“What is right is not always what is best.”
Just as there is no one true way to read tarot, so there is no one true way to order the cards. The currently accepted numbering evolved into place by the combined and uncoordinated efforts of occultists, tarot readers, and game players over the centuries. As such, in some decks the card now called Justice is sometimes marked with “VIII” (8) and sometimes with “XI” (11). In this exposition, Justice is placed as “XI” (11).
At first impression, the Justice tarot card evokes a sense of righteousness and severity. To be held to a standard that may be clearly defined in understandable statements yet unobtainable by any real person. To the person that has been wronged, the Justice card may evoke a sense of revenge and retribution. Where the person(s) who has committed acts of injustice may be called to atone for their wrongs and to repair the life they have shattered. Both senses are common, but not always upheld by this card.
For most people, doing the right thing and upholding order can be performed with acts of charity and kindness. Don’t steal from others but if you have excess, give to those who don’t have enough. Don’t slander others but do encourage those that need encouragement. Don’t be cruel but do defend those who are not able to defend themselves. This is the spirit of the law that is embodied by the Justice card.
In a one card reading, the Justice card confirms procedural matters and rejects emotional appeals. When asked any question that involves the word “should”, the Justice card answers vaguely and reflects the question back to the Querent. It will not justify the Querent when they are seeking justification for their already committed decisions and will condemn the Querent when they are in the wrong.
For some people, the word of the law that is codified in governing structures is what the Justice card means to them. This rigid phrasing and often more rigid interpretation must be upheld even when application of the letter of the law is harmful to those who did no wrong to others but are singled out, nonetheless. This adherence to the letter of the law regardless of consequences is most seen when the Justice card is ill-aspected or reversed. The law that was supposed to be the shelter and comfort for all becomes a weapon to be used by the rich, the powerful, and/or the corrupt.
An ill-aspected Justice card paired with the Six of Coins is an allusion to bribery or unjustified fines. A well-aspected Justice Card paired with the Two of Cups tells that the partnership will flourish as long as all involved respect each other’s boundaries and mutual assistance. In multi-card readings, the Justice card can represent a time to check on the technical matters of the situation and for the Querent to review their involvement in the matter. If the Justice card is a destination or results card, the Querent can expect to have their efforts examined and sternly graded by third parties that have no direct involvement in the matter. On occasion, the Justice card can represent the legal branch of government, courts, and lawsuits.
If the Querent has been wronged and the Justice card is part of the answer to their query, they should consider if they are seeking retribution or restitution. Retribution is what comes from the letter of the law. Restitution is what comes from the spirit of the law. Sure, the thief could be locked away for years, but how will you regain the value of what was taken? For all that the Justice card represents, it is not able to advise the Querent which moral decision is the “right” one for their circumstance or even how to make such judgements at all.
The Justice tarot card is as impartial as the court it represents. It asks the Querent to review and to judge themselves while also upholding the societal order’s judgement of the matter. Attempts to force judgements one way or the other will often result in uncomfortable exposure and a harsher reckoning. However, like most courts, the judgement of the Justice card is not the last word. It will fall to the Querent to challenge it and to seek a better outcome if not by appeal, then by working to change the circumstance.
Next Card: X – The Wheel of Fortune – “Fortune favors the brave, because the brave are often prepared.”
Noxporium’s Tarot Card Masterpost: 78 Tarot Cards
Previous Card: XII – The Hanged Man – “To gain everything by letting go.”