A tutorial series by guest poster, Mick Frankel
Part Three: the Simple Letters
So far then we’ve seen that Sefer Yetziroh defines three of the Hebrew Letters as:
which means mothers.
The three Mother Letters are:
Sefer Yetziroh then goes on to define seven of the letters as:
which means doubles.
The seven Double Letters are:
Ten of the 22 Hebrew letters have now been classified which leaves 12 letters.
These remaining 12 letters are defined in Sefer Yetziroh as:
which comes from the word meaning simple. The 12 Simple Letters are:
Sefer Yetziroh says that the 12 Simple Letters correspond to the 12 signs of the Zodiac as follows:
Sefer Yetziroh also gives correspondences between the 12 Simple Letters and the 12 months of the Hebrew calendar. The signs of the Zodiac are said to be in “the world” whereas the months are in “the year”.
Like many other cultures, the Hebrew calendar uses lunar months. Each month starts at the New Moon. This means that the year is made up of 12 lunar months each of 29 or 30 days.
This gives a lunar year of less than 360 days which means that, left to itself, the lunar year of 12 months moves out of step with the seasons of the solar year.
Some lunar calendars accept this. The Islamic calendar works like this which means that, for example, Ramadan falls in different seasons over the years.
The Hebrew calendar adjusts the lunar year by having an additional lunar month seven times in every 19 years.
This leap month ensures that, for example, Passover always falls in the Spring. The Chinese calendar makes an identical adjustment which ensures that the Chinese New Year always falls around February time.
As with the Double Letters, Eliphas Lévi’s approach to the Simple Letters is straightforward. Since ה is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Lévi assigns ה to Tarot Trump V The Hierophant.
Similarly, Lévi assigns the sixth letter ו to Tarot Tump VI The Lovers and so on up to ק which, as the nineteenth letter, Lévi assigns to Trump XIX The Sun.
The Golden Dawn took a different approach using, amongst other things, the Zodiacal correspondences defined in Sefer Yetsiroh.
The Golden Dawn correspondences give these 12 zodiacal trumps:
So, we now have the Sefer Yetziroh correspondences between the signs of the Zodiac and the 12 simple letters and we also have the Golden Dawn correspondences between the signs of the Zodiac and 12 of the Tarot Trumps.
Putting the two sets of correspondences together gives this relationship between the Zodiacal Tarot Trumps and the simple Hebrew letters:
What do you think? These correspondences seem to make sense to me.
- Part 1 – Mother Letters
- Part 2 – Double Letters
- Part 3 – Simple Letters
- Part 4 – Assigning the Seven Planets
Hebrew for Tarot Readers is a free course run by Mick. If you would like to join, you can apply directly to Mick, or via the Yahoo Group page for the course. The benefits of joining are of course the interaction with Mick, other members and course materials, including sound files to help you with pronunciation of the Hebrew Letters.
Be sure to visit Mick’s excellent website for Tarot, I-Ching, Astrology and Dream Interpretation services and articles.
Featured tarot deck the Tarot de Marseille – Tarot de Madenie by Mary Packard, published by Quarto Knows. See my review of the deck with full colour images.