Alchemical Study Group - VIII Justice


(From the Book)

"Whosoever is ignorant in the weight let him not labor in our books." --Rosarium Philosophorum (pg. 37)

Prophetically, the first of the three feminine powers encountered by the charioteer is Justice, who is the death aspect of this triple Goddess. Justice can be traced to the Egyptian goddess Maat, who weighs the souls of the dead, and is the embodiment of truth and justice. To the Egyptians Maat was the equivalent of cosmic consciousness or the Tao, the eternal truth from which all things spring, and to which all things return. To the Greeks fate was ruled by the three Moirai, but also had a less familiar dual nature. Tyche ruled over the first part as the goddess of luck, and good fortune, and Nemesis the goddess of justice, or divine vengeance ruled the other half. Nemesis' symbol is the wheel of the year, which shows her connection to the Latin Fortuna. The Romans named this aspect of Fortuna Libra, and placed her symbol, the balance, at the midpoint of the Zodiac, where it marked the autumnal equinox. Our modern image of Justice came into focus in the Renaissance, with her scales of impartial judgement, and her sword representing the powers of mercy and vengeance.

Alchemically, Justice weighs fire and water; she balances the masculine and feminine principles. Her alchemical process is called disposition, in which the correct proportion of these elements are determined by weight before they are sealed in the retort. The hilt of her sword bears the alchemical symbol for vitriol, or "oil of glass," which is the secret fire.

The image on the card also has a Kabblahistic meaning: it forms the three pillars of the Tree of Life. Her impartial scales coincide with the pillar of severity, and her upraised sword with the pillar of mercy. Her body itself forms the central pillar which connects with the divine presence, rising like smoke beyond our comprehension. The ten sefirah can be appropriately positioned on her body, with Keter on her crown, and Malkhut at the base of her torso.

Justice's number, eight, is a second or higher order of the number four and represents balancing of the physical world.

This drawing is based on images from Michael Maier's Tripus Aureus, 1618.

Tarot wisdom: Justice solemnly reminds us that right action should be based on sound judgement, and truth. We must balance objectivity, her scale, with subjectivity, her sword. This balancing also is demonstrated in the composition of the card. Justice is structured (logic, objectivity), but she stands at the edge of water (intuition, subjectivity). In a higher spiritual sense, Justice is the weigher of souls. She assesses our progress along our the path of our work, and judges our actions.

The divine fire in her crown, the eye of God, and the rising smoke tell us that in justice there are subtleties that are beyond our grasp. Sometimes, in the end, we must simply give her our trust.


She seems balanced, and yet not balanced. Her feet are not even and neither are her arms--she almost looks like a tightrope walker taking another step across the wire. Yet her feet are on solid ground and like a tightrope walker she is sure of herself.

Ma'at was also the goddess of order, she who kept all things balanced and without her there would be chaos, which, to the Egyptians was horrifying.


Like Kenny, I find it interesting that she's not quite balanced, particularly how her feet are on different levels. This is a really complex card and it's one I feel like I really need to spend quite a bit more time with. I just feel like she has so much to say :)

Interesting that she's linked to the death aspect of the great goddess, I really like how Place links the three virtues to the three aspects of the goddess. It adds another whole dimension of meaning, for me anyway.

I like how the water is in the background, the idea that good judgement is based on a balance between logic and intuition makes a lot of sense to me.

I used to automatically think of Justice as number 11 after working with the RWS deck/s but I really do feel like 8 makes a lot more sense so I'm pleased she is number 8 in this deck.


sapienza said:
Interesting that she's linked to the death aspect of the great goddess, I really like how Place links the three virtues to the three aspects of the goddess. It adds another whole dimension of meaning, for me anyway.
I'm in the process of reading The Secret History of the World, it's very eye-opening and it may have a bearing upon what you see here.


Fabulous Leisa. Thanks so much for posting the link to the podcast. Really fascinating :)


I agree, thanks for posting the podcast, it was very interesting to hear him talking about this card.

Kenny :)

Feisty Kat


I drew this card today and it occurred to me that standing on two different steps could be interpreted as needing to be fair and balanced in an unfair and chaotic world.

UZU--Feisty Kat


This is a very interesting card, I like that she has one foot higher than the other it is almost as though she is showing us the choice we can make, by not being rigid in outlook and attitude, her poise has some fluidity to it — movement, not fixed. She does seem to show us here the balancing of opposites in the scales bearing the fire and water but also in her dress revealing one naked breast while covering the other and how in doing so one can gain a greater perspective. The reference to the Kabala and the Tree of Life again alludes to the balancing of opposites, severity and mercy and her higher conscious symbolised by her body position and the eye in the flame upon the crown on her head alluding to the ability to examine truthfully and objectively to where we are and how we got there. Having Kether on her crown in the Tree of Life it symbolises what we choose to manifest in our lives and how we choose to experience it — it refers to inner awareness.

She stands here magnificently and her message is one where she asks us to look at ourselves objectively as is possible, when honest what she shows us here is that where we are in our life at this present moment is a result of our emotional and spiritual processes and the choices we have made.

I love that she is balancing fire and water these two elements can have far reaching effects on each other, one turning the other to steam or the ability to totally put the other out — maintaining the balance is the trick.

So as she stands there with her sword of discrimination and her scales of balance perhaps she is saying to us by being able to perform critical analysis you can gain a much more balanced picture.

So all in all this image does say to me that it is time to weigh up things carefully using logic and rationality in order to find fair and balanced solutions.

I do find the fact that she reveals one breast seems to also say to me that one should not be afraid to reveal the true self.

Just musing on a Saturday night.