Judgement Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretations
From the Bible's New Testament
1 Corinthians 15:52: "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Revelation 20:12-14: "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And there were open books, and one of them was the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.
The sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead, and each one was judged according to his deeds.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.
And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
The Judgement card in Tarot has remained largely unchanged in its depiction of the Christian resurrection of the dead, and The Final Judgement, which is why it's worth referencing the biblical quotes which it depicts. The Rider Waite Smith (RWS) deck added the sea giving up its dead, excluded any living persons and added extra details to the Angel and the trumpet. This addition of the sea surrendering the dead probably serves to connect the card to the verses from Revelation.
If you take the view that the Major Arcana depicts the path to enlightenment or fulfilment of your life's purpose, starting with the The Fool setting out on his journey passing through each card in order, this card is the penultimate step before the end goal represented by The World. Combining this belief with the biblical quotes you need to ask yourself "Did I pass the tests? I'm I worthy or did I fail?". It's a deep, and dramatic, question which should be kept within the context of the topic you are reading. Surrounding cards should indicate the actions that are being judged and any outcome(s).
The philosophy behind Judgement isn't limited of course to just Christianity. It has parallels in the Indian philosophy of Karma which is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many Indian religions (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Taoism). Natural philosophy has Newton's 3rd Law which can be summarised as "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.". Spiritual laws and physical laws have many parallels and causality, karma or judgement apply across all realms.
Judgement is the card of cause and effect, reaping what you sow, conscience or being given another chance. Just as the Death card in Tarot can suggest a non-cyclical and abrupt ending of something, Judgement suggests the unexpected reappearance, or reoccurrence, of something that was thought to have ended for good. If you have been in a dead situation this card may indicate a reawakening and a second chance. In relation to health it could represent either a return to full health or the reoccurrence of a condition or disease you thought had been halted.
In Numerology Judgement has the base number of 2 (2+0). This is the number of balance, diplomacy, cooperation, union, peace and fairness. Through numerology Judgement is directly related to Justice, the 11th card in RWS structured decks (In Marseille decks, and traditional pre-RWS decks, Justice is 8. The RWS Deck swapped Justice with Strength probably to better match their numerological symbology). As the 11th card Justice also has a numerology of 2 (1+1). Do not confuse Judgement and Justice. Justice is the legal or philosophical theory by which fairness is administered. Judgement is the evaluation of evidence to make a decision. Both should go hand in hand together and any Judgement, be it on you or by you, should be executed with true and fair Justice.
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THE PICTORIAL KEY TO THE TAROT
By Arthur Edward Waite (1911)
I have said that this symbol is essentially invariable in all Tarot sets, or at least the variations do not alter its character. The great angel is here encompassed by clouds, but he blows his bannered trumpet, and the cross as usual is displayed on the banner. The dead are rising from their tombs, a woman on the right, a man on the left hand, and between them their child, whose back is turned. But in this card there are more than three who are restored, and it has been thought worth while to make this variation as illustrating the insufficiency of current explanations. It should be noted that all the figures are as one in the wonder, adoration and ecstasy expressed by their attitudes. It is the card which registers the accomplishment of the great work of transformation in answer to the summons of the Supernal which summons is heard and answered from within.
Herein is the intimation of a significance which cannot well be carried further in the present place. What is that within us which does sound a trumpet and all that is lower in our nature rises in response almost in a moment, almost in the twinkling of an eye? Let the card continue to depict, for those who can see no further, the Last judgment and the resurrection in the natural body; but let those who have inward eyes look and discover therewith. They will understand that it has been called truly in the past a card of eternal life, and for this reason it may be compared with that which passes under the name of Temperance.