Understanding tarot card pairings and card combinations is a powerful asset while making sense of an array of cards on a table. Any two cards in a pair is a combination, really, but certain pairings do jump out when they occur.
To understand the meanings of the cards is to understand the people who created them. Six hundred years has elapsed since the earliest known tarot decks we have on record, and happily, we have a font of information about the people whose world they occupied, the environment where these folks lived in, and the things they believed and were punished for. Through legal documents and decrees, plus the writings of notable works of literature and art, we are able to capture a glimpse of everyday life in medieval and Renaissance Italy. The Tarot deck is also one of the windows into that long ago world.
For anyone wanting to learn what is referred to as TdM style of cards, (and I use that term to describe both Tarot de Marseille and Milan) you need to understand the iconography that the tarot from these decks reveals. There are numerous books that go into this, and if I might be allowed to self-promote, I've done a YouTube video series on the subject of the numbers the cards as they relate to the Trump cards with the same corresponding number, and that might be very helpful and interesting to you. I go into great depth about the origins of each card I've completed thus far. Here is the link to that playlist. (In case the link is acting stupid, my YouTube ID is Marilyn from Tarot Clarity)
OK, lets get to it with our first pair of cards, Temperance and Fortitude. (Sometimes referred to by modern folks as Strength) Temperance is not so much a struggle as a reminder that something needs to be watered down, or neutralized. Since ancient times wine was made weaker by water, either to dilute it to serve more people, or curtail its effects, or both. Fortitude represents an internal struggle, an issue of self-control that the querent might be struggling with. The combination of these two cards is an urgent call to reach a happy medium. Since both the characters of these particular cards glance in the same direction, it might be helpful to take note of the card that falls to the left of Temperance, to see if it yields any clues in to what the challenges might reference. If we consider the reference that Temperance has to wine, the combination might also indicate a struggle related to alcohol.
Let's take it a step further now, and let's pair the Fortitude card with The Devil.
In combination with the Devil, particularly in the direction that the figure is looking, escalates the message to an admonishment that an addiction to something needs to get under control. The addiction might be one of the flesh, substance abuse, or greed for material wealth, etc. Surrounding cards will further shed light on the topic. The Devil is a kind of kill-joy card. When it pops up, you know there's something that one is indulging in that hinges on risky behavior. When it's combined with Fortitude, it's a strong warning.
Let's move on to a bit more cheery combination. Let's consider The Chariot and Justice appearing together, especially if the charioteer seems to be facing in Lady Justice's direction. In this pairing, we have movement towards truth. Getting very near the truth of a situation, or nearing a fair resolution of an issue, or reaching a reliable conclusion.
Now let's make it super wonderful and add The World card in the direction the charioteer is facing.
With this combination we have advancement towards great success, maybe even fame, but it at least expresses movement in the best possible direction for a favorable conclusion. Now consider replacing The World card with any other card, even a pip card, and you will get an idea of what the charioteer is headed for.
Let's stick with the world card and add The Empress. If we consider that the World represents ultimate manifestation and combine it with the Empress who is a strong protective, motherly, and fertile representation, we have a combination of cards that strongly hints at pregnancy. If we consider the visual clues from the mandala surrounding the center figure, it might further enhance the idea of a birth canal and the process of being born. If The Popess were to appear with The World, the interpretation would be similar, except that it might indicate a secret pregnancy. Any of the four queens might also be interpreted similarly, but the Empress and the Popess really make a strong case for it. It might also make reference to the birth of something of national or international importance, as the cards can have literal as well as metaphorical meaning.
Since this topic seems to be popular with some of my followers, I will continue writing a few more blogs on the topic of card combinations and pairings. It's fun for me too. I will do my best to do a few more this month, so stay tuned. Please follow this blog so you will be alerted whenever I write a new article.