“May the will of the predecessor become the thought of the successor; may the thought of the predecessor become the will of the successor.”
This magical formula given by Valentin Tomberg in his Lord’s Prayer Course is the key to understanding the transition (and resulting confusion) from the era of Rudolf Steiner to that of Valentin Tomberg in the 1930’s. That which was manifest became hidden, and that which was hidden became manifest; this was an unexpected and difficult flipe, too difficult for the Anthroposophical Society to embrace (as the years 1933-1938 in its history make clear) .
On the first level of manifestation of Valentin Tomberg’s work, that is, in the realm of the inner life of Valentin Tomberg, we have the second Arcanum of the Tarot, following on from the first Arcanum in Rudolf Steiner’s work. This means we have The High Priestess, who is related to Saturn, as the representative of his inner life. How can we better understand this?
There are several different ways in which the life of Valentin Tomberg bears witness to The High Priestess as the archetype of his inner life. The first is the quality of Valentin Tomberg’s inner activity. Rather than a representative of Intuition (The Magician), as was Rudolf Steiner, he was a representative of the activity of Inspiration first and foremost. If we read closely his Meditations on the Tarot, especially his meditations on the 14th Arcanum, Temperance, we find it revealed that Inspiration is a “thinking together” with one’s Angel (or Archangel, Elohim, or Seraphim as the case may be). This “thinking together” is like a conversation of one’s higher self with the spiritual world, rather than a uniting of one’s being completely with the spiritual world, as is the case in Intuition. Valentin Tomberg calls Inspiration the uniting feature of Hermeticists, the key to speaking their language and performing their activity. Since presenting Christian Hermeticism to the world was more than anything else the mission of Valentin Tomberg, we can assume that Inspiration was, more than anything else, the method and spiritual activity employed by him during his life. And The High Priestess is the representative of this listening, conversational quality of Inspiration—the second letter of the Divine Name YHVH, Gnosis. (The Magician=Yod, Intuition, Spiritual Touch. The High Priestess=He, Inspiration, Spiritual Hearing. The Empress=Vau, Imagination, Spiritual Seeing. The Emperor=He, Hermeticism, Synthesis.)
On the other hand, The High Priestess is an image of the Virgin Mary (Tomberg relates Saturn specifically to the Virgin Mary). From childhood, Tomberg was drawn to the Divine Feminine, first in Russian Sophiology and ultimately in the cult of the Virgin in the Catholic Church. Rather than The Magician as the Representative of Humanity (the key inner experience of Steiner), we have The High Priestess as the Holy Virgin (the key inner experience of Tomberg).
Last but not least, we can see that what was outer for Rudolf Steiner (his mode and content of teaching) has become inner for Valentin Tomberg. We might say that on an inner level, Valentin Tomberg united himself completely with the content of the teachings brought forth by Rudolf Steiner over the course of his life. His comprehensive grasp at such a young age of the content of Anthroposophy is evident upon reading, for example, Christ and Sophia.
The next level of manifestation of Valentin Tomberg’s work is in his own mode and content of teaching. Following on from the “Saturn Evolution” that was Rudolf Steiner’s teaching, his is a “Sun Evolution”; we move from The High Priestess to The Magician. How can this be understood?
Once again, we have a flipe: the inner life of Rudolf Steiner becomes the outer expression, the teaching, of Valentin Tomberg. Fundamentally, Valentin Tomberg’s teaching was to proclaim the advent of Jesus Christ in the Earth’s etheric aura, and to elucidate activities through which the human being could begin to come into a relationship with Him. This is essentially an outer expression and explication of the life-changing event that occurred to Rudolf Steiner in 1899, his inner experience of the Mystery of Golgotha.
But this Arcanum of The Magician is also expressive of Valentin Tomberg’s mode of expression. Rudolf Steiner’s impeccable reports of experiences of the spiritual world none-the-less strike some people as cold and dry. They are certainly written from an academic/scientific perspective—very Saturnine. Compared to this, Valentin Tomberg’s writings are free-wheeling, full of light, warmth, and life. They lack the scientific precision of Steiner’s writings, but one gets the impression that one is being brought to life by what one is reading. Tomberg’s ability to imbue his writings with this quality only increased with his age, as it comes to full expression in his Meditations on the Tarot. It is completely holistic and harmonious, but is written almost in a stream-of-consciousness style. It is like The Juggler (another name for The Magician) – effortlessly keeping in motion several spheres simultaneously. Unfortunately, it was this tone which came as such a shock to the Anthroposophical Society, and struck some then (and even now) as a sign of overconfidence and a tendency to allow the lower personality to bleed into what ought to be detached. In reality it was nothing more or less than the contrast between the Gnostic content of Anthroposophy and the Mystical content of Christian Hermeticism, the Head and the Heart.
We find the next level of manifestation of Valentin Tomberg’s work in his life of will, in the nature of his deeds. This is the Venus Miracle, the Healing of the Nobleman’s Son, following upon the Moon Miracle of Rudolf Steiner, the Changing of Water into Wine. In other words, we move from The Empress (Moon) to The Lover (Venus). How can we understand this better?
The quality of the sixth Arcanum, The Lover, is “Love of Neighbor.” When we look at the life of Valentin Tomberg, we see that from the very beginning, he was drawn to working with groups of people, whether it was the Hermetic school around Mebes, the Theosophical Society, the Anthroposophical Society, the Catholic Church, or ultimately the broader scene of Christian Hermeticists to which his magnum opus, Mediations on the Tarot, is addressed. One might imagine that in doing so he was addressing all of the groups mentioned here; but another group, of great importance to his work, is also addressed. His friend Martin Kriele has stated that Valentin Tomberg performed most of his “sacred magical” work behind the scenes, working with and interceding on behalf of the Dead. Many of these “Known Friends” who have crossed the Threshold are specifically named in Meditations on the Tarot. In fact, based on my own experience, I would posit that this work was written with the direct aid of Hermeticists across the Threshold; hence it is a work that is written Anonymously, in which the Anonymous author greets one from beyond the Threshold. The author must remain Anonymous for, in truth, he has not acted alone in writing these Letter/Meditations. Their authorship originates from beyond the Threshold.
In terms of the seven arts represented by each of the chakras, the Venus Chakra represents to us poetry, speech, the word. We can see that Valentin Tomberg’s great Magical Deed, the second Miracle accomplished through him, was linked to the authorship of Meditations on the Tarot. There is, in my opinion, no better written work, no better use of human language, no better fusion of poetry, prose, academia, and mysticism than this collection of 22 Letter/Meditations. Rudolf Steiner’s deeds were collectively a Spiritual Drama (Drama in the sense of the totality of the Arts); Tomberg’s were collectively a Spiritual Poem, a great Word.
Finally, we come to the final level of manifestation of Valentin Tomberg’s work, his effect and legacy. Here we arrive at the activation of the Larynx Chakra, a Crowning of Thorns. This is related to the seventh Arcanum, The Chariot. How can this be understood?
We can understand The Chariot (whose quality is that of Self-Mastery), as well as the Mars Chakra, to be related particularly to the cultivation of morality in the human being. Specifically, it lays out a path of “Crowning with Thorns,” of being crowned with the uprightness required to carry out deeds on behalf of the spiritual world. This uprightness is what Jung would call the Individuated Personality, the Ego that has become Salt, balancing the explosiveness of Sulphur (megalomania) and the fluidity of Mercury (inferiority complex). It is this purifying, will-strengthening path that one sets out on when one begins to read Meditations on the Tarot, becoming ultimately a Knight in the order of Michael (the modern representative of Mars), a member of the so-called Church of John: one who infuses the blessed purity of the Buddhistic St. Francis with the experiential knowledge of Christian Rosenkreuz.
The effect of Rudolf Steiner was primarily to lay out the path by which the human being could take up their own schooling in an esoteric path, developing their latent spiritual sensory capabilities (Emperor/Hermeticism/Brow Chakra). This required the counterbalancing effect brought by Valentin Tomberg, encouraging the human being to take up their own schooling in moral development (Chariot/Self-Mastery/Larynx Chakra). “The golden rule is this: for every one step that you take in pursuit of hidden knowledge, take three steps in the perfecting of your own character.”