The aces deserve just a bit more detail than the other pips, but just a bit. Most works on the tarot will spend more time on the four aces then any other individual set of pip cards, and some now take this to mean that the aces are more important than the other cards. And its this same thought process that leads to the conclusion that the trumps are inherently more important to the deck than the pip or court cards. In reality every card is equally important in the deck, and absent a single card, regardless of which card it is, the entire meaning and form of the deck crumbles. Trump only tarot decks, even though they can sometimes lend further insight into the trump cards, cannot function as a complete tarot deck should. It would be like tearing a random number of pages from a book, and then expecting the information therein to confer the same knowledge as if the book had been read cover to cover.The only reason why the aces need a bit more time than the other pips is because they operate a bit differently than the other pips. In the same way each trump needs a very in depth individual explanation because the trumps operate on a much more unique and individual basis than the pip or court cards.
In the next few sections I’m going to deal with how astrology relates to the tarot pips and Paul Christians deacon method. However the deacon method only covers cards two through ten. The aces are absent. As we will talk about later, in the lower cards a greater purity exists, and as such the deacons hold less power over the card meanings. The greatest purity exists in the ace, and here the purity is absolute, nullifying any deacon that may be assigned to it.
The ace also acts as the connection between the pip cards and the court cards within a suit. Modern card games have taught us to perceive the deck in a way in which the ten naturally leads to the princess. Within the tarot though the actual suit order is king, queen, prince, princess, A, 2,3…10. Whether you want to look at the king as the highest or the king as the lowest card is all a matter of perspective.
I don’t want to get into too much detail about how the court cards connect to the pip cards here, because it would involve a new set of articles detailing the meanings of the court cards in order to fully understand it. To put it simply, the element would begin in the highest realm being represented by the King. Herein it would take on its fiery aspect. It would then move down through the other court cards gaining another aspect of each. The lowest of the four cards, the princess, exists in the heavens above Earth. Each of the four princesses are assigned one of the four quadrants from the North Pole. The aces exist on the earth itself, encompassing the ground beneath the heaven of its princess. Where the princess of a suit ends, the ace begins, and in this way the ace is said to be the throne of its princess (And the princess is sometimes said to be the throne of its ace. Brownie points to anyone who can explain why both sayings are correct, the answer’s hidden in this blog post). And to return to our original idea, the element has moved through the four court cards, gained all four aspects of itself, and is now born into being, represented by the ace which, as we discussed earlier, would represent the absolute beginning of its creation.
And as when we look at the four court cards as being four different aspects of an element (fiery, watery, airy, and earthy), the fifth missing aspect is represented through the ace (spirity). As we discussed earlier, spirit is a combination of the four other elements. One who understands how to read court cards properly would understand that the king of swords is the fiery part of air. In the same way, the ace of swords is the spirity part of air. If you don’t yet understand what all this means, don’t worry. This section is really meant for those who already have an understanding of the court cards.
As discussed above, each princess/ace combination has dominion over one quarter of the Earth. As per Crowley’s rough estimates of the quadrants, the Princess/Ace of wands would have dominion over Asia, Cups over the Pacific ocean, Swords over the Americas, and Coins over Europe and Africa.
Some interpretations of the pips put much greater emphasis on the symbolic nature of what they create than we have yet discussed. For instance the ace of swords is sometimes seen as great power which may be yielded for good or for evil. This is because the ace of swords is literally the seeds of knowledge. In the same way sometimes the ace of coins is interpreted as illusion since it represents the seeds of physicality or the material world, and in some philosophies the material world is seen as illusionary.
This pretty much covers everything that is going to be said about the aces for the remainder of these articles. I spent a lot of time and gave very little information about actually interpreting the aces in the course of a reading, but I think I managed to include some useful information that will help some better understand the aces and study them. The next article is going to be a quick review of basic astrology.