Monday 30 September 2019

Sitting in Judgement

I’ve been challenged, recently, about my interpretation of the Judgment card.  In a reading, I’d said that Judgment wasn’t about judging and being judged – or at least, not only about that.  But others clearly don’t agree, so I thought I’d have a look and see what other views are around.

© Judgement
Universal Waite Tarot
The Little White Book (LWB) that accompanies the Universal Waite Tarot deck simple says “Change of position, renewal, outcome.”  Short and to the point. 

Rachel Pollack, in her Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled (Llewellyn, 2005), adds “rebirth, new possibilities, and wholeness” to the list.  In fact, she maintains (as do I) that Judgment is not about judging others, showing good judgement, or being judged themselves at all.  The child in the image reminds us that new opportunities and possibilities can appear when we heed the voice that tells us to let go of old, out-of-date, ways and beliefs.  The nakedness of the figures symbolizes openness as well as new beginnings – the state in which we were born into this world, but also the state in which we need to embrace this “re-birth”.  The trumpet, far from being the call to judgement, is in fact the “voice”, the push, the call – however it manifests – to step into the unknown and stop hiding.

© Judgement
Game of Thrones Tarot
Juliet Sharman-Burke, in her Beginners Guide to the Tarot (Connections, 2001), adds “resurrection and resolution” to the list.  She too sees this as an opportunity to greet the new with joy.  She calls it the card of karma, saying “it heralds the time of reaping what has been sown”.  You might see an element of judgement in that but, reading between her lines, I feel it’s more about assessment.  Yes, she does use the word “judge” – “to judge your actions and appraise what you have done” – but she goes on to say it’s more about the preparation for the next stage in life. 

Liz Dean, in the accompanying guidebook to The Game of Thrones Tarot (Home Box Office, Inc., 2017), doesn’t use the word “judgement” in her description of the card.  She writes about being on the edge of a change, and focuses on the need for second chances after a review or appraisal, and about the chance to make sense of the past.

© Judgement
Shadowscapes Tarot

In the accompanying book to the Shadowscapes (Tarot Llewellyn, 2010), Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore do refer to making a judgement.  They talk about holding an accounting, and about it being “time to evaluate the phase of life just past, to recognize and to appraise with an unbiased mind and honesty to oneself”.  They too see Judgement as a card of awakening, of hearing and responding to a voice or call, and the need to respond to it.

The creators of the Wildwood Tarot (Connections, 2011), Mark Ryan and John Matthews, are very clear in their view.  In the accompany book, they write that “The major element in this process [surviving inevitable change] is judgement of yourself and others.”, yet the word “judgement” doesn’t come up in their list of keywords.  “Karma” and “cosmic law” do, as does “inescapable truth”.  They do talk about renewal and rebirth, themes that are echoed in the image that Will Worthington has created for the card.  That idea of rebirth is also seen in the DruidCraft Tarot’s image (also by Will Worthington).

© The Great Bear
Wildwood Tarot
© Rebirth
Druid Craft Tarot

So yes, my challenger was right in saying that the card is about judging the self and others, but I think perhaps it depends on how we define “judgment” – and maybe I need to be clearer about that when I read!  (To be fair, the deck I was reading with, Kim Krans’ Wild Unknown Tarot, does focus on the forgiveness aspect, as I did in the reading.)  Kim Krans’ view is that the word carries such negative connotations – fear, guilt, shame – that it’s more helpful to seek the truth and forgive, not blame.  The image, the dove rising up above all the negativity (the darkness) and spreading its wings reflects that beautifully, I think.

© Judgement
Wild Unknown Tarot
Pollack, Rachel. Seeker: The Tarot Unveiled. Llewellyn Publications, 2005.

Beginner’s Guide to the Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Druid Craft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections
Game of Thrones Tarot, created by Liz Dean, published by Home Box Office, Inc., 2017
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Universal Waite Tarot created by Mary Hanson-Roberts & Pamela Colman-Smith, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Wild Unknown Tarot, created by Kim Krans, published by HarperCollins, 2016.
Wildwood Tarot created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

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