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The Magical Tarot – Judgement

September 27, 2013

Sadhu on Judgement

by Madeline Montalban

This month I am not going to give my own interpretation of Trump No. 20, the Judgement, but am going to quote from a book called The Tarot, written by Mouni Sadhu, and published at 63/- net by George Alien and Unwin Ltd.

Mouni Sadhu has given, in most scholarly fashion, his interpretation of the Tarot from its arcane and philosophical aspect. This book contains much to ponder on, but it is for those who want to approach the study of the Tarot from the intellectual point of view rather than to treat it as a “fortune-telling” medium.

scan0005Now, in his interpretation of Trump No. 20, the Judgement (and the illustration to this article comes from Mouni Sadhu’s book), a good idea of the information-packed but involved text can be obtained.

Arcanum 20, is associated with the Hebrew letter Resh. And, says the author:

“The corresponding astrological symbol is Saturn. The hieroglyphic of the arcanum is the human head, that head which realizes the usefulness of the axe, given to it in the foregoing Nineteenth Arcanum. That head which looks through the ‘window’ cut through the oppressing roof of darkness by the axe, or letter Quoph.” (Since these are the words of the author, and not mine, and my interpretation of the nineteenth arcanum was my own, and not Mr Sadhu’s, they must be regarded as separate interpretations of the same force.)

Continuing on the theme of No. 20, the author goes on to say:

“The only power which pulls us ahead on the path of Evolution is the Archetype. Practically, it is all that we can conceive of about the living and active deity. I am not speaking about the Unmanifest, Unattainable, Unconscious (in our limited sense of the word) and devoid of all qualities – ABSOLUTE, which is the Beginning and End, the Alpha and Omega, Eternity beyond all time and space, for it seems useless to speak about something which is beyond all speech.

“So, the Archetype is the Atman, Spirit and God for Manifestation in which we, human beings, are playing our modest role on this planet.”

That quotation shows that Mouni Sadhu’s book is somewhat heavy going, but then he has taken a mighty theme, for which sometimes there are no adequate words.

When his style becomes less involved, his explanations are simple and revealing, as in this:

“The scientific name of this Arcanum (No. 20) is Resurrectio Mortuum (resurrection of the dead), and the vulgar one is – The Judgement. On the card is an angel in the sky blowing a horn. The sound symbolizes the Call of the Archetype in us.

In the foreground we see the naked (naked must man stand before God) figures of a man, woman and the child arising from graves . . .

“The scene is as the Christian Scriptures conceive the Day of Judgement and general Resurrection. The idea, of course, comes from much earlier times than the Christian tradition.

“BOTH poles of humanity are represented (men and women) and the neutralizing element of the VAU is present as the child with its parents. All return to LIFE from the realm of DEATH.” (The capitals and italics are the author’s not mine.)

“Astral self-perfectioning involves, as we know, activity as well as intuition” (writes Mr Sadhu).

“The adrogynous results of both are reflected in our environment. That is why all three – man, woman and child, are represented on the card. All three arose from their graves, which indicates a change of surroundings, which is only logical.

Every effort to get free from the ominous Roof of Tzaddi will lead, in the beginning, to a change of place, of environment, instead of immediate liberation.

“This is obvious, not only from our Hermetic point of view, but also from that of Eastern wisdom, which in its sacred books speaks widely about the numbers of incarnations needed for the attainment of the state of Jivanmukta.”

I cannot quote the whole of the chapter on No. 20, since the author’s method of expression is somewhat involved, and in addition to which he gives some valuable arithmetical tables and equations.

But I think I have written enough to give an idea of the subject-crammed contents of his book, which is “A contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism”.

Those who want to study his views and findings further should get the book for themselves.

I have dealt with it in this article because so many readers have asked me if there is any book on the “more occult” side of the Tarot. Mouni Sadhu’s book is certainly that, and though it takes intensive study, he has some very useful things to teach.

I have no intention of being critical when I say that, for myself, I prefer my truths more simply and concisely expressed. Nor have I ever seen the value of using a foreign word or expression instead of simple English. This use of little-known words and phrases can be confusing to a beginner, and a great many of the author’s words and phrases were quite unknown to me.

It is, nevertheless, well worth having if you want to know more about the classical Tarot, which embraces Alchemy, Astrology, Kabbalah and Magic, for he includes all these. More’s the pity sometimes; a little “filleting of repetition” would have helped for better understanding.

Some of his phrases I find excellent; as, for instance: “The Tarot is neutral; neither good nor evil in itself, just like figures which can express any quantity, suitable or unsuitable, true or false. The whole system is based on the Universal Principle which manifests itself in every sphere of life. We may call it the ‘law’

(Tetragrammaton or Tetrad of Hermetists). The symbols used are the letters of the old Hebrew alphabet, plus figures and numbers. Three veils for three worlds . . .”

When one has read and studied all about Arcanum No. 20 in this book, one is left somewhat baffled, but with the slowly percolating idea that the Last Judgement, in essence, has little to do really with the idea of resurrection from the dead.

Rather, behind it all, is the idea that in the Last Judgement of all, we stand by what we have learned. This, eventually, makes us what we have become. So our own Last Judgement is based on the essential inner core of ourselves. We stand or fall alone.
[Prediction, April 1964]

When this article was published, I was in my middle twenties. I was well versed in the Golden Dawn system of magic and, finding Mouni Sadhu’s teaching at variance with what I already knew, I did not purchase a copy of his book at that time. I did so subsequently, however, when I left the Temple in which I had received my early training. It is the 1975 reprint and cost £9.99.

The contents are exactly as Miss Montalban describes them. It is erudite and centers its interest on the theory rather than the practice of occultism. The Latin aside, its language is not that of the Golden Dawn. Like Miss Montalban, I found in this book several magical terms I had never come across before.

It is a valuable book for those with a penchant for the intellectual aspect of the tarot. The mathematical equations, for example, are well explained. But I wonder how many of Miss Montalban’s readers, whose foremost interest was often the simple spells associated with each card, were drawn to Mouni Sadhu’s book after reading her review of it. A.T.

From → tarot

  1. I really enjoy this site and tarot.

    Greetings from Sweden.


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