Three of Cups (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on February 4, 2021

February 4, 2021

Three of Cups part 2

We began with the protective practice.

We then invited the presence of the Risen Christ to guide our conversation.

After briefly focusing the mantra SHE FEELS on the region of the heart, we moved the second portion 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 portion of the Grail Knight’s Practice.

We then read from Revelation 14:17-18

– Working from a particular point of view…Joel was inspired or reminded (from uploading the Tarot notes to the website) to revisit the numerological aspect of the Arcana. So we looked at the Ace, Two and Three of Cups as a 6 (51st Arcanum = Ace), 7 (52nd Arcanum = Two), and 8 (53rd Arcanum = Three).

Joel had a whole layout, with the sequences of Six, Seven and Eight in columns:

But in particular to begin with, we looked at:

And here we see a nice transformation from the Swords to the Cups. The beheaded flower of the Six of Swords becomes the Cup/City in the Ace of Cups. It is transformed into its fullness. Like we have zoomed in on this flower, brought it into full view, close inspection of details. 

And then with the Seven of Swords and the Two of Cups there is a strong emphasis on this blue vertical line in the center, of the sword in the case of the Seven and the strange vase/flower stem in the Two.

With the Eight of Swords, the blue flower in the center draws one’s gaze to the blueberry-like flowers in the Three of Cups. And the Eight of Swords is very unique in that it is the only one of the Numbered Swords to have four blue flowers in the corners instead of yellow. A strong emphasis on blue, which draws one’s gaze to these similar blue forms in the Three of Cups.

– Looking at the Three of Cups just now—who knows if this was brought on somehow by including the Swords—but we got a sudden flash of either a kind of exploding plant, or an elaborate toy, an elaborate jack-in-the-box.

By exploding plant, we thought of these flowers that kind of burst or pop if you touch them (we thought they might be Morning Glories. They’re not, but they do look similar: With these flowers, it feels so funny, very strange, to have this machine-like or mechanical overlay of sorts in a being that is otherwise organic, displaying a gradual metamorphosis. 

We had this picture of an elaborate music box in the Ace of Cups. With the Two, do we have a Venus Fly Trap? 

Then in the Three we have this mechanical overlay, a hodgepodge of various forms: the top leaves are like the Two of Coins, then we have these new blueberry flowers, then opposite them these red shoots, then a more elaborate red sepal. Then these watery anime-leaves? Or is that spurts of water? They look almost cartoonish, like they’re giving a thumb’s up.

Then there is this seed-husk with a mirror image flower below it. So imagine these two folded together in a way, with the rest of this elaborate mechanism packed inside of them. Then you push the button and POP, everything emerges like a firework. This intricate machinery.

It makes it seem more complex than both the Ace and the Two. With the Ace, it is much more ornamental, but still a cohesive whole. The Two is less cohesive, but more intense, explosive. 

It’s like with the Ace we have something self-contained. Then in the Two a process of explosion. And the Three is what displays itself from out of the explosion.

Maybe in the Three of Cups the top cup is the dancer in the music box, on display, the rest oriented towards it. It spins around, rotates like a ballet dancer.

There is an emphasis on the pinnacle in all three Cups so far. The Three is the most formed, at the forefront. 

The Two could also have a spinning top. Capturing something as a snapshot while it is in motion. An unfolding of the whole, and rapid spinning, simultaneously. The Three has more of a stillness.

– Relating the Three of Cups to the Hermit (after the Ace as Force, and Two as Wheel of Fortune). There is not a clear geometrical relationship here.

Here we pick up on a conversation we had been having previously in the week on The Hermit. Confusion about this last section of the Letter-Meditation, on the Gift of Black Perfection. 

At one point in this section—which is all about the resolution of binaries—Tomberg states that the Will only has available to it “Yes” or “No.” There is no third term, no resolution of the binary in the Will. There are only two terms.

So if there is only Yes and No in the Will, why does the Hermit have three points of contact with the ground (Staff and two feet)? This section of the Hermit is like the dark portion of Otswald’s coloured body, the black portion, and therefore we assume associated with the darkness of the Will, right?

It might not be so simple. Joel’s experience of re-reading the Hermit, and particularly the last portion, is that there is no consistency of association, no fixed definition to “lantern”, “mantle”, or “staff.” At one point in time, it seems that the lantern is resolving a binary between the mantle and the staff, at another it is the mantle that resolves a binary. It is very difficult to truly track with one’s thinking through this entire Letter-Meditation. He is constantly laying out binaries for you to resolve for yourself in the midst of his own resolutions of binaries. You are forced to do the exercise that he is exemplifying. 

So maybe there is not a fixed place for the Will in the image of the Hermit? Maybe it is overly simplistic to say Staff = Will. Maybe these three points of contact with the ground represent the three soul forces of Thinking, Feeling and Willing in the experiential realm? 

The act of walking is certainly an act of Will, that is also what makes one think of this section of the Hermit as a realm of Will. 

There are many resolutions of binaries here. The mantle resolves the binary of lantern and staff? Is the lantern resolving the binary of…head and cap? Some kind of ignorance? And then the staff resolves the binary of the two legs.

[In subsequent conversation throughout the week, we came to greater clarity around this Letter-Meditation and it’s seemingly contradictory messages. In the first three parts of the Letter-Meditation, he resolves the antinomies of realism-idealism; nominalism-realism; and science-faith. With all of these, the mantle is the more comprehensive/idealistic term (idealism, realism, and faith) and the staff is the more skeptical/literalistic term (realism, nominalism, and science). It is the Lamp that is the burning light that arises from the conflict of these three antinomies, that bridges them as Word, God-Man and Crucified Serpent. So the Lamp resolves the binary of Mantle and Staff.

Then he moves into this portion describing the coloured body of Otswald. That there are three ways of bridging an antinomy: out of the transcendent white point above; out of compromise in the coloured body in the middle; or out of the ignorance and doubt of the black point below. He describes the white point of synthesis, this transcendent point, as that which harmonizes and brings into unity the various disciplines and points of view expressed by the rainbow spectrum in the middle. So here still, it is the white point of the Lantern above that is harmonising the polarities and contrasts.

But then he makes a subtle shift. He says that the Hermit is in touch with a kind of mantle of Truth. Ask him any question and he will give a spontaneous, ad hoc answer that on reflection aligns perfectly with other spontaneous answers to different questions. But this is due to his subconsciously being embedded in the Mantle of the Truth—due to Faith. He draws these answers out of the Mantle of Truth spontaneously, not because he has memorised some vast systematism. 

So here, Tomberg describes the Mantle as that which bridges Lantern and Staff. The Hermit uses both the Lantern and the Staff to investigate particular questions, but the Mantle provides the answer. Reminiscent of Spiritual Science—precise investigation of the Spiritual (Lantern) and Physical (Staff), but there is a Mantle of Truth that bridges the two.

So we can see that with the whole discussion of the coloured body, we are talking about Truth, i.e. the process of cognition, the bridging of pure concept (white point) and percept (black point). The will isn’t so much the question here, it is thinking or cognition.

Steiner then says that the true Hermit is a solitary peace-maker, and in order to live in the Truth he has to walk from one discipline or worldview to the next. He cannot remain in one, because he knows it is only a partial Truth. So there are four types of peace: transcendent peace in the “white point” where all is One; immanent or Catholic peace in the rainbow band, where all the different disciplines and worldview are in harmony with the transcendent above; hegemonic, where one color dominates all of the others; or nihilistic, where all descends into the dark nothing of the black point. 

And here is where the Will comes in: because the true Hermit can only say “Yes” to the true Peace which is Catholic or Immanent, and “No” to false peace that is transcendent, or hegemonic, or nihilistic. Tomberg states emphatically that the Will has only two terms, two tools at its disposal: Yes or No, Amen or Anathema, and there is nothing in between. Because to Will is to act, and with every act, we must say Yes to our action, and No to what we are not doing. There is no resolving the binary of Yes or No in the Will. One must choose. Catholic Peace is irreconcilable with the three forms of false peace. 

And that is where the final resolution of binaries comes in. How do we resolve the binary “Knowledge-Will”? Because Knowledge is inherently seeking to bridge polarities (as expressed in Ostwald’s coloured body), whereas the Will must ever remain a binary.  And Tomberg describes then, in the final portion which is still a mystery to us, that it is in the beating of the heart that these two are resolved, and this is why the Hermit walks, his walking is a heartbeat. He must attain to the solarization of the chakras, to make all seven chakras like the heart, through meditation on the seven-fold Christ mystery. 

And perhaps then, even if we are submerged in the darkness of the will, and have lost sight of the “coloured body” of knowledge, even if we are only at the black point where there is only skepticism, empiricism, instincts and drives, yet if our Will says “yes” to the Catholic Peace of the rainbow band, we can still have active Faith in that which we cannot see or know with any clarity. Perhaps this is the “zodiaclized will” of the Hanged Man, which “knows” that which the head cannot yet.

This is where Tomberg speaks of the “knowledge and heart of the Will” and the “heart and the will of Knowledge” and the “knowledge and the will of the Heart.” So while the Will is only binary, yet there is thought and heart operative in the Will, which can create some resolution of binary.

This whole Letter-Meditation is like a poetic condensation of the entirety of Philosophy of Freedom!]

The Hermit also seems to have some kind of little yellow dagger, hidden in the folds of his cloak? This is akin to the Knave of Coins, with the yellow dagger up his sleeve. Is this the center of the Fleur-de-Lis shape, the seed shape in the Three of Cups? Like a 4th implement that doesn’t get discussed. Maybe the seed-husk is a germinal 4th cup within the Three?

Joel spent a little time exploring the meaning and history of the Fleur-de-Lis. A lot of interesting stuff on the Wikipedia page. Doesn’t remember all of it right now, but one thing he does remember is that Mary is the cord that holds the three petals of the Fleur-de-Lis together; the three petals represent the Holy Trinity, and she is the 4th that binds them together, maybe in the sense of the Novena of Our Lady of Good Success: “Divine Daughter of the Father; Divine Mother of the Son; Divine Spouse to the Holy Spirit.” The hidden 4th element.

– The Knave of Coins is looking at his coin the same way that the Hermit looks at his lamp. And then the other coin is in the ground, like the staff is in contact with the ground. And then the Knave’s left hand is in contact with that sharp point, maybe similar to the Hermit holding the staff. Same swoop of the hat vs the hood. Never noticed their great similarity before.

– The Hermit himself, the actual individual, is very much not at the fore. Only his head and hands are showing. It is all of his accoutrements—cloak, lantern, staff, garment, all of that is what is emphasised.

The whole image of the Hermit is on the left side of the card. Not a strong geometry here. No rhyme or reason, no pattern, other than the Lamp itself, which has the same six-sided geometry we’ve seen with all the Cups.

– With the Three of Cups, you could almost see it as though the plant form were mirroring the cups, from above to below. Like the seed-husk mirrors the top cup, and the two stems branching off, the two leaves, mirror the two cups below. There is a vertical unfolding or mirroring throughout the card. 

– With the Ace, you have a kind of music box and cup stuck together. Then in the Two, the Fishes and Flower could have all popped out of the vase. They all kind of fit into each other. 

There is an unfolding, yet also an intimate symbiosis or cohabitation of beings throughout the Cups.

We never felt that in the Coins. A flower having some specific relation to a coin, for example. 

In the Coins, it was always a geometric or structural relationship. A formal one. Relating in terms of “flower (as etheric) forming the coin (as physical)” or vice versa. Never as two different beings intimately relating in the same plane, always as forces operating from a higher plane onto a lower one, an expression of the invisible working on the visible. 

With the Swords, it’s a back and forth. In the even Swords, the flowers are separate from the scimitars, as the forms are in the Coins. Yet in the odd Swords, the broad-swords in the center actually penetrate into the scimitar framework. The two types of swords interact—yet is seems like an inconvenience! Not working so well. The sword is just kind of getting stuck, trying to ram it through the weave of scimitars eventually, until it breaks. They are too similar—two types of swords, not properly two distinct types of beings or entities. The increased complexity of beings, of individuation, has made a higher degree of interaction possible in the Cups. Two entities that are fully distinct from each other, yet on the same plane, can interact in a much more complex and harmonious, symbiotic way.

The Coins are like a realm of being nurtured, cared for from a higher plane.

With the Swords, we are learning how to stand on our own two feet.

Then with the Cups, it is a realm in which you become a nurturer, rather than the nurtured.

The Coin as this etheric value. 

The Sword as paying up the value—leaving home. Fighting with your parents as a teenager. 

Then with the Cup, you are the nurturer. You become equals, peers with your own parents in a way you couldn’t before, because you’ve become a true individual as well, just as they are. You understand them very differently once fully grown, especially once you have your own children. Your whole perspective shifts. Now you are both parents, you are peers. Yet you are a distinct individual from them—distinct equals.

This is like the story of the Prodigal Son, a three-fold story. The Coins are his inheritance that he claims. Then the Suit of Swords is the process of spending all that money, gambling it away and getting to the place of eating out of the pig’s trough. The Cups are the return home, the repentance and the celebratory feast.

– The full sequence of “Eights”:

Justice vs Star

Four of Coins vs Queen of Coins

Eight of Swords vs Three of Cups

There is a kind of gesture here of something more solid or striking in Justice, Four of Coins, Eight of Swords, juxtaposed with something more beautiful and flowing, as in The Star, the Queen of Coins, and the Three of Cups.

Noticing on the Queen of Coins, that her thrown might be the first indication of the cup rim. 

Thinking of the Three of Cups as an image of a thrown. Seeing it as though the top cup is further back than the other cups. Even though it appears as the same size, so maybe it is actually larger. But that upper cup would be the back of the throne, and the two lower cups and the seed-husk are more like the seat and the legs. 

This gives is the gesture of the Pope to some degree, with the two acolytes below and the Pope on the dais.

An image of royalty.

The Ace of Cups is a crown or a castle, whereas the Three is the throne room.

It’s like finally coming to the crown you thought you had in the Ace of Swords. It’s there at the start of the Swords, and then what happens? Do you destroy it, maybe accidentally, regretfully? But then it returns miraculously, even more elaborate than before, in the Ace of Cups.

The brash and courageous activity that is so triumphant in the Ace of Swords just keeps going throughout the other cards and becomes something so destructive. The Crown is being subjected to that activity.

The Crown first returns properly in the Queen of Swords—she takes the slaughtered threefold double and renews it. The Queen and King of Swords and the Ace of Cups go together as a sequence. Renewing the crown.

– The Swords are an absolute slogging through the Yes/No binary of the Will, through and through. The triumphant “Yes!” of the Ace which means a destructive “No!” to everything else. 

– Both the Queen of Coins and of Swords bring this act of renewal and sense of royalty—they are the 3rd level of the Court, representing the Suit of Cups within the Coins and Swords.

The Queen of Coins is passing the coin through the sieve of her crown. Creating a complex elaboration of the simplistic One Thing. An engagement, a connection between things. The act of Sacred Magic—the unification of two wills, human and divine. 

She’s not enacting “Thy Will be Done”—She’s the one to whom we should say “Thy Will be Done!”

Once again we come to this image of the two cups below honouring the one cup above, and this one cup above being in the position of opening itself completely to that which comes from even higher. The two honouring the third, who herself honours. She who says “Thy will be done” most effectively and who therefore deserves most of all to have that same mantra prayed to her by others.

Maybe the Queen says this to the King, she is the one nearest the source of Divine Will.

– Looking at this transition from Two of Cups to Three of Cups. Last time we got to this picture of all of the red from the bottom of the Two getting sucked into the “roots”, and making this bottom portion of the plant form in the Three. But what if the two fish from the Two of Cups are sucking up all of the blue out of the central plant in Two of Cups? Then the red and yellow that is left after all of the blue is removed from the central plant in the Two inverts, kind of turns inside out in order to become the upper cup in the Three of Cups. This would make the fish the formers of the cups, rather than potential cups themselves. It also changes their whole gesture, from one of screaming (sending sound out of themselves) to one of sucking, of drawing this watery blue into themselves. 

Maybe we could even see them active already in the Ace of Cups. We can see their fins and tails sticking out. Perhaps they are inside of the city/cup in the Ace, working very busily on forming the plant that is between them in the Two. Their activity in there has an intensity, maybe like an argument, a fight, causing the city/cup to burst at the seams, to fly apart—the upper city becoming one of the cups in the Two, and the pyramid below becoming the other cup, and now the fish are exposed, as working on this strange being in between them. This bursting apart causes all this blood or red wine to come out of the Ace as well, creating this puddle of red at the base of the Two. As they suck the blue out of the plant in between them, the red is sucked up into the “roots” of this plant, and ends up filling the third cup as it appears in the Three of Cups. After sucking in all of this passive blueness, they become mere plants rather than animal forms. The flower between them becomes this Grail, this upper third cup in the Three of Cups.

– A kind of step-wise movement through different beings…in the Ace, this being-form appears that is kind of Angelic, then in the Two we have animal forms, then in the Three more plant like. Yet it is a complex, intelligent plant in the Three. The cups themselves are going through an amplification—both multiplying as well as finding their lasting, archetypal form. Whereas the animal/plant being goes through a de-complexifying, a simplifying. 

In the Two it’s a kind of mystical fish form. Then in the Three, a kind of mystical insect/plant. A mechanical animal/plant. It’s almost reminiscent of coral. There is something about coral that is very plant like, and yet it is an animal, but also its gesture is very much of this “jack-in-the-box” springing open all of a sudden to catch the food that grazes it as it passes by. A mechanical sort of feeling to coral. 

With the combination of the fish, it really gives the implication that here we are under water. Fish and coral. Which is strange because we also feel as though we are in a realm above the Swords and Coins. The waters above. 

The yellow seed-form and its blue/red reflection in the Three is mollusk-like. Like if a clam or an oyster had opened itself up, and this complicated network of limbs/branches sprang out of it. 

– Today Joel had a strange interaction, one of those times that it feels like one of the Villagers at Camphill Copake is looking right through you. All day Phillip and Joel had had a back and forth about this last section of The Hermit, about Yes and No being the only tools available to the awakened will. And just before dinner, as Joel was bringing the milk home from the barn, he struck up a conversation with a Villager he ran into on the way. She looked like she was eating peanuts out of her pocket, and he jokingly asked had she been to the circus? She responded by pulling two mollusk shells out of her pocket and said “these are for you.” Joel asked what she had been doing all afternoon and she said “trying to figure out about Yes and No.” It was so bizarre. And now with this conversation heading in the direction of mollusks and sea creatures, the shells feel so much more significant. They’re still in his pocket.

Similarly, Phillip’s friend J. had a dream, in which a mutual friend (A.) asked her whether she had seen Phillip naked, and J. said yes. And then A. asked had Phillip seen J. naked, and J. said yes. And then A. replied, with gusto, “Well, get to work!”

And so in this dream, J. and Phillip set out to do a traveling eurythmy version of the Shepherd’s Play. And in their section of the play, it involved three bowls. In the dream, she asked Phillip, “How can we make it more interesting?”

Phillip’s current situation with the breakdown of a relationship, as well as all of our thoughts and feelings around the Suit of Cups, seem bound up with this dream of J.’s. This issue of seeing each other completely exposed—expressing a kind of seeing the other person through and through, and now the Will can say an absolute “Yes” (i.e. “Well, get to work!”). The Will becoming wide awake. Only the fully awakened Will can use Yes and No properly. Otherwise it comes to a sleepy compromise. Compromise between the Yes and No is available to the Will but only when it is sleeping, it is unhealthy to have compromise or half-hearted efforts in this region of the soul.

And then the Shepherd’s Play with its focus on Christmas time and the animal kingdom…eurythmy as a kind of moving through the “water” of the etheric…and these three bowls…all of this feels like the Suit of Cups. 

– While Phillip described this dream, Joel’s eyes were drawn to The Star…who is totally naked…pouring out the two cups into the water…

Ace to Three of Cups is an unveiling, an undressing, a stripping away of the complex layers.

The Coins increase in clothing (i.e., being veiled by the plant forms). 

There is a decrease and increase in complexity simultaneously in the Cups. Yes, the Ace is more elaborate, but it is also less dynamic, a more solid, unitary form. The Three is less elaborate or ornate, but has so many little complex details all over it.

With the Coins it is just an increase in complexity, of geometric formations.

With the Swords there is simply a stubborn repetition of the same form over and over again.

In the Ace of Cups it’s like a being without gender. This androgynous, primal being, “Male-Female.”

Then in the Two of Cups it’s something more hermaphroditic, something that is self-propagating. The fish are united with the flower they are creating in the center.

Then with the Three, do we properly have Mother, Father, and Child…above? Yet also, the two blueberries that are kissing the cup they have made together. A gesture of love. There is a definite difference between the blueberry-flowers and the cup. Like the difference between male vs female or parent vs child. 

– Fleur-de-Lis means Flower of Light. Certainly this central flower in the Two is a Flower of Light. There was a lot more that Joel read about the Fleur-de-Lis after last week’s conversation that now he cannot remember. Will go back to that eventually. One thing he does remember is this realisation of Alan de Lille having the Lily embedded in his name. Maybe he is the counterpart to Christian Rosenkreuz, who has the Rose embedded in his name? Like there is the Red Rosicrucian Stream and the White Platonist stream, represented by Alan de Lille and the School of Chartres. Complementary streams, related but not identical. 

So are we saying that the Tarot are more Lily than Rose? Yes. The lily’s basic form is six-fold. The rose’s form is five-fold. The Mercury hexagram vs the Venus pentagram. And in the Hermit’s lamp, or the Wheel of Fortune, or the six-sided Cups, etc etc we see the gesture of the hexagram of the lily, not the pentagram of the rose. 

– Taking a brief preview of the Four of Cups. The central plant looks like an arrow, or an alien. There is a similarity here to the Four of Coins. How is this a transformation from the Three of Cups? It looks like a falcon swooping down to catch its prey. 

– We finished with the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation