The Decanates Of The Zodiac

and all Sword cards are of the Prince Scale. Pentacles, under the presidency of the World of Assiah, belong to the Princess Scale. To summarize: KING SCALE = Wands, Fire, Atziluth, masculine force. QUEEN SCALE = Cups, Water, Briah, feminine power. PRINCE SCALE = Swords, Air, Yetzirah, masculine force. PRINCESS SCALE = Pentacles, Earth, Assiah, feminine power.

One final note on the Color Scales: The Tree of Life, as it is usually depicted, is described as the Minutum Mundum.(the Small Universe). The Sephiroth are normally shown in the colors of the Queen Scale, while the Paths are in the Scale of the King.


Each Tarot suit has a specific color which describes the elemental nature of that suit. Fire is red, Water is blue, Air is yellow and Earth is black. The Golden Dawn assigns two "flashing colors" to each element. Flashing colors are pigments which the artist knows as complimentary colors, or colors that sit on opposite sides of a color wheel. Two flashing colors juxtaposed will, when stared at, produce an optical effect of switching places with one another. This simple technique is employed by Qabalists as a method of auto-hypnosis to enter different astral and elemental realms. The flashing colors are given thus: Fire—red and green, Water—blue and orange, Air—yellow and violet, Earth—black and white. In each case, the first color given is the "ground" color and the second pigment is the "charge."

The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot deck takes full advantage of these detailed, mystical color systems by incorporating them into the framework of the Minor Arcana. The foreground of each Suit card consistently employs both flashing colors of the specific elemental energy involved. This gives the student an immediate, psychic flash and rapid comprehension of the symbolism at hand. Also in each of the forty small cards, the Color Scale (of one of the Four Worlds) appropriate to the suit (and of the corresponding Sephirah) appears as a background color. Therefore, the reader has immediate, hands-on access to some of the most extensive and difficult teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in the practical, working system of meditation, divination, and magick known as the Tarot.


The other important symbolism inherent to the Minor cards is that of the Decans of the zodiac. The scheme of the Decanates is an age-old astrological system that originated in Egypt, based upon the seven "old" planets of the Ancients, long before the discovery of Neptune, Uranus and Pluto.

The wheel of the zodiac is divided into twelve signs which also represent "houses." A house is a 30 degree section of the total 360 degree zodiac wheel. The First House belongs to Aries (first sign of the zodiac), the Second House to Taurus, the Third to Gemini and so on. There are also 36 Decans or divisions of 10 degrees in the zodiac. Each house therefore has three Decans. Each Decan is ruled by a different planet and is represented as one of the Minor cards of the Tarot, twos through tens. (The four Aces are not given a Decan because in them the symbolism of Kether is the primary influence.) The 36 small cards therefore depict the operation of the ancient planets in the different signs of the zodiac. This astrological information is clearly shown in each of the minor cards.


These sixteen cards again point to the four-fold model of the universe, the Tetragrammaton. They symbolize the Elemental Forces of the Divine Four-lettered Name (Yod-Fire, Heh-Water, Vav-Air and Heh Final-Earth) in each of the Four Qabalistic Worlds. They are shown in some diagrams placed on the Tree of Life in Chokmah, Binah, Tiphareth and Malkuth, but they are not restricted to the Sephiroth as are the small cards. The Royal cards are better described as bordering on these spheres.

These cards embody the characteristics of the elements in the four planes of existence. For instance The King of Wands represents the sub-element Fire of Fire. This means he personifies the Yod-Fire Force in the Atziluthic World of Wands (Fire). The King therefore epitomizes the most active dynamic element in the highest Divine World. In another example, The Princess of Cups alludes to the sub-element Earth of Water. She illustrates the qualities of Heh Final-Earth in the watery World of Briah (Cups). Thus this Princess symbolizes the Creative, Mental World in the stage of manifestation. In divinations the Court cards often represent real persons or events which have a certain personality. They often indicate a human factor which is influential to the question of the reading.

The Royal cards are shown in the same scheme of flashing colors as are the rest of the Minor Arcana. But in addition the pigments of the sub-quarters are depicted; mixed elemental colors which show the influence of the specific element of the card commingled with the particular Qabalistic World with which it is affiliated. Therefore the Princess of Cups (Earth of Water) would be dark blue, the combination of blue and black, the basic "ground" colors of those elements.

This concludes our synopsis of Fundamental Tarot Knowledge. We will now continue by examining each card in depth, looking at specific symbolism and correspondences. In the following three chapters, all the cards are introduced by S.L. MacGregor Mather's description of them given in the original Order documents. A few minor changes will be noted in the New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot deck which differ slightly from Mather's notes. The Major variance is due to the addition of the Color Scales of the Four Worlds. The original manuscript calls for a "white angelic hand" to bear each elemental implement in the forty minor cards. The Ritual deck shows the hand emerging from clouds in the flashing colors of the element particular to the suit. Thus the angelic hand in the suit of Air will be violet, to flash with the "ground" color of yellow, found in the swirling clouds. The documents also described smaller elemental implements at the top and bottom of each Minor card, upon which the astrological and zodiacal symbols were perched. The valuable Decan symbols remain but the small implements seemed to function merely as ornaments and were left out of most cards of the modern Golden Dawn deck for artistic reasons.

If the reader would like more information on the Order documents concerning the Tarot descriptions, we highly recommend obtaining a copy of The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie.

Continue reading here: The Major Arcana

Was this article helpful?

0 0