Justice and the Emperor


I am currently writing about the Justice and Emperor cards and would be interested in your thoughts.



Quote:Chol (18 Sep, 2001 12:42):
I am currently writing about the Justice and Emperor cards and would be interested in your thoughts.

Justice has always been a problematic card for me because there never seems to be much going on in the image. What seems important about this card is that it is a transition between the material/Earthly cards of the first ten, and the spiritual/celestial ten cards that follow. It's a bridge between the two.

I've always interpeted it as an objective judgement done either by the person in question or on the person in question. As the card is often related to Maat, Egyptian goddess of truth who weighs each person's heart against a feather, the judgement will be seen as true, fair and just, if not pleasing. So perhaps self insight?

Emperor: The Empress births the Kingdom, mothers it and helps it grow, the Emperor runs it. I always relate the Emperor to his sign, Aires. Aires is the first sign of the Zodiac and (no offence tendered here to any Aires folk) like a baby, has positives and negatives. Positives, sees the world fresh, motivates people, is solidly in charge :) In the negative, is willful and childish.

Also important to the Emperor is his throne and the number 4. He's usually seated. So either he's solidly in that throne, focused on running his kingdom well, or he's sick of being in that seat and wants to leave it. 4 in the tarot can be that "I'm tired of all this and need a rest/change" card of swords/cups. or "the foundation is good and I'm happy, we can build on this" card of wands, or the "this is mine and it's going to stay mine," card of pentacles. The Emperor card, to me, can mean any and all of that.


The traditional justice s the Greek Goddess Themis, who is blindfolded, holding her scales in one and and her sword in the other. She is blind to the status of those who seek justice, seeing nothing but the equity of positions presented to her.

Tarot's judgment differs in that she can see. Her vision actively seeks out the truth, rather than having it presented to her. You cannot hide from her inquiries. While she yearns to render justice, the fact that she is able to see all before her is not always balanced.

Reversed, she considers things which are not always relevant to the matter at hand. She can be arrogant and merciless. When her sword cuts, the wound can be deep and long lasting.

If a reversed judgment card appears, the only appeal from her judgment is to God. Mitigating cards are the Hierophant, Priest, Priestess and other spirtuality cards.



i see the Emperor as structure, but never rigidity. he is foundation more than law.
he is Sun, Aries, Tiphareth. he rules his physical domain, but only by virtue of his connection to the 'above'.

Justice is, of course, balance. this is one card where i break away from Crowley. i like Justice in the 11 position. this is exactly in the middle of the trumps, and i like it there. that just seems more 'correct'.
(maybe i need a 12 step program for anal Libras!).


Just to add some additional alternatives to Thirteen, Divinerguy and Greenman.

Justice is, post Golden Dawn and especially Waite's influence, often numbered XI, and in that position occupies the middle of the deck (IF one places the Fool before I the Magician... not all traditions do this). This was mentioned above. Traditionally it is numbered VIII, which number is itself linked to the concept of Justice in ancient Greece. Justice is also traditionally represented without hood-wink (blindfold), as she needs to SEE and understand the situation at hand (unlike the law, which applies to all, irrespective). I have read in a history of art book some years ago (which I have since been attempting to re-locate) that Justice blindfolded only began to occur towards the beginning of the Renaissance.

With regards to IIII the Emperor, the association with Aries is again because of the Golden Dawn associations. On the Continent (of Europe), it is mainly, when it is at all, associated with Jupiter. Here in Australia, this was the association which Mouni Sadhu (nee Dimitr Sudowski, died c. 1967) made in his book 'The Tarot: A Contemporary Course of the Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism'.

Wirth, in his 'The Tarot of the Magicians', links IIII the Emperor to (C)Hesed, not Tiphareth. He also makes a link between it and the other card you are working on (Justice!). You may be interested in following this lead. (Wirth's book is published by Weiser).

What is also highly significant in the traditional (woodcut type and other) representations, are that his general posture form the symbol of Sulphur (triangle over a cross), and that, if you place the Major Arcana in a row, he faces the Empress and has his back to the Pope/Hierophant.

Hope this adds to the rich tapestry of the Tarot, not the confusion!