The Justice card depicts a noble figure seated upon a throne, holding an upright sword in one hand and a pair of balancing scales in the other. This card appears quite solemn and austere and is often associated with some harsh form of judgement. However, Justice is less about passing sentence and more about understanding that all our actions have a possible consequence to them.
The Story behind the Card
Each of the 78 cards of the Tarot has a story associated with it. That story is a slice of larger story: the Fool’s Journey. The Fool’s Journey is an allegorical tale, representing the lessons we all have to learn along life’s highway. In the case of Justice, the Fool is feeling dissatisfied with his life and is seeking some new inspiration. He sits at a crossroads and is unable to pin-point just what he feels is missing from his existence. Whilst there, he notices a blind woman overseeing an argument between two brothers. One brother is obviously rich and the other is obviously much poorer. The argument concerns the inheritance left by their father; the rich brother has been left everything in the will and claims that is how it should be. However, the poorer brother argues that he should have the inheritance, as the richer brother will only waste it.
After some deliberation, the woman reaches a decision and instructs the rich brother to give his sibling half of his fortune. While the Fool thinks this is completely fair, neither of the brothers is happy. The rich brother is angry at losing half of his wealth, while the poor one believes that he should have all of it.
Once they have left, the Fool approaches the blind woman and says that he thought she had done the right thing. She agrees, saying that the reduction in wealth will prevent the richer brother being so wasteful, while the poorer one will have all that he actually needs. The decision works for them both, even though cannot see it.
Thinking on this, the Fool realises that he has been guilty of something similar. On his travels he has sought to attain material gain and has neglected his spiritual side. This is the imbalance he was feeling as he reached the crossroads. The Fool sets out on a new path, determined to restore balance to his inner scales.
Justice in our Lives
The Justice card focuses our powers of observation. Gaining a good perspective on a problem or situation often means quietening our emotional selves and listening to our powers of rationale. Only by embracing the more detached aspects of our characters can we hope to give a fair and balanced judgement. However, the card also serves to remind is that all our actions have consequences - excesses of behaviour in particular. Just as an excess of drink and drugs can affect our health, an excess of spiritual pursuit can lead to missed opportunities in the physical world. In order to get the most from life and to make the best decisions, we must strive for balance in everything that we do.
In grand terms, the card reminds that we must try to find harmony between our physical, emotional, spiritual and social selves. It can suggest that a querent is neglecting a particular aspect of their life and that the time has come to address those neglected terms.
In more physical terms, drawing this card can signify a time in which we must employ our reason and use it as our first reserve. It might mean the dawning of a court case or the need to peruse some legal documents. Alternatively, it might mean addressing the structure of a relationship or marriage and restoring the balance to it. However, as with the unhappy compromise between the brothers, the outcome of all this rational investment might not be what the querent wants, but it will certainly be what he or she needs.
Justice Past, Present and Future
Part of the underlying message behind the Justice card is the acceptance of responsibility for our actions. Actions that are ill-considered or executed without thought will bring consequences that will take us by surprise. However, if we take the time to analyse the potential ramifications of our deeds, we will at least be prepared for them and be able to address them, accordingly.
If the card spread is focussing on the present, then the Justice card represents a decision that the querent is going to have to make very soon. It also suggests that the decision to be made will be an irreversible one, one that will set the foundations for the querent’s life to come.
If the reading is concerned with the past, the message is that the current state of the querent’s life, be it good or bad, can be traced to a particular decision made some time ago. It generally signifies that the querent made a choice to break with certain aspects of their life at that time and forge a new path for the future. However, if the reading is concentrating on future events, drawing the Justice card suggests that the querent’s current concerns are leading them to a point where they will have to make a significant and life-changing decision. No matter how small those concerns may be at the moment, all those threads will converge at some point in the future, to create a crossroads that will have a far-reaching impact on the querent’s life.
When drawn in the reversed position, Justice has a very clear-cut meaning. While it is still concerned with attaining balance, it tells the reader that the querent is getting too much or too little of something. In this instance, it refers to injustice and that things are not unfolding fairly or with any harmonious intent. At this time, the querent is best advised to look within themselves and at the situation around them, to discern just where the imbalance lies. Reversed, Justice suggests that the sword of our intellect is powerless and that the scales are no longer up to the job, and the whole concept of Justice, at this point, has gone askew. It is our job to address this, and once again rebalance the scales as we travel along our own ‘Fool’s Journey’.