What’s in a Name: How to Spell the Major Arcana

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop!

Jay Cassels of Sacred Healing posed the question, “What’s in a Name?” Using this theme, the Blog Hoppers are exploring names and numbers. In the esoteric approach to tarot, authors such as Paul Foster Case and John Michael Greer spell out the Hebrew letters associated with each card. Once you have the full spelling of each letter, you can spell the Major Arcana cards with other cards. This is fun to do and can provide interesting insight into the meanings of the cards.


Majors Spelled Out

One of the most useful ways to understand the Major Arcana is to place them in various patterns to discover surprising connections. The BOTA trestleboard pattern is one such arrangement. But there are many other tarot tableaux that can reveal fascinating connections between the cards. In a previous blog hop I shared a tableau I developed, The Day – Night – Resurrection Tableau. Today I’m sharing another way of linking cards to each other.

Each of the twenty-two Major Arcana correspond to one of the twenty-two Hebrew letters. Each of the Hebrew letters can be spelled out — as if we were to spell “A” as “ay.” Once the Hebrew letter is spelled out, then those letters can be turned back into tarot cards. This technique produces some interesting results!

Spell the Major Arcana for Insight into the Cards

I found it interesting that the Hierophant is spelled “Hierophant – Hierophant” and the Hanged Man is also it’s own card repeated. To me, both of these cards express a stuckness, rigidity, or lack of movement. Indeed, this understanding shows up in the very spelling of their Hebrew correspondences!

I love how the Fool is spelled Fool – Justice – Tower, as if the Fool extends beyond the balance of equilibrium for an upset. The Tower meanwhile is spelled Tower – Fool! The upset leads back to innocence.

What's in a Name? How to Spell the Major Arcana
Click on the image to open a pdf you can download and print.

Advance to the Next Round

What interesting insights do you see in the groups of cards above? Let me know in the comments! Then hop on to see how the other bloggers have interpreted this theme!


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. You have done it again! A huge and massive piece just dropped in as I read through the PDF, I’m not sure if your familiar with the story that accompanies the Major cards, it relates to the fool on his journey to see the world?

    Your PDF, just added a much deeper and potent layer to that story, which until today eluded me but I knew existed. Thank you <3

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