Hermit’s take on Aron Wolf-Bear as the Judgement
This card doesn’t so much contain symbolism as it does contain a moment in time, part of the story of Esper Ravenwood. The Judgement is a card of rebirth, coming into one’s own power and ability, and absolution. In the Rider-Waite deck, the Judgement depicts the Christian legend of Judgment Day, when the dead rise up, are forgiven for their sins, and move on to heaven. Here, Aron Wolf-Bear, one of the First Gods and keeper of the domains of Fate, Language, and Skill, stands in contemplation of the one in front of him. He is a Gaoan, or a “child of the rocks,” one of the most ancient races in Lazarus, whose striated skin has always given them an impression – to other cultures, at least – of being perfectly balanced, and integrated. There comes a point in the story of Fate that someone must prove their worth to Aron, and he then revives them to fight another day. This is that moment, the moment of decision, of being pronounced worthy or unworthy.
In the background, there is much to look at. In the far distance, mountain peaks rise up, indicating insurmountable obstacles, which, in this card, means the judgment itself. On the left of the card, green leaves indicate a paradise, where we might go if we are worthy of ourselves and accepting of our own gifts. To the right, one of the mountains belches out a cloud of ash and is indeed volcanic, indicating a world of trouble if we can’t forgive ourselves and others. In the sky, a red ring circles Aron’s head, almost like a halo. It is a gateway, a portal between realms, and besides having significance to the story, it symbolizes enlightenment through hard work, and the overcoming of trials. Aron guards this ring, and stands between the two possible outcomes, ready to make his call.
The spear that our Gaoan is holding has two feathers tied to the handle, one red, one white. These reference the banner carried by the angel in the classical Judgement, and represent the two sides of the psyche, the light self and the shadow self, both of which need to be in balance in the case of the story. Runes wrap down the shaft of the spear, an indication of wisdom and connection to Fate, as well as the rest of major arcana. A yellow butterfly rests on the spear’s blade, a delicate creature walking a thin line. It is a symbol of transition and transformation, moving from one state of being to another, and coming into the full potential of the situation.
The planet associated with this card is Pluto, ruler of the underworld, which is almost exactly where Aron stands in this scene, a kind of dream world between life and death. Pluto draws everything buried out into the open, and forces us to accept it or change. It lets us lay to rest what needs to be, and then guides us to move on. The symbol of this planet is depicted both normally and mirrored in the two gold sections of Aron’s belt, suggesting that he has put down his own demons, and now asks of you to do the same. As within, so without.
The rune on this card is Tiewaz, the rune of the warrior. It is a rune of sacrifice, of Tyr sticking his hand into Fenrir’s mouth as a token of his trust. It is a rune of mental clarity, discipline, and courage, even in the face of hardship. If one is being judged, this rune is their best friend. It forces us to “walk the talk” as it were, and do what we say we are doing, or want to do. It is a rune of accepting consequences with grace, which is another meaning of this card. Tiewaz allows us to make judgments with a clear mind, and unwavering resolve, which is what Aron Wolf-Bear is about to do.