Photo by Jeffrey F. Barken

Hammer of Truth

– Essay & Poetry by Devlin Wolfwood

“As are the turtle wise ways of evolution: the next generation is more articulate than the last…” 

We all have a Self to look forward to in the future. A Self that possesses what we want; takes joy in our presence and holds it to shine against the light for us. A Self that lives, but only really in the future it imagines for us; yet it’s part of our inheritance and birthright to have; for it is born when we are born, and yet, much, much older than we can probably hope to fathom. It’s a Self that we sense in the present: to beckon us forward and ever up; to warn us away from falling backward and ever down; and to remind us to stay grounded and ever balanced. It’s the main ingredient in the pie of us; the main instrument in the orchestra of us. All that said, it could very easily fall into being a bit of a tear in the rain. It’s all-in-all the imaginary tool that orients us into our being-hood; to create the world around us, as well as the world within. It’s a Self, perhaps a bit overly simplified, for the most of us, most of the time. But we can feel its esoteric and eerie presence in our strongest moments, for better or worse. And so, it’s a Self that forthrightly deserves more exploration on our part if we are to function properly in this world we call our own; and have to call our own if we’re to really get anywhere with our long term life goals. 

I take it that, because it’s a Self that can never objectively exist, most people don’t see any real reason to bother. But it can never really stop bothering us, and that’s where the trouble begins. It hides itself well behind the pictures in your friends’ social media feeds, so suddenly the smiles of them become a crescent moon shaped blade to threaten your supposed wellbeing and peace of mind; it dwells within their words, always to say, “You’re not living up to your potential,” however vaguely your potential shows itself to you; and it’s the slender shaped hand in the smoke that beckons you forward with its pointer finger, luring you toward the (American) pie resting on the window sill. Today, as you find yourself somewhat randomly stumbling upon this to take your time and read it, it takes the form of my (S)elf; painfully reminding you that you’re certainly not all you could be. 

Although I’m nowhere near as elaborate as some of the old-world artistic many manifestations of the deities of judgment: ancient peoples the world over have personified the theme in the Hindu forms of Kali, the Black Goddess of Death; in the Greek forms of a heart broken Medusa, who turns anyone into stone who may stare her directly in the eye; in the forms of the sword of fire that guards the tree of everlasting life deep within the long forgotten garden of Eden; and in the Egyptian forms of the scale that decides the fate of your uncoiled soul simply by weighing your heart against a feather. And in the Tarot, it’s the 20th card called Judgment, just before the final (major arcana) card commonly called The World, in the standard Rider Waite Tarot, and is known by the lesser name of The Universe, in the Thoth Tarot. And can be given other such names like Paradise, Valhalla, et ceteranames holding the meanings of arriving in heavenly realms and other dwelling places of the gods.

I first became introduced to the Tarot when I was very young, by way of my hapless bastard of a Romani Gypsy culture, and I was taught to fear the cards tremendously by my superstitious, old-world immediate and extended family. But being the natural budding heretic, occult enthusiast I was, I couldn’t help but to drown myself in their mysterious glowing whirlpool. Little did I expect that my approach would be less visceral, instinctual and superstitious, like that of my elders; and more psychological, alchemical and practical. As are the turtle wise ways of evolution: the next generation is more articulate than the last. 

 The Tarot would become my gateway into Jungian archetypes, psychedelics and story telling. And in an effort to map out my inner and outer worlds, as well as the inner and outer worlds of my peers, they gave me a second chance at life, and a new midnight oil to burn. So that, coupled with my self-critical, perfectionist nature is what, I suspect, prompted a close friend (confidant) of mine to ask me to write a piece on the judgment card.  Though it’s revealed to me as I write this, that my strong capacity for lateral, web spinning spider way of thinking moves beyond me: the Tarot cards, drama, theatrics, art, and poetry and prose are very much complex mirroring tools to help us understand this archetypal judge and other other worldly entities.

In practical, day to day farm life, so to speak, and speaking from personal experience, judgment comes to a man in it’s most common form as a beautiful, fruitful, though somewhat non-neotenous, smoky femme fetal sort of woman; just shortly after the forbidden fruit of puberty is bitten and that same tree of life that is a new man’s cock sprouts suddenly from the grassy ground of him for the first time; for the woman to become acquainted with the tempting, venom spewing serpent, to once again act out the story carved on the tree of life; and so life in the deep soil becomes her belly. 

Whereas the male gaze is one of desire, the female gaze is one of judgment; of sizing up. Although a man may look down on a woman physically, the roles seem somewhat reversed in another way; in the way that she’s always asking him the hard question of whether or not he’s yet worthy to sit on the throne of her; to wear the crown of her; to rule the land of her; to rest, exhausted, in the sheath of her. But in the, some would call cruel, and others call fair, fashion of Mother Nature, what is now known as the Pareto distribution, and what I would consider one of the sacred laws of the divine, most men will fail to find and drink from that particular holy grail that is the womb of a woman yet to be called Mother. 

So strong are the effects of the thing that woman even cruelly criticize one another, and hold each other to damn near impossible standards; and men only size each other up as a residual worthiness of protecting the holy virgin to be crowned Mother. 

Please, take my speculative opinions with a grain of salt, dear reader, if I’m to risk sounding apologetic in what I always suspect is a misplaced and vulnerable sense of humility. I use, at the very least, the case of a man’s attractions toward a woman as a common example, and one I’ve extensive experience with. Of course there are virtually limitless examples of the practical application of judgment as the fundamental thing that moves us in any given direction at any given time. For if this intuition is not followed, and one, in despair, gives in to the temptation to give up on themselves, then it doesn’t make life any easier… for any of us involved, and we all are hopelessly involved. To go on digging that hole deeper for yourself without any rope tied to your waist or any other clever backdoor or so measure to pull yourself out of it can only brand you as a fool, though The Fool from the Tarot, to be fair. 

So go hunt for those grotesque lost souls among you who most would rather avert their eyes from. Hunt for those among you from, a safe distance, and consider them a cautionary tale, however badly it may hurt the both of you in the short term to do so. Doing so will be an unselfish task on your part; you won’t struggle much in finding those who are, in plain sight, committing a slow suicide from right under your nose; those who’ve lost themselves willingly to that darkness in an effort to stop the pain of living; those who’ve opted out for drooling, base-needs zombie-ism, and suffer silently in a grotesque, thousand year long sleeping beauty syndrome in a field of cursed poppies; those who are ungratefully heavily one sided about their double edged sword bodies, and choose only to see their limits, though are willfully blind to the unique abilities implied in those very limits; those who’d be buried in shallow graves, if at all. 

Speaking for us N. Americans (and us New Yorkers, specifically), it’s a judge that looks down on us rather harshly, when we fail to meet its, some would argue fair, standards. As capitalists, we argue in favor of the gavel, place our faith in the fairness of it’s weight, because we’ve each, one by one, lifted and swung the truth hammer against the stone; and with our own eyes we’ve seen the beauty of the crystals within the rock lying open before us, in so very many pieces.  We’ve realized for ourselves: pain isn’t at all something to be avoided at all costs. But is, and has always been, the currency one needs to pay one’s way through and out of the eight realms of the karmic wheel. 

So go again, and hunt, this time, for them who fly just above the crown of your head. Them who savor the smoke from your burnt offerings; who love to delight in you, and delight you in their magic, and in their play. Them who are the statues… of the cathedrals, and of the libraries, and of the gardens, and of the cemeteries, who come alive at night after you’ve eaten the mushrooms you’ve found waiting for you, cradled in their hands. Take your bow, and your arrows, and aim upward, and true, at the ball of fire that feeds you, in every way. Wrestle with the gods in the sporting arena that the garden of Eden became after it was repurposed as such; and prove yourself worthy, as your better opponents root for you to win, for your prize means being among them that are the trees taller than redwoods.  

And so it goes that we stand to gain something truly beautiful and awe inspiring for what we pay for, in pain: a highest ideal to raise our heads to, like the Manhattan skyscrapers that serve to leave us breathless in their wake. The very buildings built by the angel possessed (archetype obsessed) architects that built them like gigantic fingers pointing up to the skies, so that we may have a moral, ethical, and practical compass; a muse to be amused with; and our very own personal lower case g god, to sit at the throne atop our pyramidal hierarchy of values; our very own personal mountains to climb, and rooftops to celebrate from. We all have our own. As well as our own very scary basements and subway tunnels alike, to keep sorted and well mapped out; and find and explore, like the pyramids themselves, who hold treasures most valuable, for whatever given reason.  It’s only when we foolishly decide to betray it, our highest ideal, when we must suffer the unholy pains; the natural consequences. And they are many, need I remind you? And I will remind you. 

I’m going to now lure your attention back to the idea of the feminine muse/judge by sharing a poem of mine about the subject on hand, dedicated to a certain English Poetess Musician who fetishizes us Americans; who I’ve held a fancy for, and who’s often the underlying subject of my poems.  A certain baby faced blond with the eyes of a goddess a thousand plus years her senior.  

That Which Selects

She’s the harshest judge,

Though the fairest. 

I want to be the kind of man


Would enjoy,

Take pride in.

She takes residence in

The outskirts of my imagination,

And only there;

Stalking me in the periphery;




For touching. 

But she’s the voice of my conscience;

The angel come to rest on my shoulder

When I do good by my Self,

But in madness. 

. . . 

My madness;

Heavy burden of being;

The intimidating beauty

That terrifies my Self;

Threatens to be rid of it;

To bury it in the ashes

Left behind

From her oh so holy smoking rituals;

It becomes my very own Hell;

My perfect view of


Heaven above,

As the angels taunt me by shitting on my head

As they 


Too high for touching. 

Though I wish no longer to fight them. 

Though she has much different wishes for me:

She leaves me naked;

Washes all my tattoos away,

As well as the ones I’m yet to get;

Shaves all my body hair with

A freshly stropped, shell cordovan straight razor;

Pulls my every thick row of long,

Curly black eyelashes and blows them to the wind

For her wishes for me

And I can’t clothe my crying eyes 

For the life of me;

She’s peeled my eyelids away

The way you do before you 

Attempt to swallow a lemon whole.

. . . 

“Love should make life feel real,”

She cries out.

“Love should make life feel real,”

She sings.

“Love should make life feel real,” 

Is her chorus.

“Love should make life feel real!” 

That awkward little poem about a Poetess I’d like to merge with was a somewhat visceral, dreamy first real attempt at articulating (and bringing closer to the light) what you’re now reading as my second “real” attempt. And once finished, it will be judged by my literary agent; then by her higher ups; then by you, the reader of this journal. But not before it passes through me, if ever it decides to at all. But I’m afraid, this time, it must. It must be taken as it is —naked as it is. I’m not allowing my present Self much of a choice in the matter. We (I, myself and me) can’t afford not to send it off into the world, to face judgment, not in any way, shape or form. 

It’s funny how we like to sit in the Judge’s chair, isn’t it? It’s by far more comfortable that way, to be judge, jury and executioner. But we all must be summoned before the judge, and it’s not one we can bribe. Charm or swoon; this specific judge is much too taciturn and far more than human in such a way. We can only proverbially pray that our judge be merciful, benevolent, and have lunch before taking their seat. But in the meantime, we can learn to be a bit kinder, a bit more graceful, and a bit more patient with our own personal Self growth, if not in the name of human evolution on the grand scale, on a more personal level, at least; even if we are, inherent to our culture, competitive, capitalist, metropolitan, self important, individualist bloody North American bastards! Because when you take a step back from your Self, and look long and hard at the grander picture, and gaze in awe at the cosmic calendar of it all, you learn not to underestimate incremental progress and the nature of exponential growth in the ever complex novelty machine that is the adventure of life and of living. Because the universe can go turning and expanding without us, sure; but It benefits its benevolence to have us go on with it. Us hot blooded doubting Thomas types know to trust in what it wants for us, by now. So do yourself a favor, dear reader and see it through to the end. Surpass the Aeon, and move through into the universe as it waits to embrace you in its bosom. Be born again, perhaps into a different world, based on different rules, but having the same knights and dragons, in their new cultural clothing. And, in good faith, may your best Self be with you, to guide you through your own personal dark tunnel, to where the light is. 



Devlin Wolfwood


Devlin WolfWood is a poet, visual artist, aspiring story teller, Jungian psychology enthusiast, and a 5th generation N. American ethnic Romani Gypsy. At the age of 22, Devlin left his extended Gypsy family in a desperate attempt to reconcile two somewhat contradicting value systems: that of the old world, romantic European Gypsy collectivism, and the new world rational American individualist. 

In the six years of traveling on his own to places such as Portland Oregon and New Orleans Louisiana, Devlin found solace in hopping freight trains from Louisiana in the iconic Americana fashion to get to New York City; spending much time exploring an ancient New England and wild parts of the South. He’s more recently spent three years (mentally) thriving among the rich cultural diversity that is the five glorious boroughs of New York city.