Last week, in the Meet the Cards series, we concluded the Major Arcana (trumps) of the Gaian deck. Next week, we will begin to explore the Minor Arcana (pips).
Before we continue meeting the cards, I want to pause and explore the numbers we find associated with the tarot. Just like a standard deck of cards, tarot cards are numbered. And there is a whole science around numbers!
As we saw, the Major Arcana is numbered 0 to 21. Major secrets, lessons, and archetypes.
There are two basic thoughts on how you figure the numerology of the cards.
- Reduction. For example, the Star (17) would be reduced to 1 + 7 = 8.
- Numerical Signifier. For example, Temperance (14) would be 4.
Either way works and from what I can tell it’s a personal preference.
One overview of what the numbers mean is The Numerological Significance of the Tarot by Anthony Louis. There is also a school of thought that the odd numbers are masculine (active) while the even numbers are feminine (passive). That goes back to the elements too.
If we look at the above examples.
- The Star (17) is reduced to 1 + 7 = 8.
Eight is made up of 2 x 4, or 2 x 2 x 2. Like the four, it is a number of power, manifestation, and material accomplishment.
- Or Temperance (14) as 4.
Four is the number of manifestation and material reality. There are four elements, four sides of a square, four cardinal directions of a compass, four seasons, four winds, etc. It is a number of order, structure, power, and earthly dominion. Four is the number of the prototypical complete family: a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter.
What do those mean to you? How does it add to your ‘reading’ of the card as you look at the image or read the details out of the LWB (Little White Book) that came with your deck?
The Minor Arcana is closer to a regular deck of cards in that we have four suits (which correspond to the four suits of a standard deck of cards) and each suit is comprised of fourteen cards numbered ace  to 10 plus four court cards. The Minor Arcana represent the everyday events and feelings within each suit. The court cards represent family with the father (king), mother (queen), son (knight), and daughter (page). The Gaian deck focuses on this sense of family (or ‘it takes a village’) even more by changing the court cards to Elders, Guardians, Explorers, and Children.
If you’re interested, I uncovered a great series of lessons while researching this post. The Secrets of Tarot Numerology is 12 lessons long complete with assignments to practice. I’ll definitely be doing this in the near future.
However, we’re going to look at the journey.
Just like the Seeker’s journey through the Major Arcana we have a Seeker’s journey through the Minor Arcana, too.
Three mini-dramas, in fact.
- Ace – 2 – 3
- 4 – 5 – 6
- 7 – 8 – 9
Or look at it this way.
- Ace, 4, and 7 = new beginning
- 2, 5, and 8 = the challenge
- 3, 6, and 9 = resolution (if the Seeker met the challenge)
Each of the three sets of three goes a bit deeper as the Seeker grows and matures. The first triad parallels the trials and exploits of youth, roughly corresponding to the Child and Explorer [court] cards. The second triad is more about the experiences of midlife, corresponding to the Explorer and Guardian cards. The third triad is about maturity and wholeness, corresponding to the Guardian and Elder cards. ~Joanna Powell Colbert
- Culminating in 10…transition. Something dies, is reborn, and the cycle begins again. Hmm, doesn’t that just sound like the “dark night of the soul”?