Knight of Coins (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation from March 12, 2019

Knight of Coins 

March 12, 2019

We began with the protective practice.

We then invoked the presence of the Virgin Mary through performing Hail Mary in eurythmy through the seven chakras, from below to above, working with the words from the cross.

After focusing briefly on the brow chakra and the mantra “I AM,” we performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence and the 18th Letter of the Divine Alphabet, Tsadde (in relation to the Moon).

We then read from Psalm 119:137-144 in relation to Tsadde, Revelation 6:9-11, and Matthew 22:15-22.

At the last minute, rather than considering the Knight of Coins in relation to The Moon (as would have been our habit), Joel decided to set it in relation to the Three of Coins (the Knight being the 12th Coin Arcanum, and therefore a “3”). This set it in a surprising light. When he considered why he had intuited this choice, it seemed that as of the 10, we can now refer back to prior Minor Arcana, rather than resorting to Majors. I.E., the 10 relates to the Ace, the Knave to the Two, and the Knight to the Three. We can begin in the sphere of the Minors and only draw on the Majors as arises naturally, so to speak.

– Geometrically, the Three seems to fit well with the Knight. It seems right. Although it isn’t immediately apparent how, it does somehow illumine the inner nature of the Knight.

One thing that it does, is it makes the red hour-glass shape created by the Knight’s garment stand out. It’s like the triangle formed by the Three, with an upside-down reflection of this triangle above.

This “hour-glass” or X shape is also reminiscent of the form of the plants in the Three. This calls up a new perspective on the Three of Coins, somewhat like a triangle with an X drawn over it; or maybe more accurately, a medium sized triangle in the middle, with a larger upside-down triangle superimposed, its lowest point meeting the bottom of the middle triangle. This lowest point would also be the apex of a small, upright triangle below the medium sized upright triangle.

The arrangement of the coins in the Three also calls up the image of a rider (upper coin) on horseback (lower two coins). Note that the Three of Coins, from one point of view, is the 25th Arcanum, and therefore a “7,” relating it to the Chariot. This holds true for the Knight of Coins as well (as the 34th Arcanum). 

– Noticing that on the rear of the horse, there is a shape reminiscent of the stole of the High Priestess. Is the Knight a kind of melding of the High Priestess and the Chariot, as the Knave was a blend of the Magician and the Emperor?

(We now add to our spread the High Priestess, the Empress, the Chariot and the Knave)

– In comparison to the Knave, much more of the Knight’s neck is covered. 

– The Ground is golden once again, as are the plants.

– The garment of the Knight is similar to the Knave’s in many ways, but we haven’t seen anything like the Knight’s cap before. It doesn’t look much like a helmet at all, more of a bonnet. Perhaps it could be construed as a rounded, armored cap? One would only reach for an interpretation like that with the knowledge that this is supposed to be a Knight, otherwise one would never think of it.

– The face looks somewhat masculine, but it’s ambiguous. It’s definitely youthful, but there is a heaviness around the eyes akin to some of the Majors. 

– Both the Knave and Knight have white hair.

– The horse’s mouth is open—is he chomping the bit?

– Only one arm and one leg (his right side) are visible. Note the position of the leg: active, firm, pushed against the stirrup. A straight leg—is the horse rearing back? The Knight is certainly not riding into/leaning into the charge. There is activity, but it isn’t a powerful motion. Maybe he is steadily moving, but certainly not galloping. It looks more like he’s leaning back to counter/brake a forward motion.

– Is this a combination of High Priestess and Empress the way Knave was a combination of Magician and Emperor? One could make a case for that. The gaze of the Knight and the Empress is very similar. The Empress looks towards the ball and cross at the top of the scepter the same way the Knight looks to the Coin. The neck of the High Priestess is covered similar to the Knight’s.

– A strong diagonal line dividing the clothes. Like two different people really. Look at the right shoulder, for example. The clothes don’t line up on one side of his club vs the other. He is pious in the upper portion, which seems to recede into the background. He is active in the lower portion, which appears to emerge into the foreground.

How is he pious above? For example—the left hand could be tucked into his robe, like a mudra, covered and hidden, yet active in a spiritual sense.

Also, note the body of the horse vs its head. Its front left hoof is raised; this is reflective of the upper left portion of the whole image that has receded into the background (i.e. “lifted up”).

– Approaching a narrative, a background to the story presenting itself here. He is en route to his mission, then draws up when confronted suddenly by the Coin. This raises some questions:

– Why is he a knight with a baton (rather than either a sword or a coin, which one would expect)?

– Is the baton creating the split?

– Does this result in a two-fold response to the Coin? One part of him is receptive, the other is not fully there?

– In fact, Joel’s original inner question when he looked at the Knight was, why is it that he foreshadows the clubs or batons? Why doesn’t he hold a coin? Why does the Coin float before him? In the Knights of other suits, they hold the item pertaining to the suit.

But then this narrative almost makes sense of this question. The club or baton part of him races on ahead, wants to get into the future (the final suit), but is not formed properly. Compared to the true Knight of Batons, this baton is not shaped correctly. It is cruder, primitive, more club like, whereas the true Baton is shaped more like the trees in the Hanged Man. The Coin, on the other hand, is something confronted, as is proper to the Knight, rather than something he carries, as is proper to a Knave/Valet. It draws him up short, causes him to restrain, reflect, elevate.

– There is still this “grounded will” vs “entering the spiritual” that is expressed by the Knave, but it is splitting him into two pieces. The bottom half synthesizes so much—High Priestess, Force, Chariot, Emperor, Hanged Man, etc—but does so prematurely. It approaches the ultimate goal, but falls short.

– He is an image of Saul/Paul, or Kyot. One who is transformed from above to below through a “road to Damasus” type of experience. Dropping the weapon—maybe the baton was pointed forward before, and as it turns back and recedes, it “paints over” and transforms the Knight from a “Saul” state to a “Paul” state.

– Notice the four points on the Knave’s belt have transformed into the four circles on the horse’s bridle. And around these four circles are 22 lines! This horse is like an expression of the synthesis that exists unconsciously in the instinct alone. This instinct must go through the stages of purgation, illumination, and union as mentioned in The Moon (page 504). It must become disinterested, become capable of reflecting upon itself, unite with its object, and be able to extend itself indefinitely. 

– Returning to the stole:  this is a sign that, like Kyot, this Knight is in service of the priesthood, in service of restraint, etc. but only in the realm of the Will. A kind of instinctive restraint and priestliness. It hasn’t yet been raised into the full daylight of human consciousness, until he is confronted by the Coin.

– The difference between disciple and apostle. Something was laid as potential into all of the disciples that could only be actualized at Whitsun when they blossomed into apostles. Saul as Hebrew initiate vs Paul as Christian. As Hebrew initiate, he was familiar with all of the gnosis, all of the rites, etc. But because of the teachings of the mystery schools, he did not recognize Christ properly. To him, this was an imposter and a betrayer of the secrets of the mysteries, and his followers had to be stopped at all costs. Only the Damascus experience could convince him of the reality of Christ as the Messiah that the Mysteries had been predicting and preparing for. It is the same, then, with Paul. All that had been laid in him as potential through the mysteries (yet was in a disorderly state) could only be actualized through the transformational power of the Etheric Christ. Perhaps this is the difference between, say, merely reflecting the realm of archetypes vs actuating, uniting with the realm of archetypes on the level of being, the alchemical marriage.

This seems to relate very much to what Tomberg writes of in Lazarus, Come Forth!, in the section on the Three Kingdoms (pages 258-262 in the newer edition). He writes of initiation vs beatitude. Initiation is a one-time death experience, the memory of which lives with one and informs one’s life from then on. But Beatitude is a permanent, ongoing union with the Spirit, an experience of the life of the Spirit, not a death process.

Note that one can have all the right knowledge, yet still go so far astray without the living, perennial experience of the Spirit.

Reflecting on the idea of the Three Great Teachers. Some Anthroposophists would claim that Steiner is the initiate for the guidance of the next 3,000 years of human evolution. But he, like initiation in comparison to beatitude, is not the be-all end-all. He is part of an ongoing process, that leads from one Teacher to the next in a living Tradition. 

Steiner as Moses. Saul was stuck in the Moses mysteries, which were, on the level of knowledge, entirely correct and irrefutable. Yet depending on whether one is stuck in the Moses (or Steiner) mysteries, or simply prepared and enabled by the Moses mysteries makes all the difference for what can come next. Again we return to the Moon—we must choose. Does thought regress into the stagnant waters like the crayfish? Or does it become Eagle, and take the flying leap? (page 523)

– Noting the continuation from the baton into the bridle of the horse, a kind of hook shape is created. In fact, here we have something very indicative of the scythe from Death! What a breadth of reference in this Arcanum. This scythe would be cutting the head off of the horse. What does this indicate?

– It is difficult to resist the temptation to look ahead to the other Knights, or to the King and Queen of Coins, in order to compare them to what we have here. This goes hand in hand with this theme of the horse trying to charge ahead, while the Coin forces the Knight to rear back. One example:  isn’t it curious how flesh-colored this horse is? Is that unique, or common to the other Knights? From the Knight of Batons, we can see that the horse is white, and is draped in a flesh-colored cloth. Quite a transformation. Refined, Grail garment on the horse itself. This horse, on the other hand, is so fleshy and naked looking. Exposed. Perhaps the horse is the outgrowth of his “hidden” left arm and leg. In a sense, it is his left arm and leg. As in other Arcana, he has united with the beings and objects around him.

We might see him as a transformation of the Knave. The Knave’s flesh colored cape has united with the flesh colored ground and the lower coin in order to become the horse. Vs the upper coin and the center of the Knave’s hat uniting to form the upper portion of the Knight. Notice that if the center of the Knave’s hat were to unite with the outer Coin, it would result in a hat similar to the Knight’s bonnet. The bottom portion is being overtaken by something, becoming animalistic, whereas the upper portion is counteracting this with Light from above.

– The Knight is referential to High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Pope, Chariot, Force, Hanged Man, and Death. He is the 12th Coin Arcanum, and notice that once again we have returned to the 12-petalled design on the Coin that was present from the Three through the Ten. The Knave had the Ten and Eleven-petalled designs. The Knight has Twelve. Does this Twelve relate to a perhaps immature uniting of earlier Major Arcana—maybe 12 of them?

The Coins are “worths” or ideals that have to be paid in order to have experiences in the spiritual world. Do we see here the lower, 11-petalled Coin from the Knave being exchanged for the development into horse? The Coin “purchases” the synthesized experience of many disparate Arcana, but not in a final or finished form. 

On the other hand, the 10-petalled Coin from the Knave becomes the 12-petalled Coin of the Knight, and begins a new process of exchange and transformation.

Notice the 12-petalled Coin is still a total of 16, just like the 10-petalled Coin. The 12-petalled coin has 4 petals within (12+4=16); the 10-petalled has 6 within (10+6=16). It is not worth more or less, just a re-organization. Instead of the forces of Mercury (10) and Venus (6), we have the forces of Sun (12) and Moon (4). We have returned to the Sun/Moon force of Three through Ten, but different.

In fact, we can see in comparing this single “12 coin” to the other “12 coins” in the Three through Ten that the 12 petals have finally developed into a full flower. The petals are not entirely distinct from each other in the former coins. And the 4 petalled flower has become less elaborate/prominent than it was prior to the Knight. The emphasis is more on the Solar aspect of 12 rather than the Lunar aspect of 4, for the first time. Also, both flowers—perhaps the whole coin?—has tilted. Has the Coin rotated? This would also be a first.

Relating this back to Steiner’s indications in How to Know Higher Worlds. He speaks of the exercises in morality (6 basic exercises, etc) as ensuring that the lotus flowers develop the correct form. Without these exercises they become malformed and don’t function properly. Whereas the exercises in meditation, concentration, etc have more to do with make the lotus flowers rotate—which rotation indicates that spiritual perception (clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc) is taking place.

So the form of the lotus flowers (i.e. Coins) are determined by morality. This we could relate to the Ten Numbered Coin Arcana, which show us the Ten Names of God. A moral elaboration/formation.

Whereas the movement of the lotus flowers/Coins is determined by meditation exercises, and is related to actual spiritual perception. This might have more to do with the Four Court Coin Arcana, which display to us active clairvoyance.

– In Steiner’s lectures on the life after death in 1915, he speaks of the limitation of the spiritual worldview that only seeks for unity. He talks about how our life on earth presents us with a great multiplicity, one that rarely makes sense and seems so disconnected and not inter-related. We seek in our spirituality for a “grand synthesis,” so that we all may enter into a grand unification, to see the Oneness amongst all things. But as soon as we enter the life between death and rebirth, this point of view changes completely. 

In our life between birth and death, we have absolutely no memory (in normal circumstances) of our own birth and the few years afterward. Whereas after we die, at first we are so overwhelmed by the cosmic consciousness that we go into a kind of “swoon” state. Like John of the Cross and the Dark Night of the Soul, compared to the light of God, the light within the human being is darkness. But when our “eyes adjust” to the level of light after death, we then perceive a grand unity. Instead of the great multiplicity that confronts us on Earth, in Heaven it is a great Unity that we are confronted with, and the struggle is to discern multiplicity within this Unity, to tease out so to speak the individual beings that are active in the spiritual world. And we do this through the agency of the memory of our own death, the moment of our own death. Unlike life between birth and death, in which we have no memory of our birth at all, in contrast after we have died, the memory of our death stays with us for the entirety of our time there. Gradually the memory of and attachment to our previous life fades, but the memory of our moment of death remains and grows ever stronger. Through what is given to us through this memory, we are able to “kill” a portion of the great unity, to create a kind of shadow or hole there, and within this opening we create, a space is made for an individual spiritual being to present itself to us. We must use the power of death to meet individual beings in the spiritual world (see here:

We might see the Knight of Coins as an image of this. Down below, it is a great swirling together of many different Arcana (or Beings) into one image. The “death force” of the Coin above is drawing out of this homogenous mass one being, and single entity:  the Knight.

– Both the Knave and the Knight show us a kind of confrontation. In each, the Coin is distinct from the human, in that neither Knave nor Knight seems to be a pure reflection or representation of the object. The quality of the Coin arises out of the type of impact it is having on the human being in the image. This seems to change later on, first of all with the King of Coins (who is in a sense united with the object he is holding).

– It is interesting, the move from a “Hamlet” theme in the Knave to a “Kyot/Saul-Paul” theme with the Knight. Saul-Paul’s future incarnations. Rudolf Grosse. Then thinking of Manfred Schmidt-Brabant. Examples of “staying Saul,” in other words having all of the knowledge provided by Rudolf Steiner but remaining stuck in it rather than allowing it to be the foundation for a further transformation.

– It is a very large coin compared to most of the others, and compared to those that are to come (for example, the King’s is very small). There is a lot of space in it for the adornment, but it has been used sparingly. It really is a sun-like coin, exerting its influence and shining out. 

– What does it mean that the Knave has the coin and is figuring out what to do with it vs the Knight who confronts or stumbles upon the coin?

The Knave is looking back, the Knight is running into the future. He is stumbling upon the future unaware. Whereas the Knave has the Coin, it’s more as though the Coin has the Knight. The Knave has a split Coin—one above and one below; whereas the Coin in the Knight has a split human—a portion above and a portion below. Likewise, in this case, it is the Coin itself pondering, “what do I do with this?”  

Is this the first time we have explicitly referred to an active consciousness in the Coin itself? It radiates and directs this time; it is no longer the more or less static object around which activity happens and arranges itself. Prior to this, it was dependent on any kind of characterization from how it was adorned by the life of the plant. It was active in a sense prior to this inasmuch as it gave itself away for the sake of the plant to develop. It was a purely sacrificial activity. But here it gives itself away without also depleting itself or losing its pro-active consciousness:  a true Sun.

– The Knave sees a reflection of himself in the Ten Coin. Whereas here, the 12 Coin reflects itself into the Knight. Platonic Ideals shining into and reflecting out of what has come before. The Knight himself is coin-like. He gives of himself in order to be transformed. The process of Exchange. In this image of the Knight, we could say that the lower portion represents the 22 Major Arcana, which are the paths, which are the plants. They are sacrificing themselves in order to conform to the Coin/Sun (Sephiroth). 

– The struggle to articulate all of this is potent. It is as though our words are reaching towards something they cannot quite grasp, racing ahead of our thoughts. This is exactly reflective of the image we are discussing. Again an experiential investigation of an Arcanum. An experience of the “spring time” of the Word, of ideas coming into being, vs the “autumn time” of the finished idea, the completed thought.

– What if…both Plato and Aristotle are correct? What if there are both transcendent archetypes (Plato) as well as imminent archetypes (Aristotle) and not either/or? Two sets of archetypes in the two different realms. How does that look? How does that play out? Is it a matter of reflection? Or of potentizing? Ideally, there would be some kind of mutual interaction, and not a closing off of one realm from the other.

We might see the narrative playing out in the following stages:

Perhaps there is an initial “dwelling together” in the same sphere by both Aristotelian and Platonic Archetypes. They are not necessarily identical, but co-exist in the same spiritual realm. Then there is some kind of a battle. The Aristotelian archetypes descend into a “fallen” earthly sphere, and the Platonic rises up into the transcendent sphere. And there is not a match between them. The fallen archetypes do not manifest in such a way that they are aligned with the Platonic archetypes.

This results in a resistance to conform on the part of the fallen archetypes. They must be potentized from above—and this operates against their will, by necessity. Freedom is not an option until they have regained their true, original form. They are eventually brought to the point of being a reflection, a copy or mirror image of the Platonic Archetypes above. Only then can a mutual interaction begin, an interaction as equals on different planes. The likeness is restored to being an accurate reflection of the un-fallen image, and freedom is possible. A choice can be made, a choice of mutual love and vulnerability. And this is when the real Magic occurs, and the two archetypes can mutually transform each other. Out of this mutual transformation, something completely new, a new creation can arise out of their loving interaction. 

Are these the 5 stages of Coin/Exchange?

1. Unity leading to Battle (note in our first conversations on the Ace, we battled over whether this was a representation of Platonic or Aristotelian archetypes)

2. Battle leading to Potentizing

3. Potentizing leading to Reflection

4. Reflection leading to Mutual Transformation

5. Mutual Transformation leading to New Creation

Why has all of this become clear in the Knight of Coins? Well, he is the transition from stage 3 to stage 4, where the real Magic occurs. Following our paths:

Ace—Four—Seven—Ten is the path from Yod (1) to He (2). The Ten is He, leading us to the Two:

Two—Five—Eight—Knave is the path from He (2) to Shin (3). The Knave is the Shin leading us to the Three:

Three—Six—Nine—Knight is the path from Shin (3) to Vau (4). The Knight is the Vau that leads us to the Four. This is Love (Shin) resulting in Magic (Vau). 

With the Knight, we can finally make the transition from Reflection to Love, free loving interaction.