Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on June 12, 2018
Tarot Conversation June 12, 2018
Phillip, Joel and Kelly were present [Edit January 2021—for all of the conversations from The Star in October through this conversation, only Phillip and Joel were present for the conversation. Kelly was visiting from out of town and welcomed our invitation to experience a Hermetic Conversation. It was great to have a guest!]
We began with the protective practice.
We then invoked the presence of the Heavenly Father to guide our conversation, as tonight was a “gap day” between lunar months. We did so through reading the first stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.
We then focused on the brow chakra with the mantra “I AM,” and moved the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence.
We then read Revelation 2:1-5 and Matthew 5:1-12 (The Beatitudes).
Reflections on the Marseilles Three of Coins, with The Sun and the Sola Busca Three of Coins:
– Notice that with the Ace of Coins, the inner flower is surrounded by 16 points = Mars/Red Pillar. Then in the Two of Coins, the inner flower is surrounded by 10 waves = Mercury/Blue Pillar. In the Three of Coins, the inner flower is surrounded by 12 bumps, in between point and wave = Sun, central pillar. These are simpler coins, with more elaborate plants vs the Ace and Two.
– There were four plants in the Ace of Coins, then two in the Two of Coins, now we have returned to four plants. But these four are very different from those in the Ace. First of all, there is a clear differentiation of Above from Below, unlike the Ace of Coins which is symmetrical.
The central bud of each flower is still red, but rather than a yellow sheath surrounding it as in Ace and Two, it is now a blue sheath. The emphasis and amount of the blue in the image has shifted from Ace to Two to Three. In Ace, the amount of blue is balanced, and all on the stem. Then in Two the blue seems to predominate overall, but is centered on the ribbon/banner. Now the blue is patchy at best. A lot more white.
Green was entirely absent in the Ace of Coins. In Two it appeared along the edge of the coin. Now green finally makes an appearance on a plant.
– Looking at the 19th Arcanum, The Sun, we see not 12 rays around the Sun (as it is in the Three), but 16 (as in the Ace). Between the two lowers coins in the Three, two plants are meeting. In The Sun, there is nothing visible between the two youths.
For the first time, the coins are distinct from touching the plants, and we actually see the point of origin/contact of the plants (the small white dot between the lower two coins).
The Ace is outside of the plants. The Two is within the plants. With Three, the upper coin is held within the plants, embraced by a heart-form, and the lower two coins are outside of the plants. There are two very different gestures/qualities of the two pairs of plants (upper and lower). The pair of plants below are more akin to the plants in the Ace. The upper are a bit more like the plants in the Two of Coins in that they are large, but overall their gesture is new. A new form has been added to the stem of the plant: a kind of S-spiral or fiddlehead shape.
There are many minor differences between the upper and lower plants, actually. For example, the red buds are shaded above and are decorated below.
– The Sun has 16 rays, relating it to the Ace of Coins. What about the smaller lines around it? Maybe there are 60, relating it to the Two of Coins as well? A synthesis of Ace and Two?
There is a lack of symmetry in the Sun that is bothersome in a way, intriguing. Actually, all of the colors are a-symmetrical, creating different gestures/shapes (e.g. 5-pointed stars, a yellow arrow that is akin to the Angel’s from the Lover, etc.). But the variation between straight and curved is symmetrical (every-other). The Sun is a blend of form (symmetry) and life (color, variety).
– The simpler coins in the Three seem somehow less vulnerable. The complex, busy coins in the Two are more vulnerable, exposed. They are protected by the banner.
– The movement from Ace to Two to Three is like a gestation process. Now the coins are ready to be born, to be exposed and less protected. From the Three on, they are more or less the same, they retain this simpler form. They even become extra-simplified in the court cards. On the other hand, the plant forms become more intricate and central to the imagery of the cards as we go along (until the court cards).
– In the Two, what is the nature of the plant growing out of the blue banner? A protection for the coins, a womb; a process of gestation is going on. This blue banner is like a watery, nurturing force, a river of life.
– Recapping the complicated gematria (numerology) of the Minor Arcana. The Two of Coins is a continuation of the Arcana of Sexternary (6/Lover, 15/Devil), the Arcana of Quinternary (5/Pope, 14/Temperance), and the Arcana of Duality (2/High Priestess, 11/Force, and 20/The Judgement).
In terms of its Twoness, its expression of Duality, the Two of Coins captures and crystalizes all that is expressed in the High Priestess, Force, and Judgement. What is operating in a purely spiritual/archetypal sphere (gnosis reflecting mystical experience) in the High Priestess, and is operating in the interaction of the human/spiritual with the animal/instinctual in Force, and is operating in the realm of Life and Death in the Judgement, is expressed in its purity in the Two of Coins. We could place this activity into the mantra “The Life becomes Word, the Word becomes Life.” The High Priestess writes the the Book of Life from her inner reflection (gnosis). Force tames the beast with the Pure word. The youth is raised from the dead with the trumpet blast (the condensed word/tone of the akasha). The banner in the Two of Coins is showing us the process of “The Word becomes Life,” the images and words imprinted on the banner are the Word, and as it unfurls, the plant (life) comes into being.
Just as the High Priestess reflects in consciousness the primal mystical experience of The Magician, the Two of Coins has this quality of reflection (two identical coins, above and below).
There is a lemniscatory gesture that moves through all of the Arcana of Duality. The hat of Force, the clouds of the Judgement. The lemniscate is more discreet in the High Priestess: the yellow stole on her chest is the center of it, the book is the bottom and the veil is the top.
What is the nature of the large yellow clasp across her neck? It almost looks as though her head is severed. In fact, the same can be said of the Pope, as though he is holding his head up on his staff. Of course, these are not “literal” or explicit features of the Arcana, but they are aspects shown to us by the opening of our imagination, of a more phenomenological way of seeing. Not assuming that something “normal” is being expressed in the image, but what it actually looks like if seen from a certain angle. For example, looked at from a certain perspective, it appears as though the blue part of the Pope’s robes is a gateway into the “realm of the night”, to a desert at night or to the sea. He is the door for the acolytes to the realm of depth.
Interesting that both the High Priestess and the Pope have their heads severed, separated from what is below them. They have a poverty of spirit, their heads remain the property of the spiritual world rather than of their lower nature.
– Speaking of a Gateway to the Depths…we could go back to the verse at the beginning of the letter-meditation on The World. “When he drew a circle on the face of the deep…” We can think of the Mother gazing into the face of the deep by the Father’s side, something akin to the image of the Pope. This verse also calls to mind the etymological root of the word “coin” which is related to corner or wedge. It referred to the process of imprinting, of stamping a piece of metal with an image.
– The Ace as a seed that contains an undifferentiated duality. Both the Sun and the Flower images are on the coin, and both a Sun-nature and Flower-nature exist within a seed—but as yet undifferentiated, superimposed.
Next to this large Coin in the Ace, we see the four plants. The Coin as the Father drawing a circle on the face of the deep, and the plants as the Mother “at work beside him.” The ambiguity of the relationship of the plants to the coin. Are they really separate? Only inasmuch as roots are separate from a seed.
– It is very interesting that in the Three of Coins, the two aspects of plant and coin are actually, finally separate from each other, but a bond is invisibly created in the vicinity of the point in the midst of the S forms. They are still connected, but only in terms of interaction, not literally/physically. A more independent type of relationship.
It’s a bit like cell division. Only one cell in the Ace, in the Two it is in the midst of dividing, and in Three the division has actually taken place—but like cells, there is still an interaction occurring between the independent units.
It’s a connection that doesn’t have to hold fast anymore, because it has already made its imprint on the various pieces. They know what to do, they know their place and movement.
– On second glance at The Sun, there is a connection between the two youths, akin to the white point of origin in the Three of Coins. Look at the blue drop that is between their heads. If one were to transpose the Sun and this blue drop a bit lower, you might have an image more like the Three of Coins. Another difference, though, is that the two youths face each other in the Sun, whereas the Coins do not.
– With the realm of Coin, we are in the realm of exchange. Concepts, ideas can be exchanged, like the two youths may be doing. The question is one of value. Is the Three of Coins of more (conceptual/spiritual) value than the Two of Coins? Since Three is more than Two? Is it because the coins in the Two aren’t quite ready yet, aren’t actually finished being minted?
If Coin = concepts, facts, does that mean as we move up the numbered cards we are gaining more concepts and facts, and hence more value to be exchanged in the realm of Swords and Cups for direct spiritual experience? Is the King of Coins very rich? Does he have a lot of collateral?
This is a bit like asking if the Hermit is more powerful/worth more than the Magician (9 vs 1). The answer might be yes if we treat the Tarot just as a game of cards (like traditional playing cards, which derive from the Minor Arcana).
But we are not looking only at quantitative value with spiritual currency, but qualitative value. Each number is its own quality, not an accumulation of the value of One. In this sense, any number could be worth more than another depending on what is needed/offered from the spiritual world. One can only exchange “Two of Coins” to receive a particular spiritual reality; two “Aces of Coins” don’t mean the same thing qualitatively.
In this case, the Two seems to be of higher qualitative value than the Three. It has a higher aesthetic value, a higher degree of movement and beauty (according to Kelly).
For Phillip, the Ace of Coins has the highest qualitative value. It is the Sun, it is Gold itself, the Gold of gold, the Coin of coin. Like the Magician for the Majors, it is the Archetype of archetypes when it comes to Coin/Spiritual exchange. It sets the standard, and displays the whole process of the Suit of Coins in itself. It is a multi-faceted meta-object. It is Seed and Coin, mundane and magical.
It is something that can engender infinitely.
– Recapping our description of the 22 Paths of the Major Arcana as a comprehensive description of evolution, of the unfolding of eternity in time. Whereas the 56 Minor Arcana are the 10 Sephiroth, the 10 Names of God, 10 Expressions of Eternity, operating in the 4 planes of existence. They are more related to the Eternal as such and not the eternal as it unfolds in time, in metamorphosis.
The 10 numbered Coins are the Names of God (Flashes of Eternity) in the Plane of Action (human realm, human activity and history); the 4 Court Coins are the expressions of the four planes in the Plane of Action.
The 10 numbered Swords are the Names of God in the Plane of Formation (realm of the creation of Nature, evolution, cosmogenesis); the 4 Court Swords are the expressions of the four planes in the Plane of Formation.
The 10 numbered Cups are the Names of God in the Plane of Creation (realm of archetypes, spiritual plans for the material worlds); the 4 Court Cups are the expressions of the four planes in the Plane of Creation.
The 10 numbered Wands/Batons are the Names of God in the Plane of Emanation (realm of pure spiritual outpouring, undifferentiated Love); the 4 Court Wands are the expressions of the four planes in the Plane of Emanation.
These 10 names and 4 planes are more or less static, like constellations of stars (eternity). The 22 paths allow movement amongst these fixed places, like planets (time).
What of Da’ath, the 11th Sephiroth? In occult literature, it is understood to be the “stone that fell from heaven.” Malkuth, the Kingdom, is fallen Da’ath. At the end of time, at the re-integration, Da’ath will once again rise to its proper realm (reunite with the Realm of Emanation). Da’ath is Adam Kadmon, and Malkuth is the fallen (incarnated) Adam/Man.
– It is more difficult than one would think to see a metamorphosis from one Coin card to another (due to this static/eternal nature of them). From Ace to Two, has the blue sucked in some of the substance of the yellow?
Recapping our realization about the change of perspective from Ace to Two: with the Ace we are seeing something from the bird’s eye view, from above. With the Two, we are seeing the same figure, only from the side. Different aspects of it, therefore, are occluded and revealed vs in the Ace. Only with both can we conceptualize/picture the whole thing. This becomes a real schooling in thinking in pictures.
One could also see the transition from Ace to Two as a folding over of the plants, the upper right to the left, and the lower left to the right. Due to this process, the coin becomes spit in two. But even in this case, how does the coin become two?
– There is a dominate, lush leaf on each plant in the Two of Coins. This is unusual vs the Ace and Three, in which the focus is much more on the bud. Why is it like this?
– Thinking of quantum states as an analogy for the movement from one Coin to the next. Changes of quantum state (movements of electrons from one sphere to another around the atom) are instantaneous. There are no transitions, just sudden changes in vibrational state. The electron simply disappears in one sphere and simultaneously reappears in another. This brings out the qualities of pulsing, flashes that we have felt from the Coins already. Realizing that quanta = possibilities. Coins are also possibilities, they are potentialities that can then be exchanged for “real” things.
The nature of the Resurrection Body is also like these electrons/quanta. It does not transition from place to place. It suddenly appears, in a room, on a beach. A change in vibrational state: the moment of trembling (earthquake) before a major shift (resurrection).
– Going back to the Three of Coins: the two coins below seem to be supporting the one coin above. The one above seems to be held in place or floating. The two below are forces, moving toward each other. This is the opposite of the gesture of The Sun, in which the Sun seems to be sending forces down, is the active piece, to the more receptive youths. The Sun is the force keeping the youths together, in place. If this image had continued the gesture of the Two of Coins, there could have been just a symmetry, with the bottom two reflecting in an upper two, the same form above and below. Instead, the combination of the forces of the two below brought about the possibility for the third to arise above.
We had been approaching the Minor Arcana as a movement through Yod He Shin Vau He. But this quality of the third, of something new emerging from the mutual activity of two, the child being born of the parents, is much more in the realm of Vau, of Sacred Magic. Yod = Father, He = Mother, Vau = Child.
On the other hand, Shin represents the creation of something totally new. Shin is the Fire of Love, the Personality united with Christ. The culmination of the Trinity in the God-Man, the Divine Personality. It has a connection to both.
Looking more specifically at the progression from Yod = Father to He = Mother to Vau = Child, it reminds us of what we discovered during our time with the Major Arcana:
Magician = Yod = Conception
High Priestess = He = Gestation
Sacred Magic = Vau = Birth
These three are in the very nature of 1, 2, 3.
We enter into a bit of a mini-conversation around The Magician. Kelly is noticing things, asking questions about the very same things that we noticed in our conversations two years ago. The Arcana really do guide the questioning and hence the conversation of the dedicated observer. Questions, in this case, around the blade of grass between his legs. The similarity between this blade of grass and the sheath of the knife, which is exactly where his generative organs would be. A strong implication of the life-force emanating from the Mother below (root chakra).
We then described to Kelly the path that our conversations took, observing the movement of ball and line/scepter throughout the Arcana. The Magician is conception = line (male) and ball (female) are in two different hands, approaching one another. With the High Priestess they have united in the clasp at her throat (horizontal, within her). Then in the Empress the ball has become the top of the scepter, but the base of the scepter points to the same place that the ball was in the Magician. The relationship between line (male) and ball (female) represents to us the process of conception, gestation, birth.
We then describe what we ultimately discovered: that the path of the human being from conception to midnight hour is shown in the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana, counterintuitively, don’t lend too well to seeing how one metamorphoses into another. They are eternal, self-contained. On the other hand, the Major Arcana, equally counter-intuitively, lend themselves very well to seeing a path of development, of metamorphosis: the development of the human being emerges quite naturally.
We are then brought to the Midnight Hour in the Ace of Coins. Here we have the Higher Self having ascended all the way to the realm of the Father, and the Resurrection Body having descended all the way to the realm of the Mother. At this point, the decision is made to make the descent from above and ascent from below, the path back to incarnation. This brings us back to quantum physics: there occurs occasionally two particles that exist in two separate places in space, but if one of them is altered, the other is as well. They have an “essential” unity, if not substantial unity. This is like the relationship between the two parts of us at the Midnight Hour, one with the Father and one with the Mother. They are separated substantially, but essentially united. One gets the picture of a kind of celestial electrical tension between the two poles of Father above and Mother below, bringing about the new life.
– With the Ace, we see this expressed in the “undifferentiated duality,” where Sun and Flower are one within the coin. It is a seed. Describing our discovery of the inner nature of the seed through conversation, then having it confirmed by external research: that within the apparent unity of a seed (the shell), there are two parts that sit by side but don’t interact until activated by the outer environment: a germinal plant and food (like yolk and white in an egg). This is the “undifferentiated duality.” This duality can only become a proper polarity, with a relationship flowing between the two poles (as in the Two of Coins) by the influence of external environment. This is expressed by the four emerging plants in the Ace of Coins: the Four Elements (Earth, Water, Air, and Fire). Sophia is related to these four elements. It is what she brings to the Father seed that allows growth and development to begin. This expresses the earthly, sacrificial aspect of Sophia: she sacrifices her being, her substance, that the plant can grow.
The Ace is like the Acorn and the Oak Tree: co-inherence, each is within the other.
The Two is orienting along the horizon (where above and below meet). The great importance of the horizon, as it is the aspect of one’s birth that determines the Ascendent (and Midheaven, Houses). It is really the most earthly aspect of the chart, but is chosen at the Midnight Hour.
– This biographical/developmental aspect of the Arcana might not be immediately clear to everybody. This is simply what was obvious to Joel due to his background as Social Therapist: so much of his work revolves around studying human biography from an anthroposophical perspective. But the Arcana will draw out of each person that which resonates with them from that person’s life. That is their magical power, their life. They will take the personal element in someone and elevate it to a trans-subjective sphere. The content of the conversation need not be strictly “Hermetic” (in the sense of 19th century France and England) nor Anthroposophic nor Catholic, etc. It is a meeting place between what lives in one’s heart as spiritual biography and what lives in the Arcana as spiritual reality.
This is because the Tarot are a living being: they are the Tree of Life. They can never be a fixed or limited system, can never be objective or subjective: they can only draw us into the trans-subjective. The Tarot are The Word: within them is Life which is the Light (consciousness) of the world.
Steiner spoke of the need for a new language into which Anthroposophy could incarnate. One doubts that the terminology of Theosophy is what he meant. It is no coincidence that the Tarot are directly related to the Hebrew language, a very magical/spiritual language. One might wonder if what he meant was the Tarot: rather than a univocal, conceptual language to express anthroposophy, a multivocal, pictorial language. When we learn to “read” and “spell” with the Tarot, as we have in our conversations, we can go very far in a very brief period of time, and we are speaking the true language of Anthroposophy.
Eurythmy is also this new language, into the very body of the human being.
On this note, from Kelly:
VT describes that the mission of Anthroposophy is two-fold. He writes:
“The tragedy of the nineteenth century consisted chiefly in the fact that two worlds – the earthly and the spiritual – confronted each other in silence: the concepts evolved by human beings on earth were mute for the spiritual world; the speech of the spiritual world, woven of ethical and spiritual tones (emphasis mine), was mute for the apprehension of earthly humanity. The spiritual world could work into the earthly world at that time, but could not speak to it. Then came RS, who created a new language, one that not only could be understood on earth in thoughts and concepts, but could also be morally heard in the spiritual world. By means of this language the gulf separating these two worlds has been bridged.”
(Studies on the Foundation Stone Meditation, VT p. 42-43)
But to continue, skipping a few lines to the next paragraph:
“Yet, this attainment is only part of the mission of spiritual science in the word. Something more must follow: there must be a gradual metamorphosis of the human word (comprising the human faculties of thought and speech). In the present age the human word is still only an imparter of thoughts and ideas. It speaks of what is good, but cannot of itself impart goodness. The change that must take place in the human word consists in thought absorbing in itself not only what is right and true, (emphasis mine) but the essential substance of the good. Then will the word be the bearer, not of meaning alone, but of meaning kindled with moral fire.”
Skipping to the end of the next paragraph:
“The moral ether will first reveal itself through human beings in the moral efficacy of the human word.”
“This will require certain drastic changes in the whole human organism, and these changes form the further mission of spiritual science to humanity. This future mission of spiritual science is expressed in the fourth verse of the Foundation Stone:
“At the turning point of time etc…..”
“O Light Divine
O Christ Sun\Warm Thou our hearts,
Enlighten Thou our heads,
That Good may become – (Good = the WORD)
What from our hearts we found
And from our heads direct
With single purpose.”
Kelly surmises that VT saw very clearly that the Anthroposophical Society would not be able to move beyond regurgitating Steiner’s teaching, and thus would not fulfill the second part of its mission. Thus VT left it behind, and was obedient to a new call: Bringing a new language into the Church in the form of MOT.
Those who REALLY GET MOT, who are able to read it out of a heart cognition, recognize that within its symbolism it is a path of initiation, and it manifests, through the human heart, the moral ether, which transforms one’s heart, and therefore, eventually, one’s Word.
– possibly this necessary metamorphosis of the human word is tied to learning to speak and think metamorphically, that is, in pictures, in Arcana? Living thinking and speaking.
We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone in eurythmy.