Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

Tarot Blog Hop, or To Be Honest

For this unofficial Tarot Blog Hop, our beloved wrangler Jay Cassels proposed we explore our groups’s acronym, TBH. Most people recognize the letters TBH as the idiom, “To Be Honest.” Jay invited us to play with these letters. He asked, “Can you think of Minor or Major cards or decks that might fit well for each?” Read on for a dizzying voyage from heaven to earth and back again via the fabulous exploration of honesty, blog hopping, and tarot!

Jump back for Jay, or forward for Raine Shakti at Tarot of Change.

Jay | Master | Raine

The Rose Tarot

The World, The Magus, and The Emperor from The Rose Tarot by Nigel Jackson, published by Llewellyn Publications, 2021.

The first image, The World, shows a crowned and winged woman standing on a wreath, within which is the Agnus Dei and the New Jerusalem. She holds the orb and sceptre in her hands, equating her symbolically to the Emperor. However, her realm of dominion is heavenly, not earthly.

Rulership of the world we live in belongs to the last card indicated, The Emperor. He represents the fiery life force that causes living things to grow.

Bridging these two is The Magus. The raised hand references the heavens, while the lowered points down to the earth. He bridges the two. The five-pointed star in his book represents, like the rose, unbridled desire but also growth and development. The six-pointed star, like the lily, indicates purity and the perfection of completion, but also death. Fivefold symmetry is found in living things, but sixfold symmetry appears only in inorganic objects. He points to his shoes, which are blue-green, the color of Key XIII, Death, which, like the ouroboros, symbolizes regeneration.

To Be Honest

Heaven is symbolic of Perfect Unity. The earth of Infinite Diversity. Truth may proceed from Unity, but it quickly becomes snarled in the nuances of diversity. Being honest, we strive to reflect the clarity of Divine Unity. Yet each individual occasion that presents us with an opportunity for honesty is closer to or further from that ultimate perfection. We know in the moment the right thing to say, and believe that is our honest response. But it may or may not be our perpetual response. There is truth in any given moment but also an eternal Truth.

Tarot Blog Hop

Although this particular iteration of the hop is more casual, our usual format is to all publish at precisely the same time. That is, at the moment of truth. Each of us has explored the topic honestly. Yet at that clock tick when the hop goes live, all of a sudden a diversity of thoughts on the single topic explode into being. As we each read each other’s posts, our own truth is modified, expanded, and/or renewed as we hop from blog to blog, shining one light and then another on the theme.

The Haindl Tarot

The Universe, the Magician, The Emperor from the Haindl Tarot by Hermann Haindl, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 1990.

There is a beast with a breath of fire that comes between us and the world. The world can be perfect, or it can be growing, but not both. The beast protects it, or perhaps instead it protects us, like the flaming sword at the gate to the Garden of Eden. Shall we fight to return home, or run away to the Universe?

The Magician has two sets of eyes, one looking back, the other forward. The points protruding from the solar side of the Magician’s mind represent the predictable development of the crystallization process. This is how we develop external truth, or facts: growing into solidity through testing and affirming. Meanwhile, on the back of his head, an open-eyed, organic, tree-like shape invokes the changeable nature of the moon. Many forces within and without will combine to direct its growth, and yet it ultimately finds its own unique path that can be generally known but not precisely predicted. This is how we develop internal truth, or understanding: wandering a sinuous and ever-shifting path.

This brown personality with fingerprint-like whorls anticipates the ancient rooted one in the Emperor card. In fact, this ruler’s legs mimic the tree’s roots, his body the color of its bark, and the flow of his muscles blends into the twisting folds of the trunk. The octahedron above his head, the Platonic solid associated with the element air, indicates the cool reflection of reason with which he rules. In contrast, his astrological correspondence of Aries embodies the fire of leadership, energy, and independence. His mind conceives of the reasoned plan, his body readily takes action to make it happen.

To Be Honest

Being honest is a balance between protection and invitation, perfection and growth, reason and action.

Tarot Blog Hop

The tarot blog hop explores the facets of many perspectives to help us hone in closer to the one truth.

Jolanda Tarot

The World, The Magician, The Emperor from the Jolanda Tarot by Hans Arnold, published by AGMüller, 2008.

The world spins crazily in the spout of water from the whale’s blow hole. In contrast, perfect stillness exudes from the vast ocean under the infinite stars. This is the ultimate symbol of isolation amid the everlasting expanse of emptiness. And yet not blank, but teeming with life and light.

The Valkyrie with the elephant head shield holds aloft a metal blade inviting the lightning to descend and immolate or inseminate. Behind her hides a scorpion, one of the first beings to crawl out of the primordial seas into a life on land. As a symbol of death, he encapsulates transformation and renewal.

Meanwhile, more orderly stars array themselves over a water lily Emperor in a bamboo grove. Water lilies and bamboo both depend on rhizomes for their growth. This underground structure is a plant stem that sends out both roots and shoots. Likewise, the Emperor builds a strong empire by ensuring stability then encouraging fertility.

To Be Honest

The generation of the world, of life on earth, is as simple as nothing into something as the lightning blast electrifies life in the primordial ooze. To be false is to withhold the nothing, refuse the source of the something. To be honest is to admit possibility, root and branch.

Tarot Blog Hop

Tarot Blog Hop is a rhizomatic connection with a theme for a stem, wranglers for roots, and individual, unique blog posts for shoots and giggles.

Qabalistic Numerology

Moses saved from the waters. Orazio Gentileschi, Prado, 1633. Source: Wikimedia commons.


In Hebrew, “tabah” is an ark or basket. It is a receptacle to protect its occupant or occupants. It is Noah’s ark. And the ark of bullrushes that baby Moses drifted away in.

In Hebrew, every letter is also a number. T = 400, B = 2, and H = 5. So TBH is also the number 407. In the style of qabalistic numerology known as gematria, once we calculate the number of a word or phrase, we find others with that same value. According to this philosophy, these expressions with the same number give us a new perspective on the original.

The same letters in a different order will have the same number. So TBH, BTH, and HBT are all 407. But also different letters can add up to the same number. For instance, take the word ZRR, zarar, to sneeze. Z = 7, R = 200, and another R brings it to 407, just like TBH! Bless you! Zarar also means to bind, gird up, be active, nimble. It appears in the bible in the story, Elisha Raises the Shunammite’s Son, 2 Kings 4:18-37. It is a story of deceit and truth, death, and resurrection. Kind of like today’s TBH post.


The word “bathah” means end or destruction while the homophone “battah” is a cliff or precipice.


“The daughter” in Hebrew is “habbat.” This word appears in the Book of Exodus, 1:22: Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “You are to cast every son who is born to the Hebrews into the river, but every daughter (HBT) you are to keep alive.” The next few verses at the beginning of the second book of Exodus tell the story of Moses in the tabah (TBH). “When she could no longer hide him, she took a papyrus box for him and coated it with bitumen and with pitch. And she put the child in it and put it among the rushes by the bank of the river.” Interestingly, the word “tabah” is also spelled “tabat”, containing “bat,” or daughter. Could you say that Moses’s mother turned her son into a daughter to save his life? And to carry on the tradition?

Gustave Doré Tarot

The World, The Magician, The Emperor from the Gustave Doré Tarot, by Pietro Alligo and Gustave Doré, published by Lo Scarabeo, 2022.

The World card shows the Empyrean heaven as illustrated for Dante’s Paradiso. This image is called the “white rose.” Dante sees the angels flying around this light like “a swarm of bees, that sinks in flowers/ One moment, and the next returns again/ To where its labour is to sweetness turned.”

The World, The Magician, The Emperor

The Spheres and the Paths, labeled with the essential kabbalistic meaning. Every card in the tarot deck fits onto the Tree of Life, and the more detailed our understanding of the correspondences of the Tree, the more depth we can find in the meanings of the cards.

According to the qabalistic correspondences from the Tree of Life, the World card is the letter T, tav. The Magician is B, beth. And the Emperor is H, heh.

Back to Dante.

Just as the flower holds the bee and the comb holds the honey, the rose could be said to be a TBH, a tabah, a container, that holds the angels. And likewise the body holds the soul. The canto concludes with Dante asking Beatrice, “Preserve towards me thy magnificence,/ So that this soul of mine, which thou hast healed, / Pleasing to thee be loosened from the body.” The body is container of the soul.

The Magician card shows Moses breaking the tablets of the law in anger. The Magician is the letter B, beth, and the word BTH, bathah, means destruction. Moses was infuriated because his own people had turned their back on the One God and were celebrating and partying in worship of the golden calf. One commentary on the story says, “It is written (Ecclesiastes 7:9) “Do not be fast to anger [for anger resides in the bosom of fools].” Who was angry? Moses, as it is written: “Moses got angry and flung [the tablets] from his hands” (Exod. 32:19).”

Here Moses is equated with a fool. In tarot, we think of the Fool as taking a leap of faith, capable of falling or flying. Moses lost something incredibly valuable — the original commandments of God — in his anger. The tablets were of stone. The word for stone is ABN, eben, consisting of AB, father, and BN, son. Perhaps you could say that he broke the lineage from father to son in order to redeem his people to the heavenly father.

The Emperor illustration depicts A King’s Solitude, a poem by Gustave Dore’s contemporary, Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier. The poem describes a stone statue of a king, or a king who has become like a statue, immovable and cold. The poem concludes,

I’ve power for all things, and pleasure for none.
Ah, would I might know one deep wish in my heart,
Feel life in its warmth flood my bosom of stone,
Share one true delight, in one feast have a part!
But lonely the sun in its circle must go.
High peaks are the coldest, and never a spring,
And never a summer can soften the snow
On height of Sierra, in heart of a king!

Even the sun, the warmth of life, is seen as cold as it culminates to its highest point on a summer’s day, because the higher we climb, the colder it gets.

The Emperor is the letter H, heh. It begins habbat, the daughter. The daughter carries on the lineage. The tarot princesses are the thrones of the Aces, symbolically pregnant with the next iteration or generation. Similarly, HBT, the daughter, is the container and carrier of the that which will survive the destruction.

The Spiral of Meaning

We arrive at the spiraling of meaning. The container must be broken to release the soul. Desire is destruction, perfection is death. The container must be protected to carry the future to term. Desire is growth, perfection is purity. That which is perfect no longer changes, having reached its culmination. But the highest heaven shown in the World moves in circles like the Wheel of Fortune, stimulating the turning of everything that depends from it.

To Be Honest. This means to be in the present, in the moment. Honoring the immediacy of what is needed. Knowing when to release what can never be and when to protect the delicate thing growing out of fragility.

To be honest means to recognize the infinite permutations of existence, and to honor the perfection of each brilliantly unique expression.

We leap from the precipice, BTH, battah, like the Fool. Then we land in the realm of the Magician and begin our journey through the secrets. The Fool is A, aleph. The World is T, tav. The phrase AVT, “A and T” or “first and last,” adds up to 407.

As does TBH.

Tarot Blog Hop.

First And Last

What secrets do our other bloggers reveal in their honesty? Hop on to find out!

Jay | Master | Raine

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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  1. Wow! Joy this was an awesome read, the depth and fountains of knowledge you have at your fingertips and inside your mind are out of this world. Each and every time I read your posts, it takes me back to that day I stumbled across you and wrote to you about Reiki, and look at us now.

    Thank you for being brilliant <3

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