overly identified with any one realm/arcanum. He is utilizing tension to bring about mobility. 

In this way he is reminiscent of the Sun’s place amongst the planets. It remains immobile at the center, yet creates movement amongst the other planets by playing with their rhythms and tensions. This is like the restraint, the awakened attention, in the realm of his belt. This is analogous to the “center of the orbit” that is the Sun, with the 10 petalled coin above (thinking) and 11 petalled coin below (willing) circling this orbit.

In fact, we might say that the nature of his intuitive process is to identify with two beings/realms simultaneously. In this way, he is still intuitively uniting himself, yet is protected from the danger of becoming completely absorbed in one realm—something that is especially dangerous, and warned against by Tomberg, for an Arcanum/Realm/Being like “The Devil.”  In intuitively uniting with two (opposite) Arcana simultaneously, it is both safer and more productive. One is not in as much danger of being swept away, and one ends up creating a new, harmonious fusion out of two opposites. But this type of activity is only an option after one has become practiced in intuitively uniting with one Being/Realm/Arcanum at a time. This is more difficult—as beginnings always are.

This brings to mind an earlier discussion about the danger of the guru mentality. When it comes to so-called “Great Teachers” such as Steiner or Tomberg, a guru mentality tends to develop amongst followers and devotees. But this does not happen in the case of something like the friendship and partnership of Goethe and Schiller. Nor does it happen with something like the Inklings. Here it is not a sole individuality that is the source, it is a friendship. And this friendship is not something one can become devoted to like a guru. The human element, the soulful element of love between brothers is so evident and woven into the teaching or art, etc. that comes out of the friendship, that one cannot elevate it to the semi-deified status of guru. Like the Knave, it is both safer and more productive—but maybe also like the Knave, there is a necessity in the operation of the lone teacher, as a preparation. This is perhaps behind the emphasis on Robert’s part that the three Great Teachers of the 20th century must be seen as working together as a unity spread out over time. Then we do not have three gurus, but three friends who just happened, for one reason or another, to be unable to work together at the same time.

– The World as 21, and the Knave as 32. Is there some kind of gematria in the math of 21 + 10 = 31, then + 1 = 32? In other words, taking The World (21), and then progressing her through the Ten Numbered Coins and coming to the Knave (31+1 = 32), have we returned to the status of The World at a higher level? The Knave is outside of a circle, looking in. The World is inside of a circular form, looking out. She is actively dancing; he is stable/passive. They are equal but opposite gates to the midnight hour. 

Certainly there is a kinship between:

Magician (1)—Force (11)—World (21) on the one hand and

Ace (1)—Knave (11) on the other. 

Does the world also make this pincer hand gesture? If so, it’s not entirely clear anymore what she is holding! The philtre no longer has a shape that makes sense.

– Notice we have been looking at the Knave primarily as either a Five (32nd Arcanum) or a Six (33rd Arcanum). Now, in the “Coin Organism” we came upon some time back, it became clear that when all of the Numbered Coins are united into one being, there are 33 Coins total. So the 10 Names of God = 33; therefore, he is the 33rd Arcanum, beholding the fullness of the 10 Numbered Coins which is 33.

Within the 10 is 33, which is 6 (33=3+3=6). This is exactly what is inscribed upon the coin he holds:  ten petals without, six petals within. He is beholding the Decad in its separateness (10) and its wholeness (33=6).

Does the bottom coin, the six petals within eleven petals, indicate that it is still 33 coins total even including the Knave? That the Decad is both changed yet unchanged due to his activity of observing it?

Perhaps the two “distilled” coins in the Ten of Coins, the two coins that arise above the plant, are identical with the two in the Knave. The total number of coins from Ace to Knave would still be 33 then.  Does this make the sharp, metal plant/flower from the center of the Ten equivalent to his belt?

Notice that the total number of petals between the two coins in the Knave is 33! 10+6+11+6 = 33! This is basically 21+12. Ever since the Three of Coins, there have been 12 petals in the outer flower of the coins. These twelve petals have both condensed into the center of these two coins, as well as split into two:  6+6. Perhaps the Knave has cut the 12 into two with his sharp objects:  the hidden dagger up his sleeve and his pointed belt. A pre-figuring or preparation for the Swords? He is both cutting and merging, he is both sides of that process. Ha!—The old, trite phrase, “There are two sides to every coin” takes on new meaning out of our work with the Minor Arcana. Literally every single one has presented to us a simultaneity of polarized meanings. Not necessarily “good” and “shadow,” but simply two opposite but completely present and unified meanings. This brings about exactly the exercise with which the Knave is engaged—intuitively uniting himself with two opposite realms simultaneously. Simultaneously divided and fused.

But what about 21—why is it split into 10 and 11?

– When we look at the coin or coins on each of these Arcana, we expect them to mean something in their own right. But they never do! It is what is happening to the coins that gives them meaning. The plant is definitely doing something to the coin. But with the Knave, this has changed completely. Here we are suddenly very focused on the coins themselves. He too has his gaze completely on the coin.

It is only when there is a discrepancy that we are drawn to the coins themselves. We noticed them in the Ace and the Two, and to some degree in the Three, because the pattern had changed from Arcanum to Arcanum amongst those three. But then the pattern became uniform, and the only motivation we had to pay them any attention was due to the fact that they had been rearranged into a new shape—but the coins themselves were more or less identical, disposable qualitatively. This is precisely the nature of coin—worthless in and of itself, it is only valuable in terms of what it can be exchanged for (i.e. what arranges itself around and through it).

– It is hard to look at the “coin organism” as one object, and not see the distinct Arcana within it. Trying to draw it to make it more objective:

…a symmetrical form, except that the first two (1 and 2) are vertically aligned, while the last two (32 and 33) are horizontally aligned.

– Reflections on last week. Last week we mentioned that the four in the center of the coins from Three through Ten has sacrificed itself in the Knave. Just as the four separate activities of Mysticism, Gnosis, Sacred Magic, and Hermeticism have somehow sacrificed themselves to become the “Shin” of the Knave, a simultaneity of these separate activities. We can also look at other ways that the Four is connected to sacrifice. Certainly it is the very shape of the Cross. Here have the sacrifice of the Moon Chakra (a Cross) for the Venus Chakra (the Six-Pointed Star of Sophia). Christ sacrificing himself for the sake of Sophia. We can see this as a four-side square sacrificing itself to become a cube, which when looked at as a two-dimensional object appears to be a hexagon. In terms of the Minor Arcana, we can see how the Four of Coins sacrifices itself. It exists somehow out of the sequence, it does not belong, and is not, properly speaking, representing the number four—it already pre-figures the five. Four has a strong relationship to sacrifice, so that something higher can come about.

Looking at the gesture of the numbers in relation to chakras.

Ace = 16 Rayed Sun/Flower (Mars), and an inner flower that could be 8 (Saturn) or 4 (Moon)


Knave = 10 Petaled Flower (Mercury), 2 (=11; Jupiter), 6 Petaled flower (Venus); 12 (=6+6; Sun).

So here we have completely complementary planets/chakras. Very hard/solid/heavy planets in the Ace vs more fluid and radiant planets in the Knave.

What lies in between is the transition from one to the other. In the Two of Coins, we have 2 (Jupiter), 10 (Mercury) and 4 (Moon). Whereas in the others we have mainly 12 (Sun) and 4 (Moon).

Therefore we can see that Two is an attempt at what is achieved in the Knave, but it is missing the Sun and Venus—it is missing Love! It takes a long path for true relationship, true love—true exchange—to develop. 

– Taking a look at what is to come in the Knight of Coins. Primarily with the Knave we were concerned with this aspect of 10 vs 11 petals, seeing the Knave as the 11th in relation to the prior 10, a retrospective. But there is also the aspect of 21 total outer petals and 12 total inner petals:  21/12, 12/21—a mirroring activity around the 12. The Knight is the 12th Arcanum—so the Knave is also looking ahead, not just backward.

– The Knave is like Abraham holding up Isaac, preparing to sacrifice this wonderful, irreplaceable treasure. “Brace Yourself.” The Knave sees all in the coin, and is being asked to have the courage and fortitude to sacrifice it so that something higher can come about (the path of the Swords).

We closed with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in Eurythmy