A Hypothesis for the Number of Cards in the Tarot Deck

I had an insight a few months ago about the Tarot that, to my embarrassment, I did not write up a post about. It is a hypothesis about why the Tarot deck has 78 cards.

There are, of course, 22 major arcana cards, often called trump cards, in the Tarot. This, of course, is the same as the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. And Frater RC’s interview with Stav Appel suggested that in one early Tarot deck, there was a lot of Judaic symbolism to the pictures (which has been altered).

It occurred to me–somehow–that this might relate back to Dee’s use of “Kabbalah” in adding up the cross-sums of Dee’s values of the the divine name YHVH in the Monas Hieroglyphica. Dee’s approach made this add up to 24 because he used the following starting values (which don’t match the typical gematria values): 1 for Yod, 2 for Heh, and 3 for Vav. Yet what happens when the actual values of the 10 for Yod, 5 for Heh, and 6 for Vav?

10 (Yod) + 5 (Heh) = 15
10 (Yod) + 6 (Vav) = 16
10 (Yod) + 5 (Heh) = 15
5 (Heh) + 6 (Vav) = 11
5 (Heh) + 5 (Heh) = 10
6 (Vav) + 5 (Heh) = 11

The values, interestingly, add up to a grand sum of 78, which matches the total number of cards in the Tarot deck. I believe that this is compelling, if perhaps not conclusive, evidence that the number of cards in the Tarot deck–as with the number of major arcana cards in the Tarot deck–is 78: it shows the Judaic influence on the Tarot itself.

Interestingly, the number of letters in each Watchtower tablet is 156, which is double 78. The black cross of the Great Table uses each 5-letter name of God (EXARP, HCOMA, BITOM, & NANTA) twice, which suggests that the 156 itself is a doubling of 78. The Daughter of Fortitude (whom Crowley dubbed Babalon) is Herself associated with the 156 as well. Finally, it should be noted that the Tetragrammaton value of 26 (10+5+6+5) is one of the 32 words associated with a unique Enochian word (OX).

How the Pieces of Enochian Fit Together, Part 1

This is a little trip into the various bits of Enochian—the Heptarchy, Liber Loagaeth, and the Watchtowers/Aethyrs (for the purposes of this post, I’ll use the angels’ characterization of the last as a single part of the system).

It occurred to me last night, as I was falling asleep (my hypnagogic mind is way smarter than this waking mind is), how very well these parts match up with the 360 degrees of a circle. Causabon’s relation has Gabriel describing an angel who “governeth Hyleich, which is the matter of the four Elements, and which onely is an Element” (this suggests the element spirit), the “Princes and Governours also of the 4 Elements…The angels also of the 48 angles of the heavens.” Angles indicates geometry, and is suggestive of astrology. “Forty-eight angles” suggested each angle was 7.5 degrees to Dee–360 degrees divided by 48, and, as Leitch assesses, likely an astrological inference, and rightly so.

Then it occurred to me that there is an interesting structure to the elemental Watchtowers: four kings, 24 ministers, 16 kerubs and 16 so-called “lesser” angels–60 in all. For each of the elements, this comes to 15 angels. I considered how these might be arranged: there are three signs for each of the four elements in astrology (twelve signs in all across the 360 degrees of the zodiac). Each sign thus has 30 degrees and in each element are 90 degrees in all. This matches well with the 15 angels; each angel can occupy two degrees per sign per element, and this twoness makes sense if one one considers the duality of sect (note also that the first two of the first 16 spoken Enochian calls reflect a duality in themselves: invocation and evocation).

Another thing occurred to me: the four watchtower tablets together have 156 letters (156 being closely associated with Babalon), yet the Great Table (the original or the Tabula Recensa) itself has 176 letters–if one counts the elemental names of God–EXARP, HCOMA, BITOM, NANTA–only once (each name is duplicated in a mirror image) in the Black Cross. Thus, we are four letters away from 180, and it occurred to me that PELE, the name on the ring “without which” the magician “shall do nothing,” is four letters–combining this with the Great Table thus creates 180 letters–which can also be considered to have a duality in the sense of sect, thus nicely totaling 360 to match the 360 degrees of the zodiacal circle (and circles in general). Note also that the arrangement of the four tablets–earth opposite air, and fire opposite water–matches the first two signs of the first half of the zodiac and the first two signs of the second half of the zodiac: Aries, Taurus, Libra, and Scorpio (this is the order they appear in the zodiac), which are ruled by Mars, Venus, Venus, and Mars, respectively. The order of these signs differs in the order of the Tabula Recensa, however: Aries (upper-left), Libra (upper-right), Scorpio (lower-right), and Taurus (lower-left). This further suggests a mirroring which differs from the mirroring of the Thema Mundi.

Yet I have been working with Liber Loagaeth, and this raises another question: if the Watchtower angels are called with calls 1-18 (2-19 if one considers the first call “unspoken”), and this matches Leaves 2-19, then what of the final 30 calls and final 30 leaves? Here, again, we have a nice overlay with the number of degrees of the zodiac; each Aethyr matches each degree of all 12 signs of the zodiac, and the most powerful Aethyr, LIL, matches the most powerful degree of each sign, the so-called anaretic degree. My experience with LIL was of a sphere, suggesting the realization, in three dimensions, of a circle. However, LIL relates to Kether (“Crown”) in the Kabbalah, not Chokmah (which is ruled by the zodiac); this understanding of the crown is the realization of the unity of space and time, and hints of the unified forces of the universe. Scrying the Aethyrs brings one into a realization of the fundamental unity of the forces of Binah/Babalon with Chokmah.

Naturally, the Zodiac has within it seven planets which rule the 12 signs of the zodiac, and the last of these planets, Saturn, is said to rule Binah. This brings us back to the Heptarchy, and the septenary nature of the Heptarchy and Loagaeth. The angelic kings, princes, and ministers of the Heptarchy occupy 343 (seven cubed) letters of the “Tabula bonorum angelorum invocationes,” which is seventeen less than the number of degrees of the zodiac. Considering A) the unspoken call as suggestive of the center of a circle, and B) the 1st and 2nd calls as being an artificial duality of i) interior and exterior, ii) invocation and evocation, iii) sephiroth and planetary rulers, iv) two circles allow for a third dimension for a sphere. Thus, the first nineteen initial calls can be conceptually reduced to seventeen, and the Heptarchical system can be numerically linked with the overall structure of the Watchtowers.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet: Liber Loagaeth! After Leaf 1 (which is 4361 words followed by 9×49 cells of individual letters), each of the next 27 leaves (excluding the titles!) has 4802 letters (2401 per side), which, after subtracting a center letter in the middle on each side (see prior posts), comes to 4800, or 48 * 100, or 360 * 40/3. The next 20 leaves, excluding titles have half this number, 2401. The final leaf is five tables of 21 letters, or 105. Excluding Leaf 1, this gives us, excluding titles, 177779 letters (hm, a preponderance of the digit 7!). I went ahead and added up the number of letters across the titles: 1614 letters. Overall, this comes to 179393 letters, and this is a prime number(!). Leaf 1 has 10851 letters on side A (according to my excel document, which I have tweaked to account for punctuation, but may not have caught everything), which is a prime number. Leaf B has 7785+441=8226 letters. Unfortunately, this doesn’t add up to something useful yet, but I’ll keep looking. 🙂