Tarot Talk

May 1st, 2014

This month, we will talk about the Major Arcana card called Judgement. If you haven’t read last month’s essay on Justice, please do so now. At the beginning of that essay, you will find a brief description of the Major Arcana, as well as a review of some terms, such as archetype, stereotype and epitome.

Each Major Arcana card contains many ingredients to aid in interpretation; besides the symbolism found in the traditional images associated with each card, a Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth. Because Judgement and Justice are so similar, it will be fun to compare the two as we learn about the Judgement card. Let’s start breaking down and comparing; we’ve got a lot of work to do!

Most decks represent Judgement with an image of an angel blowing a horn above a group of people. The heralding of an act of divine judgment through a trumpet call is certainly an event familiar to us all, and it is an effective image for this card. The Waite deck shows people standing in coffin-like boxes, symbolizing an after-death judgment, and yes, there is a Death card in the Tarot Major Arcana. The Witches Tarot card shows people leaping out of water; the element of Water can represent renewal or regeneration, the next step after Judgment is completed. If you remember, the traditional image on the Justice card is that of an armed woman holding scales and a sword; the symbolism attached to Justice is self-imposed discipline, restriction used as a tool of focus and awareness, justice applied with equality to all and with a balance of mercy and authority. Looking at these two cards is like looking at a verb and a noun; one (Judgement) shows an action, and the other (Justice) shows a thing or concept.

The traditional image associated with the Judgment card is connected to more than just Death mentioned above, and The Tower and its destruction that prepares for regeneration. If you look at the image on a traditional Judgement card, you will see in the background the mountains first seen or hinted at on The Fool, the ocean is the end of the river first seen or hinted at on The Empress, and Gabriel’s banner usually is the same color as The Magician’s robe.

Judgement is the number 20 of the Major Arcana, and 20 breaks down as 2 + 0 = 2. The Justice card in its traditional position is the number 11 of the Majors, and 11 breaks down as 1 + 1 = 2. Another connection between these two cards! The number 2 in the Tarot represents polarity and balance, as well as the concept of “distance between,” which is connected to dynamic balance.

The number 2 card of the Major Arcana is The High Priestess. The High Priestess represents knowledge of the cause that is behind action and reaction. The female authority figure of the Justice card weighs both cause and effect in her judgments; she takes the knowledge of The High Priestess to the next level, and manifests it. And the Judgement card represents that manifestation, with its valuing of what has come before and, after payment is presented (usually through achieving knowledge of the cause that is behind the action and reaction), liberation from those past events in order to begin again. More connections that help us to understand these two cards.

Not all archetypes symbolize people; the Judgement card is the archetype for three experiences that are common to all times and all cultures: Evaluation, Reward, and Completion. Thus the Judgement card can be seen to represent rites of passage that occur when we are held accountable for our past choices, decisions, and actions. It is only through being evaluated, and then receiving the fitting reward (whether pleasant or uncomfortable) that the events can finally be completed, the accounting books can be closed and put away, and a new cycle can begin. If you remember, the archetype of the Justice card is the Judge. The Judge is the authoritative figure who performs the Evaluation, distributes the Reward, and deems the cycle as Complete. The Judgement card also represents the archetypal concept of spiritual rebirth at the end of the world. It is a card of powerful transition, but that transition does no happen through the violence of The Tower or the fear associated with Death.

Judgement corresponds with Fire, which is spontaneous and impulsive, and connected to energetic change. Fire is an active element that represents ideas, ambition, passion, and action aligned with Divine will. Fire is hot and it separates, it is dry and it shapes; it can offer a spiritual Aha! Moment, or it can feed the ego to obesity, and the Judgement card asks us to account for both. Fire is also about purification; Fire destroys and Fire creates, and a trial by Fire may not be fun, but it is beneficial in the end because it enables us to resolve issues, and release them. Justice corresponds with the element of Air, and Air is one of the things Fire needs in order to exist. Thus, Judgement cannot exist without Justice.

The Judgement card corresponds with the planet Pluto in astrology, and with power, metamorphosis, and cycles of dying and becoming. In Roman mythology, Pluto is the god of the underworld and of wealth. Pluto’s “icon” is the alchemy symbol, representing spirit over mind, transcending matter. Pluto represents the part of a person that destroys in order to renew, through bringing buried or repressed needs and drives to the surface and expressing them, even at the expense of the existing order. A commonly used keyword for Pluto is “transformation.” It is associated with personal mastery, and the need to cooperate and share with another, in order that no one is destroyed. Pluto governs big business and wealth, mining, surgery and detective work, and any enterprise that involves digging under the surface to bring the truth to light.

In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected in some way to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter.

The Judgement card corresponds with Shin, the fang or tooth, the twenty-first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter Shin connects directly with the element of Fire, and is also active and expansive. Its shape reflects three raised flames in the shape of three Vaus (the Hebrew letter Vau, the nail, joins or holds in place), representing the three qualities of Shin: the Od or the active force of life, the Ob or the passive force of life, and the Aur or the balancing force of life. The fang or tooth represents taking in or receiving, and chewing in order to digest, and of course, this can be on a more mundane level; however since Shin is a letter that expresses itself on a cosmic level, this taking in, digesting and absorbing is most likely on a more broad-reaching level.

On the Tree of Life, Judgement represents the 31st Path (one of the Paths that is considered a step of initiation) between Malkuth (the physical world of action and physical, outer reality) and Hod (which provides analysis and communication). The 31st Path is the Path of Perpetual Intelligence, of psychic development, and of former incarnations which have offered us evolution and brought us to where we are in this life, and it teaches us how to use the knowledge of how we got here to this “now” in order to move forward. And here is a piece of interesting and unrelated trivia for you Trekkies out there: the Vulcan salute (the “live long and prosper” mudra) is directly related to the Hebrew letter Shin!

The rebirth promised in the Judgement card doesn’t happen through destroying or discarding things, but rather through integrating things. Judgement allows us to move forward, but this card also reminds us to not forget the past; instead, we should learn from it. Judgement is about making amends, and it is about forgiving; it tells of reaching conclusions, getting off the fence, ad seeing everything in a new light. It reminds us of the importance of hindsight, it encourages us to reap what has been sown, and it underscores the benefits focusing on what is gained instead of what is lost.

When reversed, the Judgement card is reminding us that while someone else is doing the tallying of our score card, we are the ones who have the final choice so we should not allow circumstances to blind us to the consequences of our actions. A reversed Judgement card can also be about feeling guilty or blaming others, it can be about death or endings without a chance for a new beginning. It can tell of failing to be merciful or forgiving with yourself or with others, or staying stuck in hate or regret, and it warns of the danger of focusing on what is lost instead of what is gained.

Judgement to me is like getting the bill at the end of a dinner at a fine restaurant. You have been given the meal you ordered, and now you have to pay for it. Judgement also has a liberating effect, because once we pay the bill, we are free of debt. Judgement brings resolution, and Judgement brings Justice.

These two cards really are connected, aren’t they? Next month we will enter the world of Court Cards and talk about one of my favorites, the Queen of Pentacles.

The Star (17)


“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.” ~ L. J. Suenens

Image Description:

The Rider-Waite deck depicts a nude woman kneeling near a pond with one foot submerged in the water. She is pouring crystal clear water from two jugs into the pond and onto the ground. In a cloudless sky a grouping of stars shine above her, bathing the countryside in light. Flowers grow on the bank, and an Ibis is perched in the branches of a nearby tree.


Star: Hope, wish fulfillment, guiding light

Seven Stars: Seven main chakras, seven ancient planets

Five Rivulets of Water: The five senses

One Foot in Water, One Foot on Land: Spirit/subconscious (water) and material/conscious (land)

Water: The subconscious mind

Ibis perched in a Tree: Thought and mind

Key Words:

Hope, Inspiration, Rejuvenation, Faith, Tranquility

Fool’s Journey:

Having weathered the storm the Fool sits by a nearby pond with a feeling of emptiness, as if he has lost everything, including his faith. Gazing up at the night sky he wonders what is left. It is then that the sound of pouring water draws his attention. His eyes seek the source and he observes a nude woman emptying the contents of two urns onto the land and into the water. The Fool watches, inspired by the sense of tranquility this simply act brings him. Much like the land and water the woman is nourishing, he, too, feels as if he is being rejuvenated. Embracing a renewed sense of hope, he rises and resumes his journey, using the stars in the sky as his guide.


To learn how to renew oneself after experiencing difficult events, and to recognize and follow our higher purpose in life.


Throughout the ages people have looked upon the star as a signpost and symbol for guidance, inspiration, and hope. In biblical theology, three wise men saw a star they believed foretold the birth of Jesus. In Arthurian mythos, a star in the shape of a dragon shot across the sky signifying the future King of Britain had been born. Even now, in modern times, people have been known to ‘wish upon a star’, believing stars to be lucky.

In readings, the Star can be a welcomed symbol of hope and rejuvenation when grief and despair has overwhelmed us. When we need it the most, an unexpected blessing can instill within us a new sense of purpose, inspiring us to reach for our dreams during our bleakest moments. The Star encourages us to believe in our heart’s desire and our most cherishes wishes; anything is possible as long as we have hope.

The Star can also indicate a period of tranquility and serenity. When we free ourselves of the negative emotions and residue that life’s struggles create, we can experience a measure of confidence and the assurance that all in life is good.  By opening our minds to righteousness and faith, new opportunities and possibilities can arise giving us a deeper understanding of true inner peace.

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘It’s In the Cards’ for At one time this column appeared in Finer Things Magazine in New Haven, CT, and I am very pleased to be writing my column again; this time for the Pagan Community.

Every month, I will do a tarot reading for one person whose question I choose for this column. Also, by writing me, you will have a chance for a free tarot 10 minute reading on the phone. If you would like to contact me about purchasing a reading, please visit my web site at or write me at [email protected]

Since I first began reading for the public 13 years ago, I found that I fell in love with being able to help people in their personal lives and on their path as a spiritual counselor. The cards, I have found, often tell us what we need to know, and not necessarily what we want to know. They provide a way for me to see deeper into the heart of an issue and often what magickal advice I also need to give to bring about change.

Even if you aren’t familiar with tarot cards as a form of divination, they also work in the same way other forms do, be it the Runes, I-Ching, oracles or Ogam. The symbols of the tarot speak on many levels, and allow a connection to be created with spirit; opening a doorway for the universe to communicate on a personal level. As an artist as well as a priestess, I acknowledge the power of these symbols, but as a psychic, I use them to “see” more clearly.

Mediumship isn’t something I intentionally practice, but sometimes I do receive messages from spirit or departed loved ones, and if I receive messages I will relay these to you as part of the reading.

This following is the question chosen for this month.


Dear Alicia,

What do I need to do/change in order to achieve my deepest dreams? Birthdate – 06/10/1969.

– Kelly

Dear Kelly,

As a Gemini with Venus in slow and stubborn Taurus combined with the inner restlessness of Mars in Sagittarius, you may find yourself in a bit of an inner conflict when you make decisions, however, with Jupiter in Virgo, luck comes to you rather easily once those decisions are made. Your greatest challenges will be to take risks and find your own personal liberation.

I’ve chosen a simple seven card horseshoe spread for you, which is also a lunar crescent in the same moon phase as I write this column. An extra card is drawn to represent you.





The Horseshoe card spread positions:
Significator card representing you
Card #1: Past

Card #2: Present situation

Card #3: Future

Card #4: Advice

Card #5: Outside influences

Card #6: Challenge/Limitations

Card #7: Outcome at this time

The Significator card is the Ten of Cups, representing you. You are very concerned with your loved ones, and they bring you great joy. Let this be the strength that propels you forward.

The first card is the Empress (3), inversed, which represents the past, but influences the current situation. It speaks of you as being a nurturer who has given away too much of themselves, presumably for too long a period of time. This tells me that you need to take care of yourself first for this to be the foundation of those dreams. Castles in the air are nothing until the foundations are placed under them.

The second card indicates present circumstances, which is the Ten of Pentacles, inversed. Tens are cards of completion and fulfillment. This card is the physical side of the home, in contrast to the emotional Ten of Cups above. At present, there does not seem to be the physical or monetary support to further your goals and vision. Inversed, it suggests transformation, of a situation ending.

The third card is the Six of Pentacles, representing the near future. This card directly ties into the last, as financial restrictions will change and progress will be facilitated. You can expect resolution and some very real and practical help offered to help you achieve your goals.

The fourth card is the Magician (1), inversed. Although upright, this card indicates power, and when inverted, it indicates abuse of power. It is deceptive magic and slight of hand, of things that are not as they appear to be. Seeing that this is the card which advises you – this is a warning to stay on the good path and not stray from it through another’s advice, which you can count on it being self-serving. Be careful with the gifts that you will be given in the future.

The fifth card representing outside influences is the Ace of Pentacles. As the Six of Pentacles suggests, there is prosperity coming your way. If you were considering a home-based business (which would be perfect for you) this would become a possibility. Aces are beginnings and cards of initiation. Once you have the means available you should begin.

The sixth card is the Eight of Wands, inversed, and in this lies your challenge. I believe this is connected to the Magician inversed as above, a conflict with someone who may be too close to you – quite literally. A price may have to be paid in making your decision to go forward and much discord over the issue, which doesn’t surprise me. People change and behave badly most often when money is at stake.

The seventh card is the Seven of Swords. Sevens are mutable, but your dreams can be reached with perseverance and a refusal to be dictated to by the wants and needs of others. What you sow now, will be reaped later in abundance. I can’t emphasize enough that you should already have begun your plans and to do your research before any of this manifests. Your dreams will bear fruit in direct proportion to how much energy you put into them, and the energy involved must be steady.

I drew one last card, the one from the bottom on the deck, and it was the Four of Cups. This symbolizes what is hidden from you, and doubly so by the car itself. Please be open to new possibilities beyond what you can see. The brass ring doesn’t come around very often, and sometimes what appears to be brass is actually gold. The universe will provide the means, but you must provide the determination. As in the Charge of the Goddess, “Keep pure your highest ideals; strive ever towards them, let nothing stop you or turn you aside.”

Rev. Alicia Lyon Folberth


If you would like me to do a reading for you in the next issue of Pagan Pages, please send me your:
1. Name you would like me to use in the article (it doesn’t have to be your given name)
2. Full birth date
3. Your question. Feel free to ask anything!
4. Send it to: [email protected]


The Tarot’s meanings can be personal and subjective to each of us in accordance with our unique experiences and
views of the world. For this reason there are no immutable or absolute definitions that can be applied to the cards.

The cards mean what our intuition and experience tell us they mean, and this can differ from person to person. As
you study the cards do not be afraid to allow your inner voice to suggest nuances of meaning.

When examining the Tarot, you’ll notice that the titles, illustrations, and symbols of certain cards seem to openly
convey their meaning, while the informative clues for other cards may appear more allusive at first glance. When
you encounter a card that you may not easily understand, take the extra time needed to recognize its energies.

In subsequent articles we will examine some of the more commonly accepted card meanings in great detail. For
now, simply acquaint yourself with the Major Arcana and begin to explore their surface meanings.


(0) The Fool: Entering a new phase, starting an adventure, living in the moment, being new and innocent, taking a
(1) The Magician: Experiencing movement through willpower, understanding your intentions, focusing your
energy, having singleness of purpose, utilizing your creative power.
(2) The High Priestess: Being passive, employing your intuition, experiencing spiritual enlightenment, sensing
the secret and hidden, having esoteric insight.
(3) The Empress: Showing maternal instinct, enjoying prosperity, experiencing growth and fertility, focusing on
the senses, feeling connected to the earth.
(4) The Emperor: Using masculine power, creating order out of chaos, enjoying security, dealing with authority,
leading or being led.
(5) The Hierophant: Established codes of behavior or belief, learning or teaching, honoring ritual and ceremony, participating in an organized group, giving or receiving wise counsel.
(6) The Lovers: Participating in a partnership or affiliation, experiencing physical passion and desire, confronting your own beliefs, staying true to yourself, making important moral decisions.
(7) The Chariot: Winning a victory through will, desiring to achieve, experiencing bold confidence, mastering
and curbing impulses, having a clear purpose.
(8) Strength: Showing preservation and endurance, exhibiting calm tolerance, feeling sympathy toward others,
using gentle force, having mental and moral fortitude.
(9) The Hermit: Following a personal quest, accepting or giving wise advice, spending time alone, engaging in
self examination and discovery, withdrawing from the world.
(10) The Wheel of Fortune: Experiencing fate, discovering opportunities through new developments,
undergoing rapid change, standing at a crossroad, coming full circle.
(11) Justice: Confronting equitable or impartial treatment, being accountable, choosing rightly, recognizing the
results of your actions, restoring balance.
(12) The Hanged Man: Pausing to reflect, experiencing a change of mind or circumstances, letting go,
voluntarily losing, giving up control.
(13) Death: Completing a chapter, experiencing crucial and profound change, entering the start of a new cycle,
eradicating the unnecessary, enduring an inevitable ending.
(14) Temperance: Avoiding excess, achieving a harmonious balance, blending forces together, finding peace
through compromise, experiencing good health.
(15) The Devil: Being lured or enticed, experiencing unhealthy attachments, focusing too much on the physical,
being unaware, feeling tied down against your will.
(16) The Tower: Experiencing havoc, facing annihilation, enduring painful alteration, undergoing a shocking
catastrophe, having an emotional outburst.
(17) The Star: Having faith in the future, finding motivation, experiencing renewal, having a sense of belief,
enjoying peace of mind.
(18) The Moon: Feeling apprehension, confronting the unfamiliar, seeing what is not there, having troubled
imaginings and thoughts, becoming confused.
(19) The Sun: Attaining a new level of insight, having your day in the sun, becoming radiantly energized, feeling
invigorated, experiencing a sense of confidence.
(20) Judgment: Judging or being judged, forgiving yourself or others, reaching a higher level of being, becoming
transformed, making a fresh start.
(21) The World: Realizing your goals, coming to a journeys end, experiencing success, feeling satisfied,
reaching a conclusion.


Each Major Arcana card seems to follow a particular theme. Simply knowing a card’s basic theme can help you
explore the many other avenues of expression that a card can adopt in a reading. Take the time to study the
following themes and adapt them to your own understanding of the Tarot.

Fool: Beginnings
Magician: Will
High Priestess: Intuition
Empress: Creation
Emperor: Authority
Hierophant: Spiritual/Academic Teaching/Learning
Lovers: Relationships
Chariot: Control
Strength: Inner Strength
Hermit: Introspection
Wheel of Fortune: Change
Justice: Balance
Hanged Man: Sacrifice
Death: Endings
Temperance: Blending
Devil: Bondage
Tower: Destruction
Star: Guidance
Moon: Illusion
Sun: Realization
Judgment: Rebirth
World: Completion

It was a pleasure to once again share with you the wonders of the Tarot. Next week, we’ll take an upclose and
personal look at the ‘Fool’ card. Until then, may the Tarot be with you!

My name is Raushanna, and I am addicted to the Tarot.  From that moment in 2005 that I spread before me the cards from my very first Tarot deck, the Morgan Greer Tarot, I was hooked.  So many beautiful and frightening and serene and powerful and thought-provoking images, all packed into 78 cards!  So many symbols to understand!  Thus began a journey that has only intensified with each new deck I examine and with each spread I throw.  My efforts to understand how the elements and numbers and astrology and the Hebrew alphabet and the Tree of Life and the other components of the Tarot can all work together with the particular theme of an individual deck are ongoing, to this very day.  I have my personal favorite cards, and I have cards that personally call me to deal with uncomfortable issues; each deck offers a new shade of meaning for them all.


The Tarot may seem overwhelming when first examined, but I have found that by breaking each card down to its most basic ingredients we can begin to apply a more customized message to our interpretations.  We can add to the breadth of our understanding of the message even further by examining the same card from different decks.  This is a never-ending process, for we each perceive and understand these most basic ingredients that make up an individual Tarot card through our own unique life experiences.  Thus, my Thoth Tarot Nine of Cups interpretation will not be exactly the same as your Thoth Tarot Nine of Cups interpretation, nor will my Thoth Tarot Nine of Cups interpretation today be the same as my interpretation of that card one year from today.  My Thoth Tarot Nine of Cups interpretation could vary from my Legacy of the Divine Nine of Cups interpretation as well.  And the interpretation of the Nine of Cups by someone new to the Tarot or the Thoth deck can be as exciting and innovative as the interpretation of someone who has studied the cards and offered readings for years.  Can you see where we are going here? Learning about the Tarot can be a lifetime endeavor, and the learning begins as soon as you pick up and look at your first deck.


Before we begin, let’s define exactly what we will be talking about.  A Tarot deck has 78 cards.  There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10, as well as a representation of the family unit (usually called “Court Cards”); the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.  There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives.  There are also many divination decks and oracle decks out there, and they are wonderful (I even own a few myself), but in Tarot Talk we will be talking about the Tarot and the cards that make up a standard Tarot deck, which is set up in the fashion described above.  Okay then, introductory stuff done!


The Nine of Cups is a great place to start our meandering journey through the Tarot, so let’s break this card down!  It is a Minor Arcana card, so we know right away that the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues.  Notice right away that I am qualifying many of my statements with “most likely” or “usually”; as readers and interpreters and students of the Tarot we do need to remember that every message, no matter how insignificant or mundane on the surface, can also possibly be a symptom of a deeper or wider issue.  Nothing in the Minor Arcana is in any way minor in nature.


The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit.  In this case, we are dealing with the number 9, and the suit of Cups.  These two ingredients could actually give you enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation.


Let’s look at the number 9 first.  I see the number 9 as representing the fullness or completeness of effect or manifestation.  We are talking about completeNESS here, not compleTION or the winding up of a cycle.  The number 9 represents our perceptions as we reach the limit of our understanding of or experience of a situation, just before we wind up the process and take another step up the ladder, in order to begin the whole process again.  In our spoken language, we say that we are going to “go the whole nine yards” when we intend to experience something to the fullest, and that is what the number 9 can tell us in the Tarot.


So just by looking at the number of our card, we already know that the Nine of Cups is going to present a rich and textured experience.  This will not necessarily indicate to us that we are done with the experience, but rather that we are at the “peak of the wave” just before the wave tips over and disseminates its energy onto the shore.  Now, we narrow down our interpretation by looking at the suit of the card: the suit of Cups.


The suit of Cups corresponds with the element of Water, and this makes perfect sense.  Many Tarot decks (including the Thoth Tarot, referred to above) use images of cups and water on their Minor Arcana Cups cards, and that will make it easy to connect with the symbolism of this suit.  A nice place to begin is with the element of Water itself.


In its natural state, Water is cool and wet.  When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place.  Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can.  Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances.  For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things.  A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.


You can see just by examining the paragraph above just how easy it is to connect the element of Water to our feelings and emotions, and indeed, feelings and emotions are the main correspondences of the element of Water, and the suit of Cups.  Emotions flow and have currents and eddies, a powerful wave of emotions can be cleansing, emotions can be hot and expanding or they can be bubbling upward, like steam, or cold and contracting and heavy, like ice, and our emotions can affect our physical bodies (which contain a lot of Water) and our health.  Often, tears appear when we feel things strongly through sadness or joy or anger, as physical manifestations of those emotions.


Water also represents the Inner Voice and the subconscious.  If we were to sit beside a lake on a calm, clear day, we can understand this connection.  As we look out on the surface of the lake, we will see a reflection of the trees and hills, and even the clouds and the sky, on its surface.  If we step closer and look down, we will see an image of our face and upper body, just as if we were looking into a mirror.  If we were to step into that lake and keep moving away from the shore, we will discover the hidden depths of that lake, not visible from the surface.  We can’t tell how deep the center of that lake will be by looking at it from the shore; it might be shallow and easy to cross, or it might be deep and dark and cold, the home of mysterious creatures.  To many of us, the subconscious is deep and dark and frightening, and a body of Water makes a perfect metaphor for the hidden segments of the Self.


We know now that the Nine of Cups tells of a completeness or fullness of experience or manifestation, and we know that this completeness or fullness of experience or manifestation is connected in some way to emotions, feelings, the subconscious, or the Inner Voice.  That is a lot of information, and we haven’t even looked at an individual card or a specific image!


The traditional image of the Nine of Cups shows a nicely dressed, slightly chubby, rosy-cheeked man, sometimes with his arms folded in front of him in a self-satisfied manner, sometimes with a smile on his face, surrounded by nine cups.  He looks very happy with who he is and where he is.  You can easily see from this image why the Nine of Cups has been nicknamed the “Wish Card”!  This guy looks like he has gotten his wishes!  Of course, nothing this good comes without a warning, and the Nine of Cups does have its own warning.  This card offers the possibility of getting what we wish for, but often we find that once we have it, that wished-for item is not all it’s cracked up to be.


The Nine of Cups has, as do all of the Tarot cards, an astrological connection as well, which can help us to add even more depth and texture to our readings.  The Nine of Cups represents the cusp or connecting area of the signs of Aquarius and Pisces.  Aquarius is a sign of connections of all kinds from friendships to love, and it focuses on the group rather than the individual, and on the higher good of that group.  The image for Pisces is fish, and we all know where fish live, in the Water.  Pisces is a sign of feelings of all kinds, of the suffering that brings soul growth, and of duality (picture that lake; we have two worlds, one above the surface and one below the surface).  Now we also know that the emotional fullness represented by the Nine of Cups can be connected to the support of a group, the successful efforts to manifest the good of all, or the balancing of the inner self with the outer self!


Each of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck also has a home on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; all of the Nines correspond to the sephira (or sphere) of Yesod.  Yesod is the first sphere out of (and the last sphere into) the sephira that represents the physical world, Malkuth.  Yesod is about things such as emotions and feelings, which are directly connected to our physical existence, but not actually physical themselves.  Yesod is also the home of our life force, our personality, and the Self.  It is only above Yesod that the Tree begins to branch out.  This reminds us that emotions and feelings and an awareness of our life force and our personality are natural processes, and that exploring them and understanding them is an important part of our own evolutionary process.


That is quite a bit of information, all attained by breaking our card down to its basic ingredients.  Not so complicated after all!

This month, we will move back to the Major Arcana, and talk about the Justice card.  Since we haven’t talked about a Major Arcana card in a while, before we begin breaking down Justice, let’s define and describe some terms.  There are 22 Major Arcana cards in a Tarot deck, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, issues that are archetypes which are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives.


An archetype (pronounced “ark eh type”) is a generic, idealized model of a person, a personality, a behavior, an object, or a concept that can be copied, patterned, or imitated, and which can be identified universally without the need for a common language. The term archetype often refers to one of two concepts:


A “stereotype”; in other words, a personality type observed multiple times, especially an oversimplification of a personality type; stereotypes can be positive or negative.  For instance, “girls make good cooks” is a stereotype.


An “epitome,” which is the embodiment of a particular personality type, especially as the “greatest” or “best” example of the particular personality type; epitomes can also be positive or negative.  For example, Venus is said to be the epitome of feminine beauty.


So basically, archetypes present personality traits that are common enough to be known by us all, through images (rather than words) that contain symbolism that connects with our subconscious in a universal manner.  Each of us can understand the symbolism of archetypes and connect with that symbolism because each of us has personally experienced (or will at some point in the future) these archetypes in some form, at some point in our lives.


Besides the symbolism in the image of the card, each Major Arcana card corresponds to a number, an archetype, an element, an astrological sign or planet, a Hebrew letter, and a Path on the Tree of Life joining two Sephiroth.  Let’s start breaking this one down; we’ve got a lot of work to do!


The traditional image on the Justice card is of a woman, sometimes wearing mail or armor, sometimes blindfolded, holding a sword in her right hand and a set of scales in her left hand.  A woman is imaged because a feminine image is often seen as being able to balance mercy with authority.  The armor she sometimes wears symbolizes self-imposed discipline, or the concept of restriction used as a tool of focus and awareness.  When the figure is blindfolded, we are being reminded that the Justice imposed by this card is equal for all.  When the figure is not blindfolded, we are being given an example of Divine Justice, which has full sight and awareness.  The sword held in the right hand (traditionally, the power hand) represents the authority to impose Justice, and to protect and uphold Justice and those being judged.  The scales held in the left hand (traditionally, the receptive hand) represent the weighing and measuring that are a part of the process of judging, and the creation of equilibrium that is the desired end result.


The Justice card is numbered 11 in most decks.  The Major Arcana cards settle into a basic cycle of 10 cards (remember, in the Minor Arcana, the Pip or numbered cards also run from Ace to Ten, one cycle of evolution of the suit), with each following cycle expanding on what was learned in the first cycle.  The number 11 reduces to 2, the number of balance, polarity, and the energy of “distance between,” a good description of the meanings of the Justice card!  The number 2 card of the Major Arcana is The High Priestess.  The image on this card is a female authority figure; sound familiar?  The High Priestess represents knowledge of the cause that is behind action and reaction.  The female authority figure of the Justice card weighs both cause and effect in her judgments; she takes the knowledge of The High Priestess to the next level, and manifests it.


In some decks, Justice is numbered 8, which also makes sense.  In the Tarot Minor Arcana, the number 8 represents a conscious and deliberate response to the pause and assessment of the 7 card.  That pause represented by the number 7 happens because the growth represented by cards Ace through 6 has begun to slow, and degeneration is approaching.  When Justice is in the number 8 position of the Major Arcana, it tells of the presence of the peak of energy within the first cycle of 10 cards (after meeting such primal characters as The Father, The Mother, The Priest and The Lovers), and warns us that degeneration is approaching and thus, we must weigh what has been done so far in order to effectively implement our decision as to what comes next.  We are asked to present a conscious and deliberate response to what has been presented to us to date.


The archetype of the Justice card is the Judge.  The Judge is the authoritative figure who acts as the giver and the enforcer of laws who reminds us that true fairness takes into account both everything and nothing.  This archetype has the vision to manage the fair distribution of power in whatever form that power takes.  A Judge is a natural mediator, is committed to living within the high standards of justice and wisdom, and always strives to prevent injustice and prejudice.  The Shadow Judge is manipulative, misuses authority, criticizes in a destructive or hurtful manner, and deliberately excludes compassion and mercy from the judgment process.


Justice corresponds with the element of Air, and thus is connected to actions, truth and clarity, the intent to manifest potential into reality, mental focus and spiritual guidance, and a striving to achieve balance between the mind and the heart.  Air is connected to the beliefs we have, and to the expressions of those beliefs.  Air is expansive and adaptive, able to base a final decision on the contributions of multiple information sources, and so can the Justice card.


In astrology, Justice corresponds with the sun sign of Libra.  This connection is a no-brainer because the traditional symbol of Libra is a set of scales.  Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people.  Libras are true team players, concerned with balance and cooperation, with fairness to everyone.  Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Libra is a Cardinal Sign, ready to forge ahead with plans and attract effective supporters, engaging the world in a dynamic way. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people.


In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter is connected in some way to the creative forces in the universe. They express themselves on three levels: one level is archetypical and runs from the first to the ninth letter; the second level is one of manifestation and runs from the tenth to the eighteenth letter, and the third is a cosmic level and runs from the nineteenth to the twenty-second letter. The Justice card corresponds with the twelfth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, Lamed, the ox goad.  This letter tells of the process of training or teaching/learning, which can often be uncomfortable, and which usually requires a constant awareness of adjustment in order to maintain balance.  It tells of instruction through guidance (rather than through example), and it reminds us that sometimes a strong correction is in order if we veer too far to one direction or another.


On the Tree of Life, Justice represents Path 22 (one of the Paths exploring the qualities of higher spirituality), running between Tiphareth (the hub of the creation process where energies harmonize and focus to illuminate and clarify) and Geburah (the place where forms and structures are challenged or affirmed).  The 22nd Path connects the Pillar of Form and the Pillar of Balance, and it infuses abstract knowledge into the manifestation of power or authority.


We could say that Justice presents one version of balance, a dynamic balance that exists through the process of adjustment.  It tells us that we have a balanced intellect that allows us to deal with difficult decisions and bring about fair and equitable outcomes.  We are able to make adjustments in our life in order to create harmony through the balance between our Higher Self and our daily thought processes.  Justice can also indicate the presence of or potential for interactions within the legal or justice system, the police department, or any authority figure responsible for maintaining law and order.


The Llewellyn Welsh Justice card tells of remaining impartial and well-centered in order to bring about fair judgment.  The Legacy of the Divine Justice card reminds us that we each perceive what Justice means to us through our personal life experiences, and we must remember that those personal experiences could influence us in a non-objective manner.  The Thoth Tarot names this card “Adjustment,” because balance happens through dynamic adjustment; it also reminds us that the correction of an imbalance may require the imposition of law.  The Hermetic Tarot reminds us that good intentions must be infused with the use of strength or authority.  The Tarot of the Sephiroth recommends informed decision making, and tells us that we will reap the rewards or suffer the consequences of our decisions.


Justice in a reversed or ill-dignified position can indicate injustice, prejudice, or the unethical imposition of authority.  Intolerance or bias, or even false accusations, could be present within a situation.  A reversed Justice card could indicate weaknesses in the personality, such as deceitfulness, superficiality, or an inability to make decisions.

Next time, we will look at the Judgement card, and compare it with Justice in order to better understand the similarities between these two cards, and the differences.

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