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The link between tarot and kabbalah

Tarot and Kabbalah have evolved through the history to become two unlikely partners in understanding the mystical world.

Although there are no evidence that the Tarot has its origins in Kabbalah, no one can deny that modern Tarot is hugely influenced by the teaching of the Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, the occult organisation who through it’s teaching strongly linked Tarot to the teachings of Kabbalah.

The tree of life is perhaps the most widely recognised symbol for Kabbalah.

There are 22 paths of the Tree of life, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The association to the 22 major arcana cards can easily be made. The most famous tarot deck, The Rider Waite deck, written and illustrated by two members of the Golden Dawn, has a strong symbolic link to the symbolism in Kabbalah.

The Tree of life is believed to be the pathway to eternal life and a way to heaven. If understood properly, it is said to be a guide to heaven from the physical without having to die first. The Hermetic order of the golden dawn believed that the lessons in the Major Arcana could lead to the same goal; A pathway to heaven without having to go through the channels of death.

The Tree of life is a conceptual tree; a single organism that has a powerful message of Oneness and Unity. We are all part of a larger unit, a force that holds us all together as equal parts of a larger Whole.

The Tree has three pillar, a symbol seen throughout several of the Major Arcana cards. The right pillar is the pillar of Mercy, the left pillar is the pillar of Severity. The middle pillar is the pillar of Harmony, balance and integration. The pillars integrate the dark and the light and speak of the ability to acknowledge both.
There are ten sefirot in the Tree of life, and ten pip cards. The Sefirot (singular is Sefirah) are the circles seen on the pillars of the tree of life and pip cards are the minor arcana cards minus the court cards. A sefirah is a vessel with divine energy of God that exists in all that is. The sefirot at the top of the tree are luminous and iridescent while the serifot at the trunk of the tree are more dimmer and denser.

Keter as the first sefirah on the tree correlates to the aces, chochma to the twos, Binah to the threes and so on.

The system of Tarot has converged in modern times into the teachings of Kabbalah, and by learning one system, it is easier to understand the other. By assigning the pip cards to the sefirot we categorise the tarot into smaller and more manageable groups that are easier to remember.

Further we can correlate the tarot suits with the elements and the Kabbalistic world:

Tarot suits:









Kabbalistic world:

Assiah (world of the manifest)

Yetsirah ( world of the formative)

Briah (world of the creative)

Aziluth world of the archtypical)Kabbalah derives from the Hebrew word meaning ‘to receive’.

Gain insight into your life by using the Tree of Life spread.