Friday, January 2, 2009

Tarot Hierarchy: Deck 1 symbols

This will be an outline of the basic understanding of the tarot symbolism so that we may ultimately become more intuitive readers.

We know that the Tarot deck is broken down into three different decks. I would like to further break down each symbol archetype in each deck. The first deck is consisted of three elements, seven planets, and twelve zodiac signs. Each card represents a path on the tree of life, with negative and positive attributes. The elements are easy enough, the planets are a little harder, and the zodiac sings can be broken down into sign, element, modality, and planetary ruler. The complexity of the symbolism builds as we go from element to planet to sign and each I will explain how each component contributes to the personality of the overall symbolism.

The Elements

Fire is represented by the Aeon or Judgment card. A basic understanding of fire says that it is a purging energy. Represented by the letter Shin, which embodies the spiritual life force of the Universe, fire can be thought of as thought, spirit, insight, and new beginnings.

Water is represented by the Hanged Man and the letter Mem. This card represents the end of a cycle, baptism, the feminine, emotion, intuition, peace, and tranquility.

Air is represented by the Fool. What symbolic associations can you think of for air? What takes place in the air? Communication, spirit, action, relationships, intellectual reasoning.

Earth is not represented in the Hebrew aleph-bet, but is considered to be represented in the combination of the other three elements. Symbols commonly associated with the earth in Tarot are materialism, money, stability, and final outcomes.
The Planets

From here on out I would recommend the card interpretations of Michael Tsarion:

He includes positive, negative and reversed interpretations in the cards and I can’t find any that compare.

The Sun
The Sun is considered one of the strongest symbols in the Tarot, and for good reason. Anyone involved in synchromystics or conspiracy study knows the prominence of solar symbolism in our society. Representing ego, Sun Card and everything that comes with waking consciousness, we can compare the sun symbol to fire representing creativity, will power, clarity, success and purpose.

The Moon
The Moon represents the unconscious as a whole and is associated with Cancer and the 4th House. This symbol can be associated with The High Priestess Card, water and represents emotions, habits, intuition, and sensitivity .

Mercury represents our communication and mediums for that communication, associated with Virgo and Gemini in the 3rd and 6th houses. Mercury is represented by logic, reasoning, thinking and communication. Mercury is represented by the Magician in Tarot and the element air.

Venus represents the goddess of love and is associated with Taurus and Libra and the 2nd and 7th Houses. We find Venus in the Goddess Card and can also represent love and relationships, family, compassion and heart and is associated with water and earth.

Mars is the pure masculine energy and represented by war with Aries and Scorpio and the 1st and 8th houses. The fiery Tower Card is the representative of Mars as a chaotic, brave, confident and cataclysmic change associated with air and fire.

Jupiter is the objective perspective with Sagittarius and the 9th house. Jupiter symbolizes expansion, growth, luck, revolution and good will and can be associated with the fire and earth energies.

Saturn represents the material world with Capricorn and Pisces and the 10th and 12 houses. Saturn represents structure, duty, and rules associated with water and earth.
The Signs of the Zodiac

I will not be listing all of the meanings of the zodiac signs but I will just show a few examples to show how the symbols interact to come about with stronger, broader meanings.
The meaning for the zodiac signs follows a general formula:
Meaning = sign (element + modality) + planetary ruler
The sign itself holds a personality that is not completely derived from, but majorly influenced by the element and modality of the sign. Other components of the card can add further complexities to the meaning. I’m just trying to outline the basic understandings and you can go on to add at your own discretion: Hebrew letter, number, color, etc.

Lets take my sign for instance: Sagittarius

Represented by the Art Card, ruled by Jupiter with the element of fire and mode of mutable. According to the formula, the sign or card represents an objective yet flexible energy that is on the move and strives for higher thinking.

One of the tricks is to learn how the symbols play together, and to see how the different cards play together in the spread. You will be able to objectively see patterns in the layouts that will add to the information you can intuitively pull during the reading.

A basic understanding of astrological signs and symbols is pertinent to tarot, and the two systems work beautifully together. MacGregor Mathers, Michael Tsarion, Aliester Crowley, Dione Fortune, the Ciceros, and one of my new favorites, the Raven have been documenting the correlation between divinatory systems, painting a new picture for understanding the inner workings of the mind. I would recommend learning how each planet reacts in each sign and this will help with your Tarot work tremendously.

This concludes my summary of the symbolism of the first deck.


  1. I still haven't decided whether birthdates actually affect a stronger presence of astrological archetypes in a person's makeup, or if this is just an effective symbol set to describe different aspects of consciousness.

  2. What are your thoughts on this? Why do some people exhibit none of their astrological traits? I know a quadruple Capricorn who does not at all behave like one.

  3. I believe this actually quite a complex question. Astrological archetypes contain a very broad range of characteristics. There are positive and negative aspects. I did a chart for Gemini twins and they seemed to project opposite sides of the spectrum. You have to take the influence of the other planets into account, life experiences cooresponding to astrological alignments, the chinese zodiac, decantes, etc. There really is a whole lot to look at for every person, and I usually find something that describes what happend in the unfolding of their consciousness through time.

    How do you get a quadruple Capricorn anyway?

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