When Numbers Repeat in a Tarot Spread
I recently received an email from a tarot student asking me to comment on a spread he had performed for himself.
In a fifteen-card spread, all four Aces had appeared, as well as the Magician. Though himself a competent reader, he was wondering what my take was on this rare occurrence. I shared my thoughts with him and got his permission to expand on that theme in a blog post.
Rather than addressing only his particular situation, I would like to comment more comprehensively on ways to interpret multiples of number and rank in a tarot spread.
First, when more than one of the same number or rank appear in a tarot spread, it is something to pay attention to. Your interpretation of this phenomenon will generally be in addition to your interpretation of the individual cards. Read it as an extra message.
If there are two of the same number, you can often make a comparison between the two cards. Are they similar or starkly different? For example, if the Ten of Swords and the Ten of Cups show up in the same spread, you are going to want to spend some time figuring out what that means. That message will be substantially different than if the Ten of Pentacles and the Ten of Cups show up together. Two similar cards of the same number will strengthen each other. Two opposite cards of the same number may present a choice, or a progression from one to the other. They may be about switching between two different perspectives. They may describe two radically different aspects of life happening at the same time; a dichotomy of significance.
When paying attention to trends in numbers and rank, the positions the cards fall in, or the specific questions asked, may or may not be a consideration as you interpret the meanings of those numeric trends.
When three of the same Minor Arcana number or rank appear, think about the fourth card that is missing from the set. What is the significance of that particular card missing? What is the message of that predominant number or rank?
When all four of a Minor Arcana number or rank appear, interpret the number itself as a specific and strong message in a reading. This message is made stronger when the corresponding Major Arcana One through Nine also appears.
The message is made stronger still when other Major Arcana cards that break down to the same number are also present. So, for example, the Magician strengthens the four Aces. The Wheel of Fortune and the Sun, also One cards, would make that message stronger still.
To interpret the value of the number or rank, you have to have a clear sense of keywords and interpretations for the numbers and ranks. If you don’t already have this, it makes sense to develop it. This will help you not only when multiples appear, but also in your interpretation and understanding of the cards in general.
For example, for my friend who received five Ones, I suggested that he should remember to be his authentic self. He needed to look for the source or origin of things. He should consider things from their simplest and most obvious perspective. He already knew that the Ones meant it was an important time for new beginnings. I suggested, as well, that the singular thing he was looking for would be found.
If the multiples you are experiencing are from the Court, you might consider that as an indicator of many people in the situation. Yet, each Court rank has specific keywords, just as numbers do. It’s possible that multiple Pages might speak of communication or education, for example.
If you work with a system that assigns numeric value to the Court Cards (typically either Page-One, Knight-Two, and so forth, or Page-Two, Knight-Three, and so forth) you can look at the corresponding Major Arcana cards as well.
Some people associate the Empress with Queens and the Emperor with Kings, and so a spread with Empress and Queens, or Emperor and Kings, would be considered a strong message.
A great tarot reading derives its depth not only from the cards that appear, but also from the trends of distribution that appear in the cards.
Paying attention to multiples in number and rank is a tarot skill that adds a great deal of meaning an insight into any reading that auspiciously contains such a trend.