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Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
One thing I love about Tarot is the way my understanding of it evolves in parallel to my own spiritual development.  I started reading Tarot 40 years ago this summer at the age of 13.   Transported from an urban area to a small rural town, I was the only person I knew with a Tarot deck - leaving me pretty much on my own with the little white book that came with the cards.  

My initial understanding of Tarot came from that little booklet, courtesy of Arthur Waite and US Games and I dutifully committed all of the definitions to memory.  Of Judgement the little white book says:  "20.  The Last Judgment.- Change of position renewal, outcome.  Reversed: Weakness pusillanimity [timid or cowardly], simplicity; also deliberation, decision, sentence."   So when I read for people, that was what I would say.

For me, however, that interpretation never felt quite right.  It seemed too general and very inconsistent with the picture displayed on the card which seemed, in spite of my completely secular upbringing, to be obviously religious.  Going by the picture was a problem for me as well as I had very little understanding of what the booklet  called (but did not explain) "The Last Judgement."

So I began to read the card somewhat vaguely as commentary on taking responsibility for ones actions and an awareness of karma which was as close I could come to the tenets of mainstream religion.

As time passed however I found myself revising again, interpreting the card generally as an awakening or new  awareness of whatever circumstances were predominate in the reading at hand and I continued to read it that way for several years.  In the late 90s however my spiritual frame of reference began to change and as I became increasingly fascinated with angels I began to read every winged card in the deck as an indication of their presence.  In some respects I still do that.

My understanding of the Judgement card has continued to expand however.  I still see the presence of the archangel Gabriel and all the wonderful qualities of this compassionate being when I look at the Judgement card but I see the promise of spiritual awakening and ultimate transformation, as well.  When this card falls in a reading it may still speak of a new awareness of circumstance but in such a way as to afford us the opportunity to advance, a soul level lesson, an opportunity for a revision of our understanding of the divine.

While not a believer in the traditional Christian concept of the Rapture, I do read this card as a call to a higher reality, seeing in it both the mystery of the upper worlds of Kabbalah and the spark that can be activated in any one of us at any time.

*Special thanks to Christiana Gaudet for her wonderful recent blog entry on the Judgement card @ TarotTopics.org which in turn inspired this article.

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  1. I agree with you 1000%. When I was young, I always saw the Judgment card as an Angel, but now, it has changed, although I still use it sometimes, to represent more of a spiritual awakening, an ascension. Isn't it ironic, that the cards which depicts a spiritual awakening, spiritually awakens us to the point, that its meaning changes, each time we evolve. The card is alive.

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  2. Hi Tara. Yes it is! That didn't occur to me until you pointed it out but the parallel between the fundamental meaning of the card (awakening) and the evolution of interpretations over time (reawakening)is striking on so many levels. Thank you for commenting!

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