If you have been following my spread development arc, you will have noticed that I frequently make use of two graphic wheels showing the attribution of the 78 cards of the tarot to the system of astrological correspondences formulated by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The foundation of this system is the arrangement of the 12 signs of the zodiac into 36 ten-degree segments called decanates or, more informally, “decans,” originally developed by Ptolemy (according to Robert Wang) but frequently labeled “Chaldean.” This is a reasonably elegant symbolic edifice, with only a couple of wrinkles in its near-perfect symmetry that Wang explains ably in his book, The Qabalistic Tarot.
Wang’s excellent book is the first place I encountered these correspondences in graphical form, as Figures No. 14 and No. 15. These were Wang’s attempt to portray in two dimensions the Golden Dawn’s three-dimensional model of the system as a “solid sphere” with the Aces and Princesses/Pages grouped around the Earth’s polar axis. But the versions I use have a different origin and a slightly different presentation that, to my mind, is more intelligible. During the years I was a member and moderator on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum, a fellow member named “Richard” (previously “LRichard,” who I have a sneaking suspicion was/is noted astrologer and tarot writer Richard L. Palmer) was a frequent contributor to the esoteric boards. At one point, he offered freely to the community his own rendering of the system of astrological correspondences into graphic form, using the Thoth deck. The first of these wheels presented the 36 “pip” cards 2 through 10 within the structure of the “natural” (that is, Aries-rising) zodiac (the Aces belong to a different part of the system). The second showed the array of court cards and Aces similarly aligned to the quadrants of the zodiac. Rather than trying to jam everything into a single illustration as Wang did, Richard made intelligent use of “sidebar” notes that provides for a much less cluttered appearance.
I realized yesterday that I haven’t given proper recognition and credit for my use of these charts, and wanted to correct that. Since Richard gave of his work freely, I’m republishing it here in the same spirit. Richard, if you’re still out there on the boards, a tip o’ the hat to you. And if you are in fact Richard L. Palmer, I want to plug your book, Tarot: Voice of the Inner Light, which Benebell Wen just reviewed favorably on her blog. If you aren’t that Richard, pardon me for assuming. But the quality of the material you gave us stands on its own merits.