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Intro to Tarot: Justice & The Hanged Man

Over the past few months I’ve been introducing you to the world of the Tarot. We’re starting our journey with the Major Arcana cards, the universal archetypes that resonate with us human beings at the soul level. Last time we met the introspective and introverted Hermit, and rolled with the ups and downs of The Wheel of Fortune. Now, get ready to meet the next two cards in the deck, Justice and The Hanged Man.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the Tarot, here’s a quick recap of what the Majors are before we dive in.

A traditional Tarot deck has 78 cards. Every card in a Tarot deck is valuable and necessary. Each has a role to play in our readings. But it’s the Major Arcana that first captures the heart of a new reader, as the Major Arcana is the heart of the Tarot.

There are 22 Major Arcana, and they are numbered from zero (The Fool) to 21 (The World). The Major Arcana, or “Big Mysteries”, represent the archetypes, lessons, milestones, initiations, opportunities for growth and transformation that we encounter as we live our lives on earth in these ephemeral physical forms. They support us, inspire us, challenge us, break our hearts, heal us, and help us to move towards our own highest personal development. When they appear in your Tarot readings, pay close attention to them, because they always deliver a significant and helpful message.

And now, let’s move on to the next two cards in the Fool’s Journey. First, Justice, Arcana 11.

Like the Wheel of Fortune one card back, Justice also carries the weight of karma. When Justice appears, she’s letting you know that you will get what you deserve, words that can be reassuring, vindicating, or chilling, depending on your previous actions.

Justice in the Tarot isn’t blind. In fact, she’s looking right at you, and through you. She won’t be swayed from what she knows to be right and true and fair. She has complete conviction in herself and her judgement. She uses her scale to weigh the pros and cons of the situation, and to consider all information available, but once she makes a decision it is law.

Justice sits in balance between two columns, but the ones we see here aren’t black and white like those of the High Priestess. Justice isn’t always black and white, sometimes we’re in gray territory, and it takes Justice’s discerning eye and logical mind to arrive at the correct verdict.

So, what does it mean when Justice appears in your cards?

Justice represents truth and objectivity. She asks you to be honest with yourself, to judge your actions with a neutral eye, and to take responsibility for them. It isn’t always fun, or easy, to examine your own motivations and behaviors, but Justice lets you know that this check-in is necessary to make sure that you are acting in alignment with who you are, or want to be, and what you stand for. And, if you don’t know what you stand for, it’s time to figure that out.

Justice also lets you know that the time is right to make some important decisions based on logic rather than emotion. Weigh the pros and cons before you commit, but don’t deliberate forever. Make the choices that sit well with you, that are fair for all concerned, even if it isn’t a dream come true for you.

On a pragmatic note, if you are in the process of entering into any legal agreements or signing contracts of any kind, read them through carefully, and make sure you know what you are agreeing to.

And now, meet The Hanged Man, Arcana 12.

Your first impulse may be to turn this card around, so that the figure is upright. Take a closer look, and you’ll realize that this won’t work, in fact it’ll take away the magic and put the hanging figure in a more precarious and improbable position. He’s right where he needs to be.

The Hanged Man is in a strange position, and yet we don’t see any signs of distress in his body or on his face. He looks relaxed, serene even. He is hanging from a tree by his ankle, upside down, but his other leg is crossed at a jaunty angle, and his arms rest behind his back. We don’t know if his hands are tied, but the ease of his posture gives us the impression that they aren’t. He looks like he’s waiting for something, but he knows it is coming, so there’s no need to get impatient and no way to hurry things up.

As he hangs, his eyes are wide open, gathering in information from everything that’s around him. His golden halo shows us that he’s becoming enlightened and spiritually illuminated through this process. The Hanged Man has a dreamy feeling of transcendence, he has reached a state of grace and detachment.

So what does it mean when The Hanged Man appears in your cards?

The Hanged Man asks you to surrender, release, and let go. Just BE. There isn’t anything effective that you can do right now, so relax, hang back and observe how things unfold. This can be extremely difficult to do, especially if you’re at a point when you want things to change, or you want to move forward and make things happen, but there’s no point in pushing. You’ll get the most benefit out of this time by going within, reflecting and looking at life from a different perspective, so that the solutions you need can present themselves to you. Be at ease in your life, no matter where you are at the moment, because it is where you need to be. Doesn’t that feel good?

What do you think of Justice? What balance can she bring into your life? Can you meet her gaze? And The Hanged Man, what does he say to you? Can you allow yourself to simply BE for a time?

Next time I’ll introduce you to the next two cards that the Fool meets along his journey, Death and Temperance. Are you ready to meet your maker and your guardian angel? Spoiler alert, Death isn’t really so scary. Join me!


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