Three of Swords (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on December 21, 2019

December 21, 2019

Three of Coins, pt 2

We began with the protective practice. We then invoked the guidance and inspiration of Archangel Michael through the Michaelic meditation/eurythmy. 

After focusing briefly the mantra “IT THINKS” on the larynx chakra, we performed the third part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (“I rest within the Godhead of the world”) and the 14th Letter of the Divine Alphabet, Nun, in relation to the 14th Arcanum, Temperance. 

We read from Revelation 9:7-9, and a selection from The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci, by Dmitri Mericovski:

Leonardo entered his underground cell, lit a candle, and plunged into calculations.

For the avoidance of new errors in the construction of the wings he studied the mechanics of the wind, the currents of air, according to the mechanics of waves, the currents of water.

‘If thou wilt cast two stones of equal size into calm water, at a certain distance from each other,’ he wrote in his diary, ‘two diverging circles will be made on the surface of the water thereupon. Query: when one of the circles, constantly widening, meets with the other, corresponding one, will the first enter the second, cleaving it, or will the impacts of the waves be refracted at the points of contact under equal angles?’

The simplicity with which nature had solved this problem in mechanics captivated him so that he added on the side-margin:

Quest a bellissimo, quests e settle!—Here is a most beautiful query, and a most subtle one!’

‘I answer on the basis of an experiment,’ he continued. ‘The circles will cross one another, without blending, without mingling, and preserving as their constant central points both places where the stones fell.’

Having made his calculations, he was convinced that mathematics, through laws of the internal necessity of reason, justify the natural necessity of mechanics. 

Hour after hour passed unheeded. Evening came on. Having supped, and rested in conversing with his pupils, Leonardo again resumed his labors. By the familiar acuteness and clarity of his thoughts, he sensed beforehand that he was approaching a great discovery.

‘Look how the wind in the field driveth the waves of rye, how they stream, one after the other, while their stalks, bending, yet remain unmoving. Thus do waves run over still water; this cat’s-paw from a thrown stone, or from the wind, one should call the shivering of the water, rather than the movement,—of which one can be convinced by throwing a bit of straw upon the spreading circles of the waves, and watching how it sways, without progression.’

The experiment with the bit of straw recalled another one to his mind, similar to it, which he had already performed while studying the laws of the motions of sound. Having turned a few sheets, he read in his diary:

‘The stroke on one bell is answered by a feeble quivering and ringing of another bell nearby; a string, sounding on a lute, compels to sound on another lute, nearby, the string of the same note, and, should you put a bit of straw upon it, you would see it quiver.’

With inexpressible excitement he felt a connection between these two phenomena, so different, a whole undiscovered universe of knowledge between the two quivering bits of straw, one upon the cat’s-paw of the waves, the other on the string, responsively resonant. And suddenly an unexpected blinding thought flashed like lightning through his mind:

‘The law of mechanics is the same in both instances! As waves upon water from the thrown stone, so do the waves of sounds go through the air, crossing on another, without mingling, and preserving as their central point the place of origin of every sound.—And what of light? Even as echo is the reflection of sound, so the reflection of light in a mirror is the echo of light. There is but one sole law of mechanics in all the manifestations of force. There is but Thy sole will and justice, Thou First Mover: the angle of descent is equal to the angle of refraction!’

– from pages 342-44.

Later, he is in the midst of a revolt of the Italians against invading French…

From the direction of the Castle came the sounds of trumpets, the beating of drums, the rattle of arquebus-fire, and the cries of the soldiers sallying out for a sortie. At the same instant there pealed forth from the bastions of the fortress a discharge such as made the earth quake, and it seemed that the whole city was falling in ruins. This was a shot from the famous gigantic bombard, a brazen monster, called by the French Margot la Folle, and by the Germans die Tolle Grete—Mad Margaret.

The shot hit a burning house beyond the Borgo Nuovo. A fiery pillar rose up to the night sky. The piazza was lit up by a red glow,—and the soft shine of the moon was dimmed. The people, like black shadows, darted hither and yon, scurrying about and dashing, possessed of horror. Leonardo contemplated these human phantoms.

Every time he recalled his discovery,—in the glow of the fire, in the cries of the crowd, in the din of the tocsin, in the rumbling of the cannon, he thought he saw the soft waves of sounds and of light, that, swaying evenly, like a cat’s paw made on water by a fallen stone, spread through the air, crossing one another, without blending, and keeping as their centre the place of their origin. And a great joy filled his soul, at the thought that men could never, in any way, disturb this aimless play, this harmony of endless, unseen waves, and the law of mechanics, the law of justice, ruling over all, like the sole will of the Creator, the angle of descent equalling the angle of refraction.

The words which he had written down at one time in his diary rang in his soul:

O miracle giustizia di the, primo Motore! Oh, Thy wondrous justice, Thou First Mover! Thou hadst desired to deprive no force of the order and quality of its inevitable actions. Oh, Thy divine necessity…thus dost Thou compel…all effects to flow out of their causes in the shortest course.’

In the midst of the rabble gone insane, in the heart of the artist was the eternal peace of contemplation, that was like to the serene light of the moon over the glow of the conflagrations.

– In the light of the above excerpts, when we see the curved swords as expanding ripples of force rather than fixed rings, this changes the nature of the images completely. The central objects (flower, sword) are appearing precisely where the two circles meet. 

– This leads to two questions: why do the objects appear where the lines of force meet in the course of their expansion? The central image of each Arcanum is actually an incidental object from this point of view! And second of all, what role do the flowers play in the expansion and/or contraction of these circles of force?

– Interesting to think of this as ripples in a pool. In the Two of Swords, it could be a water lily. In the Three, Excalibur in the lake. 

– The phenomenon of wave addition: as two waves moving from different directions intersect, they briefly combine to create a single wave of exactly the combined height of each of their two separate heights. But then it is as though they pass through each other unaffected, and keep moving along. Similarly, if a wave intersects with a trough, the depth of the trough will cancel out the height of the wave as they pass through each other. 

This goes with the idea from Wolfgang Smith that there is no actual evolution occurring on a biological level. (See here: The appearance of “new” species or adaptations is simply due to the intersection of two eternal forces manifesting a temporary/temporal phenomenon, while themselves remaining fundamentally unchanged.

– Seen from another point of view, the expected result would be like two balls hitting each other, and then bouncing away from each other. But here, they meet, interact, and move on totally undisturbed. 

The “wave addition” in these images has created the flower in the Two, the sword in the Three. Why is a flower created in one instance of “wave addition,” and a sword in the other?

– The function of water, as a field in which forces can operate. The mineral realm is totally different. These are the substances creating forces than are transmitted via the medium of the water.

In one of Steiner’s scientific courses—Light or Warmth perhaps—he characterizes the goal of the solid as such: to create a complete boundary, a 3-dimensional object, centrated upon itself. Liquid is different. It wishes to form a flat surface spread out in all directions, directed to the center of the Earth. A collective centration vs an individual one, as is the case with the solid. 

Moving farther along, air inverts—it expands in all possible directions. The center is the periphery. And warmth transforms—it acts as a kind of gateway to a fourth dimension, and enters this fourth dimension. For example, with boiling water—where does all the heat go? We can see that the substance of the water becomes steam, but where does all of the heat applied to the water end up? In the “fourth-dimension,” the etheric. 

– Perhaps with the Sword Arcana we have movements, structures, energies from other planes interacting with a specific type of material plane (the liquid). Maybe it is not just interactions from one other plane, but many others, resulting in the different manifestations of “wave addition,” i.e. the sword in Three vs the flower in Two.

And really, it might not just be energy from different planes interacting with a liquid material, but perhaps other material vessels as well. These ripples could just as well be sound or light waves in an airy medium. Or a medium of warmth? What is the medium for light waves?

Light is a constant, and yet it refracts?

Steiner treated light as a continuum, not as individual photons. Not so much “light waves” but lengths or beams of light. 

– Really, we are speaking here of light in terms of reflection or effect (the entire point of da Vinci’s quote in a way has to do with source vs reflection). This principle of “the angle of descent (origin) is equal to the angle of refraction (echo)” operates in all media: solid, liquid, air, warmth. 

With light, we could say that light itself is the medium. Light is invisible. It is color which is the perceived “ripple,” the alteration of light by darkness and vice versa. Unlike sound:  sound is sound—whereas color is not light. 

– a similar analogy might be that speech, the Word, is not sound. 

Light is more rarified. Nature that never became completely natural, yet still impacts the material/natural world. 

– Great. We might not understand consciously the Swords any better. But something is bubbling up from this conversation. It’s clear that the Coins were more like the two rolling balls knocking into one another. We’re dealing with the texture of a much more fluid medium with the Swords. 

The images are mainly displaying effects, and we are tasked with making the effort to take a step further to see the light hidden behind the color, so to speak, to see that which is, which can only reveal itself in visible effects

– The Three of Swords is like a blade of grass on the water.

There are three “pods” at the bottom of the hilt. They match only one group of leaves, only one group is three-fold. But there are three seeds/berries on one side, and three leaves on the other. Three groups of three.

– A musing about mitosis. When a cell splits in two—is one more feminine and the other more masculine? Does the polarity display itself even at this level?

This actually brings back a question that flitted by earlier in the conversation. When we discussed “wave addition” as an analogy for the epiphenomenon of evolution (a material manifestation of change brought about by the interaction of two unchanging, immaterial realities), this implies a meeting of two different realities. Is this just a meeting of vertical and horizontal? The way it was put in the da Vinci quote was two “eternal centers.” Their ripples meet and bring about a new phenomenon seemingly spontaneously. Doesn’t this imply a need for father and mother? One center would simply ripple out and nothing would ever come back, no “wave addition” would take place. From this perspective, in order for manifest (horizontal) creation to occur, two centers are needed. A different process may apply to the purely spiritual, of course, a creation out of a single source, a “divine Father.” But the created world requires the interaction of two equivalents

Perhaps (referring to the “unwritten doctrine” of Plato:’s_unwritten_doctrines) the Transcendental One, the All, first split itself into Two, as the primal deed, splitting itself into Father and Mother. This is different from the more traditional Hebrew/Christian doctrine, that the Father was primary and formed the Mother (Sophia) as the “first of all Creation” so that the rest of Creation could come about. From this point of view, they were both there from the very beginning, as the result of the Primal Unity (an integrated duality from our point of view) splitting itself in two. Creation is only possible with the presence of two equal opposites. 

For Plato the One = the Good. This One, this Good, precedes all Time, all Creation, all difference. It is not Father or Mother, it is All. Out of this One comes the Two beings, the Two Principles of Distinct Form and Formlessness/Changeability. The One is indescribable, unknowable, only available to our experience as a “flashing back and forth between the Two” (in the words of Plato). Therefore unwritten, unwritable. It must be lived where “two or three are gathered.” (Thinking of the Fibonacci sequence: it begins with two Ones before it comes to Two:  1 1 2 3 5 8 etc.).

Here we have a reversal: just as Unity is the source of all multiplicity (the Two), multiplicity is needed in order to find the One again. This brings to mind Friedrich Weinreb’s Roots of the Bible. He describes the path of Creation as the One, the All, ramifying itself into the manifold, culminating in Man. Man’s purpose is to bring the diversity back into the One, to synthesize the diversity. Yet Adam is too dull, too unmotivated so to speak, to bring about this reunification. He cannot recognise his task. The creation of Eve, through a process of removing her from Adam, of making Adam incomplete, is required in order to properly motivate him. He is now in the same position as that of God—he feels the lack of that which has come into being through separating from him, and feels the urge to bring about reunion. This urge to reunite with the “flesh of his flesh” ought to inspire him to see that all of Nature is the Eve of God, and it is up to the human being to reunite Her with God. So the return to the primal One can only take place when their are two. Two are required to rediscover the One. Yet this is thrown into confusion through the Serpent: the Temptation to “be like gods” is the temptation to simply imitate God, to continue the diversification—the splitting of the One into ever new forms, bringing about chaos, disorder, disintegration (technology). Instead Man is to counterbalance God, not imitate Him.

– Perhaps this is the Coins falling into water and creating ripples. The Ace of Coins drops in, the Two drops in—between them arises the Two of Swords. Between the Two dropping in and the Three dropping in is the Three of Swords. When placed in this configuration (Ace of Swords, Ace of Coins, Two of Swords, Two of Coins, Three of Swords, Three of Coins) we see how the flowers face each other from Arcanum to Arcanum. 

Nobody designed this out of their arbitrary imagination! There is a very distinct geometrical relationship. 

This too is reminiscent of Weinreb. He speaks of the complexity of the Bible (the Hebrew Bible, the Torah) being so perfect and intricate that once it is recognized and experienced, one realizes that the Bible originates from the same source as the Cosmos; in a certain sense, the Bible is the Cosmos. It is the same with the Tarot as well, for us. The Tarot are a direct manifestation of the complexity that lies behind the Cosmos, akin to the Bible. 

– The middle figures (the Two and Three of Swords) are the children of the Coin Arcana, a real harmonizing of the qualities: look at how the Two of Swords brings together the overall content of the Ace of Coins, yet in the beautiful flowing form of the Two of Coins. The Three of Swords takes the Three of Coins’ triangularity, and elongates it, makes it more vertical, like the Two of Coins. 

– Seen in this light, the Ace of Swords is redeemed. Before, it seemed so abrupt, out of place, disconnected from what comes after. But with the Ace of Coins in between the Ace of Swords and Two of Swords, a distance is created, and it becomes part of a process. The Ace of Swords initiates the process of “dropping the coin in,” it sets off the process, creates the first ripple. It is the One within or behind the One. 

– A preview of the Four of Swords along with the Four of Coins. Another “wave addition,” with a totally different character. Notice a new flower comes in that is very much akin to the flower in the center of the Four of Coins. Notice the latticework that is happening with the “ripples.” 

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