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Greater Arcana Study Group—Judgement

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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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Greater Arcana Study Group—Judgement


I have said that this symbol is essentially invariable in all Tarot sets, or at least the variations do not alter its character. The great angel is here encompassed by clouds, but he blows his bannered trumpet, and the cross as usual is displayed on the banner. The dead are rising from their tombs—a woman on the right, a man on the left hand, and between them their child, whose back is turned. But in this card there are more than three who are restored, and it has been thought worth while to make this variation as illustrating the insufficiency of current explanations. It should be noted that all the figures are as one in the wonder, adoration and ecstasy expressed by their attitudes. It is the card which registers the accomplishment of the great work of transformation in answer to the summons of the Supernal—which summons is heard and answered from within.

Herein is the intimation of a significance which cannot well be carried further in the present place. What is that within us which does sound a trumpet and all that is lower in our nature rises in response—almost in a moment, almost in the twinkling of an eye? Let the card continue to depict, for those who can see no further, the Last Judgment and the resurrection in the natural body; but let those who have inward eyes look and discover therewith. They will understand that it has been called truly in the past a card of eternal life, and for this reason it may be compared with that which passes under the name of Temperance.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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I didn't realize this card was so rich with meaning until I started studying it. What I've posted here just barely scratches the surface.
“But in this card there are more than three who are restored, and it has been thought worth while to make this variation as illustrating the insufficiency of current explanations.”
I’m not sure what—if anything—the additional three people add to the meaning. Waite says they were added to indicate a departure from the “current explanations.” He doesn’t specify, so it’s hard to say what explanations he’s talking about. By saying current explanations it makes me think he might be referring to the Golden Dawn.

In my opinion this card and the previous one fulfill something Waite said in his comment on the Lovers;
“It is through her imputed lapse that man shall arise ultimately, and only by her can he complete himself.”
In Genesis, after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit, God pronounces judgement upon the serpent saying:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; that seed shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The “seed” refers to Christ, born of a woman. Waite, as usual, interprets this mystically, but the idea is the same—salvation comes through the woman.

Man = Body
Woman = Soul
Child = Self-knowing Spirit

The Soul has given birth to self-knowing Spirit; it is the Son of the Sun (Tiphareth) and is aware of this fact. As it was said in Temperance, “Under that rule we know in our rational part something of whence we came and whither we are going.”

All the people in the card seem to be in a state of ecstatic rapture. Spirit has had a vision of the Eternal and is drawing upward body and soul along with itself. It has been given a glimpse of the Hermit’s Light, though it is still behind glass at this point.

I like the way Waite sums it all up in his section on The Tarot and Secret Tradition:
“In this manner we get, as it were, a spiritual history of man, or of the soul coming out from the Eternal, passing into the darkness of the material body, and returning to the height.”
Waite says a comparison can be drawn between this card and Temperance with regard to the Eternal. The comment on Temperance says:
“A direct path goes up to certain heights on the verge of the horizon, and above there is a great light, through which a crown is seen vaguely. Hereof is some part of the Secret of Eternal Life, as it is possible to man in his incarnation.”
A few points should be noted—(1) The path only goes up to “certain heights,” (2) the crown is “above,” and (3) it’s a secret of the Eternal so far as it’s possible in this incarnation. The point at which the path ends isn’t Kether (the Crown) but somewhere below that, probably Daath in my opinion, the furthest point possible in this incarnation. The self-knowing Spirit hasn’t reached the path's end yet, but is very close, close enough to have consciously experienced the Eternal.
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Abrac  Abrac is offline
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In Waite's description of Judgement in the PKT, he asks the question:
"What is that within us which does sound a trumpet and all that is lower in our nature rises in response—almost in a moment, almost in the twinkling of an eye?"
His Azoth, or, The Star in the East, pp. 204 provides at least some answers. The following is from the section entitled "Entrancement." [In the PKT, Waite specifically uses this word in his description of the Hanged Man] Leading up to it he discusses a Contemplation practice "for the high ascension of the Soul into the blessed heaven of perfection."
"We commend then this exercise of devotion to all who aspire towards perfection, and we can promise them in its practice a precious and unmistakable reward. For many it will come in the mode of that 'sudden illustration,' [revelation] which is the form of the new conception, and then all the universe of Spirit is laid open; our salvation will be truly in our hands, and it will be difficult to miss beatitude. If the practice be accompanied by a fortitude of endeavour towards the construction of individual life in the direction of evolution, the operation can scarcely stop short at the enlightenment of the rational faculty, and as we believe that all heaven and all earth conspire with the man who would enter into perfect harmonial correspondence with natural law, failure may almost be expunged from our language, and we may look for a great ascension."
I'm assuming of course that the Judgement card has this in mind. If so, the trumpet sound would seem to be a revelation of ultimate Truth about the "universe of Spirit." He says it results in "enlightenment of the rational faculty," but goes beyond that and one can expect a "great ascension."
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Waite mentions in the PKT that this card and Temperance share "eternal life" in common. The description of Temperance says:
"Under that rule we know in our rational part something of whence we came and whither we are going."
In Temperance it's an understanding and awareness of life eternal revealed to the rational mind. In Judgement, it goes beyond that and is a total transformation of being.
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