For this series, I am exploring the choices of animals made by various deck creators to correspond to traditional Tarot cards. My initial goal is to get through the Major Arcana using cards from seven different decks:
- Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
- The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
- The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
- The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
- The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
- The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
- Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
To read my previous posts in this series, enter “Animal Tarot Time” in the search field on the main page of the blog or scroll down and click on Animal Tarot Time under CATEGORIES.
As many of you know, the numbering of the Justice and Strength cards in the Tarot varies, depending on which deck you are using. For this post, I will be viewing Justice as Trump 8. Let’s look at how JUSTICE is portrayed in seven different animal decks.
Animal Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine (Hay House)
(“Fair decisions will be made after all the evidence is reviewed impartially.
Have compassion for others and try to see all side of a disagreement.”)
In this deck, the Elephant has been chosen to represent standing up for what we believe in as well as fighting for equality and fairness for all. To see this card in a reading suggests that if we are involved in a legal proceeding or situation where a resolution is required, we can be assured that a just decision will be made. Elephants symbolize strength, wisdom, longevity, and prosperity across a wide range of cultures and spiritual systems. It is also seen by many as a symbol of the qualities required for good government, such as dignity, intelligence, and prudence.
The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson; illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn Publications)
(“Balance is not just about being even. Balance is about finding the
middle path or making it back to one’s center.”)
As you can see, in this deck, Justice is Trump 11. However, to be consistent with the animal symbolism, I will include it here. The red-capped Crane on this card is “standing his ground, wanting others to know that he cannot be swayed from his own mind.” Even as he does this, he keeps his emotions grounded and calm in order to continue to seek a balanced outcome, “a solution for the good of all and harm to none.” Like the Elephant (see description above), the Crane commonly symbolizes wisdom, fidelity, and longevity. Some cultures view the bird negatively (for example, in India, where it represents treachery).
The Animal Wisdom Tarot by Dawn Brunke; illustrated by Ola Liola (CICO Books)
(Bearer of Justice)
“Play fair, love true, live in harmony.”
As you can see, here we have another deck that assigns the number 11 to Justice. Keynotes for this card in this deck are “Balance, Truth, Honor, Integrity.” One argument for equating Justice (as key 11) with “Balance” is that the number 11 card is at the center of the Major Arcana, which consists of 21 Keys (plus The Fool, which is number Zero). Dawn Brunke writes that Justice suggests that “whatever is imbalanced will come to light. This could indicate legal issues, arbitration, or tough times if we ignore the call.” Brunke also notes that this card “advocates alignment between personal and sacred justice…”
The Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (Dragonhawk Publishing)
“Ancient Powers of Justice at Work”
Another vote for Justice as Key 11. Oh well! In addition to the qualities I have already mentioned that are associated with the Elephant, Ted Andrews mentions the way a herd of elephants demonstrates “the ideals of true society.” He points to the Elephant’s trunk and its acute sense of small. He writes, “Those for whom Elephant has appeared would do well not to trust what they see, but what smells right – especially where important decisions are concerned.”
The Animals Divine Tarot by Lisa Hunt (Llewellyn Worldwide)
JUSTICE / Maat
“judgement, balance, legalities, making decisions”
Well, obviously I should have done a quick check of these decks before going with The Animal Tarot Cards designation of Justice as Key 8. It’s Key 11 in The Animals Divine Tarot, and is represented (quite understandably) by Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She is not an animal, of course, but the animal standing beside her on the card is an Ostrich. An ostrich feather was the attribute of Ma’at, and it was the ostrich’s feather against which the hearts of the dead were weighed to ascertain if they were heavy with sin. One reason for using an ostrich feather was that the feathers are of even length. Also, it didn’t hurt that the Ostrich was (and is) Africa’s largest bird. As with the Elephant, it appears that size does matter when it comes to animals representing the Justice card.
The Animism Tarot by Joanna Cheung (Self-Published)
adaption, objectiveness, awareness,
compassion, honour, understanding
Of course, Justice is Key 11 in this deck as well. (I am no longer surprised, if I ever was.) The Chimpanzee is an interesting animal to choose for this card. Instead of balanced scales, we see what appear to be two identical chimpanzees facing each other, touching palms. The image does suggest the idea of balance, equal sides, cooperation, and harmony. Joanna Cheung writes that this card can be about “a time to right wrongs, a time for change and balance.”
Tarot of the Animal Lords with artwork by Angelo Giannini (Lo Scarabeo)
“agreement, order; lack of freedom, prejudices and misconduct”
As in the Animal Tarot Cards deck, Justice is Key 8 in Lo Scarabeo’s Tarot of the Animal Lords. A female Barn Owl is featured on the card, holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other. This pose mimics the Rider-Waite-Smith card in that respect. The Owl, as most of us know, can symbolize wisdom and knowledge or it can have a sinister, even ferocious nature, as it did in many ancient cultures. Its association with intelligence comes from the Athenians, who made the Owl sacred to their goddess of wisdom and learning.
To summarize, we have:
Elephant – 3
Crane – 1
Ma’at (Ostrich) – 1
Chimpanzee -- 1
Barn Owl – 1
As I thought about the concept of “justice” in the animal world, I decided to do a quick search on line to see what I could find. I came across this _fascinating article_.
The article provides several interesting examples of how various animals have displayed “moral behavior, that they can be compassionate, empathic, altruistic, and fair.” I do lean towards the Elephant for the Justice card, but would love to hear what you think! Here are some photos I have taken of elephants on my travels.
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