Warning: If you're bored or baffled by esoteric number theory and the numerological approach to the tarot, skip this piece. It's one of my enduring passions, but then I'm a mystically-inclined former engineer. On one of the tarot forums we have been discussing the image of the arch-demon on the Waite-Smith Devil card. One of the first … Continue reading The Devil Is In The Details
I frequently speak of British-born French tarot writer Joseph Maxwell in admiring terms, mainly for his numerological exploration of the Minor Arcana (despite the fact that my forum friends in France assure me that Ivor Powell's translation of Maxwell's book, The Tarot, is an inadequate one and the book is a difficult read even in … Continue reading A Maxwell Primer
Human conflict is one of my favorite areas to explore with the tarot because it is such a target-rich environment. I don't do much with multi-party conflicts because they are much rarer than the one-on-one face-off, but here is the latest example of my current approach. Tarot is an excellent microscope through which to scrutinize … Continue reading Human Conflict: The Tarotscopic View
There was an old recruitment slogan used by the U.S. Army for over 20 years that went "Be All You Can Be." I poached this phrase to reflect aspiration to the universal human ideals captured in the first four numbered trump cards of the tarot as Fire (Emperor/Mars), Water (High Priestess/Moon), Air (Magician/Mercury) and Earth … Continue reading The “Be All You Can Be” Archetype Alignment Spread
Much has been said about the lack of a coherent traditional system for interpreting the minor - or "pip" - cards of historical tarot decks (which, after all, were never intended for divination). The scenic minor cards of the Waite-Smith deck are basically an imaginative "work-around" designed to squeeze meaning out of these inscrutable icons … Continue reading The Stairway from Heaven
As I continued to look for subtle patterns in the multi-faceted relationship between the cards of the Minor Arcana, I began thinking about the flow of elemental energy on the qabalistic Tree of Life. In the most commonly applied model, that flow follows the top-to-bottom Path of the Lightning Flash or Flaming Sword, with the … Continue reading Involution vs. Evolution
I've always felt that the lowly Pages have more to them than conventional wisdom assumes. They are often described as youthful students or apprentices of either sex who have yet to attain mastery of their element, and are therefore of marginal potency in the hierarchy of the tarot court. Their function has sometimes been limited … Continue reading The Pages and the Priestess: Acolytes of the Mysteries
Some writers make much of the fact that the court cards are unnumbered and therefore can't be used in any way associated with numerology. Personally, I consider them to be part of the suit sequence and to have an implied numeration, 11 through 14. I've been having some fun linking them through numerical correspondence to … Continue reading The Knights and the Empress: Fealty and Favor
Continuing my thoughts on the veiled connection between the court cards and the "higher court" represented by the "noble" trumps, I'm now looking at the Queens and the Emperor. The Queens are the thirteenth card in each suit, which number reduces numerologically to Four, the number of the Emperor. This suggests that they can act … Continue reading The Queens and the Emperor: The Power Behind the Throne?
In historical times there was little separation between Church and State, with secular rulers relying on the sway that the clergy held over the pious to keep them tractable. When you're praying you can't be fomenting unrest (unless you're Martin Luther). The clergy, in turn, relied on the King's protection and largess. Tarot shows us … Continue reading The Kings and the Hierophant: An Unholy Alliance?