While it is true that Justice was originally card 8 and Strength card 11, I’m glad Waite switched them around. It makes sense to me to have this card–the card of judicious balance–to be the one linking the first ten numbered cards with the second ten numbered cards. It also marks a distinct change in the pattern of the Major Arcana. In the first half, different cards stood as different pairs of a duality. The Magician and the High Priestess formed a dyad, as did the Emperor and Empress, Empress and High Priestess, Emperor and Magician, High Priestess and Hierophant, Hierophant and Magician, Hierophant and Emperor. Eventually the Chariot emerged as a master card, holding the dyads and controlling them so that they could work together. Justice, however, takes it a step further and brings that control internally, so that different dyads can exist in one figure.
In the Waite card, this unification can actually be seen in the Justice figure herself. She sits, like the High Priestess, between two pillars. But she is clad in the Magician’s red rob, and has one arm up and one arm down, just as the magician does.
In other respects, Justice is exactly what her name entails: Justice. She wears the red of passion and courage, but it is tempered with a green cloak: compassion. Her scales are also level–noting that truth is often a matter of balancing the different perceptions of others–and her sword stands fully at the ready, and will cut both ways. It is also to be noted that Justice here is not blindfolded. Rather, her stare is a challenge to the querent to honestly examine his or her own life, free from the past and from the frames we’ve placed on it through time, culture, and other limitations. It is a challenge for us to shift these artificial restraints and exact our own free will.
Robin Wood’s card shares many of the symbols of Waite’s. Wood, however, notes that she gave Justice a fair complexion to show the ‘fairness’ of her nature, and a laurel wreath to show Truth’s ultimate victory. Her Justice is especially strong in countenance, and very steady. She is comfortably and solidly seated: she will not rush to judgement in order to make sure the truth will out. She is calm because passion plays no part in her decisions. Her eyes are open so that she may see all sides to the argument.
Wood makes the observation that the Red/Green colors of Justice’s robe and cape are the respective colors of the God and Goddess, and their energies of courage and vitality are balanced in her. Her clothing is lined in purple to show the depth of her wisdom and the majesty of her justice.
Unlike Waite’s Justice, who sits before a purple cloth, Wood’s sits before nature: open air, trees, hills, and sky. This is to show that her justice is calm and as ancient as the hills, but also vibrant and alive! The epitome of open-thinking!
KEYWORDS: Fairness, Justice, Truth, Self-Examination, Self-Honesty, Unbiased Thought.
Close your eyes and visualize a situation that you believe is causing difficulty in your life. Allow the image of this scene to become a blur of many colors. The colors blend and become a single hue. Simultaneously, imagine that you become hollow. Then imagine this empty space within you becoming the entire universe of planets, stars, and vast empty space. Once you see this, inhale deeply, taking in the color that represented your situation. See the color pass through you and dissipate in the vast neutrality of empty space.
Keep the Justice card with you or place it on your altar. Focus your attention on your judgements and discriminations throughout the day. You do not have to change your actions or your thoughts. However, at the end of the day, take time to consider how often you deferred to the judging, discriminating mind. How did your thoughts influence your actions and decisions? How might daily judgement-influenced action add up to change the course of your life? What might a judging mind keep you from achieving or attaining? How does it affect your relationships with other people? How does it affect how you relate to the world?
The card descriptions are a combination of my own insights and paraphrasing from a handful of sources. I’m currently working with Rachel Pollack’s book The New Tarot Handbook, Robin Wood’s Robin Wood Tarot: The Book, and a smattering from Waite’s Pictorial Key. I also strongly recommend Joan Bunning’s book Learning the Tarot as well as the resources found on her website, learntarot.com.