Ten of Batons (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Phillip and Joel on April 3, 2023.

The first thing that strikes us is the presence of the Cross. The impression is created by the double vertical batons. They are perhaps united, behind the blue, with the white portions of the horizontal plants, which make up the horizontal part of the cross. The Ten appears then as a white Cross in the background, with the yellow X radiating out of its center.

The gesture of the Numbered Batons is the opposite of what we might predict or imagine. Instead of a Cross at the beginning, which gradually begins to radiate from its center, we have a radiance from the beginning which gradually reveals the cross from which it emanates.

Seeing it this way, it now becomes difficult not to see this image as two distinct parts—a white Cross in the background, and a yellow/blue radiance in the foreground. There is no intertwining as there was in the Swords.

Note that we have the return of the overall Vesica Piscis shape, which is related to the return of the leaves on the sides, which had disappeared in the Eight and Nine, and have not been in this form since the Five:

But it isn’t really a Vesica Piscis shape outlining the Ten. You could read into it the cube shape of the New Jerusalem indicated in the Book of Revelation. But really it’s more like an eight-sided object. An octagon.

The plants don’t lend themselves to a Vesica Piscis outline. They are so compressed in comparison to the Two through Five. They are made parallel to the outer line, the boundary.

If a hexagram is actually a cube, what is indicated by an octagon?

The diamond has drawn the organic into a geometrical form. So little space. We thought that the side plants had disappeared in the Eight and Nine due to a lack of space to grow. And they haven’t been in this form since the Five. Why the return?

The roots of the side plants are tiny, white Fleur-de-Lis.

The “measuring reed” from the reading from Revelation, given to John to measure the New Jerusalem in chapter 21. The batons as reeds. Imagining taking small bamboo, soaking it in water, getting it floppy and weaving it. Then it dries as a firm mat, almost instrument-like. Pipes.

If this is the same being from the Nine, it now has very intense eyes. Those plants firing out of them. Like it was a sleeping dragon/beast in the Nine, and in the Ten it has awoken, eyes aflame.

Noticing that the vertical is not symmetrical. One of the verticals is shorter than the other. It’s more obvious when the short is in the lower portion (as it is shown in the image above). But it is so subtle, easy to miss. The white is different as well. Thinner on the shorter side.

Are the diagonals symmetrical? Hard to tell. But it looks pretty good, not far off.

The stems of the leaves are not the same either. Some are thin, some are thick.

The glance we took at this image at the end of our last conversation stayed with Phillip afterwards. So solid, very complete. Striking.

The Six, Seven and Eight are each bizarre in their own way. Decreasingly bizarre. Then with the Nine, it is down to pure structure, the Ur-Baton. You might expect the Ten to be even more severe, even more of a pure structure, following the decrease in ornamentation/oddness since the Six. But the Ten is—unexpectedly—so ornately structured. The most elaborate since the Six and Seven.

The Baton image is archetypal in the Five. Then it goes crazy in the Six. Dwindles in the Seven, Eight, Nine…becoming every more normal…then a sudden flashing out again in the Ten.

The same leaf form from before—totally unexpected after the previous four Arcana.

They come in sets. The Ace stands alone. It is One. Then there is a set of Four: Two, Three, Four, Five. Then a pair, a set of Two: Six and Seven. Then a triad, a set of Three: Eight, Nine Ten:

The Ace stands alone. Then the Two through Five are all the same form, the same side leaves etc. The Six and Seven are both so strange, with unique leaves. Then the Eight, Nine and Ten belong together due to the presence of the diamond in the center. It’s strange, though, that the diamond in the ten is somehow larger even though it is the same number of diagonal batons composing it as in the Eight and the Nine.

Arranging them in a proper tetractys:

If we switch the Six and the Seven, we can create a kind of spiral movement that goes through the Ten Batons:

The One, Six and Seven at the top feels right. They are the most flamboyant, they belong together at the top. Then in the 3rd level everything “cools” a bit. On the 4th level a kind of breakdown, or disintegration comes in, a fraying. Maybe they are taking root, branching out in the 4th level.

There is something almost of a 1930’s cartoon character in this Arcanum. If we consider the place where the red bars that are right up against the blue diamond meet the white vertical batons…little red triangles basically in the white vertical bars—they look a bit like eyes in a clownish cartoon character. Sticking his arms up. He has a tall, funny hat on.

And he’s being mirrored on the other side. It isn’t that he’s looking into a mirror, since they aren’t exactly the same, not symmetrical. It’s more like something out of I Love Lucy, there’s one where she’s dressed as Harpo Marx, and the real Harpo Marx shows up…she “hides” from him by pretending she is his mirror image, mimicking everything that he does. It’s a classic clowning/miming bit.

The Ace of Coins vs the Ten of Batons…the beginning and the end of the Numbered Minors. The Ten is like a total inversion of the Ace of Coins. Turned totally inside out in every way:

The plants drew within, became the blue diamond. The coin exploded. This is not a mirroring, it’s a transformation.

Looking at the sequence of vertical batons, the Three, Five, Seven, Nine and Ten:

In the Three and Five, there is a portion of the vertical that is blue and red. Then in the Seven, it becomes white and red. In the Nine, the white portion of vertical disappears and the red horizontal bar becomes white. Then we get to the Ten—the verticals are entirely white, with red bars. Two of them set aside from the other 8 Batons. Similar to the Tens of Coins and Swords, in which two Coins and two Swords were set aside from the other eight. It is only in the Ten of Cups that one Cup is set aside from nine.

Yes, but how many batons are we dealing with here anyway?? 17? 34? 9? 3? 6? And what exactly are these objects? It’s different than the question “what are the swords”, in which it wasn’t quite clear whether the scimitars were actually swords or not. It’s clear that these are batons. But what they are doing, how they are arranged, doesn’t make any sense. There needs to be a substance that could actually do this, unlike with the curved swords.

If this is a real object, in what way is it actually powerful/useful? We know the answer to this in the case of coin, sword, and cup.

The Coins are reflective of the plant forms. Even if they are just money/metal, they’ve been worked to appear related to the plant. And the Cups have a clear connection to the plant forms.

With the scimitars…what relationship is there?? The aposematism, as a kind of warning sign, as in poisonous plants/animals? This willy-wonka tunnel experience…the Swords defy characterization in that way, whereas in the Coins and Cups, categorization is more plausible.

With the Batons—what does a reed mat have to do with anything?

The Swords at least give the impression of conflict/pruning, even if they are also a chaos.

With the Nine of Batons it felt like—it’s letting itself out, revealing itself. Now with the Ten—we don’t know what to make of it. Too strange/unexpected.

Perhaps the Batons are a trellis? Something for the plants to grow on in a certain form. Forming that which is forming.

The Coins are planting.

The Swords are pruning/harvesting.

The Cups are eating/watering.

The Batons could also be the making of the bonfire. The cursing of the fig tree. Branches that don’t produce fruit will be thrown into the fire and burned.

There is the least discernible relationship between the Ace and the Ten in this Suit. Except perhaps the Cups.

But the image of the Cross…the radiation…that’s when it made sense.

What if all these reeds were split off of this main trunk from the Ace? All of them used to be attached to the Ace. Making kindling with a hatchet, cutting it into those little splits.

In the Coins, we have basic gardening. Back yard gardening. Put it in the earth, see it take form.

In the Swords, the plants are growing. We are cutting and arranging them.

In the Cups, it is like a Venus fly trap. Another level of husbandry. Creating gardens, beauty, forming the whole landscape in which things are growing. There is the mood of Linderhof Palace or something in the Cups.

And the Batons are a full expression of all three of these. The trellis allows the plants to take on more elaborate expression than they would naturally.

Going back to this extra large blue diamond in the Ten—it is larger than in the Eight and Nine due to the double vertical. It is conforming to the verticals, they are pushing the diamond open. Or it opening itself to allow the single vertical to split into two.

This is also surprising—we had been developing to an ever-more closed diamond, an X that was becoming thicker and thicker until it was nearly a diamond. But at the last minute—it takes a step back. It allows something new to develop, rather than completing its own closure.

The Ace of Batons gives no precursor to what is going to follow. Whereas both the Ace of Coins and Ace of Swords certainly do. Less so in the Cups, but more-so there than in the Batons.

The side branches only appear now out of the vertical. Before they were born out of the blue. So in reality, this is not a return to form. This is something new.

The pulsing gesture of the Numbered Batons.

The central baton separates into the two flowers in the Two. They rejoin in the three, extracting some blue from the center—the center from which the leaves are growing. They separate again in the four, rejoin in the Five, extracting more blue, to the point that the leaves growing out have changed in the Six, and the vertical flowers have become entirely blue. Then they rejoin in the Seven, extracting white from the final, dying form of the horizontal plants growing out of the blue. They separate again, becoming the simple flowers of the Eight. The complete extraction of the side flowers allows the blue to form a perfect diamond in the Eight and Nine. The vertical flowers rejoin in the Nine. Then in the Ten, the blue diamond opens, allowing the vertical baton to split into two, and grow horizontal leaves out of itself. The power of the blue center has been given over completely to the white vertical.

A gradual taking of the power of growth from the X by the vertical, until it is released in the Ten. The opposite of the Swords, where there is a rending, a cutting, a lopping. This is more like an implement, a seeder. A hoe. Something that brings the seed force into the other piece. Agricultural, productive.

Two things making each other whole so that they can separate. Not rending and compressing as in the Swords. The blue is set free by the vertical rod, and vice versa.

The gradual development, or return to, hermaphroditic reproduction out of bisexual reproduction—when the human being is set free from being of two sexes.

The vertical as the male, the diamond as the female. At first, it is the fertiliser of the female portion. But then, eventually, the male takes on the ability to reproduce through the larynx. There is no more female species. The male larynx changes at puberty, it predicts this time when the larynx will be an organ of procreation. From a certain point of view, all will be “male.” The white rod that is able to produce the horizontal leaves the way the female blue once did.

The masculine achieves the power of reproduction; whereas the feminine is set free from bondage. The ideas that live in us now in a destructive, materialistic way are authentic imaginations of the future state of humanity.

Do earthworms experience desire?

The urge for sexual reproduction relies on desire. Desire was infused by Lucifer. This leads to a separation of sexes as a counterbalance to that desire.

Does desire itself also become released as well then? Released from bondage? What then replaces desire as the impetus-giving force to procreate?

Tomberg describes that every chakra ought to receive its guiding motivation from above, except for the brow chakra. This should be the chakra of intellectual initiative, belonging to the “I” herself. This is needed for us to be human. Describing that he knew a man who gave this up, lost all will power, but St. Michael was able to intervene and correct this lack of volition.

What is it to motivate volition without desire?

We’re again back to Philosophy of Freedom. Chapter 9, the most important chapter. (https://rsarchive.org/Books/GA004/English/RSP1964/GA004_c09.html) The levels of motive force vs levels of characterological disposition:

In any particular act of will we must take into account the motive and the driving force. The motive is a factor with the character of a concept or a mental picture; the driving force is the will-factor belonging to the human organization and directly conditioned by it. The conceptual factor, or motive, is the momentary determining factor of the will; the driving force is the permanent determining factor of the individual. A motive for the will may be a pure concept, or else a concept with a particular reference to a percept, that is, a mental picture. Both general concepts and individual ones (mental pictures) become motives of will by affecting the human individual and determining him to action in a particular direction. But one and the same concept, or one and the same mental picture, affects different individuals differently. They stimulate different men to different actions. An act of will is therefore not merely the outcome of the concept or the mental picture but also of the individual make-up of the person. Here we may well follow the example of Eduard von Hartmann and call this individual make-up the characterological disposition. The manner in which concept and mental picture affects the characterological disposition of a man gives to his life a definite moral or ethical stamp.

The characterological disposition is formed by the more or less permanent content of our subjective life, that is, by the content of our mental pictures and feelings. Whether a mental picture which enters my mind at this moment stimulates me to an act of will or not, depends on how it relates itself to the content of all my other mental pictures and also to my idiosyncrasies of feeling. But after all, the general content of my mental pictures is itself conditioned by the sum total of those concepts which have, in the course of my individual life, come into contact with percepts, that is, have become mental pictures. This sum, again, depends on my greater or lesser capacity for intuition and on the range of my observations, that is, on the subjective and objective factors of experience, on my inner nature and situation in life. My characterological disposition is determined especially by my life of feeling. Whether I shall make a particular mental picture or concept into a motive of action or not, will depend on whether it gives me joy or pain.

These are the elements which we have to consider in an act of will. The immediately present mental picture or concept, which becomes the motive, determines the aim or the purpose of my will; my characterological disposition determines me to direct my activity towards this aim. The mental picture of taking a walk in the next half-hour determines the aim of my action. But this mental picture is raised to the level of a motive for my will only if it meets with a suitable characterological disposition, that is, if during my past life I have formed the mental pictures of the sense and purpose of taking a walk, of the value of health, and further, if the mental picture of taking a walk is accompanied in me by a feeling of pleasure.

We must therefore distinguish (1) the possible subjective dispositions which are capable of turning certain mental pictures and concepts into motives, and (2) the possible mental pictures and concepts which are in a position to influence my characterological disposition so that an act of will results. For our moral life the former represent the driving force, and the latter, its aims.

The driving force in the moral life can be discovered by finding out the elements of which individual life is composed.

The first level of individual life is that of perceiving, more particularly perceiving through the senses. This is the region of our individual life in which perceiving translates itself directly into willing, without the intervention of either a feeling or a concept. The driving force here involved is simply called instinct. The satisfaction of our lower, purely animal needs (hunger, sexual intercourse, etc.) comes about in this way. The main characteristic of instinctive life is the immediacy with which the single percept releases the act of will. This kind of determination of the will, which belongs originally only to the life of the lower senses, may however become extended also to the percepts of the higher senses. We may react to the percept of a certain event in the external world without reflecting on what we do, without any special feeling connecting itself with the percept, as in fact happens in our conventional social behaviour. The driving force of such action is called tact or moral good taste. The more often such immediate reactions to a percept occur, the more the person concerned will prove himself able to act purely under the guidance of tact; that is, tactbecomes his characterological disposition.

The second level of human life is feeling. Definite feelings accompany the percepts of the external world. These feelings may become the driving force of an action. When I see a starving man, my pity for him may become the driving force of my action. Such feelings, for example, are shame, pride, sense of honour, humility, remorse, pity, revenge, gratitude, piety, loyalty, love, and duty. 3

The third level of life amounts to thinking and forming mental pictures. A mental picture or a concept may become the motive of an action through mere reflection. Mental pictures become motives because, in the course of life, we regularly connect certain aims of our will with percepts which recur again and again in more or less modified form. Hence with people not wholly devoid of experience it happens that the occurrence of certain percepts is always accompanied by the appearance in consciousness of mental pictures of actions that they themselves have carried out in a similar case or have seen others carry out. These mental pictures float before their minds as patterns which determine all subsequent decisions; they become parts of their characterological disposition. The driving force in the will, in this case, we can call practical experience. Practical experience merges gradually into purely tactful behaviour. This happens when definite typical pictures of actions have become so firmly connected in our minds with mental pictures of certain situations in life that, in any given instance, we skip over all deliberation based on experience and go straight from the percept to the act of will.

The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thinking without regard to any definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a concept through pure intuition from out of the ideal sphere. Such a concept contains, at first, no reference to any definite percepts. If we enter upon an act of will under the influence of a concept which refers to a percept, that is, under the influence of a mental picture, then it is this percept which determines our action indirectly by way of the conceptual thinking. But if we act under the influence of intuitions, the driving force of our action is pure thinking. As it is the custom in philosophy to call the faculty of pure thinking “reason”, we may well be justified in giving the name of practical reason to the moral driving force characteristic of this level of life. The dearest account of this driving force in the will has been given by Kreyenbuehl 4. In my opinion his article on this subject is one of the most important contributions to present-day philosophy, more especially to Ethics. Kreyenbuehl calls the driving force we are here discussing, the practical a priori, that is, an impulse to action issuing directly from my intuition.

It is clear that such an impulse can no longer be counted in the strictest sense as belonging to the characterological disposition. For what is here effective as the driving force is no longer something merely individual in me, but the ideal and hence universal content of my intuition. As soon as I see the justification for taking this content as the basis and starting point of an action, I enter upon the act of will irrespective of whether I have had the concept beforehand or whether it only enters my consciousness immediately before the action, that is, irrespective of whether it was already present as a disposition in me or not.

Since a real act of will results only when a momentary impulse to action, in the form of a concept or mental picture, acts on the characterological disposition, such an impulse then becomes the motive of the will.

The motives of moral conduct are mental pictures and concepts. There are Moral Philosophers who see a motive for moral behaviour also in the feelings; they assert, for instance, that the aim of moral action is to promote the greatest possible quantity of pleasure for the acting individual. Pleasure itself, however, cannot become a motive; only an imagined pleasure can. The mental picture of a future feeling, but not the feeling itself, can act on my characterological disposition. For the feeling itself does not yet exist in the moment of action; it has first to be produced by the action.

The mental picture of one’s own or another’s welfare is, however, rightly regarded as a motive of the will. The principle of producing the greatest quantity of pleasure for oneself through one’s action, that is, of attaining individual happiness, is called egoism. The attainment of this individual happiness is sought either by thinking ruthlessly only of one’s own good and striving to attain it even at the cost of the happiness of other individuals (pure egoism), or by promoting the good of others, either because one anticipates a favourable influence on one’s own person indirectly through the happiness of others, or because one fears to endanger one’s own interest by injuring others (morality of prudence). The special content of the egoistical principles of morality will depend on the mental pictures which we form of what constitutes our own, or others’, happiness. A man will determine the content of his egoistical striving in accordance with what he regards as the good things of life (luxury, hope of happiness, deliverance from various evils, and so on).

The purely conceptual content of an action is to be regarded as yet another kind of motive. This content refers not to the particular action only, as with the mental picture of one’s own pleasures, but to the derivation of an action from a system of moral principles. These moral principles, in the form of abstract concepts, may regulate the individual’s moral life without his worrying himself about the origin of the concepts. In that case, we simply feel that submitting to a moral concept in the form of a commandment overshadowing our actions, is a moral necessity. The establishment of this necessity we leave to those who demand moral subjection from us, that is, to the moral authority that we acknowledge (the head of the family, the state, social custom, the authority of the church, divine revelation). It is a special kind of these moral principles when the commandment is made known to us not through an external authority but through our own inner life (moral autonomy). In this case we hear the voice to which we have to submit ourselves, in our own souls. This voice expresses itself as conscience.

It is a moral advance when a man no longer simply accepts the commands of an outer or inner authority as the motive of his action, but tries to understand the reason why a particular maxim of behaviour should act as a motive in him. This is the advance from morality based on authority to action out of moral insight. At this level of morality a man will try to find out the requirements of the moral life and will let his actions be determined by the knowledge of them. Such requirements are

the greatest possible good of mankind purely for its own sake;

the progress of civilization, or the moral evolution of mankind towards ever greater perfection;

the realization of individual moral aims grasped by pure intuition.

The greatest possible good of mankind will naturally be understood in different ways by different people. This maxim refers not to any particular mental picture of this “good” but to the fact that everyone who acknowledges this principle strives to do whatever, in his opinion, most promotes the good of mankind.

The progress of civilization, for those to whom the blessings of civilization bring a feeling of pleasure, turns out to be a special case of the foregoing moral principle. Of course, they will have to take into the bargain the decline and destruction of a number of things that also contribute to the general good. It is also possible, however, that some people regard the progress of civilization as a moral necessity quite apart from the feeling of pleasure that it brings. For them, this becomes a special moral principle in addition to the previous one.

The principle of the progress of civilization, like that of the general good, is based on a mental picture, that is, on the way we relate the content of our moral ideas to particular experiences (percepts). The highest conceivable moral principle, however, is one that from the start contains no such reference to particular experiences, but springs from the source of pure intuition and only later seeks any reference to percepts, that is, to life. Here the decision as to what is to be willed proceeds from an authority very different from that of the foregoing cases. If a man holds to the principle of the general good, he will, in all his actions, first ask what his ideals will contribute to this general good. If a man upholds the principle of the progress of civilization, he will act similarly. But there is a still higher way which does not start from one and the same particular moral aim in each case, but sees a certain value in all moral principles and always asks whether in the given case this or that principle is the more important. It may happen that in some circumstances a man considers the right aim to be the progress of civilization, in others the promotion of the general good, and in yet another the promotion of his own welfare, and in each case makes that the motive of his action. But if no other ground for decision claims more than second place, then conceptual intuition itself comes first and foremost into consideration. All other motives now give way, and the idea behind an action alone becomes its motive.

Among the levels of characterological disposition, we have singled out as the highest the one that works as pure thinking or practical reason. Among the motives, we have just singled out conceptual intuition as the highest. On closer inspection it will at once be seen that at this level of morality driving force and motive coincide; that is, neither a predetermined characterological disposition nor the external authority of an accepted moral principle influences our conduct. The action is therefore neither a stereotyped one which merely follows certain rules, nor is it one which we automatically perform in response to an external impulse, but it is an action determined purely and simply by its own ideal content.

Such an action presupposes the capacity for moral intuitions. Whoever lacks the capacity to experience for himself the particular moral principle for each single situation, will never achieve truly individual willing.

So what replaces desire ultimately is the special situation in which our characterological disposition and our motive coincide, unite, become identical. Totally free creativity replaces desire.

The Resurrection Body—that which can withstand, allow, make possible total freedom. To materialize/spiritualize at will.

The Assumption of the Virgin. The redemption of Unfallen (Virgin) Nature. The setting free of the feminine from bondage.

We’ve gone from the Ace of Coins, in which our perpetual question was—is it one or two objects? Is it a coin with plants sprouting out of it, or are they growing out of something separate behind it that we can’t see?…

…to the Ten of Batons, in which we are certain: it is two. A cross and an X.

Before the Ten…perhaps there was entanglement. Maybe the vertical was within the X, not behind it. In fact, it is clearer in the earlier Numbered Batons (Three, Five) that the central baton is entangled with the other diagonal batons. And then things become increasingly entangled as we get into the Seven, the Nine, etc. And now—a sudden release! “Aahhhh….”

Wouldn’t that be nice, if reality matched the arcane conversation?? In the ideal realm…the magic moment…we dare to hope…