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The Emperor and Star: Interchangable Qabalistically...?

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 16 Jun 2003, and now archived in the Forum Library.



Kiama  16 Jun 2003 
I was doing some light reading today, about the Emperor card, and I was focussing on it's Qabalistic correspondances. One book I picked up said it corresponds with the Hebrew letter 'Heh', meaning window. Another said it correspnded with the letter Tzaddi, meaning 'Fish hook'. I then realised that this is an issue that has been around for a while, as a couple of decks I have number the Emperor 17 and the Star 4: Tzaddi is also used for the Star, as is Heh.

Crowley says that the Emperor goes with Tzaddi, but surely that means he totally changes the order of the Hebrew alphabet?

What letter goes with which card? And is there any significance of the Star and Emperor being interchangable Qabalistically?

Kiama *Confused*

PS- As you can tell, Qabalah is not my forté! 


jmd  17 Jun 2003 
This is really a multi-staged answer, for much background information is presumed or implied in Kiama's question.

Firstly, Hebrew letter associations with the Major Arcana are not universally accepted, and of those that do make this connection, there are two main 'branches', each of which has further offshoots.

Just so that we can dismiss other claims for the purposes of focussing solely on the question, it is worth noting that apart from the two major traditions I will mention, other authors make quite a variety of yet other correlations.

The two main 'traditions' however, can be characterised as, firstly, the continental/French tradition stemming from E. Levi, in which Alef/one is placed with the Magician, and subsequent Hebrew letters with subsequent cards in their traditional Marseilles order, save that the Fool (un-numbered, it should be observed) is placed between cards XX and XXI, and thus obtains Shin/300. One major recent 'discovery' made by Mark Filipas seems to suggest that there may even have been some historical image-to-Hebrew word correlations for this connection (except that the Fool is placed last).

The second major 'tradition' stems from an alteration Mathers and Wescott (of the Golden Dawn) did to suggestions they originally obtained from Levi. They placed the Fool as first off the rank - hence also giving it Alef/one, but numbering it zero - and made a switch between Justice and Strength based on assumed astrological correlations. In the order with the Fool heading the series, the Emperor is fifth, hence allocated the fifth Hebrew letter Heh/five.

Crowley basically accepted the Golden Dawn ordering of the Fool and most of the other associations (including the interchange of Justice and Strength for the purposes of letter attributions). He also accepted the older numbering as found on the Marseilles deck (ie, without the interchange of Justice and Strength). He therefore maintained the numbering of the Marseilles, but with the Hebrew letter association of the Golden Dawn. There was one other aspect with which, however, he was unhappy with, and that was the association of Tzaddi with XVII the Star. Whatever was the process through which he went, a 'satisfactory' solution was found if the Emperor and the Star were interchanged for the purposes of letter attributions only - not for their numbering (for which he retained the Marseille order). By doing this, another balancing act was found, for if one now took the twelve cards which had assigned zodiacal signs, a double lemniscate could be produced.

So, in a nutshell, whether one assigns Heh to either the Emperor or the Star (following Golden Dawn type associations) will not alter the Hebrew letter ordering... it will, however, alter the numerical and astrological correlation one makes to the card(s).

Hope this answers your question somewhat satisfactorally :) 


The The Emperor and Star: Interchangable Qabalistically...? thread was originally posted on 16 Jun 2003 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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