Dwtw

The Tarot has 78 cards split into two groups: 22 Trumps (or more properly The ‘excuse’ or Fool and 21 trumps) and 56 minor cards. The number 78 has many interesting characteristics, one of which is that t is a triangular number, the sum of the numbers from 1 to 12. But creating a triangle of 78 numbers does not readily admit to splitting them into groups of 22 and 56. Another way of creating this division is by using a modified ‘Tree of Life‘ such as this:

---1---

-3---2-

---4---

-6---5-

---7---

-9---8-

---10--

-12-11-

In this arrangement, the central column has the numbers 1 - 4 - 7 - 10, which sum to 22. The remaining columns sum to 56. However, the left column sums to 26 while the right sums to 30, which seems a bit unbalanced. This can be rectified by considering the numbers as odd and even.

Eliminating the central column, the remaining even numbers are 2 - 6 - 8 - 12 = 28, and the remaining odd numbers are 3 - 5 - 9 - 11 = 28.

In Pythagorean numerology, the even numbers are considered female, and the odd numbers male. So these groups can be attributed to the 28 cards of the ‘female’ suits of Cups and Coins, and the 28 cards of the ‘male’ suits of Wands and Swords.

We can further break these down into the Court cards and numbered cards. The first two even numbers are 2 & 6, which are the eight Court cards of Cups and Coins, while the first two odd numbers are 3 & 5, which are the eight Court cards of the Wands and Swords.

The remaining two even numbers are 8 & 12, which are the numbered cards of the female suits, and the remaining odd numbers are 9 & 11, which are the numbered cards of the male suits.

The central column presents us with the numbers 1 - 4 - 7 - 10, which can be attributed to the sequence of the Trump cards rather easily.

The number 1 is the Fool card, who is the unnumbered ‘excuse’ and thus stands aloof from the 21 Trumps proper. The Fool is unnumbered.

The next number is 4, which represents the four cards of nobility and papacy - the Popess, the Empress, the Emperor and the Pope. The numbers of these cards sum to 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 14 = 2 x 7

The next number is 7; these are the final seven cards of the sequence, from the Devil to the World, representing the celestial or eschatological realms. The numbers on these cards sum to 15 + 16 + 17 + 18 + 19 + 20 + 21 = 126 = 18 x 7

The final number is 10, which represents the cards depicting the trials of life and the virtues which overcome them. This is the sequence from the Lover to Temperance. Included in this group is the Magician/Bagatto, who is analogous to the Ace in the group of cards numbered 1 to 10, for his number is I, and he has a special role in the game of tarot. Although he is the lowest numbered trump, he can be the most valuable if he takes the last trick. He also represents the game of chance itself, i.e., he is an embodiment of the game of tarot. The numbers on these cards sum to 1 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 = 91 = 13 x 7

As a short digression, we can see that each level has cards whose numbers sum to a multiple of 7. The factors are 2, 18, and 13. As trump numbers, these are the Popess, the Moon and Death. In the Thoth tarot, the Hebrew letters of these would be Gimel/3 + Qoph/100 + Nun/50, for a total of 153. The number 153 is the sum of the numbers from 1 to 17, which makes it the ‘mystic number’ of the 17th path of the Tree of Life, and this path is attributed to the letter Zain, whose value is 7. Therefore there is a continuity with the number 7 on all these levels, which is perhaps appropriate, given that Trump number VII is the Chariot, otherwise known as the Triumphal Car, while the tarot was originally known as a game of Trionfi, or ‘Triumphs’. Thus it is fitting that a key to the trump sequence can be found in the number of this card. End of digression.

So we have in this modified Tree structure four different ‘levels’:

The first level is the number 1 by itself; the Fool who stands aloof from the sequence of the Trumps.

The next level is a set of five numbers. The central number is 4, representing the four nobles and clergy. This 4 is surrounded by four numbers which represent the Court cards of the suits, which are also involved with nobility.

The next level is the number 7. Traditionally this number is somewhat inscrutable, as 7 is the only number from 1 to 10 that does not divide the circumference of a circle evenly. For this reason it was known as the ‘Virgin’. This number represents the cards of the celestial hierarchy and the afterlife that occur at the finale of the Trumps.

The next level is another set of five numbers. The central number is 10, representing the cards of the allegories of life and the virtues. The number 10 is also the number of small cards in the suits, and it is surrounded by four numbers representing those small cards of the suits, which are numbered from 1 to 10.

So we have four levels; a single number - 1 -; followed by a set of five numbers. Then another single number - 7 - followed by another set of five numbers. This creates a nice balance in the overall sequence, and may help explain how the Fool (as number 1) is sometimes placed near the end of the celestial sequence of 7 cards, just below the World. For these two groups stand alone from the other sets on this Tree.

Much of the above is pure speculation. Whether the designers of tarot were influenced by such numerical sequences it would be impossible to say. But it is interesting that this Tree provides a very simple way to divide the number 78 into groups of numbers that resonate with the groups of cards found in the tarot.

Litlluw

RLG