World (III)

Notes of a Hermetic Conversation on March 27, 2018

March 27 2018

Tarot conversation on The World

We began by invoking the presence of the Healers and Teachers of Humanity, specifically Hermes, by reading the Emerald Tablet. We then performed the Lord’s Prayer through the Sephiroth, and the entire Divine Alphabet with references to the Grail Knight’s Practice.

After reading the quotes from the start of the 22nd Letter-Meditation, we observed The World as the culmination of the entire sequence of Major Arcana:

– We had ended before by pointing out that the 4th path, from Emperor to World (see middle column above), begins at Hermeticism and ends with Sacred Art. This recalls to mind the observation that she is somewhat static, statuesque, a work of art. But then there is the quote at the beginning from Proverbs, where it speaks of the Divine Feminine beside the Father at the beginning, rejoicing in his works and delighting in mankind. Somehow there seems to be something in this quote and in this image that makes one think of the Holy Soul, the third aspect of the Trinosophia. It is as though this feminine figure is there dancing and rejoicing because she is the Creation. The Holy Soul is possibly more incarnate than the other aspects of the Trinosophia—she is the aspect that dances with joy as she is coming into being. She is there at the very beginning, rejoicing not at first in the witnessing of God’s creation, but in the experience of being created. 

– The Holy Soul has always been the most mysterious aspect for Joel. This perspective makes her somewhat clearer. It is not necessarily that the Holy Soul is the most incarnate. The Mother is almost too incarnate, she has sacrificed her very substance to become Matter (Mother), and has descended into the sub-earthly. Sophia, on the other hand, is absolutely celestial, pure light, completely excarnated. The Mother is the substance, Sophia is the Divine Plan, the map of creation in the stars. But the Holy Soul is not the warm darkness of the Mother or the pure Light of Sophia, but rather exists in a realm of pure Life, of weaving movement of Creation coming into being. She is more reminiscent of Eve or Mary Magdalene. When we think of Mary Magdalene, we see that she is never at rest once she is converted (see volume 3 of Through the Eyes of Mary Magdalene). She is mobile, on fire. Prior to her salvation, she was static in her restlessness, a kind of stereotypical empty socialite. After her salvation, she was mobile in her peace, mobile inwardly in her hermitage. 

– We can possibly associate the Father and the Mother as forming the Ground of Existence; then Sophia and the Holy Spirit have another relationship. In fact, the vessel of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was Sophia in union with the redeemed Lucifer. The Holy Spirit is the transmitter of the Divine Plan (Sophia) into human consciousness.

But Christ is aligned in a special way with the Holy Soul. Christ is the most incarnate aspect of the Trinity, and the Holy Soul is the most incarnate aspect of the Trinosophia. We might associate her with the Church, the New Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, which is ever-forming, ever coming into sharper relief. 

The end of Faust part 2:  “The Eternal Feminine leads us upward and on.” 

Elsewhere in Faust we read that “he who strives on and lives to strive, can earn redemption still.”

We also think of the end of George MacDonald’s Lilith, in which the protagonist lives in two worlds, one during his night life, and one during the day. In his night life, he is eternally climbing up a mountain following his beloved.

– Is it possible that all 7 arts are in this image of The World, and not just sculpture and dancing? We can see painting, of course. And also at the beginning of the 22nd Letter-Meditation, Tomberg speaks of the quotes at the beginning as a “musical prelude.” Then there is a strong emphasis on music and its relationship to joy and creation. He writes of joy as the “concordance of rhythm.” Then there is the fascinating first paragraph on page 626. Here he describes the woman as keeping the rhythm, while the four Holy Animals accompany her rhythm with an orchestral accompaniment. The rhythmic motion of the female psyche and the melodies and harmonies of the four primordial instincts. 

– Tomberg then writes of a specific cosmogony:  the World as a Work of Art, Divine Creation as Work of Art. He then quotes from Plotinus, 626-627, about the fact that Man is the One Seal, the Archetype which contains the entire macrocosm in a microcosm. He is the primal Archetype upon which all else is based. 

This changes completely our impression of the Emerald Tablet. This “one thing” of which Hermes speaks, is nothing other than Man. Man is the secret to the Emerald Tablet.

– The trend of this Letter-Meditation can be difficult to follow, but it more or less goes:  1.) The World as a Work of Art; 2.) The Sphere of Truth vs the Sphere of Mirages; 3.) The Four Holy Animals; 4.) The Minor Arcana—and then an abrupt stop! There is no conclusion to this vast opus. He leaves an opening, making sure the circle remains a spiral. What a wonderful and fitting ending to the Magnum Opus of Christian Esotericism that it is left intentionally unfinished. 

He leaves this opening with implicit self-deprecation, as well as implicit confidence in the abilities of the reader.  On page 655 he writes that it would “demand too much of your forces” to read 56 more Letter-Meditations written by Tomberg, but that it should be possible for the reader to write 56 Letter-Meditations of his or her own.

– Looking at the overall geometry of the 22 Major Arcana, there seems to be an interplay of two forms, which are trying to integrate each other. When we look at The Judgement, we see lemniscatory/spiral forms above (related to the Crown Chakra, Chakra of Death/Positive Karma/Father) and below we see the cube of the tomb (related to Root Chakra, Chakra of Life/Negative Karma/Mother). 

We see this same gesture in the 7th Apocalyptic Seal of Rudolf Steiner, in which we see the cube of space below, being interpenetrated from all directions by the snakes, which then transforms via a lemniscate into the rainbow of the Holy Spirit as a Dove. Again, lemniscate above, cube below.

25 Seals ideas | rudolf steiner, theosophy, steiner

It seems that the whole geometric/spiritual quandary is not how to square the circle, but how to cube the lemniscate, or lemniscate the cube!

When we think of the Nativity, of the birth of Christ, here we have a manger = cube, with a swaddled child inside of it, which basically has the form of a lemniscate (round head on round swaddled body). The lemniscate integrated with the cube.

We noted before that the World has a unique geometry vs the other Major Arcana, which is immediately repeated in Ace of Coins. Couldn’t we say that this form is more or less a union of Cube and Lemniscate? We can imagine the four-sided shape of the card as the cube, while the X created by:

Angel Eagle


Bull Lion

is merely the X in the middle of a figure 8, the crossing point—we could imagine the upper and lower curves of the 8 extending above and below the card, representing the world of the eternal, while that which is in the card itself is the manifest world.

– Suddenly, this changes our entire interpretation of the geometry of the Major Arcana. Before, we were looking at these cards as interpenetrations of triangles in different arrangements. But if we separate a figure 8 into two halves, we don’t have two triangles, but two tear-drop shapes = Dew = Tau. Rather than triangles seeking to interpenetrate each other, what if it is a divided lemniscate that is seeking to reunite? The fundamental question becomes, how do we get two Tau to combine within a box?

For example, we see the Hanged Man, who makes an upward pointed triangle/Tau with his feet, and a downward pointed triangle/Tau with his head and shoulders, while the box is formed in the middle. We noted that The Hanged Man is the only other image at all reminiscent of the four-sided character of The World, and here we see it is a sort of failed attempt. The box is in the middle rather than outside, and the two Tau are pointing the wrong direction. 

– We might begin to see the Cubed Lemniscate as the “One Thing” of the Emerald Tablet, and each of the Arcana is a metamorphosis and adaptation of the One Thing. The Cubed Lemniscate = The Holy Luminous Trinity, union of Trinity and Trinosophia.

– All of the Minor Arcana are geometrical forms—it may be that we have more drawing ahead of us! (The notes I took for this conversation have many drawings in them, which I have tried to describe adequately here…)

– When we look at the Major Arcana arranged in the Yod/He/Vau/He Form without The World, we have:

So a form a bit like this:

More or less triangular.

When we add in The World at the end, we have a hexagon:

This is the shape of a cube when transferred to the two-dimensional. 

It is also the shape of the Sephiroth Tree, and the shape in the center of the Luminous Holy Trinity (two interpenetrating triangles, Star of David).

– We can look at this overall form of the 22 Major Arcana as an elaboration of the tri-colored garland around The World:

“Yellow,” a pure and unfallen quality:

“Red,” going through the heart of a crisis, action:

Blue, coming into formation, conclusion:

(The next week, after the Knight’s Practice, it became clear that the yellow portion of the garland is related to “Per Spiritum Sanctum Revivisimus”—it surrounds the woman’s head, and is related to the two most spiritual beings, the Angel and the Eagle.

The red portion of the garland is related to “In Christo Morimor”—it is at the midsection of the woman, and focuses on her in the center. She is the rhythm of the dance, and the Christ Will in the encircling round holds sway in rhythms of worlds.

The blue portion of the garland is related to “Ex Deo Nascimur”—it is at the lower portion of the woman, flanked by the two more earthly creatures, the Bull and the Lion. 

This image now appears as the “One Seal” from which the Foundation Stone Meditation and the Rosicrucian mantra are derived).

– We see that from the very beginning of the Major Arcana, the theme of the interaction of lemniscate and cube is brought forth, through the hat and the table of the Magician. He is also holding and pondering a sphere and a line—how does the round interact with the angular?  Many of the implements on the table are either tear or box shaped.

– We reviewed the interaction between the 3 qualities of sattva, raja, and tama in the colors of the garland vs the four elements represented by the four holy creatures on page 651-652. (The next week, we thought of the 4th part of the Knight’s Practice—“Paradise, Nourishment from the Force of Seeds”—as expressive of the 4 instincts in the 3 qualities).

– The abstract picture that we had made before around this Arcanum was that of the Thrones (holy creatures) creating matter (woman) and experiencing themselves reflected back through her. But the characterization from Tomberg, of the rhythmic female psyche accompanied by the orchestra of the divine instinct is much more powerful. The image really gives the living quality of a performance. She is inspired by the creatures around her, and they are responding to her as well.

It is important that she is the rhythm section, and that they are the melody. One would more naturally assume that the sole figure in the middle is the melody, while the four creatures are like a four-fold beat. But she is the focus, she lays the foundation. She is like the conductor, with a baton.  One would not usually think of the hierarchies being conducted by their Creation, rather the opposite. 

We can think of the song of the four holy creatures as related to Space = Eternity = pure tone, pure sounding, without melody. No differentiation. The one they have created forms and keeps the rhythm by bringing about the realm of Time. The unfolding of Creation through the rhythm of Time sets the beat by which the spiritual world can play their song, can organize their toning into melody.

In the same way, we would like to think that the “melody” of the thought life, the internal dialogue of the human being is central. But actually, it is the rhythmic beat of heart and breath of lung in which our true self resides. This lays the foundation upon which thought can occur.

One could also see this as an expression of the One Seal:  all of the animals, all of creation looks to Man, the One Seal, to see where they fit into the whole. The One Seal is the ground to which all things refer to know their place. The One Seal is the only thing which gives a complete representation, and expresses relationship.

– We then get a picture of the cosmology:

The One God contains all, he is the unity of all things, the One Seal at the beginning.  Out of an act of self-sacrifice, he siphons off portions of himself in order to create the hierarchies. Each of them is a reflection of one aspect of God. These hierarchies then, through their creative activity, form the different realms of nature. Each piece of the macrocosm results from their activity. The crowning achievement is Man, in which the entire macrocosm is contained as microcosm. He is the only creature which contains all of Creation within itself. Hence, Man is created in the “image of God.”

– It is implicit that in The World we are seeing a heavenly realm. Is this the 4 Holy Animals from Revelation worshipping God? Or are they observing/worshipping/creating Humanity? Perhaps it is expressive of both.

– Taking a step back, and looking at the experience of the Sphere of Mirages. A mirage, according to page 630, is a floating reflection of reality. It is outside the context of objective reality.

Experience of this realm is related to experiences of inflation:  in the midst of an activity, one can suddenly feel over-stimulated, feel a strange pressure to think something. If one gives in and allows this special thought to assert itself within one’s soul, then one has the experience, “I am so great, I am incredible for thinking something so amazing!” But there is another part of oneself that knows that the thought was inauthentic, was forced through oneself. It comes through with a blinding force that creates a sort of amnesia, an inability to recognize everything else. The thoughts that arise in this way float the soul up out of the grounded meaning of everyday life, and falsely places it in this realm of “I am so great.” This is a very paralyzing experience. We can know that these thoughts are false, since why would it be paralyzing if one was experiencing Truth? It is draining. It is like a false construct has been placed around the soul, and lifted it out of the appropriate context of grounded reality. The power of paralysis within the false sphere.

This begs the question, in terms of the cosmology we wrote of above, where does untruth, mirage, arise within the process of creation? Why does the back alley arise that allows falsehood to persist without being dispelled by the presence of reality? Why isn’t consciousness a totally accurate reflection? The short and easy answer is that it brings us back to unfallen image and fallen likeness, but what are the specific metaphysics? In the long run, is it really part of the Plan?

– Let’s revise our cosmology based on this question. The original cosmology we laid out might be a more idealized version of the reality, oversimplified.  

The difference is that the human being is the reflection, the distillation of the entire cosmos, including evil. Evil pre-existed human beings, it is something we united ourselves with in the process of becoming the distillation of the whole.

We begin with the One God, who contains all within him. Out of a primal act of self-sacrifice, he siphons off portions of himself, creating the various Hierarchies. However, a risk was involved in this process:  the risk brought about by separation. For each of these members that were siphoned off could see that they were both separate and united with God, they were “Children of God.” But Lucifer took his eyes off of God, and saw the God within himself, and became confused. The first arising of a mirage:  Lucifer sees God without, and God within, and assumes “I am God.” This is a mirage, a dreadful mixture of truth and falsehood, due to a removal from the grounding of reality (taking the eyes off of God). Lucifer no longer sees the true origin of the God that resides within him, at least not properly. Hence, the freedom brought about by separateness makes room also for the mirage, for mis-understanding. 

Hence, the process of creation was not only the Unfallen Hierarchies creating an Unfallen Nature. The process of Creation was “hijacked” or infested by the activity of the Fallen Hierarchies. Hence, the cumulative creation of Man was certainly a distillation of the entire macrocosm—but he contained an element beyond that existing in God. He contained the element brought in through the Fallen Hierarchies, i.e. Evil and Death. 

We might say, then, that the Archetypal Man (Christ) is more comprehensive than God himself, as God himself does not contain Evil and Death—yet this was precisely the mission of Christ, to overcome Evil and Death. Man’s task is ultimately to redeem Fallen Nature. He is the only creature who contains this mixture of all things, of good and of evil. He can redeem that which is fallen in himself, primarily, and gradually perform the work of redeeming all that is fallen outside of himself as well. This can only be accomplished through Man. Hence, the allowance of Evil and the process of redemption in the world (focalizing around Man) made possible the creation of something authentically New. “In Christ, I am a new Creation.” Man becomes the new God, the new comprehensive whole, through 1) the Fall, 2) the Deed of Christ, and 3) the process of Christianizing the Earth.

– Sensing the overall gesture of Majors vs Minors. Majors are like the One God creating the Hierarchies, whereas the Minors are natural and human history, the process of Creation on the part of the Hierarchies.

Or the Majors are all of cosmogenesis up to the Deed of Christ, which lay primarily in the hands of the Gods, and the Minors represent that activity of Man as co-creator and co-redeemer of the World, through Sacred Art.

– This sounds lofty, and potentially lays a pretty hefty responsibility on the shoulders of humanity, as the sole hierarchy who can directly redeem Nature. But it expresses itself in the smallest ways at this point. For example, if we are having a conversation with someone and we feel as though we need to correct something that they misunderstand, but we know that if we say something it will only make them angry. Taking hold of what is within ourselves, the exercise of tact and patience with the expression of Truth—this is just one example of how we can begin the monumental task of redeeming what is outside of us—it begins through an inner redemption, an inner observation. The first path, from Magician to Sun.

– Keeping this image of the marriage of Lemniscate and Cube within us as we head towards the Minor Arcana.

We ended with the closing of the Knight’s Practice.