The Minor Arcana and the Tree of Life
Our recent series on Instagram provided ten verses based on a simple description of each Minor Card.
The verses are in order of the Tens to the Aces, each describing the four cards of that number in order of Pentacles, Swords, Cups and Wands.
It ends …
A house, an execution, a bow, a burden;
We reside, we remove, we celebrate, we carry.
A garden, a bed, a display, a guard;
We enjoy, we suffer, we indulge, we protect.
A display, a prison, a decay, a flight;
We labour, we escape, we leave, we move.
A famine, a thief, a vision, a fight;
We starve, we lose, we stare, we stand.
A giving, a voyage, a gift, a parade;
We reward, we go, we remember, we honour.
A poorness, a grief, an argument sustained and an argument postponed;
We struggle, we mourn, we get involved, we get out.
A saving, a rest, a refusal, a party;
We hold, we retreat, we wait, we attend.
A job, a separation, a share, an investment;
We show, we break, we celebrate, we prosper.
A dance, a decision, a proposal, a plan;
We balance, we weigh, we receive and we conceive.
A Coin, a Sword, a Cup, a Wand;
We build (a House), we strike (an execution), we bless (a rainbow), we take up (a burden)
And it starts again.
Here are the cards in order of the verses, starting from the 10 of Pentacles top-left down to the Ace of Wands bottom-right.
We can now use these verses to conduct a quick oracle for any situation or as a year-ahead method – and see a profound spiritual depth in the images through Kabbalah.
Minor Arcana Method
Select out the Forty Minor Arcana and shuffle whilst considering a situation or thinking about the previous year and looking forward to the next year.
Draw THREE cards and take their message together from these verses.
The first card is the past of the situation or the previous year, the second card is what you can do now in the situation or at the turn of the year, and the third card is the future for the situation or the year ahead.
Example: 7 of Swords + Ace of Pentacles + 10 of Pentacles = A thief (we lose) + We build (a house) + A house (we reside).
We can word this as “despite losses in the past due to someone else, you can now build yourself up at home and in the future be confident that you will be secure in your residence”.
However, there is a surprising and deeper structure to these apparently simple statements about what we see on the Minor Arcana, such as a bed or a voyage – and it is found through Kabbalah.
In brief, the numbers of the cards correspond to the “Sephiroth” of the Tree of Life:
In order of our verses:
Tens = Malkuth/Kingdom (activity)
Nines = Yesod/Foundation (the psyche)
Eights = Hod/Glory (the mind)
Sevens = Netzach/Victory (the emotions)
Sixes = Tiphareth/Beauty (awareness)
Fives = Geburah/Strength (organising)
Fours = Chesed/Love (Mercy) (expanding)
Threes = Binah/Understanding (form)
Twos = Chockmah/Wisdom (force)
Aces = Kether/Crown (point)
[There are alternative translations of each of those titles which can also be used in what follows].
Then, each Suit of the Tarot corresponds to a “world” of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah.
In order of our verses:
To use Kabbalah in our readings and also learn the secret of life from this (!) we can simply write down “Creation is …” or “Life is …” and then a sentence made straight from our verses and the corresponding key-words.
If we take the very first part of our first verse, “A house (we reside),” this is 10 of Pentacles which corresponds to 10 = Malkuth (Kingdom) of Pentacles = Assiah (Action).
So we can say, “Creation is … our house where we reside in the kingdom of action”.
This is also “doing, in the world of activity” when we use the optional keywords provided in brackets. The 10 of Pentacles really does mean “do it, get on with it”.
This works for all forty cards, immediately revealing the deep Kabbalah that Pamela Colman Smith intuitively designed into the illustrations.
If we look further up the Tree of Life, for example, “A party (we attend)” is the 4 of Wands.
This is 4 = Chesed (Love) of Wands = Atziluth (Emanation) which gives us the sentence “Creation is … a party we attend in love of emanation”.
You can re-word that a little and see a beautiful statement if you replace emanation by spirit, the divine, god, goddess, etc.
The 4 of Wands is also “expanding, in the world of spirit” if we take the optional keywords!
You can re-word any of the key-words, so long as you keep to the basic source-words. You can also tweak the sentence to a natural grammatical structure.
Example: 5 of Cups = “Life is … A grief we mourn until we find the courage to create”.
These correspondences work even if we put the sentences the other way around; the 8 of Cups becomes “to leave behind decay … is the victory of creation”.
What might that mean in a spiritual sense? As an illustration of a divine pattern written into the universe at a large and a small scale?
These verses can be used to provoke deeper contemplations and prompts for journalling.
You can also use these verses to read reversals … use the opposite words to those given in the verses but the Sephiroth/World words remain the same.
Example: 6 of Swords = “A Voyage (we go) is the beauty of formation” when reversed becomes “Do not go and stay where you are … to experience the beauty of formation (structure).”
In everyday terms, the 6 of Swords reversed then means “stay where you are and enjoy relative stability for a time”.
You are encouraged to play with the revelations these verses reveal in the forty Minor Arcana.
You may start to see that you already have learnt a lot about “Netzach in Atziluth” because you can simply see what is drawn on the 7 of Wands!
You can also draw 2-3 MINOR cards for a situation and put these verses together, forming a powerful chain of Kabbalistic significance.
Example: 7 Cups + 3 Wands + 7 Pentacles
A Vision (we stare) + An Investment (we prosper) + A Famine (we starve)
This really does not look like a positive reading! It warns that following a vision which might lead to investing time or money will result in a catastrophe!
The Sevens in Kabbalah (and particularly well-illustrated as such in the Thoth Tarot) are rather unstable, even if they are full of energy.
At a deeper level in Kabablah we see Victory (7) in the World of Creation (Cups), indicating that the creative urge is extremely strong and driven to manifest this project. We then have Form (3) in the World of Spirit (Wands) giving the project a tension between its highest goals and actually getting it manifest and structured. This is where it will fail. Then we end up with Victory (7) in the World of Action (Pentacles) which in this case means that reality will win over the vision – it will be a hard lesson.
Notice that the ‘victory’ does not mean ‘victory’ for the situation or person – it means victory in the relevant world, in this context that is negative because the deeper urge is a strong creative force or vision which has become attached to a spiritual aspiration. But it is not practical. It is unrealistic, so the real world will win.
For those familiar with Kabbalah, we can also look at the Tree of Life and see those cards both sitting unbalanced in Netzach and hopping up briefly to Binah before dropping right back down under the Veil.
These forty simple statements about what we actually see in the pictures on the Minor cards of the Waite-Smith Tarot reveal the secrets of creation because that is what A. E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith designed and illustrated in the first place from Book T of the Golden Dawn – see Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot.
[From the DRAFT of Tarosophy Squared, by Marcus Katz, forthcoming 2019].