General Book of the Tarot

THE LESSER ARCANA - Second Section

The theory formulated in the first part of the present work must be proved by practice; and here we are in the same lucky position as with horoscopy, where we find also the most abstract world-vision combined with the natural facts of everyday life: religion, philosophy and science in one and testified to by facts, which can be verified by every serious
student, as easily as the facts of any other branch of natural science.

We shall now deal with the Arcana Minor much on the same lines as we have followed with the cards of the Arcana Major, only still more abridged, if possible, in order to make the work clear and the supervision easy, and so produce a handbook, as simple and practical as possible for use in the practice of divination. We shall therefore first give the
generally accepted traditional meanings of each card, and then derive the significance from the given theory.


The qualifications which we think fully justified by the theory, will be put in italics.

We use as illustrations the pictures of the cards as they have been drawn on the authority of Mr. A. E. Waite and published by Messrs. Rider and Co., Paternoster Row, London.

Practical divination speaks of two ways in which the cards, in general, have to be or can be interpreted: right and reversed, and the professors of the art say it depends on the way the cards fall when they are laid after
being shuffled; it may be the image of the card comes 'right,' i.e. facing the querent, or upside down. The latter is called 'reversed.' This appears to me to be a rather arbitrary distinction, because of course it costs you no trouble to put all cards 'right' before shuffling and to keep them right all the time. But there may be actually a stronger and a weaker side to each card of the Lesser Arcana, as it may act on the higher or on the lower side of human nature, or it may stand for ourselves or for our opponents; it may either be fortified by benefic influences of neighbouring cards and the planets, or weakened by malefics. So we shall not protest against the term 'reversed,' but use it in a different way and consider it simply as the pathological side of the genuine significance, if we may be allowed to express it thus. Nor shall we indicate it separately, but simply leave it to the consideration of the professor of divination to decide if a fall is weak or more or less pathological.

We might add one more remark, viz. regarding the nature of the Page and the Knight. We place the Knight after the Page, which makes the former fall upon the houses of Water and the Page on the houses of Air. Tradition gives first the Knight and after him the Page. Astrologers will feel the essential difference between both: the one is of the nature of Air, the other of the nature of Water. The latter is more 'essential,' working on the sentiments, while the Page is rather working on the intellectual plane of existence. The Knight brings the inner change and link, the Page the outer change and connection. Of the two the Page or Knave is the lesser or younger. Evidently the symbolic figures have been chosen so as to express a difference of this kind. The page may become a knight, after he has won experience. Now 'experience' is the typical function of the houses or signs of Water. The page-period in mediæval society was that of the disciple, of assisting, learning; of carrying messages: all this is typical of houses or signs of Air. The name of Knave,
sometimes substituted for Page, is doubtlessly given to indicate the 'secondary' importance of "those people" in relation to the nobility of the other. Air-people are always more or less 'profane' in relation to water-people, and this has been evidently expressed in the mediæval denomination.



TRADITION: Birth, source, principle, beginning, origin, cause, reason, creation, invention. Some say also: family, but this is probably to be taken as 'family-descent,' or parentage or origin of the family, which is a different idea. Reversed: Fall, perdition, decadence, decline, ruin, etc.

THEORY: The element of Air on the First house or ascendant has of course to do with birth and beginning, because it is the coming through of the message from above to the regions of the physical plane; the ascendant indeed is the synthesised appearance of the heavens at the beginning of . . . whatever it may be, and so this card signifies on one hand the inflow of light from above into the world of matter and fact, which can have several meanings. On the other hand, seen from the side of light itself, it is the 'fall in matter' and the decline of the higher, as well as the enlightening of the lower. The cards of the airy element have always and in every instance a double meaning and not only in the sense
of right and reversed, but a meaning on two sides. And apparently this has been wrongly introduced as 'right' or 'reversed' in some cases. So the ace of wands will represent the effect of suddenness, of the incidental, even accidental, showing some appearances of the planet Uranus. It denotes something that is making its appearance all of a sudden; a sort of manifestation, creation such as the birth of a child. This, by the way, is generally considered to be a joy for the parents, etc., but may not be for the soul, which has to accept once more the limitations of life in a body of earth. And this is the two-sidedness of the significance.

CONCLUSION: Birth, beginning, innovation, creation initiative, impulse, origin, principle, source, cause reason, parentage, handing over of a message, news revelation, initiation. On the other hand come the meanings derived from fall, decline, descent, depreciation, profanation,


etc. But it means that which will happen once only and which cannot be taken back.

Two of Wands

TRADITION: Melancholy, sadness, surprise, astonishment, consternation, terror, fear, enchantment, trouble, but also on the other hand riches, fortune and magnificence.

THEORY: Air on the Second house, that of Taurus, which explains at once the latter significances ascribed to the card by some authors; the other category of definitions derives from the earthy nature of the Second house, which, put into the tone of the airy element, may cause something of the oppression, which the heaviness of this fixed and earthy
house exercises on the mind. It is the impression of heaviness, of a load on the back, which easily may attain the more concise form of a fear, a gloom, a feeling of being downcast, impotent, weak and not able to resist circumstances. So it may signify the pressure of material conditions, the responsibility imparted by riches, but also projects or conceptions of an economical nature and the idea of capital and capitalising. Further the combination of the principles of air with the house of Taurus must give music, and we may be sure that this card always has some significance in that way and in the sphere of art intellectually and in general. This is a very important significance.

CONCLUSION: Music, art, artistic ability in general; capital, riches, heavy responsibility, pressure, obsession, melancholy, fear, weakness, impossibility or material power (on one side and on the other), gloom, dullness, 'spleen,' impotence, subjection to material circumstances; attitude


of 'wait and see'; the future is for those that can (afford to) wait. Country life.

Three of Wands

TRADITION: Enterprise, effort, essay, trade, commerce, discovery, usurpation, daring, temerity and also imprudence, interruption, cessation and 'the end of troubles,' discontinuative.

THEORY: The rather contradictory descriptions of this card's significance are well explained by its zodiacal position: Air on the Third house, which doubles the influence of 'air' and of the mercurial vibrations and effects. This card has the accent of the suit of wands. It must consequently denote: communication, reflection and all that comes from these. This
needs little explanation.

CONCLUSION: Communication, instruction, reflexion, message, writing, postage and letters, superficial knowledge, airiness, passing impressions, discontinuance, interruption, change, perhaps a certain amount of geniality, imprudence also; neglect or want of proper attention; as to 'temerity' I should say only in so far as this means an easy manner of
overcoming obstacles, quick insight; effort, essay, trade are correct. Mercury being the God of merchants, and thieves, this card may relate to commerce, theft and loss. "The end of troubles" is indeed well said, because this card gives the key for their solution and shows the way of escape.

Four of Wands

TRADITION: Society, association, alliance, multitude and all that implies a gathering of men, even armies; mixture; country life, felicity, augmentation, prosperity, happiness, peace and concord, etc., convocation; advance.

THEORY: It is Air on the Fourth house and the mixing of mercurial and lunar influence will of course explain the idea of gathering. We cannot quite see some of the definitions (contract, pact, treaty), but generally we find the idea of that which binds together by memory and common motives, thoughts, mottos common to a certain group of people, be it
family or nation, clan or army. So this leads us to see in the card the expression of the common motive, of that which binds people together. It is not the contract, but the motive which afterwards leads to contracts, or from which the contract will result. A common mistake, in astrological descriptions as well, is this mixing up of definitions relating to the cause and to the effect respectively. Mercury brooding over the house of the family and the moon, engenders homely feelings, memories, thoughts of internal service, household matters, and tends more or less to a profane and familiar or descriptive language, to joke, fun and the theatrical art, to inviting people to come together and have their share in weal and woe. It represents also common sense, which, however, remains in many cases 'common' enough. And it contains the motives, which actually govern the facts and actions in this world.

CONCLUSION: Family-spirit, clan, home, the ideas and motives which rule us, consequently that which is familiar to us; memory, reminiscences, brooding and scheming, fantasy, theatrical arts, fancy, imagination. It can be augmentation as well as decrease, it generally means change and unstable conditions, popularity and vaccillation, profanation. It may
denote some group of people, a gathering or meeting, family-council. A convocation. a call and a vote. Cosiness.

Five of Wands

TRADITION: Gold, riches, opulence, magnificence, brilliancy, luxury, the struggle for riches, "physical, philosophical and moral sun." (P.) But also process, trickery, contradiction, discussion, chicane, etc.

THEORY: Air on the Fifth house: that of the sun. The house of the heart and of children, of speculation and love affairs, of pride and of willpower. There is more of the richness of the heart in it than of material abundance, though generally Leo-people know how to reach the latter. It is a house of Fire, and the combination of Fire and Air makes warm air, which may be used to heat rooms, in the same way as words, that contain warm feelings of the heart, will do good to other people, and on the other hand hot speech will arouse lively contradiction. Here is the same mistake: the card is not that of contradiction, but of hot speech, very positive expression, and contentions, suggestions, rather than
discussion, egocentric thought, from which we may conclude, that it will evoke contradiction, or some other effect. But we have to do with the proper meaning of a card itself. It is quite true, that the house Leo may bring gold and presents. Thought-power taken to heart, or taking its motives from love and from the desires and wishes of the heart, may very
often be more selfish than reasonable, but it is a real pushing power and therefore generally is the most helpful element towards attaining the goal. This, of course, has been the reason for ascribing riches, etc., to this card.

CONCLUSION: Egotism, positive speech, contention, persuasion, suggestion, hot speech, demonstration (e.g. of love or desire); pushing power; all this may lead to trickery, to competition perhaps, and to struggle for riches certainly; it means speaking and thinking to such a self-centred way, that no notice is taken of other people's standpoint; consequently clashing of opinions; sometimes it may allude to gold and presents, but to the promise rather than to the fact. There is little or no evil


in this card. At most it may denote stupid and childish persistence in one's own personal opinion, e.g. wishes. It has something sunny in it and is good for health and wealth in a general way, promoting both, but it is not 'riches' in itself.

Six of Wands

TRADITION: Servant, inferior, mercenary man, commissioner; interior of a house, the household; it is also said to denote great news and expectation, hope and trust, but sometimes not without some misgivings or a slight apprehension of treachery.

THEORY: It is Air on the house of Virgo, the Sixth, house of the servants and work, of exact science and the academy, of health and food, of the art of decoration and the interior of the house, as well as of the retail dealer. The element of thought (Air) on the earthy house of Virgo must naturally bring forth knowledge of every detail and reveal mistakes or
shortcomings; it promotes efficiency, and the latter is one of the principal meanings of the card. Here again is a double mercurial expression, so this card must denote special abilities, capacities, technical insight; moreover food questions and medicine, medicaments and nursing; practical arrangement of details, but as Virgo "kills the prophets," this card may contain some or other discrepancy in the philosophical or logical, theoretical or strictly just side of things.

CONCLUSION: Knowledge, exact and academical, decorative art, efficiency, work, servitude and servants, practical solution of problems, but at the same time perhaps some discrepancy; food, medicine, treatment, experiment; it may relate to persons in every subordinate position and to retail tradesmen; the personal attitude under this card is rather passive


and indeed that of expectation, attention, waiting for orders or for the result of experiments, for the answer on question or demand; solicitation.

Seven of Wands

TRADITION: Discussion, negotiation, conference, conversation, deliberation, dissertation; measure; correspondence, words and language; generally success, but there may be also some hesitation, uncertainty, irresolution, light-heartedness.

THEORY: All this is very strikingly typifying the element Air on the Seventh house, that of the airy Libra, house of relationship, marriage, meeting of the Self and the Not-self, which rules contracts, books and manuscripts. Here only comes 'discussion' into play. In the Fifth house the individuality was alone, and for discussion you want two persons.

CONCLUSION: Discussion, relation, negotiation, entertainment, discourse, lecture, reasonable explanation, contract, marriage proposed, societyrulership and orders given out to inferiors, arrangements, regularisation and measurement; measure, proportion, rules given for conduct. There is uncertainty or opportunism in so far as rules are given in relation to circumstances, which may change. The personal interests are brought in, in relation with those of others. Fair weather.

Eight of Wands

TRADITION: Examination, interior disputes, misunderstanding, regrets, interior agitation, scruples, doubt, repentance, etc. But on the other hand it is brought into connection with everything that has to do with country life, the fields, gardens, woods, etc. Also: pleasure, amusement, enjoyment, recreation. Quite apart from all this: an express messenger, the arrows of love or the arrows of jealousy. "Great haste, great hope, speed towards an end, which promises assured felicity." (W.)

THEORY: The card represents Air on the Eighth house and the influence of Scorpio will make the mind acute and sharp, so as to investigate and to examine the most hidden riddles, while in this house the mind comes to the sensation or consciousness of pleasure and pain, thirst and drinking. (The chalice will begin its suit later on the Ninth house.) It is
the house of hidden and 'forbidden' knowledge or rather experience. The 'arrows of love' actually mean passion, and the 'arrows of jealousy,' the common counterpart of the same. The sensation of sex is born in this house and indicated by this card. As to swift or speedy messages, this may sometimes happen, because the Scorpion is sometimes very sudden
in its movements. What the card should have to do with country life is less evident. We should say rather that it must stand in relation with the sea, fishermen and sailors. The mind in this house is very critical and sharp-witted, sometimes subject to doubt and misgivings, superstition and jealousy. It is in search of truth and enjoyment. Artistic abilities will
run along the line of poetry, music and sculpture. It has always to do with the hidden side of things, the interior, or the inner life.

CONCLUSION: Examination, interrogation, internal or inner conceptions, knowledge and disputes; misgivings, doubt and sometimes misunderstandings; quick response, reaction, and answer to unspoken words or meanings. The sensation of pleasure and pain, but at the same time the knowledge and the occasion to avoid both or to get the one and
avoid the other. Life at or on the sea; sailors and fishermen. Searchers for the hidden side of things, students of occultism. Poetry, music and sculpture. Secret message; hidden meaning; sex questions. Private interview or rendez-vous. Bad weather.

Nine of Wands

TRADITION: Obstacle, delay, suspense, adversity, slowness, contrariety, calamity, misfortune, renvoy, trouble.

"The card signifies strength in opposition. If attacked he will meet the onslaught boldly." (W.)

THEORY: The element of Air on the Ninth house, which is opposite to that in which the particular accent of the suit of wands lies: Gemini, the third. This opposition evidently has been the chief motive for the qualifications given in respect of this card in the past.

There is a good deal in it, but not everything. Of course, if the third house is the typical expression of the 'message,' the Sagittarian is the type of the man "who is always in the opposition," but he is more. He is also . . . himself. This card seems to be queerly veiled. It is at least strange to find only malific expressions of the co-ordination of the element Air and the principle of mind with the house of Sagittarius, the thinker. This looks as if the patrons of the Tarot system did not think it wise to tell much about this sign of the prophets to the fortune-telling gypsies. How this may be does not concern. us any further. Evidently the card must have to do with prophecy, fortune-telling, teaching,


conducting, guiding and the persons of guides, teachers, masters; it must give the notion of travelling and far-reaching schemes, the faculty of speaking foreign languages and of writing, but it is true, that the persons indicated by this card find their "strength in opposition "--as W. has it--and very often therefore are in search of some convenient opponent or opposing force. It means intellectual chasing, sport, hunting, journalism and the raising of spirits, that are not easily to be got rid of afterwards. The latter fact accounts for all that has been said about obstacles, etc.

CONCLUSION: Teaching, instruction, guidance, teachers, masters, guides. Planning, travelling, sport; journalism, editors and journalists, public lecturers, orators; prophecy and predicting. On the other hand there may be unruliness, waywardness and unpractical idealism. It is certain that, where this card appears, much controversy, contradiction, antagonism, mental strife, etc., will be aroused, sometimes more than would appear necessary. There is also in it extension of thought, spreading of news, rumours, preaching, excitement of the people and revolution.

Ten of Wands

TRADITION: Treachery, duplicity, perfidy, falsehood, disguise, imposture, conspiration, obstacle, surprise, dissimulation, contrarieties, difficulties, false-seeming, oppression. ". . . and if there is question of a lawsuit, there will be certain loss." (W.)

THEORY: Air on the house of Capricorn: the Tenth. It is well known by astrologers, that the tenth house rules the actions, deeds and attitude. Also the name and official position of the personality in the world and at the same time the superiors or authorities, met with on account of


position and activities. Actions and deeds, under the influence of the double-natured mercurial element, may easily degrade into 'doubledealing' and everything else of that nature. But once more it appears to us, that the gypsy tradition is rather too much exclusively on the lower side of things. The qualities mixed here make very often an egoistic blend
and a nature which reveals several weaknesses, as soon as it comes under trial. So the card on the one hand means certainly that the attitude of mind or action will be untrustworthy and must not be relied upon. There is fear and cowardice in it. But on the other hand the combination is that of mental ability, quick perception, etc. It means also the load of the earthy responsibility laid upon the shoulders of an airy creature, consequently 'oppression' is a word very much to the point here. And this explains even why weaker natures are driven to undesirable, unreliable actions and reactions by it; they cannot stand the pressure. Strong natures, however, accept the pressure as natural necessity, karma, and carry their burden. This is symbolised by the man carrying the ten wands. It is a symbol of executive ability, production, the doing of necessary things, obedience to official order and rule; officials, 'red tape' and burdens that appear heavier than they actually are.

CONCLUSION: Karma, obedience, executive ability, production and reproduction, necessity; officials and official position. In weaker cases: Duplicity, falsehood, unreliability, disguise, double-dealing, false appearance, lies and false diplomacy, etc. Oppression and overestimating the importance of things.

King of Wands

TRADITION: Country gentleman, man with good intentions and yet severe, honest and conscientious; may be a peasant or agriculturist. Eteilla calls him the father. Marriage, union.

THEORY: Higher octave of the ace, lord of the suit of Air and the mind; coming on the First house. What may have led to the legend of calling him a country gentleman and bringing the whole suit of wands more or less in relation with the country, is not clear. He is the lord of the intellectual kingdom, consequently he may denote every authority or personality of primary importance in some or other intellectual, mercurial or mercenary line. It must be some one representing a high authority himself or uniting opposite interests, while he himself, on account of the same authority he represents, may not or cannot be contradicted.

Now we want to put in a remark here concerning the court or personal cards in general: in the practice of divination they are generally taken to indicate persons, and this comes out very often right enough. Still they ought first to be considered as principles; the personification of these principles in men and women comes in the second place only, but is
important, of course, in our daily life. So the King of Wands must represent intellectual authority, mastership in the domain of the mind, trade and language.

CONCLUSION: A governor, director of business, high official, postmaster, solicitor, manager, independent trader, Secretary of State, and the principles or functions for which they stand. The house of Mars imparts austerity, security and generally initiative and honesty; in weak cases there may be, however, some doubt with regard to his absolute integrity. He may be the authority, who concludes a union, viz. notary, clergyman or


civil authority. In the church he is the High Priest, in the lodge the Grand Master.

Queen of Wands

TRADITION: Country woman, honest, economical woman, honourable and loving, virtuous, chaste, good and inclined to be friendly and interest herself in the querent. The card may also indicate love of money, economy and gifts.

THEORY: Queen of Air on the Second house of economy, money, country life and art. Some of the traditional renderings certify this remarkably well. Now what does a queen in general mean? In divination a woman simply, but in general, as the king is the head of the hierarchy or suit as the spiritual synthesis and masculine representative, so the queen may be said to be the material synthesis and the chief female representative.
So the queen of wands must be, apart from all personality, the representative of banking, exchange, agriculture and of the arts in general, painting, music and dancing in particular. In W.'s picture of this card, a cat is seen before the feet of this queen: a remarkable indication of the house in which, as astrology teaches, the moon is exalted. It indicates rightly, that in weak cases there may be some falsehood in the nature of persons indicated by it. Cajolery, but apt to turn into
peevishness. Taurus-people are generally good-humoured and goodnatured, patient, benefic for their surroundings in material things, but also desirous of luxury and possessions, wealth, riches.

CONCLUSION: A woman of economical habits, wealthy or desiring wealth, steadily resolved to get at riches, certainly not 'cheap'; more or less artistic, may be a painter, dancer or musician; she is faithful, but may be subject to


moods and changes of taste. Honesty may be certified, but not without a certain amount of egotism, e.g. materialism. She is very passive and cool, phlegmatic and not easily to be roused to passion, if ever. This of course makes the impression of 'chaste.' There is, however, a solid sort of sensuality. In strong cases there is real virtue. Banking, agriculture, art, capital, money. The latter more to be seen as 'money-matters' than as 'ready money,' and rather papers of value, shares, bonds, banknotes, than coined money.

Page of Wands

TRADITION: Stranger, unknown man, young man in search of somebody, extraordinary or at least uncommon man; postman, envoy, dark young man, faithful lover. Further it denotes an announcement, instruction, advice, tale, lesson, advertisement, something wonderful, unexpected, admirable, unusual. A notion as well as a miracle. News.

THEORY: We have to keep in mind, that the page of Air relates to the Third and to the Eleventh house both. Some of the indications show the mark of aquarian, i.e. uranian parentage, others are purely mercurial.
The pages always cover the meaning of houses of Air, as we have seen the page of the airy element--wands--is the most airy of them all. The interpretation is easy enough, and the renderings are quite correct, with the exception of one item: we can never see this page as a 'stranger' but rather as an acquaintance, a friend, conforming to the connection with
the eleventh house. That with the Third house even may bring his personal standing nearer to the querent, viz. as a brother or schoolmate.


CONCLUSION--(From the Third house): A brother, schoolmate, messenger, postman or envoy, functionary or official of subordinate position, generally a younger man, sometimes on an errand; messages, letters, communications, teaching, instruction, lesson, advertisement, advice, announcement. News. (From the eleventh house): A friend, some one in business relation with the querent, or with whom he agrees. Telegraph, telephone and wireless. Intuitive connection, telepathy, invention. Helpful influences in general, helpful people of all sorts, tradesmen, purveyors, etc.

Knight of Wands

TRADITION: Young man, friendly. Departure, absence, flight, emigration, change of residence, desertion, transmigration, transplantation, transmutation, separation, disunion, rupture, discontinuance, brouillerie, discord.

THEORY: The workings of Air by a special and mighty agent--for this the knight is in all cases--on the houses of water, here the Fourth and the Twelfth, causes turbulence, motion, emotion (though it must be borne in mind, that it is not emotion in itself); the action of the air on the water causes waves. In the case of the fourth house the knight relates to family matters or household conditions, eventually the father, to internal conditions in society or groups of people. It must further relate to memories and the past in general, because it means the awakening of the sentiments. The traditional conclusions have been drawn evidently in the negative for the greater part, in consideration of the fact that the sentiments generally are misleading. That they give reason for many changes is quite true. In the case of the twelfth house this is much the same. But extending its result over a much larger circle, the mercurial


knight may represent expedition and exploration, discovery, scientific or practical, emigration, estrangement, and the 'great work' of transmigration. It denotes a searching for the unknown, which in weak personal cases may appear as indiscretion or premature revelation, divulgation, profanation, etc. We do not see why this knight should be either young or friendly.

Quite the reverse: On account of the twelfth house there is something inimical about him, and a certain dissension of sentiment may find its cause in the past, in a family feud or something in the nature of a misguiding prejudice, tradition, which will have to be given up, etc.

CONCLUSION--(From the fourth house): A representative of the father, or of the family, a relative; a man visiting the house bringing new and perhaps disturbing influences into it, disturbing domestic happiness; changes in the home, house or family; memories awakened, divulgation of family secrets or private matters; an intruder in the home. A man of doubtful though not necessarily bad character. (From the twelfth house):
An investigator, occultist, explorer, sailor, traveller on the high seas, wanderer, a guide through strange experiences, vagrant Bohemian type, stranger and sometimes enemy or some one with whom the querent does not agree and from whom he will be estranged, however earnest his endeavours to keep friendly, because he speaks either morally or
physically a foreign tongue. Translation, export, departure, change of residence, emigration, flight, absence, rupture, etc. Transmutation.
Disturbing influences and people in general, which need not be bad in itself, and may even cause a revolution in thought. It brings unrest in any case.

General Book of the Tarot

Main Library