Tarot Conversation 9/26/17 – The Star
We began by invoking the Spiritual Power of the day before half moon – the Crucified Christ (traditionally Venus).
Then we did the Divine Alphabet up through the 17th Letter, Pey, with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice.
After reading the introductory quotes to the 17th Letter/Meditation, we focused on The Star.
– What is the relationship of the central Star in the sky to the Woman pouring out water? She seems to be more prominent and central to the Arcanum than the Star itself is, even though there is the one star that seems to stand out among the other stars. Why doesn’t the title of the Arcanum refer to her? Or does it in some way? There could be all kinds of relationships between the two, but the name of the Arcanum could be a play on words; in one sense, the actual/traditional Star, in another referring to “Mary, Star of the Sea,” especially since the Woman in this image is by the water, by the sea.
– Remarkable features: she is completely naked, a first among the human figures in the Arcana thus far. Due to the position of the pitcher in her left hand, water appears to be gushing forth from her womb. She clearly seems to be some sort of Goddess. Is she creating the water itself? Maybe the entire river originates in her? Maybe she is a medium of some sort, like Temperance is?
– Temperance is much more the image of Mary as Mediatrix, as supplicator, protector, guardian. The Woman in the Star is related much more to pure creation, generation. She is not mediating, she is originating.
– The Stars above her have a kind of impersonal, anonymous, eternal and primal quality. They are like an absolute that is taken for granted. She is a bit like that too, but she is an eternal act of Creation, of Activity, not an eternity that stands above dualities like creation and destruction, being and non-being (as the Stars seem to be).
– She is by far one of the least negative cards in the sequence. It is very hard to find the hint of a shadow, even compared to relatively positive cards like Temperance (who still appears sad or concerned). She is like an image of our toddlers’ imaginations, absolutely pure, creative activity.
– The bird on the tree is unique compared to other cards. Is it a silhouette? It seems from one perspective very ornamental. It isn’t like the horses on the Chariot or the lion in Force, which seem to have a secondary significance that is of a symbolical nature. This has a tertiary, decorative – maybe purely whimsical? – significance. It feels very non-esoteric. It’s just a bird! What a relief (like the rest of the image, really) simply because it is so basic, so ordinary. It is very harmonious that all 3 kingdoms of nature are represented (birds, trees, water/land), and for that matter in quite a normal, healthy state. We’ve moved out of the dream-like realm of symbols and mythical creatures into actual, manifest creation. The trees are an expression of so much vitality. We’ve not yet had trees at all, only shrubs at best.
– Is it daytime? The stars are shining. Are they an outpouring of light that lights up the sky (even without the sun)? The silhouette of a bird seems to indicate twilight.
– The Star geometry. There is for the most part an emphasis on 8. There are 8 stars; 5 of them are 8-pointed (of all three colors) and 2 are 7-pointed (both of these are yellow). One star is 16-pointed? Or is it three superimposed 8-pointed stars (One black lines, one yellow, one red)? They look very hurriedly drawn, a bit like the stars in a Peanuts cartoon or something – like a young child drew them, following the outline of the shape rather than the intersecting lines, as an older child would draw a star, and as we normally see star symbols used in alchemical/esoteric texts. Except for the middle one, which is quite well-defined. The smaller ones are not as well-structured, they are almost fleshy. The top of this larger star is hidden, just as the tops of other cards are hidden (The Magician, The Lover, Force, maybe the Devil, and the Tower).
– Maybe the scene in the lower half of the card, of the woman pouring water, expresses what is seen when one looks into the large star above, as through a window. The Above/Below contrast is quite pronounced, unlike many of the more recent Arcana. Like a dividing line between the sky with stars and the land with the woman. Reflected geometry:
Central Star = Woman’s head
The surrounding stars (produced by the Central Star?) = two trees, two pitchers, two breasts (are these all in a way emanating from or under the sway of the Woman just as the surrounding stars are to the Central Star?)
– Her hair is so similar to the water that she’s pouring out.
– A plant is growing right above her upside-down left foot (above the sole of her foot).
– There is something interesting about the way in which she pours the water, and the position of her right foot. The right-hand pitcher pours directly into the river, which seems to originate from behind her (not from her), whereas the left-hand pitcher pours from the region of her womb and flows a bit diagonally. We assume that below the lower boundary of the image, it eventually joins the larger stream. In between, a little island has been created, on which her right foot rests. The right hand pitcher pours from the region of her right knee – possibly along the channel of Netzach (Force), the Sephiroth of the right hip? This once again seems to indicate two types of procreation, as referred to by Anne Catherine Emmerich – one from the womb, one from the right hip.
– What a strange position for her to be in. And the fleshiness of her left leg is pronounced – almost like she has a rolled up pant-leg.
– Her expression is so genuinely comfortable, quietly joyful, undisturbed. So unlike any of the other cards – even, for example, The Magician, which is a harmonious card, but he is still hiding a secret – she is not hiding anything. If every card has a mixture of the Fallen and Unfallen Nature, she has a predominance of the Unfallen. Maybe the water from the womb is the Fallen Nature? But in the context of so much Purity, of so much that is Unfallen, the Fallen just seems like a new element being added into the old – it is in its proper place and time. The least Fallen of the Fallen – like the Solomon Jesus (the least Fallen of the Fallen, the sum-total of man’s experiential knowledge) vs the Nathan Jesus (the pure Unfallen).
– Nevertheless, there is a tension present in the card – it is in the contrast between Above and Below. Yes, it is a pure reflection of the Above by that which is Below, but an intermediate stage seems to have been skipped – like something ought to come between that which is represented by the Stars above (so timeless and cold in a way) and the Woman below (so real, active, and alive). There is such a synergy between them, however – the tension remains just that, a tension and not a friction. It’s like comparing a rock and a plant – something in between is missing. This is the theme of the Letter/Meditation – what is the secret intermediary that leads to life and growth? It is ludicrous to think of the living plant somehow arising out of dead matter.
– Teilhard de Chardin speaks of anomalies in nature, how they indicate to the scientist the presence of something that is actually there to one degree or another in everything, but can only be noticed due to anomaly. The example he gives is radiation. We only noticed radiation due to particular elements which broke down at an extraordinary rate. Later scientists discovered that all material objects have a degree of nuclear radiation, but it is so small to be negligible for most things. The same, for de Chardin, holds true for both life and consciousness. These are not random epiphenomena or illusions. They are qualities held by all manifest reality, but in many cases in such a small quantity as not to be noticed. There is no mysterious, complex, chemical combination through which life could be created out of that which is not alive – the alive is already present in the what seems to be dead matter, and is only waiting for the proper arrangement through which it can become an “anomaly,” in other words manifest itself completely.
– The metamorphosis from the Tower to the Star. The men in the Tower become the pitchers in the Star – the Woman is the Tower. The round multiplicity of spheres have become 8 many sided stars, from enfoldment to radiation. The hidden potential of the seed/spheres has opened up, flowered into the giving out of potential, the pouring forth of the stars. The meager puddles have grown into two streams.
– In The Wandering Fool, he discusses the contrast between the Tower and the Star. In the Tower, you have the forced entry into contact with the spiritual world – during which, if one is not actually ready for this contact, one is electrified, shocked by celestial lightning. This either leads to megalomania/messianic tendencies, or to complete dryness, spiritual sterility, melancholia. These are the two men falling from the tower: megalomania and sterility. These qualities are relieved via the life-giving quality represented by the Star. But the men have transformed into pitchers – the relief doesn’t come from some sentimental comfort, but in completing the process begun by the Tower – taking the hollowing out of humility to the extreme, when one is not just “made low,” but empty, into a useful vessel, from which life can spring.
– One foot on the little island makes one think of the first matter to solidify: Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, at the time of Adam and Eve was Eden. In Astrogeographia and the Great Teachers Robert gives a description of this process that seems overly simplistic. He describes how this first mineralized matter occurred at the Fall in ancient Lemuria, at the time of the incarnation of the first two human beings, Adam and Eve. One gets a more complicated description from reading Steiner’s Occult Science. See pages 208-212 and page 221 of the most current version. It describes how, as the primal heat/fire condensed to Air, Saturn split off, creating the realm of “Saturn humans” who could only incarnate into heat/fire. Then after the Sun had split off, the Earth began to become liquid, and Jupiter was split off for those human beings who could only incarnate to the density of Air. Then as the Earth solidified, Mars split off, for the human beings who could only incarnate into Water. It was at this point, at the transition from Hyperborea to Lemuria that dense, solid land first came into being (at the site which is now Jerusalem). Finally it reached a crisis point of densification, and no human beings would have been able to incarnate. Adam and Eve, as the strongest souls, were the only two left who could still incarnate into these dense, material bodies. Strangely, they can be seen as the first humans to incarnate, but also the last. To facilitate their incarnation, the Moon separated, temporarily reversing the trend of densification on Earth; simultaneously the Fall occurred, and the first two human beings to incarnate as separate sexes appeared – Adam and Eve. The bodies of men were for a time much finer due to the separation into the sexes, and so the human souls who had retreated to other planetary spheres were able to return and begin their cycle of incarnations (as Death now became a reality, unlike the metamorphosis that occurred prior to this time). The Moon (Yahweh) becomes the Bearer of the Cross – bearing the solidifying forces that would have crippled the Earth.
– The Fall was a long process. Desire (strengthening simultaneously with the appearance of Mars) led to a denser and denser level of incarnation, driving the human Astral Body into the Physical Body. This led to the mercy of the Moon, the softening of the physical body once again. Until the separation of the sexes and of the Earth and Moon, there was no male and female. In a way there was only Male: Adam Kadmon. Eve is separated out from Adam (the Rib). Isn’t this the image of the transition we have just been looking at, from the Tower to the Star? Where obsessive desire leads to an over-hardening, which must be struck down (a Fall)? Then the Mercy of the appearance of Woman, the quenching of desire, the softening of that which was hardened, the return of Life (Eve) rather than Building (Adam=Earth, made of earth). In fact, Steiner has said that the male gender is like bread that has been left in the oven for too long – they are too densely embedded into the physical body. Whereas the female gender is like bread that is still a bit underdone, still more in touch with the etheric body and not entirely incarnated into the physical.
– In terms of the developmental/biographical perspective:
Death = Death
Temperance = 3-day etheric review
The Devil = 40 Days of Temptation
The Tower = Kamaloka (Moon Sphere)
The Star = Mercury Sphere
Here we have the transition from the hardness of the Moon Sphere, when we see all of our karmic failures, all of our offenses in reverse, to that of the Mercury Sphere, a realm of fluid, of healing, of coming back into relationship with other human beings. Although Steiner says we are hermits in the Mercury Sphere if we have not cultivated morality during our time on Earth. If we were licentious, we are alone, still parched for human contact (see https://www.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/index.php?ga=GA0140).
In some portrayals, like in the movie What Dreams May Come or the book The Great Divorce by CS Lewis, there are individuals who don’t realize that they are dead, that they are in the afterlife (usually purgatory). In a way, we also don’t realize that we are truly dead now, here in our limited Earth existence – that we will only come to true life, only be born, at death. Each of these realms, each of these planetary spheres is a realm of life in its own right. Each has its different qualities, however. For example, only on Earth can we change, can we develop ourselves – after our Earth life we are to some extent fixed, unless people on Earth come to our aid through activities such as reading to the Dead. Then something that maybe was missed by a soul while on Earth can light up within them.
We are excited for—not at all fearful of—Death.
– The Star is like the woman in CS Lewis’s Perelandra – the unfallen Eve of Venus, surrounded by water.
– The opening quote makes us think of certain individuals who have retained their vitality throughout their entire lives. How do we go about aging? Can we transform it into a process that yields greater and greater vitality?
We ended with the closing of the Grail Knight’s practice.