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Tarot Card 11 – Justice

By James Donahue

The Justice Tarot card reflects a call for balance. The number of this card which is 11, appropriately falls at the center of 22 cards in the Major Arcana in the Ryder-Waite deck. A crowned woman who some occultists like to identify as Athena, the patron goddess of Athens, is seated on a throne between two gray pillars. She holds a double-edged sword in her right hand and scales of balance in her left. The color of the pillars reflects the balance between extreme white and extreme black.

The sword points upward, a symbol for victory. It is double edged, thus symbolizing that its action is balanced. It can work for or against the defendant in a court of justice. Always the false must be separated from truth.

The jewel in the crown is four sided. This added to the three turrets in the crown total seven, the number of Venus.

The clasp that holds the shawl also is square but notice the circle within it. Thus we find the Freemasonry concept of squaring the circle. This symbol also can point to unity within the Quatemary of elements.

The veil between the pillars suggests something hidden. Like the tapestry between the black and white pillars behind the High Priestess, the implication is that there is knowledge yet unknown to us. Yet while the knowledge of the High Priestess is hidden behind the veil, Justice is decided in open court. So what are the secrets hiding behind the veil over the head of Justice?

Notice the similarities between the High Priestess and the woman seated on the Justice Card. They are both seated between two large pillars. The pillars in the High Priestess card are both black and white, showing distinct differences. The pillars on the Justice card are gray, proclaiming balance. When you add the two numbers in the Justice Card, 1 plus 1, you get 2, the number of the High Priestess.

Justice also is Key to 20, the Judgment Card, sometimes considered the ultimate weighing of souls. Some Justice Tarot cards also depict Maat, the Egyptian goddess of justice, who helped judge the souls of the dead.

Justice also can be associated with the eleventh cards in the four Minor Arcana. These cards are of Pages in the Ryder-Waite decks. Pages, like the Fool, depict the beginning of a journey. Thus after encountering The Wheel, it appears that the Fool is about to begin his journey once more, only this time armed with much more wisdom and the power of Justice at his back.

In reflection, Justice preserves harmony. It does not condemn or approve, but merely accepts that opposite forces exist and that to reach harmony, there needs to be balance. In a sense, opposite forces become complimentary in this court. You cannot have good without evil. There is no light unless you first have darkness. Justice realigns the weight of all energies and makes all things fair and right.

Finally, this card is unforgiving. Justice has a way of putting us in situations that force us to see our own frailties that are blocking our spiritual path. It hacks away at these issues in our lives and puts us back on the path. The reflection of the beginning of the Fool's journey strongly states that once our eyes are opened the slate can be washed clean. We are instructed to pick ourselves up, no matter what disasters we have been dealt in life, and begin again.

The Mind of James Donahue