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Numerology in Tarot?

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 19 Sep 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

WillieHewes  19 Sep 2002 
Hm, the title of this thread might be somewhat misleading. Nonetheless...

My question concerns the meaning of the minor arcana cards. I don't know much about numerology (or anything, really) but I have always felt that the same number in different suits (3 of wands, swords, cups and pentacles) should somehow be related to each other in meaning. Now, I remember reading some book(s) which try to retrace this relationship, but I don't remember which book it was and I can't find it anywhere.

I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well. Basically, what I would like (but I'm not sure it can even be made) is a list of what the numbers mean regardless of suit. I know the aces are generally about beginnings and new things, but as soon as I move into the twos, I get confused. I lost the plot, please help me?

Maybe David River can answer this one. You do numerology as well, don't you? Can such a direct link as I'm suggesting even be made? Or does anyone know of any books/online references that give this sort of system? Hm, I'm asking a lot of questions, aren't I?


So, yeah, that's what I wanted to ask. Do any of you know anything about numerology and how it relates to the tarot.

Bye now. 

Lee  19 Sep 2002 
Hi, there's several threads here which deal with numerology. You might try doing a search for "numbers," "numerology," or "Marseilles." I think this is the latest one:

-- Lee :) 

Keslynn  19 Sep 2002 
Thirteen's Tarot Basics (here on Aeclectic) does integrate some of the numerological ideas into the meanings of the minors. I know that Tarot for a New Generation by Janina Renee also includes some discussion of it on a superficial level. Even if it isn't overflowing with numerological info, you should still get that book! I love it... but I digress. I think I read somewhere that Gail Fairfield's Choice-centered Tarot was fairly numerologically based. In fact, I think I main complaint was that it wasn't easy to use illustrated pips with her system. You should at least check out reviews.

:) Kes 

Minderwiz  19 Sep 2002 
Tony Louis' book The Tarot Plain and Simple' amongst others gives a good guide to the meaning of numbers and it is the combination of number and element which could be seen as giving the card its core meaning (this is by no means universally accepted). I tend to follow this principle - it means that you don't have to learn 40 different meanings - you need to know ten numbers and four elements and have the talent to look at the many ways these can combine.

best wishes


bec  20 Sep 2002 
One easy and comprehensible way of understanding the nϊmbers in the minors (when ready you can always seek other and more profound ways that suit you the best)

Every minor relates to the equal major.

Ace – Follows both the Fool and the Magician, a sign of a new beginning, raw potentials, energies, projects or feelings not yet taken to use.

Two – Follows the High Priestess, in order to find out what she hides behind the curtain you have to dare make decisions and choose from the raw potentials, you might hit jackpot or you might face some obstacles you have not anticipated.

Three – Follows the Empress which tells us to have patience and let the things develop and grow in its own pace. Now is not the time to push and rush, see what your potentials and choices brings before moving to next step.

Four – Follows the Emperor, the situation is now somewhat stable, not much going on, though it seems that everything is in control for the time being. Is this indicating a solid foundation build or does it show stubborn-ness in refusing to bend and or compromise only time and development can tell.

Five – Follows the Hierophant, it is now time to take down all the plans, all the efforts you have put into your project and take a good critical view on them. What can you do better and what should stay untouched. Bring mysteries down to earth so you can comprehend everything about and behind them.

Six – Follows the Lovers, as you now have put the raw potentials in use, made a choice of which direction to follow, let it grow and take form, seen where and what could and have become of it, it is now time to review if you are still moving in the right direction. As Lovers is not about blind and everlasting love but more about making the right choice in heart, with the sixes you are guided in the direction that will most likely benefit your happiness in life the most.

Seven – Follows the Chariot, like the Fives gives you a picture of what is there, the difference being that the sevens point out to you, that if you do not comprehend what potentials you have in front of you and take advantage of, then you might not see all the possibilities life hands out to you on the way.

Eight – Follows Strength, showing that it does take a whole lot of courage and boldness to dare following your dreams and see what the possibilities are to reach them and make them reality. Divide the situation and put facts on a scale, what do you wish to accomplish and what can you accomplish.

Nine – Follows the Hermit, almost having ended the circle of ten, this is the seeking with in and resting in what have been accomplished. You now have the results of all your efforts and are beginning to reload and get ready to a new circle of the tens.

Ten – Follows the Wheel Of Fortune, did this bring you to the right place in life and on the wheels of life. Ten is the end of circle, whether this is good or bad, they give you the insight to that it is the end, you have gained top benefits or it wont get any worse. A new circle in life is ready to be born.

Hope this will help you a bit further in your studies :) 

Sulis  20 Sep 2002 
Bec, I love your definitions. Definately a new page for my journal.


Crystalmynx xx 

Lee  20 Sep 2002 
Hi Bec, I really like your definitions, I'm printing them out.

I came up with a set a few months ago, just single keywords for each number:

Aces (Magician) -- initiating
Twos (Priestess) -- knowing intuitively
Threes (Empress) -- making
Fours (Emperor) -- organizing
Fives (Priest) -- believing
Sixes (Lovers) -- choosing
Sevens (Chariot) -- being challenged
Eights (Strength) -- experiencing strength (yours or someone else's)
Nines (Hermit) -- getting perspective
Tens (Wheel) -- dealing with change

-- Lee :) 

WillieHewes  20 Sep 2002 
Hey, thanks all. This is helping me. :)

I've taken down the titles of those books as well, I'll see about ordering one when I finally get some money. :( Hey, on that note, 8) anyone want to buy my deck? Simple Tarot, $15, only 2 copies in existance!


Thanks again. Does anyone know where mr. Rider or Waite (spot the tarot-nitwit) got his meanings from? I always thought he used numerology too, but it seems the matter is a little more complicated than that... 

Molly  20 Sep 2002 
Just another FYI: Gail Fairfield in Choice Centered Tarot gives a numerological explaination for the suit cards, regardless of the deck used, which is very intelligent. Also, the book: Tarot Dictionary and compendium by Jana Riley is basically a compilation book of different well-known tarot luminaries and their definitions of the cards. Ms. Riley includes a chart with one-word definitions for the number cards by each of these luminaries.

Here is an example of Fairfield's definitions (and just in case, I'm sure this is copyrighted to Ms. Fairfield or Ms. Riley):

Ace: A point. Beginning.
Two: A line. Affirming.
Three: A plane. Planning.
Four: A solid. Manifesting.
Five: Time. Adjusting.
Six: Cycle. Cycling.
Seven: Imagination. Imagining.
Eight: Order. Organizing.
Nine: Integration. Integrating.
Ten: Transition. Hesitating.

I thought I would throw that out there for consideration. 

ihcoyc  20 Sep 2002 
Originally posted by WillieHewes
Does anyone know where mr. Rider or Waite (spot the tarot-nitwit) got his meanings from? I always thought he used numerology too, but it seems the matter is a little more complicated than that...

James Revak's website has some information on the origins of A. E. Waite's interpretation of the meanings of the cards in divination. According to him, about half of 'em trace back one way or another to the cartomancy tradition of Etteilla (Jean-Baptiste Alliette), a French reader who devised the first specifically esoteric deck for use in cartomancy. There is also a table of card meanings there where you can see the relationships between the Etteilla system and the Waite system.

Waite's system also corresponds strongly with S. L. MacGregor Mathers's system, which is to be expected; both were in the Golden Dawn together.

This, of course, begs the question: where did the other half of Waite's meanings come from? I suspect that they derive from Golden Dawn Kabbalistic numerology. 

The Numerology in Tarot? thread was originally posted on 19 Sep 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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