Queen of Swords (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

We began with the protective practice.

We then invited the guidance of God the Father, as this conversation occurred on the New Moon.

We focused the mantra “IT THINKS” on the region of the larynx, and spoke the mantra “I Rest within the Godhead of the World.” We did not move the third portion of the Inner Radiance sequence—we had time constraints. We moved the 12th letter of the Divine Alphabet, Lamed, in relation to the 12th Arcanum, The Hanged Man. 

We then read Revelation 13:4-6

– One gets the impression that the Queen is performing a mercy killing, like putting down a lame horse. The impression one gets is that the whole process that is unfolding in the Knight of Swords—of the various limbs becoming their own independent creatures and being cut off by the Knight—has gone out of control. It has become an unstable, erratic development. The only part that is able to be rescued is the portion that was protected from all of this, the Knight’s head. And so she kills the Knight in order to rescue him from this unstable development. 

– And then this impression comes, which follows on from last time, of the head being cradled in the lap while this weird half-beast body is dying. And in between, there is this wariness towards the sword she is holding, that has brought about this separation. One can begin to see the cradled head as the Luciferic double, which can be redeemed and transformed. The dying beast body is the withered Ahrimanic double, the one that must be killed or paralysed, that drags from the feet. That would make the sword that she is holding the Karmic Double, the one that can only be externalised, exposed. One can’t transform it or destroy it, one has to be constantly aware of it.

– A third impression is that the Queen of Swords expresses a polarity—she could be seen as the Woman clothed with the Sun, with the Moon under her feet, crowned with Twelve Stars. She is giving birth to a child, and there is a dragon beneath her, waiting to devour the child once it is born.

Or one could see her as the Whore of Babylon, riding on the Red Dragon, drunk on iniquity. 

It’s somehow reminiscent of the 15th Arcanum, The Devil. This combined with the imagery of the Knight gone overboard leads to this image of the threefold double, and this mercy killing or surgery.

– The Karmic Double as the Sword. It’s like a negative and a positive force simultaneously. The Sword cuts both ways. It’s a bit strange to think of it in Tomberg’s terms as being on a spectrum of Luciferic-Ahrimanic. The Karmic Double as this playing out in time of one’s personal expressions of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic. 

For Phillip it is this pain that comes after phone calls or visits with his children. An enormous sense of what was lost. But that pain is so clearly felt as serving his own development. It’s like these interactions are custom made to hurt in a way that maximises suffering—and yet prepares something in him to go further. 

– Recapping a conversation on these things with Natalia.

The dying beast body is the Ahrimanic double. Valentin Tomberg writes of this double that it must be suffocated, paralysed, killed. It can’t be redeemed. This is the materialistic/reductionist worldview that leads to the struggle for survival, for power-lust, for longevity-lust. It is not redeemable—it needs to be eradicated. The transformation of this double is related to the throat chakra, and the priestly vow of poverty. This poverty put into action becomes justice or righteousness, which is related to the sacral chakra. We might imagine Michael as being particularly related to this destruction of Ahriman, the battle of Cosmic Intelligence with rank materialism. The Ahrimanic in us is what wishes to kill the world; this urge for destruction must be turned on itself, must destroy itself.

On the other hand, the rescued head is the Luciferic double. This Luciferic double is the errant, subjective fantasy life. It is illusory, but can be redeemed. It is the foundation for “exact phantasy”, for the faculty of Imaginative Cognition. This is described most beautifully by Valentin Tomberg in his meditation on Whitsun. Lucifer stole the imaginations from Sophia at the time of the Fall, and turned them into the Belt of Lies, into illusions. When the criminal on the left was redeemed, this initiated the redemption of Lucifer. The event of Whitsun represented the return of the primal Imaginations to Sophia on the part of Lucifer. This deed of returning Sophia her Imaginations, her voice which was robbed, was intimately related to the Holy Spirit descending into Mary, and through Mary, into the 12 apostles. 

So we see this in the Queen of Swords. She is like Mary, retrieving her stolen imaginations, redeeming the Luciferic double by sundering it from the Ahrimanic double, and cradling it in her lap. We see this also in the Representative of Humanity, where the “Cosmic Humor” is a Sophia being, and dwells in the upper Luciferic portion of the statue. She is the redeemed/transformed Lucifer.

This redemption of the Luciferic Double is related to the priestly vow of Obedience in the Crown chakra. Once put into action, this Obedience becomes Courage, or Fortitude, or Devotion, in the Heart chakra. So the Crown and the Heart as vehicles of Sophianic revelation (transformed Luciferic arbitrary imagination). 

And then with the Karmic Double, Tomberg indicates that it cannot be simply eradicated like the Ahrimanic Double, nor transformed like the Luciferic double. It can only be extracted, externalised, witnessed. It then has to be trained, like a dog, to acquire good habits. There has to be a constant vigilance towards this Karmic Double. It is like the wretched Lesser Guardian of the Threshold, accompanying us from life to life, reminding us of our karmic debt to other human beings. It can only gradually, from life to life, have its upper (Luciferic) portion transformed, and its lower (Ahrimanic) portion destroyed. We can think of the Karmic double as that which we have brought with us in this life that we are going to have to accept that it cannot be transformed in this lifetime. This was brought up in the context of suffering from Lyme’s disease, but could apply to alcoholism or any other debilitating blow of our organism or our biography. Those things that we have to accept, and manage, not ignore or transform. We have to have a constant vigilance and self-reflection to be able to keep these unavoidable imbalances in mind and in check. 

Therefore we need to learn to treat the Karmic Double as a companion, like it is our child or our friend, like we need to constantly keep Death in mind as a constant companion, or the conscience. Perhaps Sophia is related in a certain way to the transformation of the Luciferic Double into the faculty of revelation, and Michael confronts and slays the Ahrimanic dragon. But Christ is the one who is our constant brother and companion. We can only bear the Karmic Double, we must learn to bear this heavy weight. And Christ is there to help us bear it.

This brings us back to the aspect of the Karmic Double as “that which we owe other people.” Christ helps us to bear the unbearable burden of the Karmic Double. He does this through other people, through our circle of friends and family. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, so there I am also.” “Bear each other’s burdens.” We can begin to bear other people’s burdens, and they will reach out to bear ours. And we see how this Karmic Double is worked with in that it is related to the vow of Chastity in the Brow chakra—increased ego-consciousness and self-awareness—which when put into external action becomes Temperance and Fidelity in the Solar Plexus chakra. The chakra of the awakened conscience.

We can see this Karmic Double in the sword that is in between the body and the head of the decapitated figure. Last time we reckoned that the Sword had somehow been extracted from the Queen herself, that it was in a way still dripping with blood. This is the process of extracting and externalising the Karmic Double. This would indicate that the extraction and witnessing of the karmic double is intrinsic to both the death of the Ahrimanic Double and the transformation of the Luciferic Double—the sword (Karmic Double) is necessary in order to sever these two from each other. It lays the foundation for it. This was what Natalia and Joel realised in their struggle with Lyme disease. The Lyme presented itself during particularly difficult times in their biographies, disruptive periods which then set the stage for receptivity to the Lyme. And the managing of the Lyme becomes a constant struggle, a constant pain. This pain on the one hand creates more and more opportunities to slay the Ahrimanic double below, and also becomes a faculty through which the capacity for Sophianic revelation is awakened. 

To bear blows of destiny—to have been separated from one’s children, to have separated from a community, to have to manage an illness like Lyme’s or alcoholism—this “Sword” of karma or destiny or biography is the necessary “cut” through which the other two doubles can be adequately dealt with.

This is expressed very clearly in the whole of the Representative of Humanity above. If we take the struggling Lucifer and Ahriman as the starting point (to the right of the Christ figure), we see that this is the Karmic Double, the combined action of Lucifer and Ahriman struggling with and hating each other. A sibling rivalry like Cain and Abel. It is the action of Christ towards the Karmic Double that separates these two that should not be in contact with each other, he is constantly vigilant towards, and managing, the karmic double. He draws the Luciferic upwards where it is transformed into the “Cosmic Humor”, the Sophianic revelation. And Ahriman is cast downwards into the pit, where he is chained, paralysed, killed.

– The nature of Ahrimanic evil is that it is power over others, achieved through arbitrariness, numbing, fear, and brute force. But there is always a sharp result. It can’t help but create the sword that is its own destruction in its destructive impulse. This impulse is the very instrument that is its own doom. It produces its own karma, which it then has to bear and suffer the results of. 

For example, Robert speaks of Ahriman’s intentions with covid-19 as the attempt to achieve the eradication of karma, the erasing of the karmic missions of individuals and the ties amongst them. But this very attempt to eradicate karma creates karma, which then acts back upon this entire attempt to dismantle it. 

Everything that has happened this past year, simply through there being a lack of strong reaction to it, has backfired to some extent. The lockdowns and the rioting were focused on the big cities, with the hope that they would foment a nation-wide race war on the one hand, and also create the opportunity for massive bailouts of these cities by the Federal Government, putting us further into debt and drawing us closer to the realm of “universal basic income”, a self-perpetuating never-ending lockdown and centralised propping-up of a fake economy in the name of “health.” 

These measures have backfired completely, only making the governors of these states and mayors of these cities look like absolute fools, and bringing about a massive exile from the big cities out into rural areas. The lockdowns and the rioting were destructive acts that sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

One can also think of Joel’s dream of 2015, his confrontation with Ahriman. He had this dream when he first read and began to work on proofreading the Lord’s Prayer Course. He felt as though Ahriman came on the offensive that night, attempting to intimidate and frighten Joel away from this work. But in the midst of doing this, he tipped his hand and exposed the vessel of his incarnation to Joel. And the result, although terrifying, did not deter Joel from his work, but only further steeled his resolve. It convinced him of the dire importance of this work. It backfired completely.

The nature of the impulses of Ahriman is tied to the fact that he suffers an incredible boredom and cynicism. He can see the future clearly, he knows his fate is sealed. But he wants to stir up as much trouble as he possibly can, while he can. We can see this with the Obama administration, like that entire eight year period was a matter of setting charges all throughout a building that could go off with the lightest touch, and the entirety of the Trump administration has been a matter of attempting to diffuse the bombs without taking the entire building down. He knows his fate is sealed, but he’s going to do whatever he can to wound—hopefully fatally wound—everyone else on his way down. But the very attempt to wound, the wounding of the world is what spells his own demise. A horrible irony: his cynicism regarding his inevitable demise creates the urge for retribution and violence towards the whole world, but this attempt to take retribution is exactly what spells his doom.

So maybe it is Ahriman forging this sword—the Karmic Double, the negative karma—that actually brings about this fatal wound which both kills or paralyses him, but also somehow makes possible the transfiguration of the Luciferic Double. The redemption of Lucifer is bound up with the confrontation with and defeat of Ahriman, on the individual and collective level. And this Luciferic redemption is a Whitsun even—“World Pentecost.”

(As I transcribe these notes, I come to the thought that Ahriman will leave humanity fatally wounded, but this fatal wound is exactly what lays the foundation for our transformation, a World Pentecost. Perhaps this is what Steiner meant that as long as Ahriman’s activity is recognised, it will be of benefit to humanity?)

– The Knight of Swords hands his sword to the Queen. The ahrimanic portion suicides itself, invites its own death. This leaves a dire wound in the Sword itself, the Sword itself is bleeding from its base. But it also returns the head to Sophia, returns the Luciferic Imaginations to Sophia. 

– This brings to mind the beheading of John the Baptist; the holy women rescue this head from a rubbish heap behind Herod’s palace. A devotion to rescuing this head. And the image of Mary walking the way of the Passion on the night of Holy Saturday, gathering up the shed blood of Christ. 

That which brought about the demise—the lost head, the shed blood—becomes a relic by being collected and returned somehow. 

– Doesn’t Tomberg contrast talismans and relics in the Letter-Meditation on The Devil? That Talismans have had some kind of magical fluid or energy poured into them, to the detriment of the ceremonial magician? But a relic is a portal, a memory-portal to a spiritual being, to the spiritual world? That’s exactly what these pieces are, the head, the sword, the body. They are relics. Receptive vessels left from the dead holy person. 

The fact of a wound as a potential sense organ (the stigmata) is very similar to a remnant from the wound having this similar quality. A world sense organ. An independent being—like the parts of the Knight that he is casting off. Very similar to this—you will often come across the bones of a saint, the finger or head of a saint, and it has become its own spiritual being in a way. Exactly what the Knight expresses.

– So Ahriman delivers what he thinks is the death blow…but the thing that has been killed has a life after death as a new kind of sense organ of sorts.

– Going back to this image we developed a while back, that we entered a certain dark portal as we went through the Ace, Two, Three and Four of Coins…this was when Phillip separated from his wife and Joel separated from his community…and that the journey through the Swords is a return, a coming back out of that dark hole. The Knave, Knight and Queen would be a journey, then, through Four, Three and Two…heading towards the King, which would be the equivalent of the Ace of Coins on the return journey. And certainly, with certain aspects in both of our personal lives, it has felt like—well, not quite a reversal of fortune….but the beginning of a new and positive phase. The remnant, the wound or consequence of what we’ve been through is with us, it’s not going away…but that remnant is no longer all that there is. It is being carried into a new, regenerative, positive phase.

– Another aspect that comes in…one gets the image that she is touching the sword, and that this in some magical sense brings her a vision of the past or future. Maybe this beheaded person is her karmic memory of a past death? Or she is witnessing a future life, a deed of murder or killing that she will execute? And she seems transfixed by this sword, transfixed by her act of scrying. 

Maybe this carries on from the theme of the “string of pearls” from the Knight of Swords. The string of previous lives as seed that begin to sprout as karmic memory within and destiny events without. And again, this brings us to the image of the Sword as a relic, as a sacred magical object that reveals the past and future. 

And look at the base of the sword…the two streams of “blood” that are flowing out create a kind of eye shape. One can even see a pupil. It’s a very strong eye image, visioning the future, staring at this dying creature.

With the Ace of Swords, we had this strong impression of the act of seeing as an act of touch or contact. The light (the sword) approaching and “piercing” the eye (the crown). And here again we have the combination of eye with the act of touch, quite literally. Touching the sword leads to “seeing” inwardly. And the mysterious hand holding the sword in the Ace mirrors the way her hand is touching the hilt of her sword. It’s the reversal. In the Queen, first is the hand, then the “eye” flowing out of the hilt. In the Ace, there is this cosmic sea-creature as “act of seeing” , then the hand reaching out to touch the relic. 

– We are seeing transparently the karmic double.

The sword in any given Arcanum is never shown in action, actually piercing or cutting anything. Even in the Ace, really, which is as close as it gets to a certain degree. Never the less, it’s always somehow implied that the sword is very active in the transformation of what is occurring. It’s presence is always a representation of this magical power that’s been enacted by and through other things in the card. In the numbered Arcana, it works in conjunction with the curved scimitars, the ever-increasing mesh. In the Knave, it’s the scabbard/sheath. The sword is like a centre of gravity which brings the other elements in the image into a magical interaction.

It’s the keystone, or the catalyst. It speaks to this idea of Force, “this is the Force of all Forces”, from the Emerald Tablet.

And it becomes clearer and clearer that this magical agent has something to do with karma in its more violent or threatening aspect—the inescapable or predetermined challenge or trial that you would avoid if you could.

– Going back to last time, we couldn’t really agree whether the Knave was a stage of Hermeticism (the “lowest” or most mundane level of Coin/Action) or a stage of Mysticism (the beginning of the journey in terms of YHVH, Mysticism—Gnosis—Magic—Hermeticism).

Considering the gesture of the Knave deeply, it’s more like a particular union of both. He is having a kind of mystical experience, but only on the plane of the mundane, of the philosophical/scientific. He is a “Mystical Hermeticist” engaging in what Joel might call “speculative intuition”, he’s having certain mystical experiences, but they’re still vague and need to be worked out with the intellect to some degree. Or he’s making outer observations or philosophical inquiries, and attempting to move out of the mundane into a deeper, more mystical realm through them. He’s certainly a novice.

This would then apply to the entire Suit of Coins. It is the realm of “Mystical Hermeticism”, of mystical philosophy.

So moving to the stage of the Knight, especially the Knight of Swords, he is experiencing a kind of “Gnostic Magic.” How does this look? He is performing deeds based on his mystical hermetic insights, his half-baked intuitions, semi-experimentally. The result of these experiments then work back on his consciousness, transforming his consciousness. So unlike the progression from Mysticism to Gnosis to Sacred Magic, where the outer world is changed (magic) based on intuitions (mysticism) made fully conscious (gnosis), here the deeds are enacted out of a much lower level of consciousness, and the results of this action are imprinted both on the outer world as karma, as well as on the inner world, raising us to a new level of consciousness, the Plane of Formation, the elemental world. 

The entire Suit of Swords is analogous to the Knight, it is the realm of “Gnostic Magic”, of learning what deeds to perform—a kind of trial by error. 

The next level, that of the Queen and the Cups, would hypothetically be that of “Magical Gnosis.” This would in a way represent the fruits of the effort—and errors—of the Suit of Swords and the Knight: the achievement of an actual transformation (magic) of consciousness (gnosis), of the grace of Sophianic revelation, and therefore to proper action in the outer world. In the Swords, one acts in order to know; in the Cups, one acts because one knows. 

This would be followed by the level of the King and the Batons, which hypothetically would be that of “Hermetic Mysticism.” This is the achievement of the mystical state, but hermetically, which means to say comprehensively. Here one has achieved absolute mastery—here there is complete and comprehensive certainty, the persistent contact with the realm of Truth a la the Hermit. 

And so that is where we are with the Queen of Swords: “Magical Gnosis” in the realm of “Gnostic Magic.” This entire suit, really, has been an expression of what the young child experiences when it touches a hot stove: getting burned and learning from it, being transformed by it. 

Throughout this Suit, we couldn’t any longer carry on in the mode we had developed under the sign of “Coin” and “Knave.” Our way of approaching the Numbered Arcana was increasingly frustrated, a blind alley. We had to struggle through, eventually break through, which we did as and with the Knave of Swords—a struggle out of a “blue bag”, a scalping to allow in fresh light. Playing with fire, testing oneself, getting damaged in the process—hopefully transformed by it on some level?

– The country—and maybe the world—has been and is in a similar state in terms of transformation of the double and the backfiring of Ahrimanic schemes. The value of a wound is it creates proper gratitude for the Good. America has been brought to the brink, and will be more grateful for what was taken for granted after being exposed to that abyss—assuming, by the grace of God, we don’t fall in!

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