Number: 8 or 11.
Astrological correspondence: Libra.
Keywords: karma, retribution, necessary defensive action.
Justice beyond tarot: Ned Stark in Game of Thrones, Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series.
A woman sits in front of a veil in between two stone pillars, dressed in flowing red robes with a crown on her head. In her left hand, she holds scales, and in the right, a sword. She is stern and impartial along with powerful, and her final decision will stand no matter what.
Justice is traditionally the eighth card, and Strength the eleventh, but the position of these two cards was switched in the Rider-Waite deck in order to make them better fit the astrological correspondences created by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Today many decks use this numbering, particularly in the English-speaking world. Both placements are considered valid. I prefer the traditional one because it intuitively makes more sense for me: you cannot escape the weight of the you’ve made or evaded in the previous card, and, because Justice can denote difficulty (as we’ll see below), you’ll need the rest and reset that follows with the Hermit. Ultimately, it comes down to every tarot practitioner’s choice, so once you’re more fluent in tarot, you’ll get to figure out which placement you prefer.
Justice is the third in a row (if you place her as eighth in the Major Arcana) to carry the notion of balance, after the Lovers and the Chariot. Here, balance is related to the notion of karma. It’s a reminder that any decision you make today will affect your life and that of others’ in the long run. Your actions, no matter how small, have a weight to them, and whatever you put out there, you will get back at some point. So when you get this card in a spread, make sure that all your decisions and actions are motivated by good, and you will receive goodness in return. Do random acts of kindness, while you’re at it, find somewhere you can volunteer (maybe with friends, your partner, or your kids!) and pick up trash that others have thrown away when you’re out and about!
This card is also a reminder for you to not take justice into your own hands, even when it’s extremely tempting, for instance when someone trashes your reputation, tries to destroy your marriage or important friendships, or hurts someone you love. Don’t misunderstand me, I firmly believe that when there’s a credible threat to you and your loved ones, you need to do whatever it takes to protect yourself and them. But there’s a fine line between defensive and aggressive action, and you need to make sure you never cross it, because once you do, there is no going back. No matter how difficult it is, let karmic justice take care of whoever has hut you, and focus on compensating their harmful actions by putting even more good out in the Universe.