Tarot and the Tree of Life
“All matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe”
– Princeton quantum physicist John Wheeler
The Tree of Life
Ten numbers are for the stations on the Tree of Life as potential is manifested into the universe, from infinite potential into solid form. As it descends it takes on more defined qualities and attributes, becoming progressively more fixed, and more polluted.
Four suits are for the four elements. Each card of the Minor Arcana, from the Ace of Wands to the Ten of Discs, describes a specific point on the map of a journey through the worlds of fire, water, air and earth.
The elements (going up)
- Disks: Earth. The material world, the work we do, the bodies we are clothed in and the houses we live in.
- Swords: Air. The conceptual world where we analyse and strategise, where plans are constructed and words clash.
- Cups: Water. The emotional world where we come together, the world of fear and friendship, love and pleasure.
- Wands: Fire. The spiritual world of transformative and sometimes destructive energy animating the other, the source of ambition and passion, pride and vitality.
Twenty-two paths running between the ten stations correspond to the trump cards of the Major Arcana. They embody the dynamic relationship between the two spheres they join together. The High Priestess sits on the path between 1 and 6, between pure brilliance and the sphere of beauty, balance and perfection reflected in our world, this side of the abyss. The art of the Priestess is to translate divine secrets into beautiful expressions people can understand.
Scientifically speaking, Tarot is less easy to make sense of than Palmistry. While physics provides clear evidence that what we call “random” events are influenced when an observer attends to them, the maths is beyond me, and using one mystery to explain another makes us none the wiser.
I picked up my first tarot deck 19 years ago, curious about Jungian psychology and perennial archetypes. The idea that drawing cards from a deck could indicate anything was ridiculous to me, but the sequences that the deck threw at me and the sense of humour and intelligence in its communications began to erode my scepticism.
I don’t really understand how the internet works, but it provides me with useful information so I use it.
There are many decks, and many approaches. I like to explore the correspondences across the spread and the palm as they press upon my mind to give an understanding of the specific issue at hand.