Tarot 20 – Judgment

By James Donahue

Because of Christian mythology the move from The Sun tarot card to Judgment may come as a shock to some. We move from a state of perfect bliss to the image of naked souls rising from floating coffins as the Angel Gabriel blows a trumpet from overhead. What is the message here?

Is it the Biblical call to a heavenly judgment, or can we find another lesson in this, the second to the final major trump card in the deck?

Indeed, when we find ourselves in that rare state of bliss, as the Sun card displayed, we all can fall into the trap of believing that all is right with the world and nothing can go wrong ever again. How quickly we can forget that life is what it is. It is a struggle against unforeseen events and with ourselves as we travel that spiritual pathway, ever seeking to find and understand the god within. The moment trouble occurs, our tempers flare, or the ego rears its ugly head once more, we discover that we still have not reached the pinnacle.

As one analyst explained it, the images of people rising out of graves, tombs and dark pits are symbolic of the darkness in which we all live.

Judgment Day in the Christian Bible is a time when people are suddenly called before God and judged for their sins. Is this a time of punishment? We need to remember that judgment is not necessarily condemnation. We are in a position of judging ourselves and taking steps to correct our actions without blame. Our task then is to constantly work on correcting ourselves but never losing sight of our worth.

When the angel calls, then, think of rebirth. We find ourselves cleansed of all guilt and burden. The mistakes of the past are forgotten and we are ready to begin anew. We find ourselves liberated from earthly limitations.

Notice that the cross on the banner under the angel is not the Christian cross. It is a Coptic cross, one that offers evenly spaced bars leading out in four directions. It represents the division of the world into four elements. It symbolizes a balance of forces.

The naked figures standing in coffins are floating along the river of the subconscious mind, seeking the freedom that knowledge offers. Far in the distance can be seen snow-capped mountains, representing the heights of thought and creativity. Thus we have an image of ourselves rising from the tombs of our own boundaries. Thus we see the angel offering an awakening and renewal on spiritual, emotional and even physical levels.

The raised arms of each of the figures below suggest that they are accepting the gift offered by the angel with open arms. Thus this is an inspiring card, telling us that higher energies are in motion to help us achieve a new, fresh and wonderful life.

Since this is Card 20, numerology plays an important role in the interpretation. The number 20 is composed of 2, the number of The High Priestess who represents all things unknown, and 0, the number of The Fool.

When we break down this number to 2 x 10, we find that the number 10 represents the Wheel of Fortune, symbolic of the continuity of the ups and downs throughout life as well as the circles of life, death and rebirth.

Breaking the number 20 down to 4 x 5 we find the number 4 representing the Emperor, a symbol of the sinse of “I Am,” and number 5, the Hierophant, the teacher of religious and spiritual knowledge.


The Mind of James Donahue