Tarot Deep Dive: Justice (XI)

Justice Card from the Smith-Rider-Waite Tarot deck

Ever since the Full Moon in Libra on March 28th, I have been called to explore the Justice card and the idea of balance. Traditionally this card has been used to bring attention to legal matters or court hearings. After all, when we think about justice, we think about judges and courts and justice being served. But I have been drawing this card pretty regularly lately, and I don’t have any court dates coming up or legal battles to worry about. When we look at the larger social sphere right now, we see a lot of justice issues coming up in different areas, and meditating on the Justice card can be a good way to help us figure out what our part is in bringing about the change needed to move closer to a just society. But for the purposes of this blog, we are going to look at what the Justice card can mean to us on a personal level and how to utilize it in our personal lives.

The Justice card is ruled by Libra, which is the sign of balance, harmony, and equilibrium. The figure in the picture is shown holding a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. The Justice card is actually at the center of the 22 major arcana cards, indicating a balance point within the major arcana, and within our lives as well.

Now, I have been exploring the idea of balance for a few years now, believing that balance is what I needed in order to overcome and heal from the effects of the burnout I have been experiencing. But I came to realize that I was thinking about balance all wrong. I was thinking about balance in a linear way: once balance is achieved, you simply need to keep doing what you were doing in order to get in balance so that you can keep balance. Homeostasis: maintaining inner stability.

The problem with this way of looking at equilibrium is that life happens. Sure, we can maintain inner stability – as long as every day is exactly the same with the same triggers, the same food sources, the same schedule, the same interactions, etc. But life does not work that way. Life throws us curveballs every chance it gets. One day we are super motivated to eat healthy, take walks, exercise. The next day we are tired and want to eat junk food and watch TV. One day things go smoothly at work. The next day three people call out and we are stretched to our limits. Achieving and maintaining homeostasis is nearly impossible because life happens. It is nearly impossible to expect to sit in the middle of the scale see-saw and have it remain in balance with everything that life throws at us.

This is also true when it comes to meeting our goals. When it comes to goals, I have always been an “all in” type of person. That actually has made it very hard to meet my goals because my brain and body have been used to doing things a specific way. If I go “all in,” I’m going against the grain of what my body and mind have been used to and they typically throw a tantrum of some sort before everything falls apart. By swinging the scale from a state of balance to a state of imbalance quickly, I am pretty much ensuring that the scale is going to over correct in the opposite direction.

But when we look at balance as a spiralic concept, it changes how the scale works in our lives. For example, let’s say that I want to change my habits when it comes to what I am eating. I want to eat healthier. If I go to my kitchen and throw out all of the junk food and replace it with vegetables and healthier options, I have definitely done myself a favor. But by only giving myself those options when my body and brain are used to junk food, I have tipped the scale really far. Anyone who has been on a diet knows how difficult it is to stay on it when you first start. Your body and brain scream at you because you have tipped the scale really far in one direction and have messed up the balance. Instead of doing that, I can add vegetables to a meal. Not change the meal at first, but simply add vegetables to it. Then when my body and brain get used to that and equilibrium has been established, I change something about another meal, add vegetables or substitute an unhealthy ingredient. I work toward the goal of healthy eating using baby steps instead of tipping the entire scale out of balance. Doing this ensures that the whole scale moves in the direction that I want instead of just tipping one end of the scale in the direction that I want.

It’s kind of like the above, very elementary drawing I made. At the top, in the linear section, the little figure wants to eat healthier. Before they do anything to achieve this goal, they have a sense of balance because they are used to their habits. But then they decide to throw out all the junk food and the scale is tipped. It won’t be long before it tips back the other way as the brain and body try to get their sense of balance back.

But in the spiralic section, the little figure only changes one thing. They move a little bit closer to the healthy side. The scale is only a little out of balance. But if this small change is made consistently, the entire scale will move closer to the healthy side, as I tried to illustrate in the third part of spiralic balance.

We as a culture are good at looking at our starting point, and then at our end goal, and then doing everything we can to make our starting point look like our end goal. The problem with that is that we don’t stop to look at everything in between those two points – the journey. It is hard to appreciate where we are on our journey when we constantly have social media showing us where everyone is on theirs. As a competitive culture we wonder why we aren’t where they are and what we are doing wrong.

The Justice card invites us to stop looking at everyone else and look – really look – at our life. It invites us to see and acknowledge where we are on our journey. Balance comes when we stop looking at everything around us and start paying attention to our own path, start making steps in our own lane. Life becomes so simple when we stop looking at what other people are doing. It invites us to take stock of where we are and look at what is not serving us any more. And rather than throwing it all out, take small steps toward our goals so that balance can be maintained.

So far we have spent a lot of time talking about the scale side of the Justice card and not so much about the sword side. But this side is just as important as the scale side. Because when we work on making changes in our life, our brain can give us a hard time. Since the brain’s job is to keep us safe, it looks at any movement of the scale as a threat. Then it starts talking to us, saying “I don’t like this. This isn’t what we are supposed to be doing. You are going to fail. You aren’t good enough to pull this off. Who are you to think you can make a change like this? Who are you to think you can learn this new skill?” And on and on and around and around until we go back to what our brain views as normal.

This is where fear and anxiety live. Life is about change. It is about everything that we do in order to be happier and live better lives. But the brain does not like change. It puts us in a state of fear and anxiety so that we will be scared to move in the direction that we want to go. The sword in the justice card is about cutting through the brain’s bullshit so that we can move toward our goals with courage.

So how do we do that? It is all about grounding ourselves, taking a moment when the brain starts talking to pause, ground, and acknowledge what the brain is communicating. Acknowledge the fear, but let your brain know that you are safe and you have got this.

This happened to me recently when there was a ritual that I needed to perform. I felt like I was at a place where I needed to do the ritual in order to progress on my spiritual path. But I kept putting it off. Weeks went by. When I thought about doing the ritual something always “came up.” I finally sat down and mapped the whole ritual out, thinking that if I knew what was going to happen, I would be more prepared to do it. But I still didn’t do it. I finally realized what was happening. My brain was not using words to instill the fear, but it was coming up with things to do that were more fun or more “pressing” than the ritual. I realized that I was just going to have to move beyond the fear that had taken hold and perform the ritual. And I did. And it was amazing.

Even though my brain does not speak fear to me in words, it finds ways to hold me back. It seems to manifest in me as a feeling, a somewhat lazy feeling, feeling like its not that important so it is okay if I do something else right now. With the sword of the Justice card, we are invited to cut through that feeling or the words and move forward with our goals. Justice is about truth, and when our brains lie to us about where we really are or what we need to do, it is important for us to cut through that and be honest with ourselves about where we are in our journey and what we need to do to move forward.

So how has the Justice card shown up in your life? Does any of this resonate with you? Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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