The Numbered Cards of the Tarot
There are four suits in the Tarot, and each suit has ten numbered cards. Each number corresponds to one of the Sefirot on the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and to a member of the Naples Arrangement. The energy of each suit journeys through these nine cards, revealing remarkably similar – and yet divergent – journeys from their birth to reality.
All four of the energies flow out from the eternal everything of EinSof; roughly analogous to God. The four energies – the Drive of Wands/Fire, the Emotion of Cups/Water, the Thoughts of Swords/Air, and the Materialization of Disks/Earth – all emanate from EinSof, and immediately enter the first of the numbered cards: the Aces of Kether.
Kether – Aces – Root – Position
The Sefirot of Kether represents the original emanation of each of the Suits’ energies as soon as they emerge from EinSof. It represents the Seed, the Link to previous generations, and the Root of what is to come. The energies of each of the suits at Kether represent the best each suit has to offer, and the untarnished, pure energy and idea of each suit. The Ace of Wands is the Origin, from which all creation emerges; it represents the beginning of everything, the will and drive that makes things happen. It is creation. The Ace of Cups is the Potential; the more passive Ace that helps the energy of the Ace of Wands realize its potential, and helps it along and shows it where to go. The Ace of Swords is the Thought; the energy of the Suit of Cups begins to find its own way without guidance, and starts realizing its own potential. The Ace of Disks is the Realization, when the energy of Suit of Swords finally becomes all it can be. The Aces all represent the starting points of their suits – the beginning, and the position that shows the first existence of something – and lay out a secondary pattern: that of Fire to Water to Air to Earth.
Chokmah – Twos – First Manifestation – Line
The Sefirot of Chokmah represents the first manifestation and the original harmony of each suit. The energy of each suit becomes active and attempts to assert itself upon the world. The Suit of Wands yields Dominion, as the fiery will of the Ace attempts to change the world and get things done, ruling over a domain as a lord. The Suit of Cups yields Love, as the emotional intimacy of the Suit comes forward and shows itself. The Suit of Swords yields Peace, as the intellectual and principled thoughts of the Ace come forward and shape the universe according to their views of an ideal world. The Suit of Disks yields Change as it sees – better than the other Suits – how to best exist the world, and establishes its stability through slow motion and adaptability. The existence of the Suits has become more defined now, and has become more than just a position; it is now two positions, forming a line.
The Lord of Fire (Dominion) comes forth and conquers a kingdom, and then realizes that he needs someone to share his realm with, and so finds someone to share his life with (Love). Together, the two halves of the dichotomy of Fire and Water bring balance to their domain, and there is peace (Peace). The realm remains stable through constant, slow motion and flexibility (Change).
Binah – Threes – Understanding – Plane
The Sefirot of Binah represents the birthing ground and understanding of each of the suits. It is like a nursery, where each suit begins to realize its potential and see what it can be. The Suit of Wands realizes that it can become filled with Virtue, and begins to embody these passive qualities. The Suit of Cups realizes that it can spread its love to more than one other person, and overflows with Abundance. The Suit of Swords realizes that its abstract principle cannot be applied practically to the real world, and fall into Sorrow. The Suit of Disks realizes that teamwork makes everything easier, and working with others allows it to create Works. A third point has been added to each suit, defining a plane, and allowing for more of it to be seen.
The courageous hero (Virtue) sets out to go make a name for himself in the world, and is loved and honored by those he meets – and he returns the favor, his world filled with love and life (Abundance). As his journey continues, however, he finds that he can’t do anything, and that not everyone is kind and sweet – he becomes disillusioned (Sorrow). However, he pulls himself together and realizes that he must still continue living and be happy, so works with others to overcome the problems in the world that he can fix, and make the universe a better place (Works).
Chesed – Fours – Stability – Matter
The Sefirot of Chesed represents the stability and condensation of the energies of each of the four Suits. The Suits have each seen what they can become and are now set out to try to become that. As such, they begin to stabilize themselves, forming their own identity with which to go out and do what they need to. The Suit of Wands makes allies to help it in its quest, and forges friendships in its quest for Completion. The Suit of Cups solidifies the gains it made by spreading love before, and settles down in a community and lives in Luxury, where it doesn’t have to worry about a thing. The Suit of Swords comes to terms with its lack of real potential, and strives to do what it thinks should be done anyway, and attempts to return to a state of peace through the establishment of Truce. The Suit of Disks takes its new goals seriously, and builds itself an immovable base of operations and Power from which to operate. The third dimension has now been added with a fourth point, and matter can now be present.
The Lord of Wands forces new friendships and sees what life is really about, reveling in the joy and stability of life (Completion). He is warmed by the presence of his friends and allies, and forgets all of his cares (Luxury). His few enemies he holds off so he can enjoy his youth through compromises (Truce), and while his enemies stay away he also builds up his power base (Power).
Geburah – Fives – Upset – Motion
The Sefirot of Geburah represents the instability brought about be destabilizing motion. The four Suits have all built up their stability, and then something comes along and upsets it. The Suit of Wands finds its allies all leaving him as they fall victim to infighting and Strife. The Suit of Cups loses its luxury and sees that luxury wasn’t even all it hoped it would be, and feels a sense of Disappointment. The Suit of Swords finds its truces broken and the reality of the world shattering its fragile peace, causing the Suit to suffer Defeat. The Suit of Disks’ stability is shattered suddenly, and it has nothing left, and suffers great hardship and gives in to Worry. The creation of the third dimension in the Sefirot of Chesed now allows for the full range of motion within the space, and everything is no longer still.
A person loses his friends as they turn on him and begin fighting themselves (Strife), and is saddened and made depressed as his expectations are smashed (Disappointment). They throw him to the ground and take everything he has (Defeat). Having nothing left after what amounted to an earthquake shattered his fortress of confidence, he doesn’t know what to do next (Worry).
Tiphareth – Sixes – Conscious Harmony – Experience
The Sefirot of Tiphareth represents a harmony and balance achieved through conscious effort, by resolving the instability brought about by Geburah by following the divine guidance of Kether. The Suits are restored to their former glory, and find their balance and strive to exist as best as they can in the world. The Suit of Wands unifies those who fought among themselves by showing them its own glory and ability to achieve Victory, eliminating any doubts they might have about them while forcing them to work together to win. The Suit of Cups revises its expectations of what to expect from life, and finally has its expectations fulfilled and enjoys a sense of Pleasure in everything it does. The Suit of Swords learns from its failures, and begins a process of trial-and-error that lead to develop the principles of Science, to advance the knowledge and state of the world. The Suit of Disks doesn’t give up, and though it has nothing, slowly works its way back up from nothing and achieves great Success and material gain. As things move through the space created by Chesed, they invariably will be in different places at different times, and this development of chronology and causation leads to experience.
The heroic Lord of Flames achieves a great victory with the help of others and unites people behind him (Victory), and his success fills him with joy and pride (Pleasure). With the re-establishment of some form of peace, he finds ways to advance the world and help him maintain his triumph (Science). He can stand back and admire what he has done then, for he has done all that he set out to do (Success).
Netzach – Sevens – Degenerate Weakness – Bliss
The Sefirot of Netzach represents a degenerate weakness that becomes apparent in the balance of Tiphareth. The Suits, enjoying their respective triumphs from before, have settled in and become too comfortable, taking too much pleasure in their achievements, and descending into degenerativity. The Suit of Wands, flush with the triumph of victory achieved by working with a group, goes off and tries to win individual victories for itself in an attempt to stroke its own ego and boost it above the rest, earning itself Valour. The Suit of Cups, filled with the pleasures of life, loses itself in ecstasy and descends into Debauch. The Suit of Swords again runs into the problem of the world being imperfect as its scientific process of trial-and-error shows that not everything can be accomplished and made good, and begins to realize the Futility of its endeavor. The Suit of Disks becomes too attached to its success and material gain, and does everything it can to keep it, even at the expense of others, leading to corruption and eventually to suffering Failure as what it has is taken away in a vain attempt to keep it all. As the moving object begins to experience things, it also develops sensations, feelings, and memories, and experience a sense of bliss at being alive.
The formerly triumphant individual becomes arrogant and thinks only of himself (Valour). His own cares become paramount, and he just seeks to make himself happy be feeding his ego at the expense of others (Debauch). As his support amongst others fades away, he begins to feel as if everything he has accomplished was for nothing, and won’t matter anyway because everyone is out to get him; after all they did abandon him (Futility). As his spirit flags, his heart no longer is in his quest, and he suffers a terrible loss (Defeat).
Hod – Eights – Intellectual Weakness – Knowledge
The Sefirot of Hod represents the intellectual reaction to the degenerate weakness of Netzach, as the Suit consciously readjusts itself to fix the problem and overcompensates, resulting in a weakness of the mind. The Suit of Wands attempts to reunite the people behind it, but is too zealous in its efforts and overdoes things, acting with too much Swiftness. The Suit of Cups struggles and emerges from debauchery, but instead gives into a weakness of the mind, thinking itself safe and superior to those around it, and descends into Indolence. The Suit of Swords tries to get past its sense of futility, but sees that it had seen the truth, as its path to victory is filled with Interference so as to make its task almost impossible, and retains its despair. The Suit of Disks picks itself up from its failure and saves every penny of what it earns, working its way back up again by being cautious and safe with what it has, exercising excessive Prudence. As the moving object experiences bliss, it begins to ponder why it is that it experiences it, and so begins to think about what it does and acquire knowledge.
The fiery hero, his valour failing to inspire as he once had, attempts to regain the respect he once had by doing as much as he can as quickly as he can, sending messages to his former allies inviting them to come and help him in his quests, but he acts with such swiftness that he often does not finish what he promised, and sometimes acts with more force than is necessary, leading to bad rumors spreading about him and suspicion among his former allies (Swiftness). In his pride and arrogance, he thinks that they are unworthy of his attention and respect, and begins to think the same of others, becoming more and more apathetic (Indolence). However, with no one standing behind him, he finds that doing what he wants becomes harder and harder (Interference), and finally realizes that he’s been doing everything all wrong, and begins to work more slowly, rebuilding himself one piece at a time, which loses him respect from some of his allies as they see his newfound over-caution (Prudence).
Yesod – Nines – Crystallization – Essence of Being
The Sefirot of Yesod represents the “best” that each suit has to offer, and the culmination of all that came before it, allowing each Suit to develop a sense of identity and lets them be all they can be. The Suit of Wands again regains its allies by showing a a balance of spirit, able to move swiftly when required and more slowly when need be, working with those around it and being humble. It embodies virtue and can display both outer and inner Strength. The Suit of Cups longs for the community and happiness it once felt, and asks to be forgiven for its transgressions and is accepted back into the fold, where it shows that it has learned from its mistakes and will live forever now in Happiness. The Suit of Swords finally realizes its full intellectual and moral potential, and realizes that the world is a terrible and cruel place, and that nothing it can do there will ever lead up to its expectations, as the universe is filled with too much Cruelty. The Suit of Disks has finally found just the right amount of prudence to use, and from it achieves great Gain. Now that the moving point has substance, emotions, and thoughts, it can become conscious and formulate an identity for itself, crystallizing into something it has never been before and understanding its essence of being.
The King of Fire has learned when to apply the right amount of force and speed, and how to passively embody the qualities that allow him to lead (Strength). He is content with his kingdom and realm, and is happy with his life, friends, and family (Happiness). He does, however, understand how the world works and sees that it is not the best of places to live at all (Cruelty), but knows that giving into despair will ruin him, and that he has done quite well for himself, earning himself a kingdom (Gain).
Malkuth – Tens – The Rebirth – Reality
The Sefirot of Malkuth represents reality and the material world, and so is different from the other Sefirot. It also represents the end of the cycle, and from the world of Malkuth the energy of Kether can be reborn. The Suit of Wands, having shown that it can do anything, does all it can to help the people and the world, and eventually takes on too much for it to bear – it could not do in reality all that it thought it could – and so suffers from Oppression and overburdening. It might also not be able to apply its passive strength in the real world as well as it thought, and might accidentally oppress others. The Suit of Cups, though it has in theory achieved emotional balance, in reality becomes a little bit too full of the pleasures of life, and sometimes will feel as if it’s life is incomplete; as a lack of hardship does not help you find yourself. The Suit becomes too full of its own happiness, and enters the paradox of too much happiness leading one to unhappiness; it didn’t know when to stop, and suffers from Satiety. The Suit of Swords, despairing at the cruelty of the world, either gives up and dies or tries in vain to fight against the terrible world and becomes a martyr. The Suit might also retreat into its own world of abstract fantasy, seeking to escape from loathsome reality, but eventually losing itself in its own mind and bringing itself to Ruin. The Suit of Disks has realized how to apply itself best to get the most out of its life, and so gains great Wealth in reality. Like the Suit of Cups, however, it is a little too much, and sometimes it wonders at what the point of having everything is; it makes life rather boring. However, the Suit of Disks has the greatest success, and establishes itself and its descendants in the world, best illustrating the idea of rebirth. The crystallization achieved in Yesod is applied to the reality of Malkuth, and in many cases falls flat of idealized expectations, but these failures allow for another generation to rise.
The mighty hero, in his desire to help everyone and make the world as he thinks it should be, begins to do everything himself in order to ensure that everything goes according to plan, and so manages to overburden himself, and sometimes demand too much of others (Oppression). Even as he is oppressed, he is driven to continue by a desire to give his life meaning, as the excessive happiness that he had experienced before made him uncomfortable, and he does not want to return to it (Satiety). Eventually it all becomes too much to bear, and he can no longer carry everything and dies (Ruin). However, he had gained much and had been rich and loved, and has left behind many descendants who will continue his line (Wealth). His legacy will live on.