Notes of a Hermetic Conversation between Phillip and Joel, October 8, 2022.
There are two types of plants here…are the upper and lower plants transformations of the right and left? Do they represent two phases of development? If so, where do the batons fit into that process whereby one changes into the other?
Contrasting it with the Four of Coins. In the Four of Coins, the four coins merely act as a frame for this magical object in the center, this image of the flower. Whereas in the Two of Batons, there are four framed flowers surrounding the two batons. A reversal of overall form.
The large flowers in the Four of Coins, if they were to cross over each other, they would make this X form of the batons in the Two of Batons. Or if they were to flip sideways and meet, they would become like the right and left plants in the Two of Batons, leaving the smaller flowers behind to expand and float off, to become the upper and lower plants in the Two.
What was always striking in the Four of Coins is that what is framed is that which is to come, the gestating Fifth, a symbol of the future, and not the nominal focus of the Arcanum, i.e. the four coins. It is similar here—one doesn’t really focus on the two batons, even though they are in the center. They seem to be at the service of that which is gestating, the plants that are moving through some kind of metamorphic cycle.
That which is framed in both cases is a flower—albeit in the case of the Four of Coins it is just the image or depiction of a flower, and in the Two of Batons these are meant to be real flowers.
In fact here in the Two we have something almost beyond a flower coming into being, something not rooted. It is flying or floating. But still seems to be living. And maybe it isn’t an upside down flower below? Maybe that is a flower in its own right, that it works both ways. The lower one has a white blossom rather than blue, red, and yellow. That blossom is like a simplified schematic of the entirety of the upper flower, a kind of bud and then leaves branching out.
It is white, like the roots that are underground—is this a flower that has grown underground, not been exposed to light? Or more like a white rose, or a lily. Maybe this flower form is a kind of union of lily and rose—depending on which way you flip it. The upper version emphasises the rose, the lower emphasises the lily.
Tomberg writes of the Church of John as the beating heart of the Church of Peter. That there must be this esoteric/hermetic realm of depth that maintains the life of the exoteric church. But perhaps we can also say—that the Church of Peter is the beating heart of the Church of John. That maintaining this connection to tradition, this devotion to tradition, is what keeps true esotericism alive and well. The lily must be the heart of the rose and the rose must be the heart of the lily—i.e. Tradition/Mary must be the heart of the Esoteric/Rosicrucianism, and the Esoteric/Rosicrucianism must be the heart of Tradition/Mary.
On the side flowers, we see a threefold yellow form that blossoms into a twofold form. Can we see this three becoming two in the upper and lower flowers? The side flowers are in process of development, whereas the upper and lower are complete in some sense.
Maybe then we could say that this Three then Two on the sides becomes more of a Two-Two-One in the upper and lower flowers. But still kind of a Three—Two. The Two would be the leafing branches. Then the Three is made up of the two small curls of the white base, and the long central white stem leading to the flower. Almost as though this “One” is the yellow pearl on the side, and this has to grow upward through the central yellow petal, becoming the central stem with the flower in the upper form.
For a Two it has a real interweaving of numbers, e.g. Three and Two, in a way that makes them feel interlinked. This is more disjointed in the Coins, e.g. the Four of Coins is Four and Five simultaneously, but not harmoniously. There is a real tension there. This is harmonious and really multivalent.
Here, “Two” is meant as “Multiplicity, more-than-one”, displaying multiplicity itself.
The Ace on the other hand is very different. It is very singular, yet with so many potentials to reference more than the singular. But these potential multiplicities are still so much part of this one thing. The Ace is self-contained. It is an ouroboros, or like the image of all Creation a la Weinreb.
The Ace contains multiplicity, but looped back around to singularity and unity. The origin of the hand is the top of the baton. But we didn’t see into the top until the Two of Batons. The Ace of Batons is drawing all the flames into a unity, yet it is also radiating them all out.
Whereas this Two of Batons is an endless reproduction of forms. Totally orderly. Referencing each other, relatedness amongst them. Inter-referential harmony. Very symmetrical. Some are only symmetrical right to left, but this image can also be flipped upside down. Right/left and up/down symmetry.
One could draw an imaginary circle around the very center; bounded by the white knobs above and below, the red bars, and the yellow tri-leaves. The blue X right in the center.
The yellow pearls almost look like eyes…like a “Green Man” face emerging.
The yellow petals/leaves are like crows’ eyes, wrinkles. Is it smiling or glaring? Squinting?
It’s an all “eye and ear man.” No body. There might be a nose…or a brow chakra. It’s not at all like the forms we have seen in some other Arcana, where the face or animal is clear. This is still emerging from the elements, from the ether.
A very neutral personality here. It is so barely formed as a face.
That angelic yellow flower…what does that make the flowers? Riding on the waves?
Turning sideways…the angelic yellow flowers become more apparent:
The fully-formed flowers are now more spear-like. Now it seems as though all is going into the center, rather than floating off. The white portion is seed/acorn like. A seed that pops open when you touch it. Actively seeking its place of germination.
We’re back to the fish swimming upstream to spawn theme again. The fish swimming upstream are like an image of sperm swimming upstream to meet the egg.
The arrow shooting to the target. The blue crossing point.
There is an almost continual yellow space surrounding the blue.
Perhaps these yellow angels are the guiding angels of the unborn…directing the germination/conception process. The pre-incarnate child itself, guiding its own bodily formation.
We are again confronted with an above/below, left/right: the left/right is the karmic stream, the past and the future. The above/below is the individuality meeting heredity.
The large flower blossoms mirror the center. A yellow fringe around blue and red. Miniature versions of the center. And the white arrows are carrying those miniatures to the center. A marriage of opposites (they are identical, but mirror-image, therefore opposite), they are being united/married in the center. The Heiros Gamos, the Sacred Wedding. A union of complements.
They are only opposites due to the perspective. When they reach the center, they get “folded in”, the colors find their right place. But the middle is a little different: the blue is in the very center rather than the red, as in the blooms. Maybe the blue and red must turn inside out.
Why are those two flowers purely yellow? To contrast with the blue center? Or the white lily-roots?
Perhaps the Roman numeral “II” above and below (in the sideways version) are prototypical white lily-roots. More as shape than as number. Yet they are barely a shape. Not incarnate. Something totally spiritual (shape-number). And the union of the “II” with the yellow flower is what can transform into the other two flowers, a kind of exchange must happen.
Wait…what?? Where is the sequence, time?
Seeing the angel-flowers as the “parents” of the fully formed flowers on the right and left (in the sideways version). A modification of the yellow angel flower. The “II” is unformed, totally spirit-potential. It must pass through the yellow angel flower, steal the form of the yellow in order to become the white lily-root. At the same time, the yellow angel flower must be “stripped”, to reveal what was there within it but hidden. The central stem and the full blossom then can spring out of this stripped yellow angel flower. A simultaneous birth and death.
Are we back to the contrast of transcendent and immanent from the Suit of Coins? Turning again to the proper perspective:
The above and the below, the upper and lower plants, are two complete archetypes. Transcendent above and immanent below. Equal opposites, exactly the same, yet two different objects. They are mediated by this middle realm that’s never quite complete. An incompleteness that is a piece of the totality, the fullness. The realm of Time—they can only present themselves in time by being separated and coming together.
In a miniature sense, the “II” is totally transcendent, while the yellow angel flower is immanent.
…One “I” is transcendent and the other “I” is immanent…together expressing fullness…once you go down the rabbit hole, everything becomes a fractal recapitulation of this theme.
There is a center—a Cross—a place that makes it possible for these two to express themselves in time.
Does the pattern carry over to the batons themselves—the two black portions on each baton akin to the “II”?
Or the X as the “II” meeting the “outer sphere” or “other world”—the kissing of last week?
The X is unique in this image. The “II” does not cross, nor do any of the leaves. The X makes the unfolding in time possible, but also divides the eternal realms from each other. The X contains the other portions: the black refers to the “II” and white lily-roots; the yellow to the angel flowers and the collar of petals on the blossoms; and the red and blue to the central blossoms in the upper and lower flowers.
It’s funny that the “II” suddenly jumped out that way, as an actual element within the image, not just a title. At the start, Joel had been thinking about it as possibly being an “=”, as we had thought with the Suit of Cups as well, where Ace = Two = Three:
So does the Ace of Batons = Two of Batons?
With the Suit of Cups, we came to see that the Two of Cups was the other side of the Ace of Cups. If you go around to the other side of the cup-building, you find these screaming fish.
Well, maybe this has something to do with the vortex of (we assume) eight petals in the Ace of Batons? Because in the Two of Batons, we have a much more elaborate vortex of eight leaves. And it is the opposite—in the Ace, the center of the vortex (the hand) is quite clear, while the petals are partially obscured. Whereas in the Two of Batons, the center is obscured, and the focus is very much on the eight outer leaves. Two sides of the same phenomenon?
Or is the Two of Batons what we see when we look down into the baton in the Ace?
The “Hand of God” is so overt in the Ace of Batons. Almost a profane approximation of this lofty theological reality. Whereas the Two of Batons is, in a way, a more accurate representation of the “Hand of God.” What God really looks like—unrecognisable, inconceivable, irreducible.
And even in our own biographies, our destinies…to know that there is karma, that the course of history is guided by spiritual beings…but we don’t actually see it. From our perspective this deeper reason behind occurrences is obscured, unrecognisable, inconceivable, irreducible. The so-called Verse for the Michaelic Age:
We must eradicate from the soul
All fear and terror of what comes towards man out of the future.
We must acquire serenity
In all feelings and sensations about the future.
We must look forward with absolute equanimity
To everything that may come.
And we must think only that whatever comes
Is given to us by a world-directive full of wisdom.
It is part of what we must learn in this age,
namely, to live out of pure trust,
Without any security in existence.
Trust in the ever present help
Of the spiritual world.
Truly, nothing else will do
If our courage is not to fail us.
And let us seek the awakening from within ourselves
Every morning and every evening.
Balancing this faith in the highest wisdom with our feeling of “what the hell is going on??” And here, in the Two of Batons, it is a union. Layer upon layer of harmony—but we are unable to find the foundation, the essence. That is only present in the Ace of Batons, the secret source. The Two is the multiplicity arising out of a presumed unity, vs the Ace as unity containing all potentialities and memories, all multiplicity.
This is the 66th Arcanum. The Knave of Coins was the 33rd.
There is actually a lot of resonance between these two. There is a kind of pricking at the negative space in between the mirrored above and below, a kind of white triangular dagger point into which the white lily-root points. And this neutral gaze of the Green Man is mirrored in the gaze of the Knave. He is at one with what he perceives—he adds nothing and takes nothing away.
This central, crossing point of time is at the same time a neutral, not-quite-a-face. The center of gravity for two angelic forces to draw towards.
The Goethean man takes in the cosmos—vs—The gaze of God fructifying history.
God causing an unfolding/enlivening. Bestowing meaning/purpose.
Man beholding the cosmos/nature—which also completes it, makes it whole.
This face is akin to the expression of the “Cosmic Humor” in the Representative of Humanity. Beholding the unfolding drama of history, the wrestling of Lucifer and Ahriman, with Christ holding the balance/making the space.
So that’s what is at the center of the Two of Batons…either a face dissolving into the cosmic unfolding/multiplicity (vertical orientation)—or—the convergence, the structuring, the re-membering (if held sideways).
If the “II” is an equals sign, that implies “Ace = Two = Three”…a preview of the Three then:
The Three of Batons is more manageable…things have calmed down, it is more subtle and simplified. Strange leaves…beautiful though. They are somewhat reminiscent of the Two of Coins. Of course, the leaves throughout are always reminiscent of the Two of Coins, but these in particular for some reason…