The Justice figure seated or standing, scales in one hand (usually left), upraised sword in the other hand. Sometimes blindfolded.
Basic Tarot Story
The Fool is looking for a new path, a new aspiration and inspiration for his life. Sitting uncertain at a cross-roads, he notices a blind wise woman listening to two brothers argue over an inheritance. They have come to her for judgement. One brother has the whole inheritance, the other has nothing. "I ask that all of it be given to me," the poor brother demands, "Not only because I have a better right to it, but because I will not be wasteful with it, as he is!" But the rich brother protests, "It is rightfully mine and that's all that should matter, not what I do with it!" The woman listens, then awards half of the rich brother's inheritance to the poor brother. The Fool thinks this only fair, but neither brother is happy. The rich one hates losing half his wealth, and the poor one feels he ought to have gotten all.
"You were fair," he remarks to the woman after they have left. "Yes, I was," she answers plainly. "With only half the inheritance, the rich one will stop being so wasteful. And the poor one will have as much as he needs. Even though they cannot see it, this decision was good for both."
The Fool thinks on this, and new insight on his own life comes to mind. He realizes that he has spent his life achieving worldly ambitions, physical goods, while leaving his spiritual self to starve, primarily because he didn't want to make the sacrifices necessary to feed his spiritual self. Now, he sees that this is necessary, the only path he has not walked, one he must walk to regain his equilibrium. Thanking the woman, he heads out with new purpose. It is time to balance his own inner scales.
Basic Tarot Meaning
With Libra as its ruling sign, Justice is about cold, objective balance through reason or natural force. This is the card that tells the Querent that they can't keep smoking and drinking without consequences to their health. It is the card that advises cutting out waste and insists that the Querent make adjustments, do whatever is necessary to bring things back into balance, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually. In a more mundane sense, this card may signal a court case, legal documents, adjustments in a marriage or partnership. The outcome of all of these may not be exactly what the Querent wants, but it will be a scrupulously fair outcome. If the card is reversed, it can indicate bias, obstruction of the law, or legal complications.
I think Justice is a good card (as compared to Strength) to stand as the first of the next ten cards of the Major Arcana. The reason I think it right is because with it we move from the physical world (first ten cards) into the metaphysical world (next ten). When I look at Justice, I always see the two worlds balanced on her scales. "You've spent all your time in one," she seems to be saying, time to move into the other and balance things out."
One thing to remember about the Justice card is that it is not about punishment, good, bad, right or wrong. It i's about adjustment. The sword suggests that sometimes this won't be pleasant. Justice pares things down with that sword so that the scales end up equal. The message is to do what's necessary, no matter how hard, how disagreeable, in order to gain, or re-gain equilibrium. It is not a nice card, but in its way, it is a very wise card.