Tarot and the Tree of Life

Hermetic Qabalists see the cards of the tarot as keys to the Tree of Life. The 22 cards including the twenty-one Trumps plus the Fool or Zero card are often called the “Major Arcana” or “Greater Mysteries” and are seen as corresponding to the twenty-two Hebrew letters and the twenty-two paths of the Tree; the ace to ten in each suit correspond to the ten Sephiroth in the four Qabalistic worlds; and the sixteen court cards relate to the classical elements in the four worlds. While the sephiroth describe the nature of divinity, the paths between them describe ways of knowing God.  (From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermetic_Qabalah)

Tarot Card Positions in the Ten Sephiroth

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

1. Kether

The Crown: the first and highest sephira of the Tree of Life: the primum mobile. In tarot, Kether is the home of the small-card aces.

2. Chokmah

Wisdom: The second sephira of the Tree of Life: the sphere of the zodiac. Chokmah is also the sephirotic home to the All-Father, the Beast, and Hadit. In tarot, Chokmah is the home of the four court-cards Knights and the small-card twos.

Knight: In the Thoth Tarot, the Knight is the primary male figure of the court cards. He is the Yod of the Tetragrammaton and represents aspects of God the Father. He is husband of the Queen and father of the Prince and Princess. (In most traditional decks he is called the King.) He is the fiery aspect of his suit and is shown seated on a horse.

3. Binah

Understanding: The third sephira of the Tree of Life: the sphere of Saturn. Binah is also the sephirotic home to the great mother, Babalon, and Nuit. In tarot, it is the home of the four court-card Queens, and the small-card threes.

Queen: In the Thoth Tarot, the Queen is the primary female figure of the court cards. She is the first of the Tetragrammaton and represents aspects of God the Mother. She is the wife of the Knight and mother of the Prince and Princess. She is the watery aspect of her suit and is shown enthroned.

4. Chesed

Mercy: The fourth sephira on the Tree of Life, the sphere of Jupiter. As the first sephira below the Abyss, Chesed is the highest manifestation of the universe in actuality (the supernal triad above it being the inscrutable and unmanifest ideal). Consequently, Chesed is the perfect environment for the Demiurge (Demiourgos), the creator god who, because it seemingly created the universe, mistakenly thinks and acts as if it were the supreme being. Because it is not really the supreme being, the Demiurge has a real blind spot concerning its omnipotence, and, like a spoiled child, is constantly trying to prove its divinity. This leaves us with a creator who is violently insecure and paranoid. The jealous and psychotic behaviour of the mythological composite gods associated with Chesed — Zeus/Jupiter/Jove/Jehovah — are frightfully consistent with this syndrome. In tarot, Chesed is the home of the small-card fours.

5. Geburah

Severity: The fifth sephira of the Tree of Life: the sphere of Mars. In tarot, Geburah is home to the small-card fives.

6. Tiphareth

Beauty: The sixth sephira on the Tree of Life: the sphere of the Sun. In tarot, Tiphareth is the home of the court-card Princes and the small-card sixes.

Prince: In the Thoth Tarot. the Prince is the secondary male figure of the court cards. He is the Vau of the Tetragrammaton and represents aspects of God the Son and the Holy Guardian Angel of each human being. He is the son of the Knight and Queen and brother/lover (and in certain ways, the father) of the Princess. In some traditional decks, he is called the Knight. He is the airy aspect of his suit and is shown standing in a chariot.

7. Netzach

Victory: The seventh sephira on the Tree of Life; the sphere of Venus. In tarot, Netzach is home to the small-card sevens.

8. Hod

Splendor: The eighth sephira of the Tree of Life; the sphere of Mercury. In tarot, Hod is home to the small-card eights.

9. Yesod

Foundation: The ninth sephira on the Tree of Life; the sphere of the Moon. In tarot, Yesod is the home of the small-card nines.

10. Malkuth

Kingdom: The tenth and lowest sephira of the Tree of Life; the sphere of the Earth and material existence. In tarot the home of the court-card Princesses, and the small-card tens.

Princess: In the Thoth Tarot, the Princess is the secondary female figure of the court cards. In some traditional decks, she is called the Page. She is the final  of the Tetragrammaton and represents aspects of the unredeemed soul of each of us. She is the daughter of the Knight and Queen and sister/lover of the Prince. (In certain ways she is also viewed as the daughter of the Prince.) She is the earthy aspect of her suit and is shown standing. In the Western Mysteries, the quest for spiritual liberation is characterized in the story of a sleeping Princess (each of us) who is awakened by a Prince (our Holy Guardian Angel), who marries the Princess and makes her Queen (God the Mother), which at the same time makes him the King (God the Father). Unlike the Knight, Queen, and Prince, the Princess does not rule a 30 degree period of the year. Instead, she is considered the throne of the aces and rules, with her ace, one quarter of the surface of the Earth.

(Information in 1. to 10. is from the Glossary of Thelemic and Tarot Terms in Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot, by Lon Milo DuQuette)

Another diagram below showing the positions of the tarot cards on the Tree Of Life (from the Dark Moon group FB forum).

tarot-tolThe Three Pillars

Another version (see below right) of the diagram further below was posted on the Dark Moon FB forum with the info…

pillars-tol-1This diagram shows how the tree fits in with the elements. Air is the middle pillar which also includes earth. Hopefully you will start to see the syncronicity of why we are studying the element of air as the swords in tarot from a Kabbalah perspective.

…but I wanted a pretty one, so I made my own. 🙂 Now, I just have to figure out the significance of it all …that’s the hard part. 😐

pillars-tol

 

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