inside, long for answers,
- Static-X, "All In Wait"
Imagery: A phantasmal man in a tattered black cloak stands astride the skeletal ribs of a titanic corpse-snake; the creature bends and rears upward to have its skull face look directly at the man. In the empty orbits of its eyes harsh pinpoints of blue light shine, its vast maw is open and bared. Within this mouth sits another, more human skeletal figure that holds forth a sword and a scale made of two skulls with the top part of their craniums removed. The insubstantial figure of the man is bowed as if in deep thought or meditation and there is a fair measure of blood on his pale hands.
Meaning: The seeker stands before Justice in the realm of the dead, the world beneath the world where all are brought to faces the judges of the change. Having quested for the greater mysteries, the seeker is now subject to forces beyond human means as imbalances are corrected and injustices made right. Justice can work for or against you; it is impartial and lacks all hints of bias or subjectivity. Justice can bar your path or open the gates for you, whichever is the true goal of destiny.
XII. The Hanged Man
"Now planted deeply, suggesting fate,
Eating sweet naïveté.
Was it mirror, or window glass?
Her subtle residue, beyond your grasp.
Hang the man... hang the man... hang the man,
By his legs let us hang the man.
- The Cruxshadows, "Hanged Man"
Imagery: Stripped of all vestments save the most necessary, a man hangs from his right foot from the stout limb of a dark tree. His head is half-submerged in the flow of a stream of night; his body bears the marks of torture and travail. The rope which holds the man’s foot is not a rope at all but instead a snake that is coiled tightly about his ankle and lashed securely to the tree’s branch. A dusty skeleton lies at the base of the tree, its hand held up to the hanging man as if offering something unseen. There is a roughly hewn spear in the space of the skeleton’s ribs, it sticks into the tree.
Meaning: The Hanged Man is a sacrifice of himself to himself, the sacrifice which reveals all things and shatters all seals. Should one survive this trial of justice the gates will be opened and travel down the roads of enlightenment can truly be made. As the Hanged Man dies a symbolic death he gains other realizations and truths, recognizing the ultimate delusion of life and embracing the true Balance by which all things are measured. Compromise and sacrifice are the last and most difficult steps of the process, and only those willing to lose everything have it all to gain back again.
churches, hostility and cold,
I can hear you singing...
- Paralysed Age, "Still I Can Hear You Singing"
Imagery: In a twilight-lit garden an individual lays on the ground, prostrate before a woman whose cloak is ebon and flashes with the silver light of stars. What we can see of her face is bone-white and somehow fey, her dark lips betray no emotion or feeling, her hood covers her eyes and hair. Skeletons lay in vary positions in this charnel garden; one of them lying against a distant fence has a tarnished and aged crown on his bleached skull. The woman holds her hands outward, as if offering her embrace to the individual before her; she has an onyx bracelet on her left hand.
Meaning: The figure here is Death, the great equalizer and the final agent of all destinies. Before her all is the same, as is represented by the remnant of a great king amidst the other nameless skeletons who litter her temple grounds. But Death is also a kind agent; she brings both tranquility and rest to those who have walked the long path, in her house we grow strong as we face the challenge of walking the sunless lands to find the elusive answers to our questions. It is Death’s power to bring great change, as change is but the dying of one event and the succession of another to its place.
"The Siren sings a lonely song,
Of all the wants and hungers.
The lust of love a brute desire,
The ledge of life goes under.
Divide the dream into the flesh,
Kaleidoscope and candle-eyes,
The empty winds scrape on the soul,
And never stop to realize."
- White Zombie, "Blood, Milk, and Sky"
Imagery: The figure stands nearly triumphant, an amalgamation of form, transfigured by its progression. At the edge of a great ocean it stands, with one foot on the black sands and the other in the cool waters. It holds two cups in its hands: one of them carries red flames and the other clear and clean water, offerings to the forces which have helped it. From its back a set of coal-black wings emerge that have wisps of blue flame coming from their edges, its cloak is no longer black but now a gray no-color. Upon its head is a crown of the planets and elements, a sign of great attainment.
Meaning: Temperance is the result of the first part of the quest, braving the sacrifice of body, mind, and soul and waking you to the power that springs unbidden from Understanding. In the tempered soul opposites are gathered and wed with one another, all things can be expressed and harnessed with time, effort, and sacrifice. The wounds of the ordeal are now passed and a new road shines resplendently in their place. This road is not without its own dangers, though, but now the wisdom to deal with them is at hand.
XV. The Shadow
"Do you feel the way you hate?
Do you hate the way you feel?
Always closest to the flame,
Ever closer to the blade.
I am poison... crazy... lush...
Built these hands to lift me up.
We are servants to our formulaic ways."
- Bush, "Greedy Fly"
Imagery: A man and woman dressed in armor smeared with unidentifiable green and black gore lay on an obsidian floor, their hands bound with the tentacles of a great monstrosity which towers above them. They face one another with a morose and oddly knowing look, as if understanding they have fought against titanic odds and lost. The creature which roils and blasphemes above them beggars description… a wailing mass of grey and black flesh, multiple eyes, clutching appendages both human and animal, as well as an incalescent core of harsh, vermilion light.
Meaning: The meaning of the Shadow appears, at first, to be singular in nature and scope. Submission, a perverse slavery, to the roiling storm of chaos inherent in life itself; bound to the very root of suffering as it tears us away from ourselves. However, another meaning is buried within this one, like many needles penetrating a ball of yarn. It is submission to a greater force as you ride the dark crests of the storm and realize your essential smallness in comparison to these larger forces. The Shadow can represent the freedom to act as much as they can slavery to the design.