This is the first tarot blog hop I’ve ever participated in and now come to think of it, maybe the first blog hop, just ever, that I’ve been a part of. So yay to that. Let’s hope I do this right.
The topic at hand is, well, oh hey–me. Get to know me as a tarot blogger. Here we go.
My Tarot Story
I don’t have an interesting tarot story. I was into cartomancy as a kid, borrowing books on the subject from the public library and then tinkering with it at home, with a deck of playing cards. I got my first tarot deck in junior high and given (1) my previous play with cartomancy, (2) my love for pretty pictures, and (3) a predisposed interest for the esoteric, it was a no-brainer I’d be into tarot. In my college years I became more serious about my study of it. Then several years ago I thought it would be fun to go through the certification process through the Tarot Certification Board of America and then I thought it would be fun to write a book about it (*cough shameless self promotion cough* Holistic Tarot, North Atlantic Books *cough*) and so here we are now.
I grew up trained to fear the number 4. In any scenario where I had to be assigned a number, I would sit there praying that the number 4 would not appear in my assignment and dreading that it would. If my seat number in the exam room had a 4 in it, I’d take it as an omen of impending failure.
I’m not the only one. There’s a name for it: tetraphobia. If they’ve got a name for it, it means I’m not alone. The Taiwanese and South Korean navies avoid assigning the number 4 to their ships. In Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and many other parts of East Asia, you’ll hardly ever see a 4th floor. It’s the 1st floor, 2nd, 3rd, and then 5th. For a race stereotyped to be good at math you’d think they’d know how to count. Hospitals don’t have a 4th floor for sure, and no room number in those hospitals will have a 4 in it.
To the Chinese, 4 means death. 4 means bad luck. 4 means misfortune. 4 means you’re going to suck at life. 4 means you are not a Chosen One. Chosen Ones never get number 4. They get, well, 1. Or 8. Chinese people love the number 8 the way tarot readers love the Ace of Cups or The World card. As for The World card, by most counts it is the 22nd card in the Majors and the theosophic reduction of 22, 2 + 2, is 4 and so take that tetraphobic Chinese people!
I guess back in the day in Chinese grammar schools, the concept of homonyms got glossed over. Everybody there missed the lesson on how a homonym is when two words sound the same but have different meanings. Different. So even though pronouncing the number 4 in most East Asian languages and dialects sounds the same way one might pronounce the word for death, the two words should still retain their different meanings.
Not so to the Chinese. Just because the number 4 sounds like the word for death, suddenly 4 means death. There’s some serious issues with logical reasoning there, which is hilarious to me, because in the Western tradition, 4 means logic, rationality. More on that later.
When I first started study of the tarot, especially when reading with a Marseille deck, numerological associations for the number 4 tripped me up. The numerological association for 4 seemed all too clear: you were doomed. 4 in batons? You’re doomed to fail at work. 4 of cups? You’re doomed to fail in love. You get the pattern. Growing up in the Chinese culture meant I hyperventilated just a little when the number 4 appeared in my life.
Tarot helped me overcome that fear of the number 4. Don’t laugh. I’m serious.
The Emperor might not be all sunshine and rainbows, but it is still a strong card with an empowering message. In western numerology, 4 symbolizes stability, like the four legs of a table or chair, the four corners of the universe, the four elements, the telegrammaton YHVH. 4 is the number of rationalism. Hey, I like rationalism– 44 means great power and physical vigor. 444 is said to be an omen of the Divine’s presence.
When four Fours appear in a tarot spread, there will be peace and order. The Four of Wands in the Rider Waite Smith deck is all about prosperity. The Four of Cups: introspection. Introspection is hardly death and doom. Four of Swords: repose, recuperation; not your preferred state of being but there is a positive message latent in the card–the loved ones awaiting your return depicted in the stained glass window, the secret weapon underneath you– whereas the number 4 according to the Chinese is straight up bad, no nuances.
Those of Life Path 4 are indispensable to a society. They’re our builders, our planners, our architects, the designers of all social constructs. People of Life Path 4 make things happen. Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Gates are all 4s. Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Twain, J. P. Morgan, Paul McCartney? All 4s with 4s littered throughout their numerology charts.
Even more intriguing is how 4 is so not a big deal even in traditional Chinese metaphysics. Take the I Ching hexagrams. Hexagram 4 suggests naiveté, not death. Hexagram 14 is abundance, validation, all good stuff, like the Four of Wands. Hexagram 24 hints at progress. Hexagram 34 is a powerful, positive omen. So okay, Hexagram 44 is getting a bit darker. Entropy ain’t great news, but still. Hexagram 54 is back to positive again. I’m using the terms positive and negative very loosely here, by the way, as neither tarot nor the I Ching can be characterized with absolutes. And Hexagram 64 is like the Judgement card, give or take huge liberties with the interpretation.
The Four Pillars of Destiny (四柱命理學), which is said to date back to the Song Dynasty, is founded on the idea that there are four components to mapping out a person’s destiny chart. That destiny chart, based on month, day, year, and time (the four pillars) of birth, is supposed to be a playbook of your life. Four for life, people, not four for death!
Understanding quells fears. It is now my dedicated mission to alleviate tetraphobia among the Chinese. Or– okay– at the very least, the Chinese in my arm’s length social network…
Numerology has fascinated me since childhood, back when I would input into a calculator telephone numbers or dates of birth of crushes with mine and stare at the sums or products like they might mean something. Since I have never been good at mathematics, it is only natural that I’d gravitate toward pseudomathematics. =)
Life Path numbers purport to reveal insights about your innate capabilities (and weaknesses). Furthermore, our development is divided into three stages, each corresponding with one third of our life span and the potential for accomplishments during that stage. Life Paths are based on your date of birth. Take for example John, who was born on December 26, 1978. To calculate the three stages of development for John, take the sums of the month, the day, and the year as follows and if a sum is 10 or greater, add the digits again until the sum is a single digit:
6. Life Path = 3 + 8 + 7 [Note: These 3 numbers represent the 3 stages.]
7. Life Path = 18
8. Life Path = (1 + 8)
9. Life Path = 9
John’s ultimate Life Path is 9. The Life Path represents what his innate capabilities (and weaknesses) collectively can achieve with great success if John exercises his will in a way to nurture those capabilities and manage those weaknesses.
Note Line 6 above. These 3 numbers represent the 3 stages of John’s personal development.
In the first third of his life. which is the number corresponding with the Month, Life Path 3 qualities will govern; these are the qualities he must pay closer attention to, that will either guide him toward achievement or hinder him in the future if he does not adequately manage these qualities.
The second stage of his life, and this best represents the core of his Self, his essence, corresponds with the Day sum, or 8. This represents his inclinations, what he will seem to naturally gravitate toward, and what will probably make him quite happy, but isn’t representative of the zenith of his potential.
The third and last stage of his life, which is the number corresponding with the Year, is denoted by Life Path 7. This represents his personality and outlook in his final days, the ideal state for him when he leaves this world. The third stage number is how he will find his peace.
These three numbers are not mutually exclusive. They cannot be cannot be analyzed singly in isolation from one another. They must be looked at as a whole for an informed and complete picture of John.
Now, back to the ultimate Life Path for John, which is in Line 9 above, or Life Path 9. This is the zenith of his potential, unlike the number noted in the second stage of his life. Note that the number of his second stage represents what he will most likely become, the personality he is most likely and will most easily manifest. The ultimate Life Path is the full spectrum of his capabilities. It is what he can achieve and it is the great difference that he can make in this world should he choose to live up to that high path.
The correspondences for the Life Path numbers are as follows: