Justice (Tarot card)

Justice (Tarot card)



A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern Tarot interpretaions. [Wood, 1998] However, not all interpretations follow his theology. Please remember that all Tarot decks used for divination are interpreted up to personal experience and standards.

Some frequent keywords are:
* "Impartiality ----- Distance ----- Coldness ----- Justice"

* "Objective mind----- Criticism ----- Being clever ----- Insensitivity"

* "Decision ----- Intellect ----- Analysis ----- Realism ----- Severity"

* "Responsibility ----- Rationality ----- Clear vision ----- Logic and reason"

Mythopoetic Approach

Justice is Athena.

Athena brought not merely the idea of justice, but a model for justice, to Greece. Lurking in this card is the story of the cursed House of Atreus. Atreus broke a promise to Artemis, who in turn cursed his family – a house descended from Pelops and Tantalus, who fed his own son to the gods at a dinner party.

The story comes to a head with Agamemnon, a hero of the Trojan War. Agamemnon was not always heroic, at least in modern eyes. He sacrificed his own daughter, Iphigeneia, to get a favorable wind to Troy – leading directly to his death at the hands of his wife, Clytemnestra, avenging her daughter. Their son, Orestes, in turn sought vengeance for the death of his father by killing his mother. He was then pursued around the world by The Furies, who avenged mothers killed by sons.

Athena called an end to the cycle of vengeance and empaneled the first jury.

Justice mediates the various claims of right, of morality, of duty. In a world of scarcity, not every claim can be met. Justice, in theory, sets forth a system to judge between the claims.

Justice is closely connected to The High Priestess through its cross sum (the sum of the digits). Unlike the hidden knowledge of the High Priestess, Justice is decided in the open, though we hope our intellect and our intuition take us to the same place.

Justice is also connected to Judgment, Key 20, the ultimate weighing of souls.

Maàt was a goddess of justice in Egypt. She ties Judgment with Justice, as she helped judge the souls of the dead.

Justice is older than Athena, of course. Themis, a Titan, lurks in the archetype too. She was a goddess of natural order, and may judge souls after death. She is the intersection of Sacred and Secular order. Themis was the mother of The Fates, who order life and must be accommodated.

Plato said that Athena came from Africa, and if that is so, it is likely that Athena’s origins lie in the Egyptian goddess Neith. Like Athena, Neith was a goddess of war and weaving, associating the card with the tangle of ordered threads that make up the fabric of communal life. Neith was also, in some stories, the mother of Ra, making her an avatar of the Mother Goddess who is the womb and tomb of the Sun.

Justice is also associated with the 11th cards of the Minor Arcana, The Pages. Pages are just beginning the journey. Justice is a necessary, but not sufficient, step in becoming fully human.

While Athena usually upholds the existing order, demanding that everyone receive their due as defined by the current order, she is also the older sister of her brother. This is significant because the second child of Metis is fated to overthrow Zeus (The Emperor). Zeus ate Metis to prevent her from bearing this second child, but there are those who say he awaits the call, and that Athena may take up his mantel if he is never born. Then, Justice may overthrow Power.

When Justice appears in a throw, it usually signals that some injustice needs righting, that something in the world is dangerously out of balance. This could be interior to the Querent (not giving the self its due; arrogance), or it could be the calling of the Querent (to right some external wrong). It is important, however, that the Querent be aware that most things in the exterior world that they perceive (at least as mediated by a tarot throw) are in fact an externalization of some interior process or conflict.

Justice Reversed is the classic signal of life out of balance.

To the right are the scales (Libra), signifying balance; to the left is the sword, signifying accountability.


Justice is traditionally the eighth card and Strength the eleventh, but the influential Rider-Waite-Smith deck switched the position of these two cards in order to make them better fit the astrological correspondences worked out by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, under which the eighth card is associated with Leo and the eleventh with Libra. Today many decks use this numbering, particularly in the English-speaking world. Both placements are considered valid.

In Pop Culture

The Major Arcana cards have inspired many computer games. In the video game Persona 3 the characters of Chihiro Fushima and Ken Amada are associated with the Justice arcana. Justice is also the name of the first boss in "The House of the Dead 4". It also serves as the first boss in "The House of the Dead 4 Special". Justice continues the "House of the Dead" series's tradition of naming its bosses after the Major Arcana of Tarot.


* A. E. Waite's 1910 "Pictorial Key to the Tarot"
* Hajo Banzhaf, Tarot and the Journey of the Hero (2000)
* Most works by Joseph Campbell
* G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., The Owl, The Raven, and The Dove: Religious Meaning of the Grimm's Magic Fairy Tales (2000)
* Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade (1987)
* Mary Greer, The Women of the Golden Dawn
* Merlin Stone, When God Was A Woman
* Robert Graves, Greek Mythology
* Juliette Wood, Folklore 109 (1998):15-24, The Celtic Tarot and the Secret Tradition: A Study in Modern Legend Making (1998)

External links

* [http://trionfi.com/tarot/cards/08-justice/ "Justice" cards from many decks and articles to "Justice" iconography]
* [http://www.tarothermit.com/justice.htm The History of the Justice Card] from The Hermitage.

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