Read the previous post in the blog hop at Oephebia’s blog here: https://oephebia.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/wheel-of-fortune/
I confess I was intimidated when I saw my card assignment for the International Tarot Day Blog Hop. For me, Justice is one of the more difficult cards of the major arcana. The Moon, the High Priestess, Death or even The Tower are cards that I connect to easily, whose energy and message is usually clear to me. But Justice…Justice can be harder for me to wrap my head around. And isn’t it just like the tarot- in this case, in the form of participation in a blog hop- to throw you an archetype you need to work with and a lesson you need to learn? With that in mind, I humbly dive into this card.
Justice in the Fool’s Journey
One of the interesting aspects of the Justice card is that it changes places with the Strength card in the order of the major arcana, depending on what deck you are using. (Justice and Strength are two of the cardinal virtues represented in the tarot- the third and final virtue is Temperence.) Traditionally Justice sat at number 8 in the order of the major arcana- just after The Chariot and just before The Hermit. When Arthur Waite created his popular and influential deck that came to be known as the Rider-Waite-Smith in 1909, he switched the places of Justice and Strength in his deck, making Justice number 11 and Strength number 8, to align the cards with the Golden Dawn’s astrological correspondences. Today, when you pick up a deck you may find Justice at #8 and Strength at #11, or vice versa.
When thinking about the major arcana, I like to meditate on The Fool’s Journey, the journey through the archetypes and lessons taken by The Fool, who represents each of us. Many readers think of this journey in 3 stages, dividing the 21 cards of the major arcana (not including The Fool, usually placed at 0) into 3 sets of seven. The first stage, cards 1-7, deals with the physical or material realm; the second stage, cards 8-14, the realm of the mind; and finally the third stage, cards 15-21, is the realm of the spiritual- our higher self and connection with the divine. If we conceptualize the journey this way, then card #8, be it Justice or Strength, represents the first step on a new stage of our journey, the realm of the mind, where we learn about ourselves, how to align our efforts with our purpose in this life, and how to draw on our inner strengths as we make our way on this journey. Card #11 falls in middle of this second stage of the journey.
Wherever Justice appears on our journey, we must ask ourselves what this archetype means and how it challenges us in our own lives.
Meditations on Justice
Many spiritual paths, from ancient times to today, have a concept of divine justice, and colloquial conceptions reflect these notions. “What goes around comes around.” “They’ll get theirs.” “They’ll get what they deserve.” These phrases reflect the idea that there is ultimately balance in the universe- that any action we take sets in motion a response that will answer us in kind.
This divine justice would be an unerring justice- whether we act or not, whether we can see it or not, justice will take its course. Interestingly, modern laws of physics seem to confirm this understanding of the universe. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In a creative interpretation, the wonderful Science Tarot deck even uses the law of conservation of energy as its Justice card.
We, as humans, are not unerring- we make mistakes. Yet we aspire to the ideal- to create perfect justice in our world, and in our lives.
The symbolism of Justice
The most well-known and influential decks depict Justice as a woman, holding a sword in her right hand and the scales of justice in her left. These are the most basic and recognizable elements of the Justice card. The same elements are traditionally found in any personified representation of the allegorical justice, including many paintings, statues, and other works of art from around the world. Although many of the allegorical works depict Justice blindfolded (a tradition that post-dates the earliest tarot decks), in the tarot she typically has her eyes open.
The civilizations of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome revered goddesses of justice, and since that time Justice has taken the form of a woman in Western society. She holds scales for weighing the matter before her, and a sword to restore balance once a determination has been made. We might imagine that Justice first looks to her scales, then to her sword as she takes action to restore balance to the situation.
For those of us looking to create justice in our lives and our world, perhaps we need the sword both before and after the scale. The Justice card speaks to us of the archetypal sense of justice- not balancing everyday things like we might do with the 2 of Pentacles, but seeing the truth at the heart of a matter and responding based on that knowledge. The sword can help us to cut away what might keep us from seeing the truth- the illusions, the preconceived notions, the mental clutter. We need to cut these things away to see clearly. And then, we weigh only the truth before us.
Once we can see clearly, it is time for us to act. We use our sword to right the wrong and address the imbalance. And so, the Justice card asks a lot of us. It is not easy to wield the sword, and it is a great responsibility. We sometimes need to make difficult decisions to serve what is true and what is right, rather than what is comfortable or popular.
And so whether we find Justice at number 8 or number 11 on our journey, we must learn to seek what is true and cut away what is not. We may find as we work with the sword and the scales of justice we connect more deeply with the truth not only of ourselves but of the world around us. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This is another stage of the journey that teaches us not only the great responsibility of our life, but the reflective connection between what is within and without. And so this card challenges us to seek Justice everywhere.
I hope you all have been enjoying this blog hop! Please see Momma Tarot’s blog at https://mommatarot.com/hanged-man for the next blog in the hop. Thank you for reading!