Ten of Coins (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on January 15, 2019

Ten of Coins — January 15, 2019

We began with the protective practice.

We then invoked the guidance of Archangel Michael through performing the following in a five-pointed star:

“Victorious Spirit!

Flame through the impotence of irresolute souls;

Burn out the egotism;

Ignite the compassion;

That selflessness, the life-stream of humanity 

May well forth as the source of Spirit rebirth.”

After concentrating the mantra I AM on the brow chakra, we performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, and the 20th letter of the Divine Alphabet:  Resh, The Judgment.

We then read from Revelation 5: 6-10 and Matthew 18: 23-35

Reflections on the Ten of Coins:

– noticing how the ten coins are arranged. They group themselves into different patterns based on how one perceives them. In four ways:

Here we have two groups of five, one above the other;

or, the ten coins could be seen as two semi circles, each facing a different direction, connecting with each other at the top and bottom in order to form a vesica piscis;

or it could be seen as four corners, with a hexagon in the middle made up of six coins.

or it could be seen as a downward pointing triangle above, and an upward pointing triangle below, with a square in the middle.

There is not a central or main formation here, not one way of looking at them as with most of the other coin arrangements. At most, they have had two ways of being perceived, and in most of them one way stuck out in particular. The coins have achieved a multivariant, multi-vocal quality.

– Two of the coins overlay the plant—we have not seen this kind of interaction between plant and coin since the Ace of Coins (and the two to some degree; they are intertwined in the Two, but the coins are not obscuring the plant). Even with the Ace, it is a question, a matter of perspective as to whether or not the plants are growing out of the coin, or whether the coin is obscuring the origin of the plants.

– In terms of the plant form, only the Eight of Coins really bears any similarity. Take away the two coins that are touching/overlaid on the plant, and it is almost identical to the Eight. But what a difference those two coins make to the dynamic nature of the coin arrangement! With the Eight of Coins, we basically have a solid block. There’s no way of really seeing any arrangement here other than a brick of coins. Whereas with the insertion of the two coins overlaying the plants in the Ten, suddenly this multi-variant quality comes into the shape(s) the coins make.

These two unique coins have replaced the red flowers in the Eight. And there is now a different gesture in the upper and lower pairs of leaves. In the Eight, they are making something like the therapeutic “Hope/U” gesture. In the Ten, it is something more like an “A” gesture.

The flowers are no longer strange, elongated trumpet shapes. They look more normal.

Even the middle flower is not as ornate as the Eight’s. It’s larger and almost looks like it’s composed of leaves rather than a flower proper.

– Looking farther back, at the Six—Eight—Ten progression. There is a growth of the vertical on the one hand, and a transformation/development of the inner flower on the other hand.

Actually, the whole sequence of even numbered Arcana:

has an organic progression. Which is interesting, as we have related the bookends of this sequence (the Two of Coins and the Ten of Coins) to the Judgement. The connection between the Two and the Ten doesn’t seem so clear, nor (necessarily) is the connection of Ten with Judgement immediately clear. But bringing all three together, and seeing the Two and the Ten as poles of a sequence of development, suddenly brings the connection out more clearly.

In fact, we have two Major Arcana that we have specifically referenced in this sequence:

Two, Eight, Ten = Judgement

Four, Six = The Moon

There is an over-arching theme here:  the threshold experience, the crisis of the complete awakening of conscience, the confrontation with the full truth (memory) of oneself. 

– Looking at the progression of form and movement:

Two = a vertical split, above and below

Four = a horizontal split. Both the upper and lower coin split into pairs, widening the form horizontally and creating the space in the middle

Six = a compression of this four-fold grouping by the two coins coming from above and below. The middle space is compressed from a large image of a flower into a proto-flower form.

Eight = Both a vertical and horizontal expansion. Opposite of the Six’s gesture of compression.

Ten = a minor horizontal expansion:  just enough to allow the two unique coins to appear above and below (vertically); this is the link with the Two of Coins. These two unique coins are like a recapitulation of the Two of Coins. This minor adjustment brings a harmony and flow that makes all the difference.

– Feeling out the relationship between Two and Ten. Doesn’t this remind us of something? What about  the relationship between One (Magician) and Eleven (Force). Usually we look numerologically:  One—Ten—Nineteen—Ace—Ten. But Tomberg also discusses the importance of the movement from, for example, Nine to Nineteen at the end of the Letter-Meditation on the 19th Arcanum, The Sun. At the end of this letter-meditation he brings in the meditative exercise that transitions from the Trinity (3) to the Luminous Holy Trinity (6), and that this can be accomplished through, for example, practicing the Novena. He states that this higher aspect of the Nine could not be brought in its first iteration in the Letter-Meditation on The Hermit, but that we had to take 10 further steps on the path of the Tarot in order to return to the Nine at a higher level—that is, at Nineteen. Therefore, it is not just the relatively simplistic numerological relationship that counts (9 = 18), but also this relationship based on a movement through Ten, through the Decad (9—19). 

If we look at this with the Magician (1) and Force (11), here we see that this can be numerologically expressed as 1—2, since 11 = 2. And so Ten can be thought of as the number which carries us from One to Two:  1 + 10 = 11 = 2. 

This is reminiscent of our “Path from Yod to He”:  Ace (Yod)—Four—Seven—Ten, which leads to Two (He). Here again we have One leading to Two via the Ten. (In this sense, strangely enough, Ten comes before Two rather than after it, as in the sequence of even numbered Coin Arcana).

– Is this tendency to carry something to the next level intrinsic to the nature of the number Ten? Notice the 10th Major Arcanum, Wheel of Fortune:  it certainly breaks the continuity established by the first 9 Major Arcana, which are all more or less static representations of human figures. We might see these nine as the fundamental human archetypes/characters. Due to the effect of the “plus 10” relationship, Force (the 11th Arcanum) seems to have more of a relationship to The Magician than to the preceding card, Wheel of Fortune.

Although this “plus 10” relationship seems to be truer in some way for Magician and Force than some other pairs, such as High Priestess (2) and Hanged Man (2+10=12).

Looking at both the numerological and “+10″ arrangements:

Magician (1)—Wheel of Fortune (1=10)—Force (1+10)

High Priestess (2)—Force (2=11)—Hanged Man (2+10)

Empress (3)—Hanged Man (3=12)—Death (3+10)

Emperor (4)—Death (4=13)—Temperance (4+10)

In most of these examples, there seems to be a more direct relationship between numerologically related pairs, whereas the “plus 10” relationship yields a contrasting pair, an archetype and its counter image. The Magician and Force just so happen to be a very harmonious counter-image of each other, unlike the others. For example, The Hanged Man seems to be the natural outgrowth of the sacred magic of the Empress:  aligning the human will with the divine will, celestial gravitation. But Death seems to be the opposite force than that emanating from the Empress:  Life vs Death. 

Similarly, looking at the Emperor. Death is like a natural progression of the loneliness/isolation/Path of the Cross that the Emperor represents. Yet Temperance is like an image of the very process of Hermeticism, the “thinking together” with the spiritual world and other Hermeticists. She is the “inner aspect” of Hermeticism, whereas the Emperor is the outer aspect.

Clearly this isn’t a strict pattern to be imposed, but a form in which to cast the 22 Major Arcana so that one can meditate upon them. It is a form to be worked with, not a pattern with ready-made answers.

It becomes clear, however, that the 10, the Wheel of Fortune, is a breaking point, a turning point. And after that, the Majors are no longer strict single-character archetypes (minus a few exceptions). They get blended with other beings and environments. For the first 9, the environment in which the character is placed is almost part of their being, an outgrowth and expression of their character. The post-10 Arcana are in action, performing a function that may not be as expressive of their essential being as in the first 9—in fact sometimes it seems to be a kind of confrontation or conflict between a being and an environment, forcing a new/unexpected quality out of that being. 

I believe this came through in our old conversations. We considered the first nine to be images of the buildup of our internal world through meditative practice, moral practice, etc. Whereas with the Ten, suddenly we are thrown into confrontation with the macrocosm—the focus is no longer microcosmic, but the macrocosmic. The “rubber hits the road,” and we have to put to the test the qualities we have cultivated in our solitude.

From the notes for March 22:

“- It expresses the experience of waking up to a collective process of mastery, an active engagement with the outer world.  The Mars years/Spirit Self (42-49) are connected with this card.  It is a question then of transforming the lower aspects of the astral body into Spirit Self, all in the context of a confrontation with the outer world.”

– It is like the river in The Star, the mingling of two streams. The Fallen and the Unfallen, Experience and Innocence.

The Wheel of Fortune = The Fall

Force = The Un-fallen, the Pure.

From the Wheel through the Tower, it’s a confrontation with duality, with the fallen vs un-fallen:

Once we come to the Star, it all begins to come back together on a higher level. Leaving behind the duality and struggle of 10-16, but a much more differentiated, complex level of stability than the relatively static stability of the first nine arcana:

It’s interesting, even though the Wheel of Fortune marks a severe turning point, Force is like a final shining through of the pure archetypes that came before in Magician through Hermit. Analogously, even though The Star marks another turning point, back to stability, The Moon is like a final “backward glance” towards the difficulties that came before—and the “backward glance” is the theme of that letter-meditation.

So from 10 through 16, we have seven arcana of trial.

– Similar to the Majors, the Ten of Coins marks a turning point in the Suit of Coins. After the Ten, everything is different:  we leave behind the Numbered cards and enter the realm of the Court cards.

But it is a different gesture in the Court cards. It is still a complete change of character vs what came before (the Numbered cards), but it is not necessarily a fall into a period of trial. The human figures of the Court cards do not express trial, but order.

We might look at it this way:

Minor Arcana: 

Numbered Arcana from Ace through Ten…

Descent to

Human Arcana from Knave through King

Major Arcana: 

Human Arcana from One (Magician) through Ten (Wheel)…

Descent to

Worldly Arcana from Ten (Wheel) through Twenty-Two (World)

Here we can see that the Numbered Arcana represent the most rarified, spiritualized archetypes. They are cold, but not a trial or a danger of any kind. Here the polarities are still completely fused and married together, neither of them operating as a shadow. They remain in a fullness of expression due to their completely spiritual (i.e. geometric/numerical) expression. 

Then there is a descent to human arcana, the Court cards. Here life is breathed into these archetypes. They take on warmth and personality. This is the starting point of the Major Arcana:  human archetypes, archetypes of being. 

Then in the Major Arcana there is a descent from these archetypes of human personality to archetypes of the Cosmic Drama, of the world trial of death and resurrection, fall and reintegration. There is a kind of reflection in the “worldly arcana” of what came before in the “numbered arcana,” in that there is something dynamic and lively. Yet at the same time, they are polar opposites. There is always trouble in the “worldly arcana” vs the impossibility of trouble in the “numbered arcana.” The dynamic nature of them makes them confusing, nothing is clear, discernment must be highly developed to navigate them. They are more explosive than cold.

Right now in the Camphill Academy Joel is studying some lectures from 1920 called “Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms.” (https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19200828p01.html and https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19200829p01.html). Here Steiner speaks of a realm of spirit that exists beyond the threshold of the senses. He calls it a cold realm that keeps the physical world from exploding, expanding into all directions. It operates a centripetal force on the physical universe. Related to the 12 senses and 12 realms of the zodiac, the Angelic Hierarchies (realm of the Father). We could think of this in relation to the Numbered Arcana.

Then he speaks of a different realm, a realm that lives below the threshold of our memories and the mirror of our etheric body. This is a realm of the explosive power of the will, which forms not our senses, but our limbs and our organs. So there is a centripetal vs centrifugal force operating all the time. We could think of this centrifugal realm as the realm of the Mother, and bring it into relation with the elemental beings and the fallen/subearthly spheres. This realm would be related to the “worldly Arcana” we have laid out above.

But in between, Steiner speaks of a purely human realm, the realm of human culture and morality on Earth—and this belongs to the realm of the circulatory and respiratory systems in the human being. The beat of heart and lung. And it is through human activity that the other two realms are able to meet and interact with each other. We bring warmth and life into the cold regions above, and form and light into the explosive regions below. This realm would be related to the “human arcana” or “archetypes of personality” that we have laid out above.

– Looking again at the Major Arcana:  is there another set of Ten after the Wheel of Fortune? If we think of the Ten, the Wheel of Fortune as a kind of gap or jump, in that it stands alone, it creates a kind of jump in the numbering and grouping of the Arcana as a whole. Our spread:

There are very striking polarities here. For example, Pope vs Devil. When we look at the whole spread, and the manifold expressions of polarity here, it becomes much more dynamic and deeper than simply “fallen vs un-fallen” and their co-mingling. It’s more like a shining, pure example of an archetype above (1-9), in contrast to an extreme example, or warning, of how it can manifest below (11-19). 

A lot of them, however, are very much polar opposites:  Hermit vs Sun. Here we have the lonely old Hermit venturing into the darkness, vs the happy meeting of two youths under the full light of the Sun.

Chariot vs Star:  the Chariot is the absolute masculine archetype, of mastering the animal nature through self-mastery. Rising above. The Star is the absolute feminine archetype, not of mastering but of entering into, interpenetrating the force of life in the world and achieving a mutual transformation. Gentle, not forceful.

Maybe a somewhat different spread would be:

The Fool starts us out at Zero, entering onto the path through the human arcana. Then the Wheel of Fortune (0+10) takes us into a new realm of struggle. Then the Judgement (10+10) takes us out of the realm of struggle, into The World, she who is a summary of all that has come before, and all that comes after—in other words, we come to the Minor Arcana.

Something analogous to this only happens from suit to suit in the Minor Arcana. Never within one suit. It is a more discreet exploration of each of the four planes (four suits), and not how they mutually interact/affect one another (Major Arcana).

And that is a very visible representation/explanation of one of the key differences between the Major and Minor Arcana. Whereas the archetypes of the Majors bear repeating in different iterations in order to give examples and expression to hidden or potential polarities, the Minors speak out their polarities in one united, multi-vocal voice. There is no need to “pass through the Ten” in order to see Ace, Two, Three etc over again. The ten numbered arcana stand solidly as a group of Ten—completely multi-vocal to begin with. The unity, polarity, and resolution of each one is made clear in one representation.

– We’ve never looked at the Judgement in terms of the Wheel of Fortune before. Notice the similarities:  the circle of clouds around the Angel vs the circle of the Wheel. The vesica piscis of the World’s Garland is also similar. She is more like a “Wheel of Providence” in contradistinction to a Wheel of Fortune or Fate. Notice we have the Sphinx in the Wheel of Fortune vs the Four Holy Creatures of the Merkabah in The World. We come to a kind of set:

– Let’s follow this model of the “plus 10” from the Majors into the Minor Arcana, by taking the Ten of Coins as either the 31st Arcanum (Fool as Zero) or the 32nd Arcanum (Fool as 21st Arcanum):

Magician (1)—Force (11)—World (21)—10 (31)

High Priestess (2)—Hanged Man (12)—World (22)—10 (32)

Notice that no matter which way we approach, we come to the Ten via the World. At the beginning of the conversation, we noted the intersecting semi-circles that create a vesica piscis in the form made by the ten coins. We have here an echoing of the garland of the World.

It is difficult to see the connection between High Priestess and Hanged Man, but the World helps to bridge this connection. The image of Sophia in the book of Revelation chapter 12 can be seen in both the World and the Hanged Man. Crowned with Stars = Zodiacalized Will; Clothed with the Sun = Solar Thinking; Moon under her Feet = Lunar Imagination. The three aspects of the Hanged Man. So the World is like a unification of the Hanged Man and the High Priestess:  the feminine archetype of the High Priestess in the form of the Hanged Man becomes The World.

Similarly, both Magician and Force find their union in The World. 

We might see the journey from Magician to Force to World to Ten a journey into the Macrocosm:

In this spread, the Magician’s gaze is up to Force, who is floating in the air (there is no ground under her feet). He seeks the archetypal feminine as his muse. This leads to the World, the Macrocosm. Beyond the gateway of the World is the Ten.

On the other hand, we might see the journey from High Priestess to Ten a journey to Shambhala:

Here we have the Hanged Man stretching himself between the High Priestess above (Wisdom) and World (Joy) below. His will is determined by Wisdom, his eyes on on Joy. Not so bad, actually! It’s like the Hanged Man is the author or documentarian “in the field”; The World is what he is experiencing; and the High Priestess is the editor, interpreter, refiner of the material he brings back. There is a kind of transmission between him and the High Priestess. He is a mediator between High Priestess and World. 

Notice that the Ten is what lives above the World in the macrocosmic picture on the one hand, and the Ten is what lies below the sub earthly picture on the other hand. We can bring to mind the nature of the number Ten in relation to both the nine Hierarchies above as well as the nine sub earthly spheres below:  Ten, in this sense is the realm of the Father/Trinity (transcending the 9 hierarchies) and also the realm of the Mother/Trinosophia (hidden within the 9 sub earthly spheres). 

This brings us back to the Ten:  the Ten as having achieved something very close to perfect symmetry and reflection. “As Above, So Below.” There is a perfect mirroring of above and below; do the two unique, central coins arise out of differing forces from Above (the Father) and Below (the Mother)? This Arcanum achieves the Hermetic Axiom perfectly—reuniting Father and Mother.

– Comparing the Magician and The World. How have the elements transformed? The Coin he holds has become the Dancer in the center of the World. His right arm is the Angel (Aquarius). His left arm/baton is the Eagle (Scorpio). The cup on the table is the Bull. And the yellow bag on the table, from which all his implements have emerged, is the Lion (Leo). The Lion’s halo even looks like the handle on the bag. Notice that the Dancer also has the baton, but instead of a coin, she holds a cup.

– The transition from Ace to Ten. The Ace has it all, but doesn’t know whether it’s a unity or a duality. It is confused. The Ten is truly a unity and a duality. Through perfect reflection of above and below, the duality itself is the unity. The flower in the middle of the Ten doesn’t even look like it’s a plant. It looks metallic, like a medallion or badge. Made of Venetian glass—it would certainly operate as a mirror, as a reflective device. A mirror between two Fives, a Five above and a Five below.

– The Coins are to achieve multi-vocality, multi-variance in form (rather than static forms).

The Plants are to achieve stillness and reflectivity, not growth and movement. Like the waters spoken of in the letter-meditation on the High Priestess:  the waters must become completely still so that they can adequately reflect the Breath of mystical experience. The plants are like these waters that must become still, reflective mirrors. 

Looking forward to the Suit of Swords:  a Sword is like a plant that has become metal, still, reflective, cutting, discerning. Notice that throughout the numbered Sword Arcana, the Swords are chopping up plants, harvesting, stopping growth.

Looking even farther ahead to the Batons, wondering what on earth can be drawn out of these strange, woven basket-like forms….

We closed with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation in eurythmy.