Fooling with the Deck: The Sequence of the Cards for Study


(The Fool in the Minchiate deck. A cousin to the Tarot with additional trump cards.)

The following article gives instructions on the sequence of cards covered for this free, self-study tarot series, “Fooling with the Deck”, by Christopher Lee Matthews of Enter the Earth.

Where does the symbolism of the Tarot cards come from?

Most of the meanings attributed to the tarot today are derived from:

1:  The symbolism of individual cards.

2:  Numerology.

3:  Historical correspondences, especially those used by 19th century authors. During this period, specific cards were connected to different elements, numbers, and planets.

One way to study the tarot is to organize the cards by these traditional associations, especially number.  Rather than advocating for a particular model, this reveals the inherited structure that lies just beneath our modern understanding.

Why group together the numerically related trump cards?

Cards have taken on the symbolism of the particular numbers attributed to them. For example, the High Priestess is typically represented today as a robed woman, seated before a veiled temple door, with the crescent moon at her feet.  This name and imagery associates it with feminine wisdom, spiritual mysteries, and things just beneath the surface like intuition, instincts, and the subconscious.

Some of these traits are also reflected in the number two, attributed to the High Priestess.  It symbolizes cycles of change, decision making, and balancing duality.  Similar themes are seen in the number 2 pip cards of each suit and other trumps related to 2 numerologically.

Numerology focuses primarily on numbers between 1-9 or 1-10. Anything higher may be broken down into something smaller.  For example, many believe the High Priestess has a relationship with Justice, connected to 11, and Judgement, connected to 20, because these numbers can be further reduced to 2 numerologically:

11 = 1 + 1 = 2
20 = 2 + 0 = 2

Because number symbolism is so key to understanding both contemporary and historic models of the tarot, I have grouped the cards together by their numbers.  For example:



NUMERICALLY RELATED TRUMP: TWO: Justice (11 = 1 + 1 = 2)
NUMERICALLY RELATED TRUMP: TWO: Judgement (20 = 2 + 0 = 2)

Why group together the numerically related pip cards?

19th century authors linked each suit with one of the four classical elements. The most popular model was:

Wands = Fire
Cups = Water
Swords = Air
Coins = Earth

They also linked the numbers 3-9 with one of the seven classical planets:

3 = Saturn
4 = Jupiter
5 = Mars
6 = Sun
7 = Venus
8 = Mercury
9 = Moon

The pip cards were understood as a union of these two sets of symbols.  Cards were given meanings based on their status as a harmonious or dissonant combination of the element and planet.  For example, the 6 of Cups = Sun (6) + Water (Cups). It signifies things like childhood, memories, and generosity. It was considered a harmonious blend of the Sun (consciousness, vitality, and the “masculine”) + water (emotions, the unconscious, and intuition).

All the 6’s are stereotypically positive cards because of their association with the Sun.

On the other hand, the 5 of Cups = Mars (5) + Water (Cups) signifies things like emotional loss, agitated feelings, and focusing on lack rather than available resources. It was considered a dissonant blend of Mars (movement, aggression, and the “masculine”) + water (emotions, the unconscious, and intuition).

All the 5’s are considered more challenging cards because of their association with Mars.

Although the foundation of these 19th century theories is rejected my mainstream scholarship, the tarot having an Egyptian origin, being preserved by Jewish Kabbalah, and hidden in plain sight as a card game, it continues to shape our divinatory understanding of the cards today.

How are the cards being organized?

Week 1: ZERO: Fool

Week 2: ONE: Magician
Week 3: ONE: Ace of Wands
Week 4: ONE: Ace of Cups
Week 5: ONE: Ace of Swords
Week 6: ONE: Ace of Coins

Week 7: TWO: High Priestess
Week 8: TWO: Two of Wands
Week 9: TWO: Two of Cups
Week 10: TWO: Two of Swords
Week 11: TWO: Two of Coins
Week 12: TWO: Justice (11 = 1 + 1 = 2)
Week 13: TWO: Judgement (20 = 2 + 0 = 2)

Week 14: THREE: Empress
Week 15: THREE: Three of Wands
Week 16: THREE: Three of Cups
Week 17: THREE: Three of Swords
Week 18: THREE: Three of Coins
Week 19: THREE: Hanged Man (12 = 1+2 = 3)
Week 20: THREE: World (21 = 2 + 1= 3)

Week 21: FOUR: Emperor
Week 22: FOUR: Four of Wands
Week 23: FOUR: Four of Cups
Week 24: FOUR: Four of Swords
Week 25: FOUR: Four of Coins
Week 26: FOUR: Death (13= 1 + 3 = 4)

Week 27: FIVE: Hierophant
Week 28: FIVE: Five of Wands
Week 29: FIVE: Five of Cups
Week 30: FIVE: Five of Swords
Week 31: FIVE: Five of Coins
Week 32: FIVE: Temperance (14 = 1 + 4 = 5)

Week 33: SIX: Lovers
Week 34: SIX: Six of Wands
Week 35: SIX: Six of Cups
Week 36: SIX: Six of Swords
Week 37: SIX: Six of Coins
Week 38: SIX: Devil (15 = 1 + 5 = 6)

Week 39: SEVEN: Chariot
Week 40: SEVEN: Seven of Wands
Week 41: SEVEN: Seven of Cups
Week 42: SEVEN: Seven of Swords
Week 43: SEVEN: Seven of Coins
Week 44: SEVEN: Tower (16 = 1 + 6 = 7)

Week 45: EIGHT: Strength
Week 46: EIGHT: Eight of Wands
Week 47: EIGHT: Eight of Cups
Week 48: EIGHT: Eight of Swords
Week 49: EIGHT: Eight of Coins
Week 50: EIGHT: Star (17 = 1 + 7 = 8)

Week 51: NINE: Hermit
Week 52: NINE: Nine of Wands
Week 53: NINE: Nine of Cups
Week 54: NINE: Nine of Swords
Week 55: NINE: Nine of Coins
Week 56: NINE: Moon (18 = 1 + 8 = 9)

Week 57: TEN: Wheel of Fortune
Week 58: TEN: Ten of Wands
Week 59: TEN: Ten of Cups
Week 60: TEN: Ten of Swords
Week 61: TEN: Ten of Coins
Week 62: TEN: Sun (19 = 1 + 9 = 10)

Week 63: WANDS: Page of Wands
Week 64: WANDS: Knight of Wands
Week 65: WANDS: Queen of Wands
Week 66: WANDS: King of Wands

Week 67: CUPS: Page of Cups
Week 68: CUPS: Knight of Cups
Week 69: CUPS: Queen of Cups
Week 70: CUPS: King of Cups

Week 71: SWORDS: Page of Swords
Week 72: SWORDS: Knight of Swords
Week 73: SWORDS: Queen of Swords
Week 74: SWORDS: King of Swords

Week 75: COINS: Page of Coins
Week 76: COINS: Knight of Coins
Week 77: COINS: Queen of Coins
Week 78: COINS: King of Coins

Copyright 2015, Christopher Lee Matthews

One thought on “Fooling with the Deck: The Sequence of the Cards for Study”

Leave a Reply