Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2012 Judgement, Key 20 and The Hanged Man Key 12 by Cheryl Lynne Bradley.

© Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2012

How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fullfil the book
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
“Redemption Song” by Bob Marley 
I have lived in apocalyptic times, in an apocalyptic century….My work to a large extent belongs to that stream of catastrophic literature that attempts to overcome despair. Czeslaw Milosz 

Judgement from the Soulscapes Tarot.
Judgment, Key XX is a card of cosmic fatality; individual discord brought into order by fate. It symbolizes The Last Judgment, discernment and both moral and intellectual freedom as well as the separation of good and evil. It represents changes in our existence and reminds us that we will all be judged for our actions. The Hanged Man, Key XII, represents the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence; it represents foresight, discretion, forethought, reason, wisdom, circumspection, skill, good judgment, perfection of the intellect and providence. The Hanged Man also represents accomplishing the Great Work within oneself; this is the “Magnum Opus” of Hermeticism, Alchemists, Rosicrucians and Freemasons. Eco-theologian Thomas Berry in his book, “The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future” interprets 

The Great Work to be people working together and creating overarching movements, “that give shape and meaning to life by relating the human venture to the larger destinies of the universe." He sees a world in which we can transform our relationship with nature from being destructive and exploitive to being beneficial to both; a radical redemption that would save the mystery and celebrate the wonder of the natural world. 

There is a lot of talk about a Zombie Apocalypse. With the number of people walking around, with their heads down and both thumbs hard at work, completely absorbed in some handheld electronic device, an argument could be made that we are already there. A Zombie is a snake deity with roots in Western Africa and Haiti. In more modern and probably more familiar terms, a Zombie is also a soulless corpse revived, resurrected or reanimated by use of necromancy, witchcraft or other mystical means and which is neither dead or alive. A Necromancer is someone who communicates with the dead by either summoning their spirit or raising their body. Another definition of Zombie is a human in a death like condition with no cognitive abilities, no free will, no soul and no pneuma (spirit). They are called The Undead. We have all seen classic Zombie movies, “The Night of the Living Dead” when first released was considered gruesome and had people vomiting in the movie theaters but “Night of the Living Dead Part 2” is definitely in the realm of high comedy. Philosophy students have a long term love affair with Zombies and Zombie Walks are all the rage in cities and communities around the world. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” has its own cult following of Zombie Flash Mobs. People are making a lot of money selling survival gear for after the Apocalypse. It does make one take a pause and wonder what one’s post-apocalyptic skill set is going to be.

Eschatology is a belief or doctrine concerning the ultimate or final end of things. The year 2012 is a fascinating one full of speculation about the possibility of this being the time of the Apocalypse. End of Days, End Times, The Zombie Apocalypse, The Paschal Mystery, The Final Judgment, The Resurrection of the Dead, Last Day on the Mayan Calendar, the Hopi Prophecy and The Book of Revelation are topics for discussion and debate everywhere. The Biblical Eschatology or End Times comes with two very strong viewpoints; The Doctrines of Preterism and Futurism. The Doctrine of Preterism is based on the belief that the rise of the Anti-Christ and other signs of the end of our System of Things have already occurred; Futurism says it is all still yet to come.

Apocalypse is a Greek word which means “uncovering” or “revealing”. Armageddon translates as “At Megiddo”; Israel’s largest air force base is located near Megiddo. The Paschal mystery is the passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ; another aspect of The Hanged Man. The Jews believed that the souls of the dead were “sheol”. Sheol was Hades, an unseen underworld which encompassed the state of death and home of the dead. It was believed that there was no true retribution until the resurrection of the body. Resurrection meant that the dead would be revived in their bodies and live again on earth; The Final Judgment comes after all the dead have come back to life. 

The Biblical depiction of the Apocalypse is dark and disturbing. They are described in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 12, in the New Testament in the Book of Mark, Chapter 13 and in the Book of The Revelation of St. John the Divine. It does make you wonder if there is not some easier way to redeem human kind from our moral turpitude other than sacrificing Jesus and setting loose the Four Riders of the Apocalypse. Are we even a society that cares about or believe that humanity can redeem itself? The rise of fundamental apocalyptic extremism around our world is a sign that (some) people do believe in redemption through the wholesale slaughter of innocents by other innocents. We have generations of people who have been sold a bad story that the past and the present have no meaning and the only hope for humankind is in some hazy convoluted and vague future that will be perfect after all the infidels or non-believers have been killed. 

Thomas Merton and William Blake have written much dark poetry on apocalyptic and redemptive themes; Merton was arguably Blake’s number one fan. In 1947, Merton published an 8 part poem called “Figures for an Apocalypse”. He warns writers and intellectuals to be vigilant and to escape while they are still able. He calls the women who have dissipated and wasted their lives until they have become “grey, artificial Shebas, spurious queens”. 

“The skylights of our intellect
Have gone grey as frost,
While the dawn makes ready, with coated tongue,
To mutter the last alarm.”

Part 6 of this poem is called “In the Ruins of New York” and it is ominously prescient when you consider it was written in 1947 and compare it to the events of 9/11 and its references to fallen towers and smouldering ash: “has died in the terrors of sudden contemplation.” 

"Christed One" from the Soulscapes Tarot
Blake felt that humanity’s Fall from Grace fragmented us individually; he felt we each consisted of four components called the Four Zoas. They were Urizen (Reason), Urthona (Wisdom), Luvah (Emotions) and Tharmas (Instinct). He believed in a supernatural and revealed religion full of vision and imagination not confined within the boundaried of rational construction. Merton and Blake both shared a common idea that redemption required the union of contraries and the negation of Negation. Urizen (Reason or the Abstract objecting power that Negatives everything) held Heaven and Hell apart and infected them with indifference, nothingness and sickness. 

What does redemption even mean? We have all redeemed a coupon, a gift certificate or rolled up all our change and cashed it in for paper money. Stocks, bonds and insurance policies are also redeemed; exchanged for cash value. We can redeem something by buying it back, paying a ransom, making good by performance, making amends or release from liability or obligation. Mortgages are redeemed when they are paid off. Redemption refers to the act of redeeming or the state of being redeemed but is also represents deliverance and rescue. From a religious perspective, redemption is salvation or the deliverance from sin, forgiveness, the removal of guilt, and the conferral of grace by which we achieve unity with God; it is also atonement for guilt. 

In Biblical redemption we are enriched by the poverty embraced by Jesus; his submission to God’s will atones for our disobedient ways. His teachings were purported to purify our hearing; his healing and casting out of spirits was to heal us and his death on the Cross was his redemptive mission for the whole world. His death allegorically gives us the forgiveness that we can’t give to ourselves. 

In traditional Hebrew the concept of redemption, or redeeming, means doing something for someone else, or on their behalf, because they can’t do it for themselves; it is viewed as a familial obligation. If no family member is willing or able to help, the king or God is expected to look after the person. Redeemers provide for the redeemed as if they were family. Usually these situations arise over debt and inability to meet financial obligations. 

The Apocalypse is the fate of the world, a Mystery of Redemption. Lions, eagles, oxen, angels, a woman, a prostitute, a new-born baby all play parts in the texts. Many symbols, personalities, numbers, gemstones, animals and colours are associated with the Apocalypse; Archangel Michael and The Dragon. In the End Times, it is Michael’s cosmic task to slay The Dragon? In the final battle between good and evil, the powers of evil will be vanquished. What next? The Consummation, and a new world in which the end will be at the beginning. This is the restoral of paradise and the place where all wrongs are made right. In this new world there will be eternal peace and eternal justice. We should remember as well that many examples of Apocalyptic literature were written to lift the spirits of politically or militarily oppressed people who needed the hope of Divine Intervention, for God to take his role as The Redeemer and Father Protector, in order to survive their situation. 

Are you still wondering what the Mystery of Redemption means? I believe what redeems us is Dunamis. Dunamis is the quality of developing greatness, moral power and excellence of soul. Dunamis is an ancient Greek word for the philosophical concept of potentiality and actuality; a powerful and mysterious word for a powerful and mysterious time. It is inherent power or ability which is part of the virtue our nature and that we can exert; it can also be the power and influence of wealth, the resources of numbers and the power of armies. Dunamis means miraculous powers and strength; it is used in Acts 10 by Peter to describe Jesus performing miracles after being baptized in the Holy Spirit by John the Baptist. 

In closing, we just have to be prepared to go through a resurrection, a coming judgment and the life to come. Develop your dunamis, pick a good post-apocalyptic skill and partner and everything should work out alright. I’m taking up archery! 

Happy New Year! See you in 2013! 
© Cheryl Lynne Bradley 2012

Italics are amendments Original Article by the Editor.