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additional help for your tarot journey
Keeping a Tarot Journal
One of the most effective ways I've found for people to get more in touch with their tarot cards is to keep a tarot journal. The first step is to shuffle the deck at night, pull three cards, and place them face down, from right to left. The cards are left in that position until the next evening, when they are then turned face up and studied. The reason you don't look at the cards beforehand is that you don't want to influence your expectations for the day. Also, if they are difficult cards, you might be upset without cause.
The first card represents the events of the morning, the second card represents the afternoon's events, and the third card represents the evening's events. By studying what cards come up and reviewing the day's events, you can see a connection to each card and perhaps gain some meanings that you alone will associate with a particular card.
For example, one evening, on looking at the day's cards, I had the 4 of Swords for the morning card, the Sun card in the afternoon, and the Knight of Pentacles in the evening. That day I awoke very sick and had to spend the morning in bed (the 4 of Swords can be meditating and resting). In the afternoon I received a phone call from a friend I had not talked to in at least a year! (The Sun represents happy feelings, and is, in my opinion, the card in the deck that offsets negative cards.) I was also starting to feel much better in the afternoon. That evening a dark-haired man with brown eyes dropped over to see me-the Knight of Pentacles (no, he wasn't my knight in shining armor, only a friend).
By this example you can see that the practice of associating the seventy-eight cards with actual events in your life can go a long way toward getting the cards to communicate to you, and will make you a more effective and accurate reader.
Numbers and the Cards
Numerology is probably one of the oldest forms of divination. Ever since people began to count and order things, they gave numbers special powers. Some were considered lucky, while others (such as the number thirteen) are still looked upon unfavorably.
Odd numbers (1, 3, 5, 7, 9) are considered masculine or active. Even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8) are feminine or passive.
When an inordinate amount of one number comes up in a reading, it will especially emphasize the meaning of the number. For example, three or four aces show many new beginnings; three or four tens show that matters are being completed in several areas of life.
To find the basic numerical value of a number, add up the digits (for example, in the number 13, 1 + 3 = 4) to reduce it to a single digit. For example, the Lovers and the Devil, numbers 6 and 15 (1 + 5 = 6), both become the number 6 in this system. The High Priestess (2), Justice (11, 1 + 1 = 2), and the World (20, 2 + 0 = 2) all resonate to the same 2 vibration.
Here are the definitions of the numbers:
The number 0 symbolizes the limitless light of creation, unbounded space, and the primordial source. The circular shape of the number has the properties of no beginning or end. Zero is called the number of God. It signifies the Fool in the tarot.
The number 1 represents unity, the number of purpose and new beginnings. It is characterized by action, ambition, and aggression. It also represents the ego of a person, and when multiplied by itself into infinity, it still remains the number 1. Geometrically, the dot or point is associated with the number 1. This number signifies the Magician, the Wheel of Fortune, and the Sun in the Major Arcana, and the aces in the Minor Arcana.
The number 2 is the number of duality. It shows the two natures of things-good and bad, light and dark, yin and yang, joy and sorrow, etc. It stands for balance as well as contrast and maintains its equilibrium through a mixture of positive and negative qualities. It represents the unconscious mind of man. Geometrically, the straight line connecting two points is associated with the number 2. This number signifies the High Priestess, Justice, and the World in the Major Arcana, and the twos in the Minor Arcana.
The number 3 shows versatility, as symbolized by the triangle. It combines talent with creativity, making it the most adaptable of all numbers. The number 3 is the result of the combination of the first two numbers and therefore also represents completion of a cycle and the first geometric shape. Many people believe that "things happen in threes." This number is associated with the Empress, the Hanged Man, and the World in the Major Arcana, and with the threes in the Minor Arcana.
The number 4 is the number of steadiness and endurance, as represented by the square geometrically. Its solidity is shown by the four points of a compass, the four seasons of the year, and the four basic elements of earth, air, fire, and water. It stabilizes and builds a foundation. The number 4 is associated with the Emperor and Death in the Major Arcana, and with the fours in the Minor Arcana.
The number 5 is the first of the spiritual odd numbers. It symbolizes adventure, experience, and uncertainty, and sometimes conflict. The pentagram (five-pointed star) represents man with his five extremities (his head, two arms, and two legs) and also his five senses. The four original elements plus ether or spirit add up to the number 5. This number indicates expansion and instability. It is associated with the Hierophant and Temperance in the Major Arcana, and with the fives in the Minor Arcana.
The number 6 is the number of harmony and is the higher vibration of the number 2. It represents dependability and service and is considered a perfect number, for when multiplying or adding together the first three prime numbers (1, 2, 3), 6 is the resulting figure. The number 6 is symbolized by the hexagram or Seal of Solomon. It is associated with beauty, marriage, and labor. It signifies the Lovers and the Devil in the Major Arcana, and the sixes in the Minor Arcana.
The number 7 symbolizes mystery with study and knowledge as its way of exploring the unknown and the unseen. The ancients revered the number 7. It contains entire systems within it. In the Old Testament, God created heaven and earth in six days and rested on the seventh. There are seven ancient planets, seven days to the week, and seven notes to the musical scale, along with seven ages of man, according to Shakespeare. The number 7 combines the unity of 1 and the perfection of 6. It is associated with the Chariot and the Tower in the Major Arcana, and the sevens in the Minor Arcana.
The number 8 is the number of material success. It is a double cube, the higher octave of 4. When halved it is equal (two 4's), and when halved again it is still equal (four 2's). Therefore it represents balance. The number 8 is associated with Strength and the Star in the Major Arcana, and with the eights in the Minor Arcana.
The number 9 is the number of universal achievement and initiation. It is the last of the single-digit numbers. As three times the number 3, the number 9 turns versatility into inspiration. It is a highly spiritual number. The Hermit is the end of the individual and the beginning of group consciousness. He is both the seeker of light and knowledge and the owner of information to dispense to others. The nines of the Minor Arcana also contain wisdom, as does the Moon, along with the Hermit, in the Major Arcana.
The number 10 is the first of the two-digit numbers and the climax to which the other numbers build. There are ten cards to every suit in the Minor Arcana. The number 10 is the number 1 (ego and new beginnings) coupled with 0 (unbounded space). It is therefore a culmination of the previous nine numbers and can be an exaggeration of the suit it represents. The Wheel of Fortune in the Major Arcana and the tens in the Minor Arcana are all interrelated as expressions of great changes and endings:
10 of Wands-Extreme change; gain or release of a burden.
10 of Cups-Extreme happiness.
10 of Swords-Extreme difficulties.
10 of Pentacles-Extreme money (an extreme amount).
Astrological Correspondences to the Tarot
Some of the earliest books I read had correlations between the twenty-two Major Arcana and the zodiac. Because there are ten planets (the sun and moon, although not technically planets, are referred as such, for simplification) and twelve zodiac signs (Aries through Pisces), it has been an easy connection to assign a major card of the tarot to either a sign or a planet with the results working out quite neatly. The difficulty comes in determining which card goes with which astrological symbol.
In my studies I have found no consensus among authors and scholars on which planet/sign goes where, so I have taken the widely used Golden Dawn, A. E. Waite usage of keeping the zodiac signs in order and interspersing the planets where they make the most sense. This was the reason Waite changed the ordering of the Strength and the Justice cards, so that the sign of Leo would rule the Strength card and the sign of Libra would rule the Justice card, and the cards would stay in astrological order-the Chariot being assigned to Cancer, Strength being given to Leo, the Hermit being ruled by Virgo, (the Wheel of Fortune assigned to Jupiter), and Justice corresponding with Libra.
I use the astrological associations to assist me in fine-tuning some of the meaning of the cards. For example, the Star card being connected to the sign of Aquarius can indicate that someone born during the sign of Aquarius will be of influence in the reading. It also opens up the meaning to include computers, groups and organizations, and freedom of expression, all of which are associated with the sign of Aquarius. Just as numerology is part of the tarot experience, astrology, color symbolism, and Kaballah (spell that as you'd like) are also connected to the tarot.
In using the zodiac signs with the court cards, the person depicted by the card may literally be born under the sign connected to that particular card; that is not a hard-and-fast rule, just a possibility. As you get more familiar with each of the court cards, you may assign someone you know to a particular court card, and that meaning will be true for you and useful for you each time you read the cards for yourself. When reading for people you don't know, the astrology signs may not be as important.