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(For a list of all card articles, open March 2008 on the sidebar).

Friday, 7 March 2008


I tread upon your sands
press them down with every step
leave footprints on your belly
as I walk the line through you.

I feel your landmarks in my body
find your scales in my hands
reach deep into my spine
and find the steel of you.

Your eyes are always open.
Though mine are often blind.

(And I don't know where to start, because I love this card beyond all reason. She's the rightful one. Like St Pancras, she speaks truth to power. I wrote too much about what that means to me in 2005, so what I add now is just scrubbing at the edges, really).

Some nights, you just know. This night, I pulled six cards I'd done before, when I've never before had more than two, and I kept saying come on, come on. I knew it was going to be Justice because oh god do I ever love Metal Gear right now.

What Jack said to Jonathan: The meaning of justice can change from one day to the next. Certainly I keep finding new layers to it; Justice can be upright or spiteful, merciful or vindictive, inside or outside, Eighth or Eleventh. But some things never change. Justice is always the most demanding card in the deck. She keeps a permanent home inside your spine, is made of steel, does not bend or break, and if you can touch the back of your neck and draw her out of her sheath, you will be amazed at what she can do for you. (to be more accurate; what you can do for her). If you ever want to do the right thing whatever the cost, she's there. Use her (be her), and you may find you come out of it better than you ever expected.

Unlike most non-tarot depictions of Justice, she tends not to wear a blindfold; tarot instead reserves that mark for the Lady. Justice can always see you.

Cards weren't originally numbered; the Visconti-Sforza and other really old decks arrange themselves in your hands as they like. Most early numbered decks have Justice down at VIII; Arthur Waite decided, due to qabalism, that Justice was really XI - and because many decks follow on from the RWS, today it's usually XI. It's VIII in the Intuitive deck. So, yep, the card of truth and the right way of doing stuff can't even be pinned to a true, right place in the deck.

I don't know what it says, that Justice and Strength are the two cards that can trade places. Justice might be related to the High Priestess, or might be related to the Star: I can see both if I squint, but I feel the Priestess link more keenly; both relate to balance, and to the human intellect. And I think both relate to Nemesis: Justice in the sense that did you ever have it coming, and come for you she will.

[I often write these posts in silence; today I was looping Dar, and what came up as I was hitting 'publish'? Oh yes. That odd little song about small-time radio stations. That one.

There's so much to see through
Like our parents do more drugs than we do

Corporate parents, corporate towns
I know every TV set that has them lit
They preach that I should save the world
They pray that I won't do a better job of it

So tonight I turned your station on
Just so I'd be understood
Instead another voice said I was just too late
And just no good.

Oh Nemesis. You were out there and you found me; I am out here listening all the time.]

Images of Justice:

Erm, I have rather a lot of these. Not that I'm obsessed with this card or anything. Here's Scapini's Justice, who has all the usual bits: throne, sword, scales, chick in red dress. The Intuitive Justice looks like a desert with those emblems buried in its shifting sands.

I really like this one, which is from the Vortex Tarot. This from the One World is kinda odd, but I think it - eye, ouroboros - has something in common with the Intuitive card (and the Mythic one, which I don't have a scan of - Athene seated at the centre of a chessboard floor - Athene who also governs the entire suit of Swords): all put Justice and her eyes inside a physical world. You're stuck in the middle with her.

Amano's Justice is sat in one of her own scale-pans, with a smaller balance in one hand. So you're stuck in the middle of her with her. For yet more reflexiveness, the Roots of Asia Justice finds the scales in her own reflection in the all-river. It's a bit like that theological riddle about whether God's omnipotence means he can create a rock too heavy for him to move; Justice is stood here saying no, no, he can't, and I can't, because we're all governed by our own laws, even me, especially me. We're all inside our own scales.

The Osho Zen card, Breakthrough, is distinctly representative of that feeling of pulling her out of your spine and wielding her, cutting up the things - the patterns - that just aren't right or true.

What I wrote about Justice in 2005:

Justice. Whether Justice is objective or subjective is one of the funner questions I find in decks, and my current thinking is 'both'. Relativism is fashionable enough, and the world is made of grey areas, but there are other stories to tell. Here's one I came across whilst researching that damned essay; in Tibetan folklore it is believed that a white god and a black demon live inside every human being, and for every good deed you do the white god collects a white pebble, and for every ill deed you do the black demon collects a black pebble. After death, they weigh the deeds against each other. Justice's scale is not empty; it merely hangs in the balance, in the grey zone.

Now, I'll start by going from the outside in. Consider the following;

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing."

"I'd be dead if I was really a good person."

"I couldn't sleep at night if I hadn't done this."

The second is from Battle Royale - Shinji Mimura's dear rebellious uncle again (who is dead from sudden bout of goodness by the time the story begins). The first is such obvious pat-on-the-back bullshit that I've no idea why anyone ever says it. If you do nothing, you're not a good person. There's nothing 'good' about sitting down and thinking fluffy thoughts, or frowning at the right places in the newspapers. You can't think anything better. The world is not a nice place and every time you give in to it, every time you move for yourself rather than for it, you get further from that second quote. And whatever standards you hold yourself to, unless you're actively contributing hand over fist I wouldn't call you 'good'. I wouldn't call myself 'good'. I believe I only know one human being who I would dream of calling 'good' (and she probably knows who she is >>).

It was when I was first considering this, just after finishing Battle Royale, that I read about the death of Marla Ruzicka. A little chilling to just stumble over it on the same afternoon, but yes, that's it. That's what any of us could be doing and that's where it would get us. It takes a lot to make those scales tip to the white, and it certainly can't come for free.

(The third was something I found in a newspaper a while ago - from a gene researcher who recently made a major medical breakthrough I can't for the life of me understand. I love the sentiment, and I hope you all sleep well tonight...)

But there's another Justice, and that's the one Amano drew. She's gorgeous, definitely my favourite thing in this deck - sat in one of her own scale-pans, knife tucked into her belt, toying with a tiny balance in one hand. This isn't the same creature as the one who holds that sword straight-upward. This one is inside that; personal and subjective and above all internal. There's a wonderful display of this right here: Alan Moore's 'Valerie' [And ffs, if you've never read that, read it. Please god, read it]. It might only come from the inside, but it's no less exacting for that. It's everything Valerie said it is - the last piece, the crack of total freedom, the only thing that's worth anything...or so the lady in the scales will tell you.

When I think of Justice I tend to think of both together. M's been noting recently my near-inability to honestly dislike people - I'm always clinging to redeeming features and universal humanity and crap. It's how I see the world, shades of grey everywhere. (I'm partly thinking of ________ here - ________, who many people I knew had good reason to loathe, but who, for whatever reasons, had far more caring for me than almost any of said people did, and was the only person to notice me moping at that party. I think I wrote about it in here at the time, over two years ago now. Shades of grey). It is partly because I'm more interested in whether people uphold their own standards than whether they fit in with mine. So I abhor double standards, but I'm quite capable of being warm to the villains in adventure stories. Equally I can easily get disenchanted with the heroes, whether in life or in story; when a villain lies, he lies, but when a hero lies, he lies twice and utterly.

And notice, if you will, that it was freedom Valerie promised, not, never, peace. I am in a Justice cycle right now and I have a lot left to learn about it. [FYI, I'm in a Temperance cycle now].

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