The Judgement card in the Rider-Waite pack can be comparable to an “alarm call”. Have you heard the song by Björk, “Alarm Call”? (YouTube video here. It’s not one of her best videos and the album version is better than the “official video” in my opinion.) In the lyrics, which I have repeated for years and compare to The Judgement card, an excerpt of the song written below:
“This is an alarm-call
So wake-up, wake-up
Today has never happened
And it doesn’t frighten me”
Everyone has a moment when they have their own “enlightened wake-up call”; a moment when you have seen something hundreds of times until one day your perception changes and you can never see that thing as the same way you saw before. It can relate to people as well, when your idea or perception of a person changes and you see them in a whole new light. This can be an understanding of the universe, a problem, or matters big or small, it becomes completely changed. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
When I see the Judgement card, I know it is a wake-up call – my alarm clock going off. The question is, do you hit the “snooze button” and go back to sleep? (Like I normally do – at least three times every. single. morning. It drives my husband crazy) or do you get up and start anew?
Judgement sometimes can mean actually being judged or judging something or someone else… but that becomes our perception. If this is the case, we need to review something which in turn can make us change our perception. Changes to our perception is a process of maturation. How we understood the world at the age of 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45… is different and evolving, each stage is an awakening when we understand something new, different and life altering.
As we mature, progress and our understanding evolves, we sometimes realise there is a higher purpose to our lives. Judgement asks us to look at this possibility and to see if we have found it yet. A higher purpose sometimes doesn’t have to mean extraordinary greatness to change the world on a global scale. This “higher calling” can be as simple as taking care of your family, pets, friends, your community or partaking in productive work or volunteerism. This “higher calling” is what gives your soul purpose and a way to express itself. The Judgement card asks you if you are doing what your soul is called to do. If not, Judgements asks “why not?” This card gives us the opportunity to review our lives, lessons, actions and purpose to see if we are where we want to be and to “wake up” and see where we need to be.
Let’s take for a moment the literal sense of the card as the Catholic “Particular Judgement” (although I personally rather “fantasize” about the more sci-fi futuristic possibility of Terminator Judgment Day… and Skynet. But, that’s just me… say, is there a Terminator Tarot Deck? Just putting that out there. Sarah Connor would be one bad-ass Queen of Swords.)
In Catholicism, at the time of a person’s death there is the “particular judgement” and depending on the state of the person’s soul, they will go to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell. (I’m only using Catholicism as an example, since 1. The card closely relates to this mythology and 2. I have more personal experience with my upbringing of a combination of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox. Although, only now considered a part in my past, such religious “history” is good to know at times.) So, if you see the Judgement card and you think of your “soul” at that present moment in time – whether Catholic or not – how would you rate yourself? Are you getting to where you want to go? Now, this doesn’t have to mean “heaven, purgatory, or hell” but rather just any point of your life. Are you getting to the end destination where you want to be in this life/incarnation? The Judgement card allows you to be the judge of your own life at this moment in time, leaving religion aside if you so choose.
The Judgement card can awaken us to new things around us and within us. It’s like a light switched on in a dark room; an understanding of a mathematical formula that you thought you’d never figure out; a language you finally mastered; an understanding. We take stock of our lives, review, judge, evolve, mature and rise when we meditate on The Judgement.
“I’m no fucking Buddhist, but this is enlightenment.” – Björk, “Alarm Call”