Continued from previous posts…
The letter Shin corresponds to the Judgement key. It means tooth and the sharpness that tears apart the limitations of the physical world and our sense of separateness. It represents Divine power as it is the initial letter of two of the Names of God. Qabalists call Shin the “Holy Letter.”
Shin, along with Aleph (The Fool, air) and Mem (The Hanged Man, water) is one of the three mother letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Its element is fire, a perfect metaphor for the passion of spiritual awakening.
In my experience, Judgement seldom appears in readings, and when it does I sit up and reassess the querent. Its appearance means that he is, was, or will be at a significant crossroads in his life—note the cross on the banner. He has arrived at that point as a result of some great catastrophe, or because all his options have gone and he is faced with only these paths, or because of some huge revelation. Whatever it was caused or will cause a spiritual awakening of some sort. His life is probably in turmoil because his view of reality has totally changed. He knows the way he must go, it cries out to him like the blast of the angel’s trumpet. But the way is so difficult, or so dangerous, or so impractical, or so totally bizarre and unbelievable that perhaps he is reluctant to follow it—especially if the card is reversed. If the card is upright, I always advise him to follow it. If the card is reversed there is a possibility that the calling is false, and I check out the other cards in the spread very carefully. If they are favorable I tell him to quit stalling and get on with it.
Unlike Justice, this card is not about personal karma, the things that happen because you’ve earned them; it’s about reassessing one’s life and purpose based on a transformative experience that blasts away all previous beliefs, and reveals a crystal clear truth. This is the card initiate, the resurrected one.
If Judgement appears with the High Priestess and/or The Moon the querent’s awakening is a deeply spiritual one and may involve the quick and possibly disturbing development of psychic powers. If it appears with The Emperor or The Chariot or Kings, it may indicate the awakening of the charisma that is so necessary in a leader.
As the Housewives’ Tarot points out, it may be about the revelation of more mundane, but still important truths–especially if there are no other major arcana in the reading.
Judgement is the penultimate card in the hero’s journey. It is the revelation of the whole point of the exercise, the hallelujah-come-to-Jesus time, the gottcha moment, the hero’s take home lesson. Often we are left to infer what this lesson is and how deeply it affected the hero.
In the movie Avatar, the Judgement moment came when the planet Pandora mobilized itself to fight back. I have no doubt that this mind-blowing demonstration of the interconnectedness of life transformed Jake Sully’s view of reality, but we are left to judge whether or not he really got it from his actions.
Other stories make sure you know the hero got the point.
The movie The Wizard of Oz ends with Dorothy waking up at home and telling her family and friends that “If you can’t find it in your own back yard it’s not worth looking for.” This, simply stated, is the spiritual lesson every guru tries to teach—joy and contentment in the moment.
At the end of Star Wars we are actually shown Luke Skywalker’s spiritual awakening as he heeds the words of his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and uses “The Force” to pilot his space craft into the depths of the Death Star and drop the bomb that will destroy it.
The Judgement moment in a story is the spiritual or philosophical reason for the hero’s journey. It’s what brings the sigh of satisfaction or gasp of wonder at the story’s conclusion. Without it, the journey is meaningless.