The Tarot de Marseille “Pips:” A Divinatory Tabulation

As a service to my readers, I decided to capture all of the divinatory “snippets” from my previous posts in a single document for ease of reference. Note that I went back and tweaked the keyword entries in my Swords overview essay to match this summary after receiving some excellent comments from Lee Bursten. This list is illustrated with Kris Hadar’s Le Veritable Tarot de Marseille; you may have noticed that I do very little with color symbolism, mainly because the decks I prefer, like the Hadar and the Fournier, are dramatically recolored compared to historical examples.

Batons: Key Concepts for Divination


the Ace shows the simple urge to act according to one’s instincts, unmindful of obstacles or consequences.

the Two suggests reciprocal action in the service of mutual self-interest: “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.”

the Three reflects the frictionless momentum arising from perfectly balanced and coordinated action; it invokes the vision of a child’s top spinning effortlessly on a table.

the Four indicates the opportunity for purposeful, well-chosen and timely action; “strike while the iron is hot.”

the Five conveys the misfortune of poorly coordinated, uninspired or ill-timed action that is likely to incite stiff opposition .

the Six depicts action for the simple joy of acting; the “green light” or “all systems go” card signaling no need for hesitation, “just do it.”

the Seven implies having one’s hand forced by circumstances; it shows acting in spite of serious doubts about that course of action.

the Eight displays precipitous action with no backup plan or safety net; a “seat-of-the-pants” scenario that, due to a lack of groundwork (no foliage), can signify retreat as easily as advance..

the Nine advises pulling in one’s horns and waiting for a better opportunity.

the Ten foresees a hard-won victory after “pulling out all the stops.”

Cups: Key Concepts for Divination


the Ace indicates a surge of emotion, a momentary rapture that can evaporate as soon as it peaks

the Two shows a naive willingness to engage emotionally, more a besotted promise than a binding pledge

the Three is passionate and ready to jump in with both feet

the Four brings a serene but spiritless sense of gratification

the Five seems pinched and duty-bound; we might say that “duty is the death of love”

the Six is wallowing in self-love and doesn’t care who knows it

the Seven needs a crowbar to pry open its feelings

the Eight is ambivalent and unsure how to feel, if at all

the Nine has “too many fish to fry” and doesn’t know where to begin; it also acts as the “busybody” card

the Ten resembles a series of waves about to hit a breakwater; it could mean “running interference” for a major emotional breakthrough, although stubborn resistance to any such development is more likely – feelings are running high but the dam will most likely hold back the flood; in more positive terms, it can show the need to maintain a “stiff upper lip” in the face of an incoming emotional tsunami

Swords: Key Concepts for Divination


the Ace is the “bright idea” card showing a thought process that is completely fluid at that point, unconstrained by practical considerations (the concept of “brainstorming” begins here).

the Two with its robust central flower implies a strategic outreach or offer (one-on-one communication such as a visit, phone call, message or letter);

the Three suggests a painful realization that accord is unlikely;

the Four speaks of a bridge-building “good faith” follow-up to the Two, bringing good will and a spirit of compromise to the bargaining table, with each party negotiating from a position of strength;

the Five sows argument and discord;

the Six shows the benefits of taking a strong-willed stance, “sticking to your guns” after examining all sides of an issue;

the Seven alludes to a departure from the norm (highly original or visionary thinking);

the Eight advises a well-reasoned equanimity, favoring the “benefit of the doubt” over adamant opposition; discretion is paramount (note the overbearing swords, the shrunken maneuvering room and the demure blossom shorn of its leaves);

the Nine imparts a sense of staving off oppression;

the Ten implies the interjection of critical thinking from unexpected quarters (the flower is untouched and the intruding sword-points remain within the core, suggesting that their input will be “taken under advisement”).

Coins: Key Concepts for Divination


the Ace signifies a gambit, the first move in any deal-making scenario; it rewards self-reliance and grit of the “dirt-under-the-fingernails” ilk

the Two involves a trade-off of some kind; it could also mean a juggling act, such as “balancing the books”

the Three symbolizes the need to “plan the work” and the ability to convert that plan into reality

the Four implies stability in all material things, but also the associated risk of succumbing to inertia

the Five conveys poor judgment and wasted effort with little to show for it; in the worst case it could mean dishonesty, such as “cooking the books;” alternatively, breaking out of the financial doldrums without regard for consequences could be indicated (i.e. impulsively quitting a job)

the Six shows the pursuit of success for its own sake, not for what can be accomplished with the proceeds; thus, a purely mercenary undertaking is indicated

the Seven suggests leveraging one’s assets rather than simply hoarding them; unfinished business that needs to be concluded is another likely scenario

the Eight inspires cautious optimism about monetary matters; also, the possible need for a competent financial advisor or agent to assist with one’s affairs

the Nine emphasizes gain from the disciplined pursuit of one’s goals; undeserved entitlement is not “in the cards”

the Ten is a card of well-earned rest from labor, but also of humdrum domesticity

4 thoughts on “The Tarot de Marseille “Pips:” A Divinatory Tabulation

  1. I appreciate your rudimentary approach, without too much emphasis on “this pip looks like…” (which ends up often sounding more like confirmation bias than divination). I like that your descriptions are a framework that a reader can build upon and build sympathetic narratives for each card. Great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! These ideas have been percolating for a long time and I finally captured them. As much as I admire Yoav Ben-Dov, I was never happy with trying to squeeze meaning from an analysis of the number, orientation and condition of the flowers, leaves and branches. My challenge was to leave all of my esoteric correspondences at the door and just draw inferences from the major structural features of the cards. (Note that there are more detailed explanations for these “snippets” in my other TdM “thumbnail” posts.)


  2. Pingback: Why the TdM? | Parsifal's Wheel Tarot & Astrology

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