An Astro-Tarot Mandala, Part 1

This essay is yet another installment in a long-running theme that has been intriguing me for several years: the blending of tarot and astrology in more practical ways than simply using the latter to provide depth to the meaning of the individual cards. In this case the natal horoscope provides a personalized backdrop for the traditional Astrological Spread.

There are readers who choose to ignore the use of esoteric correspondences with the tarot, and astrology — as the most widely applied — is singled out in particular. There are two main arguments: first, astrology and tarot are two distinctly incompatible systems; one is analytical and structured while the other is intuitive and considerably less formulaic; and second, tarot is complete in and of itself and doesn’t need the occult embellishment. To that I would reply with the words of Rudyard Kipling’s Ballad of East and West:

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!”

The gist of it is that both systems bring something unique to the table, and their creative combination adds a good deal of color and nuance to the story-teller’s art. Regarding their incompatibility, as I’ve mentioned before, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, did a reasonably good job of massaging astrological principles to fit the tarot landscape, although I certainly don’t agree with every choice they made. I find it a useful adjunct to my own interpretation in almost every case except when reading the Tarot de Marseille pip cards, where suit, number and (in my own experimental approach) geometric associations are more to the point. Generally, though, as a pragmatist I see no reason to deny myself the use of any implement in the craftsman’s toolbox if it happens to be just the right one for the job. I would suggest that anyone who believes otherwise either hasn’t thought it through or hasn’t worked with the concepts enough to see their value; it does take a certain amount of dedication and grasp of complex symbolism to get one’s head around it, and not everyone is predisposed to that amount of effort, regardless of the rewards.

Some time ago I posted my “Astro-Tarot Mandala,” in which I translated my astrological birth-chart into tarot cards. Here it is again, and it forms the foundation for what I’m now attempting to do.

This array is based on the system of Whole Sign Houses, in which the zero-degree point of each sign falls on a house cusp, beginning with the sign that holds the Ascendant degree; this avoids the phenomenon of “intercepted” signs caused by a higher-latitude birth (like my own), which would invalidate the idea of one zodiacal trump card per house.

It won’t have too many practical uses since it isn’t the chart I employ in my natal astrology practice (that is based on the Placidus system which gives different house positions for the planets), although it could be applied when I’m working with classical astrology. With tarot I can see doing a personalized horoscope spread by laying out the twelve Whole Sign House cards as a template and placing twelve more randomly-drawn cards on top of them. But it was fun to create this and interesting to contemplate it from a mystical standpoint.

Here is a description in list form of the signs, planets, chart axes and associated tarot cards for my personal matrix.

First Quadrant Cards:

Scorpio (Death) in the 1st House;
Sagittarius (Temperance) in the 2nd House;
Capricorn (Devil) in the 3rd House.
Quadrant cards are the Ace of Cups and the Princess/Page of Cups.

Ascendant in the third decan of Scorpio: Death, 7 of Cups and King of Wands;

Second-house Jupiter in the third decan of Sagittarius: Wheel of Fortune, 10 of Wands and Queen of Pentacles;
Third-house Moon in the first decan of Capricorn: High Priestess, 2 of Pentacles, Queen of Pentacles.

Second Quadrant Cards:

Aquarius (Star) in the 4th House;
Pisces (Moon) in the 5th House;
Aries (Emperor) in the 6th House.
Quadrant cards are the Ace of Swords and the Princess/Page of Swords.

Imum Coeli, “bottom of the chart” and opposite the Midheaven degree, in the first decan of Pisces: Moon, 8 of Cups and King of Cups.

There are no planets in the Second Quadrant.

Third Quadrant Cards:

Taurus (Hierophant) in the 7th House;
Gemini (Lovers) in the 8th House;
Cancer (Chariot) in the 9th House.
Quadrant cards are the Ace of Pentacles and the Princess/Page of Pentacles.

Descendant in the third decan of Taurus: Hierophant, 7 of Pentacles and King of Swords.

Eighth-house Uranus in the third decan of Gemini: Fool, 10 of Swords, Queen of Cups;
Ninth-house Sun in the first decan of Cancer: Sun, 2 of Cups, Queen of Cups; Ninth-house Mercury in the first decan of Cancer: Magician, 2 of Cups, 3 of Cups*, Queen of Cups(*Note that Cancer includes a dedicated “Mercury” decan card, the 3 of Cups — Mercury in Cancer — so I have included it). ;
Ninth-house Venus in the first decan of of Cancer: Empress, 2 of Cups, Queen of Cups.

Fourth Quadrant Cards:

Leo (Strength) in the 10th House;
Virgo (Hermit) in the 11th House;
Libra (Justice) in the 12th House.
Quadrant cards are the Ace of Wands and the Princess/Page of Wands.

Midheaven in the first decan of Virgo: Hermit, 8 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles*;

Tenth-house Pluto in the second decan of Leo: Judgement, 6 of Wands, Prince/Knight of Wands;
Tenth-house Saturn in the second decan of Leo: World, 6 of Wands, 5 of Wands*, Prince/Knight of Wands (*Note that Leo includes a dedicated “Saturn” decan card, the 5 of Wands — Saturn in Leo — which I have included);
Eleventh-house Mars in the second decan of Virgo: Tower, 9 of Pentacles, King of Pentacles;
Twelfth-house Neptune in the second decan of Libra: Hanged Man, 3 of Swords, Queen of Swords.

This sorting of the cards according to their astrological correspondences produces a unique subset of 51 cards* in order from the 1st House cusp: (*Cards with multiple correspondences were only counted once)

Twelve cards for the house cusps: Death, Temperance, Devil, Star, Moon, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit and Justice;

Eight cards for the four quadrants: Ace of Cups and Princess/Page of Cups in the first quadrant; Ace of Swords and Princess/Page of Swords in the second quadrant; Ace of Pentacles and Princess/Page of Pentacles for the third quadrant; and Ace of Wands and Princess/Page of Wands in the fourth quadrant;

Eight cards for the chart axes (in ascending order — Ascendant, Imum Coeli, Descendant and Midheaven): King of Wands and 7 of Cups, King of Cups and 8 of Cups, King of Swords and 7 of Pentacles and King of Pentacles* and 8 of Pentacles;

Twenty-three cards for the ten planets, (not counting multiple correspondences):

Wheel of Fortune, 10 of Wands and Queen of Pentacles* for Jupiter in the third decan of Sagittarius;

High Priestess, 2 of Pentacles and Queen of Pentacles* for Moon in the first decan of Capricorn;

Fool, 10 of Swords and Queen of Cups* for Uranus in the third decan of Gemini;

Sun, 2 of Cups* and Queen of Cups* for the Sun in the first decan of Cancer;

Magician, 2 of Cups,* 3 of Cups and Queen of Cups* for Mercury in the first decan of Cancer;

Empress, 2 of Cups* and Queen of Cups* for Venus in the first decan of Cancer;

Judgement, 6 of Wands* and Prince/Knight of Wands* for Pluto in the second decan of Leo;

World, 6 of Wands,* 5 of Wands and Prince/Knight of Wands* for Saturn in the second decan of Leo;

Tower, 9 of Pentacles and King of Pentacles* for Mars in second decan of Virgo; and

Hanged Man, 3 of Swords and Queen of Swords for Neptune in the second decan of Libra.

Here are a couple of pictures. The first one shows the chart structure laid out in cards, and the second one displays the cards for the planets. (Note that the King of Pentacles appears in both groups but was only counted once for a grand total of 51 cards.)

In the first image, the top row of each array contains: 1) the trump card associated with zero degrees of the sign on the cusp of the first house in each quadrant of the Whole Sign house system; 2) the quadrant cards (Ace and Princess/Page) for that sign; and 3) the minor card and court card that relate to the specific degree of the chart axis for that quadrant, which is seldom of the same zodiacal degree (and not always in the same sign) as the house cusp. The single cards below reflect the second and third house cusps in their respective quadrant. (The gaps in the series are due to the fact that only the 12 zodiacal trump cards are included in this model.)

The second photograph portrays the cards associated with the Chaldean decans for the planetary positions, split up into First, Third and Fourth Quadrant groups (as noted, the Second Quadrant is empty). Since the relevant court cards often overlap the zodiacal placements for the planets and some planets occupy the same decan of the wheel, those cards are only shown for the first instance. (For example, the Queen of Pentacles corresponds to both Jupiter and the Moon in the First Quadrant, and the Queen and 2 of Cups apply to the Sun, Mercury and Venus in the Third Quadrant.) See the listing above for a detailed break-out.

I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at www.parsifalswheeldivination.com.

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