In the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck and other decks based on the Latin Tarot or Tarot de Marseilles, the major arcana card Judgement offers specific information when it appears in a tarot spread. The symbols, imagery, position in the major arcana, and numerology all offer clues to its meaning.
Judgement Tarot Symbolism
On its face, Judgement is a busy looking card. At the top is a golden-haired archangel (the Archangel Gabriel) playing a trumpet. Gabriel's trumpet flies a white banner with a red cross, and she hovers above a group of three nude golden-haired people (a mother, father, and child) standing in tombs with their arms spread wide to welcome her. Across a body of water are three more people in tombs in the same position.
Placement in the Major Arcana
Major arcana cards are considered to have special significance in tarot spreads, so the querent should make note when they appear. In the Latin tarot, the 22 cards of the major arcana depict a soul's journey from the innocence portrayed in The Fool, through materialism, into the spiritual realm, through a dark night of the soul, and to final growth and triumph as a soul ending with The World. An arc of cards symbolizes each of these phases of the soul, such as the arc starting with The Hanged Man and ending with The Tower, which depicts the dark night of the soul that brings ultimate transformation.
Judgement comes after the celestial cards (The Star, The Moon, and The Sun), which represent the light bringing rising awareness, and just before The World, which represents enlightenment. It is the second to last card of the major arcana, indicating the journey is almost complete.
Judgement is the 21st card in the major arcana but is numbered XX (20) because the major arcana starts with 0-The Fool. In numerology, the number 20 reduces to 2 (2+0=2), which represents balance and harmony.
Archangel Gabriel and the People in Tombs
The Archangel Gabriel is recognized as God's messenger, and she brings harmony and balance as the perfect mix of yin and yang. Gabriel is also believed to facilitate emotional purification and healing of the body, mind, and spirit. Her banner represents triumph and victory. The people rising from the tomb and both sides of the body of water represent resurrection or the triumph of the afterlife following bodily death. All together, Gabriel and the people represent resurrection, freedom, and victory over bodily death.
The Word Judgement
In the case of this card, the word "judgement" is also significant. In Western culture, judgement is often believed to be something negative, either being judged by a higher power for sins or one person judging another's actions and finding them wanting. However, in the case of the Judgement card, it actually refers to the card's alternate name, resurrection. In this case, the word judgement, therefore, refers to a soul's resurrection or rebirth as a spiritual being.
Meaning of Judgement in a Tarot Reading
While the Judgement card may have a literal meaning in a reading (you are being judged, must use your judgement, or are being judgmental), it can also indicate healing or a new beginning or rebirth into a higher state of being. Additionally, it may be advising you to let go of conflicts so you can move on to a new, higher purpose.
Reversed in a reading, Judgement may indicate you are allowing judgements or fear to hold you back from growth, or it may be a call to move forward to a higher spiritual state through the release of conflict and fear.
Judgement is a fortuitous card. It shows you have grown and continue to grow on your spirit's journey, and it encourages you to stay the course on your path to enlightenment.