The Minor Cards

The Aces relate to the Primordial Elements found in Kether, and the very root of the inn*. As Crowley stated, "The point to remember is that, both in their appearance and in their meaning, the Aces are not the elements themselves but the seeds of those elements." When the Tree of Life is projected into a solid sphere, they are placed at the North Pole, above the Princesses, which are called the "Thrones" of the Aces. The Golden Dawn taught that the Aces govern the revolution of the Universe, and act as a link between Yetzirah, the Formative World, and our material plane.

Casual readers of the original Golden Dawn documents on Tarot may be confused by the order in which the cards, numbered two through ten, are presented. Unlike other systems, which describe these cards in a simple numerical sequence, the Golden Dawn described them in terms of the Decans of the Zodiac. This was an astrological scheme developed by Ptolemy in ancient Egypt.

The Zodiac, a flat disc (360°), is divided into 36 sections of 10° each. Thus, each of the twelve houses of the Zodiac has three Decans, and each Decan is a minor card of the Tarot. These same divisions are days of the year, so that each individual may be assigned one of the Minor cards on the basis of birth data.

The primary symbolism of the Zodiac is of Houses, and Planets. The Houses are simply 30° divisions of the Zodiac, each of which has one of the twelve Signs naturally attached to it (Fig. 13). Aries is the first House, Taurus the second House, Gemini the third, etc. So, each Sign has three Decans, each ruled by a different planet. The activity of a Planet in a Sign is so specific as to be illustrated as a Tarot card.













¿s 7 1


Figure 13. The Signs of the Zodiac in the Twelve Houses


Figure 13. The Signs of the Zodiac in the Twelve Houses

Another confusing element is that the Decans begin, not with the first Sign, Aries, but with Leo. The first degree of Leo related to the star Regulus, sometimes called Cor Leonis ("The Royal King Star of the Heart of the Lion"). The Golden Dawn taught that the commencement of the Zodiac at 0° Aries was arbitrary, and returned to the very ancient system where the Zodiac begins at 0° Leo. Thus, the first of the Decans is the FIVE OF WANDS, a dynamic, fiery card.

Moreover, the system of only seven Planets (referred to as the "Old Planets") was developed before the discovery of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto, and considered the Moon, itself, a Planet. This latter idea may be dismissed as representing the ignorance of ancient science. But in terms of the profound and subtle influence exerted by the Moon on our Earth, it is an appropriate description. Planets are attributed to the Decans in a sequence repeated five times: 1) Mars, 2) The Sun, 3) Venus, 4) Mercury, 5) The Moon, 6) Saturn, 7) Jupiter. Yet there is one difficulty. To quote from the Book T: "There being only 36 Decanates and only seven Planets, it follows that one of the latter must rule over one more decanate than the others. This is the Planet Mars which is allotted the last Decan of Pisces and first of Aries, because the long cold of the winter requires a great energy to overcome it and initiate spring." Figure 14 shows the Minor cards as they relate to these astrological configurations.

Tarot Kabbalah

Figure 14. The Decans, subdivisions of the Signs of the Zodiac. Outermost ring: the small cards of the Tarot applied to the Decans; Intermediate ring: Planets applied to the Decans, rulership of the small cards, cf MARS ® SUN 9 VENUS $ MERCURY )> MOON h SATURN 2J. JUPITER

Figure 14. The Decans, subdivisions of the Signs of the Zodiac. Outermost ring: the small cards of the Tarot applied to the Decans; Intermediate ring: Planets applied to the Decans, rulership of the small cards,

The Minor cards carry two interchangeable sets of symbolism. They represent Planets in the Signs of the Zodiac; they also represent aspects of individual Sephiroth in the Four Worlds.

To each Minor Card and Decan is attributed a pair of angels, one of whom rules the day and the other the night. So each card represents a duality. Here again we return to the idea that the cards are rooted in Yetzirah, the world of Angels, as opposed to the Archangels of Briah or the Gods of Atziluth. The cards are Astral images, illustrating the world of matter below, and symbolically reflecting the worlds of mind and spirit above. For example, the TWO OF WANDS relates to Chokmah in Atziluth, as does the KING OF WANDS. But neither card is precisely the same as the Chokmah in Atziluth upon which one calls with the God Name Ja. The TWO OF WANDS may be said to represent the effect in Yetzirah of the power of Chokmah in Atziluth, as the KING OF WANDS personifies the action of Fire of Fire in Yetzirah. Yetzirah is the Formative World through which higher principles pass down into our lives. It is a world of images reflected from above and below, which explains why the Tarot works so well for divination.

No doubt many will be completely lost at this point. But the Qabalah involves a necessarily complex shuffling of words. The more deeply one goes into the definitions, sub-definitions, super-definitions, pluperfect and platitu-

dinal definitions, the more one is touching on areas where no words can apply. The very effort to find meaning in this maze of ideas is important because it is an expression of commitment. The greatest protection of the Mysteries today, the methods of which have been published openly, is that the early intellectual and meditational exercises are inordinately boring. Few will ever be so serious about the Qabalah as to wade devotedly through its sea of convoluted words. Most will give up quickly, a point thrown here as a gauntlet for those who enjoy real challenges.

Having said this, a further complication will be added, which is the fact that each of the forty Sephiroth of the Four Worlds contains a complete Tree of Life of its own, so that there are actually four hundred Sephiroth in all.

Finally, relative to the Minor Cards, it should be understood that the two angels of each numbered card are specific to that card, and the administration of its specific energies. If one were to skry with one of these cards, which is perfectly legitimate, one would first invoke the protection and guidance of the God and Archangel of the related Sephira, then the Angels.

Continue reading here: The Four Aces

Was this article helpful?

+4 0


  • juuso reho
    What does royal star of taurus meaning in kabbalah?
    10 years ago
  • maura
    What archangel does king of wands meaning?
    11 years ago
  • bellina genovesi
    What planets related to card 2 wands?
    11 years ago
  • dieter
    Where can I find pictures of the zodiac divided into decanates?
    11 years ago
  • Oliwia
    What tarot cards relate to planets?
    11 years ago