11. Justice

NOTE: In some decks, card 11 may be Strength, with Justice as card 8 instead. For the purpose of this course, we will work with Justice today, wherever it appears in your deck.

The law of cause and effect

Following on from the Wheel, Justice draws us into a serious conversation about what is possible when we are all accountable.

This can be a cold card, in that it deals with objective truth. In a world of ‘fake news’, that may be a welcome concept, but it is not always welcome in a reading. Justice is, in principle and by definition, about fairness, balance, equity. These are objectively good things.

But objectivity can be slippery. Justice, the way we see it in the laws and courts that govern our societies, is not always fair. “Objective truths” may not take into account different circumstances, the unlevel playing field upon which we all stand. A woman who has escaped a violent relationship, who is now homeless and forced to steal in order to survive, may be locked up in prison, where practical support and counselling may be a more ‘just’ response. In this sense, the Justice card may represent its exact opposite: injustice.

Beyond this, though, as an archetype Justice represents the balancing of scales. Dispassionate, entirely rational. The payment of dues. The ‘right’ outcome.

It’s about the law of cause and effect. As we saw in the previous card, every action has a consequence, and Justice is about the journey from those actions to those consequences.

Some tarot decks, like the Collective Tarot, have renamed this card with the aim of detaching it from the oppressive, inherently unjust structures that govern our lives. Personally, I love the word ‘justice’ and its meaning. Justice, sword aloft, scales in hand, is a powerful archetypal figure representing a social and personal ideal. Regardless of the injustice around us, this card asks us to get clear about our own ideas of justice, and how we can embody these principles in our lives.

Advice from Justice

Justice asks you to remove all emotion, opinion and desire out of the equation and take a purely rational view. Deal in cold, hard facts. What do you know to be true? What do those truths mean, and where do they – or where should they – lead?

It can also point to the playing-out of situations as they should. This action has that outcome – often, it’s very clear. We know this – or we should know it – before we even begin. Think carefully about cause and effect when you see this card. Think about the consequences of your actions on yourself and others.

This is about thinking things through. It can be hard to remove the emotions from a situation, especially if you have been wronged or are doing wrong to another. But Justice leaves nowhere to hide from the facts, and asks you to face them.

It asks you: what will you do to fight the injustice you see?

Justice asks you to create systems of fairness and accountability within your projects, work, community. This might be about setting ground-rules, writing a manifesto, or naming people who will take responsibility for the actions of the group.

Key words and concepts

  • Rational, logical thought
  • Knowing objectively what is ‘right’
  • Justice, fairness, balance
  • Accountability
  • Social justice principles
  • Cause and effect
  • Getting the ‘right’ outcome
  • Being black and white about a situation
  • Cutting through bullshit
  • Legal affairs (whether ‘right’ or not)

Some common symbols

  • Scales (balance, fairness)
  • Sword (rational thought, cutting through confusion)
  • Symmetry (logic, structure)
  • Thrones, crowns, robes (power and status)