Basic Card Symbols
Angel, trumpets, graves with people rising from them, often water or an ocean.
See examples of different Judgment cards here.
Basic Tarot Story
As the Fool leaves the garden of the Sun, he feels that he is near the end of his journey, ready to take a final step. But something is keeping him from doing this, holding him back. He gazes up, hoping to find guidance from the Sun; instead he sees above him a fiery angel, beautiful and terrible.
"You are right," the Angelic figure confirms, "you have only one last step on your journey, one final step to completion. But you cannot take that step until you lay your past to rest." The Fool is perturbed. "Lay it to rest? I thought I'd left it behind, all of it," he says. "There is no way to do that," The Angel observes. "Each step wears down the shoe just a bit, and so shapes the next step you take, and the next and the next. Your past is always under your feet. You cannot hide from it, run from it, or rid yourself of it. But you can call it up, and come to terms with it. Are you willing to do that?"
The Angel hands the Fool a small trumpet. The Fool is hesitant, but he knows that this is a final decision. Either to go forward, or stay where he is. He blows, and the trumpet's song echoes across the sky, its vibrations seeming to crack open the Earth. From under the Fool's feet, memories rise. Images of his innocent youth, challenges, loves, failures, losses, success, disillusionment and wisdom.
For the first time, he does not try to leave them, ignore or forget them, but accepts them. They are, he sees, nothing to fear. They happened, but they are gone now. He, alone, carries them into the present. With that understanding, the memories vanish. Though they remain in his mind, they no longer have any power over him. He is free of them, reborn, and wholly in the present.
Basic Tarot Meaning
With Fire as its ruling element (or Pluto as its ruling planet), Judgment is about rebirth, resurrection. The idea of Judgment day is that the dead rise, their sins are forgiven, and they move onto heaven. The Judgment card is similar, it asks for the resurrection to summon the past, forgive it, and let it go. There are wounds from the past that we never let heal, sins we've committed that we refuse to forgive, bad habits we haven't the courage to lose. Judgment advises us to finally face these, recognize that the past is past, and put them to rest, absolutely and irrevocably. This is also a card of healing, quite literally from an accident or illness, as well as a card signaling great transformation, renewal, change.
Golden Light's Observations
Judgment is often a hard card to read; it usually signals just a big change, one that involves leaving something old completely behind and stepping into something completely new. Like closing the door on an old job, and opening the door to a new and very different career. But it's also about making a final decision, to take that plunge into the new career, to forgive your family, to leave an abusive spouse, to make a new life. To heal and renew. It's a very hard card to read, in part because it deals with very hard and final decisions. And it means facing something that most Querents don't want to face. You can't hide any longer, this card says, all the dead have risen and are out in the open. Face what you have to face; make that decision. Change.