Recombinant Trumps: Chariot and Devil

The fourth array of trump-card counterparts involves the Chariot and the Devil on opposite sides of Justice, and the relevant numbers for the accompanying cards are Seven, Fifteen and Six; there are no court-card counterparts for these trumps. Once again, I have inserted the Fool into this tableau without an obvious numerological derivation because the Fool represents the “jumping-off place” for all of my imaginative story-telling forays. In this case there is no obvious way to “back-door” into it through reduction, so its role here is purely honorary.


The Chariot is the direct archetypal expression of the Sevens and the numerological counterpart of the Tower (1+6 = 7). The Chariot-7 of Cups-Tower combination is cautionary, saying in essence that if you don’t keep your eyes on the road, or should you get “blinded by the light,” you could take a nasty tumble; it suggests the perils of hubris that can unexpectedly turn assured victory into disaster if not reined in. The other Sevens are more-or-less disagreeable as well, showing the stratagems by which the Charioteer could engineer his triumph: guile (Swords), passive-aggressive stubbornness (Pentacles) or  “full frontal” assault (Wands). The Chariot itself shows the celebratory aftermath of victory, while the “pip” cards imply the questionable means by which it was attained. Trump XVI, the Tower as its dramatic counterpart, awaits below to yank the rug out from under it at the least propitious moment. There is an almost Shakespearean feel to the combination.

The Devil is the archetypal expression of the Sixes (1+5 = 6) and the numerological counterpart of the Lovers. The Devil-6 of Pentacles-Lovers combination supports the aphorism that “Money is the root of all evil,” in that wealth (6 of Coins) often leads to manipulation (Devil) that can either bind or divide people (Devil or Lovers, respectively) in unhealthy ways. The other Sixes are less flagrantly vulnerable to abuse when paired with the Devil, but just as insidious: “Pride goeth before a fall” (Wands); “You can never go home again” (Cups) and “Resistance is futile” (Swords). Trump VI, the Lovers as the numerological counterpart of Trump XV (1+5 = 6), shows the flip-side of temptation to the extent that, when arriving at a crossroads, we at least get to choose the high road or the low road according to the purity of our intentions. On the other hand, it also reminds me of the Steely Dan album title, Can’t Buy a Thrill.”

Here the Emperor again lurks in the shadows, as either the Hero (Chariot) or the Adversary (Devil). As before, all of the two-card combinations that cross the gap add to a number that reduces to “4” by addition of their digits: 7+15 = 22; 6+7 = 13; 16+6 = 22; and 16+15 = 31. We’re beginning to see a pattern here; perhaps the “four-square” solidity of the Emperor underlies all interaction between the trump-card pairs, at least as envisioned in this model. I ran out the rest of the pairs and their numerological counterparts in my head without including the corresponding “pip” cards and, yup, every single one of them adds to “22” or “31” and reduces to “4.” It’s pretty clear that what we have is a system (even Waite’s!) rooted in Medieval patriarchal society, not a mystical one at all. Justice, as a numerical analogue of the preeminent binary number “2” (11 = 1+1 = 2) serves as the mediator and referee in all cases. Correlating that to Trump II, the High Priestess, which sits on the 13th path (yet another “4”!) as the “ring pass not” on the ascent from the World of Form to that of Spirit, takes the jurisdiction up a notch.

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