The Justice in the tarot appears as an allegory of the cardinal virtue and it personifies the Roman goddess “Iustitia” (Greek Themis) and her attributes.
Her iconography does not vary much from the original representations. The most important elements are the scales, the sword and the blindfold which was added later.
The scales are usually a symbol of balance, equality or harmony. As an instrument of weighing, it allows us to find out the exact heaviness of an object or to discover the difference of weight between two objects. That attribute is an universal symbol of justice and court law, measuring the strengths of a case’s support and opposition. From a personal perspective, the scales represent the decisions we need to make through our life journey.
Lady Justice holds the scales in her left hand (the feminine side, linked to receptiveness and intuition) as she seems to weigh a heart and a brain. She advises us to find a balance between the emotional and the rational side.
The sword represents authority and it is by the sword that justice is made, so it has a major impact in the physical world. Ropes bind the sword to the material world.
Justice holds that sword facing upwards, which is associated with its active principle and its tie with the element Air.
For some scholars the sword refers to the intellect or logic that gives us the capacity to interpret the results presented in the scales. In other words, the sword can be a tool for self-analysis and discernment, as it sharpens our ability to judge and choose what is best or suitable for us.
The fold that covers the Justice’s eyes implies her impartiality in any decision – the blindfold impels us to judge without bias or prejudice. It follows, as well, the ideal that justice upholds fairness and truth, and should be applied without regard to wealth, power or other status.
That is why, sometimes, the blindfold is a symbol of introspection and self-examination as we struggle to find the truth about ourselves.
She is sitting at her throne with a temple in the background similar to the one in the card of The Pope or The High Priestess. This relates to the idea of Justice as Institution, Structure or Law.
At her feet we can find two dice, linked to the materialist world; and a huge sphere which is usually a symbol of inconstancy. In this case, however, it looks under control, gripped under her foot.
Nevertheless, the sphere appears as a token of Justice on Earth, made by men. If the sphere moves slightly, the Justice has to readjust it, which could undermine the balance on the scales or even the movement of the sword. The virtue of Justice depends on the harmony between all these things.
In addition, while the card Lovers is about an ethical decision that is focused on us or involves ourselves, Justice is related to an ethical decision tied to external conditions or other people who matter to us.
The aftermath may have a great impact on others, therefore Justice has a considerable increase in her responsibilities.
Upright Meaning and Interpretation
Cause/Effect, Truth, Fairness.
The Justice suggests that balance will be restored in your life and you will be able to see the big-picture.
This card is about to show you the truth, no matter how bitter it tastes – one important step in your personal journey is to face reality and learn from your mistakes. If Justice punishes you it is because you have something to learn from it and to make better decisions in the future.
In general, The Justice shows us that all our actions have consequences. You have nothing to worry about if you acted correctly and your conscience is clear, though.
If you have been mistreated, you may finally find relief. Instead, if you have mistreated other people, you will face retribution.
The card may also suggest you have an important decision to make with potentially long-term impact. Measure your options and possibilities wisely, and be aware that for every action there is a reaction and for every choice there is a consequence.
Keep in mind: to accept the responsibility for your actions reveals how mature you really are.
If you are involved in a legal dispute and seek justice, this card is usually a favourable omen.
Reversed Meaning and Interpretation
Unfairness, Dishonesty, Consequence.
The reversed Justice suggests that you may feel guilty if you have done something you regret. Be aware of the repercussions and consequences of your actions.
It also indicates that you perceive you are being victimised or affected by choices or actions from others. Maybe you have been treated unjustly too. Whatever the situation, you should try to keep your balance – you did not create it, but you can still choose how to react to it.
You may probably think that life is unfair, but the card states the opposite. Gather your strength and energy to focus and meditate so you may understand that perhaps you are seeing things from a wrong or lopsided perspective.
This is a sign to learn how to accept the consequences and avoid blaming others for the situation you are passing through. To assume responsibility for the things that happen in your life (even if it is not your fault) is a mature way to self-development.
Sometimes the reversed Justice indicates that you have been dishonest or unfair, either for others or to yourself. If that is the case, ask yourself if it is worth it and try to visualise the possible outcome.