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[Tarot] Atu XX: The Aeon/Judgement

Card: The Aeon/Judgement

Card Number: XX

Suit: Major Arcana

Astrological Analog: Pluto, Fire

Theme: Final transformation, becoming the eagle/butterfly, Test of the Threshold, faced with a challenge that will have much bearing on the course of future events. The phoenix reborn.

Positive qualities: Initiation rites, meeting the new world

Negative Qualities: Forcing the next step, overestimation of the self

Quote:If you're afraid of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the world. It all depends on how you look at it.” – Jacob’s Ladder

Of the Martian quadrilateral, Atu XX is the least appreciated yet most profound. Atu XX holds a combination the energies of its three Martian predecessors: The Emperor’s creation of order (Aries), Death’s severance of the unnecessary (Scorpio), and the indiscriminate blast of the Tower (Mars). Defined by Pluto and the element of Fire, Atu XX leaves only trace memories of the old world for us to take with us: Upon passage of the trial, nothing will be the same again. To reach this point, there have likely been hints of this passage on your way here: not unlike the quiz that precedes the test.

To the alchemists, there wasn’t an element more important than fire. Though each was important, fire was considered the vehicle of transmutation in the figurative or literal sense. It might melt or separate the impurities of a substance to see it strengthened, forging iron into steel. To experience Atu XX is not dissimilar, laying your fears, sins, outdated methods, vices, and insecurities upon an altar and compelling the divine to see them purged into strengths.

In matters of faith, we might liken this to the sacrifice of a messianic or heroic figure.

- Odin casts his right eye into Mimir’s Well so that he might drink of it’s water, to gain wisdom of all things seen or unseen.

- In the Orthodox Faith, Yeshuah endures yet another ordeal between his entombment and resurrection. Upon death, he descends into Hell to defy damnation and proclaim it’s defeat, at which point he is resurrected immortal in the divine.

Rider Waite elects for a Judeo-Christian approach. A red winged angel blows a trumpet in the sky to herald the beginning of an end, and the dead rise from their graves with their arms outstretched as if to beckon a judgement that offers a chance at eternal salvation. The dead are nude: vulnerable, hiding nothing from the judgement of the angel.

Freida Harris offers a very different depiction.

Lady Harris offers the depiction of Horus, who goes by many names depending on his current depiction. To the Thelemite, this is the lord of the New Aeon: The new face of God. Here, he is depicted twice.

Ra-Hoor-Kuit: The elder Horus, seated on the throne to assert his power. In one hand he holds a large staff. His opposing hand, however, is empty. Consider the Emperor of Atu IV, who sits upon the throne with a staff and a globe in his alternate hand. Here, however, Ra-Hoor-Kuit holds no globe: He holds nothing in his hand, because what was there is now beneath him. The old world is a memory, not a dominion.

But this, is not without hope. For the future belongs to a child.

The Heavenly Egg: Gestated by Nut, from which Horus will hatch. The egg has been hinted at throughout many of the twenty-two keys, all the way back to Atu I – where it was just a distant thought tugging at the back of the Magician’s mind. But here, in Atu XX, the egg is revealed. The Four Cardinal energies are made manifest and are ready to hatch. This too, is an important symbol in a number of esoteric faiths and disciplines, particularly alchemy – also hinted at throughout the twenty two keys.

Hoor-Pa-Kraat: Horus, the child. With the purge of the old world that has suffered it’s burden and taint, here it is reduced to innocence and is afforded the chance to start again with heart, mind and soul that learned from the errors of the last age.

Beyond Horus: But there is also afforded the hint that the process does not end with this single act of rebirth. Disguised in the background is the glyph of Libra, certainly not at home at this throne in a very Martian kingdom. One day, this new age will pass on to the next. The process will continue, infinitely refining. Dissolve et coagula, until we find the Prima Materia.

Gnostic Traces:

To thoughtfully consider Libra’s role in this card, we might find a second obscured take contained within. Aeon has come to be a word with at least two definitions across esoteric traditions. The most common of the two would be as a measure of time. The other, finds it’s roots in the Gnostic tradition – and it’s a challenge to describe without going on a tangent. So, tangent we shall.

The Aeons are described as sentient, independent emanations of the Monad, the original source – a wellspring we might call God in a very primordial sense. They always come in pairs, representing the harmonization of two opposing points in a polarity. The paired Aeons might be likened to the Second Sephirot in Kabbalism, Chokmah – where the energy of the first Sephirot, Kether (The Monad), discovers it’s reflection and comes to the understanding it’s in a plane it may interreact with.

Recall, opposing points. The Martian cards of the Major Arcana began with the Emperor and end with the Aeon. The Emperor represents Aries, and in the Aeon we are offered hints of Libra. Both signs are opposite to each other. Typically concerned in the same arenas – creation of a semblance of order. After all, Aries does initiate Spring which dictates the success of a given year, and Libra the Fall where resources find their apex and need to be doled out. Where Aries is content with order and devotion by edict (Typically, his own) enforced by point of sword or an impending tantrum, Libra looks to reason, fairness, altruism, sacrifice and even sentiment. For Aries, this is a great way to make enemies where there were none. For Libra, a chance to be bled dry as a matter of routine.

But for the opposing points to reconcile and learn from the strengths of each while maintaining their own, they may compensate for each other’s vulnerabilities, making something entirely new – and a step backward, impossible.

Embryotic sacks near the bottom, and further connection to the Martian quadrilateral: Contained within each are the child, the man, and the elder.

This is reminiscent of the three alchemical phases, loosely hinted in Atu XIII, Death.

- The Scorpion, impure, that wallows in the putrefaction.

- The Fish, or the Snake, that begins the process of resurrection.

- The Eagle, “Scorpio redeemed”, soaring above the storms and the rot.

Consider, the other three corners of the quadrilateral: The Emperor (Order to creation), Death (Severance of creation), The Tower (Reduction, or ruin). The Aeon would be impossible without this process – yet, the Aeon devours each. The embryotic sack in question is shaped as the Hebrew letter Shin. Hebrew letters also count as words. For Shin, it means “tooth”. Implying to rend or consume. The Tower, represented by Pe, “Mouth”, separates the meaning by only a few degrees. One might be unchanged by the mouth, but certainly not the tooth.

On the Axis of the Major Arcana: The cross sum of Twenty brings us to Two, the High Priestess. Within the Aeon are all the dreams and visions of the High Priestess. She has sensed this transformation, always knowing that it was within reach. Across her veil is the Lemniscate, the very material symbol of the Egg. After intuitively knowing of the egg for so long, we not only find it but are treated to see it hatch.

Do keep in mind the transformative properties of positive, negative, light and shadow.

General: Making the absolute best of the harshest of trials. Leaving old events, experiences, and claims behind to step through the pearly gates. Defining the new “self” after a critical growth phase.

Profession/Economics: Learning the lessons from old, outdated ways of operation. Starting again, never needing to repeat the same mistakes. Alternatively, a test of licensure, certification, or a chance to prove achievement. A change of occupation, but likely in a familiar industry.

Relationships: Crossing of the threshold, of all kinds. A new partnership, marriage, becoming parents, “matured” marriage, even divorce. Much of the precision of this definition relies on the rest of the cards pulled as Atu XX is about the consequences of the sum, after all.

Environment: Make or break, the ultimate proving ground in your chosen arena.

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