In the Wheel of Fortune Key 10 we were shown the law of cause and consequence. We learned that we are capable of grasping this law, which means that we can use it consciously. It is the law of cause and consequence which enables us to be certain of reaping what we have sown. Here in the Justice Key we will learn how to use the law of cause and consequence in our everyday lives through the understanding of the Law of Equilibrium, which is the foundation of Key 11.
The background of Key 11 is the same yellow that is shown on Keys 1 The Magician and 8 Strength. The color yellow indicates mental equilibrium and intellect. It represents the element air and light. So the Law of Equilibrium is brought to bear through the directive activity of self-consciousness in Key 1 and by means of the serpent power symbolized by Key 8. Equilibrium is defined as a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.
The two curtains suggest duality and polarity, and their symmetrical arrangement typifies balance. Their folds remind us of the drapery of the High Priestess and suggest vibration. Their color violet is complementary to the yellow background. Violet is also associated with the letter Kaph, Jupiter and therefore Key 10. Violet is an indicator of spiritual power and truth and also relates to the solar plexus in our bodies. This means that the mechanical aspect of universal manifestation symbolized by the Wheel of Fortune veils the living, conscious Identity behind. In other words, all of Mother Nature hides the conscious power, force and energy behind it. Without opening your spiritual eyes you won’t see this Identity. And most people are only looking with the eyes provided to them by Mother Nature. In this Key the veil is beginning to part. We just have to get past Justice, the one brandishing the sword!
Let’s explore this Law of Equilibrium and see how it works. Let’s say that we are like a farmer or a gardener who plants his seeds in the dirt. He can’t see them, but he applies water and cultivates the dirt. At a certain point little green sprouts appear. Not all of the sprouts are from the seeds that he planted. Possibly the wind and bird droppings have added seeds from unknown sources. He must be diligent to separate these weeds from his crop.
Your sub-conscious mind is like the farmer’s dirt. At first you can’t see the little sprouts, or results in your life, of the seeds or ideas that you have consciously planted in your sub-conscious mind. These are the good things that you wish to have in your life. You may even be repeating affirmations from time to time in order to accomplish this. The sub-conscious mind is a recording device, but without discrimination. Anything can “land” in it, just like in the dirt.
When your ideas, or plans, begin to appear in your life, you may also become aware of events that are appearing in your life which you don’t think came from you, and that you may or may not want. But everything that you gave attention to, and especially with passion and/or activity (musical lyrics and dancing, movies, television shows, relationships, even your attitude while driving), whether positive or negative, is recorded by your sub-conscious mind. In Key 8 I mentioned that what we think, say, and do throughout the day furnishes the bulk of the impressions received by our sub-consciousness. ALL that manifests is delivered through the subconscious mind.
Let’s see how this Law is expressed on the Key. The throne repeats the symbolism of the pillars of the High Priestess, and the veil between them. Here the pillars are part of the throne, and are surmounted by pomegranates instead of lotus buds. This shows that the activity represented by Key 11 has arrived at the stage of fruition.
The crown is surmounted by a triple ornament. It is referring to the letter Shin, printed on Key 20 Judgement, which is in close correspondence with Keys 2 High Priestess and 11. This triple ornament represents the Serpent Power, which, in its highest manifestation, releases human consciousness from the limitations of 3-dimensional interpretations of experience. This would be the opening of our 5 spiritual senses.
The red circle and white square on the front of the crown refers to the movement of Spirit within physical form. This little detail of the symbolism is also connected with Key 10, which shows a wheel or circle moving in space bounded by the four mystical animals corresponding to the four fixed signs of the zodiac and to the four elements constituting the forms of the physical plane.
The ornament on the breast of the Justice combines a T-cross with an ellipse. The cross is indigo, the color associated with Saturn. It is also a reference to the exaltation of Saturn in Libra. The hilt of the sword is in the form of a T-cross.The handle is golden, relating it to the Sun, whose metal is gold. Saturn represents limitation and form. The Sun stands for light and radiation. When the power of limitation is used positively, it is combined with the radiant energy of the Sun. Thus enlightenment exalts form.
The cape of Justice is green, the color attributed to Venus. Green is indicative of growth, increase, emotion, and desire. It represents the harmony of nature. Green is also the color associated with Libra. The robe is red, complementary to green. Red indicates action, courage, strength, and physical energy. It symbolizes the Mars force, which energizes the muscular system. This force has much to do with the function of the adrenals, ruled by Libra, because the adrenals control the tonicity, the direction of osmosis, of the entire muscular system.
The dais and throne are of stone, meaning that the Law of Equilibrium is operative throughout the physical plane. For many people the physical plane is the only one directly sensed. The Tarot means to say that if we interpret correctly our experience of the physical plane, we shall learn all that is necessary for us to know in order to begin to utilize the Law of Equilibrium. “That which is above is that which is below.” The 6-pointed star is a symbol of this saying. We do not have to sense the higher planes in order to see the law at work. If we interpret correctly what happens to us here we shall gain the fundamental right knowledge which will serve us everywhere.
Key 4 The Emperor laid down the Law of Cause and Effect, but Justice mediates it. The Justice key is directly below The Emperor in the Tarot Tableau. And Justice is holding a sword – a symbol of discrimination, a great pruning device! Cosmic Justice is always improving us. The Divine Mother in her guise as Justice directs everything that goes on in our bodies. And our bodies are the households in which we, the higher Self/the Fool, live. Our bodies are controlled and sustained by this supervising agency. Our subconscious never lets us down. She literally preserves us from all sorts of difficulties. Work and action are the key words here. This is the Libra key. Note the small Libra symbol in the lower right hand corner of the card. Venus rules Libra, so we are seeing the Empress at work.
You will remember that Venus, Key 3, is connected with the creative imagination. All occult practice calls imagination into action. The books on yoga are full of exercises in the use of mental imagery. The books of alchemists and magicians are similar in their emphasis. Imagination builds faith. True imagination – not mere fantasy – rests on the firm foundation of science. Faith is a prime requisite for the accomplishment of the Great Work. Without faith you can do nothing. You must have confidence in the principles by which you operate. Hence all occult schools make their pupils familiar with the lives and achievements of adepts who have completed the Great Work. Study the lives of Jesus and Buddha. In what they said and did the principles of the Great Work are explained and exemplified.
The shape of the letter Lamed is that of a serpent. Look at the Hebrew letter in the lower right hand corner of the card. Lamed represents inner discipline and self-regulation. As a verb it means “to teach.” As a noun it means “ox-goad.” See the symbol of an ox-goad in the lower right hand corner. This is what keeps life on the road to meaning. If we stray from that road, Lamed brings us back. Our individual lives must have meaning! The scales also symbolize this principle. If we go too far to one side or the other, inner instruction puts us on the Path again.
Lamed also represents the same force as Teth in Key 8 Strength. Teth represents a coiled serpent. Lamed is the same snake, uncoiled and active. The zodiacal sign Libra is also attributed to Lamed. Libra means scales, hence the correspondence between this sign and Key 11 is obvious. Physiologically Libra rules the kidneys, whose function is to maintain the chemical equilibrium of the blood.
The sword becomes a major feature of Key 11 because Saturn is exalted in Libra. Saturn represents the power of limitation, which makes possible the manifestation of specific forms. This power of limitation is the active power at work in Karma, which expresses itself to us as undeviating justice. Hence the Saturn power has its highest manifestation in the Great Work that enables us to control Karma.
The Sword of Severity is the tool by which you delineate what you want. In the beginning you want it all! This is understandable, but impracticable. There is no escape from Karma, because in all the universe there is no such thing as inaction, and the literal meaning of Karma is action. The same meaning is behind the Hebrew noun translated Work. This is attributed to the letter Lamed.
The practical meaning of the sword is: “Use right discrimination to rid yourself of everything useless, to free yourself from attachment, from prejudice, and from resentment.”
Man can make full and complete conquest of his future. He can make whatever Karma he chooses. You can generate fresh Karma, but you cannot change immutable law, nor interfere with it. You must reap what you sow, but you can select your seeds, and so determine the nature of tomorrow’s harvest.
The whole point is that your joy and your life depend on no one but yourself. The choice is yours. No other choice will work. When obstacles are in your way, you are not happy. That’s the same as being ill. The Tarot wants you to be not only well, but blissfully well! Health is so important that wellness underlies a total experience of the Tarot. You can forget all the fancy stuff in the last row of the Tarot Tableau if you are not well. The Justice Key teaches that the way to cultivate health is by being careful. This means that you have to eliminate anything that runs counter to the law of Nature, which is the Law of Life. If you don’t want to eliminate it, that’s OK – the Law of Life will eliminate you!
What sorts of things go against the will of life? Overdoing anything, cultivating any aspect of yourself at the expense of other aspects. You can over do running, eating, having sex, sleeping – all of this is more or less against the rules! However, the Cabala doesn’t tell you to abstain from the joy of living. The point is to get the most out of life by approaching it as a gourmand, not as a glutton. The happy medium is taught by Mother Nature in Key 11.
Go about your daily tasks earnestly, no matter how trivial they may seem. No one ever did great things well who had not first done well with the small things. Go about your work in a poised, quiet manner. When you sit down to study, sit still. Teach your body the meaning of balance. I’ve found taking a calming yoga class is helpful with understanding balance and quieting my mind. This is not only highly necessary training for an occultist, but it is also a most potent suggestion to sub-consciousness that you wish it to set to work to equilibrate your whole organism. Fear not. Be free of anxiety. Banish the mood of haste.
Whatever you do, remember that every personal activity really is a particular expression of the perfect Life-force. Above all, train yourself to fashion clear, definite forms for your desires, and to look upon these mental images as present realities.