Justice Begins in Accountability

The figure of Justice holds a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. It’s easy to oversimplify this card: an external force serves a consequence and restores balance. But what happens to the meaning of this card when larger systems of justice are sustained by inequity? As a country, we are meeting this reckoning now.

It’s tempting to feel better simply for being aware of injustice, to believe that this alone aligns us with what is right and good, yet Justice asks us to go deeper and further. After all, many people with good intentions have been accomplices to systemic racism. How can we serve justice from within unjust systems? This is for my white readers: ask yourself how you have contributed to damaging narratives and institutions.

I have also had to do work to unlearn the lessons of white privilege. If you need a place to begin, find important antiracist resources here.

The tarot itself has been formed and deformed by unjust forces posing as Justice: the church, white supremacy, patriarchy, and greed. What likely began as a card game became a status symbol for Italian and French aristocracy. The imagery on the cards became overwhelmingly Christian, and archetypes like “Empress” and “Emperor” reinforced gender roles. The popular Rider-Waite deck illustrations represent only white people.

Simultaneously, card use for divination has been policed by the very forces that evolved the tarot. Divination and healing arts practiced by marginalized people have often blended the symbols of the oppressor with indigenous knowledge. Europeans have scapegoated the nomadic Romani people, for example, who popularized many divination methods. Spanish colonizers persecuted curanderas—healers who practice throughout Latin America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States—for their traditional methods.

Despite (and because of) this complex history, I believe tarot is a healing tool for everybody. Use of this tool, like all healing mechanisms, requires internal and external work: promoting diverse representation in tarot, finding tarot communities that help us unpack trauma, and taking accountability for our past and ancestral history.

The next new moon on June 21 is a time for setting intentions. With the Sun in conjunction with the Moon, we must reconcile our outward persona with our secrets, fears, and motivations. If our trauma or fear drives our ignorance, now is a time to look hard at why that is. If the people around you have troubling ideas, initiate a conversation with them.

Justice can be a headstrong card, ruled by logic and reason. However, the new moon ruled by Cancer will ask us to take inventory of our feelings. This seems like a contradiction, but the truth is that Justice requires an alignment of the head and the heart. The better we understand the roots of our emotional life, the better we can trace the fruits of that life to our thoughts.

Only then will Justice drop the sword and speak the truth that lifts us all.


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