The Fool card

An Alternative Order for the Majors

One of the most interesting tarot things I’ve learned in the last month is how the majors were not originally numbered.

(That link includes the typical list, 22 cards numbered from 0-21.)

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In her book Tarot 101, Kim Huggens suggests an exercise where you re-order of the majors according to a story structure

The commonly suggested “story” of The Fool’s Journey has never worked for me as much of a story, so I loved the idea.

I took this on because she suggested a form of The Hero’s Journey – something I already have familiarity with – so it felt like a solid foundation to build on.

That link is to a version of the Hero’s Journey I wrote about some years ago. If you like to write fiction you’ll find a whole new rabbit hole to explore in that series.

What I’ve laid out here is the order I came up with based on the way I see the majors and how they line up with the pattern (Departure, Initiation, Return) as Huggens laid it out in her book.

Departure

1. Call to Adventure

image: sphynx leans on a wheel from behind, holing a up a sword in one hand
from This Might Hurt Tarot

Wheel of Fortune. The randomness of fate – often proving to be not-random (destiny).

I love the sphinx in this card for this position, and she’s surrounded by the elements: Earth, air, fire and water. You know from go this isn’t a game, and everything is involved, whether for you or against you.

2. Refusal of the Call

Image: Hermit Card
from Tarot of the Hidden Realm

The Hermit. No desire to engage. Alternatively, the hero might already be fully engaged in their current/inner world and aren’t responsive to or motivated by the call when it first appears.

After all, how many of us would respond to an outrageous demand from a stranger.

And these demands almost always seem outrageous…

3. Supernatural Aid

image: magician card
from Spellcasters Tarot

The Magician. Here we add to that story all the raw material (resources) and power.

This is the point where the hero is convinced that what needs to happen is mathematically possible: those elements mentioned in The Call? Here with the magician we see the physical representation of each of them as tools: The wand for fire, sword for air, cup for water and the pentacle for earth.

4. Crossing the First Threshold

The Fool card
from Vivid Journey Tarot

This is the fight our protagonist has to be able to enter the arena. The big change embraced, even as they don’t fully know all they’re saying yes to. Of course I saw The Fool.

I love how she’s got her little knapsack and her dog. She doesn’t have to have everything figured out before she starts, but she doesn’t have to be alone or empty-handed, either.

5. The Belly of the Whale

The Empress card
from Shadowscapes Tarot

The worst so-far – and we’re not all that far in yet. This is a form of rebirth through a death-like experience. The Empress: the power of life and death, tied up in nurture (or the withholding of it).

This is sometimes where our hero realized the stakes – how much there is to lose, which restated can also be a reminder of how much there is to fight for. Read more

Images and links for the Untangling Tarot interview on Poema podcast

Images and links for the Untangling Tarot interview on Poema podcast

Hi everyone, my first podcast interview went live today.

Because I name-drop, and because tarot is so visually intensive, I wanted to offer this post as a sort of “listener’s guide” for people who want to explore further the specifics I reference in our conversation.

You can find the Poema Podcast (hosted by James Prescott) pretty much anywhere you get your podcast, but here’s one link: Season 6, ep. 7.

Read more

Major Arcana – the fifth suit

The Fool from Tarot of the Magical Forest

These are the archetypal and original storytelling cards of the tarot.

The oldest majors have people (or humanoid) forms, even if the rest of the deck – the minors – look like the playing cards they correlate to (a repetition of the number of items listed on the card).

These 22 cards, numbered 0-21, are among the most iconic images of the tarot, including the Fool, the Magician, the Devil, the Tower and the Moon.

The Major Arcana (majors) are to the Minor Arcana (minors) as a lion is to a lynx. They both hold power, but the former are bigger and have more (cultural, story-based) associations. particularly in the Western world (starting in Europe) where they were developed.

Side note (credit to The Queer Witch Podcast where this math was first pointed out for me): Our “modern” deck did not devolve from the tarot – losing a face card and the majors along the way. A couple easily accessible sources point out where playing cards entered the historical record, and it was long before the tarot.

It’s one useful reason to call the majors the 5th suit, because its a reminder of the order.

Also, considering the early tarot examples are all European, and cards were imported before that could happen… It was an example of my own short-sightedness that I rolled with the first stories I heard about tarot coming first.

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The majors, like the minors, are usually taught in a specific order: 0-21. Read more