Judgement Tarot Card Meaning
Keywords: Renewal – Resurrection – Evolution
A scene from the Biblical Last Judgement unfolds. The archangel Gabriel sounds a trumpet symbolizing an important, spiritual message. Below him are gray figures, presumably the dead who have risen from their tombs. As they lift their arms up in relief and rejoice, a flood seems to surround their coffins. Behind the scene are mountains which symbolizes a long arduous journey. In the foothills of those mountains are trees and green pastures that promise peace and abundance.
Judgement is the twentieth card of the Major Arcana. Its order is significant: it’s the last card before the completion of the Major Arcana’s numerical cycle. It’s a card of resurrection, conclusions, renewal, and evolution.
Upright Meanings for the Judgement Tarot Card
The Judgement card is a powerful harbinger of spiritual metamorphosis. Like the Justice card, it’s a card of karma —although of the spiritual variety. It represents the results of the fruits of your spiritual work. In an upright position, it’s relief from a difficult journey.
When the Judgement card shows up in a reading it can signal a spiritual awakening or time of profound insight. You’ll find yourself having powerful epiphanies regarding parts of your life that are holding you back from growth. It’s an affirmation: that know, you aren’t crazy, you aren’t alone, and it was all worth the effort.
Arthur Waite in the Key to the Tarot connects this card to personal evolution. It can certainly usher in a period of transformation and rebirth in your life. You may be re-evaluating your relationships, your career, and your life path. Pay close attention to opportunities during this time. You can find doors opening up that lead to the next level.
Judgement can represent realizations that shake up your life. This is similar to the Tower card. In the Tower card, it’s often shocking information that comes from outside of oneself. In contrast, the Judgement card represents powerful realizations that come from within. Your explorations in spirituality and self-knowledge have opened you up to a new way of being. These revelations often accompany a sense of peace.
The placement of this card in the Major Arcana is often important in a reading. There are twenty-two Major Arcana cards, which represent the big-picture themes and events in our lives. The Fool card is numbered zero. It’s often considered the “first” card of the Major Arcana but in many ways, it stands out of the numerical sequence. Starting with the Magician at 1 and ending with the World at 21, Judgement is the second to last card of this sequence. Whether or not you ascribe to the Major Arcana following the proverbial “Hero’s Journey”, it’s still an important metaphysical sequence within the tarot. Therefore Judgement hints that you are nearing the completion of an important cycle or lesson.
But here’s the catch, you can embrace this powerful moment and the knowledge it contains with it, and move on to the beautiful World card. Or, ignoring it dares you to potentially start right back at square one in the cycle. The Judgement card is a state of being, not the end result. This is just a stepping stone to another journey.
Love and Relationships
Judgement is a powerful and hopeful card to appear in a love reading. For established relationships, it can indicate a turning point during a difficult period. This can manifest as the desire to heal and move on from past hurts. It can also represent freeing yourself from toxic attachments.
When this card appears in a reading regarding finding new love, it’s a positive indicator that you are ready for a new chapter. We all hear the advice to “work on ourselves” when we’ve been through difficult relationships. Let’s be honest: working on yourself is a lifetime endeavor. It can sometimes be difficult to discern whether we’re truly ready to move on. But Judgement indicates that we are ready.
Judgement is connected to resurrection and renewal. This could suggest that an old relationship will reappear in your life. This could be a past flame, estranged family members, or forgotten friends. While the Judgement card most often indicates a healing opportunity from re-exploring these connections, it’s always wise to trust your own Judgement and maintain healthy boundaries. This is especially true if the person or relationship was toxic for you in the past.
Career and Work
When the Judgement card appears in a reading, expect powerful shifts. This is a card of old passions and desires coming back to life. It’s a positive indicator if you’ve been struggling to feel joy in your work. This is a time to be on the lookout for opportunities that will take you to the next level of your career.
Judgement is an unusual card to appear in readings regarding workplace conflicts. It can challenge you to take up the mantle when no one else will. It’s not necessarily being awarded a leadership role via a formal title such as a manager or supervisor. Instead, it’s more often a call to serve as a leader in how you conduct yourself. Whether you know it or not, eyes are on you to set the tone.
As potential careers, Judgement favors religious organizations, non-profits, and activism. In particular, it can be a call to assist those who are in desperate need of safety and hope. This can include those who work with disadvantaged populations or in emergency rescue.
People and Personalities
Individuals represented by the Judgement card are passionate and intense. These are steadfast and reliable people —the ones you can count on when you have a flat tire at 2 am. They make excellent leaders.
Judgement Reversed Tarot Card Meaning
Reversed Keywords: Resistance – Procrastination – Error
Reversed Meanings for the Judgement Tarot Card
When Judgement is reversed there is a resistance to transformation.
The Judgement card reversed often signals a blockage of its upright energy. Rather than signaling the beginning of transformation, you may find yourself stuck in the mire. It’s a card of procrastination and dragging your heels on moving forward.
We often think of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly as a symbol of transformation. But what we forget is that coming out of the cocoon stage is difficult and risky —and maybe feels a little gross too! In other words, when this card is reversed, look at where you are feeling resistance to the difficult work of moving on to the next step. Perhaps there’s comfort in staying in your cocoon? The natural world reminds us that those who don’t evolve don’t progress.
Sometimes this card can be a little on the literal side. You may have made an error of Judgement about a person or situation. Even when reversed, Judgement indicates that there’s still time to reassess the situation.
Reversed Love and Relationships
Looking at the potential for a new relationship, Judgement reversed can be a message that you’re having trouble moving on from an old one. It signals stagnation in relationships both new and established.
This can be a challenge from the universe to make a decision. Be very mindful of the other cards in your reading. Depending on the context of the cards around it, you may find yourself ignoring ties to the past that are holding you back. It can also suggest that a relationship has run its course and it’s getting you nowhere.
Judgement reversed can show up in readings where the opinions of others are weighing heavily on you. Often others close to us are all too eager to project their own fears and limitations onto us. Don’t let those voices overwhelm you. Work on your boundaries with your friends and family. Know that what they suggest often says more about them than you.
Reversed Career and Work
Judgement reversed is a tough card for a career reading. This is work that isn’t moving you forward in your purpose. It can also represent the quintessentially soul-sucking job.
But just as indicated in the general reversed meaning of the Judgement card, you have a chance to break free. Judgement always pushes us to take a risk and jump on the bus. If this appears in a career reading, draw cards to discover a way out of this stagnation. Look at what action steps you should take next to grow.
For new jobs or potential work, this card in reverse suggests you should tread carefully. Look out for warning signs of a workplace that’s understaffed or lacking clear direction.
In workplace conflicts, this is quite the doozy of a situation! Somewhere along the way, an incorrect Judgement as been made. This could be a poor hire, a bad business decision, or simply a misunderstanding. The best course of action is to reassess the situation and take new and old information with a grain of salt.
Reversed People and Personalities
Judgement reversed represents individuals who are careful and cautious —maybe to the point of missing great opportunities due to overthinking and hesitation. While being analytical is a great trait for many situations, you must be able to trust your instincts enough to seize rare opportunities when the universe delivers them to you.
Numerology: 20 and 2 (see the High Priestess Card)
Each day, I am renewed and rejuvenated.
Some of My Favorite Examples
I love the Morgan-Greer Tarot’s Judgement card solely for its striking color scheme. The turquoise blue of the figures visually reads as being in the shade or the dark. Behind them are a fiery sky, clouds, and a trumpet. It’s a refreshing alternative to the ashen gray bodies in the Waite-Smith’s version. There’s also a nod to the Waite-Smith Sun card in the joyous outstretched arms of the child. I appreciate the air of mystery as to who or what is “rescuing” the family in this scene. We often need to be open to help arriving in surprising forms.
The Everyday Witch Tarot features a lighthearted Judgement card. The figure on the card becomes the messenger seen in the Waite-Smith tarot. She skips ahead playing the flute while her familiar chases a butterfly (symbolizing transformation and metamorphosis, of course!). For me, this Judgement card taps into two aspects of the card that are often neglected. First, in a reading you can be called on to be the rescuer. Rather than waiting on a guardian angel to rescue you, take the power back into your own hands. Secondly, I think there’s a coy reference to human Judgement against each other in this depiction. The figure moves forward with her eyes closed while she plays her song. She’s not concerned whether anyone is watching, clapping, filming her… or laughing and pointing! It’s a good reminder to do your own thing. You are the hero of your own journey.
The Moonchild Tarot draws from mythology, and the Western esoteric, depicting the ibis-headed Egyptian god Thoth. Standing in front of three gateways, feathers fall from his hands. This is a reference to the Egyptian belief that in the afterlife the weight of your heart (representing your life’s deeds and intentions) will be measured against the weight of a feather. Beyond the gateway are more mountains, reminding us that the journey isn’t completely over yet. At the top of the summit is a pyramid symbolizing enlightenment and achievement.
Danielle Noelle gets two kudos from me on both the Moonchild Tarot above and her Starchild tarot. The symbol of the archangel and a trumpet in the original Waite-Smith tarot can also represent a spiritual realization – or an awakening. Similarly to the Every Day Witch Tarot’s Judgement card, I appreciate the focus on a solo figure in this card. While there’s definitely an element of the Universe, source, divine (whatever you want to call it) opening up a door for you —it’s ultimately you who must be brave enough to walk through that door. There’s often a very personal decision or choice that needs to be made, one that may not make sense to those around you.