The Two Trees as Transcendent Function

Carl Jung is one the foremost psychologists of modern times whose contributions in the field of psychotherapy have been of immense benefit in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders. A central tenet in his teachings towards the healing of a fragmented personality involved the use of the Transcendent Function. A good introduction to The Transcendent Function can be found here and there is an audiobook of Jung’s essay on the subject here. The following overview from Jung gives a good insight into the function’s origins and efficacy:

“The cooperation of conscious reasoning with the data of the unconscious is called the ‘transcendent function…. This function progressively unites the opposites. Psychotherapy makes use of it to heal neurotic dissociations, but this function had already served as the basis of Hermetic philosophy for seventeen centuries.” (Collected Works 18,  p. 1554)

Much of this website is dedicated to a new way to explore the wonders of Hermetic philosophy through a system we have called The Two Trees.  This system combines symbolism found in Eastern and Western philosophies to produce a ‘spiral’ system.  The ‘Start Here‘ page will guide you through the fundamentals of The Two Trees which in essence allows a kabbalistic interpretation of the Yin-Yang, thereby combining Eastern ideas of cycles with the Western notion of spiritual ascension. The Two Trees provides a simple and very versatile framework for considering many different philosophical ideas. As Jung has mentioned above, The Transcendent Function was also distilled from Hermetic philosophy and, as I hope to demonstrate, is eminently compatible with The Two Trees. When The Two Trees was revealed from my researches into the nature of hierarchical systems (see here) it very quickly uprooted the foundations of my social conditioning and its associated complexes; these unconscious impulses had heavily influenced my decisions, often in a detrimental fashion. Indeed The Two Trees is, among other things, the gift of The Transcendent Function from the realms of the unconscious to allow the healing of the rift between my own conscious and unconscious worlds. As this is an ongoing process, I beg your indulgence if this article appears incomplete – I will continue to update with developments as healing progresses. While the site mainly uses Hermetic terminology, I will endeavour here to employ Jungian language in order to make it accessible to a wider audience. A glossary of Jungian terms found here will be useful for those unfamiliar with this approach.

A Symbol for theTranscendent Function

The Yin-Yang is a fundamental element of The Two Trees and is a good way to introduce the basic form of the model.

The Yin-Yang as model of The Psyche

In line with the Jungian view, the psyche is understood to consist of conscious and unconscious components constantly interacting with each other. The accompanying Yin-Yang captures the basics of this dynamic binary system with keywords to help to identify the nature of these two halves of the psyche.

The conscious self is the definition of the ‘I’ for our psyche. It represents the person we believe ourselves to be and includes all the thoughts, memories and experiences accessible to the conscious mind at any given moment. It operates as the final mediator before action though is not necessarily the driving force behind action. For example, flight from a wild animal will be directed by the conscious though the underlying unconscious fear will drive this action. This part of the psyche is related to The Tree of Life as it encompasses the existential, experiencing part of ourselves. Importantly, The Tree of Life includes the ‘outside’ world perceived by the individual as this world is ultimately constructed by the individual psyche through its senses. The veil separating inner and outer worlds may not be as solid as modern thought would have us believe.

On the flip side, the unconscious mind is the hidden underlying structure of the psyche not immediately accessible to conscious thought. Here exists an alternative to living, conscious reality driven by instinct, buried memories, social conditioning and fertile imagination. Motivation is rooted in this sphere and the logic of our actions will ultimately find their source in our unconscious drives. This inner world is one of information and so relates to The Tree of Knowledge.

The relationship between The Trees of Knowledge and Life within the psyche is comparable to that uncovered by science in life itself. Actions and behaviours of creatures can be tracked ultimately to the knowledge encoded in their DNA. Thus life generates new knowledge which in turn generates new life. This dynamic cycle of the psyche is analogous:  thoughts generated from knowledge initiate actions that in turn generate new knowledge in the form of memories and experiences. To fully explore the dynamic nature of our model, a few more details of the symbol need to be elaborated.

The Dynamics of the Symbol

Dynamics of The Two Trees

The two points of opposite colour within the Yin-Yang symbol are interpreted as points of intense interaction between the light and dark sides. A powerful interpretation sees each point as the microcosm of one side within the structure of the other side. Following this reasoning, the black point representing the microcosm of the Tree of Knowledge and hence the psyche or Self can easily be identified as the persona from a Jungian perspective. The persona is the projection of the Self into the outside world and hence represents a microcosm of all that is contained therein. The persona is not only a vehicle for the conscious ego but is also the means through which projections from the shadow as well as other instinctual and unconscious behaviour manifests externally.

The white point is not so straightforwardly defined but can be thought of as analogous to the persona: it is the projection of the external world or life into the Self. I have labelled it the ‘Archetypal Source’ as archetypes form the basis for communication between the conscious mind and the unconscious, especially the collective unconscious extending beyond the individual. This microcosm of the external world and thus life itself can be seen as the source for dreams which have a universal, archetypal content. Interestingly one could also view it as ‘the persona’ of the external world manifesting within the psyche. Could this be a way of understanding the experience of God within? Another way to see it would be as the Divine Spark, the microcosm of all life and hence ‘The Living God’,  illuminating the psyche and providing the energy to drive our creative processes.

These two points act as anchor points of an axis passing through both to give a scale for the division of one’s emphasis between the inner and outer worlds. Moving along the axis towards the persona leads to an increase in the white portion indicative of life and the external world. The increase in ‘white’ is reflective of becoming more extrovert or ‘out there’ in the world. Conversely moving to the Archetypal Source increases the black portion or introspection within the self. The individual thus becomes increasingly introverted and detached from the external world.

The dynamic nature of the Yin-Yang is traditionally viewed as being cyclical, switching between the dark and light parts of the symbol in continuous rotation. One can use this characteristic to formalise metaphors for spiritual discovery and healing. If all is well and the self is well-adapted and thriving in its environment, awareness will dwell mostly in the external world. Inspiration flows from the Archetypal Source to The Persona and out into the world. Feedback comes back through The Archetypal Source to inform future actions. This cycle is represented as the larger, blue cycle in the above diagram and can be seen as the cycle of the extrovert.

If something goes amiss and a person becomes mentally displaced within the external world, the Persona implodes and forms the rabbit hole down which awareness falls. A struggle towards ‘the light’ within the darkness of the interior world then ensues. The Archetypal Source is this light as it is the information flooding in from outside to guide the person towards a new functioning understanding with the surrounding environment. In this sense, The Archetypal Source is a proto-ego, a hazy image of the future conscious self acting as a guiding light to the struggling awareness. If successful the new form of the ego is attained and a new persona is obtained as a vehicle in the outside world. In the diagram above, the inner red cycle informs of this method of progression and can be viewed as the cycle of the introvert.

In a spiritual context, the cycles of the extrovert and the introvert navigate up and down Jacob’s Ladder, allowing the aspirant to move between the different worlds of experience. In general, both cycles will be experienced in contra-rotation. People undergoing internal metamorphoses will still simultaneously be engaged externally in all but extreme cases of introversion or extroversion.

The Psyche in Detail

A more detailed model for both parts of the symbol will help to develop it for use in a transcendent function. Firstly the ‘Yin’ element representing the inner psyche is expanded below in a ‘straightened’ conical format to enhance clarity.

Model for the Self

The widening of the cone from a point at the base indicates the increasing engagement of the mind traversing from The Observer to The Archetypal Source and beyond. The Observer is both the simplest and the most mysterious element of the inner world. As the data gatherer of the Self, dedicated to the pure act of observation with no interpretation or analysis, this is the catatonic state noted among the symptoms in most mental ailments. It lacks any measurable mental activity beyond basic mimicry of the external stimuli. The mysterious side to this part of the psyche derives from the teachings of quantum mechanics – The Observer observes the universe and thereby causes it to exist. The Observer sees the universe as it truly is, free from the warping lenses of the complexes that will feed a very different worldview to the ego. The data of The Observer is presented in the first instance to The Self through The Archetypal Source.

The incoming data and the higher elements of the Self linked to the Collective Unconscious merge in The Archetypal Source to form a persona-like mask of the external world within the psyche. Information from The Archetypal Source is then filtered through the series of complexes before reaching the conscious ego. These complexes are emotionally charged amalgams of ideas and images that form hidden personalities rooted within the unconscious part of the psyche. These personalities ‘inform’ the ego about the external world and what actions to take.  Archetypal complexes are formed through environmental pressures or social engineering and are to be found widespread within a particular society.  Personal complexes are formed by individual experiences and will vary widely between individuals.  To illustrate the nature of the complex, consider a clerk working in a monolithic administration who receives two urgent telephone messages, one to contact his doctor and the other to contact his boss. Due to his job, he is likely to have a large hierarchical content within one or more of his archetypal complexes (see here for a study of how hierarchy may be simply framed in such a complex). This complex will ‘inform’ him that his boss has priority – a more naturally inclined soul may think differently! Many complexes will blur the distinction between archetypal and personal – a ‘Father’ complex will contain elements both from the social sphere concerned with the accepted role of the father as well as the personal experiences of the individual’s parent.

The realm of the ego is that which is within the reach of the conscious mind at any given time. The ego is the driver within the self, and is, in general, the final arbiter before action in the external world is initiated. An exception to this rule comes in the form of projections from the unconscious onto others through the persona. The persona is thus not completely under conscious control. Strong emotional responses may also be channeled through the unconscious. Such responses arise through the shadow, the realm of thoughts, ideas and experiences beyond conscious recall. Generally the contents of the shadow develop from repression of undesirable experiences that would disrupt the ego’s equilibrium as well as discarded material no longer of use within present circumstances. Information arising from The Archetypal Source may be redirected by complexes to be processed within the shadow. The ego may receive the outcomes of this cognition as subliminal hopes and fears. For example signals of impending failure coming from a teacher to a pupil may be re-interpreted by the pupil into feelings of irrational hope: this allows the pupil to keep going and even sit the examination even though probability of success is in reality low.

Any part of the diagram of the Self shown above not labelled belongs to fully autonomous parts of the unconscious not amenable to communication with the ego through the medium of hidden personalities. The collective unconscious largely falls into this category as no single personality can express universal concepts contained therein.

Life – The Great Outdoors

The very general model of existence given in the diagram below is  similar in form to the very familiar ‘eye in the triangle’ symbol on the back of the dollar bill. This is perhaps unsurprising as many aspects of our life in the external world are heavily influenced by  the hidden hand of the Elites. The main difference with the standard hierarchical design resides in the cyclical nature of the Two Trees: there is no definition of ‘up’ in a cycle. How the cycle can be hidden inside the illusion of hierarchy is dealt with in the ‘Eye in the Triangle’ article. Here we will deal with a general form that will include interaction with the Psyche.

Model for Life

As with the model of the psyche, the breadth of the ‘straightened’ cone gives some idea of the diversity of experience. At the base are the material basis of the Universe that includes both the realm of human experience and that which lies beyond. From the material base arises human physiology which houses The Persona, the interface to the realm of Knowledge. The Persona is the means by which an individual interacts with others and so it is to be found in the midst of society. As well as communication, The Persona acts as the foundation upon which social status and reputation is built. The first tier accessible from this platform is an individual’s role within family and the local community.

Elevation into the realm of ‘The Lovers’ allows someone to build their own family and even community through the gifts of their biology. This layer is also named after the Tarot Trump card whose basic meaning is doing The Great Work. Thus here one will undertake other creative work to advance the knowledge and extent of the human domain.

Progressing towards the ‘Command & Control’ layer leaves behind the more natural social and creative aspects of life and enters into the more isolated role occupied by those who manage others. This layer would be the ‘gap’ between the floating Eye of Providence and the lower section of the pyramid on the dollar bill. It is the invisible ‘hidden hand’ by which the elites control society.  Though there is interaction between individuals in this layer, actions are Machiavellian and tend towards maintaining the hierarchy. In contemporary society, corporatism and banking are found here.

Isolation continues to increase until the middle management gives way to the realm of their overlords, the Elite. Here there exists a society similar in some ways to that well below but this one is but an extension and completion of the Machiavellian layer upon which it sits . Here more than anywhere else is the sense of moving in a ‘progressive’ trajectory upwards apparent and any idea of cycling back to a lower level is anathema. From these lofty heights change is perceived as failure and hence there is a strong urge to maintain the status quo. The only progression beyond this level is towards increasing isolation and taking on the role of The Hermit. The tendency for the rich and famous to barricade themselves behind high walls is a clear indicator of this tendency. At this point diversity of experience, measured by the width of the cone, has shrunk while the equivalent realm of the inner world of the psyche is hugely expanded. The individual thus sinks more and more into the realm of imagination and thus transitions from the living world into the world of Knowledge, cycling back through this inner world. The Fool is representative of the individual completely absorbed into their own private inner world and is the fate of any who resist the cycling process or who control their outer world so completely that The Archetypal Source becomes their own face. They end up trapped entirely within their own self-created worlds. The Fool is the complement in Life to The Observer in Knowledge . In the latter case, if the individual refuses to transition into being active in the external world, they are doomed to becoming a passive participant of that world with all self-awareness lost.

Other Interpretations

The interpretations here are but one of many available to begin to explore the inscrutable wisdoms of Taoist philosophy. For example one could take a macro-perspective on the Yin-Yang symbol. The Persona would then become representative of society itself while the Archetypal Source would become in effect The Living God, guiding society towards a harmonious future within its womb.

Another viewpoint would be to begin life with a baby as The Fool. Each layer brings the juvenile towards realisation of the Persona and a place within society. This view produces some interesting insights! What is important above all is to use The Two Trees as a tool to make some sense of this very complex and often confusing world we live in.

The Bridge Across Forever

Over the bridge across forever
Entangled in its multitudinous strands
Drawn ever onward through inertia’s bounds
By the light of the shining hand

Spanning the night from the ruins it flows
Bearing yesterday’s dreams with tomorrow’s woes
Linking with such infernal care
one to all and all to one

Wending its way through the need to know
Bubbling forth out of life’s loopholes
Finding its level wherever it goes
The Bridge across forever.

Sid. (2004)

“May ye be wise as serpents”

Greetings!

Have a look at this video connecting serpents, knowledge, enlightenment, the phoenix  and the two trees –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyOB_WIegRQ

This shows how the Two Trees  is more than just a story from the bible.  The stories and legends from across civilisations and time all seem to share a universal foundation of enlightenment through various methods.

Life wants to refine it’s consciouness to partake of greater knowledge, whilst this new-found knowledge, wants to change Life, but  like the legend of Prometheus

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus

Those who steal fire from the Gods will be punished for their transgressions.

Near the end of the video, the name of Wilheim Reich is mentioned. Does anyone know his name today?  What he did was  promethean in its scale, and for his pains, he was imprisoned and died in jail.

Oh, and by the way, don’t bother to look him up on Wikipedia, here’s why:

http://www.orgonelab.org/wikipedia.htm

A good introductry video is 1/3rd of the way down the following webpage:

http://www.orgonelab.org/index.htm

Enjoy!

Maat Kheru,

Meni.

Unlocking The Prisoner

Introduction

The Prisoner is an iconic drama series from the Sixties whose enigmatic theme and message has continued to puzzle viewers in the fifty years since its inception.  The basic premise of the story, outlined in the opening credits of the show,  hinges around the attempt of a top secret agent to hand in his resignation and progress to an idyllic life, free from intrigue and danger,  on a beach in the tropics. After handing in his notice, he is gassed in his apartment while packing and whisked off to a secret location, The Village, where he is stripped of his identity and given a number, No. 6. His gaolers, led by an ever changing No. 2, seek to discover the reasons for his resignation through all manner of devious and subtle tortures. No.6’s goal is to escape to freedom and become an ex-spy, ex-citizen, ex-everything!

I will not try to detail all the incredible twists and turns surrounding the struggles of No. 6 with No. 2 and the system but rather strongly recommend that you watch the series before progressing further. Presently, at the time of writing, the complete episodes have been uploaded on YouTube. There is also an article in Fortean Times celebrating its 50th anniversary (October 2017, FT358:48-53) that gives a thorough account of the underlying memes and themes identified within the show. This article aims to distill an underlying pattern from the abundant and powerful symbolism within The Prisoner and use this pattern to explain  the means of escape in the baffling final episode, “Fall Out”. In order to achieve an understanding of this world of numbers, some esoteric number-based tools are first required.

The Tools

The first important item pulled from the tool bag is Pascal’s Triangle.

Top six rows of Pascal’s Triangle

Each number in a row is obtained by summing the two numbers immediately above it. For example, “6” comes from adding the two “3” ‘s on the previous row. One can immediately see the first three numbers along the central axis of the triangle, (1, 2 and 6)  are those crucial within the plot of The Prisoner – No.6 is always trying to get past No.2 to reach No.1 at the top of the chain of command.

All positive whole numbers are found in Pascal’s Triangle and appear twice in one row except those on the central axis, which appear only once. Each number is restricted to appear in only one row with the following three exceptions.

No.1 appears along the edges of the triangle and hence defines  the shape of the triangle without a base line , “∧”.

If the numbers in a row are added, they give a power of No.2:

1+2 +1 = 4 = 22   ,    1+3+3+1 = 8 = 23   ,    1 + 4 + 6 + 4 + 1 = 16 = 24

Thus through aggregation and assimilation (property, ownership), the powers of No.2 extend to every row throughout the triangle. Do they apply even to the very pinnacle, given that 20 = 1? All zeroth powers (e.g. 20 , 110 , 190 , 1230 …) are defined to be No.1 and hence No.1 is the zeroth power. Thus, No.2 cannot approach the pinnacle by his aggregative powers.

No.11 also has access to all rows other than the pinnacle by virtue of the property of Pascal’s Triangle called Magic 11’s. Here, powers of No.11 are represented as the “face value” of the digits of a particular row. For the first five rows there is direct correspondence, while in subsequent rows, carrying of digits must be applied.

11 = 111  ,  121 = 11,   1331 = 113   ,   14641 = 114

The second tool to help with the study is the  Thoth Tarot deck.  The Trump cards of the deck are particularly important as the numbering and position of the cards in the sequence of Trumps is associated to their underlying meaning. With the cards we have a method to ‘put flesh on the bones’ of the numbers that form the basis of Pascal’s Triangle and hence give them more meaningful significance.

The final tool in the toolkit is the set of Roman Numerals. As you will see in the subsequent analysis, numerals were used to express multilayered themes throughout the series. Firstly it is important to note that the Tarot Trump cards are numbered as Roman Numerals.

‘X’ in The Prisoner

In the opening credits , the man to who receives the letter of resignation sits in front of a map of the British Empire. From this image, one can suppose our hero wants not only to be an ex-spy and ex-employee but also an ex-citizen of The Empire.  Within The Prisoner, the idea of “ex-” is expressed through the letter “X”. Many examples of the usage of the  letter are seen throughout the series. It is seen in the posture of No.1 when confronted by our hero’s sudden appearance, used to void our hero’s ID card and shown on the cover of the cage that becomes  his escape vehicle in the final episode. As an aside, it is interesting to note that there are three X’s on this cover which hints at an alternative meaning for the eponymous greeting in The Prisoner. The hand gesture of the greeting conveys O.K. while concealing ‘666’ within its shape. The verbal element consists of “Be seeing you”, alluding to the all-pervasive surveillance, but phonetically could also be written as “Be C-ing you”.

Be seeing you!

Now as a Roman Numeral:

C = 100 = 10 x 10 = X x X = XXX

Thus each greeting No.6 makes is a promise of liberation. Hints of the numeral are also to be seen in the strange C-shaped telephones. Were you hearing or C-ing when you used them?

c-shaped telephone
Eye in the triangle as crown

The final Roman Numeral to be considered is “I” that has the value of No.1. There are direct references to the letter in the final episode and it is implied throughout the series in the presence of the all-seeing eye, especially when set at the top of a triangle. This is the “Eye in the Triangle” and is synonymous with the No.1 at the top of Pascal’s Triangle. This symbol represents the controlling force or entity steering the fates of the residents within The Village from behind the scenes. It does also allow for interpretation as representing the “I”, self-identity or ego of No.6. Thus the battle becomes an internal struggle of competing forces within our hero’s mind seeking ultimate control. To understand the nature of this battle, we need to consider our hero’s mental state prior to being abducted and the method by which the conflict was instigated by the abduction. Finally, on the topic of numerals, it is interesting to note these three Roman numerals when taken together as “CIX” phonetically give “six”.

The Prisoners Dilemma

The aim of our hero is laid out clearly in the opening credits. He is a spy working for the British government who wishes to leave the world of espionage and intrigue behind for a life of leisure in The Tropics. He hands in his letter of resignation which is duly processed in an automated system. He rushes home and is in the process of packing for his new life when he is gassed and kidnapped, to awake the prisoner No.6 in The Village. The letter itself holds clues as to the nature of his imprisonment and the ensuing struggle to win freedom.

The resignation letter

The letter is marked “Private + Personal” and “By Hand”. These inscriptions are normal practice when used to indicate a sensitive communication to be read by the person to whom it was delivered by hand. Other layers of meaning may be indicated. “By hand” is  considered later in the notes at he end of this analysis. “Private + Personal” may be a harbinger of the future No.6, stripped of both privacy and personality. The former is certainly achieved through the panopticon – based society of The Village. But what of the latter? To explore this we need to go deeper into the psyche of our hero before and after removal to The Village.

We know our hero only as No.6 . He professes he is a free man and not a number. He must gain freedom through resignation which suggests he was a number while in the employ of the empire. As all numbers are derived from other numbers, it is reasonable to presume No.6 was derived from this previous number. I contend No.11 was his original number.

I have written in a previous article how Pascal’s Triangle is a useful and simple model to represent hierarchical society. As I described above, a property of Pascals Triangle is that the powers of No.11 extend to every level. Thus No.11 represents the everyman who could belong to any social sphere. By the same token it can stand for a spy who has access to all levels of society. This power of No.11 is linked to taking things at “face value”. Our idea of self-awareness and self-identity is strongly linked with this idea – The Mirror Test is the means by which the presence of self-awareness and self-identity is determined. Thus a child’s individual personality and ego has begun to develop when it first recognises itself in a mirror. Our hero was fully in harmony with himself and takes himself at “face value” until the resignation. He woke up that morning and didn’t like what he saw in the mirror: the conflict with his ego had begun. The two 1’s in No.11 can be seen as the two individual aspects of the divided self bound together, the dominant outer self or ego and the inner self. In Roman Numerals, the nature of the two selves becomes clearer. Together XI is the Tarot card “Lust”, also known as “Strength”. Our hero is certainly a strong character, demonstrated by his purposeful march into the office to tender his resignation. The two components of the number are “I” and “X”. Here is the controlling ego and the wish to escape. The associated Tarot cards “The Magician” and “Fortune” reflect this antithesis admirably. “The Magician” represents total order – “The Magician” controls all aspects of his environment with nothing left to chance. “Fortune” represents chaos, randomness, chance and absence of order. “X” and “I” are thus diametrically opposed opposites. Our hero craves freedom from order and rails against his “I” or mirror self. He has a dilemma in this struggle – “The Magician”, as the ultimate controller, is an entity from which he cannot escape. By the cruel arts of the controlling forces our hero is transported The Village where the dissection of his mind is pursued…

Our hero is split from his mirror image which is now the part of him who was the citizen, spy and servant of the empire. This element of his identity has been dominant up until the resignation and thus assumes the role of Tarot Trump IV, “The Emperor”, desperate to know from his rebel self, No.6,  ” Why did you resign?”

No.6 is represented by Tarot Trump VI, “The Lovers”.  This card represents the union of two separate identities in a new relationship. On an abstract level it is the integrating of seeming immiscible forces in a harmonious fashion. Thus the whole mission of No.6 is to unite with his other half… but he has to get past No.2 first.

The Priestess

No.2 is a vital stepping stone towards the final goal of No.6, that of union with his once-dominant half. As mentioned earlier in Pascal’s Triangle, it stands between No.1 and No.6 along the central axis of the triangle. A more important property of No.2 are its powers of aggregation and assimilation whereby every level of Pascal’s Triangle is a power of No.2 through addition. No.6 needs this ability in order to “add” his other half to himself and thereby assimilate it. The Tarot Trump II, “The Priestess”, can give us further clues to the role of No.2. It represents the link or bridge between the higher spirtual realm and the lower world. Mathematics in its Platonic sense is transmitted through “The Priestess” which is in agreement with No.2’s arithmetic powers. In the final episode, “Fall Out”, the ex-No.2 tells of how he was once a normal and honest man, taking things at face value before he was twisted into service by the system. Was he thus also once No.11 but tried to solve his problem of divided self by simple addition of the digits, thereby being caught in the trap of aggregation, property and possession. One final property of “The Priestess” is that it represents The Moon in its exalted sense and is a symbol of the powers of the unconscious mind. “The Priestess” can be seen as the bridge between the unconscious and conscious mind. No.6 will need to cross this bridge to solve his inner conflict.

The Resolution

No.6 as “The Emperor”

In the penultimate episode, “Once Upon a Time”, No.6 breaks No.2 through the ordeal of Degree Absolute and crosses the bridge into the inner, hidden world of The Village. The final episode, “Fall Out” is the adventures of No.6 inside this inner sanctum. As he has defeated No.2, he assumes the role of proxy leader and is enthroned on the royal chair. He has become “The Emperor” and hence taken on the role of his once-dominant other half.  The President, in his welcoming speech, recognises our hero is no longer a number and is elevated beyond the world of numbers. Whether this is strictly true, we shall soon know. The Assembly is called together in judgement over two revolutionaries, No.48 and the late No.2.  No.48 begins singing “Dem bones, dem bones…” to indicate Death come amongst them. Through the intercession of our hero, the song is adopted by The Assembly to “expedite” matters. Hence the judgement becomes “The Last Judgement”, Tarot Trump XX, and all are condemned to death. The late No.2 then takes the stage as the next revolutionary and berates The Assembly for his abduction and transformation. He leaves, the last to give the eponymous greeting “Be seeing you”, but this time without the associated hand gesture. He promises three X’s and not three sixes. We have met two X’s (i.e. ex-everything’s) in the late No.2 and No.48 but what of the third? Our hero is given his severance package and offered the chance to lead. He quickly learns he has not the control of “I” to carry out this role – he needs to confront his mirror self first to gain full control. Towards this final confrontation, our hero is next led deeper into The Village.

The Sun

He passes the two revolutionaries trapped in their “orbits”. One pod is empty, awaiting its new incumbent: our hero is walking into a trap! The symbolism of the orbit suggests each person in The Village is an individual world imprisoned in an orbit. The symbolism is further reinforced by the proliferation of globes at the top of the winding stair.  Of course the planets must be orbiting around a centre, Tarot Trump XIX “The Sun”.  This card indicates the promise of utopia, The Brave New World. But this world has its price.The wall in the card is the necessary control to achieve this “heaven on earth”. The Village is the crazed vision of “The Sun” realised. The two children in the card remind us of the split selves of our hero and his mirror self first seen in Tarot Trump VI, “The Lovers”. They are now skipping happily together hand-in-hand. Is our hero fooled by this sudden openness and hand of friendship?

Our hero spots a hooded figure busy at the controls of the inner sanctum. The figure turns and reveals the masked figure of No.1 holding a crystal ball in his hand. He is not truly No.1 – if we see the crystal ball as a zero, he has two digits, a one and a zero. In truth the hooded figure is No.10. He hands the crystal ball to our hero and immediately puts his hands up in mock surrender but also in the shape of “X” – he is mirroring our hero as the new No.10. Our hero has solved the conundrum and united his divided self through addition…

The crystal ball

By transferring the zero, the antagonist self has returned to being No.1 and our hero transformed from No.1 to No.10. Has our hero not fulfilled his wish, received his severance and become an ex-everything? The trap is sprung! He is still a number! He looks inside the crystal ball and sees his prison bars. He knows this world will only ever be a prison to him. But our hero has moved beyond the rules of numbers. He drops the crystal ball and allows his vision of the future to shatter into a thousand pieces. By dropping the  zero he once again becomes “I” forcing his other half to mirror him.  We now have the two ones of No.11 facing each other without the mirror to separate them. Our hero will not take his antagonist at face value and  allow him to hide behind the masks of duality or the bestial self but unmasks the inner madman. At this point both selves mirror each other in their shared schizophrenia and a mad, confused pursuit ensues. Our hero manages to trap his enemy by his own crazed ambition to rise to the top. What better way to do this but to send him upwards in a rocket to become the super-ego. Our hero sets the countdown for the destruction of utopia and “extinguishes” any minions of his enemy that get in his way. He then escapes with his two fellow revolutionaries thus finally making good on the promise of “Be C-ing you”. The antagonist self takes off in the rocket to become the Man on the Moon, symbolically representing his return to the unconscious realm. The three escapees travel back to England in the portable prison cage but the bars are on the outside. The man driving past in his Rolls-Royce is looking through his own prison bars at the free souls within. The revolutionaries return to life to do as they please, whether it be to wander the world, rule the imprisoned or just go for a drive in their favourite sports car.

Additional Notes

“Dem bones dem bones…”

The repeated references to the song, even on return from The Village to normal life, suggests there is added significance to the theme of death within the final episode. The fact that the late No.2 and No.48 have both died in previous episodes opens up the possibility that our hero is also dead, having not survived the gassing at his flat. The whole series of episodes have in fact being the freeing of his soul from his mortal bounds much in the same way as is portrayed in the film, Jacob’s Ladder. The dropping of the crystal ball is emblematic of his leaving the world of the material behind, transcending its rules and overcoming his materialistic self in the process. In this interpretation, heaven is an open-topped sports car.

By Hand

The Hermit

The hidden meaning behind the term “By Hand” is apparent when one considers an alternative title of Tarot Trump IX, “The Hermit”, is The Hand. Hence on the day of handing in his resignation, our hero was No.9 rather than No.11. His change of heart from being No.11, taking everything at face value, is symbolised by the reversal of the position of the numerals. He wants to get away from everyone and become “The Hermit” on his own personal, private desert island.  “The Hermit” signifies a coming to wisdom which drives the need to resign. The splitting of IX into its mirrored elements also gives VI and IV, so our hero could equally well have undergone this transformation as No.9 or No.11.

No.48

I confess to have no clear idea of the numerical significance of this number. Let me know if you work it out 🙂

Tolkien, Tarot and the Two Trees

A central theme of this website is the exploration of a ‘Two Trees’ interpretation of the Hermetic Qabalah. The development of this idea can be viewed in the article on Jacob’s Ladder and the attribution of the Tarot Trumps to the Two Trees can be found here.  An earlier blog post examined the role of simple geometry as a framework used by Tolkien to illustrate spiritual themes within his works. The spiritual ‘sophistication’ of a race could be ascertained by their dimensionality. Elves, for example, were capable of dealing with the two dimensional nature of rings while men were ensnared by their complexity. The article posited Tolkien’s sympathies lay with characters of the simplest dimensions, identified as Tom Bombadil and his wife. These two characters represent points within the geometrical schema: Tom is the static point and his wife is the point constantly in motion. All other geometrical forms are constructed from the interplay of points and so Tom and Goldberry can be viewed as the creators of the spiritual geometry within their world. From this viewpoint, they are also valuable in illustrating aspects of the Two Trees system.

The Two Trees combines the fluidity and dynamic nature of Taoism with the deep insightful approach of the Hermetic Qabalah. Tom and Goldberry fit naturally into the two points of opposite colour found in the two halves of the Yin-Yang Symbol.

Tom is ‘Daath’ the microcosm of the Tree of Life found in the black realm of the Tree of Knowledge. Goldberry is ‘Yesod’, the microcosm of the Tree of Knowledge embedded in the white realm of the Tree of Life. Tom is the single-pointed representation of Life in its totality while Goldberry is the complementary point representing the totality of all knowledge.

Further insight is gained from the Tarot attribution to the Kether sephiroth on each of the trees. The Tree of Life has ‘The Fool’ in Kether while ‘Adjustment’ is its complement on the ‘Tree of Knowledge’. Tom can be easily identified with the archetypal ‘Green Man’ figure often associated with the iconography of The Fool.  The description of ‘Adjustment’, also known as ‘Justice’ in other Tarot decks is seen as the feminine aspect of ‘The Fool’.  The fluid grace of Goldberry speaks of the dancing Harlequin, a perfect complement to the merry capering of Tom,  the Clown.  ‘Adjustment’ represents perfect balance, the pivot of the scales held by Lady Justice. She defines the centre, the place of equilibrium.  In Tolkien’s ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, Goldberry is found at the homestead,  the centre of  Tom’s world while he is portrayed roaming around The Old Forest and beyond: when journeying with the hobbits, he always insists he must return to Goldberry as she is waiting.

As mentioned in the post on Tolkien geometry, Tom and Goldberry may be seen as the two points defining the lines of fate within Middle Earth. The One Ring has no effect on the couple because they belong to a much greater cycle of existence. The ring cannot make Tom disappear but Tom can make the ring disappear. The hobbits meet them as they leave behind the Shire, the only world they have ever known. When they leave the couple’s farmstead, they are moving ahead into the jaws of the great adventure that will engulf them all. Tom’s last appearance is to free the hobbits from the grasp of the barrow wights and again set them on their way. The barrows and burial grounds are recognisable as those ancient sites found around Great Britain. The hobbits’ burial in the barrow mounds and ‘resurrection’ by Tom is also reminiscent of the dramatic ritual of Christian Rosenkreutz found in the Rosicrucian and Hermetic traditions. Here the hobbits leave behind their old life and are ‘reborn’ into a vast and dangerous realm beyond the wooded borders of the Shire.  We, as readers, are also taken through this path of burial and resurrection in the familiar surrounding of a barrow in order to be ‘reborn’ into this new and strange world of elves, goblins and men. As ‘The Green Man’, Tom is the guardian and warning awaiting the hobbits at the boundaries of their experience as well as being the initiator into their new adventures.

Goldberry is at the other end of the line of destiny unfolding through the hobbits’ adventures – this may explain the parting image of Goldberry with outstretched arms, awaiting their return:

“But Frodo found no words to answer. He bowed low, and mounted his pony, and followed by his friends jogged slowly down the gentle slope behind the hill. Tom Bombadil’s house and the valley, and the Forest were lost to view. The air grew warmer between the green walls of hillside and hillside, and the scent of turf rose strong and sweet as they breathed. Turning back, when they reached the bottom of the green hollow, they saw Goldberry, now small and slender like a sunlit flower against the sky: she was standing still watching them, and her hands were stretched out towards them. As they looked she gave a clear call, and lifting up her hand she turned and vanished behind the hill.”

 Tom and Goldberry form that never-ending flow to which elves, men, rings and even hobbits belong. Perhaps the strangest and most meaningful part of the great tale of Middle Earth is not in its ending but in its beginning.

Tarot Trump Attributions to The Two Trees

After a number of fruitless years attempting to attribute the Tarot Trumps to the Two Trees out of 1021 possible permutations, the assignments given below flooded through in a moment of intense illumination. The attributions should be treated as a personal interpretation but it will give a starting point for anyone who wishes to collate a version which better reflects their own point of view. Daath and Yesod do not have assignments as they represent, respectively, the totality of The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge in microcosm. A more detailed article on the relationships and patterns of the Tarot Trumps and The Two Trees will follow in the near future.

A full page image can be viewed here.

Tolkienian geometry or the point of Tom Bombadil

J.R.R. Tolkien gave a tantalising clue to the role of dimensions within his work through the title of his first successful book, “The Hobbit or There and Back Again”.

The Line

The alternative title to The Hobbit alludes to the linear nature of Bilbo’s adventure: he travels from his comfortable Hobbit Hole to the lair of Smaug, helps the Dwarves recover their lost heirlooms while gaining riches and The One Ring for himself as well, before returning back to his dwelling. In very simple terms, he goes there and back again.

The story arc of Lord of the Rings follows a similar pattern in that Frodo  and his hobbit companions also go there and back again, beginning and ending their epic journey in the Shire. Tolkien also signals the drawing to a close of a greater story arc, namely that of the Silmarillion, in the eventual continuance of Frodo’s journey, accompanying Gandalf and the Elves to the Grey Havens. This final stage in Lord of the Rings is the completion of Galadriel’s journey of there (Middle Earth) and back again (Valinor), finishing the saga of the Silmarillion.

Its worth noting that traversing forwards and backwards along a straight line transcribes a wave when moving in a direction perpendicular to that line.

Waves or cycles formed by going there and back again on X or Y axes. Spiral formation going there and back again along both X and Y axes simultaneously.

If we think of this perpendicular motion (represented by the Z axis above) as time then the tales of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion/Lord of the Rings form cycles both in the narrative and geometrical sense. Weapons may also give a sense for Tolkien’s view on the ‘dimensionality’ of a particular race. Using the designations found in Lord of the Rings, Men and Hobbits are mainly associated with swords, indicating the line as the generative form of the narrative cycle for these races.

The Circle

The circle, as seen above, is generated by going there and back again simultaneously along two lines or axes set perpendicular to each other. This circular motion transcribes a spiral when moving in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the circle.

The circle is most notably identified by the rings in Lord of the Rings. They denote the ability of characters associated with them to operate along an extra dimension to those who ‘walk the line’. Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf are all characters with this extra dimension while the Nazgûl are enslaved by their rings within the “unseen world” or wraith world. We conclude that men are not capable of being able to properly comprehend the unseen world while certain sources note the great power held by the High Elves within this realm. The tales of these multidimensional characters weave in and out of the linear narrative of Lord of the Rings though spirals, like cycles, eventually return to their original point, which in the case of these characters is The Grey Havens and The West. Glimpses of the unseen world experienced by the bearers of the One Ring may explain why they accompany the host into The West – their story line has now become a circle.

Sauron is certainly also associated with the circle, being the creator of the master ring. Tolkien possibly hints at a deeper understanding possessed by Sauron of the powers of the ring in his illustrations for the cover of the Lord of the Rings.

Original illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien for the Book Cover of The Fellowship of the Ring

The central motif of Sauron’s Eye was adopted by early editions of the book. Examining the geometrical composition of the Eye, a point on a central, vertical line is encompassed by a surrounding circle which is itself enclosed in the ellipse of the Eye. The two dimensions discussed so far are present in its construction and the outer ellipse can be interpreted to signify Sauron as the master of these dimensions as a circle is a member of the family of ellipses: Sauron can warp the dimensions of the circle in all manner of ways, unknown even to the Elves. As a side note, an interesting element of the illustration is that the three Elven rings possess a jewel but the One Ring has none; Tolkien’s drawing suggests Narya, the Ring of Fire, is the jewel of the One Ring.

Gimli

Having identified the circle with the elves, the bow as representative of the arc of a circle is a natural choice as the favoured weapon of the elves. Through the favoured axe of the dwarves we  can now ascertain the awareness of this delving race. The axe is in the form of a ‘T’ (or ‘t’ for a single-bladed axe)  which suggests an incomplete expansion into the second dimension or “unseen world”. The decoration on Gimli’s helmet in the films suggests a triangle, a first crude step from a line towards the “perfected” circle.

 

The Sphere

The sphere is a circle of circles and hence represents a great leap in terms of dimensionality within Tolkien’s universe.

There are few references to spheres within Tolkien’s work with the most  known example being the Palantíri or Seeing-stones. These stones were used in communication within Middle Earth and beyond, requiring users of great strength of will and wisdom. The inherent dangers in using these devices was demonstrated in the madness of Denethor and the catatonic state induced in Pippin after gazing into the Orthanc Palantír – even the One Ring did not induce such adverse reactions in its users. Both Sauron and Sauruman possessed and could operate the spheres but, according to Gandalf, did not have the skill to create them. Indeed it is told Fëanor, greatest of all Elven smiths, was their creator and only he had such skill among the Eldar. One cannot help but speculate Tolkien’s vision of the powers and dangers inherent in the dawning Age of Communication are instilled within the Palantíri .

Another reference to the sphere is given by Tolkien in an interview from the 1960s which can be viewed below. At around six minutes into the interview, he outlines his obsession with Atlantis and his realisation of the mythical island in Númenor, the island gifted to Men for their aid in the conquest of Melkor, the first dark lord.

The island allowed them to gaze on the Undying Lands but they were forbidden to set foot on its shores. In defiance, they attempted to sail to the Land of the Valar but Eru , the One God, caused the ships of the Númenoreans and their island to be sunk below the ocean. To prevent future incursions, Eru reshaped the flat world of Arda to be a sphere, forever placing the Undying Lands beyond the reach of Men. Interestingly, the elves can reach these lands by the Straight Road, a diminishing of their world to the one dimensional line hinted at by Galadriel when tested by the One Ring.

The Point

There are  two principle characters to whom this dimension applies, Tom Bombadil and his wife Goldberry. Tom has a strong affinity with trees and can be seen to be the anthropomorphism of a tree, a being rooted to the spot. Goldberry is also a point but, unlike Tom, is the point in motion. She is thus associated with the flowing of the river and the changes in the seasons. Together they are masters of their home and untouched by time and its shaping of the lives of all other beings. Indeed two points define a line which suggests Tom and Goldberry may well form the root for all paths of Men, Hobbits and Elves. Ents in their ponderous ways seen to span between the perspectives of point and line. Tolkien certainly had great affection for both Tom and trees, naming two small anthologies of his work, “Tree and Leaf” and “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil”,  after them. In leaving Tom and his wife out of the film adaptations of Lord of the Rings, did director Peter Jackson miss the point?

Rick and Morty, Scary Terry and Magick

Greetings!

Recently, I’ve been getting into a brilliant cartoon series, on the Net, called ‘Rick and Morty’ – part of the ‘Adult Swim’ stable.

If you’ve never heard of it, check out the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_BwmkbH90Q

 

The pilot isn’t great,

 

but the second episode is good:

 

 

 

*Spoiler ALERT! – Watch episode (at least twice) before continuing!*

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, done it?

Good!

The episode contains two stories. Jerry asks Rick to try and make his dog ‘smarter’ so that it doesn’t pee on the carpet, (with consequences!) and Rick and Morty plan to enter the dreams of Morty’s Maths teacher, Goldenfold to make him give Morty ‘A’ grades in maths.  (On the way, referencing the films ‘Lawnmower Man’, Inception’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’.)

In Jerry’s story,  Snuffles the dog does not want to be called by his ‘slave name’ anymore. He wants to be called ‘Snowball’.  That was the name of the main protagonist (and Leon Trotsky stand-in) in George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. The ensuing war between the humans and dogs parallels the battle between the creatures of Animal Farm and their human masters.

In the book, the rebellious animals slowly turn into the farmers they had fought against, and the final scene shows pigs standing on two feet and wearing clothes, completing the final transformation into their human overlords.

In Rick and Morty, with help from inception, a dystopian nightmare is averted when Snowball realises he’s slowly turning into everything he always hated about humanity.

In the second story, Rick and Morty sneak into Mr Goldenfold’s home, (earth) and after nodding off whilst watching soap actress Mrs. Pancakes, is ‘incepted’ by Rick and Morty.

In Goldenfold’s first dream, they’re in an airplane, (air) things don’t go to plan, and they escape into Mrs Pancakes dream ( Goldenfold’s sub-dream) in which he fantisises about her as a ‘madam’ of this kinky sex club (masked dwarves and all – a nod to Kubrick’s eyes wide shut?)  with blue fire (fire of water) in the background.

After being ‘unmasked’ as imposters, they incept the centaur, and his dream is a scary basement lit red (fire) in which we meet ‘Scary Terry’ -“Looks like some sort of  legally-safe knock-off of an eighties horror character, with minature swords for fingers instead of knives” says Rick!

Trying to escape further, all they have is the little girl, and her dream is  the same as the previous one!  (Spiritual fire) “Looks like we hit dream bedrock here, Morty”  and guess what?  Scary Terry’s here too!

“Oh shit Morty,  he can travel through dreams – he can travel through dreams! We’re so screwed!!”

But after turning Scary Terry’s catchphrase “You can run, but you can’t hide, bitch!” on it’s head, and hiding, Scary Terry gives up and returns home  – to his wife, Scary Melissa, and his son, Scary Brandon!

Remember, all this is going on in maths teacher Goldenfold’s head –  Contrast this scene with the reality of his own life:

 

divorced and single, no real social life to speak of,  we see that Scary Terry is his subconscious  – as a matter of fact, Scary Terry is the same as our own subconscious – the reason he is ‘scary’ is that he is scary to our conscious self – we don’t know his motivations, or what he will do next – so we will always try to suppress him –  but how? – back to the story!

Our two then find even Scary Terry has nightmares!  But when they enter his head, we see what scares Scary Terry – Late for class, not wearing his trousers and being badgered by an overbearing John Houseman – like teacher:

 

That teacher is how Goldenfold sees himself which is nothing like reality- it’s his overinflated Ego  which keeps  Scary Terry (the subconscious) in check, and it’s up to Rick and Morty to chase the Ego away and resolve Scary Terry’s nightmare.

What they’ve done is to recognise the subconscious and engage with it, finding out what it needs and providing it, while making sure the Ego doesn’t get up to it’s tricks and ruin the whole process.

In the realm of any endeavour, including Magick, the Ego is your most powerful adversary – as my father used to say, “You are your own worst enemy”

In the Kabbalah, there is a area just above the spheres of Hod and Netzach, just before Tipareth, known as the ‘Veil of Paroketh’.

Some sources see it as the veil of illusion, in which the Ego is reflected which makes the egotistical self choose the wrong path and go in completely the opposite direction :

The Mists of Paroketh: The Veil of Illusion

So, instead of advancing up the tree, you go downward – instead of moving up Pascal’s triangle, simplifying the equation and getting rid of the ‘ordeals’ of ‘I’ plus ‘X’  you head down the triangle, multiplying the ordeals, till you drown in the infinite sea of numbers!

A magickal teacher had a saying;  “You have to take  responsiblity for all your actions” That means no putting the blame on to others, no lying to yourself!

So the first lesson in magick is to ‘leave your ego outside the door’ or better still, get rid of it ( ! ) and what you are is ‘your true self’ – no ego armour to protect you,  no mask to hide behind,  you are you – warts and all, this is your ‘True Self’  and ‘Scary Terry’ is scary no more!

 

The Egotistical self…….

 

 

‘Scary Terry!’

 

The ‘True Self’  has access to the subconscious, and this is where magick works!

All the paraphernalia of ritual, overloads the conscious and acts directly on the subconscious, and the results can take a while – but if you have a ‘gut feeling’ – a positive emotional response – ( which can include tears! ) to what you’ve experienced, then the ritual has done it’s job.

So, the boys have freed ‘Scary Terry’ from his cage, and he goes up through the dream levels,   literally cutting through the ego blockages that Goldenfold  has – He hated the little girl’s song; The Centaur’s halves ( human and animal ) don’t belong together;  and he slices Mrs Pancakes,  saying  ‘sex is sacred!’         (And look at how the ego has totally FUBAR’ed that aspect of humanity!)

And finally, with  Goldenfold, Terry gets him to give Morty an ‘A’ in Maths!

So, next time you  see Scary Terry in your nightmare, Have a chat, and give him my regards!

“Awwww, Biiitch!!”

 

 

Maat Kheru,

Meni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Post

Welcome to any and all who read this, the first post of the Two Trees Harmony website. The site is primarily concerned with meditating upon and further exploring the fusion of Eastern and Western esoteric traditions represented in the Two Trees model. For those of you new to the site, it is best to start here. A resume of us will be put up soon which will include a synopsis on the origins of the Two Trees.

Future posts will aim to link the Two Trees to such diverse esoteric subjects as traditional Hermetic Qabalah, the Tarot, ceremonial magick, Thelema, Yoga and chakras, spiritual vibrations, spiritualism and elements of popular culture. In addition, we will examine ideas from modern philosophical and scientific thought by framing them in terms of the Two Trees.

We hope you will enjoy reading what you find here on these pages and may find some use in this material for your own philosophical and magical musings.

Sid and Meni