Marseille pips: the fours


A while back, we started looking at the pips of the Marseille deck.

Unlike looking at the Major Arcana, in which description of the images made discussion and comment easy to maintain, the pips especially require of us developed will-force to maintain.

Looking at the fours, a number of initial aspects are worth commenting on. Firstly, irrespective of the suit, the Ace through to four add to that important number ten - the completion of the pips (Ace + two + three + four = ten). This of course is the way those with interests in triangular numbers or pythagorean numerology would look at the cards. 'Four', like any number, is viewed on this line of thought to include any number preceding it. Hence its 'theosophic' extension to ten.

Of the images, the first three cards seem to have some vitality and individuality which seems to give way to a different quality from the four onwards. From the four, a patterned replication seems to be of greater pictorial importance...

Ohhhh... am I making any sense to any but myself!?! I'll leave it here until others contribute their thoughts :).

Ross G Caldwell

I'm posting off the top of my head, which means I haven't looked at any TdM 4s.

But if I remember correctly, the four of coins has leaves attaching the four coins, looking like the number X, that is, 10. So that's good.

The swords and batons are crossed like X too. Pure symmetry, but also a nice coincidence :)



The Four of Coins is a fascinating card. Because of that square heraldic thingy in the middle. Wow, more solid than this you cannot find. It's the most "organised" card. When one sees this one in a spread, there's not much room for fantasy. The coins are stuck where they are, due to the square in the middle.

It's a great card when one wants to know whether one's shares in the stock market are safe. They may not going to go up on the stock market, but you're certainly not going to lose your investment.

One can see just by looking at this card that it's going to need quite a bit of energy and fantasy and imagination to heave oneself up from the comfort of one's chair and move on the 5.

The trick here is: How are you going to join Materiality (the two flowers at the bottom) with Spirituality (the two coins at the top). The only way is by finding a way to combine them so that they merge into the square heraldic thingy in the middle, so that their energies mingle.

But whatever you do, don't sell your shares.


The Four of Batons is an incomplete card. The stems are cut off. Aie, that hurts! Why this deliberate cutting off from life's energy? Ah-ha! Thre are the leaves on the sides which still circulate some energy. But how long will it last? I would say: Don't forget to take your vitamins!!!! (Only half-kidding here.........)


The Four of Cups is not such an easy card as it looks. You think: Four cups full of the Red stuff borrowed from the Two of Cups. One sturdy stem, healthy leaves and flowers that are busy budding. Yes, there is great great potential here. Nothing scary at all. But you've got to ask yourself: Why are the two Cups at the bottom got leaves to protect them and the top two Cups don't? Which are the most fragile? Are the bottom Cups hiding, or are they being clever by protecting themselves from the sun? Are the top two Cups vulnerable by having no protection, or have they gained enough self-confidence to expose themselves like they are? And then there is this long stem that separates the left and the right cups completely..... One almost wants to pick the stem and throw it away..... Why can't the Cups look at each other? Don't they want to? Lots of questions and not many answers here (because it depends on the other cards in the spread, right?)


The Four of Swords.... perhaps another time.


for the peoples not owning a marseille deck, you can find the 4's all here

a 4 is too rigid and constrictive for swords (air), air will try to get rid of the heaviness of the 4.
like new ideas and using your imagination instead of keeping to the old and known ways. but the 4 also adds practicality and grounds the airiness of the swords.
4 and air seem opposing each other, but actually they team up very well, integrating these opposites in a way giving results.

i never used the flowers in reading like diana does, so i had a good look at them now.
it shows the tension between air and 4, but also the possibilities, the buds on the outside 4 corners, of growing into a beautiful flower, in the middle.



I will start with the cups here. I am using my Camoin.

Fours immediately imply to me stability. Emotional to the cups. So I see this card as indicative to emotional stability. I see the cups 'quartered' by the vine. Separating all four cups. Keeping your emotions seperate. I also notice this vine has somewhat of a root pointing down to the ground. Again this idicates to me this being one of the more grounded cup cards, and less emotional.

I see this continuiously budding vine. It is as if one flower comes forth from the one before it. This is how one thing leads to another, so to speak. I also notice that the two leaves are upside down as if to make sure to catch anything that should fall from above. Not to let anything fall into the cups below. This reminds me of a feeling of being separate from God. That God is somehow unreachable from us. It also makes me think of those that follow a religion faithfully because it is their duty instead of their passion.


Rusty Neon

2, 3 and 4 of Cups

I was thinking of posting this as a separate thread, but I'll throw it in with the Fours thread where it will get lost. :)

The fascinating thing about Marseilles pips is that there is no one single way of looking at them. It depends on your mood, your intuition, the spread, the other cards, the question. It also depends on how you see the given card in the context of the other pips of the same suit, and which such other pips you compare your given card to.

For instance, I'm now looking at the imagery of the Paul Marteau 4 of Cups in the context of the imagery of two other particular Cups pips, in this case, the 2 and 3 of Cups.


In such a sequence, and based on my present mood, I can see the 2 of Cups as pictorially representing the coupling, merging card.


The 3 of Cups, then, is the giving-birth and nurturing-the-child card (the number Two plus the number One).


The 4 of Cups is the mature, stable version (the number Four) of the 3 of Cups.

In the 4 of Cups, there are two, possibly adult, children (versus the one, first child in the 3 of Cups) and their two parents.

There is a developed vine in the middle of the card, with a root (indicating stability, or perhaps over-rigidity).

The flower at the top hasn't blossomed yet, but hopefully soon it will. Whatever love there is, will hopefully get even better when the flower blossoms.

There are two cups on top, and two cups on bottom. The bottom two cups are being _protected_ by the overhanging leaves. This raises the question of who is represented by the protected, nurtured bottom cups? Is it the children, or is it the parents? In the first such case, the parents continue to nurture their children. In the second case, the love given by the parents to the children has been reciprocated and it's now the parents who are being loved, nurtured and protected by the children. Perhaps the bottom cups sometimes represent the children, and other times represent the parents. A true reciprocal love.


For the first time I notice that the flowers for each card are different, but the leaves are similar. So the flowers must have some special significance in their own right. I’m not sure whether the flowers are different according to suit or number so I’ll need to check that out. And I wonder why the card designer used flowers in the first place. Was that a fashion or does it have some special meaning? You don’t have to answer this. The question probably belong sin the Marseilles Help Desk Thread.

I was interested to read JMD’s comments about the significance of four in Pythagorean numerology, of which I know nothing. Something more to check out?

Nevertheless, there is something fulsome about all of these fours, as if they are metaphysically lunging to get to 10 without having to go through all the steps of the other numbers. It is almost as though the Soul does the initial work to get to 4, which is quite a happy, harmonious number, and then hesitates looking at the hard work of the rest of life. The Cups and the Disks are large and the Batons and the Swords look airy, spare and fit, like young athletes at the start of their careers. In fact there is a lot of space in all of these images which speaks of something free, unconstricted and energetic despite the symmetry in each card.

However, my understanding of 4 is that it represents harmony and stability, law and order. If this is the case then it is an interesting view of the value of order and structure. 4’s do not have to be static and boring. In fact they represent a really focused use of energy, ready to go into the pivotal space of the 5’s.

That means that form and structure does not have to be constricting. We can be as free as we wish to be?


crystal cove

Marseille pips- fours

The fours are influenced by the Emperor; thereby symbolizing service, order, foundation, self-discipline, reliability, strength, and rules. At the extreme, they can represent repression, rigidity, stubborness, and a refusal to compromise.

4 of Batons- The bright yellow leaves of the three have turned to a dull orange in the four which seems to represent stagnation to me. The leaves have been there for a while, there isn't much vitality and life. The greenery just seem to be holding on. The flower on the top, partially open, appears wilted. The active, fiery batons are restless in the four. Four wants to sit back and take it easy and the batons want to be moving. The batons could provide an interesting spark for the four, but may just struggle against the stability and want out.

4 of Cups- Again, the leaves and flowers lack the vitality of the preceeding card. The flowers are just past the budding stage.....waiting. Water is fluid and contained with the four. It can be a very happy pairing....for a while. Water that stays in one place too long becomes stagnant. This pairing could mean a stability in emotions. Taken too far could mean repressed emotions or sadness.

4 of Swords- In the middle of the four swords there is a blue flower with a few open leaves in the middle of a yellow bulb. The flower has begun to open, but it has far to go in order to become fully open. There is a yellow bud farther down the stem, getting ready to open. Swords are of the intellectual realm. Logic and reason can be very happy with the four. The four provides the stability for the sword to collect it's thoughts and organize them. It's a nice rest for the swords, however, if they stay too long, they could find themselves "thinking" too much, or obsessing.

4 of Coins- The four coins are nicely balanced with the leaves, flowers, and buds curling around them. The flowers on the top and bottom are open, but not fully. The yellow "shield" in the center have three flowers in it. There is also what appears to be four yellow petals connected to two buds. It's obvious this shield will become the fifth disk in the next card. The coins and their earthiness are very comfortable with the stability of the four. The 4 provides plenty of security to make the coins feel safe. No one will get lost....or stolen. It's a perfect business. However, in order to increase the coins, one of them will have to provide a spark to get out of their comfort zone.

I used my Camoin deck.


Using Hadar I have taken into account the numerology and suit but not colour this time. I usually find it easier to read the cards in a spread rather than individually but I had a go and this is what I came up with:

4 Cups

Four cups stand in each corner of the card forming a square (rectangle). They are just standing there, balanced and untouched by any plant. There is no burst of energy just a passive, equal feeling about the card. The flower bud at the bottom is unopened, but when the eye slowly travels up the plant we see it opens into a flower. Emotions are in order and controlled, even calm.

4 Batons

Again there is a structure and balance to the wands but here we see growth coming from where they cross, there is energy here. The two flowers top and bottom are full of life and when they connect to the centre they too will be full of energy, and together, but, they have to move to the centre first. They will then be complete. This card tells me there are good prospects and future, it's alive.

4 Swords

First impression of the layout of the swords and flowers is again orderly, almost symetrical. The four flower buds are detatched from their life force, just floating, they have broken free and will die, and the central flower which is thriving is protected by the swords. In order to flourish and grow you will need to stay in control but be passive. This flower always looks to me like it has a halo which tells me it is a calming card.

4 Coins

The pentacles form a square, a uniformity, and they are surrounded, but not touched, by the vine. There is a stillness but it fluffs up it's feathers and struts. There is alot of pomp and importance (shield and flowers). It's showy and rich. The card is all about status (perhaps a fixation with how things look to others).



Hi everyone,

I used the Hadar.

4 Coins

Fours generally represent stability, structure and solidity so in the four of coins there is an unmoving quality. Each coin sits cosily in its niche, protected by the growth of the flowers. I see material stability and security here. Because of the Emperors connection I also think of boundaries when I think of the fours and so whilst each coin is sitting pretty, those boundaries could be rigid. The stem of the plants are thick and sturdy too. Each coin is so cut off from its counterparts that I sense a touch of self-sufficiency in this card.

4 Cups

A lot of emotion is represented in this card by the large cups. The stability of the fours + emotion = contentment. The flower at the top is just touching the cups and so could be seen to be connecting. However, of the roots at the bottom, only one seems to be flourishing, the other two are cut off. The bottom two cups appear to be cut off, not only from the roots but they are also being protected by the leaves above. Is there a message of smothering, overprotection or discontentment here. Since these two cups are in the material plane, perhaps the message is that this discontentment can be fulfilled in the spiritual plane, the two cups above.

4 Batons

The large flowers are sturdy and have thick stems, they look established, which again ties in with the stability, solidity theme of the fours, but again they have been cut off. There is some unfinished business here. Its like the loose ends need tying off. Batons represent action and energy so I see this card as a project successfully established but not 'out of the woods yet'. There is further growth from the middle which may represent branching off in another direction but still there is order and structure here.

4 Swords

The flower in the middle looks well protected by the swords. That large yellow part of the top flower could be a seed pod and the flower could be in its last few days (it is considerably smaller), but its a huge store. Just think of the potential in the seeds which are sleeping inside! I see this as dormant energy. The seed pod is just waiting for the right time and then it will pop and disperse its young, its ideas and thoughts. There is also another flower bud coming through further down. The four flowers in the corners show the geometry of the four, the square, showing that potential ideas can overcome obstacles.

J :)