This card symbolizes honesty with one’s self, truthfulness, and, well, justice. In the position of card 11, it is directly in the middle of the Major Arcana (if we set the Fool aside). This further speaks to the balance indicated by this card. Justice takes both the action of the Magician and the intuition and introspection of the High Priestess in order to make decisions.
Once we make decisions in our life, they often cannot be revoked. Because of this, we are shaped by the choices we make and must be willing to look inside ourselves honestly in order to make better choices as we continue on our journey. This is where we take responsibility for the choices we have made on our Wheel of Fortune. If we assume nothing is in our control, we take no responsibility for who we are and have become because of our various choices. Justice asks us to look closely and own what we have indeed controlled and chosen. This is what will keep us from patterns that we can in fact change. Justice reminds us of free will.
Part of the balance of Justice is also continuing to acknowledge that which we do not have control over. Take responsibility for what we do control and don’t torture ourselves by trying to control what we can’t.
In addition to being honest with ourselves, Justice reminds us to be fair and honest with others as well. Just can serve as a reminder to right a wrong.
I like some of the questions Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life suggests Justice might ask us: “‘We partner with the Justice archetype whenever we pause for a self check: “What do I need to do to right myself and be kinder to my body?” “Is my behavior in harmony with the loving capacities of my Highest Self?” “How am I ‘off kilter’ right now, and what will bring me into alignment?”‘” (87) All this responsibility might make us feel guilty, but Quinn reminds us that Justice is also about giving ourselves unconditional love, which will help us to be honest and then move forward, rather than be trapped in shame (88).
A shadow of Justice would be judging too harshly or with bad intent. The opposite / reverse of the card could be imbalance, refusal or inability to see the truth, inequality, or failing to take responsibility for one’s actions.
At position eight, Justice could symbolize the honesty and balance needed to journey with the Hermit. Strength at position eleven is another form of balance, but a strength that would come from having moved through the Justice and Hermit cards rather than the strength needed to move on to the Hermit. I’d like to look into this more, but right now I don’t have a great grasp on how their two possible positions might change their meanings. A research post for another day perhaps.
If I were to assign an element to Justice, it would be air since air directly involves issues of truth and justice.
This card isn’t an easy one for me. I’m often honest with myself, sometimes brutally so. It’s Paul Quinn’s reminder about loving myself anyway that I really struggle with. When my life is the most out of whack, when I am a truly hot mess, I am getting better at being both honest and compassionate with myself. But it’s the climb back to equilibrium that is the hardest. When I’ve fallen so far, it takes a little while to get back to a good place, and I am much better at being gentle with myself in this transition period. However, it feels like many times this is exactly when I am scolded from the outside. Which crushes me since I’m rebuilding self-esteem and feeling good about the baby step progress that is happening. This happened tonight, and I am not in a good place right now. When I’m slowly but surely climbing back up the mountain, I really don’t need people pointing at the peak and saying, “Why aren’t you there right now?” I know I am screwing up. But I also know that I did better than yesterday. I can’t snap my fingers and create balance in an instant.