Many of the meanings attributed to the Tarot cards derive from numerology. In the West, numerology goes back to the philosophy of the Greek thinker Pythagoras who believed that reality can ultimately be expressed in numerical terms. We have already seen the importance of the number four in the four suits of the Tarot which are derived from the four elements of classic Greek philosophy. The fact that there are 10 pip cards is related to the fact that humans have 10 fingers and therefore use the decimal number system. Odd numbers are usually regarded as forceful, yang, or "masculine" and even numbers as stabilizing, yin, or "feminine".
Below of some of the common meanings attributed to the basic
numbers that comprise our system of numbering things:
# 0: Zero is the number of pure potential, of absolute beginnings and endings (return to nothingness). Only the Fool Trump carries the number 0 in the Tarot.
# 1: "One is the loneliest number..." the popular song goes. One is the first card of the pip sequence. One is the number of beginnings, of individuality, of the child emerging from the womb, of the prime force of creation. The Washington Monument is an architectural tribute to the number one.
# 2: Two is the number of duality, of coupling, of self and other, of opposing and complementing aspects of reality, of the union of two individuals (1s).
# 3: Three is the number of the triad, of the unit formed by duality (2) and its offspring (1), of the three faces of the goddess (virgin, mother, and crone), of the creation that is made possible by joining forces with another, the tripartite genitalia of the male and the genital triangle of the female.
# 4: Four is the number of manifestation and material reality. There are four elements, four sides of a square, four cardinal directions of a compass, four seasons, four winds, etc. It is a number of order, structure, power, and earthly dominion. Four is the number of the prototypical complete family: a father, a mother, a son, and a daughter.
# 5: Five is a number related to the five human senses and to the pentagram representing the human form (the head plus the four limbs). Five is the midpoint or turning point of the cycle that runs from 0 to 10. As such, five can represent a crisis point or a state of instability.
# 6: Six represents the harmony that returns when we resolve the disruption and instability seen in the five. Being a combination of 2 and 3 (6 = 2 x 3), six carries with it the connotations of both 2 and 3, that is harmony, cooperation, creation, new equilibrium.
# 7: Seven is regarded as a spiritual and introspective number. Being an odd number, it carries an active, forceful, and sometimes disruptive connotation.
# 8: Eight is made up of 2 x 4, or 2 x 2 x 2. Like the four, it is a number of power, manifestation, and material accomplishment.
# 9: Nine is the last single digit in the series. It carries a connotation of completion or the ending of a cycle. It can signify the wisdom that is achieved toward the end of a cycle.
# 10: In the number 10 we see the final ending --- the sequence of pips is over. The cycle has ended and a new one is beginning. Being one more than nine, 10 often means "one too many".