Judgement is a confusing card. There’s already a card that represents Justice within the Major Arcana — so what meaning is left for Judgement?
Many people assume that it’s automatically negative; that they’ll be judged and somehow found wanting. In reality, Judgement is a complex card with many positive interpretations.
- Keywords: Judgment, resurrection, renewal, forgiveness, second chances
- Keywords (Reversed): Self-doubt, blaming others, lack of responsibility, unwillingness to learn, missed second chances
- Yes or No: Yes
- Yes or No (Reversed): No
- Element: Fire
- Zodiac Sign: –
The concept behind Judgement draws heavily from the Christian Bible. It comes from the idea of the Last Judgement and Resurrection, so many decks show scenes of people rising from their graves.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, Pamela Colman Smith depicts Judgement as an angel (most likely Israfel or Metatron) blowing a golden trumpet adorned with the flag of Saint George.
Below him, people rise up out of coffins. They don’t seem distressed here — though their gray skin indicates that they’re corpses, their bodies are whole and healthy, and they look up at the angel with outstretched arms and calm expressions.
All kinds of people are shown here, including men, women, and very young children.
The imagery of this card is relatively simple. There aren’t a lot of alchemical, Masonic, or Hermetic images to interpret. Instead, it’s a fairly straightforward depiction of a group of people rising from the dead.
This card is typically taken to stand for resurrection, rebirth, second chances, and absolution.
According to Catholic tradition, Sait George was a Roman Soldier who slew a dragon and was eventually martyred for refusing to recant his Christian faith.
He’s also included in certain Muslim texts as a prophetic figure, who was martyred three times and resurrected every time. This underlines the card’s theme of rebirth.
Judgement Meaning (Upright)
Judgement typically appears when you’re close to an awakening of some kind. You’ve been evaluating yourself, your desires, and your actions, and you’re close to putting what you’ve learned to good use.
It can also show up when this kind of self-evaluation is needed. You might not be on a path that’s helping you grow, and only some introspection and course-correcting can fix this.
Remember, Judgement isn’t just about judging — it’s about resurrections and second chances. You have the power to give yourself a second chance, but you need to understand what you need to change first.
Judgement Meaning (Reversed)
When Judgement appears reversed, then you may be engaging in too much self-criticism. Instead of allowing this kind of evaluation to serve as a learning experience, it has become paralyzing for you. As a result, you’re missing your second chances.
It may also signify situations where you’re missing learning opportunities. There are times when you can learn from your past mistakes, but not if you refuse to acknowledge them.
Judgement reversed indicates the opposite of a reawakening or rebirth. You have the opportunity to receive a second chance and move forward in life, but are refusing to take advantage of it.
See also: Check out alternate Tarot decks here.
Judgement Meaning – Love & Relationships (Upright)
In a love context, Judgement is introspection and clarity. Issues may be coming to light in your relationship, and this is your opportunity to give things a second chance.
Learn from your past mistakes, communicate honestly with your partner, and you’ll be able to move forward from a stronger, healthier place.
If you’re single, Judgement can represent learning from past relationships. You are able to use your past experiences to understand what you want from a partner, and can use this knowledge to avoid repeating history.
Judgement Meaning – Love & Relationships (Reversed)
When Judgement is reversed in a love reading, it can symbolize a lack of communication and a deep sense of denial. You may be holding on to grudges and wielding your partner’s past mistakes like a bludgeon.
On the flip side, you might be purposefully ignoring red flags. It’s time to be honest with yourself and your partner. Are you happy in your relationship? If not, what would make you happy?
If you’re single, you might be dooming yourself to repeating your past. If you refuse to accept any culpability, you can’t learn from your mistakes.
Be honest with yourself about unhealthy emotional and behavioral patterns, take what you learn, and apply it to your future relationships.
Judgement Meaning – As Feelings (Upright)
Upright, Judgement points out that there are deep emotions and careful consideration going on here.
This person ultimately feels positively about you and your relationship — positively enough that they want to make sure everything is right before moving into a deeper commitment with you.
It may take some time before this person expresses their feelings, but that’s because they want to do it well.
Judgement Meaning – As Feelings (Reversed)
Judgement reversed is much the opposite. This person seems to see problems everywhere they look, except within themselves.
There is frustration here, judgement, and an unwillingness to compromise. You may have a very hard time communicating.
Even if they feel positively about you, you probably won’t be able to see it under the layers of criticism.
Judgement Meaning – As Reconciliation (Upright)
Upright, Judgement indicates that something that has been buried will soon rise up. It also hints that everyone involved will reap what they’ve sown.
This can be either a positive or negative omen for a reconciliation. In general, this card says that the past must be acknowledged and healed before one can happen.
Judgement Meaning – As Reconciliation (Reversed)
Reversed, Judgement shows that someone here is doing their best to let sleeping dogs lie. Rather than uncover and acknowledge the past, they’re trying to keep it buried.
With no self-reflection happening, a reconciliation is very unlikely. If one happens, it won’t be long before things fall apart again.
Judgement Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Upright)
In a career context, Judgement upright points to a learning experience. You might even have come to the realization that your current career path isn’t right for you.
There’s still plenty of time to course-correct and choose a different one, no matter how impossible it might seem. If you make the necessary adjustments, you’ll be much happier.
When it comes to money, Judgment indicates that you’re exploring your saving and spending habits. You might have experienced a lot of hardship in the past, and don’t want to go through that again.
Apply what you’ve learned, and you’ll be okay. Avoid making impulsive purchases or investments for the time being.
Judgement Meaning – Careers, Business & Money (Reversed)
When Judgement is reversed in a career reading, you might be punishing yourself over minor issues. If you make a mistake at work, it’s okay!
Just learn from it and move on. If you allow it to undermine your confidence, it will only hurt you and your work performance in the long run.
On the other hand, it’s also possible that you’re afraid of admitting your mistakes. Unfortunately, this means that you’re also not fixing things or learning from them. In this case, you’re also only hurting yourself and your future.
Financially, it’s possible that money’s a little tight right now. You might be beating yourself up over a minor mistake, or refusing to acknowledge how your choices have led you here.
Accept the hand you’ve had in this situation, allow it to teach you how to avoid making this mistake in the future, and let it go. Dwelling on it or trying to escape from it won’t help you.
Judgement: Yes or No?
Judgment might seem intimidating in a “Yes or No” reading, but remember: This is a card about second chances and renewals. In most contexts, it represents a “Yes.” This is especially true if your query relates to life changes.
Reversed, Judgment takes on the opposite meaning. It’s a “No.” It can represent being offered the opportunity for a second chance, but missing out. You most likely won’t get the outcome you hope for, and it’s not a good idea to proceed at this time.
Judgement can be a bit intimidating when it turns up in a reading, but it’s generally a positive card overall.
When it’s upright, it indicates clarity, new knowledge, and an opportunity to give yourself a second chance. When it’s reversed, clarity, knowledge, and second chances are still there, you just have to be willing to accept them.
See also: For more Tarot Card Meanings, check out our full list of all 78 Tarot Cards and their meanings here.
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