Portia: The quality of mercy is not strained, / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven / Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: / It blesseth him that gives and him that takes… It is an attribute to God himself; / And earthly powers doth then show likest God’s / When mercy seasons justice: therefore, Jew, / Though justice be thy plea, consider this, / That in the course of justice, none of us / Should seek salvation.
Portia’s mercy speech. Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare.
For some reason I made a note that it was Shakespeare’s birthday on the 23rd April.
He is certainly an advocate for the Venusian lover of beauty and sensuality that we find in the outline of the Taurean personality. I know little about astrology and even less about Shakespeare, my northern mill town education didn’t lend itself that far. Yet I marvel at the profound extent he had on generations and even those yet to come.
We can see his footprint in the RWS deck. The characters in the cards are Shakespearean actors of the time. Ellen Terry and Henry Irving (1909) in particular stare back at us for the deck in the guise of the Magician, Kings and Queens.
Much has been written about magic and occult secrets woven into Shakespeare’s work.
I expect there are the secrets to the universe and other trivia in there too.
For my part the only Shakespeare play that I know a bit about is the Merchant of Venice. I ventured into it many years ago and it has stuck with me.
If you have never seen the film of the play then you must, Al Pacino plays Shylock and is superb in his speeches.
The Merchant of Venice brings the Tarot trump Justice to mind.
Shylock’s request for his pound of flesh and the wonderful narratives about race, manipulation and cause and effect that underpin this story is as relevant today as it was back in the 1500s.
I love this particular speech, in this day of political correctness we are reminded that despite creed and culture we are all one, many paths lead to one truth:
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
Act 1, scene 3.
Let’s turn to Justice as I feel it is central to much of the dialogue in Merchant of Venice.
We can associate Justice with purity but it is not the moral kind of purity but a state of calmness and clarity. Justice does tell us that it is pointless worrying; things have a habit of getting all out of proportion and then we are unable to make decisions based on a sense of reality. We are reminded of Egyptian Maat who brought order from chaos and weighed the hearts of men against an ostrich feather to balance the scales of justice in the halls of judgement.
I have found that keeping a sense of balance is uppermost in all things that I do.
It is surprising just how time consuming it is and I can only hope that I don’t become so grossly self-absorbed that I neglect all the other stuff that I have going on in life. This is an aspect of Justice too, when we become obsessive not only do we create a mental prison but we initiate cause and effect that leads to nowhere.
I see Justice as the connection to the higher self a commitment to noble virtues and ideals. I work with this card as a meditation on compassion. A structure that deals with the human condition with fairness and loving kindness.
We can see grace in the Justice card.
That point within when we recognise our potential and wish to bring it forth into the world. We also need courage and determination as we travel along the road to maturity. However, Justice does not imply that we rely solely on science and rational thinking, but we are shown that sensitivity and intuition are all part of grace.
Justice encourages us to yield to change which in turn connects us to our deepest spiritual resources.
Here are some questions to ask of your deck with the energy of Justice as a point for reflection.
What can I do to bring a sense of progression into my career?
How can I bring greater balance and harmony into my home life?
How can I strengthen my friendships?
How can I live in deeper harmony with my partner (this can also apply to an ex).
What should I do to balance out opposing factors within myself?
What action do I take to be more loving to myself?