Tarot of the New New Order

2 of Wands - Dave Palumbo

2 of Wands by Dave Palumbo – he’s moving the numbers around! (click to enlarge)

I had a little flash of synaesthetic * insight today regarding the numbering of Strength and Justice.
The discrepancies in the “standard” are often cause for confusion and are due to historical vs. occult vs. other occult pissing contests, as it were. It does make a mess of the numerology, but in actually “using” the cards the numbers bother me very little.


If I think about it? I greatly prefer working with Strength as 8 and Justice as 11 because they’re the best match. It’s very difficult to explain the synaesthetic experience to someone who doesn’t experience it at all. Synaesthetes may argue about the “correct” colours, tastes etc. for things, but they can at least agree on a similar perception of the world.

So this is how I would see the Major Arcana in an ideal tarot world. The numbers have nothing to do with esoteric or occult meanings, nor do they have anything to do with numerology or the path of the Fool’s Journey. This is simply what feel’s “right” inside my head, though it affects the gut too. Synaesthesia is a bit of a whole-body thing sometimes. When the wrong associations are made, it’s like your psyche is wearing shoes that are too tight, or on the wrong feet.

Of course, by the time I got pen to paper, the brilliance had largely evaporated, but I’ve got a more-or-less-working system down:

  • Most importantly, Justice is NOT 8. It’s just NOT. Justice is 12.
  • Strength is somewhat 11, it’s okay as 8, but its real identity is 6.
  • Also, the Hanged Man is NOT 12. Not not not. It’s so NOT 12, I have a hard time remembering the Hanged Man; it’s like, “Wheel of Fortune, Justice… *blank*…” The Hanged Man is 9.
  • 9 is a difficult fit for the Hermit. 7 works so much better.
  • The Chariot feels far too complicated at 7. It might be 3. It might also be 11.
  • But the Wheel of Fortune is also 11, 10 being far too simple for it.
  • I’m pretty sure the Magician is 10, which is funny because it’s kind of a 1, which the Magician is not!
  • However, the High Priestess is 2. She’s the only one comfortable in her position and, as a commonly-accepted symbol for the tarot itself, this makes a certain kind of sense. The world can change around her; she remains the same.
  • I place the Fool at 1 instead of the Magician. I know, I know, the Fool should be 0 so it can bounce around, but it feels so… disembodied.
  • Whereas 0 is the perfect number for Death.
  • And 13 is the perfect number for the Lovers. There is an inherent instability – and strength despite it – in 13 that the Lovers needs.
  • With Strength taking 6, who gets 8? Why, the Emperor! 4 is too small for him.
  • The Empress is 4 (and the Chariot might be 3).
  • The Hierophant, like the High Priestess, is quite settled at 5.
  • But Temperance is severely awkward at 14. That’s another frequent *blank* spot. Temperance is whole at 16.
  • And the Star is 14. 17 is too dense for the lightness of the Star.
  • The weight of 17 is far more suited to the Devil.
  • And 15 balances the Moon on a point, rather than overwhelming it like 18 does.
  • There is a wide, bright, expansiveness to 18 that Judgement can stand up to.
  • Leaving 20 open for the Sun, which is a good thing because 19 is so oppressive that the only sun that can shine under that number is a black hole sun.
  • Now the Tower – there’s a full-on 19!
  • There is noooooooo 21.
  • And the World is 22.

And this is what it looks like. TA-DA!

Now. What new stories does it tell?


4 thoughts on “Tarot of the New New Order

  1. erishilton says:


    I find it endlessly fascinating, and I’m more than a little jealous. Although I argue that the Tower should be #23. Interpret that as you see (or sense) fit, M’lady! ^_^


    • submerina says:

      The Tower works at 23, I’ll give you that. The only problem I have with it is that numbers start getting a little uppity when they hit the twenties and that will give the Tower ideas above its station. Then the rest of the deck will get jealous and the next thing you know, you’ve got a revolt in your tarot basket. The World can be 22, because it’s always been that way, but it’s best to keep the others in their place ;)


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