Understanding Tarot: Judgement

judgement tarot
Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. It follows the Fool’s journey through the Major Arcana. You can find out more about Claire’s insights and readings at @ClaireChilversTarot

End of round two and time to move on.

We have followed our protagonist through his whole life cycle. We cheered him on at the start of his adventure when he was a carefree and naive young boy, and we celebrated the success of his achievements and the completion of his soul’s journey once he had grown to be a wise, learned, and accomplished old man.

And, now we witness his Judgement day, as he is called upon by the angels to join them and say goodbye to this second complete cycle of his life’s path and the end of his time on earth. 

The Fool is not worried or upset as he springs from his coffin, for he has truly understood the connections he has with the Universe and knows this is not a time of sadness. It is a time of resurrection and a re-awakening of his soul, which has been a quieter version of itself whilst in his human form travelling within his body.

The Fool throws his arms up in euphoria, because although he knows this is a very definite ending and a point of no return, he is acutely aware that an incredible new beginning is being offered. He is not afraid and trusts completely that this is the end of a cycle, but not the end of his soul.

As we watch him rise up to the trumpet call of Archangel Gabriel, we notice he is joined with other souls of various ages (reminding us that not all journeys on Earth are as lengthy as his), but that the same divine, beautiful path awaits all our loved ones as they move on to this special, higher place.

Of course, no matter how inspirational the positive side of Judgement’s message can seem, it can also be an immensely frightening if you focus on the negative aspects.

It is an absolute ending, and there are not many of us who wholeheartedly embrace those situations in our life. To do so requires a complete unflinching trust in the Divine that the ending is for our higher good, and there is something much better waiting for us which we haven’t got the capacity to see.

A brand new version of ourselves awaits us and the Universe is paving the way for it to happen.

This card does indeed show an ending but, the Major Arcana does not stop at number twenty, it continues for one more card – number twenty-one, The World. Which gives us an understanding of why The Fool was so positive when his time arrived.

He had gained the true insight that his life did not have a beginning, middle, and end. When The Fool arrived in this world (as card zero), he carried with him a small bundle tied to a wand – this was depicting his past lives. And as he says goodbye to this life, his soul spirals up to connect again with The World.

He carries on and on through infinite life cycles. Learning more and more with each journey, and never having to repeat the same lesson once he has grasped what he needed to know. 

So when we see this card in our readings, this is an important question we have to ask ourselves. We are being asked to make a judgement on our lives, to remind ourselves what is important, what we have learned and whether we are on the right path. Endings can come at any stage within our life, and can often come hand in hand with judgement.

The action of ‘passing judgement’ can get bad press and is often seen as an unkind thing to do in our modern world. Judging people unfairly or judging ourselves can lead to some very negative thought patterns and behaviour. However, making good judgements in our life choices and behaviour can be incredible empowering and inspiring.

This is not the first time we have been met with the uncomfortable duality of Judgement. We saw a similar version with our lady of Justice back in card eleven.

She reminded us (at the very start of this second cycle) that our aim was to be true to ourselves and to find our soul’s purpose. We were given the message to do this and now as we reach the completion of this lesson we are being asked, ‘Did you manage to do it?”

So, did you?

How you perceive the tarot card Judgement, can be a very interesting way to see whether it is being used positively in your life.

Here is an interesting exercise to try to answer that question. It is from an inspirational book I read about seven years ago, so I cannot take the credit for it.

Imagine you have lived a long, long life and are now in your bed about to pass on. A very young family member comes to see you at your bedside and asks you to tell them what the secret is to having a happy and fulfilled life.

You haven’t much energy or breath left in your body, so you can only say one sentence to them. What do you say?

Now, before your read on, write on a piece of paper the one sentence that you feel would answer this question, honestly, completely and from the heart.

Whatever you have written is your true belief of the secret to a happy and fulfilled life – no one else’s – yours. There is no young family member asking you, this message was for you. 

So, here is where the judgement comes in. If you are not doing what is written on that piece of paper, ask yourself ‘Why?’ And, if while you are pondering this you suddenly feel ringing in your ears or a humming in your brain, it may well be the Angel Gabriel’s trumpet calling you up to take action. 

And once that trumpet starts to blow it is loud enough to raise the dead – as we can see by our triumphant crowd in the card. It’s message is ‘there is more to life than you realise, and I am here to show you.’

Granted sometimes (especially if we are doing our best to ignore the call), it can have an unsettling way of coming along and startling us into action.

Remember, this card is there to remind us there is an ending and we need to move on, and it will send that message one way or another – which is possibly why many people do not always see this card in a positive light. 

The end is approaching for the end of this series of articles too. And for those of you who have read them, you will notice that synchronicity is playing out in them once again.

Collectively, we are all reaching the end of the 2020/2021 astrological year and about to enter a completely new era, The Age of Aquarius. It is time for all of us to move on and the angels are sounding their fanfare as we pass through to a new dawn.

Whether you hear the delightful melody or are trying to block out a terrible noise, it is there to help and guide us all.

And if you are still unsure, just remember our Fool who we have been following in these articles, and how he happily jumped at the chance to embrace the message of Judgement. And because he did so, the next (and final) time we see him he will be dancing on top of the World.

Read more of the Understanding Tarot Series here

About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com.

Want to learn astrology? My new book The Ultimate Guide to Astrology is available for pre-order at all major bookstores!