Three of Cups (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on January 22, 2021

January 22, 2021

Three of Cups, pt 1

 We began with the protective practice.

After focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart, we moved the 2nd part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“In purest Love for all that lives radiates the Godhood of my soul”), the 9th Letter of the Divine Alphabet (Tet, The Hermit) and the 9th part of the Grail Knight’s Practice (the 3rd Level of Trespass). 

We then read from Revelation 14:14-16

Each of us (i.e. Phillip and Joel) prepared ourselves with a somewhat different layout, but more or less focused on the first three Cups in alignment with Force, Wheel of Fortune, and The Hermit. We also brought the King of Swords into connection with Force, something we had missed in our conversations around him a few months ago.

– We never did look at the King of Swords vs Force. There is a remarkable similarity. The same face, hat, similar stance in a way. The King’s sleeves are similar to Force’s, and maybe the faces on his sleeves are some metamorphosis of the Lion, taking him into himself in a way. Or you see how the Lion is one of Force’s legs, it is united with her left leg. Like the bugs or bees that we saw in the King of Swords’ knees, they both have animals in their legs.

– Joel has been in the process of uploading all of the old notes to “The Unknown Friends” website. In going back through them, it was interesting to read through the second conversation on the Eight of Coins:

Here we came to the picture that the Suit of Coins is expressing the struggle of Saturn Evolution, the struggle of cold vs warmth, of death becoming life.

Then the Swords are expressing the struggle of Sun Evolution, the struggle of dark vs light, of life developing into sensation/animality.

Then the Cups express Moon Evolution, the struggle between silence vs sound. The development from animality into self-consciousness/ego-hood.

The Batons would then be Earth Evolution, the struggle between Good and Evil, and the development from ego-hood into Angelic consciousness. 

We set this up as a kind of abstract schema, a prediction based on the overall layout of the Coins, back in 2018. And it has turned out to be more or less true. We saw with the Swords that it was a struggle to develop into animality, sensation—with all of these animal forms appearing, yet in a kind of chaos, in the Court Swords. Whereas now we are dealing more explicitly with that animal element with the clear emergence of the fish in the Two of Cups.

At the same time, this has dovetailed so beautifully with our journey through Meditations on the Tarot in reverse. There is something of cosmic evolution, the focus on Jung, Bergson, and Chardin, in The Star through The World, the Arcana we focused on during the Coins. The mineral vs the living.

Then there is something of the struggle with the “Dark Night of the Soul” in The Hanged Man through Tower of Destruction, where our focus was during the Swords. Light vs darkness.

Now we come to The Chariot through Force as our focus during the Cups. The major theme of this sequence is Life vs Electricity, the Dove vs the Serpent—Divine Animality vs Fallen Bestiality. 

– The progression of the Court Swords—this kind of blue egg cracking, this metamorphic development. This is linked somehow to the difference between Divine Instinct vs Bestiality. The transition from Sun to Moon. On the Sun there is only Divine Animality. On the Moon, a fall, a struggle begins. This transition is germinal in the Court Swords, it’s archetypal, transcendent, spiritual. Not immanent, present, manifest. It hasn’t hardened into a Cup yet. There is no fixed form in the Swords, it’s a hodgepodge all flowing together. 

The Swords “not yet hardened into a Cup”—they are more this process of hollowing out, that is what is of significance in the Swords.

It is interesting to see this in the light of the progression from warmth to light to sound. In the Sword: Light and Plant. And in the corresponding Major Arcana, the Hanged Man is the “final plant”, all the branches cut off the tree. Then we come to Force as the “first animal.” Then the Wheel of Fortune has a very strong emphasis on the animal element. What about the Hermit? Has the animal become human here? Or is he the Shepherd. He is out at night calling the sheep in. 

Both Force and the Hermit as humans who tend to animals.

– The Hermit—his lamp is really like the Ace of Cups upside down. The same hexagonal perimeter to it. Only he’s holding the stem as the top. Maybe it really is like a cup, and his robe is pouring out of it? 

The six spokes on the Wheel of Fortune, the six sides of the lamp. The Same gesture is in the Ace of Cups.

– Sound and Silence as the struggle in the Cups/Moon Evolution. It is remarkable how much the topic of sound and silence was the focus of our conversation on the Two of Cups. These screaming dolphins, wondering whether they can hear each other, what are they screaming about? And there really is something of the theme of sound in the Cups that hadn’t really come in before. Warmth and light are there strongly as well, but sound is kind of new. Even the Ace is like a handbell, or bell towers in a city. There is something musical or resonant in the Ace. The Hermit—is he holding the bell that calls the cows or the sheep in?

Beginning the study of the Cups during Advent brought home this picture of the Coins as a transition into St John’s/Summer, then the Swords as a transition to Michaelmas/Autumn. It felt like the Cups were this transition into Christmas. St. Martin and his Lamp, St Lucia and her candled crown, the Advent wreath, the Christmas Tree, etc. But there is such a strong focus on singing during Advent and Christmas. It almost felt as though we should be beginning our conversations with songs rather than quotes or Bible passages. Like all the songs of Advent and Christmas were about the Cups and vice versa.

So a strong connection to Sound. And Force—a point of view we had never taken before: perhaps she is directing the animal to speech, teaching the Lion how to speak, or bestowing the capacity to speak. Before we’ve always thought of her as a kind of lion tamer, keeping the Lion under control or something, not bestowing a capacity. Like this was a brave, magical circus act. No—this is something creative, expressive, an educational or therapeutic act with the animal, elevating it to the next level. Giving word or tone to the animal.

The King of Swords also gives this indication of musicality. His throne has this strange mark on it that looks like musical notation. Or it could be shaped like a bird singing. The faces on his arms could be vocalising. Maybe he is holding a conductor’s baton. Or it also looks like he is unrolling a scroll, a piece of music perhaps. Like he’s about to put the roll of music into the player piano, like his throne is a player piano.

Something Joel had thought a number of times and not brought up back when we were looking at the Ace of Cups is that it looks like an ornate music box, where you wind it up and little ballerinas come out and dance on a track. The transformation of the King’s “player piano throne.”

– The King of Swords as a transitional plane—the culmination of the hollowing out process of the Swords that is a kind of destruction, yet is also this opening of a germinal space, a womb, a Vesica Piscis. Hollow, yet a creative amplification occurs in this hollow. The Egg is here, and begins a process that he brings to perfection. A natural sounding, musicality is coming from him.

This central beam of light that runs like a column vertically through the center of him, radiating out of his crown—here we have the transition where light becomes sound.

The Ace of Cups is this “light/sound” thing, light and sound as a unity. The Ace of Cups opening to the above is like a collecting of the light, if it’s perceived as a kind of city. Or a chandelier that is enclosed, containing, collecting the light. Forming it.

Analogous to the way light can be seen as either a particle or a wave—this light is also sound.

– There is something very dynamic in both the Ace and the Two—more majestic or overwhelming in its grandeur in the Ace, and something wilder, more expressive and animated in the Two. Which you see also with Force and the Wheel of Fortune. Yet then both The Hermit and the Three of Cups bring a certain peace or reflection. There’s a stillness that is brought in.

– The Three feels like the upper cup is almost being spoken to, praised or celebrated, honoured.  Like a coronation or a graduation.

The two cups from the Two of Cups…they have remained cups. The third cup came from this very strange yelling flower in the center of the Two of Cups. The two fish from the Two of Cups, who we thought would ripen or harden and fall off, also becoming cups, have instead settled down and become plants. 

It’s almost like the Two of Cups is a mirage in the desert. A wild apparition, then as you approach it becomes clear, e.g. “oh that was only a cactus, not a dragon.” The Three of Cups is like the reality that becomes clearer as you approach the wild mirage of the Two. Not as wild as you thought it was.

It’s like the red that is in the base of the Two has been drawn upwards into the Three. It feeds the roots, transforms the fish into plants. 

It draws your eye to that strange bottom portion of the plant. Is it some kind of vase? Or part of the plant?

– This bottom portion of the plant is totally original, we haven’t seen a form anything like this before, all through the Minors. Have we seen yellow in the plant forms before? There is yellow in the Two of Cups, in the upper portion. But that form was totally original as well. There is a little yellow in the Nine of Coins, and the Ace and Two of Coins a little bit. There are no comparable flower forms in the Swords. But a lot of yellow.

It almost looks like a dagger. Or a seed? It is shell-like, husk-like. Like a pumpkin or sunflower seed. There is a round part of it that hearkens back to the pearl, below the seed shape. Just above the blue part.

A bit like the base of the Seven of Coins—different forms, but the same division. 

Interesting, also in the Seven of Coins there is this gesture of upholding or harmony as in the Three of Cups.

Those kissing poppy flowers are like the two coins in the Seven of Coins? Below the central coin. And the upper leaves in the Three of Cups would be like the two upper coins in the Seven of Coins? This mimics the overall shape of the Seven of Coins somehow. 

– Joel has been trying to go back and find all the resonances in the other Suits with the three Cup Arcana we’ve investigated thus far…so hard to wrap his head around…

Playing with the Coins like so:

The Ace, Three and Six of Coins are all in the Ace of Cups 

The Two, Four and Seven of Coins are all in the Two of Cups

The Three and Seven of Coins are both in the Three of Cups

And yet both the Ace of Coins and the Ace of Swords seem to become the Two of Cups. Do One and One make Two here? Why do they go with the Two and not the Ace per se?

 We have achieved some kind of octave of the prior forms.

It feels like…

We approached the Swords as kind of interwoven between the Coins. Like the Ace of Swords happens in between the Ace and Two of Coins. 

Whereas here, it’s more like the Cups can weave amongst any of them, not just between two consecutive Arcana. Or like the Cups are the ur-Arcana from which both the Coins and Swords have precipitated out. 

It makes sense…it confirms the idea of the Cups being a part of this third world or Plane from the Kabbalistic perspective. That the Cups are above these other two realms of the Plane of Action (Coins) and Plane of Formation (Swords). And it confirms this perception of what this third world is: the realm of living archetypes. Here we find the spiritual beings and actualities that are bridged to the manifest/physical world (Coins) via the World of Formation, the demiurges (Swords). The Cups are the unfallen Archetypes, the Adam Kadmon of the Cosmos. Then the Swords are the process of evolution that takes place after the Fall in order to manifest the historical human world (Coins). We see this expressed in that the Swords do not have strong forms like the Coins and Cups do, as they are fundamentally an activity, a shaping activity that bridges the potential (Cups) and manifest (Coin) forms and/or beings.

– Does that yellow dagger look like the central part of a Fleur-de-Lis? Yes. The whole plant could be seen as a very elaborate Fleur-de-Lis. The yellow dagger form(s) in the Ace are somewhat similar, but the Three is much closer in form to an actual Fleur-de-Lis.

– Joel is remembering that in older versions of the Grimaud/Marteau Tarot of Marseilles decks, the central flower in the Four of Coins was a Fleur-de-Lis, and only later replaced with the more tulip formed flower. And that in the Two of Cups, the bottom portion was not just a block of red—it had one or several Fleur-de-Lis in it. (Note—actually, the Two of Cups was only like this in the Arnoult deck, upon which the Grimaud/Marteau deck was based. It had the same forms, but different coloration.)

Is the Fleur-de-Lis the counterpart to the Rose Cross in a way? The Rose and the Lily?

The roots sucking up the red from the Two of Cups in order to transform. They are sucking up the invisible Fleur-de-Lis and manifesting it, taking on that form. 

We are definitely in the realm of the blossom: in both the Ace and the Two of Cups, the prominent feature is the upper portion, where the blossom is or would be. The city in the Ace is the blossom. 

It’s pretty clear now that we were in the roots in the Coins. Clearly expressed in the Ace of Coins, and in the domino-connecting structure of all the Numbered Coins together. 

With the Swords, we have the chopped-off flowers. A focus on the stem, pruning. The cut occurs at the stem. Also the kind of spiralling accumulation of rings in the Swords. Like the spiral growth upwards of the stem of a plant, the spiral stairs inside of the Ace of Cups. Accumulation of layers of bark in a tree.

Whereas the Cups are a blossoming, the focus is on the blossom itself.

The Swords could also be seen as the stage of the leaf. The Vesica Piscis shape is that of a leaf. For Goethe, the leaf was the archetypal plant. Every stage of the plant (root, stem, blossom, fruit, seed) is a transformation of the basic form of the leaf. The leaf bears all within it, therefore again we come to this hodgepodge, this relative formlessness or rather a unitary form that bears all forms within it.

– Tracking the transformation of the different parts of the Two of Cups into the Three of Cups…

The red was sucked up. 

This transformed the blue, infused the blue. 

Then the many petalled red flower in the Two divides and ascends.

The yellow leaves on the two have united and descended, enlarged a bit.

The white stem has divided and ramified.

Have each of the fish divided into three parts? Their proto-ears have become big leaves; their heads/tongues have become those bulbs. They now have a totally different gesture than they did before. Gentle, romantic, beautiful…the poppies are kissing the cup.

The form and gesture of those two leaves is very similar to the Six of Coins.

The Two of Cups has this ability to link onto many different Arcana, whether its Minor Arcana or Majors like The Sun or The Judgement. This ability is due to this red block at the bottom. It is a bit like a trump card, in that it can become almost anything else, it’s a placeholder for whatever ought to be there, whatever you imagine being there. A blank slate. So we can see, for example, the Ace of Coins in the Two of Cups very easily. The top of the Two of Cups is similar to the Ace, and then the bottom can just be a placeholder for the bottom of the Ace of Coins, like a “fill in the blank.” It has no specific form, so it can take on whatever form you want it to.

So maybe the Fleur-de-Lis that were down there originally had to disappear into the red, otherwise the red might not have been able to play that role. 

The red as blood…plants don’t have blood, only animals and humans do. There is a capacity in the blood that is not there in mere sap. And what does this capacity relate to? It relates to voice, to the ability to make sound. The “full-blooded voice” from the end of the Letter-Meditation on the Empress (p 72). The cry from the heart. Sap is only life out of light. Blood makes sound out of light. 

Perhaps the Two of Cups is more of a larynx than a brow chakra. Those “yellow leaves” at the top are like the folds in the human larynx. 

The Two as expressing Sound and Light. The animal becoming a sound-creating part of nature, developing that capacity.

The white plant (Lily) disappears into the blood. The Lily = The Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The Rose = Christian Rosenkreuz, Lazarus.

Perhaps we need to expand our horizon of what etheric bodies stand behind this (i.e. other than that of Christian Rosenkreuz)? What is the interplay?

John the Baptist is Adam. Mary is Eve. Perhaps the entire primal family is present in the Tarot of Marseilles:

The resurrected etheric body of Lazarus after he was raised from the dead. 

The incorruptible etheric body of Mary after her Assumption into Heaven.

What about Magdalene/Abel and John/Adam? Have they had a fulfilment of their etheric bodies in a similar way?

Is there something in their process as archetype in a certain way? Akin to Lazarus’s raising from the dead, and Mary’s Assumption?

Perhaps for Magdalene it is related to this time period in the 4th millennium, when she will become this semi-angelic being. For Joel, this indicates that she will become a vessel somehow for the incarnation of Sophia into an etheric body around the year 3575. The incorruptible body of Abel. 

Maybe for Elijah it is his ascent in the chariot of fire? Certainly in Christ and Sophia, it is indicated that Elijah is more than just a human being. He is like a folk-soul for all of Israel, and he unites himself with the body of the Nathan Jesus in a particular way. Elijah’s previous incarnation was as Rachel—Rachel who is weeping for her children, who Tomberg brings into relation with the Shekinah, the Holy Soul in the Letter-Meditation on The Sun. The Soul of Israel.

And the fifth family member is Seth/Zarathustra. His fulfilment must have come when he sacrificed his Ego for Christ to enter into the body of the Nathan Jesus. The Baptism in the Jordan moment.

– “Everything goes according to Divine Plan.”

And then the aftermath of the election…as though the plan did not go off the way it was meant to. The course of evolution is now different. A dividing point, and it didn’t happen the way it could or ideally should have. The realisation settling in that Robert was spot on the money in his assessment of the world situation 9 months ago. The odds are stacked against things going the way they ideally could or should have. A lack of discernment in the populace combined with a lack of morality/courage in the leadership. A very dangerous combination. 

Praying Medic on Gab: “If the disciples of Jesus had invoked the 72 hours rule, they could have saved themselves a lot of disappointment.” Basically saying don’t be fooled by the appearances. This was the state the disciples were in—they had expected a material Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and rescue the Jews from tyranny. Instead, a spiritual Messiah arrived, and 50 days later a Pentecost moment unleashed the 12 apostles (as opposed to a single Messiah) on the streets of Jerusalem. But prior to the Resurrection, on Holy Saturday, they were utterly bewildered, feeling totally betrayed or misled, in a way, by Christ. Is this really how it ends? With all of us getting rounded up to be arrested and killed? But they should have had more patience, faith, perseverance. All was not what it seemed, and what was coming was totally different—and of much greater significance—than they had imagined. To be sure, though, it took some 300 years of persecution before Christianity could come out of the catacombs safely. Yet those years of persecution only strengthened the resolve of the faithful, and grew them in number.

– This feeling we have from the Cups…so rich and effulgent. Not so easy to contain. Not a concrete picture. With the Coins it was the feeling “well, there’s something in there that’s going to come out.” And now it’s more like a cloud—it’s everywhere at once. It won’t stay in one place. Multivocal, can’t pin it down at all.

– There is a remarkable geometric similarity between the Three of Coins vs Three of Cups. The white pearl is in the same place as this Fleur-de-Lis dagger.

In the Three of Coins, this upper Coin is protected. It has been planted in the earth, as a kind of container, with just the barest opening for something to enter in from above. Whereas in the Three of Cups, the Cup is in the best possible position to be receptive to what is above, and yet it is fully honoured by that which is below. There is a combination of absolute humility (in terms of its receptivity to that which is above) as well as absolute grandeur (being elevated above and honoured by the two cups below). Put on a pedestal, honoured and revered, so that it too can honour and revere.

Was it Steiner or Goethe who pointed out that the rose adorns the garden by adorning herself? A justified vanity, a vanity that only enobles the whole, helps everyone else at the same time.

– This will take more work than the Swords. With the Swords it was more work in the sense of “sheesh, let’s just get through this.” There was barely anything there to work with at all. And now it feels like there is so much. We have to up our game!

20 pages of notes for this conversation, and we feel like we’ve only just begun…

– Only now noticing properly this third part of the fishes (referred to above, that each of the fishes in the Two of Cups have split into three parts). The Blue above the yellow dagger. They are just like miniature versions of the fishes from the Two, with the “ears” and all. Only now they are a very happy-looking form, like they are giving two thumbs up.

Those fish are so primal in the Two. Like the screaming of an infant. Then all that is stripped away in the Three.

– Strange that with the Coins it felt like it was only after the Ace and the Two that you really got properly into the standard form of the Numbered Coins. The first two stood apart. But then with the Swords, the Ace stood alone, and then Two through Ten had the same basic form. Now it has happened again—that really both the Ace and the Two of Cups stand apart. Only now with the Three have we begun with the “standard” form of the Cups, that which will last through the Ten. With the Batons it will be like the Swords—only the Ace stands apart. Why do the Coins and Cups begin with two unique forms, and the Swords and Batons begin with one?

– Man…it’s like we used to run marathons, and then took a year off from running…and we’re winded after just a short jog! And it’s this funny feeling, both of “Man, I am out of shape!” But also a feeling inspired, feeling good to have worked out again after so long, inspired to get back in shape.

It feels like hugging a boulder, trying to wrap your arms around something so far beyond you…

The Swords are like the disciples fishing all night and not catching anything. Then Christ appears at the shore and tells them to cast their nets on the other side, and they bring in 153 fish. Their nets are bursting. That’s the feeling of the Cups. All or nothing!

And what a mess of cards at the end! Back during the Coins we used to put out a spread of a few Majors and feel like we were doing something very elaborate. Now the references back to other Suits and Arcana are so numerous, it becomes very complicated and difficult to keep organised very quickly.

We ended with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.