Tarot Tutorial: Beginner’s Guide to the Use of Numerology in Tarot Readings
August 3, 2020
Beginner’s Guide to the Use of Numerology in Tarot Readings
By Neil Campbell
Part 1 – Lining up the numbers
Numerology, the science of numbers, can stand on its own two feet. It doesn’t need Tarot to make sense of the numbers or even make it more influential. So, why do we use numerology in Tarot readings? Not everyone does. I do, because there are times when it enhances the reading, either emphasizing, or diluting on the card theme.
With the exception of the Court cards, all the other cards in the Tarot deck are numbered. Each Minor suit is numbered 1 to 10 and the Majors are numbered 0 to 21. Although this doesn’t conform to strict Numerology rules, when I use Tarot numbers, I always reduce them to a single digit, except the 10 in the Minor suits (although the 10, as with the 1, can be read as endings with new beginnings).
In this article, I am going to look at the numbers in relation to the Tarot cards and then give some examples of how to use them in a reading. Please bear in mind that that the meaning of Tarot cards is multi-layered, changing with question and card position, so what you find here is just one general interpretation. Also, I have not dealt with birth number cards, which is a whole subject in itself.
Let’s have a look at how these numbers relate to the relevant Tarot cards.
The Number 1
Prior to the number one is zero or a void, so the number one is raw energy at its very beginning; creativity; the first in a series, or origins; focus on purpose; pure potential; drive and ambition.
This number is contained in the four Aces of the Minor Arcana, and the Magician (1), The Wheel of Fortune (10 reduced to 1), and The Sun (19) in the Major Arcana. We need to establish what these Major cards have in common to link them to the number 1.
The Aces in the Minor Arcana are all about new beginnings. They all offer raw hope, with huge potential when unlocked. Like 1, they are new beginnings. They represent the void that is waiting to be filled. Relating this number to the Magician, he is creative, untapped energy turning visions into reality with inspired action. His creations are generally a new start. The Wheel of Fortune represents life’s cycles at the point of change, on the way up or on the way down, with new beginnings at each turn. The Sun represents a happy outcome, a child’s perspective of happiness, a clear future, a new perspective. All these cards are elements of change.
The Number 2
This number is about balance and dualities, partnership and choices, living harmoniously whilst still maintaining one’s individuality. A bit of one is found in the other. This number also indicates that decisions need to be made, or have just been made. It is also the numerical representation of Karma or cause and effect.
We find this number in the four suits of the Minor Arcana as well as in the High Priestess (2), Justice (11), and Judgement (20).
The High Priestess exudes knowledge and power; is psychic and secretive; communicates with unseen forces; relates to your inner voice or higher power. So there is the duality of conscious and subconscious communication. Justice represents balance, honesty, truth, accountability and cause and effect. The Judgement card covers re-assessment, releasing the past, a wake-up call, and finding the right balance. So the connection to the number 2 is there.
The Number 3
The number 3 is about the union of two parts to make up a unique whole. Like the sum of the two numbers preceding it (1+2=3). Like the power of three and its mystic teachings. This number’s power can be seen in the forms of Body Mind and Spirit, Mother Father and Child, Past Present and Future, Creation Preservation and Destruction.
Threes are found in the four Minor suits, The Empress (3), The Hanged Man (12), and The World(21).
The Empress is all about love, abundance, nurturing, motherhood and pleasure. Motherhood links to the number 3 as in Mother Father Child. With the Hanged Man there is no expectation, acquiring a new perspective, sacrificing something now for a better cause or giving up that which no longer serves a purpose. The new perspective is unique like the 3. The World card ends a long and possibly difficult journey with the success of enrichment and fulfilment and the start of a new unique cycle.
The Number 4
This number represents structure, and being grounded as in the four elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Air), the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn) and the four directions (North, South, East, West). Four is the stabilising force that keeps us grounded.
Fours are found in the four Minor Arcana suits, The Emperor (4), and Death (13).
The Emperor is the father figure, with wisdom, authority and grounding. He has been there, seen it all, and emerged wiser and stronger. Death is the only certainty in life. Just when it will happen is what’s uncertain. Of course this card is not about Death in life, but about transitions and terminations. Throwing out the old and bringing in the new. Discarding what no longer serves its purpose to bring about a better (more stable) result.
The Number 5
This number is mostly represented as change, but with a difference. This change is associated with stress, conflict and loss. So there is a lot of chaos and disorder. But with a little effort these conflicts can be sorted out.
Apart from the four suits, in the Major Arcana, 5’s are found in The Hierophant (5) and Temperance (14).
The Hierophant’s restricted narrow thinking and conventional expectations cause aggravation to many. On the other hand Temperance is trying to pour oil over turbulent waters, bringing balance to troubled times.
The Number 6
This number represents the potential to find stability and security. It is time to seek peace after the exhausting fives. In this number we find charity and support, giving and receiving.
The four suits include the sixes, but they are also seen in The Lovers (6), and The Devil (15).
The Lovers deal with finding balance and harmony, with the masculine and feminine within, and striking the right external relationships. The Devil also calls for balance and self-acceptance of one’s dark side.
The Number 7
This number says it is time to pause, go within, and re-assess where you are and where you want to be. That’s the message from the 7’s. You may be on the defensive, in the clouds, a bit sneaky or just introspective, with this number.
All the suits include the 7’s, but the Major Arcana includes The Chariot (7) and The Tower (16).
The Chariot suggests determination, focus and victory with the possibility of a new direction. The 7 is also made up of 3 plus 4 (the Empress & Emperor). The shadow side of the Chariot is the ego, which puts one in the path of destruction (the Tower).
The Number 8
The number 8 is about cycles, energy and strength. Turned on its side, the number 8 relates to the infinity symbol bringing with it freedom from limiting circumstances, and movement.
Again, all the suits include an 8 card. The Major Arcana includes Strength (8) and the Star (17).
Strength talks about channeling inner desires in a positive manner, and keeping control of the inner beast, and walking along your own path. In the RWS Tarot deck, there are 8 stars above the woman in the Star’s card’s image. She is pouring calming water on to the earth and into the pool. She is the mirror of hope.
The Number 9
This is the final stage of the journey. The end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. It is the start of completion before going back to the beginning, the original 1. This particular journey has run its natural course and must now end. There isn’t anything more that one can do about it.
The four suits all have this number, which is also found in the Major Arcana in the Hermit (9) and the Moon (18).
The Hermit has reached a stage in his journey where he feels the need to go inwards and consult the wisdom of his ancestors. He has either found answers to his question in the previous cycle or is looking deeper for answers, or a new perspective. The Moon brings up matters from the subconscious in an effort to end the quest. It says that not all things will be revealed at this time, but there will come another journey with new awareness.
The Number 10
This only refers to the card suits, and is recognition of the end of the cycle and the rewards or pain of that ending.
Although the Tarot Minor Arcana suits all have this number 10, in numerology, the cycle ends with the number 9, so I will leave it at that.
Part 2 – Using the numbers
I am going to use some three card hands from actual past readings and discuss the numerical significance of the cards drawn. I will pay only a little attention to the card meanings to bring out the reading, with the impact mainly on the numbers as appropriate.
3 Card spread for a question on relationships
Cards drawn: 7 of Cups, V The Hierophant, Ace of Pentacles.
The 7 of Cups is telling me that there could be an element of illusion by an over active imagination in this relationship. The Hierophant is suggesting that following the rules of mutual respect and caring, will lead to a better understanding between the two parties. The Ace of Pentacles says that the potential for this relationship to blossom is huge.
The 7 as a number says that the querent should take a step back and re- examine the current situation to see where there querent is now and where they want to be. The number emphasises the caution from the illusions in the card.
The number 5 brings a lot of stress and conflict into the picture. This is not too evident from the V in the Hierophant card, so I am warned that all is not well here. There is more conflict than serenity.
The number 1 is the start of new beginnings. This lines up with the Ace, except that the Ace is a positive indication of potential. If this is a new relationship then this may be OK. If not, then the number one suggests that the querent may need to start again from the beginning, either within this relationship or with a new one.
Taking the overall score of the numbers (7+5+1) in this deal, we arrive at 13 reduced to 4. This brings the question of stability into this relationship, and suggests that there may be a need to go through a great deal of grounding, for it to succeed. The Ace of Pentacles which seemed to be so encouraging, is dampened a bit, because the 4 requires a lot of stability and consolidation which may be missing here. So, I would be cautious about putting too much store on the final card, the Ace.
3 Card spread for a question on starting a new career
Cards drawn: I The Magician, 9 of Swords, Queen of Swords
The Magician says that the querent has all the necessary tools to enable them to succeed in a new career. The 9 of Swords suggests that the querent is full of worry and nightmares, mainly caused by self doubt and insecurity. The Queen of Swords says that you need to have a clear and nimble mind to take into account all sides to this change so as to better assess the outcome.
The number 1 is drive and ambition, pure potential and creativity, suggesting that this supports the Magician with his ability to turn visions into reality.
The number 9 is the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next. This suggests that the fear associated with the 9 of Swords is overrated and unnecessary, because the new cycle is now destined to happen.
The Queen has no numerical significance so is ignored for this purpose. The overall total of the numbers is 10 reduced to 1, raw energy, new beginnings, pure potential. I would thus play down the 9 of Swords.
3 Card spread for the development of spiritual guidance
Cards drawn: XIII Death, Queen of Cups, 6 of Cups
The Death card suggests that the querent may have outgrown their present spiritual beliefs and should make way for more enlightened ones. The Queen is not significant in this discussion. The 6 of Cups is asking the querent to forget the sadness of past losses, the competition of the present or the burning ambitions for the future, and to go back to the simplicity and innocence of their childhood, where they will find a belief system compatible with their spiritual growth.
The number 13 (XIII) reduced to 4 suggests that the querent remains grounded in the awareness of their inner need for spiritual advancement. It supports the Death card’s serious changes. The number 6 re-emphasises stability and security, understanding charity and generosity, again, supporting the Cups card.
Combining the numbers we get 17 reduced to 8. Overall then, this reading is suggesting that the querent should remain free from fixed thinking, allowing the process of spiritual growth to develop in a natural way. They are ready to proceed in this undertaking.
3 Card spread for soul’s purpose
Cards drawn: Ace of Cups, II High Priestess, 5 of Pentacles
The Ace of Cups draws attention to using love, empathy and compassion to help others to help themselves. The High Priestess says that this requires an understanding of the workings of the psyche, the need to know one’s boundaries and the ability to use one’s intuition. The 5 of Pentacles suggests that the querent is focusing too much on what they can’t do , and not enough on what they can do.
The number 1’s drive, pure potential and creativity, supports the Ace. The 2 (in the High Priestess) is about balance, duality and decisions. This correlates with the duality of conscious and subconscious communication in the High Priestess. The stress, conflict and loss associated with the 5 is inherent in this Pentacles card, which shows unnecessary struggle, when help could be to hand.
In total the card numbers add up to 8. This involves walking one’s own path which has infinite scope, adding to the suggestion of helping others as a soul purpose.
And so I come to the end of this introduction to using numbers with Tarot readings. There is an awesome amount of knowledge in this sphere, and I hope that this little sample gets you to enthusiastically see how you can use numerology within Tarot, for yourself.