I thought it would be a great idea to create a Tarot Keyword Library. This would be a place where people could add their own thoughts, impressions and ideas on what each of the 78 cards mean; an exchange centre, a rotating lexicon of keywords. I’ll start by adding a brief outline of how I see the Tarot, followed by five separate posts on the keywords themselves; you can add your own suggestions in the comments section below. This will be a great resource for checking out some divinatory meanings or, DMs for the Tarot.
The Pips or Minor cards
The Pip cards, as a rule, refer to what is actually happening within the life of the client. They refer to actual, objective, day-to-day events. They refer to an objective reality that is outside, for the most part, the direct control of the client. This is technically a false statement as the Pips can be changed through the individuals own efforts and free-will (to what extent is debatable) but how many people use their free-will? Of course people will tell you that they do, but do they? The exceptions use free-will, not the rule.
The Pips do not focus on, as their primary meaning, a subjective inner-world day dream. When reading Pip cards, start off asking your self:
- What is the objective reality
- What is not under the direct control of the client
- What is shaping the clients subjective reality
Once those questions have been asked, allow the Aces, Courts and Trumps to enrich your understanding of the client’s life. Use the information to find out how much:
- Free-will is possible
- What the dreams and aspirations of the client are
- The possibility for a good outcome (as far as the client is concerned)
- What the client Does Not Know
The Pip cards are an excellent way of indicating things that the client does not know; is unaware of; is too uncertain to be sure.
Are there different systems or formulas used to allocate divinatory meanings to the Pips? The answer is yes.
One system states that the Pips derive their meaning from their number and suit. Another, which is from the Golden Dawn, states that the Pips derive their meaning from number, suit, Planet and Zodiacal signs.
The Pips are divided into the four Elements of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.
The Fire cards are active
- Concerned with day to day events
- Negotiating with others
- Are optimistic
- Burn out
- Burning the candle at both ends
The Water cards are passive
- Concerned with emotions
The Air cards are active
They suggest the need to act to overcome problems.
- Moving away from troubles
The Disk cards are passive
- Concerned with money
- The organization of business
- They refer to the clients property and land
The Twenty-Two Trumps
Do the picture cards hold a special place within your deck?
Yes, they do, but not for the reasons we all assume.
At first glance, they don’t seem to represent anything concrete, just a strangely incomprehensible philosophical position on some particular aspect of human experience.
When I first started reading Tarot, this first impression was immediately crushed by all the authoritative works I read. They told me that the Trumps were the most important. They explained a hierarchical division between the Majors, Courts and the Minors (very occult terminology). This didn’t make sense to me. After all, the Pips depict what’s happening on a practical ‘real-world’ level, not the Trumps. It is perfectly understandable however, given the historical context of the Tarot and the past times of the upper classes.
The way I resolved this, in my mind, was to liken it to the way mythology is presented. Usually all the gods/goddesses are represented by one animal or another. Peculiar don’t you think? Animals? Animals just act on their base desires. How could gods be represented in this way?
The answer is similar to the difference between the Trumps and the Pip cards of the Tarot. The Pips are right here with us, side-by-side. The Trumps aren’t. They live in some transcendental, almost god-like location. Their influence on the day to day events of life here on Earth is non-existent until they adopt their animal form, their ‘Minor’ form.
One final analogy, different and not necessarily compatible with the first, much like the historical relationship between the upper and lower classes: they ignored them at every opportunity but trumped them at every turn.
In terms of fortune telling, it’s important to understand these cards; to understand their contradictions, and secondly their interactions with the Courts and Pips. The way I see things, on a spiritual level at least, hierarchy is wrong. It breeds jealousy and is, in my view, simply the product of politics and has nothing to do with Nature.
The idea that the Trumps are at the top and the Pips are at the bottom is damaging to our spiritual development. It’s the same as denying the needs of the body in favour of some higher principal (that usually has no reality or value, other than what that individual, or society gives it). I see one big circle of interactions between the Trumps, Courts and Pips, with no one particular grouping having any more value than the other.
The Four Aces
The Aces are the Tarot!
Certainly, this is the view expressed by a system put in place by the Golden Dawn. If we take this system as a starting point then it’s best to start off thinking about the Aces as a concept. The concept is this: all the Minor and Court cards reside within the Aces. The Aces are not the Minors or the Courts of their respective suits, but rather the potential for those Minors and Courts to be created. In this way the Aces, on a very primordial level, represent the potential for anything to happen.
Going further with this concept, we can state that the Ace of Wands has all the other cards within in. The Ace of Wands, the Fire of creation, is the Tarot.
When reading Tarot cards, view the Aces as:
- The suit
- The suit of the Ace will indicate what potentially might happen within the Client’s life
- Overall an Ace doesn’t represent anything as such; simply the potential for something to happen, a possibility
The Court Cards are ways of representing abstract ideas on how the Universe was created and how it sustains itself. The King and Queen represent the Active and Passive principle. When they join in Union (a union being any two things that produce a third thing completely different from the original two) they can go one of two ways. They can transcend this state or move forward into Matter.
The product of this Union was twins; The Knight (Prince) and the Page (Princess); or daughter if you apply the Formula of Tetragrammaton, which in many ways this is. The Prince then marries the Princess; kills the old King and is subsequently appointed the new King. The Princess becomes the Queen and the new King and Queen then join in Union, produce twins and the cycle repeats itself.
This cyclic process represents, on a very abstract level, how the Universe sustains itself. Consider the Two of Disks as a good example of: the more things change the more they stay the same.
The Formula of Tetragrammaton would be a good thing to look into if this interests you. Check out the Book of Thoth and The Golden Bough.
One final point I would like to make: in this system, the King, Queen, Prince and Princess represent the Elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In the Golden Dawn System, the Court cards consist of sub elements. In many ways, this system makes it easier to develop a personality profile for each Court card, should you wish to do so.
In fact, it might make an interesting project to try using the sub elements and astrological associations to develop your very own Court card personalities.
Remember, Tarot cards, in the sense of using them to divine the future, are simple. The books make learning these cards complex, but there is nothing complex about a Tarot card. The study of keywords and symbols, as a method of learning how to predict the future is unnecessarily complex. It won’t work; it won’t work because Tarot cards are simple.