Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on April 8, 2021 between Phillip and Joel in person
We began with the protective practice.
We then invited the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide our conversation.
After briefly focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart, we enacted the second part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest love for all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul”), the 8th letter of the Divine Alphabet, and the 8th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice.
We then read from Revelation 16:5-6
– Looking at the Ace through the Six of Cups. Where is the exact center of the Six of Cups? You would think just glancing at it that it is the red pearl in the central flower—but it’s not. Upon closer inspection, it seems to be the upper boundary of that central flower, above the red pearl—the upper two blue petals and the red petal between them. Almost aligned with the bases of the bowls of the central cups.
How does this compare with the Eight of Coins, which has a very similar central flower and overall gesture? In the Eight of Coins, the pearl actually is the center. You don’t notice the difference in the Six of Cups just by eyeballing it unless you turn it on its side.
– Have we looked at the different portions of the central plant in the Six in reference to the chakras? We did this in the Four of Cups, but not the Six. It seems like the cleanest dividing up of these different sections is into six parts—the upper YHVH cross, then the red blossom, then the blue Aries, then the central blue and red flower, then the blue and red blossom below that, then the yellow eye. But a few of these different pieces could be subdivided pretty neatly. But six flowers along with six cups…this type of synchronicity is not always the case. For example, the Eight of Coins has seven flowers and eight coins.
Perhaps there are two flowers in the Two of Cups? It’s hard to tell exactly. You could make a case for three flowers in the Three of Cups.
And are there five flowers in the Five of Cups? Ha! Very confusing.
There are kind of four flowers in the Four of Cups though?
We don’t remember it being this way in the Coins, and certainly not in the Swords. Here we have a much clearer correspondence between the titular object of the Suit and the flowers. A type of communications between plant and object, they’re finally in sync.
They aren’t communicating in the Coins. They’re expressing the same thing, maybe, but totally differently. Only the Two of Coins matches (two coins, two flowers). There is such an emphasis in the Suit of Coins on the plant spatially relating to the coins. There is a little bit of this in the Cups, but not so much a spatial/geometric relationship…it’s more…affective…
In the Coins the plant is always simply filling in the gaps between and around the Coins…that’s not what is going on with the plants in the Cups.
And perhaps the Ace represents this overarching quality…for example, in the Ace of Coins, there is this immediate question, “are the Coin and plant one thing or two things? Are they touching? Is the Coin obscuring the plant, floating over it?”
Whereas with the Ace of Cups there’s an inversion of that. It’s clearly a unified being. But with distinct parts. A building/a building-being/a crown as one part that rests on top of the cup. Yet still this is all a unity as Cup. And yet barely recognisable as a Cup.
It’s like…the Ace of Swords is the “unplugging” of the Ace of Coins, but you still only see the “below” of the hole that is unplugged. Whereas the Ace of Cups shows you above the crown/portal that you open up in the Ace of Swords. You could place the Ace of Swords below the Ace of Cups and this is the “unpacking” of the Ace of Coins, where the two are still united, or all these parts are still obscured.
Like Dante crawling through the center of the Earth, and suddenly up is down and down is up because he came through the other side. A sudden reversal of orientation. Which is funny, as we’ve had this tendency since we entered the Suit of Cups to turn the Arcana upside down. Pouring out vials of wrath?
The Ace of Swords and Ace of Cups have very similar tops.
– If the Eight of Coins goes with the Six of Cups, what about the others? Like, look at the Seven of Coins with the Five of Cups, and the Six of Coins with the Four of Cups. There are strong resonances here as well. Why is it like this?
It’s like the Cups are two ahead or something…which we suppose in some sense they are! They are two Suits ahead of the Coins, so Six is worth Eight. Does that make the Swords one ahead of the Coins?
Back when we were first discussing the Swords, maybe the Two or Three of Swords, we saw the Sword Arcana as expressing what is happening between the Coin Arcana. So:
We then proceed to expand on this lay out, now adapting it to include the Suit of Cups. We try two different ways…for a while it’s a bit of a mess, as usual with the Cups! We end up going with Phillip’s method, which is much neater:
Really the most exciting piece about this is that it is a further clue to understanding the nature of the Swords!
To consider the Two of Swords as a “proper beginning”…because the Ace of Swords in this spread is associated with the Two of Coins. It’s really expressing something of the nature of polarity and division, not the unity you expect from an Ace. Whereas the Two of Swords is associated with the Ace of Cups. It really feels like this is a proper beginning, this is where for the first time we see the form that will persist throughout the Numbered Swords. It’s like the Two of Swords and the Ace of Cups are two different sides of the crown. The Two of Swords is when you’re looking up into it, and the Ace of Cups is after you’ve crawled through.
So paradoxical…the Ace of Swords has a division about it, while the Two of Swords has a unity about it.
The Two of Swords also has these very harmonious colors in the flower. Not really like the other Sword Arcana in that sense of beauty and harmony. In this sense also, it’s not really like a Two…it’s more like a Three, very balanced.
And then we have this enormous intensity in the 4, 3, 2 column.
Then grace, beauty, this dancer quality in the 5, 4, 3 column.
The 6, 5, 4 column is stark. No adornment. “You will take form.” A stern command.
And then again beautiful with the 7, 6, 5 column. But less composed than the 5, 4, 3 column—more exuberant, eccentric, and playful.
With the 8, 7, 6 column, we have a maximisation, a filling of the entire space. The Eight of Coins is spatially full, while the Six of Cups is expressively full. E.g., it has the greatest variety of flowers. An they are holding their own beside the cups, there isn’t this spatial link as in the Eight of Coins, where the plants are there mainly to fill up all the empty space between the coins.
At the same time, this column is repeating the gesture of the 6, 5, 4 column of “everyone take your positions.”
Now we really get to see, what is the difference between the broadsword (odd Sword Arcana) and flower (even Sword Arcana): the sword brings order, solidity. The flower brings beauty and flow.
There is a tunnel of swords in the center…like inscribing the etheric on the gestating child. This implies there is a more-or-less continual imprinting activity, a bringing of form (sword activity), due to the constant presence of the curving scimitars. This is heightened by the broadswords, and then softened by the flowers, an alternating rhythm and respiration.
The Coin is the plan.
The Sword is the inscription.
The Cup is the playing out of the plan.
This emphasises the role of Sword as mediator. The Sword is nothing on its own. It weaves between the plan (Coin) and the manifestation (Cup).
We can thank Natalia for the seed to this idea…when she and Joel had been reflecting on the Chemical Wedding, in the first day CR has a dream where he is in a pit, a prisoner, with hordes of other men. And seven times a rope is lowered down—whoever is able to hang on to the rope will be pulled up and set free. He is finally able to hang on, the sixth time the rope is lowered. Bells rings whenever the rope is lowered. And he wounds his head while being pulled up.
So we saw the Six of Cups as the sixth time the rope is lowered, with the central plant like the rope, and the six cups like the men who have wounded their heads hanging on to it. The Eight of Coins like the bells ringing, the music playing with the rope’s lowering. And also having this gesture of “every man for himself”, all scrambling to hang on to the rope at the other’s expense.
There is a reversal: Coin = Root, Sword = leaf and stem which mediates from the root to the Cup = Flower. The flower as the inverse or reversal of the root system.
The Ace of Coins stands alone. It is truly the One.
Then the Two of Coins and Ace of Swords are two cards. They are a polarity: the Two of Coins is all beauty, whereas the Ace of Swords is division, conflict, chaos. They are showing you the dual nature of duality: it is the source of both Love and Hate. Polarities are possible due to this polarity. These are truly the Two.
Then with the Three of Coins, Two of Swords, and Ace of Cups, we have three very harmonious cards. A harmony of harmonies. These are truly the Three.
Then we come to Four, which brings us back to the Four of Coins—and this gesture of explosiveness. So far we only have three cards in this column, but eventually this is where the Ace of Batons will come in.
[Later on, the day after this conversation, Joel realises that perhaps the Ace of Coins set the tone for the entire Suit of Coins, whereas the Two of Coins set the tone for the entire Suit of Swords, and the Three of Coins set the tone for the entire Suit of Cups. Does this mean that this is all leading up to the Suit of Batons as the full expression of the Four of Coins? It was under the sign of the Four of Coins that our personal lives kind of exploded, that so much fell apart. And yet also the seeds for the future were planted in some ways there. Joel fears that our journey through the Suit of Batons will be an incredibly painful one—what exactly are we getting ourselves into???
Phillip counters this by saying, well maybe the Four of Coins was expressing something from the future that we simply weren’t ready for yet, and the pain that we then went through was making a space for the proper appearance of that same force in its fullness later on, at the stage at which we are not just able to handle it, but be glorified by it. Perhaps it will be an extremely positive experience.
Joel compares this to being two years old and burning your hand touching the woodstove, vs being 11 years old and knowing how to load the wood stove properly, the sense of pride and accomplishment at being able to take on a responsibility that has that element of risk. Our experience of the Four in the Coins was like the two year old getting burned…perhaps by the Suit of Batons, we will have gained the experience and capacities necessary to properly “handle” the Four.]
– We then add in the column Nine of Coins, Eight of Swords, Seven of Cups
What immediately strikes us here is “Center, Center, Center.” One’s focus is drawn so much to the central object of each one.
In the Nine of Coins, the flowers are so striking, like the climax in the opera. Then there is this nobility in the flower of the Eight of Swords. The iron bloom, that which we had been forging and waiting and preparing for all through the Suit of Swords is finally there—the substance we need so that we can actually make a Sword—the Ideal.
And there is that same flower just below the center in the Nine of Coins! It has raised itself up in the Eight of Swords.
Just below center, then center…akin to the transition from Eight of Coins to Six of Cups, where the flower that was in the very center has moved down a bit. There is a mobility of the various elements making up the Arcana in the course of these transitions.
– This whole panorama we’ve laid out here really feels like the Cups…it’s huge, it’s all there, all laid out—and it’s beautiful, harmonious, a fullness.
[Joel realizes later that this way of aligning the various Suits goes hand in hand with an observation he had made about the Court Arcana back during the Queen of Swords: https://the-unknown-friends.com/queen-of-swords-i/
He also later realises that this spread ought to be reverse, with the Coins as the bottom layer and the Cups as the third layer, i.e. with the Coins as “root”, the Swords as “stem and leaf” and the Cups as “flower”…perhaps something we can look at in a future conversation…or when the Batons as “Fruit” can be added as the pinnacle?]
– Looking at the Suit of Cups in particular—the Five really does feel central, and the Four and Six are so related to each other, and now with the Seven you can clearly see that it is related deeply to the Three. There is so much similarity there. These blue forms.
This central cup in the Seven is so protected and revered. While this upper cup, on the other hand, is being offered up. A development from Two to Three to Five to Seven…the heavy lifting can finally be done by the cups that are below. It is a plant growing out of the lower cups that is both protecting the center and upholding the upper—for the first time.
The leaves that are growing out of leaves in the Seven…this is an all-leaf display, not a single flower. We are back to a somewhat primitive, simple, undifferentiated leaf. Like the Eight of Swords—a higher simplicity. Quite plain and simple, yet so refined. There are new leaf forms here as well—the white and blue on the outer edges, very much so.
The white leaves are entirely new. They are so delicate. But the blue leaves, although not in that position or color, are hinted at in the Two of Cups.
A bit of a precursor is there also in the Two of Coins, the two leaves blended together.
And a very prototypical form is there in the Six of Coins.
What exactly does the Seven of Cups have anything to do with the Six of Cups, the preceding Arcanum? Not clear at all.
We have gotten pretty far away from a “playing card” image. The Nine of Coins, sure, that would work as a playing card—it’s very geometrical. But that is not so much at the fore here with the Seven of Cups—and hasn’t been really throughout the Cups.
The Cups keep getting smaller as they go on, vs the Suit of Swords, where the scimitars only get larger and larger, and the broadswords get shorter (except for their hilts, just the blades shorten).
Yet the cups now stay the size they are in the Seven until we get to the Ten…then one of them grows larger. And then in the Court Cups, they go a bit crazy. No consistency of form at all, which is a real departure from the Court Coins and Court Swords, whose objects were not so radically different from those in their Numbered Arcana.
We then had a very long conversation about how the Coins are related to nominalism—looking at particular facts of experience, and trying to create a system based out of a kind of aggregation of those particulars. This vs the Cups which are more related to realism—where one goes beyond the bare facts of perception and experience, and finds a living conceptual reality that draws this into a whole. A feeling, lived experience of the conceptual, rather than considering the conceptual to be “mere thought”, a mere reflection of reality as the nominalist does.
Some of this was in direct reference to a portion of The Art of the Good, Valentin Tomberg’s doctoral dissertation:
[Joel also realised later that this question of Nominalist/Realist comes up in Rudolf Steiner’s Michael Mystery, which he wrote on his death bed: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Books/GA026/English/APC1956/GA026_c01.html%5D
The Coins are flat, one-sided. Certain groups and/or generations of spiritual seekers seem only able to operate in this systematic nominalist realm. Whereas our method here with the Tarot brings you into the realist experience. The Cup is deep, and you are given a more well-rounded view (to which you always know there is more to be seen). What exactly is it that can build the bridge from one to the other?
And that is the role of the Sword experience, which is the confrontation with Reality, with suffering; and not only this confrontation, but an actual taking of responsibility of one’s complicity in one’s own suffering. At the very least entertaining the idea, but ideally going well beyond that, of realising that whatever blows of fate approach me in my destiny, I have to one degree or another brought them upon myself; and my path is not to avoid them, but to accept them as my karmic responsibility. That this is the path of walking with Christ, is to bear my suffering—to take personal responsibility for my suffering—and then I will be comforted.
And this is what holds us back from entering fully into the Realist/Cup experience—our fear, not so much of suffering, but of taking responsibility and ownership for the chaotic blows of fate that have come upon us.
This portion of the conversation went much longer, and deeper, but was very intense and personal, and Joel could not/would not take notes during it…
We closed with the second part of the Foundation Stone Meditation.