Tarot: Judgement

Tarot: Judgement

Tarot: Judgement

The Judgement card calls on us to evaluate ourselves and our life. The challenges we have faced. Our successes and our failures. What events have brought us to this exact moment? This card asks us to thoughtfully consider our life’s path and acknowledge the part we have played in shaping it’s course. Now is the time to honor your previous triumphs and let go of past mistakes. From a higher perspective we can gaze down at the unfolding story of our life and see things with new clarity. 

The 20th card of the Major Arcana, Judgement, is about a critical turning point in life, where a higher path is chosen through the ability to face our past and truly forgive ourselves. This is not simply meditative reflection, this is active work that requires a full accounting. We must be willing to look in the mirror and examine ourselves in entirety. Our highest aspirations, our messy imperfections; everything that makes up who we have become. Is this still the person we want to be? Is this still the life we want to live? When this card reveals itself, there is no hiding from the truth.

The traditional representation of this card shows an angel heralding Judgement Day. This image symbolizes the magnitude of what must happen and we should heed its wisdom through deep introspection. It is time to examine your past experiences through a different lens. How have these events made you who you are today? While other cards within the Tarot symbolize change, none of them so keenly rely on the ability to confront one’s own past in order to shift direction and embark on a brand new journey.

Judgement Reversed

The reversed Judgment card in tarot reveals a reluctance to confront your past actions and take responsibility for your choices. It suggests that you may be avoiding self-reflection or struggling with forgiveness and redemption. This card encourages you to address any lingering guilt or self-doubt. It may also signify resistance to necessary change or transformation. Reversed, the Judgment card calls for introspection and the willingness to face your past in order to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and liberation.


“I gain perspective by being honest with myself as I examine how my life choices have aligned with my values and beliefs. By taking responsibility for my past actions, I affirm my future growth.”

Major Arcana Symbolism

Tarot Card NameJudgement
Traditional Card ImageryFigures arising from coffins
Traditional SymbolismWhere you are is not where you are meant to be, a call to action, spiritual or religious calling, reincarnation, a realization, a change that has already occurred, end of an era, a rite of passage, a period of transition, self-acceptance, freedom, decision making, the final outcome, a judgement, moving on, awakening, liberation
Card NumberXX, 20
Classical ElementFire
Influencing ElementAether / Akasha
Traditional Upright MeaningJudgement, resurrection, rebirth, inner calling, forgiveness of self, releasing baggage, decisiveness, forgiveness of others, absolution, renewal, rising from the ashes, self-love, an awakening, purpose, reflection, redemption, honesty, allowing yourself to move forward
Traditional Reversed MeaningSelf-doubt, holding on to the past, ignoring your calling, unfair blame, doing what you know is wrong for you, doubting yourself, snap judgments, inner critic, delayed change, avoiding making a decision, unwilling to learn lessons, self-loathing
Archetype In NatureThe independent evolutions of human and planetary destinies
ChakraSolar Plexus, Third eye
Astrological CorrespondenceLeo, Aries, Sagittarius, Pluto
Yes or NoYes
Crystals and StonesYellow Tiger’s Eye, Olivine, Lemon Quartz, Heliodor, Yellow Jade, Peridot, Golden Pearl, Sphene, Jargoon, Sulfur, Melichrysos, Honey Calcite, Pyrite, Chrysolite, Labradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Calcite, Blue Flash Moonstone, Sodalite, Blue Sapphire, Celestite, Azurite, Kyanite, Iolite, Dumortierite, Ceylon Sapphire, Tanzanite

Tarot Through the Ages

Tarot was originally invented as a card game in the mid 15th century. French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, also known as “Etteilla”, was the first to assign divinatory meanings to the cards in the late 1700s. Many others have followed in his footsteps, bringing their own unique interpretation of the cards. In our exploration of the Tarot, we weave together contemporary insights with the timeless wisdom of the past. This blending of past and present perspectives offers a more holistic view, allowing us to connect with the evolving narrative and lineage of wisdom that has shaped our understanding of each card over time. Let’s dive into some of these historical interpretations…

Allegory of Judgement

I saw an ice plain, and on the horizon, a chain of snowy mountains. A cloud appeared and began to grow until it covered a quarter of the sky. Two fiery wings suddenly expanded in the cloud, and I knew that I beheld the messenger of the Empress. He raised a trumpet and blew through it vibrant, powerful tones.

The plain quivered in response to him and the mountains loudly rolled their echoes. One after another, graves opened in the plain and out of them came men and women, old and young, and children. They stretched out their arms toward the Messenger of the Empress to catch the sounds of his trumpet.

And in its tones I felt the smile of the Empress and in the opening graves I saw the opening flowers whose fragrance seemed to be wafted by the outstretched arms.

Then I understood the mystery of birth in death.

-The Symbolism of the Tarot by P.D. Ouspensky (1913)

Judgement (XX)

Judgement (XX)

The Last Judgment card has little variation between decks, even the Etteilla version. An angel sounds his trumpet, and the dead arise. On the surface, it can only be seen as the resurrection of the triad: Father, mother, and child. Some say that it signifies renewal. Other claim that it is the “generative force of the earth… and eternal life”.

This card expresses the accomplishment of the great work of transformation in answer to the
call of the divine: The call is heard and answered from within. Here is the hint of a significance which cannot well be carried further in the present place. What is the divine part of ourselves, which sounds a trumpet and that is lower in our nature rises instantly responds…almost in the twinkling of an eye?

Let the card continue to depict, for those of shallow understanding, The Last Judgment and the resurrection in the natural body. Those with spiritual insight will understand this card as a symbol of eternal life. For this reason, the meaning may be compared with that of Temperance.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Judgement Card Imagery

The great angel of Judgement can be seen here encompassed by clouds blowing his bannered trumpet. 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, and a child between them (whose back is turned).

In this card, however, there are more than three who have been restored. All the figures are united in wonder, adoration, and ecstasy as is clearly expressed in their attitudes.

-Modern Translation of The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite (1910)

Judgement Meaning

Judgement Meaning

An angel with fiery wings, surrounded by a radiant halo, sounds the trumpet of the last judgment. The instrument is decorated with a cross. A tomb opens in the earth and a man, woman, and a child emerge from it. The hands of the figures are joined in a sign of adoration. How can the reawakening of nature under the influence of the Word be better expressed?

-Modern Translation of The Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Significations of Judgement

  • Return to the Divine World, The Spirit Finally Regains Possession of Itself = Original Determined Motion
  • Life Renews Itself by Its Own Motion = Vegetable Life, Respiration
  • The Material World Progresses One Degree in Its Ascension Towards God = The Vegetable World

-Tarot of The Bohemians by Papus (1892)

Judgement Card

Judgement Card

The Meaning of the Judgement Card Throughout History

The Tarot deck is a beautiful synthesis of esoteric thought and archetypal imagery. The journey of the deck, shaped by the events and values of each era, has continued to evolve and take on new significance as it adapts to a larger cultural story. Often a tarot card will have a variety of names and meanings. Exploring the historical interpretations of each card will create a deeper understanding of this powerful method for divination and self-discovery.

Various Names for the Judgement Card

Tarot de Marseille (1650)Judgement
Court de Gébelin (1781)The Last Judgment
Etteilla (1783)The Last Judgment
Paul Christian (1870)The Rising of the Dead
Golden Dawn (1888)The Spirit of the Primal Fire
Papus (1892)The Judgement
Rider-Waite (1910)Judgement
Thoth (1943)The Aeon
The Spirit of the Primal Fire

Card XX: The Last Judgement

An Angel in the heavens blowing a trumpet, to which a standard with a cross thereon is attached. The Dead rise from their tombs. It signifies Renewal, Result.

Upright: Renewal, Result, Determination of a Matter
Reversed: Postponement of Result, Delay, Matter re-opened later

-The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1888)

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bring the Wisdom of the Tarot Into Your Life

We have put together a collection of some of our favorite Tarot items. The deep symbolism of the Tarot can be used to access a wellspring of inner wisdom and guidance. This method of divination is also an incredible tool for accessing your own powerful intuition.

Mystic Doorway is supported by our readers. When you purchase items through links on our site, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Support Independent Bookstores With These Tarot Selections

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. Their mission aims to strengthen the fragile ecosystem and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Judgement (XX) - The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain
Judgement (XX) – The Illustrated Key to the Tarot published 1918, public domain

This guide by Arthur Edward Waite, the designer of the most widely known Tarot deck and distinguished scholar of the Kabbalah, is the essential Tarot reference. The pictorial key contains a detailed description of each card in the celebrated 78-card Rider-Waite Tarot deck, along with regular and reversed meanings. Contents describe symbols and secret tradition, ancient Celtic methods of divination, and wonderful illustrations of each Tarot card. This book is the perfect complement to old-style fortune telling and also serves to make the Tarot entirely accessible to modern-day readers. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot is the classic guide to the Rider-Waite deck and to Tarot symbolism in general.

Ancient Italian Tarot

Judgement (XX) - Ancient Italian Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
Judgement (XX) – Ancient Italian Tarot by Lo Scarabeo © 2000 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

This Ancient Italian Tarot deck marks the coming of age of Tarot in Italy. The classic design of the Marseilles decks, reinvented by an anonymous artist, exemplifies 19th-century Italian art: detailed, symbolic, and richly colored in vibrant greens, muted reds, and vivid golds. The whole, decadently costumed array of Tarot archetypes are presented here, along with delicately ornamented Marseilles style pips.

Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights

Judgement (XX) - Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights by Lo Scarabeo © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.
Judgement (XX) – Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights by Lo Scarabeo © 2005 Lo Scarabeo srl. All rights reserved, used by permission.

Adventure, magic, poetry, and love come to life in this Tarot deck based on the classic 1001 Arabian Nights folktales. Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights is bursting with rich imagery relating to the Arabian renaissance, the exotic allure of these fairy tales bestows timeless wisdom to those who seek it.

How will you Harness The Transformative Power of The Tarot?

We invite you to walk into a cosmic narrative in which we are all a unique element in each other’s story. Humanity has long used sacred tools for awakening the soul and illuminating our path toward enlightenment. The Tarot is simply an instrument. These cards amplify your inner wisdom and empower your highest truth.

What aspects of The Tarot can serve you as you walk through your own Mystic Doorway?

Check Out Our Pinterest Gallery for More Inspiration

What you have read is only the beginning…

Mystic Doorway is always gaining new insight into the rich symbolism of Tarot. We are looking forward to sharing with you as we continue to expand our knowledge of this divinatory tool. Check back with us soon to see what we’ve added to our Library.