Two of Coins (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 22, 2018

Tarot conversation 5/22/2018

Two of Coins

We began with the protective practice from page 422.

Then we invoked the presence and inspiration of the Risen Christ through reading the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.

After focusing on the phrase “I AM” in relation to the brow chakra, we performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence.

As a prelude to observing the Two of Coins, we read Revelation 1:10-13 and Matthew 25:14-30 (the parable of the burying of the talent).

– A recap of some thoughts that came to us throughout the week. The image of the Ace of Coins is like Paradise (the Coins) surrounded by the four rivers flowing out of it (the four plants). In the midst or center of the Garden is the Tree of Knowledge (the four-petalled flower). This is not to be eaten from. Rather is the Tree of Life to be eaten from (the 16-petalled sun/star). 

The Tree of Knowledge is eaten from and Man is expelled, out of the “light” (yellow) of the Garden and into the “darkness” (the blue plants). Notice the blue plants are miniature Trees of Knowledge (their blossoms are akin to the blossom in the center of the Coin). 

Now it is also an image of the expulsion, and the Coin becomes a Shield, the Cherubim guarding the Garden.

The closing mantra of the Grail Knight’s Practice:  the “Eye of God.” We could think of the Ace of Coins as this Eye of God, the Sense/Limb of God. Also, this mantra is a perfect example of “minting” or “coining” the spiritual onto ourselves. Eurythmy as a process of imprinting, of making ourselves into talismans that can be used by the spiritual world to invoke magic (moral deeds).

Thinking again of the levels of communion in relationship to the stages of the plant. Clearly Bread = Seed, Milk = Leaf/Stem, Honey = Flower, and Wine = Fruit. But what about the three higher stages? Resin, Oil and Fish. It is interesting that Seed, Leaf/Stem, Flower, Fruit and Resin are all more or less “natural” stages of the plant. But Oil is something different. Oil can only be extracted by Man, and can more or less be extracted from any of the other parts of the plant (seed, resin, flower especially). It is that which is “added to” through Man’s own activity. This is the communion of the brow chakra, the seat of man’s ego-awareness. On the other hand, how does Fish play into the life cycle of the plant? Here we have that which precedes the seed, for fish is an ideal compost. With the Fish communion, we have that which must be sacrificed. Unlike the other communions, it ought not to be something received by man, but something offered as nutrition and substance for something to come about. Fish is the communion of the larynx chakra, Resurrection Body—reproduction through the Larynx. Oil and Fish, then, are very special levels of Communion. 

We have come to see the spiritual activity of Yod in the Ace of Coins (in the Plane of Action) is Communion. This is the archetypal process both of coining/minting/imprinting and of exchange, and applies not only to the ritualistic sacrament of Communion in the Church, but also to true communion with Nature, Art, Spirit (what one might call the Goethean method). Notice the connection here between levels of Communion and Goethe’s Archetypal Plant!

– Reviewing Ian’s notes:

The French name for The Magician actually means “The Juggler.” Juggling is a very apt representation of the “Law of Spiritual Exchange” that we are discussing.

Yes, the ultimate Pentacle is the Five Wounds.

In his deck, the Coins are gold (not yellow).

It’s possible that the Father/Mother duality experienced in investigating the Ego is a unity presenting itself as a duality due to it being wrapped in old/negative karma. The beings and qualities of the inner world all have their doubles.

The idea of the sub-Earthly being fallen Angels in the guise of Evil in order to accomplish Divine aims. What is the effect of Christ’s Ascension through the Hierarchies on these fallen Hierarchical beings? Or recognition/remembering of them?

His impression of the shield of Perseus is of the reflecting intellect (more lunar). (Joel’s response—yes of course this is the main interpretation of this Archetype, especially for Ancient Greece’s transition into conceptual thinking. But these Archetypes are multivocal, and the Shield of Perseus can just as easily show us the spiritual activity of reflective meditation or conscience). 

Behind the Coin, the Plants are like open eclipses with the Coin, going in the two directions. 

16 pointed Star/Sun/Flower is numerologically 7.

In the second part of Faust, Mephistopheles is the one who comes up with the idea of paper currency, a letter or a sign of all the potential gold in the hills of the kingdom. The Sacred Art revealed to us in The World might be the only real thing worth exchanging for, remembering that money can represent anything. 

What about the parable of the talents? (Note – in our last conversation, I failed to note that when we were discussing the nature of our relationship to Tradition, that it must be defended and expanded, not either abandoned or adhered to in a limited and dead form, we compared this to the parable of the talents. We tend to bury the Talent—i.e. ignoring Tradition altogether, or fixing it in place, making a circle of the Spiral of Living Tradition. We need to “invest the talents” given by the king.)

Every photograph is a still from a movie. In pondering substitution/exchange, we must keep in mind continuity. 

In the beginning, God makes a space within himself in which (New) Creation can exist.

– Observation of the Marseilles Two of Coins in relation to The Judgement and the Sola Busca Two of Coins:

Noticing the similarities and differences between these two coins and the single coin on the Ace. There is one dot in the center of the coins rather than 12. There are 10 petals on the outer flower rather than 16. They seem to be more elaborate, more detailed than the Ace of Coins. Surrounding the ten petalled flower, there are sixty yellow stripes. 

It is interesting that the blue ribbon is red underneath, where the flowers originate.

There are five designs along the banner, two of which are the same. One of these patterns, the one at the top, matches the form of the many ribbons in the Sola Busca. The design which appears twice is like a miniature version of the geometry of the Arcanum, only reversed. It almost looks like a treble clef, some kind of musical notation. The other two forms are a kind of Angelic shape and a cross of the Knights of Malta or something like that. (Note – actually a Patonce Cross).

Treble Clef Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock
File:Patonce cross 'paty' wiki.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

– The underside of the yellow leaves is red, and of the blue leaves is white. 

This exposure of the “flip side.” Makes one think of “flipping a coin.” Even more broadly, both coins and cards are used in games of chance or Fortune. Fortune has the dual meaning of 1) a lot of money (coin) or 2) destiny, luck, fate. And in both of these games of fortune, it is the flipping of the coin or card that reveals the chance, the fate, the fortune. The gesture of flipping over, of revealing the underside, is tied to the dealing out of fortune.

– The Angelic form is very flower like. Almost like a dragonfly or a butterfly. Are the forms mirroring the different parts of the plant?

– The plant element is clearly attached to the banner and not the two coins. Unlike the ambiguity of the Ace, in which we wondered whether or not the plants were emerging from the Coin itself, or from something hidden below it.

Why are the coins bound by the banner? What is the banner? Why is it unfurling into flowers?

The blue banner is like a river, a watery element creating a watery flow between the two coins, which are like islands. The red beneath is expressive of the active aspect of the invisible/spiritual that we only see the effects of in the river. 

Where the blue overlaps the coin creates a strip of green. This overlapping never happens in the Ace of Coins; it is only blue vs yellow. Here the two meet. Along with flow comes green (life).

– Looking at the difference between the coins on Two vs Ace once again. In both we have a central four petalled flower, but only a single dot in the middle of those on Two rather than the 12 dots in the middle of the one on the Ace. The four petals have a double edge in the Ace and a single edge in the Two. The leave of the flower are black in the two vs yellow in the Ace. Then a double circle (this is the same in both). The Ace of Coins then has a double layer of 16 points, creating a kind of 32 pointed star. The Two of Coins have a double layer of ten waves or ripples, creating 20 waves in total. The Ace of Coins then finishes with another double circle. With the Two of Coins, there are 60 yellow stripes surrounding the waves; then two double circles in succession, the outermost of which is about 75% green due to overlapping with the blue banner. These coins are certainly more complex than the Ace of Coins. 

There was black shading at the base of the plants on the Ace of Coins. This has transformed into both the green on the edges of the coins as well as the words and patterns along the banner. The bottom rim of red on each of the Ace plants has become the red on the underside of the banner. Each of the other three portions of the plants from the Ace are more or less the same, but have transformed a bit. Notice the stems are blue in the Ace and white in the Two.

– Looking at the geometry of the curved plants in the Ace, it seems that the upper left and lower right plants have merged in order to create the banner/plants of the Two of Coins. The Coin itself has somehow split into two—by sacrificing the other two plants? Or merging with them? 

– Thinking of Ian’s contribution of “The Juggler” in relation to the Coin/Exchange. This is a perfect image, actually, of the Law of Spiritual Exchange. The Juggler is completely in the moment, in the present. However, he does so by constantly living in potential (balls in the air) and realization of potential (caught balls) simultaneously. His “eternal present” is the simultaneity of Alpha and Omega, it only consists of constant exchange of beginning and end. This is exactly what is expressed by the Ace of Coins. The “Flash of Eternity” = Alpha and Omega simultaneously = Eternal Present. 

With the Two of Coins, on the other hand, we have something less related to The Juggler and Mysticism, and more related to High Priestess, Gnosis, Reflection. With The Judgement as a point of reference for the Two of Coins, we might say Memory is what is being expressed (Memory as the younger sibling of Resurrection and Awakening). In any act of gnosis/reflection, memory is implied. We cannot reflect upon something that we cannot recall in memory.

With the Two of Coins, we have less to do with the Flash of Eternity, and more to do with Time and Relationship. The Ace seems somehow colder in comparison, more fixed and lifeless in comparison with Two. The complexity of the Coins in Two brings about the optical illusion of rotation, whereas there is stillness in the Coin of the Ace.

It would be very fruitful to study Garfield’s epistemology more closely. He speaks of a “primal imagination” or participation, in which one’s inner state identifies completely with an outer phenomenon, thereby “participating” in the actual coming-into-being of the phenomenon. Then there is a “secondary imagination,” in which these primal experiences are collected in the memory and become the basis for artistic creation. We might see these two as analogous to the Communion of the Ace of Coins and the Memory of the Two of Coins, and both tied very intimately to the Goethean method of scientific observation and artistic creation.

– Notice we have 16 points in the Ace of Coins vs 10 waves in the Two of Coins. 16 = Mars and 10 = Mercury. These are the Red and Blue pillars respectively: Knowledge and Life, Fire and Water, Severity and Mercy.

– If the banner was ever closed all the way (prior to unfurling flowers), then it was a lemniscate. This brings us back to the rotational/movement quality of this card vs the Ace. The gesture of the Ace of Coins is much more point vs periphery, expansion and contraction. Not really movement, just change in size. Whereas one cannot look at a lemniscate without moving internally. A lemniscate is the geometrical image of movement.

It reminds one of Rudolf Steiner’s Point and Circle meditation from the Curative Course. One is meant to imagine an ever-expanding yellow circle around an ever diminishing blue point in the evening, and in the morning an ever expanding blue circle and an ever diminishing yellow point.

They cross each other and “flipe” or invert in an invisible realm (this is related to projective geometry). This means somewhere beyond the realm of inner visualization they cross as in a lemniscate. One might say they do this invisible flipe at midday and at midnight. The Ace of Coins = morning and evening, Two of Coins = Noon and Midnight. The invisible realm of the flipe is a region we are meant to get to know, a region from which the right ideas will be given to us at the right time.

– The yellow dominates in the Ace, whereas the blue has become equally prominent in Two.

– In both cards, the relationship between and amongst the elements is ambiguous. With the Ace, it is unclear whether the plants grow out of the Coin or not. With the Two, we wonder whether the banner is just wrapped around the coins? Or is it emanating from them? How is it related to the fact that one coin has split into two?

There is a symbol shaped like a ribbon at the top. It is very flimsy, sanguine, floating. It is “extra”, in that there are two of the same at the beginning and the end, and then the Angelic form and Cross which seem related. And in the form of ribbon itself, it really seems extra, as in superfluous, decorative. 

Let’s take note of the splitting up of the banner’s inscriptions. There are 7 divisions: 1) Musical Note, 2) Date, 3) Cross, 4) Name, 5) Angel, 6) Date, 7) Ribbon/Musical Note. Note that there is no dividing line between the last two symbols, they go together. 

Actually, the entire banner is a kind of ribbon. In the Sola Busca, there are wreaths and rings that are adorned and attached using 7 ribbons. 

– Looking at the Ace of Coins in the Sola Busca, we see three Angels, an ox skull, garlands with ribbons adorning the top, a star over on Angel, a very prominent shield upheld by another Angel, and a banner over the shield. Quite a bit more in the way of heaviness and weight in this one.

In the Sola Busca Two of Coins, we see wreaths, ribbons, rings, and the profile of two faces. Ring vs Shield. This again brings us into the difference between the coins in the Marseille Ace vs Two. A shield is something solid, of a piece, impenetrable. A ring brings us into this realm of movement, rotation, time. In fact the coins in the Marseille Two of Coins have a kind of depth to them, you could look into them like a ring.  

The ring in the Sola Busca Two of Coins is holding together the two wreaths with the two profiles. Marriage of opposites. This could be two men of different types or it could be a man and a woman. The profiles are framed by the wreaths:  again, a frame is open, like a ring. Everything in the Two of Coins (SB) is floating, whereas the Ace of Coins (SB) has the ground, and an Angel holding up the large shield. 

– In the Marseille Tarot, the Ace has a strong foreground and background. The Coin is in the foreground and the plants are in the background. In the Two of Coins, everything is happening on the same plane, there isn’t a foreground and background in the Coin vs the Ribbon/Plants. But it is within the coins themselves that we see depth. The pattern on these two coins plays tricks on one’s eyes, one feels one can see into them or that they are rotating. 

– Comparing the Two of Coins to the High Priestess or the Judgement. There is a clear hierarchy here, a higher and a lower, rather than equity or equality. It expresses balance. We read in the 2nd Letter-Meditation on the High Priestess about the descent of revelation from mystical experience, to thought/memory, to word, and finally to book. A hierarchy of descent/incarnation.  

The Ace of Coins doesn’t really have an up or down. It is the same regardless of which way it is oriented. But with the Two of Coins the writing on the banner differentiates an above and below. The ribbon like form ought to be at the top. This writing is sevenfold and expresses the seven fold human being or seven fold cosmos (First symbol = physical; first date = time/ether body; second symbol = astral body; name = ego; third symbol = spirit self; second date = time/spirit life; fourth symbol is an elaboration of the first = resurrection body). Sevenfoldness is an expression of metamorphosis in Time. Time has a definite before/after; it has a hierarchy and an order to its unfolding.

– In the Ace of Coins, we could look at the image two ways:  as though the flowers were beginning to unfurl or as though the flowers were dying into the coin. It could go in two directions:  life or death. Here there is no ambiguity. The flowers are definitely unfolding. There is no clear way to wrap the banner up again, to put it back to a lemniscate. Although it is interesting that if one were to do so, the two forms indicating physical body/resurrection body would intersect with the “name” or Ego on the banner—the Stone of the Physical meeting the Stone of the Ego.

It is also not totally clear how this image has arisen out of the Ace of Coins. The metamorphosis is not so clear as in the Major Arcana. That is because here, with the Minor Arcana, we are dealing with the Sephiroth themselves, with “nodes of Eternity,” Names of God. They are not metamorphic, the are separate but united in essence. The Majors are the 22 Paths, hence they are metamorphic, unfolding in time. Even though this particular Sephira expresses the metamorphic aspect of the Godhead, it still stands alone, as a wholeness.

In fact, it’s not just that it can’t be “wrapped back up.” It also can’t be unwrapped all the way—what would happen then? Would the coins fall down?

These are very much like playing cards of geometrical forms. Snapshots.

– There is more life and fertility in the Two of Coins vs the Ace.

It seems as though the Ace is trying to get two opposite things to unite, but is failing at it because two opposites don’t properly exist yet in the Ace of Coins. It is straining to unite that which hasn’t really differentiated yet, it is only differentiated in potential, not in reality.  

With the Two of Coins, a flow can exist, because an actual polarity has come about, rather than a potential polarity that hasn’t incarnated all the way yet. With an actual polarity, true resolution and flow can begin to happen. 

The Ace of Coins is something pre-incarnatory, pre-creation. Only Above. It is reaching out for something that isn’t there. (We are looking at this from a bird’s eye view:  the Coin is above the plants, and is obscuring what is beneath it, i.e. whatever is below is not completely there yet). 

The Two of Coins has an actual Above and Below. Like the seed splitting, sending some forces below through the roots, and some above through the stem. (Now the perspective has shifted from a bird’s eye view to being next to the object. We see clearly the above and below).

Maybe we have been looking at the Ace incorrectly. Everything in this image is what is happening within the seed itself. There are no roots appearing here, no flowers. The boundary of the card itself is like the shell of the seed. What is happening within the seed then is recapitulated in the actual metamorphosis of the plant out of the seed.

With the Two of Coins, Water flowing has brought about sprouting and growth. The Ace is dryer. It is all light and earth and heat.

– We now switch our perspective of both the Ace and Two of Coins, and look at them horizontally rather than vertically, placing the Ace above the Two. This is aesthetically pleasing, and gives a different impression of the activity of the cards. It looks much more like a cell dividing. But even with this orientation, there is a “right” and “wrong” way to orientate the Two, whereas the Ace can go either way.

– We might resolve this question of unity vs duality in the Ace of Coins by characterizing it thus:  it is a unity in that it is like a seed, but within this seed are two separate natures that know nothing of each other. Each of them is alone, is a unity unto itself, as it knows nothing of the other. Only in the Two of Coins, with the influence of outer elements (water, air soil), do the two parts of the seed become aware of each other and begin to interact, relate, flow—they become a true polarity that interacts and brings about growth, but only by being exposed to the elements, i.e. by incarnating.

We could think of the baby and the placenta within the mother.  

– Usually flowers are not one of the first stages to manifest in plant development. But here the flower forms are the most developed, vs the leaf, stem, root etc. In the physical realm we see the flower and seed as discrete, as stages separated by time. But in the realm of mysticism (the spiritual) they are united in a primal, mystical state. Here seed and flower are one.

– Reflecting on the mood that has arisen out of this conversation in relation to the primal activity of seeking to resolve a polarity that doesn’t yet exist. This is the fundamental mystical state; it is one of the most extreme tension, of longing, one might even say of suffocation. It is only relieved by the creative act which results in the sought-for polarity, and the resultant flow/exchange. It is analogous to holding one’s breath for too long, and then finally breathing—only imagine this state of non-breathing as the state of the Godhead before Time, and the Breathing of the Godhead is Time itself unfolding.

But doesn’t this just remind us of the beginning of Earth evolution? When all of the experiences of Moon evolution have dissipated and been assimilated in the pralaya, and only their essence remains in the Creator Beings. This essence is felt as a tension, as unresolved karma and unfinished work, which is then “breathed out” as the new creative work of Earth Evolution.

Certainly this is the way that Steiner characterizes Moses’s description in the Book of Genesis. The Spirit of God brooding over the Waters—Steiner says this is descriptive of the Archai (=Primal Beginnings) brooding, like hens, over the “Waters,” over the etheric “eggs” of Earth evolution. They are brooding, ruminating over Moon Evolution, before speaking out what must occur next in Earth Evolution.

This implies that this feeling of tension, of suffocation, of longing is not the primal state of the Godhead prior to creation, but only of the Archai prior to Earth Evolution. But we can go even further back. When we read the descriptions in Occult Science of the very beginning of Time, we see that it is in the middle of Saturn evolution. We read of Spirits of Will—Spirits of Burning Desire—sacrificing a portion of their being so that the physical world can come about. Prior to this, the word Time has no meaning. We can think of an Eternity of Longing, of Burning Desire, that is only relieved at the beginning of Time by the “out breathing” of the Substance of Will by the Spirits of Will. An eternal desire to bring about flow, a state of tension without polarity, of the desire to bring about polarity so that exchange can come into being—this is the fundamental mystical mood, the fundamental state of the Godhead in Duration (antecedent to Time).

– Thinking of the Midnight Hour of the Soul, where one must take the Draught of Forgetfulness in order to be able to create a new identity for oneself. Yes, evolution and Time are a continuity, but with rather extreme breaks. How does eternity/duration resolve itself with flow, metamorphosis, biography, history, destiny? The Archetypal Realm, the region of the Spiritual Hierarchies is somehow still in touch with this Eternal Realm without it causing ruptures in their sense of identity. They clearly have a history and biographies, as shown by the account of Occult Science. It isn’t as though they are unchanging. But they don’t seem to be thrown into the extreme experience of the Eternal and the Temporal the way that human beings are, in that we forget the experience of the other when we are immersed in one of them. How does the Archetypal Realm live in both worlds simultaneously?

We might see the Godhead as the region of pure Duration, of pure Eternity. This is what we approach at the Midnight Hour. As we descend the ladder of the Hierarchies, we begin to see a blend of Duration and Destiny. Destiny begins to take more and more the upper hand as we descend the Hierarchies, Duration (Eternity) less and less. By the time we reach human beings, we experience a very special group in which Duration and Destiny are both experienced, but must be exchanged for one another; they no longer exist at one and the same time as with the Hierarchies. Below man, it is by and large Destiny (Time, Death, Entropy) that is experienced, rather than Eternity, until we reach the Stone, where Destiny has completely the upper hand over Duration—a realm of total entropy (the mirror reflection of the Godhead).

But this results in so many interacting dimensions and realms of experience. How does one set the frame of reference? How does that come about? For example, in our original frame of reference for the Ace of Coins, we saw a seed sprouting its roots. But now, with the frame of reference reached in the Two of Coins, we see that the Ace was actually an image of the interior of the seed, that nothing had sprouted until the Two. 

Or with the whole question of identity, as we head closer and closer to a time in which individuals will be aware of their karmic lineage (e.g. Robert). What becomes the frame of reference? One’s current lifetime? One of one’s past lifetimes? Or somehow integrating many lifetimes and perspectives into a harmony? Robert is a very ideal example of someone being able to reach a new level of integration in the face of a new frame of reference. 

But this begs the question, is there some kind of super-structure that stands above or encapsulates all these sense-perceptible forms and perspectives? How can we say that any particular frame of reference is the “correct” one?

The answer is not a super-structure, but a being:  Christ. Christ resolves all frames of reference. Not to say that he is the “correct” frame of reference. Rather, he is the Being that puts all of these various frames of reference, each of which is valid in its own right, into right relationship with one another. Karmic clairvoyance, for example, can only be integrated properly with the current personality through the power of Christ. 

– Next time, let’s bring in a focus on the etymology of the words “money,” “mint,” and “coin.” 

– We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone in eurythmy.