Tower of Destruction (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on September 12, 2017

Tarot Conversation Sep 12, 2017

The Tower of Destruction

Jim, Phillip, and Joel

We began with invoking the presence of the Virgin Mary, based on Tomberg’s indications for the daily invocations (see page 458 of Meditations on the Tarot), as well as Robert’s indications on the true days of the week based on a Lunar Calendar (see “Classics in Astrosophy Part 1” from Journal for Star Wisdom 2018). Tuesday evening was the last quarter moon, and so a “Saturn Day” – the day of the Virgin Mary.

We then did the Lord’s Prayer through the Sephiroth and the Divine Alphabet, with allusions to the Knight’s Practice, up through the 16th Letter, Ayin.

We then read the quotations at the beginning of the 16th Letter/Meditation and observed the Tower of Destruction:

– There are two puddles on the ground. Have we seen water in the landscape before?

– The lightning bolt looks more like a plume, or flames, or frost (fractals). It’s red and yellow. Maybe this is “celestial lightning”? It is very non-geometric, not at all like lightning. It looks a bit regal, like a feather in a cap. Next to it, the roof of the tower looks like a crown falling off. Made of brick – a heavy crown!

– Both men look as though they’re just about to hit the ground.

– Is there a way in and out? How did they get up there? The perspective is strange – they look about half as tall as the tower they’re falling out of. Maybe they kind of painted themselves into a corner – in other words, maybe they built the tower around themselves, and moved up as they built it – but forgot to build a way in and out! I.e., they made a closed circle, rather than a spiral. Only an outside force (celestial lightning) can rescue them from their accidental prison.

– Is this really much of a catastrophe? The tower seems fine overall, they also seem fine. It’s just the top that has come off. Is it a tower where destruction takes place, not a destroyed tower?

– The angle created by the intersection of lightning and crown/roof – a triangle. Then the two figures below making another triangle. They are similar to the figures in the Wheel of Fortune. The figure on the left looks like a monkey (under the crown – crowning oneself, an evolutionary impasse). The other side is half of a human – still in becoming? Is he trapped in the tower? Or coming out from behind? Are these figures reaching for the plants around them?

– There are two red dots over the “crown” and two blue dots over the flame. The sphere made up of blue above and red below, from Estelle’s vision of Rudolf Steiner during the Grail Pilgrimage. The city with towers, with individuals frozen in place – still, but ready to go into motion. This scene of the Tower of Destruction is a bit like that – like something happening in slow motion, or a still from a movie. It all seems a bit ordered for destruction (the falling balls)  – a freeze frame in a film.

– What exactly are all those white, red and blue spheres? Why are they those colors in particular? Are they the Juggler’s balls?

– The colors are reminiscent of Steiner’s indications of himself in a red robe (Moses) and Christian Rosenkreuz in a blue robe, with Christ in White in between them. [Edit January 2021: actually in this meditation, one is to imagine Christ between Steiner on the left and CR on the right, Steiner in a red stole and CR in a blue stole; but one is meant to imagine oneself in white. See here:

– The Crown is appropriate, but only at the right time. It is occurring at the wrong time in this Arcanum. Below it, the spheres are arranged in pairs (2 foldness). Whereas under the flame, they are arranged in threes (except for one set of four). 

– Are the puddles like mirrors? Is it raining?

– The flame is licking out, a real tongue of flame – like dragon fire. It is only just tipping off the crown.

– What is the karma of a Pope? Temporal power must be bestowed by Spiritual Authority. Hence the Emperor must be crowned by the Pope, or he is illegitimate. Whereas here, we have the flower/flame/cloud of lightning un-crowning, removing the authority by Spiritual Force.

– Brie (Joel’s 4 year old) describes this card by saying that the Sun is coming out of the Tower. The opposite of how we adults would view it. The shape of the plume actually indicates a trail left by an ascent. This would represent a transition from material (Tower) to the living (garden), from a polarity to a trinity. 

– One can get lost in counting – the bricks, the spheres, the layers of ground below (more than any card before). What does this say about our tendency to build towers? To get lost in the details of an elaborate system? There are 7 bricks at the base of the “crown,” a group of 3 and of 4 – like the image of the human being in the Lord’s Prayer.

– How is this image the 2nd He, the conclusion of the series Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower? And how is it a Yod, a mystical experience initiating the series Tower, Star, Moon, Sun? It seems pretty clear in what sense it is a Yod: a sudden mystical experience, a revelatory experience, that transforms the soul (as has happened to countless saints, for example Saul to Paul transformation).

The process of Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower is described fairly clearly from pages 455-456. The progress from concentration (willed forgetting, Death) to meditation (uniting ones thinking with the thinking of the Angel, Temperance) which becomes Contemplation – the Imprint of Reality, an Inner Gardening. In this case, specifically, Contemplation reveals to us The Devil – that which in us is a lost sheep, in need of redemption. The Tower is then the confrontation with Reality that heals this wound.

– A layered, hilly country is new to us. There hasn’t been a landscape like this yet. The Tower has been built higher than the hills in order to give proper perspective. In fact, the etymology of the word speculate comes from the latin “specula” which means watchtower. The hilly landscape necessitates speculation, the building of a tower.

– Striped (plowed?) landscapes:  Lover, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Devil.

– The tower hasn’t really been struck down. Only the top has been blown off. Perhaps the message is that it is fine to have a “tower,” i.e. a philosophical system/paradigm/ideology. But it must remain open to heaven, the top must be blown off. It must maintain a connection to vertical inspiration. Then it becomes an Astronomer’s Tower. Our “towers” can be opened either by inner work (concentration, meditation, contemplation and redemption, as described above) or through karma, through a destiny event (usually a tragic event). The balls/spheres are supernatural – clusters of possibilities. 

– The geometry of the card – the upper window (the larger one) mirrors the foot of the left hand figure. The upper window is the point of the upside down triangle formed by Crown, Window, Lightning. The double windows are a mirror point, then there is a rightside up triangle with the foot as the apex, and the two figures as the two other points. The two figures below are the mirror, directly related to what has happened above. There is also the third Triangle above, created by the intersection of the Crown and the Flame. A harmonious meeting, actually, creating a geometrically appropriate “roof” atop the Tower. Do the Crown and the Flame represent two sides of the human being, the human head? Two necessary sides that need to be maintained and kept in balance so that the triangular Roof can be there?

Has the Tower been misused? The Tower of Babel, knowledge at the wrong time, acquired in the wrong way – the root of the Fall.

The Crown wouldn’t fit if it was placed on the Tower, too small. 

– Did the spheres come out of the Tower? Was the Crown blown off by an alchemical experiment gone wrong? Is that the source of the Flames? Are the spheres debris from the explosion? Or sparks flying off of the Crown?

– When Rudolf Steiner was first introducing the word “Anthroposophy,” he used an analogy with both theosophy and anthropology. Anthropology wishes to be down in the city, looking at all the particular features of the landscape, writing down each detail. Theosophy sits atop a mountain, taking the broad view, seeing how everything interconnects, but losing sight of the details. Anthroposophy wishes to be half-way down the mountain, close enough to still see the details, but with enough perspective to see the interconnections. Ora et Labora – we have to stay in touch with reality (see 

– Are the spheres rain drops? Is this a common way to portray rain in the 15/1600s? But then what about The Moon and The Sun, which more clearly portray raindrops, with other colors and shapes? Why make the raindrops perfectly round rather than tear shaped?

– Back to the geometry, with one triangle pointing downward (Crown, Flame, Window) and the other pointing upward (Foot as apex of two men). Maybe they were safe while inside, while united to the triangle above – attracted like opposite poles of a magnet. But once they have fallen, separated themselves, they are repulsed, like when two of the same pole meet each other with magnets. They are frozen in a state of being cast down, mirroring and determined by the state of what is above. They must reverse their relationship to what is above, uniting themselves with the two smaller windows. 

– Maybe one was an evil alchemist (the monkey under the Crown), and the other knew that the first was up to no good; he deliberately ruins the experiment, causes an explosion, to stop the aims of the other. For their own good. 

– The image is a harmonious complexity which draws one in but doesn’t lead very far.

– The Seed – page 440, paragraph beginning “Let us stop…” (the word “lapidary” in this paragraph relates to stone, to cutting and polishing stone). Maybe the Spheres that are falling are Seeds. The Tower is like a fruit bursting and releasing all of its seeds. We like to think of the Fruit of our labor as something finished, final (closed circle, Tower) – but in order to produce Seed, the Fruit needs to be opened up, consumed, destroyed. Seeds are a guarantee, a mighty power. They represent infinite possibility. 

Tomberg relates the Creation story as given through Moses on the one hand and Hermes on the other. They are like two different Seed keepers. The image of Moses and Hermes as two students of Zarathustra certainly is reminiscent of Steiner and CR on each side of Christ. Also reminiscent of Moses and Elijah on each side of Transfigured Christ. 

Materia=Maternal. The capacity to receive form. The enclosed garden, terrestrial Paradise. 

The Seeds don’t touch/reach the ground. They are everywhere, we cannot see them. Waiting to be actualized. The path of concentration, meditation, contemplation, especially in the context of addressing our faults, awakens us to this realm of Seeds, the alternate paths of Realization vs what we are currently caught up in. 

The story of St. Francis and the Prostitute. She invites him into her bed. He steps into a fireplace and invites her into his. When the demons tempt us, they are also tempted by coming into contact with Goodness. 

The trapped Seeds within the Fruit are our flaws, faults – possibilities that have become trapped in the subconscious. The Activity of Reality – the Flame of Celestial Lightning – wishes to give them an alternate path, bring them out into the open. 

The Red and Blue Pillars, with Christ in the Center. Not limited to Steiner/CR. It is 3 ever present principles that are all around us (like the floating Seeds). Certain conditions are required in order to activate and germinate these Seeds. Possibly the most archetypal description of these 3 principles is Michael (Red), Sophia (Blue) and Christ (White) – the three elements of our spiritual community. 

– In Death, as a Yod, the Scythe is the active Scepter of the Magician. With Temperance, as a first He, the Book of the High Priestess becomes the flow of living water. The magical realization of the Empress becomes in the Devil the exposure of faults, vices, the double. True Hermeticism (The Emperor) is anything but a closed system – the Tower as the image of the all-encompassing Synthesis of Hermeticism which always remains open (ready to grow). 

– With Phillip’s massage, he concentrates so much on his one finger. Now he cannot use it. He is being forced to “open the Tower,” not put everything into one limited space. 

– The idea of seeds that have been stored away, not to be used. We have been talking of seeds on the one hand as our hidden flaws that need to be exposed as well as spiritual possibilities that yearn to be realized/activated. How is it both? When we think of modern phenomena such as hoarding, or vampire economics (draining capital from 99% of the economic system), we can see how that which is stored away could be life-giving, but when it is kept hidden, it becomes illness, harmful. 

We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.