Numbers in Tarot – How Numerology Unlocks the Cards

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The Tarot draws on numerous spiritual, mythological and archetypal principles – numerology being a crucial one of them. Numbers play a vital role in the understanding and interpretation of each of the 78 cards that make up the full Tarot deck.

When it comes to the Tarot, the numbers on the cards are extremely useful. They do so much more than merely serving an organising function by indicating what order the cards go in. In the Tarot, the numbers are one of the primary symbolic keys a Tarot reader needs to unlock the full spectrum of meaning inherent to each card.

Tarot numerology

The full Tarot deck consists of 78 cards, but the cards are not numbered 1 through 78. Rather than being laid out in a simple linear structure, the Tarot is organised and divided into five suits, each numbered 0-21 (in the case of the Major Arcana suit), and 1-10 (in the case of the four Minor Arcana suits).

The Major Arcana, consisting of 22 cards labelled 0-21, is its own unique suit. The Major Arcana deals with all of the primal energies, forces and life lessons we are all likely to encounter in one form or another, at one time or another.

The Minor Arcana, on the other hand, deals with the everyday energies, events, situations and people we are all surrounded by all of the time. You could say that the Major Arcana paints the bigger picture, while the cards of the Minor Arcana zoom in on the details and the everyday aspects of life.

The Minor Arcana breaks down into four different suits, one for each of the four elements. There is the suit of Wands for fire, the suit of Cups for water, the suit of Swords for air and the suit of Pentacles for earth. Each of the Minor Arcana’s four elemental suits consist of fourteen cards, but only the first ten are numbered (using a linear progression of numbers from 1 through to 10).

The last four cards of each of the suits in the Minor Arcana are unnumbered court cards. In the following, I will be leaving out the court cards. While they, too, are filled with symbols and symbolic references, numerology is not one of them.

But as for the remaining Tarot cards of the deck, the numbers are important.

How to use numerology in Tarot readings

Having an understanding of Tarot numerology is one of the most important keys that a Tarot reader can keep in their tool belt of knowledge about the cards.

Knowing the significance of the numbers in Tarot is absolutely essential as it instantly gives the Tarot reader a lot of information from the cards as soon astray are turned over, before even getting into interpreting any of the individual cards.

Typically, the first thing a Tarot reader is going to do when the cards in a spread are turned over to reveal the image side is to look at the whole picture, and look for patterns – the reader is going to look at the proportion of Minor to Major Arcana cards, the proportions of each of the four elements in the spreads, the ratio of upright cards to reversals, and also the pattern of numbers revealed by the cards.

Let us say, for example, the several cards with the same number have appeared in the Tarot reading. This repeated number indicates to the Tarot reader who is knowledgeable about Tarot numerology that the number in question is highlighted, underscored, of particular importance to the overall meaning of the reading.

Numbers and their meanings in the Minor Arcana Tarot cards

The Tarot numerology numbers appearing in the Minor Arcana cards are all of the numbers from 1 through to ten. Each of these numbers holds a unique frequency and meaning. Here is an overview of the ten numbered cards found in each of the Minor Arcana’s four suits and their numerological meaning.

1 – The Aces

The Minor Arcana’s four aces are each labelled with the number 1. Knowing the numerological meaning of the 1 numbers in Tarot is

Numerologically, the number one signifies new beginnings, new chapters, new ideas, freshness, newness, inspiration and conception.

The four Tarot aces represent their ruling element in its purest, most potent and powerful form.

When one of the four Ace Tarot cards comes up in a reading, the Tarot reader looks at both the number, the element that the card belongs to, and the specific details and symbols depicted in the card. For example, if the Ace of Pentacles comes up, it indicates a new job, a new business venture, potentially a new home. The surrounding cards are going to provide more context and deepen the meaning of the card.

2 – The Twos

Following on from the four aces are the four Minor Arcana cards labelled with the number two. The numerological significance of the number two is key to how these minor cards are interpreted.

According to numerology, the number two stands for balance, harmony, foundations, teamwork, diplomacy, cooperation, collaboration, mutual support and nurturing.

One of the Tarot twos often appears when the querent has recently started a new chapter, a new relationship, a new job or otherwise embarked on a new direction. The energy of the number two is all about beginning to lay a foundation and figure out what the potential is in a new situation. The four Minor Arcana twos all indicate a sense of harmony and a positive outlook.

The Threes

The threes follow the twos.

In numerology, the number three stands for creativity, playfulness, collaboration, experimentation, exploration, curiosity, expansion and adventure.

The Tarot card meanings of the Tarot threes include playful and curious exploration and expansion beyond the safe and stable beginnings indicated by the twos.

The Fours

After the threes come the fours.

According to numerology, the number four signifies stability, solidity, reliability, safety and security, predictability and patience.

When you read Tarot cards and any of the Tarot fours come up, it reveals something about the querent’s boundaries and sense of security and stability. For example, the Four of Pentacles may come up as an indication the the querent is struggling to move beyond their comfort zone in order to tape into more of their potential, while the Four of Cups can indicate that the querent is struggling with resistance and is having a hard time pushing through their sense of complacency.

The Fives

The fives come after the fours.

In numerology, the number five stands for competition, conflict, instability and transformation.

When one of the Tarot fives appears in a Tarot reading, it reveals that there is conflict and tension in the querent’s life. The card’s element and the surrounding Tarot cards in the spread are going to reveal the nature of this tension as well as possible causes and solutions.

The Sixes

The sixes follow the fives.

The number six, according to numerology, indicates homecoming, longing, nurturing, healing and generosity.

The Tarot sixes represent a desire for change and healing, whether this desire takes the form of nostalgic longing for the past, as indicated in the Six of Cups, or embarking on a personal journey of transformation, as indicated by the Six of Swords.

The Sevens

After the sixes come the sevens.

According to numerology, the number seven stands for options, decision-making, perseverance.

When you read Tarot cards and one of the Tarot sevens comes up, it signifies that there is tension and uncertainty in the quernent’s life. The sevens in Tarot indicate that the querent may be finding themselves at a crossroads where difficult decisions have to be made, or they may have more options in front of them than they can handle.

The Eights

Following the sevens come the eight.

In numerology, the number eight indicates abundance, transmutation, personal power, harvest.

The Tarot card meanings of the Tarot eights all have to do with striving for, or enjoying abundance and freedom as a result of personal efforts. The number eight is overflowing with energy and indicates fertile potential.

The eights in Tarot suggest that it is up to the querent themselves whether they manage to make the most of their inherent potential, as the case is in the Eight of Pentacles, or whether they end up struggling to break through inner limitations, as we see in the Eight of Swords.

The Nines

After the eight we have the nines.

The number 9 is the last single number and its shape is said to contain all of the previous numbers within it. The number nine represents a liminal space, a portal, a bridge between states of being, or between higher and lower forms of existence. In numerology, the number 9 stands for transcendence, transformation, boundary-breaking, personal evolution.

The nines in Tarot all indicate a cycle that is nearing its completion. The element and details of the specific Tarot card indicates whether the querent is nearing completion in terms of success or utter exhaustion. The nines indicate that the querent is in the final sprint to the finish line – the goal is within view, but the querent’s resolve or energy may be on the verge of dying out.

The Tens

Finally, we have the four tens.

The number ten is the first double-digit numerology number, and it represents endings and beginnings at once, the completion of a cycle and the commencement of a new beginning.

The tens in Tarot indicate that the querent has come full circle – for better for for worse.

Numbers and their meanings in the Major Arcana Tarot cards

Having gone through the Tarot numerology as it applies to the Mino cards, it should be clear that having an understanding of the numerological meaning at play in the cards is a vital and extremely helpful key to unlocking the meaning of each Tarot card.

Like the cards of the Minor Arcana, the Major Arcana cards also becomes easier when you know the numerological aspect of the cards. Here is a rundown of the numerology meaning of each Major Tarot card.

0 – The Fool

The Fool is the first card of the Major Arcana and is labelled with the number 0.

According to numerology, the number 0 represent the initial void before anything takes place. It is a blank page, waiting to be written in. The Fool represents the state of pure potential, the very beginning of the journey of life.

I – The Magician

The second card of the Major Arcana is given the number 1, and it also signifies new beginnings.

But unlike the unskilled, untrained, inexperienced Fool, the Magician is getting to grips with the four elements. He is learning how to master the world around him, rather than just leaping forth into it, as the Fool does.

II – The High Priestess

The third Major Tarot card is the High Priestess.

She represents intuition and the hidden knowledge of the inner worlds. Together, she and the Magician symbolise the balance of the inner and outer selves.

III – The Empress

The fourth trump card of the Major Arcana is titled the Empress and bears the Roman numeral meaning three.

The Empress represents nurturing, growth and famine power.

IV – The Emperor

The Emperor is given the number four, and indeed, he represents stability, structure and command.

V – The Hierophant

The Hierophant is given the number five. He forms a bridge between the generations, between different levels of consciousness.

VI – The Lovers

The Lovers are given the number 6, and again the numerology meaning of the number applies. The two lovers in the card are about to be forever changed through the choices they are making.

VII – The Chariot

The Chariot is given the number 7, and it depicts a warrior returning home after defending his values on the battlefield. He has successfully conquered conflict, at least for the time being.

VIII – Justice (or Strength)

The eight Major Arcana card is Justice (or Strength, in some Tarot decks). Justice is all about balance, and reaping what you sow.

IX – The Hermit

The Hermit, given the number 9, is following his intuition higher and higher up the mountain towards enlightenment. Like the number 9, he carries the knowledge of all of the other numbers within.

X – The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of fortune, labelled with the number 10, represents a portal of opportunity and possibility, a moment where anything seems, and is, possible.

The number 10 are the numbers 1 and 0 combined. One cycle has reached its completion, but another is beginning.

XI – Strength (or Justice)

Strength (or Justice, in some Tarot decks) bears the number 11, the first double digit. The number 1 is repeated twice, underscoring new beginnings, personal power and forward movement are indicated here.

XII – The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man Tarot card combines the energies of 1 and 2. There is an impetus for movement, but things are at a stable impasse.

XIII – Death

Death is the numbers 1 and 3 combined, and indicates an expansion past known boundaries into a new cycle.

XIV – Temperance

Temperance combines 1 and 4. There is stability and patience, but also invention and motion.

XV – The Devil

The Devil is summed up by the energies of 1 and 5. Personal power and forward momentum tempered with a powerful opposing force.

XVI – The Tower

The Tower combines the numbers 1 and 6. A comforting illusion is breaking down, and rapid personal transformation is being imposed by the universe.

XVII – The Star

The Star Major Arcana Tarot card combines the energies of 1 and 7. Powerful energies are being transmuted and channeled here.

XVIII – The Moon

The Moon draws on the energies of the numbers 1 and 8. The inner moon land throws up personal fears, shadows and boundaries, but there is a desire to persevere.

XIX – The Sun

The Sun combines the numbers 1 and 9, indicating inner strength and forward momentum, as well as a pathway to higher consciousness.

XX – Judgement

Judgement bears the Roman numeral for 20, combining 2 with 0. Like the Judgement card, the number 2 is all about balance and fairness, while the number 0 indicates both completion and pure potential.

XXI – The World

Last but not least, the World Tarot card is given the number 21. It is the final completion, indicating successful completion, wisdom, mastery, and a portal between different chapters.

Lucius Nothing

Lucius has been slinging tarot cards professionally since 2014. He’s taken the tarot to places most wouldn’t think of: His best-known patrons include Torture Garden, The Dark Circus Party, Handel & Hendrix, A Curious Invitation and The Candlelight Club, where he has been resident tarot reader for the past half-decade. His writing on divination, magic and creativity has been published in Sabbat Magazine and on Medium.

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