In Key 20 we are on the threshold of blending with the universal mind. This is the sixth stage of spiritual unfoldment according to the Tarot. At this stage we realize that our personal existence is nothing more than the relationship between our sub-consciousness and self-consciousness. We are also realizing that these two are really modes of universal consciousness. So we now know that our personality has no separate existence. And this is also confirmed by a fourth dimensional experience that removes the delusion of separateness.
The number 20 is the number of the Hebrew letter Kaph, which is assigned to Key 10 Wheel of Fortune. You may recall Kaph signifies mental grasp (remember the shape of the letter looks like a grasping hand) or comprehension. Here we see the result of completing the cycle of manifestation represented by the Wheel.
In Key 10 it was noted that humanity at large is in the position of the Hermanubis, half way up the right side of the Wheel, with his ears just above the horizon line. The completion of the Great Work is to complete the cycle through the segment of the wheel that is marked by the Yod, above the horizon line. In doing so man comprehends his true nature, that it is identical with the One Reality, with the One Will of which the universe is a manifestation.
At this point you know that Will. This is the will to freedom, to joy, perfect health and abundance. It is a will-to-good, to the impartation of every good and perfect gift. You comprehend it as the Will that finds expression in all activity. When you arrive at this point daily experience is a succession of miracles. When we begin to see the light it’s the lightning flash experience of Key 16 The Tower. While it lasts structures of error are broken down. But darkness returns and we wait for the next flash. What is being expressed in Key 20 Judgement is a perpetual experience of this Light, and a perpetual recognition of the power of the Spirit. Hence the mode of consciousness of this card is the Perpetual Intelligence.
The number 20, read from units to tens, expresses the No-Thing through memory. That is the Fool’s vision through the law of the High Priestess Key 2. We are freed from lapses of memory that occur to us earlier in the work. We live the Truth every moment. With this recognition comes a new kind of consciousness. And, we no longer sleep! We put our bodies to rest, but we remain awake, able to function consciously in the fourth dimension. We really serve God day and night. This is one of the meanings of conscious immortality.
Most people don’t recall their nightly experiences. Once this power of recalling the experience is developed, it is possible to plan for the night’s activities. Also it will become part of your day’s activities. Until this is known experimentally, no human language can convey the alteration that it makes in one’s whole life.
The Hebrew letter Shin is the third and last of the Hebrew Mother letters. It resembles three tongues of flame rising up from a fiery base. It is attributed to the element of fire. The sound of the letter, “sh!” is an admonition to silence, as understood by all people. Thus the letter Shin corresponds by sound to the final admonition of the Masters: BE SILENT. The fourfold injunction in the study of the Great Work is : Know, Will, Dare and Be Silent.
Serpents are recognized as symbols of wisdom. They are silent, subtle creatures. Jesus told his disciples to be wise as serpents, thus emphasizing, for those that had ears to hear, the ancient doctrine of silence. This arises from the truth that the Great Secret simply cannot be told; it is folly to try to tell it. Paul Foster Case explains, “The wise waste no time, invite no misconception, expend no energy in vain efforts to tell. When they speak, it is not to tell the Secret, but to point the Way.”
The speech of the wise is like learning a foreign language. At first it is gibberish, meaningless. If we persist in our studies, then it will begin to make sense. And then one day the very same words that were unintelligible are clear as a bell. You must learn the silent speech of symbols for yourself. Then you will find that you are in communication with others who know it.
Shin means “a tooth or fang.” The Tooth of Judgement breaks down and feeds upon all that isn’t necessary to our newfound spiritual life. This is just the same as using our teeth to break down food into component parts in order that they may be correctly digested and prepared for assimilation. When the great Judgement Day arrives for each person, and not necessarily with bodily death, the former ideas of separation are broken down. “When the Holy Spirit consumes all barriers from your life, the higher consciousness consumes the lower.”
The title of this Key is Judgement. On the surface this refers to the day, way in the future, when all souls shall be judged. This is a veil for the real meaning. Judgement is a consequence of weighing evidence. Justice is always represented by the scales, and in ancient Egyptian representations of the judgement of the soul, the candidate’s heart was put in the balance with the feather of truth.
Judgement implies estimation or measurement. Paul Foster Case explains, “One might say that the Great Secret answers the question: How much do you weigh? That is to say, we have to see that since all that is real of us is identical with the One Thing, our true weight must be the same as its true weight.The consciousness of Totality comes in here.” When the weight of the heart, the central consciousness of man, corresponds to the weight of the feather of truth, then the scales of judgement are balanced.
Also, judgement is a reasoned conclusion. The Ageless Wisdom offers a reasonable doctrine. St. Paul, writing of the giving up of the false sense of personality, calls it a reasonable sacrifice. Thus in the symbols of Key 20 we find many references to the number 4, the Tarot number particularly associated with reason. Look at Key 4 The Emperor card.
Yet, since a judgement is a reasoned conclusion, and reason leads to that conclusion, judgement is also the end of reasoning. In Key 20 reasoning has come to its end and a new order of knowing is manifested. Old things have passed away through the operation of the law pictured by Key 13 Transition, which is the agency of the principle of right discrimination pictured by Key 6 The Lovers. These three Keys are the sixth column in the Tarot Tableau. There is to be no more weighing of evidence, no more discussion of pros and cons, no more argument for and against. That is all done with, and in this card we shall find abundant evidence of this.
And finally, judgement is a decision. It has direct consequences in action. The word “decision” is derived from a Latin root, meaning “to cut.” The Judgement cuts off, forever, our connection with the false knowledge of “this world.” It puts an end to our limitation to the 3-dimensional world. It terminates our sense of mortality. Remember the symbology of Shin, whereby the former ideas of separation are broken down. To have done with all this misery. Nothing less. That is the promise, and to have done with it forever. A devouring flame of realization, which consumes the whole unhappy brood of lies.
Let’s look at the card a little further and see how its symbology conveys these ideas. Gabriel is the angel, as such he carries the trumpet and summons the dead from their coffins. He is the archangel of the element of water, and he is the archangel of the moon. In this connection, observe that 2, the number of the Key attributed to the moon, High Priestess, is the root-number of 20. In Key 2 all the water shown in the Tarot has its source. Thus the presiding power in the scene depicted by Key 20 is the power of reflection, the root-power of the Universal Memory.
Gabriel means “Might of God,” and the suggestion is that human personality is raised from the “death” of 3-dimensional consciousness by a power descending from above, rather than by its own efforts. The Spirit of Life in us never forgets itself, and when the Day of Judgement comes, we hear its trumpet call, proclaiming our true nature, calling us from the deathlike sleep of belief in mortal existence.
The angel is enclosed in a geometrical design consisting of two circles, exactly filling a larger circle formed by the clouds. The angel’s head is in the upper circle, his body in the lower. This figure is an ancient symbol of the fourth dimension. He rides on red wings of fire. Recall that red is the color of action, courage and strength. White clouds surround the angel because the true nature of the Self is veiled by appearances, and the substance of these appearances is the same as the stream of consciousness typified by the robe of the High Priestess. It is the flow of the stream of consciousness, which gives rise to the ideas of time, and these ideas are what partly veil from us the true nature of the One Identity.
Twelve rays of light pierce the clouds. In Hebrew wisdom the number 12 refers to the name HVA, Hoa, (pronounced Hu). This is the 3rd person pronoun “He,” attributed to Kether, the Crown of Primal Will in the Tree of Life diagram.The intimation here is that the light piercing the veil is the light of the True Self, called “He” by Qabalists. Gabriel personifies one aspect of that light.
Seven rays come out of the golden trumpet. Gold represents the Sun and the cardiac plexus. The trumpet amplifies sound and refers to the fact that the awakening of higher consciousness is actually accomplished by certain definite sounds. These are represented by the seven little rays, which correspond to the sound vibrations of the seven interior centers (chakras or metals) that we saw represented by the seven small stars in Key 17 The Star.
The icebergs in the background refer to an ancient text that says in order to perform the Great Work we must fix the volatile. The volatile is the stream of conscious energy symbolized by water.The idea here is that its flow gives rise to the illusions from which our delusions are derived. When we make it solid, or fix it, by stopping the flow, we are set free from bondage. Also, the sea is the end of a flowing of water. Thus it suggests the same ideas of termination and conclusion that we found associated with the word “judgement.”
The three stone coffins are supported by the sea, intimating that the real support or basis for the appearances of physical form is really the vibration of mental energy. The sea is the great sea of the racial consciousness, operating at the subconscious level. The substance of an electron and the substance of a thought are the same. The coffins are rectangular, suggesting apparent solidity and impenetrability of 3-dimensional forms. The human figures stand upright, so that their bodies are at right angles to the bottoms of the coffins. This is an attempt to represent the mathematical definition of the Fourth Dimension – that it is at right angles to all three dimensions of space as we perceive them.
The three figures are the man as self-conscious awareness, the woman as sub-consciousness, and their product, the child, the regenerated personality. They also correspond to the Egyptian triad, Osiris the father, Isis the mother, and Horus the child. Their postures hint that each figure represents a Roman letter. The woman denotes L. The child’s arms over his head make a V. The man, in the traditional posture of Osiris risen, crosses his arms to form an X. Thus the three symbolize L.V.X., the Latin for Light. The man is in an attitude of passive adoration. In the fourth-dimensional consciousness the self-conscious mind realizes that it does nothing whatever of itself. It is a channel through which the higher Life descends to lower levels. The X crosses out, or cancels, the idea of personal origination for any action.
The woman actively receives the influx of power from above. As her posture suggests the letter L, it is related to Lamed and Key 11 Justice, which represents the Faithful Intelligence. Under the influence of right reason, sub-consciousness expresses perfect faith. The child faces toward the interior of the picture. He represents insight, the turning of the mind away from the false reports of external reports of external sensations. His posture suggests a V, or Vav, as represented by The Teacher Key 5. He is thus a type of Intuition. The mode of consciousness associated with Key 5 is the Triumphant and Eternal Intelligence, because the Inner Voice invariably indicates the principle that will work out as a successful course of action.
The three figures are nude, to suggest a state of perfect innocence, a state of freedom from shame, that false emotion engendered by our incorrect interpretation of the real nature of human life and its functions. It also suggests perfect intimacy. Their flesh is gray, to show that they have overcome all pairs of opposites, since gray is the tint resulting from the combination of any two complementary colors. This also suggests that here is a perfect blending of the seven Hebrew letters that are pairs of opposites: Life and Death (Key 1); Peace and Strife (Key 2); Wisdom and Folly (Key 3); Wealth and Poverty (Key 10); Beauty and Ugliness (Key 16); Fertility and Sterility (Key 19); and Dominion and Slavery (Key 21). Their gray color shows that the forces of the seven centers (chakras) have been perfectly coordinated, also hinted at by the seven rays of the trumpet.
The banner on the trumpet is a square, measuring 5 x 5 units, or a magic square of 25 cells. This is the magic square of Mars. Fire, the quality of Mars, predominates in Key 20, and Key 20 is placed in the Tarot Tableau beneath Key 13, which represents the sign Scorpio, ruled by Mars. Both the banner and the cross are symbols of the number 4. The same number is intimated by the four figures in the scene. The number of Key 20 is 4 x 5. The square banner is bounded by 4 lines each 5 units in length.
The Emperor stands for Aries, a fiery sign ruled by Mars. The Emperor is also the Tarot symbol of sovereign reason, which leads to decision, or right judgement. As mentioned, the mode of consciousness of this card is the Perpetual Intelligence, which may be thought of as being the product of the interaction of Reason (Key 4) and Intuition (Key 5).We must reason rightly before we receive the inner teaching of Intuition. Others, who do not reason rightly, will not hear the angel’s trumpet call! The Tarot has provided you with many tools to use along your Hero’s Journey. Use them. Do not be deceived by the seeming simplicity of some of this work. Nature operates by simple means, and the Great Work is an imitation of those simple methods whereby she accomplishes marvelous results.