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The Eighth Principle

March 26, 2021

by Tony Willis     

Taking the Tarot de Marseille as our guide through the occult principles, we start our exploration of the properties of the second septenary of the Major Arcana with an examination of the Trump Justice. The eighth principle is, correspondingly, that of balance and of the processes necessary for the maintenance of balance. On the physical level the card Justice represents the state of balance brought about between forces which were originally – by their very natures – opposing or conflicting. On account of this, some authors state that the Trump represents both Attraction and Repulsion, the two impulses operating simultaneously, a condition that, if managed rightly, would result in perfect poise, or as the occult philosophers of the French School of tarot put it, somewhat poetically, Universal Equilibrium. This attribution is also a reference to Electro-magnetic attraction and repulsion, which is the key to understanding the working of this principle.

This dual action of the number Eight is symbolized by the two ‘circles’ of which the figure 8 is composed, mirroring, in their vertical arrangement, the two pans of the balance held by the figure of Justice on the Trump, where they are presented lying next to one another horizontally clip_image002. It is not hard to see why, at the Psychic Level, the level of Mind, the phrases ascribed to the Justice card are ‘Fair Distribution’ and ‘Reparation’. At the Material Level the card denotes human justice, which, unlike Divine Justice, from time to time delivers verdicts that are biased or inequitable.

Arcane-Arcana-08-justice    08 II

Divine Justice has as its goal Universal Balance. The Trump Justice therefore has much to do with Karma, this being another term for the Law of Cause and Effect. Where Universal Balance is disturbed, the Law of Cause and Effect is brought into play. Karma will strive to bring about the restoration of balance even if several decades have to pass before it can attain its objective. The novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas presents a fictional account of the Law of Cause and Effect in operation, with the title character acting as its agent. Because the instrument of Justice is in this case human, as the novel nears its conclusion the scales of the balance begin to lose their poise and it starts to look as though justice will give way to vengeance. The novel is a lesson in the outworking of Karma, with a footnote on the fallibility of human justice.

Although Karma may take decades to attain its goal and may even on occasion take centuries to reach a state of perfect balance, pursuing the person responsible for creating imbalance from one incarnation to another, this does not mean that, when Karma does act, the process is a prolonged one. The outworking of Karma is not like the aging process, where a miniscule amount of aging goes on day after day, the effects hardly noticeable in the short term. Karma bides its time, and when it does go into action its effects tend to be rapid and life-changing. We can think of the Justice card as standing for that moment in a person’s life when judgement is pronounced upon them. This moment may occur in a court of law, in the minds of their associates, or in the heart of a single person only; and the judgment may be in their favor or go against them.

As many tarot readers are aware, in divination, the card can indicate a law suit, and the legal process can be taken as a model for the way in which Karma works. For most people, going to law is a last resort; if reparation or restitution of what has been taken from them is withheld in everyday life, an individual may feel they have no alternative than to put the matter before a judge and jury. However, the verdict in a court of law is not a forgone conclusion. The person being sued may have broken a moral law but unless they have transgressed civil law the court will not find them guilty; it cannot. A court case is rather like a duel: in a duel the best swordsman or the better shot will win; whether that person is in the right or in the wrong plays no part in the final outcome. There is an irony, therefore, to finding the card Justice in a tarot reading occupying a position indicating the eventual outcome of any condition inquired about; for then it signifies that right will triumph, and the inquirer will only be the victor if they are morally in the right. Almost everyone who becomes involved in a civil suit believes that they are have the law on their side, but as has already been pointed out, there is a world of difference between being morally in the right and being legally in the right.

Arcane-Arcana-08-justice     mmTarot 08

The antagonism of opposite modes of existence may at times only be resolved through the intensity of confrontation. For instance, the combination of Fire and Water in the right proportions can have extremely fortunate results. In Nature, the two Elements fight against each other, one being hot and dry, the other cold and wet, but if a Magus can bring them into balance, the cycle of endless opposition is broken and fruitful growth is offered the chance to commence anew.

Occultly, to a magician of the grade of adept, the secrets of Trump 8 give instruction in the art of neutralizing opposing conditions. Excessive heat is combated by the introduction of cold into the environment; that is the principle of air-conditioning. Intense cold is counteracted by the introduction of heat into the environment; that is the principle of central heating. Opposition is not solved by setting up the forces in exactly equal proportions, for when they are of equal potency the pair merely battle on and on, each looking to achieve supremacy. One force must be slightly stronger than the other, yet not so strong as to utterly overwhelm it. The Feng Shui Masters reign supreme in this area. They are very well aware that in Nature the perfect balance between forces is never 50/50. Feng Shui generally recommends applying a 66/34 proportion to opposing modes of existence. This formula works very well when dealing with major factors such as those that Chinese philosophy names Yin and Yang. More complex situations require a more sensitive handling.

The magician who intuits that there is an unwanted excess of Mars energy in their life must be careful not to invoke upon the situation such a quantity of Venus energy that both forces are nullified; for that would snuff out creativity, leaving behind an arid condition once the magickal operation had been completed. Nor should the magician draw down so much Venus energy that the whole of the Mars force, with its virtues as well as its vices, is obliterated, as that would render the practitioner unfit to face the challenges life constantly presents human beings with.

As already said, on the rarified heights upon which the powers known to Taoism as Yin and Yang (and to Qabalists as Binah and Chokmah) operate, only two factors need to be taken into account when the magician is harmonizing forces. At the lower level of the celestial plane, seven major forces are in play, and the balancing out of these seven forces is a more complex and delicate business.

Should a magician recognize that their innate capacity for compassion for their fellow human beings had become dulled, they might seek to redress the imbalance by creating and consecrating a Talisman of Venus. The planets, and the energies equated with them, operate from the celestial plane. Therefore, in order to consecrate a planetary talisman, the magician choses a time when the planet in question is transmitting its powers to Earth in their purest and most beneficent form. The old texts of astro-magick instruct that, in the case of a Venus talisman, the planet Venus should occupy either Pisces, Taurus or Libra, signs with which it has a strong affinity. Venus should also be in aspect to the Sun, Moon and Mars, all of whom should likewise be well-placed by sign and house. And so the magician seeking to increase their capacity for love and understanding searches for a date and time when the decreed conditions prevail in the heavens and on that day and at that time they consecrate their handmade talisman of Venus.

In this instance, which as already noted concerns the forces of the celestial plane, four factors are involved. Firstly, Venus, and naturally so since it is a Venus talisman that the magician wishes to consecrate. But along with Venus the instructions mention Mars. As psychic centers of harmony and strife, Venus and Mars are polar opposites. Furthermore, the astrological symbols denoting Venus and Mars are used in branches of biology such as botany to represent femaleness and maleness in relation to reproduction, and this distinction represents another kind of opposition. These oppositions of polarity must be equilibrated in the heavens before the forces for which they stand are called down upon the Earth plane and injected into the Venus talisman. The two other planets mentioned in the formula are the Sun and the Moon and they signify dynamic, out-giving force and receptive, in-gathering force respectively. Both these forces must be in productive balance at the time of consecration if the Venus/Mars interaction is to be transmitted to Earth in an undistorted from. Finding the right time at which to perform this consecration is no straightforward exercise. All four factors need to be harmoniously disposed with Venus having, so to speak, the upper hand to a slight degree.

In the career of any serious student of the occult, the card Justice represents a turning point when dedication to the Great Work is asked of them. It comes once the student has committed certain data to heart and has mastered a handful of magickal actions, such as how to perform the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. In making the dedication, the student essentially agrees to work off some measure of the karmic burden they are carrying. Occult training is at root the willing out-working of karma, for only the cleansed and purified psyche is capable of working High Magick. Lao Tzu put the matter very well when he said, “If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.

Our next step will be to make that dedication. It is not the Great Dedication wherein the Magus adopts magick as their life’s work, pledging that everything they do, say, or think shall from that day forward be done for the greater glory of the Divine Parent. It is a lesser dedication in which the student consents to take a long hard look at themselves and correct such defects as are immediately apparent; a polishing, as it were, of an as yet unfinished statue, smoothing the rough edges, giving greater definition to the facial details or to the fingers or the toes. At the end of the process, the occult student’s psyche will have attained greater balance. For we should never forget that, while we are in incarnation, the root substance out of which our physical existence is formed is our own psyche. The making of the dedication to examine oneself and modify any character flaws thereby brought to light is a necessary forward step, because the more balanced the magician’s base is, the more effective their magick is.

From → occult tarot

  1. Martin Egan permalink

    As ever your presentations are absorbing and fascinating.
    I am struggling with the concept of Justice being calibrated as ‘8’ when the Colman-Rider-Waite symbology renders ’11’. To me the latter is more logical as a balancing scales position in the Major Arcana.

    • Hi Martin,
      I’m not asking anyone to change their beliefs. It was the Golden Dawn that changed the order of the Trumps; the Rider-Waite-Smith deck brought that order to the attention of a wider public. If the G.D. order makes sense to you then stick with it.
      Over much of Europe, and in South American countries that were colonized from the Iberian peninsula, ‘Justice’ is numbered 8 . . . and that makes sense to tarotists in those countries. I have written from that point of view. It has its own rationale and its own applications.
      In the final analysis, however, all roads lead to the same destination. All that really matters is that each of the 22 ‘steps’ of the journey are taken, for only then can it be said that the journey is complete.

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