Tarot: The Pip Cards
There are 40 Pip cards in Tarot numbered 1 through to 10 in each of the four suits: Pentacles, Swords, Wands and Cups. The Pip cards are designed to capture day to day experiences of living in the world.
Numbers have been seen as sacred in many cultures across the world. Ancient Egyptian, Mayan, Greek, Persian, Arabic and Indian societies are among many societies that have used numbers to represent sacred concepts.
The Tarot draws on Pythagorean numerics to attribute meaning to the Pip cards in a Tarot deck. Pythagoras was an Ancient Greek mathematician who travelled widely in his youth studying the mathematics of ancient Greece, Egypt, Persia and Italy. People revered Pythagoras and his ideas so much that he started a school which later developed into a society called "The Pythagoreans" where people calculated everything from relationships to their government based on Pythagoras' mathematics.
Today he is most famous for his formulae for calculating right-angled triangles but his most outstanding contribution to the world was his Tetractys - a tower of 10 dots with which he managed to calculate the structure of all the music we use today.
This pyramid of 10 dots forms the basis of Tarot numerology. Pythagoras believed all numbers meant something, represented something and could connect us to the divine through their meanings.
In Tarot Numerology even numbers are seen as stable and at rest much like the Chinese concept of Yin while odd numbers are seen as action (Yang) - moving forwards from a state of rest on to something greater before being resolved at the next even number.
Even numbers: Stability
Odd numbers: Introducing Change
One means potential. Just as a single tiny seed holds the potential to grow a tree which will in turn have many seeds to grow many more trees - one represents potential abundance and the start of new things
Two represents opposing points of views or polar opposites, Yin and Yang, male/female, black/white, all/nothing, life/death. It is seen energetically as the single seed splitting into two halves with one half containing some aspects of its total nature and the other half containing the remaining aspects. In geometry splitting apart a circle into two halves forms an eye shape in the centre called the Vesica Pieces. In Tarot it can represent quarrels and judgement as well as doorways into the beyond when viewed as separating a whole into two halves but can also be seen as bringing two halves together to form a whole so may represent things like: lovers, well-rounded decision making, death and rebirth.
Three in Tarot represents the product of the union of two halves. It is the birth of a baby to two parents, it is the birth of a business from hard work and dedication, it may represent the middle-way in terms of philosophies which is neither relaxed or extreme.
The number four represents stability like the four walls of a house. It may represent seeking stability or having material wealth, emotional security and home. It may represent the combining of the 4 elements, the compass point directions
Five numerologically introduces action to 4’s place of rest and contentment and as such is often seen as ‘strife’. The pentagram has 5 points and represents what happens when you have four stable elements doing nothing but then breathe the life of Spirit into them.. it creates movement and life which also upsets the apple-cart and rocks the boat. Things that were stable in life suddenly get upset and shaken.
Six is the number of fulfilment. There are 6 tones in an octave, 6 colours of the rainbow of you take the three primary and three secondary colours of light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Six is completing the set, understanding the full scenario. It’s seeing both the Yin and Yang of the situation for what it is and having things in balance. Excluding the number 1, 2 is the first even number and 3 is the first odd number. 6 is made up of 3 x 2. Because even numbers in Tarot represent the divine feminine and odd numbers the divine masculine - 6 is seen as the perfect union of these two poles.
Historically 7 has been seen as a holy number which is why black and white keys were repositioned on a piano to create 7 white notes in an octave (and 5 black notes) because 6 was seen as an unholy number. It’s why Indigo was introduced to the Rainbow to appease people at the time who felt that 7 was a better number of colours to have in the rainbow and in music. However 7 got its significance as a holy number from understanding that 6 meant completion and balance so 7 is the overarching understanding of 6. 7 is the entire Rainbow of colours, 7 is the octave itself comprised of all its notes. The 7th chakra (the Crown) is a prism which breaks up white light that comes into it and shines it through the other 6 chakras or the body. 7 is the answer to the question: “so what do we do once we have the whole set? What do we do once we are in balance?”. So 7 is the number of further study, of deeper understanding of the nature of things. Not content to say “I know everything” 7 pushes us to explore beyond what we think we might know.. beyond the real world. 7 is the number of magic and of study.
There are eight seasons in the Druid Wheel of the year - the two solstices, two equinoxes and the four half seasons. 8 is the understanding that the wheel of time spins seasons come and go and come again, that the tides ebb and flow. 8 is the calm competence of a farmer who knows when to sew seed, when to harvest and when to let fields lie fallow. 8 is competence, ability, skill. 8 represents an understanding of the seasons of life through having lived them.
9 introduces action from the place of 8. When one understands and is competent with 8, 9 becomes represents: “well now that I understand how the cycle of things works, what do o do with it?”. 9 is the number of governing, of teaching others, of training others, of using your knowledge to benefit a society or group.
In Numerology we use 9 numbers from 1 to 9 and then go back to 1 again. So 10 represents the end of the cycle, the end of the race, the end and simultaneously the beginning of a new adventure. 10 is often depicted as the absolute crushing moment of loss where you can take no more and something changes or the absolute moment of perfect bliss where a new adventure blossoms. It’s similar to the Death card signifying both beginning and end.