20. Judgement

Tarot card Judgement seems to refer to the ‘Day of Judgment’ in many ways. A day mentioned in Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious scriptures alike and feared by many believers. On this day, sometime in the future, all people will be judged by God. Studying the symbolism in this card, however, shows that the (hidden) esoteric message is about something quite different, namely the joyous moment when we awaken spiritually, after a long process of diligent, inner work.

The Day of Judgment is mentioned in several places in the New Testament and is usually accompanied by a threatening warning to live ‘righteously’ or else…! So it is not so strange that believers fear this day. Tarot card number 20, however, refers to an entirely different Bible passage. In his letter to the Christians of Corinth, the apostle Paul predicts:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised as incorruptible men, and we also shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

Remarkable about this quote is that Paul says that for this change into ‘an incorruptible man’, you do not necessarily have to die first. With this Paul is referring to a process that he himself also went through: a kundalini awakening, in which not only an expansion of consciousness takes place, but also a light body is formed that is immortal. The last trumpet is a reference to the opening of the last of the seven chakras, which are purified and activated by the kundalini: the crown chakra.

De Viconti-Sforza Tarot

What indications are there that we may interpret the very first tarot cards as a spiritual resurrection as a result of a kundalini awakening? On the 15th century Visconti-Sforza map (right) we see a tomb with, oddly enough, no fewer than three people in it, who are brought to life by the sound of two angels.

The man (left) and the woman (right) represent the two polar energy channels that merge during a kundalini awakening (the two serpents of the staff of the god Hermes/Mercury, illustration on the far right). The old man in the middle is the one who is actually resurrected from his ‘death’: the state of spiritual unconsciousness of most of humanity.

Visconti-Sforza Tarot (15th century)

The Roman god MERCURY (HERMES among the Greeks). His staff the CADUCEUS is the classic symbol for a KUNDALINI awakening. He blows a TRUMPET in this image to represent the flowing of the divine energy (the rising of the kundalini serpent), which he represents. (Johann Theodor de Bry, c. 1570-1598)

Incidentally, this spiritual unconsciousness is also the ‘death’ from which Jesus awakens various people in the Bible to ‘life’, including Lazarus. About Lazarus, Jesus says clearly in the Gospel of John: He is not dead, he is asleep (John 11:11).

Read more about the symbolism in the story about the RAISING OF LAZARUS in my book Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

The fusion of the two polar energy channels is also symbolized on the Visconti-Sforza chart by the crossed trumpets of the angels, and by the cross on the banner attached to the trumpets. The banners also feature a sun, one of the classic symbols for the kundalini energy. The color red of the tomb refers to the completion of the alchemist’s Magnum Opus (the process of God realization).

Also classical is blowing on a trumpet or flute as a metaphor for the working of Gods Holy Spirit in our spine. The Bible also uses this metaphor. In the Old Testament, for example, in the story of the fall of Jericho, we read that God commanded the seven priests of Joshua to blow their seven trumpets of rams’ horns (Joshua 6:4). The swirling air flowing through the horn of the ram mimics the spiraling movement of the kundalini energy. The number seven in this quote refers to the seven chakras that are opened and activated by the kundalini. A ram’s horn, or shofar, is still blown on certain Jewish holidays (illustration below right).

For the deeper meaning of the FALL OF JERICHO, read my book: Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

A schematic representation of the three energy channels involved in a KUNDALINI AWAKENING

The alchemist has completed the MAGNUM OPUS (click here) and rises from the GRAVE of spiritual ‘death’/unconsciousness. Philosophia reformata, J.D Mylius, 1622.

Blowing a RAM’S HORN symbolizes the SPIRALING movement of the KUNDALINI energy in the Bible.

An angel with a trumpet further enhances the image of divine energy flowing into man. Alchemy, which had a lot of influence on the very first tarot cards, also makes use of this metaphor. Below are two examples of alchemical emblems of the Great Work (Magnum Opus) of the alchemist. On both emblems we see the alchemist sowing (one’s own efforts) and an angel blowing a trumpet (God/the kundalini doing His work in us). The staff in the angel’s hand represents the spine.

On the earth lie the two polar energy channels (SUN AND MOON) that merge during the kundalini process/Magnum Opus: 2=1. The angel with the TRUMPET represents the third energy channel in the SPINE: the sushumna nadi with the KUNDALINI flowing in it. (Philosophia Reformata, J.D. Mylius, 1622)

In the center the ‘RESURRECTION’ of the alchemist from spiritual DEATH takes place. (The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine, key VIII, 1599)

The first printed tarot cards

Of the very first printed tarot decks, only a few uncoloured, uncut printed sheets have survived. On both the Rothshield deck and the Budapest-Metropolitan deck (right), God has disappeared and only one angel is blowing his trumpet.

The card still refers to a kundalini awakening. We can deduce this from the esoteric sign of the sacred marriage (the fusion of the masculine and feminine energies) that the angel makes on both cards with one hand (two fingers together: 2=1).

Rothshild sheet, circa 1500.

Budapest-Metropolitan sheet, 16th century.

The Tarot of Marseille and family

The card of the Tarot of Marseille (on the right the version by Jean Dodal) contains two new elements that have to make it clear to us that this card is about a kundalini awakening, or in the words of alchemy: the Magnum Opus. The person in the middle, whose resurrection is concerned, is now blue in color and has a bald spot on the back of his head. Both refer to spiritual completion.

Blue is the color of heaven, of the divine. The flesh-colored man and woman, left and right of him, still represent the polar energy channels.

The bald spot on the back of the man’s head gives the image of two concentric circles; a symbol from alchemy (see two examples on the far right) that, like the cross on the angel’s banner, represents the merging of the masculine and the feminine (the polar energy channels). This element was central to the previous card: The Sun.

Tarot of Marseille, by Jean Dodal (1701-1715)

The Magnum Opus of the alchemist in symbols. The COMPASS, which rests on the large and the small CIRCLE, represents the FUSION of both: 2=1. (Atalanta Fugiens, 1617)

The ‘Philosophers’ Stone’. (The Tenth Key, Basil Valentine, 1599)

Tarot of Paris, 17th century.

The influence of alchemy on the tarot can also be found in the card of the Tarot of Paris (left). At the end of the yellow trumpet (spine) on which the angel blows, we see three more colors: black, white and red. Together these are the colors of the four phases of the Magnum Opus: nigredo, albedo, citrinitas and rubedo, which are initiated by the kundalini energy (the angel).

One bare leg of the angel is visible. This is a reference to the sacred marriage: 2=1.

Also worth mentioning is the card from the Etteilla deck (right). The angel, as he blows his trumpet, holds two other trumpets crossed in his hands. A confirmation for us that the trumpets on the Visconti-Sforza card (above) are crossed deliberately.

Etteilla Tarot (1789)

The Oswald Wirth Tarot

Oswald Wirth’s card (right) contains few new elements. The symbol of the double circle has moved from the back of the risen man’s head to the angel’s forehead. On this card, even more clearly than in the Tarot of Marseilles, the man and the woman are not standing in the tomb, but rise from the grass, to make clear that they have a different (symbolic) meaning than the person in the middle.

The fusion of polar energies is also expressed in Wirth’s card in the angel’s clothing: red and blue, the classic colors for the masculine and feminine.

The mosaics of Château des Avenières (below left) are largely based on Oswald Wirth’s deck. For this card the designer was also inspired by Luca Signorelli’s fresco The Last Judgment (below right). The three resurrected persons in the mosaic are exactly copied from the painting.

Oswald Wirth Tarot (1889)

Château des Avenières (1917)

Resurrection of the Flesh, Last Judgment, fresco cycle by Luca Signorelli, 1499-1502.

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (1909)

Right: an alchemical emblem with the MAGNUM OPUS in symbols. On the left a man (the alchemist) emerging from the WATERS of spiritual unconsciousness. On the right in a cave (symbol for the inner self of the alchemist) the FUSION of the polar energies (man/woman, sun/moon) takes place. Above, in the clouds, a woman with a moon for her head is given birth to the alchemist’s NEW SELF. She is the universal MOON GODDESS, or the KUNDALINI-shakti. (Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier, emblem 34, 1618)

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot

On Rider-Waite-Smith’s card, the open coffins float in the water. The sea is a symbol for the subconscious. This new element reinforces the symbolism of awakening from a state of spiritual unconsciousness. The people rising from the grave are gray in color, to tell us that it is a spiritual resurrection, not a dead body of flesh and blood coming back to life. The mountains in the background represent the expanded consciousness of the awakened human beings.

Both in the foreground and in the background we see a man and a woman, with a child in their midst. This child symbolizes the new self, and represents the wholeness and egolessness of the ‘risen’ person.

The seven stripes on the angel’s trumpet represent the seven chakras along the spine, that are opened and purified by the kundalini.

The Hindu god Krishna with his wife Radha.


Contrary to what the title and images suggest, this tarot card is not about God making a final judgment on how a person has lived. Nor is it about a Biblical resurrection of an already buried body. Tarot card Judgement represents a spiritual awakening; for a ‘resurrection’ from the ‘grave’ of spiritual death/unconsciousness. The end result of a kundalini process.

The angel on this card blowing a trumpet is a metaphor for the flow of divine energy in our spine. Similar symbolism can be seen in alchemy, but also in other spiritual traditions. For example, the Hindu god Krishna, who is recognizable in the iconography by his flute. On the left he is depicted with his wife Radha.

Together they represent the merging of the polarities in man: an important theme of this tarot card. In fact, it is a major theme of the entire Major Arcana. On almost every tarot card an element refers to this so-called ‘sacred marriage. The next and final card of the series, The World, is no exception!

Tarot Maçonnique (Jean Beauchard, 1987)

The angel sits at the top of a ‘kundalini tree’. The staircase symbolizes the chakras that the kundalini purifies and activates. The inner wholeness is symbolized by the ouroboros (the serpent that bites its own tail) in the tree. The triangle pointing downward represents the pelvis/sacrum, the abode of the kundalini.

Nature Spirit Tarot (Paul Struck, 1981)

The lily is a symbol of a kundalini awakening in Ancient Egypt, Judaism and Christianity, among others. Dragonflies spend most of their lives underwater as larvae. Only in the final stage dragonflies become winged insects that live on land and in the air.

Brady Tarot (Emi Brady, 2018)

The eagle, symbol of spiritual completion, brings a (kundalini) serpent up from the earth (pelvis) towards heaven (crown). The bats wake up and fly out of the dark cave they are in, out into the light.

Light Seer’s Tarot (Chris-Anne, 2019)

Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot (Nicoletta Ceccoli, 2014)

This article was written by Anne-Marie Wegh. Copyright July 2021.

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book: Mary Magdalene, the disciple whom Jesus loved.

Illustrations from the tarot decks, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Foto’s Châteaux de Avenières: http://hermetism.free.fr/Avenieres

Share this article

By |2022-06-18T15:21:17+00:00July 29th, 2021|Tarot|Comments Off on Tarot 20. Judgement
Go to Top