This week's post comes to us from Donna Hazel, a highly enthusiastic student and reader of the Tarot. Donna has participated in many of the Biddy Tarot classes and always brings new perspectives and high energy to the class. She came to me with this wonderful idea a few months ago – “What do you think are the Tarot Birth Cards of the rich and famous?!” And from there, this blog post manifested. Enjoy! Over to you, Donna…
What are Tarot Birth Cards?
There are some sophisticated and detailed ways of calculating your Birth Cards and even Tarot Name Cards. For a brilliant and more complete analysis see Mary K. Greer’s “Who Are You in the Tarot?“. I did not come across this book until I had completed this article, but much of it is remarkably congruent with my own findings. A real simple way of getting started is worked out through a reduction of the numbers of your entire birth date, by repeatedly adding all the digits together until you arrive at a single digit. Find the corresponding numbered card in the Major Arcana. Then find the card whose number reduces to that final number. So, for example, if your birth date reduces to the number six, you have the Lovers. The card that reduces to six would be card number fifteen, the Devil (1+5=6). Occasionally you will have three birth cards if your total begins with 19 (the Sun). A more comprehensive explanation and another way of working out your Birth Cards (plus a handy automatic calculator!) is provided by The Tarot School. So, what do Tarot Birth Cards mean? In brief, they comprise a skeletal blue-print of your existence. They situate the basic energies you will be negotiating as part of both your personality and your life-journey.
An Idle Moment Strikes…
One evening I decided to embark upon the seemingly pointless exercise of working out the Tarot Birth Cards of some famous historical figures. There are only twelve possible combinations, of which two are statistically less likely (for Judgement/High Priestess your birth date must reduce to figures beginning with 20 and for the World/Empress, 21). This still leaves ten equally probable combinations. I began with twenty well-known public figures, and you would expect an equal distribution of people in each category, right? Wrong. To my astonishment, a distinct hierarchy began to emerge. I expanded my population of famous people and added women in to redress the balance. But it didn’t. I went up to eighty-one people (arbitrarily stopping there) and it reflected the same hierarchy as the previous twenty. Two card combinations were significantly dominant, the rest were about equal, a couple were very low, one was almost non-existent, and another completely absent! Now, I can’t pretend to have been exhaustive; it will be possible to unearth ultra-famous figures with the card combinations featuring those lower down in the hierarchy, but if this is not done selectively (i.e. without deliberately searching for and adding in those in the less dominant categories), I strongly suspect your famous historical people will pretty much reflect the same tendencies outlined below. Reading the two cards together as a combined theme, here we go… [All images of famous people courtesy of Image Pro, Escargot Studios LLC]
The Top Card Combination
Temperance/Hierophant The gravity-defying Angel of Temperance harmoniously transmutes and blends the texts of reality into fitting compositions: shifting, refining, tempering. He is sheer celestial brilliance. The Hierophant invests this inspirational masterpiece with institutional orthodoxy. Now it’s believable. It’s a religion. Together the two represent structured ideology: ideas concretely manifested. Heaven (or Hell) on Earth.
15 People – Top recognizably ignominious figure – Adolf Hitler. Aptly for this combination, we have the alchemist and scientist Isaac Newton. Also in this master-mind class are Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Nixon, Friedrich Engels, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Wilhelm Hegel, Frédéric Chopin, Charlotte Brontë, William Blake, and Stephen Spielberg.
In Second Place
(Sun), Wheel of Fortune/Magician The wily Magician knows just how to use what comes his way. He sees the potential in all things to conjure up what he needs from what there is. When the Wheel rolls round he seizes the opportune moment to ride this cosmic roundabout of circumstance to change the destiny of mankind. He can harness the historical tide and direct it to his own purposes and will.
13 People – More ethos-altering Big Names coming up – Julius Caesar, Karl Marx, Martin Luther King, Gerald Ford, Machiavelli, Blaise Pascal, Florence Nightingale, Walt Disney, Emily Brontë, George Washington and, with the additional power and brilliance of The Sun – René Descartes with his light of reason, Charlie Chaplin, and (you guessed it) Napoleon.
Star/Strength Hope, rebirth, and regeneration – The Star protects and guides with Strength to subdue opposing forces: this is the inspirational diplomat and visionary artist combination. It is the dance of promise and of fearless exposure; of dreams courageously given expression.
10 People – Here we have Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin reaching for the stars, Pablo Picasso, Michaelangelo, Beethoven, William Wordsworth, Johannes Kepler organizing orbits; Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi both prevailing against the odds, and Mary Shelley’s star creation: the monster Frankenstein.
Tying in Fourth Place
Devil/Lovers Choices and attachments – the seduction of the earthly combined with the ideal of love. The Devil and the Lovers frame the sticking power of passionate involvement with either people or things. Compulsion, obsession, idealization, what or whom: make your choice.
9 People – Here we have Albert Einstein and his equal attachment to both science and women. These are also the cards of Vladimir Lenin. Galileo faces a forced choice by the Inquisition, on pain of death, to recant his devilish discoveries. These are also the cards of Thomas Edison, T.S. Eliot, Jean-Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno with his theses on materialistic enchantment and enchainment, and Lewis Carroll. Finally, these cards reflect the troubled relationships of Michael Jackson.
Moon/Hermit A long and testing path has been traveled from the threatening depths to the lofty heights of attainment. From obscurity to clarity, the consciousness of the Hermit realizes the deep unconscious vistas of the Moon.
9 People – Josef Stalin, Mother Teresa, John Keats, Francis Bacon, Franz Liszt, Leo Tolstoy,Mahatma Gandhi, the troubled Elvis Presley, and Nicholas Copernicus who inaugurated the Age of Enlightenment which displaced the superstitious medieval world-view: very Moon/Hermit!
Death/Emperor Death scythes through with inevitability – it’s the end of something and must be followed by a new beginning. The Emperor establishes dominion in the midst of change and transition is transposed into structure; change is made permanent and Death is authorized.
9 People – Inevitably, King Henry VIII decreeing the death of six wives. The mysterious death-drive proposed by Sigmund Freud, the end of a philosophical tradition and the start of a new understanding with Emmanuel Kant; Thomas Hobbes with a new social contract for the life of man in nature is, ‘nasty, poor, brutish, and short’ (Leviathan), John Locke with his new system of government, Michael Faraday, the imperious Margaret Thatcher, Marie Curie with her work on radiology for cancer, and even Percy Shelley with the aptly entitled Prometheus Unbound – and that squabble over who owned the ashes of his dead heart.
Tying for Fifth Place
Tower/Chariot An edifice falls and the Chariot steers victoriously through the ruins. Set ways of doing things topple as the Chariot sets free a new direction controlled by self-belief and determination. Restriction is transfigured into release.
5 People – J.F. Kennedy with his iconoclastic breaking of the old order, the near catastrophes of the war-beset Winston Churchill, the ground-breaking discoveries of Stephen Hawking, Tintoretto with his new depictions of light, and the perversity of Theodor Dostoyevsky.
Justice/High Priestess Justice delivers a verdict: actions and consequences are put on trial. Fairness and reason are attuned to the inner promptings of the High Priestess whose hidden knowledge animates decisions. Will it be wisdom or madness?
5 People – Gregori Rasputin, the murdered “mad monk” and mystical prophet of Czar Nicholas II. The life blighted by injustices endured by Edgar Allen Poe. Here we also find Mozart the child prodigy, Claude Monet, and Anne Brontë.
Close to Last, But Not Least
Hanged Man/Empress The unusual Hanged Man waits passively upon the fecundity of The Empress to give birth to his new perspective. Children can take many forms, ideas or babies: she protects their growth and nurtures them all with motherly love and care.
4 People – Here we find Hilary Clinton with her concern for women’s rights, Thomas Paine and The Rights of Man, Charles Dickens emphasizing the importance of charity and, rather fittingly, Casanova.
Judgement/High Priestess An inner conviction is given a wider context and a secret desire is let loose upon the world. Ideas are given over to posterity and Judgement will be dramatic. A private vision has lasting impact.
2 People – The idiosyncratic Mussolini with the cardboard cut-out of himself placed in his officewindow so that he could be judged as working late into the night, and thegenerational adoration for Beatrix Potter’s much loved Peter Rabbit stories.
World/Empress Zero People – Not just last but non-existent. No famous people at all.
Rather obviously, we have most of our world-changing figures in the Temperance/Hierophant and Wheel/Magician categories. Then it’s almost level-pegging until we reach Tower/Chariot and Justice/High Priestess. Whilst Judgement/High Priestess and World/Empress are statistically less likely, it is a surprise to find nobody with the World/Empress combination. However, the Hanged Man/Empress combination ought to have the same proportion of famous names as the others and it doesn’t: this seems largely to be the category of artists, writers and actors rather than political mavericks. The Tarot appears to reflect the lack of “feminine” values in our patriarchally dominated world history; an obvious missing energy. As for the World – with its emphasis on integrity, harmony, peace, unity, completion, concern for the planet, respect for others – as the Tarot confirms to us through this exercise, the World is yet to be achieved. Of course, one can juggle things about (up to a point) but I also translated the whole lot into the Julian Calendar. Surprisingly, the Temperance/Hierophant combination still comes out on top; the rest were still in the middle, very few Hanged Man/Empresses again – and still no World.
Over to You! These are well-known historical figures in the West, but can you find a pattern of Tarot Birth Cards from the Eastern tradition or in other specific spheres, such as sports or music? Is there a pattern? You might also compare Tarot Birth Cards with Numerology Lifepath numbers where 1 appears dominant (Wheel, Magician). Oh – and can anyone discover some famous World/Empresses? Do share your findings below!
About Donna I’ve always been attracted to the esoteric arts and acquired my first Tarot deck at the age of seventeen; although I didn’t know what to do with it at that time! Fascinated by why people think the way they do, and with formations of the “self” and structures of identity, I went on to obtain a First Class BA in Literature and Philosophy, followed by an MA and a PhD in Philosophy. One of my interests concerned the notion of what is “exterior” to the confines of cognition, which converged with my twin interests in the Tarot and the sphere of the “para” normal. For me, the Tarot accesses a double domain of what is both “within” us and “without” us where we are both socially conditioned and inter-dependent beings, yet also beings hollowed out with a spiritual dimension: a value debased and almost lost in the modern Western world. Find me at www.tarotdontarot.blogspot.com. A new website will be announced in due course on the blog.