The Judgment strongly forwards us to the idea of final Judgment as it is described by many religions.
In the Christian Gospels, it represents the second coming of Christ who executes a last and infinite Judgment of the people on Earth and the resurrection of the dead. Most common representations depict dead people rising from the graves and Christ in the skies, surrounded by angels and performing the final call.
This biblical argument is profoundly obscure and gloomy from an artistic perspective and that makes us feel apprehensive, even regarding the tarot.
For that reason we needed to observe the symbolism from a different angle, because the actual meaning of the card is generally positive.
The Judgment is about salvation, about spiritual rebirth and epiphany. It indicates a change in our personal consciousness and an important life lesson that leads us to an awakening.
Sometimes it takes a form of a test to evaluate if we learned our life lessons or not. The test, like any other, can have two results, a rewardable one and a punishable one, depending on how prepared we were.
The card is composed of two contradictory elements, Water and Fire, so this suggests some kind of reconciliation between opposites.
The Woman at the right side is Water, the passive and feminine principle (the Moon) and the Man at the left is Fire, active and masculine (the Sun). Both figures, by finding their equilibrium, generate a child – the purest being who combines both masculine and feminine in perfect balance. This pale androgynous child rises from the earthly graves towards the calling of a supreme Consciousness (the Universe).
Such metaphor is also explored in the alchemical world. The imagery that we created for this card resembles the final process of the Magnum Opus.
Through long and hard work, the alchemist performs a sequence of operations in order to purify the most ordinary metals and turn them into gold. The processes can represent both physical metallurgic and mental/spiritual transformation.
“You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold” says the alchemist from Jodorowsky’s cult movie The Holy Mountain.
Alchemists advise us to learn how to Solve et Coagula, the two most important phases from the Great Alchemical Work. Like the two opposite figures, Solve and Coagula are contraries but indivisible. The work could not be successfully finished without them.
The Solution (Solve) begins the spiritual awakening process and has its correspondence with the card Death. Like all beginnings, this is a process of entropy and chaos requiring a deep introspection to be in touch with the darkest side of our unconscious mind.
In this stage, Water is used to dissolve the actual matters until their essence or core is obtained. It demands a cycle of meditation, which is crucial for a successful dilution of each part into a fluid condition.
The process is commonly represented by human skeletons as the base of ourselves. From this point onwards, the goal is to reshape these into a new purified self. This process is illustrated at the bottom of the card.
The Coagulation process (the Judgment/Coagula) happens when the end of Magnum Opus is successfully achieved. That means that the perfected substance was finally discovered.
Our Anima (the feminine force related to our soul and vital force) is now able to connect with our Animus (the masculine force related to our spirit and rational mind). The union of both makes them perish and be reborn as one – this is the so-called “Mercury of the Philosophers”.
So is coagulation: it gathers together unstable liquid forms into a coherent solid mass.
In the skies, we watch the clouds dissipate as an element of our mental clarity, a symbol of revelation. From these clouds a zoomorphic portrait of Christ appears. This Christ, as an universal symbol of redemption, also tells us the parable of the Good Shepherd who finds the lost sheep and puts it back in the flock and along the right track.
Some explain this as the forgiveness of sins, in order to find chastity of spirit.
Upright Meaning and Interpretation
Inner Calling, Awakening, Liberation.
The Judgment indicates that you achieved a higher level of clarity, enabling yourself to evaluate every situation, tranquil enough to make better and positive decisions.
We can say that the lessons from the past had a great influence on you, so it is visible how you grew up with it. You are clearly more confident and conscious due to the balance you feel from within.
Alternatively, if you have been dishonest to yourself or to others, you may have a punishment coming.
This card is about purifying yourself and transcending as a better person, though if you avoid doing it and not answer the higher calling, you will feel consequences.
Become reconciled with your opposite sides, clean yourself from the corrosive past and use your experiences to improve instead of poisoning yourself.
Reversed Meaning and Interpretation
Self-doubt, Ignoring the Call, Inability to Learn Karmic Lessons.
The Judgment in reverse demands a period of self-reflection and introspection.
While the upright version finds the alchemical Coagula, in reverse it turns back to Solve. This implies that your symbolic transformation did not go as well as expected, therefore you need to keep trying to purify yourself and learn from your mistakes.
You might feel afraid of some secrets or private matters coming out because of people’s judgment. To set yourself free from these past regrets you need to work on your self-forgiveness and acceptance.
As soon as you feel more comfortable with yourself, listen better to what the Universe has to tell you; and remember not to take other people’s opinions so seriously.