I thought I’d put in a few final notes about the Tree before moving onto the Major Arcana.
The Tree of Life is a glyph that represents both the universe (Macrocosm) and the individual (Microcosm) as both exist in various stages of consciousness or manifestation. When compared to a roadmap, each sephirah can be seen as a pin-pointed city, of which, each of the twenty-two paths are the roads between them. The Tarot can be arranged on this glyph in the same way: Each minor card attributed to the 10 pin-points on the map, with each major arcana connecting the dots between them. Three distinct columns appear in this glyph. The right column represents the merciful stages, the left column represents the severe stages, and the central column represents the two at equilibrium.
The nature of these columns are apparent when card groups 2, 4, 7 and 3, 5, 8 are contrasted. The 2, 4, 7 group found in pillar of mercy are soft/passive. Cards 3, 5, and 8 in the pillar of severity work on more harsh/active principles. How true this is when we see for example the 5 of Pentacles (Sickness/Loss), 3 of Swords (Heartbreak/Pain), or 7 of Cups (Corruption/Illusion) in comparison to the 2 of Cups (Love/Attraction), 4 of Swords (Peace/Recovery), or 8 of Pentacles (Work/Productivity). Between these pillars are cards 1, 6, 9, and 10. These cards carry the theme of harmony and balance, a form of non-bipartisan conformity. The Aces all demonstrate the unborn or potential state of a thing—undeveloped one way or the other. The sixes are in the direct middle of the Tree representing a form of balance not just between hard and soft but also between the most un-manifest and manifest. Nines and Tens are similar, but one is more etherial than the other. Nines are still flexible, and can work as harbingers for the Tens to come.
Malkuth (the Tens) are most opposite Kether (the Aces), as one is manifest and the other un-manifest. When a 10 card is pulled we know that things are at the end, which means a beginning will follow soon after—such as the things that return to Kether after their purpose has been served and they expire. In this sense the two are closely related and when one appears, the other should be pondered.
Geburah and Chesed are the good-cop, bad-cop duo. One may be generous and patient, while the other is harsh and demanding. And yet in the end they both are after the same thing, playing for the same side. This duality is very much the relationship of Shiva and Vishnu found in Hinduism—one keeps us awake (aware) by shaking our reality to the bare bones, while the other blesses our life with beauty and joy. These are the fours and fives in the Tarot.
When comparing Netzach and Hod I like to look at the Seven and Eight of Cups. The seven of cups (Netzach) wants to remain within the funk, to run the course of the wild goose chase in search of satisfaction. The eight of cups does just the opposite: abandoning any form of sentiment, which is shattering to the heart, but necessary for the mind to have a stable grasp on reality. The sevens get caught up in matters of the heart, while the eights work well with logic and reasoning. When these numbers come up in readings understanding their characteristics on the Tree may help with their interpretation.
This post is a continuation of “Tree of Life Drawing for Meditation and Reference”.