Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on September 19, 2017
Tarot conversation, Sep 19, 2017 – The Tower of Destruction
Phillip, Joel, and Jim
We began by invoking the Virgin Mary and doing the Divine Alphabet up through the 16th Letter (Ayin), with references to the Knight’s Practice throughout. Then we read the quotes at the beginning of the 16th Letter/Meditation.
– To begin with, correcting a statement made at the end of last week’s conversation in terms of Rudolf Steiner using the analogy of a fish laying many eggs and only a few of them surviving. This analogy is used in his lectures on the connections between the living and the dead from 1913. He speaks of all the possible scenarios that could happen to us within a day (these are compared to the many eggs laid by the fish), whereas at the end of the day only certain things have happened and countless things have not. The possible events that did not happen can be doors for communicating with the dead. For example, say we usually leave the house at 7 AM. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we leave 15 minutes later than normal. Later in the day we realize that a tower had fallen over (this is actually the example he uses!) on the route we take to work, and if we had left at the normal time we would have been crushed by it. At these moments, the veil between us and the dead is very thin, we can communicate with them (https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/ZSingles/2768/19130423p01.html).
A similar example is given in his lectures about Christian Rosenkreuz in 1911. He says that the archetypal way of being recruited by CR is to hear a voice warning us, saving us, just before a near-death experience, especially being struck by lightning (again, this is the specific example that he uses – so between the two, we have the lightning struck tower) [Edit January 2021: he references the mark of being chosen by Christian Rosenkreuz multiple times in this lecture series: https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA130/English/RSP1950/ChRose_index.html, but there is not a specific reference to almost being struck by lightning].
– So these little spheres all around the Tower really are these clusters of possibilities, the blanket of possibilities that is around us all the time. Guenon calls these “compossibles” – a world of possibilities of equal likelihood within a given framework.
– It makes one think of Goethe’s imaginative method, whereby one could imagine a possible species that doesn’t exist, simply by following the imaginative lawfulness of the genus.
– In Emmerich, Mary is often compared to a Tower, or to a Church with a steeple. Maybe this is not Christ between Rosenkreuz and Steiner, but is the Virgin Mary between them?
– The entire sequence of the 13th through the 16th Arcana is about the appearance of Death, Evil, Calamity vs what it is actually like in its own sphere, behind or below appearances. (Tower of Destruction vs the Reality of the Virgin Mary).
– In fact, the Tower looks fine. There’s no destruction at all. The crown has simply been knocked off, and the human beings look humbled, not hurt. Mary is the archetypal/spiritual counterpart to this. She is the Tower, the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant – she bears the Covenant.
– Emmerich uses different material terms for mysterious spiritual phenomena. Sometimes the choices are strange, such as “nuptial house,” or vineyard. Often the topic of something like mummified sexual organs is quite veiled. Prudish. Emmerich is a field of potentially endless collaborative research. She refers to Mary specifically as an Octagonal Tower, the Spiritual Church. There is a major vision of hers having to do with the Tower, all to do with the Promise (Christ).
– The Tower is Mary at her Annunciation. The flame/lightning is Gabriel, or the Holy Spirit. Two Jesus children are below, being born. Or it could be an image of Christ at his Transfiguration, with the disciples below in Holy Awe.
– It is not necessarily a destructive picture. It is more expressive of the opening of new possibilities, it is salutary. The Tower is surrounded by hovering, responsive spiritual connections.
– The Vau gesture of the Archangel Gabriel in eurythmy fits in very well with this Arcanum.
– All of this adds a new dimension to the humility of Mary. It is not just a matter of her purity or of her destiny, what is meant to or supposed to happen to her. It’s a confrontation with her identity, with her sense of self. Something like the Annunciation is a thunderbolt that loosens everything, potentially destroying one’s sense of self. To have the self-composure to remain upright through that chaos is very difficult. Mary is representative of how to do so.
Our sense of self is not just shaken or destroyed through tragedy, but also through exaltation that feels undeserved. We can have the veiled egotism of wishing to just remain our little selves, and not take on a spiritual responsibility that seems too great for us. When this veiled egotism is shaken, we can lose our footing very easily.
It is required of us that we see the greatness in others and in ourselves in spite of the flaws of our little personality. However, it is also required that we do not identify with that greatness, that we keep our own flaws clearly in consciousness and continue to confront them (own the double). This is Ora et Labora.
– In the sense of the Transfiguration, this image is that of knocking off the earthly crown (the little ego or the projected ego that others wish for us to be) and receiving the celestial crown of Fire (our true Name/Mission).
– The sequence from 13 through 16 is an image of our time, of the present day. On the surface, it seems to be horrible catastrophes one after the other. But underneath, a great spiritual unveiling is occurring, in the realm of Truth and Reality. This is what is accomplished by Temperance – she infuses and transforms the rest of this “word” (Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower). A complete flipe. Remove her from the sequence, and it all falls to pieces.
– The Devil is an image of the everyday things that we engage in just to get through life. For example, the supremacy of money in our work. Phillip’s ethic to charge people what they’re able to pay, this is somehow revolutionary in the modern age. Most places, you are working to make the most money possible. The goal, if we are honest, is to get what we want more and more easily, finding more and more shortcuts. In this way, we become chained to certain habits, practices, norms in order to guarantee getting what we want.
Steiner claims over and over again that Love of Ease is the surest route for Ahriman to make his entry. What is Love of Ease? It is a lack of trust in others, of trust in our own effort and ability, of belief in the value and need for spontaneity to create life. Another way of putting it – we have forgotten the Name of the Father. When we have Faith, Hope, and Love, we remember the Name. Ease is no longer a question.
Love of Ease is tied up with a need for security, certainty, and survival. Without a spiritual foundation, all three of these are always under subconscious threat.
Meditations on the Tarot illuminates for us a more ideal side of life, in a practical way, not just as a vague hope.
A certain dispute has come up in Jim’s business, an oversight that needs addressing. At first very difficult. But now there is a faith that things can be resolved, and in the deeper wisdom that can lie behind such difficulties. Patience and listening are paramount – lots of good advice is now flowing in, change is happening on its own, without dispute. No longer a calculating attitude behind it all.
– The Annunciation is the ultimate event in the timeline of the transmission of the Promise throughout Hebrew history. This is tied up with the right hip, with a protuberance the size of a bean (who knows if this is actually describing an etheric formation at the Sephiroth on the right hip, Force). All of this has to do with how exactly Spirit can come into Matter, with the different modes of procreation leading up to the incarnation of the Word. Mary is the 4th in a series of Arks of the Covenant. There are certain smaller or larger Turning Points of Time, but the process of conception involved with the incarnation of the Word seems to be the most unique turning point. There has never been, nor will be a process of conception like this, of Spirit incarnating unmediated by the male into the female. What exactly was this process? A great mystery.
– Joel has been reading a children’s book, The Secret Keepers, to Molly before bed. In this book a mysterious object is found. It is a spherical clock-watch, with a simple but ornate key for winding it up. Apparently this is what “pocket watches” were like in the late 15th/early 16th century (the time of the Tarot). The realization that this is what the Magician is holding – a yellow, spherical watch that he is getting ready to wind up with the yellow baton. He is the Juggler – the Juggler of Time. Notice his Lemniscatory hat. Eternity above, being “wound up” into time below. He had first to assemble the watch (assemble time, create the Divine Plan that is Sophia), and we are witnessing the moment (the eternal moment?) preceding the beginning of Time coming into being, of Creation via Sophia. Again, in our biographical/development picture of the Tarot, the Magician represents conception. This somehow seems tied to the conception of Christ via the Holy Spirit in Virgin Mary.
– After the clock is assembled, it must be wound up before it can begin to tick. Maybe all of history leading up to the Christ event was the winding up of the watch? And now time is unfolding? This seems related to the process of involution and evolution. Time unfolds, unveils itself. The Word creates everything, then enters back into what it has created.
1. Forming the clock
2. Entering the clock (winding it up, inserting the key)
3. Time unwinds
Adam Kadmon pre-exists manifest creation. He is the archetypal all-creation. But there needs to be a process whereby it can appear in a place in which it doesn’t yet exist (the material world). It sheds off its layers one by one, the outermost first (the mineral), until it finally culminates in Man. So what was there first (Man) is the last to manifest materially, and vice versa (first shall be last, last shall be first). Both Materialists as well as Traditionalists (who are strictly anti-materialistic) deny this true form of evolution. Materialists see the higher evolving out of the lower, with no archetypal Adam Kadmon preceding the entire process (no Fall and Reintegration). Whereas Traditionalists simply deny evolution of any and every sort, as well as the idea of karma and reincarnation. They cannot make the leap. They are locked in a Tower of there own creation.
– In the 10th Arcanum, the Wheel of Fortune, this entire topic is addressed. For dumb matter to have complex (i.e. intelligent, sentient, vital) processes intrinsic to it is simply ridiculous. The greatest lengths are gone to to explain the unlikelihood of the state of planet Earth (i.e. consciousness), to avoid the confrontation with Reality, with Spirit. For example, that there are an infinity of universes, and every possibility is accounted for in each one, in other words history played out with a minor difference in each one. We just happen to be in the Universe that experienced the extremely unlikely combination of events leading up to consciousness, to human beings. This reeks of desperation.
For the Traditionalists, the theory is called the “Multiple States of the Body” that attempts to address this same problem. It is immense, the greatest metaphysical treatise of all time – but it is missing that one essential element of which we are speaking.
– The Tower is amidst 6 plants, making it the 7th (although hardened to the state of a Tower rather than a plant). “Thou shalt not eat from the Tree in the midst of the Garden.” The Tower is the Tree of Knowledge, that which we should not eat from lest we die (be expelled from Paradise). The other six plants are the plants we can and should eat from. In fact, the two figures seem to be desperately foraging. These grand, metaphysical creations are Towers, are Trees of Knowledge.
– When we think of the Tower as either the Virgin Mary or the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this brings us to the conclusion of the Letter/Meditation, of choosing between the Garden or the Tower.
– The spheres and the human beings are expelled from the Tower so that it can be filled with a Spiritual Power. This is true even for normal biological conception. One’s inner life is replaced with the inner life of another being growing inside of one.
– At the Baptism in the Jordan, two other egos (Nathan and Solomon Jesus) had to be discarded so that a huge Spiritual Force and Power could come in.
– The question of the Ego. The idea of it is so abstract. But the question lives quite deeply – how exactly does a being knit itself together? Memory is tied up to this knitting. The loss of memory leads to the question of who and what am I? Recollection = Resurrection.
– The contrast between the Virgin and the Tree of Knowledge seems to bring in the whole story of Lucifer and Mary. How at the Fall, Lucifer trapped the Mother in the earth and stole the imaginations of Sophia. Lucifer tempts Mary (Eve). And then at Pentecost (again, this image of the descending, transforming Flame), Lucifer is redeemed and reunited with Mary-Sophia. The return of Sophianic imagination, the eventual freeing of the Mother. All of this lives in the image of the Tower.
– Or is it the flip side? The possibility of a Second Fall? In fact, the “celestial lightning” looks exactly like a Solar Flare. When it comes to the question of the Second Fall, it is a Fall that is even more material and hence would have a more material resolution. We can be so overwhelmed by the amazing advances in modern technology, but in reality all it will take to dismantle the whole superstructure is a large enough Solar Flare event. Literally Michael and Christ’s celestial lightning knocking down the Tower of Technology.
– For next week – the question of the sequence Death, Temperance, Devil, and Tower as the sequence Death, Etheric Review, 40 Days in the Wilderness, Kamaloka.
We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.