“Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle.” – Marcus Aurelius
Imagine seeing your life with far more wisdom and deeper truth than you do now. Tarot is a perfect tool for doing so. In this post, I’m going to illustrate how the set of cards known as the “minor arcana” can deepen the way you view the world and grant you much greater intuitive understanding of yourself and your life.The key: understanding cycles. More on that in a moment.
The minor arcana are a set of 40 tarot cards: the Ace through Ten of each of the tarot’s suits. When we draw and examine these 40 cards, we are invited to take a deeper look at our lives, either the inward reality within us (our thoughts and feelings) or the outward reality that is the life we’re living (our relationships, career, or just interactions with the world around us). Just because they’re “minor” doesn’t mean they’re not important. It’s simply a designation between this set of cards within the tarot deck and the one we explored in my previous post, the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
Here’s a quick comparison: the 22 “majors” deal with universal archetypes related to the soul’s experience of life. (Quick reminder here: you are ALWAYS experiencing life from the soul’s perspective, even when you’re not aware of it, like during the most mundane and boring parts of an average day) By contrast, the 40 “minors” deal with the experience of everyday life. Whether it’s the majors or the minors, we’re looking at “arcana”, which means something hidden. These cards reveal to you the hidden dimension of yourself and your life. It’s deeper, less cluttered with ego-level confusion, and extremely eye-opening and empowering.
As we look to understand the minor arcana better, and use these cards to gain greater intuitive insight, it’s helpful to consider the numbers 1 – 10.
Numbers are a language all their own. Many of us think of numbers in term of mathematics, which could be described as the process of manipulating numbers to expand our understanding of reality. Few would argue that math has been a primary driver in mankind’s progress. Mankind’s incredible scientific and technological achievements would not be possible if numbers didn’t accurately represent the natural order of reality.
Don’t worry, we’re not about to have a math lesson here. It’s just important to take a moment to appreciate just how deeply meaningful numbers are. As we look to learn the minor arcana, understanding that numbers have deep significance will allow us to learn these cards faster, and far more deeply.
Numbers have archetypal meaning; there is a symbolic significance to numbers. In other words, there is an essence of each number that can deepen our knowledge of tarot, and therefore, reality itself. We are now going to take a brief look at the numbers one through 10, viewed symbolically. This quick lesson in numerology will expand our appreciation of numbers as an archetypal language.
Think for a moment about the natural cycle of development, of any event or thing. There is a natural way that things develop, like a universal process of life. Something springs forth, is new, matures, and eventually ends or transforms into something else. Let’s explore this idea in further detail.
Let’s use a hypothetical example. Say you are employed, but wanted to find a new job:
- One day you haven’t considered looking for a new job, and then the next day you have the idea that you will. Here you’ve gone from 0 to 1: nothing to something. But it’s just the beginning. It is the idea, the very start. (The Number 1)
- Next you further consider this idea. Would a new job be preferable than staying in your current job? Should you or shouldn’t you? We’ve now gone from 1 to 2: from just the idea to the idea considered. (The Number 2)
- Next you explore your options. You start looking at job boards, clarifying the job you want to find, putting the word out that you are looking for a job. You’ve expanded on your idea, and are moving into a new phase. (The Number 3)
- After enough self-examination and research, you settle into what it is you are looking for. You’re on solid ground, you feel confident with your direction, and have your system for the search. (The Number 4)
- Some setback occurs. Maybe you are rejected after an excellent interview, or you are told you don’t have the qualifications for the job you are seeking. Regardless what it is, you are thrown for a loop. (The Number 5)
- You adjust to the setback, and are made better for it. You learn better interview skills, or get the certification that was holding you back from getting your desired position. With the challenge successfully overcome, you are more confident and effective in your job search than ever. (The Number 6)
- You start to have doubts. Now that you overcame your previous obstacle, your priorities may have changed. Is that really the job you want? Is it possible that you could get promoted from within, and not have to leave your current company? You really have to be real with yourself now. You search within for clarification and deeper understanding. (The Number 7)
- With deep inner-searching giving you answers, you are fully ready to move forward with force and confidence. You know just what you want, and things move quickly now. Full speed ahead! (The Number 8)
- With all these phases behind you, and having grown from your experience, you finally get the job offer. Congratulations, all your effort has paid off! With your acceptance of the new offer, your job search is now over, and the cycle has reached its culmination. (The Number 9)
- You’ve moved on. You left your old position and are starting the new one. You’ve come full circle, and start anew. (The Number 10)
- How long until you start thinking about pursuing the next job? (11, or back to 1 again!)
This natural cycle of development can be applied to any process. Think about a marriage, a project you’ve worked on, or some other process with multiple stages of development. As you do, apply each of the numbers 1 – 10 to each stage of development. See how there’s an essential energy, or essence, to each stage.
To summarize, here is a simple summary of the archetypal meaning of each number, 1 – 10:
1 (Ace): beginning, potential, essence
2: progress, contrast, balance
3: expansion, development, understanding
4: structure, stability, order
5: challenge, adjustment, instability
6: harmony, beauty, flow
7: inner work, searching, assessment
8: movement, alignment, perpetuity
9: fullness, completion, expression
10: culmination, transformation, release
Now when you draw one of the 40 cards of the minor arcana, you are encouraged to consider the deeper significance of the number of that card. That number, all by itself, has much to reveal!