comments on the minor arcana

Translation by Kitos Digiovanni from smallcabin.org

introduction

The Minors represent the secondary forces which are subordinate to the fundamental forces expressed by the Majors. They enable them to show their consequences which lead to the realities and are the steps between the fundamentals and their practical applications: They make the Majors concrete.

In a nutshell, the Minor Arcana provide the details which lend color to the fundamental forces expressed by the Major Arcana, because, as we do not live in fundamental forces, it is necessary to explain the consequences leading to realities.

They are, like the Major Arcana, subject to the laws of number. Representing a material idea, they consist more of simple expressions, and therefore simple images, which is why their total number is greater than that of the Major Arcana. They consist of 56 as opposed to 22 because, for their state to apply to the different combinations of matter, they are grouped by necessity into four series, 4 being the number representative of the operations of matter. The following names have been given to these series: Swords, Cups, Coins, and Batons.

On the other hand, as the Tarot represents the evolution of Man, symbolized by the cycles of 10, and 10 implies implies all the periodic elements of the physical world, each element of the quaternary of the minor cards, each with 10 repetitions, express all the possible combinations of numbers in the physical world.

These combinations, being indeterminate in of themselves, must be defined by a new, conscious quaternary. It results in 4 new figures which, by nature, are doubly polarized; to wit, the Page and the Knight, the Queen and the King.

The basic quaternary envisaged in this synthesis, with the goal of making concrete the Major Arcana, may be divided into two groups of polarities.

The first one, active and quantitative, represents an expansive energy and a condensed energy, for which the Ancients made the principles of Fire and of Earth, and which, according to the symbolic drawings of the Minor cards, correspond to the Baton and the Coin respectively.

The second, passive and qualitative, represents the sensitive states, one one receptive and the other one radiant, for which the Ancients made the principles of Air and of Water, and which correspond to the Sword and the Cup respectively.

This same quaternary, considered from an analytic point of view, presents us with an ordered concentration of forces: the Fire, the Air, the Water, and the Earth, and correspondingly in the minor cards: the Baton, the Sword, the Cup, and the Coin.[1]

The combination of synthetic and analytic points of view of the quaternary generate the following principle meanings:

The SWORD represents activity on the material plane which, in its most subtle and most broad expression, creates access to the spiritual riches of divine love.

The CUP, a symbol of the receptive sensibility of Man, is filled with these spiritual riches and expresses them with a psychism which extends from the most elevated form to the most elementary: from divine love to human affection.

The COIN makes these riches concrete, extending them to all domains of the Earth through the works of intelligence.

The BATON, a symbol of material force, uses these riches to construct, cultivate, and direct.

Independently of their particular courses, each of these four aspects of the Minor Arcana is reflected in the other three; thus the notion of universal love is found in all four, but it is dominate in the Sword which represents Sacrifice.

To grasp more easily the successive evolution, which is to say, the tendency and the effort towards a higher finality of the four modalities represented by the Swords, the Cups, the Batons, and the Coins, it is useful to compare the preceding and following cards, not in numerical order, but as equals, which is to say, corresponding to a single polarization.

The even, or passive, cards fall into one group and the unequal or active ones into another. The even cards produce action on the inside and create reserved forces, while the active cards are active on the outside and cause these reserved forces to produce results by bringing their activity into play.

[1] The order and the relation of denominations of the cards will seem to be in contradiction of the data presented in certain exegeses of the Tarot. The reader will draw for him- or herself the conclusion according to thorough examination, taking into account that the Sword swirls in the Air, the Baton is derived from wood, the generator of Fire, the Cup is the receptacle of Water and the Coin is the symbol of the metals which the Earth conceals.

representation of the numbers on the minor arcana

The number of objects depicted on each minor from 2 through 10, with the exception of Coins, is indicated on the horizontal axis, to the right and to the left, expressing the duality and indicating therefore that these cards are passive, and thus impersonal and inoperative in of themselves, and that they suggest a possible signal, a subordination to other cards, and that they do nothing but offer a property which the other cards direct.

This clarifies their role eclipsed by the Major Arcana, and this meaning is accentuated also by the Coins. In effect, they do not bear a number - the circle which represents them has neither beginning nor end - they are able to adapt to all creation, just as money is able to be at the service of all human undertakings.

These four series of minor cards, with the exception of the Aces, are represented with relation to two axes of symmetry, the vertical and the horizontal; the former characterizing activity, the division into two parts; the latter, the passive signification, separating the Above from the Below - the Spiritual and the Material - making apparent, most of the time, a distinction between the elements of the card.

The Minor Arcana with figures which by their resemblance to people indicate a personality, are named to affirm this, and hence their predominance over the other minor Arcana. The Aces bear no numbers, since they represent the synthesis of the series of the cards which they refer to, and, consequently, they are not able to have a place in the rankings. Nevertheless, the cards which follow them, bearing the number which transposes Unity onto another plane, allow their original character to be revealed.

observations about the numbers 1 ? 10

The Ace

The Ace represents unity considered as a departure and as a synthesis summarizing the meanings of the 9 consecutive cards.

2

The number 2 is the symbol of passivity, of polarity, and of the elements of gestation. Through passive polarity, it is without effect, but through gestation, it is the material of all things that develop.

3

The number 3, through 2 + 1, introduces an activity in the passivity of 2, which gives directions to the gestation.

4

The number 4, produced by 2 x 2, contains a crystallization and, as the intermediary between 3 and 5, a transition. It represents therefore a relative state of stability and, consequently, things which are ordered and tend towards a consolidation of themselves, towards security.

5.

The number 5 is a number of transition, the passage from one plane to another, because it is composed of 4 + 1, 4 being a complete number. to which is added a unity, which is to say, a beginning. The base 4, which is built up in order to engender the following number, gives it a sense of multiplicity and diffusion through influence.

6

The number 6 represents a harmonious balance, as it is formed from 3 + 3, or two ternaries which are in opposition to each other, and from 2 x 3, implying a similarity between these two ternaries, and, consequently, their equilibrium. In its elementary sense, it signifies a latent power, a potential, which is to say, reserve on which we can draw.

7

The number 7 = 6 + 1, indicate, through its union, force, action which uses the power contained in 6. It puts it in play, while maintaining its harmony, so that it indicates successful completion. It is a number of synthetic achievement.

8

The number 8 = 4 + 4 brings unity to the combination of the cross and the square, which is to say, the stability of the material plane with the interior life of the divine plane. This is not an abstract equilibrium, as that of 6, but one which marks an end, because it has no need of being animated through other currents. It is the symbol of infinity, as it is formed of two adjacent circles which, tracing in one direction, develop each other indefinitely.

9

The number 9 represents the orientation of the abstract towards the concrete. The previous 8 numbers indicate material animated by the divine; when taking 9, which is 8 + 1, one obliges 8, which is perfect, to take on one unit more, which is to say, an entree to action, thus to describe a new cycle, one which implies a new penetration of force into matter, like the one which is accomplished when the universe, virtually conceived, is realized in matter to make its experience evolutionary.

10

While 1 synthesized in their principles the numbers from which it began, 10 condenses them within itself, because it participates in each of them through its 0 which connects them in potential and directs them to a new cycle by the 1 which accompanies the 0. It is, furthermore, the number of reason and of calm, since, when it is with 9, the abstract was making contact with the concrete, by 10, it is now in equilibrium in the physical, since 10 = 2 x 5.

Conclusion

The Minor cards stop at the number 10 because if they were to go beyond this number and arrive at 12, which is an outcome, they would no longer have a link to the physical and they would remain inaccessible to human understanding.

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