For this reading we’re using Songs for the Journey Home tarot deck. This reading strikes me as very provocative and may demand something, quite a bit actually, from us – trust. But, then again, maybe every reading demands that. What is Justice? What is Just?
Provocative question, eh?
Justice is the center card, the hinge card, of this reading. Interestingly enough, the author of this deck has very little to say about Justice. In the book that accompanies this deck, most of the major arcana cards are addressed with two or three pages of beautiful revelation. Justice gets only one page. There is only one other major arcana card about which she says as little.
Look at the card Justice: bright sunny sky on one side, dark stormy seas on the other; elemental forms above, wispy formless colors below; pristine environment on one scale, development and city life on the other. Is there Justice beyond our own preferences? How does one come to Justice? What is this balancing act really all about?
Let’s sit with these questions for a moment.
I mentioned that we might need trust when approaching this reading today. Do we trust that there is something more real, more just, than what our personal preferences lead us to believe? Have you ever had experience reveal this to be so? There is a way of trusting, and something trustworthy, that can be seen when we step back from our personal preferences. This step back from what we personally deem “right and just,” or “wrong and unjust,” brings a kind of clarity to what we see as happening in any given situation. This may easier to do when we are not in the midst of experiencing an injustice, real or perceived. It is good place to start if one is inclined to look for themselves. Imagine stepping back from our personal preferences in the midst of real or perceived injustice against us… Most of us cannot. We will see an example of this, though, by the end of the reading.
So, what kind of territory are we entering if we dare to seek Justice?
We are entering the territory of spiritual inquiry. There is a way of asking a question that is not focused on discovering one singular answer. Sounds strange, right? Getting the answer is why we ask the question. But there is a level of questioning, referred to as spiritual inquiry, in which resting with the question itself is the purpose of asking it.
Our common approach to every and any question is to come, rather quickly, to a certain and defendable answer. This is part of our conditioning. Yet immediately answering a question, though satisfying to the analytical mind, actually closes down the potential that the question holds. Resting in the inquiry… reveals a richness and depth of reality… if we allow it.
If we rest with the questions… if we step back from our personal preferences (we, many of us anyway, refer to our “personal” sense of justice as ‘reality’)… if we notice a desire to answer the question what is Justice and notice the immediate answers that might flood the mind… if we keep resting, if we don’t stop at the first, second, even third answer our mind tries to tell us about Justice…. What are the possibilities that are revealed?
How confused or uncertain will we allow ourselves to be? Will we shut down the inquiry with a comforting, and certain answer? Or… will we ride a level of trust… and see what shakes out of an unanswered question?????
Now we’re beginning to understand why the author of this deck said very little about this card. To define Justice is an unjust act.
The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot (MOT) has much to say about Justice. But, don’t be fooled by long-windedness (his or mine). In the twenty-some-odd pages on Justice, much is pointed out yet all is left open as justice itself is an ongoing, open-ended, spiritual exercise (as is each of the major arcana, by the way).
The meditation on Justice, as discussed in MOT, does shine a light on what we’ve been discussing above as stepping back from our “personal preferences,” but it doesn’t beat around the bush about it. From MOT (it’s thick stuff, but stay with it – and reading it out loud might help, you can hear it better that way):
“…[L]et us take the Arcanum ‘Justice’ … First of all, the fact may be stated that it is in the domain of judgment that the reality and truth of justice manifests itself. Because to pronounce judgment with respect to anything whatsoever amounts to an action having as its aim the finding of justice. It is not only the judges at tribunals who judge; everyone judges in the degree to which he thinks. All of us, in so far as we are thinking beings, are judges. Because every problem, every question that we try to resolve, gives way in reality to a session for our inner tribunal, where the ‘pros and cons’ are confronted and weighed before judgment is pronounced. We are all judges, good or bad; we are so, and we exercise the functions of a judge almost unceasingly from morning ’til night. The commandment – ‘Thou shalt not judge’ (Matthew vii, 1) – would therefore amount to the renunciation of thought. For to think is to judge.”
Now this, this is provocative.
How can we understand Justice without judging? How could anyone every know what is just action without thinking? This reading may not satisfy the question, but we still have two cards to look at.
Flame Creating and Wave Innocence move around the center hinge, Justice. If the above image was video instead of a still photograph, these cards would move as if held in the scales of the center image, one moving up in proportion to the other moving down, always in the act of balancing.
In Flame Creating we see an artist at her loom, weaving a powerful image of “Volcano Woman.” Her creativity is unhindered by the cold landscape around her. The embers of her creative vision are not unlike Volcano Woman and in this sense the artist is the same force that erupts from Volcano Woman – the force of becoming.
Wave Innocence, on the other hand, very sweetly and absolutely perfectly, is doing nothing. She depicts being. How innocent, how vulnerable. The author of this deck suggests that the child, floating in a tranquil sea, “reminds us of a time before the natural instincts and reactions are socialized out of the child.”
Being and Becoming, innocent and intuitive. What exists prior to our personal preferences? What faculty must we resort if we are commanded to renounce judgment and thinking? Always being, always becoming, an act of balancing – nothing static here. Again, to define Justice is an unjust act.
Back to the wisdom offered by the anonymous author of MOT: “…[I]ntuition being perception due to sympathy and love never accuses. It always plays the role of the defense, the advocate. As it perceives the soul of beings, it sees only the image of God in them. Seeing and knowing that the soul of the offender is always the first victim of all sin or crime that he could commit, intuition can play no other role than that of the advocate. The saying ‘to know all is to forgive all’ refers to understanding ‘from within’ – that is to say ‘intuitive’ – and not to external understanding, i.e. phenomenal and discursive understanding. A moving formula for the role of intuition in the exercise of justice is given to us in the prayer of the Master as he was being crucified: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke xxiii, 34)”
Intuition knows innocence, innocence knows intuition. Both are prior to the discursive rational mind. Quite opposite to our conditioned way of seeking justice through judgment… this reading points us to a profound, shattering of thought. The “exercise of justice” is not for the faint of heart. Yet that is where the exercise is asking us to go – the unconditioned heart of innocence and intuition, being and becoming. Not an easy reading here. Any feedback, stories you would like to share, your own sense of innocence, of intuition, of this exercise of Justice… please let me know. We’re all in this together.