Arcana in Balance: Judgement


Tenth time lucky – I hope.

This card has been a challenge for me personally. This is, no kidding, the tenth time I’ve re-written this post. Because of that, I encourage you to read this installment of “Arcana in Balance” with huge  grain of salt. Buyer beware.

As we’ve progressed through the Major Arcana, I didn’t give much thought to the Judgement card & figured I’d just roll out my usual screed about using good judgement vs being judgmental. Until now, the Hierophant / Pope card has been my #1 card-nemesis for a variety of personal reasons. Now “The Last Judgement” is # 1 on the nemesis list (although the Hierophant still runs a healthy second) for essentially the same reasons – all of which are a long story best left for another day.

The card’s personal button-pushing is not the only thing that made Judgement a challenge to understand. With the Pope card the balance point had to do with reconciling two distinct and distant things (group rules & obedience vs personal truth & autonomy). Here, the balance is a finer point, closer together, harder to see.

Using good judgement vs blind judgmentalism is a useful interpretation for the card in general, but it isn’t the card’s lesson in balance. Do one, don’t do the other. Boom. Done.

When I’m doing readings, I’m often drawn to the Diane Morgan interpretation of “consequences and renewal.” Actions have consequences. We have to face up to that,  but once we’ve dealt with the consequences of our mistakes, we’re renewed and free to move on.  It’s more sophisticated understanding, but still not really a balance point. Take responsibility and move on. Boom. Done.

Other interpretations (Andrews, Waite and others) have to do with answering some higher call, finding your life’s purpose, working with the creative process, following spiritual guidance – that sort of thing. Again it is a bit all or nothing…are you finding and following your life’s purpose or not?


It’s subtle – not so much what but how. The balance point lies in the next step beyond this last interpretation. It’s about what you do after you have taken up that mantle of purpose (if, indeed, you do). Once you’ve found your passion, HOW you go about living it comes into play. The way of living your highest truth suggests where we find the balance in the Judgement card and brings things full circle back to using good judgement.

It’s human nature to be enthusiastic about the things we love, and to be a little consumed with the things that “work” for us on either a physical or emotional level – especially when those things are new. There is no harm in speaking your truth. As I see it, that sort of deep authenticity is, in fact, necessary for spiritual growth and emotional survival. Discerning what is right for you (using good judgement) and condemning anyone who disagrees with you (judgementalism) are two different things. Sometimes saying no for the moment and keeping a lid on the life’s purpose thing is the right way to go. Incessant zealotry and demonstrative piousness has to be exhausting, even when that life’s purpose is authentic and heartfelt.

Shakespeare tells us that “discretion is the better part of valor.” The same is true of a balanced approach to assuming our higher calling.  It takes a degree of instinct and a bit of discretion to speak your truth without being overbearing about it. It takes a calculated courage to speak your truth, without being cowed by other people’s harsh judgments. It seems to be a delicate balance of doing, doing too much and doing too little.

The subtle balance is between quietly protecting your truth, living your truth, and beating the rest of the world over the head with your truth. Leaving all religious connotations out of it…when life’s trumpet sounds do you ignore it, dance to it, or think anyone who doesn’t like your tune is an idiot?

It is a difficult balance to find within the card, and even more difficult one to execute, but if nothing else, it makes for a very interesting card. I hope it is an easier one for you.





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