VIII Justice
Julie Cuccia-Watts
The Book of the Dead

The Tarot card symbol of the scales found on the Justice card can be found in the zodiac sign of Libra as well as in the ancient Egyptian stories of the judgment of souls in the Book of the Dead. In these stories it is Maat the Goddess of Truth and Justice who weighs men's souls against a feather before they can pass on into the next world.

Typically, as shown in the image of papyrus, the deceased is led into the Hall of Judgment by the god ibis-headed Thoth, the god of scribes and writing (husband of Ma’at). The deceased is shown on the far right, accompanied by Ma'at, she is wearing the white ostrich feather on her head. In the papyrus image the deceased is able to witness the weighing of his heart in the scale against the feather of Ma'at. Jackal-headed Anubis who guides the souls of the dead and falcon-headed savior god Horus assist in the process of weighing, while a baboon, an animal sacred to Thoth, perches at the top of the scale. Ammit, the devouring monster, waits atop a pedestal to consume the heart if it is found wanting in the balance. Thoth makes a gesture of greeting to green skinned Osiris- king of the other world. Osiris is accompanied by images of the "Four Sons of Horus," who emerge from a lotus blossom, symbolic of rebirth. The action is witnessed by forty-one or forty-two figures, each holding, again, the ostrich feather of Ma'at. The cornice is a decorative frieze of alternating cobras, flaming pots, and ostrich feathers.

A poem from W.B. Yeats, the first song of the "Two Songs from a Play" overlays the image of a portrait of the now famous Afghan woman portrayed in the National Geographic magazine cover. Yeat’s writes;

I saw a staring virgin stand

Where holy Dionysus* died,

And tear the heart out of his side,

And lay that heart upon her hand

And bear that beating heart away;

And then did all the Muses sing

Of Magnus Annus* at the spring,

As though God's death were but a play.

When I read this poem the Afghan woman’s face came into my mind with the thought there will be no justice for anyone until there is justice for everyone. The tragedy of current unnecessary wars brings imbalance and great suffering to our world and it will take generations to heal the effects. In the shadow of the reality of these atroscities theatrical performances like passion plays and other trials of deity seem hollow. I have placed a vessel representing the heart of the “God” in her hands and she will be the judge. Ma’at’s feather has fallen to the ground and the scales seem to look like they are hanging from a Cross. This is not the laughing Justice of the MAAT Tarot but rather her somber counterpart.

It is my opinion the Justice card represents the full moon cycle of Libra March 21st-April 19th (the full moon of this month marks the holy days of Easter, Passover and Ostara/Eostar, its planetary ruler is Mars.)

*Annus Magnus (Latin) Great year; the precessional cycle of 25,920 years. Also, the interval between two successive ecliptic conjunctions of all the planets, including sun and moon. The Hindus date the beginning of the kali yuga from such a conjunction said to have taken place in 3102 BC. It was a general belief in antiquity that cycles of varying lengths marked the terminal or initial points of eras, the occurrence or recurrence of cataclysms, and the consequent recurrence of similar events.

* Dionysus or Dionysos (Ancient Greek: Διώνυσος or Διόνυσος; also known as Bacchus in both Greek and Roman mythology and associated with the Italic Liber), the Thracian god of wine, represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficent influences. He is viewed as the promoter of civilization, a lawgiver, and lover of peace — as well as the patron deity of both agriculture and the theater. It is possible that Dionysian mythology would later find its way into Christianity. There are many parallels between the legends of Dionysus and Jesus; both were said to have been born from a mortal woman but fathered by a god, to have returned from the dead, and to have transformed water into wine.

VIII - Justice

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