Queen of Swords (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on October 8, 2020

October 8, 2020

Queen of Swords

We began with the protective practice. 

We then invited the presence of the Resurrected Christ through Tomberg’s Meditation on the Etheric Christ. 

After briefly focusing the mantra IT THINKS on the region of the larynx, we moved the third portion of the Inner Radiance sequence (“I Rest Within the Godhead of the World”) and the 12th letter of the Divine Alphabet, Lamed, in relation to the Hanged Man.

After reading from Revelation 13:1-3, we turned to the Queen of Swords, as well as the Empress, the High Priestess, and Justice.

– The first thing we notice is the base of the hilt of the sword. It looks like flames are emanating from it, or water is flowing out of it. The hilt looks like a beehive. And notice the red blade—that is new, we have not had a red blade before. And it isn’t really like water is flowing out—more like wine? Or blood?

Tarot Card – Valet d’Epee (Page of Swords).

The scabbard in the Knave is the only other red object generally speaking, other than article of clothing, in the Suit of Swords.

The faces on each of the Charioteer’s shoulders are red.

The blade on the scythe in Death is red.

Perhaps the wine/blood flowing out of the base of the hilt is related somehow to the red blade above the hilt? Like a pouring out of the same substance of which the blade is made.

Has this sword killed? She has a somewhat pensive look on her face, gazing strongly at the blade like “What have I done?”

And then the flow from the base of the hilt goes right to her belly, which looks like a pregnant belly. It appears that her hand is resting on the belly. This oval shape that the hand rests on—is that indicating pregnancy? It has such an odd shape—notice how it extends down, it hangs over her left knee.

It’s like something is swaddled there. 

The flowing lines and marks that seem to emanate from the base of the hilt seem to run independently of the color of the clothing. It passes from red to blue somewhat arbitrarily. This is unusual. Usually the colors are “in the lines”, making the clothing seem at least a little bit more realistic. But these colors seem to indicate distinct regions that don’t correspond with the lines and shading.

And it’s a complicated spectrum of color. There is this flesh color in the midst of the blue. Under her left arm. Above her arm is yellow. The chair is also flesh colored, with yellow pillars. A blend of the Empress’s and Justice’s thrones. A kind of “Magical Justice.” 

– There is definitely a resonance with the Empress. Her dress pattern, and the bottom part of the Empress’s crown. 

Putting the Queen and the Empress side by side, suddenly the Eagle jumps out. There is a resonance between the shape of the Eagle’s wings on the Empress’s shield and the curvature of the hand guard that first appeared in the Knave but has continued through the Knight and Queen. Especially the shape of the wing on the left side of the card. And if we look at the Emperor’s shield, we see that the Eagle on that shield has a very different gesture.

It’s a bit like a “Hope U”, from therapeutic eurythmy. There is “Faith A” and “Love E” as well. But this gesture is like “Hope U.” (Here is a link with a very good description: https://eurythmyonline.com/wp-content/uploads/documents/Hope-U.pdf). It is particularly the shape of the arms during Hope U that is reminiscent of the Eagle/Handguard. A gathering of cosmic substance and bring it down to the Mother in the heart of the Earth. 

The Empress also has the baby belly, at least that was the focus of our conversations years ago—that the Magician is conception, and the High Priestess gestation, while the Empress is giving birth. But she is holding the “acorn” of the magical sceptre at the place of the belly, the concentration of sacred magic, rather than the red oval that the Queen has. 

The gesture of the Queen’s hand is actually more like Justice’s holding the scale as opposed to the Empress’s holding the sceptre. But with the Queen she’s just caressing or resting her hand on her belly.

The color scheme of the Queen’s robes is more like the High Priestess or Justice vs Empress. And she’s looking in the same direction as the High Priestess.

 – Something that struck Joel is once again we’re brought to this elusive color orange. When we got to the Knave, we searched high and low for where we had seen the color orange, and could only find it on the sleeve of the Knave of Coins. But then we had all this confusion about Phillip’s deck having different coloration that Joel’s. Looking closely at the Queen’s hilt, there is a tiny triangle of orange between her thumb and her forefinger. And in the Empress, there is orange grass on the ground, clear as day! Yet somehow we missed this when we were looking back through the Majors, looking for this orange/golden color. 

But once again we come to a discrepancy around the color orange! It appears in Phillip’s deck, the entire bottom portion of the Empress is covered up by the name of the card. The bottom portion of ground is virtually missing entirely (see Joel’s and then Phillip’s below).

And now Joel has another deck, this one in French, given to him by a friend at Copake. Never used, in mint condition. So Joel will give this deck to Phillip so that he doesn’t have to keep using the faulty one! In both of Joel’s decks the coloration is the same, it’s just that one retains the original French titles and one is in English.

How Joel came to have this extra deck:

There is a study group at Copake that is working with Rudolf Steiner’s final lecture series given to the Christian Community Priests on the Book of Revelation. In one of the lectures he is talking about language and how it has died, become black magic really, by being put into print. Each letter has been reduced to a unit, more or less. In the past, each letter was understood to be its own independent spiritual being that had its body in the sound the human being made with the larynx. This was understood in Greek and Hebrew, where each letter had a name not just an arbitrary approximation of its sound as its title. 

Joel had brought up to this group the idea that Friedrich Weinreb proposes, that there are apparent “errors” in the original Hebrew Bible (Torah). Letters missing, letters too large or too small, extra letters, etc. But all of these so-called “mistakes” are totally on purpose. There is a numerical-spiritual language to the letters of the original Bible, and to change one iota of it is to mar the spiritual structure of this text, a text which is identical with the fundamental framework of the four-world universe. 

Joel had also brought up that the Tarot are a resurrection of this Hebrew Alphabet, where rather than each letter having a name (which they do also in the Tarot), they also have a very specific multi-vocal image that expresses or embodies the spiritual being. 

Joel’s friend Marc, who is Tahitian and very familiar with French Occultism and Tarot, pointed out that in the original Marseilles decks, there are spelling errors in the names of certain Arcana that are not to be adjusted. They are meant to be there. Specifically in The Lover and the Tower of Destruction. In French, both of these titles have the letter U in them. And there are other Arcana whose names have the letter U as well, such as Le Bateleur. And in those other Arcana, the U has a normal curved shape. But in The Lover and the Tower of Destruction, the U is replaced by a V, as in old engravings on Cathedrals, etc. This has some occult significance to it. 

Marc then offered to Joel a Grimaud Marseilles deck with the original French on it. This is the other deck that Joel is using for this conversation, and will give to Phillip.

– Notice that in the French, the name for the Tower of Destruction is “La Maison Dieu” (spelled “La Maison Diev”). This doesn’t mean Tower of Destruction at all! It means “House of God.” That gives a very different feeling and connotation to the imagery vs Tower of Destruction. Maybe that’s the proper name for this equal-opposite to the process of the Tower of Destruction that the Knave in particular began to unveil, but has worked through the Knight up to the Queen.

– So anyway…again the orange eludes us…and then in the Queen we have this orange triangle, and then the flesh coloured fingers, but the thumb itself is yellow, the same color as the hilt. 

– So two pictures begin to arise from this Arcanum. One is, par the course, a bit gruesome, quite visceral as it has been from the Ace onwards. One gets the image that she may have just extracted this sword from her belly. There is still some kind of membrane attached to the bottom of the hilt. And the blade is like a condensation of her blood, or perhaps it is covered in blood.

On the other hand, the image arises that she is some kind of genii, she’s coming out of the “bottle”, but the bottle in this case is the hilt of the sword. This redness that is streaming out is actually producing her. And then she’s holding onto this hilt, she’s the one rubbing or touching the “bottle” in order to release herself. A very circular process, one without beginning or end. 

This latter image goes with a feeling from before. Something about how everything is different below the belt in this Arcanum. There is more shading there, more flowing lines. It’s like only the bottom part is coming from the bottom of the sword. Not the upper half—it stands apart and above.

Wasn’t there also a circular process in the Queen of Coins? And a beehive! Wow, that was definitely the case, exactly reflective of this process here. 

In that case it was something like…she’s passing the coin through herself, and somehow it ends up flying out of the beehive behind her at the end. She’s filtering all these different forms out of the “One Thing” of the coin. It begins with the coin passing through the “filter” of her crown. Then it flows down through the yellow portion of her torso into the belt. It “rolls” through the belt, and around the throne, into her left hand. It then shoots up and behind her, transforming itself into the bee. 

In the case of the Queen of Swords, it’s more like her eyes pass something through the sword’s blade, through the hilt—also a beehive—and her hand, flowing into her belly.

It’s like the sceptre held by the Queen of Coins is the reversal of the sword of the Queen of Swords. There are similar shapes beyond the beehive, also the hand guard. It’s like she is holding not a sceptre, but rather the sword—holding the sword by the point and the blade.

So the Queen of Swords is in a way the total reverse process of the Queen of Coins, indicated by the reversal of the form of the object. Is the Queen of Swords hiding a coin in her cloak? Is she gestating a coin?

It certainly appears disc-like, it appears discontinuous with her whole body the way it hangs over her knee.

– A few weeks back Joel was looking at the Queen of Coins with Brie (his 7-year old daughter). She said that her hair was water, like a river or a waterfall flowing into a larger body of water, a lake (her cloak). This really transformed the image for Joel, that this is a being of water. And it made it seem as though she isn’t even wearing a crown at all—what seems to be a crown is just a sieve or a grate behind her out of which water is flowing. This makes her head seem very, very small. 

Now realising that the Queen of Coins is characterised by this flow of blue water, whereas the Queen of Swords is characterised by this flow of red, of wine or blood. And the emanation in the Queen of Coins comes from the region of the head, whereas in the Queen of Swords it comes from the hand, close to the belly.

A changing of water into wine. Like the seventh portion of the Grail Knight’s Practice, with the first level of trespass and the changing of water into wine. This union of Heavenly Light or cool waters above with Earthly Sap, this heat below. 

– It also makes one think of the night-time conversation with Nicodemus. Where Christ tells him he must be baptised by both Water and Spirit (Breath or Fire). And that he must be born a second time. Nicodemus muses, “how can I be born again? Do I have to crawl back into my mother’s womb?” And that is kind of the gesture of the Queen of Swords. Not so much a birth, but the opposite of birth, a going back into the mother’s womb. And this is what we need to do, to go back into the Mother in the Darkness of the Underworld, in order to be born again, born of both water and wine.

Heavenly light and Earthly Sap. The light is in her gaze. The sword blade is the juice fermenting under her gaze, and producing wine, pouring forth wine. She is heating it up, stimulating it with her gaze. 

The heat of this sword—is it branding her hand? Is she receiving some kind of wound, like the stigmata, from which is flowing blood?  

This begs the question—is this disc-like object in her lap, is this something that is emanating from the hilt, or is it a separate phenomenon? Is it blood flowing from a wound in the other hand, the other mark of the stigmata?

This brings us to Temperance, to the flow from two vases. And she is no longer holding vases, her hands are these vases, flowing with holy fluid. 

Perhaps the coin, held by or emanating from her left hand, is the disc of bread, the wafer; while the wine is flowing from her right hand holding the sword.

– Relating this image back to the Knave and the Knight, and this wild transformism that has been emphasised in both of those images…is there something like this happening in the lower half of the image? Following the curve over her lap and left leg…are there multiple legs? The hind legs of an animal? Maybe there is the form of an animal developing, embedded in her, not separate or separating from her as the animal forms do in the Knight.

(This was an observation made by Phillip, and was very unclear to Joel. Most of our conversations since covid-19 have taken place over the phone, and occasionally we have had to take pictures of what we are talking about to send them to each other for greater clarity. In this case, Phillip had to make a video in order to adequately explain to Joel.)

Yes! Now it is clear. Definitely, the form of an animal on all fours, or a man bowing down. And where the head should be is the hilt of the sword instead.

Is this a beheading? She seems to be holding the head in her lap, or what looks like a hat at least? Did she love this creature? Half man, half beast. Or is this another slight modulation of the theme of the Knave of Swords, the sword’s slice as a catalyst for unpacking/unfurling? Except that here, whatever it is that is radiating out of this cut form is radiating into her, not out into the world. More akin to the Knight in that respect, where the sword seemed to be radiating creative or procreative potential all through him. 

It’s reminiscent somehow of the blood of Christ pouring out of the spear wound, dropping onto the stony ground and turning it into the living stone of future Jupiter, creating life. 

Is this some kind of Pieta? 

File:Michelangelo's Pietà, St Peter's Basilica (1498–99).jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

Is this going to become something other than her, i.e. does she lose her life, give over her life to this thing that is gestating when it finally manifests itself?

This isn’t the impression Joel has. This isn’t something gestating that she’s giving her life to. He still has the sense that she needed to kill this thing, in order to give it new life, in some strange way. 

Certainly, this being below her is distinct from her. She’s not performing some surgical action on herself. What’s coming into being is distinct from her or at her expense. Whereas the Knave’s cut was to release himself. The Knight is releasing his own latent potential. With both of them their own bodies were either made up of or were becoming other forms. 

Does this play back into the layers of the numbered Swords? The stages of Sword activity? Where the Two and Three were pairs, the one the result of the other, and then the Four and Five were pairs, etc. And different Swords/Flowers resulted in each of these stepwise levels. 

– The Queen is like the counter-image of the Ace. The Ace is the archetypal form of the Swords, whereas the Queen is the manifest form. Her gaze is activating the sword, the same way the crown in the Ace “activates” the sword. And in the Queen, you have the hand holding the sword with this flowing blood coming from it, whereas in the Ace you have the hand holding the sword, with this weird shape next to it…this cosmic sea urchin form. The Ace has this primal activity or gesture of wounding. 

– The Knave is releasing himself.

The Knight is sacrificing parts of his being to become their own independent beings.

The Queen is mercy-killing something or someone so that they can be re-integrated into her being. She’s taking that form in, not releasing it. And now gestating something new—which perhaps is the King of Swords?

– In both the Knight and the Knave, the head has a certain distinct quality from the rest. And here too, the disc/hat/head has this distinct quality from the rest of the body. There is a clear discarding of the body, and a keeping of the head, allowing it to turn into something new. 

– It’s reminiscent somehow of the acolytes in the Pope, bowing down and going into this dark landscape within the Pope’s robes. To enter properly into the realm of the Queen of Swords, the head must be released from this other mixed portion.

– Does she have the first proper crown, in the entire deck so far?

No…The Chariot has a crown. Also the Sphinx on the Wheel of Fortune. And the Tower! But she is the first Court Arcana to have a proper crown for sure.

Actually there are many similarities between her and the Chariot, in the overall design and pattern. 

There are all these resonances in the Court Swords—like they are drawing out the most productive qualities of the other Arcana. Truly Sacred Magic.

It’s like we’re seeing everything at the level of Sacred Magic in the Swords—like with the Knave, Knight and Queen we are being shown the Mysticism, Gnosis and Sacred Magic in the realm of Sacred Magic. Noticing again the “SM” on the Chariot…before we had seen it as representing Sulphur-Mercury, the alchemical union…but maybe by some coincidence it also represents Sacred Magic!

– And now we investigate an image Joel shared with Phillip in the past week or so. A specific arranging of all 16 Court Arcana… Some backstory:

Joel began to see the Sword Arcana as a kind of story of evolution. Knave of Swords is Adam-Kadmon, the melothesia, the “archetype of archetypes.” The first day of Creation, “Let there be Light!” Then the Knight of Swords is the unfolding of creation, the archetypal man striving to become manifest man, and on his path to this actualisation, all of the rest of Creation kind of shoots off of him at different unfinished stages of development, different specialisations. Like branches going horizontally off of the main vertical trunk of the tree.

The Queen is like the final act, the creation of Man on the sixth day of Creation. A sacrifice of the beastly in order to bring about the pure human being. And he began to see some resonance with the Coin Arcana. 

Like the Knave of Coins is his own activity, his own level. He is the Coin level of activity within the Coins themselves. Strict attention to detail, concentration with effort. But the Knight of Coins, with his kind of epiphany-like awakening, seems to be a precursor to the Knave of Swords, with his epiphany in the region of the crown. And then the Queen of Coins has this evolutionary progression passing through her, from Coin to Crown, and from Beehive to Throne. This is a precursor to the activity of the Knight of Swords, who is evolution itself, not just facilitating or observing it. And then the King of Coins has this belly preoccupation, he has the hidden coin in his cloak, just like the Queen of Swords. Like there is this accomplishment of the wholeness. He is the precursor in the realm of Coin to her activity in the realm of Swords. 

So the King of Swords is like a further step—like God on the seventh day of Creation, not just accomplishing the wholeness with the creation of Man, but then looking back on everything, reviewing everything—“This is very good.” The King of Swords will be something we haven’t yet experienced or had previewed in the Coins. 

And so when we look at this image, we can see the stepwise accomplishment of different levels of activity. The Knave of Coins stands alone. Then the Knight of Coins and the Knave of Swords form a unity. Then the Queen of Coins, Knight of Swords, and Knave of Cups form a unity, and so on. Gradually, as we move up the ladder of consciousness through the four worlds, we leave behind the realm of Coin/Action altogether. In a way, we have only barely touched the realm of Baton/Emanation in terms of the King of Coins and Queen of Swords. By the time we reach the end, the King of Batons stands alone, the representative of Baton/Emanation on the plane of Baton/Emanation. 

So shouldn’t we say that Coin is the realm of Hermeticism, and the Knave is the level of consciousness of Hermeticism? The realm of metaphysics/comprehensive philosophy? The realm of the factual and human action?

Following on from this, Sword is the realm of Sacred Magic (Yetzirah, the plane of Formation), and the Knight is the level of consciousness of Sacred Magic. 

This makes Cups the realm of Gnosis, and the Queen the level of consciousness of Gnosis. 

So when we look at the Queen of Swords, we are seeing Gnosis (Queen) in the realm of Sacred Magic (Sword). A digestion or coming to knowledge (Gnosis) of what one has accomplished (Sacred Magic). 

But in another sense, it’s a bit like Hermeticism and Mysticism are two sides of the same coin. We can think of this in the Coins—the Knave was somehow a blend of Magician (Mysticism) and Emperor (Hermeticism), and so too was the King, but in the opposite sense. The Knave expresses more of a “Mystical Hermeticism”, an experience of the metaphysical sense bubbling up out of the dim intuitive mystical realm. Whereas the King expresses more of a “Hermetic Mysticism”, i.e. a totally comprehensive experience of Mysticism, Mysticism par excellence. Maybe the same applies with Gnosis and Sacred Magic, two sides of the same coin. There can be a “Magical Gnosis”, i.e. a magical transformation of inner consciousness/being leading to Gnosis or revelation. There is an outer magic, yes, but also the “inner magic” of Goethean imagination/phantasy. This vs. “Gnostic Magic”, i.e. coming to a clear understanding of a magical deed enacted completely intuitively, out of “divine instinct.”

Following on from an experience earlier in Joel’s day, during one of the Camphill Academy courses, in which the instructor had the class read the fourth part of the Foundation Stone Meditation in reverse, we closed with the third part of the Foundation Stone Meditation in reverse—which gives a completely different feeling, like the cosmic rather than the human perspective.