As I've mentioned in my previous blog entries, my first deck of tarot was the 1JJSwiss deck which is a TdM fashioned deck. The Major Arcana is illustrated with pictures, but the pip cards are not. In 1976 I was unable to find a book for the 1JJSwiss deck, and so the best I could do was to get a book on the RWS deck. (That is discussed at length in another of my articles titled, 'Reversal of Fortune.') Eventually, I did find books on TdM styled cards. As it turns out, the only books available at that time on TdM styled cards, only addressed the Major Arcana and pretty much ignored the pips.
That meant I was pretty much on my own for figuring out how to assign meanings to the unillustrated but decorative pips. What I was reading at that time indicated that most readers read from the Major Arcana only. But I wanted to read from the whole deck. (I could serve you a line of BS and say that the pips spoke to me and I got my understanding directly from them, but that would be a crock of hooey to make myself look amazing. Learning and teaching are about truth.)
That's when numerology became a keen interest in my studies and I took my cues from the Major Arcana.
The photo above helps to illustrate what I mean. I have chosen the 7 of Wands for discussion because that was the card I pulled this morning for my Instagram Card of the Day @thetarotreader. Anyone who follows my feed there might be interested to see how I came to my conclusion for the meaning of that card.
Even as a neophyte, I knew that each suit had meaning and I equated the Batons or Wands with ambition and creative energy. I focused on the 7's of the Major Arcana and by that, I mean the cards that added to 7. This included The Chariot as well as The Tower.
My key words for The Chariot were words like; control, and mastery. My keywords for The Tower were words like confusion and vanity. (I always equated The Tower with the Tower of Babel.) Along with the meaning of the suit of batons/wands I came up with my meaning for the 7 of Batons which was: Keep control by not succumbing to vanity; Ambition and creative energy is mastered by objectivity. I bought the RWS deck about a year later and the card that defined the corresponding 7 of Wands had an image of a fellow defending himself in some type of confrontation. It was a little bit of a different meaning than what I had assigned the corresponding card of the TdM style, but that didn't bother me because I thought of the decks as speaking a slightly different dialect of the same language. In a sense, the RWS card does show someone engaged in defending their position and maintaining control. Following the numbers led me to meanings that were not so different from the more popular (in the States) RWS imagery. (Follow the numbers!)
I learned that the fifty-two cards were tied to the weekly cycle of the year, the suits with the seasons, and the twelve court cards attributed with astrological and monthly cycles. The magic was in the numbers.
In later years, as I began to amass more decks of tarot cards I learned that each new image of each new deck (even if it was an RWS clone) brought something new to the table and each card could be read with my already existing understanding of the cards coupled with what each new image brought to the table.
I hope this has been of interest to you and helpful. Please do comment if you are so inclined, and I'd be delighted if you'd visit my fledgling fb page titled Tarot Anonymous.
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