Numerological Fun with the Trumps

I was thinking today about the ways that the Major Arcana cards tie together numerologically. Except for the Fool, all of them have what Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm call “numerological counterparts:” trump cards whose numbers when subject to mathematical reduction result in a lower-numbered card with which the original card can be seen as having a metaphysical affinity. For example, the Sun, Card #19, when reduced produces the Wheel of Fortune, Card #10 (1+9=10); but in this one case it doesn’t stop there, since 1+0=1, or the Magician, Card #1. I’ve been playing around with this idea for some time, and thought I would try coming up with a visual display that would show these relationships graphically.

But I didn’t get very far with that before I had an epiphany about the Magician that ties almost all of the other cards together (the three exceptions are special cases that I’ll cover later). As the first officially numbered trump card (the Fool as 0 is a card apart), the Magician can be considered the “Master of Ceremonies” or “Leader of the Parade” among the Major Arcana. In reading Cherry Gilchrist’s book, Tarot Triumphs, I learned about medieval processions in which floats were first used; she imagined each of the trump cards being a float in the procession, with the Magician in the lead. A special relationship exists between the Magician and the other single-digit trumps that follow it, one which also includes higher-numbered trumps that are numerological counterparts for an earlier card in the set. It all comes together rather neatly and creates more food for thought. Following are a number of examples of what I’m talking about:


Here, adding the Magician to the Priestess produces the Empress, since 1+2=3; but suppose we put the Magician in the “tens” position and the Priestess in the “ones” position of the arithmetic expression: we get 12, the number of the Hanged Man. Turning that around, the number of the Hanged Man when reduced by addition (1+2) results in “3,” the Empress. What I find interesting here is that two different mathematical operations produce a synergy, the two parts of which I wouldn’t have easily seen in any other way. Here’s the rest of the “Magician set:”


Magician (1) + Empress (3) = Emperor (4); Magician in the “tens” spot and Empress in the “ones” spot produces Death (13); Death reduced (1+3) results in the Emperor (4)


Magician (1) + Emperor (4) = Hierophant (5); Magician in the “tens” spot and Emperor in the “ones” spot produces Temperance (14); Temperance reduced (1+4) results in the Hierophant (5)


Magician (1) + Hierophant (5) = the Lovers (6); Magician in the “tens” spot and Hierophant in the “ones” spot produces the Devil (15); the Devil reduced (1+5) results in the Lovers (6)


Magician (1) + Lovers (6) = the Chariot (7); Magician in the “tens” spot and Lovers in the “ones” spot produces the Tower (16); the Tower reduced (1+6) results in the Chariot (7)


Magician (1) + Chariot (7) = Adjustment (8); Magician in the “tens” spot and Chariot in the “ones” spot produces the Star (17); the Star reduced (1+7) results in Adjustment (8)


Magician (1) + Adjustment (8) = the Hermit (9); Magician in the “tens” spot and Adjustment in the “ones” spot produces the Moon (18); the Moon reduced (1+8) results in the Hermit (9)


Magician (1) + Hermit (9) = the Wheel of Fortune (10); Magician in the “tens” spot and Hermit in the “ones” spot produces the Sun (19); the Sun reduced (1+9) results in the Wheel of Fortune (10). The Sun also has a special relationship with the Magician as described above.

Now for the special cases. You will have noticed that trump #11, Lust (aka Fortitude in the Tarot de Marseille system), trump #20, the Aeon (Judgement) and trump #21, the Universe (World) fall out of this scheme.

Lust is unique for two reasons: first, it represents a doubling of the Magician’s power (the number “1” in both the “tens” and “ones” spots), and when reduced (1+1) it produces the Priestess; second, it sits at the midpoint of the entire sequence (1-to-10 on one side, 12-to-21 on the other, with the Fool apart). The Priestess figures in the calculations for the Aeon and the Universe as shown below. (This one is a little more of a stretch, but it still works.)


Priestess (2) + Fool (0) =  Priestess (2), an extension of the potency of the second numbered arcanum, since the Fool is just a place-holder that offers no inflection; Priestess (2) in the “tens” spot and Fool in the “ones” spot produces the Aeon(20); the Aeon reduced (2+0) results in the Priestess (2), a third iteration.


Priestess (2) + Magician (1) = Empress (3); Priestess in the “tens” spot and Magician in the “ones” spot produces the Universe (21); the Universe reduced (2+1) results in the Empress (3).

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to use all of this, but I like the symmetry of it very much. I suppose if an entire set appeared in a large spread I could make a kind of “matrix” interpretation with them that could become a major theme in the reading.

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