Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on March 22, 2017
March 22 – The Wheel of Fortune
Joel and Phillip
We began with the Lord’s Prayer in the Tree of Life; the first 10 letters of the Divine Alphabet (up through Yod); and the 4th part of the 5th petition (the 4th level of trespass—eating of the forbidden fruit; 4th healing miracle—feeding of the 5000; 4th level of communion—bread, nurturing).
After reading the opening quotes to the 10th letter, we observed the 7th, 8th, 9th and especially 10th Arcana as a “YHVH.”
– The Wheel of Fortune is a true riddle, much more so than the others. The contraption itself is a riddle. It seems closed and finished at first glance, but something about it is still in process. The riddle seems to have no solution.
– The Hermit seemed like a guide, someone who would make sense of the dream landscape of the Tarot. Now we are wrenched even more strongly back into mystery. Is this the Hermit’s explanation to the riddle of the previous 8 arcana? An even deeper riddle?
– 7, 8, 9, 10 is an odd YHVH compared to 1-4 or 4-7. A bit mixed up. Archetypically it should be Father, Mother, Child, Family. But 7 is more the child, 8 the mother, and 9 the father. Keeping with our biographical picture of the progression of the Tarot, it seems to express a different stage of life – a wholeness generating something incomplete. Doesn’t this express the spiral, which is the theme of the 10th letter? The Sabbath, the opening. Deliberately leaving something unfinished so that development can take place.
– What came so strongly to June through Justice was the image of the Ship and its Captain. On page 237, we have a beautiful analogy that employs a ship, its passengers and its crew to express passive experience of evolution vs active participation in evolution. It seems that the motif of this YHVH is the question of whether we are passengers or crew members. This is also the question of 21-42 years old: do we take up our development where nature and our upbringing left off, becoming crew members? Or do we stay more or less the way we are at 21, letting the boat take us where it will? [Edit December 2020: a reference to our particular approach to the Arcana at this point, inasmuch as:
Magician = Conception
High Priestess = Gestation
Empress = Birth
Emperor = 0-7 (development of physical body)
Pope = 7-14 (development of etheric body)
Lover = 14-21 (development of astral body)
Chariot = 21-28 (development of sentient soul)
Justice = 28-35 (development of intellectual soul)
Hermit = 35-42 (development of consciousness soul)
Wheel of Fortune = 42-49 (development of Spirit Self)]
– This arcanum sharply transitions out of archetypal human images into that of a mechanism, and creatures both animal and super-animal/angelic.
– It expresses the experience of waking up to a collective process of mastery, an active engagement with the outer world. The Mars years/Spirit Self (42-49) are connected with this card. It is a question then of transforming the lower aspects of the astral body into Spirit Self, all in the context of a confrontation with the outer world.
– The 7th card expresses the pinnacle of mastery due to natural development (21). The 7th through the 10th arcana express the process of assessing what needs to be taken up by oneself, out of one’s own responsibility.
– The Sphinx seems mobile and would make it so that the wheel could not turn. However, it still seems to belong there, like the prize at the top of the wheel in a sort of carnival game.
– It is unusual for a Sphinx to be crowned and carry a sword (notice the crown and sword have returned, as have the wings/canopy/throne, but in a completely different context to, for example, Justice). Sometimes they are depicted as dangerous, predators. The monkey expresses fallen man, the dog the striving to return to the divine. Both have very strange outfits. Monkey in a sort of barrel, dog with an odd collar holding its ears down.
– Is half of the axle missing? Are two spokes missing? This makes for 6 spokes, one axle = 7. It could/should be 8 spokes, two axles = 10.
– If it was only the Sphinx, it would be an image not unlike others. Divine Animalia on its throne, 10 as 1 but on another level. It is a bit like the Emperor, somewhat reclined. It seems to be guarding the goal, like the Cherubim guarding Paradise. The Cherubim as depicted in Ezekiel is a four-faced creature with a wheel within a wheel next to it, covered with eyes. More sphinx-like depiction than the four separate beasts of Revelation. The Sphinx is a pre-Christian expression of the 5th element = Christ.
– The Sphinx is Alpha and Omega, casting out and welcoming back, the origin and goal of human evolution.
– Placed side by side, the Hermit seems to be observing the cosmic, Platonic drama, outside and next to the particular, human dramas. The image of the Cosmic Drama clarifies the external dramas.
– The question came last time as to whether the Hermit was shining a light to guide someone or to see something. What if he is gazing into his lamp, not using it to see something outside of him? And within it is the image of the Wheel of Fortune?
– It is the complete flipe of the Chariot; the Wheel hidden behind the Chariot is now the heart of the image. There is no human master, only animals and Sphinx around the Wheel. Are 7, 8, and 9 contained within it? If they are arranged in a spiral, of course.
Here, the Charioteer is the Monkey, falling and losing control. Justice is the Sphinx, with sword and crown, overseeing all with equanimity. The Hermit is the striving dog, constantly seeking the Truth. The direction of this spiral is clockwise, vs the counterclockwise progression of the characters in the card (Sphinx, Monkey, Dog, Sphinx). Like precession of the equinox (clockwise) vs passage of the Sun through the constellations annually (counterclockwise).
– This spiral formation of 7-10 throws off the linear progression that we’ve followed so far. Number working in spirals rather than lines. Enfoldment vs. radiation, spiral vs circle.
– Possibly the Wheel itself is moving clockwise, while the animals are trying to move counter-clockwise. This transforms the card from passivity—i.e., the wheel carrying them to and from the Sphinx without their effort—to activity. It becomes truly a “tragedy and a drama,” as the Monkey must actual struggle to Fall, driven by desire/instinct (eyes on the ground), while the Dog must struggle to return, out of intention, freedom, Divine Instinct (eyes on the Sphinx). Neither Fall nor Reintegration occurs without struggle.
– Page 260 – the 5th essence. The solution to the last enigma, which is the Sphinx. The 5th essence = the Cross, the New Adam. Conjures the 5th sacrifice of Christ, the Etheric – the Moon Sphere, Atlantean Consciousness. Christ is the humanized Sphinx, impossibly complete. Monkey = passengers, dog = crew, Christ = Captain.
– The image of Christ walking on the water is called up by this, which is the content of the next part of the Grail Knight’s Practice, corresponding to the 11th Arcanum, Force. Christ plays this role for the whole cosmos.
– The Etheric Christ asks for a new Name, and a new iconography, just as we have had Ahura Mazdao, Osiris, Jehovah, etc. The Sphinx as a resurrection of the Egyptian mysteries – a new image for the Etheric (Cosmic) Christ?
– In the Lord’s Prayer Course, Christ is characterized as bearing that which all beings lack. He takes form in each domain, giving to stones warmth, plants light, etc. The Etheric Christ is an Angelic Christ. What is His form and function in that domain? Is it more a process and activity?
– The spokes of the wheel form something akin to the symbol for ICHTHYS = Fish (again, imagery of the Sea, age of Pisces, walking on water). Robert relates this phrase (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter = Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior) to the fourth part of the Foundation Stone Meditation, akin to the Rosicrucian Mantra for the first three parts. The God-man.
– One is also reminded of Chi-Rho, another image for Christ (Like a P with an X through the vertical). Possibly this is a Christianized Tau Rho (Tarot, a T with a P in the vertical). Often Chi Rho is turned into an Anchor, an old Christian emblem for graves. To die in Christ was to die “in Kyrio” (a pun for Anchor): https://gloryandrubbish.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/early-christian-symbols-the-anchor/
Again, a connection to the ship.
– In the retelling from eternal Gnosis of the Paradise story (239-240), the Woman is the last remnant of Sabbath after the serpent transforms the spiral into a closed circle. Birth is the conduit, the direct contact with God, the Spirit, Cosmic Evolution. What an advanced feminism for 1963! So perfectly expressed.
– The Hermit is possibly looking through the lamp, not into it. The lamp becomes then a lens or a prism revealing the Truth or the Cosmic aspect of things. The imagery of a prism is used in the 9th letter to describe the activity of the Hermit (219).
– The Wheel of Fortune is such a pivot. Are there others without human beings? Death and the Moon. Yet both of these have human aspects.
– After digesting the 10th Arcanum in this way, it feels more organically connected to the first 9. Before, it felt like an unnatural leap. Now it seems as though the first 9 all lead up to the questions that make up 10. The machine is still a bit of a sticking point; it can still seem like a senseless riddle machine.
– The experience is a bit like in math class, when the teacher is explaining derivatives or something. You can follow up to a point and then suddenly you’re lost. Then at some point, somehow it clicks – and there’s still a leap involved, but it connects like it didn’t before. That’s what the conversation has done for the progression from 9 to 10.
– 7-10 is to see the inner process expressed through 1-4 at work in the outer world.
– To continue the pattern of the spiral:
requires an overlapping of cards, a fourth dimension – radiation.
– The card resurrects imagery from Egyptian times, in the style of the 14th century (Age of Consciousness Soul) – but Christ is not depicted, the missing element. If the artist would have included an image of Christ, he would have closed the spiral into a circle. It would have been finished. The imagery of the card is actually a perfect vessel waiting for the Etheric Christ – it has been left open to receive/facilitate the new.
We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.