Two of Swords (II)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on October 6, 2019

October 6, 2019

Two of Swords

We began with the protective practice. We then invoked the presence of the Virgin Mary to guide our conversation through performing the Hail Mary in eurythmy.

After briefly focusing the mantra IT THINKS in the region of the larynx, we performed the third part of the Inner Radiance sequence, related to “I rest in the Godhead of the world.” We then performed the 15th letter of the Divine Alphabet, in relation to The Devil.

We read from Revelation 9:1-3, and Matthew 5:29-30

We then observed the Two of Swords between Force (2=11) and The Devil. 

– We refreshed ourselves on Tomberg’s notes on the Morning Meditation. Particularly these first two sections:

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).

This is a new way of considering the nature of “Coin,” one which we hadn’t properly considered before. We had always thought of Coin in the context of exchange. But here we have Coin as I AM, as a gift from the spiritual world to humanity. It calls to mind the parable of the talent. A gift to be invested. Gift as value, separate from exchange. A giving of worth. 

Whereas it is really the IT THINKS that has more to do with the “irreducible complexity” of the world. This irreducible complexity is that which guards the treasure of the I AM, out of concern (LOVE) for the Being.

– Now, Joel had many observations that arose in him as he was transcribing the notes of the previous conversation. He began to closely observe the movement, color and quantity of the “pearl” in the previous Arcana:

It is only in the center of the image in the Six, Eight and Ten of Coins.

It is present in the Three, Four, Five, and Nine of Coins, but not at the center.

Both the Eight of Coins and the Four of Coins have multiple pearls: 2 in the Four, and 3 in the Eight.

Ten of Coins = 1 blue pearl in the center, in a flower

Nine of Coins = 1 blue pearl below the center, in a flower.

Eight of Coins = 1 blue pearl in the center, in a flower; 2 red pearls, one above and one below.

Seven of Coins = No pearl

Six of Coins = 1 red pearl in the center, in a “proto-flower”

Five of Coins = 1 white pearl above 

Four of Coins = 1 red pearl above, 1 white pearl below

Three of Coins = 1 white pearl below

Two of Coins = No pearl

Ace of Coins = No pearl

This means there are 10 pearls total. Like 10 coins. 3 white; 4 red; 3 blue. 4 below; 3 above; 3 in the center. In all of these, a white pearl is never central, and never in a flower. Note that 7 of the Numbered Coin Arcana have a pearl, and 3 do not: Ace, Two and Seven (1+2+7 = 10). 

Taking closer note of the pearl, we are also given an indication as to the orientation of some of the images that seem to be able to go either way (such as the Six of Coins or the Two of Swords). The pearl always has a comma-shaped curve that is placed in the lower right of the pearl. 

Joel has no interpretation of any of this, unsure of any of its significance. Just a bunch of details that stuck out. Notice, however, that this process has now culminated in the Two of Swords, with the white pearl finally achieving a central place within a flower, something it had never done before. This process completed on the Two of Swords, not on the Ten of Coins—in a different plane, with an 11th pearl.

– Something else that came to Joel as he was transcribing the notes was that The World seems to be the archetype for both the Coins and the Swords, but in two different ways. When we look at the Ace of Coins, what is emphasized is the gesture of The World that manifests in the four holy creatures in the corners with the dancer in the center. Whereas if we turn our attention to the Two of Swords we see something that emphasizes the vesica piscis shaped garland surrounding the dancer. 

From these we could gather that the Coins have more to do with the four elements and their quintessence, that which Tomberg discusses from pages 647-651. On the other hand, the Swords have more to do with the three gunas, or modes of manifestation, of the four elements, as discussed on pages 651-53, wherein Tomberg uses a quotation from the Bhagavad Gita to exemplify these three modes.

So now we are in the realm of the garland: of warfare (Bhagavad Gita). Notice the “E” eurythmy gesture of the X at the top and the bottom of the garland. This is the same as the stitching in Force’s clothing.

It’s almost as though the “pearl” didn’t require protection until it was white, and in the middle, and within a flower—until it was, if not “complete,” yet completely purified. Pure, like Force.

– It is difficult to make the leap from the Sword as “weapon” to the Sword as representing the protective intent of thought structures that cares for something or someone. It makes sense intellectually/abstractly but not intuitively. 

It is the same, actually, with relating the phrase “IT THINKS” to the larynx rather than the head. This is counterintuitive. 

It is the same with relating the mantra “I rest within the Godhead of the world” with Sacred Magic. The brief and mysterious explanation of this analogous relationship given by Robert and/or Tomberg is that “this resting is very active.” Again, this feels counterintuitive! 

So…have we entered the realm or plane of contradiction?

– We have been working with the Minor Arcana as a movement backwards through the Majors. The Fool is the Zero, the point of transition. So:

Ace of Coins = World

Two of Coins = Judgement

Three of Coins = Sun

Four of Coins = Moon

Five of Coins = Star

Six of Coins = Moon

Seven of Coins = Sun

Eight of Coins = Judgement

Nine of Coins = World

Ten of Coins = Judgement

Knave of Coins = Sun

Knight of Coins = Moon

Queen of Coins = Star

King of Coins = Tower of Destruction

So the Coins dealt with the realm of the World, Judgement, Sun, Moon, and Star, transition into the Tower of Destruction at the very end.

The Swords carry this further:

Ace of Swords = Tower of Destruction

Two of Swords = The Devil

Three of Swords = Temperance

Four of Swords = Death

Five of Swords = Hanged Man


With the Coin Arcana, the correspondences were almost always quite clear and intuitive. With the Ace of Swords and the Tower, the correspondence was still pretty clear. The Two of Swords and the Devil, less so. But both of these seem to be primarily a reversal of their Major correspondent. 

The Tower is aberrant, destructive violence and revolt, whereas the Ace of Swords is the noble threat of a protective force.

The Devil is the danger of intoxication, whereas the Two is the maintaining/protecting of purity. 

With the Coins, we were always under the impression that the Minors both encapsulate and transcend the positive/negative, attractive/repulsive qualities of their corresponding Major. They were a realm of simultaneity, where each Coin simultaneously portrayed oppositional qualities in some kind of deep integrated duality. 

We assumed this was true of all of the Minors, but perhaps it was only true for the Suit of Coins. 

The Suit of Swords is much more pointed, and in some way portrays the exact opposite of what is portrayed in the corresponding Major. There are of course some aesthetic mirrorings. But the Tower is like an inappropriate activity that could no longer be contained/continued, whereas the Ace of Swords is like an activity amplifying within its own domain to the point that it ruptures into another, higher plane. 

Perhaps we are entering a realm of paradox rather than simultaneity. With the Coins we always spoke in terms of quantum leaps of wholeness, of inherent resolution of polarities, of bilocation. Here we enter a realm that makes existing polarities even wider than they already were, the questions increase in their intensity, the tension is greater.

– The Ace of Swords requires real movement within oneself in order to know it. The Two makes us question what a Sword even is, or whether there is a Sword at all, or what its function is supposed to be. There is no edge, no point, the color scheme is wrong for what we would normally consider a representation of a sword. Therefore, the concept it evokes is removed or abstracted from the image depicting it. Once again, we have to really move, manipulate the image to get to the concept. For example, in the Two of Swords, are we actually seeing the hilt of the sword in the Ace from below? and that is what the “flower” is? Is the vesica piscis shape the crown, and the flowers in the four corners are those hanging out of the crown in the Ace?

– You see, the Coins actually instructed and trained us in how to move and manipulate our imaginative pictures, relatively slowly and gently, step by step (coin by coin). The Swords, on the other hand, are like an obstacle course for actually practicing the movement and manipulation of images. An active training ground—boot camp.

The Coins are the key to opening the door. If you haven’t passed through the Coins, the Swords will be useless to you. The chasm is too wide to leap across.

– All of the Coins organically follow the Ace. The Coin is the quintessence, the hub around which things move as they transform. The progression is natural, with a consistent focal point.

The garland, on the other hand, lacks that focal point. It’s not such a simple, straightforward transformation/constellation. You must bring that focal point, from within yourself. It’s not supplied on your behalf anymore.

– The Ace of Coins reflects the World. But in this suit, it is not the Ace that hearkens back—it is the Two! And the remainder of the Numbered Swords will follow along with the Two. What does this indicate? The point of departure in the Coins was unity, or at the very least an integrated duality. Now, the point of departure is not unity—it is duality/binary. 

The Ace of Coins vs the Two of Swords: they are like negative images of each other.

– How is it that the Ace of Swords somehow takes us right back to square one? Like hitting the reset button. It’s like something that would only happen in a fairy tale, a dream, or a video game: going through all of the trials and hard-won efforts of a huge adventure, and you finally get to the “final door,” which leads to the treasure/ultimate nemesis/ultimate master—and you’re taken back to the very beginning. You have to do it all over again, yet only slightly differently. 

– In The World, the dancer is the quintessence. The Ace of Swords might be the wand or the philtre. It takes you back to the heart, the center, but on a different path or as a different “character” so to speak. I.e., walking the path of the garland rather than the four creatures. Philtre as “draft of forgetfulness,” wand as “creative power.” Making all things new.

– Comparing the central flower of both the Ace of Coins and the Two of Swords. The same flower, fringe, and outer flowers. The curving vines vs curving swords. A negative image, exactly the same yet totally different.

Maybe we have to take the Two of Swords as the One of this series, the “ur-Sword”?

Like with the Wheel of Fortune and Force, the principle of “plus 10.” Both recall the One of the Magician, one due to its numerological equivalence to One (Wheel of Fortune) the other because it is a return to One after having traversed the Ten (Force). The Wheel of Fortune is a gateway, a restart, just like the Ace of Swords. Force is the Magician on another level, just as the Two of Swords is the Ace of Coins on another level.

– The Major Arcana build up the Dancer, the Quintessence, who then travels the way of the Coin = Four Elements/Holy Creatures

then Swords = Garland of Three Gunas


Perhaps there is a “reset” with each suit. Traveling a slightly different way each time which gradually brings you to the heart

– Perhaps we could say that the Coins are more related to the Image (as opposed to the Likeness). They are in a quantum state of wholeness, very earth-like. A constant wholeness despite the differences at play in their orbit. Earth. 

Whereas the Swords are more of the Likeness. The particular manifestation (guna/regimina) of the image (quintessence/elements).

At this point, we read aloud the section on the gunas/regimina on pages 651-53. 

– If the Coins represent “distinct elements” and the Swords are either “guna” (modes of manifestation) or “regimina” (stages of transformation), then the Swords exist in the spaces “in between” the discreet elements. This negative space, the space of transition, is perhaps represented by the introduction of the color black in the Two of Swords. Of course, we have seen the color black on the coins before, but playing more the role of expressing outline and contour. Whereas here, the actual swords themselves are black.

What if we intersperse the Sword images amongst and between the Coin images?

From this we can see that there is also a similarity between the Ace of Swords and the Two of Coins (in addition to the afore mentioned similarity between Ace of Coins and Two of Swords). An Ace-Two correspondence seems to prevail rather than Ace-Ace and Two-Two.

– The Ace of Swords could be described as a “Pillar of Fire” in contradistinction to the “Tower of Destruction.”

– We’ve looked quite a bit at the Ace of Swords in comparison to the Tower of Destruction. What about the Two of Swords and The Devil? 

The correspondence isn’t quite a striking or immediate. One does notice, however, that the place of the flower on the Two of Coins corresponds with the belly/genitals of The Devil—the will. One might see here an “anti-purity”—an “anti-pearl.”

The curved swords correspond to the leashes holding the two creatures, the wings, and the torch. As opposed to two swords protecting purity, we have here tools used to feed the beast.

– Considering these two lines from the above remarks on the Morning Meditation:   All Wisdom has to be in service of Love. All truths are revelations of light from the fire of love. 

We can bring this into relation with the phrase “Michael Sophia in Nomine Christi,” with the image of Christ (Love) flanked by Michael (Truth) and Sophia (Wisdom).

Sophia must be in service to Christ (Wisdom in service to Love). And Michael is the revelation of light from the fire of Christ (Truth and Love). 

The Two of Swords is Truth that has care embedded within it for Love’s sake. Michael Sophia. 

Whereas the Devil shows us the craving for passion rather than Love. Truth is a protective power that can be of a martial nature. On the other hand, the act of enslaving is a mirror image of this. It is destructive in an enslaving, intoxicating, hypnotizing way, rather than a martial, externally “dangerous” or “harmful” way. There is nothing martial about Intoxication—one is hypnotized and slowly drawn in.

– Both the Tower of Destruction and the Wheel of Fortune (which we brought into relation with the Ace of Swords) speak to an opening up of a new realm rather suddenly. What is this new realm that has opened up?

It is the realm of contradiction—perhaps even irreconcilable differences. The Two evinces this: following on from the Tower (16) and the Wheel (10), she is situated between the Devil (15) and Force (11). Intoxication vs Purity. There is no resolving this polarity; there is only choosing

Perhaps The Lover is the best image of this struggle of choosing between purity and intoxication?

We end our conversation with a brief glance at the Three of Swords, to which we will turn our attention next time.

We closed with the third stanza of the Foundation Stone meditation in eurythmy.