Justice is the 11th archetype of the Tarot’s Major Arcana. When it appears in a reading, it is a sign that the hour of truth has come – you are about to be placed on the cosmic scales and judged accordingly.
Whether Justice is great or terrible news depends entirely on you. Justice is a reminder that what goes around comes around; that your energy, words and actions all have consequences, perhaps not right away, but eventually.
If you live in alignment with your higher self, your innermost truth and morals, and if you treat others with dignity and respect, you can face the effects of our causes with a calm spirit.
If, on the other hand, you have been mistreating others, or if you have been denying some vital element of your own inners self or if you have been dodging personal accountability or responsibiltiy, Justice is here to call you out.
What does Justice mean in Tarot?
Although the Justice card sometimes refers to legal matters and the law of the land, on a deeper level, this card speaks of higher, universal fairness and truth.
The Justice card may seem daunting and stern, but in a true sense, its energy is utterly impartial and unbiased.
Justice might cut you down to size and put you in your place, but it is only to teach you a lesson that will ultimately serve you by bringing you back into alignment with your inner self. When your life becomes unbalanced and incongruous, Justice is the energy that eventually intervenes to restore balance.
The 11th archetype of the Major Arcana often shows up when you are facing an important decision, asking you to set aside volatile emotions and let your sense of logic guide you instead.
Strength, Justice and the Chariot
The Justice Major Arcana card is given the number 11 in most Tarot decks, but in some decks it is the eighth card, switching places with Strength.
In both cards we are dealing with powerful forces that hold us accountable to ourselves and our self. But whereas the Strength card deals with facing consequences on an inner, personal level, Justice speaks of the consequences we face from external forces. Both cards demand that we own up and face what we have created.
The Major Arcana Tarot card immediately preceding Justice is the Chariot, labelled with the number 10 and showing a victorious warrior being celebrated in his home town. The Chariot speaks of personal victory, of bravado and being recognised and celebrated by others.
When we look at the Major Arcana as a continuous story, we are reminded that despite how many accolades we have, or how others may view us and admire us, we ultimately have to face the consequences of our actions on our own.
Numerological significance of the number 11 in Tarot
The number 11 is the first numerological master number, which means a number doubled by itself and imbued with a special significance.
The master number 11 suggests a direct connection to the universe and its resources of higher wisdom, as well as higher justice and cosmic truths.
Interestingly, the two pillars in the Justice card appear to cement the number 11.
Justice Tarot card description and symbology
The details of the Justice card vary between different Tarot decks, but most of them include the following symbols.
The central figure of the Justice card is the judge, or the personification of Justice, seated on a chair between two pillars.
The judge figure appears to be of indeterminate gender and age, with a stern and aware expression on their face. Everything about them is neutral and perfectly balanced.
The judge figure is clad in a red robe with a light green mantle. A pure white shoe peeks out from under the flowing robe, reminding us of the purity and neutrality of cosmic justice.
The pillars and the veil
Just like the High Priestess and the Hierophant, Justice sits between two solid stone pillars representing law and order.
A purple veil hangs between the pillars as a sign of compassion.
In their right hand, Justice holds a long sword perfectly balanced and pointing upwards.
Swords are a prevailing symbol in the Tarot, appearing not only throughout the Minor Arcana suit of Swords, but in several Major Arcana cards as well, symbolising thoughts and communication.
The fact that Justice’s sword is held perfectly straight and upright is a sign that Justice masters this side of life, and receives communication from above. The two-sided blade also implies that our actions have consequences, that our words and actions always cut both ways.
In their left hand, Justice holds golden scales that are perfectly balanced and hints at the Libra element inherent to the Justice Tarot card.
On their head, Justice wears a golden crown with a small square engraved on the front.
The four-angled symbol signifies balance and structure, and the crown itself means responsibility and power.
Justice Tarot card meanings
The upright Justice Tarot card contains a range of meanings, some more recognisable than others. Which sides of the Justice card leap to the forefront in a Tarot readings depends on the context and subject of the reading, as well as on any clarifying Tarot cards surrounding it.
Here are some of the most common upright meanings of the Justice card.
Justice, fair decisions
The primary and most universal meanings of the upright Justice Tarot card are fairness and balance.
There is a sense of treating others fairly and being treated fairly return. If you are involved in a legal matter you can expect just treatment and well-balanced decision making.
Cause and effect
The Justice card is closely related to the universal law of cause and effect, sometimes thought of as karma.
The law of cause and effect dictates that we will reap what we sow – the energy we are putting out into the universe will eventually come back to us with interest.
Karma comes around not to punish but to teach. Put out into the world what you wish to be, receive and experience.
Another significant meaning is truth,honesty and integrity.
The 11th trump Tarot card urges us to speak with candour and honesty, to stay true to ourselves, our morals, principles and ideals despite the potential short-term rewards that might come from not doing so.
Truth also refers to secrets, lies or past mistakes being brought to light.
Reversed Justice Tarot card meanings
When Tarot cards appear in their reversed positions, their meaning and everything they represent either intensifies or warps and turn on its head. The Justice Tarot card is no different.
Injustice, unfair outcomes
The primary meaning of the reversed Justice card is injustice and an unfair outcome.
When the reversed Justice Tarot card shows up, it is a sign that the advice you are being given could be wrong or misleading, and that persons or structures you trust are warped. You may be facing legal complications or unfair situations.
Lack of accountability
Another important reversed Justice Tarot card meaning is lack of accountability or a refusal to accept personal responsibility.
Dishonesty and deception
Justice reversed can represent a sign, asking you to question whether someone is being honest with you and is treating you fairly.
Justice reversed might imply a deliberate subversion or warping of truth. Resolve to discover or reveal what is being hidden.
What the Justice card means in a Tarot reading above love and romance
Honesty, trust and fairness are the pillars of any truly loving and fruitful relationship.
Now is the time to recalibrate and rebalance any unevenness or unfairness that might exist between you and the other person(s) in the relationship in order to secure its future. If old hurts or slights exist between you, bring them out in the open. If you have treated your partner unfairly, own up to it. Set the record straight. If they have hurt you or fenced you in unfairly, let them know. Don’t stick to a restrictive or unreasonable dynamic, just because it has become the status quo of your relationship.
Imbalance, unfairness and inequality are implied.
One partner may be controlling the other, keeping truths from the other, or not appreciating the other’s efforts or struggles.
What Justice means in a Tarot card reading about money and career
In money matters, expect fair treatment and reasonable renumeration for the time, effort and skill you are putting in.
This is a two-way street, so don’t neglect to charge what you are worth, and pay others what they are worth. Value yourself and your time. Treat yourself and others fairly and with respect. Don’t devalue yourself or others.
You are venturing into precarious terrain, so tread very carefully. Something murky and unreasonable is taking place.
Are you perhaps getting paid much less than your time and skill call for? Is your work environment unsustainable and unhealthy for you? Is the work you do or the ways you make money consistent with your inner values? Are you perhaps the one creating a toxic work environment or treating colleagues or employees with contempt?
The solution remains the same – be honest with yourself and the people around you. Seek balance, seek justice, seek out what is sustainable, tenable and fair.