The card of Justice in the Tarot depicts a King or person of royalty sitting upon a stone throne, two pillars on either side of him. In his right hand he holds a sword upright, in his left are the scales. His robes are red and his cloak is pinned with a square clasp. Behind him, a veil obscures what lies behind the pillars.
Justice in the Tarot appears as card eleven in the Rider Waite Deck but can appear as card eight (Strength) in other decks. It depicts a King or person of authority holding an upright sword and scales and is commonly known as Lady or Lord Justice. The imagery itself of Lady Justice heralds from Roman times when the Goddess of Justice (Lustitia) was depicted with the double edged sword and scales.
The scales represent the careful weighing of the arguments of both sides of a debate. The double edged sword is typically taken to represent reason and justice. It can also symbolise the power and responsibility of Lady Justice (With great power comes great responsibility) and serves as a reminder that our actions bear an equal but opposite reaction. Upright, the sword is a symbol of victory.
In readings, the card of Justice may prompt us to pause and consider our current actions. Maybe we are being rash in our judgements, failing to take into account both sides of an argument. It is noteworthy that Lady Justice is most often depicted blindfolded, but in this card, we are able to see her eyes. It tells us that divine justice is not blind to our actions but sees all. We cannot deceive justice or the reaction it will bring to us because it is all seeing and all knowing.
The two pillars on either side of Lady Justice remind us of the pillars on the Kabbalah Tree of Life – Severity and Mercy. They are also depicted in the card of The Hierophant and The High Priestess. Their drab greyness hints at our earthly life. The veil obscures the background, hinting to us that we must first understand Justice before we are able to pass through.
The square clasp that holds the cloak in place is a symbol of earth, perhaps a suggestion that Justice in this life is very much a reality. It can also be taken to mean order and logical thought.
When this card appears, it can also mean that we will receive Justice. We may be fighting a battle with others, feeling aggrieved and seeking a just outcome. Fairness is a strong theme of this card. When two parties in conflict arrive at a solution which is fair to both, they can move on with their lives. This can also indicate that we have a decision to make and are weighing the pros and cons. We should make a decision with our eyes fully open, aware of the reactions our decision will bring.
It may be that the card signifies we are at a point where events in our lives have found a natural balance – things that went wrong in the past that inhibited us or held us back, we have now made peace with them and are ready to move on at this point.
Justice reversed can be a warning that we are ignoring our sense of right and wrong and are acting or thinking in an unbalanced manner. We may be taking advantage of people, being dishonest or there is someone in our lives acting badly. We should remember that Justice is all seeing and will be carried out.
We may be ignorant of the effects our decisions and actions have – blindly (or greedily) thinking only of ourselves, of the immediate outcome. Justice reversed warns us that there is an equal reaction to all our actions.