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Judgement Meaning – Smith-Waite Centennial

The trump suit or Major Arcana have made their first appearance in our Card of the Day free tarot reading. And with Major Arcana number 20, Judgement, coming up today, it's a pretty loud entrance!  

We unpack this boisterous card below. Compared to the last couple days' Eight of Swords and Ten of Swords Reversed, it's a somewhat softer way to end our first week here at Witch Hazel Tarot. How will you respond to Judgement's call?

Judgement Tarot Card Meaning: Detailed image description of card in body text. Card is pictured against a blue-black background next to a clear box of glass and brass containing the rest of the Smith-Waite deck.

Judgement in the Smith-Waite Centennial Deck

I tend to think of Pamela Colman Smith's Judgement card as one of the more tonally ambiguous in the Rider-Waite-Smith decks. For one thing, it's jam-packed with characters. And for another thing, they're up to some wacky stuff. Oh, and there is of course a giant, golden-haired angel peeking out over the clouds to blow a brassy horn at naked humans below.

With great red wings and a flag of Saint George, the dragon-slayer, this angel is hard to ignore. But there's also a lot more going on. Below the clouds, the naked people are standing up in floating grey boxes. The boxes have an air of caskets, since many of them have open lids. But these people don't appear to be lost at sea. The shore is in sight, with green hills and trees in the distance. And above, we see tall mountains whose silhouette parallels the waves below.  

Solidarity and social pressure

In many traditional interpretations, the Judgement card represents an opportunity to follow a divine or spiritual calling and align yourself with a higher purpose. But for me personally, that angle isn't so compelling. I invite you to consider an alternative implication of this card, which is effacing personal interests to fit in with the status quo. Instead of second chances, we could also read this card as a stern authority figure.

But however you look at it, our daily tarot card serves as an opportunity to check in with yourself. Do you want to answer a summons and receive a new opportunity to fit into a social role? Or do you want to cast your eyes earthward and shed the weight of some heavy expectations?  

Judgement reminds us to chart our own course and let others chart theirs

A lot of us are turning to tarot and other forms of divination to feel inspired again. And I think it's safe to say that many of us share a taste for the unconventional. Even for me personally, opening Witch Hazel Tarot this past week has been a bit of a nervewracking experience. I've been reading tarot for years now, but I'm still not fully public about this interest. It can be really tough to defy norms and expectations. In terms of Judgement, what's the right way to reconcile all that deep, dark, untameable water with that desire to lay yourself bare and find acceptance?

In Judgement, we see adults and children responding in rapture to an angel's lawful call. And certainly there is ample scope for validation, solidarity, and discovery in taking up social traditions or fulfilling important roles. Nevertheless, we find ourselves together here in a wide and beckoning landscape. Today's tarot card asks us if we're ignoring opportunities by following all the rules. You might be called today to choose between absolution and authenticity. Which path beckons you?

S.M. signature — Savanna Margaret's initials

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