Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on March 26, 2019
March 26, 2019
Knight of Coins, Pt 3
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of the Virgin Mary through reading the Magnificat (Luke 1:26-42, 46-55).
After briefly focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence and the 18th Letter of the Divine Alphabet (Tsaddi, in relation to The Moon). We then read from Psalm 119:137-144, Revelation 6:15-17, and Matthew 24:1-2.
Observations of the Knight of Coins as the Shin in the sequence: Ten of Coins (Yod), Knave of Coins (He), Knight of Coins (Shin):
– What stands out to begin with is the apparent lack of continuity from Numbered Coins to Court Coins. It still feels like two completely different worlds, an impossible transition.
And yet, on the other hand, there is an intimate link between the Knave’s engagement with his coin and the prior ten Numbered Coins. This is different than the Knight. The Knave’s touch, his holding the coin closely to his face makes it more intimate. The Knave has a focused look, a look of concentration, more so than the Knight. Like an invisible beam of light locking the Knave and the Coin together. The Knight and his Coin have a space between them, they aren’t locked in. There is both a distance between them, as well as a distance in the eyes of the Knight. The influence of the Coin the Knave holds goes through his eyes, and this is not the case with the Knight. We have the contrast of Hamlet, in a concentrated meditation on the skull, vs Paul who is blinded, who has no vision at all, let alone concentrated observation.
– Pondering the face of the Knight. The locks of hair adorning his face mark the major points of a clock face (3, 9, 12). Maybe the Coin is a Sun, and his face is a Moon, reflecting that which is radiated by the Coin? Not in the way the Knave does so through his gaze and intellect. There is a shining back and forth—more of a listening perhaps?
The Knave is cognitive, forming concept, memory, awareness. An adult grappling with something on an intellectual level. This is a study, he is filling himself with content and knowledge.
The Knight’s face is not expressive of intelligence, it is purely face as body. The face is reflecting the presence of the coin without cognition. The openness of a toddler or a small child, all open, all pouring in without filter. A pure sense experience, without the barriers of preconception.
In this experience, unlike the Knave who is actively adding to his surplus of knowledge, we have a removal happening. A draft of forgetfulness. Refreshing; he now has a completely clear mind. He is completely open to something (the Coin) that is bestowing complete openness. This is occurring mainly in the region of his face, but in the entire upper right hand corner. The contrast between the upper right hand corner and the lower portion of the image emphasizes this emptying, this stripping away of the extraneous. There is clarity, stripping away happening above, vs the clutter down below. He is coming home from a battle, from a journey. “I’ve come home, I can clean myself, lay my burden down, and heal.”
– The Knight of Money—was he in service to tax collectors? Guarding the bank’s wagon, or the holy treasure?
– The Knave is an innocent, lowly youth confronted with something he just can’t get, but he’s working on it. Vs the Knight, who is a very capable adult in service of protecting something of great value, which he lays down when he comes home. His various and multivarient relationships to the Major Arcana may be more reflective of his accoutrement, or garb, or the task that he lays down, not the actual man himself.
– He has successfully transported the treasure. Is the Coin part of the transport of the treasure? Is he taking it out or dropping it off? He’s come home, his mission is accomplished. He’s not holding the coin, he’s releasing something. The moment of delivery, overseeing the transfer of this thing. In the act of transport occurs the undergoing of transformation—of the transcendent (above) working on the imminent (below). This consists in the test of his ability to use and be familiar with all of the Majors (the imminent archetypes). Inasmuch as the Knave is transformed in his activity of pondering/digesting the Ten Coins, even more so can we speak of the Knight experiencing a transformation due to his engagement with the Major Arcana. How does this look?
The transcendent “treasure” which he bears (the Coin) requires, in transporting it, the use of all of the imminent “disguises” (the Major Arcana). He has had to adorn himself differently depending on where he has traveled, used different “weapons” in different battles. And due to his saturation within the imminent archetypes of the Major Arcana through this process, he himself as been permanently transformed, “sealed” with their 22 imprints.
This is like Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. He is the “Emperor in the catacombs” throughout most of the story. He guards each realm from behind the scenes, and in each realm he bears a different name, a different personality. It is only through this activity that he can eventually unfold his ultimate personality as the King, the Return of the King. His nature at the end of the story is a result of all the various roles he has had to play and challenges he has had to face in the different realms. Phillip had always considered his becoming King at the end of the story as more or less inconsequential, but in a way it is the whole point of the story. (As I write these notes, I begin to think of Frodo and Sam as in the role of the Knave, the youthful beings who must struggle with this hazardous object of power and knowledge).
– The idea that here we have to do with a two-fold person, on the one hand playing a role as Knight, and on the other hand as a man who lays down his arms and leaves the role of Knight once active duty is over, is striking. We have not confronted a contrast like this before. With all of the Majors, their role is also their being. The Fool is the Fool. The Emperor is the Emperor. But the Knight is “on duty/off duty” so to speak. Doesn’t this recall Tomberg’s discussion of “garment vs name” in the Meditations on the Apocalypse? The eternal mission vs the personal life of an individual. When, for example, biographers describe all of Goethe’s nitty-gritty personal details rather than focusing on his accomplishments for the sake of human culture, we “strip him of his garment.” With the Knight, we are perhaps given a glimpse of the “personal life” that must exist side by side with the more archetypal “mission.” Within both the Knave and Knight we see a bit of this contrast. In the Knave we see this archetypal realm expressed in the Coin he holds—the ten-fold coin expresses the Ten Numbered Coins. With the Knight, the Horse expresses the 22 Majors Arcana. But both the Knave and the Knight are shown reacting to this archetypal realm, the human/personal realm. But especially in the Knight, he expresses a personal, human reaction to his station and situation.
– The four Court Arcana as the Four Worlds:
Knave—World of facts, reflection, study. World of Action/Manifestation?
Knight—World of Formation; demiurgic. Putting the Archetypes that have come into being in
the World of Creation (upper corner) into movement, form, being and activity (lower portion)
How do we resolve the Knave’s reflective gesture with a World of Action? He doesn’t seem very active. What does activity have to do with facts? The World of Action seems passive and intellectual vs a World of Formation as active and transformation, tumultuous. We tend to think of “Form” as something static, not tumultuous. “Forming my thoughts,” for example, seems to have more to do with the Knave, not the Knight.
We might think of the World of Formation as a place in which the likeness (manifest world) is constantly adjusted in order to properly match the image (realm of archetypes).
Whereas we might think of the World of Manifestation in terms of a rational groping with something—the world manifesting in a specifically rational form, manifestation as a realm of completed acts. The Emperor plays this role in terms of the YHVH, he stands back and reflects and this is the final act of manifestation. In the same way, we can see all of the other processes working their way out, then the Knave stands back and reviews the Ten Archetypes that brought all into being.
It makes one think of the Philosophy of Freedom, in which Steiner so succinctly characterizes man’s place in nature, as the place where concept unites with percept. There is no reality until this happens, and this only happens through man’s thinking activity. It is a World of Action, but not an outer action, it is an inner activity of thinking that manifests reality. The World of Creation is purely conceptual, whereas the World of Formation is purely perceptual. The World of Action reunites the two.
We see this expressed in the Knight, the World of Formation as a purely perceptual realm, all senses, no conceptual element coming into it. That’s what that openness is all about.
– The Coin in the Knave represents the other 3 worlds (Formation, Creation, Emanation), but they are incomplete. This Coin has all within it, but is still incomplete because it hasn’t gone full circle with the human being, with the formation of a story line, a biographical/developmental unfolding. The contrast of human narrative vs purely archetypal = plant vs coin? Coin is a concrete representation of all that stands behind it formatively/spiritually, but this cannot find complete expression until it connects to something living and/or conscious (autonomous).
This brings us to the 17th Letter-Meditation on The Star, the bottom of page 487 to the top of 488. The two realms of Aristotelian (existence) and Platonic (essence) are characterized in these paragraphs. The Platonic = “the One is the creator of the essence of all things….” and the Aristotelian = “…the existence of all things…” But there seems to be a third term referred to in this section. The One Thing creates the essence of all things, and the existence of all things is gradually adapted to match the essence. But there is a third term, a mediator that actually performs the deed of the adaptation of what exists (Aristotelian) to the essential (Platonic). What is this third term that allows adaptation to come about? This would come after stage 2 from the March 12 conversation (battle) and bring about stage 3 (adaptation leading to reflection, mirroring). Does this active principle exist within the One Thing? Or is there a separate participant which accomplishes this adaptation of existence to essence?
Reading about the movement through a spiral, vertical and horizontal in turn, on page 483, and really reading in depth all of 487-88. We come to the term thelema, which Tomberg relates to wonder, spontaneous, voluntary, desire, and will. This is the One Thing, which creates the essence at the beginning, and yet is also that which adapts existence to essence, it performs the miracles of the One Thing.
The answer is here before us, in the form of Arcana. But we’re looking for the answer to conform specifically to the World of Action (the intellectual plane), to a distinct linear chain of causality. Whereas this is a causality operating across a divide.
This functioning is right before our eyes, but like Philosophy of Freedom this is not automatically grasped. The activity laid out by the end of POF is deceptively simple, yet very difficult to pinpoint within oneself, let alone practice regularly.
Like Wolfgang Smith’s work, or Kevin Dann’s “sentient selection,” the world of volition is working on the world of matter using the demiurgic force of archetypes/Arcana. This is the opposite of our experience. We use thoughts to guide and direct our will/activity. The Thelema is Will, it is Will actively willing thoughts—living picture-thoughts which are archetypes or Arcana. There is implicit sentience in Will that is non-rational, therefore the force of Will is either destructive or super-creative, but in order to be the latter it must be intentional, deliberate, purposeful.
What does non-rational purpose look like? In such a case, there is nothing reflective, no foresight, only purposeful doing. There is, however, a reactivity/response to what comes out of this activity that is more or less impossible to divide from the coming-into-being. These two are happening simultaneously, the “Let there be Light,” and the “God saw that it was very good.” These two are happening simultaneously, two balls being juggled at once.
We begin to have a picture of a horizontal oval, a unity, and within this unity is a horizontal lemniscate, like the Magician’s hat. Here the Platonic and the Aristotelian, the Thelema and the reflective reaction to it, exist together on the same level. There is no hierarchy. They are wedded, fused together, a Father and a Mother. This is the One Thing.
Then this One Thing turns from being horizontal to being vertical. The Platonic or Transcendent remains above as essence/spirit, and the Aristotelian or Imminent descends below as existence/matter. Then a split occurs between the two. They lose their fundamental identity to each other, they become independent entities. And yet the original “One Thing” still exists. But it is neither above nor below, it is not to be found in the Transcendent Platonic or the Imminent Aristotelian. It is in the middle, constantly weaving between the Platonic/Essence above and the Aristotelian/Existence below, adapting the forms of existence to their essence above. Here we have a circle above, and a circle below, but in the middle the horizontal lemniscate is still there, the fused/wedded participant, the One Thing, the Thelema. This is the firmament between the Waters Above (Platonic) and the Waters Below (Aristotelian). It is the “Hermetic Zone” that exists between Heaven above and Earth below.
We saw originally that the Platonic/Transcendent was in charge, determining the form of the Aristotelian/Imminent from the heights. Yet this is not the case. From the original unity, one element (essence) was pushed up, and another (existence) fell below, but the original One Thing remains—in the center, in the heart. What rules is not above, it is in the center, like the Representative of Humanity. We can think of Cain and Abel, Abel who is transcendent and Cain who is imminent. The flow, the relationship between the two was sundered. They became foreign to one another. The re-establishment of the flow of relationship between them is the work of the One Thing.
– Thinking of the Holy Mountain in the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich. The last place on Earth that was still in touch with Paradise. Maybe it recedes eternally into the distance, the heights? Into a realm in which it is no longer properly touching the Earth or the Heights anymore?
Part of the trouble is that we are on the Earth, and we are attempting to step away to encompass the whole. Already, due to our original position, we approach reality from an “Above-Below” paradigm, which might block us from a vision that is more comprehensive. This picture helps. It is not what is Above or Below that determines or guides reality—it is behind all, it is embracing all, from the center radiating out. Both Above and Below are embraced by this center that is behind.
To move into a state of viewing the world from the paradigm of the Transcendent is already one step removed from the Earth-bound point of view. And now this is yet a further step removed from an Earth-bound view.
– The next question is, how does one trace out the evolution of Thelema into the transcendent, and then Thelema into imminent? Elaborating this journey would flesh out how the Thelema works in total, in both domains. Then the next step would be to discover, how do all three domains relate, and why? How did this happen?
We tend to think of the “imminent” or Earthly realm merely as Fallen. But Meditations on the Tarot brings a new legitimacy to this imminent realm, rather than it just being “Fallen.” He outlines an “un-Fallen,” Virginal Nature that has evolved side by side with “Fallen” Nature, and become entangled with it. In fact, we have to do with more than just three categories of Transcendent—One Thing—Imminent. For both the Transcendent and Imminent realms, we have Un-Fallen and Fallen, with the Fallen gradually leading to “Redeemed.” Ultimately, we have—both Above and Below—the paths of Innocence and Experience. Because while there is the Virginal Nature in juxtaposition to Fallen Nature, there is also the Fallen Hierarchies (the Hierarchies of the Left) and the Un-Fallen Hierarchies, those of the Right. What picture does this give us? Why, we are lead once again back to our fundamental image of the Minor Arcana, of the Yod He Shin Vau He:
We see here again that it is the Shin, the Fire of Love, that stands at the Heart and Origin of all Things—the One Thing.
Note that ultimately this picture should look like this:
Redeemed Transcendent (H) Virginal Transcendent (V)
The One Thing (Sh)
Redeemed Imminent (H) Virginal Imminent (Y)
Does our final Yod He Shin Vau He fit into this?
Yod = Virginal Imminent, Ten of Coins. The fullness of the archetypes operating in un-Fallen Existence.
He = Redeemed Imminent, Knave of Coins. He uplifts that which has Fallen, and through his own activity, redeems it and brings something new into the world.
Shin = The One Thing, Knight of Coins. He is the meeting place, the common ground between many different worlds.
Will the Virginal Transcendent and the Redeemed Transcendent correspond somehow to the Vau and He of the Queen and King of Coins?
In a movement less static, and more multivalent, but still accurate, the 10 numbered Coin Arcana can contain the entire story in a few simple images. They contain the entire story of the separation of the One Thing (Ace of Coins) into Essence (Two) and Existence (Three) and the Fall and Redemption of each realm (Four onwards…).
The content of the imagery gives a definite form, whereas the framework that one uses, whether it is Yod, Yod+He, Yod+He+Shin, etc., changes the meaning. For example, the Two of Coins could represent the original bifurcation of Essence and Existence. Or it could show their Fall and separation. Or it could show the eternal reflection of Un-fallen Essence within Un-fallen Existence. Or it could show their gradual re-unification after the Fall of one or the other…and so on, and so on.
– We know this language so well, and yet we don’t know and can’t properly explain its rules. It’s like being immersed in a country to learn its language vs learning in a class, learning all the rules first. We aren’t at the place (yet) where we can reflect on what we know and really flesh out the “rules” of the language, the grammar, etc. This becomes a question. When it comes to how we approach the Tarot, Anthroposophy, etc, are we a linguist or a poet? Do we discern and describe all the rules, or do we put them to use semi-consciously, creating new rules and standards out of our creative activity? Of course, perhaps it is best to be a Tolkien, who was both linguist and poet simultaneously. The fullness of love/adoration for and skill with language. Both Knowing and Doing.
We do have some rules, for example using the Divine Name (YHSHVH) as the “key” to the Minor Arcana. That’s really what we want to bring to the event in June, the universal “rules” which we’ve distilled out of our practice that anyone can apply to good use.
Another “rule” is to begin with one’s own assumptions, what seems blatantly obvious in our observations, and begin there. From there, asking “is this an assumption? Will someone else see this differently?” And being open to that distinct and unavoidable possibility.
– Does it help to be American? In terms of language. Our language is so acquisitive, and lacks consistent/obvious rules. With Spanish, or German, once you learn the rules it’s easy. Basically any new word can be grasped in terms of its pronunciation. This is not the case with American English in particular. We have to develop a new relationship to each word, to explore it in order to understand its pronunciation, its conjugation, etc. It is an experiential and immersive language, not emerging from a fully fleshed out, “transcendent” set of consistent rules. This comes to our aid in our experience of the Tarot, as this language is learned in the same intimate and one could say inconsistent/variable fashion.
We closed with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in Eurythmy.