“Adam Cardman”

There is a qabalastic tradition that places an image of the male human body within the structure of the Tree of Life, such that the ten spheres (or sephiroth) of the Tree relate to different parts of the anatomy. This image is known as “Adam Kadmon,” or the Primordial Man. The most common version of this arrangement shows the figure with the Pillar of Mercy at the right hand and the Pillar of Severity at the left hand, but the one I learned from James Sturzaker a long time ago has Adam standing within the Tree and looking out, such that justice is meted out by the active right hand (the “sword hand”) and mercy is the province of the less-dominant, passive left hand. Here is a representative example.


There is also a tradition in astrology that attributes the signs of the zodiac to the human body, starting with Aries at the head and concluding with Pisces at the feet. It isn’t entirely compatible with the qabalistic model but follows the same general pattern. The divisions are as follows:

Head: Aries
Throat: Taurus
Lungs, Arms, Hands: Gemini
Stomach: Cancer
Heart: Leo
Digestive Track: Virgo
Kidneys: Libra
Reproductive and Excretory Organs: Scorpio
Thighs: Sagittarius
Knees, Legs: Capricorn
Ankles: Aquarius
Feet: Pisces

There is some disagreement about this alignment between medical astrologers practicing Western methods and those pursuing Vedic traditions, but it is close enough for most purposes. Given the zodiacal distribution, it is possible to insert the Major Arcana cards that correspond to the twelve signs into the design. This produces the following series:

Head: Emperor
Throat: Hierophant
Lungs, Arms, Hands: Lovers
Stomach: Chariot
Heart: Strength
Digestive Track: Hermit
Kidneys: Justice
Reproductive and Excretory Organs: Death
Thighs: Temperance
Knees, Legs: Devil
Ankles: Star
Feet: Moon

Some of these connections are obvious, such as the Emperor as the head or executive function, the Lovers as those upper body regions that exhibit duality or “two-ness,” Strength as the source of our stamina (“heart”) and Death as the realm of reproduction and elimination. Others require more thoughtful deliberation: the Chariot might reflect Napleon’s remark that “an army marches on its stomach” (that is, it must be well-provisioned to advance), while the Hierophant is the gateway between the superior nature (the brain) and the subordinate role of the body. Unless the reader is engaged in a matter involving the health of a querent, these characteristics don’t have a great deal of practical usefulness since most of them can’t be readily translated into situational or psychological terms. There are also planetary attributions that can help to fill out the picture in a less mechanical way: Mars is related to Aries and thus to the Emperor, possibly showing an impulsive or “hot-headed” temperament; Mercury relates to Gemini and the “lower mind” or practical decision-making function, and therefore underlies the discriminating quality of the Lovers; the Sun – ruling Leo and thereby related to Strength – is the engine of all life on Earth, and by association the origin of our circulatory vigor; and the Moon as the reservoir of our emotional responsiveness can produce digestive upsets as a consequence of stress.

3 thoughts on ““Adam Cardman”

  1. Pingback: Left or Right? A Matter of Orientation | Parsifal's Wheel Tarot & Astrology

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