Six of Swords (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on April 6, 2020

April 6, 2020

Six of Swords, pt II

We began with the protective practice. We then invoked the presence of the Crucified Christ to guide our conversation.

After focusing the mantra IT THINKS briefly in the region of the larynx, we performed the third part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“I Rest within the Godhead of the World”) and the 13th letter of the Divine Alphabet (Mem) in relation to Death.

After reading Revelation 10:4-6, we considered the Six of Swords:

– Comparing the Six of Swords to the Six of Coins. Notice the tongue like shape in the flowers of the Six of Coins. This is repeated in the red center of the tulip blossom in the Six of Swords.

– The external petals give it a different feeling than in the other flowers—the corner flowers, which the central flower appears to be of the same type. The lack of diagonal stripes—this blossom is not curled up and about to unfurl, it has unfurled.

– In the Six of Coins, the whole plant form is like a cacao tree or a tulip tree. The fruits grow off of the main trunk, not off the branches after a progression and metamorphosis.

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The Six of Coins has the flowers right on the branches, and the leaves sprouting out between the branches. It feels as though any part of the plant can grow from any other part of the plant, somewhat haphazardly. 

By contrast, the Six of Swords displays a very well organized—perhaps the most harmoniously organized—plant. All the parts of the plant put together harmoniously. 

The leaves curl the same way in both the Six of Coins and Six of Swords. But in the Swords, they aren’t huge and in the wrong place on the plant.

– The arrangement of the Coins in the Six is in the shape of the curved Swords—a vesica piscis—a first in terms of the Suit of Coins, the first allusion to or preview of the scimitars.

– Interesting because we felt like the last conversation was the first time we really “got” the Swords, the first conversation that didn’t feel like a groping struggle through mist and thin air. They began to crystallize somehow—or really opened up. This in comparison to the Six of Coins. Remembering the progression of our conversation back then, it felt as though with the Six of Coins we had come to a kind of prison, or cube, or stone:

Ace of Coins: we are witnessing an object. It is hard to tell whether the plants are emerging from the coin, or are emerging from something behind the coin.

Two of Coins: We realize we have been looking at the Coin in the Ace from a bird’s eye view. We now “land” and see that we have been looking at two coins stacked vertically. One was occluded by the other.

Three of Coins: We zoom way out, beyond bird’s eye view. The central Coin of the Ace becomes the tiny pearl of the Three. We see what it is surrounded by from the Cosmic heights, so to speak.

Four of Coins: Zooming back in, we see that the Ace of Coins (which seemed ready to explode) has now exploded. The image has changed due to us zooming out and coming back in again. It is like a portal has opened up, a threshold has opened.

Five of Coins: We go through the portal and turn around to see where we have come from. The door has shut, and has itself become a coin in the center.

Six of Coins: we turn back around to see where we are, and we feel as though trapped, buried. In a cage. The Coin at this stage has become almost too Coin-like, too crystalized. We are too heavy, trapped in the realm of Coin. But this heaviness of the Six in the realm of Coins actually lends a very necessary substantiality to the Swords so they can actually be worked with. The Six of Coins sets the stage for working with the Swords, it makes the framework quite literally.

– Image vs Likeness

[Some background: In a conversation earlier in the month, we discussed the nature of Evil. According to the studies of Weinreb, the Elohim create the entire universe out of the principle of duality, of polarities. This leads to the manifold multiplicity that confronts us as the cosmos. Mankind stands at the terminus of this ramifying action of Creation. His purpose was meant to be to witness the multiplicity that preceded him, and integrate all the binaries that had been created in order to bring him into existence.

But in the face of this multiplicity, Adam responded with a kind of dullness. He satisfied his own needs, but did not recognize that the cosmos as a whole had suffered him into being, and was still suffering until he could “name” all the creatures, integrate all the binaries. And so Yahweh determined to allow Adam to experience a splitting of himself akin to what the Elohim had experienced in creating the manifest world. Eve—the bodily nature—was divided from Adam—the spiritual nature. He now acutely felt the lack of his own wholeness, yearned to be reunited with the feminine nature which had been taken out of him. By allowing the feminine to inspire him, his will could be directed to the divine task of reunification.

If we look back at the Godhead of the world, we see that he could only accomplish Creation via bifurcation and polarity. From the very beginning of the Creation, it was necessary that there be a Hierarchy of the Right (of “Good”) and a Hierarchy of the Left (of “Evil”). Good and Evil are the two essential ingredients to manifest Creation. We could consider this domain the source of the Image of the Human being—the Image being the capacity for free will. Adam, the masculine aspect of the human being, we could consider as being an integrated binary of cosmic Good and Evil, of cosmic Light and Darkness.

With Eve, we have the Likeness, the Earthly/bodily feminine side of the human being. The task of this human being is to reunite that which has been divided. The human being is not meant to imitate the work of God, but to complement it with the needed counter-movement. The Likeness was never meant to be two-fold like the Image must essentially be. The Likeness is the realm of human virtue, of morality. 

Unfortunately, the Hierarchies of the Left—a necessary aspect in the Creation—made themselves known to the Likeness (to Eve), and brought confusion. They convinced the Likeness that the task of the human being was to imitate God (to “be as gods”) and to know Good and Evil. They convinced the Likeness, Eve, to simply carry on the work of division and bifurcation rather than take up the true task of reunification. The Likeness became infected with a duality that is intrinsic to, and naturally integrated within, the Image, but cannot be integrated in the Likeness—it only breeds more division.

And so we realized, we don’t need to worry so much about cosmic Evil—e.g. Lucifer and Ahriman. They are here to play their respective tasks, and won’t/can’t really operate outside of a particular boundary. The real “wild card” is human evil, the arbitrary activity of a fallen Likeness. With the Image, the binary is the Hierarchy of the Left and Right—and these two are actually both under the sway of the Godhead of the World. They are integrated, in essence if not in the particular. But the Likeness, when sundered, becomes Virgin (Shekinah) vs Whore of Babylon. The Unfallen Nature (Purity) vs Fallen Nature (Debasement). If we wish to battle Evil, we must first—and perhaps can only—battle it within our own souls.]

The Coins are the integrated binary (“two sides of one coin”). The Image. Even standing on their own, they are whole.

The Swords are the Fallen Likeness. The continuation of the splitting. They cannot make sense on their own, only if and when they are reunited with the wholeness.

– In the process of evolution, is it natural that things go awry in this way, and become overly divided? Is there an archetypal gesture to this bifurcation? Is the Fall of Man so disruptive that there’s no precedent for it? Is it a fundamental mistake—totally outside the underlying developmental archetypes? Does Falling and introducing something from totally outside the plan…doesn’t that just end up mingling with the archetypal processes, getting redeemed by association?

The tsim-tsum—God separates Himself from Creation in some way. He makes the empty space. The absolute extreme of so-called “freedom” is to completely go against any and all structure or organizational principle. One can’t have creative freedom unless there’s some kind of blend of something standing outside of the organizational superstructure and yet can collaborate with it—not simply be in opposition to it.

– Did we ever, in our conversations last year, explicitly link the Coins to Man in the Garden of Eden and the Days of Creation? Yes, to an extent. It became a very fluid process of moving through Genesis:

Ace = “Let there be Light.” But also was “The Face of God brooded over the Waters.” whereas

Two = “Division of the Firmament” but was also “Let there be Light.” And so on through the numbered Arcana.

But also Ace = First Creation story and Two = Second Creation story, Three = Temptation, Four = Expulsion and so on.

But also Ace = Creation, Two = Cain and Abel…

Different rhythms to which these images apply, but they always seem to correspond. Basically with the entirety of Genesis.

– As of now, we really feel as though the Coins = First (Cosmic) Creation story of the Image and the Swords = Second Creation Story (Creation of Adam and Eve, the Likeness and its Fall).

In the systematism of Weinreb, the Coins = the Light/Fire pole—the Male pole

and the Swords = the Water/Mist pole—the Female pole

Would the Cups and Batons = the two-fold aspect of the third term?

– Both the Coins and Swords are binary in nature. It is simply that in the Coins this binary is integrated, and in the Swords manifest. Like Mysticism vs Gnosis. There is a Gnosis within the Mysticism, but it hasn’t become crystalized out of the mystical state yet—not until it is spoken, reflected upon, made conscious. 

You see this displayed so clearly right there in each of the Aces. The Ace of Coins is ambiguous—are there two objects here? Or one? Whereas the Ace of Swords is quite explicit—a separation is occurring. 

– Playing with a structure for the Swords, the structure intrinsic to them.

The Ace = One dividing into Two.

The Two represents the polarity of the Ace, the contrast. And the Three comes naturally along with the existence of Ace contrasted to Two: Three shows us the Unity (Ace) contrasted with Duality (Ace and Two). So the Three comes immediately in consequence of Two. 

Thus the Two of Swords next to the Three of Swords creates a single hoop or wheel or circle—it shows us the consequences of Ace, of One.

In an analogous way, the Four and the Five are the consequences of the Two—the twofold aspect of the Two, which is Four and Five. The Two mirrored upon itself (Four) and the contrast of Four with Two (Five). 

Similarly, the Three bifurcates into Six and Seven, the twofold aspect of Three.

And now it is like one is being pulled into the wholeness. You really thirst for it.

The Eight, Nine and Ten grow out of the Four, over the Two and the Three. They connect the Four and the Six, and in a way elevate and transform the duality of Two and Three into a trinity of Eight, Nine, Ten. And these three Arcana together become the threefold aspect of the two Fours (two interlaced “wheels” or “hoops” of Four).

– This overall form is three dimensional, much more so than the straight line/vertical tower of the Suit of Coins. 

Why and how does the Four spit into Three (three Arcana) yet also Two (two sets of Four Rings)? 

[As I’m writing these notes and taking these pictures, I’m realizing that the Four rings emerge from the Four of Swords; that the Two sets of rings emerge from the Two Rings (Four and Five of Swords connected); and that the Three Arcana making up the two rings of four connect to the Three Rings (Seven and Six connected)]

This somehow hearkens back to the first 3 days of Creation, which contained 4 distinct acts of Creation. The Four embedded in the Three. And the Ten is intrinsic to what is begun in the Four (1+2+3+4 = 10). This complex layering and interweaving of number, some numbers being the consequence or implication of, or embedded within, others.

– In the Six through Ten of Coins, the gesture consisted in a build-up to two “equals.” In the Ace, we have one Coin in the foreground, and the plants in the background. Until the Ten, all of the Coins are always in the same “plane.” It is only in the Ten of Coins that we have eight coins in the background, and two together in the foreground—it is the story of the creation of an “equal” on the part of the lonely Ace.

And here we have something similar. A build-up to two sets of four rings (in the combined picture of the Eight, Nine and Ten) rather than the single sets that came before (Two and Three make a single ring; Four and Five make a single set of two rings; Six and Seven make a single set of three rings). A build-up to the ultimate bifurcation. 

– This arrangement of the Swords is reminiscent of the shape of the Ankh or the Coptic Cross. Also reminiscent of a bird. A resurrection symbol, a symbol of the bread of life, of communion. 

Ankh - Wikipedia
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It is only formed by piecing together all of the individual parts of the Swords. But it is there, latent, in the Ace at the very beginning. The Ace bears this as its geometry already: a vertical line at the bottom, with a round crown at its peak, flanked by two “wings.”

– Going back to the question as to whether there can be an event that actually disrupts the overall plan of Creation: no, not even the Fall of Man. If we look at the image of the curve of Creation, and ponder the very structure of the first words of Genesis according to the systematism elaborated by Weinreb, we see that the return to wholeness is implicit within the act of Creation itself, which is fundamentally disruptive of unity. No matter how far gone things seem, no matter how bifurcated, divided, and shattered the Creation becomes, it must turn eventually out of unlimited bifurcation back to unity, where Man and God stand face to face. The meeting of the primal integrated binary, prior to Creation or the Fall, with the reintegrated binary, the salvation of reintegration. 

This is still archetypal though, in its imagery and description—it doesn’t really encapsulate the actual chaotic fallout of the Fall.

You might say this was the contingency plan. The archetypal plan of reintegration. 

The Coins represent Plan A, assuming all goes well—Man stands at the terminus of Creation and intuitively understands his place, and performs the act of reuniting binaries, without needing to divide into male and female, suffer the fall, etc etc. The older son who stays at home in the story of the Prodigal.

The Swords show the “contingency plan,” what must happen if and when Man does not intuitively grasp his purpose and is divided into male and female; and if, in spite of this, he makes the wrong choice, and chooses to imitate the gods rather than complement the activity of God. The plan in place if bifurcation, for whatever reason, carries on arbitrarily, beyond its pre-determined boundary. The Prodigal Son. Christ’s incarnation.

Two types of bifurcation: one that somehow stays rooted to and united with the whole the entire way through its unfolding, and one that actually separates. 

– There is always the risk of the unknown element. So we might ask—are these actually just two aspects, two sides of the self-same plan? Or is one actually just a contingency, a plan B?

The answer is Both. The Plan of the Swords is “not a question of if, but when.

Stepping out of eternity for the Swords—a Fall, a Salvation, and a Reintegration involves time by default. 

The Coins are in Eternity.

– The orientation of the images based on Phillip’s deck (where the copyright is printed) would indicate that all of the Arcana with broad swords (Ace, Three, Five, Seven, Nine, Ten) point down except for the Ace and Nine.

– Noticing a difference between the Numbered Coins vs Numbered Swords. There are no Roman numerals printed on any of the Numbered Coins. Nor are there any on the Ace of Swords. They begin with the Two of Swords. And from here on out, only the Aces (of Cups and Batons) do not have any roman numerals printed on them. 

Noticing in the Court Cards—they have no number either, and only a name. This is like The Fool, all quality and no quantity. The most unique is the Knave of Coins. His name is printed along the side, like Death’s name. In the original images of Death, he has no name, only a number (all quantity). The name printed along the side edge indicates that it was a later addition to the image. Perhaps it is the same with the Knave of Coins? This would indicate that he has no name and no number—no quantity and no quality, a blend of Death and The Fool.

This would apply to all four Aces, all of the numbered Coin Arcana, and the Knave of Coins—no name, and no number.

The Coins in a way are the Archetypes of Number. Their numerical value is totally apparent without needing to be signified via a Roman numeral. Whereas with the numbered Swords, it is not immediately apparent how many swords are actually in each image. It’s confusing. Perhaps that is the reason for the Roman numeral markings on the Two through Ten. But then again, the same logic doesn’t really apply to the Suit of Cups. It’s pretty obvious how many cups are in each image without needing a Roman numeral indicating it. And similarly clear for Batons.

Maybe in the Suit of Coins, one is in a realm which precedes the split between Quantity and Quality? And that this extends all the way through to the Knave of Coins. And then Quality, distinct from Quantity, only begins with the Knight of Coins. This aligns with our levels of Hermetic Conversation. It is only with the Knight level of conversation that something distinctly soulful and qualitative enters the dialogue. The Knave is more related to strict observation of detail, and questioning. 

And then quantity, divorced from quality, only begins with the Two of Swords. But this still isn’t the hard, mechanical quantity of Death. The 1/2/3/4 of the progression of rings or circles. The Tetrad, bearing a memory of qualitative number.

– It goes back to our very first conversation on the Ace of Swords after the retreat. The Ace of Coins is actually showing you the bottom of the hilt in the Ace of Swords. Now we get to see the Sword in action, splitting the two sides (foreground of Coin, background of Plant) of the Ace of Coins. The Coin in the Ace was like a stopper, a plug, or a cork. The hand pulls on it, and it turns out to be an entire Sword that is drawn out of a Crown that has plants emerging from it.

The Two then shows us fully what was behind the Coin in the Ace of Coins. The Three reflects back the Sword as cutting instrument, and the stems as the result of the cutting. The two aspects of the Ace of Swords presented in the Two and Three of Swords. These two Arcana combined make up the Ace of Swords. So the Two and Three together are in a way the “Two.”

The two sides of the Two of Swords are the Four and the Five. The two separate realms of Flower and Sword begin to take on their full form. The Sword is present in the Five without any stems or branches, no plant life. The Four’s central plant isn’t just a flower, but the full plant with stem and leaves etc. They are both archetypal forms—archetypal Sword and Plant. So together the Four and Five of Swords are the “Three,” the third term.

Then bifurcation of the Three of Swords in the Six and Seven of Swords. This is the mirror image of the third term (Four and Five combined). These are simply more refined versions of the Four and Five.

In the process of Creation, both the Third and Sixth days of creation have two parts, two stages of Creation. But what occurs in the Sixth Day (creation of Animals and creation of Man) is a more refined version of what happens in the Third Day (creation of dry land and creation of vegetation). Does this unfolding in the Swords show us an analogous process?

See the first three days of Creation vs the second three days above. The second three are a further refinement of the first three.


A further refinement of the polarity each time.

And then we complete the cycle with

– Usually at the end of our focus on a particular Arcanum, we would take a preview of the next Arcanum to be focused on, in this case the Seven of Swords. But we haven’t been nearly so discreet in terms of looking ahead as we were with the Coins. Especially with these later cards, there are such echoes of the earlier ones. They don’t stand alone the same way. We’ve really hit on that idea concretely with this idea of iteration and reiteration, of refinement. And it is made completely evident in the way that each “ring” form requires two or more Arcana in order to show the complete form. 

In any case…looking towards the Seven. We’re back to a blue sword for the first time since the Ace. The Seven brings us home somehow. Perhaps “Sword” is the stand in or representation of “process,” maybe it represents the activity that has been undergone, much more so than a specific tool or implement. Sword = Process. Harvested Flower = Result.

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