Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on May 29, 2018
Tarot Conversation May 29, 2018—Two of Coins
We began with the protective practice from page 422 of Meditations on the Tarot.
We invoked the presence and inspiration of the Risen Christ through reading the second stanza of the Foundation Stone Meditation.
We then focused on the mantra I AM, centered on the brow chakra, and performed the fourth part of the Inner Radiance Sequence.
The quotes used to bring us into the Two of Coins were Revelation 1:14-16 and Matthew 2:9-11 (The Gifts of the Magi, following the Star).
– There is a slight difference between the two symbols that bookend the banner that are for the most part identical: the lower one has only one dot, the upper one has two dots. The lower one is more immersed in shadow than the upper one.
– When we look at The Judgement, we can see the same S/lemniscate form of the two of coins in the clouds around the Angel.
– The flowers growing out of the unraveling of the banner: they are, like the flowers in the Ace of Coins, pointing themselves towards the coins. If we imagine the banner continuing to unfold, the flowers will only grow closer and closer to the coins, in a spiral formation.
We might imagine the form of this image prior to the banner unfolding as two coins distinctly separated by a lemniscate banner. One coin in the center of the upper portion of the lemniscate, the other in the center of the lower portion.
As the banner disappears, releasing the growing flower, the form changes to two coins with an S-shaped plant overtop of them. This plant has two flowers growing out of it: one centered on the coin above, one centered on the coin below. Surrounding each central flower is a spiral of stem, covering the entirety of the coin (or moving “into” the coin, if we continue to view the coins as portals, with depth).
So we begin with two distinct entities (the coins), held in place or framed by a blue lemniscate. We end with two distinct entities that are united by two interconnected spirals. (see picture for an indication of this form. The coins would have to be imagined underneath the spirals. The blossoming flower would be in the center of the spirals).
– The two coins are fructified versions of the coin in the Ace. We see 10 waves and 60 radiating lines in these coins. The waves give the quality of life, mobility, throbbing/pulsing. Rhythm. The straight lines are a true radiating. Whereas the Ace coin is much more a static image than an activity. The 16 star/sun rays could be seen as radiating, but are also thorn like or horn like. Like the shield image, they are hard, protective. Not truly radiating like the 60 straight lines. These 60 straight lines call up the image of a combination lock, or a clock, the passage of time (60 lines = minute or hour).
– Going back to this fundamental theme of money and exchangeability. We might use the word “equivalency”, one thing being equivalent to another. The Ace’s imagery revolves around the Sun and Flower. The explosive, unfolding quality of the Ace: conversion. The Ace depicts the fundamental example of the principle of equivalency in the Cosmos: Sun and Flower. We have the axiom “As Above, So Below” embodied and coincident in a single image/object/space. The core representation of this is the presence of both the Sun and the Flower on the Coin itself: the equivalency sharing the same space, still a unity. Then the secondary representation of this is the Coin as a whole vs the four plants, where the Coin has become the representative of the Sun interacting with the flowers external to itself.
How do we look at this correctly? How do we resolve this hierarchy or descent of the primal equivalency from within the Coin to an interaction between Coin and an externality?
Looking back at our conversation last week, we actually came to a startling success in terms of a Goethean conversation. We discussed the Ace of Coins as all happening within a seed; that perhaps the unity of a seed has within it two distinct entities that are “alone”, they are not interacting with each other. Hence, even though there are two of them, they are still “unities”, as they do not interact. They are alone, isolated. We came to the conclusion that at the moment of germination, something happens within this seed that then recapitulates itself outside of the seed in the growth of the plant. We spoke of baby and placenta within the mother as an example of this, that embryogenesis then recapitulates in the growth and development of the human being after birth.
After this conversation, Joel thought of an egg—it appears to be a unity, but within it is both white and yolk, two separate entities. Then he decided to investigate the make-up of a seed (which he probably should have known anyway). It turns out, the nature and activity of a seed is exactly in line with the conclusion we came to simply through a process of rigorous imagination, in other words we came to a Truth that was only confirmed by external research, not discovered by external research. This is exactly the way in which Goethe operated.
A seed has three parts: a shell (which gives it the form of a unity), and within this shell we find two parts: the food and the germinal plant (the food surrounding the germinal plant). When the seed begins to germinate, the germinal (inner) plant begins to consume the food within the shell; then the developing (outer) plant recapitulates this process, by using its environment in the same way the germinal plant used the food portion of the seed.
Here we have exactly what we had spoken of. The appearance of a unity (shell of a seed), inside of which we have two parts (germinal plant and food) that do not interact with each other; they are isolated, alone, unities. At the moment of germination, they begin to interact. This interaction is the “model” or basis of what then takes place throughout the entire life cycle of the plant.
We can see the Ace of Coins as the gesture of this: we begin with the Coin, the Seed/Unity that has within it two entities that are not interacting with each other (static, no growth). Then when we consider the Ace of Coins as a whole, including the four growing plants, we might see this as still all happening within the seed: due to a new environment, an externality being added (analogous to soil, air, water, heat—four elements), the seed comes to life, germinates, and the germinal plant begins to consume the food. We might see the Arcanum as a whole as an image of the germinal plant (four plants) consuming the food (the Coin)—exchange. In fact, Steiner speaks of a flash of light seen etherically when the seed begins to germinate.
We have, then, a gesture of two separate unities that begin to interact with each other due to some new element coming in, transforming their simple duality (side by side) to a true polarity. A polarity, then, has the potential to resolve and marry the duality, resulting in a transfer to a new plane, a new level of development—in other words, a new polarity that needs to be resolved.
The Two of Coins is more this image of the germinal plant emerging and becoming the true plant, the polarity developing between plant and environment (Sun and Flower).
– The Two of Coins certainly has much more the quality of the High Priestess (reflective), whereas the Ace is really presenting an archetypal being/activity in the same way the Magician does.
– What is money’s true, unique value? Its unique value lies in this activity of carrying the quality of equivalency, of “As Above, So Below,” the archetypal representation of this being Sun and Flower.
What, then, is the value or equivalency being depicted in the Two of Coins?
There is not such a precise answer as in the Ace of Coins, which is in the nature of the image itself: it has a much more ambiguous/watery quality. The two is more about motion, whereas the Ace is a static representation. The Two is more like an image created via motion (like a spinning top or a flow-form). Again, we think of the “flipping of the coin” or the spinning of the coin—fortune, chance, reversal. These three can only come about through motion, time, change.
What we have is Eternity (Ace) vs Evolution (Two):
Ace vs Two
Fire/Flash vs Water/Flow
Eternal vs Fate/Fortune/Chance
Conception vs Gestation/Growth
Germination vs Life cycle of Plant
Life/Death vs The miniature life and death that occurs within the process of living (respiration, digestion). We see this in the banner/8 becoming the spiral plants. Everything here is on the same plane, hence respiration and digestion can occur. When beings and activities are on two different planes (as they seem to be in the Ace of Coins), no respiration or digestion can occur, no exchange with the environment, because the environment is “removed” from the subject. Only a sort of rumination can occur. Or…
Vertical vs. Horizontal respiration.
There is only the “flash from the above/Eternal” descending in the Ace of Coins, a vertical respiration. More revelatory. Whereas the Two of Coins expresses something more of the nature of horizontal respiration, breathing proper.
Notice that both Ace and Two can carry a value of five.
With the Ace of Coins, clearly we have a value of one, which relates it to The Magician (1), Wheel of Fortune (10), and The Sun (19).
If we take it as the 22nd Arcanum, after a 21 card deck (Fool = 0), then it has a value of 4, which relates it to The Emperor (4) and Death (13).
If we take it as the 23rd Arcanum, after a 22 card deck (Fool = 21), then it has a value of 5, which relates it to the Pope (5) and Temperance (14).
So the Ace of Coins is 1, 4, and 5.
The Two of Coins is clearly a value of two, which relates it to the High Priestess (2), Force (11) and The Judgement (20).
But if we take it as the 23rd Arcanum, after a 21 card deck (Fool = 0), then it has a value of 5, which relates it to the Pope (5) and Temperance (14).
If we take it as the 24th Arcanum, after a 22 card deck (Fool = 21), then it has a value of 6, which relates it to the Lover (6) and the Devil (15).
So the Two of Coins is 2, 5, and 6.
So the “meeting point” of the two is in the number Five, in Pope and Temperance. And both are certainly very strong images of the respiration and exchange happening with the Pope (vertical respiration) and Temperance (inspiration, thinking in chorus with the Angel, flow between vessels).
– We have a new sense for the High Priestess now. The banner in the Two of Coins is expressing the creative power of the invisible realm, the spiritual realm. Perhaps it is also expressing what is invisible/immanent in the High Priestess. Maybe it is related to her canopy? She is also experiencing a kind of vertical respiration but different from the Pope. With the Pope, something seems to be descending from another plane into the Pope, a true vertical respiration. With the High Priestess, there isn’t necessarily the entry of something from a different plane: the source of her revelation is her heart. There are concentric layers around her (the canopy, the tiara, etc.) that amplify and generate the gnosis that lives as a seed in her heart. It isn’t a flash as with the Magician; the layers around her allow it to become gradually, generatively known. We think of Mary at Pentecost. Tomberg describes this moment of Pentecost as the time when prophetic revelation became apostolic revelation. It was no longer simply the prophet as an impersonal vessel for divine revelation—it became a matter of the heart, a personal matter. This was facilitated via Mary, who experienced Christ in the Heart first and most powerfully.
In the Magician, he speaks of the ascent of consciousness at the same time being a descent, into the heart/rhythmic system. The Pope is the vertical respiration focused above, whereas the High Priestess is focused on the heart. We might relate the Pope to ecstasy and the High Priestess to enstasy? But we can’t have strict equivalencies (ha ha) here.
– Her canopy is more behind than above. The banner is also related to the book in her lap. The canopy mirrors the book, even in shape/form.
– Looking again at the banner. It is essentially (if not artistically) united with the canopy and the book. They are all expressive of both the record (memory) of creation, and/or the creative command of the spiritual world (divine plan/intention), unfolding in Time.
A movement from Canopy to Book to Banner—the creative activity becoming more and more visible, exposing its activity. The banner is seven-fold. 7 = 7 pillars of Creation. All that occurs in seven stages is that which unfolds in time, through metamorphosis.
It is, in a way, related to the canopy and book as well in its gesture of unfolding.
1. The canopy collects the otherwise fleeting inspiration of the spiritual world.
2. The inspirations become words written in the book, a record or plan.
3. The power of the words unfolds in the banner—what they do in the world. The invisible power of Water (Ether) = flow, power of life.
– What we were observing by this point:
Looking at High Priestess/Force/Judgement/Two of Coins = the Power of the Word unfolding in Time.
First, in the High Priestess, Archetypally (completely spiritual). Then, in Force, in the face of Instinct/lower nature. Then, in The Judgement, as Resurrection (in the face of Death). The Two of Coins then finally shows the Word Itself, primal, foundational. Not in a specifically human context. Throughout all four of these cards, there are many lemniscates, especially in the upper portions of the images (Force’s hat, Judgement clouds).
– The High Priestess has been transformed through this discussion. The lemniscate was hidden in the High Priestess, now it is somehow there, shining through—is it in her eyes?
If we look at the gesture of the Canopy, Stole, and Book, it creates an unopened (sealed) lemniscate, i.e. the power of life is still immanent and contained, not active and unfolding.
– Looking for a moment at the etymological root of the words “minting” and “money.” The path leads back to the word “Moneta.” The origin of this word comes from two different Greco-Roman goddesses. One was Mnemosyne, daughter of Uranus and Gaia, goddess of Memory. She was the mother of the 9 Muses via Zeus. Most of these Muses are related to song, drama, dance, poetry but also history and astronomy. Departed souls swam in the stream of Lethe (forgetfulness) prior to incarnating again. In the Orphic mysteries, students drank from the pool of Mnemosyne (memory) and transcended this forgetfulness of past lives and the Transcendental Self. Here the themes of reincarnation, memory, Muse (amusement, Musing, Music) and the arts are all tied into a single Being. Concepts that have become analogous at best nowadays emerged from a single primal “representation” (to use Barfield’s terminology).
On the other hand, this word comes from the worship of one particular epithet or aspect of Juno, Juno Moneta. Juno was the sister and wife of Jupiter (the equivalents of Hera and Zeus, respectively). Juno had a multiplicity of epithets, and was honored variously as Queen, Mother, and Warrior. She was the goddess of fertility, of the menstrual cycle, of all beginnings (the first day of the month belonged to her). She was also a warrior goddess, expressing the vitality of the young soldier but also the mother aspect of protectress of the community. She wore a garb similar to the Greek Athena, particularly bearing a similar Aegis (shield) to Athena. And under the warrior aspect of Juno Moneta, coins were produced, she was the goddess of money. So here another multiplicity of activities and ideas are united in the being of Juno.
And with both, we see multiplicity within a unity as a theme.
The source of the word Moneta is either “to warn” or “unique.” It is also related to other words meaning “to intend” and “to think.” The image of a Counsellor (a Muse, like Sophia at the beginning of Creation) arises.
Coin as a placeholder which allows things to happen (to begin). Coin is also a record keeper of things paid for or owed to someone. This brings in the whole theme of karma and debt. The memory of transactions.
It feels as though all of the “2” cards (High Priestess, Force, Judgement, Two of Coins) are particularly related to this family of meanings emerging from “Moneta.”
– With the Ace of Coins, we were subconsciously hesitant to address the shadow side of the Arcanum, that associated with the Fours, Emperor and (particularly) Death: loneliness, death, contraction, wilting, decay, stagnation, an “on and off” switch. But this contrast between life and death is a core piece to really digesting the Ace of Coins.
Here, we have a similar hesitation around approaching the Two of Coins as a Six: the Lover and (particularly) The Devil. Here the whole dichotomy of Good and Evil comes to the fore rather than Life and Death.
There is undeniably a serpentine quality to the Two of Coins.
The Lover and The Devil have a similar landscape, many horizontal lines on golden ground.
There is a similarity between The Devil and The Judgement (like polar opposites, Angel releasing and Devil binding), but also between the Lover and the Judgement. The same ground appears again in The Judgement, around the coffin!
And we realize these are related to the straight lines radiating on the two coins in the Two of Coins. Possibly also on the trumpet in the Judgement.
Horizontal layers. Moments of transition, instability. Rough ground, waves, rumbling. In The Judgement, the coffin is in the midst of this kind of ground. We think of the earthquake at Christ’s Resurrection. According to Judith von Halle there were three such earthquakes, and all three were related to Christ pushing Sorat further into the sub-earthly spheres (into the center of the Earth). The confrontation between Good and Evil is related to the rumbling transition.
The banner seems linked somehow to the bonds of enslavement in The Devil. There is also a lemniscate of moral decision in The Lover. Who does he choose, will he be guided from above? Whether it is the power of the bond being broken, upheld, or distorted, it is none-the-less present.
What arises is a theme of marriage. The Devil shows us an unholy marriage, The Lover a Holy Marriage.
– Marriage as a sacrament. Are each of the seven sacraments an exchange of some kind? Baptism, marriage, confirmation, communion, confession, ordination, last rites—all involve an exchange.
– Is there a way of uniting, of marrying the two coins in the Two of Coins? No. They are interacting via the banner of plants. In the transition from a banner lemniscate to the spirals of flowers, they become interconnected but not identical/united.
– Ace is very root-like, pretty stemmy. With the Two there is much greater emphasis on flower rather than stem. The root and stem are implied as being deeper beneath the banner, not unveiled.
In the Ace, clearly the flower and the sun are a unity even though they are distinct. The plant form is clearly related to the coin in the center.
With the Two, the two coins are identical, yet not intrinsically united. This is the opposite of the flowers and coin in the Ace, which are not identical, but are intrinsically united. The two coins, rather, are reflections of each other, mirroring. Related more to reflective consciousness than identification/union.
If we view the two coins as rotating, we begin to see that it is their rotation that makes the banner unfold and the plant to grow. They are not substantially united, nor are they even essentially identical. They are united in effort, in their cooperation, in their work. They can together “play” the plant into being by going at different or varying speeds. Again, what is within this Arcanum relies on movement and not only on static imagery/geometry.
Any marriage or partnership has to operate in this way. United only in purpose, in coordinated effort, but totally distinct in being and substance, in persona.
In the Sola Busca, we have two very different human “types,” united with ribbons, rings, marriage, celebration.
– Last week we spoke of the deep longing and tension that precedes the creation of an interactive polarity that relieves that tension. It makes one think of the section of the Our Mother Prayer that petitions “the Eternal Pain of the Father be stilled.” The Eternal Pain of the Father is not some kind of torture or normal suffering. It is the suffering of longing, the longing to create, to behold the Other, relationship, interaction. The Eternal (pre-temporal) Pain of the Creator.
– Looking at a quote from the book Romantic Religion, about the Inklings. Barfield speaks of Christ as the “transforming agent” behind all history, all evolution, leading us eventually to “final participation”—a simultaneous identification with the Godhead that yet retains our individuality. He points to the fact that the Catholic Church only sees Christ as (and we quote) the “Flash and the Prolongation,” a one-time appearance of Christ that we are, in a sense, only experiencing the continuing momentum of. History is more or less meaningless in this view; all that matters is the content of revelation in the Church, and especially the Christ event. All that matters is the “Flash of Eternity,” and they discard the “Paths of Evolution.” Barfield sees this dismissal of the deep meaning of history as the root of the disenchantment of the youth with life in general, that life is essentially meaningless.
We are reminded again of the parable of the Talents. The Church buries the Talents (the Flashes of Eternity), keeping them separate from the Paths (History/Evolution). This creates a situation in which the Paths are on their own, the meaningless materialistic evolution of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. Atheism, ennui. The Flash becomes only Death, and the Paths become only Devil. This is exactly what happened at the Fall: the serpent (Devil) took our gaze off of the Eternal, he separated Coin from Path. Thence, God became the curse of Death and the Path became the Devil, the evolutionary path of the Serpent.
We must “invest” Christ, we must unite him with evolution and history. It is only when Coin and Path are together that the Tree of Life exists.
– We have experienced an Explosion with the Ace of Coins. Now, with the Two of Coins, we have experienced a Tidal Wave, the rapids, a waterfall.
Ace of Coins = Eden, Creation.
Two of Coins = Adam and Eve, the Fall, Cain and Abel.
At first, this idea of “dual unity” in the Ace of Coins transitioning into the polarity of the Two of Coins was seen as a kind of four-foldness. It was confusing. This was because our perspective of the Ace of Coins is “bird’s eye view.” We assume a hidden object or being beneath the Coin. The Coin is the Above, the four plants are Below.
Then when we moved to observing the Two of Coins, we brought with us this “bird’s eye view,” and assumed two explicit objects (the two visible coins) and two “hidden” objects akin to whatever it is that is obscured by the Ace Coin.
But the Two of Coins demands a different perspective. We are not looking as though from the perspective of the Above looking towards the Below. We are looking face to face with this structure. We can see it from top to bottom, but not “around back” so to speak.
In fact, in a certain sense the Ace of Coins could be a view from above of the Two of Coins. The second coin is what is obscured. With the two of coins, what might be obscured are two other flowers. It could be that the two flowers that we see are branching off “towards” the viewer, and are obscuring two other flowers branching off “away” from the viewer. Seen from above, this would give us the four-fold plant structure of the Ace of Coins. This overall form is hinted at in the symbol which repeats itself on the banner, especially the upper symbol which has two “dots” (equivalent to coins). These two dots are above and below an “S” curve that branches off into two directions at each end.
We ended with the fourth stanza of the Foundation Stone mediation in eurythmy.