Tarot Birthday Correspondences

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I seem to regularly run into people who have read these ubiquitous dime-a-dozen birthday/astrology books that one typically finds in the bargain bins of large corporate bookstores. You know the kind – big, colorful, hardcover varieties with tons of pretty pictures and cluttered layouts. Nothing one would deem scholarly, per se, but certainly worthy of a place on the coffee table – that is, if your coffee table happened to be located at Madam Mafalda’s Discount Psychic Emporium. (Free smudge stick with every Aura Cleansing purchase!)

When the topic of tarot cards pops up in the conversation, they are wonderfully quick to say “My birthday card is the Lovers”, or something of the sort, referencing the book in question. I have rarely found the correspondence to ever make sense.

Therefore, I decided to write this little ditty about how to determine the tarot card(s) associated with one’s birthday for the general reader. Those of you who are particularly well-versed in tarot, astrology, or qabalah have probably heard this information a few dozen times already. However, for those of you who have not yet immersed themselves in this proverbial pool of knowledge (but keep occasionally dipping your toes in hoping the water to miraculously get warmer), we shall begin as simply as possible.

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana of the Tarot are all of those cards with the big, fancy titles. The Emperor, Death, The Tower, The Sun, Temperance, etc. all fall into this category. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, and each one corresponds either to an element, a planet, or a zodiac sign. It will be the zodiac signs that we will pay particularly close attention to at first. I am going to assume that everyone reading this knows their particular zodiac sign (specifically called the “Sun Sign” by astrologers and occultists for reasons not necessary to elaborate upon at the moment). My zodiac sign, for example, is Leo, which corresponds to the Major Arcana card entitled “Strength” in most decks (though other decks might call it something different like “Lust” or “Fortitude”). For the first card corresponding to your birthday, simply check out the list below.

Aries – The Emperor
Taurus – The Hierophant
Gemini – The Lovers
Cancer – The Chariot
Leo – Strength
Virgo – The Hermit
Libra – Justice
Scorpio – Death
Sagittarius – Temperance
Capricorn – The Devil
Aquarius – The Star
Pisces – The Moon

Simple enough. If we were to meet a random Pisces, (we’ll name her Agnes) “The Moon” would be the Major Arcana tarot card corresponding to her birthday. Step one is completed, step two is where things get a little more specific (and tricky).

The Minor Arcana

All of the cards that are assigned numbers and objects (called “suits”, similar to a typical deck of playing cards), such as the 4 of Pentacles or the 6 of Cups, fall beneath the banner of the Minor Arcana.

Now, occultists and astrologers will regularly reference the influence of the “Four Elements”. Of course, they mean elements in a very general and symbolic sense, not anything scientific like “Plutonium” or “Magnesium” or what have you. The Four Elements are simply:

Fire
Water
Air
Earth

As you may have noticed, there are four different suits found in the Minor Arcana. As such, they correspond to the four elements as follows:

Fire – Wands
Water – Cups
Air – Swords
Earth – Pentacles (known as Disks or Coins in certain tarot decks)

Each zodiac sign also falls into one of the elemental categories:

Fire – Wands – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Water – Cups – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Air – Swords – Libra, Aquarius, Gemini
Earth – Pentacles – Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo

Astrology places the signs in each Elemental category under an additional heading: either Cardinal, Fixed, or Mutable. What each term means is not particularly important for our purposes. However, you might want to check the handy guide below to see where your zodiac sign falls.

Aries – Cardinal Fire
Leo – Fixed Fire
Sagittarius – Mutable Fire

Cancer – Cardinal Water
Scorpio – Fixed Water
Pisces – Mutable Water

Libra – Cardinal Air
Aquarius – Fixed Air
Gemini – Mutable Air

Capricorn – Cardinal Earth
Taurus – Fixed Earth
Virgo – Mutable Earth

A long time ago, some clever old coot decided to also correspond each of the zodiac signs to cards in the Minor Arcana. The Aces were not included in this scheme (mostly because the Aces are a bit too self-important to be bothered), but all of the other numbered cards were willing to play along. Therefore every 2, 3, and 4 corresponds to a “Cardinal” zodiac sign, every 5, 6 and 7 to a “Fixed” sign, and every 8, 9 and 10 to a “Mutable” sign. These fall into the four tarot suits like so:

Aries – 2, 3, 4 of Wands
Leo – 5, 6, 7 of Wands
Sagittarius – 8, 9, 10 of Wands

Cancer – 2, 3, 4 of Cups
Scorpio – 5, 6, 7 of Cups
Pisces – 8, 9, 10 of Cups

Libra – 2, 3, 4 of Swords
Aquarius – 5, 6, 7 of Swords
Gemini – 8, 9, 10 of Swords

Capricorn – 2, 3, 4 of Pentacles
Taurus – 5, 6, 7 of Pentacles
Virgo – 8, 9, 10 of Pentacles

Now, you may have heard the zodiac referred to as a wheel. Sometimes, as a wheel with twelve spokes in it. Any one who has glimpsed at an astrological chart might have certainly noticed it seeming rather circular and wheel-like. (Warning: Basic math to follow. Do not be alarmed).

As your old geometry teacher told you, there are 360 degrees in a circle, meaning that each zodiac sign takes up 30 degrees of space (360/12 = 30) on the astrological wheel. However, astrologers were not yet content, and decided to split up each zodiac sign into 3 additional divisions known as “decans” (10 degree increments).

So, the first decan represents the first 10 degrees of a sign, second decan degrees 11-20, and the third degrees 21-30. As you may have guessed, these decans subsequently correspond to tarot cards. So, the first decan of the Cardinal sign Aries corresponds to the 2 of Wands, the second decan to the 3 of Wands, etc. In the case of zodiac (Sun) signs, you don’t need an astrological chart to figure out your degree, just refer to the handy-dandy list below.

Wands

2 of Wands – 1° to 10° Aries – March 21 to March 30
3 of Wands – 11° to 20° Aries – March 31 to April 10
4 of Wands – 21° to 30° Aries – April 11 to April 20

5 of Wands – 1° to 10° Leo – July 22 to August 1
6 of Wands – 11° to 20° Leo – August 2 to August 11
7 of Wands – 21° to 30° Leo – August 12 to August 22

8 of Wands – 1° to 10° Sagittarius – November 23 to December 2
9 of Wands – 11° to 20° Sagittarius – December 3 to December 12
10 of Wands – 21° to 30° Sagittarius – December 13 to December 21

Cups

2 of Cups – 1° to 10° Cancer – June 21 to July 1
3 of Cups – 11° to 20° Cancer – July 2 to July 11
4 of Cups – 21° to 30° Cancer – July 12 to July 21

5 of Cups – 1° to 10° Scorpio – October 23 to November 1
6 of Cups – 11° to 20° Scorpio – November 2 to November 12
7 of Cups – 21° to 30° Scorpio – November 13 to November 22

8 of Cups – 1° to 10° Pisces – February 19 to February 28
9 of Cups – 11° to 20° Pisces – March 1 to March 10
10 of Cups – 21° to 30° Pisces – March 11 to March 20

Swords

2 of Swords – 1° to 10° Libra – September 23 to October 2
3 of Swords – 11° to 20° Libra – October 3 to October 12
4 of Swords – 21° to 30° Libra – October 13 to October 22

5 of Swords – 1° to 10° Aquarius – January 20 to January 29
6 of Swords – 11° to 20° Aquarius – January 30 to February 8
7 of Swords – 21° to 30° Aquarius – February 9 to February 18

8 of Swords – 1° to 10° Gemini – May 21 to May 31
9 of Swords – 11° to 20° Gemini – June 1 to June 10
10 of Swords – 21° to 30° Gemini – June 11 to June 20

Disks/Pentacles

2 of Disks – 1° to 10° Capricorn – December 22 to December 30
3 of Disks – 11° to 20° Capricorn – December 31 to January 9
4 of Disks – 21° to 30° Capricorn – January 10 to January 19

5 of Disks – 1° to 10° Taurus – April 21 to April 30
6 of Disks – 11° to 20° Taurus – May 1 to May 10
7 of Disks – 21° to 30° Taurus – May 11 to May 20

8 of Disks – 1° to 10° Virgo – August 23 to September 1
9 of Disks – 11° to 20° Virgo – September 2 to September 11
10 of Disks – 21° to 30° Virgo – September 12 to September 22

Since my birthday is August 15th, which falls within the third decan of the Leo cycle, the Minor Arcana card associated with my birthday is the 7 of Wands. I now have two cards connected to my birthday: Strength and the 7 of Wands. If our friend Agnes were born on, say, March 8th, her two cards would be The Moon and the 9 of Cups.

Court Cards

Also nestled within the Minor Arcana are things referred to as “court cards”. These are the Kings, Queens, Knights, Pages, Princes, etc. There’s usually four sets of four court cards (one set of four for each suit) in a tarot deck. As you might have guessed, these also correspond to a section of the astrological wheel, although the placements are not nearly as neat and tidy. The Pages in most decks (known as Princesses or Knaves in others) are not factored into this equation at all for a few specific reasons (but lets just assume that they’re too busy doing their hair). However, the Kings, Queens, and Knights are more than willing to step up to the plate.

(**Note: Tarot decks tend to vary quite a bit here. Though Queens tend to remain Queens across the board, Knights, Kings, and Princes tend to switch places depending upon the deck in question. The list below corresponds to more traditional decks, like the Rider Waite, Visconti-Sforza, or Marseilles. If using the Thoth Deck, Knights should replace Kings and Princes should replace Knights. Other decks will occasionally do something similar.)

King of Wands – November 13 to December 12 – 20° Scorpio to 20° Sagittarius
Queen of Wands – March 11 to April 10 – 20° Pisces to 20° Aries
Knight of Wands – July 12 to August 11 – 20° Cancer to 20° Leo

King of Cups – February 9 to March 10 – 20° Aquarius to 20° Pisces
Queen of Cups – June 11 to July 11 – 20° Gemini to 20° Cancer
Knight of Cups – October 13 to November 12 – 20° Libra to 20° Scorpio

King of Swords – May 11 to June 10 – 20° Taurus to 20° Gemini
Queen of Swords – September 12 to October 12 – 20° Virgo to 20° Libra
Knight of Swords – January 10 to February 8 – 20° Capricorn to 20° Aquarius

King of Pentacles – August 12 to September 11 – 20° Leo to 20° Virgo
Queen of Pentacles – December 13 to January 9 – 20° Sagittarius to 20° Capricorn
Knight of Pentacles – April 11 to May 10 – 20° Aries to 20° Taurus

Therefore, the three cards associated with my birthday would be Strength, the 7 of Wands, and the King of Pentacles. Our friend Agnes, born on March 8th would claim The Moon, 9 of Cups, and King of Cups as her birthday cards.

Now then, with what you have just learned, which tarot cards would be associated with your birthday?

 

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© Anthony Teth 2011

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