Letters on the Cards

imagesThere are twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet. As mentioned in my Introduction to the Tarot, the Hebrew letters were chosen by the Ancients because they each have three attributes – they are a letter, a number, and a word or concept.  This is similar to the choice to use Greek and Latin in science and botany. According to the Sepher Yetzirah, or Book of Formation, the Hebrew letters are grouped into three different categories. There are three Mother letters, seven Double letters, and twelve Simple letters. Each letter has been assigned to a Tarot key. The term Key for each card signifies that each card is being used to unlock a particular door in your mind.

The three Mother letters are Sh, A, and M representing the first elements.

  • Key 20   Sh   Shin    Judgement               Realization                    Fire
  • Key  0    A     Aleph   The Fool                  Superconsciousness     Air
  • Key 12    M    Mem    Suspended Man    Reversal                         Water

The seven Double letters are B, G, D, K, P, R, and Th. They are considered double letters because each is assigned the attribute of a pair opposites. One manifestation is positive and constructive, the other is negative and destructive. Each letter can be spoken aspirated or unaspirated. They are each assigned to a planet reflecting that planet’s particular vibration. Important to remember is that these are polar opposites.

  • Key 1    B     Beth        Magician             Life and Death              Mercury
  • Key 2    G    Gimel      High Priestess    Peace and Strife           Moon
  • Key 3    D    Daleth     Empress              Wisdom and Folly        Venus
  • Key 10   K   Kaph       Wheel of Fortune   Wealth and Poverty   Jupiter
  • Key 16   P    Peh         Tower                     Grace and Sin                 Mars
  • Key 19   R    Resh       Sun                         Fertility and Sterility     Sun
  • Key 21   Th   Tav        Cosmos                  Dominion and Slavery  Saturn

The twelve Simple letters relate to the signs of the zodiac and each letter is assigned to a function.The five senses and speech are mentioned first. As you may recall from my post on the zodiac, every sign represents a part of the human body. The human body is a magical kingdom, timageshe place where the Spirit, your Spirit, resides. Hopefully, as you follow these posts, you will begin to get a sense of not only how beautiful your body is, but also how to operate it to bring out its full potential, and thus your inner full potential. You have been given an amazing gift by your parents, a body that will allow you to realize your (not your neighbor’s, not your family’s) full spiritual potential. I always remind my students to take good care of their bodies, look both ways when they cross the street, don’t text when driving, feed it healthy food, exercise it, and it will provide them with a long life. Because we’ll need a long life to give us the ample time necessary to study, and learn from, the many lessons that Life will present to each of us, whether we want them or not. You will find the Tarot to be very helpful with these lessons. So here are the twelve Simple letters.

  • Key 4   H   Heh      Emperor      Sightimages
  • Key 5   W   Vav      Teacher        Hearing
  • Key 6   Z    Zain      Lovers          Smell
  • Key 7   Ch  Cheth    Chariot       Speech
  • Key 8   T    Teth       Strength     Taste (Digestion)
  • Key 9   Y    Yod        Hermit        Touch
  • Key 11  L    Lamed   Justice        Action
  • Key 13  N   Nun       Transition   Motion
  • Key 14   S   Samekh   Temperance   Wrath
  • Key 15  O   Ayin        Adversary    Mirth
  • Key 17   Tz   Tzaddi    Star            Meditation
  • Key 18   Q   Qoph      Moon          Sleep

As you look over the names of the keys you will find a few that have been given a different name than used here. For example, Teacher instead of Hierophant. Another, Adversary instead of Devil. As we go over each key this will be discussed.