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Greater Arcana Study Group—Justice

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Greater Arcana Study Group—Justice


As this card follows the traditional symbolism and carries above all its obvious meanings, there is little to say regarding it outside the few considerations collected in the first part, to which the reader is referred.

It will be seen, however, that the figure is seated between pillars, like the High Priestess, and on this account it seems desirable to indicate that the moral principle which deals unto every man according to his works—while, of course, it is in strict analogy with higher things—differs in its essence from the spiritual justice which is involved in the idea of election. The latter belongs to a mysterious order of Providence, in virtue of which it is possible for certain men to conceive the idea of dedication to the highest things. The operation of this is like the breathing of the Spirit where it wills, and we have no canon of criticism or ground of explanation concerning it. It is analogous to the possession of the fairy gifts and the high gifts and the gracious gifts of the poet: we have them or have not, and their presence is as much a mystery as their absence. The law of Justice is not, however, involved by either alternative. In conclusion, the pillars of Justice open into one world and the pillars of the High Priestess into another.
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Some of what he’s saying here doesn’t make much sense at first, to me anyway; but there are a couple of things that will hopefully clarify.

Waite definitely believed some people were “called” for higher things; these are the elect. They aren’t led by outward systems and procedures but are led by the Spirit and therefore exist—in consciousness—on a different level than the rest of humanity.

The Justice card represents—in it’s outer sense—an idealized form of human Justice, derived from human understanding and based on the principles of good and evil.

In its inner sense it represents spiritual Justice. This is Justice based not on human morality, but on spiritual influences working from within the soul. This is Justice of the elect. I infer here that these spiritual influences must come from the High Priestess. He seems to be suggesting human Justice is based on reward and punishment in the mundane world, while spiritual justice is played out in the spiritual world. Waite’s comment on the Great Symbol of “Justice” from his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross is helpful here:
“On the surface it is an emblem of Justice, adorned with all her attributions. The mind of our natural humanity conceives this virtue and brings it to birth in life; but there is also a Justice which is above, working in the souls of the Chosen Ones.”
My understanding of what Waite is saying—though he doesn’t say it explicitly—is that Justice is the High Priestess on an outer, or mundane, level. The pillars of each card open upon different “worlds.”
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Another quote from Waite's description of the Great Symbol mentioned above:
"Herein is the Justice of the Elect, reflected from her who is President of the Supernal Tribunal, the Most Holy Shekinah. The outward attributions of Justice are as her vesture..."
He describes Shekinah (High Priestess) as "President of the Supernal Tribunal." The High Priestess is at the uppermost position on the pillar of Judgment (Justice) and as such could be seen as "President." "The outward attributions of Justice are as her vesture..." seems to verify that Justice and the High Priestess are two aspects of the same thing.
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