Reading the Tarot Pips – Part 3: Numerology 101

Okay, we’re going to talk about numerology, or what the numbers mean. As per our tarot pips, we’ll be looking at numbers 1-10. Each of these numbers corresponds to a Hebrew word and a sepiroth.

1 = Kether = The Crown
2 = Chokmah = Wisdom
3 = Binah = Knowledge
4 = Chesed = Mercy
5 = Geburah = Severity
6 = Tiphareth = Beauty
7 = Netzach = Victory
8 = Hod = Splendor
9 = Yesod = Foundation
10 = Malkuth = The Kingdom

The ten numbers are split into three triads and across three pillars. The first triad is Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, and these three come together to form Chesed. The second triad is Chesed, Geburah and Tiphareth, which come together to form Netzach. And the third triad is Netzach, Hod, and Yesod that come together to form Malkuth.

The three pillars are the pillars of Balance, Mercy, and Severity. Kether, Tiphareth, Yesod, and Malkuth exist on the pillar of balance. Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach exist on the pillar of mercy. Binah, Geburah, and Hod exist on the pillar of Severity.

All of this is important, and it all has meaning if you study it long enough to understand it. But moving on, we’re going to look at how an idea passes through these ten points.

1. Kether – The first point is Kether. As stated before, this isn’t the true beginning, but where we’re starting with our idea. It also isn’t the start, but what came before it. Kether is represented by the statement of ‘I’. Kether is the seed, the first act through which all else comes into being. It is the foundation of the idea. Kether is where existence starts. Geometrically speaking, it is a single point existing by itself.

2. Chokmah – Chokmah is represented by the statement of ‘I Am’. After existence begins, the next step is being or existing. Here the idea is in its purest form. Chokmah is the purity of being, without any outside force hampering that being. Geometrically speaking, Chokmah is a line which can be drawn between two points.

3. Binah – Binah is represented by the statement of ‘I Know I Am’. In Binah the idea is taking the next step in existence and acknowledging that it does exist. It is the knowledge that one is something and that they exist. And through Binah we get the first impurity of the idea. It’s now effected by knowledge of itself. And this taint will manifest in various ways depending on what the idea is. Geometrically Binah provides three separate points, through which a shape can be made.

4. Chesed – Chesed is the completion of form. Once the idea acknowledges its own existence, it comes into the next step, the completion of its existence. In Chesed, the idea becomes complete for the first time. Although the idea is complete here, it is still alone and has yet to be put into the universe. Here the idea is strong and fortified, but that strength is only because the idea still exists outside of the universe, and so there are no other forces acting upon it, and no opposition to it. Geometrically Chesed provides a fourth point, allowing for a three dimensional object to form. Also, in order for a thing to be spatially defined, four points are necessary. An X,Y, and Z point, and a fourth point to observe it from. Within Chesed we have the true formation of being within space.

5. Geburah – And this leads to Geburah, in which outside forces act upon the idea.. In Geburah the idea is cast out into the cruel universe. Within Geburah we have opposition to the idea, we have attempts to both change and destroy the idea. And possibly we have the destruction of the idea.

6. Tiphareth – Tiphareth is the strongest and most balanced form the idea will take. Here the idea has been completed in Chesed, it has faced opposition in Geburah, and it has survived the opposition of Geburah and come out stronger for it. Tiphareth exists at the exact center of all things, being in the pillar of balance, being as close to Kether and Malkuth, and proving a direct connection to both. The idea has found its most perfect form (as opposed to its purest form in Chokmah).

7. Netzach – Within Netzach is the consequence and the end to the perfection found in Tiphareth. Within Tiphareth things were perfect and all opposition was destroyed. Without opposition, the idea becomes less than perfect. At this point we have stagnation, sloth, boredom, and over-indulgence. The idea starts moving towards destroying itself through the sloth of perfection.

8. Hod – Hod is the reaction to Netzach. In order for the idea not to be destroyed, in order for it to survive and thrive again it has to make some changes towards the opposite direction. However Hod isn’t the return to balance, but the exact opposite extreme of Netzach. Hod moves towards its own destruction to, and it is as bad a situation as Netzach, it’s just done in the exact opposite way.

9. Yesod – By joining the two extremes of Hod and Netzach together we come to Yesod, the return to balance. However Yesod differs from both Kether and Tiphareth. Kether’s balance comes from it existing alone. There is nothing else, so it is always at the exact center. Tiphareth’s balance is naturally occurring. Balance is the natural state of all things upon reaching Tiphareth. But the balance of Yesod is forced into being. It comes not as the natural state, but by taking two opposite extremes and forcing them together, coming to a compromise between them. We can look at the four stages of balance as being balance (Kether), perfect balance (Tiphareth), imperfect balance (Yesod), and natural balance (Malkuth). We can also look at the balance of oneself and one’s energies (see Lies a Kabbalist Told Me for some background information on this). In Malkuth we have the natural balance brought about by existing in the universe. The idea that all things within the universe are always perfect and balanced. In the next stage we have Yesod where balance is achieved by positioning two opposites with equal force and having them pull against each other. In Tiphareth, we have energy balanced and codified, where it acts as a single force. And finally in Kether we have balance achieved through a complete oneness with the entire universe, which as we said with Malkuth is already perfectly balanced.

10. Malkuth – Finally, born of Yesod we have Malkuth. In Malkuth the idea has finally completed its cycle. In Malkuth the idea has become so complex that it has collapses under its own weight and destroys itself. This will lead into our eleventh point.

11. Kether – From the ruins of Malkuth springs forth a seed. This seed will act as a new Kether, and the 11 becomes renumbered as 1, and the cycle begins again, with the idea building upon the complexity of the previous cycle in a new cycle. This act continues on and on with the idea becoming more complex every time it completes a cycle. Eventually we have the formation of the universe, the all of creation, and everything that has come into being up until now. And the cycle will continue on with the universe constantly growing and everything evolving into a more complex state.

I understand that everything I’ve written may seem very complicated, and that some people may be very lost at this stage. However I think everything will become a lot clearer once we take some examples of ideas and look at how they progress through the ten sepiroth. That will be the main purpose of the next section. We’ll also look at how everything fits together, and briefly we’ll look at how the pips correspond to the trumps. After the next section you should be able to read the pips just fine. The second half of this will look at astrology and the method used by Paul Christian and the Golden Dawn.

3 Responses to Reading the Tarot Pips – Part 3: Numerology 101

  1. N says:

    Hi i wonder if you could shed some light on this situation. I had a reading with a medium and she told me that Malkuth was working with me. To understand ithis more i tried to search for possible meanings but to tell you the truth i am even more confused now!
    What is the whole purpose or meaning of Malkuth coming up in a reading? How do i relate to it?

    If you can help…much appreciated!

  2. Rob says:

    It means it’s time to find a better psychic. Even if a person has no psychic ability and is doing a cold reading, you’d at least expect them to talk in a way that they would be understood.

    What she said was not only vague, but knowing what all of those words mean, it doesn’t make much sense. I suppose there might be some meaning to be taken if you know the exact context of what this woman was thinking. But part of what you’re paying a psychic for is for them to interpret the information into something you can understand.

    Malkuth is the lowest sepiroth of the tree of life. It’s the physical/material world. It’s where we are now. It’s the final piece of the creation of anything. It’s the point where things become whole. Ultimately it’s so large that it can only ever be understood as an abstract. Saying Malkuth is working with you can mean a hundred different things depending on the context, the speaker’s understanding of Malkuth, and what idea of Malkuth they’re talking about; and at the same time the statement is meaningless.

    Really though, you shouldn’t have to do legwork on the Internet to find the denotation of your psychic reading.

  3. Brigid Webb says:

    Hi Rob:
    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
    That was a great entry; I really enjoyed it. I’ve just started studying the Thoth deck myself after much procrastination, and am working through Lon Milo Duquette’s book.
    I want to say “ditto” to your response to this person’s question about his/her psychic reading. That is the most wacky response from a reader I’ve ever heard of: Malkuth is working with you. Well, good. The material plane is working with you. I’m very glad the material plane is working with me on a daily basis, otherwise I’d be floating in space :)

    Love is the Law, Love under Will.

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