Card Sequence: XX & XXI


Robert Mealing's recent post in the XVI - Mason Diev has also reminded me of this card sequence which I had been wanting to post for a while.

There are a number of images which combine depictions which clearly have iconographic correspondence with both XX Judgement and XXI the World combined, and even their titles, the World to come following the final Judgement, make sense in that context.

One image of particular interest I will attach later, but thought that the image, also found in that same book mentioned by Robert - La Somme Le Roi, worthy of note.

On the Bibliotheque Mazarine site, it is the fourth image, the Christ figure having, especially when linked to the numerous others even more closely resembling the World card, close affinity to it, and the Trumpeteers awakening from death the departed as per the Judgement card.

Also of interest in the lower portion of the image is the ways in which the Devil(s) 'lead' some to the gates of Hell, somewhat similarly to depictions found on some decks which 'replace' the Tower with this image - which itself of course follows the Devil card!

I just thought it would make for interesting discussion...


Giotto, amongst others, also has this sequence depicted, as per the following:


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But my personal favourite is from a 1470 Flemish Book of Hours.

In the attachment, the sequence is so clearly seen that it leaves little to interpret for the correlation to be seen:


  • flemish bh 1470 (8) xx-xxi.jpg
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There are several medieval and renaissance pictures depicting the Resurrection of Christ in a manner that closely resembles the World card. In them, Christ makes a graceful step on top of His tomb, just like the central image in card XXI, holding in His hand a white banner with a red cross. He is dressed with only a piece of tissue around His waist, sometimes thrown back His shoulder. The banner, as you probably know, is exactly a Christian symbol of the Resurrection (this has a long story), and its presence creates another relation between the Resurrection of Christ (and every resurrection) and the Judgment card. The similarity of the image of Christ in some Resurrection paintings (the moment when Christ leaves the tomb, while roman soldiers guarding His body are asleep) and the androgyne in card XXI are very interesting, I think. Plus, the presence of the Four Living Creatures in several depictions of the Last Judgement (surrounding Christ’s throne) adds to this symbology. Both cards, from a Christian point of view, are like so closely related that they could be only one.

le pendu

I think it is interesting that sometimes in early mentions of the sequence that the "Angel" card comes last. Frankly, that's my preferred way of looking at the last two cards. This is based on the completely hypothetical belief that we are looking at the influence of Petrarch and seeing Fame (world) triumphed by Eternity (judgement).



Indeed, both orders XX, XXI (Dummett B, with VIII between, and C) and XXI, XX (Dummett A) where "originals." Although I personally prefer the XX, XXI order, representing Judgment happening before the Eternity of the New World, biblically, there are reasons to accept both orders.

We find two biblical (First Testament) apocalypses relating last judgement and resurrection: one in Hebrew (Dan 12) and one in Greek (2 Makk 7; LXX and Catholic Bibles). Daniel speaks of the resurrection of all, be they good or evil, as condition for judgment – followed by the eternal life of those not dammed. 2 Makkabeans, on the other hand, talks of the resurrection as a consequence of judgment. Like Paul later (I Cor 15), it doesn't speculate of the remains of "all," but only of the living.

In terms of the Tarot structure we could assume that each order represents one of the biblical alternatives. The eastern pattern would highlight the resurrection of Christ (XXI) as condition of the Judgment of all (Mt 24-25), while the southern pattern would order Resurrection to Judgment (XX), Judgment itself (VIII) and New World (XXI), and the western pattern fuses Resurrection and Judgment (XX), followed by Eternity in the Light of Christ triumphant (XXI).



Without a clear sequence throughout the order of the cards,
by isolating these two images with their intense implications
the train of thought slips from the composite of the whole.

In terms of a presentation, Le Soleil is the final act,
Le Judgement the applause, and Le Monde an encore.

There is not the closure of an ending per se, since Le Fol
leads us on to the next stage, and the play begins again.