You likely already know this, but I’ll state it explicitly up front here anyway: sometimes when you start digging into one field of study, your efforts there can cross-pollinate your work in another field, even if those fields aren’t otherwise directly related. Something like this just happened with me yesterday, and I thought I’d share the fruits of the experience, as it makes for something both simple and kind of interesting to apply (and I’m saying that with full awareness that “interesting” does vary from one beholder to the next…)…
So in this case, the two fields of study — which actually do share a fair amount of crossover once you dig into them — are Tarot and Astrology. I’ll start with Astrology: virtually everyone in my home nation of the United States (and I assume hordes of people the world over, as well) knows at least enough Astrology to be able to tell you what their Sun Sign is. People who otherwise care nothing for the field will often just shorten this to “my Sign,” as in, “I’m a Gemini,” or “My Sign? I’m a Leo.” What they’re really talking about is which Sign the Sun was in when they were born…but the key element in this part of the post is the idea that we each have these personalized metaphysical markings we carry with us throughout our lives from the time we’re born. The Sun Sign is one such (and as you drill down ever deeper into Astrology, you realize that there are copious amounts of other such data available as well, such as which Signs your other planets appear in, which Houses feature them, what relationships they all make with each other, etc.). These “metaphysical markings” brand us with much individuality — they signify what each of us is like as a unique being, and the Sun Sign is possibly the best known such “marking.”
But there are others. In Tarot, there’s a convention by which you can determine similar personal badges of individuality known as your Personality Card and your Soul Card. I’m not sure where these concepts originated, by I know that I first learned of them as a Tarot neophyte while teaching myself the field using a very helpful workbook called Tarot for Your Self, by Mary K. Greer. Whether Ms. Greer was actually the first to lay down the how-to’s of coming up with these cards, I can’t honestly say, but it was definitely her book that introduced me, personally, to them.
So, to dope out your Personality and Soul Cards, you use your birthday. I’ll run through an example — let’s say we’re determining these personal cards for someone born this past Christmas. This would make their birthday 12/25/2012 (or 25/12/2012 if you’re not doing this in the US…). Start by adding those numbers together:
12 + 25 + 2012 = 2049
Next, add the digits of that sum together to arrive at a new sum:
2 + 0 + 4 + 9 = 15
Now, in Tarot, a deck is divided into two major components: one group of 22 cards that’s called the Major Arcana, and another group of 56 called the Minor Arcana. The distinction doesn’t factor in too critically here, except to say that when we perform this exercise, we match up the sum we just calculated with the corresponding Major Arcana card (and if crunching down your birthday as we just did above leads you to a sum that’s larger than 22, just repeat the process of adding the digits together until your sum is 22 or less — and in case you’re playing along, the card known as The Fool is taken to be either/both card #0 and card #22, and since you can’t add your birthday up and land on a sum of 0, use 22 to represent The Fool).
Anyway, interestingly enough, someone born last Christmas will end up with a sum of 15, which corresponds to the Major Arcana card known as…The Devil.
Hmm, I picked that example day totally at random, so any possible connections between Christmas and Devils was totally unintentional…
But anyway, moving onward, this card — Card XV, The Devil — would then represent the Personality Card of someone born on 12/25/2012. The Personality Card describes the overall purpose behind the person in question having incarnated into this particular life: that is, it represents what they came here to learn, to work on, to grapple with existentially (FYI, The Devil, in very brief, isn’t necessarily the Biblical Lucifer — Tarot cards each capture a range of meanings, and among those primarily associated with The Devil would be the psychological archetype of one’s “shadow self,” or those things one especially fears or disavows, quite frequently even within one’s own self).
Now, since the Personality Card number here — 15 — is a two-digit number, we can crunch it down once more:
1 + 5 = 6
In this case, we end up with VI, or the card known as The Lovers. This is the same person’s Soul Card, which represents that person’s purpose here on Earth not just in this one specific lifetime, but across all their lifetimes. The Lovers, for the curious, doesn’t describe just love or romance, although those things can arguably reside beneath its conceptual umbrella — The Lovers also speaks of choices (often deep, existential ones), and of the struggle to integrate disparate and even opposing forces within one’s own psyche (think “Yin vs. Yang,” that kind of thing).
And there’s also the possibility that your calculations will lead you to a single-digit number right out of the gate, one that can’t be reduced any further beyond your initial Personality Card arithmetic. If this occurs, then it just means that your Personality Card and your Soul Card are one and the same, and that this particular lifetime is especially tied in to your overall soul purpose.
So…with all that said, let’s shift gears slightly into Astrology (and I promise I’ll be bringing this on home in a moment…). Yesterday, I was working through some Astrology material, and I was thinking about how many modern astrologers will say that despite the enduring popularity of the Sun Sign as a widely understood identifying symbol that each of us carries around with us, the Ascendant (or Rising Sign) is actually a much more individually focused significator — this is so because the Sun stays in each Sign of the Zodiac for about a month, but the Rising Sign changes every couple of hours. There are of course now enough people blossoming upon the face of the Earth that you’ll never find a day or time in which only one or two people were born…but since the Ascendant (what the eastern horizon is pointing to at a given moment) changes so relatively quickly, it can be seen as a much more personal characteristic, one you share with a far smaller group of people (and here, I mean that if you have, say, a Taurus Sun and a Pisces Ascendant, you’d of course still meet a ton of people in your life who also have a Taurus Sun or a Pisces Ascendant…but you’ll encounter far fewer people who were born during your specific Pisces Rising period of a few scant hours, than will have been born during that entire month or so when the Sun was in Taurus which contained your own birth).
And as I was mulling over all that…it struck me that maybe we could nail down a similarly more personal Tarot card by simply adding in on top of our birthdate, the actual time of our birth (assuming we know it). So in our example above, let’s say our hypothetical human was born at 12:01 on that Christmas Day. Our math then becomes:
12 + 1 + 12 + 25 + 2012 = 2062
2 + 0 + 6 + 2 = 10…the tenth card in the Major Arcana is the Wheel of Fortune. And it would be very interesting to me to interview our hypothetical person to see if The Wheel feels like a more accurate and resonant card for them than either The Devil or The Lovers might feel…
Since this person is hypothetical, though — and wouldn’t even be a year old yet, anyway — we can’t ask her/him. However!! As it so happens, my own computations for myself reveal that both my Personality and Soul Cards tumble out as 6, or VI: The Lovers (and again, very handy that my randomly selected example date above has already obliged me to cover The Lovers!). And I can say that I do identify with a lot of what The Lovers represents, including that struggle I mentioned, revolving around the need to reconcile varying internal forces…
But there are cards that resonate even more personally with me, I have to admit. And it is certainly a great truth that in matters like these, it’s not just about the symbols that appeal to us — it’s often much more about which symbols choose us than it is the other way around — so it might not matter that The Lovers may not be the one main card I most would identify with myself, were I given the opportunity to choose one.
Then again…I will put forth here the revelation that when I added my birth time to my birth date, I arrived at 12…and Card XII is The Hanged Man — the one card I do most identify with more than any other in the deck! I realize I represent a sample size of one here, so these findings can hardly be called conclusive, but they have a lot of meaning for me, at least. And I’d be very curious to hear from anyone reading along out there: if you decide to crunch out your own numbers, what kinds of results do you end up with, and does adding in your birth time to individualize your results, yield a card that a) resonates with you more than what you arrived at using the methods I drew from Mary Greer’s book, b) resonates with you less, or c) doesn’t change things one iota…?
Oh, and for people working with a birth time in the second half of the day, I’d suggest using the convention that non-US people (and US military types) use, in which we add 12 so as to distinguish a.m. from p.m. — so someone born at 8:12 at night would use 20:12, or 20 + 12 rather than 8 + 12…
Please feel invited to comment here or to message me off-blog with results from your own calculations, or to ask for help in calculating your own “personal cards” using the above methods — I’d love to hear how this notion might work out for others!