To my mind, Judgement is a lot creepier looking card than the Death card. Coffins bobbing around in the sea while gray corpses pop out of them like zombies. Of course, the Angel with the Trumpet hovers overhead calling them back to life and that’s nice but it’s still a disturbing card on the face of it.
Despite that, it’s still a hopeful card because it’s the card of endings and where there are endings there can be beginnings. Judgement isn’t just about endings, though; it’s about the end of long cycles that occur in our lives. Often it shows up in our readings as a sign that we can finally lay our burdens down.
We all have seasons and cycles in our lives, though we frequently fail to recognize them as distinct and separate chapters. Some of the more obvious cycles are birth through adolescence, puberty through adulthood, perhaps going to college or doing a hitch in the military after high school. Our children growing up and moving out on their own. These are all periods of time that stand apart in our memories and experiences as being unique times in our lives.
And Judgement is about the ends of these cycles. It’s about the personal judgements that we make about these periods of time, what they meant to us, and how we performed in dealing with them.
To use another common example, think of marriage or partnership as a cycle in our lives. We meet someone, we fall in love, we decide that he or she is the person with whom we want to spend our lives. The relationship may last for many years or just a few. Sooner or later, though, whether as a result of, “until death do us part,” or a divorce/separation, that bonding with another, that cycle of our lives, will be over.
And when it’s over, we have to make a judgement about it. How did I do? Could I have done more? Could I have loved more or shown more feelings or compassion?
A divorce is probably a pretty good example of that process. Unless you accidentally married a psychopath or an angel, the odds are that BOTH parties contributed to the divorce. Both parties might have tried to be a little more caring or supportive or understanding or sensual or whatever the missing ingredients were that caused it all to fall apart.
Even if you’re actually an incredibly good, loving person you may have contributed to the divorce just by marrying an asshole to begin with. The question is, “What did I do in this cycle that was good, bad, or indifferent?”
So Judgement is about the ends of these cycles in our lives and about the judgements we have to make when the cycles end. And they’re not judgements about the other party or circumstances – they’re judgements about ourselves and our own behaviors. With those judgements come – hopefully – growth. It can be something as simple as, “I’m a really good, loving person so why do I keep getting involved with assholes?” Or as complex as, “I was really abused as a child so how do I learn how to really love and trust people?” The judgements are always geared toward being and doing better.
The second element in Judgement, though, is laying that burden down and starting a new phase and that’s where many of us trip ourselves up. We need to be able to firmly close the door on that chapter of our lives and say, “That’s over. Time to move on.”
Taking the time to make thorough judgements about ourselves and about our behavior is the key to doing that. We don’t just leave a marriage or experience a death or fight our ways through serious illnesses and then go on with life as as the Walking Wounded. We take a good long look at ourselves and we thoroughly decide, “I did the best I could.”
Or, “I could have done better.”
Or, “I need to work on being a better person/listener/partner/lover and here’s how I’m going to do that.”
And, once we can honestly say to ourselves that we’ve learned the lessons we were supposed to learn, we forgive (or congratulate) ourselves and MOVE ON. We don’t whip ourselves over not doing enough or continue to live in the past. We shut the door firmly and step out into our new world.
And it’s beginning.
“Just the Tarot,” by Dan Adair, Kindle edition available dirt cheap on Amazon.