XI - Justice

Every fourth Thursday of the month I host a Tarot & Tea discussion group at Makara. Each meeting we focus on two cards from the Major Arcana and the conversation takes us to unexpected places. We pull cards, talk about the symbols, share stories about decks and teas and dreams.

The tables were full of tarot books and our library’s tarot binders where we keep different decks for reference. I brought in a new Xultun deck that incredibly, forms a complete pictoral story when you lay out the Major Arcana. This discovery lifted us from the lingering foul mood of the Supreme Court shitshow to open up the conversation of the night’s cards: The Wheel of Fortune and Justice.

We discussed the Wheel of Fortune: snakes, kundalini, Set, Anubis, knowledge, reading, the signs of the zodiac, alchemy, Aquarius, Leo, Taurus, Scorpio, “going with the flow.”

We discussed the Wheel of Fortune, reversed: repeating unhealthy behavior, vicious circles, snakes, change, breaking free, bad habits

Then we moved on the next card, Justice. Most tarot readers have developed relationship with certain decks and certain cards. I’m approaching my 25th anniversary of reading tarot and The High Priestess, 2 of Cups, 10 of Cups, Queen of Wands, Three of Swords, The Moon, and my homie The Magician can invoke immediate and urgent sensations of understanding. Not the Justice card.

justice_Santa Ana_Makara_Tarot

In the Pamela Colman Smith deck, the Justice card is a crowned figure in a thick red robe seated between two towers, echoes from The High Priestess card. Yet where you can see the vast ocean behind the celestial blue cloth of The High Priestess, Justice’s veil only conceals.

Who is whispering in Justice’s ear?

Are perceived personal slights distracting you from true imbalances of power (authoritarian regimes, oppressive power structures)?

What does your internal scale look like?

Who are you choosing to pierce with that sword?

Do an inventory of your pettiness. Make overtures and amends while you have time. Karma is sniffing you out.

The mood of the card is similar to The Hierophant and The Emperor: rigidity, authority, masculinity, tradition. The colors are red and yellow and cement. Luxurious robes and so much gold. Sword in the right hand, scale in the left. We went through other decks including the Witches Tarot, the Ukiyo-e Tarot, the Tarot of the Cat People, The Dali deck, looking for a way to see justice as separate from the law and courts we have been told represent justice, but have only witnessed as extensions of wealth and power. One of the tarot readers explained the reason we were struggling: “It’s because we’ve never seen it.” Our concept of justice was the Justice card reversed: corruption, imbalance, decaying tradition, fraud, entitlement, upholding the status quo.

If the Wheel of Fortune is the trial, Justice is the sentence. In the Afro-Brazilian deck, Xango is Justice. In his hands, he holds his double edged ax. This depiction of justice was something we could understand and strive for, Justice is a balanced blade in the hands of an ancient and eternal warrior. Justice: balance, collective equilibrium, harmony, restoration, compassion. Also, when necessary, a scythe.