“Justice restores balance and rights wrongs. This archetype signifies the settlement of legal matters and contracts. Old scores are settled, and karma is achieved. Actions receive their logical reaction. This can either be positive or negative depending on what has come before.” Pg.102, Nelson, 2014, Archetypal Imagery.
This archetype comes from the major arcana (the cards without a suit, like the joker) of a tarot deck and is the number eight. I like multiples of four since this number connects with the wisdom of the wheels that indigenous people used to help humans align with their place on the earth. Multiples of four are important, as there are four cardinal directions. Humans need to pay attention to each direction to make the wheels of life turn symmetrically. Multiples of fours, as in eight, make this even stronger. Balance and more balance.
The quote above talks about karma. Justice restores karma. There are a lot of misconceptions of what karma is, and it is bandied about in New Age jargon. Often some might say, “good karma” or “bad karma”. The idea of karma is that there is a reaction to a given action, so it is not bad or good, it just “is”. The justice archetype stands for the balance to settle what has happened in the past. As a feminist I love that the archetype of justice is a statue of a women holding a scales to denote balance. She is blinded so she cannot be influenced by her sight. She also has a sword to strike down those that would not agree to justice. She holds the scales to balance what has happened in the past. Possibly if the scales are out of balance something needs to be added to the other side of the scale to restore equilibrium.
Using this archetype for the U.S. elections, the thought presents itself of what is the reaction to the action of the past, and what is needed now to restore balance?
Certainly economic disparity is out of balance. The 1% keep getting richer and the rest of society stays the same. I worked in India as a Fulbright Scholar in the 1990s. I had romanticized India, since I was a yogi for many years, practicing Iyengar Yoga, and going to San Francisco and Scottsdale for special classes. I had also been a vegetarian for many years. At one point I argued with my friends who had become vegetarians through their practice of Transcendental Meditation, that is was natural for humans to eat meat. After all, humans were omnivores. But then I had an “aha” moment, that it was natural, but humans could make the choice of living without killing animals. I was struck by the one of the basic yamas (guidelines of how to live life) of Hinduism. The yama of ahimsa, which is to do no harm. Thoreau used this in his teachings of living in accordance with nature, and Martin Luther King and Gandhi used it to practice civil disobedience to remove prejudice and oppression from society. I was happy to go to India, but the reality of what I experienced was not a match to my romantic idealistic view. Children laid on litters by the street, developmentally delayed from lack of nutrition and emotional support. Children were pimped out to beg. The highest rate of rape was by police. Simultaneously my female colleagues where I taught were the most brilliant and beautiful women I had ever worked with. The problem was of course overpopulation, but also it was the unequal distribution of wealth. My boss moved me around to gain stature as if I was an object, and he had Dilet, untouchable, families camped out by his house for handouts. I woke up one morning having a dream that the U.S. had become India with this great disparity. Economic imbalance needs to be restored.
Of course with intersectionality of poverty is the structural racism of our society. Equality and justice could be restored on some level with the election.
Blacks are imprisoned five times the rate of whites. I was raised by a very religious Methodist mother. My grandfather was a Presbyterian minister. In Kansas City, Missouri in the 1960s when redlining was happening in our neighborhood, our religion was civil rights. Multiracial groups met for dinners for understanding, marched to support Martin Luther King. I took this teaching to my graduate work in community psychology. I wanted to open education to under-served groups. As a graduate student, I worked as a consultant to urban districts of Kansas City, Mo., Indianapolis, Bronx, and Philadelphia and the Indian Nations of Northern Cheyenne and Hopi. I knew there was racism, and we needed to work to help kids growing up in poverty. But I was unaware of how I helped contribute structural racism. I got a grant in 1995 to use a storytelling approach to prevent substance abuse on an Indian Nation in southern Arizona, the Tohono O’odham. It was a great program funded by HHS, SAMHSA, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. I also wrote a curriculum for community groups on using cultural storytelling for empowerment. I went to anti-racism and diversity training across the U.S. and one women really captured my attention. She used a video, The Color of Fear, where men from different racial and ethnic identities talks about their lives. I brought her to Prescott, AZ, a very white town, probably around 1995. This was an “aha’ moment for me. I learned I was racist, since I unconsciously supported an unjust society, and white liberals did much to perpetuate structural racism. Since then, I’ve been trying to navigate my role in deconstructing this racism. I think voting is one way we can do this, to bring justice to those who have been oppressed.
Needless to say, structural sexism is another item to balance. And structural prejudice for LGTBQ, and structural ethnicism for Latino/Latinas, andeven go into to structural specism for how humans treat animals, and humans effect on climate change making the earth uninhabitable for many species. I have many stories here, but I’ll save them for a later date.
The point is that election can help Justice take the stage to balance what is happened, and it can be a positive or negative The scales could go way out of balance, so a more drastic set of events would be needed, or they could be re-balanced.
There is a lot to balance now. So thinking of the U.S. election as symbolized by the archetype of Justice, I wonder what will happen, what will be restored, what will be balanced, or what will continue to be out of balanced? So as each of us goes to the polls either with a mail in ballot or by actually going to poll, thank about what you think needs to be balanced. Poor vs rich; black vs. white; women vs men, freedom vs government regulations, animals vs humans, nature vs civilization, heterosexual vs LGBTQ, the northern hemisphere vs the southern … What can be brought into balance?