Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on October 22, 2020
October 22, 2020
Queen of Swords, pt III
We began with the protective practice.
We then invited the presence of the Crucified Christ to guide our conversation.
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.
We then read from Revelation 13:7-9
Some questions came up around this passage (verse 8 specifically), which was read from David Bentley Hart’s rendering from the original Greek: “And all those dwelling on the earth will make obeisance to him, everyone whose name has not been written in the book of the suckling lamb who has been slaughtered from the foundation of the cosmos.” The confusion or ambiguity that we feel in regards to this verse is foreseen and addressed by DB Hart in a footnote, in which he points out that it is totally unclear in the original Greek whether the phrase “from the foundation of the cosmos” refers to the names being written in the book, or to the slaughtering of the suckling lamb. Is it referring to just one of them? If so, which one? Or is it ambiguous on purpose, referring to them both? Are they connected somehow—the names written in the book at the foundation of the cosmos, and the slaughtering of the suckling lamb at the foundation of the cosmos?
In any case, it is the idea of the slaughtering of the lamb as the foundation (or primal beginning) of the cosmos that really strikes us, as this is very much in line with an intuition of Joel’s (as well as a few more traditional theological writers and thinkers) that the event of Christ’s death and resurrection is in some mysterious sense the origin of the cosmos—that this event is like a seed from which strikes in one direction the “roots” of the past and in the other direction the “stem” of the future. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” “In the beginning was the Word.” From a more linear perspective (a movement from past into future), it is the events of Genesis that are the “beginning” of the cosmos. But on some deeper level, it is the Christ event itself which is the origin of Time, it is the centre of gravity of the whole unfolding of the cosmos. Therefore, the events of Genesis depend on this event for their own existence.
From another perspective though, one might wonder why is the Lamb, the sign of Aries, the origin, and not for example Aquarius, the Angel-Man? Isn’t Adam-Kadmon, the ur-human, the foundation of the cosmos?
We have to look at this from the perspective of the second apocalyptic seal, in which we see the four holy creatures (Merkabah)—Taurus, Leo, Eagle/Scorpio, Aquarius—surrounding the fifth, the central figure of the Lamb. In this sense, the Lamb is not strictly related to Aries, it isn’t any one of the signs of the zodiac that can be seen as “origin” or “foundation.” It is something around which they all gravitate. In this sense, the Lamb is akin to the Dancer in the World, the rhythm which sets the tempo for what would otherwise be the cacophony of melody proceeding from the four corners of the cosmos.
Is this really the picture given when the Lamb first appears in the book of Revelation? Isn’t it the throne that is in the centre of the four creatures? One would more quickly associate that Throne with Father God/Foundation than the suckling lamb.
(Edit: In Chapters 4+5 of Revelation, we see that there is a Throne with someone “like jasper” sitting on it, surrounded by the 24 elders. And there are seven lamp stands in front of this Throne, and it is surrounded by the four Holy Creatures. The one on the Throne holds a book with seven seals in his right hand and no one can be found to open it. And the suckling lamb is described as being in the midst, in the centre of all of this: the throne, the four creatures, the 24 elders—more central even than the “one sitting on the throne”, and he is the one who can actually open these seals. So the Lamb is the “centre of centres.”)
Another interesting feature of tonight’s conversation is that Phillip is without a deck of cards! Adding another element of flexibility/spontaneous adjustment to long distance conversation…lots of sending photos back and forth over WhatsApp in order to clarify things.
And now, we turn to the Queen…
– What we notice first of all this time are the dots all over her garment, more like little black points than the circles dotting the Knight. They are on her crown, her collar, and around her diaphragm. Have we seen these little dots before? Definitely they are on the Queen of Coins: on her diaphragm, connecting to the loop of the throne behind her. But in the Queen of Coins, this band is skin-coloured, as is her collar, whereas this similar arrangement on the Queen of Swords is all yellow.
Also these dots are arranged very geometrically on the Knight’s saddle, on this kind of archetypal distillation of the Tower of Destruction.
We also find six such dots on the throne—actually more of a chair—that the King of Coins sits upon.
And we suppose we should include the dots on the die of the Magician—one dice showing a single dot, the other showing five.
Magician, Queen and King of Coins, Knight and Queen of Swords. A peculiar collection.
It somehow feels complete that she has these dots on three levels: Crown, Collar, Waist. Unlike the others where it exists on either one (Queen and King of Coins) or two (Magician and Knight of Swords) levels.
In a way it is an elaboration of what was developed in the Knave. The threefold head that he has, with this yellow crown above, and red larynx below, with the flesh-coloured face framed by this. The kind of vesica piscis framing of the face. And also the threefold division of head, larynx, and trunk of the Knave of Swords—it is these same three regions that have dots on the Queen.
The dice, the belt of the Queen of Coins, the chair of the King of Coins, and the Knight’s saddle—all of these elements are in the lower half of these arcana. They build up to this threefoldness which then embraces the upper portion of the image of the Queen of Swords.
It takes us back to this idea of stigmata. Are these piercings? Briefly we review our picture of the Queen of Swords experiencing stigmata from the first conversation—that there is blood flowing from her right hand that is like the Wine, and blood flowing from her left hand that is like the Bread, the Host.
In a way it’s like she has more than a Crown of Thorns—she also has a “Larynx of Thorns” and a “Solar Plexus of Thorns.”
What does it mean that these “Thorns”, these piercings are related to dice, a belt, a saddle, and a chair-like throne?
There are 12 on the crown, 8 on the collar, 8 on the waist.
Notice that the collar, the larynx, is connected to the throne in the Queen of Swords, whereas it is the waist, the belt that connects in the Queen of Coins.
– This image is reminiscent of the Pope, with this very indistinct lower half. Except that the Pope’s lower portion is blue, night-like, and here it is a radiant red.
We also brought up the Pope in the first conversation…in that this bowing figure reminded us of the acolytes entering into this “night zone” through the Pope’s garment. Which is interesting, that there is this resonance with the Pope, since there is a good deal dedicated to stigmata in that Letter-Meditation: the four wounds, and the idea of the fifth wound, the piercing of Christ’s heart with the spear.
Notice that her heart is framed between these two levels of the collar and the waistband.
But then there is also this realm of the metabolism, below the belt…something is going on there. This lump she is cradling is clearly not her belly, it isn’t contiguous with the rest of her body, it’s a separate flap or something. Perhaps a child, but definitely not her.
– A very different image comes this time vs the “mercy killing” picture from last time. In a way it seems that only the upper portion of the Queen is solid, is made of flesh. Everything above the belt, including the arms. But this torso-being is floating above this corpse, this beheaded Knight. And from this torso come rays of light, different coloured rays of light: blue, yellow, flesh, red, etc. These are healing rays of light which encase or enfold the corpse, healing it, bringing it back to life. This is why the “folds” of her lower robes don’t match the colors: the “folds” are actually a corpse, a beheaded being, whereas the colors are not robes at all, they are veils of light, and the corpse is seen through these coloured veils of light. Perhaps these veils of light originate from the base of the hilt of the sword she holds, a flowing that goes out in two directions, healing or reconnecting the two portions of the dead Knight.
This is an extension in a way of the theme of the Knight. In the Knight, different parts of him have become, or are becoming, new creatures independent from him. Whereas in this case, her entire lower half is made up of an entire other person, not just a new creature. A creature she had to behead, and then to heal, to rejuvenate.
Is she re-absorbing the head portion of this dead Knight back into herself? One is reminded of the meditation from part 9 of the Grail Knight’s practice:
O human being,
Stream the light of thinking into depths of will
Raise the light of the will to the level of heart and hands
Experience it in the creating of heart and hands
And stream, again, what is experienced into the depths of will
In order to raise creative power again to the head’s heights.
Thus you will become bearer of the circumstances of your weaknesses.
Take up your bed, and walk.
There is definitely resonance here, with the absorbing/bearing/reanimation of the will, and its reintegration with thinking and creating. The bearing of the circumstances of our weaknesses—this goes back to the dealing with the threefold double we discussed last week.
This is a five-pointed star meditation, again bringing us into the realm of the five wounds, the stigmata.
– A reading from Peter Roth, one of the early Camphillers:
Here he brings together the standard reading for Michaelmas in the Christian Community, the invitation to the wedding feast, with the practice of the Bible Evening in Camphill. There is this aspect he brings up which is ever-present in the Numbered Swords: of the tendency for this to become stagnant and rote, suffocatingly repetitive. But Joel was particularly struck by the reference to “shedding the skin”, like a snake, as this was an image that came to us in the first conversation on the Queen: that she was like a snake who had shed its skin and was now witnessing this shed skin. The whole tone and message of the last portion of this reading, where he speaks of allowing the past deeds to shrink to their proper proportions, a “residue”, is very much related to the 7th-13th parts of the Knights Practice (only the 7th-11th have been made available at this point). Each of them dealing with one of Christ’s Healing Miracles as a stage in the redemption of the primal transgressions, the primal karma. Each meditation begins with the phrase: “Healing of the Karmic Sheaths of the Life Body—Eradicating the Karmic Consequences of the Past.”
What an incredible phrase this is! What an incredible idea! Talk about the “disruption of karma”—what does it mean for the Etheric Christ—the Christ of Unfathomable Divine Mercy—to “eradicate the karmic consequences of the past” in a seven-stage process?
The snake shedding its skin is brought into connection with the laying down of the sword on the altar, with the letting go of the past. Maybe we need to learn how to do this with karma. “Behold, I have made all things new.” Only then can we bear the circumstances of our weaknesses. Otherwise, the load we would carry would be too much to bear.
– It is a real question—is she in the process of forming or healing a portion of her own body? Or is she sacrificing a portion of herself in order to heal her dead love or her dead companion? Or, like the Knight, is she generating a whole new being?
She is the next octave up of the generative process. She is not self-contained like the Knave, nor is she generating new beings out of herself like the Knight. There are now two separate beings that are interacting, herself as a floating torso and the decapitated body below. There is a new level of both depth and height with this Arcanum. It certainly speaks to the idea that this is not just a portion of her taking on a life of its own. Because there is this clear movement from:
Knave—becoming a being
Knight—releasing other beings from himself
Queen—she ought to be an interaction of two distinct beings.
Perhaps, in the context of the King, if we take a glance ahead, we might say this is the process of uniting two separate beings, and the King is the result. The King has a face on each shoulder—he is the result of that uniting. He’s contained: “Now the operation of sol is complete.” It’s like the shoulders are the two beings in the Queen, whereas the King himself is the third between them, uniting them.
– We have been re-reading the Letter-Meditation on the Hanged Man as we work with the Queen of Swords. Certain portions have really stuck out this time, for example pages 307-8. Here he brings in the image of the hermit being like a “fish out of water” when he is engaged in normal, everyday life, and that the solitude of the hermit provides him with the “water” he requires, that he needs in order to breathe and live. Both the imagery of the fish and of a bird in flight are brought in here. And in the Knave, we have an upwards-pointing fish, as well as the form of an owl, of a bird in flight. But really this section is expressing something one experiences throughout the Suit of Swords, yet very potently in the Knave: the need for the tension of the “Hermetic Zone” of silence and solitude, equipoised between the heavenly and the earthly gravitation. Suffocating on the “land” of Earth or the “air” of just Heaven. And this is exactly how we characterised the journey leading up to the Knave: the formation of the “vesica piscis”, the air-bladder, the lungs, and that the Knave was bursting out of this blue “bag of waters” like the newborn baby, seeking light and air—seeking respiration and sensation.
And again later, on page 320, there is this anecdote about the soldier in the White Army who receives a lightning flash of total understanding from above, illuminating the three realms (lunar imagination, solar thinking, zodiacal will) in the flash of an instant. We could say this is also the journey through the Suit of Swords up to the Knave: that he experiences the “lightning flash” of the yellow sword which cuts open his crown. He is divided into three parts. But in particular, maybe the Knave expresses this solar thinking, this moral logic discussed on page 324, where the crown centre transforms all of the lower chakras. He has this “golden cap”, this sun-thinking emanating from his crown.
Perhaps the Knave, Knight and Queen are connected to these three luminaries, these three soul-states of Faith written of in the Hanged Man? The Knave might be particularly “solar thinking”, whereas there is something of the “zodiacal will” in the Knight (as Adam Kadmon/Melothesia), whereas the Queen is like the “lunar imagination,” this “selenization” of the imagination in some mysterious way.
And therefore the King would be what Tomberg refers to as “Hermetic Initiation”, experiencing all three of these levels combined and continuously.
– Going back to what we discussed a bit last time: that perhaps this lower portion, this decapitated body below the Queen, in this veil-portion, is the remains of the Knight. Is she transforming these remains in order to create her lower half which she is lacking?
Maybe he is the one she killed? Or did he die because his process couldn’t stop—his body parts all ran off without him? In a way he died by his own sword, if we consider his sword cutting off these various body parts as they reach full maturity/independence. Then she comes as a kind of Guardian Angel, and takes up his sword and somehow reconstitutes him into the more stable being of the King.
An angelic being whose lower half is made of light….she is a screen and he is a silhouette.
This idea of a Guardian Angel…it brings us back to the Letter-Meditation on Temperance. Like she is the Guardian Angel who compensates for the lost psychic awareness of the human being through the fall and disfigurement of the likeness. She has a gesture of benediction in one hand, and a sword in the other. The Guardian Angel’s attitude of total dedication to the one she cares for, not being able to see God or other beings of the Hierarchies, but keeping her gaze completely on her charge.
But her gaze is not turned to the Knight…it is turned to the sword. Is she the Guardian Angel of the Sword?
If the sword represents the fallen likeness, then she’s making good for that which the fallen likeness has done. She’s responsible for this somehow. The screen is like the Guardian Angel’s bearing of the intact likeness, the screen or veils of light as the intact likeness. So the image is intact? but the dead body is like the human being of the fallen likeness, which the Angel helps to heal by overlighting with the pure likeness?
Not quite. She is not the Guardian Angel of the Knight, but of the Sword. And the Sword is the Fallen Likeness.
Well, whatever her relationship is, there is blood flowing from the hilt. She is preserving some kind of life-flow.
This gives everything a whole different character. If she is the Guardian of the Fallen Likeness, this means that she guards the personality, this hazardous thing of the human personality—and therefore she takes responsibility for it when the personality goes awry.
– Her thinking and imagination are intact, in a fully reflective state, towards the Divine.
But her will/metabolism is, on the other hand, gestating something that originates in her gaze on the sword. Is she considering the difference, the chasm, between the likeness and the image? Like a crucifixion, the likeness crucified on the image, and the blood flows from this crucifixion, and feeds into this will/metabolism development. She’s an Angel, so perhaps her feet would be in contact with her human being’s head, so to speak? Or maybe the Angel’s heart aligns with the human’s head, and the stomach/will with the heart?
– Let’s step back a second. So if she is the Angel responsible for the Sword of the Human Personality…who would that be? Eve. She is the source of the fallen likeness, of the disfiguring of the likeness. She guards the Sword. Therefore she bears Christ in her incarnation as Mary. The red sword is the likeness healed through Christ, the unfallen or renewed likeness. And what were the karmic consequences of the fallen likeness? We spoke of both the Knave and Knight as Adam Kadmon, and this beheaded image as John the Baptist—the reincarnated Adam. Adam as the primal image, the melothesia. The image, the “old Adam”, has been destroyed through the deeds of the fallen likeness. This is the karma of the likeness. And so Mary/Eve bears Christ as the healed likeness, which bleeds out the light which overlights the broken image—“healing the karmic consequences of the past.”
We have this progression, then, of the Knave as the First Adam, and the Knight as all human history and development (or should we say degeneration) between Adam and Christ, and the Queen as the healing of the Old Adam by the New Adam. The healing of the Image through the redemption of the Likeness, Christ as the perfection of the human personality.
– Would we say that the metabolism/will of the Angel heals the human heart specifically? Even though the entire human body is there underneath her?
Well, the red stream of blood flows up to the head of the Knight in a single stream, and it flows down to the body of the Knight in a double stream, indicating that both heart and metabolism are being renewed by this double stream. And maybe the real focus, the crux of the matter, is the larynx of the human being. The place where those two directions diverge, one going up and two going down, aligns with where the larynx would be on the fallen Knight. A healing through the Word, the Sword-Word.
The interaction with the degraded likeness causes the force of speech to flow that is healing that being out of its own potential, out of what lies as potential for healing already in his own organs—flowing out of his own larynx, a potential within the Knight itself somehow?
Yes, it’s like the Sword itself is the larynx. And the larynx has been using the “wrong end”, the damaging end of the Sword, the blade instead of the hilt. Like the Queen of Coins, she has it reversed. The cutting action that exists in the blade is counter-balanced by a healing action on the other end. The Hanged Man—a reversal of orientation, a change to celestial gravitation instead of terrestrial gravitation.
– In the first conversation, we spoke of how this image conjured the Pieta somehow.
And now we see this as Eve-Mary-Queen of Heaven. She is bearing the Sword of Christ to heal the dismembered Adam-John.
Like Mary at the foot of the cross. Experiencing this pure and total suffering of taking in the brutal death of her son, and then later that night going to collect all the blood.
She is at the foot of the cross with the three-fold John: John Zebedee, bearing John-Lazarus, who is overlit by John the Baptist. She is charged to take this John as her son, and she as his mother.
Really, this Mary, Queen of Angels, has no metabolism, expressive of the words of Luke 1:38: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to you word.” A total and complete “Thy Will Be Done.” Thereby her will can be completely open to be a channel for the Divine Will, a channel for pure healing power.
– Well, this is absolutely beautiful. With the Queen of Coins, we had more the expression of the Heavenly Sophia at the dawn of Creation, creating side by side with the Father. And here we have the image of Eve-Mary. The Queen of Angels, the Regina. We never would have come to this title for Mary on our own: “Guardian Angel of the Likeness”—and it’s just beautiful. To associate it with Mary and Eve together…it’s like we’ve been able to bestow two or three esoteric titles to this Arcanum at once. The journey now feels very complete.
During this conversation, Phillip had been browsing through images of the Queen of Swords from other designs, other decks…but always came back to this one as the most complete, the most “accurate” in a sense.
Sharing the image from the Eisenheim Altar from Natalia, which is a Sophianic figure from the second panel of the second position of Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece—some kind of elemental/Angelic figure. She saw a similarity between her crown and the crown of the Queen of Swords. We can investigate more who this figure is supposed to be.
– We could feel, as we were working with the Suit of Coins, that we had begun with the World and were step by step making our way ultimately to the Tower of Destruction—a path leading from wholeness to destruction. But with the Swords, it began with the Tower and has been leading—painfully slowly—ultimately to Force. Force will align with the King of Swords, but this last conversation with the Queen has felt like the gateway to this blessed realm of Force.
We ended with the third part of the Foundation Stone Meditation.
After the conversation, the next day, Joel had the image of the entire world, but particularly the United States of America, as this beheaded Knight being overlit by Mary—by Our Lady of All Nations (image from Natalia):
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father,
Send now your Spirit over the Earth.
Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all peoples,
That they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war.
May the Lady of All Nations, who once was Mary,
Be our Advocate. Amen.
They felt the need to hold this image of the Queen of Swords overlighting the USA in the time period leading up to the election.