A Satisfying Arrangement



I stumbled across this arrangement, as you do, whilst contemplating the overall design of the trumps. Basically it just divides them into their basic groupings:

Row E - Mankind

Row D - The Cycle of Life: Love and Success, the reversal of Time and Fortune, followed by Misfortune and Death.

Row C - The Virtues

Row B - The Celestial/Spiritual Realm

Row A - The Kingdom of God

The thing that interests me here is the congruency of rows E, D and B in the six vertical columns that results when row D is reversed.

Column 1 - Foolishness, Death, Damnation (Definitely a bad day).

Column 2 - A Deceiver, Punishment (perhaps the Juggler's), Destruction.

Column 3 - La Papessa (a questionable character), a turn of Fortune, a new Hope.

Column 4 - The Empress, the Hermit, the Moon. The alignment of the Empress and Moon is particularly interesting and appropriate.

Column 5 - The Emperor, the Chariot, the Sun. Again the Emperor and Sun - appropriate links. The Chariot also is very fiery.

Column 6 - The Pope, Love, the Last Judgement. Nice connections here too.

Comments? Critiques?


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Re: A Satisfying Arrangement

I like the arrangement, RAH - it seems to bring to light certain aspects that are well worth considering!

And I always find it wonderful to consider such when they work in providing not only depth, but also insights we may perhaps otherwise overlook.

When I first looked at it, however, I could not see why you placed row C as you did. It seems more 'natural', even with your own description of columns 1 and 2, with Justice therein and, conversely, given the positive stature of columns 5 and 6, to have Temperance there.

I played around a little with this arrangement and modified it to see how I would respond - and certainly the Virtues in their deck order (from left to right) do seem to make more 'sense' (to my reflections) even in your model.

I then looked also at row D... and by interchanging the sets above the Feminine and the Masculine cards, found something that tends to give a different 'resonance': the left had columns as physical, the middle columns as 'feminine' or 'Soul' qualities, and the right hand columns as 'masculine' or 'Spirit' qualities (these gender-based descriptors of course replete with stereotypal problems).

Here is the alteration for your consideration.

Re: A Satisfying Arrangement


My arrangement kept the 'as is' order to try to keep the original 'C' ordering intact. I agree that Justice and Temperance work better switched, especially with column D preserved in the original ordering, as the youthful pleasures of the Lovers, and the ambitions of the Charioteer seem to be exactly where temperance would be needed, and the Hanged Man, Death, even the Tower seem to speak of justice. I personally still like column D in the original 'C' ordering, as it seems natural that youthful love and striving for fame/success would come before aging and a reversal of fortune, and the soon to follow hardships and death.


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Re: A Satisfying Arrangement

I like the visual similarity between the Fool and Death.

I also like the way the clothing on the Bateleur is similar to the Hanged man. Perhaps his hat fell off from hanging upside down?

I also like the visual connection between the Lovers and Judgement.

The couple on the Sun remind me of the horses on the Chariot. The throne on Justice reminds me of the canopy on the Chariot.

I like the Devil and Tower grouped together.

What strikes me (as usual) is how unnatural the placement of the virtues are. They seem shoved in there to me.

It's interesting that the 3 virtues stand out, and the World as well, making me again consider Prudence.

Fun! Thanks RAH!
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: A Satisfying Arrangement


Bob O'Neill writes on the ordering of the virtues,
"According to the Life of Pythagoras by Iamblicus, the soul was composed of three hierarchical levels. The lowest or animal soul was concerned with appetites and governed by the virtue of Temperance. A second part of the soul was concerned with ambition and power and was governed by the virtue of Strength or Fortitude. The highest soul was the rational soul that sought after wisdom and cultivated the virtue of Justice to balance the parts of the soul and the individual human with other humans and the universe. The three virtues are discussed in three consecutive chapters of Iamblicus which was readily available at the beginning of the 15th century."

So, the Fool and Juggler could be representative of the lowest soul - the animal soul, the Papess and Empress with the second soul - ambition and power, and the Emperor and Pope with the soul of wisdom. This works even better with the Eastern ordering of the trumps, the so called 'B' ordering -

The Fool/The Juggler = The Soul of Appetites = governance by Temperance

The Empress/The Emperor = The Soul of Will = governance by Fortitude

The Papess/The Pope = The Soul of Wisdom = governance of Justice

Or, as Plato said in The Republic,
"Then we may begin by assuming that there are three classes of men - lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, lovers of gain?"

In the 'B' ordering, one virtue appears in each of the horizontal rows. Temperance is with the "ranks of man", Fortitude is with the "cycle of life", and Justice is with the 'celestial group'.

The Ranks of Man = The Soul of Appetites = governance by Temperance

The Cycle of Life = The Soul of Will = governance by Fortitude

The Celestial Realm = The Soul of Wisdom = governance of Justice

Such a scheme would be consistent with both Iamblicus and Plato. Could this have been a consideration in the design of the trump order? In The Tarot - History, Symbolism, and Divination, Robert M. Place seems to think so,
"...they (the trumps) contain a three-part story that is based on Plato's theory of the three parts of the soul: the soul of appetite, the soul of will, and the soul of reason."
pp. 104

While the 'B' ordering works well with the 'virtues' and the 'three-souls', a similar arrangement in to columns loses some of the interesting connections compared to the 'C' ordering, like the Empress/Moon, Emperor/Sun connection, or the Moon/Time connection, which was extremely interesting considering the lunar role in time keeping.



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