Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on March 20, 2018
March 20, The World
We began by invoking the Pastors and Healers of Humanity (specifically Hermes) by reading the Emerald Tablet.
We then performed the Lord’s Prayer through the Sephiroth and the entirety of the Divine Alphabet (through the final letter, Taw, which corresponds to The World).
– Is the hand of the Angel in the cloud below it? What is it cradling? The cloud itself, or some other object? It reminds one of the child who is rescued from the jaws of the dragon in Revelation 12. Maybe the Angel is cradling a rescued child.
– The Bull is the only animal who is missing a halo. Is the entire garland his halo? Has he sacrificed his halo so that something new can come into being? The higher sacrificing itself so that the lower can come into being (e.g. outpouring of substance by the Spirits of Will at the dawn of evolution). He is the same color as she is—are they of the same substance? This sacrifice of substance is the recurring theme of Occult Science.
– The Bull and the Lion have different feathers than the Eagle and the Angel; they are more like leaves. Maybe the Garland is a combination or a medium between the two types of feathers.
– The World is very similar to a traditional image of the Zodiac (specifically the Melothesia from the 16th century manuscript Riches Heures du Duc de Berry). Joel remembered the human being in the center of this image as female, but it is actually male or hermaphroditic.
There are also even older images of Christ in a vesica piscis surrounded by the four holy animals.
In the religious iconography, the human is definitely male/Christ. In the astrological/pagan iconography, it is ambiguous or female [Edit January 2021: this is not a reliable assertion. There is also Christian iconography in which Mary is in the Vesica Piscis; most examples of the Melothesia, on the other hand, seem to be male, a kind of “Adam Kadmon”].
– We are looking specifically at the sequence of the 4th and final path of the Major Arcana, the path from Hermeticism to….?:
Emperor—Chariot—Wheel of Fortune—Death—Tower of Destruction—The Sun—The World
When we place the Fool, and the path from Vau to He which precedes him, in front of the Emperor, the two are gazing at each other. The Emperor sees the entire path that has preceded him:
The Emperor takes on a role of recollection/reflection, in a way that has not occurred in the other 3 paths. The act of Hermeticism has to do with synthesis, taking stock, bringing what has been separated back together. It is a musing/ruminating, looking back on what has occurred and seeing where one has failed and where one has succeeded. We can see this even in his basic imagery: we can see the image of the scepter within his head (a miniature version of it in the crown); it is like he has pulled his memories out of his head and is gazing at them. Or the other way around, he has the ideal before him, the law, and is creating an accurate reflection of it within himself. He is writing the book, laying down the law; in fact, he is identifying himself with this law. The inner archetype matches and reflects 100% the outer archetype.
This act of reflection then becomes the 4th path, a path of redemption. The tragedy of the 3rd path becomes reshaped into something victorious:
Emperor as fulcrum:
Fool becomes Chariot
Moon becomes Wheel of Fortune
Devil becomes Death
Hanged Man becomes Tower of Destruction
Hermit becomes Sun
Lover becomes World
He is putting things in their right place, correcting and elevating them. For example, We see that the Fool’s impulsivity is elevated into something powerful as Chariot. The loneliness of the Hermit becomes the meeting of two itinerant Hermits in The Sun. And the physical, temporary and flawed spiritual community in the Lover becomes the ideal, comprehensive and eternal spiritual community of The World.
It reminds one of the Midnight Hour after death. Steiner describes the time between death and rebirth as at first a stripping away of all memory of our previous life—our thoughts run out ahead of us into the cosmos, so to speak. Then at the Midnight Hour, we find these thoughts again and we begin the process of building a path of redemption (our future biography and body) (Again, this is coming from GA 140, Life between Death and Rebirth).
In fact, here at the space between The World and the Ace of Coin, we have approached the Midnight Hour in the Tarot:
Magician – conception
High Priestess – gestation
Empress – birth
Emperor – Moon years
Pope – Mercury years
Lover – Venus years
Chariot – first 7 Sun Years
Justice – second 7 Sun years
Hermit – third 7 Sun years
Wheel of Fortune – Mars years
Force – Jupiter years
Hanged Man – Saturn years
Death – Death
Temperance – Etheric Review
Devil – 40 Days in the Wilderness
Tower of Destruction – Kamaloka/Moon Sphere
The Star – Mercury Sphere
Moon – Venus Sphere
Sun – Sun Sphere
Judgement – Mars Sphere
Fool – Jupiter Sphere
World – Saturn Sphere (Midnight Hour)
Ace of Coins – beginning of the path back to incarnation
So here we have a picture of the rumination of the spirit on how it can balance and compensate its karma.
– In a historical sense as well, we reach these points of a “midnight hour.” When we feel as though all has been lost, that there is a spiritual vacuum on earth that must be reflected upon and redeemed. We can think of Steiner in the late 19th century (prior to his obligatory joining of the Theosophical Society), or Tomberg post WWII (prior to his obligatory joining of the Catholic Church). We see a sacrifice of sorts is made by both of these teachers, by joining institutions that would have lost all spiritual value if they had not made a space for Christ, for Truth, within them. For example, at the same time that Tomberg was writing MOTT, Vatican II was in process, and black magical practices were supposedly taking place within the Vatican itself (see the work of Malachi Martin).
Are we also in a spiritual vacuum? At the threshold of the second fall. It is interesting that many of the Anons who are researching the Q phenomenon are religious, in a traditional, Pauline sense (spiritual warfare, fighting principalities and powers).
There is a kind of ultra-materialism, an embedded materialism in modern culture, that even spiritual people are infused with. We have a kind of baseline of materialism. Do we live through this desert with faithfulness? Or do we fall into acceptance of it?
Or does the question go deeper? Looking at Mary and Martha: Mary has the faithfulness in the desert, but Martha also does something about it. We can also say not only that we are faithful, but “what can be done to remedy?” The Emperor is in the desert, alone. He is in the midst of making this choice.
Steiner and Tomberg may or may not have fully consciously made the decision to enter into streams that were counter to their personal inclinations (Steiner has said that he would have been happy to have been a philosopher and lecturer or professor, and not enter into the Theosophical stream, if spiritual necessity had not required it of him). It may have been their Angels, their destinies asking the question “how can we find a way to rejuvenate?” Whereas for them it was only experienced consciously as blows of fate within their biographies, leading them into a particular path.
But then it is nonetheless up to them to answer the question “Do I enter whole-heartedly into the path that lays before me? Or do I do what I like best personally?”
– What is remarkable when we look at the 4th path as the third path working backwards onto itself:
We see the Chariot with the Fool. In our weaving together of the Tarot with the Knight’s Practice/Lord’s Prayer Course, both of these are related to the Root Chakra. The Chariot = Changing of Water into Wine, while The Fool = “It is Fulfilled.”
Both Wheel of Fortune and Moon have to do with the Heart Chakra. Wheel of Fortune = Feeding of the Five Thousand, while The Moon = “Today, You Shall Be With Me in Paradise.”
Both Death and The Devil have to do with the Crown Chakra. Death = Raising of Lazarus, while The Devil = “Father, into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit.”
Both Tower of Destruction and Hanged Man have to do with the Brow Chakra. Hanged Man = Healing of the Man Born Blind, while Tower = “My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”
Both The Sun and Hermit have to do with the Solar Plexus Chakra. Hermit = Healing of the Paralyzed Man, while The Sun = “Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do.”
So we have Root—Heart—Crown—Brow—Solar Plexus. What about Larynx and Sacral? Venus and Mars, the Chakras of Feeling? Do we see them woven together harmoniously with The World/Lover?
For reference, the entire sequence:
Magician = “Hallowed Be Thy Name”/Nine Beatitudes
High Priestess = “Thy Kingdom Come”/Stages of the Passion
Empress = “Thy Will Be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven”/Gethsemane Experience, Apocalyptic Judgement
Emperor = “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”/Nourishment from the force of Seeds
Pope = “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”/Healing of the Breath
Lover = “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”/Levels of Communion
Chariot = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses as We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us”/Changing of Water into Wine
Justice = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses…”/Healing of the Nobleman’s Son
Hermit = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses…”/Healing of the Paralyzed Man
Wheel of Fortune = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses…”/Feeding of the 5000
Force = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses…”/Walking on Water
Hanged Man = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses…”/Healing of the Man Born Blind
Death = “Forgive Us Our Trespasses….”/Raising of Lazarus from the Dead
Temperance = “Lead Us Not into Temptation”/Transfiguration, 40th Day in the Wilderness
Devil = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“Father, Into Thy Hands I Commend My Spirit”
Tower of Destruction = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?”
The Star = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“I Thirst”
The Moon = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“Today, You Shall Be With Me In Paradise”
The Sun = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do”
The Judgement = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“Mother, Behold Thy Son; Son, Behold Thy Mother”
The Fool = “Deliver Us From Evil”/“It Is Fulfilled”
The World = “For Thine Is The Kingdom, And The Power, And The Glory, For Ever and Ever. Amen.”
– There is a close similarity to the path from Yod to He:
Magician—Emperor—Chariot—Wheel of Fortune—Death—Tower of Destruction—The Sun
But rather than the Magician (the spontaneous and undifferentiated mystical experience, prior to conscious reflection) at the start of the sequence, it is an enormous accumulation of experiences: it is the Emperor looking back on the experiences of the previous 3 paths.
On the other hand, the end of the first path leads from The Sun directly to the High Priestess. It is a seated woman, fully clothed, reading a book. A very passive image. But this 4th path leads to The World: a naked woman dancing. It has become fully expressive and outward rather than leading to the very inward state of High Priestess. But notice, these are the two cards (High Priestess and World) in which the upper frame is transcended (by High Priestess’s tiara, and the halos of the Angel and Eagle in the World).
Whereas we related the first path to an experience of inner upheaval and transformation brought on by the need to consciously digest and reflect the mystical experience, the fourth path is one leading outward rather than inward—an external, community wide (world wide?) transformation, an unfolding.
– This perspective on the 4th path makes one think of the most recent part (as of 2018) of the Knight’s Practice, having to do with the Feeding of the Five Thousand. We have the Substance-Essence of Learning and the Substance-Essence of Breath; and the Essence-Substance of Nourishment, which weaves the previous two together. This fourth path is one in which “experience and knowledge join in service of love, which unites them,” whereas the 3rd path was an attempt made at outer transformation that originated in naivety and innocence, rather than experience and knowledge. The 3rd path is a path of failure, but this failure is necessary in order to supply the fourth path with the knowledge and experience it needs to succeed. The third path is disharmonious, yet is not only unavoidable, but even essential to the eventual harmony.
One could see the 3rd path as a disciple of Christ attempting to perform a miracle, and is brought back from an initial failure in order to try again. Whereas the 4th path could be something like Christ raising Lazarus from the Dead—the archetypal miracle performed by the Master. A miracle brought to the proper end of its process.
Or one could compare the whole process of Lazarus’s death (which was a massive error) and resurrection (an emergency intervention) to Christ’s Passion and Resurrection: a human act vs. a human-godly act.
Maybe the best analogy is to compare Magdalene’s attempt to initiate Lazarus as the 3rd path and Magdalene’s own initiation in the cave by Christ as the 4th path (as described in the Through the Eyes of Mary Magdalene trilogy). On the one hand, we have what basically amounted to playing with fire that went terribly awry. On the other hand, we have an initiation of true humility and inner marriage with Christ. What is interesting is that both of these initiations ended up being crucial to the ability of Christ to enact the Mystery of Golgotha. Christ could only walk the steps of a human being; this meant that another human being had to plumb the depths (and fail) before Christ could do so, and do it as it should be done. Lazarus prepared the way into the sub-earthly realms for Christ. With the initiation of Magdalene, this gave her the possibility of uniting inwardly with Christ; she was able then to experience, from within Christ, his Passion as he underwent it. He was accompanied in a mystical way through this entire process.
With this 4th path, we could see Emperor and Chariot as Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. With the Wheel of Fortune, the tide turns—he is arrested and tortured leading to Death. The Tower of Destruction could be a picture of the Resurrection, of the Tomb breaking open and the guards falling down as dead. The Sun is an image of the Risen Christ amongst the disciples, and The World is Pentecost. This is the path from Hermeticism to the New Creation, the New Adam.
– There are five or six levels from which Tomberg looks at the cards in The Wandering Fool: General; Mystical; Gnostic; Magical: Hermetic/Philosophical; Esoteric. Is this the path from Hermeticism to Esotericism?
– In fact, it has become clear what this path is. It is the path from Hermeticism to Sacred Art. We can even see this in the entire content of the 22nd Letter-Meditation, as quite a bit of it revolves around Sacred Art (and Tomberg clearly differentiates Sacred Art from Sacred Magic, as analogous to the difference between Beauty and Goodness. See the bottom of page 628). From the first time Joel read MOTT, he felt a bit let down that only one Letter-Meditation was devoted to this subject. Are we not touching on the very origin of the cards with this subject? Yet there is a reason for this that lives within the very nature of the Arcana themselves. It is only with The World that we come to the arena of Sacred Art—and the Minor Arcana are the massive elaboration of this theme, the “way” of Sacred Art. Sacred Art not as a thing, but as a process—the state in which we become co-creators with the Divine.
– This brings us back to the Emerald Tablet, with which we began. This so succinctly describes the unrecognized process through which all is related yet differentiated, all mirrors the whole in its distinctness. There is such a complexity to a wholeness that has separated but is working together harmoniously to maintain the process of separating and coming together again.
– The World = Yod He Shin Vau He. Yeshua = The God-Man, the highest work of Sacred Art. The Minor Arcana are an elaboration of this Sacred Art, that is contained in the Sacred Name of Yeshua.
– Notice that The World has a different geometry than the others. In the rest we see a clear triangular geometry underlying the image, usually with a pinnacle dividing into right and left. This is the only one that is not triangular, but quadrangular. A four that, with its center, becomes five, rather than a three that, with its center, becomes four:
And now, after never seeing this geometry before, we see it twice in a row: The World, then the Ace of Coins. Perhaps the only other arcanum that comes close is the Hanged Man, but he’s upside down, not yet archetypally represented.
He seems related to Revelation 12: zodiacalized Will = crown of 12 stars; solar Thinking = clothed with the Sun; lunar Imagination = standing on the Moon. He is like a masculine version of this image of Sophia.
The World is also reminiscent of Revelation 12. But she is also reminiscent of Revelation 21, which describes the descent of the New Jerusalem. Notice 12 vs 21.
– The World as Celestial City. This has always been an interesting surface contradiction between “Anthroposophical Tomberg” and “Tarot Tomberg.” In his Anthroposophic Meditations, he makes much of the fact that the world began as a Garden, and must end as a City—that the beginning of the world saw an innocent interface between the natural and the human (the Garden), whereas at the end of time, all nature must have been recreated by Man (the City). Then in MOTT, he remarks in the Letter-Meditation on the Tower (or Death?) that there is a contrast between builders and gardeners, and that we must not be builders of false towers of Babylon, but cultivators of the Hermetic Garden, of Paradise. How can these two be resolved?
In MOTT he is specifically referring to builders of Towers of Babel, of false or limited intellectual constructs. He seems to be singling out Freemasons on a subtle level. But there is another way of thinking of ourselves as “builders,” as in Teilhard de Chardin’s Building the Earth. This is a picture that could be related to biodynamics, in which every facet of creation has to be reformed and co-created anew out of love, human/divine love. A garden is certainly constructed, at least in part, by human hands, but the city will be infused through and through with the effect of human activity. Or as it is said in biodynamics, the entire earth must become humus, cultivated.
This can sound dark, and if done in a materialistic way is very dangerous. For example, it is certainly our task in biodynamics to reconnect with the archetypes of the plants and perform spiritual genetics on them, to help them to mutate into that which they intend to become. The materialistic form of this is GMOs, which cuts the seed off completely from the archetype. However, something like GMOs has the after effect of creating an aversion in human beings to the “manipulation” of nature, as though this is something guaranteed to be harmful. The best thing we can do for nature, in many people’s minds, is to leave her completely alone, to preserve her natural state. In fact, the world might be better off without humans all together. This is the perverted idea of purity in the modern mind. The twisting of narratives by the dark powers in order to make something seem good that is not good. This is almost completely analogous to modern feminism. The best thing for a woman is to have an abortion, she is better off terminating it and having her own free life.
The idea that man needs woman and woman needs man, and both need child has become an outdated social more. Similarly, the idea of man as husband of the Earth is also distasteful to the modern sentiment.
– In the Lord’s Prayer Course, Tomberg says this of the Minor Arcana:
7 Seals/Letters = Coins
7 Trumpets = Swords
7 Vials = Cups
New Jerusalem = Batons.
The New Jerusalem is a cube, with 3 gates on each side (12 gates). The geometry of a cube brings in many aspects.
Perhaps the 7 letters in the Revelation are related to the Major Arcana (Letter-Meditations?).
We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.