The Revived Tarot

Semantic Structure of the Tarot

Synopsis:   How the astrological symbolism of the Tarot is connected to the linked semantic categories of the Sepher Yetsira and the Hebrew alphabet. The inner formative meanings of the Hebrew letters and Tarot cards. How these levels are interconnected, preventing arbitrary re-assignment.

The Levels of the Text

The deepest proofs of the "emergence of the planet from the letter", rather than arbitrary assignment, lie in the semantic structures of linked categories: for instance, the Hebrew letter that forms the planet, sign or element and the contrary planetary qualities in their zodiacal environments: Bayt, Saturn, Ayn, Capricorn and the qualities of life and death.

The Linked Semantic Qualities of the Hebrew Letter Bayt (Beth-Beis-Bayit)
Bayt Shabatai Hhaim Ayn Ghedi
Mot Tsadde Deli

As a introduction and incentive to look deeper, we can first examine some of the more accessible correlations to be found in the symbolic structuring of the Tarot, particularly when a trump contains visual clues as to its native position, as well as its meaning, in the sequence of letters and images. These patterns are invisible until the Tarot is sequenced in its natural order. The twenty-two trumps are not just a series of images or arbitrary mythotypes; they are the component squares of a three-level visual mosaic which must be re-aligned for the pattern to emerge. This pattern has some obvious structural and symbolic qualities, which again, verify the pattern itself as the root matrix for the images of the cards. First we look at the basic cosmological structure of the Hebrew alphabet as described by texts like the Sepher Yetsira and Shi'ur Komah, and compare it to the Golden Dawn system.

The Order and Sequence of the Cosmological Energies

7 Planetary Double Hebrew Formative Letters
Saadia SY and Classical Placements
Golden Dawn Placements

The zodical signs begin with the fifth letter, Hay the archetype of life in the structural-energy alphabet and the formative of Aries, and proceed in an open sequence ending with the nineteenth letter, Qof, formative of Pisces, sign of the perfected man.

12 Simple Hebrew Formative Letters and Zodiacal Correspondancs
Archetypal 1-9
Existential 10-90
Cosmic 100-900
From the Saadia Version of the Sepher Yetsira

Each sign -- Hebrew letter, planet, zodical sign, element, Tarot card -- exists in an over-determined and interrelated matrix of meaning. Once the primary matrix is seen as the Hebrew alphabet, and the cards arranged in the natural sequence of the twenty-two letters according to their basic astrological symbolism, we can find further structural relationships and related visual clues in the symbolism of the trumps.

To make these symbols more accessible, we need to briefly consider the semantic structure of the matrix. The simplistic keywords used here are general abstract categories and are not to be taken for the energies they point to; for that the Hebrew letters themselve suffice. Nevertheless, they may be found to describe rather exactly the concepts conveyed by the astrological and symbolic language of the Tarot major trumps. Nine basic states of energy manifest in three worlds:

Semantic Structure of the Hebrew Alphabet
    Archetypal 1-9 Existential 10-90 Cosmic 100-900  
  Life/Death & Existence 1  
  Container 2  
  Movement 3  
  Resistance 4  
  Organic Life 5  
 Fertility 6  
 Indetermination 7  
 Unstructured Energy 8  
 Structure 9  

Nine States of Energy on Three Levels of Manifestation
Inner Outer Move Resist Life Sex All Possible Possibilities Structure
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900
Fire Finals

We can now begin to see a complex semantic structure emerging in the astrological and formative (numerical) symbolism of the Tarot. The planetary "attribute" of the Hebrew letter does not exist in isolation, but is part of a interwoven web of meaning that includes the Hebrew number, its formative or energetic qualities, the "contrary qualities" (dual values) of the planetary formatives, the astrological sign(s) (aut) of its home and the sign's corresponding Hebrew formative letter and numercial value. We can briefly compare the first three double letters and contrast the classical and Golden Dawn perspectives. Included is newly available phonosemantic data which makes the picture even clearer. All seven here.

Semantic Structure of the Hebrew Alphabet
Phonosemantic Data from Margaret Magnus and Gods of the Word

The indwelling/container of Aleph: physical support without which nothing is, matter
Sepher Yetsira 2 Bayt / Vayt Hebrew: House   Golden Dawn
  Formative House (of God), container, boundary, creation, form
Symbolic mother, man's mouth, interior, virility, interior action
two things, one lesser; birth, big bang, border, to be.
empty container, vase, vast, veiled, vessel
birth, bring into being, bloom, bear, bare, body
Qualities Alive Ghedi Dead Deli

  Organic movement of every Bayt animated by Aleph. Primary seed of space-time
Sepher Yetsira 3 Ghimmel / Djimmel Hebrew: Camel Golden Dawn
  Formative uncontrolled motion: interaction of contained & container
Symbolic nature, throat, canal, hollow, profound, opening
motion to & from a void; too much, too little
edge, jangle, jitter, jump, gem, junk, jilt, joke
give, get, go, grow, glow, good, grail, gap
Qualities Peace Daghim Evil Qoshet

Resistance/response to Ghimmel of Bayts containing Aleph: physical existence: root of all things
Sepher Yetsira 4 Dallet / Thallet Hebrew: Door Golden Dawn
  Formative physical existence as resistance/response to life
Symbolic authority, origin of physical existence, division
Door, divides into two parts, energy gate
thin thread thrust through thick; think, thing
do, don't, down, drown, dull, dance, delay
Qualities Wisdom 'Aqarav Folly Toleh

Next, we look at the patterns revealed within the structure of the Tarot, once you know where and how to look.

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