Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on January 22, 2019
January 22, 2019
Ten of Coins
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of Archangel Michael through moving the Michaelic mantra in a five-pointed star.
After briefly focusing the mantra “I AM” on the brow chakra, we moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence, and the 20th Letter of the Divine Alphabet, Resh, in relation to The Judgement.
We then read from Revelation 5:9-14 and from Matthew 19:16-24 (the rich young ruler).
Briefly, a review of conversations Phillip and I had in the intervening week:
– We reflected on the meditations from Weeks 42 and 43 of the Lord’s Prayer Course:
What does the second hierarchy lack?
The second hierarchy lacks measure. Their ideal is experience of the descent into hell. Just as Christ entered hell, the realm of evil and destruction, so is this descent the ideal of the beings of this hierarchy (Exousiai, Dynameis, Kyriotetes). The most advanced spirit of this hierarchy is Yahveh, who holds the eighth sphere, the sphere of evil under his supervision. The beings of the second hierarchy lack measure of experience and also the aspect of the Persona as Son: the Sun shining at midnight. The second hierarchy lacks full measure. The ideal of the beings of the second hierarchy is the descent into hell.
What does the first hierarchy lack?
The first hierarchy lacks true number. Their ideal is the transformation of everything earthly into substance of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and the inner transformation of evil into good. Their ideal is the Resurrected One, who has overcome and transformed all in himself, all the evil that he had taken into himself. For this was the descent into hell: the taking up of evil and then transforming it into good. Not a single one may be permitted to be lost: all individualities who were present at the beginning should be there, transformed, at the end. This is the true number. The beings of the first hierarchy (Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim) lack the Persona from the aspect of the Father, that is, the transformation of evil into good. The first hierarchy lacks the work of resurrection as true number in world existence.
We related this to Phillip’s harrowing journey of the past six months, that a part of the Christ Path is a descent into hell, collecting and bearing evil and suffering that it may be transformed, resurrected. This is such a powerful expression in Week 43 of the true essence of Number, using the parable of the lost sheep. The desire of the Godhead is that nothing should be lost; that true Resurrection does not and cannot occur until each one is accounted for. This collecting of evil, bearing of suffering is tantamount to finding the lost sheep and bringing it home, as evil and suffering are nothing more nor less than sheep that have gone astray.
We might view many parables this way: the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the debtor’s prison, the burying of the talents. When the debtor is thrown into prison until “the very last penny is paid,” this may have nothing to do necessarily with retribution and punishment, or even karma. It has to do with the desire of the Godhead for each and every piece of creation to be restored to its original image and likeness. Every penny must be paid = every sheep must be found. As to the parables of the prodigal son and the burial of the talents, they take this a step further. In these two cases, we could say that what was lost (in the case of the son) or loaned (in the case of the talents) is certainly a loss/loan to begin with, until it is found (in the case of the Son) or until it is invested and returned (in the case of the talents). After their return, they are of higher value than they were prior to the loss/loan. Certainly, evil and suffering are not the intention of the Godhead, but their resolution does and will lead to a greater quantity and quality of goodness than would have been there otherwise. There is something added to the Cosmos through the Fall and through experience, guilt, etc that would not have been there without them.
We might say that God’s primary concern is with the likeness, with the obedience and safety of His children. The flip side to the likeness is the image—which is our capacity for freedom and creativity, and has (until now) remained un-fallen. The image brings about what is added, what is new in terms of the cosmos.
The Ten of Coins is an expression of Unity within and through Multiplicity. The Ten is a return to the One. The Ten is an expression of paying every penny—the sequence isn’t over until “the last penny has been paid/accounted for.”
The father of the prodigal certainly didn’t wish for him to leave. And yet that which could be there between them after this occurred, and after he chose to return, was a deeper and truer love than was there before. Whereas the older brother who did not leave, feels resentment. He has only obeyed, only feels duty, and no true love. His world is a kind of prison, or snow globe. The prodigal is a sum that has been invested (lost) and accrued value, whereas the elder son are the talents that have been buried in the field (kept safe).
In this sense, our destiny, our cosmos is both a prison and a spiral, depending on how we approach the world.
Esoteric Christianity, from this perspective, is deeply Manichaen. The transformation of evil is the core of Esoteric Christianity. Redeeming evil to transform it into a higher form of goodness. One begins to have a sense of what redemption really means.
We can have a dim sense of the loneliness and pain of the Godhead, full of love but without an object to love, without an Other there to love. The whole process of evolution is the movement from this loneliness to an unlimited accrual of love via division and separation. Reminded of Jim’s conversation with Owen Barfield—the Traditionalists only see a cycle of Unity, Division, and back to Unity. But for Barfield (and other anthroposophists, one would think), this would be a pointless operation. Instead, it is a movement from Unity to Division and then to a Unity within Multiplicity, where Love is ever increased through the propagation of many Freely Creative Monads.
Like the ovum being fertilized by the sperm. They bear within them the potential for a multiplicity of monads that are a reflection of the original “image and likeness” of the sperm and egg.
The path of Evil—“Evil bears within it the seed of its own undoing.” This was in reference to the show “Stranger Things,” where a girl who has been given heightened abilities through an MK Ultra project creates a horrible rending between worlds. All of this is brought about through the evil actions perpetrated on her by the scientists. But the very abilities she has been given through this evil leads to the undoing and destruction of both the evil experimenters as well as what has been unleashed unintentionally through their experimentation. She has become a higher form of goodness, the seed for this higher form of goodness was there at the very beginning of the evil experimentation. The Cosmos refuses, in the end, to be anything but Good.
And now, reflections on the Ten of Coins from January 22, looking at it in a certain combination:
– Noticing the negative space in the Ace of Coins. We see the white space at the top of the image, shaped like a decanter, a wide vase with an opening at the top. This is similar to the flower at the top of the Ten. As we have discovered, a great deal of the Life of the images comes from the counterspace. It is the structural piece of the life body/formative body in the Arcana.
In fact, the Ace and Ten are clearly counter-images of each other. There is an interchange of Plant and Coin. The central large Coin has become a central plant, one that is almost metallic/solid. And the four plants in the corners have become a diversity of coins, with one in each corner. The coins have come to life, movement, multiplicity.
The Coin, in becoming Plant, has condensed and ramified. The Plants, in becoming Coins, have performed a kind of “L” gesture, of unfolding, picking something up and casting it over one’s head.
– Noticing the path from Ace to Ten. In the Ace, it appeared to us that the Coin was floating above the plant realm. We could see the whole path from Ace to Ten as a descent into and interaction with this plant realm, until the aim is achieved in the Ten of Coins: here we see Two rather than One coin floating above the plant realm. A superficial division is brought about in the Two of Coins, but the true division (in the higher realm rather than the lower) can only come about in the Ten of Coins. This entire process of descent and division was to create an authentic two-foldness: to bring about the possibility of Love between equals, an equal match. Is this not the same interpretation we had of the Prodigal Son, the path from the Godhead through Evil to Loving Monads? The thirst of the lonely Godhead for a match He can Love. Dying into the lower plane to find a match in the higher plane.
This is the unfolding of the primal longing of the Ace’s coin, a search and desire for the Other. The search for the Twin: we can think here of the “Twin-Soul” spoken of in the Letter-Meditation on the Lover. What is Neighbor? The Neighbor is the one who has been with one since the beginning, the twin-soul. Page 126.
In fact, the path from Yod to He, which is: Ace—Four—Seven—Ten—Two is a perfect summary of this path. The path from Yod to He, “YH” contains the whole in miniature, just as the YH of The Magician and The High Priestess contains the whole for the Major Arcana. The path from Ace (Yod) to Ten leads to the creation of Two, which is He.
When we look at The Emperor, Death, Pope and Temperance, we can have a similar impression: that the loneliness of Hermeticism, when done correctly (as instructed in the Letter-Meditation on Temperance) is never alone even when alone, due to “choral thinking,” with the whole dispersed community of Hermeticists, living and dead, and one’s Angel.
Certainly we can see this progression as a macrocosmic one, in terms of the pre-Genesis state of the Godhead leading through the Creation of the Cosmos. But we can also look at this in terms of a path of development: the movement from “I Think” to “It Thinks.” Making a space within my soul for more than my own ego to be present, for the thoughts of another—the Cosmic Thoughts—to be able to come to life. This is the essence of Choral Thinking: two selves, in parallel existence, united in essence. “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” This takes us back to the essence of the Coins transitioning to the Swords. It’s time to pay up, make a space, cut something out to make room for revelation.
– Note as well that the movement from Ace to Ten is a movement from World to Judgement.
– We then did something that we hadn’t done before. In transcribing the notes from January 15, Joel had the experience of “taking notes on the notes,” of being immersed in the conversation again and having new/additional insights arise:
First of all noting the mutable pattern that lays within the seemingly static arraignment of ten coins:
First we have an arrangement like the Five of Coins. This is then doubled:
But then we can “move” this formation within ourselves to become a process of interpenetration. First a triangle above and below, with a square in the center:
The next stage of the process of interpenetration is to have a hexagram in the center of a box:
Finally, the two unite completely by becoming an intersection of semi-circles, forming a vesica piscis.
It is a movement from a reflection of the above in the below (two fives) to a true intersection, a “meeting of the match” (intersecting semi-circles, embracing).
Or is this process better viewed the other way around…?
– Next, Joel saw that the two red flowers in the Eight of Coins have become the two “floating” coins in the Ten of Coins. The Coin has become the plant (the central plant), and the plant has become coin (the floating coins). The Ace of Coins has poured out its qualities into the plant realm in order to help it achieve that which it cannot do on its own (stability, concentration). The plant then pours out its qualities into the coin for the same reason (to multiply and change). The exchange occurs so that the mutual intention can come about, but actually they have in the process transformed completely into each other, and therefore achieved the other’s goal. The goals have been achieved, but one has accomplished the other’s goal, not their own. Truly dying into the other, sacrificing one’s own intention that it may come about through another. This is the fundamental social law presented in a different and visible form: The well-being of an entire group of individuals who work together is the greater, the less individuals claim the income resulting from their own accomplishments for themselves, that is, the more they contribute this income to their fellow workers and the more their own needs are met not through their own efforts but through the efforts of others.
This is something more dynamic than socialism, much less simplistic. An altruistic capitalism? This is realized to some degree in the Camphill Model. Separation of work and income as much as possible.
This is something indicated in Steiner’s lectures from 1920, “Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms.” In lecture 11 (https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19200829p01.html), he more or less lays out that economic life can only take on healthy forms when it arises associatively, i.e. through groups rather than individuals—but this is not enough. These groups of individuals must be composed of initiates, they must be guided by initiation science. The last time such a group existed was the Knights Templar. In their absence, there are still initiates guiding the economic/financial realm—but they are dark initiates, black magical circles. It is not a question of “where will we find initiates to guide the economic life?”—it is a question of where and whether Christian initiates can take their rightful place as guides after 700 years of increasing black magical brotherhoods steering the ship.
Going back to this exchange, this sacrifice of one so that the other may accomplish its goal: in the simplest terms, this is the path from Seed to Fruit. The Seed sacrifices itself so that a tree may develop. The Tree puts a stop on its own development so that Fruit develops, which contains a multiplicity of seed. In the analogy “Seed is to Tree as Tree is to Fruit,” Seed and Tree have exchanged their fundamental position.
– Going back to the Prodigal Son from our conversation earlier in the week. The whole issue here is a “true match” vs “mere reflection.” The elder son who remains at home is a “mere reflection.” He has unquestioningly obeyed the father, reflected him. But something new is there in the son who left and returned. Something that draws recognition from the father, a new level of love, respect, and intimacy.
Akin to Joel’s path with his own father. Coming to the point of consciously discussing: you and I have a threefold relationship. You are my master, my servant, and my peer simultaneously, one more than the other at different points in time. And this is true to some degree for every other human we come into contact with. Our relationships are multivalent and dynamic, not fixed and static. But this has particularly showed itself between Joel and his father. Joel had to become prodigal, to leave, to fail, and return in order to have the level of respect and intimacy with his father that he has now.
For Phillip it has something to do with the creation of boundaries. A temporary rejection of his mother. Then voluntarily returning. There is an opportunity in this leaving and returning to slough off all that is habitual, especially in a negative sense. Even a positive habit has a negative aspect to it, it hasn’t developed into something done for its own purpose, out of love. The drive of conscience, not to have more per se, but to have everything more purely, more authentically.
– We are the Coin, and the Arcana are the Plant. Each of these cards doesn’t seem to have a name, or a single-word summary (as the Major Arcana seem to). One has to enter into the plant and be digested by it as it uses your own experience and history to reveal itself. In describing to one of his clients this study group, Phillip realized the aspect of learning the language of symbol is such a big part of the process. Non-verbal speaking. It’s an offering of experience and knowledge, and then something personal is offered in return, in regards to a particular, specific set of imagery. Perhaps something moral is offered in return? There is a fundamentally moral quality, in that it is foundationally/cohesively/comprehensively real—a narrative form that contextualizes. The Arcanum is brought to life through our inner content, and then we are brought to life in return by the inner content of the Arcanum.
– The movement from the analytical method of seeking for the “how” of things, the relationships between things, to the intuitive method of seeking for the “what” of things, experiencing what each thing is in and of itself.
– Steiner has stated repeatedly that the difference between the physical and the spiritual world is that in the physical world, we perceive objects around us and we are the subject. In the spiritual world, it is the opposite: we are the object, observed by many subjects, i.e. spiritual beings. We are the object of perception. That is what this offering of our knowledge and experience is akin to: letting the Arcanum “observe” what we have to offer, and through this observing, we come to a higher knowledge, a moral content.
– This phrase “we are the Coins” makes one think of the movement from Ace (one coin floating) to the Ten (two coins floating). That in the process of these conversations, we make a concrete exchange with each other and the spiritual world. So at the beginning of the conversation, I am just me. But by the end, I have become Joel, Phillip, the Arcana. I have become more than one.
In this sense, we could see the Ace of Coins as the expression of the (egotistical) scientific method, in which one comes with a preformed conclusion (hypothesis) that one wishes to prove—and therefore manipulates the data and process as much as possible to “prove” this pre-formed conclusion. The Ace coin is huge—it pushes all else away to take up all the space. No room for anyone/anything else. In fact, in this same lecture series, Steiner refers to statistics as the first (meager) expression of social or group thinking as opposed to individual thinking. But he warns that statistics should only be handled by groups rather than individuals. They cannot be handled correctly by individuals. And we see this with scientific studies that set out to prove this or that based on “statistics,” data which can be manipulated to fit the pre-formed, sometimes unconscious desire of the individual using them.
The gesture of our conversations together is the word “Hm.” Often Joel and Phillip see something totally contrary in the Arcanum. But we do not set out to have an argument about it, or look it up to see what is the traditional interpretation. We say “hm.” We let the contrary opinion of the other shine within us, we give it room within us. And over the course of the conversation, more often than not, we find that our apparently contradictory views can find their way to live together and bring about a much more holistic and nuanced picture of what we’re dealing with. In the sharing of our experiences, we either experience a shining of new light, an enhancement of our own point of view, or a contradiction which challenges it and ultimately forces it to become more nuanced and complete. All is brought into cohesion, however, only through the symbolic content which bears multiple meanings and images within itself. On the other hand, all is brought into cohesion through our ability to make a space within ourselves, to second guess our own opinion and give due credence to the opinion of the other. No fusion would take place without this inner gesture, without the ability to say “hm.” By not responding with what I “know” to be right immediately, by bearing a crisis, a conflict of perspective until it is resolved—only then can the Arcana work effectively.
Symbols make the space for that type of activity, because there is no “right” answer or interpretation of the Arcana, and no pressure for there to be.
Maybe this is how this is a schooling? Finding a way to have this kind of fluid, respectful conversation that contains disagreement as a crucial aspect of it in the gentle context of symbols. It is a practice for trying to do the same thing in the “real world,” where conflicts are a bit more extreme and “need” to have a decision come out of them. How do we bring this out of the “school house,” and into practice?
A big part of this is: it takes two to tango. Attempting to bring this type of conversation to someone who doesn’t make any inner space for the other is an exercise in futility.
It’s really, really good to become conscious of and recognize the effort that it takes in order to have a hermetic conversation. Joel took that for granted. He assumed that the Arcana just did their magic, and anybody would be able to join into the conversation. But it is not just a matter of grace from the Arcana, our effort needs to be there too, and that effort consists in making the space, second guessing oneself, and being receptive to what one disagrees with.
It’s good to be objective and really be able to outline the process that we’re working with, rather than expecting this to be some kind of magic trick that just anyone could do.
– Thinking of the Second Coming. Maybe the advent of the Second Coming is creating a space in which these symbols can begin to function in a previously unknown way. Maybe the Etheric Body of Christian Rosenkreuz (Christ’s Ether Body) created a space/milieu where these images can begin to speak—but it has up until now only been a latent possibility, not actualized.
On the other hand, the openness of souls to offer up, to share, to create the space. This certainly didn’t exist 600 years ago, but even the prior generation wasn’t ready for this level of sharing and intimacy. Only just now, at this moment in history, do we have these two factors coinciding: on a spiritual level, the Etheric Body of Christ/Rosenkreuz activating a latent possibility in the Arcana themselves; and the incarnation of souls who are ripe for this kind of gentle confrontation.
Thinking of Tomberg himself, who was ready in the 1960’s—but he was alone! He was the Ace of Coins. Through authoring the Meditations on the Tarot, he dies into another sphere (plant sphere). This lays the foundation—Two through Nine—so that now, more than one can rise into the plane of this activity of Hermetic interaction.
It makes one think of the limits of Anthroposophy. There is no space for sharing in this way. Too rigid, conceptual, and complete. Even had Tomberg lived out his so-called “appointed destiny” and become the President of the GAS after Steiner’s death—well, the world can’t and shouldn’t become “anthroposophical,” at least not in that narrow sense.
We can think of Tomberg in Anthroposophy as the Ace of Coins. In a vast, higher language, but one that has no room in it. The Coin dies into a “lower” sphere, the language of Catholic Hermeticism. This is a more universal/broader language to lay a foundation to rise again. It’s possible that Tomberg was aware of this limitation of Anthroposophy, and found just the way to address it. Even Steiner may have been aware of this fundamental limitation? But that wasn’t his task—his was to begin something, not finish it.
It makes one think of what Tomberg writes in Lazarus, Come Forth! That Steiner created the Truth and the Way, but without Life—and that Steiner knew Anthroposophy had no Life, that Life would be breathed into it by the Maitreya.
With Anthroposophy, we have the movement from Concept first, then spiritual experience is meant to arise out of this. But the concepts have the effect of imprisoning the consciousness, individuals can’t rise from concept to experience. The symbol has the gentle effect of bringing experience—in a “safe” setting—first, and then the concept only comes afterwards. Therefore, we can see Meditations on the Tarot as an exercise in “thinking in experiences” rather than “thinking in concepts.”
Tomberg does still shower praise on Rudolf Steiner (if not Anthroposophy) up to the end of his life, particularly Steiner’s Christological work, his work on the Hierarchies and cosmic evolution, and the inner path as laid out in, eg How to Know Higher Worlds. But the many practical initiatives arising out of Anthroposophy he more or less is silent about.
Going back to the “notes on the notes”:
– We made much of the sequence of evens in the Minor Arcana (Two, Four, Six, Eight and Ten). What about the sequence of evens starting even from the Majors? Might we find a significant contrast between the even and odd Major Arcana?
– Looking again at this image of
Number (Numbered Minors)
Human (Court Minors/first 9 Majors)
World Events (last 13 Majors)
Realizing that with “Number” we’re dealing with the Starry Heavens; with “Human” we’re dealing with the Sun/Planets; and with “World Events” we’re dealing with Moon/Earth/Subnature. And that the realm of “Number” rules the “World Events” via the “Human Being.” When it comes to the realm of “World Event,” we might not want to equate “sub nature” with “evil” per se—just enmeshed, fallen, withdrawn. The unfallen (number) can become evil in that it can remain cold (like the elder brother), whereas that which is fallen has the potential to find Love (like the prodigal) and become something totally unique.
Here at the time of the Second Coming, perhaps we are beginning to realize that “fallen” doesn’t necessarily mean Evil. Fallen can also mean a sacrifice, descending willingly into the depths in order to protect and sustain the Mother in the face of that which is both fallen and evil.
In fact, here we return to a sequence of images from last time’s conversation:
Here we have the Hanged Man as that which is Fallen, but not Evil. He is protecting the Mother (the World) at the behest of Mary-Sophia/the Hierarchies (the High Priestess). One adaptation Joel thought to make to our work with 1 (Magician), 11 (Force), and 21 (The World) vs 2 (High Priestess), 12 (Hanged Man), 22 (The World) in conjunction with the Ten of Coins is this:
Here we see the Magician working on the earthly plane, looking up to Force, who is his muse in the spiritual world. Above her are the Hierarchies, represented by The World, and behind them is the Holy Father (the Decad). On the same plane as Force is the High Priestess, who is guiding/the muse of the Hanged Man, who also works on the earthly plane, like the Magician. Below him is The World, representing the Elemental Kingdoms, and below her, the Holy Mother (Decad). If we were to imagine this properly, the two ends (Tens of Coins) would reconnect in the realm of eternity.
– Another adaptation: We made note of the following:
And that under this scheme, Wheel of Fortune, Judgement and World take on a special significance, in that they stand alone. But really, this scheme should begin with the “Zero” arcanum, The Fool. The Fool should stand alone at the very beginning: He wanders through the first 9 arcana, collecting qualities as he develops. Then with Wheel of Fortune, he is thrown into the blender, the cyclone of world events and drama, which he travels from 11-19. Then in the Judgement he is resurrected into the ultimate state of being, The World.
– Looking forward: notice that the Knave has only two coins. He exists only in the upper plane, that’s why the other coins have disappeared.