Tarot Perspectives: JUSTICE / ACCOUNTABILITY
What requires a thoughtful, balanced, and rigorously honest exploration? That's the question asked by the JUSTICE / ACCOUNTABILITY cards. What follows is a comparison of the imagery and interpretation of the Rider-Smith-Waite, The Haindl, and the Collective Tarot decks' respective eleventh of the major arcana trump cards.
Smith Rider-Waite’s Justice card is robed in red, the color of passion, and the color of blood. Justice here is very human, led by the heart which pumps the blood. Justice is the life-blood of a society, how it is carried out, in whose name, and upon whom gives the pulse of any country. A look at the distribution of prisoners in any nation will tell you that. The red robes are combined with a yellow cloak and tassels, the color of thought, indicating that justice is carried out in the mind as well as in the flesh. We make up our minds who deserves punishment and who deserves reward before we even meet people sometimes. This Justice holds the scales, which are in perfect balance. The scales do not need to be filled with the same thing on each side to be balanced- the eye-for-an-eye standard is antiquate. The sword Justice holds aloft is perfectly straight, up and down, leaving no margin of error. This judge is precise. The precision of Justice here is further reflected in the two pillars- which also form the two digits of the card’s number 11, another example of even-ness and equality. This Justice may be passionate and human, however it is clear that they take their job seriously- a stern look in their eye tells us they are focused, ready to strike down anything that throws off the delicate balance.
Haindl's Justice card shows the Hebrew letter Lamed, or "ox-goad", and the Rune Nyd, or "necessity." Justice here is the whip that is necessary for things to run smoothly- the sting of consequence if we don't show up for ourselves and others, the reality that motivates us not by being an extraneous or artifically-added motivator, but because for every action there is a reaction, and the chain of events continues. The law of Karma is universal justice- it doesn't mean we get what's coming to us based on some mystical divine judge of universal law, it means that everything we do resonates beyond ourselves. In Haindl's card we see a background of 8 peacock feathers (in older versions of the tarot, the Justice card took the 8th trump position), and a scale with a silver and a gold bowl. In each side of the scale is a clear orb, Haindl’s symbol of the cosmos. In Haindl's mind, the cosmos are in perfect balance, regardless of what we may do. In The Haindl Tarot: The Major Arcana, Rachel Pollack notes the almost imperceptible spirals of the bars of the scale, which symbolize evolution. "To achieve the clarity of Justice does not simply leave us with who we are, but raises us to a higher level," Pollack comments. She notes the contrast of the neat and orderly scales superimposed on the wild and colorful feathers. These, she says, represent the contrast injustice of the world, how some may prosper and do evil and others may do good and suffer, "and yet, something in us believes that Justice exists." she notes, "therefore, we see the two images, the unchanging abstraction and the fragile reality. This duality becomes something else we need to balance." The peacock feathers also indicate a spiritual perception in their depiction of the third eye- the chakra that governs wokeness. Justice relies on a clear perception of truth.
Rather than the title of Justice, the Collective chose to boil this card down to one action that plays a crucial part in the distribution of Justice: Accountability is the first of 12 steps of addiction recovery. Admitting there is a problem and facing it is the beginning of healing. Accountability is the “ability to account for”- it’s an honest acceptance of truth, and a truthful framing of narratives so that those who are being harmed can find healing, and those who are causing the harm can come to the light. The card shows one television with Sinead O’Conner ripping a picture of the pope up in a 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live. On an opposite television is Barbara Blaine, who founded Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests. There are different ways of creating Accountability, using art to indirectly reach a massive audience, and working directly with the affected people to find justice on an individual level. Both approaches are necessary. The images of the television sets indicate something broadcast- Justice is that it is not limited to one small community, it reverberates throughout the world. Behind the televisions are four branches of a tree surrounding. Some of the branches bear fruit, others buds, others dead leaves, others are bare, indicating the yearly cycle of passing time, a comment that Accountability is a process that takes time and goes through phases.
Thanks to @inthe78cards and @thetruthinstory for hosting this challenge on Instagram!
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