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Observations placeholder

Wirth, Oswald – 20 Judgement



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Tarot of the Magicians – Oswald Wirth English translation 1985 Samuel Weiser.

First published in Paris in 1927 under the original title: Le Tarot, des lmagiers du Moyen Age

However brilliant the light of the sun may be, it stops at the surface of things without being able to reveal to us the true essence which our senses cannot grasp. Now, works of pure beauty whether they are produced by Nature or by Art, show in their outward form an 'esotericism' or inner hidden spirit which the intelligence must discern. Judgement intervenes for the purpose of distinguishing the spiritual from the material, the deep significance from the expressive form, the living word from the dead letter.

Everything is a symbol, for everything proceeds from a generating idea which is related to transcendent conceptions.

Let us penetrate into the depths of things where a thought slumbers, waiting for our mind to waken and assimilate it. The charming story of the Sleeping Beauty develops this theme from which in its turn, the picture of the last Judgement, as drawn by the authors of the Tarot, took its inspiration.

Far from an idyll, here we are transported into the valley of Josophat, which an apocalyptic angel is making resound with a noise to awaken the dead. These dead are coming back to life, not in the body but in the spirit, for universal resurrection is not that of the flesh, unless the term is understood in an allegorical way to mean whatever is capable of being brought back to life. The past does not deserve to be relived except in its spiritual form, all the while this remains incomprehensible to present generations. Precious truths sleep in the tomb of oblivion: they are dead for the areas which do not know them.

But nothing is lost in the realm of spirit; a faithful memory holds secretly what the wise ancients knew, so that all men may have their knowledge on the day of universal understanding.

Then humanity will experience the reign of the Holy Spirit which will bring about religious unity based on the esotericism which is common to all religions. These religions are not at variance with each other except through their exterior elements (forms of worship, dogmas), a dead letter whose abstractions we may make for the benefit of the life-giving spirit, the only universal spirit............................

Father and mother face the son in whom the principle character of the Tarot is recognized . . . already met in the roles of the Magician (1), the Lover (6), the Charioteer (7) and the Hanged Man (12). It is the subject of the Great Work, the man to become initiated undergoing for the last time initiatory trials to gain Domination.

In order to reach in spirit and in truth, this final rank, one must die twice and be born three times. Then one enters upon the career of the Initiate as upon a new life, which one's second birth inaugurates. But while being superior to the life of the ordinary masses, lives of the Initiated of the first and second ranks do not yet realize the complete ideal. The good workman works with an intelligent docility under a direction which is beyond his reach, for he has not yet been admitted into the Council of Masters.

He faithfully carries out instructions whose wisdom he appreciates, without deeming himself capable of formulating them himself.........................

The work of the construction of man's Temple is in effect carried on from one generation to another, following the light which is not simply that of the day in which we are living. The future does not improvise on it in an arbitrary fashion; it is strong only if it is built upon old aspirations, giving body to the fervent desires of those who in the course of centuries, without becoming discouraged have dreamed of the best.

The ancestral constructors of a better Humanity are depicted in the Tarot by the parents of the young resuscitated boy of arcana 20. Placed on the right, the father is the incarnation of all the constructive philosophy of the past, of every profound and wise thing that human reason has conceived concerning the Great Art which is that of life lived in full knowledge of its laws.

On the left the mother corresponds to the heart, to religious feeling which truly pious souls have always had.

As the heir of his parents, the Son takes what comes from the right and the left, in order to act as a faithful executor, as a witness of the past still living. He is asserted as Master much as in the eternal Constructive tradition, the legendary Hiram of the Freemasons who find in him their interpreter.

Is it possible that a body might change into spirit? Can we die to ourselves to the point of giving up our organism so that a more elevated spirit than ours may take possession of it? These questions pose the problem of spirit, the life-giving breath of an infinite plurality of manifestations, but single in its essence. By reuniting itself, our spirit, while remaining identical to itself, is transfigured to become god-like in proportion to the nobility which it reaches.

Such is the ideal put forward by initiation: to become divine by coming as close as human nature will allow to divine perfection.

'Be ye perfect as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect'. It can be expressed no better than this.


The whole problem of initiation implies a growing spirituality, becoming more and more complete, but never aspiring to neglect the obligations of earthly work.

The Initiated die, not to desert the battlefield, but in order to be able to participate more efficaciously in the struggle for good. If he escapes from the harsh melee, to hover like a pilot, it is with the view to directing carefully those who risk fighting with too short a vision.

But initiation prefers peaceful images. The victory to be won is that of the spirit, which through intelligent work, and without cruel victory, overcomes the obstacles imposed by matter against him. This matter is not to be treated as an enemy which must be destroyed, but as a substance to be put to work. It imprisons the spirit, not to hold it indefinitely, but to force it into an effort to free itself.

As long as we remain inward upon ourselves, confined to the narrowness of our individual life, we do not participate in the great and true life, and we bear ourselves like isolated dead in their bodies' tombs. Let us awaken, and standing upright in our open sepulchres, let us breathe the breath of the universal spirit. Let us now in this life live by eternal life!

In the Tarot the Angel of the awakening of spirits unfolds her green wings, for her domain is that of the spiritual life. (In the church, green is the colour of the Holy Ghost.) Her blue tunic edged with white relates to the pure heavenly ideality. The inspiration of ceaseless action, as the red arms of the herald of Judgement indicate.

Red is also the colour of the pennon on the golden trumpet that sounds the reveille. A cross of gold divides the space into four squares which attribute the active power of a quadruple Philosopher's Stone to the highest form of spirituality.

Alternating purple and gold, moreover, characterize the emanations of the Angel of Judgement, whose golden hair shines with a bright red in her round-shaped hair-style, similar to the wide-brimmed hat in whose shade the Magician (1) practises his ceaseless mental activity. Here it is a question of the heart in which inspiring thought is condensed which draws the gold out of unchanging truths, into a living state. The Angel's hair corresponds to the transcending principles from which flow notions which are inaccessible to human intelligence, notions which are depicted by the luminous glory enclosed in the circle of the clouds from which radiate red and gold beams. Our intellectual view is enclosed in the limits of this circular cloud, in which abstract becomes concrete in our favour, in order to become manifest in the form of inspiring beams.

Some of these, for our intelligence, are revealed in brilliant ideas (golden rays), while the others (red rays) encourage us in great and noble actions.

Tongues of fire, like those of Pentecost, leap out from these permanently inspiring beams. These flames are red, green and yellow, for they grant, each one of them, the gifts of the spirit to heroes of generous deeds (red), to gentle hearts who devote themselves to the service of life (green) and to the teachers entrusted to the sharing out of the treasures of pure knowledge (gold).

On the Angel's forehead shines the sign of the sun 0 a mark of discernment which we have already met as the emblem of illumination in Justice (8) and in Temperance (14).....................

Keywords:  The Holy Ghost. The breath of inspiration which fertilizes intelligence to make it discover the truth. Spiritual penetration, understanding, assimilation of inner thoughts, esotericism, spiritualization of matter. Freeing from bodily ties. Alchemic sublimation. Awakening to spiritual life and participation in this life which is that of the great collective and permanent human being.

Inspiration. Man in communication with divine spirit. Divination, prophecy, spiritual clairvoyance, seeing into the future, literary or artistic genius. Enthusiasm, piety, spiritual religion, elevation of the spirit and the soul.

Evocative power which makes the spiritual past come alive again. Resurrection of the dead who are worthy of being called back to life. Return to forgotten traditions. The rebirth of Hiram, youthful again in the person of the new Master. Second death, the door to integral initiation.

Raising of healing powers and return to physical, moral and intellectual health.

Liberation, freedom, separation from wrongs suffered. Wise judgement of posterity.

The source of the experience

Tarot, the

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps