At first sight, it is one of the “simplest” cards of the Tarot of Marseille. The very name of this arcanum evokes something positive, an ideal. But is the Justice card as simple and easy to interpret as it actually is?
How is the Justice card represented in the Tarot of Marseille?
It is represented by a full-face woman (or a man – not easy to tell) sitting on a chair, the back of which is pictured in a semi-circle. She dons a red dress with a yellow edging around the neck. A blue cape covers her and she wears a crown, which shows her worldly power.
She holds a yellow sword in an emotionless way that seems to be tied to her chair. This sword is of the same color as the chair as well as the tiara she wears on her head and the scales she holds in her left hand.
The sword is the object used to punish. It represents balance perfectly struck, but its trays are empty as she waits to judge our actions and determine whether they were good or bad.
It is a real symbol, one that directly addresses our imagination. We are picturing ourselves weighing pros and cons, trying to balance our notions of good and bad, trying to determine our scale of values as we are confronted with the system as a whole, whether it is judicial or social.
The hidden meaning of the Justice arcanum
The hidden aspect of the Justice card seems to be formidable, literally speaking, for all those who do not have a clear conscience or those who permanently feel guilty.
If you follow the numeric order of the cards, Justice comes after the Chariot. The latter invites us to take charge of our destiny before Justice holds us accountable for our actions before society.
This society demands that we be honest, upright, that we behave well, and abide by the laws. Everyone can choose the way they behave but should you ever break the law, Justice will issue a ruling.
Pictured this way, Justice is the one that applies to Men, the one that rules and lays down the law by which everybody is supposed to abide. Admittedly, it punishes bad actions, but it is the rulers who – through the laws they edict – guide Justice. This is why human Justice is not always fair since the laws are laid down in favor of the rules of this world, the wealthy and the poor and weak are the ones who are subjected to its severity.
“Your power of weakness will always decide your lot: whether judgments of the court will make you white or black”, moralized La Fontaine. This represents the limits of human Justice: it is fallible and rarely acknowledges its mistakes.
To find out more about the cards of the Tarot of Marseille and their hidden meaning, I wrote two articles: