Numerology in the Tarot

Yesterday, I tweeted something about numerology being kind of sexist (the first action is male, the female serves to reflect the male and harbor his seed, and yes I’ve certainly run across men who feel this is some kind of truth rooted in the power of the penis, and females have diminished capacity to do magic on their own because the male Will is more powerful and the source of creative energy. I tell them to spill their seed on the ground and show me what it creates, but that’s not what this write up is about.) A friend mentioned he wasn’t that familiar with numerology but he likes the tarot, so this write up is for you, P.D. Austin.

Zero is the void, the nothing, the darkness before what was, and the beginning.
One is the first action, the light that emerges. It is more than this, it is the will of the mage, the spark of initiative, the glimmer of consciousness that emerges from the void. It is a masculine number, as are all of the odd numbers, and the odd numbers are seen as dynamic, instigating change and movement.

Two is the instant reflection. There is no one without the other, one is the light of the sun and two is the reflected light from the moon, the female. Action brings reaction, and two grants some stability as the pair balance each other, but it is often an active balance, as two is always reflecting and transforming whatever action one might bring.

Three is the child of this pair, the natural conclusion that a union must bring. It can also be seen as the whole of the set, the relationship between man and woman. In the tarot, if one is a creative idea, and two is reality tempering the idea, then three is the process of bringing that thought child into existence, thus it is frequently interpreted as the number of the apprentice within the minor arcana.

The dynamic action of three must come to rest, and the family comes to rest in four, the number of the home. Four is a quiet home, the most rest the numbers have had thus far. It’s also a fairly boring home, because as far as life’s story goes, this little family hasn’t done much except come into existence. This family works or learns and comes home, not much else.

So, five, a dynamic number, is the first challenge to break the four out of it’s rut. Something comes along to shake things up. If challenge is education, this is the number of high school.

Six is the stability after the lessons of five have been absorbed. It’s often seen as the happiest number in the sequence, a happy home full of laughter and activity, no longer simply bored.

Seven is further challenge, on a more rigorous level, higher education, the journeyman.

Eight is even, and therefore stable. However, as each number contains the energies of all the numbers that precede it, and it is near completion of the cycle, this number’s stability has a lot of movement and inertia within it. Think of a boulder rolling downhill, or a CEO. Very hard to shake this stable number from it’s path. It is a number shaped like the infinity symbol. If you put a stick in the ground and mark where it’s shadow is every day, it will trace a path that looks like this number, and rumor has it that’s where the shape of the number actually comes from, and why it is used in Waite’s imagery for the Strength card.

Nine is the number of completion, the last single number in the sequence. It is an odd number though, and therefore must lead to something with all that momentum built within it, thus we have

Ten, an even and stable number. However, in numerology, digits are added together until you have a single number, so the one and zero bring us another one, the start of a new cycle. Ten contains all of the numbers before it, and so will this new journey.

The minor arcana is all about combining the energy of these numbers with the energies the elements represent. Thus four, a stable number that has had relatively little to do, when combined with the emotions of the cups, often represents boredom. Five, a number of minor challenge, when combined with the passion of wands, often shows kids sparring in a way that might be fun (it’s always fun until someone runs home in tears). Try laying out just the minor arcana, each element in it’s own row and the numbers in their own column, and this might all be easier to see.