Belial 7: The Pope, the Hanged Man, and the Sun.

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The Black Pope, the Hanged Man, the Black Sun
From left to right, the fifth triad in our grand tableau is composed of the Black Pope, the Hanged Man, and the Black Sun. All these cards speak about pain, suffering, misery, fear, anger, despair, pessimism, regret, and intimidation. To the uninitiated, they are necessarily ill omens, but in the appropriate setting they can be deeply stimulating.

The thesis for this triad is the Black Pope, represented by the personal sigil of Anton LaVey: a lightning bolt striking within an inverted pentagram. Whenever the Black Pope appears in a reading, it shows a person, situation, or thing that is expressing pain, regret, sorrow, fear, anger, fury, and all manner of accusation onto another person, situation, or thing in order to prod it into motion and expand the scope of his, her, or its affairs. Just like the High Priestess, the Black Pope motivates action—the only difference is that unlike the High Priestess who is sweet and spicy, the Black Pope is sour and salty. The Black Pope is the scourge who whips stubborn asses into movement, and while he's very effective at what he does, he'd do well to learn the lesson of his complementary opposite, the High Priestess: you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar. If you want to neuter the Black Pope, then invoke the power of the Star.

The antithesis of the Black Pope is the Black Sun, represented by twelve bent arms within a circle. This symbol has been around since at least the 13th century, but it’s become infamous owing to its contemporary association with racists and neo-Nazis. Because of its polarizing associations and ability to trigger the ignorant, it serves nicely in the Satanic Tarot. 

Wherever the Black Sun appears in a reading, it shows a person, situation, or thing which is being exposed to withering criticism and decimating negativity. It may be as quiet as a whispering conscience or as loud as a heckling mob, but either way the pain, suffering, regret, and agitation cause the person, situation, or thing in question to shrink and retreat. 

As intimidating as the Black Sun may be, it should learn a simple truth from its complementary opposite the Star: people will choose to be hopeful even in the most dire circumstances. If the threat of failure and shame produces no results, a different strategy is needed to stimulate people into action. If you want to blot out the Black Sun, then invoke the High Priestess.

The synthesis of the Black Pope and the Black Sun is the Hanged Man, represented by an inverted cross mostly because it’s hilariously blasphemous, but also because anybody who ever died on a cross (usually from a combination of suffocation and dehydration) surely came to bitterly resent the experience. Wherever the Hanged Man appears in a reading, it shows a person, situation, or thing consumed with self-doubt, a failure of the ego, and deep regret for past decisions. At best, this is chronic melancholy, at worst it's severe depression, but either way it's a vicious cycle of self-flagellation.

It's natural that if you've made a mistake and you regret it, you'll acknowledge your pain and accept the consequences. Nothing wrong with having the maturity to see yourself for who you are, right? But after acknowledging the error of your ways, it's time to move on lest you piss away your productive energy in a golden shower of your own creation. The Hanged Man would remedy himself through his polar opposite, the Wheel of Fortune, by reveling in worship of the ego. After all, if you won’t stand up for yourself—who will?