Learn how the Justice tarot card relates to truth and karma with this informative deep dive into the card's symbolism and meaning with Psychic Morgan.
Peace and Justice are two sides of the same coin.
- General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
The Justice card is both complex and the simplest of cards to interpret. At its most basic meaning, the justice card is a card about the rule of law: the law of man, nature, karma, and the universe. The Justice card signifies order as well as being fair and balanced. It represents legal matters and legal documents, and the unromantic side of marriage. The Justice Card tells us that the fairest judgment will be made when we are not swayed by opinions but instead rely on judgments made based on facts and truths. The Justice Card is a card of truth, justice and the karmic peace way.
This card is number eleven (sometimes number eight) in the major arcana and is associated with the astrological sign of Libra and the element of Air. It follows The Wheel of Fortune in the major arcana, symbolizing that we are on our next step of our self-evolution. We’ve learned a few things about ourselves and the world around us and are ready to embrace the structure Justice represents after the dizzying spin of The Wheel. The Justice Card represents the pursuit of truth, law, and of course, justice. When there is justice there is peace.
Symbolism in The Justice Card
Lady Justice in the tarot deck has her symbolic roots in different mythologies. She has elements from the goddesses Justitia from the Romans, Maat & Isis from the Egyptians, and Themis & Dike from the Greeks. The goddesses Maat and Dike are both depicted with balanced scales.
The most common representation of Justice shows a stern blonde woman sitting in front of a plain purple tapestry, between two stone pillars. She wears bright red robes, holding an upright sword tightly in her right hand and a set of scales in her left. Her look is rounded out with the gold crown upon her head, which has a single gem in the center arch.
At its core the Justice card is about being truthful and doing the right thing. It encompasses all the lessons we learn not just in this lifetime, but in our karmic cycle. It can also point to the lessons we learn from other knowledgeable souls, either in books or by observing their actions. Not surprisingly, the Justice card also represents the long arm of the law and legal matters. The Justice card can also be linked to doing what is right while under pressure to achieve inner and outer peace. With the pursuit of justice, we can find peace.
Sword & Scales
The sword represents the swift action of justice cutting through what’s unneeded. Even though this is a Major Arcana card, there’s still a connection to the suit of Swords in the tarot. That suit is linked to the element of air. Air is a symbol of communication and the breath of life. The sword could also represent the idea of a rightful or lawful place and the honor of that position. Lady Justice’s sword can also symbolize force and how the truth may be the greatest weapon.
The scales show balance and are the scales of justice and fairness. They are used to weigh the evidence. This card can be asking us to weigh what is right versus what is moral. It can also represent an important life lesson being learned, one that will involve our concepts of fairness and may shape our outlook going forward.
When Justice appears in reverse, it could simply mean there is either miscommunication or flat out lies. There may also be too much distraction or static present, keeping us from finding the truth.
Lady Justice wears a three-part, arched crown with a single stone in the middle. Her crown shows that she is an authority figure who has status and is invested in her authority. The two outside arches of the crown represent the two opposing sides of the story with the middle, bejeweled arch represents the truth is in the middle. That jewel is a reminder that truth is valuable and it’s important to not pass judgment until you know all the facts.
Justice in the reverse can indicate that the truth is being delayed, or that someone doesn’t want to hear or understand the truth.
The Justice Card is represented by the astrology sign of Libra. A great pop culture example of Libra is Joe Friday and his famous catchphrase “Just the facts, ma’am.” The sign of Libra is all about balance and harmony with the self, others, and the world. Libras will not make a decision without knowing all the facts and only after having looked at situations from all angles. Some of Libra’s classic traits are searching for peace and balance, and desiring harmony of the self, world, and universe.
In the reverse the Justice card can indicate the inability to make a decision, or signal that wrong decisions are being made. It can also be a warning that someone is not seeing the whole truth or indicate guilt.
Law and Order
In the physical world, The Justice card represents the actual law. This can vary widely, to anything from court cases, to a marriage contract (in the most law adjacent and unromantic sense—a legal union between two parties), to getting a speeding ticket. In a more spiritual sense, the Justice card symbolizes freedom from the mind, laws, and karmic debt.
In the reverse, the Justice Card in the reverse can represent bad karmic debt or breaking the law. That can lead to either mental or physical imprisonment. Lawsuits and legal issues may be coming up ahead for you. This card might also indicate bigotry or even a guilty conscience.
The High Priestess and the Magician
The Justice card is a combination of both The High priestess and The Magician cards. The Magician is a card that deals with the physical world, and the information we gather with our five senses. The Magician and Justice both have one hand up and one hand down depicting heaven and the earth.
The High Priestess relates to knowledge of the divine and what we gather in this world with our sixth sense. Justice and the High Priestess are both seated between two pillars on a solid slate. The High Priestess sits between black and white pillars, but Justice is seated between two gray pillars. The color gray represents neutrality, reminding people that Justice should be neutral in its pursuit of the truth. These pillars and Lady Justice are on a solid foundation. Like the High priestess, Lady Justice sits in front of a tapestry, though hers is plain purple instead of patterned. This tapestry can represent a barrier between the truth and anything that keeps her from perceiving it clearly. Lady Justice puts aside her own personal beliefs and ideals to see the bigger picture.
While the Justice card represents law and order of both man and universe, in the reverse it holds the meaning of being discombobulated and not seeing true facts of the matter. It can also point to false morality.
Learn About Justice with a Little Help from Your Friends
Sometimes the Justice card can indicate that there are no right answers in a particular situation. No matter how you look at it, both parties might be right while being in the wrong at the same time. My favorite example is from the TV show Friends. The main love story in the series is between Ross and Rachel. If you know the show, you know all about the infamous “Were they on a break?” question. Both parties involved reacted from their egos and caused a hurt that haunted them as well as their close connections.
We can learn from Ross and Rachel by applying their lessons into our own lives by not reacting out of ego or impulse. It would have been much better for them (and for us) to take a step back and gather all the facts before reacting. Reactions that come out of ego and hurt often hurt us in the end. Simply waiting until all the facts are uncovered could avoid hurt.
In the reverse position, this may also be a big warning that people may not have all the information in a situation. This could mean acting on impulse and without reason. Either way, think before you act.
Justice as a Person
The Justice card as a person represents a levelheaded individual, as well as an impartial third party. It could also represent someone who is a Libra or has strong libra placement. This is a person who would not be swayed by the court of public opinion and be the voice of opposition. Think about the Norman Rockwell painting “Freedom of Speech”. The man who is the focus of the painting is standing up for what is just and right.
When reversed and representing a person, this is a person who is judgmental, overly righteous, and hides behind virtue. They might be sticklers for following the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit behind it. This card could also show lies or partial truths.
Understanding Justice Through Art & Astrology
In many tarot decks lady justice is blindfolded. This was originally seen in the 16th century as a satirical commentary that justice is blind to the unjust actions playing out in front of her. This satire was reinvented to show that justice is blind to things such as status or wealth.
In some tarot decks the justice card is number eight. This was changed with the popularity of the Rider Waite deck. This revision was to better align the tarot to astrology with The Strength card having a lion representing Leo and the justice cards with scales to represent Libra. Ten represents a completion in the tarot. So with the number eleven we are starting another lesson.
Eleven the number has an interesting meaning in this case. The tarot ends on the number ten. The card being an eleven shows the next step in the fool’s journey. This is a way to interpret growth and evolution in a person’s life and or ideals.
In the reverse, this can be looked at, that maybe all the facts to the situations have yet to be disclosed,
there is corruption. Karmic debt is still unpaid. A person could be stuck in outdated ideals and stuck in their own ways which is halting any progression. Or sometimes, like Ross and Rachel learned, there just isn’t a right answer.
Yes or No
Can you use the Justice card to answer a yes or a no question? In typical Libra fashion, it depends. There are other factors at play and all the facts/conditions might not be known. It’s probably best to get an additional, in-depth reading if this card came up when you asked a yes or no question.
Justice in a Past-Present-Future Spread
The Justice Card in the Past Position
When the Justice card is in the past position, it tells can be about events that happened to create a fair outcome or about people righting wrongs. This card may even relate to karmic debts.
The Justice Card in the Present Position
Justice in this position indicates level headedness, education, and seeking to do what is right.
The Justice Card in the Future Position
The Justice card in the future position can point to moving after a major life or karmic lesson and now going on to the next stage of a person’s journey.
The Fool’s journey through the Tarot is similar to the one we take in life. We can add elements of the Justice card into our day to day lives simply by stepping back, gathering all the information we can, and making judgements based on facts rather than emotions. This is as simple as stepping back and excluding our personal experiences or ideas and looking at any situation with impartial eyes. The old phrase “sleep on it” comes to mind. Before we pass judgment or act from our ego, it’s good to take a break (whether we actually sleep during that time or not) and use our minds and logic. If in our everyday life we knee jerk our reactions or we fly off the handle, we cause more chaos. By simply stepping back and responding when we have all the facts, we create a balance in our lives as well as keeping the others around us in balance.
We can walk away from things/people that trigger or press our buttons and not let other people’s unbalanced lives knock us off balance. This seems rather cold, but the intent is to react from the mind rather than the ego. We gain power and control over our emotions and situations by not letting strangers or acquaintances control our emotions. It’s not easy putting aside our own cultural or regional teachings and looking at a situation with logic but it can help us come to the best possible conclusion.
Other people's storms don’t affect my calm.
I’m in control of my ego and how I respond.