Tarot: Symbolism of the Justice

Hermit’s view on Tiberius as the Justice

Trump 11 in the Revenant Tarot deck
Trump 11 in the Revenant Tarot deck

Justice is all about objective reasoning, logic, and balance. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It is not about punishment, but adjustment, something that Tiberius does with relative ease and grace. He deals with loss, tragedy, and even death with the same cool-headed logic as a master alchemist mixing volatile chemicals. The Justice card urges us to bring things back into balance with ourselves, which is an ideal that this swordsman holds close to his heart.

The most obvious difference between this card and the Rider-Waite Justice is the lack of a scale. Instead of holding the ancient symbol of balance, Tiberius’s left hand – the hand that signifies the intuition – glows with a golden, healing light. When paired with the sword in his right hand – a symbol of the logical, objective, and fully conscious mindset necessary to be a fair judge – they balance each other, out. Harm and healing, law and intuition, and masculine and feminine are all dichotomies represented by the two hands. Another object that balances out the sword is the sheath hanging at Tiberius’s left side. Every sword needs a sheath, to prevent undue harm to the wielder or anyone else. It indicates that Tiberius is in direct control of his own thoughts, and can make decisions easily and correctly.

On Tiberius’s chest is a blue Bindrune, given to him by the God of Fate to hold back an accidental and devastating curse. It peeks out under the tunic and cloak to remind us of the spiritual consequences of our actions. In this case, that some things are meant to be in order to grow as a person. It also reminds us that some of these phases of adjustment may not be pleasant, or what we want, but they will always be what we need at the time. Since Tiberius wears glasses – and is, in fact, the only main character in the story that has to wear them – this could be a suggestion that Justice is “blind,” and cares not about what pain or pleasure it might bring to the situation.

Covering the Bindrune is a red tunic, red being a symbol of passion and survival, a nod to the idea that some judgements are necessary to continue living and thriving, and a purple cloak, a symbol of compassion and a willingness to serve others, as well as the divine. These two colors are on opposite ends of the visible electromagnetic spectrum, red being the lowest and purple being the highest. Both of these colors being present signifies an ability to think about and perceive all levels of consciousness – a trait which Tiberius gains much later in the story, and only after great sacrifice.

The cloak’s clasp is also a symbolic detail, a circle inside of a square. This is a symbol of consciousness, and the evolution thereof. The square can mean universal laws, and the circle represents the universal state of oneness. Combined, it creates an image of everything becoming everything else. Order returns to chaos, returns to order. Another reminder that everything happens for a reason, at least when this card is involved.

In the background stand two gray, stone pillars, representing the constraints of the physical world. Having Tiberius situated in the middle of this constraint represents the notion that the concept of Justice may only have sway in the physical world, and beyond that there are other properties involved that we don’t yet know about. However, there are cracks in the pillars, indicating that perhaps we are moving past that. Indeed, since this is the 11th card of the Tarot, it is a bridge between the prior ten cards, which can be called the physical world, and the next nine, the metaphysical.

The Zodiac sign for this card is Libra, which, while it isn’t directly pictured on this version of the Justice, is obvious on the Rider-Waite version, where the main figure holds the scales. It is a diplomatic and respectful sign, accommodating and fair. It strives for balance and equilibrium, which is echoed in the ideas of the Justice card. It is also the only sign with a symbol that is inanimate, reflecting the objective quality this card, in more than one way.

The Rune on this card is Ehwaz, the horse. It is a rune of journeys and progress, which may seem a bit strange for this card until we consider that it is also a herald of transitions, from one place to a better one. It is a messenger, indicating the need for change, the need to bring one’s life back into balance. It is the journey through the stages of consciousness, and the quest for personal equilibrium. A quest that is personified by Tiberius, and the Justice card.

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