General Description: We see a man, woman, and child rising up out of a chamber backdropped by a calm golden sea and pale blue mountains. The man is holding a golden trumpet with a red equal-armed cross, blown or consumed by what appears to be a solar storm. The name of the card is “Judgement.” Read on to learn about the Major Arcana XX Judgement card from a symbolic and mythological perspective.
The number of the card is 20, or XX in Roman Numerals. According to Affinity Numerology, “As an overview, the … number 20 represents a composition containing the ideas of: relationships, teamwork, companionship, coexistence, and diplomacy.”
The characters: Depending on the querent’s intention and the placement of this card in the spread, the man, woman, and child can reflect a generational approach to the interpretation of the card or a nuclear family; trinity of the masculine, feminine, and androgynous; and creation through partnership, teamwork, companionship. Notice the position of the arms on each character…the child’s arms are open to All-That-Is, the woman’s arms cross her chest in humble adoration and thanks, the man holds his arms high to support the golden, fiery trumpet, seemingly triumphant. This is a cumulation of joy, thanks, and acknowledgement. It also brings about a sense of awakening.
The mysterious chamber: from a progression perspective, what appears as possible coffin imagery could be seen as the passage for Inanna’s triumphant ascension from the underworld, Persephone’s successful return to the upper world, or Dante’s climb back up the mountain to Beatrice. Or, Resurrection and New Life. This card is associated with the planet Pluto, which is also the Greek god of the underworld, and was Persephone’s husband. This chamber or tomb appears to be an underworld passageway.
The water is golden (calmly reflecting the solar storm and fiery trumpet), is still and easily navigable; the mountains are an easy climb—the hard work is over. The going is no longer difficult, and the atmosphere provides a sense that all is well and to be celebrated, as purpose has been achieved.
The trumpetis also golden and can be seen as the Angel Gabriel’s horn, giving significance to this card as a messenger. Trumpet blasts are used to cause one to pay attention, to notify, announce, or proclaim—when a trumpet is sounded there is a call to action, be it to go to battle, to stop and celebrate, or otherwise notice a situation. Given the overall atmosphere of the card in its upright position, it can be assumed this is a celebratory horn. Or, does this card signify that you have a calling you need to pay attention to? Maybe you’ve had a realization that needs attention?
The Equal-Armed Cross: aka the balanced cross, peaceful cross, square cross, or Greek cross. Predating Christianity it signified the four seasons, four winds (or directions, Hopi, Middle Eastern), four elements (Greek); the center point meeting place of the divine energies (Celtic); and balance. What stands out is the trinity of the man, woman, child, but don’t forgot how omnipresent spirit, angel, or solar god is in this card, making up the balanced four.
The “Solar flare”: a massive solar storm could wipe out a huge swath of global technology—as a spiritual analogy this massive blast of solar / sun god energy could represent a purging of the soul through a dark night, bringing life back into balance (see the equal-armed cross paragraph above), emerging back into the light. The element associated with this card is, aptly, fire.
Various Mythologies illustrated: The myths of Persephone and Pluto / Hades, Inanna’s descent and return, and Dante’s climb back up the mountain to Beatrice have already been mentioned—they are all dark night of the soul myths. Additional mythologies that could be explored during a reading include the various sun gods or solar deities: Sol (Roman), Helios (Greek), Ra (Egyptian), to name a few. Sun gods are generally depicted as male—masculine energy that moves around the earth nourishing it with sunlight. As well, notice the fairytale mentioned the “reverse” paragraph.
Possible Meanings (depending on the placement of the card in a spread): Triumph in the active, masculine aspects of the world. Success on all levels. Victory over something you’ve been working at for a long time. A long-held dream begins to come to fruition. Interrelation / unfolding, Self-evaluation (inner father, mother, child aspects), awakening, the course of your life has changed.
When Major Arcana XX Judgement Comes in Reverse: Why are you doubting, judging yourself too harshly, ignoring some significant or small success, not giving credit where credit’s due, are stuck in an inner prison (not doing the work to ascend from the underworld)? A German fairytale collected by the Grimms Brothers, “The Bright Sun Brings it to Light,” might be an interesting take to consider if this card comes into a spread in reverse and other cards surrounding it warrant a deeper dive.
Summary: This card, in the end, signifies a Divine decree has been made—it’s time to celebrate, or go within and determine what you’re ignoring before you lose an opportunity. This is not about Divine punishment, but instead Divine intervention—a sign to celebrate a job well done, or to notify you with a loud fiery trumpet blast that it’s time to get on the stick!
Major Arcana XX Judgement Description