Notes of a Hermetic conversation between Phillip and Joel on September 26, 2022 (Rosh Hashanah).
It is not nearly as static as it seems on first glance. This curvature and layering. The batons are in the foreground; then the large leaves are further back, and then the smaller-leaved plants are even further back. As through there is an egg-shape formed by the plants, the leaves. Yet with these very flat batons on top of the egg. Or maybe the batons have been painted onto the egg in such a way that they appear straight/flat? An optical trick. Like an elaborate Ukrainian Easter egg.
An egg—it’s an interesting metamorphose of “seed.” A higher order of seed. It is also a metamorphosis of the Vesica Piscis. Or of the Coin—not so much in terms of Coin as currency, but in terms of the artistry of the Coins as represented in the Suit of Coins. Particularly the Ace of Coins—as though the Ace of Coins became a much more multidimensional object, yet with the same artistic gesture as its archetype:
But maybe also in terms of currency, value, worth? Like a Faberge Egg?
Somehow it also makes one think of chocolate coins, which always seem like actual money or treasure when you’re a child. Chocolate gelt.
Money is purely symbolic—it isn’t actually worth anything. The engraving or marking is what gives it value, especially nowadays in the age of fiat currency. Back in the day the gold did have a value. But it was marked for its worth. Paper used to be a gold/silver certificate.
The artistic aspect of money has to do with economy. Whereas the artistic aspect of an egg is more religious, bound up with the life force, with Astarte. A pagan religious/mythological expression. The World Egg in Orphic mythology, Nordic mythology (actually many mythologies). Back to The World, the first appearance of the Vesica Piscis shape.
The contrast of the X and the vesica piscis in the Two of Batons. The X crosses the center, while the VP surrounds the center. The X feels radiant, vs the void-feeling that comes with the ever-growing VP in the Swords.
The “egg” formed by the leaves/plants (the VP) in the Two of Batons seems to be bending spatially, whereas the X is perfectly straight, on its own two-dimensional plane almost. And the black parts of the X—they look like little blades, they look sharp. They are just making contact with the border, the very tip of them. It inscribes this greater shape—not exactly an egg. The curvature in the black blades, it is curved the other way from the “egg.” Projective geometry perhaps? The X is describing a parabola that meets and intersects in the infinite distance?
Aha! No, the X is the opposite shape of the leaf-egg. The leaf-egg curves one way, convex. But we are within another “egg” that curves the other way, concave. The view from within the “egg”. This is described by the X, therefore the opposite curve at the tips of the Batons. And perhaps these two eggs meet or “kiss”, there at the crossing point of the two Batons. And notice the pearls have returned—two yellow pearls, one on each side of the crossing point. Are they joined to the batons here, growing out of the batons? Or are they attached to a part of the “egg” which is occluded by the batons? We are back to the same basic question which was there for the Ace of Coins from the start.
Two eggs meeting—and we are within one, as though we are looking out of a curved window. One World beside another World. In the former Suits, one is contained in a single World. Here we are in a World that bridges to other Worlds. It is its own, but it’s role is to be a link, bring them all into the same space.
You feel contained and protected as you make contact. Not the feeling of either attack or imprisonment that was felt so heavily throughout the Swords. With the Swords, you kind of assume you’ve made contact due to a new absence. Things cancelled each other out upon touching. Here it is multifaceted. You can blend, or you can behold at a distance. Different ways of relating. Relating happening within one image—not like the Swords, where you needed two Numbered Arcana in order to see some kind of relating.
Unlike the other Suits, this Two goes beyond the Ace that preceded it. The Ace does not contain it all.
Then, as we look at it, it starts to move and shift…it could be that only the “floating” plants (above and below) are the “other” World, and the rest of the image is “our” World.
All the different numberings that are contained in this image. The sets of Two, of Three, of Four…Not really a One anywhere. Two isn’t even the predominant number. It’s two staffs floating in a world of other numbers. Yet so harmonious. A set of Ten from one perspective (the eight leaves and two buds/blossoms). So pleasing.
When has the Two, the “He”, had such a fullness and interconnectedness?
The X—this is the Roman numeral Ten. And then you have the four corner blades. Perhaps the Ten represents the Numbered Arcana, the Four blades are the Court Arcana—together you have the Fourteen. An expression of the whole Suit.
Going back to the old spread:
Notice how the sword of the Three of Swords continues directly into the sword-like shape (blue) at the bottom of the Two of Cups; and how the bud of the cut flower in the center of the Four of Swords is echoed in the downward-facing bud at the bottom of the Three of Cups.
Comparing the different Twos…the Two of Cups is violent and weird. Strange passions.
The Two of Swords…well, at the time we didn’t know what to do with it. It was beautiful enough, but need the Three of Swords before it had any real content or meaning for us. Only meaningful when taken as a wholeness: Two and Three of Swords.
The Two of Coins, however, is legitimately beautiful and meaningful in its own right.
Now, the Two of Batons on the other hand is deeply meaningful, but isn’t perhaps as unique as we thought in terms of the Twos that came before. The others do tend to amplify their respective Aces, especially the Coin and the Cup, before going into a more codified structure, so to speak. The Two of Swords immediately enters the more codified structure that persists through the Ten of Swords.
The Two of Batons brings together the beauty of the Two of Coins, with the form of the Two of Swords, with the energy of the Two of Cups, into a fullness. Entirely self-contained, self-explanatory. A marriage of opposites: animal passion with plant wisdom. Unlike the Two of Cups, which is like oil and water, at odds with itself, not integrated. Doesn’t know whether it is animal or plant. Whereas an egg, one could say, is an animal that is still at the stage of a plant.
The Two of Cups lifts up, all the way to the fish—now the Two of Batons dips back down, back to egg? A regression of sorts. Maybe it’s like the fish went upstream to spawn—now we have the egg.
Swimming upstream…a vertical ascent, to the highest world, the World of Emanation, the World of the Batons. In a way it is a regression…back to the origin, to the primal. The salmon fight their way upstream to the point of death. The return to the highest world as a spawning, a procreation. The salmon always swim back to the place of their origin to spawn.
Is the Ace of Coins the original egg that hatches, goes downstream? Where is the turning point, to swim back?
Remembering what exactly a “vesica piscis” is. It literally means “fish bladder.” This is because a fish bladder is shaped in such a way that it is akin to two spheres meeting:
It is through this bladder that they are able to float and move in the water, to navigate. Steiner claims that the bladder for movement in the fish is the prototypical human lungs. The organ of movement, to be able to swim upstream. “The healing of the breath in the full circle, the Path to the Tree of Life.” Whereas the gills (the organ of respiration in the fish) are the prototype of the human ears, the organs of hearing.
Maybe the Coins could be seen as the gestating fish eggs/baby fish, while the Swords are showing us the process of the development of the bladder, the vesica piscis. The Cups show us the actual swimming upstream. And now we come to the moment of procreation. The Batons express the functioning bladder (from within, this “kissing” of two egg-like spheres) and simultaneously the spawning, the procreation, the laying of new eggs.
When does the fish have the instinctual realisation, “I am a fish, swim upstream”? Does this organ not just give the ability to move, but some kind of orientation?
The Coins as lower senses, developing at a low state of consciousness. Working up to a full level of consciousness and activity.
The Ace of Batons—is this like the moonlight that guides the fish from without? What is it that draws them—is it some kind of smell? Is smell simultaneously taste for a being that is submerged in water? The blended senses of an older humanity. Smell without air as a medium is a strange thought.
The Ace is like the moth being drawn to the flame. The trigger—”I must go toward this thing.”
All of this is analogous to human striving. What is it exactly? The striving to prepare another incarnation? Or to fructify the upper world with something we draw up from the lower world?
It is about how to make the Abel sacrifice—how to make the sacrifice that won’t be rejected. But is there not a Cain element? A blending of the two?
God rejects Cain’s sacrifice. If he tried to improve or fix it, would God accept it? Instead of resorting to fratricide, or just an admitting that it was all wrong, that it was nothing good or redeemable?
This is the age-old battle between progressivism (Cain) and traditionalism (Abel).
A deeper question: is there a Cain sacrifice that can be accepted, valued the way an Abel sacrifice can be? I.e., is there a sacrifice born out of the arbitrary creativity of a human individual that can be accepted, or only those prescribed by the Gods?
Only Christ is able to perform such a sacrifice—the entirely free deed. Lazarus attempts this. Lazarus sees that he is the one responsible for the dreadful fate of humanity. He is initiated into the higher mysteries of the Hebrews, aware of the same situation that the Pharisees were: that one man (the responsible one) must die that the entire race be saved. And so it is deliberately attempted to allow Abel (Magdalene) to atone for the fratricide by allowing Lazarus to die at her hands. Lazarus wishes to accomplish the sacrifice that he knows is his sole responsibility, and puts Magdalene exactly in the situation through which this can come about.
And yet this sacrifice also fails. Christ, out of his deep personal affection for his friend Lazarus, comes to his grave. Magdalene, out of her genuine love for her brother, weeps at the feet of Christ and begs for her brother to be saved. She gives her tears to Christ in the future—when she washes his feet with her tears and incense, and dries them with her hair. And this deed from the future works back in time, her tears are giving to Christ, and “Jesus wept” at the grave. It is through the magic of tears, of the genuine sorrow that both he and Magdalene feel, that he is then empowered to raise him through the words, “Lazarus, Come Forth!”
There is then a transfer of karma. The limitless dynamism of Christ, in synch with the entire cosmos, is bestowed on Lazarus in his raising—he is given the “transformed etheric body” of Christ, in anthroposophical terms. In exchange, Christ takes on the fate of Lazarus. He freely unites himself to a fate he does not deserve, and performs the sacrifice for humanity that Lazarus is unable to accomplish—both in terms of his own limitations, and at the behest of the one at whose hand he deserves to die, Magdalene.
Christ bears the unbearable failure of the Cain/Lazarus sacrifice. He then bestows his own power to sacrifice properly, successfully, upon Lazarus. He becomes both sacrifices—the Lamb of Abel and the Bread and Wine of Cain. These two come together at the Last Supper.
Then comes the Communion of Fish…a blending of animal sacrifice (Abel) and plant sacrifice (Cain)…the Cathars were strictly vegetarian, but did not consider fish to be fully animal, and so could eat fish. The fish is a blend of animal and plant, a plant-animal sacrifice. Water in their veins instead of sap. It swims through its own sap.
The kissing of two worlds: of the Cain and Abel sacrifices.
There is a meeting here of a kind of solid severity in the batons, which make the “E” gesture in eurythmy (Mars) with the diffuse, radiating, embracing gesture of the plants. More “O” or “A” (Jupiter or Venus).
These two worlds are not at all at odds. Two worlds that finally meet each other.
It makes one wonder about the Judas kiss…what actually transpired between the two of them in that moment of betrayal. Not at odds…
And yet…we still have no idea, really, how the Ace goes into the Two. We don’t feel the connection between them at all. Maybe the leaves are the collar/vortex around the hand in the Ace? And the X is the baton transformed?
The rejected sacrifice as a necessary type of sacrifice. In Steiner’s lectures on Inner Experiences of Evolution, he brings together this primal rejected sacrifice of the Thrones towards the Cherubim—which was a necessity in the further evolution of Ancient Sun and Moon out of Ancient Saturn—explicitly with the rejected sacrifices of both Cain and Abraham. Isaac is rejected after so much struggle to obey the command to sacrifice him. See here, especially lectures 3, 4, and 5: https://rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA132/English/RSPC1953/InnRel_index.html
Lazarus, then, is the ultimate expression of this necessary rejected sacrifice—the one which directly enables Christ’s sacrifice on Golgotha.
Phillip as a bearer of the suffering that Erica would not have been able to bear. Figures like Assange, Trump, etc. Cultivating the ability to bear meaningless pain. This is not a creative deed—it is the building up of a capacity which makes creation even possible.
Tomberg’s Letter-Meditations on the Emperor and the Pope, as well as some of his early articles in Russian Spirituality address this role of bearing pain, alone, for a specific purpose. The post of Pope, of Peter, is to bear the pain of the incongruity between what is ideally (eternally) true and what is true in reality (temporally). This is what creates the fifth wound, the wound of the heart, which also allows the inflow of the spiritual to earth and simultaneously guards the gates of Hell. “Let God arise”…It is all pain, pain, pain, until finally the ideal and the real meet and unite. The Two of Batons is this meeting.
We’ve never reached the boundary before. We have always been reaching for the next image. Here we are reaching the far distance, the horizon.
It also makes white triangles in each corner, 4×3.
The self-contained character of this image. It is reaching beyond itself, yet is within itself at the same time. It is not dependent on the Three to find its meaning.
Are the Batons also sheaths, belonging to the Swords? We never really saw the sheath (except in the Knave of Swords). Now the Baton is the sheath for the broad swords. For the scimitars, the curved swords of the Numbered Swords, it was always unclear whether they were swords or sheaths. Let’s face it, everything is unclear in the realm of Swords!
Whereas here, there is clarity—but also, significantly, the sheathing of the sword. The fight is done. The cutting element is put to rest in the containing element. In the swords, they are active by alternation (sword = odds, containing element = evens), not by being put together.
The Sword is put into the Cup—and becomes the Baton.
But the edges might be sharp, might be blades…good to retain a little bit of edge, just in case.
The plants which seem to join onto the middle meeting point—are they growing out of it? And then there are these floating plants. The X brings both joining and separating, but not through cutting.
For the plants throughout the Cups, there is no separating, or at least no cutting, as there is throughout the Swords. And in the Coins, there are separate plants, but they don’t seem to be real plants—more like just the idea of a plant.
Whereas here, they are real plants, yet floating, flying. Maybe that white part is not a root, it is another flower? The blending of animal and plant once again…a flying flower. Like a fish or a bird.