Knight of Cups (I)

Notes of a hermetic conversation on April 11, 2022 at Jim’s house amongst Jim, Joel, and Phillip…in the afternoon, outdoors on a beautiful spring day. We began by invoking the presence of the Holy Trinity…

He is holding the cup higher than the Knave. On the other hand, it has condensed down, contracted. There is a new shape or form in every aspect of the cup. More sides/panels on the top, more like the Ace—three panels. The top was a curved bowl in most of the Numbered Cups; then became a kind of funnel in the Knave; now it is back to the panels with which it originated.

The yellow sleeves…and a blue cape, with a kind of curl at the bottom of it. This kind of impossible upward curl—is it from the wind? Or is this a very starched garment, stiff? Like the habit of the flying nun!

Feels like a link to the wing/arm of the Knave (her . The same curl, and the way the lines are (so many of them). Like it’s the other side of that wing. But now it’s on the other side…the Knave’s right arm, the Knight’s left.

In terms of prior horses, blue hair and hooves are fairly consistent.

There is one hoof without nails…maybe without a shoe then? And it has the “spikes” connecting it to the ground, or the “windy streaks” indicating speed, similar to the Knave’s feet. (This is different in the deck that Phillip is using, which we’ve run into before…a version with larger captions which changes minor things vs the true Grimaud deck).

Notice the horse has this one white ear…almost like a tear, like the tear shape on the balance of Justice, like a piercing of her heart.

In the Knight of Coins, the ear blends in with the hair of the horse, it’s undifferentiated.

The stirrup is white…the hair…one ear…one of his cuffs…part of the reigns…these are the only white parts.

There is only one hoof raised in this one, vs the the Knight of Swords where two are raised, and all have nails/shoes on. The Knight of Swords is rearing, whereas this one is more of a trot.

The face of the Knave vs the face of the Knight: the expressions are very different. The Eyes.

The Knight has a very calm face, vs the Knave. She has more lines, more consternation. She looks older. The Knight is more youthful. Life is simpler. The Cup is the center of attention now. There is not all the disorder and distraction that there is in the Knave. The Cup is coming into its own.

The Knight is very present—surprised. Coming out of this more inward state of the Knave. Total focus on the Cup, totally awake. With the Knave, all is still coming into being, transitioning. In the Knave, all is tight/convoluted, in the Knight it is wavy, relaxed.

The Cup is extremely different. The threefoldness is prominent—we’re back to the Ace. Three squares on the top: four sides. The four is beginning to shine through. The central orb of the cup has four segments rather than three (as in the Knave). It is very striking.

The base is a little obstructed. The fingers are covering it. It looks like it is probably four panels, though?

It looks less heavy, easier to lift up, and offer.

Three by Four = Twelve. The Zodiac. The four levels of nourishment in the three realms, or the four elements in thinking, feeling, willing, etc. This is the 12th card of the Suit.

The Orb bears within it a clear Vesica Piscis shape now, unlike the Knave. An opening. Or intersecting rings, a gyroscope.

The 3rd Suit, moving into the 4th.

The circular top—reminiscent of the Coins. Then there is this shading, which reminds us of the Swords. The Vesica Piscis/birth canal. Then there are three squares…three meeting four…which moves into the obscured four at the base. The four is clear already, above the orb, four segments swooping down. It is more obscured below, where it would be four squares: four fours. We can’t see that full four-ness yet.

The hand is not holding the cup. All five fingers are obstructing the base, they aren’t holding anything.

The arm looks a bit like a wing—is it bi-colored? Yellow and blue?

And what is that yellow back pack? Like a continuation of the Knave’s cap. But also there is a smaller back pack on the Knave—it has grown.

This is the first Court Arcanum with no head covering. The Knave was halfway there—still holding his hat, and with a flower crown adornment.

He’s not properly holding the reigns. The horse is moving on its own. Like Parzival. He drops the reigns, lets the horse lead. It knows what to do.

He seems a little hypnotised by the cup? The horse is somewhat inward too. Its ears are perked up, listening.

The Knight is distracted by this floating cup mirage. Trying to grasp it, but the hand goes right through.

The gesture he makes with his hand is “after you”.

The cup floats ahead, draws him on.

Is the thumb hidden? Are there six fingers? Again, each is coloured a bit differently, difficult to say.

The bottom of the hand connects to the top of the sleeve. Is the hand at all attached to the arm, or what?? There is a discontinuity between the hand and the wrist.

Reminded of both the Ace of Swords and the Ace of Batons. The disembodied hand.

This follows the progression of the cup itself “porphyrizing,” i.e. specialising, becoming its own entity, out of the generality or homogeneity of the figure. The held portion differentiating from the holding, the law of evolution from a Goethean/Steinerian perspective. The hand acts as this intermediary, the bridge between the separation and the holding. Joining the follower and the followed. The “following”, the act of following.

It’s like he’s approaching the hand/cup with a severed arm, yearning to attach the arm to this hand. It’s this image of the Grail Stone giving whatever you truly need. Completing that which is truly intrinsic to you. Maybe this is tied up with the bi-colored sleeve. The yellow moving up the “dead” blue arm. Bringing it to life. Then the yellow travels “underground” so to speak, wraps around. Underneath the “blue waterfall” of the curly cape. We’re back again to the Ace, with its blue wings/springs of water. Waterfalls.

This Knight is the reflection or reverse of the Knight of Coins. He is surprised by the Coin. Like Saul in Damascus, or the Three Kings following the star. The baton is lowering and transforming him.

The cross of the saddle strapping. This is then transformed in the Knight of Swords, into this miniature Tower of Destruction on the rear of the horse. Similarly that piece of the horse’s adornment is jarring here in the Knight of Cups, so straight and angular.

The golden band that has some white in it in the Cup (with all the circles dangling off of it), is entirely golden in the Coin. The stirrup is blue in the Sword, not white.

When we had decided to meet outside, just at that moment Nette had thought to put the cushions into the outdoor seats, without knowing of our intention. Serendipity, coincidental unity of idea.

When we wonder whether it is all significant, all “on purpose” in regard to the imagery, we can think of it in the same regard as the cushions. All is mutually embedded and interconnected. Our role is simply to recognize that.

The iconographic substrate of the Knight’s Practice (the reality in which it all is mutually embedded and interconnected). Getting all the pieces to put a whole picture together. “The total method”—the theme of Tomberg’s Inner Certainty. You can only come to wholeness when you have it all, not just partials.

He leaves this work unfinished, but he ends by coming to the Kaballah—and it is exactly this (the Tree of Life) which is the “iconographic substrate” of most of our work: the Tarot, the Lord’s Prayer, the Grail Knight’s Practice, etc. This false ending to Inner Certainty goes right into the beginning of his work on Meditations on the Tarot. Inner Certainty focused on the contrast of “system” vs “order”, but became too systematised. He eventually found the “order” which is the Kaballah, through which he wrote Meditations on the Tarot. Rather than dissecting and analysing this difference between system and order in a critical and systematic way, it instead displays order out of order. It speaks for itself. Similar to Goethe’s critique of Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man: the medium did not match the message. Goethe recast the same content into a properly aesthetic/imaginative form through his Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. Tomberg engaged in the same back and forth as Schiller and Goethe, but on his own.

The backside of the horse actually resembles a kind of throne or chair. Yet it is facing the other direction, it and the Knight have their backs to each other. Like those old station wagons. A saddle with a chair right behind it.

The progression: the undifferentiated cross on the Knight of Coins, then the miniature Tower of Destruction on the Knight of Swords (too crazy, like the Knave of Cups), then we have this Chair: simple, beautiful. Like the Emperor leaning against the throne. The Presentation in the Temple. Only now he’s leaning on the back of the throne.

Note that the throne has three and four dots. (Seven).

Then there are another four on the bridle. And then there is a bit of orange saddle (the rest is gold, behind him) concealing the fifth tassle on the bridle. (This is again a coloration difference, which we’ve run into before). The orange has appeared in key places before: in the Empress, and in some of the Court Arcana: the wristband of the Knave of Coins, the collar of the King of Coins, and the hilt of the Knave of Swords:

And what of this sun-like, mohawk-like plant in the Knave of Cups? Right in front of the horse’s front hoof?

This severed hand…is it his hand and his crown in the Ace of Swords? There are four blobs on the sea creature around the hand, akin to the four panels on the base of the Cup:

Are these flames around the sword? Or leaves falling from the severed plants? Like hyperdrive in Star Wars: everything else is moving around you while you hold still.

Funny to mention Star Wars: the severed hand is a theme that runs through those stories. Biting off more than you can chew in youthful impetuosity.

Something that was sacrificed in the Ace of Swords is now being restored. It feels connected to our experience of the Four of Coins, which we focused on just as the ground was taken out from beneath Phillip’s and Joel’s feet: Phillip’s in a much more sudden and violent and drastic way, Joel’s in a more gradual and “slow-torture” way. We got the impression eventually that the Four of Coins was a “touching in” of the Four too soon, before it’s time. Touching the wood stove when you’re a toddler and getting badly burnt. But in our process, this touching in of the Four that was too early and totally disruptive nevertheless made the space for the right thing to come later on. A proper respect for the wood stove when you’re age nine or so, and being taught how to build a fire and tend the stove. An utter disruption that leads to utter calm and certainty. For a while we felt quite nervous about entering into the Batons—if the Four of Coins had wreaked such havoc, what would the actual Suit itself bring in its wake?!—but then we realised this other picture: that we weren’t ready for the Four when we met it the first time in the Coins; now when it comes it will be the hard-won fruit of a lot of struggle and pain. It will be proper, it will feel right.

The Ace of Swords felt like the next octave of that Four of Coins process: exploding and eradicating our method around the Tarot, which had held from 2016-2019. Phillip and Joel moved to different states, and then covid on top of that made regular contact very challenging. Not to mention that the Swords were so much less intuitive and approachable than the Coins. And now we are on the other side of that, on a beautiful spring day, and all three of us live once again in the same area—which has not been the case for over four years! Feeling the Knight of Cups as the flip side of the Ace of Swords, the return of what was sacrificed, newly made. And the Ace of Swords also has this “touching in” of four, with the four petals around the hand.

(Later on, after the conversation, Joel reflected with Phillip that it feels as though the King of Coins/Ace of Swords represented the entryway into another plane of experience, a very disruptive one. But that the stream of activity flowed from past to future, from Coin to Sword. But now Joel is realising that the King of Cups is similarly connected to the Ace of Batons; yet he plays in some way the opposite role. Something is being brought out of the “future”, out of the region of the Four, and passed down to the King of Cups, then the Queen, etc. to meet what was brought out of the region of the Coin by the Sword. The past and future meet in the King of Swords/Ace of Cups, which are a kind of unity as we have discussed before.

All of the Cups are experienced in a certain order, yet we only discover the source of those experiences later on—that this source is the future moving into the past. We brought this into relation with life events: in the moment, our destiny and circumstances feel like random events that just “happen to us”, we are a kind of victim of circumstance. But the other way of looking at it is that these destiny experiences are chosen by our future self, and sent back to us for the very purpose of shaping us into the future self. The Batons represent that process of development by which we come to bear more and more responsibility for our circumstances, and learn to identify with, to kind of “catch up with” the future self who runs ahead and rays our live’s events backwards towards us.

It feels distinctly as though we are getting ready to leave this “other plane of experience”, of the Swords/Cups, and come back into a place that is both the same as yet utterly unlike the plane of the Coins. And this is represented by the gateways of the Aces of Swords and Batons. Feeling some trepidation to go back out the other side of the gateway—perhaps having something to do with this greater level of responsibility for one’s circumstances and karma that comes with the Baton state of being.)

In the Knight of Cups, there are four hooves and one (visible) foot: this gives us a glimpse of the five, at the very base of the entire image. This single foot of the Knight is reminiscent of the Hanged Man.

So we also have a shining in of the Five…a fifth Suit? This is the Majors. We already have this pre-figured in The World, who bears within her all of the Minor Arcana: the gesture of the four surrounding a central fifth, who is simultaneously interrupting a given order (YHVH), yet is also constellating that order, becoming the center of gravity. This is the same motif that comes into the Four of Coins. Already, really, in the the Three of Coins we experienced what we have seen to varying degrees throughout the Cups: that the three can only constellate around a fourth, as minor and insignificant as that fourth may seem. This is the “white pearl” that is at the base of the Three of Coins, around which the three coins arrange themselves. The Three can only properly exist for the sake of the Fourth—this is the same message we have received throughout the Cups, that harmony can only be created out of polarity when the stream from the future (the Four) is allowed to flow in. The Three can only be a bridge to something, it cannot exist on its own.

Even more so, however, does the Five interrupt the Four, as displayed in The World and the Four of Coins! In the Four of Coins, all four coins are entirely distracted and displaced by this flower-image in the center. They exist entirely for its sake. They become something totally disruptive, as they cannot sustain being “Four”, they yearn so strongly for the Fifth. And yet this disruptive past makes the space for the future balance, as we see in the Five of Coins:

The seed germinating, the hull cracking, the root and stem fighting through to appear…all of this is disruptive, a struggle, as displayed all through the Coins. Much later—100 years down the road—the fruiting of the oak, the making of acorns is a much more stable and steady process for the overall plant. The early microcosmic process is so violent and pressurised beneath the Earth. The 100 year old oak tree is pure stability.

We closed with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.