Let’s consider the purpose of the Tarot from a spiritual perspective. Tarot is a system that opens a medium of communication between the outer reality and the inner oracle (consciousness). We use the outer Tarot to understand the inner Tarot. All of these symbols are a part of who you are and those who have come before. Many people go to Tarot readers to gain insight on the future. Reading the future is a beneficial component of the Tarot, but is not the primary function. We are reading consciousness. Being that consciousness is everything that exist, has ever existed and will ever exist, you also have access to probable future outcomes. I use the word probable because we know that the quantum reality exist as a wave of probable potentials. Nothing truly exists in a concrete state, but in a wave of potential locations. I believe the Tarot helps us ‘flesh out’ the probable futures. The future never exists as a certainty because there are many potentials. We have the ability to choose the outcome and connect a future of our intent to the present. The true purpose of the Tarot is to build a language between the individual ego and the unconscious that is connected to the all-encompassing Universe.
Suppose that consciousness is a massive, infinite super computer main-frame, your brain is your own PC, and you are the user. The user may need direct access to consciousness/mainframe, but with nothing more than the brain/PC, the user will have a hard time gaining access to the information needed to complete the task. The user may be pulling and pushing information in the mainframe without the knowledge of what is taking place behind the veil. Unless the PC has a program or interface that can communicate with the mainframe, you will not be able to directly view what is taking place. The Tarot is the interface that allows you to appropriately access the mainframe consciousness.
The Golden Dawn’s logo can be found on the back of the Golden Dawn Magickal Tarot and I think this gives an accurate analysis of the Tarot. I see this symbolism as several things: the trinity or the three becoming one (1:3); the resurrection of Christ Consciousness out of the Eye of Knowledge; and the relationship of the 3:4 ratio, which can be seen all throughout the Tarot. The whole pyramid and cross as one symbol can be further broken down into two symbols to understand the relationship. The pyramid with the sun can be compared to the pyramid and the eye on the back of the dollar bill. This symbol has been linked to many cults throughout time but the general interpretation is the Eye of Knowledge. This ‘third’ eye senses beyond the five sensory inputs and the veil of reality. The development of this wisdom is a process of spiritual refinement also known as the alchemical transfiguration. The pyramid is topped by the Rosy Cross, the symbol of the Rosicrusion society. This symbol can be broken down further into 3 symbols. This cross represents the distinction of the four elements, and the rose represents the twenty letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and the sun behind the cross represents the sun in the zodiac. (There is much more to this symbol, obviously. Feel free to search on.)
From a Cabbalist standpoint, the pack is viewed as three separate packs in one. The three in one consist of the 22 Trump Cards, the 40 suit cards, and the 16 court royal cards. The trump cards are numbered by their association to the Hebrew alphabet.
The imagery of the card gives away the astrological association of Leo. We know that Leo is ruled by the Sun and the card is further defined by the Hebrew letter Tet. Leo the lion is courageous, strong willed, and adventurous. The shape of the letter Tet tells us that the Leo receives the power from within and that we all posses this potential for there is a part of us that is Leo, no matter what your Sun sign is.
Any further understanding of the Tarot deck requires a basic familiarity with the Tetragrammaton: the four lettered name of God. Whether this is the name of the true creator or completely contrived, I do not know. I do know that the Tetragrammaton summarizes our nature and the way we experience this plane of reality. Each of the letters represents an element, and each element holds a Tree of Life. You might be thinking, “Wait a minute….two of the letters are the same”. The Cabalistic understanding of this phenomenon is that the father and the mother in cosmic union to produce twins, He and He.
The Tetragrammaton has been held so sacred that it was actually taken out of holy texts so that the people would not attempt to pronounce the name in vain. Scientist Gregg Braden connected the holy name to our DNA by matching the numerical values of the Divine Name to the periodical numbers of the elements that make up our DNA. I also see the four elements as an integral part of the way we experience reality and a formula for the participation in the co-creation of reality. Fire = mind, water=emotion, air=action, earth=manifestation.
Gregg Braden’s book, The Lost Mode of Prayer, outlines this fundamental method of creation as the true mode of prayer. The prayer starts with a thought, we fuel that thought with our emotions to feel our prayers instead of just acknowledging our wants and needs. The thought of the prayer should be as close as possible to the desired outcome, such as: I have a great job, not I want a great job. By adding the emotion of gratitude to this prayer, we can be thankful for our great new job as the prayer. This is fully supported by Biblical teaching but has escaped core doctrine. As we drop our prayer into the cosmic ocean of being called our unconscious, the Universe will bring about situations that we must act on in order to manifest the original thought. We can pray and pray, but if we don’t act, we can’t expect the Universe to fulfill our needs.
Deck 2: The Minor Arcana
The key to understanding the meanings of the minor cards is to learn how to interpret the combination of symbols. The formula for symbol combination goes like this: Meaning = element + sphere no. + astrological symbols. Each suit represents an element and The Tree of Life in that element. According to Cabalistic doctrine, there are four worlds, each containing a Tree of Life. That gives us four Trees and forty spheres in total.
Understanding the spheres (or paths) of the Tree of Life is a never ending process and you could spend a lifetime collecting the wisdom of each of the paths. The paths also have simplified meanings and associations that allow us to capture a glimpse of the wisdom contained in a relatively small space. Each sphere can be summarized by a planet and each path inbetween spheres can be summarized by a trump or letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The decantes are an important element to the formula of the minor arcane cards. The word decante refers to the division by ten. There are twelve signs of the zodiac and each of those signs contains thirty degrees. If we split one sign into three parts, we have divided the sign by ten degrees and this gives us three decante signs per one zodiac sign 12:36 = 1:3.
Each of the minor arcana cards represents a decante, excluding the ace cards which represent the pure emanation of that element. The decantes are determined by the element and the modality of the card.
I highly recommend the Crowley Thoth deck or The Golden Dawn’s Magickal Tarot. These decks contain all of the astrological components of the card and make reading easier than memorizing each of the decante correspondences. It’s great to have the Rider-Waite deck and study the ideas that they were trying to portray while studying the formula for deciphering their meanings. In Crowley’s six of swords we can see the astrological association of Mercury in Aquarius in sphere of Tiparath in the element of air. So we have AIR + TIPARATH + MERCURY + AQUARIUS = SCIENCE. The way that the symbols work together is not always logical but it is a system. When you get the general understanding of the symbol combinations, readings will become much easier.Deck Three: The Court Royals
The court royals represent sixteen individual personalities. Each of these personalities is within you, and you may call on them at different times for different purposes. When they come up in a reading, they could represent individuals in your life or different personalities that you are suggested to portray in whatever situations that are represented. What the royals really represent is each of the elements such as: knight=fire, queen=water, prince=air, and princess=earth. So when we are interpreting the cards, we can combine elements to deduct the fundamental understanding.
Example: The queen of swords represents WATER in AIR.This concludes my analysis of Tarot fundamentals. There is much more information, and the study of Tarot is a never ending process because of its holographic nature. This is merely an attempt by myself to lay out a knowledge infrastructure of the Tarot symbolism. The study of Tarot is very rewarding, as it is a teaching tool as well as a divination tool. Memorize the Tree of Life. Memorize the elements and modalities of the zodiac. All of the symbolism builds off of these schools. Good luck and have fun.