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On The Brink of the Third Degree

November 27, 2011

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Judgement Day

Four cards represent each one of us in the quest for our personal Grail. They are The Fool, signifying those who know nothing and know they know nothing; The Juggler (called, in some packs, The Magician), standing for those who have realised what their own powers and talents are; the Ace of Swords, or the weapon against misery that was born within you; and the Ace of Cups, which stands for your ultimate reward in life. Before one can unravel the mysteries of this combination of cards, however, one must face one’s own personal Day of Judgement.

All religions have a Last Judgement; a time in which the soul after death is weighed in the balance and judged whether it has done well or ill. This is represented in the Tarot by Trump No. 20. In divination the card Judgement heralds a change of position, and this can mean anything from moving house to “being transported to a higher plane of existence” – otherwise death.

When we bear in mind that reincarntionists believe there is no true death, only a change followed by re-birth, we can better understand card No. 20. It comes under the direct ruling of the Archangel Cassiel in ritual magick, and its secret arcana has much to do with death from sudden calamities and the inevitable which cannot be changed. It represents a host of dangerous powers which lie to the hand of students of certain forms of magickal ritual.

To the Knights of the Round Table, the card of Judgement represented only the merit or demerits that would be marked against their names by the Heavenly Scribe, according to whether they had behaved will or ill in the pursuit of the Holy Grail on the earth plane. To understand what Trump No. 20 meant to the Knights of the Round Table we must trace each step of a “knight”, or occult student, on the magickal path.

“Except you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” we are told. Children lack both knowledge and application until they have been taught. They lack knowledge of either good or evil until they have learned of these things. They, and the beginner in occultism, are represented by the Fool in the Tarot. The adept in occultism, or the individual who has learned sufficient in this life of the lessons she or he was sent to learn (for that is the true meaning of the word adeptship and not “one who knows everything”), is also represented by the Fool; for such persons have learned so much that they have discovered how little they do know, and have became as children again, awed by their own ignorance, depreciating what little they know. Just as the study of science does not do away with the belief in God, but in time teaches the scientist how much lies outside humanity’s power, so does the pursuit of the Grail of happiness and knowledge end up by teaching the adept that, compared to God, he is a Fool! “I know nothing. I learned all life had to teach, and then knew that I knew nothing.” Knowing nothing is childish. Knowing you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom.

From Fool to Magus . . . that is the magickal path; and as occult students travel that path, they begin to learn a little of the powers that lie within them and how to apply them. These powers are very real, though often unseen and unfelt. Just as a hidden sea miles below the earth can wash away the soil until a whole area falls into a pit, so can the powers of magick sap and destroy. It is part of their function; just as it is your duty as a well-meaning or “white” magician to see to it that you use these powers only to destroy that which needs destroying. You may use them against vice, plague, cruelty, injustice and the like, and at the Last Judgement you will be commended for what you have done. If you use them for petty ends, to minister to your own vanity or love of power, at the Last Judgement you will be sentenced for what you have done! There is no escape. The sins of the spirit must be paid for in the spirit, as the sins of the flesh are paid for in flesh – yours!

Fate is impartial. Why should one human being be born wretched, crippled, or be malformed and ugly? Would it be fair, if we had only one life to live on earth, to handicap some above others? But suppose these souls had lived past lives; lives in which they had wilfully contributed to that which was ugly, or cruel or sordid. Would it not be justice to make them, for an earthly lifetime, suffer the evils they had inflicted on others? How else could they learn? Suppose again a soul had always tried to live up to the best that was in her, and spent her lifetime in trying to do the right thing. Is it out of all reason that, on rebirth, that person should be reborn in advantageous surroundings, and given enough of this world’s good things to repay her for past efforts? Why should there be no reward for virtue save its own?

We are all equal in God’s sight, but are not born equal in the sight of man. We reap the reward, or punishment, of our past earthly offences, not in heaven or hell, but on this earth plane. That was part of the arcana of the Holy Grail. That was why the Grail was pursued: in order that mankind might have knowledge of the laws which govern the universe; that, knowing them, we might work with, instead of against them. The Second World War saw millions of people die horribly, both in concentration camps and on the field of battle. The war criminals were, in time, sentenced by their fellow men to die. That is an easy fate compared to the sentence they will get at the Last Judgement. There they will be sentenced to far worse. They will be sentenced to live a life in which on their own bodies all the injuries and cruelties they have inflicted on others will be  perpetrated.

One of the most feared Powers in ritual magick is the Angel of the Last Judgement. He is feared more than the angel of Death, for after death comes Divine Judgement. It is impartial, but tempered with mercy for the asking. But the soul must ask for it back on earth, and ask knowing full well that Divinity will hear. Those who so petition will not escape punishment for past evils, but they will receive some help, be given strength to bear their trails. In this way, Trump No. 20, the Last Judgement, becomes associated with No. 19, the Sun, or Help from Above.

Before the day we die – anytime before, but certainly not at the last gasp – we should sit in judgement on ourselves and ask ourselves what we have put into life. What have we really done to earn the blessings for which we have clamoured? In fact, has our existence justified itself at all? We may shock ourselves by the answer; but we will certainly pull up our moral and spiritual socks afterwards. Instead of crying for happiness we will try and earn it. Instead of demanding love we will learn to give it, and instead of boasting of what we know we will try and learn something. And that, for every human being, is the start of the long, long trail of understanding which brings us at last to the Holy Grail, the cup brimming with wisdom and understanding. We, like the Knights of the Round Table, will have fought and conquered ourselves.

Be you eight or eighty it is not too late to begin your own quest for happiness and success, and the joy you will obtain from understanding yourself will make every battle you have to fight, every difficulty you have to overcome in the process a sheer mental and spiritual joy.

EXERCISES

Part One

“Before the day we die . . . we should sit in judgement on ourselves and ask ourselves what we have put into life. What have we really done to earn the blessings for which we have clamoured? In fact, has our existence justified itself at all?”

Before passing on to your 3rd Degree initiation, you are required to sit in judgement on yourself in the manner outlined above. It is at this point in the course that the requisite self-assessment is made. Take Trump No 20 from your deck. Spend one week meditating on the card in reverse and one week mediating on it upright. Whichever way up the card is, ask yourself the same questions: What have I put into life? What have I done to earn the blessings I expect life to deliver up to me? Is my existence justified?

Part Two

This chapter tells us: “We are all equal in God’s sight, but are not born equal in the sight of man. We reap the reward, or punishment, of our past earthly offences, not in heaven or hell, but on this earth plane.” It reminds us that all human beings are equal in the sight of the Divine Parent. That being so, your ‘exalted degree’ once you have passed your next initiation won’t make you better than anyone else. In occult terms both the beginner and the adept are represented by the same card – The Fool. For the adept comes to learn that, compared to God, he is a Fool! “I know nothing. I learned all life had to teach, and then knew that I knew nothing.” Knowing nothing is childish. Knowing you know nothing is the beginning of wisdom.

Lay out the following four cards in a diamond formation.

Trump No. 0/22

Ace Swords               Ace Cups

Trump No. 1

For one week, meditate on the significance of the first paragraph of Part Two in connection with the four cards and the way they are set out.

Part Three

Put away the cards you have been working with, remove once again from the deck the Ace of Cups, The Sun and The World and set them up in triangular formation as you did before. Now join Trump 20 to the tableau you learned to assemble in the previous chapter by placing it below the three cards used there, and directly in line with the Ace of Cups. The cards should form a diamond or lozenge shape, similar to that made by the four cards used in the previous exercise.

Meditate on this grouping for one week. Pay particular attention to the relationship between Trumps 19 and 20. Recall what you were taught in the current chapter.

One of the most feared Powers in ritual magick is the Angel of the Last Judgement. He is feared more than the angel of Death, for after death comes Divine Judgement. It is impartial, but tempered with mercy for the asking. But the soul must ask for it back on earth, and ask knowing full well that Divinity will hear. Those who so petition will not escape punishment for past evils, but they will receive some help, be given strength to bear their trails. In this way, Trump No. 20, the Last Judgement, becomes associated with No. 19, the Sun, or Help from Above.

Remember too what you were told about the Sun card in chapter 12. “For, in its esoteric interpretation, Trump No. 19 signifies the power that comes from above and gives aid when it is most needed. . . . Not for nothing is card No. 19 considered fortunate. It represents the Godhead recognising the efforts of the individual, and rewarding them in proportion to the efforts that have been made.” The Sun does not represent Providence, as Trump No 7 does. It indicates rather an earned reward, released by Divinity at “the right time”.

A Final Word

If you have done your work on Trump No. 20 correctly then, as Madeline Montalban says above: “You may shock yourself by the answer (you receive); but you will certainly pull up your moral and spiritual socks afterwards. Instead of crying for happiness you will try and earn it. Instead of demanding love you will learn to give it, and instead of boasting of what you know you will try and learn something. And that, for every human being, is the start of the long, long trail of understanding which brings one at last to the Holy Grail, the cup brimming with wisdom and understanding. You, like the Knights of the Round Table, will have fought and conquered yourself.”

Addendum

MORE ADVANCED EXERCISES

In Chapter 3 you were counselled against meditating on Trumps 4 and 6 reversed in the triad:-

4

3 (Rev.)       6

You may do so once you have received your 3rd Degree initiation.

Reverse only one of these Trumps at a time. That is to say, you may reverse either Trump 4 or Trump 6 in the above arrangement at any one time, but not both.

Within this tableau lies the story of the failure of the proposal to raise the Minor Adept (represented by Trump 3) and the Probationer Adept (represented by Trump 6) to their respective next levels of spiritual attainment. It tells how the failure came about and describes the repercussions of the failure in the life of either the Major Adept or the Probationer Adept, depending on which Trump you have chosen to reverse.

© Madeline Montalban, 1954

© Tony Willis, 2010

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