Judgement is a card of renewal and rebirth. Duality is a theme that has been explored throughout much of the Major Arcana. Here, we see a child between the man and the woman. This symbolizes the birth of a new self. From duality comes a new whole.
The cross in the sun on the Efflorescent Tarot (and on the angel’s banner in the RWS version) can represent a cross-roads. Judgement signals a need to leave something old behind in order to take this new path or in order to be resurrected. It can also represent the coming together of world and the universe.
Justice and Judgement seem to have a lot in common, but Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom says that, “With Justice the experience and the response were personal, based on your actions in the past. Here a force greater than yourself is leading and calling you, and the Judgement is not simply on the meaning of your own life but on the true nature of existence, and the way in which you and all beings are a part of it” (135). So while Justice is about inner balance and truth, Judgement seems to be an awakening to the larger recognition that we are a part of the universe or a call to or recognition of change. Pollack tells us that this change can be mundane or divine and that the other cards in a spread can help to illuminate the change we’re called to or the change we need to recognize.
While the Sun is about unity and self-acceptance, Judgement speaks to unity and community. We are all integral parts of the universe. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says, “The Trump unites the fluidity of the High Priestess (2) with the ego-unencumbered wholeness of the Fool (0). The combination initiates the process that will lead to the spiritual homecoming symbolized in the World. … Judgment’s angel breaks through the density of mass consciousness with the revelation that we are all one in spirit. … Therefore, the Angel of Judgment does not seek to judge us (as the name of the card might imply) but to lift us out of our judgmental conscioussness” (133, emphasis in original).
A shadow of Judgement could be waiting for someone else to rescue us. An opposite or reverse meaning could be uncertainty about how to implement change or an unwillingness or inability to heed the call.
If I were to assign an element to Judgement, it would be fire and water: fire for the inspiration of the call and water for the spiritual unity we see through Judgement.
I think I’ve been called to take better care of myself for many, many years, but I only just answered that call a couple of years ago. Oh, I wish I’d listened earlier, but absolutely better late than never. I’m still working on heeding the call. I finally stopped letting people stomp all over me, but I’m still working on believing that I’m important and valuable — just as valuable as everyone else (like the Judgement card reminds me).
One of Paul Quinn’s reflection questions for this card is, “What ‘angels’ have awakened you to greater possibilities?” I’ve got to say my sweetie is one. He always believes in me even when I absolutely 100% do not. And like an angel, he hasn’t given up on me even once. He models the possibility of loving myself unconditionally.