Secrets of Tarot Numerology: Lesson 1

By Gary Meister, CTM

A person can spend a lifetime studying the Tarot, and still never know all there is to know.   But you don’t have to spend a lifetime before you can start reading the cards for yourself and for your friends and relatives.  You don’t even have to memorize all the meanings in the Little White Book that comes with a new deck of cards.   All you really need to know to get started is one meaning for each card, and know it well.   This series will show you an easy way to do that, with Numerology.  

But, the series isn’t only for beginners.  I didn’t learn this system until I had received two Tarot Master Certificates from two different sources, after nearly 30 years of Tarot study.  And, along with some other systems, I use it to this day.  So, if you are a newcomer to Tarot, this might make your learning curve a little faster.  If you’re a veteran reader, this could be an extra technique to add to your arsenal.

The Subconscious Mind
We all have a level of mind beneath (or some of us say above) our level of consciousness.  It is called the subconscious mind.  Carl Jung, a very well-known psychiatrist and philosopher, and a contemporary of Sigmund Freud, called it the unconscious mind, but there’s nothing un-conscious about it.  
This level of mind doesn’t think, it doesn’t reason, but it remembers everything you have ever said, or done, or seen, or heard, or even thought!  And, it uses those memories to create the life you live.  I talked about the spiritual aspects of this in my last series, but that is not the object of this one.  The reason I bring it up is that, if you really know one or two meanings for each of the Tarot cards, your subconscious mind will turn up the appropriate cards for every reading you do.
Now: the subconscious is your direct contact with your Superconscious Mind, the part of you that has being as an integral part of The Universe, or The Divine, or God, or The Goddess – however you refer to the One Great Power of the Universe. And, the Superconscious is the source of your intuition, which is often strongly in play when you do your readings.
Tarot doesn’t make mistakes!  We might misread a card in a reading, but that’s our fault, not Tarot’s.  That is why it is often better to have only one or two meanings for each card, especially in the beginning.  So, we’ll start off with the few things you have to memorize this time . . .
The Elements
In any Tarot system, it is necessary to learn of the ancient Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  They are the building blocks of the material world.  A fifth, Spirit, relates to the spiritual world, spiritual growth, and the Causal Plane.  So, the Elements to learn, in the context of this system, are:
And here is how they relate in Tarot.  Let’s start with Spirit, since that is the basis of All That Is.  In a reading, the Spirit cards are the Major Arcana (the Higher Secrets).  There are 22 of them, ranging from The Fool, 0, to The World, 21.  (Technically, The Fool stands on its own and is not officially a part of either Arcanum, but I’ve always been in the camp that sees it as part of the Major Arcana.)  These cards, again representing the Element Spirit, almost always will indicate how your circumstances, and the decisions you make, affect you on your spiritual path of life.  We are all here to learn and grow; these cards, when they come up in a reading, reveal how to do that in dealing with what is going on in our life right now.  So – the Element Spirit deals with the spiritual aspect of the question put forth in the reading, and The Major Arcana Cards are the Spirit cards.
The other four Elements are represented in the Minor Arcana (Lesser Secrets).  I’m going to just outline what you need to learn, here; it will be expanded upon as we progress with the lessons.
Earth: Pentacles is the Earth suit.  It has to do with Finances, money and material things: what we all need to continue living on this material world.  It is easy to remember because each card depicts golden coins (money).
Air: The Air suit is Swords.  It represents our thoughts, ideas, and attitudes.  Memory peg: “A sword cuts through the air, like a thought.”  These are important because, “As a man thinketh, so is he.”
Fire: The suit of Wands responds to Fire.  These are usually (in most decks) wooden staffs.  Wood burns = Fire.  This Element has to do with imagination, creativity, and often, intuition: the things that burn within our soul.
Water: Cups is the suit of Water.  It has to do with love, relationships, and the emotions.  Think of the chalices (Cups) as being the heart, and being filled with water or wine = Love.  Here’s a short table:
Major Arcana = Spirit = spiritual growth
Pentacles = Earth = finances, money, material things
Swords = Air = thoughts, ideas, attitudes
Wands = Fire = imagination, creativity, intuition
Water = Cups = love, relationships, the emotions
Now, I’m going to give you a short table of the numbers up to ten with brief meaning attached to them.  If it is convenient for you, memorize them; you have a whole month for that.  I’ll be going into each number in detail as this series progresses.  But, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you memorize the material.
0.         Infinite potential
1.         Action, Beginnings
2.         Cooperation, Coming Together
3.         Creativity, Expansion
4.         Reason, Practicality
5.         Changes, sometimes crises
6.         Peace, Harmony
7.         Success, Learning From One’s Mistakes
8.         Success Through Hard Work
9.         End Of A Cycle Of Life
10.       Completion, Perfection, Endings Leading To New Beginnings
I’ll get to the Court cards and the higher numbers later.
Between now and the next time, here are a few things you can do to get yourself ready:
    1. If you don’t already have one, obtain a deck of Tarot cards.  Choose a deck that you feel comfortable with.  You can get them at a local metaphysical store or go on line to either or or  They have huge  collections of Tarot decks for sale.  I would suggest the Rider/Waite deck or one of its derivatives.  This deck is the best selling deck in the world.   No matter how many decks I get, I always return to this one.  But, the important thing is to get one that you feel good with.
    2. Get and start keeping a Tarot notebook.  Write things down as you learn them.  The writing actually helps cement the knowledge into your conscious and subconscious mind.  As we go along, you can devote a full page to each card.  The notes will pile up when you’ve been reading Tarot for a while.  I’ll give you more about your Tarot notebook later.
    3. Memorize what I’ve given you so far, so you’ll be ready to look at each number in detail starting next time.

I hope you enjoy your Tarot study.  You’ll be reading Tarot cards quicker than you think!  Good Luck!

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008
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