The key to understanding Tarot - Numerology
Tarot is a structured system built upon the frame work of numerology. The classical elements of fire, earth, air and water differentiate the 4 Suits of the Minor Arcana but the numerology remains constant among them. The Major Arcana too follows the same numerology but it combines the elements together and with its double digit numbered cards raises the meaning to a higher spiritual symbolism.
The number that should be the most obvious in its meaning is the first card of each suite, the Ace (number 1). In all 4 suites the Ace symbolises the new, a beginning, a fresh start.
The number 2 is a number of balance and equilibrium. In numerology it is the number of diplomacy, negotiation, fairness and justice. Even in the troublesome Suit of Swords the 2 is a card of balance, a locked situation, a healthy debate or argument, possibly a legal binding or contract.
The number 3 is the number of creativity and self expression. That need to self express can been seen in the social happiness of the 3 Of Cups. The 3 Of Wands and 3 Of Pentacles relate to the expressive creativity of the number. As the number 3 is such a carefree and happy number the negative opposite is worry and anxiety. The 3 of swords being the intellectual suite of element of Air carries this negative aspect of the 3. The Empress and all the Queens of the Minor Arcana have a numerological value of 3.
The number 4 is the number of rigid structures, patience, restrictions and limitations. This number symbolise all that is unchanging, immutable and stagnant and is often symbolic of hard work. The Emperor and all the Kings of the Minor Arcana have a numerological value of 4.
The number 5 is the number of freedom, chaos, sensuality and change. The negative aspect of this number are irresponsibility, self-indulgence and thoughtlessness. In Tarot the Minor Arcana 5s are chaotic and unwelcome cards as they usually point to negative situations. The 5s of the Major Arcana are positive cards which offer two types of solution to the chaotic minors. The Hierophant is symbolic of institutional, state or religious authority and law. It represents external control. Temperance is symbolic of self control or internal control.
The number 6 is the number of the home, family, friends and responsibility. The 6 Of Pentacles often depicts a man handing out money in benevolence as the 6 is compassionate and caring. The harmony and protection of the 6 can be seen in the 6 Of Swords which has a man crossing calm, flat, waters. The water represents emotions and, unusually for the Suite of Swords, there is calm. The 6 Of Cups traditionally depicts a man and a woman in a platonic relationship where love or kindness is given by one the other without expectation of anything being returned.
The number 7 is the number of rest, observation and contemplation. The major religions rest to pray on their 7th day. The 7 forces us to think before we jump. To observe, wait, contemplate, plan and not act. The working man in the 7 Of Pentacles rests from his work and waits patiently for his crops to grow because there is nothing more he can do. The 7 is also a defensive card because it tells us to take no action. This can be seen in the 7 Of Wands but it also applies to The Chariot and the Knights of the Minor Arcana which also have a numerological value of 7. The Knight of Swords, just like the 7 Of Swords, does not heed the warning of the 7.
The number 8 gives you a "can do, will do" energy and ambition. It puts you in control with the focus to get things done. Due to its ambitious focus it is the least emotional of all numbers and in the Suit of Cups the 8 Of Cups reflects this need to dismiss emotions and emotional ties that hinder ambitions. It is far too earthy and practical to allow anything to cloud its judgement and focus.
The number 9 is the number of endings and completion. It is the number of the harvest. What was sown in the 1, worked and tended from 2 to 8, you reap in the 9. In the 9 Of Wands the harvest can be seen in the tall sticks that have grown to a height greater than the man who tends them. The wealth of the harvest can been seen in the 9 Of Pentacles. The 9 is also a card of loneliness and solitude as symbolised by card 9 of the Major Arcana The Hermit.
The number 10 cards of the Minor Arcana and the The Wheel of Fortune in the Major Arcana share the same characteristic of marking the beginning of a new cycle after the completion of an old one. Numerology reduces numbers larger than a single digit and 10 becomes 1 when reduced (1+0=1). This connects the 10s to the Aces with the difference that the 10 re-starts an existing cycle but the Ace marks something entirely new.
Numerology has one more significant application in Tarot and that is in determining the age of a person, usually male, from the court cards. A Knight in Tarot can often point to a young man in the age range of mid teens to the age of 28 to 37. A man becomes a King in Tarot once he has reached his 2nd Life Cycle, or Pinnacle, which occurs sometime between these ages. If you want to confirm wither someone is a Knight or King in a spread checking his numerology from date of birth will help.
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