Notes from a Hermetic Conversation on November 16, 2016
11-16: The Lover
Phillip, Joel and Rosario were present.
We began with the invocation from the 6th Letter, the Lord’s Prayer in the Sephiroth Tree, and the first four petitions (six parts) of the Grail Knight’s practice.
To begin with we observed the 4th, 5th and 6th cards; then we brought out the first 3.
1 2 3 4 = YHVH; 4 5 6 7 = YHVH.
4 5 6 are, in a way, not just Obedience Poverty Chastity, but also a repetition or transformation of Mysticism, Gnosis and Sacred Magic. There is something active in both the 3rd and 6th Arcana.
If we look at the Arcana on the Tree of Life, both the 1st and 4th are on the Central pillar; the 2nd and 5th are on the Right (Mercy, Prayer); the 3rd and 6th are on the Left (Justice, Benediction) – the side of Activity [Edit December 2020: Based off of a retreat in Assisi, Italy with Robert Powell in August 2016, during which he first presented aspects of his “Path to Shambhala”, focusing in particular on the relationship between the 22 Major Arcana, the 22 Paths of the Sephiroth Tree, the Hebrew Alphabet, and related eurythmy gestures. See below, courtesy of John Hipsley].
We noticed last month that the Pope was the first to introduce depth and other figures, but he is still the central focus. Here in the Lover, there are four different characters; there is drama, and story, tension.
The first four are displaying different cosmic layers of the unconscious; the 5th introduces the “other;” the 6th finally brings about a kind of I-awareness; it is showing something individual and personal rather than cosmic and archetypal.
The Lover plays the role of mediator in the story. He just barely touches both figures to either side with his toes. His legs are bare, and in an awkward position that requires great effort to sustain.
He is also connected on his left side through the heart and on the right through his shoulder and hip.
The gesture of the dark haired figure is a bit like the Buddha’s, although with where it is directed it is somehow untoward, unchaste.
The other figure is making something like an “E” gesture, touching the Lover’s heart, but also protecting herself (from the arrow above?).
The Lover is holding up his belt, like the Emperor – holding his lower nature in check.
He seems to be in the midst of the process from the 3rd part of the fifth petition that begins “stream the light of thinking into depths of will.” [Edit December 2020: A reference to the Grail Knight’s Practice]. The Sun/Angel above him is the light of thinking. He has raised the light of the will to the level of heart and hands, and is experiencing it – but is in the midst of that experience. His garment is a Joseph’s Coat, rainbow colored like the mantle worn by the Hermit. It has the same colors as the rays of the Sun above – he has adorned his mid section with the light and warmth from above. The Sun’s rays pierce his head.
His mantle is vertically striped, like the Emperor’s, but colored like the Magician’s. The ground he stands on has many horizontal stripes. There are different areas in each of the cards where the horizontal is emphasized.
He has to make a decision. That is the tension and drama of the card – he is in the midst of making a choice. The Mediator between the “prosecuting attorney” of the Hierarchies of the Left (the dark-haired figure) and the “defense attorney” of the Hierarchies of the Right (the light haired figure). He is balancing light and darkness, Lucifer and Ahriman – with Lucifer being redeemed? The classic image of a Devil on one shoulder and an Angel on the other.
Is it a wedding? Is the dark haired figure the officiant? Or a witness to the vows?
The hair on the light haired figures is reminiscent of the characters from the 19th Arcanum, the Sun – in fact, many aspects of the cards are similar. Why does the dark haired figure where a crown?
One wing of the angel is full, like one of the sunbeams. The other is a bit cramped or lamed – like the one wing on the eagle in the 3rd Arcanum. All of the elements of throne, shield, scepter and crown seemed to have been brought together in the Cherub in the Sun – like the Lover is guided by a complete, full inspiration.
We looked at the process of 1 through 6 as 1. Conception; 2. Gestation; 3. Birth; 4. Presentation/Small Child; 5. School-age child; 6. Puberty.
Both 3 and 6 look like a challenge is being resolved and overcome. Steiner and Koenig talk about the physical death forces entering the human being at birth (Ahrimanic death forces); then there is increasing health until puberty, when astral death forces enter the human being (Lucifer death forces), which again must be overcome. 3 and 6 represent the struggle with these two different kinds of death forces – this struggle carries on into the 7th Arcanum, the Charioteer.
The three main figures are reminiscent of Cain, Seth, and Abel.
It makes a difference who’s arm is whose – in the black and white version in the text of MOT it looks like one of the fair haired figure’s arms belongs to the Lover, the central figure. This is the first card in which the figures are young and attractive. The bands on their clothing – the dark haired figure has a band like the Empress, whereas the Lover has a band somewhere between where the Magician’s is and the Emperor’s is.
The first 5 cards lack characters, but have a strong sense of place, environment, surrounding. This sense of place is lost in the 6th. Instead we have a strong juxtaposition of the Spiritual above and the Earthly below – the first time this juxtaposition has been so pronounced. Again, this card gives the experience of “me,” of the personal, rather than the purely cosmic. The card has no sense of place – it expresses the struggle to find one’s orientation, but also the idea that Love is not bound to any particular place. True chastity is unbounded.
These characters don’t need to be in any particular surrounding – it is about the choice of how to manifest the spiritual in the physical; that activity in itself is a space. It can occur anywhere. We could call it community. This card is the Arcanum of Love of Neighbor.
Who is one’s neighbor? Is it whoever is closest to us? Page 126 – An intense answer! Work for a lifetime.
We ended with the first 6 letters of the Divine Alphabet and the closing from the Grail Knight’s Practice.