Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on the Six of Batons between Phillip and Joel on January 23, 2023.
Noticing the negative space between the black blades at the ends of the diagonal batons. If we imagine that negative space as positive, they look like teeth, or flames…little white flames. A candle flame shape. It changes the quality of the size of the batons. Much smaller. And again raises the question of just how many of them there are. How do those points relate to the batons from which they are emerging? They belong to those strange “in between” batons, the colored space that is “in between” the “real” batons.
The tiny stripe of black between the white “teeth” and the red bands. Like the base of a flame, which isn’t coloured, it’s invisible heat. Perhaps this gap is composed of this void substance, the black against which the white teeth present themselves?
It changes prior Arcana when we look at them this way, even the Two and Three (which don’t have any “teeth”). Seeing the black spaces as gaps in the image, like little windows in the corners of the image.
It’s reminiscent of the Suit of Swords, in that the black scimitars didn’t really look like swords at all. They looked like some kind of Klingon weapon. Whereas the black part of the batons doesn’t really look like a baton at all. It’s more of a blade, or a trumpet flare. It’s not related to the baton.
In the Swords, as the scimitars grew and took over more of the image, the black became the Nothing, a suffocating darkness.
The darkness here is not threatening. More of a window into the night. And it feels in some way related to the Batons, more so than the black scimitars was to the Swords.
Actually, the scimitars are more like Batons than Swords. Curved proto-batons.
We had forgotten how different the Two of Swords was, with its little ovals of red and yellow rather than bars or lines. In fact, the Three is the same way.
There is something of the Baton in the scimitar. And there is something of the Sword in the blade of the Batons.
But that black blade/window is a cutting open or revealing that is not damaging or limiting in the same way as such a thing would be in the Suit of Swords. It feels more like Tsim tsum, spaces for new things to flow in.
In the Swords, the black is suffocating, making less space, not more.
The new central leaves in the Six of Batons are reminiscent of birds, of aviation. Even of a badge you might have in the Air Force. “You’ve earned your wings.” A mark of honour and skill.
As though the Two through Five of Batons were the baby bird in the nest, and the Six is when it is big enough to be pushed out, fall or fly.
It’s interesting that this leaf form in the Two through Five sequence goes all the way back to the Coins. There from the beginning. Whereas the Six is completely new.
Is there something akin to the new plant forms in the Nine of Coins? In the Nine of Cups?
The Six is the Phoenix rising. After last week’s conversation, for some reason the afterimage of the Six was very red for Joel, even though the image itself is not particularly red. Something of it being on fire.
This woven firmness in the center of it. It feels like the yellow flower-head shape shares in it, is united with this quality of woven firmness somehow. It’s in this stretchy, firm feeling, bound up with it. Not just growing out of it, but in the same state.
Finding the line from the tip to the edge of the leaf, to the crossing point of blue. It doesn’t seem quite symmetrical.
Looking again at the sequence from Two to Six (see above). The two yellow pearls at the base of the yellow flowers. Those pearls at first create a buffer, and then progressively sink in, eventually disappearing altogether in the Six. There is no longer a buffer, and these plants are no longer just growing out of the blue mesh. They are still two distinct things (the yellow flowers and the blue mesh), but they are at the same time united fully.
Whereas the red/blue “wings” are separate, they are different. They are like flames and smoke. The blue mesh and yellow flower spears, they a “thing”, and the blue/red wings are something happening to that thing.
This diamond shape we have honed in on. A bit like a spool of thread in the middle. A twisting. A Maypole seen from the side. A bit tangled. Tangling, winding up.
Perhaps a decorative dish. The yellow flowers as exposed handles. They are attached to a dish that curves underneath, a basket or cradle that holds the blue spool, as a guide.
We can also see it as a spindle, as a drop spindle. The yellow as the “spine” of the spindle. This gesture of weaving thread out of wool.
The highlighted part is also a thread spool, but wound incorrectly:
Thinking of the blue as this structured liquid, and the blue of one diagonal weaving with its own structured liquid that of another diagonal. Malleable yet structural. Fallen and unfallen commingling, influencing each other without mixing (as Tomberg writes of in the 11th Letter-Mediation).
The “emollient action” of Force—her magic lies in the ability to make solid things liquid.
The gesture here is like a combination of stages in the weaving process: both creating thread out of loose wool with a drop spindle (the flame-wings as the loose wool, the center as the thread), as well as the threads being woven into a carpet on a great loom.
A poem from Clara, over the Holy Nights. About Penelope from the Odyssey. It means “weaver,” that is the origin of the name. It referenced the Phoenix, and seamstresses. “The Inner Worker” (The Magician), and “The Priestess.” A stump of a tree that has a fire, a throne that’s burning. The flames of fire are arriving from the future, attracting weavers who have lost their way…tangled in a web of undone weaving.
The leaves in the Five are more plant-like. In the Six, they are like cellular machinery. Still organic, but more a more interwoven life process. Complex.
Is the lower flower of a different nature? GMO? More mechanical/ordered looking. It looks Baroque. Empty/vapid. (Joel recalls talking with Markku while at Linderhof Palace about how shallow and showy Baroque-style architecture and art feels). The whole time period, powdered wigs, painted faces, covering up lice, illness, odor. That flower feels fake compared to the other.
The upper one is so feminine. Pure, magical. And that central petal is vaginal, it has depth and layers.
The new form of leaves…on the lower flower they look so distasteful, they look frail. But maybe it’s because they have been taken away from their proper place. In the middle they look powerful, magnificent. On that Baroque flower they look wrong.
When the card is turned the other way, that Baroque flower becomes the Devil.
Thinking of this Six in relation to the Six of Majors, the Lover. Which way is he going to go? With the pure lover, or with the impure lover? The right hand path or the left hand path?
This gay/drag-queen Satan has robbed the power from its rightful place. Whereas the opposite flower, the feminine one, is totally chaste, totally pure. A real opposition on display between depravity and chastity.
Have the Minors put that kind of a contrast on full display like this before? No. We have certainly been able to see polar opposite interpretations embedded within a single Arcanum (e.g. Four of Coins as displaying the honouring of the Ark of the Covenant, yet also showing the opening of the gates of hell), but not an explicit “this side vs that side” on display before.
After last week’s conversation, Joel was left with a nagging feeling, something that didn’t make sense at first.
As we have worked forwards through the Minor Arcana, we have consistently worked backwards in a certain rhythm/patter through the Majors at the same time. This has brought certain Minor Arcana into relationship with the same Major, and therefore each other:
Notice how in working with the Minors this way, the Five of any particular Suit became a pivot or mirror. The Four and the Six were related to each other (e.g. in the Coins, both related to the Moon, in the Swords, both related to Death, and in the Cups, both related to Justice), and likewise the Three and Seven, Two and Eight, Ace and Nine. The Ten in a certain sense also stood alone.
In terms of the arcanology, this always felt correct. You could see the kinship between the paired cards, especially perhaps in the Swords and Cups.
This pattern has become so clear, reliable, and well-established that Joel was kind of naturally working out of it without thinking about it, taking it for granted. And then a feeling of mild frustration/confusion/annoyance was coming up from the transition from Five to Six, and it took him a while to put his finger on it: but it has to do with the fact that this seemingly fundamental pattern has been broken.
The Two through the Five feel so much like one story, and then the Six comes in with all these new elements: what if this time around, the Six is the pivot, and not the Five? It took Joel letting go of an unconscious preconception to be able to consider it as a possibility.
Certainly, on some level, a reflection can be found between the Four and Six with the Five as the pivot. But the new leaves dominate so much, it feels like something totally new. And although the two flowers are different in the Four, there is certainly no “good” or “evil” flower.
The daisy and tulip in the Four vs this GMO-Baroque tulip. Like a fake flower at a restaurant. Cursed: a flower you smell, and it makes you evil in some way. Flowers ought to be salutogenic. Not usually thought of as something that would make you ill or evil though smell alone. Maybe at worst, put you to sleep, like the poppies in Oz.
We are reaching the outer limits of the organism. Like the appearance of never-before-seen aspects (the new leaves, for example), the pivot of the Five no longer holds sway—suddenly, something different arises. This is like the hard right turn at the end of Meditations on the Tarot. Rather than properly finishing the 22nd Letter-Meditation, and thereby the entire text, he suddenly dives into an all-too-brief introduction to the Minor Arcana, and the manuscript just kind of stops in the middle of that.
Or like the entirety of the 21st Letter-Meditation. Something about it, this autobiographical aspect perhaps, feels like a total departure from the rest of the book.
In the Majors, we worked with the “three becoming four”, the triangle of Yod-He-Vau, with the fourth He as the fourth in the center of the triangle.
With the Minors, we have been working with the Four becoming Five, with the Shin in the center of the the Yod He Vau He:
We have a sudden, unexpected leap here at the end: now somehow the Five becomes Six?
This after-image of red that he received from the Six of Batons, it came specifically in the form of the Seraph who bestows the stigmata on St. Francis:
The Seraphim have six wings, as opposed to the Cherubim who have four. Perhaps a part of this leap from “Four becoming Five” to “Five becoming Six” could be expressed as a leap from the Thrones/Cherubim (whose presence we felt in the Two through Five of Batons) into the realm of the Seraphim, the Six.
But there was no visual relationship Joel could find between the Six of Batons and the images of the Seraph with St. Francis. There is a purely inner relationship for him here.
Before, we felt this quality of expansion of the feeling, which then draws one in and one can then find it expressed in the card itself, in its details.
Here the spreading quality of the feeling goes on until it disappears, it’s gone. Becomes ungraspable. We can’t make it back to graspable details of the image.
The Six expresses this: a pure release, where nothing comes back.
The capacity that must be cultivated by the Lazarus individuality: pure receptivity. All of his offerings are rejected. He is only allowed to receive.
Taking a preview of the Seven of Batons:
Another unexpected change. The white on the vertical baton. The red oak leaves. The yellow flower building up. So is the six more of a pivot?
The diagonal batons are thinner in the Seven vs the Six.
Tomberg describes at the end of the Pope, how the way to Five must be built on the Four—Freedom (Five) must be established on Faith (Four). Likewise the way to the Six (Love) must be founded on Faith and Freedom. A proper progression from Four to Five to Six, which is to say from Obedience to Poverty to Chastity.
Well, we certainly didn’t expect the Suit of Batons to be the one that stands alone…then we get to the Six in the Fourth Suit.
This image is rhythmical, all over.
The realization at the very end….when the Five was the pivot, the pairs always added up to ten (4+6, 3+7, 2+8). If the Six is the pivot, all the pairs will add to twelve: 5+7, 4+8, etc. A shift from the tetrad to the dodecahedron, the zodiac.