Lesson 7: The Twelve Zodiacal Signs in the Major Arcana

Welcome to Lesson Seven. You will notice that I am fond of using italics and boldface to highlight specific words. Anything highlighted can be considered a vocabulary word or concept that I want to bring special attention to. Boldface is a topic that I recommend doing further personal research about.

The Major Arcana as 3+7+12

Each of the twelve zodiacal signs combines one of the three modalities (cardinal, fixed, mutable) with one of the four elements (fire, eath, air, water). Twelve of the Major Arcana trumps are linked to the zodiacal signs; traits conventionally associated with each sign in Astrology are likewise associated with its paired tarot card. The other Major Arcana cards are paired to the seven classical planets and the three modalities.

The Jewish Kabbalists associated the three modalities, seven classical planets, and twelve zodiacal signs to the Hebrew alphabet in the same way centuries before tarot cards existed. We will delve more into that and the Kircher Qabalistic Tree of Life in Lessons 9 and 10.

Different Kabbalistic scholars associated specific planets, zodiac signs, and modalities to specific Hebrew letters according to their own opinions and personal truths. Likewise, I think tarot deck creators should assign the seven planets, twelve zodiacal signs, and three modalities to their Arcana cards according to their own insights and personal truths. Whatever a tarot author/artist creates as 22 Major Arcana cards to represent these 22 occult symbols makes for a valid esoteric deck.

What I’m presenting in this lesson is the way the 7-12-3 astrological trait system associates with the original RWS Major Arcana deck by Pamela Coleman and A.E Waite. This convention is prevalent throughout Major Arcana for many other tarot decks as well.

Each of the zodiacal signs has a planetary ruler. This basically means that in esoteric tarot, five of the classical planets (Mars, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury) each have a stronger influence or affinity for two of the zodiacal signs and two of the classical planets (Sun and Moon) have a stronger influence or affinity for just one of the zodiacal signs.

It’s a lot easier to create your own tarot deck and make these astrological associations to the Major Arcana as you please after you’ve mastered the way it’s all done by convention. I do think to that to create your own functional ~personal~ system of astrological, alchemical, and Qabalistic associations for the 78 tarot cards, you need to create your own deck from scratch.

Astrological Associations Of The RWS Major Arcana

NameAstrological
Attribution
Rulership/Affinity
O The FoolMutable Air (Modality)Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius
I The MagicianMercury Gemini, Virgo
II The High PriestessMoonCancer
III The EmpressVenusTaurus, Libra
IV The EmperorAries (Cardinal Fire)Mars
V The HierophantTaurus (Fixed Earth)Venus
VI The LoversGemini (Mutable Air)Mercury
VII The ChariotCancer (Cardinal Water)Moon
VIII StrengthLeo (Fixed Fire)Sun
IX The HermitVirgo (Mutable Earth)Mercury
X Wheel of FortuneJupiter Sagittarius, Pisces
XI JusticeLibra (Cardinal Air)Venus
XII The Hanged ManFixed Water (Modality)Taurus, Leo, Scorpio
XIII DeathScorpio (Fixed Water)Mars
XIV TemperanceSagittarius (Mutable Fire)Jupiter
XV The DevilCapricorn (Cardinal Earth)Saturn
XVI The TowerMarsAries, Scorpio
XVII The StarAquarius (Fixed Air)Saturn
XVIII The MoonPisces (Mutable Water)Jupiter
XIX The SunSunLeo
XX JudgementCardinal Fire (Modality)Aries, Cancer, Capricorn
XXI The World Saturn (& Earth)Capricorn, Aquarius

I am going to simply introduce the zodiac signs as they relate to the RWS Major Arcana and leave it to your personal studies to become more familiar with each of them as part of the “end of lesson” exercises.


The Zodiacal Symbols

These original 1909 RWS images are by Pamela Coleman Smith, found at Wikipedia and were scanned by Holly Voley for the (US-PD) public domain.

The symbol for Aries represents a face and horns of a ram. It presents itself in the original RWS as part of Emperor’s throne.

The symbol for Leo is a script form of the Greek letter lambda Λλ the first letter of the Greek word for lion (“leon”). It is depicted on the card via the orange lion.

The word Sagittarius means archer and its symbol is an arrow. The constellation depicts the centaur Chiron. This card doesn’t directly portray Sagittarius but rather draws on some shared themes about mutable fire and the sacred healer.

The symbol for Taurus represents a face and horns of a bull. Taurus isn’t explicitly portrayed in the Hierophant but has esoteric themes shared by the card.

The stylized M for Virgo has no explanation that I find satisfying but when I look at it and Scorpio’s symbol, I see yinyang polarity in those tails.

Capricorn’s symbol, like Aries and Taurus, is meant to depict the sea goat it is based on. The Baphomet-style devil with the horned and tailed prisoners in the card is touches on some of the same themes.

Gemini has a stylized Roman numeral two for a symbol to represent the twins Castor and Pollus. In the RWS card, the two figures and the trees behind them have a shape that echoes Gemini’s symbol.

The symbol for Libra represents scales held by the Roman goddess Iustia. The image of Lady Justice captured in the Justice card can be traced back to Iustia. Libra is symbolized by the scales in her left hand.

Aquarius‘ symbol of two bars of rippling water plays itself out in the way the Star is pouring water from two matching vessels.

Two crab claws with yinyang harmony compose the symbol for Cancer. The same yinyang harmony shows up in the charioteer’s shoulders and the two sphinx. There is water in the background, a trait shared with very specific planets and signs.

Pisces‘ symbol is composed of two fish swimming in opposite directions. I’ve read that the crayfish upon this card is very symbolic of Pisces.

Last but not least, the symbol for Scorpio is a stylized M with a “stinger” tail. Death’s white horse and pose mimics that of the Page of Cups.

End of Lesson Exercises

Exercise #1
Using the astrology website of your choice, look up each of the 12 zodiacal signs and find 3-4 keywords that you feel fit the tarot are very well suited for each tarot card upright and another 3-4 that you feel are very well suited for each tarot card reversed. Add this to your tarot journal.

Exercise #2
Using the previous lessons on the classical planets or another resource, review what kind of qualities each of the seven planets represents and write out a couple of sentences in your tarot journal that link the planets to the a) cards they are associated with on their own and b) the cards they are associated with by rulership of astrological signs.

Exercise #3
Watch this short (~4 min) by gswarner called Recognizing Zodiac Correlations in Tarot Cards and write down the Court Cards that associated with different zodical signs and think about any similarities presented in the Major Arcana – Court Card pairs. You might want to pause for each set or watch it a couple of times.

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Lesson 5: Seven Spheres Above, Seven Spheres Below (Part One)

 A captive here on earth for the moment, I commune with the chorus of stars and they join in my sorrows and joys.”
― Gérard de Nerval, Selected Writings

In this two-part lesson, I will be introducing the seven classic planets of Western astrology and the seven chakra of Westernized Ayurvedic energy work.

I am not an astrologer and only work with the classic seven planets (and all other elements of astrology) as a tarot reader and theoretical magician. I have read a smattering of books on astropsychology and spiritual astrology and feel comfortable chattering about astrological archetypes even if I could never fully interpret my own natal chart.

I am not an Ayurveda practitioner and learned what I know about the chakras comes via mostly from the Theosophy Wiki and reading Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System by Anodea Judith. I don’t know if I recommend the latter to someone interested in studying Ayurveda; it taught me enough to recognize the concepts and symbols of that esoteric system when they came up in books and conversations about tarot. The authors and I don’t always agree on the planetary or Qabalistic associations for the chakras; what I present are my own.

A Very Brief History of Astrology


Both Tropical astrology and Vedic astrology share roots in Babylon about 4000 ago. Hellenistic astrology originated during the Ptolemaic dynasty era in Egypt. A citizen of Alexandria, Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 100 – c. 170) wrote a mathematical and astronomical treatise eventually called the Almagest.

“Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.”
― Ptolemy

The Almagest contained the Ptolemaic geocentric model which became the prevalent cosmological paradigm. It was as accepted then as the Big Bang theory is now. This Ptolemaic system served as the cosmological paradigm in European thought until Copernicus’ heliocentric model replaced it in the early 1500s.

It is from the works of Claudius Ptolemy (and other prolific Alexandrian scientist-philosophers) that horoscopic astrology began. With horoscopic astrology came the practice of attributing elemental, planetary, and zodiacal qualities in related fields, including Western philosophy and early Western medicine.

Spiritual astrology isn’t new. Many esoteric groups (including the Theosophists, Anthroposophists and Rosicrucians) considered the planets as metaphors for the evolution of the soul through cosmic cycles but those groups are topics for future lessons. AstroPsychology is what I have a lot more personal passion for and a topic I clump into psychoterica.

Why Talk About The Chakras?

Our seven Chakras are all situated in the head, and it is these Master Chakras which govern and rule the seven (for there are seven) principal plexuses in the body, and the forty-two minor ones to which Physiology refuses that name. – Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,

It is through Theosophy that Ayurvedic ideas and practices first entered western occultism in the early 1900s, overlapping with the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn. Then in the 1980s the New Age movement hit and made pieces of Ayurveda (yoga, the chakras, etc.,) suddenly really trendy and mass market. Tarot decks began to appear that incorporated the chakras much more obviously as part of their imagery or companion books. A working knowledge of the chakra as they associate with the classic planets is really helpful.

Cultural appropriation (and misappropriation) is a hot topic in occult circles these days. My personal point of view is that massive amounts of appropriation (and misappropriation) was done by those late 1800s-early 1900s occultists who created the Western occult tradition as we know it. The Western occult tradition has included yoga, Aryuvedic medicine, appropriations from the Kabbalah, and tarot cards for over a hundred years now. I study, practice, and teach this tradition but acknowledge (and have great respect for) older spiritual paths and philosophies that much of it was crafted from. I try to trace back to original sources and cite them when possible.

The Symbolic Power of 7

I have read that of all the base numerals, seven (7) seems to fascinate humans the most because of a combination of cultural, historical, esoteric, and psychological factors. While I don’t have evidence of that either way, I can say that when it comes to the occult? Seven has a lot of very important associations for the classical planets. Here are those that I think are most useful for esoteric tarot.

SystemSunMoonMarsMercuryJupiterVenusSaturn
Symbol☽︎
DaySundayMondayTuesdayThurs,Wed.FridaySaturday
YinyangYangYinYangBothYangYinYin
ColorYellowWhiteRedViolet/
Indigo
BlueGreenBlack
Alchemical
Metal
GoldSilverIronMercuryTinCopperLead
Hebrew Letter (KBL)KafTavDaletReshGimmelPehBet
Hebrew Letter (QBL)ReshGimmelPehBetKafDaletTav
SefiraTiparethYesodGeburahHodChesedNetzachMalkuth
ChakraManipura
(Solar Plexus)
Svadhishthana
(Sacral)
(see next lesson)Vishuddha
(Throat )
Ajna
(Third Eye)
Anahata
(Heart)
Muladhara
(Root)
Color by
Chakra
IndigoVioletYellowBlueOrangeGreenRed
RWS Major ArcanaSunHigh PriestessTowerMagicianWheel of
Fortune
EmpressThe World

The way the chakras are associated with the planets in this chart is based on my personal opinion and does not match either the way it’s done by Whitcomb in The Magician’s Companion or by Judith in Wheels of Life. Work with whatever associations make the most sense to you.

Recommended Videos

There are no tarot journal exercises this time. Instead, I suggest watching these videos.

Astropsychology – The blending of Astrology and Psychology by Guru Jojo

What Is Theosophy? Part One by Alejandro Daniele

Ayurveda For Dummies – What is Ayurveda? by Charlene Ishani

Sanskrit Pronunciation of the Cakras (Chakras) by Manorama – Topic

Lesson 6: Seven Spheres Above, Seven Spheres Below (Part Two)



Lesson 6: Seven Spheres Above, Seven Spheres Below (Part Two)

This is just an introduction to the the concepts and symbols of the classic planets and the chakras. It is intended to give some basic information to prepare the reader for learning Qabalistic tarot and launching their own independent study. I have applied archetype titles to each of the planets. Most of are my own invention.

Saturn (The Chthonic) …

Saturn is considered the most materially aspected and “severe” (Yin) of the seven planets. It often is put into polar opposition with Jupiter. It is the planet of tradition, dogma, boundaries, and stasis. Saturn is conventionally associated with a lot of darker and more fixed behaviors and attitudes. Saturn is esoterically earthy but primal. In tarot, it is most conventionally associated with the XXI World/Universe card.

… and Muladhara (The Root)

In energy work, Muladhara is located at the base of the spine and serves as the foundation for the channel for energy (kundalini) that flows up and down through the seven prime chakra. It is associated to qualities of earth (like Saturn): matter and our physical bodies, health, money and structure. It is visualized as red. Color is a property of light; light is a form of energy. Red has the lowest frequency of visible light and therefore produces the least energy.

The Moon (The Deep) …

As the Yang sun rules the heavens by day, Yin moon rules them by night. It has almost universal associations with the sea, darkness, mystery, childbirth, sex, love, strong emotions, prophecy, death, magic and folk medicine. Biased character traits such as being promiscuous, deceptive, dangerous and/or mentally ill are often applied to someone who supposedly has excessive “moon energy”.

The moon has no light of its own. Sunlight striking and reflecting off the lunar surface as it orbits around the earth creates the 29.5 day lunar day cycle. What I didn’t know for the longest time is that the duller reflection, that ashen glow? That is indirect sunlight reflected from the earth.

The Moon is directly depicted as the 18th card in the Major Arcana. Night, magic, mystery, death, time, secrets, insight, tranquility, reception, fate, deception, restoration, illusion are among the many qualities that are associated with the moon in both world mythology and tarot interpretation. The High Priestess is the Major Arcana that conventional esoteric tarot most often attributes to the astrological moon, however; zodiacal Cancer is attributed to the Moon Card. The RWS and Thoth decks, for example, are drawn specifically to represent this.

In astrology, the moon is associated with how we express our feelings, desires and needs. Its placement in a chart also reflects how we respond to the feelings, desires and needs that others express to us. The moon changes signs every 2.5 days, meaning it doesn’t remain in a single decan for even 24 hours. It transitions through all twelve zodiacal signs/houses in 27.5 days.

… and Svadhisthana (The Sweetness)

Svadhisthana is located in the lower abdomen centered between the navel and the genitals. Yin-natured, it is elementally associated with water (like the Moon). It shares all the same attributed qualities as the moon, including sexuality, sensation, pleasure, creativity and anything relating to the emotions and fear. It is visualized as orange, the hybrid of red and yellow.

In some esoteric systems (including my own), orange is associated with sexuality, freedom, artistic expression, emotional energy and the imagination. The moon can appear very orange when it first rises at night based (mostly) on the angle of view and what is going on in the atmosphere that night.

The Sun (The Luminary) …

In modern astrology, the sun is heavily associated with self and identity. Your “sun sign” represents where in the zodiacal wheel your the sun was located at the time of your birth. This is just one piece of information provided in a natal chart, which is worth having copy of as you explore esoteric tarot. The sun spends exactly thirty days in each of the zodiac signs/houses. Since in the Julian calendar we’ve got an average of 365.25 days ( 365 days in a  normal year, 366 days in a leap year) , the twelve months and the twelve signs/houses don’t correspond either chronologically or in metaphysical attributions.

Esoterically speaking, the sun is a nearly universal symbol of power, glory and divinity. It is directly depicted in the Major Arcana as the nineteenth of the Major Arcana. This card does have the planetary sun as a conventional direct attribute rather. It’s placement in numerical order next to the Moon helps emphasize their polar duality.

In alchemy, the sun represents the goal of achieving perfection in one world (physical, psychological, spiritual, etc.,.) or all of them. There is a not widely known concept in Western esotericism called apotheosis. If you are familiar with the story of Isis and Ra though you have at least encountered the idea. As a human magician, Isis tricked the old sun god Ra into revealing his True Name which she then used in a ritual of apotheosis to become a goddess herself.

… and Manipura (The Lustrous Gem)

Manipura is associated with very solar qualities like energy, fire, metabolism, empowerment, transformation, True Will and True Self. It is located in the region between the navel and the solar plexus (which gained its name from its radiating nerve fibers). When we are grounded, Manipura energy can be vitalizing and exhalating but unchecked it can explode and cause us to react and act in ways we will very much regret later.

Yellow is the most luminous of all of the colors on the visible spectrum. It is a primary color and its associations with the physical and archetypal sun are nearly universal. People generally associate it with happiness, optimism, and very value positive words.

Venus (The Lover)

In Hellenistic mythology and astrology, Venus is the ruler of romantic love, beauty and pleasure. This can be sexual pleasure, our sense of aesthetics, what kinds of foods we most enjoy or despise, our reactions to just about anything really. Venus is placed in opposition to Mars.

Relationships, especially romantic/sexual relationship are by far what querents ask tarot readers about. There’s a lot to learned from astrology and psychoteric books like Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus to help a tarot reader tackle relationship questions in both personal and other readings.

… and Anahata (The Unstuck)

It is appropriate that Anahata is located in the heart location. There are three chakra above, three chakra below, making it a symbolic mediator and the place to do the Great Work of synthesizing ourselves whole. Anahata is associated with joy, love, and compassion. Bringing this chakra (metaphorically or otherwise) into harmony with itself and the rest of our nature is no easy feat. Anahata is also where we store grief, regret, fear and other kinds of emotion based pain. Books, therapies and other tools specifically for healing the heart has become its own commercial industry.

Green has a number of associations with healing, nature, growth, harmony, wealth and fertility. I have read that it is considered the most restful and relaxing color for the human eye because it takes up the space in the visible spectrum and is the dominant color in that vanishing “natural world” our souls crave to return to.

Mars (The Mighty) …

Yang aspected Mars is the astrological planet of directed energy, action, aggression, competition, courage and confrontation.  It represents the survival instinct, athleticism and all forms of physical prowess.  When untempered, Mars becomes the Savage Beast archetype, the monster that destroys friend and foe alike.  Stripping our unconscious association of both Venus and Mars of direct association with gender is incredibly hard. It doesn’t help that their planetary symbols were adopted as general symbols for female/male. Our brains take us there every time we see the two symbol.

… and the Amygdala (Fight/Flight Reflex)

Mars doesn’t really have a good associative match to a chakra in my opinion.  Mars best represents what goes on in the amygdala, an almond-shaped cluster of nuclei located deep and within the temporal lobe of the human brain.  The amygdala  has a lot of control over memory, decision-making and emotional responses such as fear, anxiety, and aggression.  It is part of the limbic system.  

 Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ coined the term Amygdala Highjacking in reference to an emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming and out of measure with actual stimulus. This perfectly articulates unrestrained Mars energy to me.

So what about a color for Mars then?  My personal favorite color association for Mars is sharp red with Saturn as more of a neutral brown.  The chakra system notwithstanding, red has both physical and esoteric connection to Mars.  We are taught to associated red with action, things demanding immediate attention,  blood, sacrifice, danger, courage, fire, passion and rage.  Brown by comparison is earthy like Saturn itself.  It is most often symbolically associated with strength, wood, structure, resilience, security and dependability. 

Mercury (The Messenger)…

Six of the classical planets has a conventional yinyang polarized pairing: Saturn-Jupiter, Moon-Sun, Venus-Mars. Mercury doesn’t participate in a dichotomy the same way; it is considered androgynous or gender-fluid. Mercury as a name also has the unique being possessed by a astrological planet but also the alchemical metal associated to the planet: Mercury as a planet and metal has a lot of association with the synthesizing principle and mutability modality described in Lesson 3.

Mercury is both a trickster and a magician archetype in the Hermetic tradition where it is anthropomorphized as Hermes Trismegitus. Books, science, technology, verbal and written communication, innovation, logic and rationality, reasoning, speech patterns, the intellect and anything dealing with cognition and the brain are the kinds of things that get associated with planetary and mythical Mercury. Apollo in his aspect as Hellenistic deity of music and poetry, prophecy and knowledge embodies many of the qualities associated with Mercury with other qualities more closely associated with the Sun. Likewise Athena, Hellenistic deity of reason, wisdom and crafts and be associated with Mercury for these qualities while others might be more closely associated with Jupiter.

… and Visuddha (Purification)

Located in the throat, the fifth chakra is all about sound, vibration and communication in every possible form, including the biochemical language of our cells and DNA. Visuddha is the realm of communication which relies on making connections and transferring information. Visuddha is associated with music, conversation, television, television, books, art and the Internet; these things cover almost the entire basis of how modern culture communicates.

The color blue has a lot of complex and contradictory association associated with it which is very apt. Qualities like wisdom, peace, serenity, stability and beauty are applied to blue. Scientific studies have found that being surrounded by it can lower heart rates, blood pressure, body temperature and improve sleeping patterns through the effect it has on the . pituitary gland, affecting our sleep patterns, and it can slow our breathing as well. Darker shades of blue can also associated with depression, mourning and qualities often more association to Saturn or the moon than Mercury.

Jupiter (The Benefactor)

Jove and Juno were the patriarch and matriarch of the Roman pantheon, more recognizable these days in mythology as Zeus and Hera. Planetary Jupiter as an archetype has a lot qualities associated with them. Among the many positives for Jupiter are prosperity, abundance, good fortune, benevolence, health and healthy offspring, education, self-awareness, mercy and prudence. When untampered, too much Jupiter energy turns to laziness, gluttony, indolence, rudeness, vindictiveness, neglect of responsibility and overindulgence in just about any pleasure. As the Yang-aspected polar opposite of Saturn which is all about restraint, Jupiter’s tendency towards overindulgence is hardcoded in.

… and Ajna (the Third Eye)

Ajna is located in the head at brow level. It is associated with both clear vision and accurate perception of truth, within and without. Ideas, idealism, knowledge both learned and born from intuition are all qualities associated to Ajna. In Aryuvedic medicine, it is associated with the pineal gland. The pineal gland uses information gathered the external light-dark cycle in order to produce and secrete the hormone melatonin. Melatonin in turn regulates a healthy normal wake-sleep cycle which modern medicine is linking as essential for overall wellness. Planetary Jupiter is also commonly associated with health and wellness.

It is suggested on Wikipedia that the color we call generally indigo (especially as a dye) is more purple than what Issac Newton had in mind when he originally wrote it into his papers about the seven spectral colors. I believe this is also true in the classic esoteric tarot decks and how it appears in a lot of contemporary rainbow iconography. I’ve borrowed an image that better conveys spectral (and esoteric) blue, indigo and violet.

Sahasrara (The Thousandfold)

Back in Lesson 1, I cautioned students to use the word correspondence a lot less frequently than most occult authors do. The seven classical planets and the seven chakra share a lot of qualities so they associate but they don’t perfectly correspond. If a specific tarot card has a specific chakra depicted in the art or on the border? Then it becomes a feature of the card.

I said above that Mars does not associate with Sahasrara very well. They don’t make a good pairing the way everything else in both systems does. What Sahasrara, the Crown chakra, associates well with is Kether, the crown sephirot in the Tree of Life glyph of Kabbalah and Qabalah.

Sahasrara represents a spiritual wholeness that mystics have spoken of and sought to maintain as a state of consciousness through human history. The crown chakra has no internal duality, it isn’t Yang or Yin. From a mystical perspective, it is the conceptual gate beyond which lies only divinity, the source of all manifestation aka the Monad.

Physiologically, Sahasrara is sometimes associated with the cerebral cortex, the grey matter of our brain divided into four lobes. Here, some of our most amazing mental processes take place such as those which determine our intelligence, personality, ability to plan and organize, motor functions, touch sensations and capability to interpret images and understand language. I personally find it easier to work with Sahasrara as the chakra of Mind rather than the threshold of divinity.

Purple-Violet (we’ll call them one color) is rare in nature for most of human history. It has a long association with spirituality, extravagance, grandeur, wisdom, pride, mystery, independence, the imagination and magic. I’ve read that purple-violet is the color that people have the most dramatically polarized reactions to, either loving or hating it.

And that concludes an introduction the classical planets, the chakras and related color affinity. Whew. From here? I will head into a brief introduction of the zodiacal wheel including the twelve signs and the twelve houses. Then I will introduce the Kircher Tree of Life glyph and start assembling the Qabalistic Tarot pieces together for each of the Major Arcana and the four suits.

My weekly Tarot Esoterica podcast covers a lot of the same topics as my Esoteric Tarot lessons so please check those out as well.

End of Lesson Exercises

Exercise #1

Separate out all of the Major Arcana from your deck; they don’t need to be put into a specific numerical order. Without looking at the chart in Lesson Five look at each one and write down which of the seven planets you would personally associate with that card and why.

Exercise #2
While the Major Arcana are still separated, go through them again and just look at how the seven spectral colors plus black, white, and grey are used in the RWS-based decks. Write down any thoughts.

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Astrology, Hermetic Qabalah, Minor Arcana, Thoth

Card For Today: 6 of Wands (Thoth)

image  © US Games, Inc

I am going to draw a card each morning from one of my 2021 decks and briefly talk about it. For over 80 days, I’ve just been doing daily cards for myself in a tarot journal.

In the RWS tradition, the 6 of Wands depicts a victorious leader and being lauded by a crowd. I’ve always liked that RWS motif but the Thoth card gives me a greater thrill and makes a sense of achievement (present and potential) really hit home.

Astrologically, this card is attributed what happens with Jupiter (The Benefactor) in the sign of Leo. Well-aspected Jupiter- and it is very well-aspected in Leo- is associated with prosperity, abundance, good fortune, benevolence. Leo rules the House of Pleasure (the 5th House) where our passions, self-expressions, creativity, romances and hobbies are to found. So from an astrological perspective, the Thoth 6 of Wands symbolizes a time-place where we have a lot to celebrate and shamelessly indulge in.

The geometric shape of the wands on this card always catches my eye. I love the way the six wands create those diamond shapes and how the flames are arrayed. My beloved friend Michael Osiris Snuffin attributes the nine flames via numerology to the sefira Yesod; he describes this as being there to give yinyang harmony to this card and it certainly feels surprisingly balanced and harmonizing for a card with so many yang associations (fire, Jupiter, Leo) going for it. Numerologically, sixes associated with idealism, family, love, and harmony.

Looking at it through the lens of Qabalistic tarot? All of the sixes in the Minor Arcana are associated with Tiferet, the sphere of the Higher Self associated with The Sun. Wands as a suit are associated with Olam Azilut, the world of Emanation (energies and archetypes). So this card expresses the qualities of Tiferet in Atzilut the same say as it expresses the qualities of Jupiter in Leo.


In a tarot reading, this card upright is generally very auspicious. It suggests that someone really invested themselves into something and is either receiving the outcome they desired or they will soon. Its a powerful, dynamic card.

Reversed? Instead of all this powerful yang energy flowing harmoniously, there is blockage because of hubris or ego. Elemental fire, planetary Jupiter and zodiacal Leo, Tiferet and Atzilut are ~all~ very Yang and when they pile together this way it is hard to have advantageous balance. Reversed, the Yang elements are taken to an extreme which easily leads to hubris and extreme narcissism and selfishness. So if the Thoth 6 of Wands Reversed appears in a personal reading for yourself? Chances are you need to take a deep breath and do some fearless self-inventory and start being more more kind, more compassionate, and especially more humble and charitable.

The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” – Marcus Aurelius