Polytheists and the Tarot


The Tree of Life and the Tarot Correspondences

The Tarot of today is based on The Tree of Life, which in turn is from the Qabalah. The Tree of Life represents the structure of the Universe. Hence, The Tree guides human consciousness towards the mythic essence of God. Climbing The Tree of Life returns people to the Source of Creation, which is God. Therefore the Major Arcana of the Tarot can be used as the pictorial version of the mystic’s journey to reunify with God.

I see the Qabalah and The Tree of Life as based on the cultural norms that are reflected in the Western (Roman) alphabet. Laurence de Looze, a Professor of Modern Languages at the University of Toronto explores this in his book, “The Letter and the Cosmos: How the Alphabet Has Shaped the Western View of the World.” He writes that letters in the Judeo-Christian tradition are regarded as an active way to bring down God’s power to the earth. The letters become words which then weave power. The view of Medieval Christians that letters bring people to God became secularized and later embedded in Western occult studies. This belief is that by using the letters of the alphabet, a person can ascend “Jacob’s Ladder” and seek salvation. This is because all of the letters are imbued with a moral dimension.

In Medieval thought, if the alphabet is closer to God’s speech, then it will become the alphabet of God. Hebrew, which is already regarded as God’s speech, is considered to be this alphabet. In the Qabalah, the cosmology of the Universe is based on the Hebrew alphabet, which has 22 letters. Therefore, The Tree of Life, which is expressed in the 22 paths of Hebrew letters, is climbing “Jacob’s Ladder” to God.

For me, the Tarot translates the sacred Hebrew alphabet of The Tree of Life into pictorial form. The underlying assumption of the Hero’s Journey is then that the person would progress through the Major Arcana until they reached The World, and became united with God. The Christian imagery of the Major Arcana highlights this path to salvation. It also reflects the goal of ascending The Tree of Life to God.

As a Roman Polytheist, I do not subscribe to the Hero’s Journey nor to a person ascending The Tree of Life to unite with God. To me, these are aspects of Judeo-Christian theology. It may seem subtle to the Tarot reader, but the progress to salvation is embedded in this divination system. As a Roman Polytheist, I see divination as a communication between humans and the Gods. They speak to us in auguries and signs. Divination, to me, is not a journey back to God or the source of Creation as presented in The Tree of Life.

Instead of connecting me to the Tarot, The Tree of Life reminds me of why I dislike the Tarot. I study the Tarot because many modern oracle systems have elements of it in them. The Tarot for me is Judeo-Christian theology in divination form. I regard the Western alphabet and the world as the ancient Greeks did. The alphabet as a whole corresponds to the cosmos, and with letters it can be recreated in this world.


 Works Used:

De Looze, Laurence, “The Letter and the Cosmos: How the Alphabet Has Shaped the Western View of the World.” University of Toronto Press: Toronto. 2016.

Drury, Neville, “The Tarot Workbook.” Thunder Bay Press: San Diego. 2004

Markham, Iris, “The Tree of Life.” Kabbalah and Healing. Web. http://www.kabbalahandhealing.com/tree-of-life.html, <accessed 8 Dec. 2016>

Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.” New Page Books: Franklin Lakes (NJ). 2004.

3 thoughts on “Polytheists and the Tarot

  1. As a card reader I use the Tarot for fortune telling, for answering specific questions with a specific answer. I was never interested in the Judeo-Xtian, kabbalistic approach to the cards because for me, the point of consulting a reader is to receive practical information about your situation. So the uber mystical, climb the tree of life is not what most people consulting a reader are seeking.
    Many of the methods of fortunetelling began as games: Tarot and playing cards, dice, dominos and pulling lots all were used for entertainment and eventually were used for informal divination. It’s fairly recently(19th cent.-present) that heavy doses of Kabbala,, astrology and Western occultism were over laid onto the Tarot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your previous poster. I do not think there was any sort of concerted attempt to connect the Tarot with the Kabbalah until …. Madame Blavatsky possibly? Certainly Crowley. Yet, though his deck is the one I have and use almost exclusively, I find MUCH of both Romano/Greek and Germanic mythos in these cards. I find it odd that the only system Crowley did not explicitly include in this card system is runes. Yet when I look at the cards I see very clear, unmistakable indications of Germanic Gods and Goddesses, as well as references that could only have come from Germanic mythology. I don’t find this to be so with most other tarot decks and I am more and more fascinated as I explore this deck.

    Liked by 1 person

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