The Justice card in the Tarot's Major Arcana indicates thoughtful decisions and decisive action, balance and compromise, and fair dealings and legal proceedings. These are all valid issues concerning this card, but in our discussion here about how it relates to our spiritual journey, I will focus more on another of its aspects. While the Wheel of Fortune card, which we examined last time, depicts the inevitable (and seemingly capricious) hand of fate, the Justice card indicates those blessings and misfortunes for which we are personally responsible, and so this card is sometimes referred to as the karma card.
In popular usage, the word karma often evokes images of someone suffering problems and hardships due to mistakes made in a past life, but the meaning of the Justice card is broader than that. Beyond indicating the inescapable law of "Cause and Effect," this card stresses that we must understand the implications of this law on our lives and act accordingly.
The Justice card advises us to take responsibility for our actions, because it is through our deeds that we weave the fabric of our lives. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to mistake this message for one of guilt and blame, which is not the point. Precisely because this card stresses the importance of personal responsibility, it also conveys a very positive message of personal empowerment. If the life we are living now reflects the decisions we made and the actions we took in the past, then surely our present actions are creating our future. With that in mind, we can see the following advice in the Justice card:
Whenever a problem arises in your life, try to see how you may have contributed to it. Only then can you solve it, for this requires both atonement and resolution.
As an example of this, imagine someone who has experienced a string of unfortunate relationships. The first step toward healing her life is to make an honest examination of her past actions in order to discover what she has done to contribute to the failure of her relationships. Then as the insights gained from that self-examination show her how to handle her relationships better, she will be able to heal her current relationship or create a healthier one in the future.
This concept of personal responsibility and empowerment is a very important one that I utilize in my Tarot readings. People often come for a reading wanting to know if (or when) their problems will be resolved, but they are much less likely to realize that a Tarot reading can help them solve those problems themselves. And here the Justice card presents some general advice that is applicable to almost any situation. The scales she holds in one hand and the sword she holds in the other indicate the importance of making fair-minded decisions and acting accordingly. What's more, such decisions depend upon a balanced assessment of the circumstances at hand. For example, in a conflict with another person, it helps if you can find a balance between his needs and yours in order to decide upon a course of action that is fair and just for both of you.
We are constantly creating karma-- both good and bad--by our actions here and now. If we can heed the advice of the Justice card about taking responsibility for our lives and acting honorably based upon decisions that are fair and balanced, then we can create more good karma than bad, and our future will reflect this change, as will our journey along our spiritual path.
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James Ricklef is a Tarot reader, lecturer, and writer. He has been a frequent workshop presenter at Tarot conferences and symposia from Los Angeles to New York. He is the author of several Tarot books, including Tarot Tells the Tale which was first runner up in the General Interest category for the 2004 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) Awards. (A revised version of that book is now available as Tarot Reading Explained.) He is also the creator of the acclaimed Tarot of the Masters deck.