Justice and Judgement might be the most-frequently compared (or questioned) pair of cards in the majors.
What I see them having in common is (the potential for) clear sight.
True justice means knowing what’s really going on. Judgement Day (the biblical one this card is based on, where sky-daddy God does accounting on all our souls) is when all the truths of our hearts are brought into the light for all to see.
But they also have very different foci, so clarity just represents their overlap.
Here are a few songs to show what I mean.
For Justice (Key 11 in most of the decks I prefer)
It’s about making distinctions. That sword you see in so many iterations of the card cuts between differences.
[“How does it feel” sung by Avril Lavigne.]
This highlighting difference can be polarizing or build understanding (The depiction of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in this video is a good representation of both applications).
Understanding differences is important to justice in this time, as always, because if we always “treat everyone the same” we of the dominant culture will continue to center ourselves and our view of the world (as “normal”), running the risk (or exhibiting a myopic arrogance) of not believing the lived experience of marginalized people.
One of the most interesting tarot things I’ve learned in the last month is how the majors were not originally numbered.
(That link includes the typical list, 22 cards numbered from 0-21.)
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In her book Tarot 101, Kim Huggens suggests an exercise where you re-order of the majors according to a story structure
The commonly suggested “story” of The Fool’s Journey has never worked for me as much of a story, so I loved the idea.
I took this on because she suggested a form of The Hero’s Journey – something I already have familiarity with – so it felt like a solid foundation to build on.
That link is to a version of the Hero’s Journey I wrote about some years ago. If you like to write fiction you’ll find a whole new rabbit hole to explore in that series.
What I’ve laid out here is the order I came up with based on the way I see the majors and how they line up with the pattern (Departure, Initiation, Return) as Huggens laid it out in her book.
1. Call to Adventure
Wheel of Fortune. The randomness of fate – often proving to be not-random (destiny).
I love the sphinx in this card for this position, and she’s surrounded by the elements: Earth, air, fire and water. You know from go this isn’t a game, and everything is involved, whether for you or against you.
2. Refusal of the Call
The Hermit. No desire to engage. Alternatively, the hero might already be fully engaged in their current/inner world and aren’t responsive to or motivated by the call when it first appears.
After all, how many of us would respond to an outrageous demand from a stranger.
And these demands almost always seem outrageous…
3. Supernatural Aid
The Magician. Here we add to that story all the raw material (resources) and power.
This is the point where the hero is convinced that what needs to happen is mathematically possible: those elements mentioned in The Call? Here with the magician we see the physical representation of each of them as tools: The wand for fire, sword for air, cup for water and the pentacle for earth.
4. Crossing the First Threshold
This is the fight our protagonist has to be able to enter the arena. The big change embraced, even as they don’t fully know all they’re saying yes to. Of course I saw The Fool.
I love how she’s got her little knapsack and her dog. She doesn’t have to have everything figured out before she starts, but she doesn’t have to be alone or empty-handed, either.
5. The Belly of the Whale
The worst so-far – and we’re not all that far in yet. This is a form of rebirth through a death-like experience. The Empress: the power of life and death, tied up in nurture (or the withholding of it).
This is sometimes where our hero realized the stakes – how much there is to lose, which restated can also be a reminder of how much there is to fight for. Read more →
The Lovers is the sixth card in the Major Arcana. The 2 of cups is from the minors (one of the four suits I talk about here).
The main distinction many people make between the majors and the minors is how epic the event is. For example, the Lovers card represents one’s soul mate, and 2 of cups is everyday, happy-to-be-paired-with-you living.
Another way to contrast them is in intensity.
“All along it was a fever. A cold-sweat hot-headed believer.”
“Makes me feel like I can’t live without you…Round and around and around and around we go.”
[Stay, sung by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko.]
About the Lovers card, I once heard another reader say, It burns hottest, but crashes harder.
Reversed, I see it as one of those angsty stories where the audience/reader knows they like each other, knows they’ll be perfect together, but they need to talk.
[Distance, sung by Christina Perri and Jason Mraz.]
“And I will make sure to keep my distance,
Say I love you when you’re not listening,
How long, can we keep this up?”
“And I keep waiting
For you to take me
And you keep waiting
To save what we had.” Read more →
Tarot “works” because of associations – whether that’s the story attached to a fairy tale in a themed deck, the Catholic imagery of countless decks, or the subtler reference to the character of a specific fandom.
Today I’m going to introduce a few categories of associations. None are essential for beginners, and maybe none are important in general (one of the beauties of non-dogmatic tarot is that it centers around what works for each practitioner), but they’re all examples of things my mind has wrapped around and that helped create another set of “hooks” for my memory and imagination to dig into.