Sign Libra: Scales, Swords and Justice in Mythology
September 22, the Sun began its month-long trek through Libra (the scales
of justice), which is assigned to the justice card of the tarot.
Libra also refers to the Greek word for yoke, of the type used to harness
oxen and horses. The astrological glyph for Libra resembles both a balance
and a yoke. Criminals are yoked by the balanced application of the law,
and spouses are bound or yoked together by matrimony. Mythological images
of scales, yokes and swords (another symbol of justice and a suit of the
tarot) have early roots in Western myth and culture.
Goddesses of Justice: Themis and Dike
Greeks spoke of two goddesses of justice, Themis and her daughter Dike
(Astraea). Themis, the goddess of divine justice, was one of the Titans,
a nature deity born of the union of the sky god Uranus and his mother/wife,
the earth goddess Ge. Themis was an advisor to
Zeus (Jupiter) after he purged the old pantheon. Classical images from
Greece portray Themis holding the scales of justice in one hand and a
sword in the other. Her eyes are covered, suggesting reliance on an abstract
concept of fairness in making her decisions.
Themis mated with Zeus (Jupiter) to produce a daughter named Dike, who
became the goddess of justice for the political and social affairs of
the mundane world. Like Themis, Dike was depicted with a sword, but she
did not carry the scales of divine justice. According to tradition, Dike
was also called Astraea (the starry maiden) and was depicted as a virgin
crowned with ears of grain and carrying a balance to weigh her grain.
as the Virgin in Virgo
Hessiod describes Dike as the virgin Justice, daughter of Zeus who sits
beside her father and tells him what wickedness lies in the hearts of
men. The virgin of the zodiacal sign Virgo, which precedes Libra, is none
other than the pure and innocent Dike, goddess of mortal justice. Dike’s
constellation Virgo in ancient times came just before Scorpio in the heavens.
Demeter, the goddess of fertility and corn, whose daughter was abducted
by Hades (Pluto), was the protector of Dike/Astraea, the virgin goddess
of justice and grain.
Horae: Dike and Her Sisters
one of the Horae, the plural of the Greek word for “hour” and origin of
the word horoscope, which means “the marker of the hour.” The Greeks worshipped
the Horae goddesses as the hours of the seasons of the year. The Horae
were wardens of the skies and guardians of the gates of heaven. They also
cared for, yoked and unyoked the horses that drew the chariots of the
gods. It was the Horae who welcomed, tended to and adorned Venus/Aphrodite
at her birth.
is the planet that astrologers have assigned to rule Libra, the sign of
the balance or the scales of justice. The empress, symbolizing female
fecundity and fertility, is the tarot card associated with the planet
a late addition to the zodiac, carved out of the space between Virgo and
modern Scorpio in the heavens. Originally, the region occupied by Libra
was viewed as the claws of the scorpion. In the first century B.C., the
portion of the zodiac earlier ascribed to the scorpion’s claws was given
to the yoke of Libra or the scales of justice.
Libra belongs to the element air, one of the four elements described by
the Greek philosopher Empedocles. The tarot’s airy suit of swords depicts
scenes having to do with balanced decision-making and dealing with the
strife and conflict of everyday life.
Posed by the Justice Card
Justice card appears in a tarot reading, we ask whether we have been acting
in a fair and just manner. Have we been blinded by our emotions and petty
jealousies in making decisions that will affect the moral balance of our
lives? Are we honoring our commitments? Do we need to make amends for
Meditations while the Sun is in Libra
This is an
excellent time to meditate on the tarot’s justice and empress cards, as
well as the suit of swords of the minor arcana. Study their images, look
for their interconnections, and reflect on how they relate to your inner
and outer life at the end of the summer.
If you are
interested in the connections between tarot and astrology, here are some
books you may find useful.
Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack, Element
2000 and 2001 Tarot Calendars by Llewellyn Publications.
Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Thoresons Publishing.
and the Journey of the Hero by Hajo Banzhaf, Weiser Publications.
Companion by Tracy Porter, Llewellyn Publications.
Plain and Simple by Tony Louis, Llewellyn
is the Tarot?
tarot consists of 78 cards divided into 22 major arcana cards (greater
secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards (lesser secrets). The major arcana
cards depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion. The 56 minor
arcana cards are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing cards and consist
of four suits containing ten pip or numbered cards plus four court cards
in each suit. The most influential tarot deck of the past century, the
Rider-Waite-Smith deck, was conceived by Arthur Waite, illustrated
by Pamela Colman Smith, and published by Rider in 1910.