In a previous post I suggested that the order of the Major Arcana is largely irrelevant, but there are still reasons to pay attention, particularly when magicians are involved. While Tarot students are searching for the One True Order and Number of the Major Arcana, magicians are sophisticated in their approach. Tarot students look for clarity while magicians desire ambiguity.
The best way to see this is in the Book of Thoth on page 278, which has a table of the Major cards. The columns of interest are:
- Title and Numbers printed on tarot cards
- Hebrew Letters
- Numerical Value
- Key scale
There is one extra column that is implicit – the order of the cards. As an example let’s take The Fool card. The Fool is the first (implicit) in the sequence, numbered Zero with the attribution of Aleph, numerical value of 1 with the Key Scale of 11. In other words, depending on the situation the Fool is either first, zero, 1 or 11. Those numbers appear elsewhere in the table as I The Magus (1 printed), and XI Lust (11th). It is this ambiguity that allows the likes of Kenneth Grant to play all kinds of number games and play with Gematria, although of course he was foreshadowed in Crowley’s Book of Lies.
The convolutions that can take place are seen in the Adjustment card, which is 9th, numbered 8, with Lamed 30. This connects it to the Hermit card (8) and the Sun 30 on the Key Scale.
When we look at the big picture of this table, there is something striking, for tarot students believe that attributing the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet to the cards is primary, but only the first column is in numerical order – the Numerical Value and Key Sc ales show a rather more random pattern. Although this table is in Crowley’s Book of Thoth, it is derived from Liber 777 used by the Golden Dawn Adepts, including A.E. Waite. As an example, while Crowley transposed the Emperor and the Star card he did not change them in the sequence – it is OK to change the alphabetical attributions but not the order.
Of course, that did not stop the Golden Dawn from transposing Adjustment (Justice) and Lust (Strength), and notice Crowley felt the need for renaming them both.