Numerological Counterparts by Multiplication

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This essay duplicates a few of the details that appeared in my post on the planetary and elemental trump cards, but I started this one first. It addresses the idea of “correspondence by multiplication” more specifically.

The idea of Major Arcana cards as “numerological counterparts” of one another has been floated in the past; sometimes this symbolic common ground is reflected in the sharing of a digit between a low-numbered card and a higher-numbered one (such as the “4” in both the Emperor and Temperance), while at other times it is achieved by “theosophical reduction” – adding together the two digits of a higher card and then equating it to the lower one identified by the single-digit sum (according to which Temperance relates to the Hierophant as 1+4 = 5). A third method is to “cast out nines” (subtract increments of nine), which in the case of Temperance gives the same result as theosophical reduction: the Hierophant (14-9 = 5).

But while reading Paul Marteau’s Tarot de Marseille book I came across another option that has at least some applicability. His observation was that values that are multiples of a lower number share an affinity with it. For example, the Chariot (7) is related to both Temperance (14) and the World (21) by the fact that 7×2 =14 and 7×3 = 21. In some cases this aligns perfectly with the results of theosophical reduction: the Hermit (9) is equivalent to the Moon (18) by both addition (1+8 = 9) and multiplication (9×2 = 18), while the Hanged Man (12) connects to the Empress (3) by addition (1+2 = 3) and multiplication (3x2x2 = 12). The World also echoes the Empress by addition (2+1 = 3), and it can be taken the other way by multiplication, 3×7 = 21. This can create some intriguing insights. For example, a four-fold expansion of the number 2 yields 16, the Tower (2x2x2x2); since the binary is the root of numerical equilibrium, it takes some doing to destabilize the High Priestess to the point of catastrophe – as Aleister Crowley once said about a different card, it “bears in itself the seeds of disorder.” As before, only the Fool (0) can’t be linked to another card by multiplication, befitting its “wild card” status in some tarot games.

I’m not entirely sure what I will do with this wealth of correspondences other than apply it the same way I handle all similar instances of numerological equivalency in the Major Arcana; that is, as supplemental information that may be interesting but only rarely relevant to the practice of reading. Where I do get more mileage out of this sort of thing is in the dual output obtained by either adding together the digits of a high-numbered card according to theosophical reduction or by “casting out nines.” In one case the result always comes down to a number between 1 and 9 (the Sun takes a second operation to reach “1”), but in the other there is often an interim sum that may be more revelatory when brought to bear on the subject of the reading.

This typically comes into play when performing a “quintessence” calculation. A good example would be the Sun; the number 19 can either be left at the Wheel of Fortune (both 1+9 and 19-9 = 10) or taken down to the Magician (both 1+0 and 10-9 = 1). Another would be the World; it can be either the Empress by reduction (2+1=3) or the Hanged Man by subtracting nine (21-9 = 12), in which the Empress is hidden (12-9 = 3) but may not be crucial to the querent’s circumstances. Furthermore, in the instances of (9-9 = 0) and (18-9-9 = 0) – if one chooses to go that far – the Fool can make an appearance as a counterpart to either the Hermit or the Moon, in addition to being the second significant digit in the Wheel of Fortune (10) and Judgement (20). Situation-specific discrimination is required to decide which of these to take for the reading, and there are rare occasions where I will consider both counterparts.

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