Sunday, March 27, 2011


Justice: Truth versus Lies

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King 1963

For a fuller sense of meaning in the Justice card of Tarot, let’s start with the implications of what injustice means. What are our moral obligations to expose crimes against humanity? Our laws condemn murder, robbery, extortion, mayhem, prejudice and oppression, and so-called “ethnic cleansing,” to mention a few. Over the centuries, we have abolished slavery and experienced women’s suffrage, but still contend with on-going wars, oppressive dictators, and human trafficking. Even now we seek equal rights and benefits for women and continue to deal with unfair labor practices.

Edith Hamilton, in her book, “Mythology,” (Little, Brown, 1940) points out the status of Justice in early Greek myths. Zeus was the supreme ruler and on the right was Themis (goddess of divine justice) and Dike (goddess of human justice) was on the left. Sculptures of a blindfolded Themis holding scales and a sword can often be seen standing in front of courthouses. Her daughter Astraea, (Virgo) associated with innocence and purity, is represented by the scales as a symbol for Libra. Ancient Egyptians portrayed the weighing of the human heart against a feather in their version of the scales of justice. A heart too heavy with guilt tipped the scales.

Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, in a speech given in 1886, spoke passionately about freedom for slaves:

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

In the quest for justice, Mahatma Gandhi led a national non-violent revolution against the oppression and exploitation of the people India by British Colonialism during the 1930’s, and succeeded. Even in Biblical times, the story of Deborah and her General, Barak, tells of their battle for freedom from cruel oppression in the defeat of the ruling Canaanites. (Judges 4-6)

A stately woman holds scales containing two small figures: an angel on the left (clemency) and a man posed for a fight on the right (punishment) in Giotto’s painting of Justice in the Arena Chapel in Padua, Italy.

Justice in Tarot of Cosmic Consciousness shows opposing spirals of centripetal and centrifugal forces on the scales against a light and dark background. My inspiration for this reversible motion comes from the writings and pictures of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, of ancient clay goddess figurines covered with spiral symbols from Old Europe times: “…concerning the regenerating life-force or cyclical change between life and death.” (“The Language of the Goddess,” Harper & Row 1989)

The Justice card signifies finding a balance between opposing forces—as in law courts—life and death issues are weighed and resolved, disputes are settled, criminal behavior is prosecuted, and adjustments are made by maintaining balance and equilibrium; especially in our own lives. The essential meaning of the Justice card is that we can tap into the ability to expose, analyze, and then eliminate wrong-doing. It is the weighing of Truth—of good versus evil, understanding cause and effect, and doing our best to reach a fair and equitable outcome. Then justice will be done.