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(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Friday, 7 March 2008


I owe you.
So I offer that up
I put it in the fire
with my hands
my burning hands
to send the past up high
to bask in its warmth
to breathe its incense-scent
to see your shadow in its light again
to guide you home
to guide you home.

We take the charcoal-wreck of life
the burned remains
of small disasters
we turn it into fuel
to light,
to patterns revealed unto our eyes
to truths before unseen
into forgiveness to each other
(and to ourselves)
and on this pyre we might
cast our waxen bodies
burned up by truth
burned up by truth

[Epic derail: I pulled this card and wrote the above lines months ago, but then went off and wrote a little thing called Ghost Stories which more or less disposed of my feelings about Judgement for a time. But Judgement will never away for long.]

There is a void in this page I'm tempted to fill with lines used in Alpha Centauri. Nietzsche: 'A dangerous on-the-way, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous shuddering and stopping.' Kirkegaard: 'And when the hourglass has run out [...] then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not.'

That I know these words is Judgement; I look back, and there they are - part of the rope of my life. They're some of few threads I have of the men who wrote them. Nietzsche's added other strands, a book full of metaphors and a list of chapter titles that was swallowed by something else entirely; Kirkegaard's touched me with little except those words. But with these tendril-touches, we reach each other, we know each other, we live together.

I don't know that that is Judgement. It isn't the the World - the World is where all those rainbow colours mix into an all-encompassing white - though I suspect it is somehow to do with the Moon. If Judgement were one question, it would be 'Was it worth it?'

(I was going to write that the one answer to that is 'Yes' it? I don't think that there's a 'yes' here without the possibility of a 'no'. I also suspect that Judgement likes its 'maybes'. Designs vary, but often feature shades of grey.)

Judgement can see the big picture. Judgement remembers everything. Judgement, because it measures consequences, possibly sees the future too; Judgement definitely sees how things connect, and can present you with some beautiful collisions and coincidences. Judgement understands time, and values it. Judgement understands distance, perspective, and experience - all of these are just a series of tiny moments.

In terms of images and symbols, Judgement is usually linked to death. Or undeath. It's the Last Judgement and some angel is waking people up with his great big trumpet, or it's the end of your days and some god is leading you onward. There isn't that much space here for those of us who don't have any beliefs about life after death. The Intuitive deck kindly provides some, in the form of three figures melding into a bonfire. Their lives are fuel. Their identities are shadows cast on the walls. They have made light.

Judgement's opposite is the Magician, who never looks back and may (think he does) not have anything to look back on. His all-power-all-in-the-moment attitude is hard to square with Judgement's quiet estimations - but, curiously, in the Mythic Tarot both the Magician and Judgement are represented by the same god (Hermes, the Messenger and the Psychopomp).

Judgement is the eldest of a family that also includes Justice and the High Priestess. There's a detachment they have in common - a detachment that looks outwards rather than in.

Images of Judgement

The RWS, getting its Revalation on. This is the dead being resurrected in body because it's time for the past to walk again.

The Visconti-Sforza, an older version of the same me, it looks more questioning. The woman seems curious, the men in various stages of shy, prayerful, and distinctly not sure - and while one of the angels calls them upward, the other seems ready to move on if the humans aren't ready to go. This is Judgement not as a final destination but as a ride you can either catch, or allow to pass on by. Are you ready to leave your closed world and move on? The journey won't wait for you, if not.

Amano's is a strange spire, one that seems to grow from an open flower, and if we are to ascend it, we must climb up this mountain of dreams ourselves. The trumpeter on top is just calling, and it's up to us to respond.

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