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The Justice Card in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in astrology, Myers Briggs, and pop culture with expertise in relationships and dating.

Justice relates to whether you're taking responsibility for your actions or not. The card fits in legal scenarios. Understanding the good and the bad is crucial to the card.

Justice relates to whether you're taking responsibility for your actions or not. The card fits in legal scenarios. Understanding the good and the bad is crucial to the card.

The Justice Card

The Justice is either numbered VIII or XI in Tarot — it depends on the deck. The Justice traditionally takes the eighth place. In newer decks, it switches places with the Strength card to be in the eleventh place.

The Justice is in the Major Arcana. 22 cards are in the Major Arcana; it deals with profound situations that people run into in their lives.

The Minor Arcana is made up of 56 cards dealing with general day-to-day progress and overall results. The Minor Arcana deals with the four suits: wands, pentacles, swords, and cups.

The suits deal with the elements:

  • Wands represent fire.
  • Pentacles represent earth.
  • Swords represent air.
  • Cups represent water.

Fire rules free-will. Earth rules material resources, including the physical body. Swords rule thoughts. Cups rule emotions.

The Justice must understand all the elements. The Justice will preside over cases. They'll have to dissect all the nuances and variables to determine a ruling. The Justice's role is to bring balance and order. The Justice also has the ability to rule out punishments.

Card Description

The Justice holds a scale made of gold in their left hand, symbolizing a balanced decision. In the person's other hand, they hold a sword. The Justice wears long red robes. They sit between two pillars. A curtain is behind them. They wear a crown of gold.

The Justice is similar to cards that appeared before it.

  • The High Priestess also wears robes. She sits between two pillars. There is a covering behind her.
  • The Justice sits on a throne with a crown on their head, similar to the Emperor. The Emperor holds a scepter. The Justice holds a sword.
  • The Chariot figure also wears a crown. The Chariot isn't seated between two pillars, but he is between two beasts.
  • The Magician traditionally wears red robes, which are similar to the Justice's.
  • The Hierophant also sits between two pillars, wears a crown, and has red robes.

Card Alignments

Upright

Equity, rightness, lawfulness, justice, fairness, balance, moderation, executive decision, favorable court order, restitution, reconciliation, truth, intentional process, deliberate thinking, mandate.

Reversed

Law in all its departments, legal complications, bigotry, bias, excessive punishment, corruption, unequal distribution, unfair judgment, partial, easily swayed, bought out by money.

Balance is the point of Justice. When the scales are not on the same level, then something is wrong. Balance is needed for equality.

Balance is the point of Justice. When the scales are not on the same level, then something is wrong. Balance is needed for equality.

The Numbering Issue

The Justice traditionally takes the eighth place. The influential Rider-Waite-Smith deck switched the position of the card with Strength.

The reasoning for the switch was that it better fit with the astrological correspondences worked out by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. According to it, the Strength card has associations with Leo. The Justice card has associations with Libra.

Since Leo appears before Libra in the zodiac, it made sense to switch the Strength and Justice cards.

The Cipher Manuscripts

The card switch was first suggested by the Cipher Manuscripts, which formed the basis for the Golden Dawn's teachings regarding the Tarot.

  • The Cipher Manuscripts are a collection of 60 folios.
  • They contain outlines on magical initiation rituals.
  • The teachings correspond to the elements: fire, earth, air, and water.
  • The folios are drawn in black ink on cotton paper. Watermarked 1809.
  • The text is in English.
  • Numerals are substituted for Hebrew letters.
  • Tarot cards are interspersed in the text.
  • One page transcribes words into French and Latin.
  • The Ciphers also took a look at Hermeticism, Alchemy, Kabbalah, and Astrology.
  • 19th century scholars of the Magical arts would have been knowledgeable on these subjects.
  • The date of the manuscript is in question. It contains a reference to the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. A text scholars couldn't understand before deciphering the Rosetta Stone in 1822. Book of the Dead wasn't published in translation until 1842.

Tarot: It's Linguistics, Not So Much Magic

I don't think the Golden Dawn or any magical order, religious sect, or the like has full control over something like Tarot cards, meditation, prayer, speaking in tongues, and the like.

Tarot cards at their base level are a game, that was the original intent of their creation back in the 15th century. The cards are about experiences and circumstances people commonly have. The cards are pumped with symbols, which is attractive to the occult, but that doesn't mean they can't be seen with more grounded eyes. The cards can be used by people of any background.

Tarot cards are more of a linguistic tool than anything else. They're meant to remind you of lore, history, and familiar concepts. Linguistics is the study of symbols and language — and that's simply the basis of Tarot cards.

Justice is a necessary phase of life that is often painful. You may review what you did in your 20s and recognize where you fell short and where you had maturity.

Justice is a necessary phase of life that is often painful. You may review what you did in your 20s and recognize where you fell short and where you had maturity.

Symbolism

Libra

The figure of Justice relates to the zodiac sign Libra. Libra is the 7th sign and is ruled by air. The card is ruled by the planet Venus. The Justice is supposed to make their rulings based in love not fear.

The figure sits between two pillars, which symbolize law and structure. The Justice holds a scale, which is the symbol of Libra. In the other hand: a sword, a symbol of air.

The Justice must lead by compassion. The purple veil in the background symbolizes compassion.

The Sword

The sword points upward, signifying a firm and final decision. The sword is used as a gavel. The double-edged blade shows that the decision has consequences that carry out in more than one way.

The Clothes

The Justice's crown represents their well-ordered thoughts. The crown signifies rank and demands respect. The golden color relates to power, divinity, and knowledge.

The Justice wears a red robe with a green mantle. The red represents free-will and the green represents senses. The Justice balances out both free-will and temptation. The Justice has a mastery of self-control.

A little bit of their white shoes sticks out from under the robes. The white represents the spirit and is the foundation for the whole of one's self.

  • The feet represent Pisces, which is considered the sign of Christ.
  • The feet carry and support the rest of the physical body.

Upright Justice

The Justice card reveals that you will be held accountable for your actions. If you have acted in accordance with your Higher Self and the greater good of others then you should have no worries.

If you have been egotistical and taken advantage of others for your own gain then you should expect that you'll be judged sharply for your indiscretions.

The Justice card comes to people with a level of compassion. This person understands varied circumstances, what motivates people's choices, and how the system comes into play. A Justice is meant to be fair: they shouldn't just punish you but encourage correction. A Justice should be defined by grace because that is the key for growth.

Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

When the Justice card appears, it means you should take responsibility for your actions. You need to be accountable to what you believe.

This card makes the most sense in a legal situation. The upright Justice is positive if you're trying to win a case. A ruling will be passed soon. Once a ruling is made, you must accept it and move on graciously.

The Justice card gives you a push in the right direction when it comes to making hard choices. This is why this card might make more sense after the Chariot, which is about fusing two streams of thought into one choice. The Justice demands that a choice be made.

When the Justice card appears you should:

  • Consider how your actions and decisions have an impact on others.
  • Listen to your intuition.
  • Consider what aligns with your Highest Good. Pick the best available option.
  • Avoid the selfish choice. If your choice only benefits you, then it was likely a decision for your ego.
  • Get back to the basics: what is right and what is wrong?
  • Search for the truth.
  • Challenge yourself and explore new territories of your belief system.
Justice is a call to action. It means change needs to take place.

Justice is a call to action. It means change needs to take place.

Reversed Justice

The reversed Justice suggests that you know you've done something wrong. You've gone against your conscience.

Others may not know you have done something wrong. You have the choice to either hide the truth or bring it out into the open.

If you hide your mistake, it may end up tormenting you. If you bring the mistake into the open, it could come with consequences — but you'll eventually find relief.

The reversed Justice suggests you're not willing to be accountable for your actions. You may try to dodge the bullet. You blame others for your grievances. If you can't admit to your shortcomings then you are owned by your ego. If this continues for too long: you could be a narcissist.

  • Keep in mind that all humans have shortcomings. It's okay to make mistakes. Growth demands mistakes.
  • If you have blatantly done something wrong, then you need to take ownership of it.
  • Apologies are the beginning of healing.
  • You may need to forgive yourself. Write down the things that haunt you and do something about it to correct it.

It's better to accept responsibility than be haunted by your past. Do what you can to set things right. When you free yourself of guilt, it will empower you to make better decisions.

The Inner Critic

The reversed Justice is your inner critic. It evaluates your day to day choices. If the inner critic is coming down too hard on you then you struggle with self-forgiveness.

Accept both your good and bad traits to set yourself free. When you accept your bad traits, then you can do something about it.

Biased

If you're making a decision that impacts others make sure you're aware of your own biases. You need to play fair.

If we are too biased, we could make decisions that are unequal. Some people will find favor and grace while others will be mercilessly punished. You have to reign in your biases if you want to be fair and balanced.

Legal Situations

If you're involved in a legal matter, you might be expecting an unfair outcome. You may have to dispute the final judgment, which can be taxing.

Legal complications are possible because the system isn't perfect. Blocks to justice are painful and can be traumatizing.

It can make you feel lonely when your legal support fails but know others have been in your situation. Look for support groups. Your story matters.

And most importantly: don't let fear drive you.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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