Justice is a major arcana card in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck and other decks based on the Latin Tarot or Tarot de Marseilles. Its appearance in a tarot spread may have a few different interpretations depending on whether it is upright or reversed.
On the card sits a golden-haired woman on a throne wearing a crown adorned with a single square sapphire. She also wears red robes with a green mantle. Her throne is made of stone and sits between two columns of a temple. Behind her, a violet curtain hides the yellow background. In her right hand, she holds a sword by its hilt pointing upwards. In her left hand, she holds the balanced scales of justice.
Placement in the Major Arcana
Major arcana cards depict archetypes, and when they appear in a reading, they indicate information of special significance is being imparted. As a metaphor, the major arcana can be seen as the journey from innocence to wisdom through first the earthly and then spiritual planes, and Justice appears as a transitional card between earthly concerns and those things that lead to spiritual wisdom. Justice appears after The Hermit and Wheel of Fortune, cards representing attainment of earthly knowledge and pure possibilities. She comes just before the Hanged Man, which represents opportunity for spiritual growth that is found in difficulty.
Number XI (Eleven)
Justice is the 12th card of the major arcana, but is numbered 11 (XI) because in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the major arcana starts with 00, The Fool. In numerology, the number XI (eleven) is a master number representing psychic insight, dynamism, and higher guidance.
The Temple, Throne, and Curtain
The temple and throne have appeared before in the major arcana, in the Heirophant and High Priestess. These represent boundaries and suggest the energy of the card functions within set boundaries. The throne represents authority, and the violet curtain represents another boundary, albeit one that is dropped (as one drops a curtain) once justice has ruled in order for the just energy to expand out into the world.
Sword and Scales
The sword is held upright, signifying success, in the right hand, which is associated with yang, or active, assertive energy. The suit of swords in the tarot represents one of the four classical elements, air, which signifies the thought "I think." Therefore, the sword represents both success and using thoughtful deliberation. The scales, held in the left hand and associated with yin, or passive and yielding, energy, hold the balanced scales, which represent justice arising after carefully weighing all sides of an issue.
Clothing and Adornments
The woman's clothing and adornments are also symbolic. The crown represents authority while its jewel represents societal order. The robe is red, representing passion, while the mantle is green, representing love and the heart. This suggests justice needs to be meted out with authority from a position of passion and love in order to be truly compassionate and effective.
The yellow background represents using discernment and knowledge, reinforcing the "I think" message.
Justice in a Reading
When Justice appears upright in a reading, it suggests if your choices and behaviors have been truthful, equanimous, and driven by the proper principles, then you will succeed in your endeavors as is just. It also may suggest it is time to evaluate your life in order to ensure you are acting from a place of integrity as you move forward. It may also be showing you that you are currently balanced and in harmony.
If you use reversals in readings, then reversed Justice may indicate you are out of balance. It can also indicate dishonesty from self or others, or that you may be experiencing something that feels unfair.
Fair and Balanced
When it appears in a reading, Justice serves to remind you to seek fairness, integrity, honesty, truth, and balance in your life. It is through these principles you can move forward successfully in harmony with your life's purpose.