The 17th Arcanum of the Tarot — “The Star” — is that of growth, just as the 16th is that of construction. The tower rises by leaps and bounds, whilst the tree shows a continuous elevation. While the tower is dry, the sap in the tree makes it shoot up through the multiplication in its cells
I know that this reasoning is not in accordance with natural sciences, but there are other rules — above all those of natural reasoning. One must either resign oneself to silence of thought or else reason in a way that conforms to Hermeticism. It is necessary to postulate a structural “agent of growth”, acting as intermediary between consciousness and events.
Angelic inspiration and the agent of growth flow. They do not act through shocks and discharges, but in a continuous way. Continuous transformation is the agent of growth, just as creative lightning is that of the magical agent.
These two agents manifest themselves everywhere, including the domain of human intellectuality. There are minds who have sided with “water”, and it is to them that we owe the ideas of “transformism”: evolution, progress, education, natural therapy, living tradition, etc.; and there are others who have sided with “fire”, to whom we owe the ideas of “creationism”: creation ex nihilo, invention, election, surgery and prosthesis, revolution, etc. Thales (ca. 625-547 B.C.) believed that it is the agent of growth or water which plays the principal role in the world, whilst Heraclitus of Ephesus (flourished ca. 500 B.C.) attributed it to the magical agent or fire.
Goethe, in the “classical Walpurgis night” scene in part II of Faust, has Anaxagoras, a partisan of fire, discuss with Thales, a partisan of water, the theme of the priority of creative lightning or continuous transformation in Nature—a discussion which leads to the dramatic result of Anaxagoras’ magical evocation of the threefold moon (Diana, Luna and Hecate), which he regrets. Thus he throws himself down, face to the ground, imploring the flashing forces, which threaten irreparable catastrophe, to calm down. With respect to Thales, he invites Homunculus to a joyous maritime festival — the “ball” of transformism—where Thales cries out:
All things are out of water created,
All by water maintained.
Thou Life-giving Ocean, vouchsafe us thine agency ever!
It is not to be wondered at that Goethe, although he admits the reality of the magical agent or fire, ranges himself on the side of the agent of growth or water—for he was the author of four works on metamorphosis, on the metamorphosis of light or colour, on the metamorphosis of plants, on the metamorphosis of animals , and on the metamorphosis of man (Faust), which is his principal work. His faith was that of transformism, evolution, the tradition of cultural progress without revolution—in a word, Goethe believed in and attached value to all that flows, all that grows without leaps and bounds. He ranged himself on the side of the principle of continuity.
The principle of continuity was portrayed by the German philosopher Leibniz. Thinking without leaps and bounds, he did not have to face the gulfs or abysses which separate one belief from another, or one thesis from another, or one human group from another. All theses are separated from their antitheses by abysses, but Leibnitz threw the bridge of the rainbow of continuity, i.e. gradual transition, across them. Just as red is transformed gradually into orange, and orange into yellow, which in its turn is transformed imperceptibly into green, in order later to become blue, indigo and violet, so is every thesis transformed into its antithesis.
…alas! Here is the tragedy of mankind’s history and cosmic evolution. The flow of continuity bears not only all that which is healthy, noble, holy and divine of the past but also all that which was infectious, vile, blasphemous and diabolical. All is borne pell-mell, never ending, towards the future. What Verlaine said of the river Seine in his Poémes Saturniens could also be said—with good reason—of the flow of human life, mankind’s history, and cosmic evolutio:
While Victor Hugo wrote:
Is this dualism, then? Do the serpent’s venom and the tears of the Virgin therefore flow together eternally in the flow of Life?
Yes for the present, which is action and will; no for the future, which is the star of the sea of understanding and hope.
The great masters of dualism in the history of humanity such as Zarathustra, Buddha and Mani did not want to explain the world through the dogma of cosmic duality (Zarathustra), or psychological duality (Buddha), or even psycho-cosmic duality (Mani), but rather they wanted to awaken dormant will for the effort which manifests itself by the power to say yes and no.
The great Zarathustra wanted knights to fight under the banner of light in the struggle against darkness—the Turanian idolaters, the demons of impurity and ignorance, and lastly the spirit of Ahriman or Satan. He wanted that there should be people able to say yes to the light—and who, consequently, learnt to say no to the darkness.
The great Buddha wanted to awaken the will to say no to the great routine of desires which make the wheel of births revolve. He wanted ascetics with regard to the automatic mechanism of the psyche, who would learn to say yes with regard to the free creativity of the spirit.
The light-force which emanates from the star—constituted through the marriage of contemplation with activity, and which is the antithesis of the thesis that “there is nothing new under the sun”—is hope.
Hope is not something subjective due to an optimistic or sanguine temperament, or to a desire for compensation in the sense of modern Freudian and Adlerian psychology. It is a light-force which radiates objectively and which directs creative evolution towards the world’s future.
Hope is for spiritual evolution what the instinct of reproduction is for biological evolution. It is the force and the light of the final cause of the world or, if you wish, the force and the light of the ideal of the world—the magical radiation of the “Omega point”, according to Teilhard de Chardin.
This “Omega point” towards which spiritual evolution is tending—or that of the “noosphere”, which surges triumphantly above the “barysphere” and “biosphere”—is the central point of the hope of the “personalising world”. It is the point of complete unity of the outer and inner, of matter and spirit, i.e. the God-Man, the resurrected Jesus Christ.
A poetic impetus vibrates in the whole work of Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, of a kind that his critics see in it a weakness that is reprehensible from a scientific, philosophical and theological point of view. But they are mistaken, since poetry is élan and élan gives wings to imagination, and without winged imagination no progress is possible.
Let us therefore love poetry and respect the poets. The prophets of Israel were great poets, and the song of St. Paul concerning love (caritas) is a work of poetry which has yet to be surpassed. With respect to work, there is joy in it only in so far as it is elevated above the spirit of slavery by participating in the poetic élan of the “great human endeavour”.
For poetry is the union of the upper waters and the lower waters on the second day of creation. The poet is the point at which the separated waters meet and where the flow of hope and that of continuity converge.