Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Tarot: Justice and the INFJ
Another example is the Justice card, and sure enough my heart sank when I drew it as my daily draw today. The fact that after years of tarot reading, simply pulling a card out of the deck can have such a profound effect on me, reinforces the way in which tarot just goes on and on for ever, the work of the witch is never over, and divination is a much bigger thing than fortune telling. Heigh ho, the universe has presented me with that card today (I genuinely can't remember it ever coming up as my daily draw before) so I'll take the hint that it's time to face up to it.
Justice (XI) is the flip side of the High Priestess (II) because in numerology 1 + 1 = 2. This is what Waite has to say about the connection between the two cards, a quote which incidentally encapsulates my entire difficulty with Justice:
'It will be seen, however, that the figure is seated between pillars, like the High Priestess, and on this account it seems desirable to indicate that the moral principle which deals unto every man according to his works--while, of course, it is in strict analogy with higher things;--differs in its essence from the spiritual justice which is involved in the idea of election. The latter belongs to a mysterious order of Providence, in virtue of which it is possible for certain men to conceive the idea of dedication to the highest things. The operation of this is like the breathing of the Spirit where it wills, and we have no canon of criticism or ground of explanation concerning it. It is analogous to the possession of the fairy gifts and the high gifts and the gracious gifts of the poet: we have them or have not, and their presence is as much a mystery as their absence. The law of Justice is not however involved by either alternative. In conclusion, the pillars of Justice open into one world and the pillars of the High Priestess into another.'
'Every man according to his works' - actually even that phrase gives me less of a problem than I tend to experience with that card, which suggests to me that I have been reading it with a very personal bias. And the bias is this - our human ideas of justice are bound up with some idea of a higher authority arbitrating on what is right, and therefore justice comes from above. Like the idea of 'rights' in this understanding justice is something which in my humble opinion takes the power away from the individual. If you have to go to some court to have a decision on your rights, the rights themselves and the decision are not made by yourself. Beloved reader, you will feel free to comment at this point that I am an anarchist and my views chip away at the very foundations of civilised society, and you would be right. What is right differs from external notions of legal or social justice, in my humble opinion.
I remember my mother, who had as much difficulty understanding me as anyone else does, commenting to me when I was a child that I was a strange mix of conformity and non-conformity. She had accurately picked up on my burgeoning INFJ thing of having a set of rules in my head which were non-negotiable and not always apparent to anyone else. My approach could easily be mistaken for total conformity to authority, because sometimes my rules happened to match the dictates of external authority; of course when they match it is never for the reason that someone else says so.
Perhaps it is just an INFJ thing that I will never be able to sit easily with this card, because it brings up so many of the concepts which are difficult for INFJs to sit with. I find the other side of this energy - the HIgh Priestess - much more comfortable because it is based on the way I tend to think about things naturally.
So the next difficult question is how the INFJ ought to interact with this energy when he comes across it. I'm already feeling under pressure at this point from the Justice energy to say that the INFJ should hold back his natural instinct to thumb his nose and learn to respect authority which is founded on very good and balanced thinking over centuries. Nah, f*ck that. I didn't incarnate to conform to authority, I incarnated to question authority. Let's pull another card for how the INFJ ought to respond to Justice... Ha! Judgement! The law is an ass and the INFJ responds to a higher power!
There is a tradition associated with the Marseille tarot that the rope around the Justice figure's neck is the rope which hangs the Hanged Man. I can't remember where I read this, but I think it was either in Jodorowsky or another of the Marseille tarot writers. For me this indicates that while Justice may represent the highest authority we have, it is still answerable to a yet higher authority, which isn't bound by ideas of mechanical justice. The fact that the rope is round the neck also indicates a heavy penalty for those who would take on this authority and abuse it, which of course does happen. I don't just mean the legal profession and courts. For me the energy of the Justice card is accessed as often by all sorts of authority figures, for example even social workers, say. The essential role of the INFJ is to remind the figure embodying the Justice energy that they are not the highest arbiter, they are still answerable to others.
The correct response to this energy is perhaps best indicated by an anecdote from the Hound's misspent youth. When I was a Benedictine novice we had a visitor to the monastery who had previously been a monk elsewhere, and entertained us novices by talking to us charismatically about what I now realise was this energy. He also entertained me personally by commenting on Thomas Merton, 'Imagine having that prick in the monastery': this verdict has the Hound's official seal of approval. Anyway, he recounted how he was a monk of a monastery in the US which burnt down on an Easter Sunday one year. After that the abbot wrote to anyone who had made any enquiry at all in the past few years and told them they should go and join. Of course this resulted in the largest noviciate in world history and endless free labour for the rebuilding project. After the rebuilding was done the monastery dismissed all of the people they had taken on because they had got what they wanted out of them: years later the then abbot had something terrible happen to him in return. The visitor pointed to the then Prior and said in front of his face, 'If they screw you over, they'll get screwed over'.