Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Joel and Phillip on September 19, 2021
This was our first conversation after a two-month hiatus, in a way reflecting the hiatus we took in the summer of 2019, during which it took us three months to work with the Ace of Swords. Destiny events in our lives from 2019 were also being relived in many ways. We felt refreshed and renewed to meet the Cups again, which are so quickly expansive and all-encompassing that they require quite some inner strength to meet. Something of our past 9 months work with the Cups had consolidated somehow, and it felt less strenuous to engage.
We began with the protective practice.
We then invited the guidance of the Virgin Mary through the Hail Mary in eurythmy.
After briefly focusing on the mantra SHE FEELS in the region of the heart, we then moved the second portion of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest outpoured love radiates the Godhood of my soul”), and the 11th letter of the Divine Alphabet in relation to the 11th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice.
We then read from Revelation 16:18-20.
The Nine of Cups is finally a true division, as opposed to the Five of Cups, which in some way wasn’t properly a division of the plant. It didn’t last—it reunited in the Six. An attempt was made in the Five that is only now fully successful.
This is “truer” in the sense that each of these two plants is related to a cup. There is a grouping that comes with this: three lower cups and six upper cups. In the Five, the lower plant is not attached to a cup.
The lower plant in the Nine is more vertically oriented. Whereas the upper plant has more of a “front and back”, horizontal-level orientation.
The blue portion of the lower plant is the main body of it, this is what makes contact with the cup. Whereas for the upper cup, it is this double white stem.
Somehow this gives the effect that the upper plant is lunging toward us a bit more.
It’s a very acrobatic image: the lower plant-being tossing the upper.
You could see the central cup, from which the upper plant emerges, as the head of the lower plant-being. Yet this “head” is attached to the upper plant-being. The head of this being, on the other hand, is this relatively small blue portion, and it is more animal like, like an octopus or something. The drooping leaves from the upper plant are like the hair of the cup-head. The spikier upper leaves are then like adornment on a crown.
It gives you this strange impression that there is an “upper body” (an invisible/spiritual body, emanating out of the “head”) as large as the “lower body” (physical body).
Dennis Klocek had this painting of a human being with an Angelic being above and behind it. The head of the human being aligns with the heart of the Guardian Angel.
Supposedly a human being has a five-fold structure (two legs, two arms, one head) whereas an Angel has a six-fold structure (one head, two wings, two arms, one “leg” or lower portion). If we include the cup-head, the lower “being” has a five-fold structure as the human aspect, and the upper being has a six-fold structure, indicating it is angelic.
Looking at the Eight and Nine of Cups:
The Eight is very unique vs the Cups generally. In contrast with the Nine, you could say the plants in the Nine are more watery. Like fountains. Also, while the Eight is certainly intricate and complicated, there is a balance in terms of the predominance of either cup or plant as dominating form. In the Nine, the plant becomes dominant. The plants are active while the cups are inactive. The plant has taken over.
Looking at the metamorphosis from Seven to Eight to Nine:
The Seven is like the smouldering cinder at the end of the process from Ace through Six. The end of something. But then the Eight is like the surprise encore—you thought the fireworks display was over, then suddenly that blue flower explodes out of the bottom cup of the Seven, and splits the central cup in two…this magnificent display bursts out of the smouldering cinder of the blue flower.
But then in the Nine, it’s like this central blue flower itself splits into two. Part of it becomes the blue part of the upper plant, and part is the blue part of the lower plant. The feather-flame that was sticking out of it in the Eight becomes the ninth cup in the center. And this dancing being with the blue flower in its center from the eight becomes two different beings, dancing with each other or performing acrobatics as we said before.
This is a very pivotal card, as it is the end of the “blue being” that we have been observing the evolution of since the Ace of Swords. After the Nine, the plant (i.e., the “blue being”) disappears completely:
Notice though, that there are ten leaves in the Nine of Cups. The Ten is already gestating in the Nine. Perhaps these ten leaves turn into cups in the Ten? Or there is some magical combination of Cup and Plant in the Ten, just as there was a combination of Sword and Flower in the Ten of Swords?
Going back to this sequence of Seven, Eight, and Nine…the Seven is like John the Baptist poking the reed in the ground, making the hole that opens up the spring. The Eight is like the water when it first runs out, the flowing of this upwelling through all the cracks of the hard dry earth, making rivulets. Beautiful. Then the Nine is like the raging flow, the earth is getting washed away.
Noticing the common feature of the two pairs of blue curls, upper and lower, in the Seven, Eight and Nine. Smaller and facing inward in the Seven; larger, identical, and facing outward in the Eight; then differentiated in the Nine.
There is this very different quality, a very expressive quality in the Cups that isn’t in the other Suits. And it’s as though as we approach the Ten, this quality begins to come to its end, to revert in a way back to a Sword or Coin-like quality that is not so expressive.
A definite process is shown in the Seven through Nine: the Seven is something beginning; the Eight is that activity coming into balance; and then the Nine shows a coming into fullness. But then the Ten is like something invisible—but not an absence, rather a “going beyond fullness”, an etherisation of sorts.
Really in the Seven through Ten we have the four seasons: Seven as Spring, Eight as Summer, Nine as Fall, and Ten as Winter:
And so with the Nine we are in the harvest. The fruits are hanging. Yet these could also be withering, drooping leaves and branches. On the other hand, there is this aspect of hardening, sclerosis in the thornier, sharper leaves. Once again, the gesture of a split occurring comes to us in this imagery of Autumn: some parts will harden, others will wilt and drop off completely.
Those lowest drooping objects—they’re flowers that are somehow leaf-like and fruit-like as well. The main body of that lower plant is also somewhere between leaf and fruit, like a spiny pineapple or something.
The idea of the Nine as fruit, as something coming to full fruition, brings us back to the Nine as a pivotal card, as the end of the blue being we have been observing ever since the Ace of Swords (although we didn’t recognise it consciously until the Knave of Swords), where it was this large blue blade. This “blue being” took over more and more of the image as we moved through the Numbered Swords, which we eventually saw as the dilation of the cervix to ten centimetres during labor:
This culminates in the Ten, with its high amount of blue. Then in the Knave of Swords, if we work the image backwards to its original form in our mind’s eye, we see that this is the “baby” emerging from the “blue bag”—the bag of waters. And a three-fold being of Head, Larynx, Body emerges:
This threefold being’s whole body begins to evolve into their own independent beings, giving us the Knight, who is like a helmeted, protected head floating on a wave of evolution:
This evolution goes too far…it devolves into a threefold-double, which must be slaughtered and redeemed through the “Angel of the Fallen Likeness”, Mary-Eve, the Queen of Swords:
Then this threefold double is resurrected as the threefold John, who bears within him two columns of living water—the blue waters have now gone within:
The King of Swords collapses himself into his own throne, uniting with it, so that this “blue being” within him can go through a process of evolution. This is a process of evolution that is supported by, and at the same time results in, propagation of Cups. This is the evolution we have been observing the whole time: how the blue is compressed in the center of the Ace of Cups, which explodes into two cups and the angry fish-plant in the Two. The fish give their lives to finish the gestating third cup between them in the the Three. The potential fourth cup at the bottom of the Three is tossed in the air in the Four, while the central gestating fifth cup in the Four bursts out and splits the plant in half in the Five. In the Five, the plants “karate chop” the cup in half, creating the sixth, which forces the two plants to reunite in the Six. The two columns of three cups in the Six “fall into” the ditch or the fire of the central plant, merging into a single column of three in the Seven which magically produce four corner cups. The plant becomes the dowsed cinder in the bottom cup of the Seven…which then leads through the process of Seven, Eight, and Nine which we laid out earlier above:
Everything becomes more delicate after the Six of Cups. A tapering off. The Seven through Nine in a way shows the archetypal version of the “ABC—CBA” exercise: of splitting any event into three parts of beginning, middle, and end, moving it through one’s imagination and then reversing it, making it disappear. The Seven-Eight-Nine trinity is Beginning-Middle-End, a seed in and of themselves. Even the cup size when we finally get to these three is much smaller than the rest of the Suit. The Ace stands alone, then Two-Three-Four, then Five-Six, then Seven-Eight-Nine. The Ten again stands on its own.
There is a resonance between the Two and Nine of Cups, something of this intensity and curling:
Actually, the Ace and the Six are the only two Cups missing a kind of “two hands lifting” gesture. Actually, maybe just the Six, if we see Our Lady of All Nations in the Ace:
There is a very strong feeling of the movement of one’s arms and hands in the Cups.
Remembering that the Five of Cups (the Chariot) is a sort of pivot, which brings together the Six with the Four (and Justice), the Seven with the Three (and the Hermit), the Eight with the Two (and the Wheel of Fortune), and the Nine with the Ace (and Force):
Very interesting, this bringing into relationship of the Ace and the Nine. It brings an emphasis on this threefoldness in the Nine—just as there are three layers in the Ace, each with three aspects to them. But also again this emphasis that the Cups are the third Suit. There is also a kind of “six above three below” gesture in the Ace, from a certain point of view. These six towers above vs three panels on the pyramid below. The red circles on the stem, and the red “eyes” on the “walls of the city” in the Ace are also reminiscent of the openings of the cups in the Nine. The nine is like the Ace has completely unfolded. There is a strong similarity of the blue spikes right above the base of the Ace with the blue plant growing out of the lower cup in the Nine.
Six through Nine are like a zooming out of Ace through Four. Like getting the full picture, a better perspective.
Part of the path of the Cups is it has to be seen as integration.
With the Coins, it was simply “coin next to plant.” It was an open question as to how they related to each other, something we could ruminate about and guess, but not really know for certain whether they really had anything to do with each other.
With the Sword, it was such an extreme break—sword relegated to Odds, flower relegated to Evens—it became a question as to whether and how they relate at all.
But with the Cups, the interconnectedness between Cup and Plant is obvious, explicit. It can’t be explained, either you see it or you don’t.
This applies to the relationship from one card to the next as well. Much more so than with the Coins or the Swords, what you see when you line up Ace through Nine is a clear metamorphic sequence, symbiotic cell division. With the Coins we had to do mental gymnastics to find that relationship, and in the Swords it was a rote, mechanical repetition and interlinking. A purely quantitative relationship.
If we look at the base of the Ace of Cups, we might imagine that it’s like the sword has been plunged into the ground, like all we’re seeing is the hilt and the hand guard. And then there is this background shading right behind the hand guard. Like there’s an emphasis on division, a recapitulation of Sword-ness.
Then in the Two, the base becomes solid and uniform. It’s more like the Coin. And this blossoming flower in the Two could be like the Ace of Coins. Or like this plant is composed of different coins. Coins in their full expression.
The Ace as a dagger of Djemshid. The blade plunged in the earth. But then it leads you back to the Coins. Like the Swords were a kind of pivot. And the Ace of Cups takes you back, all the way to the beginning of the Swords, then the Two gets you back to the Coins. But you’re at another octave, a 3rd dimension is added rather than the “flat” Coin. Showing itself in this relationship between Cup and Plant. It’s much more living vs the Coin and Plant. You don’t need to explain or figure it out as in the Coins…it’s natural, organic, obvious.
It’s like rewinding back through the “Sword Error”, deleting it, going back to the start. Yet the Coin is different now, due to having passed through the error and come back again. It is now Cup, which will lead to Baton…the Baton is the “Sword” or result of the Cup (as the new “Coin”), now that we’ve started over again.
The top portion of each Cup is similar to a Coin…the higher octave of Coin.
Notice that in the Nine, we have a division of the plants into six leaves above and four leaves below…this is similar to the division of the Numbered Cups themselves, with the Ace through Six as one “set”, and then Seven through Ten as a different one. Actually, this is also the division of the Ten Commandments: four more spiritual laws, then six concrete laws.
The King of Swords was also brought into relation with Force and the Ace. We can see the Ace as the condensation of the King of Cups into his Throne.
The only twofold-ness in the Ace of Cups is the base—with the shading behind it. And then this is back to a unity in the Two. It’s like the Ace of Cups—the entire Suit of Cups—is standing on the foundation of Sword duality. Then we dispense, dissolve, incorporate. It all gets blended. “Washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb.” Immersed in the Blood, the water and the blood.
It makes Phillip think of the sacrificial rituals he witnessed in Bali…of the sacrificing of duck, and the women being sprayed by this blood from the duck and immediately entering this intense trance consciousness. Or even the Hebrew rite, with the blood of the dove or lamb or goat.
You are washed in what emanates from blood, on a magical level. There is something in the substance of blood itself that is so powerful, it is trance inducing. There is magic and spirit in blood. Thinking of that phrase in reference to Christ in a new way.
It’s like the Ace of Cups is the sword penetrating, piercing. Whereas the red at the base of the Two is the blood of the wound. The whole Suit is like the out-pouring of the spear wound, of the blood (red) and water (blue) flowing from Christ’s side.
There is a path from the turning point of the four Suits—at the point between King of Swords and Ace of Cups, going backwards through the Swords and forwards through the Cups. This leads to an alignment of Five of Swords and Ten of Cups:
Both the Five of Swords and Ten of Cups are so very plain. Like there is nothing to even say about them. One has a feeling akin to the mood at the end of the Act of Consecration of Man: “The Ace of Consecration of Man; thus, it has been.” A header, a summary…”It is fulfilled.” The 10th adds nothing to the Nine really, other than this larger sideways cup above. “This is what you have been through, these past nine—and they are all actually one Cup.”
It’s like we’ve returned to the state of the Coin—and the Coin is explicitly on the top of the upper cup in the Ten of Cups.
This whole Suit has been a journey backwards, a condensation. The whole time we’ve thought of it like the Suit of Coins, as expansion and elaboration, and that is certainly true, but it has simultaneously been a contraction.
The Ten of Cups is like a rubber stamp. Or like checkmate in chess, the King knocked over. Or like a seal for sealing wax. There is a finality.
Like the Assumption of Mary…a great unfolding, only to further harmonise, to collect and contract. So quiet. The opposite of the Resurrection or Pentecost. So unassuming. The disciples come the next morning, “oh, she’s not there.” No earthquake, no “who stole the body??!” No drama.
This whole imagery of rewinding and starting over reminds Joel of the movie Donnie Darko, in which the titular character is almost killed by a fallen airplane engine at the start of the movie, but he is sleep walking outside of his room. By the end of the film, many tragic circumstances occur that would not have happened had he died. A kind of time-portal opens at the end of the film, and he decides to go through and stay in his room. It ends with him laughing just before the engine falls on him. There is something of this gesture here—not just of going backwards and restarting, but of the Cups taking with them the negative consequences, the negative karma of the Swords. A clean slate.
This takes us back to the threatening gesture of the plants in the Nine of Cups. They’re actually protecting, holding evil at bay, taking it in somehow. And then the Ten—whoosh—the Suit has died, because it took it all in.
Notice that first we have a sequence of Six (Ace through Six), then a sequence of either Three or Four (depending on whether we include the Ten). Seven-Eight-Nine can stand on its own, and Seven-Eight-Nine-Ten bears a completely different quality. So there are two different “complete” sequences. Seven-Eight-Nine is like “seed formation.” Seven-Eight-Nine-Ten is like the actual dying, falling off, going to sleep/chaos of the seed.
The Ten breaks the pattern. You can’t go any further. As it has been in all the Suits so far, we suppose. And it begs the question again—do the plants become cups and vice versa? A complete union?
The Nine doesn’t really speak until it’s in the sequence Seven-Eight-Nine…and then it’s hard not to go into the Ten!
One last observation…there are five completely different types of leaves on the plants in the Nine. No pair repeats itself.
There is so much more in there…but you need the context of the other Arcana to show you what’s happening. The single card is not enough. But once you open that gate, it wants to bring everything along…
We closed with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.