Nine of Swords (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on July 9, 2020

July 9, 2020

Nine of Swords, pt 2

Phillip, Joel, Amber, and John—all four in different States.

We began with the protective practice, and the invocation of the Holy Spirit.

After briefly focusing the mantra IT THINKS on the region of the larynx, we moved the third part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, and the 16th letter of the Divine Alphabet, Ayin, in relation to the Tower of Destruction.

We then read from Revelation 11:11-13

– Looking at the Ace of Swords, the Nine of Swords, and the Tower of Destruction in between.

We have returned to the Tower:

Ace = Tower 

Two = Devil

Three = Temperance

Four = Death

Five = Hanged Man

Six = Death

Seven = Temperance

Eight = Devil

Nine = Tower

The Nine looks a bit like the Ace—the Sword hangs out of the crown in the Ace vs the Sword hanging out of the latticework in the Nine.

All the Arcana with a broadsword bare this similarity to the Ace. 

The lower latticework in the Nine, below the hilt, is perhaps equivalent to the hand emerging at the bottom of the Ace. Room has been made for this hand by the time we get to the Nine, due to the central broadsword becoming shorter and shorter.

– Looking at the “hand” section in the Three, Five, and Seven. The lower latticework ought to be pushing the central sword up, extending it further out of the top latticework—but it only makes this central sword shorter.

It seems paradoxical that the gesture of the Ace is that of pulling the Sword out of the Crown, whereas in the others it seems to be a pushing of the central sword up and into the vesica piscis (crown equivalent).

– Looking at the sequence Three—Five—Seven—Nine

The Sword will get shorter if you try to put it back. Once you’ve removed it, you can’t put it back together the way that it was when you took it apart.

The sword’s tip stuck in the latticework is reminiscent of a Chinese finger trap.

How Collaboration is Like a Chinese Finger Trap | The Complete Leader

Interesting—this comparison came from Amber, who was not present for our conversations back in March referring to the “floating finger trick,” involving crossing one’s eyes while one’s index fingers point toward each other. This pointing of fingers together is the same gesture as when one is in the Chinese finger trap. 

This emphasis on the cross-eyed perspective, forced to enact throughout the Swords what we see the Devil doing in the 15th Arcanum. What is the opposite of “clear vision”, of “clairvoyance”?

– Going back to the central sword as compressing, shortening once one tries to reinsert it back into the crown.

It’s a one-way street. You can pull it out, but you can’t put it back in. 

Then suddenly, there are two in the Ten? Why?

Perhaps a bit like Goethean metamorphosis. Successive stages of compression in polarised directions (vertical (stem)—horizontal (leaf)—vertical (stem)—etc) until eventually it flipes into a flower. 

– The lack of clear seeing—isn’t this equivalent to the mathematical interpretation of life? Everything reduced to an equation that can be seen forward and backwards? It simply isn’t true though, for actual living processes—they are uni-directional. Yet somehow there is a scientific bias that anything is potentially reversible, that all obstacles can be overcome. The Sword’s movement belies this—the toothpaste doesn’t go back in the tube, something once done can’t be undone. 

This uni-directional gesture is new. In stark contrast to the previous gesture of endless fragmenting and isolation of fragments. This movement in one direction implies an approach to something purposeful and concrete, rather than endless fragmentation and repetition. 

The Sword is going through a compression process that suddenly turns into two Swords…

– And those two swords are crossed, they continue this cross-eyed gesture. Is the Ten a seeing in double? The most supreme confusion? The full occultation of real/ideal? 

One certainly feels a heightened level of anxiety moving upwards through the numbered Swords. One doesn’t feel that this is leading to something good.

– Perhaps the Ten is a both/and. The highest confusion on the one hand, yet also the overcoming of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle at the same time.

Notice that there are two different handles. This isn’t mis-seeing a single sword due to crossed eyes—it is a union of opposites (the hilts) in the blue.

– Maybe there is something to be said here for the way depth is perceived. What if the swords are crossing farther off, in the horizon? Maybe they aren’t straight up and down, on the same plane as the black scimitars. They are leaning “in” and away from us, as well as to the right and left.

It could be that all of the odds are leaning in?? And not actually shortening?

Fascinating that the correct perception of depth overcomes confusion.

The scientific/modern point of view is totally linear, the hero’s journey. The ancient point of view was cyclical, the myths bore more of a universal/repetitive quality…the wheel of incarnations. From another perspective, the forward/backward movement of mathematics reaffirms this cyclical nature of the cosmos. 

So reality, perceived without depth and in separate parts, appears strictly linear, but this is illusory. Put all the pieces together and see them properly, and the cycle is no longer strictly linear.

It’s the same with any tragedy or crisis. When you’re in the midst of the crisis, it’s so all-consuming that it fragments and takes you down into an all-too-linear/disconnected/specialized path. Separation is a crisis. One feels the separateness acutely at first, but over time even separation shows its interconnectedness with a wider reality eventually. 

– It’s impossible to look at just the Nine.

But let’s try?

Where does nine fit in qualitatively, numerologically?

We see it in nature in cactus blossoms.

Echinopsis subdenudata (Easter Lily Cactus) | World of Succulents

Astrologically, there are nine planets by some measures (classical planets (including Sun and Moon) but not including dwarf planet Pluto). 

It is equivalent to the second in music.

It is the harmony of harmonies: three squared.

In astrology, for something to be nine signs away would be a trine aspect, a harmonious aspect, a return to the same element (earth, water, air, fire).

Looking back at the Three of Swords, the two branches extend out of it in a way that is reminiscent of the break in the Nine.

Thinking of the sequence 8, 9, 10 and the contrast between the 8-fold path of Buddhism, the 9 Beatitudes of Christianity, and the 10 Commandments of Judaism. The 8-fold path is something almost entirely about proper self-development. How to make yourself into an ethical, enlightened human being. The 10 Commandments are about obedience to the higher order, to the order of the Cosmos, the Godhead. One is entirely humanistic, the other entirely theistic. But the Nine Beatitudes are all about exchange—exchange between myself and nature, myself and the spiritual, myself and other human beings. There is something deeply relational in the Nine Beatitudes.

And then in relationship to the number 7—the number 7 always has to do with sequences of metamorphosis in time—seven planetary states, 7 cultural epochs, etc. In Theosophy, we can look at the human being in a seven-fold way or a nine-fold way. The seven-fold human being expresses the evolving human being in time. But the nine-fold pulls us a bit out of metamorphosis, into a full harmony of body-soul-spirit. An escape from the limits of time.

– In the Nine, the degree of complexity is suspended for a moment—it is a peak complexity in which you must surrender a bit in the midst of the complexity. 

In the Rider-Waite, the Nine of Swords is tied up with nightmares and dreams. This is archetypally harmonious with the ninth planet Neptune, the deep waters of the sub- or un-conscious. The suspension of judgement/reason.

– The Seven is blue, the Eight is blue, the Ten is blue—but the Nine is yellow.

The maximum intensity/complexity, the maximum efflorescence before things fade.

– Pushing up into the weave, increasing pressure and anxiety—then it starts to break, the crack shows but it holds together in the Nine.

But then it doesn’t go to the flower (as in the other even Arcana). It goes to another octave, of two swords. 

– Like electron orbits, a sudden jump from one state to another that occurs instantaneously, with no transitional slide. 

– In the Ten one sword has the crack in it, like the Nine.

Actually, in the Ten the hilts are where the flowers were. Are these still Swords? Or are they flowers that look like Swords? Or both flower and sword, a hybrid? And now they are woven into the black aposematism, which never occurred before (?)

– And now we describe to Amber our approach of Y—H—V—H(Y)—H—V—H()… from the Major Arcana, forming a triangular descent, with the fourth term (the centre of a triangle) doubling as the first time (pinnacle of the next triangle). 

And then how we adapted this iteration of Divine Name to Y—H—Sh—V(Y)—H(H)—Sh—V(Y)—H(H)… in the Minor Arcana, based on the geometry of The World/Ace of Coins, with four terms surrounding a fifth rather than three terms surrounding a fourth…the final two terms of one iteration (VH) becoming the first two terms of the next (YH). 

All of this leading to forming a picture of what exactly the iterations of YHShVH have expressed in this Suit, something which has been totally obscure to us as we’ve gone along, unlike the Coins, in which the “story” told by the Divine Name of Ace, Two, Three, Four, Five or Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight was pretty obvious and striking.

The first iteration of:

What does this describe?

The Ace (Yod) shows the “unplugging” of the Ace of Coins, splitting it into Sword and Crown. This splitting gradually casts off pieces of plant life, of the flower form. 

First it casts off the bloom, the blossom as the Two of Swords (First He)

Then we have the Sword as in the Ace, but without blooms—the Three of Swords (Shin), where the only plant life is branch-like in form. 

Then further plant life is cast off in the form of the Four of Swords (Vau), in which the stalkier/leafier part of the plant life is cast off.

This leaves the “goal” of the Ace, which is the Five of Swords, in which there is no plant life adorning/attached to the central Sword. This is “Sword” reduced completely to its essence.

Then we have the second iteration of the Divine Name, which goes

So here we begin with a focus on the entirety of the flower, the archetypal flower in its wholeness in the Four of Swords (Yod). 

Then we move to the Five (He), the Sword stripped to its essence, which cuts the Flower.

Then we have the Six of Swords (Shin) which shows a flower very similar to the Four, but “beheaded” (note the white space between bloom and stem). The result of coming into contact with the Five.

Then we have the Seven of Swords (Vau), which is entirely blue—it is a Sword of Death, like a touch that freezes or turns to stone. It doesn’t just cut, it mineralises, so to speak.

Finally, we have the Eight of Swords, which shows us the Flower having received the “touch of death”, flower reduced completely to its essence, akin to the Five of Swords as the Sword reduced completely to its essence.

And so in both we have this gesture of subtraction, purification, distillation of essence—first of Sword, then of Flower.

– What then is the nature of the Nine, with this increasing anxiety that leads to this Ten vs Knave—the ultimate confusion? Or the ultimate resolution? Our first glance at the Knave…and what is he saying? “What’s this over here? Oh, it’s a sheath.” He has discovered the element of depth, and the context, the place that the Sword fits into. 

The Ten, geometrically speaking, moves seamlessly into the geometry of the Knave, after everything else has been so disjointed and only been interconnected via the constant of the vesica piscis. This is the complete opposite of the numbered Coins, which were all seamlessly interconnected without a constant like the vesica piscis, but then suddenly leaped to the Knave of Coins in a rather disjointed way. 

– When arranged horizontally, they really link up and flow together.

– Recently Amber was doing Celtic Cross spreads, and kept coming up with the Ten of Swords crossed over the Nine of Swords.

It spoke to her of both a personal and a widespread/global feeling and pondering: which of my fears are real/authentic/justified, and which are illusory/totally subjective? The Nine of Swords in the Rider Waite showing a waking from a nightmare (illusory fear), and the Ten of Swords showing a corpse pierced by ten swords (actual threat).

In the Celtic Cross spread, one looks at the relationship of horizontal to vertical, front to back. 

The centre of the query in any conflict.

Amber uses the Celtic Cross spread regularly, not with specific divinatory questions, but as a meditation.

– The path has been so confusing so far with the Swords—looking towards the Ten and beyond: it is encouraging to have simplicity on the horizon.

We ended with the third part of the Foundation Stone Meditation.