Peter has been a member of TABI, on and off, since 2007; he is our membership secretary and also one of our endorsed free readers. His favourite decks of the moment are The Intuitive Tarot and the Tattoo Tarot; but he has quite a few others too. Peter lives in North East England with his partner of 27 years; and their two dogs.
Key to the Tarot.
Well, lots of people seem to think so; Sandor Konraad even wrote a book about it! Actually, not a bad read if you want to investigate further; and can find a copy.I’ve met many people over the years who decry the idea of any other discipline being used to inform Tarot readings; I’m not one of those. Compared to Astrology and Numerology, it could be said that Tarot as we know it is a comparatively recent phenomenon. We know that Astrologers were highly valued in ancient civilisations; Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Macedonian and Persian; to name a few. We also know that the use of numbers to predict auspicious days and dates has been around for longer than you would think. There are mentions of Numerology in one form or another for more than 3000 years and Cartomancy seems to have only come into its own in the 13th and 14th centuries with a massive ‘peak’ in the fashionable drawing rooms of the 18th and 19th . I think the issue some readers have with Numerology is that it is considered to be more ‘scientific’ than intuitive or empathic, as we perceive the Tarot.
But is it?
It is absolutely possible for someone with no intuitive or empathic talent to interpret Tarot cards by directly relating to the symbolism that has been built into decks. This can be evidenced, in particular, if we stray from the Rider Waite principles and begin to embrace more modern decks such as The Tattoo Tarot, The Fountain Tarot and Cilla Conway’s Intuitive Tarot; each of which appear to have adapted accepted Tarot symbolism and expanded the horizons of interpretation to give a more visual aspect to the symbolism – an obviousness; if you like.
So, if Tarot symbolism can be seen touched and felt by way of standardised, recognised and accepted attributed meanings, as well as modern more ‘visceral’ imaging; does this make it any more or less ‘scientific’ than Numerology? After all, attributing meaning to numbers and using these to understand the world around us seems to me to be very much like attributing meaning to Tarot symbolism for similar purpose.
I was born in June; my ‘star sign’ is Gemini and my Life Path number is 8. Gemini is represented by the twins and represents duality of personality. The number 8 as a life path represents duality of the spiritual and the material in one. So, twodisciplines; quite different but both endowing me with duality of my nature. In Tarot, the card most often used as a significator, or signifier, for me is the King of Cups, who may be seen as suggesting balance between the conscious and the unconscious; or he may be seen to represent both the emotional and the material planes. If we accept that those interpretations easily indicate duality, it seems to me that all three disciplines pretty much have me down pat!
But, in everyday readings?
I love Tarot; I’ve been practising for more than 40 years and it is, and has been, a really significant part of my life. I also love Numerology but have only really got into it since the mid-80s; Astrology, not so much.
Let’s say you have a querent who is asking one of the ‘usual’ questions and who has not given any supporting information.
You deal three cards;
Ace of Wands from the Fountain
Tarot Nine of Cups from The Intuitive Tarot
The Tower from the Tattoo Tarot
You believe that the first two are positive but that The Tower is really bad. The Tower is number 16 which, if we follow accepted Numerology principles, drills down to 7 (1+6). So, we have a 1, a 9 and a 7 which we could add together to give 17, a number that drills down to 8; which could be considered the root number of the spread. This could give quite a different interpretation of these three cards, perhaps casting a duality over the relationship between them; maybe even changing the way you look at them. Fire and Water, ace and 9; both cards can bring elements to your reading that may not at first look compatible. The ace can talk of emotional connection and the 9, of life’s path; surely the best life path is one on which we connect to everything around us? The 9 can bring ideas of happiness and fulfilment and the ace, ideas of inspiration and potential. Can you begin to see the connections?
The ace and the 9 also give us the number 10, a powerful number in itself that brings potential and independence; a number that can stand alone or that can drill down to 1. The number 1 is leadership, passion and energy. So, we have passion, energy, happiness, fulfilment and leadership; but this is now pure Numerology, what about Tarot?
Well, the first two cards could represent the idea of achieving personal fulfilment which can bring happiness and feelings of personal security; but, of course, The Tower is said to bring upheaval and destruction. The duality of the spread and the connection to the numbers now seems quite evident to me. First of all, The Tower is never good; but in Numerology 7 is a number that can suggest that “7” people may be their own worst enemy and so it is possible that the querent may have forced the universe into making changes that they were refusing to make themselves. In this case, and although catastrophic, the forced changes could be allowing the goodness of the ace and 9 to shine through; once the dust has cleared. In that case we then have the duality of the bad and good through the spread rather than The Tower’s power overriding the two ‘weaker’ cards; a partnership rather than a battle? Maybe, but only if we attribute numerological influences.
Taking the cards as pure Tarot I would possibly have said that The Tower represents what could be perceived as catastrophic change; but given the potential for a new beginning bringing success and fulfilment suggested by the ace and the 9, I may have gone on to say that the changes had been necessary and that they only seem traumatic because the querent had refused to contemplate making them.
If I ‘nod’ to the numerological aspect of the cards, my interpretation most likely remains similar but I am now prepared to offer that the Tower itself can represent duality (the querents inaction and The Tower’s action) and that the changes it brings, although frightening and apparently catastrophic, are really simply clearing the path for a future that could be more successful, secure and comfortable than first thought; thereby allowing the potentially joyful implications of the ace and the 9 to come to the fore.
Where Numerology and Tarot differ for me is in the idea that the numbers do not always need to be drilled down to single figures to make connections. The Tower is 16 which we have accepted, gives us 7. The card at number 7 in the Major Arcana is The Chariot which can suggest triumph in the face of exceptional challenges. Do you feel, like me, that this emphasises the duality of the spread? Triumph in the Ace and the 9? Exceptional challenges in the Tower?
I’m going to draw a line here, even though there is so much more to discuss around these subjects, but I hope that these paragraphs have at least begun to spark an interest in seeing beyond the cards themselves. We all try to see beyond the symbolism to the true depth of the Tarot and often this forms the basis of tutorials and lessons. I’m an intuitive empath, so I don’t have much choice in what I see sometimes; but I will always at least consider numerological or astrological influences if I’m having difficulty in finding my way through a spread. Even if I know exactly where the cards are taking me, I still sometimes look for confirmation in the numbers.
What I try hard not to do is to overshadow the reading with non-Tarot references; but sometimes it just feels that the querent could benefit from knowing how me and the cards got to what they ended up reading.