Two of Swords (I)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on September 1, 2019

September 1, 2019

Two of Swords

We began with the protective practice.

We then invoked the presence of Archangel Michael through performing the Michaelic verse in eurythmy (five-pointed star).

After briefly focusing the mantra “IT THINKS” on the region of the larynx, we then performed the third part of the Inner Radiance Sequence (The Resurrection), from Sunday through Saturday. We also performed the 15th Letter of the Divine Alphabet, Samech, in relation to The Devil.

We read from Matthew 3:6-12; and Revelation 8:10-12.

– There is a lot to notice but one major question is: why is the underside of the leaf the most prominently exposed part? Why do we see the top of the flower, but the bottom of the leaves? Either that or the underside of the leaves is more colorful than the top, which would also be odd. 

Or is the “flower” actually the living base or etheric core/root of the plant, and one is below this plant, seeing up into the growing leaves?

There are similar leaves in the Two of Coins, and similar buds, but the buds are separated from the plant in the Two of Swords.

– We see the return of the pearl. The pearl hasn’t been white since the Five of Coins; it was the center of a flower in the Eight, Nine, and Ten of Coins (and kind of in the Six of Coins, although the central object might not strictly be a flower). Most of these pearls are either blue or red.

(We now look at the 10 numbered Coin Arcana with the Two of Swords):

– The Two of Swords seems to be a continuation of the development of the plant form from the Numbered Coins. The Two picks up where the Ten left off? What about the Ace of Swords? And the Court Coins?

– Even starting at the Ace of Coins, the intersection of two half-circles is part of this plant shape. The Ten of Coins brings in the two vesica piscis curves in its leaves and coins. 

– This is a new flower though, both in terms of its form and color. A further refinement of the flower from the Six, Eight, and Ten of Coins. 

– The corner flowers are a further elaboration of something not seen since the Ace and Two. Although the Nine is somewhat more elaborate in the profile-view flowers. But these specific colors—red, but surrounded by yellow, and then blue—haven’t really been seen since the Ace of Coins.

(Now we add the Ace of Swords between Ten of Coins and Two of Swords).

– The Ace of Swords has totally unique plant forms. Not a continuation or elaboration of anything we’ve seen yet. A brief departure from the “Coin” plants.

– Looking at the even numbered cards:  Four, Six, Eight, Ten of Coins, Two of Swords. They all seem to flow directly into each other. What about the Two of Coins, though? It seems the odd one out?

– Then in contrast, the sequence of odd numbered cards seems to have a “follow the bouncing ball” of the central/lone coin when placed side by side. This central coin is the pivot creating balance, the center of gravity is always the central coin in the odd numbered cards. 

Then the Ace of Swords casts this center of gravity away. It is like the crown is the “odd coin,” only rather than achieving balance in the sense of a center of gravity or pivot, it is an act of balance in terms of spinning plates, with the crown precariously balanced atop the sword. There is much more movement and tension involved.

– It seems that the even numbered cards are less about the coins, and more about the plant shapes, the curves and geometry that are created (see attached image). The plant is striving for balance throughout these images, and here it has attained balance.

– Looking back, it becomes clear that the leaves have always left a little of each side exposed. We’ve never really noticed that before consciously, it is really interesting. This is first time Joel has ever really paid attention to the peculiar curve of these leaves, which is like a comma or some kind of musical notation. But it’s been there all along.

– Looking at the four buds in the corners of the Two of Swords. They seem detached from the central plant, but perhaps they are existing in another plane/dimension of being, and the two are actually attached, unified across planes. 

– Comparing the poinsettia-like flower vs the profile bud-like flowers. The poinsettia is much more like a metamorphosed leaf. The profile flowers are more bud or fruit-like—that which comes before and after the blossom. There is a difference of perspective in each as well—profile vs bird’s eye view in the poinsettia-style flowers. 

Note that in Ace, Two, Three, Five, and Seven, there are only profile flowers. The Four seems to begin developing the poinsettia style, and the Six seems to have neither properly formed. With the Seven, I guess you could say that the two are combined into one unique form. Whereas Eight, Nine, and Ten definitively have both. 

Now, the Ace of Swords only has the petalled flowers—nothing in profile. This is new and unique. It’s also the only numbered Arcana thus far that is clearly 3-dimensional. The others are basically 2-dimensional, like a coin. 

So with the Two of Swords, are we now back to two dimensions, like the flat blade of a sword, or what?

The clear presence of both profile and bird’s eye view flowers implies a movement between the two perspectives: both two and three dimensional.

The ten Numbered Coins are 2-dimensional; the four Court Coins and the Ace of Swords are clearly 3-dimensional. Now we have both, a movement between these two. We have overlap, interweaving of swords. Previously, we only saw that kind of overlap in the Ten of Coins, where two of the coins transcended the plane of the other eight, rising over the plants.

– Let’s clarify a question: are the objects creating the vesica piscis shape in the Two of Swords actually swords, or something else? Joel assumed that is what they are; Phillip had never seen them as swords. They certainly aren’t shaped like the sword from the Ace. They are curved scimitars. The straight (broad) swords are only present in the odd numbered Sword Arcana. The curved swords look like Klingon weapons or something, which are held in the middle. They are very strange swords!

Image result for klingon weapon

This speaks to the Muslim origin of the Minor Arcana: curved rather than straight swords.

OK, but assuming they actually are swords, what exactly is going on with them? Why do we have two different kinds of swords? Where exactly is the hilt/blade/sheath on the curved swords? It is very hard to tell the different parts of the sword apart on the scimitars. The evens, then, are murky in terms of distinguishing detail, whereas the odds are much clearer and distinct. 

Maybe these curved objects are not swords? And only the odds depict an actual sword?

The clarity of the odd swords, along with their angularity/straightness, is very masculine. 

The ambiguity of the even swords, along with their curvature, is very feminine. 

Is something being expressed here in terms of the relationship between the West/Christianity and the East/Islam? 

The reflecting Coins in the odds (with a distinctive and central quality) vs the evens. The whole uncertainty surrounding the scimitars, the argument as to whether or not they are actually swords—relating this to religion. The clarity brought by Christianity to the other religions. Completing/fulfilling that which was unfinished, unclear, etc. 

– The shape of the Crown/Vesica Piscis/Even-Swords are working together to create this other, ambiguous, symbolic function. 

I.e., is this the result of the Islamic prohibition against a human (or spiritual) figure being depicted, and hence it is drawn in a symbolic way?

Looping back around to our final conversation on the Ace of Swords, focusing on the Wheel of Fortune as somehow being an expression of the Prophetess, in a veiled way. This recalls the Islamic prohibition against depictions of animals, humans, and spiritual beings. Is the Wheel of Fortune a kind of Islamic representation of the role of “Prophetess”?

– Do the curved swords have hilts or sheaths? Are there more than two swords? Like nunchucks? Or like Japanese swords?

Image result for japanese sword
Image result for nunchucks

– We now place the Two of Swords horizontally onto the crown in the Ace of Swords (see image). 

Something interesting arises from this. When we create a unified image of the Numbered Coins, it moves from the Ace above to the Ten below.

Yet from the very outset, it is clear that a unified image of the numbered Swords would produce an image that moves from below to above. This makes sense of the shape of the curved swords as a continuation from the Ace of Swords: they are an entry into, a growth out of, and an amplification of the Crown. 

And again we come to the idea that we are somehow below a plant, and moving up! The leaves face the Sun. Something is radiating from the periphery once we are through the eye, the crown. Whereas in the Coins, they are facing the coins—the Coins were the radiating source, and now the Swords are the radiating source. 

In all but the Two of Coins, the leaves are red and blue—either side could be the top or bottom. This is ambiguous—or we might say they are surrounded by the Sun on all sides (coins on all sides). Here with the Two of Coins, this ambiguity of source ceases. The Two is a more intuitive presentation. 

– Note that the image is not symmetrical color-wise, yet is identical no matter which way you turn it. There is no right side-up or upside-down. It is lawful, yet not lawful. The pearl is the only asymmetrical shape, with its comma mirroring the leaf-shape. 

The Two of Swords is asymmetrical in color, yet consistent. And it is absolutely symmetrical in form. 

– The sword as human object. The coins don’t seem necessarily to be originating from or attached to a human—although we assume they were made by a human being? We have thus far semi-consciously and unintentionally characterized them more as creators than created. “Coin” as it appears in nature—stone, seed, metal, crystal, etc. Geometry. 

Whereas, from the very beginning in the Ace, there is a hand holding the sword. There is not a hand holding the coins until the Knave of Coins, until the end. 

– With the Coins we focused on “I AM” in the region of the brow. Now we focus on “IT THINKS” in the region of the larynx. The Word, Logos. Coming back to intelligent design and the idea of irreducible complexity at the foundation of all living things. An unconscious yet complex organization taking place in the cosmos. And this complexity implies intentionality and an “IT THINKS,” a thinking process, which is so easy for us to deny because for us it happens unconsciously. We don’t experience the thinking-into-being of the world. For us, this “IT THINKS” of world formation only comes to direct experience in speech formation, procreation—activities connected to this symbol of the vesica piscis. 

– Coin = stored value. Maybe it is the “IT THINKS,” collected intelligence stored or invested through structure and organization appearing in the external world. 

Whereas the Sword is conscious, human dimension of thinking. “I THINK” with the “IT THINKS.” 

And is the Two of Swords like a Third Eye? The third eye as bridge between human consciousness and the upwelling of the “IT THINKS” of the archetypal realm. 

Yes, we should review Tomberg’s notes on the Morning Meditation. Because we have been associating the mantra “I AM” and the third eye with the Coins, not the Swords, while the “IT THINKS” has to do with the larynx, not the third eye. Nonetheless, clairvoyant perception is associated with the third eye. 

– Go back and review Tomberg’s notes on the Morning Meditation:

I AM: One can say this by way of asserting oneself – “I” in contrast to others. However, this is the “pagan” way, which is how the German philosopher Fichte said it as a reminiscence of a former incarnation from the Graeco–Roman time. It is Christian, however, if one learns to say I AM in eternal thankfulness to God, whom one has to thank for this gift of the “I,” for the gift of existence. This is not self assertion, but rather true affirmation of being. (Regarding ancient Greece: Sparta = will, warlike people; Samothrace, the mystery cult of the Cabeiri or Cabiri, subearthly, Fichte).

IT THINKS: One can say this in such a way that one thinks of all the laws and all the logic in the world which have been conceived of. However, again this is the “pagan” way, which is how the German philosopher Hegel thought, also as a remembrance of a former incarnation from the Graeco-Roman time. To say IT THINKS in a Christian way, however, presupposes that one considers how a thoughtful, caring way of thinking thought out the laws and logic in order to protect and guard the great gift of existence, of the “I.” The law is not just left unattended. Rather, a stream of blessing is there which can guard and accompany it. The Cherubim are the loftiest thought-spirits. However, they are beneath the Seraphim, the Spirits of Love. The Cherubim are Spirits of Wisdom and Harmony. All Wisdom has to be in service of Love. All truths are revelations of light from the fire of love. They are light from the fire and are nothing by themselves. So is all logic, which has been brought into movement in the world, there out of concern to maintain the I AM.

(Athens = thought, spiritual people; the mysteries of Eleusis, from above below, Hegel).

SHE FEELS: The German philosopher Schelling brought to expression this feeling of the world in a “pagan” way, again as a reminiscence of a former incarnation from the Graeco-Roman period, at which time the resurrection had not yet taken place.  A thought is only resurrected when it appears again in Christ. However, in the case of Schelling this thought came as it was earlier, having not yet passed through death and forgetting. Yet to say SHE FEELS in the sense of the resurrection in Christ, one has to say it along the lines previously indicated for I AM and IT THINKS (see: Week 520). I AM – in gratitude; IT THINKS – caring for the I AM; SHE FEELS – world conscience. SHE FEELS, to feel the whole tragedy of the world, the Fall and the longing for the Reintegration (Meditations on the Tarot, Arcanum X, concerning Fall and Reintegration). SHE FEELS comprises experience of the world conscience and not only beautiful harmonies. As the world conscience we have the resurrection in which everything is revealed. (Arcadia – feeling, soulful people; mysteries of Ephesus, the center, Schelling). Mt. Lycaeum in Arcadia is sometimes held to be the birthplace of Zeus.

HE WILLS: The German poet and playwright Goethe brought this to expression in a “pagan” way in that he regarded the whole of creation as a work of art – again as a reminiscence of a former incarnation from the Graeco-Roman period prior to the resurrection. The world is not only a work of art. Rather, it is a mystery process. We have to think back to the Gethsemane night of Christ when he said: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” And then, “Not my will, but thy will be done” (Matthew 26:39): HE WILLS. After the SHE FEELS of world conscience, to think and to say GOD WILLS. On behalf of humanity, Christ lived through faith in God’s will during the night of Gethsemane and this has to resurrect. Now these words have to be spoken resurrected – resurrected from the dark and cold, permeated with warmth, that is, with morality.

One is reminded of the 19th Letter-Meditation on The Sun, where Tomberg speaks of the Conversation through Words vs the Conversation through Forces. Perhaps the IT THINKS is a Conversation through Forces, through stored forces of the action of intelligence. Whereas the Conversation through Words is somehow filtered through the human consciousness aspect, more conversational. 

– Looking again at the Ace of Swords as identical to the Ace of Coins, only the Coin is being “unplugged”—and a Sword emerges, and a whole new realm of existence is opened up through the Crown that is exposed. 

The Ace of Coins grew downward as the organism of the 10 numbered Coins was elaborated. Perhaps this is like a root system developing out of a seed, down into the Earth. It is drawn to the Mother-Sun, Shambhala, in the center of the Earth. 

Yet the Ace of Swords grows upward as the organism of the 10 numbered Swords is elaborated. It is part of the same organism, only this is the leaf and stem system sprouting out of the opened seed. It unfolds leaves towards the Father-Sun in the Heavens. 

So there are two sources of light to turn the leaves in their directions. 

This picture reinforces the Coin as Islam/Science/Feminine/Sophia etc.—that which is really only a vessel for Christianity/Spirit/Masculine/Christ. The (odd) Swords as Christ and Christianity.

– “In the beginning was the Word”…we might add, unfolding unconsciously, as Sophia. Then the Logos enters in fully consciously. It feels much better to say it is the Sophia which is the unconscious unfolding of intelligence, then illuminated and fulfilled by the Logos. 

– We could say that the whole progression of the Coins to the Swords is the preparation of the uterus for conception, or the gestation of the child leading to birth. Either way it is the vessel progressing to fulfillment. 

– The Swords add a new enigmatic layer to the enigma of the plant forms from the Coins, which now have their place. 

– Why aren’t their just 40 plant cards? The Thirty-Two of Plants, etc.? Aren’t all the numbered cards “plant” cards?

– The black coloration on the Coin Arcana only ever looked like negative space. Now, with the Two of Swords, it is actually part of an object, the color of the Swords.

– This feels more like a beginning as opposed to the Ace of Swords. It feels like a proper return to the relative simplicity of the numbered Arcana. The Ace of Coins was the Archetypal Coin, pure and simple. The Ace of Swords feels like something more than just the Archetypal Sword—but maybe that’s part and parcel of the archetypal Sword, to be something more.

We ended with the third stanza of the Foundation Stone in eurythmy.