The Twentieth Key
□ PATH COLOR: Glowing Orange Scarlet
□ RELATED SOUND: C Natural
□ MATERNAL LETTER: Fire
□ ESOTERIC TITLE: The Spirit of the Primal Fire
THIRTY-TWO PATHS OF WISDOM: The Thirty-first Path is the Perpetual Intelligence; but why is it so-called? Because it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon in their proper order, each in an orbit convenient for it.
The Path of Shin, JUDGMENT, joins Malkuth (the Earth) with Hod (Splendour), the base Sephira and completion of the Pillar of Severity. The Earth is thus connected with that which is the ultimate expression of Binah, the Will to Form. It is an activating Path of intellect, while its opposite, THE MOON is a formative Path of emotion.
What is shown here as "judgment" is a process undergone by the Personality as it strives to become conscious of its own inner working. But the judgment is not momentary or limited. It is, as the Thirty Two Paths of Wisdom describes, perpetual. It is the continuous monitoring of the progress of the Personality toward universal consciousness. That which is deemed unworthy by the angelic powers, invoked by the desire of the student travelling the Paths, is slowly burned away by the redeeming Fire, a process which is actually physical.
The Golden Dawn text calls this Path the "Splendour of the Material World," pointing out the relationship of the Path to the physical body. What is shown here is a resurrection, a rebirth. This resurrection is based on the developments of the opposite card to this Path, THE MOON, and relates to actual physiological changes which occur in the student as the result of the disciplined quest for a greater reality. In other words, the resurrected body is physiologically rebuilt, a process stimulated by the energies of Qoph, THE MOON. This is what Paul Foster Case describes as the process of building a Master's body.
This is also a Path where the components of the Personality first encountered in THE UNIVERSE, are critically analyzed and evaluated (judged). It is the bright and fiery probationary path of the intellect, as THE MOON is the dark, cold and watery probationary Path of the emotions. These are Paths introductory to the true nature of the Self in incarnation and can thus be extremely difficult. In fact all of the Elemental Paths (THE FOOL, THE HANGED MAN, JUDGMENT) are difficult to understand. The problem arises partly in that on each of these Paths all of the Elements are present, in either expressed or unexpressed form. We shall return to this concept.
First, let us consider the pattern of the Maternals. The Sepher Yetzirah states that Air produces Water which produces Fire. THE FOOL is pure Air, THE HANGED MAN is Air acted upon by Water, JUDGMENT is Air and Water acted upon by Fire within the vehicle of Earth (the crucible which, in Spiritual Alchemy, is our own body).
The Golden Dawn and Waite cards picture Air above, with Water between two sections of Earth. It is understood that the Air, Water and Earth are being heated and activated by the Fire. There are no flames here, for the action is a slow and steady (perpetual) one brought about by the Archangel. This effect is on the component dualities of the individual, which are symbolized by Fire and Water: Mind-consciousness (Water) is activated by the Dynamic Principle (Fire) in the presence of the equilibriating Spirit (Air) within the physical vehicle (Earth). The Path of JUDGMENT is, therefore, aimed at producing a balance within the individual, necessary for a total understanding of the Personality structure and its relationship to the greater universe.
But to say that "balance" is produced on this Path raises a question. One might well ask how it is possible for there to be balance in any Path which is not on the Middle Pillar. The answer is found in the idea that every symbol is a duality, containing its own opposite. As with the flashing colors, a symbol is only functional insofar as it is a self-contained balance of two extremes. To extend this principle to the Paths, we see that each Path must contain the essential components of its opposite Path. Here we may return to the example of Hod and Netzach, which relate to JUDGMENT and THE MOON respectively. Intellect applied without feeling is as pathological as feeling applied without intellect. When we travel the Path of JUDGMENT we learn the lessons of THE MOON. And, taken to the most refined aspect of the Tree of Life, when we travel the Path of THE MAGICIAN, we learn the lessons of THE FOOL. Such cards are antithetical, but mutually explanatory. It is not possible to deal with any card without its opposite energy being present. And since the cards represent types of consciousness, it can be said that everything which we experience, every idea, every activity, co-exists in us with its opposite.
Such lessons on the Paths are extremely practical, although this cannot be obvious as one begins to juggle the slippery concepts related to the four symbolic Elements. On the other hand, the pictures on the cards bear a strong relationship to the visual experience of the Paths, and a great deal can be learned by meditation on them. Path images are archetypal representations of actual inner roads built through centuries of mind work by the most advanced men and women of all ages. These images are largely constructs built to assist us by those who have gone before. It is in this that many falter, believing the construct (the concretized symbol on the astral plane) to have a reality of its own. It is only beyond the lower astral that one touches upon the realities which activate the symbols.
We may step onto the JUDGMENT Path and experience initially what is shown in the Tarot card. Yet beyond these visual constructs, we come to understand that the Path is the ennervating, activating effect of the cosmic motive principle on the individual consciousness: the Fiery Spirit permeates the Personality consciousness in the descent of energy into matter. In the purposeful ascent of the Path of Shin the last illusions of the separateness of the Personality are burned away.
To reiterate the Qabalistic symbolism: Shin contains all four Elements: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. This concept may be explained developmentally: The evolution of the cosmos is from the most simple to the most complex. It goes from nothing to something. This is (applying the principle of "As Above, so
Below") a process not dissimilar to that of the Zygote, which begins as a single cell, is fertilized and grows into a living human organism. The cells of the Zygote multiply over and over again until they are a body which is the receptacle of the Holy Spirit on this earth. At any stage of development, from the single fertilized cell, to the finished product, the whole is implicit in the developing parts. Thus does the One grow to the ten or ten thousand or ten billion uncountable mind cells which form the corpus of the universe. The ultimate simplicity is THE FOOL, and the ultimate complexity is THE UNIVERSE. But THE UNIVERSE and all the other cards are implicit, unexpressed, in THE FOOL. Thus, with the cards in between, we find different stages of that which is expressed and unexpressed. Given any specific card on the Tree, the energy of all the cards above it are expressed while the energies of those cards below it are present but unexpressed. Each defines a stage of development. And, using this logic, it may be appreciated that in THE FOOL Air is expressed, while Water and Fire are implicit. In THE HANGED MAN Air and Water are expressed and Fire is implicit. When we come to JUDGMENT we again find Air and Water expressed, now set in motion by the full expression of Fire.
Here it must be repeated that these patterns will be utterly meaningless until a real understanding of that which is symbolized by the various "Elements" emerges. Every Qabalistic symbol relates to some specific part of the Self, the Tarot Keys being very precise definitions of parts of the human whole.
The Paths of JUDGMENT, THE UNIVERSE and THE MOON are aspects of the normal waking consciousness of the Personality. They also represent stages of self understanding. JUDGMENT is the card where the divine forces meet the aspirant for the Mysteries, where the Personality is lifted from the tomb of matter and evaluated on the extent to which it has balanced the four Elements of Malkuth. It is for this reason that people have such varying experiences on this Path; each personality must face what it is and has been, very squarely, answering the call of the Angel whose presence has been invoked by the Fire of desire.
In all accounts it is Gabriel who blows the trumpet of the Last Judgment, and most will assume that it is Gabriel who is represented here. But this is not a Last Judgment at all, and the Archangel is Michael, Angelic Ruler of Hod.
Further information about this card is conveyed by the meaning of the Hebrew Letter, insofar as the name of each letter is a word. Yet, as such words are attributed to the Tarot Keys there is wide latitude for interpretation within the confines of the qualities described by the given word. Shin, in this case, means tooth, suggesting hardness, sharpness and biting. It can be interpreted as the teeth which chew prior to the ingestion of energy into the system, i.e., as that which causes a release of energy (the Kundalini force). Tooth can also be taken to mean that which kills, here meaning the final blow to the perception of the Personality as separate.
Such descriptive words amplify the symbolism of numbers, so important to the Hermetic Qabalah. As has been demonstrated, the number 300 assigned to Shin reduces to 3, the number of the Sephira Binah; the number of the card, 20, reduces to 2, that of THE HIGH PRIESTESS. The principle here is that numbers of the Hebrew letters are reduced and manipulated relative to the ten Sephiroth, while the numbers of the cards (0-21) relate to other cards. Of course, the connection with other cards is made on more than numerical grounds. For example, the fact that Shin is Fire suggests thta it relates to two other important cards, THE TOWER (Mars) and THE SUN.
This connection with THE SUN is made explicit in the Golden Dawn "Book T," which describes the angel here as Michael, Ruler of Solar Fire. It is he who blows the trumpet calling down the influence of Binah. Another reference to the Supernals is the Red Cross Banner, which stands for the Four Rivers of Paradise, as well as the four letters of the Divine Name.
The rainbow in the Order's card, containing serpents representing the Fiery Seraphim, is undoubtedly that which surrounds the fiery Throne of God described in Revelation.10° This rainbow encloses the Archangel who seems to emerge from the Fire triangle itself.
At the base of the card, rising from the tomb facing the angelic presence, is Arel, Ruler of Latent Heat. He is also the candidate for the mysteries who follows this Path of Fire. The male figure at the left is Samael, Ruler of Volcanic Fire. Opposite him is Anael, Ruler of the Astral Light, represented in duplicate in that she is Demeter-Persephone and Isis-Nephthys.
Crowley's card, called "The Aeon," departs completely from tradition, and is important in that his personal philosophy is more imbedded in this imagery than in that of most other cards of the Thoth Tarot. Overall, the Crowley deck is illustrative of the Book of the Law, a document which he stated was revealed to him and which is the core of his teaching. The Aeon also relates to what he called the Stele of Revealing.101
This card, he explained, supersedes all earlier concepts of the Key, and shows the harmonious and spiritual state of human existence which will be on the earth in the mid twenty-second century. That condition is symbolized by the Sky Goddess Nuith, and her consort Hadit (represented as a golden orb of light). They produce Horus, here shown seated and standing, his active and passive forms. Crowley also points out that another name for Horus is Heru, which is synonymous with Hru, "The Great Angel set over the Tarot."
What Crowley proposes here is highly consistent with Qabalistic doctrine, i.e., that the system evolves to meet the needs of spiritual evolution of the race. Assuming that JUDGMENT represents a stage in the development of the race and of the individual Personality consciousness, he is suggesting that there will come a time in the not so far distant future when the spiritual make-up of mankind will have so advanced that JUDGMENT, as previously known, will no longer describe the experience of this Path. He further asserts that we are now passing into a five hundred year period of extreme darkness and trial, preparatory to a new Aeon of Light.102
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