Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on April 23, 2019
April 23, 2019
Queen of Coins
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of the Holy Spirit through reading aloud the third stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.
After briefly focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, and the 17th letter of the Divine Alphabet, Pe (in relation to the 17th Arcanum, The Star). We then read from Psalm 119:129-136 (in relation to Pe), Revelation 7:3-8; and Matthew 26:6-16.
Observations and impressions:
– First of all, we have to clarify an observation from our previous conversation, two weeks prior. We noticed at that point that she had a yellow collar, a yellow belt, and a yellow vertical stripe connecting the two. We put this into connection with both the Empress and Temperance. But this observation was incorrect. Actually, looking closer, it’s clear that her collar and belt are flesh-colored and not yellow. This is unique, different from both Empress and Temperance.
– The belt does something strange on her left side, as though it’s turning a corner. The flesh color continues as well. The whole arrangement of these elements is completely unique thus far in all of the Arcana, Minor or Major.
– Her belt is actually more belt-like, more practical/functional than the decorative belts. For example, the Empress’s is so high up. Temperance’s is like a sash or something. The color of the Queen’s belt is more like leather, with holes in it for adjustment. Notice the number of holes: ten on the belt itself, then two on the side (12 total). But her wand creates a divide between the 8th and 9th holes, so we have a further division into 8; 2; 2. There is a horizontal line running through the entire belt. It is distinct from the yellow center. Actually, this color arrangement is the exact opposite of Temperance’s, who has a yellow collar and belt, with a flesh-colored strip in between.
– An adjustable belt: this doesn’t need to be held up like the Emperor’s. “Keep your pants on,” conform to the standards. She has acquired a state of being that makes this effortless, adjustable, adaptable to her form. No longer an act of will and concentration to “keep desires in check” as it is for the Emperor.
– The Fool’s belt is also a bit more like a buckled belt—but those could be bells? And he certainly seems to be having real trouble with his pants!
– Who are the figures with belts? Fool, Magician, Empress, Emperor, (Lover), Temperance. In the Lover, there are multiple figures, only one with a belt.
Is the clasp across the shoulders of the High Priestess akin to a belt?
– The immanent archetype might be more related to the functional clothing that each figure is wearing; i.e. that which, without their effort, conforms to social standard, how one presents, one’s intent or activity in the world. That which “keeps the clothes on,” keeps one in line with the community almost as a grace or a given.
On the other hand, the transcendent archetype might have more to do with the act of will that has to be consciously engaged in order to restrain oneself, in order to keep in check that which is still un-finished or un-balanced. The holding of the belt. The higher putting forth effort to restrain/transform the lower.
– Notice that all the male figures have the belt around the waist, lower down. Whereas for the most part the women have the band around them much higher, especially the High Priestess. This band is a focus of restraint that allows openness lower. Perhaps with the clothing we are dealing with the will in a symbolic fashion? How one is directing or framing or shaping the will, and how its activities flows into the world?
Tomberg describes garment as related to mission/Name in his meditations on the Apocalypse. It is given, yet not given, i.e. it is bestowed upon us, but up to us to carry out and follow through on. Like a uniform. Destiny events bestow a garment (everything at our disposal without our apparent effort), which we must then maintain out of our own efforts, our own deeds and inner development. A combination of karma and will—garment as mission, mission as karma. Karma as “received” will vs the “free” will which flows from out of our own ego. Karma is the pre-birth willing expressed in “chance” life events.
– Noticing the different hats/tiaras/crowns that the figures are wearing. Most of them are described by Tomberg as signifying very specific activities and qualities. In that light, what does the Queen’s crown signify? It is such a strange shape. Related to this, what on earth is behind her? Is it a throne? What does this signify? There seems to be a geometrical connection between her belt and the throne, they flow into each other. That which bears her up from behind is directly related to her belt (her natural restraint).
The Emperor’s Crown is described as a Crown of Thorns. What of the Queen’s Crown? It is positioned so oddly. Both her hair and her crown make it seem like she has a very strangely shaped head, a head that has a very small cranium and huge facial features; the facial features dominate. The curved portion of the crown seems to be growing directly out of the top of her head, at her hairline—a bit like horns or antlers. They shoot out almost vertically at their origin. The other crowns on other figures seem to fit properly. This one doesn’t. It doesn’t even reach all the way to her forehead, which is in stark contrast to the positioning of other crowns. It looks like it is behind or beyond her (very small) head, in terms of depth perspective. Juxtapose this to the coin which is at the same level of the image, on the opposite side of her head. Even though technically her hand and the coin it holds are in the background of the image, or at least are further from the viewer, they seem extra large and up close. They are so large they appear to be in the foreground. In contrast, the crown is small and positioned in such a way that it appears to be farther away than the coin and hand.
Is the crown on upside down? If one turns the card on its side, it seems as though what ought to be the front of the crown is just above the back of her neck, and the back of the crown is just over her forehead. The decorative flowers ought to be on the front, right above her brow (see for example the Charioteer). Certainly the head and the crown are the most bizarre aspects of this image.
– As we dwell on the crown, we begin to see a metamorphosis of form. We begin with the Coin. The Coin has two elements united seamlessly: circles and floral patterns. We then move over into the Crown; here these two elements begin to separate. The circular element becomes something like a waterfall, spilling over into the Baton, which is all Flower, and the Throne(?) which is all Circle. Unlike other metamorphic progressions we have witnessed in these images, this can only go in one direction, due to the “waterfall” quality of the crown. It must begin with Coin, proceed to Crown, then to Wand and Throne. It is only an act of analysis, a separation of a Unity (Coin) into two elements (Wand and Throne), not the other way around (synthesis).
And yet there is another path that one can take metamorphically in this image. We still begin with the Coin, but rather than moving directly over to the Crown, we move down the right arm into the belt. from the belt, we move up the yellow portion of the torso, through the head, from which emerges the Crown. If we go farther along the belt, we loop down the left arm, and then shoot upward diagonally into the Wand. If we go yet farther along the belt, the belt loops seamlessly into the throne that is behind her.
– The curve at the bottom of the Crown matches the curve along the top of the Throne. Between these two curves, a distinct, active negative space is created, with a beehive/bumblebee baton the midst of it.
It is a surreal experience; entering into the image as geometry once again. Sensing a presence in the negative space of it, the white becoming a substance.
– The form that is created by the combination of the belt and throne is like the metal hook that one screws into a ceiling, or a shepherd’s crook, or a key.
– Returning again to this negative space: the line that runs from the bottom of the crown goes directly into the lines of the baton. There is a distinct shape created by the bottom edge of the crown, to the lines of the baton, to the side of the image, to the top of the throne, to her back. The bumblebee/beehive seems to emerge from it.
– She’s removed from all of this, all of this activity behind her. She’s so absorbed in the Coin. This has something to do with the single direction of movement (from Coin to Throne). The intensity of her gaze and level of absorption is drawing out this activity. It passes through her, and she is a filter—notice the latticework of her crown, like a basket or sieve. The image of panning for gold comes to mind.
– There are two movements happening simultaneously: an upper, surface analysis, which moves from Coin to Throne via her face;
and a lower, deeper analysis that moves from the Coin through her right arm to: 1) chest/head/crown, 2) belt to left arm to wand, 3) belt to throne.
It’s like two different systems that operate as a unity: like respiratory and circulatory, for example.
A surface development of external forms and their relationships, vs the active development, the interactive progression under the surface.
The fruits of an activity (above) vs the strange, circuitous pathways that lead to the fruits.
Goethean observation above (pure phenomenology, science of forms, metamorphosis)
Functional science below (leaf photosynthesis, nitty gritty details, chemistry)
Maybe with these four different objects and pathways—Coin, Crown, Baton, Throne—we have something akin to the four causes of Aristotle, different streams of causality at play?
– Is this image the opposite of the Knight? All of the activity is happening above and to the right, all below and to the left is at peace? Whereas in the Knight, all the activity is happening below and to the left, and above and to the right is at peace?
Notice that with the Knight, his head covering also scoops backward, and with him too there were complicated pathways leading through his body and the body of his horse.
They express opposite gestures/activities: he is primarily experiencing (passively) a synthesis of many disparate details. All the references to prior Arcana that are below him are being healed into a simple unity above. Whereas she is analyzing (actively), creating forms, drawing them out of a synthesis.
– Her belt could also be her own exposed skin. Holes as piercings, wounds? Or are they navels, she is the Mother of many children? Then this skin color becomes the yellow of the throne, a yellow tail like a sphinx or a lioness. This goes with her Crown.
– Notice the Knight references many, if not all, of the Majors. The Queen references effectively none of them in contrast. There is no point of reference here. All is made new. The wand is very bee-like; the…Throne? Chair? is like no other object we’ve seen. The cross-hatch on the crown. All of this is new.
And there is nothing at all happening in the lower left hand portion, no activity, only flow, waves of color.
– This image of her analyzing the Coin, unpacking it into different pieces is reflected in the coin itself. The Coin that she holds is like a cross section of a piece of fruit, seeing the arrangement of seeds and layers within. The prior coins didn’t strike us this way, there is something about the arrangement of this one that creates this impression of a divided sphere; the Coin has now achieved an inner world all of its own. Not just a coin that if one cut it, there would be no forms inside. It is now a living thing, full of depth.
– The Queen as Sphinx. The Sphinx distorts time and space. There is something of the Holy Instincts embodied in her. The resolution of “My Will be Done” and “Thy Will Be Done.” It is perfectly appropriate to follow “My Will Be Done,” if and only if it is perfectly aligned with “Thy Will Be Done.” Her activity would be vanity on any lower sphere, or performed by any lower being. Is all of this expressive of her holy animality/divine instinct?
– Praesape, the Beehive in Cancer comes to mind from her Baton. The bees gather Honey (Wisdom) and bring it back to Sophia, the Queen in the spiritual world. The white areas of negative space = milk? The Milk and Honey of Sophia flow from her. This is Heavenly Sophia, Wisdom is its proper domain. Is the milk and honey pouring into a giant cup (the throne) behind her? The Beehive indicates Cancer, lions tale = Leo?
– We wonder…will the King of Coins also wear his hat funny, like the others?
– The analysis of the coin into the other three elements = crown, scepter, throne. Are they the 3 archetypal or primal forms of value, i.e. that which is “purchased” by the coin?
Crown = Mother (Swords?)
Scepter = Daughter (Batons?)
Throne = Holy Soul (Cups?)
– The Baton of the Empress is a compression from that which flows from above into a tiny point, a drop of blood. Yet with the Queen, this is something emerging from her, flying away.
In the past, Phillip had always seen the Empress’s baton as projecting upward and out from her. This effected how he, in turn, perceived the Emperor. In the past, he saw the Emperor as more active, as activating a potentized Baton (potentized by the Empress), but now with this perspective of the Empress’s Baton, he appears more as more passive/observing, remembering, preserving the totality of the finished Baton, the final product that has descended upon the Empress. Venerating it as a scared deed accomplished. “It is finished.” Not as something which will yet accomplish a sacred deed.
– She seems to hold the same two objects as the Magician (only much more elaborate), in the same hands yet held in opposite positions. She holds the baton close to her belly, not the coin, and she holds the coin in the air, not the baton. Perhaps it is due to the raising of the coin, and the lowering of the baton, that their forms have changed? Somehow it also seems as though she has united herself with all of the implements on the Magician’s table (for example, the Throne’s similarity to his bag).
The Magician shows us a bunch of analyzed objects prior to their synthesis. The yellow ball that he holds absorbs all and becomes the Coin. On the other hand, she is the counter-activity: the analysis of a pre-existing synthesis.
The Queen shows us how the activity of Mysticism manifests in the realm of Synthesis proper (Plane of Creation)—as a creative analysis. The Magician shows us how Mysticism manifests in the realm of the analyzed, that is, the physical plane—as a unifying synthesis.
What does the Magician experience? What is Mysticism? An awareness or direct experience of the fundamental unity of all things in spite of their difference. The path of Hermeticism is the unending task of answering un-answerable questions, of finding new beings and experiences to somehow re-integrate into the whole—increasingly paradoxical and difficult.
“Transform work into play” is just a first step, a first capacity to be acquired. That is only the beginning, not the be-all end-all answer! After acquiring this capacity, then one must get to work! That is, one must Play, put the capacity to use as consistently and continuously as possible.
This leads us to question an underlying assumption—is the Magician the complete being, the ideal initiate? No! He is just illustrating this first step that must be taken. He too must transform himself in order to accomplish more, to accomplish all he needs to accomplish. This is truer to one’s immediate impression of the Magician, not as a Master but as a first step. Let’s remember the root of “Initiate” = to initiate, to activate, to begin. Initiate is the opposite of Master. It is only the beginning, the Initiation.
If we place these two side by side, with the Queen on the left and the Magician on the right, it is as though all of her bounty spills out behind her onto his table. He marvels at the creations of Sophia. He participates in the Agape Feast.
What a gesture of Creation! She’s not focused particularly on the work of creating these individual beings and realities, she is absorbed in the One. And as she moves, the Creation spills off of her. This is not concentration without effort, this is Creation without effort.
Tomberg writes of a concrete certainty of meeting Mary, that one knows when one has made contact with this particular being. The Magician is in that state; in the presence of Mary. Concentration without effort is that certainty of experiencing Her. He is captivated—captivated by the one who ought to captivate by rights and by her very nature—and this is the origin of his effortless concentration.
We closed by performing the fourth part of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.