Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
The Book of Deuteronomy, 16:20, Bible
This week, while the Sun is in Libra, sign of the scales, and Jews everywhere celebrate the beginning of the most holy Ten Days of Awe, we receive guidance from a very important Major Arcana card. In a world that seems increasingly skewed away from such ideals, let us warmly welcome this visit from Justice.
This card represents fairness and finding balance in all things. Justice is one of the three cardinal virtues represented in the Tarot. The others are Temperance and Fortitude (or Strength).
Throughout Tarot history, this card has been invariably titled “Justice” and is traditionally depicted as a woman with sword and scales. Sometimes she has a halo; almost always she is seated on a throne. Usually the sword is in her right hand, occasionally it is in her left.
According to author and expert Rachel Pollack, the image on the Waite-Smith deck is the Roman Goddess, Justitia, who is sometimes blindfolded.
But in the Tarot, Rachel explains, She is connected to the psychic laws of Justice, “by which we advance according to our ability to understand the past.”
In order for this to happen, we must see clearly the truth about ourselves and about life; so Her eyes, like our own, must be open.
Not only does the Tarot image of Justice represent the legal system of law and order, and making criminals pay for their wrongs, she is the representative of a deeper, spiritual justice.
How apropos that this card appears at the start of the annual Jewish High Holy Days. This is a time for self-examination, personal accountability, and repentance.
As many Jewish scholars and teachers would agree, “One cannot claim to love God and not be passionate about justice…Justice is an eternal religious obligation, at the very core of what it means to be a Jew.”
Similarly, the Reclaiming Tradition’s Principles of Unity declare an active commitment that, “We work for all forms of justice: environmental, social, political, racial, gender and economic.”
In fact, every major spiritual or religious tradition holds at its core a pledge that the spiritual life must include working in the world for justice.
Yet every day the news is full of people, groups, and candidates for public office who are seemingly getting away with dreadful deeds, yet appear to go free and unpunished. In fact, they seem to thrive.
From driving under the influence; cheating on business or marriage partners; using the system to dodge paying millions in taxes; systemic corporate cheating on environmental protections; and the vast, seemingly endless corruption in our financial and governmental institutions — all seem to deny there is any power in kindness, respect, and prioritizing the greater good.
But eventually, things do sort themselves out. All of life is interconnected, and those who continue to foul the nest will eventually have to deal with the consequences of their actions.
The Justice card reminds us that Nature always adjusts, and the consequences of every action eventually come around. Despite how it temporarily looks, each and every one of us is, eventually, accountable. Rectification may be slow, but it is inevitable.
Nature’s Reciprocity and Balance
When Justice appears in a reading, the obvious expectation is that legal matters may be in the forefront. Money, real estate, law enforcement, inheritance matters, and civil or criminal jurisprudence could certainly be important now.
But additionally, since Major Arcana cards are less about particular events, and more deeply about our own spiritual awakenings, this is a time to be scrupulously honest in all your dealings.
Something is working out the way that it must, for there is karmic payback in play. What results might you now be seeing, due to decisions and actions that have been taken in the past?
Although some people may have enormous charisma, or sexual allure, or tantalizing offers of fame and fortune, such influence is almost never a match for our inner compass of right and wrong – our personal sense of Justice.
When the rich, famous, or powerful engage in (or fail to repudiate) racial slurs, ignorance, hate speech, and fear-mongering, they may enjoy a temporary notoriety. This can even look like success or triumph as other wounded beings join in.
But reciprocity and balance play out in every aspect of the natural world. Why would it be any different for human systems?
Justice will be done.
Tipping the Scales
“During this period,” writes the staff at My Jewish Learning, “human beings have the chance to tip the scales of divine judgment in their favor through repentance, prayer, and tzedakah (performing righteous deeds and giving money to charitable causes).”
So we are challenged at this time to consider: what needs remediation in our lives? If serving justice is a bedrock value for good people of all spiritual walks, then who will be its champion? How or when are we personally called to stand up and say, “Enough!”
It is in our hands alone to choose whether to support and reinforce the dangerous nonsense that passes nowadays for normal. Each and every person reading this is the ultimate champion — or else saboteur — of what is just.
Whether you are Jewish or not, we are all invited this week to look honestly into our hearts. This is a time of reckoning, for making amends, and restoring wholeness.
Take off any blindfold you may have been wearing. Consider all the evidence. Wield with courage your two-edged sword of truth and compassion.
Make your stand for what is just, fair, and right.
If you won’t, who do you think will?