The Fool’s Journey, Part I
Originally published on the (now discontinued) Innerchange Magazine website in 2003, this was my introductory article for a series of seven articles that explains the Tarot archetypes we each are connected to, due to the numerology of our birthday.
Tarot Personality Profiles:
The Fool’s Journey Begins
© Beth Owl’s Daughter
Almost everyone knows their astrological sun sign, but did you know that the Tarot has similar, personal correspondences? Based upon your date of birth, the cards reveal personality traits and may even help you understand more about the patterns of your life’s lessons.
It is easiest to understand these patterns by examining the Major Arcana of the Tarot, the trump cards. The Major Arcana consists of twenty two cards, each of which has many layers of meaning as an individual entity. But we can learn a great deal about the human condition when the Majors are viewed as a sequence. This progression is often called The Great Journey or The Fool’s Journey.
Starting with The Fool (whose number is zero), the soul travels through a series of life lessons, represented as archetypes or symbols. For example, Number I, The Magician, represents the beginning of consciousness, action and power; the High Priestess, II, is a more intuitive, inward-directed power leading to III, the fertile, creative expression of the Empress.
Moving along through the different lessons, after a time of introspection during IX, The Hermit, we emerge with X, The Wheel of Fortune, ready to turn our life in a more positive direction, and so on. In short, the Fool’s Journey is a map that can show us the ups and downs we may expect on the road to wisdom.
In Tarot readings, when the Major Arcana cards appear, there is a valuable, karmic message being offered. But we can also use the numbers of our birth date to understand this sequential process, helping us to navigate through the triumphs and perils of living.
How to Figure Out Your Tarot Personality Profile
Simply take the month, day and year of your birth and add them up. Then add each of the numbers of that sum together. If the resulting number is greater than 22, add the digits together. Once the number is 22 or less, you have the number that corresponds to your Tarot personality card.
For instance, Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1929. By adding 4+4+1,929, we get a total of 1,937. By then adding 1+9+3+7, we get the number 20. So, her personality card is 20 – Roman numeral XX, Judgment. But, interestingly, the 20 can also be reduced to 2, revealing an additional aspect, her “soul” card, of II, the High Priestess.
[NOTE: In the subsequent articles in this series (see note below), I explained this in much more detail, but the basic idea is that your Soul Card is the lowest reduced number, and your Personality Card is the higher one, if you have two. In the previous example, then, Maya Angelou’s Personality Card is 20, and 2 is her Soul Card. Other combinations only reduce to one Major Arcana card. Ex: December 18, 1947=12+18+1,947=1,977 which then reduces to 24 (not a Major Arcana). This then reduces to 6, meaning that the 6 is both the Soul and Personality card. — Beth ]
There are many possible combinations, which Tarot expert Mary Greer calls Tarot Constellations*. Interestingly, some of these Tarot combinations are so rare as to be nearly non-existent.
For example, after a gap of 900 years, people whose dates add up to unreduced 2’s only just began being born on Dec. 31, 1957. And there has not been an unreduced year of The Magician since Jan. 1, 998 C.E. The next will not come until Dec. 31, 9957, if we can make it that long!
While we are very used to understanding the sun sign traits, it is fascinating to discover the similarities among Tarot profiles.
For example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was born July 6, 1935, in the nurturing sign of Cancer. Realizing that looking only at the sun sign and not studying his entire chart is an oversimplification, it is still easy to understand his Cancerian concerns about protecting his people and his need to return to his homeland.
When calculating his Tarot profile, you will find that his birthday reduces to the 22-4 group, in which the Soul Card is the Emperor (IV), and the Personality Card is the Fool (which can either be 0 or 22).
His Emperor aspect reveals that the nature of the work he must do in this lifetime has to do with leadership and authority. But the Fool’s characteristics hint at an impulsive side, a deep sense of humor, and a love for adventure.
Yearly Tarot Profiles
In a similar way, every year has a “personality” that corresponds to the Major Arcana and on a global and individual level, we travel upon our era’s part of The Fool’s Journey.
Of course, there are many cultures who number their years differently, but for our purposes, we will stick with the generally accepted Western dates. In a later article, I will discuss how to calculate your own Year Card.
The year 2003 has some challenging but hopeful aspects. It is the second in a two-year cycle that deals with power and authority issues. 2002 was a year of the Emperor, Card IV, representing patriarchy, power, establishing order, creating stability.
In our country’s political arena, we certainly saw this influence, with Homeland Security being the highest priority and the push towards war with Iraq.
The upcoming year gives way to V, The Hierophant — a teacher archetype whose energies revolve around tradition, education, and religious authority.
It will be an auspicious time if you are thinking of going back to school, or upgrading your training and professional credentials. This is a year that supports inner growth and development. Take plenty of time for contemplation, meditation, and perhaps exploring new spiritual practices.
This year will have its share of challenges, however. In Tarot, all the Five’s are numbers that point to some stress and adversity. Such difficulties may be exactly what is needed, though, to break through excess authority, habitual “should’s” and limiting, dogmatic beliefs.
In my next article, ** we will explore in depth the first nine cards of the Major Arcana, to better understand how to read this extraordinary road map to enlightenment and soulful treasure.
* In calculating my Tarot Profiles, I use the methodology first introduced by Angeles Arrien, in The Tarot Handbook, 1987, which was, in turn, developed and broadened by renowned Tarot expert, Mary K. Greer.
Other methodologies for calculating these exist, particularly the method used by the outstanding Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone of The Tarot School. While the single-digit numbers eventually come out the same in either method, there are differences in interpretation and nuance. It is, in fact, an area of much depth and discovery for Tarot aficionados.
** Sadly, as of Feb. 2016, Innerchange Magazine is no more, and all of their archives are gone. However, there are a number of excellent books and articles on the topic, or you can sign up and take my classes and Tarot Boutiques for hands-on experience and further advice.