Astrological Assignments


Regarding the astrological assignments to the cards, when did this start, and by whom? Acctording to Giles in "The Tarot," the Renaissance correspondences were rediscovered by MacGregor Mathers and other members of the GD. wasn't until this time that the cards were assigned astrological correspondences? I must admit that most of the cards 'fit' their astrological correspondence, at least in my eyes. However, if it was the GD that 'assigned' the cards, and since so many decks since have used the Waite-Smith deck as its basis, it would follow that the imagery would be mostly congruent.

Not really understanding this has caused a certain level of prejudice in my own thinking about the cards, since the astrological assignments fall right in order in the GD, with, of course, some planets thrown in between, even an element (Water = Hanged Man). The first three cards, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, are the planets Mercury, Moon, and Venus respectively. Then the astrological assignments start: Emperor = Aries, Hierphant = Taurus, Lovers = Gemini, Chariot = Cancer, Strength = Leo, Hermit = Virgo, [Wheel of Fortune = Jupiter], Justice = Libra, [Hanged Man = Water], Death = Scorpio, Temperance = Sagittarius, Devil = Capricorn, [Tower = Mars], Star = Aquarius, and Moon = Pisces. They finish off the deck with these assignments. The Sun = the Sun, Judgement = Fire, The World = Saturn, and the Fool = Air.

And isn't it for this reason, or at least partly for this reason, that the two cards, Justice and Strength, were switched, so that the proper astrological order could be maintained, since both cards exude those particular signs, with Libra associated with balance and justice, and Leo so strongly identified with the Lion?

Because these fit so neatly in order is the reason I have "assumed" the GD assignments were correct, even though the card order is different in the earlier decks.



The astrological correlations you give are those of the Golden Dawn, and not universally accepted. Essentially, they are made more because of the Hebrew letter associations.

The Hebrew letter associations to the elements, planets and twelve signs of the zodiac goes back to at least the twelfth century. Having made letter correlations, the astrological ones become a natural extension.

Certainly, the Golden Dawn inspired Emperors have an Arian quality. Those which are inspired by Levi and the Continental tradition tend to have the Pope more Aries like - just as one example.

With regards to the switch between VIII & XI, to my mind it is absolutely clear that it is because of these astrological considerations that the cards were swapped - a change I personally consider somewhat unwarranted.