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The Tarot Garden Library

About the Author

Josephine Mori is the co-author of Tarot of the Sephiroth; Guide to Tarot of the Sephiroth.

Tarot / Qabalah Connection: Tree of Life Exercise
by Josephine Mori

The Qabalah's Tree of Life diagram maps the creation process. Tarot portrays it. Together, they offer a unique method of engaging it through contemplation, divination and meditation. Different tarot cards resonate with different "branches," called sephiroth (singularly, sephira) of the Tree. Each "branch" or sephira expresses a stage in the creation process, whether on human or cosmic scale. There are ten sephiroth, demonstrated by the 1-to-10 Tarot Minors; and 22 connecting arteries, demonstrated by the 22 tarot Majors.

For example, the second sephira is termed Wisdom. All the tarot 2s have a special resonance with Wisdom as reflected in their individual suits: the 2 of swords, wisdom of the mind; the 2 of cups, wisdom of the heart; the 2 of wands, wisdom of the spirit; the 2 of disks, wisdom of the body (in the sense of physical matter or tangible resources). This principal is expressed more subtly in cards such as Tarot Major II (The High Priestess), and by numerological reduction, Tarot Major XI (Justice). To illustrate further, one of the most common attributions of the 2 of swords is "Peace." Is Peace not the hallmark of the wise mind? The wisdom aspects of The High Priestess and Justice are self-evident in tarot lore, if perhaps less so in popular culture.

As stated, the stages of the creation process are represented by the Tarot Minors. The arteries that connect them, enhancing the Tree's dynamism and inner dialogue, are represented by the Tarot Majors. In all lifeforms, but particularly in the human world, the Tarot Majors express evolutionary states and their signature energies. Continuing with our example, let us look at the Tarot Majors that adjoin Sephira 2,Wisdom. According to the most widely prevalent depiction, these are: 0/XXII - The Fool; III - The Empress; IV - The Emperor; and V - The Hierophant. Consider how these Tarot Majors relate to Wisdom. Certainly, The Fool, as an avatar of cosmology's ever-expanding universe, provides stimulus and exuberance. The wisdom of The Empress is expressed in nature's intrinsic knowledge of tides, cycles, seasons, propagation and affirmation that "life will find a way." The wise Emperor evokes governance, stability, responsibility and structure. The Hierophant works with wisdom in mediation and communication between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds.

Listed below are sephiroth and their tarot counterparts. While several of the sephira names may not be as blatant as Wisdom, a little investigation will well repay the effort, as will exploration of the respective relationships.

  • Sephira 1, The Source. Tarot Minor 1s, Tarot Majors: I - The Magician; X - The Wheel of Fortune.
  • Sephira 2, Wisdom. Tarot Minor 2s, Tarot Majors II - The High Priestess; XI - Justice.
  • Sephira 3, Understanding. Tarot Minor 3s. Tarot Majors III - The Empress; XII - The Hanged Man; XXI - The Universe.
  • Sephira 4, Mercy. Tarot Minor 4s, Tarot Majors IV - The Emperor; XIII - Death; The Fool (as XXII vis-á-vis 0).
  • Sephira 5, Might. Tarot Minor 5s, Tarot Majors V - The Hierophant; XIV - Temperance.
  • Sephira 6, Beauty. Tarot Minor 6s, Tarot Majors VI - The Lovers; XV - The Devil.
  • Sephira 7, Victory. Tarot Minor 7s, Tarot Majors VII - The Chariot; XVI - The Tower.
  • Sephira 8, Splendor. Tarot Minor 8s, Tarot Majors VIII - Strength; XVII - The Star.
  • Sephira 9, Foundation. Tarot Minor 9s, Tarot Majors IX - The Hermit; XVIII - The Moon.
  • Sephira 10, Manifestation. Tarot Minor 10s, TarotMajors X - The Wheel of Fortune; I - The Magician.

This site maintained by The Tarot Garden; Jeannette K. Roth and Dan M. Pelletier, proprietors.

This article ©2002, Josephine Mori. Used with permission.

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