As with the trumps, looking outside of the linear order in the other suits can help uncover inspiration and make your work more cohesive.
One through Ten
Try flipping through one of your favorite decks. What parallels can you find among the cards with the same number? Even without diving into the specifics of different traditions, there are some general meanings for the numbers used in tarot as well as playing card cartomancy. The table below summarizes some of these number keywords, as presented by Matthews (2018).
|One||Beginning, primal, seed, spark, instigation|
|Two||Meeting, responding, dialogue, cooperation, conflict|
|Three||Development, expansion growth, loss, gain|
|Four||Order, rest, stability, stagnation, foundation|
|Five||Challenge, capability, crisis, discord, struggle|
|Six||Harmony, balance, community, network, service|
|Seven||Improvement, faith, perseverance, opportunity, possibilities|
|Eight||Consolidation, evaluation, refining, accomplishment, limits|
|Nine||Consequences, rewards, disappointment, wish, ambition|
|Ten||Completion, success, failure, accumulation, extremity|
Number + Suit
By combining a meaning for a number with the meaning of a suit, you can generate unique interpretations for each the forty pip cards. The image below gives just a few examples of such meanings (some from Matthews, 2018; some of my own), ranging from abstract to very literal.
Deciding on some number meanings and suit meanings can be especially valuable if you plan to develop your own imagery for the minor arcana. Outlining a system in this way takes a lot of the difficulty out of planning individual cards – you get a head start on a card meaning, and you can be confident that meaning works with the rest of your deck!
But even if you are working from images in an existing deck, this exercise might help you understand your reference more deeply, and bring out your own unique take on the cards.
Defining Your Numbers
In the activity below, choose an interpretation of each number that makes sense for you. When you are done, copy your list for future reference.
You can also download and use the worksheet below when planning your suits. Fill in the interpretations you chose for each suit and each number, and use the grid to visualize where each card will fit in the deck.