Monthly Meditation: Harvest and Justice

The ninth month of the year on Halqueme, the one that ends with the Day of the Autumn Sun on the autumnal equinox, is called Harvest-month. Being the time when the summer of hard work finally starts to pay off (or not), it’s associated with the lerale of Justice.

There are three mainstream ways Justice is imagined on Halqueme: as an aspect of Fate, as the opponent of Fate, and as a human-made ideal.

Justice as an Aspect of Fate

This is one of the more common — and traditional — views. It generally goes hand-in-hand with seeing Fate as a force that rules over the universe and predetermines everything that happens. Fate is just and fair in that worldview, though her justice may appear cruel and at times nonsensical.

Failed crops, for instance, can get interpreted as the result of humans failing to be virtuous, or of the ruling monarch not being truly Fate-decreed. This view tends to be prevalent in more traditional societies such as the Realm of Bereg. Things are the way they are because Fate wills it, and her will is just.

Justice as the Opponent of Fate

This is another very common interpretation of Justice, and though it’s inclined to conflate Fate with Chaos. If Fate is random and irrational, Justice is a force of order and can be predicted.

The power attributed to the lerale of Justice under this model varies. Some quote the old adage that “Justice watches the dance of Fate as helplessly as do we all”. Others say that Justice, like Fate, is ever-present; that she witnesses all oaths and observes their fulfillment; that she may protect people from the random cruelty of Fate or abandon them to Fate depending on their actions; that after death she meets the souls of the dead for the final judgment and has the ultimate authority of what becomes of them in the end.

There has even been a famous attempt to worship Justice during the Thaumic War — with the goal of getting her to intercede with Fate on behalf of a city-state in desperate danger. The city got overrun and razed within a fortnight. It could’ve been a coincidence, but no one has risked another attempt since. 

Justice As a Construct

And, finally, there’s the school of thought that sees justice as a purely human — or at least sapient — concept, akin to law, that has no spirit of its own. From this point of view, justice — lower-case justice — is the basic principle of fairness that allows sapient creatures to cooperate and form societies.

This can work with the concept of Fate as order (in which case sapient justice is a part of her design), or the concept of Fate as chaos (in which case sapient justice is an attempt to create order despite her), or even with the concept of Fate as mere casualty (in which case sapient justice is a way of creating meaning in the uncaring universe). 

Artwork of the Month

Statue of Lady Justice

It’s interesting that this is not how the lerale of Justice — in any of her aspects — would be depicted on Halqueme.

While she is still likely to be female and have scales, she is never blindfolded. In fact, one of the euphemisms for her is “the Watcher”, referring to her as the ultimate witness to all oaths and contracts. “As Justice is my witness” or “as the Watcher is my witness” is a very common formula for a promise that is highly unlikely to get broken.

She also never carries a sword, since it’s not her role to punish. Even in terms of the final judgement, she is usually imagined as directing the dead to the harder or easier road, not physically punishing them in any way.

As to her scales, they are normally depicted with fruit. It’s the harvest season, after all.

Perhaps I can make my own image of her for next September.

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