You Ought’a be Writing Stuff in Your Tarot Journal: Justice and Mercy Spread


These are hard times on many social fronts… The forthcoming political election, which seems to be an ongoing series of injustices exposing our own corrupt political and election system—a system that allows the Democratic National Committee to undermine primary candidates in blatant favor of another particular candidate… a system that allows candidates to spew falsehoods and antagonistic or inflammatory rhetoric as well as values in contradiction to the core of constitutional laws… a platform allowed to attack the mourning parents of a military hero who died in order for Americans to luxuriate in the vast freedoms of which we are beneficiaries. Where can Justice be found amidst such disheartening social trials? Where is the Mercy for those of us who will suffer the tribulations of such false political rhetoric?


It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the impoverishment of American justice. But we also suffer the nicks and cuts of a hundred little injustices every day in our more immediate and mundane lives… The overcharge of an item at the grocery store because the cashier couldn’t be bothered to find the price of the particular vegetable you picked up in the produce isle, and she just plugs-in the price for “fancy greens”… the snub at the car wash when the attendant hits the wrong button for the type of undercoat wash you purchased, then refuses to admit he did anything wrong… when you don’t get the job you interviewed for because married men with families are still considered more valuable than you simply because you’re young and female (who might get accidentally pregnant and cause “havok” by requiring maternity leave)…


Little nicks and cuts to our sense of pride and worth and our vision of a just and merciful world… And we endure it by default even though everyone knows—including the offenders—that we must suffer for their mercilessness and injustice.


After a particularly tough string of suffered injustices recently, I needed to do a grounding and a meditation…simply to maintain my sanity. Here is the tarot spread that I invented for the purpose:


The Ritual of Mercy Tarot Spread


And here is the particular spread that I drew using Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot:


The Ritual Cup of Mercy Spread using Shining Tribe Tarot


The Cup Base (the stand; the point or crux upon which the issue originates):

The Empress (III)


What blocks the problem/issue from finding mercy:

Ten of Birds


The possibilities for the problem/issue to receive mercy:

Knower of Birds (Rx)


The way or means to justice:

Knower of Trees


The way or means to mercy:

Five of Birds (Rx)


What justice is / What justice looks like:

Speaker of Rivers


What mercy is / What mercy looks like:

Five of Stones (Rx)


My mercy:

Seven of Stones (Rx)


My justice:

Gift of Stones


And here for reference are some guidelines and aphorisms about Justice and Mercy (which happen to be based on the Catholic Catechicsm)…


  • Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution, justice without mercy is cruelty.
  • It is the propensity of human people to evade justice by restricting community. (This is bad.)
  • Mercy goes beyond justice by overcoming injustice.
  • Human love, confronting evil, takes the form of mercy.
  • Mercy transcends compassion by motivating effective action.
  • Justice does not demand that wrongdoers be repaid evil for evil.
  • Justice does not forbid giving what is unmerited.
  • Mercy does not cancel out the objective requirements of justice.
  • Mercy is not unilateral and condescending.
  • The gospels rejects the strategy of limiting human community.
  • Love should be put into practice in doing works of mercy.
  • Works of mercy should be works of love toward those helped.
  • Love requires that surplus be used to meet others’ needs.
  • Individuals sometimes must forgo their own personal rights for the sake of mercy.
  • To omit works of mercy is a refusal to abide in love.
  • Peace is the fruit of  justice which includes mercy.


The tarot spread above uses cards from Rachel Pollack’s astonishing Shining Tribe Tarot (Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing, 2001)…


Rachel Pollack's Shining Tribe Tarot


Please note that I am also not advocating necessarily that you should consign yourself to being taken advantage of in all situations of injustice. The world will never come right if injustice is always considered the “norm.” Politicians and the greater electorate system will never change unless enough people express (or demand) a more just and merciful process. Other people in our community (the grocery cashier, the car wash attendant) will continue to wallow in their sloth, belligerence, and dissembling if they are not contradicted and informed of the hurt they cause to you and the economics of their neighbors. Justice and Mercy can sometimes include the exposing of apathy and the teaching of empathy towards the greater good.





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Posted in Catholic Philosophy, Discovering Meaning in Imagery, Reading for Virtue, Tarot Reading, Tarot Spreads, Virtue Philosophy and tagged , , , , , .

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