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Using a Tarot Mat

Certain Tarot decks such as the Rider-Waite deck, the Thoth deck, the Golden Dawn deck and the Tarot of the Spirit deck are all based on the Kabbalistic glyph called the Tree of Life. The twenty-two Major Arcana correspond to particular paths on the Tree, and those paths influence our understanding of the cards. For example, The Fool corresponds to the first path on the Tree, from Keter to Chokmah. Because this is the first path on the Tree, we associate such meanings as new beginnings, will, impulse and impetus to this card. Without the associations that come from the Tree, we might not understand the implication of the cliff, which indicates a “fall” from a higher state to a lower state. We might not recognize that the bag The Fool carries is his karma or his assignment in this incarnation. Similarly, The High Priestess is assigned to the path from Keter to Tifaret. This card symbolizes the subconscious, which carries information from the highest levels of creation to the spiritual center of man.

The Minor Arcana are assigned to particular sephirot: the Aces are assigned to Keter, the Twos to Chokmah, the Threes to Binah, the Fours to Chesed, the Fives to Gevurah, the Sixes to Tifaret, the Sevens to Netzach, the Eights to Hod, the Nines to Yesod and the Tens to Malkuth. The court cards are assigned to the sixteen “invisible” paths, which are the paths not assigned to the Major Arcana.

The meaning of the cards is often dependent on the assigned paths of the Tree. For example, drawing The Sun (Hod to Yesod), Temperance (Tifaret to Yesod) and any of the Nine cards suggests paying particular attention to an aspect of Yesod, the sephirah which is common to those three cards. If the cards drawn include The High Priestess (Keter to Tifaret), Temperance (Tifaret to Yesod) and The World (Yesod to Malkuth), we see that the entire Middle Pillar is being highlighted, suggesting that we pay particular attention to balance between opposing forces.

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