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The Final Answer

Here is the result of all the work that has been done to find the correspondence between these three divinatory systems:

PathTrumpRuneHexagram(s)
Netzach-MalkuthFoolHagalazGathering Together (Patches of Fog)
Approach (The Creeping Mist)
Hod-MalkuthMagicianFehuHappiness (The Hollow Thunder)
Returning (Repeating Thunder)
Yesod-MalkuthPriestessTeiwazStripping Away (Valley of Shadow)
Humility (The Big Valley)
Netzach-YesodEmpressBerkanoSensitivity (Lingering Feeling)
Decrease (The Shrinking Hills)
Hod-YesodEmperorEhwazGreat Smallness (Receding Thunder)
Nourishment (Mouth of the Volcano)
Tiphareth-YesodHierophantMannazGrowth (The Clouds Gathering)
Disruption (The Smoking Volcano)
Tiphareth-NetzachLoversGeboInmost Sincerity (The Swirling Mist)
Excess (The Fog Bank)
Tiphareth-HodChariotRaidhoIncrease (Storm Brewing)
Persistence (The TRailing Thunder)
Netzach-HodStrengthKenazMarrying Maiden (Old Thunder)
Following (The Foghorn)
Chesed-NetzachHermitNauthizThe Joyous (The Great Nebula)
Geburah-HodFortuneUruzThunder (The Thunderbolt)
Chesed-GeburahJusticePerthroFollowing (The Foghorn)
Marrying Maiden (Old Thunder)
Chesed-TipharethHanged ManAlgizExcess (The Fog Bank)
Inmost Sincerity (The Swirling Mist)
Geburah-TipharethDeathEihwazPersistence (The Trailing Thunder)
Increase (Storm Brewing)
Chokmah-BinahTemperanceOthilaBefore Completion (Green-Wood Fire)
Completion (The Boiling Water)
Chokmah-ChesedDevilIsaOpposition (The Guiding Light)
Change (Wood Smoke)
Binah-GeburahTowerThurisazInitial Difficulty (The White Water)
Removing Obstacles (Young Thunder)
Binah-TipharethStarAnsuzThe Well (The Drinking Water)
Dispersal (The Driving Rain)
Kether-BinahMoonLaguzContention (The Moon and Tides)
Waiting (The Milky Way)
Kether-ChokmahSunInguzCompanionship (Constellations)
Great Possession (Shooting Stars)
Chokmah-TipharethJudgementJeraThe Cauldron (The Licking Flames)
Family (The Warm Front)
Kether-TipharethWorldWunjo
Sowilo
Dagaz
Meeting (Clouds in Motion)
Taming Force (Comet's Tail)

Hexagram names are from I Ching for Beginners by Kristyna Arcarti and I Ching in Ten Minutes by R.T. Kaser.

 
It would take far too long to justify each of these attributions, and besides, this is best left as an exercise to the reader. Suffice it to say that some of them need a little work but others coincide very well.

We still have to deal with the rest of the Tarot; the Minor Arcana and the Court cards. They could be attributed to the Runes but I do not see the point in this; the Runes are better off corresponding to just the Major Arcana. However, attributing hexagrams to the rest of the Tarot deck is useful.

When the suits are attributed to the Tree of Life, Wands are placed in Chokmah, Cups go in Binah, Swords are in Tiphareth and Pentacles are linked to Malkuth. Therefore each Wands card will have Fire on the top of its corresponding trigram, Cups will have Water, Swords should have Wind (more on this in just a moment) and Pentacles will have Earth. The bottom half of the hexagram depends on the number of the card; Aces would have Heaven on the bottom (for Kether), Twos have Fire (for Chokmah), and so on.

Court cards are assigned to the sephiroth as well. Traditionally, the Kings are in Chokmah, Queens are in Binah, Pages are in Malkuth and Knights are in Tiphareth. I see no need to change this attribution. So the Page of Swords, for example, is Wind over Earth. (Wind is for the Swords suit, Earth is for the Page).

For a number of reasons, I prefer to associate the Swords suit to the Heaven trigram rather than Wind. The most important of these reasons is that, while the Fire and Water trigrams are opposites of each other, the Wind and Earth trigrams are not. Fire is yang-yin-yang so Water must be its opposite, yin-yang-yin. If the Pentacles trigram is going to be Earth (yin-yin-yin), the Swords trigram should be Earth's opposite, Heaven (yang-yang-yang). This placement also reduces the number of duplicated correspondences.

The attentive reader will see that some trigrams (such as Mountain over Mountain) do not have a corresponding Tarot card and/or Rune. Because of the duplicated paths it is impossible to achieve a total correspondence. In practice, a full correspondence will rarely be necessary, and I can live with the fact that about a dozen hexagrams are not represented in the Tarot. If nothing else, it shows what concepts were more important to the Chinese than to the creators of the Tarot deck.

I am the first to admit this system is not perfect. The new set of Tarot correspondences does not agree entirely, for example, with the attribution of the Hebrew letters to the Tree. Some work well; Tau is now the High Priestess, and I have read a Qabalistic ritual involving the High Priestess and a Tau cross. However, some of them make little or no sense at all (such as Gimel, or "the Camel", which formerly corresponded to the Priestess and is now linked to the World card and the trio of salvation Runes).

If this system of correspondences seems useful to you, I encourage you to use it whenever you get the chance. If you are unfamiliar with any of the three systems I have written of in this article, but you know one of the others, you can use the correspondences to get your foot in the proverbial door. And if you already know all three systems, this correspondence will hopefully provide some new insights for you.

If you do not like this system, for whatever reason, I encourage you to develop your own. The amount of information you absorb when doing such research is amazing, and even if you fail in your attempts to discover a new system of correspondences that suits you, you will emerge even wiser than when you began. That is a kind of failure we can all tolerate.

Copyright 2000 James Rioux