Six of Batons (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on January 16, 2023 between Phillip and Joel.

Noticing that the more banner-like leaves are only on three sides. “Normal” leaves are on one side only. Which way is up? It feels right somehow to have the banner leaves on the sides and the bottom (left hand image above). Like they are honouring the top.

The banner leaves look flaccid, watery, floppy. The upper (normal) leaves feel like they are in the air above the water.

In the upper and lower flowers, both the stems and leaves are all blue. This is different from before. They have progressed from nearly all white in the Two, to white and blue in the Four, to all blue in the Six:

Maybe in the Three and the Five, those flowers are going “in” to the X, and extracting blue from, or getting stained by, the blue center.

Joel was reading the Letter-Meditation on the Empress, and it suddenly struck him that the characterisation of Sacred Magic when it is removed from Mysticism and Gnosis is a more perfect description of the experience and gesture of the Suit of Swords than any other he has found or been able to articulate (from the bottom of page 69 into page 70, 71). He describes here what becomes of the various members of the Divine Name YHVH (Mysticism, Gnosis, Sacred Magic, Hermeticism) when they become detached from one another. They whither into secular art, technical science, legalistic religion, and intoxication.

But perhaps there is a casting off, or dying off, that is part of the “normal” process here. As opposed to the fragmentary Swords process, where it is all a casting off. Perhaps even when Mysticism, Gnosis, and Sacred Magic are working together as a whole, something still withers, is cast off, or is produced that separates out. Almost like it’s a natural part of the life cycle.

Tomberg portrays it as an either-or. Either the wholeness of YHVH or the fragments that degenerate. But what if the true, overall wholeness is a pulsing between these two. The wholeness of YHVH (the “odd” Batons) then letting things degenerate/separate (the “evens”) then reinfusing them with life in the “odds” again.

Nature does this unconsciously. There’s an assumption that only humans do this, but really it’s all through nature.

Joel is preparing to teach a class on the life phases, the 7-year cycles in biography. Steiner talks about how the cycles are an expansion and contraction, like egg (contracted), larva (expanded), pupa (contracted), imago (expanded), from

 Just think how evolution in the individual man between birth and death appears, to even a moderately unprejudiced observation! The actual limit of the first period in life is the change of teeth, as we know — the cutting of the second teeth. I have often drawn attention to this. What is this second cutting of teeth at about the seventh year, at the close of the first life-period? It is a consolidation, a hardening, of the human being, when a hardening process takes place in men. It is like a drawing together of all the life-forces, so that eventually the densest, most mineralised part, the second teeth, can appear. It is a real concentration and densification of all the forces of life.

The second period in life ends at puberty. And the case here is exactly the reverse. Here there is no concentration of life-forces but, on the contrary, a rarefication of them all, a dispersal, an overflowing. An opposite condition pulses in the organism. And then again, only in a more refined way, in the twenty-first year when the third life-period ends, consolidation takes place in man, the forces of life are once more drawn together. With the twenty-eighth year there is again expansion. The twenty-first year has more to do with the placing of what is within man, the twenty-eighth more with his attitude to the whole wide universe. Approximately at the thirty-fifth year there is again a kind of contraction. That is the middle life — the thirty-fifth year.

Thus, evolution does not go in a straight line but, rather, in waves: contraction, hardening; softening, expansion. That is essentially the life of man as a whole. By being born here in the physical world, we contract into our individual skins; while we are living our life between death and a new birth, we are increasingly expanding.

What follows from all this, my dear friends? It follows that the idea of evolution going in a straight line is of no help at all; it leads mankind astray, and we must reject it. All evolution proceeds rhythmically; all evolution goes with the rise and fall of waves — expanding, contracting.

Contraction, expansion. Goethe sensed this in its elementary stages. Read his Metamorphosis of Plants; read his poem The Metamorphosis of Plants, and you will see how he follows the particular formation from foliage leaf to foliage leaf, then to petal, stamen, on to pistil; how he describes it as a continuous expansion, contraction, not only in external forms, the saps also expand with their forces and again contract — expand, concentrate; expand, concentrate. When in the eighties of the last century I wrote my first introduction to Goethe’s scientific works, I tried to reconstruct his archetypal plant, tried to bring into a picture this expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction — on and on right up to the blossom. No one can really understand life who does not picture it in rhythm, as a progressive rhythmic process. It must be repeatedly emphasised that to imagine evolution as proceeding in a straight line does not help us to a true understanding of life.

So this idea of expansion-contraction vs degeneration-regeneration in the sense of the wholeness YHVH or Mysticism-Gnosis-Sacred Magic-Hermeticism.

It is an insane thought to entertain, that Phillip created severe destruction in his life just for the opportunity to have an experience.

Well, not just an experience—in order to set the stage for a regeneration at a level not possible without the degeneration. The necessity of the cocoon, the total dissolution of the larva. The necessity of the Passion before the Resurrection.

The Six of Batons is powerful. Resonant.

There is a resonance with the Empress, certainly, but if you look more closely for the details of that, it gets lost.

The leaves are like banners on a war horse. The central yellow flower buds are like daggers or the spurs on the side. A feeling of total victory. Trumpets blaring.

There is a real contrast there in the center, with those flowing banners vs the sharp pointed objects. A pretty serious departure from the prior forms (in the Two through the Five, which as we pointed out last time, had this real consistency in the central leaves).

The banner leaves in the Six much more exactly mimic the X. They are no longer helping to form or indicate a vesica piscis, as in the Two and Four. There isn’t a form leaping out at us the way it does in those prior “evens.”

The gaps in the X where the upper and lower stems are. They are closing up. In the Two, the stems were inside of those gaps, in the Four, they were outside of them but they weren’t closed all the way. Now they are closed.

In the prior Arcana, the central leaves were kind of looking at the yellow flowers (except perhaps for the Three), now with these banner leaves something is shooting out quite clearly.

After closing his eyes briefly, the middle part appeared green to Phillip.

There was more motion possible or indicated in the central blue before. Now it is a woven mat, very sturdy.

The banner leaves curl, like when ribbon gets wound up and released again. Or when you are trying to coil up wire or something, the outer ends can start to twist as it gets wound up. It feels tightly wound. It’s hard to imagine this image in rotation, the way we could with the others. It feels completely wound up and about to shoot off.

The banner leaves look like antlers or horns. An antelope.

If you turn the image on its side, the “antlers of one side seem to belong with the “skull” of the other side (the yellow dagger). Or like they are emerging from the eye sockets of the opposite skull, after having passed through the blue middle. They are interwoven.

It’s like a litter, like royalty is being transported. Or a funeral pyre. The vertical flowers are actually flat on the ground, we have a bird’s eye view. The funeral pyre is being lit, beginning to burn.

There is no more blue in the bud of the upper and lower flowers. One of them has this strange frilly collar. Like a 17th-century dog-faced woman. One can’t help but interpret it as a progression, going forward.

Banner leaves like seaweed. Daylily-like growths. A bulb, like an amaryllis in the middle flowers. More delicate.

The other middles had been the constant—now suddenly the constant has changed.

There is a devilish, Baphomet-like face in the “lower” flower if you turn it “upside-down.”

The little leaves are like eyes, the banner leaves are like horns. A very powerful 3rd eye in between.

Baphomet is a real mystery. Didn’t the Templars honour Baphomet? Was he satanic for them?

Hermaphroditic. Face can be traced in the upside down pentagram.

This in contrast to the “upper” flower, which if it looks like a being, it’s like a silly Star Wars creature or something.

But it does feel more natural to see those upper leaves as arms and not eyes, as in the lower.

It’s interesting that with the pentagram, if you turn it upside down it is an animal’s face (goat). The emphasis on eyes. Whereas if you turn it rightside up, it is an image of the whole, free human being. Emphasis on the outstretched arms. A similar contrast here, depending on which flower is “upper” and which is “lower.”

In the past, we were able to perceive the indication of a circle of blue in the center, that perhaps it was a pool filling with water or something. We can no longer sense a circle of blue. Even this gradual indentation of the yellow flower in the Two and the Four helped to shape the circle. Now it is much more parabolic.

Something in the VP (in the Two) or the oval (in the Four) has crossed, inverted. In fact, we can place the Six in between the Two and Four and the banner leaves neatly overlap the VP/oval borders, like they belong to them.

It’s a little odd, to have the sequence 2-6-4.

Maybe it is meant to continue into the Seven?

There is a precursor in the “flat” flower of the Four of the “frilly” flower in the six.

Looking at the yellow petals above and below. In the Two, there were six and six = 12. In the Four, there were five and seven = 12. Here in the six, we have five and 12…suddenly we have the 12 from before, plus an additional 5.

Looking at this unique central yellow petal in the “upper” flower. It bears a strong resemblance to the “daggers” in the center. We’ve never really noticed any relationship of the upper and lower flowers with the inner forms before. They always felt distinctly different—only the leaves were the same between the two.

This dagger form is a first, totally new. Like an arrowhead. Or a spearhead, tip of the lance. Gives a very martial aspect. Baton, spearhead, antlers. Very ornamental. Victorious. Celebration of the martial. Conveys strength and solidity, dominating power.

A vision of the four plants rising up as fire or as Phoenixes, rising up from the pyre on the ground.

X = 10. And if we include the mysterious, coloured “in between spaces,” we have ten batons here in this X. It’s weird that this Arcanum is meant to be Six, but could be Ten, or could be Twenty (if there are five batons on each arm of the X).

A fulfilment again, of that which we felt in the Four of Coins long ago, in that there is this constant quality of “Four” in the central flowers. That quality of Four/Fulfilment is still present, just in a new form.

If we look at the gesture or indication of the blue center in the Two, Three, Four and Five:

The Two is a circle; the Three is an oval; the Four is once again a circle; and in the Five we referred to it as a trophy. What is the center of the Six? It has a life of its own. A watery mat. A finished weaving for itself.

Is there a relationship with the blue plants above and below it?

How embedded are the arrowheads in the woven part?

They used to be connected to the two pearls. The pearls got buried deeper and deeper into the blue. This Arcanum also shows us the full disappearance of the pearls. Pretty sure they don’t return again. Their last appearance in the Minors.

The Six isn’t as obvious a leap as from the Ace to the Two of Batons, but almost as much a departure from the Two through Five as the Ace is. The Two through Five was a continuous story.

There is something at the heart of the Empress that goes with the daggers and that special petal.

Notice that her necklace and hair form a continuous circle. Almost shaped like the Goetheanum when the crown is included. Her hair is a bit like the petal shapes.

The theme of the re-enlivened wings. The X form of the Six—is that her wings and knees/legs?

If we shift the Goetheanum-outline of her necklace/hair/crown sideways, it somewhat resembles the dagger shapes. If we take the curled petals on the daggers (against the blue) to indicate round forms.

The grass in the Empress is gold and wavy. A little seaweed like. Maybe these new leaf forms reference the Majors. The grass is like that throughout. When grass is really thick it has a ribbing like these banner-leaves. There are similar odd plants, yet vague, by the feet of the Emperor and Magician.

The Six is a bit reminiscent of the Four of Coins, inasmuch as we saw the Four of Coins from one angle as the opening of the Gates of Hell. The Six of could be seen as triumphant, or we could be witnessing a frightening occult ritual. Bohemian grove, human sacrifice.

What brings it all together is this story of Elijah, when he faces off against the dark magicians who worship Baal. The sorcerers try to light their pyre all day, flaying themselves, etc. Nothing happens. Elijah asks for the wood on his pyre to be soaked with water seven times over or something. He prays once to YHVH, and lightning strikes the pyre, immediately bringing it to a blaze. Water meets fire, alchemical marriage. The Six of Batons evokes both the dark sorcerers of Baal as well as Elijah’s miracle in response to them.

The Four of Coins revealed to us something from the future overcoming the present reality. But that brought us to a Dark Night of the Soul experience. Like being shown just how far away you are from the Good to which you aspire yet will someday reach.

With the Six of Batons, something below is completely overcome by that which is above. Opposites are thereby brought to a total unity.

The Four of Coins can on the one side conjure a bowing to the Queen or to the holy Altar, revering that which deserves total reverence; or it can conjure the opening of Pandora’s box, the Gates of Hell. The Six of Batons shows the black magicians summoning the dark forces, making the human sacrifice; or the complete overcoming/transformation of the natural by the supernatural. In a way, direct opposite messages are contained here. Two different rituals. Two different manifestations (of spiritual beings).

Two through Five, this was the process of getting the wood wet. Here with the Six is the transformation, the lighting of the fire.

Pinecones require heat to begin germination.

The Six of Batons shows us what happens when the sacrifice is accepted (as opposed to our discussion last time, of the Cherubim rejecting the sacrifice of the Thrones). The Two through Five show us the Thrones. Here the Cherubim take up their Thrones. The Cherubim were only implied before. Now they are present.

The image of the upper flower as a kind of Transfiguration, and the lower flower as something like the Hanged Man. The verticality of an accepted sacrifice. Some kind of “Hanged Man” below necessary for a “Transfiguration” above.

Some discussion of something Phillip had shared with Joel earlier:

Cain as the one being driven to be productive. Not just tending the flocks. Vs Abel as the one who must go into the underworld. Cain and Abel, from a higher sense, working together. In order for Abel to descend into hell and destabilise Hades from the very beginning, it is necessary that he be slain by someone. He requests this of Cain. Regardless of whether they forget this pre-birth arrangement or not, it is the lasting, overarching reality. Similar to Judas and Christ, Judas as an extremely unfortunate chosen one—the one Christ trusted to do the job.

The move from Five to Six—it is as though the entire image/being flips outward.

The leaves as arms, forcing things open, or helping them to stay open when they want to shut.

Everything in the image mutually pressing against each other.

An even simpler characterization: Good is above, Evil is below, falling into the abyss. And there are beings in the middle keeping the balance. Is it one being, with two eyes? Yellow eyes, flaming eyes.

We saw something like the Green Man in the Two of Batons. Now it has become a dragon.

The flame that burns and doesn’t consume. Like the burning bush. Or those who are tormented in the lake of fire in Revelation 20.

Six of Batons: “The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness.”

Ahriman below and Lucifer above? Christ in the middle trying to hold it all together. Crucified.

The middle still united to the whole. Are the daggers becoming Batons? The middle takes on this diamond shape. It is the first time the Batons are growing out of the middle that way, horizontally. An internal harmony: the plant is mimicking the object.

The verticals give something over to the middle space to allow it to grow. A build up of soil in the middle. The weave is roots or moss. A sturdiness. The piling of compost from Two to Five. Finally something grows. The opposite of the Swords. Here we take withered, separated branches, reintegrate them. Turn them into compost.

There is something of this strange “trophy” shape in the middle of the Five of Batons, whereas the Six of Batons has a diamond oriented horizontally. Something switches from round and vertical to diamond and horizontal:

Curious now to see the Seven.

This was Arcanum 70. We have been doing this for almost 7 years. Maybe we’re finally starting to get somewhere.