One of the things I love about each of the seventy-eight tarot cards is that, in a reading, they can speak to a wide range of things, from the most mundane to the most deeply spiritual.
When we study tarot, we are not only working to learn the cards so we can address them when they appear in a reading. We are also learning the lessons of each card that we may take those lessons to our hearts, to call upon for wisdom in our daily lives.
When we embrace tarot, tarot guides us in every moment, not just in our moments of divination.
Yet, it can be in moments of divination, whether for self or others, that deeper insights about a card can be cemented within our thinking. We study cards and are able to parrot keywords and interpretations. Yet, what we learn from the cards in a reading is very often how we become good tarot readers and keepers of true tarot wisdom. This process never ends, no matter how many years we have worked with the cards.
I had such a moment yesterday, with Major Arcana 11, Justice.
In a very deep and poignant reading involving love, death and family, I asked a specific question of the cards about how to process a grievous loss that led to a joyous new relationship.
Typically, when I ask such a question, I will pull one card. If that card answers the question sufficiently, I formulate my answer from that card and move on to the next topic or question.
If that single card does not sufficiently answer my question, I pull more cards until I find, within the group of cards I pulled, a story, answer, or an understanding of why the question can’t be answered, or which question I should be answering.
When such a deep question can be answered in a single card, the message seems powerful, profound, and enlightening. That’s what happened yesterday.
I asked a question about how my querents could find spiritual understanding and healthy processing around the fact that something sacred and delightful grew out of an unthinkable tragedy. The single card that appeared was Justice.
In mundane readings, Justice can often address issues of fairness and legalities. I saw this card over and over again one evening when reading at a Bar Association gala. Each of my clients that night was either an attorney or an attorney’s spouse.
When we think of typical keywords for Justice, we think of words like balance, law, fairness, and karma.
It would have been simple to say to my client that the joy was there to balance the sorrow. That would have been an acceptable interpretation of the card in context of the question. Yet, such an answer would not express the depth of either the question or the card which appeared in answer.
I was immediately struck by the word ‘karma’, a typical keyword for Justice. Karma is a word, and a concept, which I think is often misused and misunderstood by Westerners. We use it as a synonym for revenge. We use it to excuse ourselves from compassion. We use it to fool ourselves into thinking that universal law guarantees visible and tangible reward for good deeds, and punishment for wrongdoings.
When I pulled Justice to answer this difficult question within the deep and sacred space of a heartfelt reading, my querents received the answer they needed; one that will bring them peace and allow them forward motion.
I received something, too.
I received a deeper understanding of what karma really is, and how the tarot card Justice might speak to it.
Tarot is like this.
Sometimes we readers learn from the cards, and learn about the cards, during readings.
What I learned about Justice, and what I learned about karma, in that moment, is this.
When we think of things like Karma and balance, we often think about the balance between two things. Sometimes we think of a circle, as in, what goes around comes around.
But Justice, and karma, is so much more than that.
It is not a circle, and it is not a scale of duality.
Justice, and karma, is the fabric of which our lives are woven. Each thread is important to hold the whole together. Each thread is an individual, and also a part of something bigger.
The two events that my clients were having a hard time processing in a linear story made plenty of sense when we were able to see those two events as threads within the fabric of their lives.
That is a deeper understanding of karma, and of the Justice card in tarot.