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RLG  RLG is offline
Join Date: 19 Mar 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 318
A new Tree - The Star Tower


I’d like to start a thread about a new tarot layout, which includes some innovations that seem to hold great promise.

One of the problems with the traditional attributions to the trumps is the question of the planets. Using the 22 hebrew letters, according to their attributions in the Sefer Yetzirah (SY), the zodiac and elements pose no problems, but the planets pose some difficulties, as evidenced by the variety of ways they have been connected with the double letters of the Hebrew alef-bet.

According to the SY, the 7 planetary letters Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Kaf, Peh, Resh, Tav, (BGDKPRT) represent the six directions in three-dimensional space, with the final letter Tav being in the center of all. The letters are then attributed to the planets, but these attributions have been modified by various commentators. By far the most common attribution is the Chaldean order, from slowest to fastest planet (Saturn - Juppiter - Mars - Sun - Venus - Mercury - Moon), with the Gra version slightly modifying this and placing the Moon first, then Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Juppiter.

The Golden Dawn famously used their own idiosyncratic order of the planets, and either Kenneth Mackenzie or MacGregor Mathers arranged the planets to best suit the trump images they aligned with. In doing so, they abandoned any connection with the Sefer Yetzirah planets, but kept those for the elements and zodiac.

One variation of the sequence, which uses the order of the days of the week, can be found in Table 33, letter G. page 179 in Sefer Yetzirah by Aryeh Kaplan. This variation comes from Sheirat Yosef 10a, and begins with the day of the Sabbath, thus it has the order as:

B - Saturn
G - Sun
D - Moon
K - Mars
P - Mercury
R - Juppiter
T - Venus

This particular order is well suited to align with the tarot trumps, as it has the Sun and Moon in sequence.

In order to line up these planets with their namesake cards, we simply perform the ATBaSh cipher on the traditional letter-order, swapping Alef for Tav, Bet for Shin, and so on. This will result in the letters going in reverse order on the trumps, so that Alef is the World, Bet is Judgement, Gimel is the Sun, Dalet is the Moon, and so on down to Tav as the Fool.

Interestingly, this is the same order proposed by the Comte de Mellet, which was the first published account of attributing the Hebrew letters to the trumps. Since that time, this order has been generally neglected. But the correct attribution of the planets to the letters makes this order reveal hitherto hidden connections between the trumps and the planets. The key is lining up the Sun and Moon, which will necessitate six new cards having planetary letters, with the Sun being the only one that is still a planet, albeit with the letter Gimel instead of Resh, (as in the Golden Dawn inspired decks).

So the order of the trumps and their Hermetic attributions are these:

DEVIL ----------ZAIN------GEMINI

This results in mostly new planetary trumps, most of which seem fairly harmonious with their imagery.

Saturn is Judgment; the Sun is the Sun; the Moon is the Moon; Mars is Strength; Mercury is the Pope; Juppiter is the Popess, and Venus is the Fool. It might seem that these last two could be switched to great benefit, but as we shall see, this arrangement will prove to be the correct one. The important point is that both the Pope and Popess are planetary cards. The Fool needs to be Tav, and Tav needs to be Venus. The Fool is somewhat hermaphroditic anyway.

One obvious result of the ATBaSh rearrangement is that Heh becomes the Star and Tzaddi becomes the Emperor, which is in line with Crowley’s switch, in accordance with the instructions in Liber AL v. I:57. Also, Temperance is now Cancer, much more appropriate considering the watery nature of the imagery, while the Chariot is Sagittarius, also more consonant with the fiery nature of that sign and the martial aspects of the card. The Wheel, as Libra also plays a central role when one sets the cards out in triads. The remaining zodiac attributions are a bit more obscure and definitely require more in-depth investigation.

Next we will take a look at how this arrangement plays out on the Tree of Life.

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